The pounding on his hotel door woke Bane from the best sleep he'd had in years. It was all because of Anna. She was wound around him, her head on his chest, her legs tangled with his, and she was gloriously naked. They had made love for hours after his show, and Bane had never felt better. Part of that was because he hadn't had a drink in a few days, but most of it was because Anna said she was staying with him. He sighed, gently pushed his girlfriend--what a powerful word!--off him, pulled on a pair of sweats and went to see who fucked up his sleep. He yanked the door open, and his eyes went wide when he saw Tony on the other side with a frown on his face. He was holding a piece of paper in his hand.
"You got another one, Bane," Tony said, waving the paper slightly, "but this one is different."
"Different how?" Bane asked as he snatched the paper from Tony's hand.
"Just read it."
Bane did so, and at first glance, it looked just like the other notes he had gotten from whatever crazed fan out there was completely obsessed with him, but as he read it, he felt fury fill him with a white-hot flame.
"Venom, I love you, and you will be mine," the note read. "You mentioned your Anna at the show tonight, but if she's that bitch that was with you later, she is going to die a slow and painful death. You are mine, Venom, and she can't have you. If you don't tell your fans at your next show that you are mine, I will kill that fucking bitch in front of you, and then you will know what I am capable of." The note was signed, as always: "The love of your life."
"Oh, this is fucking bullshit!" Bane cried out. "Call the cops, Tony! No one threatens my girl and gets away with it!"
"Are you sure, Bane? The cops? I thought you didn't want that kind of publicity."
"Just fucking call them! Tell them to come up here to my room, and I'll talk to them."
Tony nodded and disappeared down the hall. Bane forced himself not to crush the note in his hand as he slammed the door and spun on his heel. He froze when he saw Anna in the doorway of the bedroom.
"Bane, what's wrong?" she asked, fear evident in her voice.
He set the note down on the kitchen counter and held out his arms. She rushed into them, and he held her close as he tried to calm down. "Just a stupid, fucked-up fan, baby. Nothing to worry about."
She shook her head against him and whispered, "I heard you, Bane. They threatened me?"
Bane took a deep breath and led Anna to the couch. He sat down and pulled her down onto his lap. "Don't worry, baby girl. No one will hurt you. I'll hire more security, get police protection in every city we visit, and I will never, never leave you alone, I promise. No one will get near enough to hurt you."
She huddled against him, and his fury blossomed again. How dare someone threaten his girl? When he found out who it was, he would make sure they spent the next several years in jail no matter what he had to do. He held her tightly and caressed her back. They were still there when another knock sounded on the door.
"That's probably the police, baby girl. Are you okay?"
She nodded against him, and he set her on the couch before standing up and walking to the door. When he opened the door, there were two men in suits standing there, and he knew instantly they were detectives.
"Mr. Scott?" the taller, blond-haired one on the left asked. When Bane nodded, he continued, "My name is Detective Anders, and this is my partner, Detective Bordan. We understand you got a threatening note?"
"Come on in, detectives," Bane said, holding the door and shifting to the side so they could enter. They did so and looked around the suite.
"Where is the note, Mr. Scott?"
"On the kitchen counter, but I don't think you'll have luck with prints. My manager and I have both touched it."
Detective Bordan, a short man with dark hair, carefully slid the note into a clear evidence bag and then read it before looking at the couch. "Is that Anna? The one from the note?"
"Yes, Detective. She's my girlfriend, and this fucker is threatening her."
"Watch your language, please, Mr. Scott," Detective Anders said with a frown.
"Fuck that, Detective! No one threatens me or the people I care about, and you'll just have to deal with my language!"
"Sit down, please, Mr. Scott," Anders said, pointing to the couch, and Bane did so. He took Anna's hand in his, and she squeezed it tight enough that it was painful. "Now, your manager told us this wasn't the first note you got like this. Is that right?"
"This one started out like the others. 'I love you, Venom, and you will be mine.' That's where the others ended except for the signature. Then the bitch threatened to kill Anna in front of me! That is not fucking okay, Detective!"
"No, Mr. Scott, it's not okay. We'll see if we can get any prints off this one that aren't yours or your manager's. Maybe we'll get lucky. Do you have any of the other notes?"
"No! I don't keep shit like that. They're all scraps of shredded paper in who knows which fucking cities."
"All right," Bordan said. "And you have no idea who is writing them?"
Bane spat out a bitter laugh. "I have millions of fans out there, Detective! No, I don't know which one is fucking crazy!"
The detective nodded and looked at the note. "How many have you gotten?"
"I have no idea. Dozens over the last two years."
"And they all said the same thing except for this one?"
Glaring at the detective, Bane said, "Yes, Detective. I told you that."
The two policemen moved toward the door, and Bane stood up with Anna still clinging to his hand. "Where are you headed next, Mr. Scott?" Anders asked, looking back.
"Atlanta. We've got a show there tomorrow night."
The detective nodded. "I'll inform the Atlanta PD about this just in case you get another note while you're there. Would you like me to request police protection for you and your band?"
With a sigh, Bane pulled Anna close. "I'd appreciate that, Detective. Thank you. Do you happen to know of a private security company in town? I'd like to hire some more bodyguards as well."
"Yeah. There's one that hires retired and off-duty cops and ex-military. Would you like me to call them for you?"
"Please, Detective. Thanks."
"We take things like this seriously, Mr. Scott. I'm glad to see that you are, too. What time are you leaving Baton Rouge?"
"Six tonight. Tell me where the security company is, and I'll go there before we leave."
Detective Anders wrote down an address in his notebook, tore the page out, and handed it to Bane. "I'll call them now and tell them you're on your way. Be careful, Mr. Scott. You can't protect yourself or Anna from a bullet."
"I'm always careful, Detective, but I appreciate your concern. Thanks for the information."
Both detectives held out their hands, and Bane shook them. When they left, he shut the door and pulled Anna to his chest. She was crying, and her body was shaking with fear.
"Don't worry, baby. I'll protect you, I promise."
Two hours later, Bane and Anna were sitting in the office of Jeremy Gutierrez. Charles and Dennis were staking out the lobby of the tiny office space that housed JG Security. The owner of the company was bald, tall, and lean, but he had a deadliness in his eyes that gave Bane the creeps. If this man could protect his Anna, though, Bane would pay him whatever he asked for.
"So you've been threatened?" the man asked in a deep, gravelly voice.
"Not me," Bane said. "My girlfriend."
"Yeah, Anders told me. How many men do you want and for how long?"
"What would you suggest?"
"I'd like to add two more to your personal detail and give each of your entourage one each. And I'd suggest you keep them until this stalker is found."
"Fine. That means seven. We can fit that many on the plane. When can they be available?"
"Now. All it takes is a phone call."
"They won't mind traveling with us?"
Jeremy laughed. "No, not if they're getting paid for it."
"Right. Cost. Normally we charge by the hour, but since this will be twenty-four seven, I'll figure out a cost per day." Jeremy typed in some numbers into a calculator and held it out to Bane, who took it with a frown. "That's half the hourly cost for all seven."
It was a lot of money, but Bane just nodded and handed the calculator back to the man. "Fine. As long as they can stay until they're not needed anymore, I'll pay whatever it takes."
"Good." Jeremy pulled out a contract from a drawer, filled in the pertinent information, and turned it around for Bane to sign. When that was done, he said, "Wait here. They'll be here within half an hour." He stood up with his phone already in his hand and left the office.
"Bane? I'm scared."
"I know you are, Anna, but that's why I'm doing this." He looked at her, and she quickly moved onto his lap. It was uncomfortable, but he just wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead. "I won't let anything happen to you, my bella. I'd die if anything happened to you." She started to cry, and he whispered soothing words to her as he caressed her back softly. He held her until he heard the bell above the outside door ring, and then he set her on her feet and stood up. Within moments, the office door opened and seven large men could be seen talking to Charles and Dennis. Bane's bodyguards were frowning as they filled in the others on what had been happening.
"Come on, Mr. Scott. Meet your security detail." Bane just nodded, took Anna's hand, and walked out into the crowded lobby. Jeremy introduced the seven men and pointed to two who would join Charles and Dennis in protecting Bane and Anna. "Allan and Tim will be with you, Mr. Scott. You don't go anywhere without them, you understand me? I've never lost anyone while my men protected them, and I don't intend on starting with you or your girlfriend."
"Yeah, I got it," Bane said as he shook hands with the two men. They were both larger than his current bodyguards with bulging muscles and thick necks and no more hair than Jeremy.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Scott," Allan said.
"Please, call me Bane. Mr. Scott is my dad." He pulled Anna close. "This is Anna. She's the one who was threatened, not me."
Tim smiled. "Don't worry, Bane. No one will even get close while we're on the job. We'll have to talk about how much you and she are available to the public, but we can do that on the way to Atlanta."
Bane scowled. "She will not be available at all! I'm not worried about myself. I wasn't threatened, but no one will fucking touch her!
"Like I said, we'll talk about it," Tim said casually. "Shall we go back to the hotel? I assume you still need to pack."
"Fine," Bane grumbled, and the four bodyguards surrounded him and Anna as they made their way out to the rental van.