"Please, Bane? I want to watch you."
"Anna, we've been through this. I don't want you anywhere near the audience. That crazy bitch is probably going to be out there."
"They can't see me, and you know it, Bane. Please?"
They'd only been in Atlanta for an hour, and already the security was causing problems. They didn't want Anna in the wings during the show, and she wanted to be there. She wanted to watch her boyfriend as he sang and, yes, as he stripped for the audience. She knew that no matter how many women wanted him, he was hers alone. In addition, the rest of the entourage was not happy at having, as Cass called them, Nazi motherfuckers following them around and telling them what they could and could not do.
"Bane's the one this crazy fuck is obsessed with!" Cass complained to Eric, his bodyguard. "Why the fuck do you have to sit on my ass?"
"Because my boss and yours told me to, Mr. Thompson. That's why. It's what I'm getting paid to do," the huge man said with no emotion whatsoever.
"Bane fucking Scott is not my boss! He can go fuck himself if he thinks I'm going to put up with you following me around all the time!"
Eric had just shrugged and hadn't moved an inch. The argument that followed between Cass and Bane had Tobias coming back from the cockpit to make sure no one was killing each other, but it ended with Cass grudgingly agreeing that if one crazy fan was after Bane, it stood to reason she might go after anyone in the band that she could. Now Bane was trying to convince Anna that she needed to stay backstage, but she was glaring at him with her arms crossed over her chest, her chin thrust out, and her eyes hard.
"I'm not budging on this, Bane Raimond Scott! Allan or Tim can stay with me, or both if you'd prefer, but I am going to sit where I can see you!"
Trying hard not to smile at the indignation on her face, Bane drew her to his chest. "Fine, my bella, but they both stay with you. I'm not taking any chances with your life."
"You be careful out there tomorrow night, Bane. Don't take chances with your life, either."
"Don't worry. There'll be metal detectors at every gate, and a heavy police presence. I've already spoken to the Atlanta police chief, and he agreed to several off-duty officers to keep an eye on things." Bane kissed the top of Anna's head. "Maybe they'll catch the bitch. Fuck, I hope so."
"Me, too, Bane, me too."
They were in their hotel suite, and they got the executive this time so that Allan and Tim could stay with them. Anna hadn't wanted to make love when they arrived, but Bane's attentions soon had her melting in his arms, and they'd spent the last hour in bed together. When they came out of their room, the two bodyguards had judiciously ignored them even though they both knew they were loud enough for them to have no doubt what was going on behind that closed door. Anna blushed furiously, but Bane only chuckled.
"You're so beautiful when you blush, my bella," he whispered in her ear. Then he'd said, "Fuck that, baby girl. You're beautiful all the time." That earned him a smile and a kiss.
"What are your plans for the night, Bane?" Tim asked, keeping his eyes on the magazine he was reading.
"Dinner and sleep. Tomorrow before we go to the arena, I'll be in the gym for about two hours working out. Do you think we could go out to dinner tonight? I'm fucking sick of room service."
Allan glanced at Tim, and they both frowned. "I wouldn't recommend it, Bane," Allan said seriously.
"Even if we just went down to the hotel's restaurant? You can come with along with Charles and Dennis. I'll buy you all dinner." Tim looked like he really wanted to, and Bane grinned. "Come on, guys. With the four of you, we'll be safe, won't we?"
Tim nodded, and Allan reluctantly joined in. "Fine, but you do exactly as I say, Bane. If I sense something is wrong, we're leaving immediately. I don't give a fuck if you are in the middle of the appetizer. Understand?"
"Got it," Bane said as he pulled Anna close. "Let's go; I'm starving." The four of them left the suite and stopped at the next door where Charles and Dennis were staying. When Bane explained what was happening, they stepped out of the room and flanked Bane and Anna while Allan walked in front of them and Tim behind. They headed down to the restaurant, and Allan spoke quietly to the head waiter who led them to the back of the large room. Bane and Anna got a small, two-person table, and the four bodyguards stationed themselves at tables around them. Thankfully, the restaurant didn't have a lot of patrons, but the ones who were there did whisper and point, and several took out cell phones to take pictures.
"You really have no privacy at all, do you, Bane?" Anna said, trying to ignore the other patrons.
"None, but such is the price of fame. Even people who would never come to one of my concerts know who I am, and soon they'll know who you are, too. It won't take very long until word of this fucking stalker gets out, and then you'll be having reporters in your face, too." Bane took Anna's hand in his. "You don't have to talk to anyone, my bella. Just tell them that if they have any questions, they can talk to me." He smiled without humor. "I guess they might get that interview after all."
"You don't have to talk to them, either, Bane, do you?"
"No, I don't have to, but I will. Maybe if the public knows about this crazy bitch, she'll back off." Anna frowned. "What is it?"
"It sounds weird, but how do you know it's a woman? Couldn't it be a man who's obsessed with you?"
Bane's eyes went wide. "I'd never thought of that," he admitted. "I always assumed it was a woman. I guess it could be a guy, but I'd think after making our relationship somewhat public, he'd figure out I'm not gay."
At that point, their waiter came, and the rest of the time in the restaurant was spent eating and trying to ignore the whispers that surrounded them.
Anna sat on an unused amplifier in the left wing of the stage. She liked that position the best because she could see Bane from there for almost the entire concert. She was hidden from the audience behind a large curtain, and, as Bane had ordered, his bodyguards were with her as well. She had spent the day looking up the lyrics to Venom's songs online, and now, as Venom entertained the audience, she sang along with them. She knew she didn't have a great voice, but the music was so loud no one would be able to hear her.
"He's good," Tim said in her ear.
"Yes, he is," she answered, a bright smile on her face, and then she held up one finger to shush the big man. "Listen to this one."
Bane had pulled his stool to the edge of the stage and held his guitar in his hands, but he didn't speak for a few moments. "I wrote this song," he finally started, "because I wanted something different. I wanted love from someone who wanted to be with me, not because of my money or fame but because of me. I found that someone. Her name is Anna, and..." Bane glanced toward the wing, and Anna's heart stuttered. "...and I love her." He stared at her and smiled. "Baby girl, this song is for you, but you know that." And then he began singing as his fingers danced over the strings, his voice soft and smooth, and the sound of his words flowed over Anna like a warm breeze, and tears streamed down her face as he sang to her.
"Holy shit, Anna!" Sharon stepped up behind Anna and wrapped her arms around her. "Thank you, my friend. Thank you."
"For what?" Anna gasped.
"For bringing Bane back to himself. For loving him enough to keep Venom in the background. Fuck, for making him love you."
"But I didn't do anything!"
"Yes, you did, Anna. I don't know what it was, but it's only been two days, and he's declaring his love for you onstage. I never thought I'd see it happen, but you've made him happy again. Thank you."
Anna smiled as Bane finished the song and looked at her again, but then she frowned. "How happy can he be with this stalker around?"
Sharon just squeezed her arms tightly and gave Anna a kiss on the cheek before going backstage again to wait for the break. Her bodyguard, Tom, followed her to her chair, but when she stopped walking, her body frozen, he jumped in front of her.
"What is it, Sharon? What's wrong?" he asked, his eyes scanning the area for anything amiss.
Sharon just pointed to the mirror where a piece of paper was sticking out of the frame. "That wasn't there before, Tom," she whispered harshly. "How did it get there?" She reached for it, but Tom grabbed her wrist lightly.
"Don't touch it," he said sternly. "Let the cops see it first." Sharon nodded as Tom pulled her toward the wings again. Venom was again playing one of their standard songs, Anna was singing along, and Allan frowned deeply when he saw the look on Tom's face. The latter spoke as softly as he could into Allan's ear so as not to frighten Anna, telling his leader about the note.
"Fuck! No one saw who put it there?" Allan growled.
"No, I was here with Sharon, and Gabe is somewhere with Tony. The others are watching their charges from backstage, and Charles and Dennis are watching the audience. No one saw shit!"
"God damn it!" Allan pulled his cell phone from his pocket and moved away from the stage as he dialed the number of the police chief. "Chief? There's another one." He paused as he listened. "No, sir, it's backstage at the show. No one saw who put it there. Of course, sir, we'll leave it alone." He hung up the phone and took Anna's arm. "We've got to go, Anna. Come with me."
"What? Why? You said I could watch Bane!"
"There's another note, Anna. Come on!" Allan pulled her backstage and into Bane's dressing room. "Lock the door and do not come out for any reason!" When she opened her mouth to argue, he snarled, "Not a fucking word! Do as I say and do it now! The stalker is here, Anna! Do you not realize that?" Her eyes widened, and Allan was glad to finally see them fill with fear and tears. "Yeah, you get it now, right? You're in danger! Now get in there and lock the door!"
Her hands trembling violently, Anna did as he said, and only then did she let the tears fall. She grabbed Bane's shirt and held it to her face, breathing in his scent as she sat on the floor as far away from the door as possible, her knees drawn up to her chest. She stayed there, the trembling spreading until it encompassed her entire body, until there was a knock on the door.
"Annabelle, it's me. Open the door, please." It was Tony's voice, so she stood up and moved to the door.
"Allan said not to open it, Tony. Not for anyone."
"Just open the fucking door, Anna! Now!"
She jumped back at the anger that had appeared suddenly in his voice. "Tony? What's wrong?"
The only answer was a loud bang and a crack as the wood around the handle shattered. Anna crouched away from the door as Tony's foot connected with it and sent it slamming against the wall. He had a handgun in his right hand, and he waved it in Anna's general direction. 'Why, Anna?" he said distractedly. His eyes were unfocused, and he looked at the broken door as if it were an alien. "Why did you have to be at that concert in Dallas? If you hadn't been there, everything would have stayed just like it was! l was perfectly happy with how things were going, and then you had to come and fuck everything up!" Just then, they heard Bane call for the break, and Tony grinned. "I told him I'd kill you in front of him, and now that's going to happen." He moved into the room, grabbed Anna's arm, and spun her in front of himself. He gripped her tightly with his arm around her neck, and he put the muzzle of the gun against her temple.
"Please, Tony, don't do this," she sobbed. "I'll leave and go back to Dallas, I promise!"
"No, he'll come after you," Tony mumbled. "You've known him for two fucking days and he'll come after you! I've known him for fifteen years, Anna! Fifteen years of friendship, and he threw it all away for you!"
"Tony? What's going on?"