Back in July, even though my husband isn’t a fan of country music, my husband bought me tickets to Tim McGraw’s Sundown Heaven concerts in Toronto for my birthday. to be honest, it was the very first concert I’ve ever attended.
I’ve been a fan of Tim’s for years, and it was great seeing him. Even if he was far away.
Well, when I could see him. Because this happened.
Normally I’m a big fan of cowboy hats, but that hat was so not cool. Especially since the guy who took the seat wasn’t the seat ticket owner. He moved from a seat further back. And even when the actual seat owners returned to reclaim their seat, he refused to move, and the security just told the ticket owners to find another seat. Picture me totally baffled, because those seats cost over $100. If I’d been those ticket holders, I would have insisted security move him out. Yes, eventually he did remove his hat, but I missed most of seeing Tim any other way than on a television screen. Which I could have stayed home and done for a lot less hassle.
BUT what I really enjoyed was Tim’s opening act, Kip Moore. My latest cowboy book, No Accounting for Cowboys, features Jake Grady, a cowboy who escapes the drama of his family home by singing at not-so-local bars. During the course of the story, Jake and his band The Dirt Road Graduates are discovered by an agent and he hits the road with the band. One of Jake’s quirks is how he objects to his agent’s insistence that he wear a cowboy hat when he plays. Normally he wears a baseball cap. (I know, I know, how sacreligious for a cowboy not to want to wear a cowboy hat, right?) So when Kip strode on stage, wearing his baseball cap and started singing, I sat up straighter and thought “That’s Jake!”
Kip rocked that stage, he had that hunger, that drive, and he thoroughly enjoyed the audience’s reaction in a way that didn’t come across with Tim. I assume it’s because Tim’s reached the star level while Kip is still hungry to be a headliner. Yup, I’d found inspiration for my Jake, albeit a little late considering the book had come out in May, LOL.
So the whole time I was watching him, rocking out, I was making mental notes for if I come back and write any of Jake’s bandmate’s stories. (Which I am considering. So many stories, so little time.)
NO ACCOUNTING FOR COWBOYS
Copyright © 2014 Leah Braemel
JT strummed a few chords on the guitar, then frowned and adjusted one of the tuning keys. After a few more tweaks, he nodded to himself and looked up again, his gaze roving over the crowd as if searching for someone.
Paige’s breath stuttered in her throat when their gazes met. One dark brow lifted, and his lips tilted up as his gaze raked over her. Her body reacted with a familiar tingle at his slow perusal. At least from that far away, there was no way in hell he could know how her heart raced. She smoothed her hands over her hips, wishing she could ease some of the ache settling there as he launched into Zac Brown’s “Keep Me In Mind.”
JT sure could sing. His rugged good looks—all broody, with that hard-working cowboy image—didn’t hurt either. All that was missing was a dusty cowboy hat.
When the song finished, hoots and hollers erupted around her, a pair of girls in the booth behind her whistling so loud Paige wanted to cover her ears. Once the applause died down, Cam whispered something to JT and grinned.
It may have been Paige’s imagination but she could have sworn JT’s shoulders relaxed. He took a deep breath and strummed a few notes as he settled in to another song, this one quieter. A few bars in, Cam blended his voice in harmony, not overpowering JTs.
Forty-five minutes later, JT cleared his throat and downed the last half of the water in the bottle set by his stool. “Last one for me in this set.”
Ignoring the sounds of disappointment around him, he strummed the guitar and locked his gaze with hers once more. He launched into Blake Shelton’s “Who are You When I’m Not Looking.” As he sang, the lights on the rest of the band faded, until he alone was illuminated. Unsure if it was his singing or the lyrics that moved her, the hairs on the back of Paige’s neck raised, spread down her spine and along her arms. The clank and clatter of the other patrons faded away until it was just him, her and the music. As if he sang to her. For her.
His voice grew husky as he sang about wanting to get to know her better, about how she kept herself hidden. Fear that he might actually be able to see inside her welled along with the music.
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