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Everything Changes

By´╝ÜMelanie Hansen

Everything Changes - Melanie Hansen


PROLOGUE





BLOOD EVERYWHERE. The soldier’s clothes were covered with it, the body armor underneath soaked with sweat. Adrenaline kept his hands steady even as fear and rage roared through him. He blinked the dust from his eyes, tried to snort it out of his caked nostrils. Fucking dust. It invaded every crevice of his body, was ground into his skin so deep he’d never be clean again.

The dying man he was crouched over gave a sort of gasping rattle, bright red and foamy blood erupting from his slack lips as his bullet-shredded lungs filled completely and drowned the last bit of life out of him.

The soldier felt grief rip through him at the loss of his teammate, and then a pained cry from the path above caught his attention along with the sound of feet scuffling along the path. Feet that were not supposed to be there. What the fuck? That ridge had been blown to smithereens a scant hour before; where had all these motherfuckers been hiding? He rose up to shoot their asses, but they shot first, forcing him facedown into the dirt and rocks.

On the path above the soldier, a man was wrenched up from the ground with no regard for his wounds. A pair of terrified black eyes met his, the man’s turban knocked askew as grasping hands yanked him up and pushed him along. As the soldier watched in helpless horror, the captive’s desperate eyes met his again, but this time they were a bright, piercing blue, the hair grasped cruelly in the enemy’s hands a lush, silky black.

“NO!” the soldier roared, standing up to run toward the group of men to save his friend, but the corpse he was kneeling over suddenly moved, clawed hands clutching at his legs and holding him back. He fought to get free with every ounce of his strength. If he could just get to them before they rounded the bend, before the machetes came out and sawed through flesh, bone, arteries, and tendons. Before a beloved head rolled in the dust. The soldier screamed in horrified anguish as the cries for help above him were cut off, the barbaric machetes having done their work. He was helpless, and he was too late… always too late.





CHAPTER 1





THE CROWD was intense, loud. There was a charge in the air, an electricity. The whistles, cheers, and claps were overshadowed by the thumping of the large drum kit, a deep bass rhythm that reverberated in the chest, that made the heart beat in time. The whine of the guitar, the flashing of the strobe lights, the mist that hovered high along the ceiling and danced along the lights… it was intoxicating.

Carey Everett was riveted, his eyes locked on the man in the middle of it all. That man stood at a microphone on the elevated stage, his eyes closed, his hands lifted above his head to clap to the beat along with the drums. He was poised with his weight on one hip, a tight black T-shirt riding up with the movements of his arms, revealing a taut, muscled belly with an arrow of dark hair that disappeared into the waistband of low-slung leather pants. He wore leather bracelets on each wrist, and the flashing lights bounced off the metal of his necklace.

The man grasped the microphone, raising it to his mouth as he tipped his head back, the rich timbre of his voice rising as he started to sing, a rough huskiness that wrapped itself around the senses and seduced everyone listening. Carey glanced around, seeing the spell that voice had woven over every man and woman in the room. People swayed and cheered as the song built to a crescendo, the words poignant before the music died away and deafening whistles and whoops erupted.

His encore finished, the man on the stage grinned, bringing his arms up over his head in acknowledgement of his fans, pointing at his drummer and two guitarists so they could share in the applause. The stage lights dimmed, and the singer flashed the hang loose sign at the crowd before disappearing backstage.

Carey sat and nursed his beer, listening to the crowd as they excitedly discussed the concert, the cacophony of voices assaulting him from all sides.

One of the servers appeared at his table, a cute blonde in shorts and a tank top emblazoned with the name of the club on it. She smiled at him flirtatiously, a dimple peeking out.

“Are you Carey?” she shouted over the noise. When he nodded, she leaned closer so he could hear her better.

“Jase said to come on backstage now. I’ll show you where to go.”

Carey stood to follow her, admiring the rear view in the tight white shorts that showed off her long, tanned legs. She led him to a door set to the left of the stage, then grinned, flashing blinding white teeth, before turning to leave. He shouted his thanks after her, and she looked at him over her shoulder, winking.

Backstage was blessedly quiet, and Carey took a few deep breaths before going in search of Jase, his friend, the singer who had just mesmerized the packed audience at the club. A few wrong turns later, he stood in the doorway of a large room full of chattering people. There was more music playing, but at least it was at a tolerable level. A table covered with food sat off to the side, along with tubs full of ice and bottles of water and beer. The after-party was in full swing already, the band members, along with scantily dressed women and a few other men, milling around, drinking, eating, and laughing. Carey searched the room, looking for his friend, a man he’d known for four years now, four years that seemed like a lifetime.

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