Chapter 1: Unbreakable
"No. No, no, no."
The director's vehement refusal fell upon ears so deaf, he might as well have said nothing at all.
"Don't be such a downer, Debbie." Memphis mumbled against my lips, leaving behind the sweetness of white peach amaretto. "The car's already wired up and ready to go. All you have to do is give us the backing track."
"I can't authorize that, Memphis. It's too reckless."
I pulled back from the lips I could barely keep mine off of, and rolled my eyes toward the director. "Have you even listened to the song?"
"Yes." He sighed, clearly annoyed with us. "It's a love song, not one about near-death experiences that I'll be responsible for."
"Incorrect, Einstein. It's about unbreakable love that becomes broken. It tells an open-ended story, which is precisely what we're trying to do here." I glared at him, appalled at his nerve. If anyone knew what a song meant, it was the writer.
"Great. I stand corrected. You're still filming on a soundstage, with a green screen, and a big a*s fan."
Memphis's mouth explored my throat. I trembled, as he muttered against my skin. "Great. Canned scenery and predictable weather. How realistic."
"I don't think you two understand this. We are on a remote highway, sidewinding a mountain, with cliffs around every bend. If canned scenery and predictable weather keep you alive, so be it."
I opened my mouth, fully prepared to continue arguing, but was interrupted by our drummer. "Y'know, guys, there is a compromise here that doesn't end with bloodshed."
My glare shifted to Bran. "And that is?"
"Flatbed truck. They do it all the time in movies." He gestured as if it was the most natural suggestion of all time. "The car's chained down and secure, and you get that illusion without Mem's sh*tty driving costing us two singers."
Memphis offered a one-finger salute, while I responded with a noncommittal shrug. While it would've been much more fun to zoom down the open road in his candy apple red convertible, nestled in his lap, wind in my hair and nothing but freedom surrounding us, a truck would also offer the realistic effects we sought. Repeating scenery made of pixels and glitches just wasn't going to do it for us.
The director, whose name was in fact Ken, not Debbie or Einstein, let out a sigh so deep, I suspected he would die of asphyxiation before it ended. He relented with a dramatic flourish of his hands. "Fine. You're responsible for any damages that may come of it, especially if someone dies."
"A green screen and a soundstage," Memphis muttered. He hooked a finger under my chin and turned my face back to his. "How primitive," he said, catching my lips with his.
A curtain of long, black hair whipped along with the wind. I hoped it wouldn't be too easily noticeable in the final product, that Memphis wasn't driving. That had been part of the reason we wanted to just get in the car and go. He was big on realism.
"Okay, guys, we're all set here. Video rolling. Music in five… four… three...."
Ken's amplified voice faded. Memphis tightened his hold around the small of my back and wrapped the fingers of his other hand around the steering wheel. I cupped his cheek and leaned into a gentle kiss, the kind typically reserved for the stage. Quick. Easy. Non-distracting.
When the first hard chord of our newest moderately slow rock ballad spilled through the large speaker mounted on the back of the cab, the kiss deepened. Knowing the illusion was important, I tried to pull away. He wouldn't let me. It was bad enough I was sitting on his lap, with my knees bent over the shifter. His eyes needed to be on the road.
It was easy to ignore general rules of society when they barely applied to you. Memphis and I, along with the rest of the band, didn't have much to worry about. We would never be ravaged by time. We would never suffer injury or illness. But.... We still had to observe the world we loved in.
Maybe that was why a pair of oncoming headlights drew my attention. I focused my stare, watching as they became narrower and narrower. Just as the car would've passed, he snatched his head back and jerked the steering wheel hard enough to shake the mounted camera. Though it didn't scare me one bit, I jumped and then burst out laughing, throwing my head back over the door. He wore the largest Cheshire grin I'd ever seen. Presumed accident successfully avoided. I should've known he could handle himself.
I tossed my hair to the side and tucked my face into the crook of his neck. His woodsy scent made my head swim. Masculine. Sweet and savory, enough to make my mouth water. I couldn't resist a little nip. His moan vibrated against my lips.
We weren't supposed to sing. He was meant to drive and I was meant to embrace him, just two young lovers without a care in the world. Ken would likely complain when he watched the footage and saw Memphis's mouth moving.
"You are my life." He sang just for me. "Nothing stands between us. You're in my blood, in the safest part of my heart. My favorite rush, and you know without you, I'd die."
I smiled and pressed my forehead to his, watching every purse and spread of his lips. My voice rose and joined his, when the chorus began. "Heaven is real, and I've found it right here by your side. You're my lifeline. Always stay by my side."
It was a powerful moment, one that fully captured the meaning behind the song. As we serenaded each other, I knew I'd never love anyone else the way I did Memphis James. It was a good thing we still had forever to go.
I relaxed my torso and looked to the sky. The moon caressed my skin like a second lover, content to share my affections. I had no idea how it was going to play for the video, but I was having the time of my life.
The truck slammed on the brakes and the music cut off abruptly. Confused, I looked toward the cab. There was a plan, and that wasn't part of it. The truck bounced lightly on its tires, as Ken tugged himself onto the bed.
"Guys, we have a problem."