Closer: A Stage Dive Novella - Kylie Scott Page 0,1

the unopened box and the scent of copper filled the air.

“I-I think it’s blood.” I swallowed hard. “Leonard, can you please call the police?”

“I don’t want a bodyguard.”

“Around about the time someone sends you a dead cow’s heart with a knife stabbed through it, you’ve kind of lost that option.” Lena Ferris laid down the law while daintily pushing her red acrylic glasses further up her nose.

She had a point. Not that I was yet ready to admit it. My head fell back against the couch. “But I enjoy being on my own. I like my privacy.”

“Oh, please. This is just another side effect of your chosen vocation. You said goodbye to a percentage of privacy when you hit the cover of a certain sports magazine in a tiny black bikini, my dear,” she continued. “Five million Instagram followers, some of whom are sending you damn creepy messages, says you need to compromise. It’s your safety at stake.”

Another valid point from Lena. Dammit.

I’d first met Lena, photographer and wife to the lead singer of Stage Dive, about a year ago on a shoot. We’d bonded immediately. Not only were we both curvy brunettes, we shared a somewhat skewed sense of humor and general appreciation for sarcasm. And given how long and boring shoots can be, the woman was a godsend to work with. It was her recommendation that I look at the apartment that became my home.

“You’re not really going to be difficult about this, are you?” she asked, sitting opposite me with a cup of coffee in hand. “I deal enough with big famous babies thanks to my husband and twin daughters.”

“No.” I sighed. “It’s just so…man, it makes me angry that someone gets to mess with my life like this. And I’m too tired to argue with you, especially when I know you’re talking sense.”

“How much sleep have you had in the last forty-eight hours?”

I sighed. “The detective questioned me until early in the morning. Then, when I finally got up to my apartment, I just kept staring at the bedroom ceiling trying to figure out who’d be deranged enough to do something like this.”

“It’s probably not someone you know.”


“They just think they have a relationship with you because they’re crazy.”

I frowned. “I mean, an actual heart. It’s so gross.”

“Agreed,” she said. “At any rate, I already called Sam and one of his people is on their way over, so suck it up.”

I gave her a small smile. “You know, I do appreciate your help.”

“I know. And if someone had sent me a stabbed offal, I’d be upset and angry and all cranky-pants too.”

“If this doesn’t make me a vegetarian, I’ll be heartily surprised. Get it? Heartily.”

Lena just gave me a look.

“Bad joke. I know. It was good of your friend to find me someone so fast.”

“Sam gets that the situation is urgent. He’s one of the good ones. He’d have to be to put up with Martha. She’s not exactly low maintenance.” Her cell phone chimed. After reading a text message, she grinned and her fingers moved across the screen. “Jimmy wants to know what I’m wearing.”

“What are you telling him?”

“A skimpy red silk nightie and a naughty smile.”

“You two are so happy and in love.” I sighed. Jealousy was a bitch. “I’m sick of you living your best life.”

“Sorry. Not.”

“Makes me almost miss being in a relationship.”

“Ooh, I could set you up with someone! There’s this guy–”

“No, thank you.”

“Spoilsport. You ruin everything, dude.”

“Awesome. Thanks for the feedback.”

Lena snorted and I smiled. A little levity felt damn good. Then someone knocked at the door. Ever so slowly, I dragged my oily-haired, yoga pants-wearing, general mess of a self over to answer. A couple hours of shitty broken sleep and a stalker didn’t bring out the best in me. Who could have guessed?

I opened the door and…stopped.

“Miss Cooper?” he asked in a deep voice.

I blinked.

He waited.

Say something. “Ah, yes. Hi. That’s me.”

Over six foot worth of tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome stood before me. And while I was falling apart, he seemed so put together it hurt. My messy bun and spandex clad ass were not anywhere up to dealing with this today. Whoever he was, he needed to leave and come back another time. Preferably when I was rocking one of my best outfits and actually had a clue. Or had at least had a shower. Deodorant could really only go so far.

“I’m Ziggy Thayer,” he said. “Samuel Rhodes sent me over.”

“He did?”


“Y-you’re going to be my