Gauge: Rockstar Romance (The ProVokaTiv Series Book 1)

BOOK: Gauge: Rockstar Romance (The ProVokaTiv Series Book 1)
12.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
The ProVokaTiv Series

Book 1

By Cara Nelson


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I dedicate this book to you, my loyal readers. Wherever you are in this world. Thank you for all the lovely e-mails, reviews, and support. Without you, this wouldn't be possible. 


Gauge The ProVokaTiv Series

Chapter One:  A ProVokaTiv Opportunity

Chapter Two: Meeting the Band

Chapter Three: Gauging the Situation

Chapter Four: Savannah Magic

Chapter Five: Outsmarting the Hunter

Chapter Six: Clubbing and Curious

Chapter Seven: The Simon Inquisition

Chapter Eight: The Head Extraction

Chapter Nine: Cutthroat

Chapter Ten: Don’t Hold Back

Chapter Eleven: A Barcelona Birthday

Chapter Twelve: The Morning After

Chapter Thirteen: The Professional

Chapter Fourteen: Finding our Flow

Chapter Fifteen: Ocean Adventures

Chapter Sixteen: Only Me

Chapter Seventeen: Hotel Healthcare

Chapter Eighteen: Giggles

Chapter Nineteen: The Distance Defense

Chapter Twenty: Getting My Head in the Game

Chapter Twenty-One: The Big Show

Chapter Twenty-Two: A Play on Words

Chapter Twenty-Three: Claiming the Prize

Chapter One:
A ProVokaTiv Opportunity



My eyes were burning from the visual. Raw, definitely uncensored, but something I didn’t dare turn away from.

“Holy wow,” Trinity said, “How is he even doing that, Brynn?”

I glanced at the YouTube video by ProVokaTiv, the ‘in’ group, and watched the lead singer and guitarist, Gauge Bronson, acting like a typical rock star—assuming that everyone would put up with whatever he dished out. From the looks of it, he was right.

“No class and so spastic…hot, but spastic. A guy like that would drive me nuts. If he has a girlfriend, she’s patient,” I said, shaking my head.

Jessie took a drink of her wine and set the glass down. “I could never trust him, but damn, girl, you are so lucky that you’ll get to see how often this type of thing happens in person. I think you have the best internship ever. ”

“Compared to studying samples for four months, anyway,” Trinity said to Jessie.

“Hey, not everyone can strut the runway and hang out with sexy musicians. I’m saving the world,” Jessie retaliated.

“Things are going to work out for all of us,” I replied vaguely. I couldn’t take my eyes off from the screen.

The ProVokaTiv band members were no more than veteran frat boys. I’d been focused on Gauge, the lead singer, but then I averted my gaze to what was happening in the background of the video. I could see Hunter Martinez, the band’s bassist, with a girl on each side of him in the background, kicking back on a couch and going back and forth between the two.

,” Trinity said. “Hot.”

“Would you ever do that?” I asked, turning to Trinity. Her black eyes had a gleam in them and she had a cheeky grin.

“Uh…no. I’m too greedy to share a guy I’m into with anyone,” Trinity said, laughing.

“But look at that one,” Jessie piped in. “What’s his name again?”

“That’s Simon Jefferson,” I said, “the drummer.”

“He’s the best looking drummer I’ve ever seen,” Jessie said, leaning in closer. “Come to think of it, he’s the only drummer I’ve ever noticed.”

“He was voted sexiest drummer this past year on Buzzfeed. Makes sense,” I said.

Simon was standing in the back corner of the video. It was hard to see his exact expression, but his body language said quite a bit. He was surrounded by adoring fans, and you could see plenty of leggy girls in stilettos, swarming around him like piranhas ready to feast. He had his arms crossed, though, and leaned towards them just a bit. It was hard to tell if they cared about his inviting body posture—they were all but eating him up.

Gauge scattered the crowd around Simon, running and flailing towards a couch, sending it toppling backwards. Everyone on the couch flew back, their beers fountaining onto their faces.

“Wet t-shirt!” he shouted, pumping his fist into the air.

“Well, you can hear him,” I said. I groaned as I watched their antics and glanced at my besties. “I’m not sure I can do this…it seems so out of my league.”

“You’ll be fine,” Trinity said. “What are a few rowdy boys? You’re always level-headed, and, well…practical. ”

“Practical. Makes me sound matronly,” I said, crossing my arms.

“I somehow doubt that The Rift would risk hiring someone they didn’t think could do the job for their start-up issue,” Trinity said. “You’re travelling across the States and Europe for free all summer. That’s totally worth enduring some fratboys!”

“Says Miss Runway Model,” I said. “Excited for Milan and Marc Jacobs?”

“And you’ll bring back the rejects for those of us on a budget, of course,” Jessie added.

“Look, you just need to relax and use your mad skills to do what you do. You’ll be great,” Trinity reassured me. I rolled my blue eyes and tossed my brown hair, annoyed.

“This is going to sound odd coming from me, but Trinity’s right; you need to relax,” Jessie added.

“See Brynn? If our sweet, pure Jessie agrees, there must be something to it. ”

I was silent for a moment. I’d researched these guys thoroughly: watching videos, reading stories from fans and critics, and crawling through some really weird fansites. I’d done research on bands before, of course, but this was something else. Everyone—from critics to fans to most YouTube commenters—worshipped them and the ground they walked on.

“Aw, what’s up, Brynn?”

“I bet she’s thinking about Rick again,” Trinity teased. “I don’t know why you went into music journalism—you’ve never trusted a musician since him!”

“Oh, come on,” I countered, annoyed.

“First breakup. ‘The first cut is the deepest,’” Trinity sang, breaking into song mid-sentence. Jessie and I rolled our eyes.

“Well, these guys have lots of energy and they’re extremely good–looking, so it’s natural you’d be cautious. You don’t want to become a casualty. ”Jessie shrugged her shoulders and smirked.

“This is a professional opportunity. I don’t care how cute they are. I’ve handled cute before,” I justified.

“Well, good, then. Problem solved,” Jessie said.

“Yeah,” Trinity piped in. “Just be yourself, tell your story, expose whatever you want to that you learn, and be done with it…on to bigger and better things.”

“I’ll have three months to talk about them, to them, and think about them. That’s enough for now. Let’s enjoy our last night before I take off tomorrow. Warehouse district sound good?”

“Sounds great. Dancing at Aqua or 400 Soundbar?” Trinity asked. She posed, shaking her small butt and flipping her black hair. “I can’t wait to get my twerk on.”

“I say 400,” I said.

“It’s your farewell, so it’s your choice,” Trinity said, a little disappointed. “I’ll call the cab.”


Fifteen minutes later, we were standing outside the dumpy apartment I’d called home for the past two years. Groups of guys were walking by, catcalling and whistling. We laughed off their ploys for attention.

A taxi pulled up and Trinity waved her arm. We all piled in and smiled at the Rastafarian who was going to drive us.

“Hey ladies…where I be taking you?”

“You be taking us to 400 Soundbar,” Trinity said.

“Doing some dancing in the cabana room tonight, hey?”

“And the Russian palace room, and the Asian opium den, too, man,” Jessie said.

The taxi took off and weaved into the traffic, going from lane to lane on the busy downtown interstate stretch. The exit to downtown Minneapolis came into view.

“Thanks,” I said as we filed out.

“Have fun, ladies,” the driver said as I shut the door.

Fifteen minutes later, we were in the club, each of us with a Cosmo in hand, and we were making our way to the Russian palace to dance to a little hip hop. Before we knew it, it was 3 AM and we were making our way back home, exhausted from dancing and laughing from the mild buzz.

“Thanks for the farewell,” I said, getting out of the cab and peeking my head through the window. “You guys are the best. I’m going to miss you. ”

I felt a lump in my throat and fought back tears. Pre-emptive homesickness washed over me, but then, Jessie smiled sweetly. “Maybe we’ll get to come visit you. You never know,” Jessie said.

“That would be awesome,” I said, still a bit choked up.

“I got to go…if you want to talk, I have to turn meter on,” the taxi driver called from his driver’s seat.

“Be patient,” Trinity said, frowning at him.

“I should get upstairs anyway. I have to be out the door at 9 AM to get to the airport in time. ”

“You sure you don’t want us to take you?” Jessie asked.

“No, Mom and Dad are going to,” I said.

“Love you,” Jessie and Trinity called out.

“Love you guys too.”

I walked in and turned my alarm on, settling into my bed for the last few hours of sleep in my own apartment. For the next three months, I’d be living in hotels and constantly on the go. I was ready, and I was certainly excited, but wow, was I ever nervous.

Chapter Two:
Meeting the Band


I settled into the Gregory Hotel in New York City, the place that I’d be staying for the next two nights before setting off on the tour circuit for ProVokaTiv. I’d been to New York City before, but never as an adult. I was stoked, ready to create the prose about these guys that moved the world.

Deciding what to wear to meet the band was surprisingly hard. I had hip, trendy clothes from the ‘must have’ designers in Cosmo for the spring, but also wanted to be taken seriously as a journalist.

Leave it to me to start this off with a lame debate about clothing,
I thought.

In the end, I decided on a fun vintage print t-shirt with some jeans and sandals. I headed out of the hotel and onto the streets of the city, deciding to walk over to Narcissa, the restaurant I was going to meet everyone at.

Once on the street, I checked Google Maps and started to make my way to the restaurant. Weaving in and out of the frenzy, I finally arrived. An elderly doorman with a charming British accent greeted me.

As I passed him, I breathed in and whispered, “You can do this,” as if talking to myself was
going to help. I was only twenty-two, too young for that habit to kick in.

“Brynn Morgan, here for …”

“Yes, we’ve been expecting you, Ms. Morgan,” the hostess said, smiling at me politely. She was as polished a hostess as the personal secretary of some corporate hotshot.

“Great,” I said.

I followed the woman to a table in the back of the room and saw four people sitting there: one middle-aged man with spiked hair, graying sides, and a business suit on, and three younger guys—the ProVokaTiv guys.

“Brynn?” the middle-aged guy said.

“Yes, hi. And you must be Dave Gregors,” I said, extending my hand.

“Yes,” he said, shaking my hand. “Did you find the restaurant okay?”

“I did,” I said, as he pulled out a chair and had me sit down.

Up until this point, I hadn’t looked any of them in the eye yet.

“So, let me introduce you to everyone, and then we can order our food and get down to business, Brynn.”

“Great,” I said. Now I looked up at everyone and saw two sets of eyes on me. The third guy was looking down at the small screen of his phone and licking his lip like he was staring at a piece of candy that made his mouth water. That one was Hunter Martinez.

“Okay, guys, this is Brynn Morgan from The Rift. She’s going to be your shadow this summer while she works on the main piece for the magazine. I can only hope that you’ll all give her your best side, or better than what you sometimes give,” Dave said with a slight chuckle. His eyes said he was serious.

I looked at everyone and smiled. Hunter looked up briefly and paused, scanning me up and down, fixing his eyes on my chest.

“Brynn, this is Simon Jefferson, Gauge Bronson, and Hunter Martinez.”

“Nice to meet you all,” I said.

They smiled at me and didn’t say a word. Oh God, was I supposed to say something, like a speech?

“I’m excited to work with you all this summer and write a great piece about you,” I said.

“And what would make it great?” Gauge asked.

I looked over at him. He was so much better looking than in his videos or pictures. With his full lips, short brown hair, and perfect body, he reminded me of a tattooed version of Theo James, the gorgeous guy from

“Well, learning about the real side of you and sharing that with all your fans,” I said. I’d never felt so unsure of myself and I feared that I was ready to start rambling on like a crazy woman. I bit my lip and shut up.

“Oh, all you need to know about us is on YouTube,” Hunter said.

“There has to be more to you than
” I blurted.

Hunter’s face broke out into a cheeky grin and Gauge busted out laughing.

“You’ve got spunk, “Simon said. “Probably a good thing, because you’re going to need it.”

“Before long, you’ll forget I’m even around,” I said, smiling at them coyly.

“Enough trash-talking Brynn, guys,” Dave said, stepping in.

“That’s okay, Dave, I can handle it. I figure that if I’m going to be hanging out with these guys, I’d better be able to hold my own, right?”

Dave nodded. Everyone else looked at me casually, making me feel like I had to take the lead of the conversation.

That does make sense,
I thought.
After all, I’ll be interviewing them and creating the story.

“I’ll give you a lay-out of how we’ll approach everything this summer. At any time, feel free to ask me whatever questions you may have, as well,” I said.

“I have a question,” Hunter asked, finally looking up and raising his hand. I wasn’t sure if he was mocking me, but he had my attention.

“Sure, what is it?”

“Are all your friends beautiful, ambitious journalists like you?”

“I…uh…what?” I sputtered. “My friends do happen to be brilliant and beautiful, but I’m the only one who’s a journalist,” I said.
There, take that!

“So, compared to your research, what do you think of us right now?”Simon asked, staring at me with his serious intense blue eyes. They were almost hypnotic.

I knew that question was it: the chance to show that I was honest and also gain some control of these three guys. All of them were worldlier than me, a few years older, and definitely were used to getting their way.

“Who should I start with, then?”

“Me,” Hunter said. He leaned forward and looked every bit the arrogant cock that he was said to be.

“Sure. You, Mr. Martinez, love the spotlight more than anyone else in the band. ”

“That’s for sure,” Dave said. I looked at him, almost forgetting he was there. I was just competitive enough to get wrapped up in the odd meeting. It was hard to imagine that many business meetings started out like this. It was kind of thrilling.

“You’re trying to break away from the logical part of your mind, becoming everything you thought you’d want to be when you were younger. If I recall correctly, accounting was in your future. Since that’s no longer likely to happen, you are trying to break boundaries and be everything but predictable. That comes out through all your sexual trysts, flamboyant statements—ones you probably only care about half the time—and constant demand for attention. If I was going to give you a nickname, it would be Temper Tantrum, because you just keep going until people’s defenses wear down, regardless of what it is. Oh, and as far as the DUIs you’ve had, I’m guessing you were a sucky driver even before them. ”

“Harsh,” Hunter said. Oddly enough, I saw admiration in his eyes.

“Am I close?” I asked.

“About 50/50,” he replied mockingly. “I can try to make you 100% correct, though, if you like.”

“Try whatever you want. I’m writing about the legacy for your fans and critics to read,” I said. “I’m not sure if you want them to know the truth or the image…that’s your call.”

I looked to Simon. “Ready?”

“I think I can handle it,” he said.

“Alright then. From what I’ve read and seen here in this little bit of time, this is how I see you. You seem to be a very laid-back person, although I’d never guess it right now, because you’re having some case of male dominance or something…but don’t worry, I won’t take it personally.”

“You forgot picky and meticulous.”I looked. Gauge actually spoke. I definitely listened.

Simon looked and said, “Nothing more than what you’ve read in a gossip feed. Big deal.”

“You really want more?” I challenged him.

“He doesn’t, but I do,” Hunter offered.

I turned to him. “Attention grabber. Did I add that before?”He shrugged his shoulders at me dismissively.

Simon broke out into a slow smile, and both Hunter and Gauge started laughing, making the many people who’d been watching the guys look again with renewed interest.

“Damn, she’s good,” Hunter said.

“Yeah, you’re all right, “Simon said, finally laughing and putting his hand on his leg.

“Anyone else want their assessment?” I asked. I felt like a male gorilla trying to exert my dominance. Gorillas travelled in bands, too. Funny how that worked.

“I think I’ll wait,” Gauge said.

The waitress walked up to take our orders. Wow, a lot had gone down in just the past ten minutes. I think I’d played it right.

“Are you ready to order?” she asked.

I looked at Gauge, who was sitting on the other side of Dave. I said, “I guess you’re lucky that I don’t have time to get to your assessment.”

“I guess so,” he said, smiling at me. His gaze lingered there, and he didn’t remove his eyes from mine.

We all ordered our meal and then got to talking again. Thankfully, it was much more casual, and the guys were genuinely interested in how the process would work.

“I’m going to start with some of your crew and assistants. After I get the logistics, it’ll be on to you guys. No need to even pay attention to me,” I said.

“What if we don’t like what they say or the story says?”Simon asked.

“I have final say in everything, but you’ll have some input. And, as far as opinions, we all have those, right? There’s no way to create a good piece on ProVokaTiv without individual perspectives. I have no desire to write crap any more than you want a bad article written about yourselves. ”

“How long have you been in journalism?” Hunter asked.

“Since I was the senior reporter for my high school newspaper,” I replied. I wasn’t ready to share that this was my breakthrough opportunity, going from local bands on the rise to one that had made it—not yet.

Gauge started laughing. Good, he thought it was a joke…maybe?

“So, if you can ask us anything, can we ask you anything?” Gauge asked.

“You can ask anything you want. But I don’t promise to answer, and you can bet it’s not ending up in The Rift. This is about you guys, not me. ”

“Fair point,” Gauge said.

“What’s your favorite song of ours?” Gauge asked.

Oh no, not that question,
I thought. I dug frantically through my memory to find one that I at least thought was okay. Not easy, I’ll admit. It hadn’t been a huge focus since I wasn’t writing about their songs, but them, the band.

“I think that
is decent,” I finally said.

“Decent? Interesting choice of words,” Gauge said.

“Were you expecting me to say more?” I asked.

“Not necessarily, Brynn.”

Simon had been listening and drumming on the edge of the table with his fingers. “I don’t think our journalist likes our music.” His reply was casual, but I didn’t want to admit how spot on he was.

I smiled. “Maybe it sounds better live. That’s often the case, isn’t it?”

“You know how to deliver a stinger, don’t you?” Hunter asked.

“Logically and statistically speaking, a neutral journalist can paint a more favorable story. Look at it that way.”

Hunter looked at me and yawned. “I’m sorry…I spaced out at logically and statistically.”

I began blushing, caught off-guard by the little slam. But then again, I’d just told the guys I was going to be around all summer, albeit indirectly, that I didn’t care for their music.

“That’s okay; it’s my job to keep it all in order,” I said, smiling brightly. I wasn’t about to show any signs of weakness. I was a journalism warrior, and the rock scene was my war zone.

By the end of lunch, I felt pretty good and confident in everything that was going to happen. It was a weird start, but a good one, and all my people-watching skills were going come in handy. I had to admit that watching them goof off behind the scenes was interesting. The quietest one had been Gauge, which surprised me. I’d though it would be Simon. It made me want to know more. After all, music taste aside, the guy had a killer voice and he knew how to use it. To get him to use it with me…




BOOK: Gauge: Rockstar Romance (The ProVokaTiv Series Book 1)
12.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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