Southern gentility be damned. Nice was getting her nowhere. Aubrey Bordelon put her hands on her hips and attempted an I-mean-business face. “Look, I’m not here to get laid.”
The slab of beef serving as security guard raised his eyebrows and smirked. “I’m sorry to hear that, darlin’, but you’re still not getting in.”
He leaned his shoulder against the grimy frame of the door, blocking her view of backstage. She dipped her hand into her purse and felt around, pulling out her business card and holding it out to him. “I’m supposed to interview the band. I’m from the NOLA Vibe.”
“Yeah, you mentioned that.” He ignored her card and flipped the clipboard in his hand so it was facing her. She couldn’t read most of the names in the dim light of the alley, but she knew hers wouldn’t be there. “Problem is, you’re not on the list.”
“We’ve been over that.” She’d already explained in what she had hoped was a professional, polite tone that she was there as a replacement reporter, that the original guy was in the hospital.
“Yeah, well, you’re going to have to come up with a more creative reason to get back here. Half the people in this line claim they’re supposed to be on the list but were mysteriously left off. So unless you have a magic wand in your purse to make your name appear, you’re outta luck.”
She resisted the urge to throw something at his shiny head.
“Excuse me,” interrupted a perky voice. Aubrey turned to look at the blonde standing behind her. The girl pinned the bouncer with a sultry gaze.
“I am here to get laid. Does that make a difference?” She tilted her head to the side and somehow implied a wink without actually winking.
The guard gave the groupie an appreciative once-over and grinned. Aubrey rolled her eyes. Of course. Apparently wearing an outfit consisting entirely of leather strips and dental floss was the way to make nice with Mr. Clean.
“Look, doll, I’d love to let you in. But like I told Lois Lane over here, if your name isn’t on the list, my hands are tied. The boys don’t entertain company before a show. Come back after the concert and maybe I can get you in. They relax the rules a little then.”
The girl put a manicured hand on the guy’s chest. “I’ll hold you to that, sweet thing.”
Ugh. The night had turned into the girl with the skimpiest outfit wins. Aubrey huffed and turned to walk away before she was tempted to say something even more unprofessional than she already had.
She didn’t know if it was the smothering heat of the New Orleans summer evening, the putrid smell of the club’s Dumpster, or the fact that her plans had been shot to hell, but she was feeling downright combative. She shouldn’t be here. She wanted the promotion to head food writer that she’d been working so hard toward, but this was more than she’d signed up for.
She should be eating things with crabmeat and cream sauce at Pierre’s, the new restaurant she’d intended to review for her column. Not at some rock concert covering a band she knew hardly anything about. A band she couldn’t even get close to because her boss, Jordana, hadn’t bothered to notify security that someone was replacing Nick. But if Aubrey wanted a bigger job, she had to be willing to jump into any of the magazine’s departments when needed. At least that’s what Jordana had told her when she’d laid this last-minute assignment on her.
Aubrey pulled her phone from her purse, firing off a text message to her boss, warning her that this big story was in danger if she couldn’t get to the freaking band. But before she hit send, her pointy-toed boot caught an uneven piece of cobblestone, sending her body pitching forward and her phone flying. Choice words flew past her lips as her left palm landed flat in a puddle of what she prayed was water and she barely prevented a total faceplant on the sidewalk. Her phone clattered to the ground a few feet away.
“Oh, my god, are you all right?” A click-clack of heels sounded off to her left.
She glanced up to find the blonde peering down at her with concern and offering a hand, which made Aubrey feel like a jerk for having deemed the girl Rock Star Barbie earlier. Aubrey took her hand and got to her feet. “Yeah, I’m fine, just not paying attention. Thanks.”
“No problem. Heels and NOLA sidewalks have put me on my ass before.” The girl made sure Aubrey was securely on her feet before letting go, bending down to pick up Aubrey’s phone, and handing it to her. “Those boots are totally worth the risk, though. Super cute.”
“Thanks, but clearly the wrong choice for storming away from idiotic bouncers.” She checked her phone to make sure the screen hadn’t cracked then dropped it in her purse and wiped her wet hands on her jeans. She discreetly sniffed her palm. Beer. Gross. Better than urine, but not by much. She dug a bottle of her ever present antibacterial gel from her bag and squirted some on her hand.
The girl smiled and tucked a lock of bleached hair behind her ear. “Oh, don’t sweat baldy. He’s just enjoying his power trip. We still have a good shot at getting in later. Wanderlust is known for letting a lot of girls in after the show.”
Aubrey smirked as they headed toward the club again. “I think I may be overdressed.” And under-stacked.
The girl looked from her own leather outfit to Aubrey’s simple jeans and black V-neck. “Well, maybe a little, but you never know. I’ve heard the bass player is really into brunettes, so he may go for you. Or have you seen the guys in Darkfall? I saw them perform in a club last year. Ohmigod, their drummer is hot. And members of the opening band are usually easier to get to because everyone is going after the headliners.”
The girl smiled and nodded, Aubrey’s sarcasm flying right past her.
They navigated to the front of the club and headed toward the line of people snaking out the main door. Loud rock music by Darkfall, the opening band, filtered out the doorway and mixed with the chatter of the people waiting to get inside.