PUSHCoverArtChapter One 

“Let’s move Mack,” Lauren called through the single story house. Mack picked up her head off the pillow on the couch, where she had been resting after a long shift at the hospital.

“Where are we going?”

“To the concert, of course. Move your tushi.” Lauren wrapped her hands firmly around Mack’s ankles, but Mack kicked them off. She had been looking forward to a nice relaxing night off her feet, but it didn’t sound like she would be getting her wish.

“I haven’t heard anything about a concert.” Mack curled up again on the couch and reached for the television remote, but Lauren was faster.

“Get your lazy butt off the couch and come enjoy the Kaz Goto concert with me.” Mack gazed up anther friend, deciding if she was really in the mood to attend. a concert of a handsome singer. She contemplated the pros and cons to this decision. On one hand she could go see one of her favorite artists, one the other she would have to get up. She sighed as she realized her decision had been made for her. Alekzander Goto was simply to tempting to pass up.

“Let me get dressed.” Mack sat up and trudged to her room.

She stood in her closet staring at her clothes. What was she going to wear? She flipped through her jeans until she found her dark wash skinny jeans and pulled out her black lace bustier and sheer black top. She pulled off her scrubs and hurriedly put on her clothes for the evening. She frantically searched through her bedroom, upturning her room until she found her black knee-high boots.

She pulled them on, hopping on one leg at a time as she rushed her way through the house, grabbing her keys off the hook in the kitchen and sliding her license into her back pocket with her phone.

“Let’s go.” She jogged down the step and slipped into the driver’s seat of her blacked out Infinity G35. As the engine started with a low-key throaty purr, Lauren climbed in the passenger seat and buckled her seatbelt, “Alright, where are we going?”




“No, Lauren, I do not want to play babysitter for you.” Mack put her hand on her hip and pretended to be annoyed.

She had been dragged out of her house and away from her quiet evening to go to some concert which she was fine with. However she was not fine with playing babysitter for Lauren. She hadn’t been told why she had to go or when they would be home, all she knew was she had to be up early the next morning for her shift, and she was going to be dead tired.

“Oh come on now, this is more for you than for me. I don’t want to meet up with Kaz again if I’m alone. What if it’s awkward?” Lauren leaned into the slightly dusty mirror as she reapplied her lip gloss.

“You think it would be less awkward with me there? If anything I’d make things more awkward, he’s never met me and probably has no interest in meeting me so why am I here again?”

“To humor me. Now stop whining and tell me I look amazing.”

“So you’re using me for my oh-so-expert advice on fashion.” Mack smoothed her long brunette hair off her shoulders and brushed her full bangs out of her hazel eyes as she glared in mock disgust at Lauren, “You should have brought Rose or something.”

“I can’t bring a pregnant woman to a loud concert.” Lauren flipped her shaggy blond hair at Mack with as much attitude as possible.

“So, instead, you thought it would be a good idea to bring the person who spends her days wearing shapeless scrubs.” Mack raised her eyebrow sharply and Lauren stuck her tongue out.

“Stop arguing and tell me I look amazing.”

Mack considered her friend, slowly tilting her head from side to side as if to get a better look at her. She lifted her index finger the way Lauren had many times and made a silent spinning gesture, asking her to twirl so she could get a view from all angles. She enjoyed making Lauren nervous; it was payback for always getting under her skin.

“Well…” Mack pretended to be deep in thought. Mack just couldn’t understand why Lauren was
so worried. She always looked amazing in everything and never had a hair out of place.

“What? Do I have something in my teeth?” Lauren’s dark blue eyes went wide and she spun around to lean into the mirror while wiping it cleaner with a paper towel.

“Oh my gosh, you are such a freak. You look beautiful as always. Stop worrying.”

“I haven’t seen him since I broke up with my ex.” Lauren rubbed her fingers under her eyes, smudging her eyeliner enough to add a smoky look, “He wasn’t overly happy with me so I want to prove I’ve come a long way.”

“In other words…” Mack rolled her eyes. “…you want to make him fall on his knees and beg to date you.”

Women and the games they played. They were always doing one thing to make men think they wanted something else. No wonder men were so frustrated with them. They couldn’t speak the same language because women were constantly changing it on them.

“Yeah, kind of.” She grinned and stood back, smoothing her shirt over her skinny jeans and pulling her boots up again. Mack doubted they had moved, but it didn’t stop Lauren from adjusting.

“He’s an international sensation who has girls falling at his feet. What makes you think he doesn’t have a girlfriend already?” Mack crossed her arms over her chest. Lauren would always be a mystery to her.

“Well, I would know if he did. Besides, if he doesn’t go for me, you look hot tonight. He could totally go for you, and you’re closer to his height.” Lauren walked around Mack, sizing her up.

“Would you stop? You’re creeping me out. I’m not a piece of meat.” A girl walking out of the bathroom shot Mack a look and she lowered her voice, “I don’t need a boyfriend.”

“Oh Mack, yes, you do. This is more for you than me. You’ll thank me later.” Lauren rested her hand on Mack’s arm and smiled sweetly.

When Lauren got an idea in her head there was no turning back. Her ideas had a tendency to blow up in everyone’s face except hers. Mack knew she was going to regret this.

“I’m not seeing how this is more for me than you. He’s your old high school savior, not mine. Please forgive me for not following your twisted logic.” Mack rolled her eyes and rested against the cold white ceramic tile walls of the bathroom.

“You love his songs, and I think you’re going to like him as a person. Maybe more than you may ever have thought possible.” Lauren smiled at Mack in the mirror and Mack cringed, looking straight back at her, there were days she wished Lauren didn’t know so much.

All the girls around them were staring at Lauren, finally catching up on what they were discussing. It wasn’t any of their business, nosy people and their need for gossip. It was just her luck the high school Lauren had attended as a teenager was jam packed with connections.

“Mack, stop cursing me in your mind. It’s rude and you know it.” Lauren’s perfectly plucked eyebrow shot up as she smiled.

“Are you done fixing your already perfect face?” Lauren’s face scrunched up in the mirror as she tossed the paper towel into the nearby trashcan while Mack walked out of the bathroom and into the throng of singing and dancing young adults.

She didn’t like drawing attention to herself and the girls in the bathroom were a little too interested in their conversation. Mack followed Lauren through the crowds, holding onto the back of her perfectly worn-in leather jacket so she wouldn’t lose her through the crowds. The opening act was deafening as she walked past a speaker. Her eyes traveled over the crowds when Lauren stopped, everyone seemed to be enjoying them.

“We have to go this way!” Lauren yelled in Mack’s ear as she grabbed her arm and dragged her toward the backstage entrance.

“Excuse me, ladies.” A bear of a man, dressed in black pants and shirt designed to make him look even more intimidating than his massive size already did, stepped in front of them and blocked their path. “You can’t come back here. This area is off limits for a reason. Didn’t you read the signs?”

Mack looked from the security man standing in front of her to Lauren — whose face showed nothing but trouble. She was about to get her way and Mack could only stand back and watch.

“I’m sure if you ask Mr. Goto, he will tell you it’s fine if Lauren Matthews and a friend come to visit him.” The man opened his mouth to argue but Lauren cut him off. “He will be fine with it.” Lauren offered the security man a sweet but determined smile, and he looked at her with some obvious speculation.

“Hang on.” He unclipped a black handheld walkie-talkie from his hip and pressed the talk button, “Hey, Jim, I’ve got a Lauren Matthews down here claiming she knows Mr. Goto. Wanna check it out for me?”

“Gotcha. Give me a second,” a deep and disembodied voice answered back through the walkie-talkie.

Mack glanced back and forth between Lauren and the walkie-talkie waiting for the response, wondering how Kaz Goto was going to respond to hearing her friend’s name. She was constantly being surprised by the number of people Lauren and Kirin were connected to just because of who they went to high school with.

“So, how are you today?” Lauren smiled, with all the innocence she could manage, at the security man. He ignored her.

Mack looked out the corner of her eye at Lauren. Her friend had never taken well to being ignored. Being ignored by this particular man was going to get under her skin really soon if they didn’t get an answer in the next few seconds.

“He said send her up.” Jim’s voice crackled through the walkie-talkie and the guard actually looked a little disappointed. Mack guessed he had been turning away girls all night. Turning her away would have been as good as a trophy.

“All right.” He clipped the handheld back on the leather belt surrounding his substantial hips and waved them dismissively through the door barring the entrance to the back stage area.

“Thank you so much.” Lauren flashed him yet another huge smile and added a wink for good measure as she closed the door behind them.

“Good job. Antagonizing the security guards sounds like an awesome way to start the concert.” Mack nudged Lauren, who faked almost falling as they entered the hall on their way to the dressing rooms.

“You have to admit I keep your life interesting,” Lauren said with a laugh and nudged Mack right back.

“I will give you credit for that. Between you and Rose, my life will never be boring.” Mack rolled her eyes and continued down the hallway, “Is there a reason the security here is so relaxed, other than the guy out front?”

“Kaz is well protected, but it doesn’t show. I guess that can be good or bad. As you said earlier, he’s an international sensation, but he doesn’t act like one. You see, all his security people know me and they know our past so I just smiled as I walked by. The only one who obviously didn’t know me was the guy out front we talked to.”

“For some reason I don’t believe you.”

“Why not?” Lauren feigned innocence, putting her hand over her heart for good measure.

“You’re not that good, but I know you’d like to think you are.”

“You know it.” Lauren burst out laughing and stopped outside the dressing room door, “Promise me you won’t freak out and embarrass me. I haven’t seen Kaz in a couple years.”

“Why would I embarrass you?” Mack crossed her lean arms in front of her and raised her eyebrow at Lauren. The girl didn’t give her enough credit.

“Because this is you we’re talking about.”

Touché.” Mack said after a second, “I won’t embarrass you.” Lauren sighed and knocked on the door. Mack waited a second to make sure she was relaxed before muttering, “On purpose.”

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