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Big Girl Rocking in the Sunshine(Big Girl, book 3)(1) by Aubrey Rose

CHAPTER ONE

Shannon flipped her long red hair back, trying not to look as out of place as she felt. Every fan in the crowd seemed to be a different version of the same skinny, bleached-blond beauty. Oh well, guess I didn’t get the memo. She raised her camera up and took two steps backward in the sand to frame the shot, bumping into a group of cheering fans as she moved back.

“Oops, sorry!” She steadied herself and focused her camera on the singer of the band that was up on stage. It was a group of girls who were rocking out like their life depended on it. The banner strung out over the stage behind them read

Cheap Trix. They were opening for Wilder Side, and Shannon wanted to make sure she got good shots of everything, even the opening act.

“Watch yourself,” one of the fans said. Shannon apologized again, but as she turned away she could hear them fuming behind her: “… as fat as a walrus seal. And just as clumsy!”

Shannon would normally have been crushed by such a remark, but today nothing could put her in a foul mood. Not while she was on tour with her man, the lead guitarist for Wilder Side. The San Diego sunshine was still warming the sand in the late afternoon, and from the front of the stage she could see the ocean crashing into the pier just a step away. It was the perfect venue for a show - the stage set up right next to the beach on the sandy dunes. And even though it was early spring, the weather couldn’t have been more beautiful.

The only problem, in fact, was that the sunshine made it somewhat hard to get good shots of the band on stage. She had hoped to figure it out by shooting the opening band, Cheap Trix. But as the singer hit the last note of their last song, Shannon realized that there was no way she was going to be able to get any good shots of Wilder Side in the over-bright sun.

Some people thought the more light, the better, but photographers knew that too much sun caused no end of trouble. The high contrast created blown-out highlights in the images, and too much contrast made it hard to fix afterward. The shadows cast by an overhead sun could even make people’s faces look gaunt, like skeletons. Argh.

Julian had trusted her to shoot the last stop on their tour, though, and Shannon was determined to make it work. As Cheap Trix exited the stage, she darted up to the side stairs. The band had already come out of the dressing rooms in the building behind the stage, and she could see Daniel checking over their gear.

“Hold on,” the security guard said, putting up his hands to stop her.

“I’m with the band,” Shannon said, holding out her backstage pass. “I need to get on stage.”

He waved her along, stepping back to contain the mob of girls behind her who were already screaming Alex Wilder’s name.

“Hey sexy, what are you doing here?” Julian said when he saw Shannon backstage. His guitar was slung over his shoulder and he bent down to give Shannon a kiss. The brief contact made Shannon’s stomach twist with desire.

“I brought some windshield reflectors,” Shannon said, craning her head to look around the band’s gear. “I left them next to the amps. Are they-”

She saw what she was looking for and bent over to grab them.

“Perfect. Any chance I can set these up onstage?”

“Sure,” Julian said, smiling at Shannon’s fervor. “What for?”

“Just need to get some light reflected onto you guys. Or else the sun is going to wash you out in the photos.”

“My beautiful photography genius.” Julian kissed her forehead, hugging her close. She felt his hands begin to drift down her hips.

“Julian! Later, later!” She hated to leave him. “I have to set this up.”

“Of course. My very serious and very professional photography genius.” He released her from his embrace.

“Oh hush, you!” Shannon smiled as she turned away and skipped up the stage steps to set up the reflectors. The road crew for Cheap Trix was still dismantling their sound equipment as she placed the reflectors across the edge of the stage, out of the way of the band but still close enough to reflect light. She darted a glance down to the audience, and her breath caught in her throat.

The raised stage here had no curtain; everything was open to the audience. From down in the crowd, Shannon hadn’t realized how vast the audience of people was. Looking out now, though, she saw thousands and thousands of scantily-clad fans swarming across the sand. The ocean was in clear view, too, with the sun reflecting off the waves crashing down on the beach. Shannon snapped a lens hood onto her camera and started shooting. When the crew from Wilder Side came to set up the stage, she continued to take photos, adjusting the reflectors based on how they looked. Julian smiled as she came back down the stairs.

“You look determined. And professional. And sexy as hell.”

Shannon simply held up the camera and snapped away.

“Portrait of a rock star,” she said.

“Portrait of a man in love,” Julian echoed, and then he was walking up the stairs and onto the stage behind Alex, and the crowd was screaming the band’s name. Shannon’s heart leapt in her chest. In love? Julian had asked her to come to the last stop on their tour to photograph the band, and she knew he liked her, but he had never once mentioned love. Until now. In love? Her blood pumped hard through her veins.

“Pull yourself together, Shannon,” she said to herself, holding her camera up to her chest. “You have a job to do.”

Shannon pushed through the crowd, snapping shots from different angles. The sun was beginning to sink down toward the horizon and the light shone dimly onto the band as the music started up. The sound system blared the first guitar intro, and the crowd screamed in unison. Shannon could hear a mob of girls shouting Julian’s name and she smiled. He’s all mine.

The drum beat pounded in her heart, making her grateful that Julian had given her earplugs to protect her eardrums. It was loud, even on an outside stage. She got a great shot of Alex leaning down to touch the sea of hands reaching out to the stage. Another one of Daniel fiercely playing his bass, concentrating only on the strings. Asher’s hair was flying all over the place while he drummed, but she had fun trying for a close-up shot through his drum kit from the front of the stage. She could feel the music throbbing through her body as she took the photos, and the energy of the crowd pulsed electric in the air.

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