Backstage Pass / Page 32

Page 32

Author: Olivia Cunning

“I think I’m blushing.”

She turned to face him, kneeling between his thighs, and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Is that real y al it takes to make you blush?”

She kissed him tenderly. He kissed her in return but didn’t turn up the heat like he usual y did. When she leaned back to look at him, he smiled and said, “Let’s go for a walk.”

“Did you lock the car?”

He sighed. “You’re always so practical, Professor.”

“You mean boring.”

“Yeah, that’s what I meant.” He rol ed his eyes at her and shook his head. He stood and helped her to her feet. While she brushed the sand from her skirt, he scooped his boots and her sandals from the sand and tossed them into the car before locking the doors. When he returned to her side, he claimed her hand and led her toward the angry surf. The cool wind from the approaching storm blew Myrna’s hair against her face and her skirt tangled around her legs.

“Great day for a walk!” she cal ed over the crashing waves. “I think we’re going to get caught in a downpour.”

Brian glanced up at the sky. “We might.”

He kept walking, her hand tucked in his. The wet sand squished between her toes. She curled them under with each step, liking the way it felt. A wave washed across her feet and she danced sideways. “That’s chil y.”

“The water’s real y churning. If you want to go back—”

“A crab!” Myrna bent to snatch a half-dol ar-sized crab out of the sand. She held it up by the edge of its shel to show Brian. The creature’s legs wriggled as it tried to run away in mid-air. “Isn’t he cute?”

He chuckled. “He’s a little smal to make a good meal.”

“I wouldn’t let you eat him.” She turned the crab to look it in its stalked eyes. “Isn’t that right, Pinchy?”

“You named him?”

She careful y placed the little crab back in the sand and nudged it toward the surf. “Run for your life, Pinchy. I’ve seen the way this man eats.”

“Hey!” Brian grabbed her from behind, his fingers digging into her ribs. She laughed and struggled out of his grasp, taking off at a ful sprint along the edge of the water. She could hear Brian’s steps just behind her. She slowed slightly so he could catch her. He col ided with her back and she stumbled. Her arms shot forward to catch her fal , but Brian rescued her from an impending face-plant and scooped her up into his strong arms.

She laughed, slightly breathless, and gazed up at him.

“I almost bit the dust,” she said, “or I guess it would be sand. You rescued me.”

“Does this make me your hero?”

“You were already my hero.”

He grinned and rol ed his eyes. “Yeah, right. I’ve never met a woman who needed saving less than you do.”

“That’s not true. You’ve saved me from loneliness.” She kissed him. “And sexual frustration.” And she hadn’t heard Jeremy’s accusations in her head for a while now.

He chuckled. “Then you must be my hero, too.”

She kissed him again, her arms stealing around his neck, her fingers intertwining with the long silky hairs at the nape of his neck.

“Don’t get me al worked up,” he murmured against her lips.

“Why not? We’ve got the beach al to ourselves.”

He groaned into her mouth and hugged her closer. She deepened the kiss. He pul ed away. “That’s enough of that.”

He set her to her feet and she wobbled unsteadily. He took her hand and started walking again. She walked beside him silently, pondering his reluctance. This wasn’t like him. Had she done something wrong?

“Have you worked up the courage to ask yet?” he asked, scooping a piece of driftwood from the beach and flinging it into the waves.


“Why I’m not rutting around on you in the sand yet?”

“Oh that. I hadn’t noticed.”

“We’re here to get to know each other better. And I don’t mean in the biblical sense of the word. We already know each other that way. I’ve decided no sex until after the show tonight.”

“No sex?”

“That’s right.”

“And why do you get to decide?”

He grinned. “It’s more of a personal chal enge. Do you have any interest in getting to know me at al ? Personal y, I mean.”

“Can’t I just Google you? Isn’t your entire life somewhere online?”

He scowled. “Probably.”

She reached up and smoothed his forehead with her fingers. “Don’t make that face. Tel me how Sinners was formed.”

He glanced at her. “Do you want the real story or the more theatrical, online version?”

“The real story. I can always read the online version later.”

He smiled nostalgical y. “Trey and I were the outcasts of Beverly Hil s.”

“You lived in Beverly Hil s?”

“Yeah, my dad got rich and famous when I was a kid and Trey’s dad is a plastic surgeon, so we lived in the Hil s.”

“No shit? I never would have guessed that in a mil ion years.”

“We didn’t real y fit with the other rich kids and everyone else on the planet hated us because we were rich. So we stuck together. We played guitar. A lot. In eighth grade, we started a failing band—”


He chuckled. “I thought you hadn’t Googled me.”

“One of Trey’s groupies mentioned it.”

“Ah. Anyway, we got seriously heckled during a party gig in the tenth grade. By Eric Anderson.”

“Eric Anderson?”

“He’s since changed his last name to Sticks.”

Myrna chuckled. “I always thought it was strange that a drummer had the last name Sticks.”

“Yeah, he’s lame that way and had it legal y changed. Anyway, when he heckled us, Trey got so pissed. I honestly don’t think he’d ever been that pissed before. He dove off the stage and tore into Eric. Trey was always fighting back then, but this was beyond brutal. Blood everywhere. Shattered Eric’s cheekbone. Good thing Trey’s dad is a plastic surgeon.”

“Trey?” She found that hard to believe. He didn’t seem the type to hit someone that hard.

“Yeah, I was always breaking up his fights. I got my ass kicked more than once because of that chip on his shoulder. He’s chil ed a lot in his old age.”

“Yeah, twenty-eight is ancient.” Myrna rol ed her eyes at him.

“It’s a hel of a lot older than sixteen. Anyway, after he and Eric beat each other to a pulp at this chick’s birthday party, Trey said something like, ‘Yeah, wel , if you can do better, why don’t you prove it?’ And Eric did. He’s fucking gifted, you know?”

“He is a great drummer,” Myrna agreed.

“That’s what he plays now, but he can play guitar, too. Bass. Piano. Sax. Violin. Ukulele. Fuckin’ kazoo. You name it, Eric wails on it.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“And he has a fantastic voice. He sang and played bass for Crysys until Sed found us, and then he switched to drums permanently.”

Myrna’s brow furrowed. “Why did he switch to drums?”

“He’s the best drummer in the business. And… Sed gives him an inferiority complex.”

“Sed gives everyone an inferiority complex. The man has more self-esteem than fifteen supermodels combined. I think he was a monarch in his past life or something.”

“Henry the Eighth, probably.” He made a cutting motion across his throat complete with sound effects. Myrna laughed.

“Sed’s always been confident like that,” Brian said. “He came up to us after a Crysys gig and insisted he was our new singer. Sixteen years old and he knew his place on the planet. He said he’d been looking for a band to front. Told Eric point blank that he didn’t have the star quality or looks to front a band and he should go hide behind the drum kit.”

Myrna flinched. “That was harsh.”

“He was right. We were going nowhere. If it weren’t for Sed, we’d stil be playing birthday parties for spoiled rich girls. He had a plan, knew where he wanted to go, how to get there, and he made it work. For al of us. Sed changed the band’s name to Sinners and we searched for a bassist to replace Eric.”


“Nope, we had a different bassist before Jace. Jace has only been with us for two years. Our first bassist was Jon Mal ory—Eric’s best friend in high school. Unfortunately, Jon was usual y too high to find the stage. If you could swal ow it, snort it, smoke it or shoot it, he’d do it. We tried to help him get through it. He was in rehab half a dozen times, but he almost brought us al down with him, so we had to let him go. It was hard to kick him out of the band. Just making the decision was hard, but watching Sed tel him… Fuck. That was brutal. He was like family, you know, especial y to Eric. I feel sorry for Jace at times. He has big shoes to fil and Eric sure doesn’t make it easy for him.”

“Drugs and alcohol mess up so many lives.” She’d probably stil be married to Jeremy if it weren’t for his drinking problem. “So how’d you find Jace?”

Brian smiled at her. “He came highly recommended by Trey’s older brother.” He winked. “Okay, your turn.”

“My turn?”

“This isn’t a one way conversation.”

“Wait. What do you mean he came highly recommended by Trey’s older brother? Wink. Wink. Were they lovers or something?”

Brian’s shocked expression was quickly replaced by raucous laughter. He stopped walking and wrapped his arms around his bel y as he continued to laugh. She thought he’d fal into the sand and start rol ing back and forth at any moment.

“What is so funny?”

Brian wiped tears of mirth from his eyes. “Oh God. I needed that laugh.”

He hugged her to his side, stil chuckling sporadical y.

“I stil don’t understand what’s so funny. Trey is gay, isn’t he? I mean he doesn’t real y look or act the part, but…”

Brian tugged her by the shoulders to face him and looked down at her. “Gay? No, not real y. Trey is more of an equal opportunity lover. His brother is straighter than an arrow, however. And I think Jace would rather die than be with a man. Just picturing Jace Seymour and Darren Mil s together struck me as hilarious.”

Darren Mills? Why did that name sound familiar to her?

Brian continued, “What I meant was Jace tried out for Dare’s band and they were going to hire him, but their original bassist decided to stay after al . So when Dare found out that we needed a bassist to replace Jon, he sent Jace our way. We were lucky to get him. I mean, he’s good enough to get an audition with Exodus End at the tender age of twenty-one. That’s pretty fucking amazing.”

Myrna’s eyes widened. “Exodus End?” That’s where she knew the name Darren Mil s. Or rather, Dare Mil s. Her lead-guitaristsenses tingled at ful throb.

“Please don’t tel me you’ve never heard of Exodus End.”

She grabbed him by both arms and gave him a vigorous shake. “Of course I’ve heard of Exodus End. What planet do you think I’m from? Do you know them? Personal y?”

“Uh, yeah. Trey’s brother is their lead guitarist.”

“No shit? You’re teasing me, aren’t you?” She didn’t know why she’d never connected Trey and Dare Mil s. “Holy Toledo!”

“Holy Toledo?” He laughed at her sudden bout of fan-girlness. “Nope. Not teasing. You know, we’re opening for Exodus End at the end of June in Las Vegas. Maybe you’d like to meet him.”

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