Backstage Pass / Page 42

Page 42

Author: Olivia Cunning

“I’m sorry.” She ducked her head so she didn’t have to see his face. What was she thinking? Cal ing a rock legend—Brian’s father—a washed-up has-been. To his face. She wouldn’t take it back though. She’d meant every word. “We’l talk later, Brian. I’l go wait on the bus.” Maybe she could think of the right thing to say in the interim. She was at a complete loss at the moment.

“Why?” Brian asked.

“You heard what she cal ed me,” Malcolm bel owed.

“I also heard what you said.” Emotion made Brian’s voice waver, but Myrna stil couldn’t garner the courage to look at him. “If you don’t want to be here, you should leave.”

Malcolm grunted.

“Is it that hard for you to be proud of him?” Trey asked.

“Trey, stay out of this,” Brian said. “He doesn’t have to support everything I do.”

“But he should,” Myrna murmured. She wondered how it was possible to produce words with her entire foot in her mouth.

“You don’t want to watch the show either?” Brian asked Myrna.

“Of course I want to watch the show.”

“I never said I didn’t want to be here,” Malcolm added.

“It’s settled then. Everyone has to suffer through my solos for the next hour.”

Myrna reached for Brian’s hand, but he threw her off and stalked out of the dressing room. Before she could start after him, Trey caught her arm. “Thanks for saying something,” he whispered. “He’d have kicked my ass for that.”

“I should have kept my mouth shut.” Now she had to fix things. She didn’t want to be remembered as Brian’s crazy ex-girlfriend who’d cal ed Malcolm O’Neil a has-been.

Trey grinned. “You just showed how much you care. Brian wil be stoked when he cools down and realizes it.”

“I don’t think he’s stoked that I made an ass of myself in front of his parents.”

She glanced at Malcolm and Claire who were talking with their heads close together as they fol owed Eric out of the dressing room.

“The name-cal ing was a bit much,” Trey said.

“And who instigated the entire thing?” She jabbed Trey in the chest with her finger. “You. I wouldn’t have gone off if you hadn’t alerted me to the situation.”

“I’ve been wanting to tel off Brian’s father for years.”

Trey started after the rest of the group and Myrna fol owed, her mind racing. “How can I make this up to him?”

“Do you want my honest opinion?” Trey asked.

“No, Trey, I want you to lie to me.”

He grinned at her crookedly. “If you can get Malcolm to admit Brian is a great guitarist, I think he’l forgive you.”

“That should be easy enough. Al he has to do is listen to Brian play.”

“Good luck with that.”

“Do you think I can talk Malcolm into joining Brian on stage while he’s soloing in the middle of the show?”

“Doubtful.” Trey paused and took her by the arm, a thoughtful expression on his face. “Unless…”

“Unless what?”

“Maybe if the band plays a tribute to Winged Faith. Malcolm’s problem is he’s stuck in the seventies. He’s an amazing musician but refuses to change, which puts him out of a job.”

“That might work. Does the band know any Winged Faith songs?”

Trey’s eyebrow arched. “Do you real y have to ask? Every band knows every Winged Faith song ever written.”

She chuckled. “True.” Problem was, she doubted that Malcolm would agree to any suggestion she made. She squared her shoulders. She just wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Trey laughed and tugged her into motion again.

She glanced up at him. “What?”

“The look of determination on your face. Papa Sinclair won’t know what hit him.” He hugged her against his side. When they entered the backstage area, Myrna and Trey went in opposite directions. She spotted Brian near the stairs behind the stage. He always had preshow jitters, but tonight he looked physical y il .

She considered going to talk to him, but figured she’d probably make things worse and he didn’t need the added anxiety right before their set. Trey, now equipped with his yel ow and black guitar, approached Brian and pounded him on the back vigorously. He leaned close and said something in Brian’s ear. Brian smiled, seeming to relax slightly, and whispered something back. Trey was so good to Brian. She loved Trey for it and was jealous of him at the same time. She didn’t quite understand that jealousy part. Trey had always been there for Brian. She should be happy that he had that kind of friend. And in a way she was. In another way, she wished she was the one who Brian depended on.

Brian’s eyes met hers across a sea of sound equipment. He sucked his top lip into his mouth and lowered his eyes to inspect his shoes. Her heart twisted and tears prickled her eyes.

He couldn’t even look at her.

Was this the end? God, she hoped not.

But even if he never forgave her, she wanted to patch things up between him and his father. She’d put her psychology degree into ful operational mode.

She continued around the stage, hurting more than she should. Why did she care if Brian no longer wanted to be with her? She never expected him to be a permanent fixture in her life, but this was too soon. She wasn’t ready to give him up. Their three months weren’t over. She stil had six more weeks of data to col ect for her project.

Myrna stood next to Malcolm on the floor to the side of the stage. He had his arms crossed over his chest and a look of tried patience on his face. Myrna bit her tongue and turned her attention to the stage. A camera crew stood ready to film a live video the band would be releasing soon. They’d chosen their hometown for the video because the crowd was guaranteed to be pumped up. When the stadium lights went down, the roar of the crowd was so deafening Myrna covered her ears with both hands. Knock ’em dead, guys.

The curtain dropped and blinding white streams of fireworks fel behind the stage. The bril iant light-curtain silhouetted Brian, who stood on a platform behind and above the drum kit wailing on the intro to “Gates of Hel .” Myrna’s heart thudded with a mixture of pride and anticipation. Claire clapped excitedly. Malcolm didn’t move a muscle. The crowd erupted in chaos. Plumes of fire shot into the air on either side of the drum kit the instant the rest of the band joined Brian. The crowd screamed their approval.

Sed’s low growl started to build. Myrna didn’t see him at first, but based on their enthusiastic reaction, the fans obviously did. Then she saw what had them so excited. Sed rose from the floor, center stage, the low rumble of his voice increasing in intensity as a platform lifted him. When the platform hit flush with the stage, Sed leapt onto a raised, circular stage section that jutted out toward the crowd. Red and blue fountains of sparks shot up around him on al sides, concealing him in a circle of colorful light. As soon as the display went dark, he started singing the lyrics.

The pyrotechnics display impressed Myrna with its perfect synchronicity to the song. The crew had outdone themselves for the live recording.

“Show offs,” Malcolm grumbled.

Myrna suppressed the urge to kick him in the shins.

As the song’s solo approached, Brian worked his way down from the platform behind the drums toward the circular outset at center stage. Sed moved back and Brian took his place. During his solo, a ring of fire surrounded his feet. As if he were playing for the devil himself, the flames licked higher and higher as the music built, until she could only see his silhouette. Myrna’s heart squeezed with anxiety. Being surrounded by al those flames must be hot, and if something went wrong…

But the fire died at the end of the solo and Brian stepped back onto the main stage unharmed.

“Wasn’t that cool, baby?” Claire shouted.

Malcolm shrugged.

Myrna suppressed the urge to kick him in the ass.

When the song ended, the crowd yel ed their approval.

“Good evening, Los Angeles!” Sed screamed into the mic. “Are you ready to rock?” He held the mic out toward the crowd. When they weren’t loud enough to satisfy him, he screamed, “I said, are you ready to mother fuckin’ rock?” He punctuated his final words with exaggerated nods of his head and thrust his microphone toward the audience. The crowd responded with greater enthusiasm. Claire cringed. “Does he have to cuss like that?”

“Smal vocabulary,” Malcolm commented, grinning to himself.

Myrna suppressed the urge to kick him in the stomach.

Sed continued on stage, “The hometown crowd looks beautiful from where I stand. What do you think, Jace?” He grabbed Jace in a headlock and pul ed him to the front of the stage.

“Craziest fuckers on the planet,” Jace said quietly into Sed’s microphone.

Myrna grinned. He was so damn cute. Some girl in the audience yel ed, “I love you, Jace!”

Myrna could see the blush spread up his face from where she stood. “I love you, too.”

“Oh hel , no,” Sed growled. “I don’t get any love?” He spread his arms wide, inviting adulation. Thousands of women professed their love for Sed at the top of their lungs. He grinned like a shark.

“That’s more like it,” he said. “As you know, we’re filming the concert tonight, so are you going to raise the roof?”

Yeah, they were. He sure knew how to get them pumped up. Myrna covered her ears to protect them from the roar of the crowd.

“Cuz our producer thought we should film this in fuckin’ Canada.”

Rounds of boos from the audience.

“That’s what I said. Now, don’t make me look bad. I stuck up for you guys. I said no one knows how to rock harder than L.A. What do you say, Master Sinclair?”

“I don’t know, Sed,” Brian said into his microphone, stage left. “Remember the last time we were up North? Those fans are pretty fuckin’ insane.” He paused for the crowd’s negative response. “But I think they were just trying to keep warm.” He rubbed his arms as if cold and hopped up and down like an overly excited fan. Eric drummed a buh-dum-bumb to accompany Brian’s attempt at comedy. Myrna laughed along with everyone else. Except Malcolm. His jaw twitched as he ground his teeth together. Myrna suppressed the urge to kick him in the throat.

What in the hel was Malcolm’s problem? He seemed to be making an effort to not enjoy himself. Claire had wandered off to chatter with a roadie and the lead singer of one of the opening bands, who obviously didn’t realize he was hitting on Brian Sinclair’s mother. Claire didn’t seem to care that her son easily kept ten thousand people entertained with his talent and charm. She paid him no mind.

No wonder Brian desperately needed love and Myrna’s constant approval. Stupid parents. Myrna had the strangest desire to just hug Brian. Hold him. Tel him how wonderful he was. How his father’s approval didn’t matter. He had the approval of hundreds of thousands of fans, but she knew that wouldn’t fil that hole in him she hadn’t recognized until this evening. Only one thing would fil that.

“You know what you should do,” Myrna said to Malcolm as nonchalantly as she could muster. “You should get up there and show these kids where their guitar heroes got their influence.”

He glanced at her, but quickly covered his look of interest with annoyance. “Why are you talking to me?”

Myrna suppressed the urge to kick him in the teeth.

She shrugged. “Wel , if you can’t…”

He grunted, the arms crossed over his chest tightening until his biceps strained the sleeves of his T-shirt. “There’s a difference between can’t and won’t.”

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