Backstage Pass / Page 43

Page 43

Author: Olivia Cunning

“The outcome is the same.”

The band started the next song. Myrna watched with her usual enthusiasm, pretending to ignore Malcolm, who tapped his toe occasional y and shifted his hands into his pockets during Brian’s solo. This might be easier than she thought. He wanted to be up there with Brian. She knew he did. So why was he holding back? And why did he find it necessary to belittle not only Brian, but his entire band?

The majority of the crowd was a mosh pit—bodies ricocheting off each other in chaos. When the song ended, the audience surged toward the barrier as individuals tried to situate themselves closer to the stage.

“Wild crowd tonight,” Myrna commented. “Ever had a crowd like this one?”

Malcolm snorted. “Ever heard of Woodstock?”

“Oh yeah, you played there when Winged Faith was first starting out. That was what? Forty years ago?”

He scowled. “Yeah, I guess it has been that long. Best four days of my life.”

“I’m betting the days your children were born were right up there with them.”

“I was on tour in Cleveland when Brian was born. New Orleans with Kara.”

“That must’ve been hard. Being on the road and missing your children’s births.”

“Being on the road al the time is hard. I missed a lot. But not being on the road is harder.”

“You could get a little taste of that back tonight. I’m sure Brian would love to play a tribute to Winged Faith with you on stage. He said so himself.” Forgive me for lying, Brian.

Malcolm’s brow furrowed with what Myrna hoped was consideration. He glanced at his wife, who had found several more men to add to her entourage. Myrna counted two drummers, a bassist, and a guitarist, in addition to the lead singer and roadie. Malcolm rol ed his eyes, removed his hands from his pockets and crossed his arms again.

She could tel he wanted to be on stage, but apparently he needed more pushing. “I need to apologize to you for cal ing you a—”

He lifted a hand to silence her. “Do you always talk this much?” he asked. “You must drive Brian insane.”

She laughed. “No, I talk a lot when I’m nervous.”

He looked at her. Really looked at her for the first time. “Why are you nervous?”

“I’m in the presence of one of the original guitar greats. I don’t think anyone could make me more nervous. Unless Jimi Hendrix rose from the grave and stood beside me.”

“A Jimi Hendrix zombie would make everyone nervous.” They laughed, continuing to talk loudly because the next song had started on stage.

“Did you meet Hendrix at Woodstock?”

Malcolm shook his head. “I watched him, though. That man could play.”

“Brian’s one of a kind, but I hear Hendrix’s influence in his sound. And yours.”

“Mine? He doesn’t play anything like me.”

“Sure he does. Listen to him. It’s your style with embel ishments.”

“Lots of embel ishments,” he said, but he listened. Myrna suspected this was the first time Malcolm had actual y heard Brian play. She watched Malcolm’s expression change from indifference, to disbelief, to interest, and final y pride. “He does sound a lot like me,”

he murmured. He glanced at Myrna. “With embel ishments.”

“The fans love his soloing style, but without the sensual undercurrents that he borrowed from you, he’d sound flat.”

“Look at him go. I could never keep up with him. He has crazy fast fingers.”

Myrna flushed and averted her gaze. “Yeah.”

When the song ended after a particularly embel ished guitar outro, Malcolm clapped and thrust a fist in the air. “That’s the way to play it, son,” he shouted.

Myrna wished she’d gotten that on tape. She almost had him. Just a little more pushing and she knew she could talk Malcolm into joining Brian on stage. She’d better hurry though, because she only had the span of two songs to convince him.

Chapter 30

Brian chugged half a bottle of water and returned to the stage. The rest of the band got a ten-minute break in the middle of the show. He was not so lucky. Or perhaps he was the lucky one who got the entire stage and thirty thousand fans al to himself. He approached the microphone on the ego riser at the center of the stage.

“It appears I’ve been deserted again,” he said. He glanced at the side of the stage. The audience that mattered to him had disappeared, too. No Myrna. No Dad. At least his mom was there. She waved at him from the crew of men surrounding her. Nothing new there.

Myrna’s absence unsettled him the most. Had he been too hard on her? He should have talked to her before the show. Let her know he wasn’t too upset about her cal ing his father a has-been.

“I was going to play the first riff I ever learned for you tonight, but—”

“He never could play it right,” his dad’s voice interrupted from backstage.

The unmistakable riff of Winged Faith’s hit song “Mystic” blared through the speakers as Malcolm O’Neil headed across the stage in Brian’s direction. Dad was playing on Sinners’ stage. Too stunned to find his guitar, much less play it, Brian stared at him in disbelief.

“Close your mouth, son. You’l swal ow a fly.”

Brian snapped his jaws together, a smile spreading across his face until his cheeks hurt.

“Ladies and gentlemen, our surprise special guest, Malcolm O’Neil of Winged Faith,” Sed’s voice announced from behind the scenes.

The crowd cheered and Malcolm grinned. “Wel , are we going to play them a song, or are we going to stand up here looking stupid al night?”

Brian’s answer was to play the intro to “Mystic” with a few dozen extra notes per measure.

“I told you he never played it right,” Malcolm said into the mic, but he grinned instead of scowling.

“Just spicing it up a little, old man.”

Malcolm laughed.

They played the intro together, Malcolm in the traditional style and Brian with his additions. The crowd ate up every moment. When Eric and Jace joined them after the intro, Brian spun around, startled. Sed sang the opening verse so perfectly, Brian doubted even his father could tel the difference from the original. And then Brian spotted Trey and Myrna standing backstage by the amplifiers. Both of them looked entirely too pleased with themselves, laughing and hugging each other excitedly. So Myrna hadn’t deserted him and he suspected she had something to do with his father’s change of heart. He turned back to the crowd, playing beside his father, his heart ful to bursting. He wondered if Myrna knew how much this meant to him. Probably, but he’d tel her anyway.

The song ended much too soon. His dad handed his borrowed guitar over to Trey. Before he left the stage, Dad grabbed Brian by both ears and touched his forehead to his. “I’m proud of you, son. I don’t think I’ve ever told you that.”

“I’m proud to be your son, Dad.”

Dad grinned and released him. “That woman of yours is relentless.”

Brian grinned. “Pretty terrific, isn’t she?”

“Don’t let her get away.”

“Not a chance.”

Malcolm took a bow and trotted off the stage. Brian saw his mother launch herself into his dad’s arms and kiss him passionately, her entourage of attentive males entirely forgotten.

Brian decided they’d skip those dinner plans he’d made earlier. Mom and Dad looked like they needed some alone time, and God knew he wanted to express his gratitude to Myrna.

Chapter 31

Myrna waited for Brian to unlock the front door of his apartment. She didn’t know what to expect when he pushed the door open, but a large, tasteful y decorated foyer and expansive, clean, and comfortable living area would not have been her first guess.

“What do you think?” he asked, looking at her with that approval-please expression she’d come to recognize.

“It’s great, Brian.” She kissed his jaw and crossed the threshold. “I love it. Did you decorate it yourself?”

He laughed. “No. Sed had a thing with an interior decorator for a while. She maxed out his credit card, but we got great digs at his expense. If you think this is nice, you should see his place. It’s amazing.”

Myrna set her purse on a marble-topped, cherry table next to the front door and ventured further inside. Brian dropped their suitcases inside the door and locked it behind him. The furniture was heavy and inviting. Neat and masculine. Dark woods contrasted with sage green, taupe, and ivory upholstery. Matching pil ows, rugs, and abstract artwork tied everything together. She could picture Brian enjoying the soothing colors, but the décor didn’t seem to fit his roommate’s style at al . And the place was spotless.

“How do you keep it so clean? Doesn’t Trey live here with you?” She was constantly on top of Trey to pick up after himself on the bus. She couldn’t imagine his behavior being much different at home.

“Maid service, baby.”

“Ah, that explains everything.”

She turned to find him standing directly behind her. “Thank you,” he murmured, taking both her hands in his and staring into her eyes with sincerity.

“You’re welcome,” she said, “but what are you thanking me for?”

“For what you did with my dad.”

She smiled and squeezed his hands. “I was just trying to make up for insulting him and for hurting you. I don’t know why I got so mad when he criticized you and the band.”

“I think I know why.” He kissed her tenderly.

“I guess I’m just a fan girl, after al .”

The front door opened. “Honey, I’m home,” Trey cal ed and tossed his keys on the table beside the door. A tal brunette with big boobs, bigger hair and an almost nonexistent skirt fol owed Trey into the apartment. She scowled when her eyes landed on Myrna.

“When you said Brian would be here, you didn’t say anything about him having a woman with him,” she said to Trey.

“Hey, Carly,” Brian murmured. Myrna’s head snapped up to look at him. He knew this…this woman? Was she an old girlfriend of his? Brian toyed with the button at the top of Myrna’s suit jacket, his face red and body tense as he stared at his fiddling fingers.

“I didn’t say he wouldn’t have a woman with him,” Trey pointed out.

“I was hoping to be involved in one of your famous threesomes tonight,” Carly said, “but everyone knows Brian doesn’t cheat.”

Famous threesomes? Myrna’s eyes widened and her breath caught.

Brian’s hands moved to cover Myrna’s ears. “Wil you get her out of here? We were having a moment,” Brian’s muffled voice carried through his hands.

Trey said something Myrna couldn’t make out. Carly grinned brazenly, grabbed Trey’s belt buckle and led him down the hal way. As soon as the bedroom door closed, Brian dropped his hands.

“Sorry you had to see that.”

“Famous threesomes?” she sputtered.

“Really sorry you heard that.” He turned and headed toward the kitchen off to the side of the main living room. “Are you hungry?”

She trailed after him, stumbling over the edge of an area rug because she wasn’t watching where she was going. “Don’t change the subject, Brian.”

“I’m starved. There should be something in here to eat. Wanda knew we’d be home tonight and she’s always good about stocking up for our return.”

He opened the refrigerator and leaned inside.

“Did Carly mean… that you and Trey and… and a…” She swal owed. “…a woman have…” She touched her cheeks with cool fingertips. Why was her face so hot? “H-have…?”

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