Echoes of silence unquie.., p.5
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       Echoes of Silence (Unquiet Mind Book 1), p.5

           Anne Malcom

  “Only as well as I put one foot in front of the other,” I answered with a grin.

  He grinned back. “Righteous. It’s serendipitous.”

  The one with blond messy hair leaned on the piano and smiled at me. He was handsome; they all were actually. The one beside me had hair that rivaled Killian’s on the inky and shiny scale, though it was longer, brushing his shoulders. He was wearing multiple silver rings and a couple of chains around his neck. Though he was tall and skinny, his bone structure made him look like he could be a Calvin Klein model. The blond one had messy, short hair and was slightly more built than the one beside me. He was wearing a striped crew neck sweater, faded jeans, and Chuck Taylors. The silent one behind him was seriously hot. He had a beanie pulled low on his head, and his dark eyes were nothing less than smoldering. I envied the length of his eyelashes, and his jaw was hard and angular, his skin tanned. He was more built than the other two. His muscles were clearly visible considering he was wearing a black wife-beater and black jeans.

  “Sorry, he missed his dosage today,” the blond one informed me, nodding his head toward the boy beside me. “I’m Wyatt. This is Noah.” He jerked his head behind him.

  “I’m Sam,” the one beside me cut in with a grin. “The most talented and best looking by far,” he said confidently.

  “Or maybe the loudest and dumbest,” Wyatt teased.

  Sam scowled at him.

  I found myself feeling warm and comfortable in their banter.

  “Lexie,” I said, before they could engage in fisticuffs, as entertaining as that would be.

  “We know,” Sam said, moving his attention back to me. “A hot new girl comes to school? First thing I did was find out your name, address, and social security number.”

  Wyatt punched him in the shoulder once more.

  He rubbed it distractedly. “I mean, nice to meet you,” he said with a grin.

  I couldn’t help but laugh. “Nice to meet you too.” My eyes moved to the other two. “All of you.”

  “I bet you’re wondering why we’re accosting you in the auditorium while you minded your own business, totally owning Pearl Jam,” Wyatt asked.

  I sat a little straighter. “The thought hadn’t crossed my mind,” I said seriously. “I just assumed you did this with all new students.” Sarcasm just naturally came out of my mouth. I usually reserved it for people I knew and felt comfortable around. That was a handful of people. Now it seemed three more were added to that small group.

  There were a couple more chuckles.

  “We were actually coming here to practice.” Wyatt nodded to the stage where a drum kit was hidden slightly by a curtain. Guitar cases leaned on it.

  “You guys are in a band?” I asked, unable to keep the excitement out of my voice.

  “Sort of,” Wyatt hedged.

  Sam jostled his knee. “Until now, the band was incomplete. We’ve needed a lead vocalist and another guitarist, and we’re the only talented people in this burg. We’d given up hope... until now,” he informed me with bright eyes.

  I realized they were all staring at me. “You mean me?” I asked in disbelief.

  Sam nodded rapidly.

  “If you’re interested,” Wyatt added quickly. “We can jam together, now if you’re free?”

  “Yeah, so we can assure you we don’t suck, which we don’t,” Sam told me.

  I gaped at them. I’d never been in a band at home. The idea had been intriguing, but I didn’t exactly have the confidence to go out looking. Plus, I was a rather solitary creature. I was happy reading, writing music, listening to it, singing, doing all of that alone. But right now, I couldn’t think of anything cooler than making it with people.

  I gave them a small smile. “I’ll take you up on the jam offer, but I’m reserving my right to make sure you don’t suck before I answer the band offer,” I teased.

  Sam pushed up rapidly off the chair, jostling me slightly as he stood. “Let’s get to it.” He was gone and at the drum set before I could even stand.

  Wyatt winked and ambled over to a guitar case.

  Noah gave me a warm smile that would have melted me had I not already been transfixed by another bad boy. “Welcome to the madhouse. Just a warning, once you’re in, you’ll never get rid of them.” He nodded to the boys. “Believe me, I’ve tried,” he joked, his eyes warm.

  I smiled back, and before I knew it, they had me situated in front of a mic and we were singing. Each song melted into another as we seamlessly played together like it was natural, like we had for years.


  A band was born.

  I had a sort of psychic power. Well, not psychic, exactly. I couldn’t read minds or move objects with the power of thought. I couldn’t tell the future either. I could see what songs people needed. I believed in the power of music. To inspire, to communicate, to elate, to bring down, and... to cure. A good song, a song that spoke to your soul, could sometimes help repair a broken soul. Or at least act to soften the sharp edges.

  So that’s why I sang Cat Power’s “The Greatest” in the garage Mom had helped me convert into a practice space for our newly formed band.

  It had been a whirlwind since the Wednesday our little band was born. It seemed I’d spent every spare second with boys who were quickly becoming my best friends along with bandmates. After school, study periods, and lunch breaks were dedicated to playing. I loved it.

  I thought I’d discovered the power, the beauty of music. Playing on my own with my guitar was one thing, but playing as part of an entire whole, playing with people who had the same passion as me was amazing.

  It was then I realized that was exactly what I wanted to do. For the rest of my life, I wanted to make music.

  It was a helpful distraction from the fact I hadn’t seen nor heard from Killian since Tuesday.

  Our school was small, the chances of me bumping into him should have been high, but considering he wasn’t in any of my classes and I spent all of my time practicing with the boys, I guessed it wasn’t implausible I hadn’t seen him. I had searched the cafeteria for his tall, leather-clad, and utterly delicious form without luck. I didn’t have much time to actually look for him, considering we only were in there long enough for the boys to scarf down food and then we went to the auditorium to practice.

  Though we had needed a real practice space considering Mr. Hazelton had found us on Friday when we were playing on a study break. We all happened to have study breaks together. Well, apart from Sam, but he declared he would rather “listen to Justin Bieber on repeat for the rest of my life instead of going to History class.”

  We had just finished a set that was fricking awesome, if I did say so myself, when Mr. Hazelton revealed himself, arms crossed and face pinched.

  “Oh shit,” Sam muttered from beside me.

  “What do you think you’re doing in here?” Mr. Hazelton snapped, addressing all of us.

  “Um, hate to point out the obvious, Mr. Hazelton, but we’re playing music. Practicing for our band’s grand future,” Sam drawled, grinning slightly.

  Mr. Hazelton was not impressed. “I can see what you’re doing, Mr. Kennedy,” he snapped.

  “Well, why did he ask?” Sam muttered under his breath.

  Mr. Hazelton narrowed his eyes. “I can see what you’re doing, but I’m lost as to the reason why you think it’s an appropriate use of school property and your time,” he continued sharply. “School is for bettering yourself, for making your future.” He ran his gaze over Sam. “For most students at least. Wasting not only your time, but Ms. Spencer’s is frankly unacceptable.”

  “Well, it’s technically our study period and Mr. Hamilton gave us permission,” I cut in, my voice friendly even though I hated Mr. Hazelton ever since his exchange with Kill.

  “I’ll be speaking with Mr. Hamilton about letting students waste their time with such”—he scrunched up his nose—“trivial pursuits,” he promised.

  “A life lived for art is never a life w
asted,” Sam cut in, his own eyes narrowed.

  Mr. Hazelton dismissed him with a condensing look. “I don’t appreciate the flippant attitude, Mr. Kennedy. I want you all out of here before I slap you all with detentions.”

  He gave us one more warning look before turning on his heel and striding out.

  “Bro, did you actually just quote Macklemore to Mr. Hazelton?” Wyatt asked in disbelief once the door had slammed shut.

  Sam turned to him and shrugged. “Well, it’s not like I can exactly remember Plato on the fly.”

  We were all quiet for a moment; then we burst out laughing, apart from Sam, who was watching us in confusion.

  So, to avoid Mr. Hazelton’s wrath, Mom and I set aside Saturday to convert our garage into a practice space. Mom had done it under duress and complained the entire time. She hadn’t loved the idea of manual labor, but she was more than supportive of our band. She’d even convinced herself that she would be our ‘Momager’ when we hit the big time. It didn’t matter she hadn’t actually met the boys yet, nor heard us play, she supported me all the way. That was her.

  But she had been different since that day a week ago. I couldn’t put my finger on it. She still laughed, joked, and ribbed like normal, but there was an edge, something that seemed off. I couldn’t ask because I couldn’t verbalize what it was. So instead, I sang.

  I got so lost in the song, in the lyrics, I didn’t notice anything but the rhythm passing through me, the words.

  It wasn’t until silence descended and my mind started up again did I realize it wasn’t just my mom who I was singing to.

  “Did it sound okay?” I asked her, not noticing the figures in the driveway at first.

  That was until one of them answered since Mom had gone mute.

  “That was kick-ass, Lexie! You’ve got a great voice, girl,” a loud voice exclaimed.

  I jumped at the foreign, manly voice and my whole face flamed when I spotted the owner of it. More accurately, who the owner was standing beside. Lucky was the bald, tattooed man who we had met the day our car broke down, the one who could scarily believe I was Mom’s kid and used a lot of swear words. Mom had told me his name when I’d asked about him. He was leaning on our car, along with Killian whose eyes were blazing into every part of me.

  I immediately jerked my head down, fiddling with the strings on my guitar.

  With the absence of him even for a few days, the memory of our connection seemed to be more and more in the realm of my imagination, and at that moment, I wasn’t sure whether I’d imagined it. I didn’t want to make a dork of myself by going bright red and gazing at him. Even more so, I didn’t want to be educated on how wrong I’d be by looking into his eyes and seeing them empty of what had been there days ago.

  So I kept my head down while Lucky and Mom chatted about the car, intent on my guitar strings like my life depended on it.

  “So you going to audition for American Idol with those pipes?” a deep voice asked me, and it took me a moment to realize I was being addressed and the voice was closer than it had been before.

  Lucky stood in front of me, hands casually in his pockets. He was seriously hot. Hotter than any movie star I’d drooled over with Mom in action movies. He was tall and totally rippling with muscles and tattoos. I guessed he had the ability to look menacing with tattoos covering him and creeping up his neck, his shaved head, and his cut. But he didn’t. His eyes were light, and his smile friendly.

  I couldn’t help but smile back, focusing all of my attention on him instead of the boy who stood slightly behind him, instead of meeting the eyes I could actually feel on me.

  “I don’t think I’ve got any reality shows in my future,” I replied brightly, swallowing my unease and my sick excitement that came with Killian’s presence. “I’m happy to be in a garage with my guitar and my band.”

  “Band?” a raspy voice repeated before Lucky could answer.

  Killian stepped around him, right in front of me, right in my bubble. I didn’t have any choice but to look at him.

  “I didn’t even know you could sing like that, Freckles,” he continued softly.

  Lucky glanced at him and grinned even bigger.

  I had told Killian about my love of music in our cafeteria conversations, but I didn’t tell him the extent of it, nor how I sang or played guitar. I always felt it would be kind of pretentious to tell people I was “good” at singing. It wasn’t something to boast about, to tell everyone about. It was me. A part of me just like my hands were a part of me. I didn’t exactly go around telling everyone I had hands.

  I nervously glanced at him. “It’s new. Not the singing part, I’ve been doing that forever. The band part,” I babbled.

  Lucky slapped Killian on the shoulder. “Well, I can’t wait to see this band. Anyone with a singer as pretty as you is bound for superstardom. Promise you’ll get me Gwen Stefani’s number when you hit the big time?” he asked seriously.

  I couldn’t help but giggle. “I’ll do my best,” I replied solemnly.

  He rubbed his hands together. “Excellent.”

  Killian didn’t seem to find Lucky as amusing as I did. He was too busy churning my stomach with the intensity of his stare.

  Okay, it was safe to say I hadn’t imagined it, whatever it was between us.

  My stomach did a little flip at this realization.

  “Sorry,” Mom apologized as she rushed back into the garage, her eyes on us. Or more aptly, Killian. She quickly moved her attention to Lucky. “They were hiding from me.” She handed two keys to him, the keys to the loaner car we had been driving since ours was getting repaired.

  I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and reluctantly moved my attention from Killian. I had to. Mom had crazy spidey senses; she would spot the way I was looking at him.

  “We need a key rack,” I informed her. Mom was forever losing our keys. I didn’t like to think how many parties, movies, and dinners we had been late to because Mom had inexplicably left the keys in the microwave or some equally obscure place.

  I watched her eyes narrow at the space between Killian and me, or more accurately, the lack of it before she focused on me. “We do not need a key rack.”

  I raised my eyebrows. “Where were said keys then?”

  Her face lost a bit of its bravado. “They may have been in the freezer,” she muttered.

  Lucky laughed at this. I was not surprised, so I only gave Mom a triumphant look.

  She glared at me and turned to Lucky. “Thanks for everything. I assume your company will send an invoice?”

  Now that her attention was diverted, I snuck a glance at Killian again. He was still staring at me. He stepped a hair closer and I held my breath.

  “Tonight,” was all he rasped before Lucky’s voice broke the spell one word and one look had weaved.

  “We’re off, Kill,” he declared, jerking his head to the car at the curb.

  Killian’s gaze stayed on me for a split second longer. Then he lifted his chin in farewell to Mom, who was frowning at him.

  Mom and I watched them go in silence.

  “That anything I need to worry about?” Mom asked finally.

  I jerked, escaping from the thoughts I had about whatever “tonight” meant, struggling against the butterflies for tonight.

  “What?” I asked, feigning innocence.

  She put a hand on her hip. “The mini hot guy who could teach college classes on smoldering looks,” she stated lightly.

  I rolled my eyes and moved my attention to my guitar once more. I couldn’t lie worth a damn, especially to my mom. “Of all the things you need to worry about, such as climate change, corporate ownership, and your chances of developing heart disease, that is nowhere near in the realm of importance. It’s nothing,” I lied.

  Mom stared at me; her gaze softened slightly. “I disagree, doll face. Things like planet Earth’s inevitable demise and my own health pale in comparison to my little treasure. I’m biologically ingrained to worry about you. I’l
l do it until I’m old and gray and senile and telling my cronies in the nursing home about my rock star daughter,” she said softly. “It’s also my job to protect you. From fads like glittered eyeliner, to the dangers of over exfoliating, and broody teenage boys who have heartbreaker all but tattooed on their forehead,” she informed me, frowning at the spot where Killian had stood.

  I pushed up and wandered over to her. “I don’t need protecting from such things. Especially heartbreak. I’m too busy concentrating on my future to worry myself about such trivial things,” I lied.

  Mom didn’t believe me, but she stayed silent.


  “Okay, not only is your mom like a total MILF, but she’s officially the coolest parent I’ve come into contact with,” Sam declared. “I didn’t think parents like her existed. I thought they were just some myth.”

  Wyatt glared at him. “Dude, you do not tell Lexie her mom’s a MILF, not cool,” he scolded.

  Sam held up his hands innocently. “What? She is. I doubt Lexie’s blind; she knows her mom’s hot. Plus, it bodes well for you, babe. You’re the spitting image of her. You’re totally hot already, and you’ll age well,” he told me sagely.

  Wyatt sighed and shook his head.

  Noah grinned.

  I giggled; I couldn’t help it. “Thanks, Sam, I can sleep easy knowing that,” I said dryly.

  “Apart from being totally inappropriate, Sam is right. It’s awesome we’ve got a practice space,” Wyatt said, looking around the garage that would now be the band’s home.

  Noah nodded. “Seriously. Thank her. You’re lucky she’s totally supportive of this,” he added in quietly.

  The way his eyes hardened while saying this worried me slightly. I’d only spent a few days with these boys, but I was already connected to them. We clicked instantly. It was like we’d been friends for years, not days. So we hadn’t exactly told everyone about our lives. They didn’t talk much about their parents; apart from me, what teenager did? I knew I was an exception, thinking of my mom as a best friend.

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