Hot ticket, p.17
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       Hot Ticket, p.17
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         Part #3 of Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning
Page 17

  Author: Olivia Cunning

  Electric violin? Did they really need another stringed instrument? Something like a piano would be better, but Jace was too intimidated to say it. Eric obviously knew what he was doing. Jace needed to curtail his eagerness and let the man work.

  “Just try it,” Eric said to Sed. “I’ll be trying something different. You should too. ”

  Jace leaned forward. He couldn’t help it. He wanted to participate. “Do I get to try something different?”

  “No,” Eric said.

  Jace’s hopes plummeted.

  “Well, maybe,” Eric amended. “You should add more embellishments to the bass lines to complement Brian. You’re a better bassist than Jon was. I think you need to push your skill level on the new album. You must be bored as fuck playing that repetitive shit Jon composed before you signed on. ”

  Better bassist than Jon was. Eric recognized that? He was probably just jerking Jace around, but hope insisted on floating back to the surface. Jace grinned until his cheeks hurt and glanced from Eric to Sed and back to Eric. “Okay. ”

  “I’m going to call Trey,” Sed said unexpectedly. “He needs to be here a lot more than I do. Lyrics last. ” Sed climbed to his feet. “Carry on. I’ll be right back. ”

  “Hey, I can’t wait around all day. I’ve got shit to do,” Eric said.

  Sed left the room.

  “Like what?” Jace asked.

  “None of your business,” he said. “Go get me a beer. ”

  He didn’t have to be such an ass about it. And Jace was not going to get him a beer.

  Eric stared him down for a few moments and then reached for another set of music. “Okay, little man. I’ve got another beat for you. Match it. ”

  He listened to Eric’s tapping on the table, and like before a complementary bass line sounded in his head. He started playing before Eric had completed his progression.

  “How do you do that?” Eric asked. “Have you been writing music behind our backs?”

  Jace shook his head. “I don’t know. I hear your beat, and I just know what goes there. I think because we’ve been playing together for a couple years now. ”

  “I guess it has been that long, hasn’t it?” Eric looked nostalgically sad. “Here’s the next one. ”

  They continued that way for a while. Eric producing a beat. Jace matching it with bass lines. Eric scribbling down the notes Jace played. Sed still hadn’t returned.

  “I wonder where the fuck Sed went. ”

  Jace shrugged.

  Eric left the room. Jace scanned the score sheets on the table until Eric returned a few minutes later. “He’s going somewhere with Jessica. ”

  “Something wrong?”

  “She looked upset, but what’s new? Drama follows her like a little lost puppy. But Sed loves her, so what can we do?”

  “We can keep writing while he’s gone. ”

  Eric considered him for a moment and then nodded. “Yeah, I guess so. What do you think about the electric violin idea?” Eric asked. “Brilliant, huh?”

  Jace lowered his eyes. He knew Eric just wanted affirmation, but he still didn’t see the point of adding yet another stringed instrument to a band that already had three of them. “Maybe a piano instead,” he said quietly.

  Eric stuck his finger in his ear and wriggled it around. “I swear I need a hearing aid. Too much drumming, I guess. What did you say?”

  “I said, maybe we could do a song with some piano music. ”

  “Piano?” Eric sat there for a moment. “Well, that’s a swell idea, little man, but Sed doesn’t play piano, and I can’t play while I’m drumming. ”

  “I play. ” The moment it was out of his mouth, he wished he could take it back. He’d given up piano over a decade ago when his mother had died. That had been the thing they had always done together, and he never felt right playing without her.

  “You do?” Eric said, shifting forward in his seat. He had that thinking look on his face, and Sed wasn’t there to talk him down.

  “No, I—”

  “You’ve been holding out on us? Are you any good?”

  He was, but he sure didn’t want Eric to know it. “No, I suck. Forget I mentioned it. ”

  Eric refused to be deterred, and after much berating, pleading, and bullying, got Jace to play something on the keyboard. It wasn’t a piano technically. At least that’s what Jace told himself as his fingers moved over the flimsy keys.

  “Well, there you go,” Eric said. “You get to try something different. ”

  “I’m not really comfortable playing the piano. ”

  “Why not? You rock at it. ”

  Jace lowered his eyes. “My mother—”

  “Don’t have one of those, so can’t relate, sorry. Can you play a guitar riff on the piano?”

  Jace shrugged. “I guess. ”

  Eric had piano music embedded into a song in a matter of minutes.

  “How do you do that?” Jace asked.

  “Do what?”

  “Put all that together so quickly. ”

  Eric shrugged. “Don’t know. The layers just mesh in my head. Where the hell did Sed go? I have this thing I need to go to. ”

  “What kind of thing?”

  “Some program to keep kids off the street. I was hoping Sed would come with. Brian used to go and give the kids guitar lessons. They loved that shit, but he’s MIA—probably lost between Myrna’s thighs. So I figured Sed could take his place. He’s great with kids, believe it or not. ”

  Jace didn’t find that hard to believe at all. Sed kind of took a father figure role with everyone around him. Jace included.

  “You wanna go?” Eric asked.

  Jace’s heart thudded. “Me?”

  “Yeah, why not? The kids probably won’t have any idea who the fuck you are, but we can still have fun with them. ”

  “I’m not good with kids. ”

  “It probably would be a pain in the ass to have to look up to eight-year-olds all the time. ”

  And they were back to making fun of Jace’s height. “Yeah, it does put a kink in my neck. ”

  Eric laughed and pounded him on the back enthusiastically. “So you’re coming with, right? I don’t want to go by myself, and you’re the only one here. ”

  Jace was surprised he asked, even if it was because no one else was available to coerce. “Yeah, fine. Whatever. I’ve got nothing better to do. ”

  “Awesome. You’ll look real special in the purple dinosaur costume. ”

  “What?”

  ***

  Thank God for small favors; there was no dinosaur costume. Jace had a great time showing underprivileged kids how to thumb a bass groove, but he had even more fun watching Eric, the human jungle gym, make a total and complete ass of himself for their amusement. When Eric finally got around to his reason for being there, he gifted each kid with a set of drumsticks. Jace considered telling Eric about the drumstick he had treasured for the past ten years. How Eric had changed his life without even knowing it. Jace just couldn’t find the words. His one-sided connection with Eric was too personal. Too stupid. Embarrassing. So he accompanied Eric’s obnoxious table-drumming with an improvised bass line instead.

  To keep time with Eric’s beat, the kids drummed each other more than solid surfaces, but everyone was laughing and having a good time. Even Jace.

  Their hour with the kids flew by. Eric had more energy than all twenty kids put together. On their way out the door, Eric pounded Jace on the shoulder. “Let’s go grab a beer or two. What do you say?”

  Jace smiled. Was he finally making that elusive connection with Eric? “Yeah. Sounds great. ”

  Two beers turned into ten or twelve. Jace lost count. Being a quiet drunk, Jace stared into his magically refilling mug while Eric chattered enough for five people with everyone in shouting distance. He kept himself and half the bar entertained. Jace
wasn’t sure that Eric was even aware of his presence. He wondered what Aggie was up to. Three weeks was long enough to let his pain fester. Maybe he’d drop in on her the next day. Assuming he didn’t die of alcohol poisoning or asphyxiate on his own vomit in the night.

  “You drunk, yet?” Eric asked near midnight.

  Jace closed one eye to get rid of the three or four extra Erics in his line of sight. “Define drunk. ”

  “Wanna go get a tattoo with me?”

  Jace nodded.

  “Let me pick it out. I promise it will be wicked awesome. ”

  Jace shrugged.

  “Then you’re drunk enough. ”

  Apparently, Jace was also drunk enough to get his nipple pierced, which hurt less than expected. And too drunk to stay conscious through the tattooing, despite the evil grin Eric sported as he talked to the tattoo artist who was preparing the skin on the top of Jace’s foot for Eric’s idea of a “wicked awesome” design.

  Chapter 14

  Aggie checked the peephole and grinned, her heart thudding with excitement. She threw the door open and tossed herself into Jace’s arms with a happy squeal. She hadn’t seen him in almost a month and had been starting to think she never would again.

  “Sorry to just show up like this,” he said. “I should have called first. ”

  She kissed him hungrily, clutching the sides of his open leather jacket and pulling him into the house. She slammed the door closed and pressed him against its surface, still kissing him as she fumbled with the dead bolt. She eased away and gazed at him, her cheeks aching from smiling so broadly.

  “I take it you aren’t mad at me,” he murmured.

  “I missed you,” she said, kissing him again. “I thought you were on tour again. ”

  “We were, but it looks like we’re going to have to cancel more tour dates. ”

  “I thought Trey was okay now. ”

  “Yeah, he’s fine. Sed injured his throat a couple days ago. Blew a vessel in the middle of a concert. Passed out. Fuckin’ blood everywhere. ”

  “Jeez, are you all on a bad luck train, or what?”

  “Eric thinks the album is cursed. ” He laughed and lowered his eyelids to conceal his chocolate brown eyes. “I brought you…” He flushed as he reached into a pocket inside his jacket.

  Oh God, adorable.

  He pulled out a single rose and presented it to her. He didn’t look at her as she accepted it. What had once been a perfect blossom was now squashed from her enthusiastic hug. It was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. Her heart gave a little pang.

  “Thank you,” she whispered.

  His eyes shifted to hers for a moment and then back to the floor. “Do you like it?”

  She could just picture him buying it for her, embarrassed and uncertain. A flower had never meant so much to her. She touched his stubble-rough cheek, and his gaze finally met hers. “I love it, Jace. ”

  He grinned, his eyes softening as he looked at her. She melted and leaned closer to kiss him. His firm lips commanded every sense to full attention. She moaned softly, her eyes drifting closed, her free hand curling into his chest. He was just as good as she remembered.

  “Uh… Mistress V?” a hesitant voice said behind her.

  Shit! She’d totally forgotten she had a client waiting in the sanctum. Reluctantly, she pulled away from Jace.

  “You’re busy. I’ll go,” Jace said. His gaze focused over her shoulder at the huge, tattooed man at her back.

  Good ol’ Larry. One of her few regular customers.

  “I don’t want you to go. Will you wait? He’s my only appointment tonight. It’ll only take me three minutes. ” She kissed him again. “Three minutes. ”

  “I paid for twenty,” Larry said gruffly.

  Aggie grinned. “Three minutes,” she whispered.
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