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       Double Time, p.4

         Part #5 of Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning
 
Page 4

  Author: Olivia Cunning

  Dramamine opened his mouth to answer, but Reagan prattled on. “Never, that’s when. I can’t believe I’m actually here. In Dare Mills’s house. Doing an audition with Exodus fucking End. ” She checked a clock on the studio wall. “In twenty minutes. ” She swayed and Dramamine grabbed her shoulder to keep her on her feet. She removed her guitar and set it against the wall. It didn’t usually feel heavy, but today if felt like she had an elephant hanging over her shoulder. She massaged her temples with both hands. “I think I’m going to pass out. ”

  “You’re hyperventilating. Breathe more slowly. ”

  “I can’t help it. ” She needed to keep talking about something to keep her mind off things. She patted Dramamine on the chest. “Hey, what’s your name?”

  “Pyre. ”

  She lifted an eyebrow at him. “No shit?”

  “Well, that’s my stage name. ”

  Lame.

  “It’s short for Vampyre,” he added.

  Wow. Okaaaay.

  “I’m Reagan. It’s short for Reagan. I’m not into vamps. What are you going to play, Pyre?”

  “The three Exodus End songs we all have to play. ”

  “‘Bite. ’ ‘Encore. ’ ‘Ovation. ’” She ticked the song titles off on one hand. She’d been practicing them for days. And every other Exodus End song ever released in case they threw a surprise at her. Like a pop quiz. They probably wanted to make sure whomever they hired could really take over the duties of rhythm guitarist—and what better way to do that than to request a surprise song? Reagan would rather play lead guitar than rhythm, truth be told, but Dare Mills wasn’t the one being replaced. Maximilian Richardson was giving up rhythm guitar and just sticking to vocals. At least, that’s what she’d been told. She hadn’t actually met him or anything. In fact, they’d been ushered into this studio and hadn’t had the opportunity to meet any of the band members. So much for her plan to win them over with her sweetest smile. Probably for the best. At the moment she doubted she could produce a decent grimace, much less a smile. “What about the solo of our choice? What are you going to play for that?” she asked Pyre.

  “‘Temptation. ’” Another Exodus End song. A great solo, heavy on technique, but not speed.

  “Nice choice. ”

  “What are you going to do?” Pyre asked.

  “Sinners’ ‘Gates of Hell. ’”

  “Are you foiking insane?” Pyre asked, his eyes wide in astonishment.

  “What do you mean? That solo is awesome!” she said, her heart thrumming with excitement. She hearted Sinners. Their lead guitarist, Brian Sinclair, was an absolute god.

  “That solo is impossible,” Pyre said. “Foiking Master Sinclair has seven fingers on each hand or something. No mere mortal can do that solo justice. ”

  Reagan grinned. “You can’t play it?”

  “No one can play it like Sinclair does. You should pick something easier. ”

  “Let her play it. ” Hair Band Hasbeen saw his way into their conversation. “If sweet-tits blows her chance, it’s one less piece of competition for us to worry about. ” He grinned to himself as he stared at her ass.

  Reagan bristled. “What are you going to play, dildo? ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb?’”

  The guy rolled his eyes and shook his head in disgust. “It’s not like they’re going to want to hire a chick guitarist anyway. Who’d you sleep with to get an audition, baby?”

  Reagan gave him a once-over and wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Not you, old man. ”

  Pyre chuckled. “Ouch. ”

  “You got a problem, douche bag?” Hair Band grumbled.

  Pyre’s stance turned threatening. Reagan supposed she could let the two of them get into a fistfight. It might make it easier for her to outplay them if they broke their fingers on each other’s faces. Might. But she stepped between them to try to defuse the bomb instead. Pyre looked like he hadn’t seen a protein-containing meal in months, and Hair Band had apparently subsided on a beer diet since he’d given up on wearing snakeskin-print spandex. It probably wouldn’t have been an interesting fight. More likely pathetic than anything. Reagan figured she was tougher than the two of them put together. “Easy, guys,” she said. “We’re all a little on edge here. No need for you to get your panties in a bunch. Mine are bunchy enough for all of us. ” She pressed a hand to the center of Pyre’s chest. Though his stance was confident, his heart hammered out of control against her palm. Pyre wrapped an arm around her waist and drew her closer. Using her as a human shield, no doubt.

  “Are you the finalists?” a deep voice asked from somewhere behind her. Its low tone seemed to caress Reagan’s back. A shiver of delight streaked up her spine.

  Reagan turned to identify the speaker and almost fell on the floor. Trey Mills, the rhythm guitarist of Sinners, stood just beside the studio door. He checked her out a little and then a little more. Just enough to make her want him to inspect her closely. And naked.

  Black-haired, green-eyed, and exuding sexual energy, the man was gorgeous onstage, but up close his sensual charm overwhelmed her. What was he doing here? Not that she wanted him to leave or anything. More than anything she wanted to challenge him to one of Sinners’ dueling guitar solos. The ones he and Sinclair performed onstage together. She always wondered if she could outplay Trey. At every Sinners’ concert she’d attended (eleven and counting), she’d wanted to charge up on stage and challenge both of Sinners’ guitarists to a little competition. Somehow, she’d managed to keep herself in the mosh pit instead of storming the stage.

  “Fuck. If Mills is in this contest, we’re all screwed,” Hair complained. “Nepotism much?”

  Trey grinned and Reagan’s heart dropped into her combat boots. “Nope, I’m not in this. I’m helping with the judging. Good luck. ” He opened the door and disappeared into the studio.

  Reagan sighed in feminine bliss. Freakin’ gorgeous man. And then his words sunk in. Trey Mills was going to be listening to her play?

  She grabbed Pyre by the front of his ripped-up, electric blue T-shirt and gave him a panicked shake. “Hey, do you have any more of that Dramamine on you?”

  ***

  The four members of Exodus End sat in the small recording booth facing a large window that overlooked Dare’s music studio. Trey took a seat next to his brother in front of the soundboard and immediately had a set of headphones thrust in his direction. Trey held one earphone up to his ear.

  “Listen to this guy,” Dare said and played a demo for Trey.

  Trey’s heart skipped a beat. Six-stringed perfection filtered into his delighted ear. “Is this a joke?” Trey asked.

  “A joke?” Dare asked. One dark eyebrow lifted over a piercing green eye.

  “This is Brian,” Trey said. “I’d know his playing anywhere. ”

  “It’s not Brian. Some guy named Elliot. ” Dare tapped on the empty CD case. It had a plain white insert with the name Elliot scrawled across it in black marker.

  “El-li-ot,” Logan, Exodus End’s golden-haired bassist, said in a perfect impression of E. T.

  “Phone hooooome,” their drummer, Steve, added.

  “Are you guys fuckin’ bored or what?” Max, their lead singer, asked. “You need to take this shit seriously. ” He had a brace on his left wrist and a scowl on his devilishly handsome face. Not that Trey noticed. He wasn’t interested in men anymore. Not even ones who looked as good in a black tank top as Maximilian Richardson did. Besides, Max was straight. Trey didn’t bother with straight guys. What was the point?

  “Frieeend,” Logan said to Max and pointed at him with one finger. Trey could almost picture it glowing at the tip.

  Steve snorted with laughter.

  Max just rolled his eyes. “I think you need another beer, Lo. ”

  “I need some pussy,” Steve said.

  “You always need pussy. ”

 
“This is Brian,” Trey insisted and no one would convince him otherwise. The longer he listened to the guitarist’s demo, the more certain he became. And the more angry. “Someone must have pirated some of his material. Fuckin’ rip-off artists piss me off. ”

  Max said, “I guess we’ll find out when they audition. Can’t fake that kind of talent. ”

  “So what do they look like? A bunch of douche bags?” Dare asked.

  “You haven’t seen them?” Trey asked and set the headphones down. Not because he didn’t love to hear Brian play, but because the longer he listened, the more ticked off he became that someone would use his friend’s material that way.

  “No, we’re going into this blind. Our manager’s brilliant idea to make a contest out of this has turned into a major pain in the ass. We don’t care what the winner looks like. We just want the right sound. Chances are we know some of them and Sam didn’t want us to be swayed by that either. Is Sam even here today? Fuck no. He’s in New York with some all-girl goth band he’s trying to sign. So now this stupid contest he came up with is all on us. ”

  Trey’s gaze shifted from one gorgeous man to the next. Did they really expect him to believe that they didn’t care what the newest member of their band looked like? They all worked out and had excellent physiques. Tribal tattoos accentuated the cut of their hard-muscled bodies. Their long, well-kept hair made the girls go wild and they wore just the right amount of leather. Maybe they didn’t want the newbie competing for their women and secretly hoped he was a toad. Or maybe they were so pissed at their manager they really wanted this unorthodox way of picking a new band member to backfire. Trey doubted that. He knew how serious this band was about its career. They wouldn’t have gotten this far if they lacked sense. Too bad their manager didn’t share it. He was all about promotion.

  “Well?” Logan prompted. “What do they look like?”

  “I didn’t notice,” Trey said. “One of the guys brought his girlfriend along with him. That I noticed. ” Well, he had also noticed the weird-looking guy who’d been hanging on her, but mostly because he couldn’t figure out what she saw in him. Must be the guitar thing. Some girls had a thing for musicians no matter how fugly they were. Still, something about that woman had been unquestionably raw and sexy. Too bad she was taken. Trey didn’t chase after women who were taken. There were enough single ladies out there to meet his every need. Why fuck up some other guy’s miserable relationship?

  Max sighed loudly. “Might as well get this over with. If they all suck, we get to go home, right?” He flipped a switch and spoke into a mic that fed into the sound booth. “Send in victim number one. ”

  There was a heavy window shade pulled down to block those auditioning from view. Victim number one was a phenomenal instrumentalist. As was number two. Max scribbled notes on a pad of paper while the rest of them just listened. Were all vocalists anal? Sinners’ lead singer, Sed, would have probably done the same thing. When guitarist number three began to play, Trey jumped to his feet, knocking his stool over backward. He leaned forward and squinted at the glass in front of him as if it would give him X-ray vision and he could see through the shade blocking his view.

  “That’s Brian,” Trey said.

  “El-li-ot,” Logan insisted.

  “You guys have taken this joke far enough. He needs to be in the hospital with his wife and new son. ”

  “Trey, it’s not Brian,” Dare said. “No one is fucking with you. ”

  “I’ll prove it’s Brian. Don’t you think I know his sound? I’ve played guitar with him for eighteen years. ” Trey turned on the microphone. “Play the solo to ‘Gates of Hell. ’”
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