Hot ticket, p.16
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       Hot Ticket, p.16
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         Part #3 of Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning
Page 16

  Author: Olivia Cunning

  He lifted her and snuggled her against his chest, her front paws resting on his shoulder. Her soft tail flicked against his arm repeatedly.

  “Did you miss me?”

  She rubbed her face against his jaw and batted at his small hoop earring with one paw.

  “I missed you too. Tony been feeding you properly?”

  “Brrroowww rrrowwwn. ” He carried her toward the kitchen, and she switched from her unusual meow to purr in earnest.

  Jace opened a cabinet and found the cat food stash had dwindled significantly in his absence, so Tony had been feeding her regularly. And from the lack of bad odor in the room, he’d also been cleaning her litter box like he was supposed to. A good, trustworthy kid. Jace would give him a big bonus for taking care of his girl in his extended absence.

  Jace set Brownie on the kitchen counter and pulled out several cans of food, reading the contents to her as he set them one at a time in a row in front of her.

  “So what will it be?”

  She put a definitive paw on the top of one can.

  “Salmon?”

  “Brrrooowww rrrowwwn. ”

  “All right. Fish breath it is. But if you think I’m going to let you lick my chin later, you’re in for a surprise. ”

  While he opened the can, she jumped off the counter and rubbed round and round his ankle again. He set her saucer of food on the floor, gave her a good scratch behind one ear, and went to unpack.

  Most of the clothes in his bag were dirty. He sorted them into piles to take to the laundry room in the basement later. Laundry wasn’t his favorite chore, but unlike the rest of his bandmates, he wasn’t a slob. He just pretended to be messy in order to fit in better. He also pretended that he couldn’t cook and that he didn’t clean. None of them knew that he had a cat or that he talked to her as if she were a person. He was very careful to disguise himself around the guys. To be who they expected him to be, not who he really was.

  He removed his most treasured possession from the deep recesses of his bag and set it on the two pedestals on the center shelf of his bookcase. He ran one finger over the drumstick with a slight smile on his lips. This slender piece of wood had changed his entire life, and the man who had given it to him, completely by chance nine years before, had no idea the impact he’d had on an abused and neglected kid headed down a path of self-destruction. Jace had no doubt that Eric Sticks had saved his life. In a different way than he’d saved Trey’s life, but no less important in the outcome. Jace turned on the stereo and sank into the sofa that was covered with a sheet to hide the rips and stains in the upholstery. He wasn’t sure why he didn’t get new furniture. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t afford it, but this was enough for him. He didn’t need much—didn’t want much. An image of Aggie’s lovely face, her ruby red lips curled in a sexy smile, settled in his thoughts.

  Brownie joined him on the sofa and helped herself to his lap while she licked her paws and rubbed them over her face.

  “I met a girl. ”

  Brownie paused and stared at him with amber eyes.

  He chuckled. “What’s that look for?” Sometimes he thought she understood what he was saying. “Don’t worry. I won’t let myself get too attached to her. ” Though he was considering calling Aggie right now. She was probably asleep. He shouldn’t bother her. Maybe he should text her. She’d sent him a picture of her left nipple earlier that day and typed that she wished his tongue was on it at that moment. Oh yes. She had his full attention, even without the sexy little text messages. “I think I’ll head to the gym,” he told his cat. “Get in a good workout. Box a few rounds. ”

  “Browww wwowwn. ” The cat looked at him morosely.

  “All right, I’ll work out here instead. ” He pulled off his shirt on his way to his tiny bedroom. He’d installed a bar in the doorway and used it now to do pull-ups.

  After he’d completed a few dozen reps, Brownie lay down on the floor and batted at Jace’s toes every time they came in reach. Jace slid his feet between the bar and the upper doorsill and switched to doing inverted sit-ups. Brownie wiggled her butt, leaped into the air, and attacked his head repeatedly. After one too many claws to the scalp, he caught her in midair and lifted her to look her in the eye upside down. “Will you knock it off?”

  She batted his nose with one paw, careful to keep her claws concealed.

  “You’ve been bored, haven’t you? I need to get you a friend. I’ve been on the road too much lately. ”

  “Browww wwowwn. ”

  She grabbed his earring with one claw and urged him forward so she could rub her mouth over his jaw.

  “Ugh. Fish breath. ”

  He set her down, grabbed the bar, and released his feet before lowering himself to the floor.

  “Let’s jam. ” He knew what Brownie was after. His cat loved bass guitar music. For his one feline audience, Jace played Sinners’ entire set list, not the way the original bassist, Jon Mallory, had written it, but the way Jace felt it should be played. He’d never let the guys in the band know he’d rewritten every bass line. They wouldn’t appreciate that kind of creativity. While he played, Brownie watched him, tail flicking earnestly to the beat. Eventually, the neighbor in the apartment below started banging on the ceiling. Jace turned off the amp and put his guitar back in its case. His cell phone beeped. Another text from Aggie. Another picture. Of her pussy. I’m imagining your cock inside this, she’d typed. Damn. Was the woman trying to kill him?

  Chapter 13

  Jace shifted the case holding his bass guitar to his left hand and rang the doorbell. After a moment, Sed opened his front door and beckoned Jace inside. “Eric isn’t here yet. He’s on his way. ”

  “Thanks for inviting me,” Jace said. He’d been holed up in his apartment for almost three weeks waiting for Trey to get better so they could go back on tour. When Sed had invited him to help work on the new album, Jace had almost pissed himself with excitement.

  “Why are you thanking me?” Sed said. “I’m putting your ass to work. ”

  Which suited Jace just fine. This was only the second time Jace had been inside Sed’s condo. The first had been Sed’s housewarming party, probably the wildest in the history of man. Jace didn’t remember most of the evening. He’d passed out on the rooftop patio in nothing but a pair of women’s blue satin panties, and Eric had drawn flowers all over his back with an indelible marker. Jace didn’t recollect where he’d gotten those panties.

  Sed’s place was huge and extravagant. Maybe it was time for Jace to buy a place of his own. His little apartment didn’t get much use, but Brownie would probably like a balcony she could sun herself on. It just seemed a waste to spend all that money on something so rarely used. Normally, Jace was on the road far more often than he was at home, but since Trey was out of commission until his finger mobility improved, they’d had to cancel a bunch of tour dates.

  Jace followed Sed through the huge, open living room with its twenty-foot ceiling and red, white, and black decor. The second floor of the condo had a master bedroom and an open loft equipped with everything from a wet bar to a pool table. On the first floor, there were two additional bedrooms. One served as a guest room, but the other had been converted to a recording studio. They entered the studio, and Jace set his bass behind the black leather sofa. He took his jacket off, tossed it on a chair, and went to inspect the amps and other equipment.

  “Wanna beer?” Sed asked.

  “Yeah. ”

  Sed opened a minifridge in the corner, pulled out a couple of cans, and tossed one to Jace. While Jace sipped his beer, he fiddled with a soundboard. He couldn’t guess what all the knobs and sliders and switches did. “Do you actually know how to use this thing?” he asked Sed.

  “No fucking clue. ” He laughed. “I think Eric might. I dunno. ”

  The doorbell rang.

  “That’s probably Eric now. ” Sed l
eft to answer the door.

  Suddenly nervous, Jace perched himself on the edge of the sofa. Eric would give Jace shit for being there. For intruding in his creative process and for trying to take his best friend Jon’s place. Eric and Jon had composed Sinners’ last three albums together. As a band, they were diving into new territory, and Eric was sure to resent Jace for not knowing what the fuck he was doing. Jace wanted to learn—wanted to help and to share his ideas—but feared he’d just get in the way and somehow make Sinners less.

  Eric entered the studio, examined Sed’s equipment setup, and then sat in the chair across from Jace. “Hey, little man. Been keeping busy?”

  Jace rubbed his earlobe, fiddling with the ring there. “No. I’m ready to get back on the road. ” Or make a run to Vegas to see Aggie. So far he’d been able to resist her pull and intensify his misery, but he knew he wouldn’t hold out much longer.

  “Yeah, no kidding. I hope Trey gets better soon. ”

  “He won’t get better until he starts trying. Lazing around by his parents’ pool all day isn’t helping. ” Sed scowled. “I guess I’ll have to go straighten him out. ”

  Jace hoped Sed wasn’t too hard on Trey. He knew Sed meant well, but he wasn’t too easy on a person’s feelings.

  “Let’s get busy,” Sed said.

  “This should be cool. ” Eagerness getting the better of him, Jace sat up straighter so he could see all the scraps of music on the coffee table. Maybe if he just stayed quiet and tried not to interfere with Eric’s genius, they wouldn’t make him leave.

  Eric rifled through the stack of guitar music he’d brought with him. Stuff Brian had composed while fucking Myrna. Jace wasn’t sure how anyone could think well enough to write music while having sex, but it seemed to work for their lead guitarist.

  Eric arranged bits of guitar music and sheets of paper that contained Sed’s lyrics. Jace’s heart rate accelerated. Few things excited him. The talent of this band was at the very top. A set of sexy red lips smiled at him in his mind’s eye. Well, and Aggie, but she excited him in an entirely different way.

  Eric rearranged the sections several times and then nodded. “Okay, I’ve got the guitar music worked out. Now we need the bass line. ” He glanced at Jace. “Did you bring your guitar?”

  Jace retrieved his bass from its case and looped the strap over his shoulder. Eric tapped a rhythm on the table with two pairs of drumsticks. “Match it. ”

  Jace more than heard the beat, he felt it. He’d listened to Sinners’ songs so many times that he instinctively knew what the bass line should sound like. It echoed in his mind. Complimented the beat. Filled it. Enriched it.

  He plugged his bass into a small practice amp and played the series of notes running through his head.

  Eric smiled. “Not bad. ”

  That was almost a compliment. Jace couldn’t help but grin. He noticed Sed watching him with an introspective look on his face.

  Eric glanced at Sed. “You ready to sing?”

  “I’m ready. ” Sed cleared his throat.

  Eric related his vision of how the lyrics should sound, and Sed tried to copy him. It took several tries to figure out that Eric should sing it, and Sed should do his typical rumbling screams in accompaniment. Jace’s heart thudded as he listened to the unique duet. That was it. That was the sound that would get them to the next level in their music. To grow. Together. Jace couldn’t believe he was finally a part of this. When they stopped singing, Sed and Eric stared at each other in surprise. They knew it too. Jace’s only regret was that Brian and Trey weren’t there to share the moment.

  “That was awesome,” Jace said. “Holy shit. Do it again. ”

  When Eric broached the possibility of using an electric violin in some songs, Sed was less accommodating to his vision.
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