Rock hard, p.34
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       Rock Hard, p.34

         Part #2 of Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning
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Page 34

  Author: Olivia Cunning

  “We’ll take a look. ”

  Eric entered the studio, checking out the soundboard, recording equipment, and various instruments. They didn’t plan to actually record here, but if they ever decided to drop their record label, it was equipped for it. Eric sat in the chair across the square coffee table from Jace. “Hey, little man. Been keeping busy?”

  Jace rubbed his earring between his thumb and forefinger. “No. I’m ready to get back on the road. ”

  “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 said, scowling. “I guess I’ll have to go straighten him out. ”

  “That’s probably a good job for Brian. Put him on it,” Eric said.

  “That would require Brian leaving Myrna’s bed for more than five minutes. Ain’t gonna happen. ”

  “Speaking of women in bed, where’s Jess?”

  “She went to a yoga class and then to go pick up her mail from her mother’s house. She’s sure to be in a foul mood when she returns, so let’s get busy. ” It had taken her a week to get up the nerve to go visit her mother and she’d only agreed to it because Ed was away on business.

  “This should be cool. ” Jace sat up straighter so he could see all the scraps of music on the coffee table.

  Sed and Jace watched Eric riffle through the stack of guitar music.

  “I looked at some of this last night,” Eric said. “Lots of good stuff here. ” He sorted the music into about twenty piles spread from one corner of the large square coffee table to the other. He held his hand out to Sed. “Lyrics?”

  Sed handed him his lyrics notebook. He experienced strange jolts of nervousness in his belly as Eric read through the pages.

  Eric tore a page out and set it on a stack of music in the center of the table. “You been tormented lately, Sed?” Eric asked. “Lots of angst in here. ”

  Sed shrugged, feeling self-conscious. His lyrics were always highly personal. It was like exposing his soul to the world.

  “The fans will love this. ” Eric ripped out another page and handed it to Jace. “Read that. ”

  Hands on his thighs, Sed gripped the fabric of his jeans to keep himself from snatching the page out of Jace’s hands. This was a hell of a lot easier when he didn’t participate. In the past, he’d just supplied some lyrics and saw the finished products as songs.

  “Awesome,” Jace said. “What’s it about?”

  Sed took the page from him and read the title. “Sever. ” He’d written this after he’d seen a captain go down with his ship in a movie. He’d thought the guy was an idiot. “Cutting ties. ”

  “Let’s start with that one,” Eric said, setting the notebook aside. “I know just the music for it. Hard and heavy. ” He scanned the sets of music on the table, lifted a stack, and set it on his knee. “Here it is. Jace, hand me a guitar. I need to hear it. ”

  Jace glanced around the room and spotted the acoustic sitting on a stand in the corner. He retrieved it and handed it to Eric. Eric tuned the guitar in Brian’s typical drop D, and then played a few bars of the riff. He didn’t have Brian’s innate soloing skill, but Eric could play. “Yep,” he said, shifting that score to his other knee. He read from the next score and played a few bars of a solo at half tempo. “We’ll make this the bridge. ”

  “A solo for a bridge?” Jace asked.

  “It will work. Brian will love adding embellishments between stanzas. You know how he is. ” Eric pulled a pen out of his pocket and scratched out a few lines of music, adding a couple of notes in their place.

  “Yeah. ” Jace looked awestruck.

  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.

  Jace jumped to his feet and pulled his bass out of the case behind the leather sofa. Eric pulled two sets of drumsticks out of his pockets. Sed wondered if he had a drum kit in that pocket, too. Eric tapped a rhythm on the table with his sticks. “Match it. ”

  Jace plugged his bass into a practice amp and strummed a line distinctly Sinners. Yet, more. How had he managed to improve perfection? It struck Sed that they were about to take their music to the next level. With their bassist, of all people.

  He glanced at Eric to see if he recognized it too.

  “Not bad,” Eric said, nodding in appreciation. Didn’t Eric hear him? The guy was a phenomenon. His sound was so much richer than Jon’s had been, it was as if they didn’t even play the same instrument. They had to exploit the hell out of Jace’s talent on the new album. Eric glanced at Sed. “You ready to sing?”

  Off in progressing-our-fame land, Sed started. “Oh yeah. I’m ready. ” He cleared his throat. Even though it had been weeks since that bouncer had grabbed him at the strip club, his throat still bothered him. Not so bad that it affected his voice. It just felt different. Achy. Especially when he screamed.

  “Like this,” Eric said. He sang the chorus lyrics as he envisioned them.

  “Sever it, never let it take you down.

  Sever it, before it takes you under.

  Sever it, tied, gagged and bound.

  Sever it, no sense in going under.

  Let.

  It.

  Go. ” Eric carried the last note for several measures and stopped tapping the table with drumsticks. “How does that sound?”

  “Perfect,” Sed told him.

  “Now you sing it. ”

  “I can’t sing in that octave. You sing it. ”

  “I’m the drummer, not the singer. ”

  “You used to be. So sing that chorus and in the background, I’ll scream like this:

  Sever.

  Severrrrrrrrr.

  Severrrrrrrrrrrrr. ” Sed let each roar increase in length and volume.

  “Sing it together,” Jace requested, leaning toward them, his bass guitar drooping to around knee level.

  “I’m not singing,” Eric insisted. “Helloooo. ” He pointed to himself. “Drummer. Drum-mer. ”

  “Humor him,” Sed said.

  Eric rolled his eyes. “I feel like an ass. ”

  “You are an ass,” Sed insisted with a grin, “but you have the perfect pitch for this chorus. Sing. ”

  Eric sighed heavily and then sang the chorus, just like before. Sed entered his rumbling screams throughout Eric’s more melodic vocals. When they stopped, they stared at each other in surprise.

  “That. Was. Awesome,” Jace said. “Holy shit. Do it again. ”

  “I can’t sing, Sed,” Eric said.

  “You just did. ”

  “I don’t have the right stage presence to be a vocalist. ”

  Sed remembered telling him something like that twelve years ago. You’d think the guy would have gotten over it by now.

  “Dude, I’m not handing lead vocals over to you. But there’s no reason you can’t sing that chorus from behind your drums. It sounded excellent. ”

  “Yeah, excellent,” Jace agreed. “My God, Eric. You’re amazing. ”

  Sed glanced at Jace. “You’ve got something on your nose. ” Sed rubbed his own nose with the side of his finger. “Right there. ”

  Jace mimicked his motion. “Did I get it?”

  “Nope, it’s permanently brown. ”

  Jace laughed and shook his head. “Jackass. ”

  Sed glanced at Eric, who had gone unnaturally silent. “Don’t think too hard,” Sed said. “You might hurt yourself. ”

  “Do you really want me to sing that chorus? I don’t want to infringe upon your territory or anything. ”

  “As if that’s even a possibility. ”

  Eric chuckled. “True, that. Okay, I’ve been thinking. ”

  “Now we’re in serious trouble,” Sed whispered at Jace out of t
he corner of his mouth.

  “No, hear me out,” Eric said. “You used to play violin, right?”

  Sed’s nose crinkled. “Yeah, when I was a kid. ”

  “We should get you an electric violin to add to a couple of songs. ”

  “What have you been smoking? Must’ve been some good shit. ”

  “Just try it. I’ll be trying something different. You should too. ”

  “Do I get to try something different?” Jace asked eagerly.

  “No,” Eric said.

  Jace scowled.

  Before Sed could call Eric a freakin’ retard for not recognizing Jace’s skill, Eric said, “Well, maybe. 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. ”

  Jace beamed and glanced from Eric to Sed and back to Eric. “Okay. ”

  “Don’t get a swollen head, little man,” Eric said with a thinly veiled grin. “You’ll tip over. ”

  “Hey, I’ve got muscle and a great center of gravity. Unlike a certain bony drummer. ”

  Eric laughed, reached across the table, and punched Jace in the shoulder. Sed was glad he’d thought to invite Jace. His drummer and bassist needed to work as a unit. And his rhythm guitarist, currently putting no effort into his recovery, was necessary to bridge lead guitar with percussion and bass.

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

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

  Sed left the studio and picked up the phone in the entryway. Before he could dial the number, Jessica came through the door. When she saw him standing there, she paused and then burst into tears.

  He hung up the phone and drew her into his arms. “What’s wrong?”

  Jessica stuffed a piece of paper in his hand. “I lost my scholarship. ”

  “What? Why?” His first thought was they’d found out about their little sex video. He gazed down at the crumpled paper in his hand and read the first few lines. “Academic probation? Why are you on academic probation?”

  “Because Ellington failed me on my final paper, I got a C in Legal Research and Writing last year. A C minus. ” She gulped air and sniffed her nose. “To keep my scholarship I can’t get a grade below a B. They usually give the student a chance to retake the class before they strip them of their scholarship award. Especially someone who has A’s in every other class. ”

  “They aren’t gonna give you another chance?”

  She shook her head. “According to this, they had a meeting of the deans and because they had no way to contact me, they took the word of the instructor. She despises me, Sed. No telling what she told them. ”

  “Why didn’t they just call your cell phone?”

  “They still have my old number. ” She lifted a hand at him. “Yeah, duh, I know. ”

  He shrugged. “So, you go talk to the deans and try to get their decision reversed. ”

  “They won’t listen to me. Dr. Ellington is one of the most respected professors at the university. She carries the dean’s balls around in her pocket. ”

  “I’m not going to let you give up that easily, Jessica. ”

  Her eyes narrowed. “You’re not going to let me?”

  “Nope. ” He took her by the arm. “Let’s go. I’ll drive you to the college right now. ”

  She jerked her arm out of his grasp. “This is the exact reason why I broke off our engagement. You can’t tell me what to do, Sed. ”
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