Rock hard, p.36
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       Rock Hard, p.36

         Part #2 of Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning
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Page 36

  Author: Olivia Cunning

  “Because I’m pissed and you won’t let me hit anyone. ”

  “I shouldn’t have said anything,” she murmured. “You always overreact. ”

  “Do you really think I’m overreacting?” Sed slammed both palms into the steering wheel. “Some sonuvabitch tells my girlfriend to suck his dick and I’m overreacting!”

  “Except I’m not your girlfriend. ”

  He growled, his eyes narrow, jaw taut. “Of course you aren’t. How could I forget?”

  Chapter 27

  Sed waited for the first commercial to interrupt the ball game before he took the beer out of Trey’s hand and set it on the side table. Trey took his eyes off the TV to gape at Sed.

  “How long has it been since you picked up your guitar?” Sed asked.

  Trey shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. Can’t play it anyway. ”

  “You’re never going to play again if you don’t try. Do you expect to wake up one morning and be back to one hundred percent with no effort?”

  “Lay off, Sed. I thought you invited me over for a beer and to watch a ball game, not to bitch at me. ”

  “Someone has to bitch at you. Lots of people rely on us for a paycheck. How are we going to pay them if we keep canceling shows? And how long do you think our fans will back us if we keep turning them away?”

  “Our fans are awesome, Sed. Loyal ’til the end. ” He grabbed his beer and chugged it in several swallows.

  “If we keep canceling tour dates, the end is going to come a lot sooner than you think. No concerts. No new album. Do you want this to end? We worked our fucking asses off to get this far. You gonna let it go without a fight?”

  “I am fighting. ”

  “I don’t see you fighting. I see you pussing out. ”

  Jessica wandered out of the bathroom, drying her hair with her towel. Her one towel. “Are we going out tonight? Or can I lounge around in shorts?”

  “I vote for that outfit,” Trey said.

  Jessica peeked out from under her towel. “Shit,” she muttered and wrapped the towel around her naked body.

  “No worries. I’ve seen it before. Me and a couple million other people. ”

  Jessica shook her head at him. “Screw you, Trey. ”

  “If you insist. ”

  “Did I forget to mention that I invited Trey over?” Sed scratched his head as he looked up at Jessica from his recliner.

  “Yeah, you forgot to mention that. ” She headed for the bedroom. “I’m going to go slip into something more… more. ”

  Unable to take his eyes off her slim thighs, Sed watched her until she disappeared in his bedroom and then turned his attention back to Trey. What had they been talking about? Oh yeah. “You know I wouldn’t push you if I didn’t think you could handle it. ”

  “Bullshit. ”

  Okay, he would. Someone had to. “Have you even been going to physical therapy?”

  Trey scowled. “I go. ”

  “Let me guess how that goes. You flirt with your therapist for an hour and then you go home. ”

  He looked at the ceiling and grinned. “Maybe. ”

  “It’s obvious that you don’t care about the band anymore. What do you think I should do about that?”

  Trey’s recently acquired tan lightened a shade. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

  “What do you think it means?”

  “Are you considering replacing me?”

  “I didn’t say that. ”

  “But you thought it. ” Trey pressed the leg rest of the recliner down and stood.

  “How long are we supposed to wait for you, Trey? You tell me. ”

  Trey headed for the stairs. Sed launched himself from his chair and took off after him.

  “Don’t run away,” Sed demanded. “I need to know if you’re done. By the amount of effort you’re putting into your recovery, I’d say you don’t think the band is worth it. ”

  Trey turned and shoved Sed with all his strength. Sed stumbled backward and hit his lower back against the pool table. He pulled himself upright, giving Trey a wide berth.

  “You know I don’t think that!” Trey yelled. “The band means everything to me. Everything. ”

  “Prove it. ”

  Trey shook his head slightly, turned and took the stairs two at a time. He stormed out of the condo and slammed the front door behind him. Sed took a deep breath and rubbed his face with both hands.

  Jessica appeared at his elbow. “Did I hear yelling? Where did Trey go?”

  “He had to go practice his guitar or something. ”

  “You didn’t bully him, did you?” Jessica’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.

  “Me?” He tried on his best innocent expression. “Of course not. ”

  Chapter 28

  Backstage a week later, Sed clamped a hand over Trey’s shoulder. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

  “Kind of late to change my mind now, isn’t it?” Trey adjusted his guitar strap into a more comfortable position on his shoulder and then stared at the pick in his left hand. He hadn’t been able to grip it for more than a few days, but he’d called their manager, Jerry, to reschedule tour dates despite everyone’s insistence that he needed more time to recover.

  Now they had this sold out show to contend with. A packed venue of fifteen thousand. So Trey was correct, it was too late to change his mind.

  “I feel a little rusty,” Brian said. “I hope I remember the set. It’s been almost three weeks since we set foot on a stage and we didn’t have time to rehearse this afternoon. ”

  “Like falling off a bike,” Sed assured him.

  “Embarrassing and painful?”

  “Exactly. ”

  Doing the sound check onstage, Jake strummed Brian’s guitar and played an intricate riff to ensure the instrument was tuned and responding to the amplifier. He earned a few cheers from the waiting crowd. Roadies loved to play rock star.

  Sed looked over his shoulder to where Jessica promised she’d stand and watch the performance. She smiled at him and waved. He waved back. The groupies who’d gotten backstage passes from the roadies glared at her.

  Sed glanced at Trey, who was limbering up his fingers. He still didn’t have full mobility, but he could play chords. Brian watched him, wincing when Trey attempted part of one of their dueling solos and missed every note. “If you can’t keep up tonight, just let me carry all the solos. ”

  “I’m not a fucking invalid. ” Trey scowled.

  “No one said that,” Brian said. “You’re pushing yourself too hard. ”

  Trey glanced at Sed, who dropped his gaze to the floor. Yeah, that was mostly Sed’s fault and he knew it, but fans only remained loyal for so long, and while most everyone understood why they’d cancelled tour dates and refunded tickets, it didn’t make them happy.

  “I’ll be fine,” Trey said.

  Jake signaled them into position. Sed stuck his earpiece in his right ear and a sound-muffling earplug in his left. He’d be able to hear the band and instructions from the sound crew from the earpiece. Now he heard mostly, “Check. Check. Check. ” He gave Dave a thumbs up to let him know he could hear him just fine.

  Brian and Jace settled their instruments into place and moved to the side of the stage. A slightly green Trey followed them. Eric stood just behind the drum kit, ready to take his stool as soon as the lights went out. Someone thrust a microphone into Sed’s hand. The adrenaline rush hit him like the most powerful stimulant on the planet.

  He lived for this shit. The music. The crowd’s adulation. Their energy. He owned it and it owned him.

  The stadium lights went down and the crowd cheered. Another rush, more powerful than the first, kicked Sed’s heart rate up another notch.

  The three guitarists trotted across the stage in the dark. The beat of the bass drum thrummed through Sed’s chest. A low blue light il
luminated the floor, lighting the stage enough for Brian and Trey to find the foot pedals that switched out their various amps, and for Sed to find the set instructions taped to the floor. The musical intro to the first song was rather long, giving Sed time to hum and warm up his vocal cords for that first scream. Like Brian, he felt a little rusty. His voice a little coarse.

  Trey did fine shredding chords in the intro and the crowd cheered. Though good, Trey’s playing was more reserved than usual. Thready.

  With too little rhythm guitar to balance it, Jace’s bass riff sounded more pronounced. But when Brian entered with his signature finger-burning note progressions, fans wouldn’t notice Trey’s playing lacked his usual skill.

  At the end of Brian’s intro, Sed raced across the stage, his low growl increasing in volume until it broke into a loud battle cry. The crowd screamed when the lights suddenly went bright and they recognized he’d entered the stage. God, he loved these people. All fifteen thousand of them.

  Sed sang with his usual enthusiasm, stalking from one end of the stage to the other, raising his hands to encourage the crowd to participate. All the while, the music playing in his ear sounded off. Not terrible, just sort of weak. He glanced at Trey, who’d already broken into a sweat. Not normal for him. He usually rocked on his heels and strummed each chord with gusto. Tonight he had a hard time keeping up.

  Shit. Shouldn’t have pushed him so hard. Sed knew he was responsible for this entire fiasco. He’d made Trey feel guilty and uncertain of his place in the band. Sed had just been trying to encourage him, not force him into taking a step he wasn’t ready to take. But they had a show to finish. He hoped Trey could hang in there for nine more songs. No one expected him to be as good as he usually was. Just there. Singing his occasional back up vocal. Strumming chords the best he could.

  Brian finished his solo, and the segment where Trey usually accompanied him sounded entirely hollow. Sed glanced across the stage to see Trey staring at his hands as if they were on fire. Brian noticed as well. He quickly made his way from stage left to stage right and talked to Trey out of hearing range of the microphone. Trey shook his head. Brian said something else and Trey nodded. Trey pulled a guitar pick off the tape on his microphone stand and picked up on the series of chords that made up the majority of the rhythm guitar section. He managed to play it consistently until the end.

  “How are we doing tonight, Salt Lake City?” Sed called into his microphone. He held the mic toward the crowd and put his hand to his ear.

  The crowd responded with loud cheers.

  “Are you ready to get crazy?”

  More cheers. He glanced at Trey, who liked to talk to the crowd. He and Brian were in deep conversation near the drum kit. Trey looked upset. Brian, ever Trey’s rock, just kept talking him down.

  “As you’ve probably heard, we’ve had to cancel ten shows over the past few weeks, but Sinners is back to rock Salt Lake. How do you all feel about that?”

  More cheers.

  “Hey, Trey, why don’t you come say something to the fans? I think they’ve been worried about you. ”

  Trey gave him a scathing look and stepped up to the microphone. “Hey. ”

  The roar from the crowd was deafening.

  “He’s still not back to his usual bad-ass self, but he said he couldn’t stand to miss another show. Is that what you said, Trey?”

  “Yeah,” he said quietly.

  Brian wrapped an arm around Trey’s shoulders and spoke into the microphone. “He’s feeling kind of slow these days. I think they sucked half his brain out through this hole in his head. ” Brian pointed to the ugly scar that ran a semi-circle around the side of his head. At least the staples were gone now.

  Trey didn’t respond to the barb. Yeah, something wasn’t right. Best leave him alone. They might as well continue and get this over with.
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