Rock hard, p.37
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       Rock Hard, p.37
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         Part #2 of Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning
Page 37

  Author: Olivia Cunning

  “You know what I think?” Sed said into the mic. “I think it’s time to climb the gates of hell. ”

  Brian raced to his side of the stage to stomp a foot pedal that changed his amplifier settings. Eric tapped on a cymbal behind them. The intro to “Gates of Hell” was insane, and while Brian performed with his usual spectacular flare, Trey missed an entire progression and his guitar fell silent. There was a horrifically loud bang followed by screeching feedback in Sed’s ear. Sed winced, covering his earpiece with one hand. He turned to see Trey stalk offstage. Trey’s favorite guitar lay in pieces in the middle of the stage, its neck snapped near the yellow and black body.

  Brian stopped playing and ran after him. Sed turned his attention back to the crowd. “We’ll be right back, folks. Don’t go anywhere. ” He handed his mic to Jace as he headed after the two guitarists. “Entertain the crowd until I get back. ”

  Jace did a very good impression of a fish out of water, but Sed didn’t have time to worry about Jace’s ability to speak to the crowd. Trey had just trashed a $6,000 guitar and stormed offstage. Things were not boding well for their comeback show.

  Brian had Trey by the shoulders backstage.

  “Hey, it’s okay,” Brian said. “We’ll just call off the show—”

  “We’re not calling off the show,” Sed said.

  Trey turned his attention to Sed. “You heard me out there. I can’t play. ”

  “You were doing fine. ”

  “Were you listening at all? I sound like shit. ”

  “Brian can take up some of your slack. Just do the best you can. And get back onstage. ” When Trey didn’t move, Sed added, “Now. ” Pointing toward the audience.

  “I’m not going back,” he said. “I can’t even hold on to my fucking pick. ”

  “You said you were ready for this, so get back out there and play some music. I really don’t care how much you suck. ”

  “Sed,” Brian protested.

  “What? Are you going to baby him some more? He needs to man up and do his best. If you keep letting him get away with this crap, he’s never going to get better. ”

  “Hello, I’m standing right here,” Trey said. “I can hear everything you’re saying. ”

  Sed looked at Trey. “Am I right?”

  Trey dropped his gaze. “I just need more time to get stronger. ”

  “We all tried to tell you that, but you wouldn’t listen. You made your choice and now you’re going to stick to it, even if I have to drag you kicking and screaming back onstage. ”

  “Trey you don’t have to do this,” Brian said. “Honestly, the fans will understand if we send them home. ”

  “You couldn’t be more wrong, Sinclair,” Sed said. “I’m going back out there now. Even if it means singing a cappella into a megaphone. ”

  Sed turned and stalked back toward the stage. He found Jace standing center stage, his face the color of cranberries, telling knock-knock jokes. Surprisingly, the crowd seemed to be enjoying his extreme discomfort. Especially the young women, who were practically swooning over his uncharacteristic interaction.

  “Knock knock,” Jace whispered into the mic.

  “Who’s there?” the crowd yelled.

  Jace noticed Sed crossing the stage. “Oh thank God, Sed’s back. ” Jace passed Sed the microphone and made a beeline toward the drum kit to hide.

  “Oh thank God, Sed’s back who?” the crowd yelled.

  “Oh thank God, Sed’s back to kick this show into high gear. Are you people ready to rock?”

  The crowd yelled.

  “Sorry about that unscheduled break, folks. Trey thinks he sucks too much to play for you wonderful people. If you agree, stay quiet, but if you think he should get his severely injured self out here and do the best he can, you should let him know it. ”

  Eric started a repetitive beat on the bass drum and the crowd rose up to the challenge. “Mills, Mills, Mills,” they chanted.

  Within a minute, Brian came back onstage, followed by Trey, who looked incredibly sheepish. Trey stepped up to his microphone stand. “I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve such great fans, but I’ll try to get through this, if you pretend you can’t hear all those triplets I can’t finger. ”

  “You can finger me, Trey!” some chick screamed in the audience.

  Trey laughed. “I probably wouldn’t be very good at that either, honey, but I’d be more than happy to give it a go. ”

  Sed grinned. There’s Trey. He was wondering where he’d wandered off to.

  Trey continued, “Also, I sorta demolished my favorite guitar, so even if I could play, nothing would sound right. ”

  “You have a spare,” Brian said into his microphone.

  “Hardly broke in. ”

  Jake dashed across the stage and handed Trey his red and white Schecter. The roadie then picked up the pieces of the destroyed yellow and black.

  Sed heard Dave in his earpiece, “‘Gates of Hell’ from the top, guys. Trey, just improvise. Play a fuckin’ open E chord the entire song if you need to. Something. Brian, double up on your outro and try to fill in on the solo. Can you handle that?”

  Trey and Brian gave Dave a thumbs-up. Eric tapped his cymbal to start the song again. Sed took a deep breath and growled into his microphone.

  The next four songs sounded pretty much as bad as the first, but they made it through. The crowd seemed to delight in Trey’s struggle rather than be critical of it. Sed even caught Trey smiling once.

  When it was time for their break, they left Brian onstage by himself to play some new solos for the crowd, while the rest of the band headed backstage. Eric, red in the face and drenched in sweat from head to foot, upended several bottles of water over his head. A roadie handed him a fresh shirt and he changed into it.

  Sed grabbed a towel and wiped the sweat from the side of his face. He waved at Jessica standing just in view next to the stage while he chomped down several pieces of red licorice to lubricate his vocal cords. His throat was really bothering him tonight. Must be from not using it for several weeks. Singing wasn’t a problem, but his usual screams hurt.

  Jessica grinned and waved back. Some red-headed chick next to her said something and Jessica gave her a look that would freeze the Caribbean Sea. Jessica blew Sed a kiss which incited the woman to flip Jessica off behind her back. The woman spun on her heel and stomped away. Myrna whispered something to Jessica and she laughed.

  Sed smiled to himself. He wasn’t sure why he worried about Jessica so much. She could obviously take care of herself. His dad had always insisted a man’s job was to protect the women he loved—whether mother, sister, wife, or treasured lover. Dad had lived that rule and enforced it by example, so it wasn’t something Sed could easily shake. It was ingrained and he didn’t want to abandon it, necessarily. But he wanted Jessica and to keep her, he realized he had to let her take care of her own problems. Occasionally.

  Jace and Trey had gone off to a corner and were talking to each other in quiet tones. Sed approached them, hoping to offer Trey encouragement. Or piss him off again. Whatever worked.

  “It doesn’t sound the same without a pick,” Trey said to Jace.

  “I know, but you could play. Try it. ”

  Trey clamped his pick between his teeth, freeing the fingers of his left hand. He tried strumming with his index finger and thumb. “It feels weird. ”

  “It’s not permanent,” Jace said. “Just ’til you can hang on to your pick. ”

  “It sounds weird, too. ”

  “Maybe we can get you a banjo pick,” Jace suggested.

  “A banjo pick?”

  “Yeah, they slip over the tip of your finger. You don’t have to hold them. ”

  Trey sighed. “Fuuuuck, this sucks. ” He shook his head. “I suck. ”

  Sed clapped him on the back vigorously. “We should have conked you on
the head years ago. The fans love it. ”

  “The fans love that I suck?”

  Sed shook his hand. “The fans love your devotion. They know you’re out there for them. ”

  “He’s out there for you, you idiot,” Eric said. Sed’s brow furrowed, but before he could ask for clarification, Eric changed the subject. “Brian seems more tired than usual from doing all that improvised solo and riff fill. We should head back and let him off the hook. ” Eric wrapped an arm around Trey and squeezed his shoulder. “You ready?”

  “You could take my place. ” Trey looked ill at the thought of returning to the stage.

  “I could. But then who’s going to play drums?”

  Trey took a deep breath and let it out in a huff. “Okay, let’s get this over with. ”

  Eric directed Trey back toward the stage, his arm still around him. “I hope you’re in the mood for female booty tonight. You don’t mind if I watch, do you? Of course you don’t. ”

  “Actually, I’m not in the mood for any booty tonight. ”

  Eric’s arm tightened around Trey’s neck and he covered Trey’s forehead with his large hand. “Oh my God, you must be dying. Doesn’t feel like you have a fever. ” He grabbed Trey’s chin. “Say ahhhhh. ”

  Trey laughed and opened his mouth. “Ahhhhh. ”

  Eric tilted his head to look in Trey’s mouth. “Tonsils appear normal. Don’t tell me…” Eric looked gravely serious. Sed couldn’t help but snigger at his antics.

  “Don’t tell you what?” Trey asked.

  “They performed the wrong surgery. You’ve had…” Eric closed his eyes as if the thought was too difficult to bear. “…a vaginoplasty. ”

  Trey scowled and flipped him off. “Aw, fuck you, Eric. ”

  “Not me, I don’t swing that way, but I’ve heard if you get Brian drunk enough…”

  Trey’s eyes widened to the size of saucers. “Where’d you hear that?”

  “Don’t get your hopes up. Myrna doesn’t share well with others. ”

  “Sometimes she does. ” Trey winked.

  Eric and Jace exchanged surprised glances.

  “Did you all have a threesome?” Eric asked.

  “Maybe. ”

  “You lucky son-of-a-bitch. ”

  Sed stared up at the rigging above the stage, pretending he didn’t care. Brian let Trey do Myrna? How the fuck had Trey managed that? Sed just had to come within three feet of the woman and Brian completely freaked out.

  “I want all the details later. ” Eric released Trey’s shoulder at the edge of the stage and headed behind the drum kit.

  When Sed reappeared onstage, Brian looked relieved to see him. Sed took the microphone off its stand and headed toward the audience. “Master Sinclair!” he announced, a hand extended in Brian’s direction.

  The crowd whistled, applauded, or yelled their appreciation of Brian’s skill. Brian nodded his head in a slight bow and went to check on Trey.

  “Anyone think Master Sinclair looks a little worn out?” Sed asked.

  “I think he does,” Jace said into Trey’s microphone.

  “Sinclair, are you feeling tired lately?”

  “Uh, no, Sed, not really,” Brian said, also into Trey’s microphone.

  “Feeling a little low in the back?”

  “Nope. ”

  “Left ring finger cramping up on you?”

  Brian chuckled. “Oh, I get what you’re doing. ”

  Sed smiled his most shark-like grin.

  Brian held up his left hand to the audience, showing off his thick platinum wedding band. “I got married about a month ago. ”

  “Sorry, ladies,” Trey said, ruffling Brian’s hair. “He’s taken. ”
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