Lick, p.32
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       Lick, p.32

         Part #1 of Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott
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Page 32

  Author: Kylie Scott

  Lots of people wore tiny diamond solitaire earrings. Even millionaires.

  I pushed my water aside, forcing a smile. “Shall we go?”

  *

  Watching the show was amazing. Martha took me to a spot to the side of the stage, behind the curtains, but it still felt like I was right in the thick of things. And things were loud and thrilling. Music thrummed through my chest, making my heart race. The music was a great distraction from my worries about the earring. David and I needed to talk. I’d been all for waiting until he felt comfortable enough to tell me things, but my questions were getting out of hand. I didn’t want to be second-guessing him in this way. We needed honesty.

  With a guitar in his hands, David was a god. Little wonder people worshiped him. His hands moved over the strings of his electric guitar with absolute precision, his concentration total. The muscles flexing in his forearms made his tattoos come to life. I stood in awe of him, mouth agape. There were other people on stage too, but David held me spellbound. I’d only seen the private side of him, who he was when he was with me. This seemed to be almost another entity. A stranger. My husband had taken a back seat to the performer. The rock star. It was actually a little daunting. But in that moment, his passion made perfect sense to me. His talent was such a gift.

  They played five songs, then it was announced another big-name artist would take to the stage. All four of the band members exited by the other side. Martha had disappeared on me. Hard to be upset about that, despite backstage being a maze of hallways and dressing rooms. The woman was a monster. I was better off alone.

  I made my way back on my own, taking tiny, delicate steps because my stupid shoes were killing me. Blisters lined my toes where the strap cut across, rubbing away at my skin. Didn’t matter, my joy would not be dimmed. The memory of the music stayed with me. The way David had looked all caught up in the performance, both exciting and unknown. Talk about a rush.

  I smiled and swore, quietly, ignoring my poor feet and winding my way through the mix of roadies, sound technicians, make-up artists and general hangers-on.

  “Child bride. ” Mal smacked a noisy kiss on my cheek. “I’m heading to a club. You guys coming or taking off back to your love nest?”

  “I don’t know. Just let me find David. That was amazing by the way. You guys were brilliant. ”

  “Glad you liked it. Don’t tell David I carried the show, though. He’s so precious about that sort of thing. ”

  “My lips are sealed. ”

  He laughed. “He’s better with you, you know? Artistic types have a bad habit of disappearing up their own asses. He’s smiled more in the last few days with you than I’ve seen him do in the last five years put together. You’re good for him. ”

  “Really?”

  Mal grinned. “Really. You tell him I’m going to Charlotte’s. See you there later, maybe. ”

  “Okay. ”

  Mal took off and I made my way toward the band’s dressing room through the even bigger and better crush of people assembled. Inside the dressing room, however, things were quiet. Jimmy and Adrian had stood huddled out in the hallway, deep in conversation as I passed on by. Definitely not stopping. Sam and a second security person nodded to me as I passed.

  The door to the back room where Jimmy had been busy earlier stood partly open. David’s voice carried to me, clear as day, despite the noise outside. It was like I was becoming tuned in to him on some cosmic level. Scary but exhilarating at the same time. I couldn’t wait to get out of here with him and do whatever. Go meet Mal or take off on our own. I didn’t mind, so long as we were together.

  I just wanted to be with him.

  The sound of Martha’s raised voice from within the same room decreased my happy.

  “Don’t,” someone said from behind me, halting me at the door.

  I turned to face the fourth member of the band: Ben. I remembered him now from some show Lauren had made me sit through years ago. He played bass and he made Sam the bodyguard look like a cute, fluffy kitten. Short dark hair and the neck of a bull. Attractive in a strange, serial-killer kind of way. Though it might have just been the way he looked at me, blue eyes dead serious and jaw rigid. Another one on drugs, perhaps. To me, he felt nothing but bad.

  “Let them sort it out,” he said, voice low. His gaze darted to the partially open doorway. “You don’t know what they were like when they were together. ”

  “What?” I edged back a bit and he noticed, taking a step to the side to get closer to the door. Trying to maneuver me to the outer.

  Ben just looked at me, his thick arm barring the way. “Mal said you’re nice and I’m sure you are. But she’s my sister. David and her have always been crazy about each other, ever since we were kids. ”

  “I don’t understand. ” I flinched, my head shaking.

  “I know. ”

  “Move, Ben. ”

  “I’m sorry. Can’t do that. ”

  Fact was, he didn’t need to. I held his gaze, making sure I had his full attention. Then I balanced my weight on one of my hooker heels, using the other to kick the door open. Since it had never been fully closed, it swung inward with ease.

  David stood with his back partially turned toward us. Martha’s hands were in his hair, holding him to her. Their mouths were mushed together. It was a hard, ugly kiss. Or maybe that was just the way it looked from the outside.

  I didn’t feel anything. Seeing that should have been big, but it wasn’t. It made me small and it shut me down inside. If anything, it felt almost oddly inevitable. The pieces had all been there. I’d been so stupid, trying not to see this. Thinking everything would be fine.

  A noise escaped my throat and David broke away from her. He looked over his shoulder at me.

  “Ev,” he said, face drawn and eyes bright.

  My heart must have given up. Blood wasn’t flowing. How bizarre. My hands and feet were ice cold. I shook my head. I had nothing. I took a step back and he flung out a hand to me.

  “Don’t,” he said.

  “David. ” Martha gave him a hazardous smile. No other word for it. Her hand stroked over his arm as if she could sink her nails into him at any time. I guessed she could.

  David came toward me. I took several hasty steps back, stumbling in my heels. He stopped and stared at me like I was a stranger.

  “Baby, this is nothing,” he said. He reached for me again. I held my arms tight to my chest, guarding myself from harm. Too late.

  “It was her? She’s the high school sweetheart?”

  The familiar old muscle in his jaw went pop. “That was a long time ago. It doesn’t matter. ”

  “Jesus, David. ”

  “It has nothing to do with us. ”

  The more he spoke, the colder I felt. I did my best to ignore Ben and Martha hovering in the background.

  David swore. “Come on, we’re getting out of here. ”

  I shook my head slowly. He grabbed my arms, stopping me from retreating any further. “What the fuck are you doing, Evelyn?”

  “What are you doing, David? What have you done?”

  “Nothing,” he said, teeth gritted. “I haven’t done a damn thing. You said you trusted me. ”

  “Why do you both still wear the earrings if it’s nothing?”

  His hand flew to his ear, covering the offending items. “It’s not like that. ”

  “Why does she still work for you?”

  “You said you trusted me,” he repeated.

  “Why keep the house in Monterey all these years?”

  “No,” he said and then stopped.

  I stared at him, incredulous. “No? That’s it? That’s not enough. Was I supposed to just not see all this? Ignore it?”

  “You don’t understand. ”

  “Then explain it to me,” I pleaded. His eyes looked right through me. I might as well not have spoken. M
y questions went unanswered, same as they ever had. “You can’t do it, can you?”

  I took another step back and his face hardened to fury. His hands fisted at his sides. “Don’t you dare fucking leave me. You promised!”

  I didn’t know him at all. I stared at him, transfixed, letting his anger wash over me. It couldn’t hope to pierce the hurt. Not a chance.

  “You walk out of here and it’s over. Don’t you fucking think of coming back. ”

  “Okay. ”

  “I mean it. You’ll be nothing to me. ”

  Behind David, Ben’s mouth opened but nothing came out. Just as well. Even numb had its limits.

  “Evelyn!” David snarled.

  I slipped off the stupid shoes and went barefoot for my grand exit. Might as well be comfortable. Normally I’d never wear heels like that. There was nothing wrong with normal. I was long overdue for a huge heaping dose of it. I’d wrap myself in normal like it was cotton wool, protecting me from everything. I had the cafe to get back to, school to start thinking about. I had a life waiting.

  A door slammed shut behind me. Something thumped against it on the other side. The sound of shouting was muted.

  Outside the dressing room door Jimmy and Adrian were still deep in conversation. By which I mean Adrian spoke and Jimmy stared at the ceiling, grinning like a lunatic. I doubted a rocket ship could have reached Jimmy just then, he looked that high.

  “Excuse me,” I said, butting in.

  Adrian turned and frowned, the flash of bright teeth coming a moment too late. “Evelyn. Honey, I’m just in the middle of something here—”

  “I’d like to go back to Portland now. ”

  “You would? Okay. ” He rubbed his hands together. Ah, I’d pleased him. His smile was huge, genuine for once and glaringly bright. Headlights had nothing on him. He’d apparently been holding back previously.

  “Sam!” he yelled.

  The bodyguard appeared, weaving through the crowd with ease. “Mrs Ferris. ”

  “Miss Thomas,” Adrian corrected. “Would you mind seeing her safely returned to her home, thanks, Sam?”
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