Can romance and rock ‘n’ roll dreams survive with a storm raging around them?
Alex Randall has always wanted to be a rock singer. When he answers an ad from a local band, his dream finally comes true. He loves the stage, and the group’s fans love him. Things couldn’t be better, except for the attraction he develops for the band’s guitarist, Lindsey. Alex is surprised and initially worried, since he only had one brief flirtation with a boy in his teens. But even though he and Lindsey become close and start seeing each other, Alex fears commitment, and Lindsey worries that Alex might only be experimenting.
When Lindsey’s ex contacts him following a health scare, fear and anger drives a wedge between Alex and Lindsey, which causes rifts within the band. Alex and Lindsey’s relationship is still new and fragile, and with Alex unwittingly blaming Lindsey for their problems, it becomes a true challenge for them to weather the storm.
The car pulled up outside the address at exactly eight thirty. The house itself was in darkness, but I could see a glow around the edge of the garage doors. I walked up the drive and knocked on the steel. The door rolled up slowly, making a screeching sound that told me it was on its way out. The man who came into view was about my height, with shoulder-length brown hair and blue eyes. Stubble dusted his jawline, and his Bon Jovi T-shirt, faded jeans, and running shoes made me smile. No makeup or spandex in sight. Maybe they wouldn’t be too glam, after all.
“Hey, I’m Alex Randall. I talked to Mark on the phone earlier?”
“I’m Mark Short. Thanks for coming.” The man stuck his hand out, and we shook, before he stepped back, gesturing me to step inside.
A rug covered most of the concrete floor and a drum kit was set up at the back of the garage. A couple of guitars leaned against the wall, and several amps stood around, with a tangle of cables trailing across the floor. Two other guys sat on a pair of shabby dining chairs next to the drum kit. One rose and came toward me, a grin a mile wide on his face.
“Ricky Wade. I play bass. Mark says we saved the best ’til last. Was he right?”
“I hope so!” I was pleasantly surprised that the drummer had apparently been singing my praises after only a few bars over the phone. I hoped it was a good omen.
The third member of the band remained seated, half turned away and ignoring us. Long blond hair hid his face, and I took in an outfit similar to those the others wore—jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt with Kiss tour dates on the back.
“Linz, you gonna come and say hi?” Mark asked.
Linz? Lindsey? The guitarist’s a girl?
The blond turned a little more toward me but didn’t look up. “Hi.” The single syllable was uttered softly, in a surprisingly deep voice. I raised my eyebrows. Lindsey’s a bloke?
“Hell, Lindsey, could you be a bit more friendly?” Ricky stepped toward the blond and gave his shoulder a push.
“Fuck off, Ricky.” Lindsey rose to his feet and lifted his guitar strap over his head. He tossed his hair back from his face and ran a hand through it, then stared at me in silence, hazel eyes drifting from my face, down over my body, and back up. I stared back. His smooth skin showed no sign of stubble, and his high cheekbones and straight nose gave his face an attractive, symmetrical look. He narrowed his eyes, drawing attention to his long lashes, and caught his lower lip between his teeth.
“Hi, Lindsey,” I said.
“You’re… Alex, right?” Lindsey’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he spoke, and I wondered why I noticed. Maybe because I felt unnerved by his silent appraisal.
“Are you any good?”
“I hope so.” I smiled, but he didn’t return it.
“Dude, let’s get on with it, shall we? I can’t be late tonight. I promised Lauren,” Ricky interrupted.
Mark snickered. “You haven’t even got a ring on her finger yet and you’re under her thumb.”
“Go to hell, Shorty. Just because you can’t get a woman for love nor money.”
“I wouldn’t want one if she was gonna control me like Lauren does you,” Mark said with a grimace.
Lindsey snorted. He raised a hand to tuck his hair behind his ear, revealing three rings through the lobe and a stud in the cartilage, just beneath the tip. I looked at Mark instead. He was the one who’d already heard me, after all.
“What do you want me to sing?”
“You didn’t ask him to prepare anything?” Ricky asked, frowning. “What’s wrong with you, man?”
“Lindsey was supposed to be arranging all this shit,” Mark grumbled. “I forgot, okay?”
Ricky grumbled and shot an irritated look at Lindsey. “We’ll have to wing it. What have you got, Alex?”
“Well, I sang a few bars of ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ on the phone earlier. I could do that. Or ‘Kickstart My Heart.’” Maybe they wouldn’t want Mötley Crüe. “Kiss, ‘Crazy Crazy Nights?’”
“Yeah, we’ll do that. It’s one of the covers we play sometimes,” Ricky said.
“How long have you been together?” I asked, realizing I knew nothing about the band, not even their name, assuming they had one.
“A year,” Mark answered. “We’ve been playing some of the smaller clubs around town and some in Leicester, Mansfield, Grantham, and around there.”
“And you don’t have a singer?”
“We had one, but things didn’t work out. He quit last month,” Ricky explained. “Lindsey’s been filling in.”
Lindsey frowned and didn’t look at me. I wasn’t sure whether to speak directly to him or to Ricky. “He sings as well as playing guitar?”
“Needs must,” Lindsey answered. I turned to him again, but anything I might have said in response was drowned out by a squeal from his guitar, clearly a cue to move things forward. Mark went to the drum kit and sat down.
“Okay, let’s do this.” Ricky picked up a bass guitar and slung the strap over his shoulder. “You ready, Alex? Do you want a drink of water or something?”
“No, thanks, I’m good to go.” I went to the microphone stand in the middle of the compact area and checked the mic was switched on. Nerves kicked in, my pulse quickened, and sweat made it difficult to grip the mic. I needed to nail this or I’d be back to square one, reading the ads every week and finding nothing. I took a breath to calm myself.
The band started up, and I glanced around at the three guys. They sounded good together and looked the part. Mark, behind the drums, kept good time. Ricky stood to Mark’s left as I faced them, with his bass hanging low across his thighs. His blond hair, a few shades darker than Lindsey’s, fell into his eyes, and he threw his head back to toss it away. Lindsey stood the other side of the drum kit, eyes unfocused as he played. His fingers flew over the strings effortlessly and seemingly without thought. He stood with his feet planted apart, knees slightly bent. I flicked my hair back and stared at the microphone in front of me instead. I needed to concentrate or I’d fuck up and forget the lyrics, or worse, sing out of tune. Usually singing came naturally, but I was distracted, and I couldn’t work out why. Maybe because it was so important to me. Maybe because the musicians were waiting for me to prove I was what they wanted or otherwise.
I listened for my cue and launched into the first few bars of the song. Half closing my eyes, I lost myself in the music the way I usually did when I sang alone in my flat. I forgot three pairs of eyes and ears were focused on me, and I sang my heart out. When the last note died away, I opened my eyes and realized all three men were staring at me, Mark with his mouth hanging open.
“What?” I gritted my teeth. “Was it pitchy?”
“Fuck,” Mark said.
I knew my face fell. It was the first time I’d sung in front of people who knew anything about music, and I wondered if I’d spent the last few years wasting my time dreaming I might one day be a singer. Was I terrible, but too wrapped up in myself to realize?
“You’re fucking awesome, man!” Ricky blurted.
“Oh! Wow, thanks.” I relaxed and grinned at him. I looked at Mark, and he beamed back at me.
“I think we found our singer. Linz?”
I looked at Lindsey. His face didn’t betray anything. He avoided my eyes but nodded and unplugged his guitar.
Ricky put his bass into a guitar bag and slid the strap over his shoulder. “I gotta go. Lauren’s—”
“Gonna skin you if you’re late. We know,” Mark teased him. “See you tomorrow?”
“Yeah. Nice meeting you, Alex. See you soon, yeah?”
“Sure.” I nodded. I couldn’t believe it was that simple. Was I part of the band now?
“I have to go too.” Lindsey put his guitar into a case and propped it against one of the chairs while he pulled on a leather jacket. “See ya.” Then he was gone, and I was left there with Mark, feeling a little bemused.
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Louise Lyons comes from a family of writers. Her mother has a number of poems published in poetry anthologies, her aunt wrote poems for the church, and her grandmother sparked her inspiration with tales of fantasy. Louise first ventured into writing short stories at the grand old age of 8, mostly about little girls and ponies. She branched into romance in her teens, and MM romance a few years later, but none of her work saw the light of day until she discovered FanFiction in her late 20s.
Posting stories based on some of her favorite movies, provoked a surprisingly positive response from readers. This gave Louise the confidence to submit some of her work to publishers, and made her take her writing “hobby” more seriously.
Louise lives in the UK, about an hour north of London, with a mad Dobermann, and a collection of tropical fish and tarantulas. She works in the insurance industry by day, and spends every spare minute writing. She is a keen horse-rider, and loves to run long-distance. Some of her best writing inspiration comes to her, when her feet are pounding the open road. She often races into the house afterward, and grabs pen and paper to make notes.
Louise has always been a bit of a tomboy, and one of her other great loves is cars and motorcycles. Her car and bike are her pride and joy, and she loves to exhibit the car at shows, and take off for long days out on the bike, with no one for company but herself.