Lick (Stage Dive #1)(5)


by Kylie Scott

“That word works.”

Lauren sighed and rested her head on my shoulder. “You’re right. You really shouldn’t drink tequila ever again.”

“No,” I agreed.

“Do me a favor?” she asked.

“Mm?”

“Don’t break up my favorite band.”

“Ohmygod.” I shoved the sunglasses back up, frowning hard enough to make my head throb. “Guitarist. He’s the guitarist. That’s where I know him from.”

“Yes. He’s the guitarist for Stage Dive. Well spotted.”

The David Ferris. He’d been on Lauren’s bedroom wall for years. Granted, he had to be the last person I’d expect to wake up to, on a bathroom floor or otherwise. But how the hell could I not have recognized him? “That’s how he could afford the ring.”

“What ring?”

Shuffling further down in the seat, I fished the monster out of my jeans pocket and brushed off the lint and fluff. The diamond glittered accusingly in the bright light of day.

Lauren started shaking beside me, muffled laughter escaping her lips. “Mother of God, it’s huuuuge!”

“I know.”

“No, seriously.”

“I know.”

“Fuck me. I think I’m about to pee myself,” she squeed, fanning her face and bouncing up and down on the car seat. “Look at it!”

“Lauren, stop. We can’t both be freaking out. That won’t work.”

“Right. Sorry.” She cleared her throat, visibly struggling to get herself back under control. “How much is that even worth?”

“I really don’t want to guess.”

“That. Is. Insane.”

We both stared at my bling in awed silence.

Suddenly Lauren started bopping up and down in her seat again like a kid riding a sugar high. “I know! Let’s sell it and go backpacking in Europe. Hell, we could probably circle the globe a couple of times on that sucker. Imagine it.”

“We can’t,” I said, as tempting as it sounded. “I’ve got to get it back to him somehow. I can’t keep this.”

“Pity.” She grinned. “So, congratulations. You’re married to a rock star.”

I tucked the ring back into my pocket. “Thanks. What the hell am I going to do?”

“I honestly don’t know.” She shook her head at me, her eyes full of wonder. “You’ve exceeded all of my expectations. I wanted you to let your hair down a little. Get a life and give mankind another chance. But this is a whole new level of crazy you’ve ascended to. Do you really have a tattoo?”

“Yes.”

“Of his name?”

I sighed and nodded.

“Where, might I enquire?”

I shut my eyes tight. “My left butt cheek.”

Lauren lost it, laughing so hard that tears started streaming down her face.

Perfect.

CHAPTER THREE

Dad’s cell rang just before midnight. My own had long since been switched off. When the home phone wouldn’t stop ringing, we’d unplugged it from the wall. Twice the police had been by to clear people out of the front yard. Mom had finally taken a sleeping pill and gone to bed. Having her neat, ordered world shot to hell hadn’t gone down so well. Surprisingly, after an initial outburst, Dad had been dealing alright with the situation. I was suitably apologetic and wanted a divorce. He was willing to chalk this one up to hormones or the like. But that all changed when he looked at the screen of his cell.

“Leyton?” He answered the call, his eyes drilling into me from across the room. My stomach sunk accordingly. Only a parent could train you so well. I had disappointed him. We both knew it. There was only one Leyton and only one reason why he’d be calling at this hour on this day.

“Yes,” my father said. “It’s an unfortunate situation.” The lines around his mouth deepened, turning into crevices. “Understandably. Yes. Goodnight then.”

His fingers tightened around the cell and then he tossed it onto the dining room table. “Your internship has been cancelled.”

All of the air rushed out of me as my lungs constricted to the size of pennies.

“Leyton rightly feels that given your present situation …” My father’s voice trailed away to nothing. He’d called in years-old favors to get me the internship with one of Portland’s most prestigious architectural firms. It’d had only taken a thirty-second phone call, however, to make it disappear.

Someone banged on the door. Neither of us reacted. People had been hammering on it for hours.

Dad started pacing back and forth across the living room. I just watched in a daze.

Throughout my childhood, times such as this had always followed a certain pattern. Nathan got into a fight at school. The school called our mother. Our mother had a meltdown. Nate retreated to his room, or worse, disappeared for days. Dad got home and paced. And there I’d be among it all, trying to play mediator, the expert at not making waves. So what the hell was I doing standing in the middle of a f**king tsunami?

As kids went, I’d always been pretty low maintenance. I’d gotten good grades in high school and had gone on to the same local college as my father. I might have lacked his natural talent at design but I put in the hours and effort to get the grades I needed to pass. I had been working part-time in the same coffee shop since I was fifteen. Moving in with Lauren had been my one grand rebellion. I was, all in all, fantastically boring. My parents had wanted me to stay home and save money. Anything else I’d achieved had been done through subterfuge so my parents could sleep soundly at night. Not that I’d gotten up to much. The odd party. The Tommy episode four years back. There’d been nothing to prepare me for this.

Apart from the press there were people crying on the front lawn, holding signs proclaiming their love for David. One man was holding an old-style boom box high in the hair, blasting out music. A song called ‘San Pedro’ was their favorite. The yelling would reach a crescendo every time the singer made it to the chorus, “But the sun was low and we’d no place to go …”

Apparently, later they were planning on burning me in effigy.

Which was fine, I wanted to die.

My big brother Nathan had been over to collect Lauren and take her back to his place. We hadn’t seen each other since Christmas, but desperate times and desperate measures. The apartment Lauren and I shared was likewise surrounded. Going there was out of the question and Lauren didn’t want to get her family or other friends involved. To say Nathan enjoyed my predicament would be unkind. Not untrue, but definitely unkind. He’d always been the one in trouble. This time, however, it was all on me. Nathan had never gotten accidentally married and inked in Vegas.