Authors: Mia Josephs
Chasing the Music
To my first guitar teacher, my poor brother James, who had to listen to his share of terrible playing, and whose love of music is absolutely contagious.
(He will most likely have something to say about me dedicating a romance book to him, or at the very least, I expect an eyebrow raised in a WHY kind of moment)
September 2014 Next Door Books/Jolene Perry
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
The characters portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Cover design by Allie Brennan
Photo by Robbiy from Photocase.com
Chasing the Music, Blurring the Lines, Finding the Dream
(But each book can stand-alone)
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
- Rolling Stones 1965
Griffin dragged his tired body out the back door at work. Listening to screeching violins and the same four guitar chords over and over
afternoon had completely done him in. The metal door clanged behind him, and he fell against the hot brick wall next to his friend, Kent. Griffin reached into his back pocket only to come up empty-handed. Again. “Dammit.”
“What’s up?” Kent asked.
No way he should be surprised about his empty pocket because it was a common occurrence, but
. He scratched a hand through his dark brown hair and leaned against the back of the music store. “Stacy took my cash again.”
Kent flicked his cigarette, looking almost like a human version of the same thing. Shaved head, skinny limbs. “Have you told her yet?”
Griffin shook his head. “We both know it’s not that easy. She’s got me. I’m who she has, and—”
“And it’s not forever.” Kent flicked his cigarette.
No it wasn’t forever. And it was the chance of a lifetime. Touring with a band had been a dream of his since he could remember, but add in
with Lita James
, one of the hottest women in rock, and he’d said yes before thinking it through. “Yeah, I know.”
“Aren’t you supposed to leave in like, days?” Kent dropped his cigarette to the ground before smashing it with his foot.
“You’re not responsible for her sanity or happiness or anything. She does have more than you.”
“Her aunt is bat-shit crazy. You know that. Makes my mom look like Mother Theresa.” And over the past couple years; Stacy had practically lived with him and his mom. He could hardly blame her. On top of the magazine hoarding, her aunt fed somewhere between fifteen and fifty homeless cats. It was insane. He also knew that Stacy would take his short absence hard.
“She has friends,” Kent pointed out.
Flaky, most of them, but Griffin kept his mouth shut.
“Still. You’re not backing out are you?”
No. He wasn’t going to back out of the tour, he just… He just had to find a way to tell Stacy he’d be gone for a while.
He needed out. Away. It would be a break without being an official break between them. Griffin started dating Stacy over five years ago—his sophomore year of high school. The fact that he sometimes wished they were still just friends was a phase. It would pass. And a few months of distance felt like the perfect way to do that. There was no doubt he loved her, he just had to find a way to flip that love back to the right kind. It was
get over it.
He held out his hand and Kent dropped a cigarette into his palm, which he immediately lit.
“Lita James’ new song is out. You hear it?” Kent asked.
Griffin scoffed, taking a long drag.
had he thought he should quit smoking? He took another long drag in. “I heard the early cut, you douche.”
“Right.” Kent rolled his eyes. “Because you got a friend doing sound. The guy who scored you the gig, right?”
“Yeah.” Only it wasn’t his friend, it was his half brother Ryker. The one who bailed when he was fourteen, and ended up working for one of the hottest rocker chicks since probably Janis Joplin.
Avril Lavigne didn’t hold a candle to Lita’s harsh lyrics, even Alanis’ early stuff and Liz Phair from the nineties didn’t compare. Lita was hardcore and amazing. Started three years ago at sixteen and hadn’t slowed down since.
At that point in time, Griffin could see working at the music store until he took it over. Fairly soon he’d need to make enough to pay his mom’s trailer payments as well as funding his own place. He couldn’t live at home forever.
The guitars he fixed and the ones he custom built were starting to gain traction online, so maybe he’d keep earning some side money there as well. Chasing his dream of playing music disappeared before his senior year of high school while helping his mom who was drowning in bills and crappy jobs.
A three-month break to go on one tour shouldn’t be too much to ask for—even from Stacy.
Griffin’s chest tightened around his lungs. “I’m gonna take off.” He was supposed to drop by the salon where Stacy worked because she’d left her bag there. Again. And needed him to get her beauty school homework.
Kent pulled open the back door of the music store to finish his shift and gave Griffin a half wave.
Griffin sat on the door, and spun around, sliding his long legs into the convertible Impala before falling into the seat. He closed his eyes in a silent prayer that the thing would start. All the graduation speeches they’d gotten a few years ago were total shit. When bills need to be paid, you don’t go to school, and you don’t follow your dreams; you find a way to pay the damn bills. He’d managed to get his dream car and that was something. It was still a POS, but it wouldn’t be forever, and it was his.
He let out a breath when the decrepit vehicle roared to life.
Griffin cranked up the music as he drove home, glad there was at least one decent rock station that the old car’s radio could find. And then left it running when he grabbed Stacy’s bag from the shop.
When he pulled into the driveway, and his car shuddered to a stop, laughter came from the trailer’s front door. Griffin climbed out and took a moment to lean on the over-heated hood of his car to listen for them again.
They were why he was still in Taylorsville, Georgia. Why he hadn’t tried to follow his brother working concerts all over the world. His mom and Stacy needed him.
One tour. Three months. You need to tell them.
He double-checked his rolled up sleeves and pulled open the front door to two beaming faces.
“What are my girls up to?” he teased, shaking off the weight of his conversation with Kent.
Stacy bounced toward him, her new highlights casting a bit of an orangey halo around her face. She couldn’t leave her hair alone for more than a month, which was something he’d always thought was sorta cool about her. She planted a kiss on his cheek. “We’re cooking for you, baby.”
He stood behind where his mom sat and gave her a half hug over the chair. “Smells great in here.”
His mom patted his arm and Stacy continued grinning. He knew she was about to do her speed-talk voice of excitement. “We found this great recipe on Pinterest and then we found this hilarious girl named Sierra who writes a blog called
Trial by Sierra
about all the stuff she tries from Pinterest. She’s awesome, and we did one of the recipes that she said was so so so good.” Stacy’s round face softened. “And you’ve seemed stressed, so I wanted to help.”
He smiled as he thought about how they’d conspired to make his night better. His life could definitely be worse.
“You’re too good to me.” He flopped in his chair and scanned the disastrous mess in the kitchen. It would be his mess to clean if he didn’t want to eat breakfast around the filth, which he didn’t.
His mom leaned in, sniffed, and immediately frowned.
This was the mothering that would never stop. “Yes.” He sighed. “I quit. Yes, I smoked one with Kent today before I left work.”
Stacy winked at him from the stove. “You’ll lick it, baby. One is no biggie.”
He had to tell her he was leaving. Had to. Soon.
She squatted in front of the oven, accentuating her narrow waist and curvy hips. Griffin let out another breath as he watched the body he knew as well as his own. Yep. His life could definitely be worse.
Lita knew looking at headlines was a bad idea. She knew it, and still she sat onstage with a box of Chinese takeout and chopsticks, scrolling down her phone as she waited for the band to arrive. Two more weeks before they hit the road, and no one was taking it seriously. Her name was on the billboard, not theirs. If they didn’t do their jobs right, it would come back to
look stupid and talentless, not them. She still held her breath sometimes, waiting for someone to see through her façade and call her the fraud she always felt she was.
Twenty was just around the corner, and she couldn’t wait to shed the “teen” that tacked on to her age. It would be one more step to feeling older than she often did.
Digging through her takeout box with her chopsticks, she slid a small bite of chicken into her mouth.
She adjusted her skinny legs underneath her as she recognized the name of the source in the People Magazine article she should not have been reading. Carmen ranting about Lita’s obsessive personality. Saying she didn’t sing her songs live. That her shows were recorded and her personal assistant wrote her lyrics.
What bullshit! Lita always sang live.
. And Bridget helped with word choice, but Lita did the writing. She’d done both since she was sixteen and her world changed with
Under My Skin.
“Dammit,” she muttered as Ryker plucked away on the strings, tuning guitars.
“Problem?” he asked and she shot him a look. Ryker was good at his job, but he definitely used his ‘status’ as one of her lackeys to get girls.
they went. He was worse than most douche-bag rock stars she knew. But he’d been touring with her crew since she first started three years ago, and she was used to him.
“Your friend Carmen seems to have a big mouth.” She turned her phone toward him knowing he couldn’t see, but that he’d catch the hint.
Ryker snorted. “Carmen is not my friend. That girl is impossible to—”
Lita help up a small hand. “Don’t. You think
“Because I don’t like people.” Ryker laughed. “Anyway, it could be worse. Did you see the headlines over the Kincaid breakup and Christian Meyer in rehab?” Ryker shook his head and stood up, his spiked hair ridiculously gelled. “I can’t believe they kept it quiet his whole first month in. Small miracle.”
“Well, I’m not stupid enough to get involved in a band that’s not my name.” Lita turned off her phone and resisted the urge to drop it on the black stage floor. “
do anything that would send me to rehab.”
She shoved her chopsticks into her meal and slid it to the side of the stage. Anger and hunger didn’t go together, and she was still pissed at Carmen for spilling out lies. Her manager, Dave, wouldn’t care because in his mind it was all publicity and would make people want to watch the show. She slid her fingers into her shaggy blond hair and shook it out, fanning her bangs over her face and messing up the layers that fell past her shoulders.