Love Songs, Book 2
Champagne Book Group Presents
By DK Marie
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“We’ll let you know,” Maggie Preswyck told the last auditioner of the night. He snapped shut the case to his guitar, nodding goodbye. She couldn’t even manage a half-hearted wave as he headed for the stairs.
She’d never call him, or any of the others who’d tried out.
The urge to kick Lincoln’s bass drum or scream like a banshee was hard to resist. Detroit overflowed with musical talent. Apparently, those people weren’t auditioning for her band. Most who tried out were adequate, yet none had a spark, the thing that would set ThreePence apart from the million other Indie bands fighting for recognition.
Every member needed to be unique. Extraordinary. Like her current lead guitarist.
The one who’d gotten knocked up.
Sure, Scarlett and her husband had dreamed of having a baby for years, but their precious bundle was messing with Maggie’s dreams.
Scarlett’s high blood pressure had her doctor demanding she stay off her feet whenever possible. Complete bedrest was in her near future.
Crossing off the name of the guy who’d just left, Maggie tapped her pen in annoyance, looking from her drummer, Lincoln, to her bassist, Jayce. “Please tell me there’s others we’ve forgotten to add to the list. Anyone else trying out?”
Both stared back, offering nothing. Their discouragement matched hers.
“We should get Scarlett a hospital bed. Roll her on stage,” Lincoln grumbled. “Finding a temporary replacement isn’t working.”
Jayce snorted, leaning his bass against a stool. “It’s what we get for having a chick guitarist.”
Irritation climbed along Maggie’s spine. “Shut up, Jayce. If it weren’t for ‘chicks,’ ThreePence wouldn’t exist.”
At times like this she wondered how she’d ever found him attractive.
Sure, she’d always preferred unconventional men like Jayce. His messy black hair, tattoo-covered arms, and tight jeans fit her preference perfectly. His attitude was unattractive.
None if it mattered now.
They’d never been anything more than a few sweaty nights together, which ended the day he joined ThreePence.
Once he became their bass player, they were done. She never slept with anyone in her band. That was one rule she never broke.
It hadn’t been a big loss. The sex was decent, nothing spectacular. Plus, when he said stupid shit like now, there was nothing worth missing.
Jayce exhaled loudly, gripping the neck of his guitar and leaning back, extracting a pack of cigarettes from his front pocket. “Yeah, yeah, Maggie, we know. You found me, created the band, write most of the songs. Without you, we’d be nothing.”
“Don’t smoke in here.” Lincoln tossed a drumstick half-heartedly at Jayce. “What you say is true. She writes our songs, sings all of them.”
“I own the house. Most of the equipment too,” Jayce retorted.
He loved to remind them of this, daily.
“It is your parents who loaned us the money for the instruments and this place, not you,” Maggie argued.
She shrugged, there was no sense arguing about it. Who knew, maybe he could convince his parents to confiscate the instruments they’d purchased for the band and to kick her and Lincoln out onto the streets.
They’d saved half the money to pay off Jayce’s parents. Maggie couldn’t wait for the day they gave them the check. The day he could no longer hold so much ownership over the band.
Footsteps thumped overhead, and they glanced up. It was well after ten.
Oh hell, maybe the music gods heard her pleas, sending her the next Thurston Moore or Jack White.
“Must be Zia,” said Lincoln. “She texted me a while ago, said she was stopping by. She’d sounded excited. Let’s hope our manager found us a guitarist.”
That would be fantastic. I love Zia, but I need a Carrie Brownstein.
Seconds later, Zia strode across the basement rehearsal area, a pleased smile on her lips and satisfaction oozing from her. A spark of hope ignited in Maggie’s chest. Maybe Zia found someone.
“Where are you coming from? Can you take us next time?” Maggie asked. “From your smile, this place must be spectacular. We could use a little.”
Zia perched on the edge of the couch, her gaze flicking excitedly from one band member to the next. “I was with my accounting tutor, Tanner,” she said, dousing Maggie’s small flame of hope.
“He gave you that smile?” Jayce smirked. “What exactly is he teaching you? Sex Ed? With hands-on demonstrations?”
Zia’s dark eyes narrowed. “Do you always have your mind in the gutter?”
He shrugged. “Pretty much.”
“Anyway, I do have some spectacular news.” She jumped up, clapping her hands, her euphoric smile back. “I’ve found us a guitarist.”
Maggie’s hopes rocketed from the slimy pit where they’d been resting. She stood, pulling Zia into a tight hug. The woman had a nose for talent. She’d found Lincoln.
“That’s fantastic news,” Maggie exclaimed. “When can we hear this person play?”
“Soon. He’s on his way. It’s my tutor, Tanner.”
Maggie’s brows rose, a little of her excitement deflating. She could almost hear it, a little like air released from a small slit in a balloon. “Your tutor? Some professor?”
She did not need some sixty-year-old dude in corduroy pants, sporting a tweed jacket in her band.
No way. I’m not that desperate. Yet.
“Don’t be so quick to judge,” Zia snapped. “He’s good. I’m telling you, the guy is incredibly talented”
“At what?” Jayce mocked. “Spreadsheets and grading papers?”
Lincoln waved a hand at Jayce, as if shooing away his dumbass comment. “Accounting to music? I don’t get it. How’d he end up playing a guitar for you?”
“By accident. After tutoring, we always leave together. Today my damn car decided to die. I called James to get me, but he was at work, wouldn’t be leaving for another hour. Roasting Bean was closing. Tanner invited me to wait for James at his place. When we arrived, his roommate was playing, badly I might add, on a guitar. Tanner took it away, complaining about broken strings and ear drums.
“I asked him to play a song. Guys, I was blown away.”
There was no doubt Zia could spot talent, still…
“Do you honestly think he’ll be a fit for ThreePence? If you say he’s good, I believe you.” She couldn’t help picturing an old dude with liver spots and a pipe.
She glared at Maggie. “Stop picturing our high school math teacher, Mr. Blackson.”
Her lips quirked, and Zia smirked, her hostility seeming to fade. “And he’s not a teacher. He’s an accountant, soon to be CPA.”
“Oh, so much better,” Maggie mocked.
“Shut up, Ms. Judgie. Second,” Zia wiggled two fingers, “Tanner’s around our age, not some geriatric with a walker and a guitar. In fact, he is quite cute.”
Maggie didn’t give a shit how the guy looked. Band members weren’t to play with; they were to play music with. Plus, Zia liked the clean-cut boring boys. Maggie was certain the guy was bland, dry as plain toast.
Lincoln shrugged. “What could it hurt? It’s not like we’ve found anyone else.”
“You better give him a chance,” Zia huffed, slipping back onto the couch’s edge. “Convincing him to stop by wasn’t easy.”
Indignation left a bad taste in Maggie’s mouth. “If you needed to convince him, why’d you bother? We have plenty willing to audition. People who’d love to join the band.”
Too bad they all sucked, none even a fraction of what ThreePence needed.
“You mean all the ones you’ve hated? We’re running out of options. Hey, at least with Tanner, we know he doesn’t have a problem with being temporary. He wouldn’t even consider coming by today until I assured him this gig was for less than a year. He’s not a big fan of bars and nightclubs. He doesn’t want to do something like this long-term. Tanner wants to be a CPA. He’s studying for the exam. After he passes it, he wants to quit tutoring, and begin working full time at an accounting firm.”
“Who doesn’t like the nightlife?” Jayce cut in. “He doesn’t sound like a good fit for us.”
Maggie rolled her eyes. Of course, that was his worry, not if this Tanner could play their music, but if he was willing to party and get high.
“The way he plays is perfect for us,” Zia insisted, her gaze swinging between Jayce and Maggie. “Please don’t be assholes when he gets here.”
“Whatever you say. Bring the Prof by.” Jayce snickered. “Should be at least good for a laugh.”
“Assholes,” Zia muttered.
Excerpt From: DK Marie. “Love Songs.”