from Wicked Beat
by Olivia Cunning
Rebekah adjusted the pillow beneath her older brother’s head. She smoothed the blanket over his lap. Plucked a stray hair from his hospital gown and flicked it onto the powder-blue carpet. Shifted his arm into a more natural looking position at his side. Licked her thumb and rubbed at a spot of mustard near the corner of his mouth.
Wincing, Dave turned his head, trying to escape her spit bath. “Will you knock it off, Reb?”
“Sorry,” she said. “I’m just nervous. Are they really coming?”
“Of course they’re coming. They’re back on tour next week and haven’t fired me yet.” Dave scowled and clutched at his blanket with one hand. He could almost grip it tightly now. Rebekah wavered between pride and despair when confronted by how far Dave had come since his accident and how far he had left to go in his recovery. “And they are never going to go for this plan, Reb. Never. Never.”
“I’ll just be filling in for you temporarily, Dave. Until you can go back on tour with them. You’re unquestionably the best front of house engineer on the planet, and you’ve come up with the perfect solution for their dilemma. They’re not going to fire you.”
“They don’t really have a choice, Reb. I can’t continue as their FOH if I can’t reach my soundboard. And even if I could reach it, there’s no way I can adjust the sliders fast enough to keep up with the band during a live show.”
“But you will, Dave. You just need more time to recover. I can work your soundboard until you’re ready to go back to work. I’m happy to help you out.” In reality, he was helping her as much as she was helping him. No metal band wanted to hire a female live sound engineer. Dave had warned her before she started school. Told her she’d be stuck mixing pop music at mall concerts. She’d been determined to show him otherwise, but so far, determination had gotten her a long way toward nowhere. If someone would just give her a chance, she could show them that a woman could be just as metal as a man.
“I know how much you want to help, sis, but I don’t think they’re going to agree to this. You’ve got to start at the bottom and work your way up, not expect to land a job with one of the biggest bands in the industry straight out of school.”
Heart sinking, she sighed. Tried not to pout too much. She knew he was right, but
patience had never been Rebekah’s greatest virtue. Actually, patience didn’t even know where she lived.
“But I will do my best to make them see that this is a viable solution,” he said. “That you’re good enough to take my place.”
She smiled a make-big-brother-feel-like-a-superhero smile. “Really?”
“Just don’t be too disappointed if they say no.”
It would crush her. She worshipped Sinners and every note of every song that had ever been produced by their talented hands, fingers, mouths, feet, and any other body part they used to create music. In college, Rebekah had done her capstone project on Sinners. It had been proclaimed brilliant and propelled her to the head of her graduating class. Dave smiled at her, his gaze moving from hers to her recently dyed hair. He cringed.
“Has Mom seen your hair?” he asked.
Rebekah grinned and smoothed her platinum blond shoulder-length hair with one hand. She’d recently dyed the under-layer cobalt blue. Since she’d regrown hair, she liked doing things that brought attention to it. Strange how being entirely bald at twenty-four would do that to a girl. Besides, Rebekah had always loved putting her mother into apoplectic fits, even if it meant being subjected to regular exorcisms. “Do you think she’ll like it?”
“Good.” She giggled. “So are all the band members coming to visit you?” Her heart thudded with excitement.
Dave grinned at her. “Will Trey be with them, you mean?”
Busted. She sorta had a panting-lust-thing for Sinners’ rhythm guitarist, Trey Mills, and Dave knew it. Probably because every time she talked to Dave, texted, or emailed him she always asked how Trey was doing. Dave would always tell her who Trey was doing instead. It had not managed to decrease her interest even a little. On the contrary, Trey’s long list of conquests had made him more intriguing. Rebekah was sure he could teach her a thing or two in the bedroom, and she was sorely in need of some attention in that department.
“I’m not sure if Brian’s back in town yet,” Dave said. “He’s probably still in Kansas City with his wife, but I’m pretty sure the rest of them will stop in. Including TreyCan’t-Keep-It-In-His-Pants Mills. You’d do best to stay away from him, Reb.”
Uh, no, that would not be best by any stretch of the imagination. The man was made to be
devoured whole. Who cared about the following indigestion? Not her.
A set of knuckles rapped against the outside of the door.
Was that them? Rebekah’s heart skipped a beat.
“Come in,” Dave called.
The door swung open and the man of Rebekah’s wet dreams poked his head into the room. Jet-black hair obscuring one sultry green eye, sexiness oozing from every pore, Trey Mills scanned Rebekah from head to toe. Her entire body flushed with heat. Trey offered Dave a crooked grin. Her temperature rose another few degrees.
“Sorry to interrupt the festivities, dude.” Trey lifted both dark brows, one of them pierced with a tiny silver hoop. “We’ll come back later.”
He closed the door.
Oh my God, he was getting away!
Rebekah raced across the room and jerked the door open. “Wait, don’t go. There are no festivities. I’m Dave’s younger sister, Rebekah.”
Eric dropped his hand from Jace’s forehead and gaped.
For like five minutes.
He forgot why he’d had Jace in a stranglehold. Something about an engagement ring and Jace’s dominatrix girlfriend, Aggie. Forgot that he couldn’t wait to pick up a new custom-made cymbal for his drum kit after they visited what’s-his-name—Dave!—who’d just been brought home from the hospital. Forgot that walking required a sequence of left foot right—not left foot, left, left, stumble, right foot. Forgot that in order to inhale his chest had to expand.
Eric choked on his own tongue.
It was her. Standing right there. About shoulder high. Petite. Feminine. Blond-and-blue-haired. Both beautiful and adorable in her mismatched tube socks, a purple tank top, and a green miniskirt. It really was her. The woman of Eric’s wet dreams.
And she was gushing all over Trey.
Son of a bitch.
Wait, Eric thought. Maybe he was jumping to conclusions. Perhaps the signs were all wrong. He’d never actually seen her before, so he had to be sure. Eric lifted the long lock of hair
that he dyed a different vibrant color every forty-nine days without fail and stared at it. His memory had served him correctly. It was currently cobalt blue—the exact same shade as the under-layer of her hair. What were the chances? It had to be kismet. Destiny. Fate. Providence. All of the above…
She’d said her name was Rebekah. That was Eric’s favorite name. At least now it was.
Rebekah tore her eyes off Trey long enough to notice Eric examining his own hair like an idiot. “Nice color,” she said with a devilish grin.
For like five minutes.
Conversation continued all around him, but he couldn’t stop staring. His eyes grew dry and itchy because he refused to blink.
Something slapped him alongside the head. Eric started and turned his head to find Sed, Sinners’ lead vocalist, looking at him as if waiting for something. “Well?”
“Do you think we should give her a chance?” Sed asked.
Apparently, Eric had missed something while he’d been gaping, stumbling, asphyxiating, gaping some more, and not blinking—in that order.
Jace pounded Eric on the back. “You okay in there, Sticks?” he asked. “Did you have some bad cheese?”
Cheese? What the fuck is cheese?
Eric’s brain usually worked pretty well, but apparently not with that sexalicious creature in the room.
“I promise to do my best,” Rebekah said, her soft voice mixing all sorts of strange emotions in Eric’s chest. She released Trey’s arm and moved to stand directly in front of Eric. The strawberry scent of her shampoo made his knees weak. Or maybe it was that pair of baby blue eyes gazing up at him from beneath thick, black lashes. “Will you let me work for you?” She touched the center of his chest and his heart leapt against her fingertips. “You won’t regret it.”
Eric swallowed hard. He had no idea what she was talking about, but her working for him in any capacity sounded fine and dandy to him. “Yes.”
She emitted a happy little squeal, wrapped her arms around him, and squeezed. She almost set him off balance as she hopped up and down excitedly. Before he could sweep her into his arms and carry her off to the nearest justice of the peace to recite eternal vows, she released him and hugged Jace, then Sed. Eric cringed when she plastered herself to Trey. It was one hundred percent obvious who she wanted. Now that he and Trey Mills were the only two single guys left in this band, Eric thought he would have pretty good odds of picking up a nice girl for himself.
No such luck.
Trey whispered something in her ear. She giggled and whispered, “Not here.”
Eric turned, found the nearest wall, and repeatedly banged his head against it.