Tough Luck (Hard Rock Roots)

By: C.M. Stunich

What a fucking idiot.

I'm sitting at my kit watching one of my best friends hop around the stage like he's gone completely mental. There's blood leaking from the wound in his thigh, staining the white bandages and drawing little gasps from his throat between verses that the crowd actually seems to like. They're diggin' this tortured, wounded bad boy schtick. Me, not so much.

“Dumb ass,” I growl out under my breath, slamming my sticks so hard I'm pretty damn sure one of the fuckers is going to snap right in half. Wouldn't be the first time. Anyway, this shit is getting stale. I'd like to move onto the next town, please and thank you. But no. No. Stupid ass cops think holding us here while they investigate shit is going to help. Why can't they just book Katie Rhineback and be done with it? It isn't like a good two dozen people are eyewitnesses to her brother's murder. Guess the dead cop they found in the woods spooked 'em.

“Battered and broken, bleeding for you.”

I follow up Turner's hook with some backup vocals. I hate backup vocals. Shit.

“Bleeding for you.”

My friend tilts his head back, letting his shades slip down his sweaty face. From the shadows, I'm pretty sure I can see a hint of Naomi Knox, arms crossed over her chest, lips twitching somewhere between love and irritation. Yup. That's the honest truth right there. Those two have it, whether they know it or fucking not. Forgive me, Asuka, but these stupid fuckers make me want to fall in love again. Doubt I'm going to find someone in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma though.

“Why can't I forget you? It's not like I want to, but, baby, call me crazy. I cannot move on.”

Jesus, I hate this friggin' song. The day Turner wrote it, I almost socked him in the face. I know he was trying to help, but to be honest with you, it just kind of makes things worse. Even all these years later. Even after all these fucking years.

I can still see Asuka's smile, still hear her voice, still feel her body brushing against mine, soft and perfect. My love, my one, true love.

I smash my cymbals and kiss the sound with a spin of my sticks. I'm no Gene Krupa, stirring up dixieland or any of that shit, but I'm alright. I hit my solo running with a double bass beat and tune out the audience like I always do. Turner might eat that crap with a spoon, but I'm happy back here, cloaked in shadows, worshipped but forgotten. That works for me. It's been a long, long time since I've had the desire to be the center of attention.

“Without you by my side, I think I'd have rather gone and died.” Turner pauses and licks his lip, sliding his eyes to the side of the stage in a move I doubt anyone else would notice. But I know the asshole too well to miss it. He's checking with Naomi. By God, the man is actually considering someone else's feelings. Well, I'll be damned.

And then he grabs both sides of his shirt and tears, splitting the fabric and letting it hang in strips from either shoulder. I roll my eyes and keep playing, pumping my foot pedal, listening to the cry of the guitars cut through my ears and warp my brain. I don't know what Naomi thinks about that, but when I look back towards stage right, she's gone, melted into the dark shadows behind the curtain.

Maybe they'll have another fight tonight? Or maybe not? What does it matter? They're already out the gates, so there's no turning back. I just hope Campbell knows how good he's got it.

The crowd surges forward, frantic and frenzied, a mass of faceless faces, howling grins. I've never seen crowds like we've been having lately. With each nightmare, each tragedy, our popularity is growing. At this point, it's almost stifling. I can't help but think how much worse it's going to get, because it is. There is no fucking doubt in my mind about that.

I watch Trey playing angry, swiping his strings like they're to blame for this whole situation. It's nobody's fault, really, but he blames Naomi. It might've been her sister that got us stuck here, but that's just the dandelion swaying up there in the Goddamn breeze. Down below, there's a root. I don't know where it is or how it got planted, but as soon as I do, I'm going to tear that fucker out.

▶ Also By C.M. Stunich

▶ Hot Read

▶ Last Updated

▶ Recommend

Top Books