By: S. C. Stephens

After spending a little time with Evan’s family, the two of us had headed south, to L.A., City of Angels, to pick up some more band members. We’d found Matt and Griffin Hancock in the unlikeliest of places. A strip club. Well, maybe that wasn’t so unlikely. Evan and I were horny, fresh-out-of-high-school teenagers after all.

The four of us had worked well together, even from the beginning, and were soon rocking bars and clubs in L.A. We’d probably still be there, except I’d dropped everything and rushed back to Seattle after my parents died. Surprising the shit out of me, the guys had followed, and we’d been playing here ever since.

Traffic thickened as I neared downtown. We always rehearsed at Evan’s place, since he technically didn’t live in a residential area, so our noise wasn’t an issue. His studio was above an auto body shop. That came in handy when my baby needed servicing. Roxie was my favorite mechanic there. She loved my car almost as much as I did, and would often take a look at her while I was upstairs with the guys.

Roxie was laughing with a coworker when I pulled up, but she still shot me a wave the second she saw me. Or, more accurately, my Chevelle; the girl only had eyes for my car. “Hey, Roxie. How’s it going?”

Running a dirty hand through her short hair, she answered, “Good. I’m thinking of writing a children’s book about a monkey wrench who helps animals that are in trouble. I might have him drive a Chevelle.” She winked.

“Sounds awesome.” I laughed. “Good luck.”

“Thanks!” She grinned. As I headed for the stairs with my guitar, she shouted, “Let me know if the Chevelle needs anything! You know I’d make house calls for her, right?”

“Yep! I know,” I shouted back.

Griffin was in the kitchen, rummaging through Evan’s food, when I walked in. Playing always gave him the munchies. His pale eyes shifted my way, and smiling, I tossed him the box of Froot Loops I’d brought along with me. I’d picked them up while grocery shopping on an empty stomach, but they really didn’t sound that great, and I knew they’d never get eaten at my house.

Griffin’s expression brightened as he caught the box. “Sweet!” he muttered, immediately ripping it open. He reached into the bag, grabbed a handful of the sugary cereal, and was loudly crunching on it before I’d even made it into the living room area of the one-room loft.

Matt looked up when I set my guitar case on the couch beside him. He’d been staring at something on his cell phone that sort of looked like a website. I wasn’t entirely sure, I didn’t even own a cell phone, and probably never would. Technology kind of mystified me, and I just didn’t care enough to figure it out. I liked what I liked, regardless of whether it was out of date or not. My car still had a tape deck in it, for God’s sake, which Griffin continuously chided me about, but as long as it still worked, I was happy with what I had.

“I think we should start playing festivals and fairs, and not just bars. It’s too late to get into Bumbershoot this year, but I think we need to do it next year. I think we’re ready.” With slim features, blond hair, and blue eyes, Matt and Griffin were physically a lot alike. Personality-wise, though, the cousins couldn’t have been more different.

“Yeah? Think so?” I asked, not too surprised that Matt was contemplating our future. He often did.

Behind him, I could see Evan wading through the rehearsal equipment that the band kept here at his place. His warm brown eyes were smiling at me beneath his close-cut dark hair as he approached the couch. “Definitely, we’re as ready as we’ll ever be, Kell. It’s time to step it up a notch. With your lyrics and my rhythms…we’re golden.” While Matt was one of the most talented guitarists I’d ever seen, Evan was the one who arranged most of our pieces.

Matt glanced back at Evan with an eager nod. Looking between the two, I pondered whether we were ready. I supposed they were right, we were. We had more than enough songs, and probably enough fans. It could be a big step for the band, or it could be a giant waste of time.

When Evan got to the back of the couch, he crossed his arms over his chest. All of my bandmates were littered with random tattoos—Griffin’s were a bit on the obscene side, naked girls and stuff, and Matt’s were classier, with meaning behind every twist and symbol. Evan’s though, his were like a living, breathing work of art. His arms alone were a museum-worthy masterpiece of fire, water, and everything in between.