Despite all of the reasons to stay away, we’re drawn together and bring something new out in each other. Every song pulls us closer together, but we won’t be bandmates forever.
“I already know all your songs, dude,” Lucas claimed.
Shooting him an incredulous look, I rolled my shoulders.
With a shrug, one corner of that lush mouth curled up, sly and knowing, and my stomach dropped even as he said cockily, “I’m an incredible drummer and I do know all your songs. You’re lucky I’m in town because you’d be screwed for this gig you’ve got on Saturday if I couldn’t fill in.”
Closing my eyes, trying not to enjoy Lucas’s endearing combination of mature confidence and immature sense of humor, I let a growl seep out of my throat.
“That’s a good growl for a man with such a mild tenor,” he commented.
“Okay!” Dan chirped, giving me a pleading look. “Can we start with ‘Promises,’ maybe?”
Amy tipped her head at Lucas as if to prompt him.
Lucas settled on Eli’s stool, then shook his shoulders and arms out and cracked his neck. He pulled a pair of drumsticks out of his messenger bag and scooted the stool farther from the kit, stretching out one sneaker to test the distance to the kick drum. He looked up to where all of us were watching him, and then he said as if we were the insane ones in this scenario, “Leslie starts ‘Promises.’”
I shot Leslie an impatient look and started, my voice strung out, “Leslie, for f*ck’s—”
But then the timer on my cell went off.
“Is it your pizza?” Dan asked as his face split into a toothy, hungry grin.
“I made lasagna,” I muttered, and Dan and Amy moaned in delight.
“Asher, I didn’t know you were domestic,” Lucas gasped dramatically as he twirled his drumsticks like a show-off. “Is it meat or veggie? No, wait, surprise me.”
“Why would you know anything about me?” I grumbled.
Lucas laughed again. This time he threw his head back, baring a long neck, and I couldn’t stop my mouth from drying out or my throat almost clicking when I swallowed.
“Seriously?” he all but yelped, his cheeks going splotchy red. He whirled on Leslie and accused, “Haven’t you told him anything about me?” He turned back to me so fast I got whiplash, and said, “I’ve been hearing about you since Leslie met all of you and you started the band. They’ve come up to Wisconsin like a dozen times to hang out, go camping, and spend the holidays at Leslie’s parent’s house. Dan and I took this epic Harold and Kumar kind of road trip—never mind that for now—”
The timer blared again and I inhaled and shot out a quick breath, grasping for patience as I dug out my cell and stabbed the button to end the timer. Then I stalked into my kitchen, switched on the oven light, and bent to check the lasagna, which was the perfect amount of crispy for Leslie and Amy.
From the garage, Leslie said with her icy-hot sarcasm on perfect point, “I have no idea how Asher could forget a single detail I’ve shared about you, because you’re so memorable.”
Amy snorted and played a high wa-waaaa on her guitar, making the four of them snicker.
“Hey Leslie, how did your annual review go at work?” Dan asked earnestly while I lunged to grab the potholders off their hook, snorting despite myself. “You said you were going to talk to them about a raise maybe.” There was a pause while I set the pan on top of the stove, and then he added, like he couldn’t help it, “Totally can’t blame you if you decided not to ask though, that’s intimidating.”
“I can blame my boss for saying no when I asked though,” Leslie snarked a little bitterly.
“Dude,” Lucas said, from right behind me.
I jerked, the oven door banging into the meat of my thigh just over my knee.
“F*cking shit,” I hissed, rubbing the stinging skin as I glared at my oven door.
Lucas skidded into my periphery, hands hovering somewhere near the corner of the stove. “You aren’t bleeding, are you? Because I am a very manly man, with like half a Master’s degree and shit, but…” He swallowed hard, his sharp Adam’s apple bobbing when his throat constricted.
I found myself shaking my head and reassuring him even though I was the one who’d gotten hurt because the kid walked as quietly as a damn ninja, apparently. “I’m not bleeding.”
“That’s good—ah, good thing you have thighs like a lumberjack or something.”
I straightened and crossed my arms over my chest, one eyebrow trailing high.
“See?” Lucas asked. One eye squinted in accusation while his pouty mouth curled the very slightest bit on the right side. “You look like a lumberjack, which is kind of what Wolverine was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which is not the best example of Wolverine, but it’s okay, you kind of look like Wolverine anyway, with the muscles and shoulders and beard and, Jesus, that eyebrow—”
“Lucas,” I interrupted. I made my voice as low and firm as possible.
“Yep, right,” he stuttered, holding up his hands in surrender and taking a few exaggerated steps back. “I’ll stop telling the incredibly straight lead singer of my new band—temporary new band, I meant, obviously!—about how he’s hot like Wolverine and just grab some plates and shit.”
While I was honestly caught up trying to decide which part of his rambling was the stupidest, he dove for the stack of plates and the shaker of red pepper flakes I’d already gotten out before fleeing at top speed. Dumbly, I looked down at myself. “Lumberjack,” I scoffed, then made a salad and cut up the lasagna, while the others came into the living room, bickering about a movie.
Zoe writes contemporary romances and believed everyone will get extraordinary love stories since before she ever fell in love.
She lives with her family near the mountains in Colorado, where she writes while listening to music, never drinks coffee, reads books in one sitting, and watches too many movies and tv shows. She’s been writing since she was a kid, but luckily she knows how grown-ups work now. Mostly.