A classic, cherry red Corvette Stingray, waxed and polished, gleamed in the late spring sun as it idled at the curb of the drop off zone outside of the high school. Sprinting the short distance to the gorgeous vehicle, Chord slid into the passenger seat.
“Hey…” Chord murmured. “I see you finally took her in to get detailed. She looks great.” The naturally aged leather creaked under him as he leaned over the center console to peck the gorgeous woman behind the wheel on the cheek.
More than a few years older than Chord, Shauna McCune had been the merch girl on Static Shadow’s first North American tour on the recommendation of the head of their old label. It started as a fling. But after tour, the relationship continued to develop behind the scenes, and behind the back of his father and sister. Chord hated when his father butted his nose into his business. He tended to ruin a good thing because he never wanted Chord to be independent of him because he liked that his kid was a somebody. Like it somehow made him a somebody too.
Shauna’s fingers gripped Chord’s hair, yanking him back in before he could pull away. Chord winced at the tender tug at his roots, but obliged, leaning into sloppily make-out for several painful seconds.
When Shauna finally released him, Chord sank back into the leather and brushed his hair back into place as the car pulled away from the curb. He quickly turned to look out the window and gingerly touched his lower lip. It was a little puffy and tender from the rough treatment.
“I’m going to need more cash,” Shauna said once they were several minutes away from the high school. Midday in North Delta, the roads were relatively empty, and they were already turning onto the highway towards White Rock.
“Oh.” Chord turned back to face Shauna, but immediately dropped his gaze to his lap where his fingers played with the hem of his hoodie. His black nail polish was beginning to chip, and his silver ring, identical to the ones the other members of his band wore, was faintly tarnished and scratched. “S-sure. Okay. We can hit the bank after dinner.”
“Now,” Shauna grunted as they abruptly changed lanes. The Corvette shot down the highway nearing thirty kilometres over the posted limit.
“Um… o-okay. I guess we can,” Chord said. He twisted the ring around his finger and snuck a peek at Shauna out of the corner of his eye. “Just, don’t forget I have jam at 5 tonight, and a session with my dance coach tomorrow.”
Shauna’s fingers tightened around the steering wheel. “I don’t like her.” The fragile plastic creaked, and they lapsed into heavy silence accompanied by the purr of the engine.
Chord sat on the floor of the band’s jam space surrounded by spare strings, and his electric blue, currently stringless Telecaster in his lap. Kian had tried to nickname it Hank. The name hadn’t stuck. Instead, it had been dubbed the Blue Beast.
“What the fuck is the difference,” Kian had yelled when Tan had referred to it as such. The simple answer had been that it sounded cooler. Plus alter egos were always better.
Practise hadn’t started yet. Kian was still conspicuously absent, but Tan was lounging on the couch behind Chord. Their manager, Jean-Marc Lefèvre was answering emails on his phone while they waited for the wayward drummer. He wore a pair of pressed dress slacks and a button-up, his glasses had slid down to rest on the tip of his nose, and his forehead was deeply furrowed. It was always furrowed as if he lived in a perpetual bad mood, and as long as Chord had known him, so his whole life, that was probably true. Maybe it had been different when his mom was alive, but Chord barely remembered her.
The doorknob rattled a few times before Kian pushed into the rehearsal space with his hip because both hands were occupied with a large drink and large fries from McDonald’s. A partially squashed burger was tucked under one arm. He was taller than the other members of his band by nearly afoot, with sandy brown hair still wet from a shower and a smattering of freckles across his nose.
“Sa’ee ‘m ra’t,” Kian said through a mouth crammed full of fries. He finished chewing and swallowed. “Mum was super lazy, so we hit the drive-thru. Guess she didn’t feel like burning dinner tonight.”
“I heard that you bloody mongrel!” The voice of Kian’s mother, thick with a heavy Aussie accent, boomed through the open door.
Chord laughed when Kian nearly dropped his dinner as he scrambled to slam the door shut behind him. “Dumbass.”
“Fuck. That woman scares me shitless,” Kian said. His back was plastered to the door, arms spread, with his wrapped hamburger on the floor beside his feet “Bloody deranged, I tell ya. And where the hell have you been?” He jabbed a greasy finger at the lazy bassist sprawled on the couch. “You didn’t come home after school!”
“Compromise,” Tan muttered as he steadily plucked the E string without missing the unheard beat that no doubt played in his head.
Their manager cleared his throat and stood up, his phone still clutched tightly in one hand, he pushed his glasses into place with the back of his hand. “Enough,” he said, and all activity ceased. Kian looked about ready to snap to attention and salute him, which had Chord snickering into his hand again. “I have news direct from the label about your latest album and tour. Everything has already discussed it with your parents-”
“You are my parent,” Chord said at the same time he heard Tan’s sarcastic muttered“parents?” He picked up his guitar so he could finish restringing before they practised.
“Understandably, some are more thrilled than others,” Jean-Marc continued, completely ignoring Chord’s snide comment. All eyes turned to Tan, who just shrugged. “One Thousand Birds has officially sold 6.5 million worldwide and is still climbing the charts. The label has extended your tour.”
Kian whooped and took a running leap, landing on Tan. But Chord ignored his drummer’s rambunctious celebration and Tan’s protests. He sat on the floor, guitar loosely gripped in his hands, and stared open-mouthed up at his father. He knew they were big, but this was news.
It had never been about the money or fame. The attention was nice, but Chord had always been about the music. He’d wanted to perform from the moment he first learned to play Bohemian Rapsody on his viola. The other two were just along for the ride. Kian wanted an adventure, and Tan had been reluctantly dragged along while sacrificing the most, but for whatever reason, he never complained. Chord couldn’t imagine never seeing his sister. Ayla was the only one Chord gave two shits about in their broken family.
Clearing his throat, Chord snapped his jaw shut as a second thought hit him. “Are we going international?” That was big. That was huge. That was… His mind drifted to Shauna. “Ah, shit,” he muttered. But no one heard him. His father tried to haul Kian off their bassist before he suffocated under the drummer’s bulk.
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