The Sturgis Diaries: The Second Year — Sneak Peek

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The Second Year: Running the Gauntlet

The blonde wood of the bar, the beams, and posts made the place distinctive. Groups of bikers crowded the tables, while a few stragglers hunched over the bar. He drew my gaze almost immediately. Making love to the jukebox, his hips swayed and thrust to the song. The dark stubble on his jaw stood in stark contrast to the sun-bleached hair shooting in all directions, looking like it wanted to escape his head. The leather vest barely covered his tanned muscles and dusky tattoos. Fucking sexy.

Want raced through my body and I ground my crotch against the corner of the square barstool, slowly climbing to sit. I barely looked away from him when I flashed my fake ID and ordered a beer. He raised his long arms in the air and snapped his fingers as the song changed to Jungle Boogie, swinging around and pinning me with his gaze, as though he knew I was there, watching him the whole time.

“What the fuck?” A burly man a few tables away stood and glared at the jukebox and the blond man sauntering away, into a back room. “What kind of pussy-ass music is that?” He plopped back into his seat, shaking his head. Other patrons laughed and nodded.

Sipping my beer, I studied the place. The open door led to a darker room. How could anyone see in there? The sound of balls breaking on a pool table burst through the opening, and I contemplated a plan to get back there without being obvious.

An older woman walked through the door toward the bar, carrying an empty pitcher. She walked along the bar, passing the bartender and numerous empty spots, until she got to me. Squeezing her short, rounded frame between me and the next occupant over, she slammed the clear pitcher onto the bar. Her hands tapped out the beat to the song as she waited for service. She turned to me and looked me up and down, as though she just noticed me.

“Hey there,” she said.

“Hey,” I replied, trying not to stare at the Batman tattoo peeking from between her breasts.

“You like that? I can make him fly.” Pressing her arms to her sides, her boobs squeezed together and the wings fluttered back and forth.

A grin split my face. “That is really cool. How long have you had that?”

She shrugged and her graying curls bobbed. “Probably since before you were born, sugar. You here alone?”

“For now.” I looked around and she laughed, slapping her ring-clad, red tipped fingers on the bar.

“Can I get another pitcher?” She yelled down the bar, standing on her tiptoes for better visibility. “Why don’t you come with me, honey? We’d love to add another girl to our party. I think the boys are sick to death of me.”

He was on the other side of that door and she could get me there. “Name’s Marla, by the way. And you are?”

“Cam,” I stretched out my hand.

She shook with a light grip. “Where ya from, Cam?” After paying for the beer, she picked up the pitcher and started to walk away, without even checking to see if I was behind her.

“L.A.” I scurried to keep up, the beer from my mug sloshing over the sides.  We passed into the darkened room. A few booths lined one wall, each lit from above with a hanging lamp. Several pool tables in the middle of the room also had individual lamps, giving the room the appearance from the outside of being unlit.

Marla stopped at one of the booths and placed the pitcher in the middle of the table. Seven men surrounded the table, spread out around the long, curved bench. He was there, waiting for me, and then I knew – she’d been sent to get me.

“This here’s Cam, from Californ-I-A. Cam, this is Bruce,” she waved toward the stout man at the edge of the bench, “and Gary, my old man,” she moved her hand to indicate the second guy in, next to Bruce. “And that there is Roger, but we call him Ratso.”

“Hey now,” Ratso protested. “You can’t just introduce me like that. You gotta give people time to decide if I deserve that name or not.”

“Why waste time?” Marla asked and bent over laughing. They all looked the same to me – older, heavy, and greasy – except for him. Introductions had stopped.

“Getting to know me is never a waste – ”

“And who’s the sexy wallflower?” I met his eyes.

“Woo hoo!” Marla sang as laughter overtook everyone but him. “I like a girl who knows what she wants and doesn’t mince words.”

He stood and reached across the table for my hand, his crisp, blue eyes locking with mine. “Eduard.”

“Eduard,” I repeated, tasting his name on my lips. “Very nice to meet you, Eduard.”

“Likewise.” He held my gaze and nodded.

“Oh fuck that shit,” Bruce laughed. “Just call him Eddie. Pretentious bastard, anyway.”

Eduard grinned, shooting me a wink.

The man to his right pushed at the other two beside him. “Let’s go play some pool, boys. Give Don Juan here some space.” The three shuffled out of the booth and Eduard motioned to the vacated space beside him.

“Have a seat, Cam.”

Hero-Worship

Lashell Collins, author of Pierced By Danger, interviewed me today and had some fantastic questions.

Lashell Collins

I’m so excited! I have a little hero-worship thing going on because one of my new favorite authors is a guest today, so you’re going to have to excuse me if I get a little loopy, ok?

So, as you all know by now, I recently read a book called Rhythm in Blue by tfc Parks, and fell completely in love with it, vowing to read more of this author’s work. Well, shortly after I posted my review of said book on this blog and on Goodreads, I was contacted by the author and we struck up a budding friendship. Parks, who is actually better known for her wonderful string of erotic short stories written under the name Brandie Buckwine, agreed to spend some time chatting with me today. And did I mention, I’m really excited about it?! Ok, here we go…

LC:  Welcome, Brandie! And thank you so…

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In Trance — Sneak Peek

Vera moves in with three guys — friends from her college days — because she needs to cut expenses. She always had a secret love for Nico, but swears she’s moved beyond it when she agrees to live with him. Back in her old apartment, she thought she had ghosts who rearranged her furniture at night. When she moves in with the guys, they discover she’s a sleepwalker who moves furniture and strips in the wee hours. They figure her sleepwalking is harmless until Nico finds himself in an unexpected but passionate relationship with Vera — one she’s not aware of.

The house was mostly dark as Nico pulled his key from the door. The living room glowed a soft blue, occasionally broken by flashes of white. The tell-tale sounds of clicking accompanied the repeated Target Destroyed – Josh and Mitchell playing Xbox. Both nodded as Nico entered the room and tossed his keys on the side table. A quick check of the body count showed his friends behind by four kills.

“You’re losing?” he asked, heading for the kitchen to grab a beer.

Mitchell’s voice carried from the living room – “We were ahead, but Skilled-Kills left the game, so we’re short a guy.”

As he re-entered the room, Josh shushed Mitchell. “Vera sleeping already?” Nico asked.

Josh nodded and leaned closer to the screen, as though actually creeping up on his enemy. Nico set his beer next to his keys and picked up the third controller. “I’m in next mission.”

A late-bloomer when it came to gaming, he wasn’t much of an asset as a teammate, but since things at the restaurant got so crazy, he needed the distraction when he came home from work. Something else to focus on.

Game over, the console droned.

They waited as Nico signed onto his guy. “Kevin show up for work today?” Josh asked.

So much for a distraction. “No, the little puke.”

“Ha! Ten bucks, dickwad,” Mitchell held his hand out to Josh.

“You guys bet on whether or not my employees will show up to work?”

“Only some of them,” Josh said, tickling Mitchell’s outstretched palm. “I’ll get it to you tomorrow.”

Just great. Perfect end to a screwed up day. His order from the food service company was short by almost half, the assistant chef started a grease fire in the kitchen in the middle of the dinner rush, Kevin, one of his new waiters, didn’t show, and now his asshole friends were betting on his failures. On top of that, his guy was sniped from behind almost as soon as he appeared on the screen.

Nico looked up as Vera exited the hallway. “Shit. Are we too loud? Did we wake you?”

Dressed in cotton shorts and a t-shirt, she ignored him and sat at the dining table. When his guy died again, Nico tilted his head and studied her. “Everything okay, Vera?”

She stood abruptly and pulled the chair back to the wall, and then she lined the other three chairs up beside the first. Circling around the table to the opposite side, she grabbed the edge and pulled it a foot toward her.

Josh looked up from the game. “Uh, you need a hand there?”

Still she ignored them and shimmied around the table to the other side, pulling it a foot in the other direction.

Nico shook his head. “Vera, what the hell are you doing?”

“Dude, I think she’s asleep,” Josh said, the game forgotten. Even Mitchell’s mouth hung open, his controller dangling from his fingers.

“Vera?” Nico said. Moving to the final side of the table, she grunted as she pulled it over the carpet, only able to budge it a few inches at a time in that direction. They watched in stunned silence as she maneuvered the table across the room.

“Fuck. Should we wake her up?” Mitchell asked.

“You’re not supposed to wake a sleepwalker,” Josh said. “Could be dangerous.”

“That’s bullshit –old wives tale,” Mitchell said.

Unsure of the proper protocol, Nico tossed his controller aside and stood. What had he heard about sleepwalkers? Just be careful they don’t hurt themselves, right? It seemed unlikely she would hurt herself rearranging the furniture, so unless she headed for the couch, he decided to leave her be.

One by one, she brought the chairs to the table and flipped them upside down, placing the seats atop the table, just like they did at the restaurant to vacuum.

“This is incredible,” Mitchell said, his voice low as though watching a wild animal from the bushes. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Josh and Nico nodded.

When all the chairs were in place, Vera stopped and pulled her t-shirt over her head, turned it right-side-out, folded it in half, and draped it over a rung of one of the chairs. Nico’s eyes widened, as though he might take in more of the vision before him that way.

“Fuck,” he muttered, his breath leaving his body with the word.

“Fuck,” Josh agreed.

“Fuck me,” Mitchell added.

Without thinking, Nico lashed out and smacked his roommate in the chest. “Dude,” he shook his head at Mitchell, but couldn’t keep his gaze from darting back to Vera. He licked his lips – she seemed obsessed with straightening the t-shirt, smoothing away imagined wrinkles, oblivious to the perfect, pebbled nipples holding her roommates’ rapt attention.

When her thumbs hooked in her shorts and she began to pull them over her hips, Nico moved in her direction. “No,” was all he could manage. He stopped when a hand clenched around his bicep.

“Don’t,” Josh warned.

“We have to stop her,” Nico wrestled out of his grip as Vera moved to the next chair in nothing but lacy panties and perfected the shape of the shorts before hanging those, too.

Josh grabbed him again. “Do you have any idea how embarrassed she’ll be if you wake her up? We can’t let her know. She’d move out.”

When she dropped the panties to the floor and bent to retrieve them, flashing the two perfect globes of her ass, the light from the TV not bright enough to reveal more, Josh elbowed him. Nico didn’t need to see him to know his Adam’s apple bobbed when he swallowed audibly. “We should go. Just leave her be.”

“Uh huh,” Nico nodded, unable to look away from the naked apparition in his living room.

You were warned!

This is a bit of a rant. Okay, more than a bit. Lately, I’ve received some unfavorable reviews for Fighting Faith. I can handle not-so-great reviews. My problem is people who complain about the content I warn about everywhere I sell the book.

***Warning – This story contains scenes of dubious consent which some readers might find objectionable.

Maybe I need to post it at the top of each page.

Recent comments:

“They hate each other there’s scenes that make me thin[sic] of rape..

“I know that angry sexual attraction can be hot, but it was sort of uncomfortable at points.”

“I have a pile of concerns about the story that I don’t feel comfortable with.”

“…eric was a big asshole for treating faith that way.”

The main character, Eric, is an asshole – to Faith anyway. This happened by design. I made him that way on purpose, not because I think all women secretly crave assholes, but because I hoped to show that we are all capable of doing things and acting in ways we never thought we would. We all act differently toward the various people we interact with – it’s like wearing multiple hats depending on who you’re dealing with at the moment. Think of the person you dislike most in the world. If you were thrust into a situation where you had to deal with them for an extended period, would you act the same toward them as you would your spouse? Your child? Your parent? Your best friend? What if you really disliked a person, but at the same time wanted to fuck their brains out? If lust (or any emotion for that matter, but we’ll stick with lust since this is erotica) drives us to behave in a manner we deplore, does it change who we are as people? Does a switch flip from ‘good person’ to ‘bad person’ because of one action?

It is my goal as a writer to make the reader think, consider the possibilities, and to make them uncomfortable…because that’s how I roll. Don’t like feeling uncomfortable? Don’t read a book with an uncomfortability warning. If readers want a gushy, feel-good read, they should stick to Fifty Shades of Grey. Oh, wait. Never mind.

To quote my dear friend Annie Walls (she said I could), “but they LOOOVVEEE Christian Grey… and his, “I need to deal with the situation of your virginity by plunging my dick into your virginal hole, and no, I won’t be sorry about it. Eat your fucking FOOD before I beat you with my belt and get off on it!”

But seriously, if you don’t like being uncomfortable, read something else. Lots of books about puppies and rainbows out there. I assume.

Stories are supposed to tug at your emotions (more than just the one that makes your twat tingle or your dick hard. Wait, is horniness an emotion? Oops), make you ask questions, and I believe good stories make you ask yourself the really tough questions. Eric and Faith are insanely fucked up by the overwhelming lust they feel for each other. They both act uncharacteristically because of it. The reader gets to decide if their actions change them from decent people to scum-of-the-earth kind of people. End of story. It isn’t because it’s a novella rather than a novel that their ‘issues’ aren’t addressed (another frequent comment). If readers give the story more than a superficial read, they know the characters’ flaws, what kind of people they are deep down, and that everything will work out just fine.

End of rant. For now. And while I love puppies and rainbows, I refuse to write about them. Shit! I forgot…there is a rainbow in Fighting Faith. I will now shamefully crawl back into my little writer cave.

 

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Pre-order Rhythm In Blue in paperback

Now available for pre-order, exclusively on my site, Rhythm In Blue in paperback! Not only that, but they will be signed.

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Rick Rowland isn’t your typical rock star. Certain he’s undeserving of the love and adoration of his fans, the attention makes him uncomfortable. As the bassist for a popular rock band, the perks are great, but stardom will never make him as happy as the one that got away. Well, more like ran away screaming after Rick’s misstep with her young heart. Forgiving himself may be hard as he spirals out of control, but her forgiveness will be impossible if she won’t stop running. How much sorrow can a man endure before he finally takes control and finds the way back to his heart?

– 313 pages

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$13.99 (plus $5 shipping and handling) using PayPal

US orders only (comment with your contact info for orders outside the US)

 

You can now also purchase Fighting Faith in paperback exclusively on this site. 

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Eric’s band is on the verge of making the big time and life is good. But, when he’s forced to work with Faith, a sexy but hateful videographer, life for the foreseeable future might be a little rocky.

The tension between Eric and Faith is nearly tangible. Their troublesome friction abruptly becomes a lust-hate situation, fraught with vicious barbs and spite, but an explosive sexual chemistry that could burn them both, leaving nothing but a pile of ash in its wake. But Cupid has a wicked sense of humor and the two of them will find that the person you hate the most can sometimes rock your world the hardest.

5 Stars on Amazon – “I loved this book and didn’t want to put it down. I loved the antagonism between Faith and Eric. Poor Eric didn’t seem to have a mute button. Faith wasn’t afraid to throw it right back at him and I love that about her character. And I wanted to be Faith in the book in every way. I think I needed to be hosed off a couple of times but it had the perfect amount of steam. I am one of those crazy people that likes a happily ever after and I felt like were just getting started with their romance. I would love to see where it went and would love a sequel. Just saying…” – Into the Night Reviews

6×9 126 printed pages

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$5.99 (plus $3.00 shipping and handling) using PayPal

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Rhythm In Blue – Revised, finally

In the grand scheme of things, a year and eight months isn’t that long, but if something’s hanging over your head, badgering you each and every day, it can feel like forever. That’s how long it’s been since I released Rhythm In Blue – my first book, the love of my life. When I first wrote it and sent it off to my agent, I felt it was perfect. A year later, with no bites from publishers, I recognized the book was less than perfect, even though I pulled it from the agent and self-published the story.

In my quest to hammer out the rough edges, I hired an editor to help me figure out how to perfect it. His analysis left me frozen for over a year. The job of fixing it seemed overwhelming. How far from my original version was I willing to stray? Not far.  I didn’t give it quite the major overhaul I thought it needed, but I’m very happy with the end result. 

The story isn’t for everyone. Some will no doubt be offended by the content, but I knew that the moment I started banging it out. In the revision, I’ve made it slightly easier to swallow, but the theme of a skewed morality is still there as Rick Rowland struggles with his feelings for and behavior toward an under-age Shelby. 

One of the biggest problems with this book has been identifying my audience. In fact, my editor even asked, ‘Who is this book for?’ Good question. I wrote it for adult women, but it has a strong YA appeal to it. Many of the book’s biggest supporters are men who say, ‘I don’t normally read romance, but I love this book.’ It has a wide appeal, and I think one of the most difficult roadblocks to revising the book was the idea that I had to target a specific audience. I will next time. It’s a rookie mistake I’ll try to avoid in the future. 

I have a couple of projects I’ve started that probably fall under the contemporary romance genre. I guess time will tell if they turn into a Brandie Buckwine story or a tfc Parks story. I kind of want to move away from erotica, but knowing me, the break won’t last long. In the meantime, I hope you’ll give tfc Parks a try.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords

Excerpt:

“So, darlin’,” Devon said, slapping 50 Drachma on the bar, “this is your life’s dream, to tend bar in some rundown club, putting up with drunken idiots like us?”

Erin handed him his beer and shook her head, “You know, we can’t all be rock stars.” She continued as she wiped the wet ring left by his bottle on the bar, “And this place is not rundown,” she said. “It may need some TLC, but look at this place – I mean the island. It’s amazing, and the people are all so nice, why wouldn’t I want to stay here?”

She was right about the place needing some care. To Rick, it looked like Kostas hadn’t changed anything since he’d walked through the door ten years earlier. Erin explained that technically, the Islander was a discotheque. Any club with a dance floor was a discotheque and if it didn’t have one, it was just a bar. However, for this club, the label discotheque didn’t fit. The lights for the dance floor were ancient and dull, the tables bore the scars from years of unattended cigarettes, and the little stools surrounding them were all in need of new vinyl. The murals on the walls were faded and peeling. The bathrooms were little more than a hole in the floor to piss in, and smelled as though most people who used them were too drunk to find the hole.

“Well, it does have a homey feel to it, I’ll give you that,” Rick tried to reassure her. Devon’s comment put her on the defensive, and Rick didn’t want the discussion to turn into a battle. “And I’ll take one of those beers. Put it on his tab,” he nodded toward Devon.

Kostas rushed over, muttering, “No, no, it’s on the house.” Only, he couldn’t say house. It came out without the h sound and with more of a soft x sound- kxouse. Rick wondered if it was Kostas or all Greeks who couldn’t make the h sound, or w for that matter. He used the same kx sound for who and house.

Rick chuckled and raised his bottle to Kostas, “Thanks man.” He received Kostas’s toothy grin in reply. He was always grinning, it seemed to Rick. Must be because I make him nervous. Kostas did appear to be going to great lengths to make a good impression, but he also seemed to be perpetually happy.

The place was beginning to fill up, and about ten people occupied the dance floor, all gyrating their hips to Brown Sugar. Rick noticed that no one was dancing with anyone – they were all on their own. Ten islands dancing, all doing their own thing.

Out of the crowd and onto the dance floor burst a young girl, and she joined in the rhythmic gyrations. It seemed as though she was waiting for just this song. She moved to the center of the dance floor, becoming the center island, her enthusiasm for the song inciting the other islands to thrust and gyrate just a little harder. Rick envied her youthful energy and zeal. He felt old. When the song abruptly changed to Roxanne, the girl screamed and jumped up and down. Never mind, this must be her favorite song.

Long and wavy, bleached blond by the sun, her hair fell midway down her back. As she danced, it seemed to float around her head, as though it too loved the song. The long, gypsy type skirt she wore floated as well, indifferent to the moves she made within. Her peasant blouse revealed long, tanned arms that waved in the air as though she conducted an orchestra in which her skirt and hair played.

She looked out of place among the other dancers, yet she oddly seemed a perfect fit. As Rick watched the scene, he began to see that it was the other dancers who were out of place – passengers aboard a ship, unable to disembark and join the revelry, they could only stare wistfully from the deck.

Randy motioned to Erin, and she approached him with a raised eyebrow. “Who’s the girl?” he asked, nodding toward the dance floor.

“Oh, that’s Shelby. You have to meet her. American girl – lives here with her folks. Kostas has known her for years. Her parents are pretty cool. They’re both artists. You guys will meet them while you’re here. There’s an American art school on the island, so we get a lot of artists here from all over the world.”

Randy was watching her dance and licking his lips. Devon, seeing his lusty gaze, said, “Good God Randy, she’s a kid!”

“Hands off!” Erin said, “She’s only fifteen. Too young, even for you, Randy.”

“If she’s only fifteen, what the hell is she doing in a club, whooping it up?” Rick asked.

“Well, Kostas used to kick her out, but then she just went to other clubs where they didn’t know her, so Kostas figured if he let her in, at least he could keep an eye on her. You know, make sure she doesn’t get into any trouble. He won’t let her drink though, that’s the rule – she can come here and dance all she wants, but just Coke to drink.” Rick slowly nodded. Seems Kostas is a decent sort, he had to admit.

Randy was still licking his lips, so Devon slapped him on the shoulder, “Man, seriously, you wouldn’t eat a piece of fruit that wasn’t ripe…gotta give ‘em time to ripen, mature.” Rick regretted Devon’s choice of words because he knew what was coming.

“I’d eat that in a heartbeat!” Randy said, nodding his head. Rick could tell he was picturing doing just that.

“You are one sick son of a bitch,” Devon shook his head and turned away.

When the song changed to a slow one, the girl, obviously disappointed to have her dance party end, stepped off the dance floor and headed toward a group of Greek, teenage boys.

“Shelby,” Erin yelled at her.

Shelby turned to see who had called her, and spotting Erin, waved and skipped over to the bar. “Hey Erin. Are you getting so excited? The big day’s getting closer.”

“Yes, I am, but I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed,” Erin admitted. “But hey, right now I want you to meet my brother, Ricky. He just got here today from the States.” Rick just gave her a nod, but Shelby extended her hand. As he took it, he found himself struck by her beautiful smile.

“Wow, it’s really great to meet you! Erin says the nicest things about you. Really makes me wish I had a big brother.”

“Nice to meet you Shelby.” While shaking her hand, he had a sudden pitching sensation in his stomach, probably left over from the ferry ride, but quickly shook it off, turning back to the bar.

“Ricky, I gotta go wait on those guys, you’ll have to finish the introductions,” Erin called out as she hurried down the bar to take an order.

It seemed strange, to make such a big deal about everyone being introduced, after all, she was just some kid they let hang out, but before he could sort out the importance, Randy pushed in front of him and took Shelby’s hand, his gaze fixed on her chest.

“You looked really sexy out there dancing. I’m Randy.” Shelby nodded as Randy introduced himself. Rick could tell she was sizing him up, and from her raised eyebrow, it appeared she had done well. He continued, “This is Devon, and this is Keith.”

They all shook hands, and Rick thought, Yes, yes, now we’re all just great friends. As he dismissed her again and went back to his beer, he lit another cigarette. Randy was telling her, “You know, Smoke n’ Mirrors! Bring it to Me? That was our big hit last year. I wrote it, and I play lead guitar,” Randy beamed with arrogance.

Rick looked over as Shelby shook her head, “Sorry, never heard of you.” Randy sputtered in disbelief, but Rick caught Shelby’s wink to him out of the corner of his eye. Good, Randy needs to be knocked down a notch or two.

“Oh my God, you have to know Heartbreak on the Bayou! Holy hell, Louisiana was gonna make it their state song!” Actually, Louisiana had no such intention, but Randy was just sure they would, eventually.

Shelby began to slowly nod her head. “Oh yeah,” she said, as though trying to remember something from long ago. “I think my parents used to listen to you guys.” With that, she turned and ran back out to dance some more, as the lights came back up and the lovers left the floor. The Dire Straits Sultans of Swing began, and her enthusiasm returned. He had to hand it to her, Randy was a charmer, and hard to fool when he was on the make, and now, he was pissed.

“Jesus Christ, she makes it sound like we’re ancient history! Did you hear her?” Randy was right in his face.

“Yeah, I heard her, but you know Randy, you can’t be everyone’s favorite. Kids are listening to different music than you and I do. They go for that disco shit. I’m sorry, but she’s right, our audience is usually older.” The thought of catering to an older audience at twenty-four didn’t do much for Rick’s ego, either, but they’d been on the road and cutting records for so many years, it was hard not to feel old.

“Well that settles it, we need to update our sound,” Randy said.

Devon patted him on the back. “Don’t you worry, we’re fine, just as we are. What you need to do is look for women closer to your own age.” Rick and Keith each gave Randy a thumbs up.

“Fine,” Randy said, looking around. He spotted a couple of blonds up the bar and headed their direction. As he walked away, Rick wondered again how Randy butted his way into coming with them on this trip. Man, he can really be a pain in the ass!

“What we need to do is find him a shorter leash,” Devon said, as he slid onto the bar stool next to Rick.

Randy didn’t like obscurity. Honestly, he just didn’t like to have to chase tail. He was lazy, and he liked it when tail presented itself and bluntly said, “Let’s fuck.” Rick, on the other hand, relished the anonymity the bar and island afforded. He liked being able to down some beers without being hounded for his autograph, without some girl putting her arms around him and asking to have her picture taken with him.

When the song ended, Shelby left the dance floor and became the center of attention with the group of young Greeks. She apparently had the same effect on them as she did on Randy – they all seemed to be vying for her attention. One of the boys pulled on her arm and pointed to the dance floor. She looked at her watch and then to the door. Rick couldn’t understand what they were saying, but Shelby didn’t seem confused. He looked away as she started toward him.

She pulled on his sleeve, “Hey, will you tell Erin I said ‘bye’ in case I don’t make it back?”

“Yeah, are you heading out?” Her hair fell across her face, and he fought the urge to reach out and tuck it behind her ear.

“Yeah, I have to go home and go to bed,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I should be back in a bit though. Nice meeting you,” she said, as she headed toward the door.

“Yeah, you too,” Rick called after her, leaning back against the bar.