Saturday, October 17, 2015

Paying It Forward: Authors #4

Here's a little post, to pay it forward to all the other Indie authors out there. These are people I've met on my writing journey or who have been recommended by friends.

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WENDY OWENS

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REBEKKAH FORD

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RUE VOLLEY

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LEXI OSTROW



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ALEXIS D. CRAIG

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J.R. ROPER

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SUZANA WYLIE

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JANET KAY JENSEN

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ALAINA STANFORD

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GENEVIEVE SCHOLL

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Novel: If Tomorrow Never Comes: Chapter 3


If Tomorrow Never Comes

Here is the next chapter in a book I'm blogging, If Tomorrow Never Comes! Can't wait to hear what you think! (Copyright 2015 Sophie Slade--All Rights Reserved)

Chapter 3


“Do you mind if I ride with you?” Logan asked just above my ear as we stepped outside.

“Sure, of course,” I said, already digging my keys out of my purse.

“Hey, guys,” Logan said to his friends. “I’m riding with Alyssa. I’ll meet you there.”

“Just don’t be too long,” Mason said with a sly smile.

“Shut the hell up,” Logan said as Mason laughed. “We’ll be there in a minute.”

“It wouldn’t take longer than that, anyway,” Mason joked, laughing as he headed toward their car. Lathe punched him on the shoulder and muttered something about treating women with respect.

“This isn’t such a good idea,” I said, fumbling with my keys. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Just let me know where to meet you.”

Logan immediately placed his hands on my shoulders, forcing me to look into his eyes. “You’re safe with me. I promise. Sorry about Mason. He was just being a dick.” I gave Logan a look, raising my eyebrows and he amended, “Excuse me. He was being a jerk.”

“Are you sure that it’s not too late to do this?” I asked. It was pitch black outside and well after midnight.

“We’re musicians, remember?” Logan said with a smile. “It’s never too late for us. We play all night and sleep all morning.”

“Play?” I raised an eyebrow.

Logan laughed. “I’m not touching that one.”

We both laughed as I unlocked the passenger side door for him and then my own. “So, where’re you from?” I asked as we headed down the road.

“New York,” he said. “We’ve been playing gigs for a while there and decided that if we wanted to take the music seriously, then it was now or never.”

I laughed. “They play country music in New York?”

Logan shrugged. “What can I say? I’m different.”

Yes, Logan was definitely different … different than any other guy that I’d ever met, but I quickly pushed the thought aside. “How old are you?” I asked, changing the subject as we turned the corner where Logan indicated. I knew he was a bit older than me, but I wasn’t sure.

“I’m twenty-two,” he said, then asked. “How old are you?”

I hesitated for a moment, suppressing a smile.

“Oh, come on,” he said, enjoying my discomfort. “It can’t be that bad.” When I still didn’t say anything, he added, “Don’t worry. I won’t think badly of you if you’re older than me.”

I laughed as I took a deep breath. “Okay. I’m eighteen.” I watched him out of the corner of my eye.

“Eighteen, huh?” he asked, raising his eyebrows, clearly uncomfortable.

“Too old or too young?” I asked, already knowing the answer as my heart sank.

“Neither,” he said, looking like he was in pain. “Just give me a minute to adjust.” He tugged on his jeans.

I reached over and smacked him on the arm.

“And your parents let you go to Nashville by yourself?” he asked, suddenly concerned.

“I’m of age now,” I said, keeping my eyes on the road. “I just graduated from high school and I’ve always wanted to come here. Besides, they trust me.”

He smiled. “What do you think they would say if they saw me in your car, going to my apartment after midnight?”

I laughed. “Well, when you put it that way …”

He laughed. “As I said, I promise to keep you safe.”

What if I don’t want to be safe? I wondered in my mind, unable to believe that my thoughts had just betrayed me like this. I took a deep breath. “I’ll tell you what. How about I drop you off tonight, then I’ll come by in the morning and we can jam then.”

Logan took a deep breath. “Well, that may be a problem since the guys usually sleep until after noon.”

I laughed. “I’ll just have to boot you guys out of bed, then.”

“That sounds like a plan,” he said seductively, then jumped when I smacked him on the arm again. “Ouch!” He laughed. “It’s right here,” he said, gesturing to a tall brownstone building. “Come on up. I promise that your virtue will be safe with me.”

My thoughts started turning obscene again as I laughed off his comment, but didn’t turn off the engine. “Are you sure we won’t be disturbing anyone?”

“Are you kidding?” Logan asked excitedly. “This building is filled with musicians. The whole building will be rocking in a little while.”

“I seriously doubt that, but as long as we’re not arrested.” I reached up and turned off the engine as Logan laughed. “Okay, let’s go.”

“Wait here,” Logan said, then rushed around the car to open my door. “After you, Madame.”

“Mademoiselle,” I corrected as Logan laughed. He reached out his hand and I took it without thinking.

“Make sure to grab your guitar, too,” Logan said, giving my hand a squeeze.

“I’ll be right back,” I said, then got my guitar from the trunk of my car.

“Here, allow me,” he said, reaching for it.

I pulled the guitar close to me and said, “Can I trust you?”

Logan laughed. “With the guitar? Yes. But your body may be a different story.”

I smacked him on the arm again and he laughed as we climbed the stairs to his apartment.

As we walked in, I immediately felt at home. Mason’s drum set was set up in the living room, along with two mikes on mike stands, and Lathe and Kyle were already tuning their guitars. This was the kind of atmosphere that I’d always wanted. Laid back, fun, and filled with music.

“So, are you guys ready?” Logan asked, handing me my guitar and then reached for a guitar on a stand setting off to the side.

“You play, too?” I asked as I slid my guitar strap around my shoulder.

“Of course!” Logan said, then launched into an elaborate guitar rift, moving his fingers effortlessly up and down the neck of his guitar without missing a note.

I suddenly wished that other parts of me were his guitar, but I immediately pushed the thought aside.

“Showoff,” Lathe said. “Well, are we gonna jam or what?”

I launched into an elaborate rift of my own as the guys stood and stared. When I stopped, they were still staring. “Well? What are we waiting for?”

They laughed and Logan nodded to Mason. “Count it off!”

“One, two, three, four!” Mason yelled as he hit his drum sticks together.

I recognized the tune and immediately picked it up. These guys weren’t just good … they were great. I hadn’t had this much fun in my life. As the song came to a close, we ended it in an elaborate rift as Logan and I leaned our backs against one another and then we all jumped into the air together and landed on the last cord as we all cheered.

“Man! You guys are great!” I yelled, laughing. “Let’s do another.”

“Sweet Home Alabama!” Lathe yelled and Mason counted it off. Lathe and I alternated doing the beginning rifts, then we launched into our own rendition. Logan took the lead on the verses and he had a great voice, rocking, sweet and sensual. I immediately felt my heart stir and I wondered what it was. A few minutes later, the song came to a close and the last chord played.

“Let’s try one of yours,” Mason said. “Tell the guys what key you play it in and I’ll count it off.”

Firebomb in the key of G!” I yelled over the guitars as Lathe stepped away from his mike and nodded toward me. My fingers flew over the neck of my guitar and the guys hollered, but quietened down to listen to me sing as they played along. Logan harmonized with me on the chorus and it sounded like we’d been playing together for years and not just one night. When the song finished, I let out a big yawn. I was having a ball and didn’t want the night to end, but I had to be at the studio the next day.

“That was great!” Mason yelled, then asked, “You know any slow songs? I need a break.” He wiped the imaginary sweat off his brow for affect.

“You’re a wus!” Lathe yelled, as his fingers flew over the neck of his guitar.

“I’ve got your ‘wus’ right here,” he replied as he grabbed the bulge in the font of his jeans.

“Hey, hey, guys!” Logan said. “There’s a lady present!”

“Oops!” Mason replied, then looked over at me, “Sorry about that.”

“No worries.” I laughed as I shook my head. I was used to guys and their antics. I started gently strumming my guitar in a slow, soothing motion.

“Hey, what’s that you’re playing?” Logan asked.

I laughed. “Oh, it’s nothing. Just something I’ve been playing around with.”

“Play it,” he said, quickly picking up the chords.

Soon, I started alternating between rhythm guitar and lead. I laughed, shaking my head. “It’s nothing.”

“Come on,” Kyle interjected. “I love it so far.”

“Hey, there’s no one else here,” Logan interjected. “We all play around with tunes all the time. That’s how we get our best songs.” I shook my head. “Play it, play it, please?” he begged. “Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t you play and we’ll listen?”

“No, let’s jam,” I said as my hands quickly flew over the neck of my guitar.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I need a break,” Logan said, faking an exaggerated yawn.

“Yeah, me, too,” Kyle said, placing his guitar on the stand.

“Me, three,” Mason said, getting up from his drums. “Anyone want a beer?”

“Alright!” I finally relented. “Sit down and I’ll play.”

Logan and the others quickly settled in, the beer forgotten. Kyle leaned back with his arms folded and his big boots protruding forward expectantly as the rest of the guys sprawled across the couch and empty chairs.

A moment later, I started playing my original Moonlight. It was a slow love ballad, but not too mushy. There was no way that I was going to sing a mushy love song to guys I just met. A moment later, I was lost in the song as my voice rose and fell, riding the waves of the tune until the song came to an end.

When I looked around, everyone was sitting in stunned silence. I looked over at Logan and he quickly looked away, then rose to his feet and walked into the kitchen. A moment later, he came back with two beers and handed one to me. There was still emotion in his eyes.

“No, I don’t drink beer,” I said, then added, “but I wouldn’t refuse a wine cooler.”

Logan laughed. “Sorry. Fresh out, but I’ll get you some tomorrow.”

I smiled as I shook my head. “No need. I’ll just take water.”

Kyle picked up his guitar. “Hey, help yourself. If you’re waiting for someone to wait on you around here, you’ll be waiting for a long time.”

I laughed as I slid the guitar strap off my shoulders. “Well, it’s been a lot of fun, but I have to get some sleep.”

“Crash here,” Logan blurted out as the guys looked at him. When he saw the look of shock on my face, he added, “You can have my room and I’ll take the couch.”

“No, I can take the couch …”

“Around this bunch? No way! You need a lock on your door …” Logan joked.

“Man, we’re not animals,” Lathe said, setting his guitar down on a guitar stand, and then headed off to the kitchen in a huff.

“No matter what he tells you, you’re safe with us,” Kyle said, giving Logan a dirty look.

“I know that,” I said, “I’m sure Logan was only kidding.”

“Nope,” he said, smiling, and Mason punched him on the arm.

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” I asked. “I can get a hotel for tonight. I’m going to get an apartment tomorrow.”

“Are you kidding? Really?” Lathe asked, coming back into the room. “It’s two-thirty in the morning and you really think you can find a hotel at this hour?” He plopped down onto the couch and propped his feet up on the coffee table, then took a swig of another beer.

“Well, I have a lot to do tomorrow so I need to get some sleep,” I said. “So, will you guys like to come with me tomorrow?”

“To the studio?” Lathe asked, leaning forward as he took his feet off the coffee table.

I shrugged. “Sure! Why not?”

“Well, we have to talk about it,” Logan quickly interjected before anyone else could reply.

Lathe took a deep breath and shook his head, unable to believe that Logan was even considering turning it down, I guessed.

“Yes, well, you have a lot to discuss.” Then, I said to Logan, “Would you show me to your room?” The guys suppressed a laugh, even Lathe. “Wait … that didn’t sound right.”

Logan laughed. “I’d be glad to show you to my room,” Logan joked, raising an eyebrow. I hit him playfully on the shoulder. “Ow! Stop doing that! Come on.” He motioned with his head toward the hallway.

“Nice to meet you guys,” I said with a wave over my shoulder. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Night!” they practically said in unison.

“I told you, your virtue is safe with me,” Logan said in a low voice. Suddenly, he stopped before a door. “Here it is. Make yourself at home and I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Thanks,” I said, and watched him walk away, but part of me already wanted him to stay.

***

I closed the door and turned around. There was a huge, king-sized bed taking center stage in the middle of the room. To the left was a set of chest of drawers and to the right on the same wall as the door was a set of mirrored sliding glass doors, enclosing a closet. I opened his closet and took out one of his rock concert T-shirts. Then, I stripped down to my underwear and slid it on. I was just about to slide under the comforter when I heard a knock on the door.

I opened it just a crack and it was Logan. “Lock the door,” he said, breathing heavily, then walked away. It seemed as if he wanted me to lock the door to keep him out just as much as the other guys in the house. He didn’t realize that a part of me wanted him to come in, but I was glad that he walked away.

I turned out the light and slid into bed and it smelled like him: a mixture of leather, lavender, musk and rain. I snuggled down under the covers and wrapped the thick comforter around my nose, then fell asleep, inhaling Logan’s sweet scent.

***

I woke the next morning and golden sunlight was already streaming in through the window, caressing the pillow. I stretched as a smile lit my face. Then, I slowly opened my eyes and took in my surroundings, not sure where I was. I sat straight up in bed as the events of the night before flooded into my mind. I listened for a minute and could hear the sound of dishes clanking in the kitchen as the rich smell of coffee wafted into the room, beckoning to me. I got up and changed into the clothes that I performed in the night before and went out into the kitchen.

Kyle was already up, cooking on the stove. “Morning! Want some pancakes?”

“Maybe in a bit,” I said, stretching as big yawn escaped my lips, “but right now I just need some coffee.”

Without missing a beat, he pulled a coffee cup from the cupboard, poured in the coffee, and placed it in front of me before I could object.

I laughed. “You’re not one of those ‘morning people’, are you?”

Kyle already had the spatula in one hand as he held the skillet with the other, flipping a pancake. “I’m afraid so,” he said without remorse.

“What time is it, anyway?” I asked when saw a clock hanging on the wall. “Ten o’clock?” I asked, starting to get up. “I need to get out of here.”

“Sit down,” Kyle said, smiling. “Eat some of my pancakes and then you can go. I make the best in New York.”

I laughed. “But we’re in Nashville.”

He shrugged. “Well, now I make the best in Tennessee.”

“Believe me, he won’t let you leave until you eat.” I looked up and Logan was standing in the doorway, smiling. His dark blonde hair was in disarray and his muscles bulged under his gray T-shirt as he walked into the room. Waking up to the sight of him in the morning was something I could definitely get used to. I quickly brushed the thought aside.

“Morning,” I mumbled into my coffee, suddenly aware that I hadn’t brushed my hair or my teeth, let alone take a shower.

“Wow. Don’t be so excited to see me,” he said with a sly smile as he crossed the room to make a cup of coffee.

I laughed. “Sorry, I just need to take a shower.”

“Well, we just so happen to have one,” he said, then added, “but you look great.”

“Okay, now look who’s fibbing?”

“I never fib,” he said as he took a sip of his coffee. “Well, not usually, anyway.”

I laughed as I threw a potholder at him that was lying nearby on the breakfast bar. “I need to find an apartment today. That’s on my list of things to do today.”

“Hey, don’t they still have some apartments available here?” Logan asked Kyle, then he turned back to me. “They’re fully furnished, too.”

“Yeah, I think so, but you’ll have to check with the manager.” Kyle slid a pancake onto a plate. “You’ll only need a one or a two bedroom apartment so it’ll be cheaper than this one. Ours has four bedrooms.”

I looked around and it had an open floor plan, which I loved. “I’ll shower first, then I’ll go talk to them. Thanks.”

Logan slid onto the bar stool next to me. We both sipped our coffee as we watched Kyle cook. “Is he always this way in the morning?” I asked.

“You have no idea,” Logan returned as Kyle slid a plate with a pancake in front of him.

“I’m still here and I can hear you,” Kyle said as he threw a dishtowel at Logan and we both laughed.

I enjoyed the atmosphere in their apartment. Mason and Lathe came out before long and we all bantered throughout the informal breakfast as Kyle fed us all pancakes.

“Here you go,” he said as he slid another pancake onto my plate.

“Oh, no! No more for me,” I said, holding my hands up in surrender. “I couldn’t eat another bite if I tried.” Logan leaned over and cut a piece. “Here, take it. I’m full,” I said, shoving my plate over to him and he dug right in without hesitation. It seemed as if I’d known him for a very long time and not just less than twenty-four hours.

“Lightweight,” Kyle teased as he slid another pancake onto Mason’s plate.

“And I want to keep it that way,” I said. “If I eat any more, you’ll have to widen the door to get me through it.”

They all laughed.

“No way,” Lathe said. “You look great just the way you are.”

“Hey, back off, man,” Logan joked. “I saw her first.” His short dark blond hair was sticking up in every direction and falling onto his forehead, accenting his sexy blue eyes. I quickly looked away.

“Well, I’m going to go get my suitcase and I’ll take a shower and get out of your hair,” I joked, getting up.

“There’s no rush,” Logan said. “You can stay here as long as you want.”

“Thanks,” I said with a smile, “but I really need to get my own place. I really appreciate you letting me crash in your bed last night, though.” Everyone laughed as Logan raised an eyebrow and I quickly added, “Wait, that didn’t sound right.”

He laughed, enjoying my discomfort a little too much. “Come on,” he said, laughing. “I’ll help you with your suitcase.”

“Thanks,” I said sheepishly. On stage, I was fearless, but when it came to a man that I was interested in, it was a different story.

“So, you just graduated from high school, huh?” Logan asked as we walked out to my car.

I popped the trunk and Logan picked up my suitcase. “Here, I’ll get that,” I said, reaching for it, but he pulled it out of my reach.

“No, I’ll get it,” he said, his muscles flexing under his T-shirt under the weight of the suitcase. “You haven’t answered my question.”

“Does it make that much of a difference?” I asked. From the look on his face, I could see that it did.

He shrugged. “I’m just trying to wrap my head around it is all.”

I nodded. “Are you in college?”

“I just graduated from NYU and came here.” He adjusted the suitcase, shifting it to his other hand. “What do you have in here? Bricks?”

I laughed. “I’ll carry it if it’s too heavy for you.” He gave me a dirty look and I laughed. “What was your major?” I asked, unable to meet his gaze.

“Political science. My parents wanted me to go on to law school after I graduated, but I wanted to come here to Nashville instead.”

“Political science, as in politics?” I asked, intrigued.

“Exactly like politics,” he said, heading up the stairs, then he stopped with his hand on the door and sighed. “My parents wanted me to go into politics, but I want to do the music.” He nodded toward the door. “The guys are great and we all get along great. I figured that if we didn’t do it now, then we wouldn’t do it at all. I just graduated with my undergrad degree and if I go to Law school, then it’ll be another four years. I’ll be twenty-eight and …”

“It’ll be too late for the music,” I finished, nodding in understanding. “I know the feeling.”

“You?” Logan laughed. “You have all the time in the world.”

I took a deep breath, forcing a smile. “Technically, we only have today. We have to make the most of it while we can.” Without another word, I ignored the stunned expression on his face and walked back into his apartment.

***

I quickly showered and dressed in presentable clothes: blue jeans, black high heeled boots, and a black button down shirt. But what are presentable clothes when you’re taking a giant leap into your new life? It seemed as if my life was suddenly on fast forward. I blow dried my long, sun-streaked blonde hair and quickly applied makeup, not wanting to take the bathroom away from the guys for too long.

After I was finished, I looked in the mirror, satisfied with my efforts, and then repacked my things, not sure where I would be sleeping that night. I sighed as my thoughts went to my parents and Greer, waiting at home for me to call. I suddenly remembered the money that Frank had given me the night before and vowed to get a cell phone after I got an apartment. I could wait on a land line until I saw where the music was going.

When I walked out of the bathroom, the guys hooped and hollered as I gave a slight curtsey, smiling.

“Man, you look hot!” Logan said, taking my hand and spinning me around as I laughed.

“So, you think I look okay to go to the studio today?” I asked.

RCA Victor Studio?” Mason asked. “No way!”

“Yup,” I said, then bit my lip. “Have you guys thought about the band thing and the tour?”

“No, not yet,” Logan quickly interjected as Lathe rolled his eyes behind him. “We still have to talk about it first.”

I nodded, understanding. Even though I was new to the business, I knew enough to know that musicians were possessive of their bands. They bonded and it was hard to let someone else in. Also, they were their own band with their own music. I was a solo act and an outsider. A lot of bands would have a hard time playing second fiddle to another musician. “Well, if you change your mind, meet me at the studio at three o’clock this afternoon.”

“Okay,” Logan said. Behind him, Mason shook his head in disbelief and walked back into the kitchen. From the way the guys were acting, I was sure that they would have a heated discussion about this after I left. It seemed that Logan was the only one who had an aversion to being my back up band. I couldn’t say that I blamed him, though. After I’d waited my whole life to pursue my music, I sure wouldn’t want to settle and be someone else’s back up.

Logan reached for my suitcase. “Here, let me walk you out.”

I nodded, forcing a smile. Even though I had just met Logan and the guys, I already hated to leave. “Thanks.” Then, I said to his friends, “It was nice to meet all of you.”

Lathe lifted me up into a big bear hug. “Come back and visit when you can.”

“I will,” I said, smiling.

“My turn,” Mason said, pulling me in for a quick hug.

Kyle was next. “Have a great time on your tour if we don’t see you and come see us when you get back.”

“I will,” I promised, suddenly wishing that this group of great guys were coming with me … especially Logan. I waved to everyone one last time, then walked out the door, carrying my guitar, with Logan close behind.

Logan silently led the way out to my car, carrying my suitcase. I popped open the trunk of my VW Bug and he slid my suitcase inside, and then my guitar on the top. I pushed it closed and turned to Logan. “Thanks for the jam session last night and for letting me crash in your room.”

“You can crash in my room any time,” Logan teased as I playfully pushed his shoulder.

“Well, I’ll see you later,” I said as I opened my car door.

“Wait,” Logan said, closing my door.

“What?”

Without another word, he pulled me into his strong arms and crushed his lips down onto mine. His lips moved with mine as passion enveloped us both. I parted my lips for him, taking him inside as he pulled me tightly to his chest. He released me and pulled back a moment later, leaving me breathless. He stepped back and ran his hand through his hair. “Sorry, but I would always regret it if I didn’t do that.”

I nodded, understanding, not quite sure what to say. What do you say to someone that you just met, but that you may never see again?

“Come see me when you get back,” Logan said in a low voice as he pulled me close to his hard, muscled chest once more. I wrapped my arms around him and laid my head on his chest, hearing his heart race, matching the beat of my own.

I pulled back to look into his eyes. “I will,” I said as I looked into his ice blue eyes, not knowing when that would be.


***
(Copyright 2015 Sophie Slade)