Home > Rifts and Refrains (Hush Note #2)

Rifts and Refrains (Hush Note #2)
Author: Devney Perry

 Chapter One

Quinn

“The funeral is Saturday.”

I nodded.

“I know you’re busy, but if you could come, your father would . . . I know he’d appreciate the support.”

Beyond my dressing room door, a dull roar bloomed. Hands clapped. Voices screamed. The beat of stomping feet vibrated the floors. The opening act must be on their last set because the crowd was pumped. The stadium would be primed when Hush Note took the stage.

“Quinn, are you there?”

I cleared my throat, blinking away the sheen of tears. “I’m here. Sorry.”

“Will you come?”

In nine years, my mother had never asked me to return to Montana. Not for Christmases. Not for birthdays. Not for weddings. Was it as hard for her to ask as it was for me to answer?

“Yeah,” I choked out. “I’ll be there. Tomorrow.”

Her relief cascaded through the phone. “Thank you.”

“Sure. I need to go.” I hung up without waiting for her goodbye, then stood from the couch and crossed the room to the mirror, making sure my tears hadn’t disturbed my eyeliner and mascara.

A fist pounded on the door. “Quinn, five minutes.”

Thank God. I needed to get the hell out of this room and forget that phone call.

I chugged the last of my vodka tonic and reapplied a coat of red lipstick, then scanned the room for my drumsticks. They went with me nearly everywhere—Jonas teased they were my security blanket—and I’d had them earlier, on the table. Except now it was bare, save for my plate of uneaten food. The sticks weren’t on the couch either. The only time I’d left the dressing room was when I’d gone to get a cocktail and a sandwich.

Who the fuck came into my dressing room and took them? I marched to the door and flung it open, letting a rage brew to chase away some of the pain in my heart.

“Where are my sticks?” I shouted down the hallway. “Whoever took them is fired.”

A short, balding man emerged from behind the door where he’d been hovering. He was new to the crew, having been hired only two weeks ago. His cheeks flushed as he held out his hand, my sticks in his sweaty grip. “Oh, uh . . . here.”

I ripped them from his hand. “Why were you in my dressing room?”

His face blanched.

Yep. Fired.

I didn’t allow men in my dressing room. It was a widely known fact among the crew that, unless you were on a very short list of exceptions, my dressing room was off-limits to anyone with a penis.

The rule hadn’t always existed, but after a string of bad experiences it had become mandatory.

There’d been the time I’d returned to my dressing room to find a man in the middle of the space, his jeans and whitey-tighties bunched at his ankles as he’d presented me his tiny glory. Then there’d been the show when I’d come in to find two women making out on my couch—they’d mistaken my dressing room for Nixon’s.

The final straw had been three years ago. I’d been drenched from a show and desperate to get out of my sweaty clothes. Pounding on the drums for an hour under hot lights usually left me dripping. I’d stripped off my jeans and tank top, standing there wearing only a bra and panties, and reached for the duffel I brought with me to every show. When I opened my bag to take out spare clothes, I’d found them coated in jizz.

So no more men—short, tall, bald or hairy.

“S-sorry,” Shorty stammered. “I thought I’d hold them for you.”

Beyond him, my tour manager, Ethan, came rushing down the hall, mouthing sorry with wide eyes. Ethan was the peacemaker, but he’d be too late to save Shorty.

In a way, I was glad this guy had snuck into my dressing room and taken my sticks. I needed a target, somewhere to aim this raging grief before it brought me to my knees, and this asshole had a bull’s-eye on his forehead.

I almost felt bad for him.

“You wanted to hold them for me?” I waved my hand, Zildjian sticks included. The crew bustled around us, keeping a wide berth as they prepped to switch out the stage configuration. “Were you also going to hold Jonas’s Warwick? Or Nixon’s Fender? Is that what your job is today? Holding stuff for the band?”

“I, uh—”

“Fuck you, creep.” I pointed my sticks at his nose. “Get the fuck out of my sight before I use your head as a snare.”

“Quinn.” Ethan collided with my side, putting his arm around my shoulders. He gave me a brief squeeze, then spun me around and nudged me into the dressing room. “Why don’t you finish getting ready?”

Behind my back, I heard Shorty mutter, “Bitch.”

Why was a woman a bitch when she didn’t let a man off the hook for this kind of shit behavior? If a guy were standing in my shoes, Shorty wouldn’t have dared enter the dressing room in the first place.

“He’s fired, Ethan,” I shot over my shoulder.

“I’ll take care of it.”

I kicked the door closed and took a deep breath.

Damn it, why was our tour over already? Why was tonight the last night? What I really needed was a packed schedule of travel and shows so that going to Montana for a funeral was impossible.

Except there were no excuses to make this time. There was no avoiding this goodbye, and deep down, I knew I’d hate myself if I tried.

Somehow, I’d find the courage.

Tears threatened again, and I squeezed my eyes shut. Why hadn’t I grabbed more vodka?

After this show in Boston, I’d planned to return home to Seattle and write music. The summer tour was over, and we had nothing scheduled for a month. Except now, instead of Washington, I’d fly to Montana.

For Nan.

My beloved grandmother, who I’d spoken to on Monday, had died in her sleep last night.

“Knock. Knock.” The door inched open and Ethan poked his head inside. “Ready?”

“Ready.” I clutched my sticks in my hand, drawing strength from the smooth wood. Then I followed him outside and through the crush of people.

The crowd’s cheers grew louder with every step toward the stage. Nixon and Jonas were already waiting to go on. Nix was bouncing on his feet and cracking his neck. Jonas was whispering something in his fiancée Kira’s ear, making her laugh.

“Are you okay?” Ethan asked as he escorted me toward them.

“Change of plans for tomorrow. I’m not going to Seattle. Can you make arrangements for me to go to Bozeman, Montana, instead?”

“Um . . . sure.” He nodded as confusion clouded his expression.

In all the years Ethan had been our tour manager, he’d never had to arrange for me to take a break from the show lineup for a trip to my childhood home. Because since I’d walked away at eighteen, I hadn’t been back.

“I want to leave first thing in the morning.”

“Quinn, are you—”

I held up a hand. “Not now.”

“There she is.” Nixon grinned as I approached, his excitement palpable. Like me, he lived for these shows. He lived for the rush and the adrenaline. He lived to leave it all on stage and let the audience sweep us away for the next hour.

Jonas smiled too, but it faltered as he took in my face. “Are you okay?”

Where Ethan was the peacemaker and Nixon the entertainer, Jonas was the caretaker. The designated leader by default. When Nixon and I didn’t want to deal with something, like a Grammy acceptance speech or hiring a new keyboardist, Jonas was there, always willing to step up.

Maybe we relied on him too much. Maybe the reason it had been so hard to write new music lately was because I wasn’t sure of my own role anymore.

Drummer? Writer? Token female?

Bitch?

Shorty’s damn voice was stuck in my head. “Some guy from the stage crew came into my dressing room and took my sticks. He was ‘holding them’ for me.”

It was better they think that was the reason I was upset. Ethan wouldn’t ask questions about my trip tomorrow, but Jonas and Nixon would.

“He’s fired.” Jonas looked to Ethan, who held up a hand.

“It’s already done.”

“Good luck, you guys.” Kira gave Jonas another kiss and waved at Nixon. She was a little less friendly toward me—my fault, not hers—but she smiled.

I hadn’t exactly been welcoming when she’d gotten together with Jonas. I’d been wary, rightfully so. His taste in women before Kira was abhorrent.

“Thanks, Kira.” I offered her the warmest smile I could muster before she and Ethan slipped away to where they’d watch the show.

Jonas held out one hand for mine and his other for Nixon’s. As we linked together, we shuffled into a shoulder-to-shoulder circle.

This was a ritual we’d started years ago. I couldn’t remember exactly when or how it had begun, but now it was something we didn’t miss. It was as critical to a performance as my drum kit and their guitars. We stood together, eyes closed and without words, connecting for a quiet moment before we went on stage.

Then Jonas squeezed my hand, signaling it was time.

Here we go.

I dropped their hands and, with my shoulders pinned back and my sticks gripped tight, walked past them to the dark stage. The cheers washed over me. The chanting of Hush Note, Hush Note seeped into my bones. I moved right for my kit, sat on my stool, and put my foot on the bass drum.

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