Read an Excerpt
Fade Into You
A Shaken Dirty Novel
By Tracy Wolff, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Tracy Wolff
All rights reserved.
Jesus, he needed a fix. He wasn't supposed to want one. Had, in fact, just spent ten weeks he could ill afford and two hundred thousand dollars that he could, making sure that he wouldn't want one.
Nice to know that rehab shit was working out just about as well as he'd expected. Which was to say, not fucking at all.
So much for third time being the charm.
After flipping off the bathroom light, he bent over the sink and splashed cold water on his face. Ran a wet hand over the back of his neck. Rolled his shoulders. Stretched out his back. Concentrated on anything and everything but the three-ton elephant sharing the tiny bathroom with him. It was pretty fucking hard to do when the damn thing felt like it was sitting on his chest.
Oh, yeah. That wasn't an elephant. That was the fucking addiction. How could he forget?
"Hey, Wyatt? You okay in there?"
Shit. He hadn't even been gone five minutes. What the fuck did they think he was doing? Shooting up with the liquid soap? Or just smoking the dried flowers in the arrangement hanging above the towel rack?
Then again, if he got desperate enough, it was nice to know he had options. Which was probably what his friends were afraid of ...
Struggling to keep the resentment out of his voice — after all, it wasn't Jamison's fault he was such a fuck-up he couldn't be trusted to go to the fucking bathroom by himself — he called to the woman who was half best friend, half little sister rolled into one, "Yeah. I'll be out in a minute."
"Okay, sweetie. Let me know if you need anything."
He supposed asking for a couple of grams of heroin was out of the question. More was the fucking pity.
Then again, with the way he was feeling, he'd settle for just a few points. Maybe even one or two. It wouldn't get him to the nodding-out stage — his tolerance was too high for that — but it'd take the edge off. Right now, that was all he wanted. Something to ease the razor-sharp need slicing through his veins, through his lungs, through his head. Something to make it a little easier to turn the light on and face himself in the fucking mirror.
It had been a long time since he'd faced the world stone-cold sober. And after being out of rehab for exactly six hours and twenty-seven minutes, he couldn't say he recommended it.
Then again, there wasn't a whole lot about his life that he would recommend right now. Even the music that had been playing in the back of his head since he walked out the front doors of the rehab center a free man seemed flat, the notes discordant and just plain off.
But that didn't matter. It couldn't matter. After all, it wasn't like he could spend the rest of the night hiding in here like the total pussy he was rapidly becoming — they hadn't snuck in the back door of this Fifth Street club for shits and giggles, after all. The guys had been auditioning bass players for the last few weeks, and it was time to test out one of their top picks at a surprise show.
Time to test him out, too, time to see if he still had what it took now that he was a sniveling, sober mess. Not that any of the guys would put it that way — or even so much as mention that this was a kind of audition for him, too.
But how could it not be? After the shit he'd put them through the last few years, it was a fucking miracle they hadn't decided to replace him right along with Micah. God knew their management and label would probably have thrown a fucking parade if they had. But the remaining Shaken Dirty guys were nothing if not loyal — and since he had no plans to fuck either Ryder's or Quinn's fiancée, like Micah had Jared's — it didn't look like they planned on turning their backs on him any time soon.
He was grateful for that loyalty, even if he didn't feel like he'd done anything to deserve it, especially in recent months ...
The noise in his head was getting too loud — the recriminations and the sorrow too clear — so he turned the faucet back on and splashed water on his face again. And noticed, for the first time, just how badly his hands were shaking. If he didn't know better he'd think the DT's had gotten ahold of him again.
A second knock came at the door and ... fuck it. Just fuck it. He was getting the hell out of this bathroom. Now. Before all of Shaken Dirty decided to take up residence in here with him.
"I'm coming," he said, grabbing a paper towel from the dispenser and dried off. Then he took a deep breath, put on his fucking game face, and yanked the door open with way more force than was warranted.
There was a part of him that'd been expecting the whole band to be in the hallway waiting for him. Looking him over for new needle tracks or blown-out pupils. But in the end, it was just Jamison waiting, doing her level best to pretend she wasn't checking up on him.
"Sorry to rush you!" she said with a grin. "But I really have to pee."
"Oh, uh, right." He stepped out of the doorway even as he held the bathroom door open for her. "Sorry I took so long, Jelly Bean."
"No problem." She glanced into the dark bathroom curiously. "Is the lightbulb out?"
"Oh." This time her curious look was leveled at him. "Why didn't you turn the light on? It's pitch black in there."
Since he couldn't tell her the truth — that it was easier in the dark because he didn't have to look himself in the mirror — he just shrugged.
She seemed to get it anyway, her face softening as she pulled him in for a warm, tight hug. Then again, he'd never had to tell Jamison anything, had he? Little sister of Jared, Shaken Dirty's lead guitarist, and now fiancée to their lead singer, Ryder, she'd been around since they'd been in high school, rehearsing cover songs in her and Jared's parents' garage, dreaming of writing their own songs and maybe even hitting the big time.
Well, they'd hit the big time, all right. And everything had fallen to shit around them, including him. Maybe especially him.
"It's going to be okay," Jamison whispered as she held him close. "You've got this, Wyatt. I know you do."
Well, that made one of them. Not that he could say that to her — she'd been there every step of the way through rehab and he didn't want to disappoint her, didn't want to let her down, not when he'd already done that so many other times through the years. It was why he was here, using every ounce of willpower he had not to walk into the front of the house and score some horse or molly or even some weed. Something, anything, to take the edge off. To make it easier to breathe in his own skin.
"I'm all right," he told her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head before untangling himself from the hug. "Go pee. I'll hang with the guys."
As he walked away, he pretended he was totally fine. Just like he pretended he couldn't feel her worried eyes tracing his every step. It worked, too, at least until he walked into the communal dressing room that doubled as the green room, and every single person there turned to look at him like he was some kind of animal at the zoo that they'd paid twenty-five bucks to gawk at.
Oh, they were more subtle than tourists at the zoo, but he knew they were watching. Knew they were worried. Ryder and Jared were arguing over the merits of Cap'n Crunch versus Coco Krispies (like there was even something to argue about — Crunch Berries obviously ruled) but they kept glancing over at him when they thought he wasn't looking. Quinn, the band's keyboardist, was cuddling his woman, Elise, on his lap, and though he was nodding along to whatever she was saying, his gaze was pinned to Wyatt. And finally, Li, the Austin bassist they were trying out tonight to see if their sounds meshed during a live show, just kept staring at him like he thought Wyatt was going to fuck up his one big chance.
Which pretty much made Wyatt not like him on principle ... but hey, who the fuck was he to judge anyone?
Grinding his teeth, he pretended he didn't notice his bandmates' scrutiny as he moved deeper into the room. Yet another part of the program that was total bullshit. His shrink had spent much of the last ten weeks telling him he needed to be "authentic." That his feelings had value. That he needed to share those feelings with the people closest to him even if it made him — or them — uncomfortable.
What a total crock. The only thing he would accomplish by admitting to his best friends how badly he needed a fix was to freak them all out. Not to mention have them crawl even deeper up his ass. As for Li, there was no way he was saying anything in front of a guy he was already pretty sure wouldn't make the cut. It was a feeling that had nothing to do with how much he already disliked the guy — or at least, that's what he was telling himself.
Ducking his head, Wyatt made his way across the room to the small fridge in the corner. He pulled it open hoping there was something in it besides beer — he wasn't thirsty, but a bottle of water would at least give him something to do with his hands until he got his sticks in them — and found that it was completely empty. There wasn't so much as a can of Coke for him to grab.
Fuck it. Just fuck it.
He closed the fridge door extra carefully — because what he really wanted to do was slam it — and took a few seconds to just breathe before turning around. It wasn't that the fridge was empty that bothered him. He wasn't that kind of diva and never had been. But what bugged the shit out of him was that he knew it had been full when they'd gotten there. He'd seen Jared open it, had seen the bottles of beer lined up one after the other.
Which meant they'd taken the opportunity to get rid of all the alcohol in the room while he was in the bathroom.
They didn't trust him, didn't have any more faith in him — and the program that he'd just completed — than he did.
Ten weeks, close to a quarter of a million dollars, and more bullshit than he could ever hope to shovel, and the program hadn't worked worth a damn. He was still a junkie, still an alcoholic, still a failure who couldn't get — or keep — his shit together.
He knew it, had known it from the moment he'd walked out of that damn rehab center this morning. So why the fuck did it bother him so much that his friends knew it, too?
"Hey, man," Quinn said, like he had a clue what Wyatt was thinking. "They're bringing us some soda from the FOH. Should be here any minute."
He didn't have a chance in hell of forcing words past his clenched jaw or too-tight throat, so he just nodded. Then he headed for the closest door like hellhounds were nipping at his fucking heels.
It turned out the closest door led outside, to the alley behind the club, thank Christ. He let the door slam behind him then took a deep breath of the thick, humid air that permeated all of Austin in early September. Pulling a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, he lit one. Took a long, deep drag. And fought the urge to hit the brick wall behind him until his knuckles broke and his fists bled.
The only thing that stopped him was the knowledge that if he did it — if he gave in and shattered his hands and his life wide open — then he couldn't play tonight. And it would just be one more failure, one more fuck-up, one more way he let down the only people he gave a shit about in the whole fucking world.CHAPTER 2
Poppy Germaine slid into the waiting limo — and its very welcome air conditioning — with a sigh of relief. It had been an absolutely insane day, one that started with a flight from New York to L.A. for a whirlwind round of meetings that had been cut short when she'd gotten the call from Caleb telling her to catch a plane to Austin ASAP.
Austin wasn't in her itinerary for the week, but he'd said he needed her. And since being his older sister (by only four minutes, but still) was a responsibility she took very seriously, she'd dropped everything and run for the nearest airport.
And now, here she was.
But her relief at being out of Austin's stifling heat was short-lived, considering Caleb was supposed to be meeting/picking her up at the airport and unless this limo had a couple of secret compartments, he was definitely not in it. Which was a problem, considering she had no idea what she was doing here.
Pulling her cell phone out of her purse, she checked both her text messages and call log, but there was nothing from Caleb. A quick glance at her email told her there was nothing there either, though there was a fairly irate message from her father complaining about her "harebrained" penchant for running out on important meetings without notice. He didn't, of course, mention the fact that she'd held the meeting via Telepresence as she'd raced to LAX. Or that she'd rocked the meeting, putting together a marketing plan that made both the artist's management and the label's accountants happy.
But then, why should he when the only reason he'd given her control of marketing on this project was to see her fail? It was supposed to be his big, shining proof that women shouldn't be record execs. That they were fine as admins and first- or second-level managers, but that they couldn't hold their own when it came to sitting in on the labels' top decisions. Not because he was inherently sexist or anything — at least that was his story and he was sticking to it — but because the talent didn't take them seriously. Rockers and rappers weren't going to take orders from a woman.
She'd tried to tell him a million times that this wasn't 1965. Or even 1995. The new generation of rock stars would take seriously whoever made them famous and filled their bank accounts. She wasn't sure the guys she'd been dealing with today even knew she had a vagina.
Her dad wasn't buying it though. No daughter of his was ever going to run a record label. No, that was going to be Caleb's job. The fact that Caleb didn't want it — not to mention was hopelessly inept at everything but the accounting/business side of things — didn't seem to matter in the slightest. He was going to get it, and she — she was going to be stuck trying desperately to prove herself to her father for many, many more years.
Since dwelling on it only depressed her, she shoved thoughts of her dad out of her mind and concentrated instead on trying to figure out what the hell was up with Caleb. Glancing around impatiently, she was just thinking about getting out of the limo — maybe she'd taken so long getting her luggage that he had gone into the airport looking for her — when the driver pulled smoothly away from the curb and into traffic.
What the —
Punching the intercom button, she told the driver, "Wait! We're still missing one person. My brother is supposed to meet me here."
"According to my itinerary, you're my only passenger."
That didn't make sense. "That's not possible. I don't even know where we're going." She was so going to kill Caleb when she got her hands on him again.
"I was told Antone's on Fifth Street. Is that not right?" The driver didn't sound particularly worried.
Antone's? They didn't have anyone playing there tonight, did they? She checked the schedule of artists and gigs that she updated every week and checked it. Nope, nothing scheduled for Antone's that she was aware of. Still, Caleb wasn't known for sending her on wild goose chases ... "No, Antone's is fine," she told the driver. "Thanks."
Then she pulled her messages back up again. Still no texts. And no phone calls. What the hell was Caleb up to?
Googling Antone's website on her phone, she scrolled through their appearances list. There were a couple of good bands on there this month — bands she'd been keeping an eye on — but she'd never heard of the one they had scheduled for tonight. Fly by Night. A quick Google search showed they didn't even have a website. Weird. There were no reviews online. Nothing.
She started to dig deeper, but then a text message from Caleb finally came in. The dick.
Caleb: Hey, Soda Pop! Thanks for saving my ass
Me: I haven't saved anything yet :/ What's going on?
Caleb: This is your shot
Me: Unless you mean tequila, I'm pretty sure I don't know what you're talking about
Caleb: Shaken Dirty's auditioning a new bassist at Antone's tonight in a pick-up show that nobody knows about
Me: Holy shit! Shaken Dirty????? They're Fly by Night?
Excitement roared through her, had her hands shaking and her heart pounding out of control. She'd been a fan of Shaken Dirty from the very beginning, had been the one to bring them to Caleb's attention when the two of them were still in college so that he could convince their dad to sign them (since she knew there was no way their father would take the recommendation from her). When they'd gone big, she'd celebrated with Caleb. And when they'd gone huge, he'd told her father that she'd been the one to pick them out. The one who'd insisted he listen to them.
And her dad had still given all the praise to Caleb. No surprise there.
Excerpted from Fade Into You by Tracy Wolff, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2016 Tracy Wolff. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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