“This town has like, twelve hundred people,” Eric said. “And I think most of them live in the old folks’ home.”
“What? You don’t think the elderly listen to metal?” Myrna asked.
“We’l take a chance,” Trey said.
Trey settled on the back of Jace’s motorcycle. The rest of the guys crammed themselves into Myrna’s little Thunderbird. With Brian driving, Eric sitting in the middle, and Sed on the passenger side, Myrna was forced to sit partial y on Sed and Eric’s laps. She spent most of the short drive moving Eric’s hands from inappropriate locations. Sed thumped him upside the head on occasion. “Wil you leave her alone?”
“I hope we don’t get pul ed over,” Myrna said. “We look like a group of thugs on our way to rob a bank.”
Brian laughed. “Yeah. Except our getaway car is frickin’ pink and worth more than Sed’s dental work.”
Sed grinned like a shark to show off his perfect teeth.
They found a family-owned grocery store near the edge of town. Brian pul ed into the parking lot and Jace’s bike rumbled in after them.
Eric grabbed Myrna in a tight embrace on his lap, while Sed unfolded his 6 foot 4 frame from the little car. Brian climbed from the driver’s seat and offered a hand to Myrna to help her out of the car.
“We’re good, thanks,” Eric said, squeezing her closer. “See you when you get back.”
Myrna slid a hand up Eric’s neck into his black hair. He had the craziest haircut she’d ever seen. It was long on one side and down the back, yet shaved to stubble on the other side. A ridge of spikes along the top separated the stubble from the long strands. The finger-thick lock that curled around his throat changed color on occasion. Today it was a deep blue. A week ago, it had been crimson red. His hair suited him, she supposed, but he should sue his hairstylist. As her fingers intertwined in the long strands at the nape of his neck, he glanced down at her, his eyes wide in surprise.
“Yeah, you guys go on ahead,” she said, staring up into Eric’s pale blue eyes and running her tongue over her lips. “Eric and I are going to stay in the car and make out.”
His grip on her slackened as he lowered his head to“Psyche!” She shoved him away, before squirming out of his lap.
“Dude,” Eric complained. “That was so not cool.”
“Yeah,” Brian agreed. He helped her to her feet and wrapped an arm around her back. “No one says ‘psyche’ anymore.”
“Wel , I’m old,” Myrna said. “I can’t help my lack of cool.”
As soon as they entered the store, a thin, nervous-looking man started fol owing them through the aisles. Myrna supposed rock stars looked like shoplifters. She smiled reassuringly at the little man and he turned to fiddle with the stock on the shelves. Eric moved to stand next to the store clerk. He stroked his chin as he examined the condiments. “Brian’s woman thinks we need to eat better,” he said to the guy. “That attractive, normal-looking babe over there. See her?”
The manager glanced at Myrna. He nodded slightly and returned to his unnecessary shelf tidying.
“Anyway,” Eric continued. “I’m pretty sure she’s going to make us eat salad. Do you like salad?”
Eric clapped him on the shoulder. The man flinched. “Great! I assume you’re a salad dressing expert, since you keep rearranging these bottles. So, what dressing would you recommend to a bunch of derelicts like us?” He grabbed the man’s nametag and leaned unnecessarily close to read it. “Kevin.”
“Eric,” Sed said. “Leave the guy alone.”
“Why? I assumed Kevin wanted to offer some customer service to his customers. That’s why you’re fol owing us around, right, Kevin?”
The man brushed Eric’s hand from his shoulder. “Raspberry Vinaigrette is good.”
“Do we look like the kind of guys who’d eat Raspberry Vinaigrette salad dressing?” Eric asked. Kevin glanced from one band member to the next. “Uh…”
Myrna grabbed Eric by the ear. “The answer to that question is: Shut up, Eric.”
“Ow!” Eric protested.
“I like Raspberry Vinaigrette,” Trey said. He put a bottle of dressing in the cart. “Do they make anything cherry-flavored?”
Kevin shook his head. “I don’t think so.”
Trey took his sucker out of his mouth and pointed it at him. “Wel , they should.”
“Cherry salad dressing? Disgusting,” Brian said, his nose wrinkled. “Ranch is best.”
Jace selected several bottles of creamy dressing and put them in the cart without a word. Eric grabbed Myrna’s wrist to pul her pinching fingers from his ear. “My point is, Kevin,” he said, “we don’t need a babysitter. Thanks.”
Sed was at the end of the aisle looking at spices. “Hey, Myrna, do you know how to make lemon-pepper chicken?”
“Sure do,” she cal ed to him. She pul ed her arm from Eric’s grip and went to help Sed pick out spices. The other guys fol owed her with Jace pushing the cart. Apparently, Jace had been grocery shopping before. Without any prompting, he added things to the cart that Myrna would have chosen herself.
“Get some jalapeños,” Eric said to Jace, who’d just added a jar of dil pickles to the cart. “I’l make us some omelets.”
“You’l make yourself an omelet,” Brian said. “Your cooking is worse than Trey’s.”
“Is it my fault you don’t like cherries?” Trey said.
“No one likes cherries in stir fry.”
Myrna rubbed Trey’s head, messing up his hair. “I’l bake you a cherry pie, sweetie. Would you like that?”
He hugged her against his side and kissed her temple. “I love you. Brian, I love your woman.”
Brian smiled slightly, but didn’t look at Myrna when he said, “Don’t we al ?”
They didn’t lose their tail as they wound through the aisles, but Kevin was a little less obvious about fol owing them. He watched them from one aisle over.
The store had an excel ent butcher who produced choice cuts of fresh meat. “We’l have to clean out the freezer when we get back,” Myrna said. “I can’t pass up this meat.”
“The freezer is highly toxic,” Trey said. “Can’t we just throw out the whole refrigerator and get a new one?”
“Yeah, let’s do that,” Jace agreed. He was tossing T-bones into the cart as if they were having a buy-one-get-ten-free steak sale.
“Sheesh, Jace, are you hungry?” Myrna asked.
“There are fourteen of us.”
“Good point. Get ground beef. I’l make chili.”
“Do you real y want to be trapped on a tour bus with a bunch of guys who’ve consumed large quantities of chili beans?” Brian asked.
Myrna laughed. “Another good point. Okay, I’l make lasagna instead. Tomorrow.”
“Now you’re talking.” Brian kissed her temple. “I love Italian food.”
“Make sure you get enough pork chops, Jace,” Sed insisted. “I’l eat like three or seven of them.”
They made a second trip through the store for things she’d need for lasagna. By the time they finished, two carts were ful to the top.
“I’m not sure al of this wil fit in my car,” Myrna said. For a smal car, the Thunderbird had a good-sized trunk, but their carts looked like they were stocking up to start their own mobile grocery store.
“We’l make it fit,” Brian said. “Or load Eric up like a pack mule.”
“Uh, no,” Eric said.
Jace started unloading the cart onto the conveyer belt. Myrna had a hard time accepting what the groupies said about him. A sadomasochist? He was always such a sweetheart. Quiet. Shy. Gentle. If she hadn’t seen what he kept in his suitcase with her own eyes, she’d never have believed it. He didn’t even attempt to look like a natural blond. Platinum hair, dark beard stubble, dark brows. It was cute though. Myrna couldn’t put her finger on why. With that baby face of his, he looked like the requisite tough guy of a boy band, not a member of a metal band.
Jace must have felt her stare, because he glanced up, his brown eyes inquisitive. “What?”
She shook her head. “Nothing.” She handed him a package of Italian sausage. He placed it on the conveyer belt.
“God, I want a cigarette,” Trey said, eyeing the locked case behind the counter. He fidgeted with the zipper on his sleeve repeatedly before cleaning out an entire display of cherry suckers and dumping them on the checkout stand. Myrna squeezed his elbow in encouragement and moved around Jace to the cashier.
“Did you find everything you needed?” the young woman asked as she dragged products over the scanner.
“I think so.” Myrna looked at the two cartfuls of groceries being unloaded by an assembly line of rock stars. She smiled to herself.
“I hope so.”
A blood-curdling scream emitted from the back of the growing line. Sed’s body suddenly careened into Eric’s. Brian steadied them.
“Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” a high-pitched voice squealed from about the level of Sed’s bel y button. A young girl, no older than thirteen, had almost knocked Sed to the floor with her exuberance. “Oh Sed, I love you. I love you!”
“So much for the retirement community theory,” Jace said as he continued to unload the cart. Sed glanced at Eric with wide eyes. Eric shrugged.
Sed patted the girl’s head uncomfortably. “Hel o there. I think you have me confused with someone else.”
“I’d know you anywhere,” she insisted. “You’re Sedric Lionheart. The lead singer of Sinners.”
Sed winced. The rest of the people in line started craning their necks, trying to glimpse the rock stars in their midst. Sed bent and whispered something in the girl’s ear. Her face lit up and she nodded. She hugged him and returned to the back of the line, bouncing on the bal s of her feet excitedly. Her entire body trembled from head to foot.
“What in the hel did you tel her?” Eric said under his breath. “She’s a child, Sed. I hope you didn’t—”
Sed punched him in the arm. Hard. “Have some faith in me, fuckhead.”
Another line opened, and the very young fan girl rushed to the front of the second line, knocking an elderly lady sideways in her haste. The girl kept her eyes on Sed the entire time the cashier rang up her smal purchase. She paid and then rushed out of the store. She stood in front of the glass doors peering in at them from outside.
“What did you say to her?” Brian asked.
“I just told her if she was quiet, I’d autograph my shirt for her outside the store. What kind of sick bastard do you think I am?”
“You don’t want me to answer that,” Eric said.
“Sticks, you’re asking for a serious ass whippin’,” Sed said.
Brian presented his stack of cash to pay and they pushed the carts of sacked groceries to the car. Sed’s little shadow fol owed them, chattering excitedly. While the rest of them loaded the trunk, Sed removed his leather jacket and plain white T-shirt. He put his jacket back on and borrowed a pen from Myrna. He signed his shirt before handing it over to the girl. She lifted it to her nose and inhaled, her eyes rol ing into the back of her head. Sed ran a hand over his shorn hair, looking very uncomfortable about the entire situation.
“Can I get the band’s autographs, too?” the girl asked.
“Of course!” Sed said, taking the shirt back and passing it around until each band member had signed it. The trunk was ful to bursting with groceries, but they managed to get it shut on the third try. After returning to their vehicles, Brian drove out of the parking lot, with Jace fol owing on his bike. The young fan waved good-bye to them, clutching Sed’s shirt to her narrow chest.
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