I studied him, trying to see if he was telling the truth or not. I wasn’t sure why he’d lie, but it was hard to know with the French.
“It’s in English, though, mate,” Jacob said, pointing at it. “Does your loony housecleaner know English, too?”
The manager shrugged. “Perhaps. I will talk to her about this. Like I said, she hasn’t done anything like this for a long time.”
“Well, what else has she done?” I asked, folding my arms across my chest and trying to look slightly more intimidating than a jet-lagged, scruffy-faced musician.
The manager’s eyes were blank as he responded. “Nothing for you to worry about. She won’t do anything like this again. My apologies to both of you. I’ll have someone else clean it for you and send up a few more bottles of champagne for the inconvenience.”
“No bother,” Jacob said, grabbing a white washcloth and rubbing it with soap before running the tap over it. He glanced at me over his shoulder. “No bother about the housecleaner. I’ll take care of this. You may still send up the free champagne, though.”
The manager nodded and left, closing the door behind him. I watched as Jacob smeared the red against the mirror so it looked like a wash of blood. Then he rubbed the wet cloth in harder and the marks faded away.
“You’re making too big a deal out of this,” Jacob said, almost as an aside. Still, there was strain apparent on his forehead and a strange depth to his tone. “So someone wrote this on your mirror. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“It could mean something,” I said softly.
Jacob turned to face me, tossing the wet cloth into the bathtub. “Dawn will be here tomorrow.”
I swallowed thickly. “I know.”
“You’re worried about her,” he said, angling his chin down.
“I am now,” I said. I sat down on the edge of the bed. “What if that was meant for her? Be careful what she wished for? The whole deal…my whole deal…was because I wished for something. What if Dawn did the same thing?”
He squinted. “What makes you think that?”
“Something the demons said to us at Lake Shasta…” I said, the memories pouring through me like wet concrete. “Alva, as we were pulling away from her, yelled at us, at Dawn, to be careful what she wished for. They were her parting words to us. It had to mean something. You heard it, too, didn’t you?”
His gaze never wavered. “There was a lot going on at the time, boy, but I don’t think the two are related. You heard the manager. Whacky old loon. Likes to write on people’s mirrors.”
“And isn’t that kind of disturbing in and of itself?”
There was a knock at the door, causing me to jump. Shit. I was going to hell in a handbasket.
Jacob quickly opened the door and accepted the bottle of champagne from the bellhop. He shut the door and, once he caught the salivating look on my face, popped the bottle open.
“I suppose you deserve this,” he said, handing me the champagne bottle. “Now take it easy. I know you’re feeling like a bit of a nutter at the moment, but we still have this tour to do and we still have this dinner tonight. I don’t know what Angeline’s angle is, other than that she wants to sleep with rock stars, but she still has a lot of sway with the French promoters, and if we want the tour in this country to go right and for us to get paid on time, we have to play nice. I like it a lot less than you do, but it’s something we just have to do.”
“And after this country?” I asked, feeling the bubbles go straight to my head. My father would beat me over the head for drinking such an expensive and—most importantly—sissy drink, but whatever did the job was fine by me.
“It’s Italy—Rome, of course—then, if our visas come in time, we’re flying to Prague. That’s your biggest show, sold out right away. I think you have a really large fanbase there, so if we can get those visas in time, we’re definitely not going to miss that opportunity. After that, West Germany for Munich and Cologne, rounding off in Dublin and London. I’m still seeing if we can squeeze in Norway, Sweden, and Finland.” My eyes must have looked unfocused because he added, “We’ll go over it at dinner. Just…keep your bloody wits about you, Sage; you’re the unfortunate star of the show here and if you don’t go on, no one does.”
He took the other bottle of champagne for himself and went for the door. He opened it and paused. “If it makes you feel any better, Sage, try and think about the girl. But only if you’re in a good place. I like her, Sage. I know you do, too. Don’t let her trip out here be for nothing. See you downstairs in an hour.”
He closed the door and left. My thoughts wanted to drift to Dawn. I drank the whole bottle and silenced them.
Dinner was hell. Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad; after all, I’d had my own personal glimpse into Hell. But it took a fuckload of effort to keep my eyes open. Tricky, Jacob, and Angeline went on and on about the shows in Paris and Nice (we had a day to ourselves on the French Riviera, which was good, nice even) and about the musicians I’d meet tomorrow, the guys who would form my touring band. I’d approved them all months ago, but had already forgotten their names or who they sounded like. I wasn’t worried about that anyway; I was worried about myself and how well I’d perform.
Angeline kept teasing me with her smooth foot under the table, and I went on pretending it wasn’t happening as we dined on escargots and filet mignon in red sauce and things that were made with the highest fat percentage possible. I was lucky my diet had mainly been alcohol up to this point because the French cuisine seemed like murder for anyone who had to stay in shape.
I don’t know if it was the copious bottles of table wine or the brandy that Jacob ordered for the table after dinner, but pretty soon I was feeling all right. I was flying. It was like the day—and let’s say my life—never even happened and I had no cares, no worries, no fears. No guilt. Between Angeline’s toes working their way up my inner thigh and Tricky passing me a tiny vial of coke, under the table was where everything was happening.
“I love France,” I muttered as I stood and headed to the washrooms. I went in, took a leak, did a line, and tried not to look at myself in the mirror. I was about to leave, my head swimming and my heart pumping, when the door swung open and Angeline stepped in.
She swiftly locked the door behind her and put her fingers to her lips.
“Don’t tell anyone,” she said in that breathy, flirty accent of hers, “but I have quite the crush on you.”
I cocked a brow and grinned lazily as the drugs settled over me like dust. “I think everyone knows.”
“They don’t know anything,” she said. “But you’re about to. Do you want to do it here or in your room? Or I could do both. I can do a lot of things…want me to show you?”
She took a step toward me and started unbuttoning her white silk blouse, her eyes glinting feverishly, a wicked smile on her face. “Unless, of course, you can’t. But I don’t recall Sage Knightly having a girlfriend.”
My smile struggled. I didn’t. That was true. There was Dawn, of course, Dawn who I’d be seeing tomorrow. There were also scores of other chicks, but I remembered barely any of their names. And I wasn’t even with Dawn. I wanted her here because I wanted her, but now she was coming to Europe on official business. We weren’t together; even if I thought it was something I deserved, we weren’t an item. We…I had no idea what we were.
And I didn’t know where Dawn stood in all of this, what I meant to her. Because as I stood there in that black-and-white-tiled bathroom, Angeline displaying her creamy white breasts for me, all I did know was that Dawn had left me. She was with me in Redding, she was with me in the aftermath, and then she left. The only other person on the planet who knew exactly what I had gone through, who went to Hell and back with me and lived to tell about it, went her own way, back to her own state and her own life. She never gave me a second glance.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man so disappointed about seeing a woman’s breasts before,” Angeline pouted. “You are unattached, aren’t you?”
Yes. I was unattached. And the ferocity of those feelings, realizing how badly it affected me that she had left, was hitting me hard. Harder than it should have after drinking a shitload and doing blow.
There was only one way out of this one. More blow. And from Angeline.
I grinned at her. “The only thing I want attached, baby, is your mouth on my dick.”
The words, the lies—they came so easily. I barely felt disgusted.
She smiled and went for my belt buckle, slowly undoing it. I licked and sucked at her breasts, generating a shaky moan, before she dropped to her knees on that bathroom floor and undid my fly. She brought out my dick, thick and strong and dying for release, and proceeded to use her very talented tongue and lips to bring me to a hot climax.
After that, we ditched the dinner party and made our way back to my bedroom, where I fucked her until she couldn’t take it anymore. She let me know by raking her nails painfully down my back and biting my neck until I swore I was bleeding. Luckily I was numb inside.
French chicks—they were a little bit psycho, but they made for good dessert.
The next morning I woke up alone with twitching nerves and a massive hangover.
I also hated myself.
“I hope you come back,” Eric’s voice broke through my thoughts as I stuffed the last remaining Creem magazine inside my messenger bag, which was already full of travel necessities.
I gasped, turned around, and saw him standing awkwardly in my bedroom doorway.
“How long have you been standing there, you creeper?” I asked him. I forced a smile, as if it would temper my racing heart. All morning I’d been jumpy for no real reason and had to chalk it up to pre-departure nerves. My flight was leaving from Seattle this evening, and we had to drive the three hours to the airport.
Eric still stood at the door, his dark eyes stuck to mine. Every day he was looking more and more like my father, more and more handsome, more and more…accepted. Normal. And every day I feared that the Tourette’s would come back for my younger brother and he’d be bullied, alone, and miserable once again.
“Please come back, Dawn,” he went on, still not moving. A hot breeze blew in through my open curtains and made his long white shirt billow around his skinny frame like a sail.
I tucked my hair behind my ears—unruly as always—and crossed my arms across my chest.
“Of course I’m coming back, you dope. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Because,” he said slowly, his eyes slowly raking over the room. He took in the stacks of vinyl, the music magazines, the posters on the walls and ceiling—The Who, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, Hendrix, Rod Stewart, and, yes, Hybrid. Still, always, Hybrid. Immortal. The few living things on this earth that could live forever, even beyond their own ends—bands, groups, music. They were all vampires through art.
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