Marcus hopped behind the steering wheel and began driving off.

I ripped the tape off my mouth and hollered, “What the fuck is wrong with you psychopaths?”

“Sorry, man,” James said as he calmly put on his seat belt. “We just didn’t think you’d come easily of your own accord. But to be completely clear, the ninja kidnapping was Marcus’s idea.”

“And a damn good idea, if you ask me! I always wanted to do, like, an underground kidnapping. For fun, obviously—I’m not a damn crazed human. And it was going great until Bozo the Clown over here yelled.”

“He fucking bit me!” Eric exclaimed once more. “I think I’m bleeding. He hit a vein.”

“Don’t be a fucking baby, or I’ll tell Mom to start changing your diapers again.”

“Fuck you, Marcus!”

“Fuck you too, little brother.”

“Fuck you both!” I added in, still feeling dazed, confused, and drunk as fuck. “What the hell is going on?”

James leaned over my waist and buckled my seat belt like the damn caring guy he had always been. I would’ve thanked him, too, if he hadn’t just kidnapped me.

“Listen, Ian. I’ve been up all night doing some deep computer-nerd digging,” Eric explained. “I didn’t feel settled enough knowing that our album was leaked somehow but the record company hadn’t a clue how it happened. So I did some work. And you won’t believe what I found. It was—”

“Max Fucking Rider!” Marcus blurted out as he drove down the road.

“Dude, what the hell?” Eric snapped, smacking his brother in the arm. “That was my massive reveal.”

“Will you get over yourself and continue the story?” Marcus ordered.

Eric sighed at his brother and raked his hands through his hair. “It was Max Fucking Rider. I tracked the hack back to a server that led us straight to his laptop. Then, for extra confirmation—because if you’re going to geek out, you’re going to geek out all the way—I hacked his emails and his social media and his everything. He had emails back and forth with Donnie from weeks ago. They went on and on about how the music we created wasn’t mainstream enough and they needed to make a big shift before the release.”


“They set us up, dude!” Marcus said. “They fucked us in the asshole and then sat in front of us and called us divas for being pissed about it.”

“Holy shit,” I muttered, sitting back in my seat, finally letting the shock of being kidnapped disappear as the shock of being fucked up the ass began to hit me. “Why would they do that?”

“Money, probably. Everything’s about money to these people,” James said. “And can you imagine the buzz we’re getting with our tracks being released? Now, people are watching us more closely than ever to see what we do next.”

It made sense.

It was messed up, but it made sense from their evil standpoint.

“That doesn’t change the fact that we are still screwed by the contract we signed. We’re still screwed,” I explained.

“Maybe, but we aren’t going to be screwed in Los Angeles. Especially with you in the headspace that you are,” James said.

“What’s that supposed to mean? Where the hell are we going?”

“Look, Ian. We know these past few months have been hard on you. From your parents, to Hazel, and now to the record being fucked over. But we, as your best friends, cannot allow you to lose your light. You can’t give up on everything.”

“I didn’t give up on everything.” Everything had given up on me.

Fuck. Did I even hear myself? How much more emo could my ass be?

“No offense, dude, but you’re drunk all the time,” Marcus said, his voice low and filled with care. “And I don’t fault you for it, because I’d be the same way if I went through half the shit you went through. That’s why we allowed it for so long. What happened to you was fucked up, man. You were dealt a shitty hand, and you were playing it the best you could, but it’s time to realize that you don’t have to play alone. We’re your best buds. So we kidnapped you to give you the detox your body and soul need.”

“Detox? And where the hell is this detox taking place?” I barked, still annoyed as fuck about being kidnapped from my drunken daze and dropped in a damn hallway.

“Eres,” Eric said, glancing back at me from the passenger seat. “So sit back, relax, and enjoy the twenty-hour drive. We’re taking you home, Ian.”



The guys forced me to drive with them for the whole twenty hours. Whenever we stopped, I couldn’t even figure out a way to get away and back to Los Angeles. They hadn’t brought my phone or my wallet. I had no way of escaping my friends kidnapping me.

What an odd situation.

I couldn’t stop thinking about what Eric had uncovered about Max Fucking Rider and Donnie Fucking Schmitz. I wished I could’ve said I was surprised, but it turned out dreams didn’t come without their own set of troubles. Max had had red flags from the beginning, but we’d chosen to ignore them, because we wanted our dream so fucking bad it ached.

Now, we were left in a shitty situation because we’d trusted the wrong people. We’d trusted the people who didn’t give a damn about us as individuals. They only cared about the money being brought into their bank accounts.