Benny Jones grew up fast, much faster than anyone in his family realized, in the backwoods sticks of Wyoming. Blessed with movie star good looks he didn’t lack for female attention, and his first girlfriend set the tone for his romantic life. Older, beautiful, rich, and generous, she wanted to have a pretty toy to play with, and a prettier boy on her arm. His worth became defined by her needs, which left him feeling empty and hollow.
Ben found an escape from the sordidness of his world with music, and frequently lost himself in the sounds and rhythms he could create, trying to set aside the increasing feelings of worthlessness and betrayal. He knew eventually it would all catch up with him, and he was right. It did, the night he nearly died. Fortunately for Ben his older brother was there to save him. Again.
Now, he’s attempting to navigate the world as a sober artist, digging in and holding onto his dreams by sheer determination alone when Lucia walks into his life. Sweet, beautiful, caring, and oh-so off limits Luce makes him think there are better things in store for him. There are problems, though. Not only doesn’t she fit the mold of his previous ladies, but her father is one of his brother’s best friends. No problem, right?
Benny scrubbed at his face with his palm, fingernails scratching through his short beard. Frustrated at what felt like a substandard performance, he muttered, “I hate being the one who’s always fucking up.” He sighed and looked across the studio where Chase sat next to Lucia. He ignored the other people in the booth; they didn’t factor for this gig.
With his electric guitar slung low across his midriff, he held it comfortably, almost as if it were a flesh-and-bone extension of himself. Fingers returning to their continuous, steady movements, the music resumed, swelling to fill the air around him. Muscle memory by now, he was always most comfortable when hiding behind a wall of music and his guitar.
“Let’s take that section from the top again,” he said and waited for Chase to indicate he heard him and was ready before swinging back into the complicated melody. The transition was rough, choppy where he needed smooth. Without comment, he circled the melody again, easing into it better this time.
He glanced up and caught Lucia frowning at him. That expression told him that she had a question, and he knew it because she always had questions. Poking and prodding at things, even things he would so much rather leave dead and buried. Lifting his chin, he wordlessly prompted her to ask and after a moment, just out of sync with her mouth, he heard her voice through his earpiece. “Dios. If it’s this hard to get right in the studio, how in the heck are you going to play this live?”
Benjamin Jones, guitarist and lead singer for Occupy Yourself, grinned at her through the thick panes of glass separating the control room and the live room. It was what his brother used to call his rock star smile; fake but glorious, plastic happiness hiding all the wrong underneath. She knew what it meant, so when she made a face, he let the smile fall away, knowing the expression he then wore was pained, but truthful. He shrugged, and then closed his eyes, letting the music loose within him. That was how it had always felt, as if the music was this caged and leashed beast inside him, ravening to be released. To be set free.
Three minutes and twenty-three seconds later, the last notes of the song began to die away, and Benny heard the enthusiastic voice of his friend. “Dude, way better. Way. Like so much better. That was dead on, man.” That was Chase Mason, his friend and a seventeen-year-old budding musician.
He had met Chase through a series of events so dire that to call them unfortunate would be an extreme understatement. Benny wound up here…well, because he was always the one fucking up. Chase, on the other hand, was the golden boy. The much-loved only son of a wealthy and powerful man, a man who just happened to be a badass biker. Davis Mason was the national president of the Rebel Wayfarers, a motorcycle club with a presence in a dozen major cities. The man was also a Chicago city councilman, best friends with Benny’s brother, Andy, and one of the best dads Benny had ever seen.
Lucia was a different kind of friend. Her adoptive dad, Rob Crew, was also connected with the Rebels, and at that moment, watched Benny through narrowed, cautious eyes as he stood at the back of the control room. Not unwarranted, because again, Benny was always the one fucking up.
Luce nodded at him, and he found himself grinning broadly back. God, I could eat her up, he thought, imagining the look on her face if he acted on that thought. Little guttural Spanish phrases falling from her lips as he licked and lapped at her while her sweet juices ran down his chin. Instead, he took a breath and shook his cramping hands out at his sides, and, pushing a cocky tone into his voice, asked, “Like that?”
Blood makes you related. Loyalty makes you family.
Copyright © 2016 – MariaLisa deMora
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