Authors: Jolyn Palliata
Tags: #Paranormal;Romance;Rock star;Rock band;novella;Twists of Fate;Souls
“Her and Gavin are like family. We grew up together. Gavin’s the rhythm guitarist for Persevere. You ever hear of them?”
Who hasn’t?! Addison simply nodded.
“Kiki is his sister, basically. It’s complicated.” He shook his head. “Sooo what now? What else does Rhys need?”
Addison felt nothing but pity for Xavier as she took in his whole countenance. The man looked so conflicted; hopeful but defeated.
“I’m going to miss him too, Xavier,” she admitted quietly. “But that was what he needed to move on.”
Hold up. You two aren’t getting rid of me that fast. I have a few other things.
Her surprise must have shown clearly on her face, because Xavier asked, “There’s more?”
“Apparently.” She listened to Rhys ramble in her head. “He has some ideas for Scripted Lives. Some sounds…riffs. Solos for you to try out. A couple of arrangements.”
“Okaaay.” Xavier looked doubtful. “How are we going to do this?”
“He’s sounding out some stuff in my head. Hey…that sounds nice.” She bobbed her head to the tempo. “Let me try that.”
She cleared her throat and tried to relay the music she heard, focusing especially hard on the pitch and length of the notes.
When she noticed Xavier wincing, she stopped. That was when she also noticed the dead silence in her mind. Hell, you could’ve heard crickets chirping right then.
“What?” she asked.
It was Rhys who answered.
Don’t ever do
“It wasn’t that bad, was it?” She looked to Xavier for an ally. But she wasn’t getting it there.
“If he just told you that silence is bliss, I whole-heartedly concur.” She huffed a breath and crossed her arms.
Sorry, sweetheart. But you’re gonna have to get me to Xavier.
She cringed at the only alternative. “Do you have to?”
She rubbed at her chest, remembering the uncomfortable sensation of him being so close, yet so far away. Although, if she was going to be honest with herself, she’d best get used to it, huh?
“What’s up?” Xavier asked.
“Rhys wants to talk to you himself.”
He nodded and braced himself. “All right. Let’s do it.” And then held out his hand.
Xavier barely had a chance to adjust to the sudden noise in his head when Rhys launched into a melody of sounds, humming and sounding out new riffs and solos for various tracks on Scripted Lives. Although Xavier was the lead guitarist, Rhys was their primary composer.
Shit. How the hell was he going to do this without his little brother; not only a fucking awesome collaborator, but his rock in this crazy-ass life of theirs?
He realized Rhys was picking up on his thoughts when a somber wave of emotions seeped into the very depths of his soul. Rhys fumbled the tempo he was maintaining and Xavier quickly shoved the thoughts aside—for Rhys sake, if not for his own.
Damn, my brother. Don’t stop now.
Xavier grabbed a notepad and pen off the coffee table in front of him.
This is some stellar shit. I gotta get it down.
Sometime later, Xavier glanced up from his furious scribble of musical notes and noticed Addison was curled up on her side, snuggled into the pillow at the end of the couch. She must have realized they’d be awhile.
Now make sure you match Connor’s tone here. Watch the variation in your pitch to match
the chorus. It’ll come off as an extension of his voice.
Rhys paused and took a deep breath.
get all that?
No worries, man. I got ‘er all.
Xavier tossed the pen on the pile of makeshift sheet music, and flexed his cramped knuckles.
Damn, the talent his brother had…
He laced his fingers behind his head as he kicked back on the couch, reveling in the pride he felt exuding from Rhys and feeling pretty damned pleased himself. This album was going to be their best yet, and it was all gonna be because of Rhys. If anything else, the man had always been committed to their band and its success. It only seemed logical he needed this as a part of his closure as well. In Scripted Lives, Rhys was leaving his legacy.
But that wasn’t the only thing he was leaving behind.
Xavier glanced over at a dozing Addison. With a chuckle he said,
You wear your girl out
Why? What’s she doing?
You want to see her?
Knowing Rhys would appreciate it, he concentrated on the woman laying next to him.
Rhys said, his voice tight.
Xavier studied her soft features framed by long, golden locks.
She’s a classic beauty, Rhys.
And sassy, and smart. Plus, she doesn’t put up with my shit; she deals it out just as hard as
she fucking gets it.
His sigh was full of remorse.
It’s too damn bad I hadn’t met her when I was
Sounds like it would’ve been a match made, my brother.
The bitch of it is, I probably wouldn’t have realized what I fucking had…given
she would’ve spared me the time of day in the first place. We never would’ve connected like this
What the hell? It sounded to Xavier like his brother had fallen hard for the girl. Was it possible that—
As ridiculous as it may fucking sound to you, you’re absolutely right,
doesn’t that just kick me right in the ass?
There wasn’t a single hint of the embarrassment or defensiveness Xavier would’ve normally expected from him.
If that’s the case—and I can feel that it is—then…
Xavier tipped his head back, staring at the oil painting across the way as he organized his thoughts. Or tried to.
Am I out of line here…or
Why the hell don’t you just stay with her?
I’m real fucking tempted to try. Believe you me. But I want someone
for her. She
Does she know how you feel?
Rhys blew out a frustrated-sounding breath.
She wants me to stay, too. But, dammit,
I’m feeling it, man. There’s something calling to me, or some shit.
Xavier’s shoulders tightened.
I don’t fucking know. But I can’t ignore it anymore. The more closure I get, the stronger it
That’s saying something.
He sat up and rubbed his palm on his thigh, a nervous gesture he never could shake no matter how aware of it he was.
What more can I do for you, Rhys?
There’s only one other thing I need taken care of. Then I can let go for good.
The fact that Rhys responded without the slightest hesitation showed how paramount his final request was. And, dammit, Xavier was going to do everything in his power to see that his brother got whatever he needed.
Addison. I want you to take care of her now.
Shock rippled through him. “What?” he choked out.
Not like that! Not unless you want me haunting your ugly ass for the rest of your
Xavier felt what he thought was a mental slap upside his head.
Just… Check in on her. Watch her back, ya know.
There was a tense silence before he growled,
Make sure whatever guy she ends up with treats her right…isn’t some fucking pansy-ass douche bag.
I’m on it.
Xavier glanced at Addison who was now rubbing at her sternum in her sleep. His brow creased.
Is she going to be okay when you go? You’re still right here and she all antsy and
He showed Rhys her image so he could see what he was talking about.
I gotta believe she’ll be fine. She was before I came along and latched onto her…
Xavier sensed his doubt and confusion, and the underlying pain. He rushed to reassure.
You’re right. People weren’t made for two souls, or whatever the fuck. She’s cool. I’ll make sure
Thanks, X. Really. I know this is an impossible situation, and you’re trying to be all stoic
and shit. I just want you to know I appreciate it. I appreciate you. I love you, man.
Love you too, my brother.
Xavier’s jaw clenched with his need to guard the truth of his overwhelming emotions, but he knew his thoughts pierced some of his front. He cleared his throat.
Better say goodbye to your girl.
Yeah. I’m ready.
Without another word, Xavier brushed his hand across Addison’s cheek. He felt the warmth of his brother’s spirit flow down his arm and dissipate into a spark of tingles where his skin met hers.
Addison stirred out of sleep with the sensation of firm lips traveling down her neck.
Wake up, Addison,
Rhys whispered, a gruffness to his voice
. Come back to me.
“Rhys?” she mumbled, her eyes fluttering open, causing her to lose his touch. She groaned at the lost contact and was about to close her eyes to recapture it when she heard Xavier’s voice next to her.
“It’s time, Addison.”
She glanced over at him. Her muscles locked down at the pained expression on his face.
No. She wasn’t ready.
His eyes softened as he said, “Did you want to go into the other room for privacy?” She sat up and shook her head. Denial flooded through her as Rhys remained eerily silent.
“Is there a possibility he isn’t dead? It could happen, right? What if—” Xavier put a firm hand on her shoulder. “They found…” She saw his throat work overtime as he swallowed hard. “They found a part of… Several yards from the wreckage, like Rhys had said.”
She refused to believe it. Suddenly,
believe it. She stammered her response. “M-m-maybe it was the pilot.”
Reality slapped her in the face the second she heard Rhys’ gentle admonishment.
“It was him, Addison.” Xavier leveled his eyes at hers. “His spirit is inside of you. It’s time to let him go.”
Numbly, she nodded. “I’m going to…” She gestured towards the bedroom.
“Take your time. I’ll wait right here.”
Addison walked blindly into the room and closed the door. She stood there, hand on the knob, her thoughts scattering then coalescing into a state of panic.
“Oh, God.” She lurched to the bed and sank down, clutching at her swirling belly. “I love you, Rhys. I don’t want you to go. Please.” Tears welled and an air bubble lodged itself in her throat.
It’s not right. It’s not fair to you.
“I don’t care! I’ll take you any way I can get you. Any way I can.” His tone turned hard and frigid in an instant, a dark calm remaining as he closed off his thoughts but let his words slip through.
I fucking said no.
Her chest squeezed, cutting her breath off into a whisper. “But…”
I want to move on. You’d think someone who claimed to love me would want that for me too.
Her lip trembled—make that her whole body—as his words sliced and diced. The ensuing guilt and selfishness seeped into the raw wounds, stinging like alcohol on an open cut.
“I…I’m sorry. I thought you felt the same.”
Well, I fucking don’t. I’m sorry, sweetheart,
he said in that condescending tone she loathed.
It’s been fun, but I’ve got to do this. This is about me, not you.
She blocked her thoughts as she mentally berated herself, and then bit her lip as she kept them on lockdown. What the hell was she thinking? How could she have asked him to stay?
Jesus Christ! What the hell kind of a person was she?!
“Yeah. You’re right. You’ve gotta do this.”
You take care of yourself, got it? Call X if you ever need anything. He’ll help you out.
Despite the caring nature of his words, his tone remained distant, his thoughts hidden. But she couldn’t help the spark of hope that he was about to open up to her.
You did right by me, he’ll do right by you.
That was the reason? Not because he… But because she was a debt to be repaid? Was that all it was all along? Couldn’t be. Could it?
She hated that he made her question everything, and squeezed her hands into a fist as she forced herself to end this. A deep steadying breath helped her find a voice. “Goodbye, Rhys. I hope you find what you’re looking for on the other side. You
he said, the tenacious hold on his shield slipping.
he muttered as a blast of emotions—love and agony—seared through her, boiling her blood and baking her down to the core.
She shot straight to her feet. “You unbelievable bastard! You made me feel guilty on purpose?!”
Now, calm down, sweetheart. I—
“Don’t you dare ‘sweetheart’ me! I can’t believe you used my feelings against me! And for what? To make it easier on you?! You selfish sonofabitch!” She launched across the spacious room as she paced, unable to keep her muscles locked into place as the fury thrummed through her veins.
I thought if you hated me when I left then you’d get over me a helluva lot faster. That it’d be
easier for you to walk away.
She felt the truth in his words, felt his regret.
And she didn’t give two shits.
“You just tore my heart out of my chest and ground it up little pieces to make it
?! That’s just like a fucking man to—”
“—have such twisted logic! How do you asshats come up with this shit? Seriously! If you weren’t—”
I love you, baby. I love you so much my soul aches for you.
And just like that, her entire frame turned into mush as she sank to the floor.
I really was trying to make it easier on you.
Her vision swam. “I’d rather know you loved me, than to think it all meant nothing to you.”
It means everything to me.
mean everything. You know that.