“Why the fuck is it that you are related to all of these gorgeous women?”
“I didn’t say a thing,” Quinn protested with a smirk at Dane’s under the breath comment as they watched Brett walk away. “And we’re not related.”
“Your sister’s best friend’s little sister?” Dane laid out the relationship. “I’m not an idiot thanks.”
“Think the jury’s still out on that one.” Quinn grinned and dodged Dane’s lazy swipe and looked around. The area had pretty much cleared out, just their family members milling about. Some of them would remain back stage while others would sit in the stands, a little section that had a slightly limited view and was isolated from the crush of the fans. “We’re about done here. You ready?”
“Always.” With a flourish Dane produced a set of sticks from his back pocket and while Quinn went to let his various family members know it was nearly time, he headed towards the stage’s edge to check out the crowd.
It didn’t take Quinn long to get everyone moving and after a detour to their bus he was back stage where Tommy and Mac had joined Dane.
“Good crowd?” he asked as he passed out shot glasses then opened the bottle he had fetched and carefully poured.
Tommy had a huge grin on his face as he nodded. “Yeah they’re all out there.”
“Not all,” Mac muttered then lifted his glass. “Sláinte,” he said and they all echoed his toast then tapped glasses and drank. Without another word he traded his empty glass for the guitar Moaney held out to him and strode on stage.
“Guess she never showed?” Tommy grimaced when Dane nodded then he made a trade with Moaney and followed Mac out.
There was a moment of stunned silence then a massive cheer erupted. There was no opener for this show but they hadn’t advertised that fact. They just wanted to walk out and play, so that’s what they were going to do. There was a different vibe in the air anytime they played for their family and friends, an extra level of excitement, an air of expectation. Tommy joked that he got the rockstar treatment from his wife after a show, Dane and Mac liked to show off a little more than usual, but for Quinn it was about showing his family how far he’d come from the kid annoying everyone with his guitar.
As usual he walked out last to join the huddle around Dane’s kit and was just in time to hear Dane say, “Corrine’s loss man, plenty of other fish, especially when they’re jumping into the net.”
Mac rolled his eyes but couldn’t hide his grin then his laugh as Dane added, “Just remember it’s catch and release and not in the veep section.”
“You’re the one who needs to remember that.” Quinn pointed at Dane. This wasn’t his home town so none of his family was in attendance tonight.
“Yeah yeah, you know all of the people,” Dane dismissed with a scoff as Mac looked over.
“Not everyone. Sandra bring a friend?”
They all looked over at Mac’s comment to see Tommy’s wife sitting with a blonde haired woman, Tommy and Sandra’s eight year old daughter Fiona, sitting in the woman’s lap and blocking them from seeing her face.
“Ah no?” Tommy shook his head. “She didn’t mention anyone. Oh. Well there you go. She’s with that skateboarder,” he observed as the big man slid into the seat beside her and slung his arm around her shoulder.
“All right ladies, we going to gossip all night or do this?” Quinn asked as the crowd’s noise rose to a fever pitch.
“No need to ask where the fuck we are tonight is there?” Dane lifted his sticks to play.
“No but do it anyway. Tradition,” Tommy explained with a shrug though they all knew he was superstitious.
“Alright then but…” He stood up and a spotlight found him an instant later. “Hey I have a question for you all.” He spoke into the microphone Quinn held up towards him then stood there and grinned as the whoops and cheers died down. “It’s been a while since we’ve see some of you and we’re just wondering… where the fuck are we tonight?”
“HOME!” came the roar from the crowd followed by cheering as Dane nodded then sat down.
“Satisfied?” he asked Tommy who answered with a driving bass line then he turned and walked out to his spot on the stage. Mac shrugged and followed but didn’t start to play, letting Tommy have the moment, as Dane rolled his shoulders and settled his weight on his stool.
“It’s always different with you fuckers in this state,” he muttered and Quinn didn’t disagree as he sat down on the edge of the drum riser and lifted the microphone to his mouth. Time to sing for his supper…
Quinn needed to go shopping. For a place to live. Thank fuck Zander was out of town so he could have some space to himself. He loved his family but at the end of a tour, most of which had been spent on a bus with his bandmates, he needed some alone time and more space than he got at home. Not to mention he was nearly twenty eight years old and he still basically lived at home with his parents. So maybe that should be a priority this time around. Not that they were at tour end, just a couple of weeks break before they headed north, then they’d be on the road until nearly Christmas.
He wondered if Zander would be home for Christmas or still on the run. Zander’s shower was amazing, maybe he’d never come home and Quinn could just live here for him. He frowned at the thought as he tipped his head back to rinse off. He didn’t want Zander to stay gone really but apartment hunting was a tedious job. Zander had offered up a room on a permanent basis but Quinn declined, not wanting to intrude more than he already did. As it was he usually split his time between home, Zander’s, Dane’s, the converted shed where they jammed on Tommy’s property, and whatever bed he ended up in after a hook up. Which led to the usual thought of what did he need a house or an apartment for anyway? So it could sit empty most of the time?
His shower done he toweled off then pulled on sweat pants to venture to the kitchen to see what if anything there was to eat. He scored with a frozen pizza and helped himself to a bottle of wine from Zander’s collection then sat at the table with the incredible view of the city spread out before him. This could be a reason to have his own place, he thought, the quiet, the view, no one asking who could be calling him at nearly two in the morning or why he was grinning at the screen.
“Hi Kelly! It’s ah… me!” His mystery caller sounded cheerful, ending her greeting with a giggle.
“Someone’s in a good mood. I take it the date went well?”
“Oh fuck, I mean fudge no! Sorry. I swear too much.”
“Me too,” Quinn shrugged and picked up his wine glass to take a sip. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Thanks. A bad habit I’m trying to curb though so don’t encourage me.”
“Alright. Stop fucking swearing at me… you,” he said sternly and she giggled again then there was an extended silence. “So the date?” Quinn prompted when nearly a minute had passed
“Oh you don’t want to hear about it,” she dismissed with a little pfft of a sigh.
“You called me to tell me I don’t want to know about it?” he asked confused.
“Well I ah, fuck!” The last word was muttered under her breath. “Maybe I called to tell you that you were wrong, that he wasn’t a nice guy,” she said triumphantly.
“And he seemed so nice when I met – oh wait… I never met him did I?” Quinn finished with a chuckle as she swore yet again.
“Yeah yeah. You know what the worst thing is? Joker was right.”
At her comment Quinn picked up the bottle of the wine to check how much he’d had to drink because there had to be a reason he wasn’t keeping up with her conversation.
“You’re right, that’s terrible,” he agreed, prepared to just go along with it but curiosity got the better of him. “Who’s Joker?”
“Your friend? Last time I called? Said it was his code name?” Now she sounded as confused as he had been since Dane hadn’t divulged that part of the conversation.
“Of course he did. What was he right about?”
“That the date would be bad,” she said with a sigh.
“He called it eh?” Quinn took the last swallow of wine in his glass then stood up to take the glass to the sink. “Don’t worry, I wont tell him he was right.”
“Is he a gloater?”
“No.” Quinn turned off the lights and headed for the spare bedroom he used when he stayed here. “He’s ah, let’s say he needs some positive thoughts right now.”
“Then being right would be good?”
“No honey, the positive comes from your date not being bad. He needs to believe in love a little right now.”
“Ohhhh. Broken heart?”
“No. Fuck, yeah. Probably,” he muttered and collapsed onto the bed with a groan. “I don’t want to think about.”
“Feelings, who needs them right?” she scoffed then swore. “Fuck, Kelly, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize how late it was.”
“Am I keeping you up?” He asked after a quick glance at the screen.
“I was about to ask you the same. No for me. I’m a little… exhilarated after a great night out.”
“No for me too,” he answered quickly, glad she didn’t want to end the call yet. “What was so great about your night?”
“Good question,” she said and he thought he heard the rustle of sheets.
“Are you in bed?” he blurted even as he cringed. “I mean, you said it’s late right? I don’t even know what time zone you’re in so…” a lame ass cover up but she seemed to buy it.
“It’s twoish so yes. You?”
“Same time or you’re in bed too?”
“Both actually,” he answered and considered asking exactly where she was but before he could she spoke again.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if we were in the same city? But what are the odds right? I went to a concert. That’s what was so good, how about you?”
Quinn wasn’t sure what to answer first but he didn’t get the chance. He thought exhilarated was the wrong word, hyper was better, she was like a kid who’d had too much sugar.
“I caught up with an old friend there too which was a surprise. But the concert was great. And then we went for dessert after.” Quinn laughed at that breaking her flow and she asked a curious, “What?”
“I was just thinking you sound like an over sugared toddler.”
“Oh ha fucking ha,” she laughed. “Oops. There I go swearing again.”
“On account of all the fucking sugar?” Quinn wondered archly and she giggled.
“More likely on account of the sexy as fuck band I saw tonight,” she admitted with a happy sigh.
Quinn hesitated, not sure he wanted to know who she’d seen. What if it was them? What if it wasn’t?
“But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about that,” she carried on unaware of his dilemma. “Well I mean unless you’re a fan… though if you’re not we might not be able to be friends so best not to discuss it. Don’t you think?”
He laughed in relief, said, “Anything you want honey.”
“Now that’s a dangerous thing to say to a woman.”
Her voice had gone a little lower with her teasing comment and Quinn shifted in bed, feeling a stir of arousal which was beyond ridiculous. He didn’t know her name, her age, what she looked like, anything really. He could be talking to a kid, one old enough to date and have a job but still a kid.
“Fuck,” he murmured then winced at the thought he could be swearing at a kid. “Sorry.”
Then she laughed, low and husky and his body insisted this was no kid he was talking to. “Is that apology for swearing or for making empty promises?”
“Fuck if I know,” Quinn said with his own laugh, one more of discomfort than humor. “It’s late, I have no idea what I’m saying,” he admitted.
“It is… do you have to get up early for work?”
He shook his head as he yawned then realized she couldn’t see him. “No. I have the day off. You?”
“No. I have the late shift, don’t start until four.” There was that rustle of sheets again and Quinn’s mind provided a visual, reality be damned. He pictured long slim legs peeking out of the bedding, slender fingers tracing down over the sheets…
“No school?” he asked a little desperately, trying to banish the picture from his mind.
She laughed. “Is that your subtle way of asking how old I am? Because if it was a massive fail Kelly.”
“You caught me,” he admitted with a chuckle. “Help me out here honey, I just want to make sure I’m not talking to a sweet young girl.”
“You’d prefer a sweet old lady? That’s kinky of you.” She giggled at his groan then thankfully took mercy on him. “I’ll admit to mid twenties if that makes you feel better.”
Quinn’s laugh was relieved. “It really fucking does. Thanks. Now I don’t feel like a dirty old man.”
“What part changed? The dirty or the old?” she teased with her voice, making dirty sound really fucking dirty. At least to his oversensitive ears.
He wanted to flirt back, to tell her all the dirty thoughts he was having thinking about her in bed alone, then with him, wondering if she’d blush and be embarrassed or turned on like he was. And it was all ridiculous because he didn’t know her, she was just a voice on the end of the line, not even a name… So her age was right, so she had a sexy voice, so she had an infectious giggle, and a quick mind. So he’d always been attracted to smart women with dirty mouths. So what. None of it mattered when she wouldn’t even share her name let alone any other personal information.
“The old. We’re around the same age,” he said, shutting down his urge to say more, to be cliché as fuck and ask what she was wearing.
“Around? That’s a little vague don’t you think?”
She was still teasing and flirting while he was recognizing how fucked up the whole thing was. She didn’t know him any more than he knew her and with her self professed bad date she’d already shown bad judgement in men. For all she knew he was as bad as the date and the fact that she was flirting with him anyway annoyed him.
“Yeah honey,” I guess it is he snapped. “What can I say, I like to keep them guessing.”
“Them?” she echoed, still teasing. “You have them lining up do you?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe,” he shot back. “You want a play by play of the last time-”
Her laugh cut him off but she’d realized something had changed as it was full of nerves. “No that’s… um, okay?”
“Whatever,” he said dismissively, wondering just how rude he was going to have to get before she hung up.
“Yeah um, I should go?”
He hated the hesitation in her voice, hated that the giggling and flirting had stopped. But it was for the best.
“Probably a good idea. I know I said I have the day off but I still have… things to do.” He cringed as he put as much innuendo as possible into his voice.
“There’s that subtlety you’re so good at Kelly.” Her voice dripped sarcasm. “You enjoy your things, sorry I disturbed you.”
She ended the call before he could respond, not that he’d had anything to say. With a low curse he shoved the phone under the pillow on the other side of the bed and rolled to his back to try to sleep. “I’m sorry,” he told the ceiling since there was no one else to hear. “Really fucking sorry.”