Category Archives: Kerri

Kerri Fiction: Needs Salt

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I keep thinking I’m done writing flash featuring the extended cast of the Trevolution, but then something like this comes out.

It was a joke. It was supposed to be an easy joke, the kind that didn’t backfire and embarrass the mastermind. But a joke. Nothing more.

The idea of stealing the other school’s mascot had been done to death back in the 1950s. Back in the days when the school mascot was an actual animal and not a fuzzy suit worn by the guy who thought being a cheerleader was the best way to get girls. Besides, they’d have to pay for any destruction done to the mascot, and making amends like that wasn’t Kerri’s style.

Kerri didn’t know how her planning had overlooked him. She had grabbed her usual accomplices, and even snared the head lunch lady into helping out. Soon, the entire cafeteria staff was involved. They should have thought to work together to make sure this didn’t happen.

The plan was simple: take the day’s allotment of mashed potatoes and, once they were cooked or stirred or whatever the lunch ladies did to make them that perfectly paste-textured mess, Deke would turn it into a sculpture of the rival school’s mascot. He was always bragging he was a better artist than Kerri. This would be his chance to show the entire school. Until their classmates got set loose.

Deke didn’t know it, but those individually-wrapped pats of butter, set on cardboard and with the wax paper over top, were in position to be fired at the sculpture rather than the ceiling. Total destruction.

Deke might not have forgiven her, but at least the matter would be settled. No matter how bad the entire high school hated the Vikings, they’d never fire the butter pats at a sculpture Kerri had made.

It should have been perfect. It started out that way. The lunch ladies cooked. Deke sculpted. Kerri snuck out of class on a bathroom pass and gave it a thumbs up, especially when she stuck a finger in the butter pats and found them the exact right temperature for sticking to what they were thrown at.

And then Fat Douglas walked into the cafeteria.

Kerri got lucky; she was there to see it. To stare in horror as Fat Douglas—who’d earned his name because he ate so much, by rights, he ought to be the fattest person on the planet—took a spoon and dug in.

He started with the Viking’s right horn.

Three spoonfuls in, Deke finally noticed him. “That’s art, you motherfucking loser!” He launched himself at Fat Douglas, who was the skinniest kid in the school, except for maybe Amy the gymnast, who was determined to not-eat herself to death.

Fat Douglas’s spoon went flying. So did Deke and Fatty, right under the table nearest the stage. A dull thud told Kerri they’d just rolled into the edge of the stage.

From her vantage point, it looked like Deke and Fat Douglas both gave as good as they were getting. That surprised Kerri; she hadn’t expected either of them to have the first clue how to throw a punch.

The bell rang, and students entered the cafeteria. People paused when they saw the statue. They cheered when they saw Kerri—and then they ran over to Deke and Fat Douglas and egged them on.

Kerri wasn’t sure how long it went on or who ran for the principal, but he waded in and broke up the fight.

“You’re coming, too, Broadhurst,” he said as he escorted Deke and Fat Douglas out of the cafeteria to a very loud Bronx cheer. “Don’t think I don’t know any better.”

Kerri shrugged and followed them to the principal’s office. It wasn’t the first time she’d been summoned.

The principal sat Fat Douglas and Deke in opposite corners, then pulled out a chair for Kerri. He set it perfectly in the middle of the two boys—and directly across from his seat. Which he sat in and pulled up more closely to his desk. Leaning his forearms on the top surface, he leaned forward and fixed Kerri with a glare.

“I have one question,” he said in a deadly voice.

Kerri licked her lips, not sure where this was going.

The principal turned to Fat Douglas. Out of the corner of her eye, Kerri watched the color drain out of the kid’s face. She almost fell sorry for him. Almost. Taking a bite out of Deke’s sculpture hadn’t been particularly smart.

“How’d it taste?”

Fat Douglas broke into a smile, even though the look on the principal’s face was enough to melt the mashed potato sculpture. “It needed salt.”

This was a Three Word Wednesday post. Be sure to stop in and see what other cool stuff was created this week.

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Kerri’s Diary: Overstock

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Thanks to everyone who turned out and picked up copies of King Trevor yesterday, on its release day! Here’s more from Kerri’s diary, a loose-tie in. If you haven’t joined the Trevolution yet, now’s the time!

Mitchell and Daniel took off together for lunch. Mitchell said I could come, even though they’d be talking business. I had nothing better to do, so I tagged along.

It was fascinating stuff.

The jist is that they’d ordered two different new t-shirt designs to debut on this leg of the tour. One was my first drawing of Cool Dude. Trevor’s gotten some comments from people about it, and it was featured in that guitar gods interview they did with me and Trev. Mitchell had to bully JR into letting us put that shirt out. JR had been convinced that despite the magazine, no one would want a cartoon. It went against the ShapeShifter image, he’d said.

To me, that’s why Cool Dude is cool.

Still, I kept my mouth shut while they talked about this. The whole band had thought they were onto something. They fought JR and finally Mitchell threatened to fire him if JR didn’t make those t-shirts available. “It’s not like we fucking have to pay the artist a royalty!” he’d screamed.

I’d asked him why not, but he’d given me one of those looks, and I let it drop. You’d think that after doing the design for Behold Me, I’d have known better this time around. Guess not.

Needless to say, the band was right. The Cool Dude t-shirt has been selling like mad. In fact, Daniel and Mitchell looked at each other, then at me, then at each other again. I get what pregnant silence means now.

“Maybe,” I said. “But you’ll have to pay more.”

Mitchell snorted, then growled.

“Stick it,” I said. “Maybe I’ll use the royalties to fund a scholarship at Riverview Art.”

I think that idea satisfied him. I mean, the band’s doing well enough that so are we.

The other t-shirt, though… that’s the problem. It was supposed to be one of those basic wardrobe staples that no one can live without. The ShapeShifter logo at the top, and the most recent promo shot underneath. It was JR’s pet. He was convinced it’d be the band’s newest top-seller.

Can you say overstock?

Yeah. Me, too.

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Kerri’s Diary: The Sneeze

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With less than a week to go until the debut of King Trevor, here’s another snippet from Kerri’s Diary. This project is a side piece to the current books in print that are part of the Trevolution. This post, inspired in part by real life, incorporates this week’s Three Word Wednesday prompt words.

You know those romantic images of the woman who always sleeps in her lover’s arms? Mitchell and I sleep like that. I’ll admit it. Scary thing is that it’s hard to get to sleep if I’m not using him as a pillow.

Don’t buy the hype about how it’s nothing but great. Neither of us moves much when we sleep, so sometimes, we’ll wake up and find we’ve gone stiff during the night – especially Mitchell, especially the night after a show. These early shows have been the hardest on him. Sometimes, one or the other of us will have an arm or a leg – or shoulder, or whatever – go numb.

The worst happened this morning. I can’t even tell you how it started because I was asleep, but I guess I sneezed.

And, of course, when you’re using a man’s body for your pillow and you sneeze while you’re asleep…

Well, his growls were what woke me. Even then, I was groggy. I’m not trying to justify it, so bear with me. I wasn’t sure what had happened, and I wasn’t even entirely certain I had sneezed in real life even though I’d sneezed in the dream I’d been having.

I moved my hand over his chest and … it was all wet. Not the sweaty kid of wet, either. This was… different.

“What happened?” I asked him.

“You sneezed,” he said. It came out mostly as a growl.

I couldn’t help it. I started to laugh. “You mean I sneezed on you?”

He got out of bed. It was obvious this was funnier to me than it was to him.

I rolled onto my back and laughed some more. He stayed in the bathroom until I stopped giggling, but as soon as he came out and I saw him, I started again. I couldn’t help it. In a way, this was worse than any of those other random body functions that happen while making love.

“Payback’s a bitch, Ker,” he finally said and got back into bed. He made it clear I wasn’t allowed back on his shoulder, and when I rolled onto my side, he fit himself against me.

And that’s when I realized: I had my back to him. And his face.

And paybacks are, indeed, bitches.

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Kerri’s Diary: Warmer Clothes

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Okay, so it’s March, not July, when I’m posting this, but the weather here makes this a fitting piece. Less than two weeks until the release of King Trevor — are you ready??

Mitchell called last night and asked me to bring some warmer clothes for him when I come back out on the road. He said he’s already stolen a sweatshirt from his own merch, but it’s not enough. He needs a coat or something.

I don’t get it. It’s the summer, for crying out loud. July. And the band is in the States, where it doesn’t exactly get cold enough to be coat weather. At least, it usually doesn’t do that in July.

You don’t argue with Mitchell when he gets in these moods, though. You shut up and dig through the coat closet and find something that’s not as heavy as his ShapeShifter jacket, but is still warmer than the denim he’s got with him. Maybe even warmer than the warm-up jacket I was eyeing, but then my choices are this horrid stadium jacket that had to have been one of those prank presents from Amy or Beth, or this even worse barn jacket.

That’s what makes me think that Mitchell doesn’t need a coat right now. That he’s looking ahead and knowing he’ll need one soon, and that if he whines about being cold in the middle of July, I’ll take pity on him and buy him something nicer than either of these two. Yet why he thinks I won’t come up with something worse is beyond me.

Unless he’s planning that if I do, he’ll just make me wear it. Me, who wants nothing more than a heavy leather ShapeShifter jacket like the one in the closet. The one I’m half-tempted to take out and sleep with. I mean, it reeks of him. I may be home for only a week but damn, I miss him.

Maybe I’ll wait on the whole coat thing and drag him out shopping on a day off once I’ve gotten back out there. That way, any ugly thing he winds up with will be his own doing.

But I’ll pack him an extra pair of sweatpants, just in case he really is cold. Maybe another sweatshirt, too. A heavier one. Just in case…

Be sure to check out the other FridayFlash folk and see what they are creating… It’s always fun to sample the depth of experience on the Net…

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Kerri’s Diary: First Show

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This week’s Three Word Wednesday and #FridayFlash combines with my new Kerri’s Diary series. This piece, obviously, is set during Trevor’s Song. As we get closer to the release of King Trevor, the newest book in the Trevolution, you’ll be reading more snippets from Kerri’s Diary. Hope you’ll join me for the ride — and pick up the books, while you’re at it.

After all these months, it finally happened.

I got to see ShapeShifter play live. A real, live concert. Not a practice, not a warm-up show in a mostly-empty arena. A concert.

Mitchell was right. I didn’t get it until I experienced it.

Amateur that I was, Eric told me I had to go down into the crowd and watch that way. Right down there, at the barrier, he said. He found a member of the local security team to put me in place and stay with me, to make sure I wouldn’t get trampled. I laughed, but it turns out, Eric was right. I needed the guard’s diligent ways; ShapeShifter fans are rough. It’s not that they mosh so much as they almost have this need to get up in the band’s face and touch them and be close to them, especially Mitchell. He’s more than just the guy in front, as he calls himself. He’s electric up there, magnetic. He’s calling people to him, and I doubt he even realizes what he’s doing.

I watched big, beefy guys get hauled over the barrier, red-faced and gasping for breath. Girls who looked like they were about to pass out, who’d immediately burst into tears at where they found themselves. So close to the band and yet being shown the way to someplace that’d only move them farther from their heroes. They’d get yanked free, and there’d be six more people cramming into that space they’d just come out of.

The crush was incredible. And there were only eighteen thousand total fans in the arena. The security guy said he’s been on the road with bands who’ve played in front of fifty or sixty thousand. This, he said, was nothing. When you get numbers like that, the floor’s packed. People can—and sometimes do—get trampled.

I believe him. And … I don’t. It’s just too hard to get your brain around. I’ll admit it here since I can’t admit it anywhere else, but at times, I was scared.

I spent the rest of the night drawing, and yet I couldn’t draw anything. I was too busy watching, taking it all in. This was my first experience with the whole spectacle: the hurry-up-and-wait once you get to the venue, the interviews, the pre-show, the after-show, the fans, the media types, the label people. And the groupies. Oh, yeah. Don’t forget the groupies. They hate me already and half of them don’t even realize the woman standing in the band’s shadows is the wife. They hate the very concept of me. I’ve taken Mitchell from them.

Eric said the thing to do is get to know a few. I’ll know which ones, he promised. Nurture a friendship with them, he said. Let their influence pave the way. I’m betting he’s right.

Mitchell said that after tonight, I can go down into the pit, the area between the stage and the barrier, and watch from there. He said Eric was right: my first time had to be done right.

Then he winked, the horny bastard.

One final plug: if you like serial fiction, be sure to stop in at Alice Audrey’s spot on the Net for us Serialists. Read a few, add your own… it’s all good.

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Kerri’s Diary: Snow in Detroit

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With the release of King Trevor, the follow-up to Trevor’s Song, coming out in less than a month, I decided it was time to share this project I’ve worked on, off and on, over the years. As always, this is tie-in material and has no spoilers to what awaits you in King Trevor.

There’s snow here and even though we’ve seen snow already, there’s something about the snow here that made me stop and think. It doesn’t snow in Riverview, so this is the first time I’ve seen snow since I left Pittsburgh.

I didn’t think I’d missed it, but there’s something about it that looks so right, I can’t get over it.

I wanted to take a short walk in it. Hear it crunch under my feet and feel the cold seep up my body. Remember the stillness, the quiet of a snowfall. I wish there was a way to paint those sensations, but I don’t think you can get it unless you experience it.

Mitchell came with me. It was four in the morning and all I wanted to do was walk across the lawn of the hotel. Who’d have thought a downtown hotel would have grass, but if it’s not grass under the snow, it’s an unshoveled patio and who really cares? The idea is to just be in the snow.

He got cold before we walked long, and we’re both tired. It doesn’t matter; it was enough.

I don’t know if I’m glad it doesn’t snow in Riverview, but I’m glad I live there now. Like Mitchell, I’m not leaving so fast.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Irony?

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Three Word Wednesday and the awesome dudes at Metal Sucks teamed up for this flash featuring ShapeShifter. But… where’s Trevor?

“We’re working with who on this one?” Mitchell asked. He scratched the top of his head, his elbow sticking out at an odd angle. Kerri had to duck under it.

“Jason McNair,” Daniel said, looking over the fax he’d just picked up at the hotel lobby. “He’ll meet us here in the lobby in …” He glanced at his wrist, but Kerri wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t like he ever wore a watch.

Kerri smiled as Daniel looked around the ornate lobby for a clock. A red digital display — terribly out of place with the gold filigree and plush upholstery everywhere else — hung over the front desk. Daniel blinked at it, then checked the fax again. “Ten minutes,” the drummer said.

“Why?” Mitchell asked, sounding pained. “What’s wrong with Adam?”

Daniel shrugged. “JR wanted some new blood. Apparently, this Jason dude has a concept he wants to sell us.” He consulted the fax again as Eric arrived. “We have to behave, JR says,” Daniel continued, acknowledging Eric’s arrival with a shallow nod.

Mitchell began coughing, sounding for all the world like he was choking on something. Kerri understood; telling ShapeShifter to behave was sort of like telling the sun to stop shining. It was also an invitation to create a mob scene.

In short: that sort of instruction never went over well.

Daniel held up the second page of the fax, turning it so Mitchell, Kerri, and Eric could see it. “He’s the one who did this,” he said.
Mitchell’s face turned purple. Kerri, laughing herself, pounded him on the shoulder. Eric frowned and took the picture from Daniel. “We can’t jettison the guy? Get out of here, like, now?”

“Doubt it,” Daniel said. With two fingers, he plucked the page out of Eric’s hands and spent a long minute studying it. Kerri leaned over his shoulder, alternately appalled and amused by it.

The band, who she’d never heard of, was made up of five guys. They stood in a Flying V, the four outside of the vortex looking as typical metal as possible: aloof, disillusioned, angry, ready to kick some ass. All at once.

There was serious irony in the shot, Kerri thought. The straw hat on the dude on the left. The only baldie and the only long-hair standing together.

But that final dude… the one at the back of the V. The one with his back to the camera and his hands held out wide, like they were ready to grab the gun out of the holster on his hip and start shooting, only to reach for the one under his knee when all six shots were gone…

Kerri hoped it was irony the picture was supposed to be conveying.

And God help this Jason guy if he tried to make anyone in ShapeShifter pose like that.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Responsibility

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“So JR was one of those kids who went to a school that had to cut their music program. What’s the big deal?” Kerri asked later that night, once Daniel had taken the manager to his house and the rest of the band had dispersed.

“So this turned into a fucking pet project of his,” Mitchell said. “Something that’s supposed to grow and advance the cause. We’re now supposed to save every last poor kid in the States, just so they don’t wind up like him.” He hung his head and shook it gently.

Kerri knew he was watching the ends of his hair dance. Usually, it amused her. Tonight, she was too baffled by Mitchell’s violent and childish response to react properly.

“Was it supposed to be yours and no one else’s?” she asked carefully. Next, he’d start accusing her of pandering to him, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. But when he got in these moods, anything was possible.

Except violence, thankfully. Unless Trevor showed up, and then it wasn’t violence. Not really.

“It wasn’t supposed to be anything more than fun,” he insisted. “That’s it. Fun. Fun for our fans, fun for us, fun for the crew and the media and everyone. Except fucking JR had to come in and fucking ruin it for us. Move out of All Access and into the Rocket Theater. Party with the fucking drag queens–”

“Watch it.”

He snarled. She stared him down. “If it’s not fun anymore, then don’t do it,” she said.

“It’d be fun if JR would stop fucking trying to grow it! It’s supposed to be small and stupid and silly and what people want to be part of. It’s not supposed to be huge and country-wide and taking on a life of its own.”

Kerri covered her face with her hands.

“What?” Mitchell demanded.

She looked up. “The problem with creating something awesome and amazing is that it does take on a life of its own. You should be flattered.”

“It just wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

Kerri tried not to sigh too audibly. “Well, it is, so you need to deal with it.”

“No,” Mitchell said. He stood up and immediately started shuffling his feet, like he was ready to go out for a run or something.

Except, Kerri had never known Mitchell to run. Not unless he was chasing Trevor, anyway.

“When it starts hitting too close to home, like JR just made it do, the fun disappears. It turns into the same stupid sort of responsibility that the entire fucking band turned into. Every time we turn around, we owe people shit. And now we owe JR ’cause his life would have been so fucking different if he’d only been able to play a fucking instrument.”

“Maybe his lack of musical background is part of what makes him such a good manager,” Kerri said.
Mitchell gave her a sharp glance, like he’d had the same thought and hadn’t been able to justify believing it.

“You’re letting this get to you,” Kerri said. “You’re not responsible for your manager growing up poor.”
“No, now I’m responsible for him being fucking rich.”

“He’s every bit as responsible for you and your success. It goes both ways.”

Mitchell growled. Kerri bit back a smile; he hated it when she sounded like Trevor, pointing out the obvious.

“I’m still not making a benefit song,” he said, sneering the last word.

“Don’t. No matter what connection JR’s got to it, the benefit is still your baby. Besides, what did Daniel and Eric say?”

“No.”

“There you go. What are you so stressed about?”

Mitchell turned his back on Kerri and mumbled something that sounded like I feel responsible now.

She didn’t doubt that he did.

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Kerri and Mitchell Fiction: Couches

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“I think,” Mitchell said, “we should go over to the Rocket early, so I can catch a nap in the production office before the show this year.”

Kerri eyed him. “Don’t you remember? There’s no couch in the production office at the Rocket Theater. It’s not big enough.”

“But I play better when I get a nap in the production office before the show.”

“I know,” Kerri said, wondering where this fit of diva behavior had come from. Even for Mitchell, it was an abrupt shift in attitude. “It’s also a month away.”

“They’ve got time to put a couch in there,” Mitchell said.

Kerri gaped at him. Of all the stupid things… “M,” she said slowly, trying to keep cool, no matter how tempting it was to smack some sense into him, even if she had to do it verbally, “if they put a couch in there, half of it will stick into the hallway, and that’s after they move the desk out. Really. The production office at the Rocket is an old coat closet. I can guarantee you Penis and Chrome don’t fit in there at the same time.”

Mitchell snickered. Kerri rolled her eyes. The whole world spent hours trying to figure out what sort of relationship Penis and Chrome had. Both were, apparently, hetero. But there was something more between them, something about the idea of the two of them stuffed into that small production office…

“I don’t even think they use it as an office,” she continued. “I think it’s just a place to store old paperwork.”

Mitchell set his guitar down — the bright yellow one tonight, with the black piping around the edges that made it look like a deformed, demented bumblebee — and got up. He started pacing around the TV room.

“Why are you so tied in knots about it this year? It’s got to be old hat by now.”

“That’s the problem,” he said. “You get to the point where you get lazy. Or Trevor figures out how to sneak one in. Or something else goes wrong and you’re so stuck on autopilot, you can’t react in time.”

“And a routine nap before the show will…”

He grimaced and ran a hand through the top of his hair, pulling it away so Kerri could see his ears. He was wearing the graduated diamond studs she and his sister Amy had bought him; the diamonds glittered in the low light, pinpricks of light marching up his earlobe.

“Fuck you, Ker,” he said.

She smiled. “That’s not routine yet, either?”

He returned the smile, locking eyes with her. “I don’t think that’s possible, babe.

“You know,” Mitchell said, breaking their gaze and making it obvious he was contemplating the couch. “There’s a couch here. I could nap on it before the show.”

“Do other things on it, too.”

His grin was as wolfish as Trevor’s ever were.

So much for routine, Kerri thought.

Some Musical Hanukkah Fun for you. And the usual reminder — up to 50% of my royalties in November and December are being donated to charity. Buy my books! Or while you’re checking out the contest page, make a direct donation and be entered to win a book NOT written by me.

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Kerri Fiction: Everyone Wants to be a Rock Star

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This negotiation shouldn’t have had to happen, Kerri thought, crossing her arms over her chest and giving the bodyguard her best sulky look. She was the client. He was supposed to be serving her, not dictating where she could and couldn’t ride her bike.

Hell, it wasn’t even a negotiation. Just a body guard laying down the law.

“No one wants you to turn up dead,” Gene said. He slumped in his chair and unbuttoned the cargo pocket on his pantleg, pulling out what looked like a random romance novel. Kerri knew better. There was nothing random about Gene’s romances.

Clearly, she realized as he curled the cover back and started reading, the conversation had ended. Somehow, she’d lost. No more riding her bike all over town, at least not without Gene. Maybe, she thought, Tony would hire someone new to be her bodyguard. Someone who rode bikes.

Gene was kind, almost doting, when he brought her to Fit Riverview and showed her how to set up a spin bike. He made a point of bringing over the instructor as soon as she walked in the room and introducing her to Kerri — who wasn’t surprised when Gene asked her to be low-key about who Kerri really was.

“Not a problem,” she said. She had a brusque way about her that made Kerri think she was annoyed by the request. Then again, this was Fit Riverview. Everyone who was anyone worked out here, including people with bigger names than Kerri Voss.

Hmm, Kerri thought as she stepped up onto the bike and tried to get comfortable. The handlebars were too far away, compared to her bike at home. No brakes, no gears. Just a knob.

At least pedaling was the same.

The class had a neat ebb and flow to it, Kerri thought as she followed along. Hands here, stand there, and pedal, pedal, pedal. The room was dark and the fans maybe sort of moved the quickly-heating air around.

Biking outside was more fun — until the instructor started playing air guitar. A few of the women near the front piped up and volunteered to be backup singers. As they pedaled away, they shimmied their upper bodies, did the hand motions to the old-time Motown song.

“And Gene?” the instructor asked. “Bodyguard duty?”

“You betcha!” he called over the noise of the rap or hip-hop or whatever was just starting. Kerri wasn’t sure she could make it to the end of this song without hurting someone. Gene was on top of her list.

He caught Kerri’s eye. He winked and mimicked an air guitar.

She shook her head, unable to stay angry with him. Everyone wanted to be a rock star — everyone but her and Gene.

They knew better. They were close enough to the real things to know what it was really like. So much more than air guitar and shimmying shoulders.

Kerri envied her classmates their freedom. She closed her eyes and pedaled some more, wishing she could pedal right out of the studio and onto the street.

.
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This was my first stab at Three Word Wednesday. And, of course, is part of the Weekend Writer’s Retreat. All these fun writing sites these days!

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Mitchell and Kerri Fiction: Beer Mugs

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Mitchell didn’t bother opening his eyes when he staggered out of bed. He’d had no intentions of getting up yet, but Kerri wasn’t in bed anymore and since she’d ridden her bike over, it was possible she’d taken off already — without saying goodbye.

Possible, but not probable. More likely, she was as hungover as he was. Maybe worse. He wasn’t looking forward to seeing their trail of empties.

He paused when he stepped on something on the carpet just inside his bedroom. Cracking one eye open as little as possible, he looked down at it. Kerri’s bra.

He tried to grin, but settled for letting the action happen in his head; moving his face hurt too much. She hadn’t left if that was still there. So what the fuck was she doing?

“Hi,” she said when he made it to the couch and flopped down. “Ooh,” she added; he guessed she’d come near enough to get a good look at him. “You’re hurting.”

He grunted.

“I can at least open my eyes,” she said, as if he’d actually spoken.

He smirked but didn’t take the bait. His eyes were staying closed, and that was all there was to that.

“Hungry?” she asked. “Or just thirsty?”

Both, he realized, which was a surprise. Usually, when he felt like this, all he wanted was sleep.

“Here,” she said.

Eyes still shut, he reached up.

And jumped when he realized he wasn’t closing his hand around one of his many plastic convenience store cups, but was grasping the handle of a glass beer mug instead. That got his eyes open. “Where the fuck’d you find this?”

“In the cabinet,” Kerri said, gesturing over her shoulder at his small galley kitchen. “I think Hell froze over and all the plastic’s dirty.”

He took a long drink, ignoring the uncertain look she was giving him. If he hadn’t wanted her to find the collection, he’d have thrown it away. Probably should have, but it was too late now.

“Am I a spectator sport?” he asked when he’d drained the mug. Damn, it tasted better out of a glass mug instead of a plastic cup.

“Why does that look like one of the mugs that All Access uses?”

“A bunch of places use these,” he said, staring wistfully at the now-empty mug.

She held out her hand for it. “Doesn’t matter how hard you wish, it won’t refill itself.”

Sheepishly, he handed it over. She’d make him pay up later for all this waiting on him, but it’d be worth it. She was a creative debt collector, which made him a willing debtor. Even when he was hungover.

Kerri brought two mugs back with her, handing his over and folding hers in two hands like it was coffee.

“So tell me,” she said, sitting down, that leg tucked under her again. “How is it that you’ve got thirteen more of these, eight of another kind, and an odd assortment of others?”

He tried to shrug.

“They just followed you home?” She raised both eyebrows; her sign that she knew the truth. As always. He bought time with another mouthful of juice, but she kept waiting.

“Sometimes,” he said, “you’re talking, you drift out from the bar to the bus and you don’t realize it’s in your hand until you’re a hundred miles down the road.”

“Security doesn’t stop you?”

“I think they’re supposed to, when we go through the stage doors, but some of those guys they hire, they’re too afraid to say hello to the band. Girls, yeah. But not the band.”

Kerri nodded thoughtfully. “And the plates? You can’t tell me those just find their way into your hands.”

“Trev,” he said. Like she’d needed to ask?

“And you’re totally innocent in this thievery?”

“About the dirty plates that show up in my bag and ruin my stuff? Yeah. I wouldn’t put dirty plates in my own bag.”

“Do dirty plates ever show up in his bag?” The corners of her mouth were twitching. He wanted to tell her she was a bitch for making him come clean like this. Really, it was no big deal.

“Course.” Big deal or no, he could feel his own mouth twitching along with hers. He smiled, pleased it wasn’t so painful this time. “The best was the fork down his boot. Took him two days to step on it. Or maybe the spoon in the inside pocket of his leather jacket, although the day he woke up and we’d shoved two mugs on his feet while he slept was pretty good. Almost had to break them to get them off, which sort of defeated the purpose.”

“Why is this suddenly about the things Trevor’s discovered?”

“Believe me, it’s a lot more fun to give than to receive.”

She cocked her head and thought. Mitchell held his breath, waiting for her to hand down judgment.

All she did was lick her lips. “Can’t wait until you teach me the tricks.”

If he hadn’t been so hungover, Mitchell would have thrown his head back and laughed. He’d found himself one hell of a woman, all right. She’d do just fine when the band hit the road.

While this was picked to fulfill this week’s Sunday Scribblings prompt, if you’d like to learn more about why I thought this fit the subject at hand, you might want to head over to my RedRoom blog, where I wax poetic about things.

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Mitchell and Kerri fiction: The Art Book (Trevor’s Song Era)

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“Here,” Mitchell said, handing her the package. “I bought you something.”

“What is it?”

“Look.” When Kerri squinted at the mailing label, he said, “Inside.”

“It’s not an envelope?”

“Not even close.” He nodded at it.

She turned it on its end and found the pull tab on the padded envelope. “You’re sure?” she asked him, raising her eyebrows. She looked so alive right then, so vibrant, he thought about swooping her up and throwing her in their bed.

“Go on,” he made himself say. “Look inside.”

She gasped when she saw it. With reverence, she pulled it out of the envelope, letting the mailer fall on the floor while she put it carefully down on her lap and stroked it. “How did you know?”

He shrugged. “I saw you looking at it one night. In that catalog you like.”

“I thought you were sleeping.”

He shrugged again. “Guess it’s a good thing you thought so.”

She stroked the book cover, then lifted it slowly, listening to the cover groan. He smiled. He hadn’t believed it was merely a stupid book on art technique when he’d seen the glow in her eyes every time she’d looked at the catalog, and he didn’t believe that it was merely a stupid book now, either.

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Kerri Fiction: Backstage in Pittsburgh (Trevor’s Song Era)

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She’d only cancelled her trip home because Trevor had taunted her into staying on the road with them. So far, it had been okay. The city had lost its magical hold on her; she felt like a stranger and the city felt like any other they’d been to. Nothing special anymore. Even the memories were getting foggy, drowned out by the vividness that was life in Riverview.

Only as she’d stood in Primanti’s and watched them make sandwiches for Mitchell and Trevor had she felt like she’d never left. It had been a temporary feeling; as she’d reached out to pay the woman in the greasy white apron and gotten a glimpse of her black leather tour jacket, she’d remembered why she was here, and, more importantly, who she’d become.

That didn’t mean that standing in the bowels of the Igloo, watching from the fringes as the band met with their fans, was a comfortable thing. Any one of those people could be someone Kerri knew, someone she’d grown up with. Someone like Emily van … van… van Something. Who was shimmying in front of Mitchell as she eyed his crotch between head tosses, still the School’s Top Slut eight years later.

It was all Kerri could do to stand there, watching Emily draw an index finger down the middle of her bottom lip while giving Mitchell a come-hither look. Drawing attention to herself would cause more problems than it could solve, and Mitchell was doing fine on his own. But that didn’t mean it was easy to stay in the shadows, a faceless member of the band’s crew.

Kerri watched as Emily drew the strap of her tank top aside, pumping her shoulder a few times like a model in front of the camera. It was probably habit, Kerri thought. She’d seen pictures of Emily back in high school, the illicit ones the guys had taken during drunken and drug-fueled nights, with Emily as the belle of the ball. Hell, Kerri had seen more of Emily than Mitchell ever would; what was she getting upset about?

Mitchell moved on, to a kid who looked to be about eighteen. A guy whose eyes had boggled at each of Emily’s antics and who now wasn’t sure who he should be talking to, Emily or Mitchell.

Kerri watched Emily as Mitchell dismissed her entirely. She pouted and leaned back against the wall, throwing the occasional dirty look at Mitchell. Kerri wondered what the woman would say if she knew just who it was who Mitchell had married. They hadn’t been friends in high school; they’d had to tolerate each other due to the fact of simple proximity. Kerri had been the cool chick, the one who’d fit in. Emily had fucked her way to acceptance.

As she watched Daniel come near enough to make Emily perk back up, Kerri decided that it was probably a good thing those ties she’d felt to the city were gone. While she doubted she’d have wound up like Emily if she’d stayed, the simple fact was that some ties were harder to break. She and Emily would have seen each other around town, would have still shared some friends, spent some Sunday afternoons at the same house, rooting on the Steelers. Their orbits would have overlapped and Kerri would never had escaped. She’d have turned into those people she’d hated most.

Leaving had been the right thing, even if the way she’d done it maybe hadn’t been. Letting the lies spread about what had happened the night before she’d married Mitchell had been a blessing in disguise.

Standing in the shadows, being a nameless, faceless member of the ShapeShifter crew was a hell of a lot better than anything she would have become if she’d stayed in town.

She hoped Trevor would teach Emily van Whatever a thing or two. And that Emily wouldn’t teach him about something he’d need antibiotics to cure.

This week’s Sunday Scribblings inspired this, as did the woman on the spin bike beside me last Friday. She’d toss her hair and pose for the mirror; it was an experience, watching her.

If you weren’t here over the weekend, you’ll want to scroll down or click through; you missed some Roadie Poet!

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Fiction Outtake: Rusty’s Place (Trevor’s Song Era)

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So this was it, Trevor thought as he followed Mitchell off the elevator and down the narrow, dark hallway. This was the other love shack, the one Mitchell bonked Rusty in when he wasn’t doing her in his own place. Trevor wasn’t so sure he wanted to go in. Hell, he wasn’t sure why Mitchell wanted in Rusty, but the big idiot had never been the smartest thing around when it came to girls.

At least the door to Rusty’s place was cool: floor to ceiling and on these rollers that made a great noise when Mitchell pulled it open. It looked old and industrial and was almost as interesting as his place.

The first thing Trevor noticed was the space. Huge. Empty. A few ugly couches, a few lights set around them like he’d seen at photo shoots the band had been on. And a drafting desk, white, facing the couches.

A couple of mismatched throw rugs on the floor. Rusty’s bike by the door, and hooks for keys and shit. Not hooks, he realized as he looked closer. Carabiners. They made stealing her keys pretty fucking hard, the way they were rigged, there. It was almost a good idea.

Behind the drafting desk, he saw a couple of stools, one of which held Her Rustiness. Her shadow fell behind her on one of those screens for privacy that had some soothing nature scene painted on it. That must be her living space back there, but damn if Trevor could see any of it. Damn if Trevor wanted to see it.

He hated to admit it, but the whole place added up to some sort of artsy style. A little too serious to be a student’s digs but at the same time it was obvious she wasn’t on easy street. If this wasn’t Rusty’s place, he might even have been able to respect the person who lived here.

“Hey, you’re here,” she said from behind that drafting desk. She lifted her head and pierced him with those damn eyes of hers. Trevor still didn’t understand how Mitchell had found a girl who had the famous Voss eyes.

“Yep,” Mitchell said, crossing the couch area and going over to Rusty. He put his hands on her waist and kissed her like he was trying to crawl down her throat. All of him, not just his tongue.

Trevor looked around, wondering where the bathroom was. Just in case bad judgment got the better of him and he decided not to yak on her floor. Watching her clean up that mess would be sublime — assuming Mitchell didn’t make him do it himself, which the idiot would probably do. After all, Rusty might get her precious self dirty or something.

He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. It hadn’t hit him; it couldn’t be Mitchell. That meant…

He jumped again, away from Rusty this time. He gave her a quick once-over: paint-covered sweatpants that used to be grey and a sorta snug but not tight t-shirt. He couldn’t deny she had a good shape. Even worse, the paint streaks brought that out.

That she was barefoot didn’t surprise him. Mitchell would have to fall for someone who hated clothes as much as he did. It was that simple, until you got to the eyes. That was just fucking freaky.

“Hi, Trev,” she said like he hadn’t just handed out this insult by getting away from her touch. Sometimes, he thought she was clueless, but then he looked in those eyes and knew better. The Queen of Polite, that’s what he ought to call her. Maybe he would — except Rusty fit so much better. And it pissed her off.

Trevor realized he had no cranky comeback for her. Nothing about the lack of walls helping make sure she didn’t get lost. Nothing about the high ceilings or those couches. Nothing.

Mitchell growled and stuck an elbow in his ribs. Trevor glared at him and reached for his cigarettes.

“Let’s get rolling,” Mitchell said.

“I need to change,” Rusty said. She vanished behind the stupid screen.

“You can’t change enough,” Trevor told her and placed an unlit cigarette in its usual place at the corner of his mouth.

“How did I know you’d say that?” she asked. It was weird, talking to her like this. He couldn’t see her but nothing was muffling her voice. It was like talking to someone who was invisible. Then again, life would be better if she wasn’t there at all.

“Maybe you’re a fucking clairvoyant or something.”

“Maybe I’m just smart,” she said, coming around the screen all dressed in jeans and another t-shirt, this one without paint on it. “We ready?” She held her arm out. Mitchell grabbed it and wound it around his waist.

Trevor tried not to gag. “I’m readier than you’ll ever know,” he said.
“Good thing,” she said as Mitchell took a swipe at the back of Trevor’s head. It wasn’t hard; just enough to remind him to watch himself. Like he’d do anything else here in Rusty’s lair. If she’d used it to snag Mitchell, there was no telling what she’d do to him.

So you’ve met Trevor, Mitchell, and Kerri over the past week. Now you get to see them in action, as part of the Sunday Scribblings prompt.

I don’t know about this one. For those of you who’re regulars, I’m going to drive you NUTS when I say this: it feels like it belongs right inside of Trevor’s Song. Sorry, but it’s true.

Stay tuned for news on how to help get that book into your hands. There’s a lot brewing behind the scenes here. And yes, you’ll like it all.

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Fast Facts: Kerri Voss

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In my fictional world, there are lots of triangles. One of them will only be seen when you finally get to read Trevor’s Song.

One of the other triangles involves Trevor, Mitchell, and Mitchell’s wife, Kerri. You’ve already met the boys here and here. So now it’s time for the girl.

1. Kerri Voss left her hometown of Pittsburgh because she’d been accepted at the very picky Riverview Art Academy. Kerri was going to be an artist.

2. Although Kerri liked to turn her radio to KRVR when she worked, she couldn’t have identified a single member of ShapeShifter even after the day she noticed the hot blonde in a leather biker jacket looking over the tomatoes in her favorite grocery store. And even then, it took a few weeks — and a driver’s license — before she realized the hot blonde wasn’t a struggling musician like he’d initially led her to believe.

3. Even though ShapeShifter fans are introduced to Mitchell’s wife in a variety of ways (she’ll play tech during his shows and help him switch guitars, and bands always need artwork, don’t they? T-shirts, album covers, website design…), Kerri won’t talk about her pre-Mitchell life, except to say she went to Riverview Art. Anything before that strangely doesn’t exist.

4. Trevor’s nicknamed her Rusty. Gotta read Trevor’s Song to find out why. But in typical Trevor fashion, there’s more than one easy reason.

5. The physical: she’s about five-nine, which plays nicely with Mitchell’s six-one. She’s got a willowy, dancer build although she was too busy pulling pranks to do something as serious as dance. And she’s got that deep red hair that fades to brown with age — unless it’s, as Trevor suspects, enhanced. Or is it?

Although Kerri doesn’t have a huge role in this outtake, it’s still one of my favorites. And it’ll show you a bit of this triangle in action.

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Fiction Outtake: Bored on the Bus (Trevor’s Song Era)

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They’d been on the bus for what felt like weeks. So long that they were way overdue for a day off inside of an actual hotel room — and every single member of ShapeShifter was grossed out by the thought of how excited they were about something as sterile and isolated as a hotel room. But at this point, with only the bus or the inside of the venue to look at, a hotel seemed like the ultimate luxury.

During these stretches, it wasn’t unusual for no one to talk. No one had anything to say, really. Not when you were spending exactly every waking minute with each other. Not when you’d done this dance for years.

Mitchell didn’t even have much to say to Kerri, which was pretty pathetic considering they were still newlyweds. She didn’t seem to care, except that she was as bored as the rest of them. So bored that she had squished herself on the couch beside him, her chin on his upraised knee. Instead of drawing, she was playing idly with the hair on his leg. He knew she wouldn’t be doing it if he’d put his jeans back on, but when all you were doing was sitting on a bus, why bother with pants?

He could only take so much of Kerri’s petting and stroking. It wasn’t hot, it wasn’t comforting. It was just damn annoying.

He lifted his leg and straightened it, moving gently so he didn’t startle her onto the floor or hurt her. “Woman,” he growled, “my leg is not a guitar. If you want to strum something, go find one.”

With a shrug, Kerri stood up.

“What are you doing?” He knew he flailed as he sat up, but he didn’t care. She’d been supposed to stop petting him, not do … whatever.

“Getting a guitar,” she said carelessly, and disappeared into the bunks.

Eric and Daniel chuckled as Mitchell groaned, but Trevor nodded. “That’ll teach your dumb ass,” the bass player said and lit a cigarette. “You know she can’t resist a challenge. Even an easy one like that.”

“At least it’ll give us something to do,” Daniel said as Kerri came back carrying Mabel.

She sat down at the other end of Trevor’s couch, facing Mitchell, and put the guitar properly on her right leg. Then she shook out her hair and straightened her back, looking to the table at Eric. Mitchell noticed how pointedly she ignored him. He tried to keep his latest groan inaudible; it would only egg her on.

“So. What do I do now?” she asked Eric, a too-bright smile plastered to her face.

Mitchell wanted to cover his own face with his hands. Anything to keep from watching this. But he couldn’t look away.

“You need a pick,” Eric said.

Kerri handed the guitar to Trevor, who took it with a sneer. She stood up, watching Mitchell as if she expected him to do something.

“What?” he asked as she stared down at him. Fuck, but he hated it when she smiled like that. All smug and full of herself — and about to make him the butt of some joke, he was sure. Anyone with a shred of common sense would get up and leave before it happened, but he was stuck there, both by his own inertia and some sick need to be present.

Kerri bent down so she could reach across him, making sure she brushed her breast against his face. She dug in the change pocket of his jeans.

He refused to so much as breathe until she came up with one of the eight million or so picks they’d had made for this tour. He told himself not to panic; he still had two others in there. And maybe she’d give it back. Or, even better, make him come looking for it.

She smirked at him as she reseated herself and took Mabel back from Trevor.

“Okay,” she said to Eric, “now what?”

Trevor leaned forward as Eric motioned Mitchell out of the way so he could sit across from Kerri and give her instructions. She made a show of not knowing how to hold the pick or how to use it.

Her performance set Mitchell’s teeth on edge. And that was before she struck a note.

“What about my face?” she asked when Eric told her she was ready to move on to the next step.

“What about it?” Eric asked.

“Not even Asshole there can play guitar with his face,” Trevor said, jerking his chin at Mitchell, who growled. Kerri didn’t need to know about the time he’d tried. Hell, Mitchell wasn’t sure Trevor knew about it.

Kerri took a deep, exaggerated breath. “I know that,” she said. “But to watch the three of you, in order to play guitar, you also have to make faces. Like this,” she said, puckering up like she’d eaten a lemon. “Or this,” she said, opening her mouth and widening her eyes.

Daniel laughed.

“Oh, you’re not much better, you know,” Kerri said, pointing the pick at him. She stuck her tongue into her cheek and, again, let her jaw drop open.

Mitchell bit back a smile, but Eric didn’t bother hiding it. Her faces were poor imitations of theirs, but they got the point across. Daniel pretended he didn’t care, and Trevor was pretending he wasn’t paying attention, even though his eyes flicked back and forth. He was, like always, too full of himself to give in and have a good time, especially because it was Kerri at the root of it all. Trevor couldn’t stand it when she pulled shit like this — because he wanted to be the one at the center of it.

“You know what’s going to happen now?” Daniel asked, picking up Eric’s cigarettes and fiddling with the pack. “We’re going to get on stage tonight and obsess about our faces.”

That was entirely too true.

Mitchell told himself he shouldn’t care. Guitar players were supposed to make faces; the girls in the crowd ate it up. The guys thought it was the path to coolness — and a lot of them practiced their faces more than they did their guitars even though the more you played, the more natural the faces turned. It was all part of rock and roll.

Besides, he told himself as Kerri tried to stand up, only to discover the hard way that guitars had straps for a specific reason, if this got inside his head too bad, he’d divorce the wench.

But in the meantime, at least he wasn’t bored.

Has it been too long since we’ve had an outtake just for the fun or it, or WHAT?

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Fiction Outtake: Hands (Trevor’s Song Era)

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A bit of scene-setting here: This outtake takes place during the early chapters of Trevor’s Song. It’s not essential to the story, so you won’t find a hint of it there. This is strictly backstory. Yet when you finally get to close the back cover (and scream in frustration at me over the ending), and you come back to this outtake, it’ll all click. I promise.

It was stupid, she knew, but when Mitchell reached for her hands, Kerri pulled them away and tried to stuff them somewhere he couldn’t find them. Unfortunately, other than her pockets and behind her back, any place her hands went, the rest of her had to follow.

“C’mon,” he said and tried again. “They’re supposed to be paint-covered, Ker. It’s what you do.”

Reluctantly, she let him take her hands, both of them, in his. Palm up, he started to raise the left to his mouth.

He stopped an inch away.

“I know,” Kerri sighed. “Turpentine, paint… It’s not the world’s biggest turn-on.”

Mitchell stroked her palm with his nose.

“A woman’s hands are supposed to be soft,” she said. “Pampered. Or else calloused from all the hard, honest work she does to keep her family afloat. Not…”

“Not?” he asked, his lips barely touching that same palm.

She turned her face up toward the ceiling and let herself drown in the sensation.

He didn’t linger long. “You know,” he said, slowly easing her hand, still in his, back to her side. Every bit as slowly, he pulled both hands from hers.

She shivered, feeling suddenly alone. Cold.

“Mine aren’t much better.” He picked up her right hand and tapped the back of it with the fingertips of his left. “A guy’s not supposed to be like this.” He turned his hand over, claw-like, fingertips exposed. “Shit, Ker, I’ve got fucking string marks in ’em. On top of callouses a mile deep.”

She smiled, not needing to see them. “What a pair we are.” Taking his right hand, she massaged it gently at the third knuckle.

He closed his eyes, his breath coming hard. “Ker…”

“No,” she said, not sure why or what it meant.

His free hand caught hers. As she massaged, he nibbled her fingertips.

And she knew he’d meant it. He loved her, paint and all.

Did you get to visit with Trevor over the weekend? Scroll down if you missed him! And remember, clicking on the link in the characters’ names will take you to their bio pages — and a list of links to more outtakes featuring them. Have fun!

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Fiction Outtake: Breakfast (Trevor’s Song Era)

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Warning: today’s outtake was brought to us by the letter B and involves abuse of clothing. And ShapeShifter’s Mitchell Voss — but that’s not new..

It wasn’t unusual for the bus to pull up to the hotel, for Charlie to go inside and get everyone’s room keys, and then wake the band up and send them to their rooms to finish their night’s rest. Usually, it was hard to get to sleep in a bed that wasn’t rolling down some freeway. After all, they’d spent how many hours in a bed that’d been doing exactly that?

Trevor liked to break up the time between bus and bed with a third — better — word that started with the letter B: breakfast. Especially now that they were staying in places that would lay out these huge buffets and clear the plates while he went fucking nuts and crammed as much down his gullet as he could. Sleeping on a gut full of free food was paradise. Even your dreams were better when your belly was stuffed. And Trevor Wolff had good dreams in the first place.

Sure enough, this place had the free breakfast thing going. “One hour left,” Charlie told him in that solemn, Charlie way.

Problem was, he didn’t want to go alone. Eating by yourself was … stupid. So Trevor stretched, lit a cigarette, and waited for the daily soap opera that was better known as Waking Mitchell.

At last, the big idiot came out from the bunks, yawning, stretching, and scratching his chest. He wasn’t fully awake yet, which was a good thing, as far as Trevor was concerned. Conversation would be kept to a minimum, which meant they’d be able to eat more food in less time. Time which was ticking away; less than an hour before the free buffet ended.

“Gimme the room key,” Mitchell mumbled, holding out a hand, his eyes barely open.

Charlie grabbed his hand and shoved it aside. “Put some clothes on.”

Trevor snickered. It’d have been more fun if Charlie hadn’t interfered, but then again, he liked Charlie well enough. Letting Mitchell wander into a hotel in nothing but those gross boxer-things Rusty made him wear would probably mean a new tour manager for ShapeShifter. Not in Trevor’s best interests.

Mitchell shuffled back to the bunks, presumably for some jeans. Maybe even shoes, Trevor thought with a giggle he could barely keep in.

When Mitchell came back, his shirt was slung over his shoulder, his eyes were a little more open, and his jeans were buttoned and zipped, but his shoes weren’t tied. And he had Rusty with him, too.

That was almost enough to make Trevor lose his appetite.

“Hungry?” he asked the lovebirds as innocently as he could.

Mitchell nodded, zombie-like. Rusty just stood there, looking confused, like she usually did. She probably thought he was up to something but really, all he wanted was breakfast. Bagels, bacon, maybe even a banana.

He led the way into the hotel lobby, ignoring the stares. He was used to them: a bunch of long-hairs trekking through a pretty okay joint. It scared the respectable folk. Made them think the world was going bad, that they had to scramble to a hotel higher up the snob rating in order to be safe. Little did they know that ShapeShifter was planning on being right there with them.

Either Charlie had scared the fans away or else the band had shown up at the hotel before they were expected, because while the guests curled their upper lips at them, no one rushed over for an autograph or to just say hello. Sadly, there weren’t any girls who could convince Trevor to skip breakfast. Or better yet, come along as his guest and then help him get properly good and sleepy afterward.

Mitchell didn’t seem to care. “Which way?” he asked, squinting at the signs. Trevor sighed. Next thing you knew, the big idiot would show up with glasses, and how un-rock-and-roll was that?

“Over here,” he said with a sigh, wondering why Rusty didn’t take charge. She usually could be counted on to do that sort of crap. Maybe she was still expecting a prank.

It was almost a shame to disappoint.

Count on Mitchell to come through, though. As they walked into the hotel restaurant, the fine odor of bacon reaching Trevor’s twitching nose, the hostess stopped them. “Umm, sir?” she said, looking up at Mitchell like she knew he could morph into a dragon at any second.

“Problem?” he asked, puffing up his chest and slipping into Rock Star mode.

“When we say that shirts are required in the dining room, we generally mean that they need to be worn, not tossed over your shoulder.”

“Huh?” Mitchell asked as Trevor dissolved into laughter, losing it all the more when he realized that Rusty had been waiting for exactly this. Shit, she was good at setting M up. Better than he was, sad to say.

Rusty was the one who picked up Mitchell’s shirt and held it out. “Don’t gross out the guests before lunch, okay?”

“Why didn’t someone say something?” Mitchell asked. Trevor stared in fascination as the idiot actually blushed. So bad, it spread to his chest.

No wonder people wanted those parts covered, Trevor thought.

“Why didn’t you just get dressed?” Trevor asked him. “You put everything else on.”

“No, not everything,” Rusty said and pulled at the leg of Mitchell’s jeans.

Sure enough, the big idiot had skipped the socks.

Want more of Trevor and Mitchell?
Brotherly Love

Buying Chicken

Flags

And if you’re not entirely certain who’s who after all that, click on their names in any of the entries to read their bios. That should bring you up to speed.

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Fiction Outtake: Hearts (Trevor’s Song Days)

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So far, it had all lived up to its promise: the island was beautiful, the house and beach secluded, the staff discreet, and the bed big and comfortable. So big and comfortable that despite its white sheets, it had been a shame to leave it.

But Mitchell had wanted to go snorkeling, and that meant Kerri’d had to go into town to buy a bathing suit, something she hadn’t owned in years. Mitchell had warned her to choose a basic suit instead of a sexy one; when the band was touring, hotel pools were his favorite place to spend down time. A sexy suit would interfere with swimming.

While she’d been out shopping, she’d stopped and picked up a few sundresses, another thing she hadn’t owned in who-knew-how-long. They were coming in handy, though, because when Mitchell’s manager had given them use of the house for a two-week honeymoon, he’d added the condition that they visit his favorite restaurants. If she had to wear clothes at all on this dream vacation, Kerri thought, she was going to wear something skimpy and beautiful.

She and Mitchell were seated on a patio along the beach at one of the restaurants on the list, their dinner orders just placed, when Mitchell got up, left his Vans by the patio’s edge, and wandered down the beach. Kerri cocked her head as she watched him, not sure what he was doing and itching for a sketch book. There seemed to always be a light wind near the shore and it blew his silvery-white hair across the shoulders of his loose black tank in a tantalizing way. Add in his camoflage cargo shorts and he was a hell of a vision as he bent to play in the sand near the surf. Nothing at all like a powerful rock star; just a regular guy.

She sat there, savoring, still wishing she had the means to draw him, until he turned and waved at her. It was, she could tell, an invitation to come see what he’d done, so she kicked off her sandals beside his black slip-ons and followed.

“What did you do?” she laughed as she got close enough to see.

“What’s it look like?” he laughed, holding his arms out to show off his masterpieces.

“It looks like a bunch of hearts.”

“Well, then,” he said with a definitive nod. “Guess this is what happens when there’s no guitar handy and I hear music.”

“Looks to me like you hear hearts.” she said, smiling as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. He brushed her hair away from her forehead and kissed her temple.

“It’s your damn fault, woman,” he breathed into her ear, making her shiver.

“I think I’ll take it.”

check out more stories of love at Scribbit‘s cool site. Click here for the contest itself. And for more, visit Write Stuff around the 17th.

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Fiction Outtake: New Year’s Eve in Dallas (Trevor’s Song Era)

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Mitchell tossed his head, trying to get the sweat to change course. Of course, it didn’t work. At the end of the show like this, the sweat had a mind of its own.

“So,” he said in a conversational way, putting his left foot forward more, almost straddling the mic stand. His guitar got in the way, so he used his right hand to move it away. “Those lousy fuckers in this half-ass town wouldn’t let us stay up here tonight until midnight so we could do this all proper, like.”

The crowd booed. Mitchell nodded approvingly, looking around at them and then at the band. Trevor and Eric looked suitably impressed and they nodded along with Mitchell.

“But,” he said, holding up one finger and cocking his head. More sweat dripped into his eyes; he blinked it out. “They wouldn’t budge even when we offered them lots of money. And I mean lots,” he said, wondering if the fans could possibly comprehend the negotiations they’d tried. Beside him, Eric nodded agreement. Trevor just laughed.

“So. Here we are, and you fucks are probably gonna bolt outta here and head off to another party. When you get there, be sure you show off your special New Year’s T-shirts and then laugh your asses off ’cause none of us got ’em.”

The crowd roared again, like that was the funniest joke they’d ever heard. As if it was true, Mitchell thought. Shit, he had the original drawing that Kerri had made somewhere in all his papers. As if ShapeShifter would make something as exclusive as a commemorative New Year’s tee and not hold out a few for themselves.

“Before we go, let’s have ourselves a little celebration. Ready? Dans’ll help you count down from ten, and we’ll have some fireworks and shit.”

He paused as Eric signalled to Daniel before approaching. “Invite the crew out,” the guitarist reminded him. Good thing; he’d forgotten. As if he’d wanted to do this without Kerri.

“Whoa,” Mitchell said, holding both hands up to quiet the fans. “We gotta do this right. Bring the crew on out. Ker, techs, everyone back there. C’mon out.”

Once Kerri had nestled under his left arm, his guitar touching her hip and his sweat drenching her, he waited for the rest of the crew to stumble out. Even though he’d warned them he’d be doing this, they were still wary, as if they were expecting some sort of joke.

On any other day, they’d have gotten one, that was for sure. Ordinarily, crew belonged in the background. But this was New Year’s Eve, and while they hadn’t gotten permission to bust through the arena’s curfew, they had gotten permission for some indoor fireworks and an early celebration.

Then, band and crew would party backstage until they were all too soused to stand.

Bobby, Mitchell’s tech, offered to take his guitar. But Mitchell shook his head. “You’re off duty for a few,” he said, leaning away from the mic so it wouldn’t pick up his voice. The guitar wasn’t heavy; he could carry it a few more minutes.

Daniel provided the bass drum beat that the crowd used to count down, and then the pyro guys back at the sound board set off the fireworks.

As he and Kerri watched, smiling, Trevor came up behind them. “So, tonight the night you’re gonna wise up and dump Rusty’s ass? That girl in the third row sure looks like she’d be willing to ease the parting.”

Mitchell cuffed the back of Trevor’s head and grinned. “You don’t stop, do you, asshole?”

Trevor grinned happily. “Who, me?”

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