Y O U R C H O R U S
Spending three weeks on a bus with your boyfriend, his rock band, and their entire tour crew: possibly a bad idea.
Spending three weeks on a bus with your ex-boyfriend, his rock band, and their entire tour crew: definitely a bad idea.
But with the contract signed and the gigs all booked, Roxanne Nadeau finds herself heading out on the road as the accompanying violinist for reigning rock gods Sherbrooke Station, despite being on less than cordial terms with their bassist.
Not that the situation comes as a surprise. Roxanne and Cole’s near-constant on/off status has become a longstanding joke among their friends, and while the seven years of history between the two might suggest that resistance is futile, Roxanne’s determined to make this breakup their last.
Cole’s equally convinced he can use the opportunity to win her back for good.
Some conniving band-mates, way too many long drives, and the insanity of tour life all turn the bus into a pressure cooker that would detonate even the most stable of relationships. The explosion is inevitable; it’s how much of themselves they can salvage from the rubble that Roxanne and Cole will need to figure out.
E X C E R P T
Roxanne stares at the dépanneur across the street as she takes a second drag from the cigarette I just lit for her. Her voice is flat when she speaks.
“JP said you weren’t coming tonight.”
“Is that why you’re here?”
I watch her profile and see her expression harden.
“I told the guys I was going to be late, not that I wasn’t coming,” I tell her. “I can leave.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Cole. We can be at a bar together.”
We obviously can’t. I was about to walk in the door of Taverne Toulouse when I heard that fucking song start up inside and decided to stop for a smoke instead. A few seconds later, Roxanne slipped outside. She leaned against the wall as if it was the only thing keeping her standing. All I wanted to do was reach for her as I watched her throat bob like she was swallowing down the pain.
I’m still a selfish enough bastard that I’d rather see her in pain over us and than know she feels nothing.
“You can’t dance to this song,” she snaps, as the chorus repeats one final time. “Why are they playing a song you can’t even dance to?”
“DeeDee was probably up on a table, and they needed to make her come down to do her job.”
Roxanne smiles slightly around her cigarette.
“She was up on a table tonight.”
“When is she not up on a table?”
“True.” She seems to catch hold of a memory all of a sudden and laughs. “Do you remember that time when—”
Our eyes meet as she turns her head, and she freezes when she realizes how close we are.
“Yeah?” I prompt.
“Doesn’t matter,” she murmurs.
The next song comes on. It’s a track off Sherbrooke Station’s first album, and the bar explodes with screams and cheering. Roxanne shifts a little farther away from me along the wall, subtly enough that I know she hopes I won’t notice, but I do.
I take one last pull from my cigarette and then put it out on the wall behind me before tossing the butt into the garbage bin a few feet away.
“Your hair is different,” I tell her.
“DeeDee did it for me.”
“It makes you look older.”
She tosses her own butt in after mine.
“I am old. I’m almost twenty-four now. You’re going to be twenty-eight. Sacrement, we’re getting old.”
Without the cigarettes to keep us busy, the awkwardness really starts to close in. I shove my hands into my pockets, and she crosses hers over her chest. She’s wearing a black shirt with the thinnest little straps on it. The bar lights paint the pale skin of her shoulders red and blue. I want to trace her collarbones with my finger, my tongue. I want to taste her again. She shivers like she knows what I’m thinking.