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

She wasn’t my problem. I knew that, but I’d made up my mind to do something for her the second I realized the case propped up beside her backpack was for a violin. Her backpack was so small she couldn’t have had more than a few sweaters in it, but she was hauling this instrument around like it was more important than carrying food or clothes.

Someone was probably going to mug her before the day was over. The least I could do was give her a light.

She didn’t even notice me until I clicked my lighter on and bent over to lower it in front of her hands. When she jolted back in alarm, she almost hit her head against the wall. I waited for her to go still before I spoke.

“You should quit.”

She looked up at me for the first time. Her dark hair was greasy, and she had way too much black shit lining her eyes. The makeup made her look older, but those eyes—those eyes were so fucking young.

And scared. Too scared. Scared of me.

Months later, she told me it was the first time she’d seen a black guy in real life. She’d just arrived at the station from some tiny ass town up north where everyone she ever met was white. I watched the fight or flight instinct war with itself inside her as she stared up into my face. I realized how pretty she was at the same time I realized how dangerous being pretty probably was for her.

I don’t know how long we were frozen in place. I forgot the lighter was still on until she suddenly dipped her head forward and inhaled. The tip of the cigarette flared orange. She kept her eyes on it as she held the smoke down and then slowly let it out.

When she looked back up at me, she spoke. Her Québécois accent was thick, and she pronounced the English words like they were heavy on her tongue, but I could still make out the sentence that convinced me I wasn’t leaving the bus station without her.

You should quit.”

W I T H   A   S I D E   O F   S M A R T

R O M A N C E   S E R V E D   S T E A M Y

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