Home > Sweet Temptation (The Sweet Trilogy #4)(5)

Sweet Temptation (The Sweet Trilogy #4)(5)
Author: Wendy Higgins

We stand backstage and Raj is adding more gel to his fauxhawk, staring in the mirror and pinching the tips of his hair. His eyes are bloodshot from the spliff he just smoked. “What’s wrong with you?” he asks.

I shake my head and look away. I can’t exactly tell him my father’s a demon, that he expects me to do horrible things. No humans know what I really am.

I’m still trying to scrub the image of the enslaved girl from my mind as we take the stage. It does me no good to think about her, or the hundreds of others like her who I’ve hurt already.

Don’t feel.

Don’t think.

Don’t acknowledge it’s real. Just go through the motions, like always.

I slide onto my stool and twirl the drumsticks, savoring the familiar feel of the cool, smooth wood between my fingers. Deep breaths. Time to clear my head in the only way I know how. Sitting behind the drums, I am myself. The real me. Even during sex I cannot completely let go—I am hyperaware. Music is the only way.

I look out at the packed house. Girls screaming, jumping up and down in front of the stage. Loads of skin on show.

This I can do.

Starting with feather taps and working my way across the set, I rip a line of beats to warm up. Immediately the energy in the room changes, heightens. Conversations hush and heads turn toward the stage, then voices buzz back to life louder than before. A wicked beat can change the entire atmosphere in a room. Michael, feeling it too, shoots me a grin before checking his cords and mic. I feel eyes on me, heating my blood. Yeah, a good beat is sexy. Makes people wanna move their bodies . . . their hips. . . .

Plain vanilla my arse.

Damn it. I have to stop thinking about that.

Michael throws his strap over a shoulder, electric guitar slung low. He picks off a few notes, eyeing Raj on bass until they both nod, satisfied with the sync.

When we’re set, Michael motions the DJ, who tells the room to give it up for Lascivious. And they do. Nice and loud.

I purposely don’t eye the energized crowd as Michael takes to the mic with the welcome. I have to focus. Can’t be distracted by all the chicks and their curves.

Michael gives me the go with a flick of his chin and I raise the sticks above my head to count us in.

“One, two, three, four!” Bam.

First song is high energy, throwing me into a chop out and ending with muscle burn. All the shit in my life disappears and there’s only the creation of beats—beats that vibrate from soul to soul across the room, bringing flesh to life, every cell thumping in a rhythm they can barely contain. We’re on fire.

I imagine joy is something akin to this. Just letting go.

My forehead is already damp by the end of the first song. I push my hair aside and get set for the second song, which begins slower.

When the room settles I start on the warm cymbal, a shushing buildup to a quiet beat. Michael always makes it to second base with the microphone when he sings this ballad bit. And then the real fun begins—dramatic silent pause and stillness, followed by a raw, all-out punishment of the drums, screamed lyrics, and a high-decibel refrain loud enough to rip the rafters from the roof.

This is The Zone. The place where I can truly breathe.

My body takes over, and hit after hit falls just right until the crash of the cymbals. I whirl the drumsticks over my head with a flourish, then tuck them under my arm.

Damn, what a rush. I feel good. Focused. Until my stupid hair catches in my eyes and I can’t blink it away. I swat it aside. We have a minute before the next song while Michael bullshits with the fans a bit, keeping them worked up.

Two girls in front shout my name. Mother Nature has blessed them both with perfect tits, and they, in turn, bless us all by wearing tiny shirts. Such kindness deserves a grin. Maybe they’ll make it backstage later. I shift on the stool as I imagine it.

Argh. Stay focused.

The third song begins. Raj picks the tune on his bass line, and then I come in strong, willing myself to get lost in the intricate details. When it ends I quiet the tinging cymbals between my fingers. With a tilt of my head I flick the hair from my eyes and grab my water bottle from the floor.

I scan the crowd, attempting not to check out the gorgeous cleavage display for the time being, hoping to avoid the faces of a few girls who’ve been stalking me. But my scanning skids to a halt at the sight of a fresh-faced blonde staring right at me. She’s a complete doll with a wild mane of long hair and a spicy red aura. But the bit I notice next sends an iced razor down my spine.

Bloody hell . . . is that a badge on her chest? I stare in disbelief at the small, round supernatural burst of light emanating from the core of her torso. It isn’t black like most badges—it’s a dark yellow swirled with white. I’m suddenly stiff and on guard, imagining the knife in the ankle of my left boot. I search around the strange girl, looking for a possible guardian angel, but she has none.

Shit. A bloody fucking Neph is at my gig. Sent by my father, no doubt.

SHIT!

I try to swallow but can’t, so I force down a few gulps of water. For half a moment I forget where the fuck I am. Then Michael is giving me the go for the next song. I drop the bottle to the floor and pull the sticks from under my arm.

I’ve lost all focus. I don’t know how I stay on beat. I glance over to keep an eye on the Neph, but she’s gone, pushing her way through the crowd. What is she up to? It takes every ounce of self-control not to abandon the band and follow her. She goes into the loo, but it’s likely a ruse. I thought I knew every Neph close to my age, but I’ve never seen her. I’d remember that face. That hair.

I silently curse the song for being so long, but at least it’s our last before the next band comes on. I shove my auditory senses over the massive crowd and straight into the girls’ loo. I listen, trying to make sense of the silly conversation while thrashing out the backbone of the song.

“I heard that guy Kaidan has gonorrhea.”

I miss a beat and my bandmates shoot me questioning glares. I can’t remember the last time I’ve dicked up a song, but I’m too concentrated on the bathroom drama.

Gonorrhea?

Clearly the Neph is trying to keep the other girls from coming backstage to meet me. Fewer obstacles in her way as she attempts to find me and . . . do what? Kill me? Test me somehow for Father and the other Dukes?

And now what is she going on about? She’s taking back what she’d said about me and apologizing? What the . . . ? This doesn’t make a bit of sense.

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