Play(6)By: Kylie Scott
“Want another?” a deep voice asked, startling me. My chin jerked up, eyes wide. I’d thought I was alone but a guy sat slouched in the corner. Wavy, shoulder-length blond hair shone dully but the rest of him remained in shadow.
No. It couldn’t be him.
I mean it could be, of course. But it couldn’t be, surely.
Whoever he was, he had to have heard my half of the phone conversation, which was more than enough to mark me out as being one of the great idiots of our time. There was the clink and hiss of a beer being opened then he held it out to me. Light from inside reflected off the perspiration on the bottle, making it gleam.
“Thanks.” I stepped closer, close enough to make him out even with the low lighting, and reached for the beer.
Holy shit. It was him, Malcolm Ericson.
The pinnacle moment of my life was officially upon me. So I might have had one or two photos of Stage Dive on my bedroom wall when I was a teenager. Fine, maybe there were three. Or twelve. Whatever. The point is there was one poster of the whole band. At least, the photographer probably thought it was of the whole band. Jimmy was out in front, his face contorted as he screamed into the microphone. To his right, half shrouded in shadow and smoke, was David, smoldering over his guitar. And to the left, toward the front of the stage, stood the bulk that was Ben, playing his bass.
But they didn’t matter. Not really.
Because behind them all, there he was with the lights shining up through his drum kit. Naked from the waist up and dripping sweat, the picture had caught him mid-strike. His right arm cut across his body, his focus on his target, the cymbal he was about to strike. To smash.
He played with abandon and he looked like a god.
How many times after a day of looking after my mother and sister, working hard and doing the good, responsible thing, had I lay on my bed and looked at that photo. And now here he was.
Our fingers grazed in the way that’s pretty much inevitable during such a hand over. No way could he have failed to miss the trembling in mine. Thankfully, he didn’t comment. I scurried back to my place by the edge, leaning casually with a beer in hand. Cool people leaned. They looked relaxed.
He chuckled softly, letting me know I wasn’t fooling anybody. Then he sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees. His face came fully into the light and I was caught, captivated. My mind blanked.
No question about it. It really was most definitely without a doubt him.
The man had hooker lips, I shit you not. High cheekbones and one of those notches in his chin. I’d never understood the appeal of those things before. Now I got it. But it was him as a whole that blew my mind. The parts meant nothing without the amused gleam in his eye and the hint of a smirk. God, I hated people who smirked. Apparently, I also wanted to lick them all over because my mouth started watering.
“I’m Mal,” he said.
“I–I know,” I stuttered.
His smirk heightened. “I know you know.”
Huh. I kept my mouth shut.
“Sounds like someone had a bad day.”
Nope, I still had nothing. A brain-dead stare was the best I could do.
Why was he out here in the dark? From all reports, the man was the life of the party. Yet here he was, drinking alone, hiding like me. Slowly, he stretched, rising out of his seat. Thank you, Lord. He’d go back inside and I’d be off the hook. I wouldn’t have to try and make conversation. Fortunate, given my sudden bout of starstruck stupidity.
Only he didn’t leave.
Instead, he walked toward me, his lean, muscular frame moving with careless grace. He had maybe five, six inches on me height wise. Enough to intimidate if it was his purpose. Muscular arms put the sleeves of his shirt to the test. Drummer’s arms. They were certainly nice as body parts went, covered in ink and bulging in all the right ways. I bet they felt good, too.
And I was so obviously checking him out someone should slap me.
If I kept this up, I would slap me. Hard.
“What’s your name?” he asked, joining me at the railing. God, even his voice felt good. The little hairs on the back of my neck stood on end with delight.
He stood close enough that our elbows bumped. His bare elbow, since he wore only jeans, a pair of Chucks, and a fitted “Queens of the Stone Age” T-shirt. Mal Ericson had touched me. I’d never wash again.