Excerpt: Black Lace

Reading about yourself on the internet might be a bad idea, masochistic even, but during the audition break, Jed has the urge to see what the latest gossip about him is, and he’s found an article that starts with a recap of Black Lace’s history—his history.

Lead singer of Black Lace, Jed Chance, shocked the world when he confirmed that he is, in fact, gay. Rumors started when ex-Black Lace member Bert Goode sold his story about their affair while Jed was married to Jamie Pierce, manager for Black Lace.

Jed winces because it hadn’t been that simple, and because Bert’s betrayal still hurts, even though it’s been nine years. Jed skips over the speculation of why he’d played it straight, marrying Jamie Pierce, his manager and now ex-wife.

At the time, it seemed like the scandal would be the end of Black Lace, but two years after they went on ‘hiatus,’ the band returned with a new guitarist, and a new attitude. Mrs. Cherry Lee was a welcome addition to the band and a breath of fresh air. The once great rock band was back and better than ever, delivering some memorable music.

But now Cherry Lee has retired to spend more time with her family, having given birth to three children during her seven-year stint with Black Lace. Cherry Lee and the rest of her band mates all claim to be parting on good terms. What this reporter wants to know is: what will happen to Black Lace now that Cherry Lee is gone.

The band’s record company claims this isn’t the end of Black Lace, that there will be another tour soon and even a new album. Who will step into Cherry Lee’s shoes? And will Black Lace be the same? Better? Worse? Watch this space.

Jed sighs. He’s worried about what will happen to the band without Cherry Lee. She’d joined the band when Jed was feeling pretty low, and she’d fit in perfectly. She’d allowed them to start again. Cherry Lee had given Jed back a band he loved. He’s now deathly afraid of losing it, but he’s not mad at Cherry Lee for leaving.

But auditions aren’t going well. Some of the guitarists they’ve seen have played well enough, but none of them have clicked with the band, who are all lined up with Jed behind a table, like they’re judges on X-factor or something.

Benton and Drew are hunched over the list of names, crossing people out, making notes. Penny’s leaning back in her chair, eyes closed until Jamie brings over a bottle of water and hands it to her. Then Jamie comes toward him, concern on her face.

“You look stressed.” Jamie says. One of the bonuses of hiring your now ex-wife as your manager: Jamie knows him better than anyone. She can read his face like a book.

“I was reading something online,” Jed admits, putting his phone back into his jeans pocket.

“Let me guess: more stupid speculation about Black Lace? God, I loathe reporters. It’ll be all right. Black Lace has been through worse than this.”

Jed has never regretted marrying Jamie. He’s not sure if she feels the same, but she’s stood by him. He thinks it helps that even though he wasn’t always honest with her, he came out to her before his relationship with Bert started. The reporters call it an affair, but it wasn’t, not really.

“I know, but I can’t help stressing anyway. I don’t want to lose my band, but it’s hard to find someone who’ll fit.” Jed sighs. They’ve been doing this for three days, and no one has been right.

“Chin up, babe. You’ll find someone.” Jamie pats his shoulder and then takes her seat so they can get back to work.

They go through a few more auditions before anyone really gets Jed’s attention. The info sheet says his name is Donnie Small and he’s twenty-six. That’s ten years younger than Jed, which makes him want to say no right away, because surely some kid won’t fit into their band. Then Jed sees him, and he sort of freezes, trying to keep his face blank.

Donnie Small can’t be any taller than five-foot-seven, and he’s slight, almost delicate looking. He’s pretty, really pretty. He stands out, too. His hair falls all the way to his ass, and it’s dyed fire engine red, with a strip shaved out of the left side of his head. He has bright blue eyes, and Jed can see several piercings in each ear, a bar in his right eyebrow, and a ring in his left nostril.

He’s wearing black jeans with the knees all torn to shit, a studded belt, a Green Day T-shirt, and an open purple hoodie that kind of clashes with his hair, but doesn’t look bad. He’s holding a cherry red guitar. His hands look comfortable and strong. He’s also wearing a silver thumb ring.

Jed has seen various levels of nerves over the past few days. Donnie doesn’t look like the most nervous person to audition, but he’s not the most confident either.

“Donnie Small?” Jamie asks.

“Yeah, that’s me. Hi.” Donnie waves a little hesitantly, his smile shy and frankly adorable. Jed scolds himself. Donnie isn’t a puppy. He’s a grown man, and Jed isn’t about to make a decision about his band using his dick, not again.

“So how did you hear about Black Lace?” Jed fires off the first set question.

“The band or the audition? Because I’m pretty sure everyone’s heard about the band,” Donnie says calmly.

“The audition,” Brenton says a little firmly. Jed looks at Brenton, their six-foot-five, shaved-head drummer with steel grey eyes. He’s thirty-three, with a tattoo of a purple orchid on his neck. So far, he’s intimidated quite a few of the people auditioning.

Donnie doesn’t look intimidated.

“I’ve been working as a session musician in a studio. They heard about the auditions and told me. I thought it was worth a shot, seeing as you only needed guitar and not vocals, since you have those covered.” Donnie adjusts the guitar strap on his shoulder.

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