Mid-Month Novel Excerpt: The Death of Davy Moss

Once per month, I’ll publish an excerpt of one of my novels, and I hope you’ll be intrigued enough to buy the rest of the book.  I began this practice in February. Unlike the free fiction I put up every Monday, the novel excerpts will remain on the site.  If you want to read the opening to the previous five novels, click here.

This month, I’ve decided to excerpt The Death of Davy Moss. I’ve always thought of The Death of Davy Moss as a contemporary romance novel, but my husband–who is so much better at genre labels than I am–believes that Davy Moss is women’s fiction–only for men. Which, I think, makes it just a novel, rather than a novel in a genre.

As you can tell from that description, Davy Moss is a book that traditional publishers loved, loved, loved…but couldn’t buy.  The editor would take it to committee or to someone in the sales force, and no one could figure out how to market the book. So I got lots of “we’re going to buy this!–oh, never mind.”  So when it came time to indie publish, I knew which book I wanted out in e-edition first: The Death of Davy Moss.

I figure this is a word-of-mouth book.  If you like it, you’ll tell your friends. I’ve put ordering information at the end of the excerpt. First, however, is the back cover copy, followed by the excerpt itself.  I hope you enjoy reading The Death of Davy Moss.

TEEN IDOL DAVY MOSS DIED ALONE ON A MOUNTAIN ROAD. NO ONE EVER FOUND HIS BODY.

Davy Moss died fifteen years ago, but his fans keep him alive. They “see” him everywhere. They hold reunions, listen to his music over and over again. They encourage him to haunt them.

But Davy Moss already haunts one man. Josh Candless, the man Davy Moss became after that accident. Contractor, loner, a man who makes music in the quiet of his apartment. Until one fateful day when he gives an impromptu performance in a bar.

EMILY LUKOVICH HAS SWORN OFF MEN. THEN SHE HEARS JOSH CANDLESS.

Music promoter Emily Lukovich wants to make Josh Candless a star. She has no idea he’s already been one and run away from it. She has no idea who she has taken on, but she’s afraid she knows why.

She’s falling in love with Josh Candless. Once before Emily mixed business with pleasure, and it ruined her career. A relationship with Josh Candless might destroy her career all over again. And worse, it might destroy her.

Because Davy Moss betrayed everyone he ever knew. And Josh Candless might do the same…



The Death of Davy Moss

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

This book is set in 1997. Since then the music industry has changed so much, we can legitimately start this story with that lovely phrase:

Once Upon A Time…

Part One

…A new biography of legendary pop star Davy Moss appeared this week, this one by music critic and historian Riley Platt. Platt’s thesis? Moss would have been one of the country’s best musicians if he had survived the single car collision that took his life fifteen years ago. Platt bases his theory on Moss’s background as a childhood classical music prodigy and a few surviving compositions. Add this one to the collection of strange Moss cultish material that has arisen after his death…and cross it off your Christmas list.  —Rolling Stone

One

Emily Lukovich stopped in the foyer of the Sea Grotto Restaurant and took a deep breath. It calmed her a little. She had taken the job, she reminded herself, for good or bad. A consultant consulted. Even if the people she was advising didn’t want to hear what she had to say.

She slid off her raincoat, adjusted the sleeves on her silk blouse, and touched her hair lightly. She had been in Oceanlake a week, and she still wasn’t used to the informality of the town. No one dressed up here. Not even for business. She had shown up to her first appointment with the board of the Rolling Waves Casino in a Donna Karan suit and found herself so overdressed that it felt as if she had worn a bridal gown to a barn.

The hostess behind the desk smiled at her. Emily smiled back. At least this place was friendly. She needed friendly after her years in Vegas and Los Angeles. Even the casino was friendly.

She liked that.

“May I help you?” the hostess asked.

“I’m meeting someone,” she said.

“Are you with the rehearsal dinner or the casino?”

“The casino,” Emily said, glancing over her shoulder. Near the dance floor, a long table had been set up. A young couple sat at the head, with older people — obviously parents — in the seats beside them, and couples around the age of twenty filling the rest of the seats. No one had dressed up for that either.

Emily would have. In fact, Emily had. She’d been a bridesmaid three times in the past year—never, as the cliché went, a bride. Not that she wanted to be. Once upon a time, she’d thought herself too avant garde for marriage. Then she became too busy. And later, too hurt.

“This way please,” the hostess said. She led Emily down three stairs, not pausing like Emily wanted to when she saw the view. The windows at the Sea Grotto overlooked the Pacific ocean. It was steel gray and frothy, a winter ocean in twilight. Yet the stark beauty grabbed her, as it had every day since she had arrived. She almost wished she could give up everything and stay in this tiny Oregon town with its provincial casino and stunning scenery.

Almost.

She did like her job. It provided a way to stay in the music business without all the hassles of artist management. She had rebuilt her reputation and she got to hear all the up-and-coming bands, satisfying the hidden music geek inside her while keeping regaining a hold on the business.

She had been hired by the Rolling Waves as a consultant and promoter to get their concert series up and running. Rolling Waves, owned by a consolidated tribe of local Native Americans, had been profitable from the beginning. The casino board, tired of the local and regional acts it could draw, decided it wanted to compete on the Vegas level. It wanted big names to perform in its new concert hall, but didn’t know how to get them.

Emily was supposed to set up the system, hire the first year’s line-up, and then leave. She estimated she could do the job in six months. Normally she did it in three, but Rolling Waves was a difficult case. It was more remote than the other casinos she had dealt with, and the casino board wanted to learn how to do the promotion themselves.

The problem was — and had been since Emily arrived a few days after Christmas — that the board had no idea what national level meant. Tonight was a case in point. They had called her to the Sea Grotto to hear a local band and see if it was worth hiring for the casino bar.

She had expressly told them when she was hired that she did not work with local bands. She did not work regionally. She only worked nationally, hiring top acts for top venues. The key was to make Rolling Waves a top venue.

A local band would not do.

The hostess led Emily to a large booth. Only three of the board members were there: Tom Running Bear, Joe Escobal, and Paul Perdy. They were the important three. Bear, a heavyset man with thick dark hair, was the casino’s chief executive officer and the only board member who actually worked in the casino. Joe Escobal, the nominal head of the board, was a young man from one of the tribe’s most important families. And Paul Perdy was a small elderly man who disappeared into the booth’s back corner. Emily had learned immediately to pay attention to Paul. He was the real power in both the tribe and the casino, and with the flick of a hand could change a decision.

Bear slid over to make room for her. She hung her raincoat on the peg beside the booth and sat down. Her seat faced the dance floor and the rehearsal dinner table. She must have looked disgruntled because Joe Escobal smiled at her.

“We thought you should hear this band.”

“I know.” She was facing the dance floor. No band had set up yet. She was early. “You realize this isn’t part of my contract.”

“That’s right,” Bear said. “But we thought that if you liked them, it might save the casino some money —”

“We need to make a decision now, gentlemen,” she said, her voice deliberately harsh. She had to take control of this group quickly or she had to resign and let them find someone else. She might be too high-powered for them. “Either you hire a consultant to help you bring in first-rate talent, or you hire a consultant to bring in the best of the local musicians. I don’t work locally, and I don’t manage musicians.”

The words stung her as she spoke them. Managing musicians had been her first love. But she hadn’t done it in years. Not since the Ricky Fink band.

Bear put his hand on hers. “We know. And we’re sorry if this is the wrong direction. But we don’t just need musicians for the main hall. We need them for the bar and gaming areas as well.”

She took a deep breath. So this was the area that their confusion stemmed from. She hadn’t realized it.

“You’ve been doing a tremendous job hiring musicians for those slots,” she said. “I’ll bet you and I will have the same opinion of this band. I don’t think you need help in that area. In fact, I don’t think you need any help if you continue with the local acts in all the arenas including the concert hall. You only need me to go national.”

“People come here to game,” Paul said softly, and when she looked at him, his brown eyes moved away from hers. Ah, so there was her opposition. It was becoming clear to her now.

“Yes, they do,” she said, “but let me be honest with you, Paul. Rolling Waves is two-and-a-half hours from Portland by car. You cannot fly here. The tourists come for the beach. While they’re here, they might go to the casino. Business is wonderful in the summer. It’s the off-season that I can help you with.”

She slid her hand from Bear’s and leaned forward so that she could see Paul’s face more clearly.

“Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we hold a Faith Hill/Tim McGraw concert here on Valentine’s Day, and then do a sweetheart package, offering concert tickets, a discounted hotel room at the Grotto here, and a nice dinner in the casino restaurant. We advertise this all through the Pacific Northwest. We become a destination. The people who use the tickets, the hotel room, and the meal, will spend the rest of their weekend in the casino, pulling slots, playing bingo, or losing on the blackjack tables.”

“On Valentine’s?” Joe asked somewhat skeptically.

“You can’t be romantic all the time,” Emily said, and felt a heat rise in her cheeks as she spoke. As if she knew. She hadn’t had a relationship in years. She had been too busy, and the consulting work she did hadn’t allowed her to meet people in the new communities. Three months in Kansas City, followed by three months in Tennessee, followed by three months in Illinois did not allow her time to herself at all. The six months she had planned here in Oceanlake felt like a luxury.

“You think you can get Faith Hill?” Paul asked.

“Not this year,” Emily said. “Maybe not even next. But if we work hard enough to make this the most exciting venue in the Northwest, I think we could get her three years from now — and pick our weekend.”

Paul snorted slightly, but said nothing. Joe shot Emily an apologetic smile.

“We’ve had this argument before, Paul,” he said. “Let’s give Emily a chance.”

“She’s costing a lot of money for a chance.”

“I really don’t want a chance,” she said. “You hired me. If you don’t need my services, there are plenty of others who do.”

Harsh. So harsh. She heard herself, and marveled. She had learned that harshness in the last few years. Maybe if she had learned it earlier, she wouldn’t have lost her reputation. Maybe she could have found a new job, managing a new band. Maybe she wouldn’t have lost everything when her relationship with Ricky Fink ended.

“We need you,” Joe said, without looking at Paul. “Right now, Rolling Waves is a novelty, but that will wear off. Two other casinos are being built on the coast, and they’ll be competition for the tourist crowd. We’ll need to be a draw then. And we have to prepare now.”

Bear nodded. “It was our mix-up. We didn’t know what to do about our lounge acts.”

“Keep them,” she said. “You’re very good at choosing them.”

“Since you’re already here,” he said, “will you listen to the band?”

She smiled. “You sound like you have a stake in them.”

“No stake,” Joe said. “They called us. None of us has ever heard them.”

“But we wouldn’t mind a fourth opinion.”

She leaned back in the booth. “I wouldn’t mind staying if we don’t talk about business. It’s been a long week.”

“That it has,” Bear said.

He was the nicest man she’d ever worked with. She could tell that already. And she liked both him and his wife. They had made her supper on her first night in town. Maybe, after six months in Oceanlake, she would have a few nights like this — friendly nights that would help her relax.

She ordered a drink, and settled back in the booth, letting the conversation flow around her. The people in the Sea Grotto at this time of year were mostly locals out for a special night. That rehearsal dinner looked like fun. There was one empty chair at the table. She wondered who it belonged to, and why that person hadn’t come.

A movement near the door caught her eye. A tall man entered and shook the rain off his dark hair. He looked familiar, and she felt as if she had seen him before a long, long time ago. He had an angular face and electric blue eyes. Like the other locals, he wore a flannel shirt and faded jeans.

He was scanning the room, looking for someone. Probably a woman.

A lucky woman.

She smiled to herself, and looked away, not wanting to be caught staring at a stranger. The men at the table were arguing about how good a local musician had to be, and she sat back to listen. Outside the window, the ocean glistened. It had whispered to her since she arrived that something was going to change.

Something had to change.

And she suspected that something was her.

Two

Joshua Candless walked into the Sea Grotto’s bar, feeling decidedly out of place. He rarely went out any more. At twilight, when he finished whatever construction project the crew had been on, he returned home, cooked himself a meal, and spent the evening alone.

He preferred it that way.

He had an aversion to crowded bars. And the Grotto was crowded on a weekend. It was next to the Sea Grotto hotel, one of the nicest in Oceanlake. The hotel shared a parking lot with the new casino he had helped build. Ever since Rolling Waves had opened, Oceanlake had become crowded even in the winter.

Initially, he had chosen to live in Oceanlake because it was secluded. Oregon beach towns had small populations, and the influx of tourists had been contained to the summer. But now, he and the other locals had to contend with tourists year round.

He didn’t like the change.

He stopped at the top of the stairs and looked for the wedding party. Kevin and Lucy had chosen to have their rehearsal dinner a week before the wedding — Kevin had jokingly said he wanted lots of time for his bachelor’s party — and in a moment of weakness, Josh had agreed to come. He had changed from his work clothes into a clean flannel shirt, a pair of jeans, and tennis shoes. He really didn’t have dress-up clothes. Not anymore, any way.

His hair was wet from the shower, and it sent a chill through him. Or maybe the chill came from something else. He still froze when he went into crowded places, half expecting someone to recognize him. On occasion, people did find his face familiar, but in a comforting way, telling him that he looked like an old friend or a cousin or a long lost relative.

It had been nearly ten years since someone told him he looked like Davy Moss. As he got older, his face had changed. It had grown leaner and more angular. He wore his hair differently. People would always find his face familiar, but they didn’t know why any more. That should have relieved him. It didn’t.

He still moved on whenever he felt that he had been recognized, or that someone had come too close. Initially, he’d stayed in large cities, thinking that would be best. But after a sojourn in Portland, he discovered the Oregon Coast, and found himself wondering if a small town wouldn’t be better. After all, once people got to know him, they would think of him as Josh Candless and that would be it.

Which, he had to admit to himself, was the reason he was here. Kevin, one of the guys on the crew, had asked him to be a groomsman in his wedding. Josh had felt oddly touched by the request, and had said yes, not quite knowing what that entailed.

What it entailed was a number of parties, a rented tux that felt uncomfortably familiar, and the rehearsal dinner at the Grotto’s restaurant. The restaurant certainly wasn’t one of the fanciest in town, but it was the best Kevin’s family could afford. That was just as well. Any fancier, and Josh would have had to buy a suit.

Even though it was the fourth day of January, the Grotto still had its holiday decorations up. The restaurant was on the beach side of the hotel, and its view of the ocean was nothing short of magnificent, even at night. The hotel lights reflected off the waves, and the water stretched blackly, mingling with the darkness. Josh walked past the etched glass, down the small flight of stairs and to the long tables set up behind the dance floor. Kevin and his fiancé, Lucy, sat at the head of the table. The parents, who not much older than Josh, sat on either side of the engaged pair, and several young people were scattered about the table. Josh was the last to arrive, and the only empty chair sat with its back to the ocean.

He grinned, mumbled an apology for his lateness, and slipped into his seat. Three other guys from the crew were in the wedding party, and one was the best man. They had already started on their drinks, and the conversation was loud. Josh grinned. He wasn’t the only one with wet hair, flannel and jeans.

Nick, one of the other guys on the crew, sat beside him. Nick was Kevin’s age — twenty-one — and he wore his blond hair in a crewcut that made Josh wince.

“Gosh, boss,” Nick said, “if I’da been this late, you’da docked me.”

“I didn’t know we were getting paid for this,” Josh said.

“Just in beer,” Nick said, holding up his glass.

Josh stared at it a moment. He didn’t drink in public. That was a rule he had seldom broken. Each time he had, the situation had gotten out of control. He’d had to skip town twice.

But he was a lot older now, and even if he slipped, it wouldn’t be that bad. He was among friends, after all. He ordered a local microbrew, and settled into the gathering.

Lucy’s bridesmaids were all her age: eighteen. Josh had met the bridesmaid he was supposed to escort at celebrations earlier in the month. He was old enough to be her father, and he felt all of the years. Eighteen didn’t seem that long ago but looking at her, looking at all of them, made him realize just how old thirty-seven really was.

He kept up his end of the conversation, and also kept up with Nick on the beers. Since he couldn’t watch the ocean, he watched the bartender, Charlie. Charlie had been a part-timer on the casino crew, who quit when this bar opened. He was a natural bartender, working the regulars and keeping an eye on the waitresses. Josh felt looser and more relaxed than he had in quite a while. Once he recognized the feeling, he stopped drinking.

A band came in the side door, shaking rain off their coats, and putting their instruments beside the dance floor. They left the service door open as they went to get their amps and sound equipment. Josh remembered the feeling, the anticipation, the work involved. Lifting equipment, moving instruments, the hope that someone — anyone — out in the audience was listening. He had played his first club in high school, when he had been too young to drink in the establishment. Liquor laws were different in those days. He could be inside, as long as he didn’t consume any alcohol.

These guys had to be twenty-one, or at least have ID that showed they were.

God, he missed it. He missed playing his music in public. He missed the audience’s reaction.

He missed sharing.

Josh pushed away from the table. He had to move, had to get those musicians out of his direct view. He stood just as Nick grabbed his arm.

“Hey, man, you okay?”

“Sure,” Josh said, amazed at how calm he sounded. “Just needed to stretch my legs.”

“Well, stretch ’em to get me another beer, wouldja? That waitress is slow.”

Josh’s smile grew. Nick had probably had enough beers. He had just given his boss an order. But it didn’t really matter. The kid lived around the block. He had probably walked here, and he could just as easily walk home.

“No problem,” Josh said, and slid his way out of the long table.

He headed to the bar, shoved a stool aside, and leaned against the polished wood. Charlie grinned at him.

“Hey, Charlie,” Josh said.

“Never expected to see you in here,” Charlie said. He was tall, balding, with the beginning of a pot belly. He also had three kids at home, and a fourth on the way.

“What, I don’t look like Grotto clientele?”

“You don’t look like anybody’s clientele,” Charlie said. “I never known a man who keeps to himself as much as you do.”

Josh shrugged. “I decided to get out more.”

“Thanks to Kevin,” Charlie said. “The wedding of the century.”

“I doubt that,” Josh said, even though he knew the wedding would be big by Lakeside County standards.

“Kids shouldn’t get married that young,” Charlie said.

Josh frowned at him. “I thought you did.”

“The first time. Cindy ’n me got married in our thirties, and it’s still tough.” Then he grinned. “But worth it.”

“Maybe it will be for Kevin,” Josh said.

“Maybe.” Charlie wiped a non-existent spot on the bar. He didn’t sound too convinced. “You come up here for conversation or to get away from the crowd?”

“Neither,” Josh said. “Nick needs another beer.”

“Okee-dokee.” Charlie grabbed a glass and pulled the tap. A guitar riff came from the dance floor. Josh glanced over there before he could stop himself.

The drummer, a slender boy with nose rings and spiked hair, sat behind a relatively cheap set, tossing his sticks in the air and catching them with one hand. The bass guitarist, a girl wearing ripped jeans and a skin-tight blouse, was tuning her guitar. The lead guitarist had an older, more expensive model. He was teenage-boy skinny with stringy blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. He had a tattoo on his left cheek, and another on his right hand. The keyboard player was working off a cheap Casio plugged into an amp. Josh winced in spite of himself.

“They any good?” he asked Charlie.

Charlie shrugged. “Better than most in this town. You want real entertainment, go to the valley.”

Josh nodded. Real entertainment was even sparse there. Large acts traveled down the I-5 corridor, playing at venues from the Schnitzer in Portland to the Hult in Eugene. But the local garage bands were still stuck in Seattle grunge, and the days when Oregon had been the center of West Coast jazz were long gone. He’d heard enough local music by accident to know that he didn’t want to hear much more.

“Thanks,” Josh said, taking the beer, and heading back to the table. Then he paused. A woman he didn’t recognize sat at a booth three members of the casino board. She was stunning. She had shoulder-length dark hair, large eyes, and high cheekbones. She didn’t look local. Her cut was too stylish, her blouse too expensive. He almost went to the booth for an introduction, and then stopped himself.

All of his relationships ended the same way, with the woman telling him he was too secretive, too closed off, too much of a loner. She would always want to know why he kept one door in the back of his apartment locked, and why he never turned on the radio, why he surfed past MTV, and why he refused to listen to her favorite CDs.

At first, such things would be a curiosity. Then they’d become an irritation. And finally, a point of contention.

A point he would never discuss.

He didn’t dare.

He sighed and almost drank the beer himself. Regrets were something he tried not to think about. He had too many of them.

He made it back to the table, a bit shakier than when he had left. The loose, relaxed feeling was gone. He handed Nick the beer, then slipped into his chair as the band announced its name.

“Great. Now we can’t talk,” Nick said.

The drummer hit his sticks together in three-quarter time, a professional move that caught Josh’s attention. The band started with a cover of an old Springsteen tune. The beat was right but everything else was off: the bass guitarist was out of tune; the keyboardist was playing too fast; and the lead guitar was being drowned out by all the electronics. The singer, the boy with stringy hair, was trying to do a Springsteen imitation with an Irish tenor’s voice.

“God, I hate this.” Nick was slurring slightly. “Why can’t they ruin their own songs? Why do they have to pick on somebody better than them?”

“The restaurant probably told them the kind of music to play,” Josh said.

“Damned shame,” Nick said.

Someone shushed him from the other side. Kevin and Lucy got out onto the dance floor and danced. A few other couples followed. Josh’s bridesmaid looked at him hopefully. Josh shook his head. Maybe some guys could dance with a girl young enough to be their daughter, but he couldn’t.

Without a pause, the band swung into “(Just Play Me) Some of that Rock ‘N Roll Music” and more dancers hurried onto the floor. A guaranteed crowd pleaser, no matter how bad — or mediocre — the band was. Even Nick went out, grumbling, as his bridesmaid pulled him with her.

Josh leaned back, arms crossed. He would wait a few more songs, then make a discreet exit. The party was moving into its drunken phase anyway. Good thing Kevin had decided to have the rehearsal dinner a week before the wedding. Everyone would have been too hungover to enjoy the ceremony.

Then the drummer started a familiar beat, and Josh froze. He hadn’t gotten out soon enough. The bass guitarist matched the beat — in tune this time — and the keyboardist was covering the electric guitar part. The lead guitar was tapping the body with his right hand, coming close, but not hitting, the odd tinny sound the song required.

As singer leaned toward the mike, Josh winced. He had written this song twenty years ago after a night just like this, when he thought his dreams were impossible, when he thought he couldn’t live through another night of drunken clueless dancers trying harder to get into each other’s pants than listen to the music.

The kid didn’t have the voice for it, and he didn’t have the understanding. He did a cold parody of Josh’s take on the opening lines when a man roared in anger.

Josh recognized the voice. It was Nick.

“Stop! Just stop! Just! Stop!”

Josh cursed under his breath and slid his chair back, but he couldn’t get out quick enough. The drummer kept going, but the singer was staring at Nick as if he were a crazy man. The keyboardist held his hands above the Casio, and the bass guitarist played a few more measures before she too stopped. The dancing trickled to a halt, and the dancers, confused, milled on the tiny floor.

The drummer kept going, shouting at the lead singer, but it didn’t help. Finally he put his sticks down.

Nick was advancing on the band, clearly drunk, and clearly angry. The little bridesmaid was trying to grab him, but he shook her off.

Josh stumbled on the pulled out chairs as he tried to get around the table. Charlie came around the bar.

“You aren’t good enough to play real music,” Nick said. “Make up your own stuff and ruin it!”

“We’re plenty good enough!” The lead singer swung his guitar to his back and came forward. The bass guitarist had moved near the wall, and keyboard player had picked up his Casio and joined her. The drummer was still coming forward.

“Hell, I’m better than you are,” Nick said.

“If you don’t like the music, shut up and get out!” the lead singer said.

Josh had made it around the table. He made it to Nick’s side about the same time Charlie did.

“Come on, Nick, sit down.” Josh put his hand on Nick’s shoulder. “You’ve had too much to drink.”

Nick looked up at Josh. The sight of his boss’s face must have been enough to stop his tirade because Nick leaned into Josh. “He can’t play, man.”

“That’s not your problem,” Josh said.

“Yeah, it is,” Nick said. “I gotta listen.”

“No, you don’t,” Josh said. “Besides, you don’t want to ruin Kevin’s party, do you?”

Nick cursed again. “Do you think he’ll be mad at me?”

“I don’t know,” Josh said. “You’d better ask.”

Nick stood up, straightened his shirt, and spun around, looking for Kevin. When he saw him, Nick headed in that direction, away from the dance floor.

“Thanks,” Charlie said to Josh. He had his hand on the lead singer’s collar. Charlie let go. “You can get back to work.”

“Hell, no,” the kid said. “We can’t play for this crowd. They wouldn’t know good music if it bit them.”

“Neither would you,” Josh said under his breath.

The kid heard him. “Don’t you like rock music?”

“I love it,” Josh said. “When it’s done right.”

“We do it right.”

“You will,” Josh said. “With practice.”

He started to move away when the kid grabbed his arm.

Josh looked down at the kid’s hand. “You don’t win over an audience by arguing with it.”

“As if you would know,” the kid said.

Josh shook the kid’s hand away. He wouldn’t get involved. He wouldn’t. Just because Nick was right didn’t mean that Josh had to continue the argument. Even if he was angry at the way the kid had ruined one of his songs.

“Get back on stage,” Charlie said.

“That ain’t a stage,” the kid said.

That was it. Josh whirled. “It’s all you got, kid. And it’s all you’re going to have if you don’t learn how to be a performer.”

“I don’t need lessons from you, old man,” the kid said.

Josh studied him for a minute. The kid’s arrogance was familiar. But arrogance without talent and a willingness to learn had no place in the music business.

“I think you do need lessons,” Josh said, and snapped the kid’s guitar off its strap.

“Hey!” the kid said.

Josh ignored him and went to the bass guitarist.

“Three chords,” he said to her, “in this progression.”

He pulled the guitar in place and showed her what he wanted.

“You sit out,” he said to the keyboardist. Then he turned to the drummer who had somehow returned to his seat.

“Here’s the beat,” he said. “Jump in when I nod to you. Got it?”

The drummer looked young and scared despite the nose rings. He gripped his sticks so hard his knuckles were white.

“And loosen up,” Josh said. “We’re jamming.”

He wasn’t going to play anything they knew. It was too obvious. Besides, he would take Nick’s advice. He would woo the audience with something they didn’t know.

At the count of three, he started the bass player. She fumbled the first progression, but caught onto the second. He nodded to the drummer, then started to play himself. He got caught up in the opening: he’d never played this piece in public. He had only played in public five times in the last fifteen years, and each of those times had been an accident, like this. All the songs he’d written since he was twenty-two had gone unperformed.

The music took him — and it wasn’t until he stepped up to the microphone that he realized his mistake.

Three

This new guy was good.

Emily leaned back in the booth and stared. Until the new guy got on stage, she had ignored the band. Even Paul had apologized to her, saying that he had heard they were better than they were. Then the fight had broken out, and the new guy took the stage.

The man she had seen coming into the restaurant.

He looked even more familiar with a guitar in his hand. She squinted. Why was it that every musician these days had a little bit of Elvis, a little bit of Lennon, and a little bit of Davy Moss? The singer’s style was all his own, but his voice had elements of all three, with Moss being the strongest.

Fortunately his music was different, and his features were sharp. Moss had always been slightly ill-defined, a skinny boy with a half-formed face.

And Moss was dead. This guy clearly wasn’t.

“Wow,” Bear murmured beside her.

He only echoed her thoughts.

Wow.

The singer was taller than most musicians, taller than the kid he replaced, surely. He’d had to pull the mike up with one hand without, somehow, missing a beat. His shoulders were broad, tapering down to narrow hips. His shirt and jeans were faded, his tennis shoes scuffed with mud. He didn’t dress like a musician.

But he played like one.

“Who’s that?” she asked.

“Josh Candless,” Joe said, and it sounded as if he were surprised.

“Candless.” She hadn’t heard of him, and with moves like that, she should have. That look. She had seen him perform before, she knew that much. But where and when she couldn’t place. His hunch over the guitar, the way his long bangs fell onto his forehead all seemed familiar. She squinted. It was as if she wasn’t seeing him clearly, as if she were watching through a filtered lens.

She stood, and slowly made her way to the dance floor. The couples that had been milling a moment before were dancing again, and the drunk who had started the whole thing was leaning against a table, looking amused. Only the kid seemed dissatisfied. He had his arms crossed, head bent down in a deep and obvious frown. The bartender held the kid’s arm tightly, as if he expected something to happen, and a cocktail waitress worked the bar.

God, the singer’s voice was liquid sex. Emily could feel it run down her spine, caress her nerves, soothe her raw edges. She felt as if any man in the room could ask her to go home and she would, even though the singer was the man she wanted. This feeling didn’t happen with just any good musician. Only a few held that power, and most of them didn’t wear faded flannel and play hotel bars on a whim.

She glanced at the other women. The cocktail waitress had her elbows on the bar, and was staring at the singer. The dancers were frenzied. And the older women sitting at the large table had their mouths open like teenagers suppressing their excitement over meeting John, Paul, George or Ringo.

Gorgeous. And polished. He’d played professionally. She’d bet her career on it. But where? The music wasn’t familiar.

The music. She’d been focusing so hard on him that she hadn’t really listened to the music. He was playing what some stations would call hard rock, but it had bits of rockabilly and jazz. The drum carried a rock rhythm, but the bass progression was sweet jazz. And the guitar part that he played had strong country overtones.

Finally the lyrics caught her. He wasn’t singing about lost loves or sex. He was singing about faded dreams — the kind of blue collar blues songs that Billy Joel made popular in the early eighties, with hits like “Allentown.” Yet it wasn’t imitation Joel. It wasn’t imitation anyone. This sound was new and rich, and embodied with a pathos that would appeal to anyone from the most hardened CEO to an out-of-work logger.

He backed away from the mike, hit three concluding chords, and suddenly it was done. The revitalizing air that had swept through the bar vanished with the last reverb.

The cocktail waitress and the women at the table burst into applause, followed quickly by the dancers. The drunk whistled, and someone “woo-wooed” as if they had just heard the last set of a really fine concert.

He looked shocked. He took step forward and handed the kid the guitar as if it burned him. The kid took the guitar, said something sharp to the bartender, and stalked out. The rest of the band watched, stunned, as if they didn’t quite know what to do.

The dancers swirled around the singer. He shook his head, held up his hands, and seemed absolutely miserable. She almost approached, but then decided against it. She had just told the casino board she wasn’t interested in locals. She didn’t need to go back on her word immediately.

But she would speak to him.

He was too talented to remain in hotel bars forever.

She returned to the booth. Bear had scooted sideways so that Paul could see. She slid into her place.

“What do you know about that guy?” she asked. She was still trembly. Sex. The best performances were all about sex.

“All I knew about him was that he was one damn fine worker,” Bear said.

“Yeah,” Joe Escobal added. “He was on the construction crew for the casino.”

“He was more than that. He did some of the fine work in the casino, master carpenter work,” Paul Perdy said. “I hired him. He had a valid contractor’s license, had worked in Portland, and was looking for honest work. He was so good he was hired on by the biggest contractor in the county, and within a month had become a foreman. He did the fine work for us as a favor when the cabinet maker we contracted for never showed.”

A contractor. She would never have suspected it. All the musicians she knew were very protective of their hands.

“But you didn’t know he was musical?” she asked.

“Musical? He never even whistled while he worked,” Joe said.

“Only guy I know who preferred the radio off,” Paul said.

“How odd.” She leaned forward. The drummer was apologizing to the bartender. The keyboardist was packing up his Casio, and the bass guitarist was standing in the service entrance, arguing with the kid. That little performance had shredded any sense of unity the band might have had.

The dancers were surrounding the singer, laughing and shouting and slapping him on the back. He wasn’t laughing. His smiles were courteous, but they never reached his eyes.

What a powerful mix of emotions in his body language. Tight shoulders, small movements, a darting gaze. Shame, surprise, and a bit of something else.

Fear?

The man who had performed had been fearless. But off stage, he looked lost.

“Excuse me,” she said to the board. She grabbed her coat, and slung it over her shoulders. Then she made her way to the dance floor.

The conversation around her was strange:

Jesus, man, you’re good.

You been holding out on us.

You should have your own band.

And through it all, he said nothing. Merely smiled, nodding once or twice. What she had taken for fear seemed more like sadness and a sense of loss. She wasn’t sure why she understood this man, or if she didn’t, why she felt like she did.

He didn’t see her as she made her way toward him.

His hands were at his side, and clenched. He was inching toward the door, but people kept stopping him. The drunk was hanging on him, repeating, “You showed him, man. You really did.”

Loss, fear, whatever the emotion he felt, it was clearly secondary to his need to leave. And the crowd, thrilled as they were, weren’t about to let him.

She’d seen this with performers a hundred times.

She knew how to solve it.

“Mr. Candless,” she snapped in her best business voice. “You need to come with me, sir.”

Her voice penetrated and stopped the conversation. He raised his head, saw her, and looked startled. Almost as if he’d recognized her. But she’d never spoken to him before. She would have remembered.

“Mr. Candless,” she said again, using that same commanding tone that could turn multimillion-dollar performers into whimpering children.

“Ah, sorry, guys,” he said to the people around him. He pushed his way past them, and she took his arm, leading him away from the crowd.

His shirt was warm, the flannel soft and well used. She could feel muscles beneath the fabric: real muscles, not gym-created oversized things.

“You looked like you needed to be rescued,” she said, softly.

He glanced down at her. His eyes were a radiant blue, what her mother used to call Paul Newman blue. Emily hadn’t expected that warm feeling to run through her again. At least, not without the music. It almost made her let go of him. The last thing she needed was another musician in her life.

“Thanks,” he said, and his voice was as musical as it had been when he was singing. Deep and warm and fine. “I did need rescuing.”

Then he slipped out of her grasp, bounded up the stairs, and disappeared out the door. She froze, startled by the suddenness of his escape.

He’d done this before. He knew how to get away.

Well, she’d done it before too. And she didn’t want him to disappear. Not yet anyway. Not until she found out why a world-class musician was wasting his time in a small Oregon town.

She shouldn’t have followed him, but she did. Part of her job, she reminded herself, was to find talent. A small part, but part nonetheless.

Besides, he wasn’t from Los Angeles. He probably never heard of Ricky Fink.

And that thought spurred her to move even faster.

Four

Stupid, stupid, stupid. A little beer, some hurt pride, and yes, the phrase old man, had goaded him into something he had avoided since he had come to Oregon. Playing in public. At least he’d been smart enough to play something new, something no one had ever heard before.

At least, he’d remembered that.

Imagine if he’d played one of his old songs.

He stepped out the door of the Grotto into a light mist. The hotel’s outside light illuminated the rain, making it look white, almost like snow. But it wasn’t cold enough. It was never cold enough here, not even in January. He still didn’t wear coats. His Minnesota upbringing had stuck with him. Cold to him wasn’t really cold until it hit twenty degrees.

He fished in the pocket of his jeans for his truck keys. He had to get out of here. Had to leave before they caught up with him again. No one in Kevin’s party had thought him anything more than Josh — a more talented version of Josh, but still Josh. Charlie had been watching him with an interested gaze, but even he didn’t worry Josh. The locals didn’t worry him — much.

It was the woman.

He had nearly stopped singing when he saw her staring at him from the edge of the dance floor, a speculative gleam in her eyes. It was almost as if she were trying to figure him out.

And he didn’t like it.

He especially didn’t like the way she had known his name, the way she had barked it from across the room. Kahn used to do that to get rid of groupies, and it always worked.

Always.

She had saved him, and he had run out on her, and he might have to keep running, if he wasn’t careful.

His truck was parked beneath a streetlight. The light mist coated the peeling red paint. He had a one-ton, suited for carrying lumber and equipment. Not for instruments. No matter how many he played in the quiet of his own apartment. No matter how many times he longed for an audience, imagined himself on the stage again, being heard again.

That was an unattainable fantasy anyway. There was no way he could return to music without revealing his true identity.

Returning to music meant returning to Davy Moss.

And he was unwilling to do that.

He unlocked the door, and climbed into the cab. The interior was cool and smelled faintly of sawdust. He closed the door, and leaned his head on the steering wheel.

The old frustration knotted his stomach. He could almost picture his parents sitting beside him, controlling his every note. They had adored their only child—not for his personality or his looks, but for his musical talent. A pure soprano at age three. An accomplished violinist at six. A well-known pianist at ten.

The Minneapolis papers had called him a child prodigy. The New York Times speculated whether or not he would burn out in his teens. His parents gave interview after interview, taking his music for themselves.

So he took it back. In bars and restaurants just like this one, playing the demon rock and roll before he was old enough to vote.

His career had started in places like this, and it kept ending in places like this. He would grab a guitar, show off for a set or two, and then have to vanish so no one would figure out who he was.

The problem was that he loved this town. He hadn’t really admitted it until now. He had vague hopes of staying here, of not running any more.

He closed his eyes. Maybe this had been his way of testing the place. He knew he no longer looked like Davy Moss. He had aged in fifteen years. He had been lucky that his face had narrowed, that he had grown into his bones.

Davy Moss’s music still played on the radio, and Davy Moss was a perpetual twenty-two. His haircuts were a bit out of date now, and his clothing certainly was. He still had an unfinished look, the promise of the man to come, but not the man himself. Josh and Davy Moss had similar looks but they were similar in the way that fathers and sons were similar, if that.

Josh’s problem wasn’t his looks.

It was his voice.

It hadn’t changed at all.

His arrogance hadn’t changed either. It goaded him onto the stage every single time. Somewhere, deep down, he did believe he was better than all those other musicians—and he would prove it once and for all.

He sighed, raised his head, and rubbed his eyes. So that was what had triggered it. The kid had reminded him too much of himself, of the life he had discarded so casually, and without any regard to the people he left behind.

A knock on the window made him jump. The woman was looking into his cab. The mist coated her hair, made her look ethereal, ghostlike, as if she weren’t quite there.

He rolled down the window because he couldn’t think of anything else to do.

“Mr. Candless,” she said, “Can we talk?”

She didn’t sound like a groupie or a lonely woman hoping to warm her bed. She sounded businesslike.

And that bothered him even more.

“Look, Miss —?”

“Lukovich.”

“Miss Lukovich. I’ve had a lot of beer, and I embarrassed the hell out of myself. I would really like to go home.”

“It’ll only take a minute.”

She wasn’t going to back off. He wanted to hear what she had to say. He wanted to know what she had figured out.

“Okay,” he said.  “Talk fast.”

He didn’t invite her into the cab, even though that was what she was angling for. She seemed to take it in stride.

“You’re one talented singer, Mr. Candless.”

“I’m an even better carpenter.”

Her smile was tight. “Having not seen your work, I have no basis for comparison. But I do know music.”

“You do?” He tensed. Here it came. The moment he’d been waiting fifteen years for. The moment he was recognized by someone he couldn’t talk his way past.

“And I think you could have quite a career ahead of you, if you’re willing to put in the work.”

He almost didn’t hear her. But when he realized she had said nothing about Davy Moss, had not asked him why he had disappeared or what had happened to the last fifteen years, he shook his head.

“Listen to me, Mr. Candless. I know what I’m talking about.”

“I’m listening, darling,” he said.

She winced at the familiarity, but it didn’t stop her. “I’ve worked as a promoter, as a manager, and now as a consultant for some of the biggest venues in the country.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Like the Rolling Waves Casino.”

To his surprise, she grinned. “When they hired me, they claimed they wanted to compete on the Vegas level. Since I’ve arrived, they’ve struck me as quite parochial. We’re having a meeting tomorrow morning will determine whether or not I continue to work for Rolling Waves.”

He was beginning to like her. Even more, he liked her credentials. She had some promotion experience. She looked a bit young to have been on the scene when he was hot, but she would have been familiar with his music. Everyone was.

And she didn’t recognize him.

“You’re getting drenched,” he said. “You want to get in?”

“What I really want is some good Pacific Northwest coffee. Can we get some away from your fans in there?”

“They’re not my fans,” he said softly. “They’re my friends.”

“Well,” she said. “Tonight they were your fans.”

That they were. He recognized the look, the slightly glazed eyes, the expressions of surprise, adoration, and envy.

He had known, in the moments after he stepped away from the mike, that his friends might not be so friendly any more.

“Get in.”

She didn’t wait for a second invitation. She ran around the cab, and yanked open the door, pulling on it to lever herself inside. She settled hard, spraying the interior with rain, and the faint rosy scent of her perfume.

“You don’t ride in trucks too often,” he said.

Again she grinned. He liked the look. It was impish and self-mocking and sly all at once. “Yuppie trucks. They have steps into the cab.”

“I’ll bet they have shocks too,” he said as he put the truck into gear. The headlights came on, cutting a yellow beam through the rain.

“Shocks?” she whispered in mock horror as he drove forward.

“Yep. This baby hasn’t had any since about 1960.”

The truck bounced along the small ruts in the pavement, and she looked at him sharply as she realized that he wasn’t kidding. “How old is this truck?”

“Older than God. Plus ten years.” He deliberately drove off a curb on the far side of the parking lot, and watched her bounce.

“You got seatbelts?” she asked, clutching the dash with one hand, and the seat with the other.

“Probably,” he said.

He drove up to Highway 101 and turned right. The highway was pretty empty at this time of night. The tourists were safely nestled in their vacation rentals, and the locals rarely went out. Only one coffee shop with the kind of expensive coffees she liked remained open after 8 p.m. It was a new diner right on the highway. Most of the locals thought it too touristy. He considered it just right for the kind of discussion they were going to have.

A discussion he should have avoided.

But he wanted to hear her out, and he didn’t really want to go home yet. He was too shaken by his experience, too full of adrenaline from being on stage.

“You sure you don’t want a beer?” he asked. There were a lot more bars open this time of night than coffee shops.

“I prefer caffeine to alcohol,” she said, somewhat primly. He glanced at her. She was still clutching the dash.

“I promise I won’t go faster than thirty.”

“This thing doesn’t have seatbelts or airbags,” she said. “Thirty could kill us.”

“You’ve led a sheltered life.”

“And you like stupid risks,” she said.

He almost laughed. Usually he didn’t like risk at all. Not any more. But on this night, her comment was far too accurate.

He pulled into the slightly uphill driveway at the Oceanfront Diner. The diner was long and narrow. It was a bright blue with steel trim, and looked, except for the color scheme, as if it had been the model for Edward Hopper’s painting, Boulevard of Broken Dreams. The interior was brightly lit, and through the long, curved windows, Josh could see one waitress leaning on the counter and two customers arguing over their burgers.

“Nice,” she said.

He shut off the truck and it shuddered for a moment before the engine died. Then he opened the door and got out. The mist had stopped — or maybe it hadn’t reached this part of town. The interesting thing about coastal weather was that it changed from block to block and from minute to minute. That was one of the reasons he liked it here: the constant variety within an established setting.

He slammed the door, then watched as she opened hers. She clearly wasn’t used to trucks. She hovered for a moment, then grabbed the door’s side as leverage and jumped. Her heels smacked the pavement, but she had reasonable balance. She shoved the door shut harder than she needed to, but he didn’t mind. She hadn’t looked toward him once for help, even though, with her heels and her tight clothing, she had probably needed it.

She came around the side of the truck, and smiled at him. “Remind me to wear my boots next time.”

He grinned back and offered her his arm. She didn’t take it, moving ahead, and opening the diner door herself. And, in typical female fashion, she didn’t hold it for him.

The inside of the diner was warm, and smelled of fresh pie and coffee. A row of Italian sodas and the large espresso/cappuccino machine marred the space behind the counter, making the place look too modern. Still, a lot of the details were authentic: the glass straw dispensers, the steel napkin holders, the pie case attached to the wall. He liked it in here. Somehow, it made him feel safe.

He waved at the waitress — Suzy — and grabbed two menus from the stack. Then he led Ms. Lukovich to his favorite booth, on the far side of the restaurant.

Once they sat, and she had gone through the ritual of ordering esoteric coffee (“double light mochacino with sprinkles”) and he had ordered his old-fashioned apple pie á là mode, he leaned forward. “What’s your first name, Miss Lukovich?”

He had emphasized the “miss” on purpose. He wanted to know if she was married. She hadn’t corrected him.

“Emily.”

Emily. He liked that. It was sweet, old-fashioned, and somehow tough.

“I’m Josh,” he said.

“I know.” She took her mochacino from the waitress and cupped the glass as if it were a godsend. “I asked Tom Running Bear who you were.”

“Because I’m so attractive?”

“Because you sing like a dream.”

He felt oddly disappointed at her response. He wanted a sign that she was interested in him as more than a voice.

“You obviously performed before,” she said.

“Obviously,” he said dryly.

“And you gave it up to become a carpenter?”

“You could say that.”

She sipped her beverage and sighed. “Two days is too long to go without one of these.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

The waitress returned with his pie. His coffee steamed in a mug beside his plate. The pie was warm and flaky, the ice cream melting off the top.

She set her coffee down. “You seemed upset about your performance. Didn’t it meet your standards?”

He smiled at her over a bite of pie. Correct question, wrong assumption. If he were a relatively new or untested artist, that question would be accurate. He didn’t know how many musicians he had watched drop out of the business because they couldn’t attain the level of perfection they had aspired to. He had learned long ago that musical perfection was a gift an artist attained once or twice in his lifetime, and yet needed to strive for daily.

“Oh, it met my standards,” he said. “I just hate performing.”

“Really?” She folded her arms on the table-top and leaned toward him. Her lashes were long and curled upwards naturally. She wore no makeup on her eyes at all. She didn’t need any. “The man I watched didn’t hate performing.”

“You’re a mind-reader now?”

“No. But performers who hate performing usually get ill, either before or after the performance. They don’t eat apple pie á là mode and they don’t volunteer to go onstage.”

“Maybe I just don’t like the audience.”

She nodded. “Now that sounded a bit more truthful. You don’t like the word ‘fan,’ but you don’t mind the attention.”

“I like it for the right reasons.”

A single line appeared between her eyebrows. “What kind of venues have you played?”

“You name it.” He marveled at his own honesty. He wondered how far that would go. What would he admit to her? And what would he put in jeopardy by doing so?

“Bars?”

“Sure.”

“Casinos?”

“A few.”

“Fairs?”

“What do you have in mind?” His heart was starting to pound. She clearly did have something in mind, and he was going to listen to it. The fact that she hadn’t recognized him and that she was in the business made him feel good.

It made him feel better than good.

It actually gave him a bit of hope.

She picked up her coffee again, sipped loudly, and set it down. “That was your song you performed, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“How many others do you have?”

He shoved his half-finished pie away. “I don’t know. Fifty. A hundred. Some people write poetry. I write songs.”

“Then what I have in mind is this: if you let me, I can launch you.” Her eyes widened as she said that, almost as if she hadn’t expected the words to come out of her own mouth.

He certainly hadn’t expected it. “Launch me?”

“Launch you.” She sounded more confident this time. “This country doesn’t have enough singer-songwriters. You have the charisma, the stage presence and the ability to make those songs live. The song you sang is worth the presentation. If the others are, you have a hell of a career ahead of you. If we play it right, we can make you the next Avril Lavigne.”

“Avril Lavigne?” He struggled to keep the laughter out of his voice. “In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not twenty-something, and I’m not female.”

“No, but you have a unique voice. So does she.” Emily didn’t even sound defensive. “And she’s had hit singles, Grammy attention, a launch that any artist would be proud of. Not a superstar yet, and maybe she never will be, but she makes a decent living and has a great following. What musician could ask for more?”

“Indeed.” He wondered how it would feel, starting all over again, new name, new face, new music. Never quite achieving what had slid into place for him at the age of eighteen. Superstar status. Crowds and limos and no privacy at all.

She leaned back in the booth. His silence seemed to disturb her. “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?”

He clenched a fist. Suddenly the pie churned in his stomach. “I already said I’ve performed.”

“No. You’ve gone beyond regional things. I’ve seen you perform. I could swear it. You’re very familiar.”

Here it was. And this time from someone who knew the business.

He waited.

“Is that why you’re so uncomfortable about talking to me?”

He let out a small breath. He had staked a lot, over the years, on assumptions. People might think he looked like Davy Moss, but they assumed Davy Moss was dead. They might have recognized him when he was alive, but assumed that Davy Moss would never have come to their home town. Once he had walked through Disneyland with only a baseball cap as a disguise, and no one had recognized him because they hadn’t expected to see him there.

But when it came to the stage, it was harder to hide. He was always afraid that his secret would disappear on stage.

It seemed, from talking to Emily, that it only partially disappeared. She recognized him, but didn’t know from where.

Death, especially a fifteen-year-old death, helped.

She leaned back in the booth. “I don’t get you. Most people would be thrilled at this chance.”

“Look, Miss Lukovich,” he said.

“Emily,” she said.

He nodded in acknowledgment. “Emily. I’ve done enough performing to know it’s a succession of impersonal hotel rooms, bad food, and on-the-road loneliness. The attention and the crowds can turn on you as fast as they can be for you. I like working construction. I’m good at it. And I’ve had enough traveling to last one lifetime.”

“But if we can get you to the right level, the money you make on your music in a night will be more than you make now in a year.”

He shrugged. “I don’t need money.”

“Right,” she said. “Your truck proves that.”

“Actually, it does,” he said. “I’ve always wanted a truck like that.”

She laughed, not thinking he was serious. Then she pulled out a card, and scrawled a phone number on it. She slid the card forward.

It was a plain business card. No fancy gold, no script. Just her name, her position, a cell phone number, a fax number, and an e-mail address. No street address. No town listed. Just the numbers. Like every other manager he had ever known.

She stood up and slid on her coat.

“How do you plan to get home?” he asked.

“I live just a block from here. I think it’s safe to walk these streets at night.”

Probably. In comparison to the big cities. But he didn’t like it. “I drove you here. I can take you home.”

“No need, Josh.” It was the first time she’d used his given name. It sounded good coming from her. Warm and intimate, whether she had meant it that way or not. “I want you to think about what we’ve been talking about.”

“I probably won’t do anything else.” And that was true. She had just opened a door on a world for him. A world where he could sing as Josh Candless.

A world where he could be a musician, not a superstar.

A world where Davy Moss was still dead.

Here’s how you order the rest of the book. The ebook is widely available.  Here are the links to Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Other ebookstores should have it as well. A trade paper edition of the book will appear in Fall of 2011, and I’ll put ordering information here at that time.

 

 

Send to Kindle

2 Comments

  1. Wow. It hooked me right in. Too bad those “editors” had no imagination and couldn’t figure out how to market this gem.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Susan. :-)

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>