So it’s been a while since Scorched (Feverish 2), and I’m finally writing Red Hot, Feverish 3, Dane’s story. I was hoping it would be ready this month–and it still might–but I think it’s more likely to be ready in December. Whatever the case, I wanted to share with you the prologue. Enjoy!
Dane Furman couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this blitzed.
Like, completely out of his mind. The edges of the room were fuzzy, as if he were looking through a cloud—but at least he forgot about Bernadette.
Or whatever her name was.
But he must have passed out, because the fuzzy edges were now black, and he felt like he was wrapped in a cocoon.
“Hey, Dane. Buddy.” The voice seemed quiet but it still cut through the darkness like a knife. As Dane opened his eyes, the face was blurry at first, but as he forced his eyes to focus, he saw his friend and bandmate Sam. “We’re due onstage now. Are you up for it?”
Dane blinked a couple of times, still tasting whatever the hell rocket fuel he’d consumed, the fumes residing in his chest. Had it been whiskey or Jäger? Maybe vodka?
Probably a combination of them all. Inside, he felt like a brewery.
As he stared at Sam, he noticed Clay to the left and Brian to the right. Shit. They were all counting on him. From the moment they’d hired him just before they broke big, he promised he’d never let them down.
So why the hell had he let Bernadette’s words get to him?
Maybe she hadn’t meant any harm…
Brian’s voice sliced through the air. “Dude, I don’t think he’s gonna be able to do—”
Dane snapped his head up, forced his eyes open wide. “I got this.” It wasn’t until he started to stand up that he realized his hand was gripping a bottle, but when he tried to focus on the label, it was all but impossible.
All his efforts he put to standing.
“Nah, he’s gonna be okay,” Clay said, one handing holding his arm helping him gain enough momentum to stand. As he did, he felt Brian removing the bottle from his other hand. “You feel like you can keep the beat, D?”
Swallowing hard, Dane stood straight and listened to the song that was rolling around in his head. Instead of one of Last Five Seconds’s tunes, it was an old Alice in Chains song rattling around, a brilliant guitar solo played to perfection. But he focused on it and, though he’d never drummed it, he knew how he’d play that part—and he began beating out the rhythm as if he were holding sticks and his drum kit was right in front of him.
“I think he’s got it,” Clay said. While his words seemed optimistic, the tone belied his true feelings.
“I don’t know.” Sam stroked his brown beard as if assessing the value of the Mona Lisa. “Dane, tell us honestly. We’re not gonna be pissed, but we need to know if you can do this. We’ve got some options.”
“Options?” Brian asked. “I can’t play drums and bass, guys.”
Sam’s eyes lit up. “That’s it. I hadn’t thought of that. You can take the drums and I can play bass.”
“That’s a bad fucking idea. You might be able to chew gum and walk at the same time, but when’s the last time you played the bassline for any of our songs?” Sam squinted an eye, and Brian continued. “Never?”
“You haven’t practiced, dude. If it was that easy, I’d just show up when it was time to record.”
Sam all but rolled his eyes. “Yeah, okay. You got a better idea?”
“We could ask either of the other drummers if they feel up to playing. We could pay ‘em.”
“Shit,” Clay said, “I bet anything they’d just love to play with the headliners. That’d be bragging rights.”
“I got this!” It wasn’t until his three bandmates shut up, wide-eyed, and looked at Dane that he continued talking. “Seriously, guys. If it’s the last thing I’ll do, I’ll play this show.” When Brian got ready to protest, Dane said, “And I won’t fuck it up.”
The three men looked at each other, voting amongst themselves without saying a word out loud. Sam said, “Okay, man. We’re trusting you.”
“I won’t let you down.”
It didn’t bode well that Clay had to keep his hand on Dane’s arm to help him walk, but Dane fought past the waves of dizziness, the need to sleep, and even the lingering anger.
It was time to play.
Suddenly, he was sitting on the stool behind his set of drums, wishing he could throw up. At this point, for all he knew, he still had alcohol in his gut getting ready to be digested—and, if so, he might not be at his worst point.
Can’t think like that, Dane. Get your head on straight.
That was nearly impossible. Instead, he had to focus on one thing: making it through the show tonight. Then he could crawl onto the bus and sleep it off.
The crowd was loud, roaring, their love for LFS strong. This was the part he loved the most. The audience’s cheers, their motion out past the stage, almost like waves in an ocean, sending positive vibes. It was here that Dane felt completely accepted, totally loved. It wasn’t when he was signing autographs or being interviewed. It wasn’t seeing their fan base grow on social media or hearing one of their songs on the radio. It had nothing to do with reviews of their albums or going platinum.
It was here. Now.
And he had an obligation to these folks.
More than that, he had an obligation to his brothers. The fans would understand, accept, forgive. His bandmates maybe not so much.
So he swallowed again and tried to loosen his stranglehold on the sticks in his hands. Focusing on his breathing, he found a quiet, calm place. Air in through the nose to a slow count of five and back out through the mouth to the count of six.
Damn, it was difficult. He felt like his head was floating above the stage, detached from his body, but when he opened his eyes again, he was grounded a bit.
Enough to tap the sticks together to start the show.
One song after another, he played his heart out. After half of the first song, he started sweating as if he were running a 5K. The fans blowing on him didn’t do much good, and he started to think it wouldn’t have mattered if it had been March instead of June.
The heat was coming from the inside.
But maybe that was good. He was working the shit out.
Unfortunately, by the fourth song, he felt like he was going to puke all over. Twice, he turned his head one way and then the other, trying to decide if it would be better to vomit toward the big fan (which guaranteed he’d get it on him) or toward the other side where he wouldn’t be able to avoid hitting a drum.
Instead, he focused on his breathing again—in, out, in out—while keeping time for the music. A couple of times, Brian walked back to the set, standing below the platform the drum set sat on, looking up at Dane. Was he assessing how he was doing or trying to send a message that he wasn’t playing so well?
Rather than worry about it, he concentrated on the task at hand.
Beat after beat, minute after minute, song after song, he worked his way through and, after a while, it was because of the music that he made it. Connecting with the rhythm on a visceral level that he hadn’t tuned into in a long time pulled him through the show.
Getting up at the end, though? That was going to be a hell of a feat.
The three guys standing were gathering near each other, and Clay turned, one arm opened wide, inviting Dane to join them. Pushing himself up with his feet, once more gripping his sticks like a vice, he also used those fists pressed against the stool to lift his body.
But the stool wobbled and he lost his balance.
Clay and one of the roadies rushed over before Dane could topple into the drums. His feet were all but numb but, with Clay’s arm around his back, he was able to take a few steps. The roar of the crowd at that point was deafening, and he could feel their encouragement. While they might not have known exactly what was going on with him, they were glad to see he was okay.
Holy crap. The more he moved, the less he felt. It was as if his head wasn’t attached to anything. There was no sensation of feet, or ankles, or shins. In fact, he could barely feel his knees as they bent, putting one foot in front of the other. For all he felt, the Nikes on his feet could have been his skin.
When he and Clay reached Sam and Brian, Sam put an arm around Dane’s back and the four of them did their customary bow—which, as usual, turned out to be several times up and down, thanking the crowd for being there.
Unfortunately, all that up and down made Dane dizzy again.
But he was so happy right now. The alcohol had dampened the negativity from the pre-show shit and now, basking in the adoration and love of the audience, he felt alive and energized.
“We love you guys!” he shouted, unwinding his arms from his bandmates. Then, lifting his right arm, he drew back and threw the drumstick deep into the crowd. Someone back there caught it, so he took the other stick and wound up much like a pitcher might while the audience poised itself to play catcher. This time, though, he lost his balance a bit and lurched forward, losing hold of the stick, causing it to fall behind the crowd barricade.
While he stared down at it, Clay touched him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, man.”
One of the guards behind the barricade picked it up, though, and acted like he was going to toss it out. “Give it to me,” Dane shouted.
“Sure.” The guy might have been burly and a little scary looking, but he was deferent to the rock star.
Dane felt his lips curl in a lopsided grin just thinking about that and reached for the stick. But that dizziness took hold again and his footing, not so sure, became wobbly. Clay’s hand was still on his back, but he wasn’t holding him. As Dane started toppling forward, he could feel Clay grab the back of his t-shirt, but momentum had him now and there would be no stopping this fall.
It was almost surreal how the world began revolving in front of his eyes—how the stage underfoot was suddenly overhead, how the tumble to the ground behind the barricade seemed to be miles away and take an eternity.
Finally, he hit, and then his senses started working again. He could hear the swell of the crowd, he could see the guard standing over him, joined by another, as the band got close to the edge with Clay trying to figure out a way to jump down.
As Dane closed his eyes, he realized he still felt no pain. He registered somehow that he wasn’t completely flat on the ground. Instead, his back was twisted against the metal barricade. He could feel the motion of it as fans tried to get close, but that was all he could feel.
And, as he let his eyes and mind go completely dark, he grabbed onto his daily mantra: I feel peace.
As his consciousness completely slipped away, he marveled once more at how he didn’t feel any pain at all. Blissful nothing.
Cover reveal coming soon!
So what do you think? Are you ready for Dane’s story?