-Meeting the Band - Final Edit

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A/N While rereading Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, I found a couple of inconsistencies. These have now been fixed and pieces of the story changed, with new bits added. Please feel free to read, follow, vote, comment with suggestions, or just say hello.

Chapter 2 - Final Edit

Meeting the Band

The narrow corridor smelled of offensive body odor and expensive, spicy men's cologne. The city had just passed a no-smoking ordinance inside any buildings, thank heavens. Still, the odor clung to everything it ever touched. Even the people who sneaked outside for a quick drag reeked of death. 

Pre-show overwhelmed me, always had. A half-dozen or so of Sinful Universe's security guards lined either side of the corridor, forcing us all to walk single file. Roadies carrying equipment back and forth from a room near the exit squeezed by, sometimes pushing us into a wall. Shouted words echoed up and down the hallway. My heart began to palpitate, my breaths were shallow and quick, my head spun, and the edges of my vision began to darken. Bode pushed me forward, out of the fray, dragging Chloe close behind him. I stopped when a familiar figure pushed off the wall and stood in front of me.

"Celebrity status. Nice." Luca Moretti—the proprietor of the venue Sinful Universe would play in tonight—grinned his thousand-watt smile, the one he used as a come on line. Once I had thought it breath-taking, but lately, I found it creepy, if not sinister. He brushed a piece of hair behind my ear and then caressed my face with the back of his hand. The muscles in my back stiffened and everything cleared. "It's been a while, Keegan." 

I groaned. Luca thought himself quite the ladies' man with his midnight black hair, stormy gray eyes, and a smile so white his teeth glowed under the blue lights. Shivering, I wrapped my fingers around his wrist and jerked his hand away from my face. "Not long enough. Never long enough." 

A halogen light flickered above my head, then stopped working altogether. "This place is in shambles." I pointed to the cracks in the plaster, the bumpy wallpaper, and the worn floor. "It's a good thing the front of house shines, isn't it? Reminds me of how beauty often hides the chinks in other's armor." I smiled and leaned in close. "Don't mess with me, Luca. I know where a good deal of your skeletons are hidden." 

He stilled, his brow furrowed, then, of all the things he could have done, he giggled. Not a chuckle or a laugh, a giggle. 

A low growl sounded from behind me. I looked up and smiled. Bode still had his hand on my back and nudged Chloe and me toward a red door on her right. "Princeton's waiting." Bode's words demanded, not requested. 

"Looks like the talent doesn't think you can take care of yourself, beautiful." Luca stepped closer, his hot breath against my ear. "I'll see you later tonight, and that's a promise." Then he sauntered off toward the main part of the club, his strides long and certain, his posture tall and confident. 

"Find some fucking gum, moron." Luca pissed me off. He wanted me in his bed, I wanted him on his deathbed. 

"Oh God, are you okay?" Chloe grabbed my arm, squeezing so hard my fingertips were turning blue. "I didn't think he'd pull his typical stalker bullshit tonight. Not with the band here." 

I nodded and smiled, keeping the revulsion to myself. "Hey, Chloe, you think you might let up on my arm hon?" She did and apologized, rubbing my wrist for me. 

Luca's club could house more patrons than any other venue in Chiders Heights, hence the only reason Sinful Universe dared to step inside the seedy establishment. The building was two stories of bars and dance floors; booths, tables, hi-top seating around the three largest bars, and private cabanas. Squeals began to rise and echo down the hallway. Things must be packed. He needed the business. His day job as a medical technology representative was being threatened. The company he worked for faced several lawsuits and rumor had it, layoffs were inevitable. 

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