Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank L.A. Witt for stopping by today.
Title: Running With Scissors
Author: L.A. Witt
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance
Eighteen months ago, drummer Jude Colburn made the biggest mistake of his life when he walked away from his band just as they were on the brink of success. Now, he’s got a second chance. The band’s bassist just quit, and Jude plays bass almost as well as he plays drums. The other band members aren’t thrilled, but they are desperate.
Running with Scissors needs him, but there’s one condition: no hooking up with bandmates. That’s what ruined things eighteen months ago, after all. Jude’s on board, but no one warned him about the drummer who replaced him. A.J. Palmer is shy and unassuming . . . until he hits the stage. He gets Jude’s attention from the first beat, and suddenly that “no hookups” rule isn’t so easy to follow.
Keeping secrets on a tour bus isn’t easy either, and it’s only a matter of time before the band catches on. When everything hits the fan, Jude has to choose: a second chance at the career he’s always regretted leaving, or a shot at the man of his dreams?
After sound check, they waited backstage for their cue to go on. Schadenfreude’s sound check had been a lot longer, so everyone had to warm up again in their ready room.
It was cramped back there—the headliner probably had better digs, but Jude wasn’t complaining. And at least Connor’s preshow vow of silence meant no sniping or bickering. Everyone was too focused anyway.
Jude peeled the tape off his fingers and flexed them gingerly, knowing they’d be hamburger before the end of the night.
Come on, callus. You can show up anytime now.
Across the tiny room, like any drummer with half a brain, A.J. was doing some stretching to limber up his arms and shoulders. He was wearing a tank top, as Jude often had during his drumming days. Being onstage could get wicked hot, and besides, sleeves restricted movement. And damn, A.J. looked good like that. His arms were as powerful as any drummer’s should be, and surprisingly free of ink—unlike anyone else’s in the band.
And just as Jude had suspected he might, he’d put on eyeliner, and damn but he wore it well. It brought out the blue of his eyes and intensified his gaze. When he glanced at Jude at one point, Jude almost jumped out of his skin—A.J. may have been a church mouse, but his eyes didn’t let that show tonight.
Maybe that was the purpose of the eyeliner. The slim black lines were a mask of sorts, a degree of separation between the world and who A.J. was when the lights went down. Jude knew a lot of musicians who wore makeup, costumes, sunglasses—anything to put a barrier between them and the audience so they could perform without losing their sanity. As a friend of his had once described it, stage makeup and costumes were temple garb for worshipping at the altar of stage fright.
Did A.J. have stage fright? Quite possibly, now that Jude thought about it. He struggled to hold eye contact during a one-on-one conversation. So maybe—
“You guys ready?” Someone from the venue leaned into the tiny room. “You’re on in five.”
The five minutes before a curtain went up always passed like five nanoseconds, and this time was no exception. The man had given them their five-minute warning, and just like that, Jude was onstage under the hot lights, the roar of the crowd vibrating beneath his feet. He couldn’t see much beyond the lip of the stage, and his earpiece drowned out most of the noise, but he could feel the crowd. He could feel their collective presence extending out into the shadows and up the sides of the immense stadium. The roof didn’t even seem to exist, and the crowd soared up, up, up as if they all went on forever.
That presence, the unavoidable reality that thousands of people were watching and listening, was like lightning through his veins. All the drama between him and Connor, all the side-eyes and uncertainty from the other band members—it was gone. Out here, there was nothing but music and lights, and Jude was dizzy from it all. Giddy, even. Nothing had ever made him as high as playing onstage, and this was like taking a deep toke of the strongest weed he could find after abstaining for too many years.
And goddamn, but he’d forgotten how much he loved being onstage with this group. Exchanging glances with Richie. Shiloh dancing, singing, working the crowd. Vanessa powering through riffs that gave Jude goose bumps.
And Connor. Jesus. Though Jude and most people could say a lot about him, the guy could bring a standing crowd up onto their toes. He had even more charisma to burn than Shiloh.
Yes. Yes, this was right. Whatever drama they all had offstage, they had their collective shit together here, and it was magic just like in the old days. For better or worse, Running with Scissors was back, and Jude was almost overwhelmed by adrenaline and emotion as the past simply disappeared.
Three songs into the set, the lights above them went down, and Richie and Jude backed off, playing in the background and making way for the drum solo.
Jude turned around, and his fingers slipped off the strings for a beat.
He could’ve sworn he’d seen A.J. on the throne behind the drum set when they’d taken the stage, and he’d heard and felt the powerful percussion since the opening number, but . . . that couldn’t possibly be A.J., could it?
Beneath the blinding spotlight, A.J. was lost in the intense drum solo, his hands and drumsticks blurring as they beat and tapped and crashed. Droplets of perspiration flew. The percussion line reverberated through Jude’s bones. It was like he was looking at a whole new person. Drenched in sweat, with muddy smears of eyeliner emphasizing his blue eyes, his skin flushed and his shirt gone, A.J. wasn’t the shy kid who’d waited beside Kristy back in Nebraska, or who’d blended in with the upholstery on the tour bus, or who’d nearly disappeared into his own hoodie while they ate last night.
There was nothing shy or timid behind that drum set. The stage brought out a side of A.J. that made Jude’s fingers fumble on the strings and his mouth go dry. Yeah, A.J.’d been holding back during sound check, but he sure as fuck wasn’t holding back now.
It was like the stage was a parallel universe, one in which Connor was fun and happy, where Jude fit seamlessly into the band he’d founded, and where A.J. the church mouse exploded out of his shell and beat the crap out of that drum set like his life depended on it. Maybe the real world and all its shyness and drama would still exist when the lights went down and the instruments went back into their cases, but here on this stage, it vanished.
A.J.’s solo wound down, and as Richie, Vanessa, and Jude started playing their hearts out once again, Jude vowed to savor every moment of this other world for as long as they let him play in it.
As the set continued, he couldn’t get A.J. out of his mind. Whenever possible, he stole glances over his shoulder as if to remind himself that, yes, that really was A.J. back there. That those sounds, those powerful beats, came from the hands of the kid who could barely hold eye contact.
And who was he kidding? The music held his attention, but so did the man himself. Sweaty, passionate, lost in the beat—A.J. was hot. He personified everything that could turn Jude on.
Right then, eyes locked.
The corner of A.J.’s mouth rose.
And Jude forgot what song they were playing.
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Running With Scissors) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 5th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to leave your email so we can contact you if you win!
About the Author
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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