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Symphony: Music & Lyrics, #5

Symphony: Music & Lyrics, #5

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Symphony: Music & Lyrics, #5

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321 página
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Lançado em:
Sep 30, 2019


Jace was the last remaining single member of Court'n Jacks, an up and coming country music band…and he couldn't be happier.  He'd spent years as guardian of his two younger sisters, but now they were all grown up and they didn't need him any longer.  He welcomed bachelorhood…or he would just as soon as he could get Court'n Jacks latest album finished.  Unfortunately, that seemed to be an impossibility as he searched—unsuccessfully—for the elusive 'thing' missing from their music.  With the upcoming tour looming and the deadline for the album fast approaching, he had no other choice than to ask for help.  He just didn't think it would be from the hot guitarist he'd heard playing in the studio late one night.

The last thing Maeve needed in her life was drama that came in the shape of a six-foot, grumpy musician with control issues.  Unfortunately, she needed the job.  She could suck it up for the next couple of weeks if it meant getting her car fixed and having the money to send her son to summer music camp.  It was just too bad that six-foot, grumpy musicians were her catnip.  So what if it had been a long time since she'd had any adult cuddling…she could keep her hands, and lips, and tongue, to herself, couldn't she?

*This is a 'Too hot to Handle' Romance on the Emma Lea rating scale - These are definitely 18+ reads and contain graphic sex scenes and high level swearing – not for the faint of heart

Lançado em:
Sep 30, 2019

Sobre o autor

I am a business owner, artist, cook, mother and wife.  I live on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia with my wonderful husband, two beautiful sons, a dog and a cat (both of which are female because, hey, we needed to balance all that testosterone!) I am a ferocious reader with eclectic tastes and have always wanted to write, but  never had the opportunity due to one reason or another (excuses, really) until finally taking the bullet between my teeth in 2014 and just making myself do it. I love to write stories with heart and a message and believe in strong female characters who do not necessarily have to be aggressive to show their strength.

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Symphony - Emma Lea


Chapter One

Maeve exited the booth and slumped into the chair just recently vacated by the beautiful stranger.

Who was that? she asked Derek as he fiddled with something on the sound desk.

Jace Court.

Jace Court, as in Court’n Jacks, Jace Court? Maeve asked.

The very one, Derek replied, sitting back in his seat and looking at her with a grin. He was impressed by you.

Maeve snorted. Yeah well I’m pretty great, she said and twirled around on the seat.

Would you be open to working on their album? Derek asked.

Maeve closed her eyes and remembered the brooding way he’d watched her. She may have had her head down, but she felt his eyes on her and had snuck a peek. He was everything she avoided in a man; hot, angsty, intense, and a musician. Working with him would be a very, very bad idea.

Nah, she said, opening her eyes and looking directly at her boss. He’s got pretentious asshole written all over him.

Derek laughed and Maeve smiled at the hearty sound. Derek had the best laugh, it filled every nook and cranny and was so infectious she couldn’t help laughing with him.

Seriously, though, Derek said when he’d sobered. You might be just what he’s looking for. The guy’s driving himself and his band insane with that elusive ‘thing’ he insists is missing from the album.

Maeve snorted. Too much drama, she said again.

You wouldn’t have to work directly with him.

You really think he would just hand his baby over to you and me without him being there to supervise? she asked, cocking her eyebrow.

Derek huffed out a sigh. No, you’re right. He wouldn’t.

Yeah, not interested. Maeve pushed up from the seat. I need to get home. Mom’s probably had enough ‘Oscar time.’

How long is she home for?

Just a couple of days then she’s off again. She’s covering the Six Ways tour.

Derek shook his head with a grin. Your mom is a hair band rocker to the very end, isn’t she?

Yup, Maeve replied popping the ‘p’.

Maeve waved goodbye to Derek and headed home. Oscar would, hopefully, be in bed and sound asleep. Unfortunately Maeve suspected her mother had kept him up past his bedtime and filled him with sugary sweets that would have him bouncing off the walls. He might be nearly a teenager, but that didn’t stop him from getting his way with Mimi whenever he could.

Maeve’s mom, Penny—who insisted she was too young to be called grandma and insisted Oscar call her Mimi—was the ultimate groupie. She thought of herself as a Penny Lane, like Kate Hudson’s character from Almost Famous, but she was much more of a Suzette, Goldie Hawn’s character from The Banger Sisters.

Maeve had been the product of a drunken romp in the back of a tour bus. Penny never would disclose who her father was and Maeve didn’t know if it was because her father was famous or just another deadbeat roadie her mother had met on tour. At this point, Maeve didn’t really care who her sperm donor was.

Penny didn’t let having a baby slow her down and she dragged Maeve across the country following all her favorite bands like the professional groupie she was. Maeve had loved every minute of it, mostly…right up until she’d found herself pregnant and alone, repeating history. Maeve resolved to give her child a more stable upbringing than she’d had and had settled in Nashville and found work where she could. Maeve had been taught to play music by some of the best musicians in the world and she’d taken to it like a duck to water. Before getting pregnant, she thought she might even have a shot at being famous, but Oscar changed all that, not that she regretted a moment of her life with her sweet not-so-little boy.

Penny, having followed bands all her life, couldn’t settle and didn’t want to. According to the story she told whenever she had the opportunity, Penny had run away from home when her parents had forbidden her to go to any more rock concerts. Penny lived a vagabond life, picking up jobs where she could as she followed all the tours of her favourite bands. She’d met just about every member of every major hair-metal band of the eighties and nineties and had conned her way backstage and onto tour buses more times than Maeve could count. After a picture she’d snapped while on tour went viral in the late nineties, Penny found herself inundated with offers from music magazines the world over to do what she loved best and get paid for it. She was living her dream and Maeve was happy for her, even if she missed her sometimes and wished for a traditional family for herself and Oscar.

Penny stayed with Maeve whenever she was in town and as much as Maeve loved having her around, she was also glad when it came time for her to leave. Penny was loud and wild and hadn’t ever really grown up. It was a sad state of affairs when Maeve realised she was the adult in the relationship.

If nothing else, Maeve’s upbringing had shown her that getting involved with a professional musician was a sure way to get your heart broken and she vowed to stay away from them. Not that she had much opportunity for much of a love life being a single mother and if she was honest, she really wasn’t looking. Maeve got lonely sometimes and although Oscar was an absolute angel, it would be nice to share the responsibilities of parenthood with someone else. But Oscar wouldn’t be a little boy for very long—he wasn’t actually a little boy anymore at all, much to Maeve’s disappointment—and Maeve wanted to spend as much time with him as she could while he still wanted to spend time with her. The time would come soon enough when Oscar would rather spend his time with his friends and his days would be filled with school and dates and sport and hobbies. Until then, Maeve was content with her life and the very last thing she needed was a broody, dark—admittedly gorgeous—musician to disrupt her life. Even if he was part of the hottest band in the country right now.

Maeve slid into her car and pulled the door shut with a loud squeak. She put the key in the ignition and turned it to be greeted by nothing. Not even a cough or a splutter. Maeve pumped the gas and then took a deep breath before trying again.

Come on, baby, she whispered to the engine. Her little hatchback wasn’t much to look at, but it was all hers and it was enough to get her and Oscar from point A to point B without too much drama…most of the time.

Maeve turned the key again and was rewarded with the engine firing. The radio blared reminding her she really needed to turn it down before she got out of the car. She grimaced as she recognized the song playing. The Nick Bradshaw Band. Ugh. Unfortunately, as much as she wasn’t a fan, the song was good. She switched the radio off anyway. The last thing she wanted was for that song to get stuck in her head.

With the radio off, Maeve could now hear the engine of her car and it sounded a little rough. The car was overdue for a service—like, a couple of years overdue—but she just didn’t have the money to spend on a car service. She made decent money as a studio musician, but she also had all the expenses of rent and food and utilities, not to mention everything a growing twelve year old boy needed, which didn’t seem to leave any extra for things like car maintenance. She’d get her neighbor to have a look at it, he was pretty handy with cars and things. He’d fixed her washing machine that one time, although it was a simple fix. Hopefully the car would be too.

The drive home wasn’t too bad this time of night and she found a parking spot easily enough out the front of the apartment block where she and Oscar lived. As expected, Oscar was still awake when she walked in the door and he looked up at her sheepishly. She couldn’t be too mad at him; she knew from experience how lax her mother was with things like bed times and curfews and school. Maeve was lucky to get her GED at night school after a lifetime of half-hearted home-schooling from her mother while chasing rock bands across the country.

Hey Mom, Oscar said. How was work?

It was good, she said, slumping on the couch beside him and pulling him in for a hug.

He struggled against her, but she didn’t care. He might not like it when she showed her affection in public, but he could damned well take it at home, even if he was now taller than her.

Ugh, do you have to?

Yup, she replied with a smacking kiss on his cheek. Did you do your homework?

Of course, he replied, and she had no doubt that he was telling the truth. Oscar was the serious type who excelled at school, enjoyed it even. A far cry from Maeve and her own academic failings.

Alright, time for bed, she said.

Can’t I just stay up to watch the end of this?

It’s on Netflix, baby. You can watch it any time.

I know but it’s at a really good part. Please, Mom?

Maeve huffed out a sigh. He didn’t ask for much and it was just one night. Alright, fine, but just until the end of this episode.

He grinned at her and then turned his attention back to the television.

Where’s Mimi? she asked.

Outside, I think, he replied distractedly.

Maeve heaved herself off the couch and headed through the small apartment to the sliding door off the dining room. It opened out onto a tiny balcony that overlooked the apartment building next door. Penny was sitting out there, cigarette in hand, as she flipped through a gossip magazine.

Hey Mom, Maeve said, pulling up a second chair and sitting down next to her mother.

Oh Maeve. You’re home early, she said.

I’m not really, Maeve replied.

Penny laughed. Early for me, babe. I think my body clock is all twisted up. She took a drag on her cigarette and Maeve tried hard not to curl her lip in disgust. At least her mother wasn’t smoking inside the apartment around Oscar. Listen, I’ve got to leave tomorrow.

Oh, Maeve said, a little disappointed. I thought you were staying for the week.

I was, but the magazine wants me on the tour with Lily Ames.

You’re covering country artists now? Maeve asked with a raised eyebrow.

I have eclectic tastes, Penny retorted.

Maeve snorted. I thought you were all rock and roll all the time.

That was before, Penny said, taking another hit from her cigarette. Have you heard some of the country music they’re putting out lately? It’s hard to tell the difference between it and mainstream music. Although, she added with a sigh, I have to say, there’s a distinct lack of good rock and roll these days.

Maeve smiled. Her mother was a dyed in the wool, eighties hair-band rocker. Her job had given her a wider appreciation of music as a whole, but Penny’s first love was bands like Bon Jovi, Journey, Def Leopard, Guns ’n’ Roses, Poison, and the like.

What time are you leaving? Maeve asked.

Early, Penny replied. I have a flight out at eleven. Can you give me a ride to the airport?

Of course. We’ll drop Oscar off at school and go straight there.

Thanks, babe, Penny said, turning her attention back to the magazine.

Maeve sat for a few more moments before pushing up to her feet. I’m going to bed, she said. Don’t stay up too late.

Penny waved away her comment but didn’t look up as Maeve went inside.

I thought I told you to go to bed when that episode finished? she said coming into the living room where Oscar was still sitting on the couch.

I am. It just finished now, he said, turning the television off.

Maeve smirked. Sure, sure, she said.

Oscar rolled his eyes at her as he got up off the couch. Maeve kissed him again for good measure and laughed as he tried to shake her off. When he was gone, she tossed the couch cushions on the floor and pulled the bed out. Penny was sleeping in her room on her bed while she was staying with them which meant Maeve got the couch. She didn’t mind too much, but it was another thing to look forward to when her mother left in the morning—getting her bed back.

She went to her room to change into her pajamas and then slid beneath the covers on the sofa-bed. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. An image of Jace Court floated behind her eyelids and she mentally rolled her eyes. He was far too good looking for his own sake and from what Derek told her, he was a diva. Jace Court was absolutely the last man she should be fantasizing about.

It’s time to go, Jace, Derek said from the doorway of the sound studio where Jace had set up camp.

Listen to this, Jace said, flicking a switch on the sound desk so that music filled the room.

Derek sighed and stepped into the room, taking a seat beside Jace and closing his eyes to listen to the playback.

Do you hear it? Jace asked.

Hear what? Derek asked in reply, opening his eyes to look at Jace.

Exactly, Jace said.

What are you going on about, Jace?

There’s a…I don’t know how to describe it. It’s…lacking something, I just don’t know what it is.

It sounds fucking perfect, Derek replied with a low growl. You do know you are going on tour in a little over a month, right?

Yeah, I know.

And the album is supposed to drop just after that.

I want it to be perfect, Jace said. It’s just not there yet.

Perfect is the enemy of done, Jace. There has to be a point where you say it is enough. You keep tweaking and tweaking and listening to it over and over again and of course it’s going to start sounding boring. You need to take a break, man. Put it to bed.

Jace understood what Derek was saying and he also knew he was being far too pedantic about the album, but it was their first full-length LP and he wanted it to be something they could look back on and be proud of.

They had a decent following from their tour the year before with Lily Ames and the upcoming six week music festival tour they were doing was bound to get them more fans. They were hoping to preview a few of their new songs to gauge audience reaction before their album was released. He just wished he could identify exactly what it was that seemed to be missing.

Derek stood and slapped a bear-paw sized hand on his shoulder. You can’t do anymore tonight, he said. Go home, get some sleep. Take a few days off and come back to it with fresh ears.

Jace blew out a slow breath. Yeah, okay, he replied.

He was tired and he could do with a decent night’s sleep. He stood and flicked off the playback, plunging the studio into silence. Jace’s life hadn’t been quiet very often and if he was honest with himself, he avoided silence whenever he could. He played music constantly, even when he slept. There was something about absolute silence that made him uncomfortable. Being afraid of the dark was a common enough fear, but being afraid of the silence? He’d never heard of that and he really didn’t want to examine the reasons for his phobia too closely. His past needed to stay buried in the past and if that meant he had to play music 24/7, then he would.

Don’t come into the studio tomorrow, Derek said as they parted ways at the door. I’ll tell everyone in the place not to let you in.

Fine, Jace huffed, rolling his eyes. He didn’t need to be in the studio to work. The studio in his house was practically finished anyway, and he could work there without Derek even knowing. See you later.

Derek waved him off and Jace headed for his truck. If he was honest with himself, he had been avoiding going home. Stevie and Nadine had moved out months ago and Vanessa spent most nights with Carson, not that she’d officially moved in with him yet. That meant the big house that had been home to the three Court siblings (and Stevie for a while) was now only home to him. It was an awfully big house for just one person, which was why he spent most of his time in the studio. Jace might not want to actually interact with other people, but he liked being in a building where there were other life-forms. Maybe he should consider getting a roommate.

Jace slid into his truck and wiped the ridiculous thought away, knowing he should relish having the whole house to himself. He could watch whatever he wanted without fighting for the television remote. He could walk around in his underwear—or naked even—if he so chose to. He could buy pizza with all the meat toppings he wanted without having to cater to everyone else’s food preferences. There was a lot to like about being on his own. This was the first time in his entire life he was actually living on his own and not responsible for anyone else and he should be savoring the experience, not whining about it.

He exhaled roughly. Wow. He hadn’t actually thought of it like that before. He’d always been responsible for his sisters, ever since their parents died. Even though their aunt took them in, Jace was the one who really looked after Nadine and Vanessa, and became their legal guardian as soon as he was old enough. Jace was finally his own man with no responsibilities away from the band and he could actually have his own life if he wanted to.

A weight fell from his shoulders and his lips actually curved up into an unfamiliar grin as he realized he’d never really imagined getting to this point. Oh, he knew the girls would grow up and move on, but he’d never really thought about what that would mean for him personally.

Jace pulled the car into the garage and turned off the engine, just sitting for a moment in his truck as he contemplated his new life. The girls had been adults for a few years now, but he’d still felt responsible for them, especially when Nadine was spiraling. But they both had their own lives now. They were taking responsibility for themselves and their own happiness, and Jace couldn’t help but feel a little bereft at the thought. He’d never thought he’d feel the whole ‘empty-nest’ syndrome, but that’s exactly what the hollow feeling inside him was.

But it wasn’t a bad thing. It was good. It was good for him, right? Now he got to make decisions based solely on his own desires and it felt so fucking good to Jace to know he could put himself first for a change.

Maybe spending some time in his newly empty house wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Chapter Two

I wasn’t expecting to see you today, Derek said when Maeve walked into the studio.

Maeve shrugged. Mom left this morning, so no more nights for me. I figured I could get a jump on whatever you have next for me.

Actually, Derek said, the corner of his mouth ticking up in a mischievous grin. I wouldn’t mind you having a listen to something for me.

Sure, she said, dumping her bag and setting down her guitar before taking a seat. Who am I listening to?

I’m not going to tell you, he said. I just want you to listen and give me an honest opinion of what you hear. Okay?

She shrugged. Okay. It wasn’t an unusual request. It was easy to pre-judge something when she knew the artist. If Derek needed fresh ears on a track, she was happy to give them to him.

Maeve picked up a set of headphones and settled them over her ears. She closed her eyes and waited for Derek to push the playback button. Guitars, keys, violin and drums filled her ears. It was good, the musicians skilled and the melody sweet. No vocals. That was probably because Derek knew she’d be able to pick out who the band was if she heard them sing. Maeve had a good ear, it was how she learned to play. She’d only very recently learned to read music and that was more because of her client’s perspectives than out of necessity. She preferred to play by ear, but it made some clients nervous.

Her fingers picked out the chords in thin air as she listened. It was intricate and yet not complicated and she liked it. A lot. In her head she could hear another line of melody, weaving in and out of the established sound. The voice track could possibly fill that space, but in her head, it was a guitar.

The track faded and she opened her eyes. Taking a moment to gather her thoughts, she slipped the headphones off her head and looked at Derek.

What did you think? he asked.

I like it, she said.

But? I can hear a but.

Maeve smiled. It’s just missing something.

Derek rolled his eyes. Oh for fuck’s sake, he said. You too?

Me too, what?

Derek shook his head. One of the band members says the same thing, that it’s missing something, only he just doesn’t know what it is.

Maeve nodded and bit her lip. Can I play around with it? she asked.

You wouldn’t mind?

No, I’d like to, I think. I’d need to hear the voice track, but I think I have a good idea what it is the band is looking for.

Studio four is free all day, Derek said. Take as long as you like, but don’t let anyone else hear you, okay?

Um, okay, she said slowly.

The band don’t know I’m giving it to you and I’m not exactly sure how they would react if they found out without me walking them through it.

Maeve rolled her eyes. What are you getting me involved in, Derek? You know I don’t do drama.

I know, but if this album doesn’t get finished soon then these guys are going to lose their shot. Their fans are chomping at the bit and if they don’t pull their heads out of their asses and release the album, those fans are going to start looking elsewhere.

Okay, fine, but I don’t want to be drawn into the mess, she said. I’m happy to do my bit, but I don’t want to get into the middle of some band politics.

I know. I promise I’ll keep you out of it.

Maeve stood up and slung her bag over her shoulder before picking up her guitar case. Studio four? she clarified.

Yep, Derek said. I’ll put a copy of this track and a couple of their other ones in your file on the server. You might get some inspiration for their other tracks while you’re at it.

Great, thanks, she said sarcastically as she left the studio and headed down the hall toward studio four. It was her favorite place to work, the smallest studio that most of the other artists thought was little better than a closet, and Maeve liked the intimacy of it. It was good for working solo and that was her favorite way to work.

Maeve set herself up in the tiny studio, pulling out her guitar and taking a moment to check the tuning. She plugged it into the desk and slid on her headphones—her own this time, not a pair of studio ones. She might drive a crappy car and live in a tiny apartment, but she made sure her equipment was top of the line. It was expensive, but they were the tools of her trade and if she intended to keep making money, she needed

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