The Drummer (West Coast Soulmates #3)
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Lincoln Adams was only supposed to be a drunken mistake, the consequence of a little too much Christmas wedding eggnog and loneliness.
Once he’s asleep, I sneak out of his apartment expecting to never see the drummer again.
Except I left my guitar at his friend’s house.
And my earring on his floor.
An earring he uses to leverage me into a lunch date where he starts chipping away at the armor erected around my heart with his too-insightful mind and gorgeous green eyes. His touch heats up my body with a need I’ve never felt before. I won’t do a relationship ever again, but a surprise mutual connection brings us together for a week of sharing and sensual delights.
Seven days of friends with benefits, then we go our separate ways.
What happens in Virginia can stay in Virginia—right?
This story is intended for readers 18 and over due to adult language, sexual content, and adult situations.
Most people called me Linc, like the lead guitarist buzzing my phone now.
“Linc. It’s Bob. Busy?”
Eating a sandwich. “Uh, not at the moment…”
“Good. You’re coming out with me.”
“Uh, why?” I asked warily.
“Scouting talent. Pick you up in fifteen.”
He ended the call.
My full name is Lincoln Jefferson Adams. Yeah. Chuckle now and get it over with. Mom and Dad met when she was a reenactor at Colonial Williamsburg. Dad was a history professor at William & Mary. My middle name of Jefferson came from my grandfather.
Mom managed the house of a nice old guy we were close with now.
Joining Jake Lindsey’s band this fall was my big public break. Bob the guitarist knew me from session work, so I got an audition. Did I think it was a permanent gig? No. Their original drummer Aaron went to rehab and no one knew when he might come back. Or if. Acts needed temps all the time—whether in the studio or on tour.
Which were cheaper, full-time-employed musicians or people who only worked as needed? Yeah.
Anyway, Jake needed a drummer to finish a new album in August and I fit the bill. As said new guy, my job was to do as I was told and I’d get paid the next six months on my lease.
I didn’t expect to be recording in the swank basement of the star’s house, nor did I expect to be welcomed by the band and their significant others, too. The friendliness was weird.
Inviting me to Thanksgiving?
Did I look like I had nowhere to go?
Went back to Williamsburg, by the way.
Mom and Grams got sulky when I didn’t return for holidays.
In December, we performed a one-night-only preview concert for the new album at The Greek Theater, an open-air amphitheater in the L.A. hills Griffith Park region. Venue was packed. Biggest crowd I played for to-date and the debut of the new album to the public.
At the end of the set, Jake addressed the crowd. “We’re almost done tonight. Thank you for the love you’ve shown these new songs. Before we go, one of us has something to say.”
Dylan the bass guitar player approached the microphone and said, “I know, babe, I told you I wouldn’t make it public, but I can’t hold it in. As you all know, this band is family and these guys are my brothers. Now they’re about to become uncles.”
The crowd roared with congratulations.
Then Bob grabbed the mic from him. “Shit, man, if we’re spilling big news, I might as well share mine—Celeste agreed to marry me.”
The crowd went wild.
Jake struck up the chords of the last song, but no one was paying much attention. Finally, he gave up, yelled, “Good night!” into a microphone, and herded us off stage toward their women. “Bloody hell, you all couldn’t have shared this at Thanksgiving?”
With this clearly becoming a personal moment, I ditched for the shower and home.
No one recognized me as I left.
Jake had introduced me by name, but not with a spotlight and camera, so I blended in with the roadies and escaped to my grandfather’s ’70 Charger.
The rumble of that big block had always soothed me—until I put my foot in her.
Then she growled.
How my father came from Granddad, I’d never understand. All that education must’ve ruined him. Teasing, but kinda not really. They shared two things—patriotism and love of family, hence my name. Dad and I didn’t have much in common.
Bob knocked on my door in Studio City twenty-five minutes after hanging up.
I swung it open. “You’re late.”
The tall blond asshole grinned. “Am I really?”
“Fucker.” I shook my head and locked the apartment.
“Nice jacket.” A leather motorcycle jacket so beat up most of it wasn’t black anymore.
“Thanks. My grandfather’s, actually.” I tucked my keys in a pocket and zipped it. “So where are we going?”
“Dylan asked me to find a wedding singer.” The bassist got engaged in November and they decided on Christmas nuptials recently after that public baby announcement.
“And…you…need me for that?”
Every wedding I’d ever heard of took six months to a year of planning.
But what did I know?
Bob shrugged. “Need, no. But you’re still new.”
And they’d been trying hard to integrate me socially. “Ah. Pity date.”
He laughed. “You’re pretty, but not my type.”
We made it downstairs to the parking lot and he unlocked his Ram with his fob.
“Neither are you, blondie. But thanks. I get it. Joining an established group is awkward at the start. You guys have been alright.”
We opened doors. “I don’t let just anyone around this band, Linc. Lots of talent out there. I hired you because I think I can trust you.”
Our gazes met inside the truck. “You can.”
I didn’t shit where I ate, so to speak.
“Good. Now let’s find someone willing to play on Christmas short notice.”
He drove to a coffee house in WeHo first. Today’s artist wasn’t scheduled until seven. The next had a duo trying to Reggae-ize a Christmas song. Then a Country singer that definitely wouldn’t make it in Nashville.
We kept working inland through the likely spots.
Assaulting my ears in the process.
“Seventh’s time the charm?” I said with annoyance as I opened the café door.
“Here’s hoping,” Bob muttered.
We entered as discreetly as possible to minimize him being recognized.
As discreetly as two tall dudes can.
One little table in the back was empty.
A young guy with long dishwater hair and a guitar plucked the strings a last time. “That’s my set. Thank you very much,” he said quietly into the mic, then left the stage.
Polite clapping followed.
A woman wearing a Manager tag on her shirt came up. “Thank you, Blaze. If anyone’s interested in more of Blaze’s music, he has a few CDs at the register. And now…welcome the talents of Michaela Simon.”
More polite applause, except for one blonde chick across the room who gave a little whoop. One fan already. Nothing happened for a moment, then a gorgeous young woman carrying a blue acoustic guitar walked to the mic. She settled on a stool, adjusted the mic, checked her tune, then started strumming her first song.
“Have yourself…a…merry…little Christmas…”
“Whoa,” I breathed next to Bob.
Aside from being beautiful with a mass of shiny black curls, this girl—Miss Simon—had a mesmerizing voice. The longer the song went, the less people talked.
By the time she reached the climax, all of them were in her hand. Including me.
“That’s the one,” I said.
He sat back with his arms crossed. “Let’s hear the rest of the set.”
I was enthralled. Her voice was rich, sweet, and even a little smoky. No, there was just this effectual break that gave color to some of her words.
And sad. What made her sad at Christmastime?
She was only given twenty minutes to sing. I could’ve listened all night.
We made our way to where she left the stage. She crouched to put her guitar in an old black case.
“Miss Simon, we’d like to hire you,” Bob said.
“Beg pardon?” She stood, dark brows meeting in the middle.
Bright blue eyes like a glacial lake.
She made me think of Snow White with the fair skin and ruby lips.
I shot the idiot a look. “Hi, he means you were amazing and we’d like you to sing at our friends’ wedding.”
The brows rose. “Oh. When?”
“Christmas Day,” he said.
“Are you free?” I asked. “The ceremony is at seven at night, so you’d have time with family still.”
“Uh, no family,” she muttered. “Yes. Wow. Okay. Um, what do they want?”
Bob shrugged. “The usual. Hell if I know,” he replied. I face-palmed. “If you’re willing to do it, the coordinator will contact you.”
Which would be Mrs. Lindsey—Beth. She’d taken on making the wedding work at their estate.
“Oh, I’ll take it.” Miss Simon offered her hand. “You guys are…?”
I rushed my hand there first and felt a jolt of static upon contact with her soft skin. “Linc. You’re really good.” And I didn’t want to let go.
“Thanks.” She blushed the prettiest pink. “Michaela.”
“Bob. Here’s our card.” A plain business card with a phone number. “Your contact info?”
“Yes.” She dug into a multi-colored tote bag to produce paper and a pen and scribbled her details. “I appreciate the opportunity.”
Bob took the note, much as I obviously wanted to snatch it. “We’ll be in touch.”
He started for the door. “Linc.”
I desperately wanted to linger in her intriguing presence. “Yeah. Nice meeting you, Michaela.” An apologetic smile thrown her way, then I followed. “Dude.”
“Ask her out after the wedding.”
I glared at him. “She’s right there now.”
We stepped out onto the sidewalk. “Yeah, and I’m not taking the chance of losing our only decent prospect. Keep your dick in your pants until after she’s paid.”
“Bob, it’s not like that. Well, it is, I wouldn’t mind, but did you listen to her? I’ve never heard someone’s soul in a popular Christmas song before. She’s gorgeous and I want to know where that voice comes from.”
He shook his head. “All you romantic fuckers will be the death of me.”
“Dick, you’re engaged.”
“’Cause Celeste doesn’t need that flowery shit.” He unlocked the Ram.
“All women like flowers.”
He rolled his eyes. “You know what I mean.”
We climbed into the truck. “How did you know she was the one?”
“I wasn’t done after I fucked her.”
Geeze, man. “Crass, much?”
He sighed. “I was a one and done guy, and then I wasn’t. She was the same way, she’ll tell ya. Once became a fling, then a thing, and it never ended.”
One decisive nod. “Yep.”
“Like Beth is Jake’s and Hannah is Mike’s.”
“And Jen and Dylan. Wanna join us for dinner?”
I shook my head. “Nah, man, I don’t want to cramp your style. But thanks. Maybe another time.”
Bob dropped me off at home.
I was fine with gaining more friends in L.A., but I didn’t want to get attached, you know? Everyone knew they’d take their original drummer Aaron back in a heartbeat if he said he was ready, so I wasn’t getting comfortable with this group and losing focus.
Focus on things like learning more about Michaela Simon.
Like when her next gig was.
Googling gave me no professional website, but she did have a Facebook page.
Her bio mentioned her singing experience and the typical events to be booked for.
No public personal profile, though.
I won’t admit how many hours I spent watching uploaded cell phone clips on social media. A lot of them shared by a chick named Moira. Probably the girl that cheered for Michaela at the café. No matter the recording quality, the beauty of Michaela’s voice shined.
The videos went back years, yet somehow she was still under the radar despite all the talent scouts in L.A. Had she turned offers down?
Her obvious talent and artistry couldn’t be ignored forever.
The calendar showed the next appearance would be at a bar.
Dylan and Jen were coming to hear Michaela play tonight to confirm the wedding job, but I got to the bar first. The table was reserved under Bob’s name.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t out in the crowd.
“You stalking this girl, Linc?” Dylan asked when they arrived.
Yanking my chain.
“What? Why? Someone has to introduce you.”
“Bob’s on his way.”
“Is he? Didn’t get the memo.” I kept scanning the room, looking for her.
Bob finally arrived, hurrying toward us. “Sorry,” he said, slightly out of breath.
“Bad traffic?” Jen asked.
Odds were good Bob’s fiancée made him late. He was always early.
“Dude, you got a little something…” Dylan said.
Bob swiped at his neck with a cocktail napkin. “Why can’t these music nights ever run on time?” he grumbled. “The first set should’ve started five minutes ago.”
Lights on the stage went dim.
We sat through a fifteen-minute set of a guy trying to do spoken-word poetry while plucking on a bass. There was a smatter of polite applause, then the guy left.
New footsteps, a chair or stool was moved.
Then the spotlight brightened on the mic.
“That’s her!” I said.
Her dark hair was pulled back in a braid and she wore a Christmas sweater and black jeans. She adjusted the height of the microphone stand, then said, “Good evening, folks, my name is Michaela Simon.” Settled on the stool, tested her guitar, then started singing.
It was a song about lost love. Not the most fitting song for Christmastime, but not a soul in the room would complain. The beauty of it was haunting.
Jen grabbed Bob’s arm. “Thank you. She’s amazing.”
“Why doesn’t this girl have a deal?” Dylan murmured on the other side of her.
I wiped my eye when Michaela finished, then brought my fingers to my mouth to whistle. Even from the back of the room, her blush was obvious.
There was such story in her voice, her eyes, and it made me so curious.
“This next song brings the mood back up a bit,” she said.
We got four songs from her minutes, two of them Christmas songs, one that got the whole bar singing along.
“That’s my time. Thank you, everyone. Merry Christmas.” Then the light dimmed and she left the stage.
“I’ll bring her over,” I said, rising.
Bob grabbed my shoulder with his bear paw and pushed me back down. “I’ll do it.”
Dylan and Jen snickered. I gave them a dirty look. She mouthed sorry while he laughed.
“Cockblocking is not cool,” I grumbled.
“You don’t have a shot,” Dylan said.
“What?” I did not have trouble with female attention.
“That girl’s too classy for you, dude, come on. She’s not going for the bad boy.”
“Don’t judge Lincoln for how he dresses,” his fiancée said.
“Thank you, Jen.”
“But if you want a chance with her, I suggest you start slow,” she added. “That first song she sang came from her heart. She’s not going to be interested in a hit and run.”
I straightened in my chair. “Good thing that’s not my style.”
Bob and Michaela worked their way toward us.
We stood when they reached the table and Dylan and Jen shook her hand.
“This is the soon-to-be-Smiths,” Bob said.
“Thank you for hiring me, assuming you still want me at your wedding?”
“Absolutely,” Jen said. “You’re amazing.”
“Thanks. It’s not my first wedding gig, so I do have a repertoire to offer, unless you’ve chosen something specific?” She sat next to Dylan while Bob reclaimed his chair next to Jen.
It put Michaela directly across from me.
I wanted her to look at me, but not because I was staring.
“Not yet,” Jen replied. “I’ve listened to a lot of samples, but nothing’s jumped out at me as the song.”
“Would it help if I gave you a list of love songs I know?”
“I think I might still have one in my car.”
They started to stand and I blurted out. “If no one has to be somewhere right away, how about we order a drink?” The night couldn’t be over already!
“Maybe another time, man,” Dylan replied. He helped Jen into her jacket.
“I’ll meet you in the parking lot?” Michaela said. “I have to get my guitar from backstage.” She was already moving toward the back and I cursed internally.
“Sure,” they replied. The happy couple exited through the front door.
Bob had no reason to stay, either.
Chasing after Michaela would not be cool, so, with a sigh, I made my way to my car.