Heart and Soul
She was pretty sure that both Samboras were trying to drive her insane. It was a toss up which one of them was going to get punched first. Stephanie dragged her hands through her hair, messing up all the work she'd done to perfect her look. She tapped a nail on her slim black skirt where the zipper dangled at the top of her thigh.
It was three minutes until they hit the stage and Jamie was still MIA. The last week had been a lesson in patience. It so wasn't her strong suit. "Where the fuck is Jamie!?"
Ash twirled a drumstick, the tip of wood was a neon green to match the ends of her spikey hair. "Probably boffing some stud."
"I'll kill her," Steph growled. Maybe Jamie getting laid would improve her fucking mood. However, she'd prefer if she waited until after the show to open her thighs. She heard the stomp of boots without a heel and the skid and slap of a hand on the corner of the wall as Jamie flipped her long hair out of her face and made it with ninety seconds to spare. "Nice of you to join us."
Instead of a snarl, Jamie just mumbled an apology. Definitely not like her. Her eyes were rimmed in red under the heavy handed kohl liner and mascara. She couldn't tell if it was exhaustion or if she was drunk. Fortunately for them, Jamie played better drunk than sober sometimes. Four hands, nails in varying lengths and colors, piled up between them. Jamie's shredded lace wrapped hand on top.
"Play with heart," Ronnie started.
"Beat with lust," Ashley laughed.
"Sing with passion," Steph affirmed.
"Play with soul," Jamie said in a rusty voice.
The ritual evened her out, even as Jamie hurried ahead of her. The darkened stage beckoned, the restless chatter of the crowd died as they headed for their spots on stage and the acapella opener of Kiss Me Deadly ripped into the night. Shimmering purple lights pulsed and flashed to pure white as the band kicked it into high gear. She smiled and hung off the front of the stage to reach for outstretched fingers. It never ceased to amaze her how much the crowd supported them now. She undulated against her mic stand just and played up the lyrics, laughing as Ronnie came out to lean into her mic with her. She leaned back on Jamie as her girl shredded her way through a solo.
Even rough around the edges, Jamie became the music when she got on the stage. So like her brother in that aspect. But no matter what she tried, she couldn't coax the smiles out of her best friend tonight. The aching wail of her guitar wouldn't be denied and her solo drew out until the intricate notes blended until the crowd stomped and screamed their approval. Instead of fighting it, she signaled a change in the setlist. Introspection and passion could be exploited when Jamie was like this. Heart and Soul was on the album, but they rarely played it.
The song was slower, moodier, and allowed her to get behind the synth that she didn't allow herself to play enough. It played with a driving beat and challenged her vocally to hone in on lyrics that cut close. Even written a year ago, the words were like a prophecy. Jamie belted out the middle. Her rougher, smokey voice put the grit into the song and layered on her words. They melded and merged organically. Harmonies had always been their strong suit. Even when Jamie was miles away as soon as the songs started they were one on stage.
The constant, almost flat vocals that she maintained only enhanced the words that welled up inside her so that when Jamie soared up above the sorrow of the words and belted out the hope and the strength of coming out the other side of a love that just wasn't strong enough. And there she could show just how hard it was to breathe with Richie's confusing reactions and her own want crashing inside her.
She'd been in love before, but nothing could come up against the overwhelming feelings that Richie pulled out of her. It was bigger than herself, bigger than
Tired eyes, tears that dried
(living in a fantasy)
On the bed, on the pillow, where you told your lies
(there's never any room to breathe)
A turn of the key, my blood runs cold
(hoping every waking hour)
Don't look back to hurt me more
(you'll turn around and say that we can start)
Everything you did just said it all
Can't you try to
(oh won't you even try to)
Give a little bit of heart and soul
(give a little bit of heart and soul)
Give a little bit of love to grow
Give a little bit of heart and soul
(give a little bit of heart and soul)
And don't you make me beg for more
(must I beg you)
Give a sign, I need to know
A little bit of heart and soul
She caught Jamie leaning out with her mic stand, her guitar around her back, the tails of her scarves swishing back and forth over her indecently ripped jeans that showed more flesh than could or would be covered in denim. Jamie arched back and cried out all the savage emotions that were been boiling inside her.
Somehow, I lost my way
Looking to see something in your eyes
But love will never compromise
Now this is the politics of life, yeah!
Instead of picking up the pace she allowed the longing for something more to bleed into Addicted and prowled the stage. The fix, the addiction of the almost there emotions and limbo she'd been living in crawled out of her skin. She knew it was the exhaustion, the need for a break from the stage, from Richie, from the confusion, all of it was coalescing until she felt like she was drowning. The tears came out of nowhere and added a richness and thickness to the lyrics.
Their lighting guy framed her out in the unforgiving white of spotlights and she collapsed to her knees. Her chest heaved as the lights went out.
She got herself back together and climbed back to her feet. "So, tell me Portland, are you..." she drew it out, flipping her hair back and leaning hard on her mic stand and shading her eyes against the glaring lights as she saw the entire arena on their feet. Afraid that she'd lost them to the low key songs, she immediately got pumped that they simply went on the ride with them. "Tell me, are you ready to rock?!"
The rest of the show was a blur of high octane songs, Jamie was on fire. The sweat slicked down her back and she stripped down to a torn tank off her shoulder and the micro mini. She ran the length of the stage, dragging Ronnie up to the front with her, laughing when the joy of singing kicked in out of the emotional morass that started the show. Even Jamie was laughing by the end of the show.
"I just wanted to let you know that Portland completely rocks!" The crowd went ape shit and she laughed. "Well, hot damn, that's what I'm talkin' about!" Surprised at the strength of the reaction, she pumped her fist. "This is our last song--"
he shredding blues and a side of manipulated feedback pole axed her into stillness. The riff was undeniable, the style unmistakable. She whipped around to see Richie in full leather regalia. Black on black in tight leathers and tank, silver crosses and a pick in his mouth as he waved to the crowd and adjusted his guitar to give it another round.
He leaned against his sister, but his eyes were focused on hers and the riff blasted out one more time. He stalked toward her, the riff extended and he pummeled his wammy bar until he was sidled up to her mic stand.
You know you are a cute little heart breaker
And you know you are a sweet little love maker
I wanna take you home, yeah
I won't do you no harm
You've got to be all mine, all mine
ooh Foxy Lady
Richie's voice had been made for Hendrix. His rawness and powerhouse treatment of the lyrics ratcheted up the lust factor until she was pretty sure sweat wasn't the only reason she was dripping wet. She played up the fun factor of the song and swayed her hips to the gypsy soul of the song. Her smile was all fox when she molded herself to his back for a moment, undulating against the curve of his spankable ass, then back around to whisper, "foxy," into the mic.
Surprised at his boldness on her stage with this song, she decided that he'd pay for each riff, note, and reverberation of his guitar. She slithered around his back, sliding her hand between the guitar and his belt, instantly satisfied when his guitar twanged and he stiffened at her touch.
"Here I come baby, I'm comin' to get you," he sang as if on cue.
She laughed and slipped away from him to let Jamie in so they could duel it out with the solo. Back to back, long lean guitarist, to long lean guitarist, they wailed on their guitars. She took the opportunity to work the crowd even as they roared their approval of tonight's special guest to their set. Revved on lust and the unexpected punch of excitement, she taunted the crowd for more.
And as the song came to a close, it was the three of them at the mic, more laughter than grace at this point. And he stayed and helped out with their hit single, Since You Been Gone, surprisingly adept at the melody. He played rhythm guitar with ease, letting his sister shine. The crowd screamed her own words back to her and her life felt pretty fucking good. These were the shows that she lived for.
This is what she longed for, coveted, and searched for every night. And when Richie snuck away just before bows, she couldn't have loved him more. Damn that man. He let them soak in all the praise and the unabashedly vocal love from the crowd. Her sisters crowded in on her as they hugged each other, bowed, then howled with laughter as Ashley handspringed her way across the stage to do a tucked back flip then bounced off stage.
Steph did her final wave then rushed backstage. She snagged one of the roadies. "Where's Richie?" The kid just shrugged and rushed off to do whatever job he was supposed to be doing. Like ants, the techs and roadies covered the stage wearing black shirts and dark jeans. They broke Devotions's equipment down and pulled the cover off of Teek's drumkit. All of this was under the cover of low lights. The crowd was still rowdy from their set, the noise level high as it was time for bathroom and beer runs.
She pushed her way to the dressing rooms, smiling when she should, glad handing and kissing cheeks when she couldn't get out of the personal touch. What had he been thinking coming on that stage with her? Confused by his absense for the last few days, and then he just shows up to rile her up and leave her in the dust.
She caught a teased red tail and sparkles on a tailed jacket and pounced. "David!"
He turned with a smile. "Man, you were hot tonight!" He dragged her in and hugged her tight enough that she went up on her toes at his exhuberation.
"Well, then," she laughed and hugged him back. And he didn't let go. "Thanks, now put me down."
"Oh, right. Sorry, the boobage got me distracted."
She rolled her eyes. "Pig." He just rolled one sparkly shoulder. "Where's Richie?" Again he shrugged. "You are not helpful."
"I can be very helpful," he said with a leer.
"Not with what I want, man-whore. Go play with the handful of girls that are staring at us."
He sighed. "You don't know what you're missing, Lolly."
"Ugh," she said in disgust. Jon's nickname for her had caught on and now everyone called her that. Well, except for Richie. The remembered, Baby, of a few days ago fluttered in her chest like an echo. She'd never liked a guy to call her that before. But something about the gravelly way it rolled off his tongue made her go soft as caramel.
She wandered to all the spots that he could possibly hide, backstage, the showers, the changing room, the wardrobes...nothing.
Paul started clapping and shouting and she caught the sparkle of leather and fringe and a dimple flash as he waved at her and hit the stage. "Goddammit!" He'd known she was looking for him. What the hell game was he playing? She stalked off to the showers and drowned her buzzing head under a cool blast of water. Jamie was in the stall beside her.
"Can you fucking believe that show?"
Steph let the water pour over her neck for another minute then surfaced. "No, I can't. How the hell are we going to top that for tomorrow night?"
"Maybe a cover song meddley? You know, rip out some oldies? The Skids are going to be here. We can always convince Snake to come on stage with us."
Steph thought about it for a minute. Not that they would be able to outshine what was done tonight, but they could give it a good try. "Doc's not really in love with me right now to ask for extra time."
Jamie chugged the beer she'd brought with her into the shower. "I can get the slick bastard to give us time."
"If you can get the okay, we'll do it. Right now, I don't want to rock the boat."
"That's all right, I'm sure Jonny would let us."
Steph's eyebrow rose as she peered around the corner. "Oh really?" It wasn't the first time that Jamie had made a comment like that. "Just why would you be sure of that?"
"No reason." Jamie ducked back under her spray and suddenly her water shut off.
"What's going on with you?"
Jamie slammed back the last of the can and shot it into the garbage can littered with quite a few cans already. All Jamie's? Steph shook that thought off. Her best friend was more likely to down a pint of Jack than a six pack of beer. She wasn't sure what was more dangerous.
"Nothing's going on, I'm just restless. You know how I get," she shrugged. "I just need some exercise, or to get off the bus or something. Maybe I'll mog around tomorrow at one of the shopping centers. Akron sure knows how to get their shop on."
Itchy to get out off the bus and hotel merry-go-round she shut off her own shower and tugged a towel around her boobs. "I could go for a shop-a-thon if you want me to go with you."
"Yeah?" The first bloom of a real smile hit her best friend's face.
It made her realize that they really hadn't done anything like girlfriends in a good long time. The bus, the schedule, the hotels, the stolen time gave them little time to just hang out. She was either doing interviews, or they were being herded into photoshoots by Doc. She spent the majority of her time at radio stations or avoiding and alternately chasing Richie for the last few weeks.
"Yeah, why don't we go have a girl's day."
Steph laughed. "No, I could do without Taz for an afternoon too. We'll sick her on Ronnie. Or better yet, a boy at the afterparty."
Jamie padded off into the closet-sized room that all the girls had to share as a dressing room. She followed, picking out a pair of jeans from the overflowing wardrobe case. Halfway up her thighs, she realized they were Jamie's and kicked them off. "Are you trying to bunk space in my case, brat?"
"That's where they went!" Jamie snatched the jeans out of her hand. "I've been looking for these." She hopped into them, the flash of black lace bikini's and her best friend's prime ass wiggled into the jeans.
"I really hate you."
Jamie zipped them up and frowned at the missing button, then shrugged and left it open that little bit. The mini-cups that she called a bra dangled from her elbows as she reached for the catch and snapped the strap into place. "What'd I do?"
"You're all skinny and shit." She flipped out a pair of jeans from her case, this time they were definitely hers. At least two sizes bigger than Jamie's goddammit.
"Hey, I'd trade my stick insect body for your cuves in a hot second, pal." She nodded to Steph's pink bra. "Especially the boobs. It's just not right that you got the curves and the boobs."
"You've got the legs," she pouted.
"Both of you are gorgeous, so can you stop?" Ronnie called over as she zipped skinny jeans into a magenta pair of knee high boots. "We've got a room full of hot boys backstage ready to party and you're wasting time."
Steph slapped her hips and turned to the tiny mirror as she tugged down an oversized white tanktop that let her bra bleed through. She definitely needed new clothes. Shopping was definitely in order. "Okay, I'm ready."
"Finally," Ronnie said with an exasperated sigh.
"What are you worried about, you're with Mike." Steph fluffed her hair and cinched a heavy buckle at her hip.
"I'm not dead!"
She laughed and slicked on some gloss. She wasn't going to wait for Richie tonight. She was going to have fun and flirt her face off. "No, I'm not either." She hooked her arm throught Ronnie's and Jamie's. "We look hot, let's go kick ass."
"That's what I'm talkin' about!" Ronnie said and swung open the door.