My new novel, Lyfers, will be released Tuesday, February 9. Until then, here’s a preview!
Luc took a deep breath, inhaling the salty sea air through his nose and exhaling through an O-shaped mouth. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for all this again. Each of the South American crew members nodded or shook his hand, and one hurried forward to take his rolling suitcase and duffel bag from his shoulder. Their tour manager Sandy was bringing any special matching boy band gear they were supposed to wear this weekend.
The fans would be starting to show up in less than an hour.
Luc tipped his head to Markus as they each emerged from their respective limos. Rusty waved from the top of the gangway. Rusty, Vaughn, and Sandy were waiting with more crew members and a heaping stack of suitcases. The last limo slowed to a stop with a quiet squeak of the tires. Braden stepped out and concealed his eyes with dark, skinny sunglasses.
“What up, Bray?” called Markus.
“Hey, man,” said Luc, following Markus over to greet Braden. They engaged in handshakes and half-hugs, and Braden led the way up the gangway, which rattled with every step, while Markus hung back by Luc.
“We’re going to make a pact.” Markus shoved his shoulder into Luc’s to get his attention. Except with Markus’s comparatively scrawny frame, it was more like slamming into Luc’s elbow than his shoulder. Markus was average height at 5’9”, but he had been the shortest in the band by 1 inch ever since Rusty had a growth spurt at age 15, two years after they had formed 4 Lyfe. Because of this, Markus had a bit of a complex about his size and used physicality and physical appearance to make up for it. Oh, and alcohol.
Luc laughed. “A pact? What is this, girl scouts?”
Markus looked with all seriousness at Luc from above his sunglasses. “I won’t drink if you won’t gamble or sleep with anybody.”
“I can’t sleep with anybody? Or just not with girls?”
Markus ran his hand over his goatee. “Are you going to make Rusty’s night or something?” The two glanced at Rusty to see if he had heard. He was talking to Braden and didn’t seem to be listening. Markus shook his head and said, “No, we already made that pact after the last cruise. No inner-band relations. That gets too weird.”
Luc didn’t say anything else, so Markus backhanded him in the arm. “Is it a deal?”
“Maybe the girls part, but not the gambling part. There’s a casino right downstairs.” His voice raised an octave on the last sentence, pleading with Markus to be reasonable.
Markus threw up his arms. “There’s a bar on every floor! In some cases, multiple bars. I’m fucked if I don’t have some kind of incentive.”
“Staying sober isn’t enough of an incentive?”
“No. Now having a pact.” He held up a finger like he had just gotten a brilliant idea. “That gives me something to prove.”
“A pact, huh? How about we make it a bet instead?”
“Uh, because you’re not supposed to be gambling.” Markus poked him in the side of the head as if he was pushing the reset button on Luc’s brain.
Luc brushed his hand away and smoothed down the sides of his hair so that his dark curls congregated at the back of his neck. He closed his eyes for a second and envisioned the blinking lights of the slot machines and the feel of the soft felt of the blackjack tables just a few floors down. “Fine, but can the pact be to indulge in moderation?”
“That’s not how this works, dude. Think about it.”
“I will. And I know just where to go to think.”