She grinned. "Amazing, right? Use it whenever you want. It gets better." She pressed a button on the deck’s back wall. A noisy hum began, and a shadow fell over the two of us from above.
I looked up to see a cover rolling over the bus, making a ceiling. I gasped. It was a convertible. I couldn’t imagine what it had cost. I knew the details would be in the email from Palmer, but it was becoming increasingly clear that the band was spending their money as fast as they could possibly be making it.
"Now I know I’m dreaming," I said, trying hard to keep the disapproval out of my voice. I didn’t want to get a reputation as the party pooper on my first day—I knew from experience that being too harsh, too soon with a client could lead them to hiding expenses from me. "Want to show me the other floors?"
"Suit yourself, but this is the best one."
She led me down the stairs, to the bus’ second level—a cramped hallway with four narrow doors. "All the bedrooms are here along with another bathroom."
"Only three bedrooms?" I asked.
"Kev and Chewie share," she said, pointing to one of the doors. "Chewie’s my big brother, and a pretty great drummer . . . even if I’ll never say that to his face." She smiled. "Kev is Chewie’s bunkmate, the band’s lead guitarist, and a dead ringer for Ryan Gosling. But if you’re smart, you’ll never tell him that. He’s a little sensitive about being a baby face."
I made a mental note of it—but that wasn’t the only reason I’d asked. "Where will I be sleeping, exactly?"
"Good news is, you’ve got a couple of options. Bad news is, they’re all couches. You can borrow a pillow or two from me if you don’t have any. I’ve got tons."
I was grateful. A pillow hadn’t been on my packing list. "This, over here, is my room," Sky continued, her words fast and light. "I’ll even open the door. Just ignore the mess, okay?"
She pulled open a door to reveal a bedroom not much larger than a closet. A double bed took up almost the entire floor, leaving a space in front of the mattress edge just wide enough to stand in. Rock concert posters, old and new, covered the walls. On the bed was a bass guitar, along with papers around it. As I looked a little closer, I noticed hand-drawn music notes, some scribbled out, on the papers.
"Wow. Do you write the songs for the band?" I asked, pointing to the papers.
"Me?" She laughed. "I just play bass. This is something I’ve been working on for fun." It struck me how different her life was from mine; I couldn’t have imagined getting home from my job and working with more numbers just for the hell of it.
She closed the door to her room, and pointed to the third door. "That, over there, is Jax’s room, AKA the Fortress of Solitude. He likes to go in there and hole up."
I stared at the door to his bedroom, finding myself curious. What was it like in there? A hot mess like what I’ve seen of him? Or clean like the green room from that night? Why was I even wondering about this?
Sky, seeing my gaze locked on Jax’s bedroom door, raised an eyebrow. "I wouldn’t go in, if I were you."
"Oh, I wasn’t," I said hurriedly, hoping she didn’t think I had a thing for Jax.
She shook her head, giving me a wry half-smile. "I know."
Her smile gave me pause. "Are you and Jax together? I mean, not that it matters, I’m just curious."
"Heh. No. Jax isn’t exactly the ‘together’ type, with anyone," she said, wrinkling her nose. "The length of his relationships can usually be measured with a stopwatch."
From what I knew about Jax already, I wasn’t surprised. "I guess it must be easy to move from girl to girl when you’re a rock star," I said lightheartedly.
"It’s not that," Sky said in a quiet voice. "Believe me. He was like this before he ever wrote his first song. I’ve known him since he was fifteen, and he’s just not wired for real relationships—rock star or not. There’s no soft, mushy core in Jax, and there never has been."
"Ah, I see." It was more candor than I was expecting, and yet another sign clearly pointing to Jax as bad news. The more I learned about The Hitchcocks’ frontman, the more I resolved myself to keep him at arm’s length.
I’d seen him for the first time just a few days ago, and in that time, he’d nearly caused a riot at his own show, flashed his c**k at me, and been chased by a jealous mob. And in the midst of all that, I’d had my life threatened multiple times. He wasn’t just a bad boy anymore; he was a very real danger.
When it came to a man as desired and dangerous as Jax, there was only one way I could keep both my job and my life safe. Look, but don’t touch.
"Anyway!" She wrapped her arms around my neck and hugged me tightly. "I’m so glad there’s another girl on this bus!"
I squeezed her back, realizing how much better I felt after having met Sky. She seemed like a kind, cool girl that I could hang out with, especially if I wanted an excuse to avoid Jax.
"What are you doing up there, Sky?" a voice came from the first floor—a masculine voice, but without Jax’s velvety smoothness.
"They must have gone downstairs when we were up on the deck," Sky said to me. "Come on, let’s go."
We walked down the steep bus steps to the living area. Chewie sat hunched over, looking at a metal machine in the middle of the room that I didn’t recognize. Behind him was a man with soulful, pale blue eyes and blonde hair. It must be Kev—the resemblance to Ryan Gosling really was uncanny. Next to Chewie’s tripped-out persona and Jax’s larger-than-life bad-boy presence, Kev’s clean-cut look made him seem like the boy scout of the group.
In any other rock group, Chewie and Kev would have been the ones with admirers hanging off them. But compared to Jax, they looked like overgrown boys. A joint hung limply in Chewie’s mouth as he twisted the machine’s parts. His frizzy hair and big sunglasses were haloed with thick, skunky smoke. "Okay, I give up," he said, looking up at us hopelessly. "Either of you know how to work this?"
I looked at the machine, which seemed almost industrial. It was relatively small, and had an empty round part at the bottom. I shrugged. "I don’t even know what it is. Sorry."
"Oooh!" Sky burst out, as gleeful as a kid. "Is that the new button maker?"