Chewie nodded. "It’s supposed to be able to make a button a minute, but Kev and I tried for an hour up in our room and only managed to do . . . this." He gestured to the end table, where I saw two mangled buttons with The Hitchcocks' logo emblazoned on them. The paper with the band’s logo was flapping away from the metal backing of the pin, which in turn was bent almost in half.
Sky looked at the twisted metal circles and laughed. "What did you do? Did you even bother reading the directions?"
Chewie lifted his sunglasses slightly, showing his brown eyes beneath. "Directions? We’re men. No directions, no problem."
Kev sighed. "Also, we lost them."
Sky looked at him, dumbfounded. "You lost them?! Now we’ve got a useless button maker machine and we wanted to have the buttons ready for Chicago tomorrow night."
"Maybe it’s a dud," Chewie said. "We might’ve just gotten a bad machine. We could throw it out."
I’d seen all kinds of wasteful spending on the bus—from the ridiculous hot tub to the insane quantities of top-shelf liquor—but this was becoming ridiculous. "Wait a minute," I said. "Are you seriously talking about throwing this out? Look, Chewie, how much can you sell a button for at the merch table?"
"Five bucks, I guess?"
"So if you could make a button every minute, that’s three hundred dollars per hour. Can you really afford to give that up?"
Sky grinned at me. "You have to put this in terms Chewie will understand," she said, elbowing her brother playfully. "Chewie, the accountant says you could make an ounce of weed an hour."
"Damn," he said, shaking his head, "that’s a lot of weed. But that still doesn’t mean I can figure out how to use it."
I pushed up the sleeves on my blouse. "Here, let me try. Let me see one of each of the supply parts." I looked for the back of the button first—that part was easy, it had a pin. I slid it into the machine, then put a blank piece of metal, artwork, and a cover over it. "That’s gotta be the right order," I mumbled, half to myself. Nothing else would make it possible to see the artwork and have the pin in the right position. "Now we just have to figure out how to use it. If I just bring this lever here down . . . and then we . . ."
After a few seconds, I lifted the lever and brought out a perfectly serviceable Hitchcocks logo button. Smiling, I handed the masterpiece to Chewie.
"Far out," Chewie said then turned his head toward the stairwell. "Yo, Jax, we have a button maker!"
My smile faded and pulse quickened as Jax came downstairs, a towel wrapped around his waist. If he was wearing anything else, I couldn’t see it. His muscled torso gleamed, and I had an unwelcome urge to reach out and touch him. "Good," he said with an approving nod toward me. "We’ve needed that."
His sudden appearance refreshed my mind of our last interaction, and my positive mood quickly soured.
As he went to the bar, Sky said, "Want to stay here and make buttons with us?"
He shook his head. "I’m going to my room to write. Instead of messing with buttons, you guys should be practicing the set—we’ve got a big show tomorrow and I don’t want anyone blowing it." He locked eyes with me for a moment sending a flutter through my stomach before heading to the stairs with a couple bottles of Guinness.
As he walked up, I couldn’t help myself from honing in on the firm contours of his towel-clad ass. Wow. I’d been so focused on everything he had going on in the front—tatts, muscles, nipple rings, and all—that I hadn’t taken a moment to appreciate the magnificent backside he had. My fingers flexed with a sudden urge to slap it.
When I stopped staring, I realized my mouth had been open and the band members were all looking straight at me.
"What?" I asked, hastily assembling a new button in the machine to hide my embarrassment.
Kev shook his head, smiling faintly. "It’s just like watching a nature show—the mating displays of the alpha male, starring Jax Trenton."
"Mating display?" I said.
"He gave you that ‘look’," Kev said. "Like he’s marked you as his prey,"
"Well, he’s barking up the wrong tree," I defended, not liking how accurate his assessment of the situation probably was.
Chewie lifted his sunglasses and looked at me with big brown eyes. "Yeah, man, but this is Jax. You don’t even know yet."
"Ugh, I don’t care if he’s Casanova," I said, popping out a button and readying another one. "I’m not interested. He’s really not my type."
"He’s every woman’s type," Sky said soberly.
The trio looked at me skeptically. Everyone looked like they wanted to say something, but they were keeping it in. The room was uncomfortably silent for a moment.
I cleared my throat. "So the buttons . . . what are you guys planning on doing about them?"
"Well we can’t practice and make the buttons at the same time," Kev said, "I volunteer Sky."
She shot him a disapproving look. "Hey, I need to practice too! This is all your fault anyway, you and Chewie couldn’t do it right the first time."
Completing another button, I sighed. I knew what I had to do. "You know what, why don’t you guys go practice. I’ll take over the button-making."
"You sure, Riley?" Sky asked.
"Yeah. This stuff has to do with money. So, in a way, I’m responsible for it."
Chewie and Kev, excited to have someone else working on the buttons, started interrupting each other to give me the supplies.
"Here, take the pins—"
"These are the covers—"
"And here comes Chewie with the metal!" Chewie said, using an exaggerated voice, which made me giggle. He brought the box of blank buttons down across his body in a sweeping arc like he was playing a power chord.
Kev burst into laughter and moved toward the steps. "Was that supposed to be a guitar? I’ve gotta go practice so I don’t look like you."
"Sorry, man, I only play real instruments," Chewie said, getting up to follow Kev upstairs. "Like drums. That’s a man’s instrument."
Sky let out an exasperated sigh in their direction as they disappeared into the second level, then turned to me. "I’ve gotta go practice with these apes. Help yourself to anything in the fridge. And don’t forget to get some sleep, even though the couches pretty much suck."