"He sounds like an asshole."
In surprise, Adia turned a pair of widened
eyes towards her raven-haired bass player.
"Keelia! That's horrible!"
Keelia Edwards shrugged nonchalantly.
"Maybe so, chick, but it's true. I mean, the boy wouldn't even give you his address without the third degree. Explain to me
how this eliminates him from the asshole category?"
Adia sighed heavily and fingered a chestnut lock of hair. "He's
suspicious of people, Keelia, and rightly so. I mean, he's got a pretty high-profile career. He's got every right to be cautious
of his surroundings. That doesn't make him an asshole."
"You're his colleague," Keelia argued. "He shouldn't be immediately
suspicious. THAT makes him look like an asshole. If he goes into the tour without an open mind, he's going to be a pain in
the ass to work with."
Adia stifled a smile at her friend's prevalent rough edge. "Don't you think that's a little
Keelia shrugged again. "In a word? No. You're too nice, Dia. You're gonna get your ass kicked one day."
when that day comes," Adia acknowledged, "I'll relinguish my manners to the gods of ire. Until then, I'd like to retain a
teeny, tiny bit of the hospitality that I grew up with."
"Suit yourself." Keelia reached between her friend's legs
and turned her amp on, plucking a few strings of the bass to make sure it was properly tuned. When she was satisfied, her
gaze returned to Adia. "I still think he sounds like an asshole."
With a roll of the eyes, Shane Lions entered the
room, guitar in tow. "Is Kiki spouting her feminist bullshit again?"
"Not quite," Adia laughed. "She's just telling
me what she thinks of Nick Carter."
Shane squinted at Keelia skeptically. "You haven't even met the guy yet. What can
you possibly think of him?"
"He's an asshole," Keelia growled.
"Once again," Shane said, stifling laughter.
"You haven't even met the guy yet. How has he already screwed up enough to be labeled an asshole?"
"He didn't want
to give Dia his address so she could send him a demo."
Shane's eyes widened in amazement. "How does that make him an
"It just does."
Shane shook his head and pulled the guitar up to his knee, propping a leg up on Keelia's
amp so he could tune. "You know, KiKi, your logic never fails to amaze me."
Keelia shrugged. "Not all of us can be
blessed with such a brilliant brain, dear."
Shane winked discreetly at Adia. "Somehow, I don't feel slighted..."
Keelia bitching again?"
All eyes turned towards Jason Aires, who was trying in vain to juggle his drumsticks. Adia
immediately shook her head.
"One of these days, Jase, you're going to poke an eye out with those
He grinned. "Cool."
Adia winced at the thought. "How is that cool, exactly?"
"I'll get to wear
a patch. It'll be tight."
"Sounds kinda sketch to me," Shane countered, and Jason turned to glare at him.
girls'll love it. You just wait."
"Kinda like they love the whole clumsy drummer disposition?" Keelia retorted with
a smile. Jason rolled his eyes.
"Man, everyone's a hater today..."
Adia frowned. "Especially Keels..."
nodded his agreement and turned concernedly towards Keelia. "Yeah, what's up with that? Rough week?"
"Cypress and I broke up."
The entire band sighed in unison. "Again?"
Keelia flinched. "Man, rub it in, why don't
Adia was the first to cave. "Keelia, you know we didn't mean it like that. It's just...you two seem to have a
relatively rocky relationship."
The brunette sighed. "Rocky would probably be an understatement. She's just so much
fun when we're not having it out with each other."
"Which is never," Shane pointed out with a frown. "You know we love
you, Keels, but every time I see you two, you're fighting."
"They're love quarrels."
Adia fought to stifle a
smile. "Sweetie, you can only make that excuse so many times. After that, you're just fighting with each other."
returned the bass to its stand and plopped down on the amp with a pout. "I really do love her."
Jason nodded. "I'm
sure you do, chica, but sometimes you've got to let go."
"So noncommittal," Keelia muttered with a roll of her eyes.
"Do you get worked up over anything?"
"Sure," Jason answered with a shrug. "Doesn't everyone?"
Shane and Adia
exchanged knowing smiles as Keelia rolled her eyes.
Shane disappeared to grab the keyboard, and
Jason took a seat on the floor next to Adia. "So, how'd that business meeting go?"
Adia shrugged. "All right, I guess.
Ani was hilarious, as usual, and the suits at Nick's label were relatively condescending, but I'd expected as much."
frowned. "Condescending how?"
Adia laughed. "Jase, I'm just a little girl who plays music for club crowds, okay? I
know absolutely nothing about the business side of the industry, and they were pretty quick to remind me of it. There's a
lot of tour lingo that I'm not quite up to par on."
"Fuck it," he shrugged. "You'll get it eventually."
thoughts exactly," Adia laughed. "I'm in this because it means playing for more people. I couldn't care less about the perks
of being a rock star."
Jason grinned. "Not even the free weed?"
Adia rolled her eyes. "You're incorrigible."
you love me for it."
Jason shook his head. "All the time. Admit it. You're addicted to the Jasonator."
groaned. "Sometimes, Jason, I wonder about you and your sanity."
Shane chuckled upon re-entering the stage, keyboard
in tow. "Don't you mean his lack of sanity?"
Keelia cracked a smile for the first time that evening. "That too."
assembled the keyboard stand with one eye fixed on their young lead singer. "So, what's the deal with Jive? Did you guys blow
them out of the water?"
"Apparently Ani blew some smoke up their asses," Jason relayed with a grin, and Shane pumped
a fist in triumph.
"Damn, I love that girl!"
"You and I both," Keelia countered. "Of course, I'm sure Elena
dropped a few jaws too."
"Not quite as many as Jackie did," Adia admitted with a laugh. "The second she introduced
herself as the lawyer, everyone around the table when silent. I don't think they quite knew what to make of her."
aren't the only ones," Jason muttered. "Hell, we've been working with her for the past six months, and I STILL don't know
what to make of the girl."
"You're just jealous because Jackie's got class," Keelia shot with a frown. Jason made a
"And the only reason you like her is because she's a lesbian."
Shane's eyes widened at the pot shot, but
"And the only reason she's a lesbian is because no guy in their right mind would EVER attempt to tap
Suddenly, all eyes were on Adia in shock. She flinched.
"What? I can be crude too when the occasion calls
"Oh, I know," Jason acknowledged, "but it never ceases to amaze me."
Keelia giggled. "Yeah. You're
kinda funny when you're pissed off."
Adia sighed. "It's not like that. Jackie's a nice person. She's just a little
rough around the edges sometimes."
"And you're a perfect circle?" Shane finished with a smile. Adia glared at him.
but..." The others started laughing, and she rolled her eyes. "Nevermind, man. What's the set list for tonight?"
and Keelia exchanged a shrug before Jason answered. "Beats the hell out of me. I figured we'd just wing it."
nodded her agreement. "Yeah. I figured we'd play a few of your album songs, a few obscure ones, and then a few random covers."
grinned. "The random covers are always the best, though. No offense, Dia, but I love playing famous music to a hyped-up crowd."
nodded her agreement. "I'm right there with you. There's something about singing other people's music that is way more fun
than it should be." She paused for a moment, pondering the covers the band had done in the past, before glancing at everyone
in turn. "So who exactly were we planning on covering tonight?"
"Letters to Cleo," Jason muttered with a broad grin.
"I've had 'Cruel To Be Kind' stuck in my head for-fucking-ever."
"Sounds good to me," Shane agreed. "As long as we
get to do 'Just A Girl'. That song kicks ass."
"Especially yours," Keelia laughed. "The way you fumble around for the
keys on that one makes me hurt."
Shane rolled his eyes. "Shut up. At least I'm not the one who consistently
screws up the Chili Pepper songs..."
"Hey now," Adia intervened. "Let's not turn this into an ego chase, okay? Covers
are supposed to be fun."
"Kind of like ragging on Shane?" Keelia interjected with a smile.
Adia arched an eyebrow
expectantly. "Keels, I'm sorry about Cypress. We all are. It's not an excuse to fight with Shane, though."
Shane muttered. "Fight with Dia instead. At least it's easy to get a rise out of her."
Adia's jaw dropped indignantly.
Jason chuckled. "He's just being mean, Adia. If I weren't such a stoner, I'd be just as indignant as you are."
groaned. "That's one of those backhanded insults, isn't it?"
She shook her head. "Okay, so I'm not
going to cut a break today."
"Oh, no," Keelia argued. "You will."
"Damn straight," Shane laughed. "She's the
only one of us who has yet to screw up a cover."
Adia's grin of triumph lit up the room. "And don't any of you forget
"Yeah," Jason joked. "Everyone bow to the goddess of piracy. I think she's ripped off every artist in the free
world at least once."
Adia smiled devilishly. "At least I haven't smoked them all out, Jason dear."
he cried with a grin. "Ladies and gentlemen, beware. Our innocent young songstress has finally turned the wit on."
it was always on," Adia answered with a laugh. "I was just feeling nice."
Keelia glanced at Shane in surprise. "Is
the sky falling or something?"
"Not quite," Shane laughed, "but it will when we cover 'Shiver' at the end of the show."
groaned at the mention of the Maroon 5 song, but Jason smacked her.
"Oh, chick, don't even front. You know you love
the pop shit as much as Dia over there."
Keelia wrinkled her nose in disgust. "Or not. Adia loves everything."
smirked. "Keels, on the other hand..."
Keelia covered her friend's mouth with one hand and grabbed her bass with the
other. "We're not going to finish that sentence. It'll just open a whole new can of worms, and we're due to perform in about
Shane frowned. "What are we doing until then?"
"Yeah," Jason intoned. "Why can't we make fun of
"Because we seriously have to discuss this tour with Mr. Backstreet Boy," Keelia said with a sigh. "He
may sound like an asshole, but he's a pretty damn big stepping stone for our careers, so we really should figure out how to
make the best of this situation."
"His label set a few rules," Adia sighed. Jason was the first to frown.
kind of rules?"
"Well," Adia began, "all songs for each set have to go through Nick before we can play them onstage."
a no," Jason mused. "Next?"
"We've got to keep image in mind so we don't do any damage to Nick's reputation."
basically we can screw up within reason," Keelia chuckled. "Because there ain't no way we could do damage to that kid's reputation.
He got himself arrested for resisting arrest, right? He's a dumbass."
Adia frowned in disagreement. "I think there's
more to him than that. He seemed kind of withdrawn."
"Of course he seems withdrawn!" Keelia retorted. "He's freaking
"I think it goes deeper than that," Adia argued, but Shane interrupted before she could finish.
basically we get to pull the Backstreet Boy out of his shell and piss off the label in the process."
him. "Awesome, dude! This tour's gonna kick ass!"
Adia blanched. "Okay, kids, not funny. I'll be the first to admit
that I'm probably going to end up breaking a few rules, but we really do have to work NOT to piss off the label. Like it or
not, they gave us a job, and..."
Shane smiled. "Dia, sweetie, relax. We may joke about fucking around, but our asses
are on the line too. We're not going to screw this up for you, okay?"
Adia smiled in return. "Thanks. I know it's hard
to deal with restrictions on the freedom that we're used to with Righteous Babe, but it's only for a few months. It doesn't
mean we won't get to do our thing. It just means that we're going to have to be a little careful to gather fan support before
we do it. Like it or not, Jive operates on an income basis. If we help to make them money, they're not going to fight with
us. The end."
"Industry-only labels suck," Keelia muttered in disgust. Adia chuckled.
"And now you know why
I refused to sign to one."
"You agreed to tour with one, though," Jason pointed out. "Isn't that almost as bad?"
shook her head. "Hardly. We're not completely under their control, but we do have to abide by their rules."
we start to prove to them that we can gross profit," Shane added, "at which point, we'll be able to break rules as needed."
nodded. "Exactly. It's kind of like a game."
Keelia grinned. "If we win the game, can I tell the Jive executives to
Three pairs of eyebrows rose sky-high before Jason interjected.
"Not that I don't have the urge to
do the same, but why the HELL would you act on it?"
She shrugged. "Because if they're as pompous as they sound, I'd
get some great reactions."
Shane laughed. "Okay, fine. You can tell them to fuck off, but only if I get to bring the
Adia smiled mischievously. "And only if Nick Carter gets to join us. Something tells me that he would
VERY much enjoy pissing the label off for once."
Jason glanced at Adia briefly. "He sounds like a complex guy."
egg to crack," Shane agreed. Adia nodded.
"I think he is."
Keelia smirked. "Should we loosen him up a little?"
rolled her eyes. "Tell ya what, Keels. How about you learn the bass line to 'By The Way' and leave the Backstreet Boy to me."
frowned at Adia's retreating back. "That was another one of those backhanded insults, wasn't it?"
Shane wrapped an
arm around her shoulders with a laugh. "Between you and me, KiKi? I think so."