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Excerpt:

JB always carried his knife. He never knew when the place he played at might have some questionable clientele. Raine had gifted it to JB on their first anniversary. Some people gave flowers, JB’s lover wanted him to be well armed.

“Hey, man,” JB greeted the intruder with a guarded look as he struggled to keep a check on his temper. What kind of person interrupted a man mid-song?

“You’re up next,” the man said. His eyes were dark and flat as if this entire situation bored the hell out of him.

JB glanced up the line. There were at least thirty musicians ahead of him.

“I don’t want to cause no trouble.” JB drawled as he eyed the disgruntled expressions on the other musicians’ faces. They looked like they’d happily disembowel him for cutting ahead in line.

“You’ve been requested.” The man’s expression didn’t encourage a negative response.

JB shrugged. If the client wished to hear him next he wouldn’t say no. JB needed a job no matter what Raine said. He knew his lover would be more than happy to take care of their bills, but a man had to have his pride, and JB had more than his fair share. He was no man’s kept boy.

JB stood with his guitar in one hand, his case in the other, and nodded to the dark-haired man. “I’m ready.”

The stranger looked him up and down before turning and walking along the hall. JB hurried after the guy, trying not to trip on instrument cases or people as he went. He could tell from their expressions that more than one musician wouldn’t mind watching JB fall on his face.

They stopped before a door with the word ‘stage’ printed on it.

The guy turned to talk to JB, his tone as serious as death. “Don’t ask them any questions. When I open the door I want you to walk onto the stage and play that song you were playing before.”

“But it’s still a work in progress,” JB protested. “I have more polished pieces ready for the audition.” He always liked to bring his best to the table. How much would they be able to tell from a half written song?

The man scowled. “I’ll warn them that you’re still working on it, but you play that song.”

JB shrugged. “Okay.” He wouldn’t argue with a man over a rough piece of music. The customer was always right and all that crap. “Can I play another one after?” Maybe he’d get a second chance if they liked the first one enough.

“If it’s necessary.” The man’s tone indicated JB had one shot and he’d better not blow it. It took a lot of effort to resist the urge to turn around and leave. After all JB didn’t think he’d get the job with the audition piece requested by Mr. Tall, Dark and Scowly.

Asshole.

Opening the door, the man, whose name JB still didn’t know, waved for him to enter first. Nervous energy jolted through JB’s body like a lightning storm when he peered at the brightly lit stage. He took another slow, cleansing breath to find his center before walking across the wooden boards. His boots thudded on the stage, the sound echoing in the cavernous room with each step he took.