Title: Scratch Track
Series: Escaping Indigo #3
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Publication Date: January 29, 2018
Length: 226 pages
About Scratch Track
Being a roadie isn’t everyone’s idea of a dream job, but it’s all Quinn wants. He loves touring, loves getting to hear amazing music every night and, more than anything, loves being someone the band members of Escaping Indigo can lean on.
When Quinn joins the band in the recording studio, it’s supposed to be fun, but it only seems to remind him of doubts he thought he’d left behind—doubts about his brother’s death, his place with the band, and his ability to care for and support his friends. So when his ex, Nicky, tumbles back into his life, Quinn’s completely unprepared.
The failure of his past romance with Nicky is yet another strike against Quinn’s confidence. But Nicky’s unassuming kindness makes it hard for Quinn to resist a new entanglement. Quinn isn’t sure they won’t make the same mistakes again, but he wants a second chance, even if that means facing the past, learning to let his friends support him, and proving to Nicky that, this time, he’ll be someone Nicky can rely on.
Hello, I’m Eli Lang. Welcome to the blog tour for my contemporary m/m romance with rock stars, Scratch Track. Join in on the discussion in the comments and have fun! Thanks for stopping by!
Sometimes, when I’m listening to music, it’s like I’m standing in the middle of this whirlwind of sound, and it washes over me. Like I’ve fallen into the melody and it’s everywhere, surrounding me and inside me. And it clicks something on, some switch in my mind or my heart, and for those few minutes, everything is . Good. Like it makes sense. And nothing else matters.
Watching Escaping Indigo play was like that. I felt the same way about Rest in Peach, the band I was watching now, too. I’d seen them play live before, but this was different—now I was seeing them through the thick glass window of a recording studio, while they tracked a song and I stared from the other side of the soundboard. And I hadn’t expected this—I hadn’t known they were going to be here, and I hadn’t been prepared to see them, any of them, again.
I turned to Bellamy, who was standing behind me, nodding along to the song. He had this contemplative look on his face, and I knew he wasn’t only enjoying the music. He was picking it apart, figuring out why it had been put together that way, what was working and what wasn’t, why those musical choices had been made. Bellamy was great on stage, better than almost any performer I’d ever seen, but putting songs together was where he was at home. He was made for recording. It was why he’d decided to try his hand at producing this album himself.
“You didn’t tell me they were going to be here.” I tried to keep my tone casual, like it was a nice surprise, but there were cracks in my voice, where the words came out tight.
Bellamy didn’t seem to notice. Beside him, his boyfriend, Micah, took his hand and gave it a shake, bringing him back down. Micah was carrying on his own conversation with Ava and Tuck, but part of his mind was always focused on Bellamy. It took Bellamy a minute to blink and come back out of whatever music-induced haze he’d been in.
“I didn’t know.” Bellamy turned to face me. “I knew we probably wouldn’t be the only band here. It’s a big studio. I didn’t know who else it’d be, though.” In the other room, the song came to an end. The band’s singer, Ty, leaned into their mic and said hello to us. We waved and the rest of the band waved back.
I waved too, to the whole band. But my focus was on one person. Nicky. Sitting behind the drum set, his sticks held loosely in one hand on his knee. He was wearing a black tank top, and the tan skin over his collarbones and throat glistened. They’d been playing hard for a while. He was barefoot, and through the tangle of chords and stands, I could glimpse his long toes, where he was curling them into the plush red-and-gold rug. He always played barefoot. I remembered that about him from when we’d toured together. He’d had a pair of flip-flops he’d kick on and off, so he wouldn’t step on anything sharp on the way to the stage.
He was watching me. Not trying to pretend he was simply looking in our direction, like I was trying to pretend I was casually looking in his. He wasn’t casual about it at all. This was blatant. He kept staring, waiting for me to stare back. And when I did, he held my eyes, until I had to glance away again because I couldn’t be so connected to him, even through two rooms and a sheet of thick glass.
Because when I saw him, I remembered how he’d looked when he’d been poised over me, my palm at the small of his back. Urging him on, rising up to meet him. The sound of our breaths, heavy and harsh in the dark. I remembered what it was like to be inside him, to be so close to him that, for those few hurried minutes, I’d forgotten where my body ended and his started, muscles and bones melting one into the other.
Ty was leaning toward the rest of their band now, waving back and forth between the drum set and the bass. I couldn’t quite hear what they were saying—snippets came through on the microphone, but they were facing the wrong way. Nicky laughed and shook his head. He’d cut his hair—the last time I’d seen him, he’d constantly been pushing his brown bangs out of his eyes, but now it was too short for that. He was the same, otherwise, though. Tall and fit, smiling, confident. I could still picture the same smile on his face, when he’d curled up next to me in my bunk bed on the tour bus.
That was the last time I’d seen him. Rest in Peach had split off to start their solo tour right after, and we’d picked up different opening bands in each of the last few cities, to close out Escaping Indigo’s tour. Nick and I had made vague plans to see each other again, to get together and maybe see where things went, but we never had. Or I never had. He’d called a couple of times, but by then everything around me had been falling apart, and I hadn’t been in any place to call him back. I hadn’t wanted to. I hadn’t wanted anything like that.
Micah had left off his conversation with Ava. He still had Bellamy by the hand, but I didn’t think either of them noticed they were doing it. Micah turned to me and raised his eyebrows. “You okay?”
“Uh-huh.” I pushed my fingers back through my hair. It was a nervous gesture, but Micah wouldn’t see that. We didn’t know each other well enough to recognize each other’s habits, even though he’d been my brother Eric’s best friend for years.
I glanced back at Nick. He’d gotten Ty to laugh, and it looked like they were about to start up another song.
“They sound great,” Bellamy mumbled, more to himself than anyone. I nodded back anyway.
I’d thought of Nick over the last year. I’d thought of him as the last truly good, free, easy thing to happen to me. Sometimes I’d gone back in my mind to that one night, had relived it and held it close as a comfort when things got too hard, too painful. But I hadn’t ever thought of calling again. That time was past. I hadn’t actually ever thought I’d see him again. I wasn’t sure why—Rest in Peach and Escaping Indigo played the same venues, toured the same circuits. We were bound to run into each other. Maybe I’d figured I’d avoid him and that would be that. Or that maybe seeing him wouldn’t feel like . . . so much. So much left unsaid and undone.
But now here we were. Watching each other. Or he was watching me. I could still feel his eyes on me, even though I was looking away. I hadn’t expected this or been ready for it in any way. And no one else knew anything was wrong.
Maybe Micah did. He’d always been observant. He leaned over to touch his hand to my arm and said, “Ava said the rooms are ready for us upstairs, if we want.”
I nodded. It hadn’t been a very long trip—only a few hours up the coast. But getting all the gear packed and getting everybody ready to go—that, especially—had been exhausting. Tuck and Ava and Bellamy were good people, smart and talented, but getting them all to do one thing on time was like pulling teeth. And I was the one in charge of doing it, whenever it involved the band as a whole. Gently prodding and then cajoling until they got themselves together. I was glad now that they were staying in the house attached to the studio. It would make everything simpler.
I went with Micah and Tuck, and we gathered up suitcases and bags, and started hauling them upstairs. There wasn’t actually any reason for me to be here, so I wanted to make myself as useful as possible. I’d driven the van with the trailer attached up to the studio, but that was it as far as my job went, really. I didn’t have anything else to do, now that we were here, except make sure everyone was fed and in the studio on time. We weren’t on tour, and this wasn’t supposed to be work for me, so my duties were fuzzy.
The band was making a party out of it, in a way. Micah was here with Bellamy, and Ava’s girlfriend Cara was flying out for a weekend to see her and sit in on the recording. Micah had asked, guilelessly, if I wanted to come along too, since they were planning it as more of a get-together than a serious job, and the rest of the band had jumped all over that idea. Saying it wouldn’t be the same if I wasn’t there. I hoped it was a good idea—I liked seeing them all happy, but recording was notoriously stressful. I’d be here to witness it firsthand, now.
I knew they could get along without me just fine, and having me tag along was mostly kindness. But I wanted to be with them instead of going home. Besides, I was curious.
While we walked through twisty hallways and up a couple of steep stairways to the main floor of the house, I was able to push Nick and Rest in Peach almost to the back of my mind. Tuck was grumbling about how heavy Ava’s bag was—“I know she’s not really into shoes. What the hell does she have in here?”—but I was distracted by the studio itself.
Escaping Indigo had recorded here once before, and Tuck had tried to tell me about this place, but words hadn’t done it justice. I’d been in recording studios before, briefly, but Ben Ammondine Studios wasn’t like any of those places. It was built into an old house, smack in the middle of a neighborhood outside of Los Angeles—that in itself wasn’t odd. Lots of studios started out life as old houses. They grew out of necessity. But this one was mostly underground. The house was built into the side of a hill. Part of the back, the basement, and parts of the old garage were the studio, and it had been expanded so it extended for rooms and rooms, under the house.
That, and the two soundboards, meant there was plenty of room for more than one band to record an album at a time. Enough space that maybe I really could avoid Nicky while we were both here.
As soon as I thought it, I knew it would never happen. Escaping Indigo and Rest in Peach were all friends. They’d want to get together. And it would be weird if I avoided them.
Coming up from the closed-off, windowless recording studios into the brightly lit, many-windowed house was like emerging from another world. The hallway we stepped into was narrow, but it expanded into a decently sized kitchen, which was open to a large living room stuffed with couches. There was another hallway off the living room, and I could glimpse open doors, some leading into bedrooms at the back of the house.
I was pretty sure there weren’t enough rooms in the actual house part for two bands to stay, though, despite the size of the studio underneath, but I asked Tuck, to double-check.
“No, it’s just us staying here,” he said, dropping his huge bag beside him. I couldn’t imagine what he had in it. He was staying by himself. His girlfriend, Lissa, had decided to drive up for a few days later on, when Cara was here, instead of spending the whole time with us. “Most of Rest in Peach lives around here, so it’s no big deal. I think Danni’s staying with Ty. Or maybe she’s getting a hotel.”
“Expensive,” I said, mostly to myself.
“Recording’s expensive,” he replied, and I couldn’t argue with that. Everything about music was expensive. Worth it, though.
The owner of the studio, Ben, had given us three bedrooms. Ava had her own, there was one for Micah and Bellamy, and Tuck and I were sharing. I wasn’t sure what we’d do when Lissa came for the weekend, but I figured we’d make it work. The bedrooms were small but airy, the white walls and comfortable, modern furniture making the space seem as big and open as possible. And since they were at the back of the house, they had the illusion of being up high. The view was amazing: houses and little patches of yard, and streets in a tight grid pattern, laid out for miles and miles.
Tuck claimed a bed and flopped right onto it, his hand going immediately for his phone. I figured he was texting Lissa, but Ava was probably next on the list, even though she was right down the hall. Those two couldn’t go five seconds without talking.
I left the room quietly, but Tuck probably didn’t notice. Snooping wasn’t really my plan. I just . . . wanted to look, wanted to this place. So many records had been made here. So much creativity under one roof. So much modern history. I wandered my way down the hall. There were pictures on the walls. Like family portraits, in plain, boring black frames. I stopped and studied them, and saw that they were that history, captured and contained. Photos of musicians, with Ben or standing inside one of the several recording rooms. Bands I’d grown up listening to, bands I’d heard on the radio, bands whose albums I’d bought and played, over and over.
About the Escaping Indigo Series
Escaping Indigo is a busy band, whether they’re playing edgy rock music in a darkened theater, touring the country together, or meeting up with other musicians at a summer festival. And they’re always writing new melodies, new riffs, and new lyrics to tell their stories.
Micah, a drummer, is hoping to leave the memories of his old band behind by going on tour with Escaping Indigo as a stagehand. But there he meets Bellamy, the lead singer, and he finds himself tangled in a romance that makes him face everything he’s lost.
Ava, drummer for Escaping Indigo, is hoping that time away from the band will give her a chance to sort through her complicated feelings for her best friend, who’s in love with someone else. But a chance meeting with a beautiful woman leads to an unexpected romance that makes Ava rethink her plans for her future.
From unrequited love to finding your way, old friendships to lost dreams, surprising secrets to unexpected encounters, Escaping Indigo has a song to suit.
About Eli Lang
Eli Lang is a writer and drummer. She has played in rock bands, worked on horse farms, and has had jobs in libraries, where she spent most of her time reading every book she could get her hands on. She can fold a nearly perfect paper crane and knows how to tune a snare drum. She still buys stuffed animals because she feels bad if they’re left alone in the store, believes cinnamon buns should always be eaten warm, can tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the tardigrade, and has a book collection that’s reaching frightening proportions. She lives in Arizona with far too many pets.
Connect with Eli:
- Website: www.leftoversushi.com
- Blog: www.leftoversushi.com/blog/
- Facebook: facebook.com/EliLangAuthor
- Twitter: @eli__lang
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/eli_lang
To celebrate the release of Scratch Track, one lucky winner will receive an ecopy of Escaping Indigo and Skin Hunger! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 3, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!