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Beyond The Music
The Rock Gods – Book 7
By Ann Lister
Lincoln Stallworth, bass player for Black Ice, has quietly watched each of his band mates fall in love and has accepted the fact he’ll probably never find the same for himself. He doesn’t really believe in true love, couldn’t fully understand the absurdity of it, or the notion there could be just one perfect person for everyone. A debilitating health issue began to shadow Lincoln in the middle of their last tour. As his physical symptoms worsen, Lincoln has to fight the urge to hide from the world and himself inside his estate. Aaron Baylor enters Lincoln’s life at his lowest point. Lincoln feels broken, damaged beyond repair, and he’s ready to give-up. Aaron’s patience and unwavering support slowly begin to pull Lincoln back to being present in his own life and gives him hope for a future and for love. Will Aaron be the glue that holds the broken pieces of Lincoln’s life together? Can Lincoln fight his way back to good health and take a chance at love? Or will the task be too great for Lincoln to handle? Beyond The Music is Book 7 in The Rock Gods series. This is the final story in the series, but also the launch of a new M/M spin-off series, Guarding the Gods, which will have many cameo appearances from The Rock Gods characters in each story. If you enjoyed The Rock Gods, I hope you’ll give Guarding the Gods a try!
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The Final book in The Rock Gods Series (insert sniffles here)
Beyond the Music
The Rock Gods – Book 7
By Ann Lister
Copyright © 2016 by Ann Lister. All rights reserved.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, actual events or locations or other public venues is entirely coincidental.
This book is a product of the SleighFarm Publishing Group.
Cover Art: Kellie Dennis at Book Cover by Design / www.bookcoverbydesign.co.uk
Interior Formatting and Editing: Brenda Wright at Formatting Done Wright and Missy Borucki
Technical Advisers: Allison Quinn, LMT, Brenda Cothern, and Antonio Zerpa
AND HERE WE GO………………
Beyond the Music
Los Angeles, after Cooper and Jayson’s Las Vegas wedding . . .
Lincoln Stallworth left his overnight bag on the kitchen table of his Los Angeles home. He grabbed a beer from the refrigerator, and walked outside to stand by the edge of his property to take in the view of the city spread out below him. It was just about twilight—Lincoln’s favorite time of the day. The sun was fading to a red-orange glow on the horizon and the city lights below were just starting to flicker on inside the buildings. Along with the stars beginning to appear in the sky above his head, this show never disappointed. He loved the almost florescent blue hue to the sky just before it turned indigo black. It was these moments of transition he loved most, when it wasn’t quite night, but it was no longer day. It offered him a tranquil sense of limbo similar to holding one’s breath while waiting for the other shoe to drop, which was a lot like Lincoln felt about his life right now.
He was in a holding pattern and definitely waiting for that other shoe to drop. Sometimes he wished that shoe would be a steel-toed boot and it would drop right on his fucking head. Maybe that would change something in his life. The endless “not knowing” was doing him in. Something had to give, but he didn’t have the balls to tip the balance to make that happen. The fear of knowing the truth was just as intense as remaining in the dark and fear had a way of pulling one down to the dark place where Lincoln found himself.
Lincoln took a gulp of his beer and closed his eyes. The light breeze against his face was soothing, but not enough to ease the ache he had inside his chest. He pushed the long hair from his forehead and inhaled the thick Los Angeles air heavy with smog. The silent vow he made to try and fix things seemed to float away from him and into the valley below. After all, what would it change?
He was coming down from the rush of seeing Cooper Rand, the drummer for Ivory Tower, and Jayson Keller get married in Vegas. The event was done with typical Cooper flare, complete with the ceremony taking place on the High Roller Ferris Wheel and the Flying Elvis’s parachuting into the wedding reception to serenade the happy couple during their first dance. Their wedding was by far the best Lincoln had ever attended—even surpassing Dagger and Ryan’s backyard ceremony—so it made little sense that he’d be standing here feeling empty after coming home from something that spectacular. But he was. He felt broken. The energy it took him to mask how fucked up he really was from everyone around him was exhausting. He also couldn’t help but wonder how much longer he could keep up the façade of being okay, and how good of a job was he really doing anyway?
Lincoln removed his cell phone from his back pant pocket and sent Spumoni another text message asking for his ETA. At Cooper’s wedding reception, Spumoni had offered to keep Lincoln supplied with primo weed and, even though it had been less than twenty-four hours since Spumoni had put it out there, Lincoln was taking him up on the offer. Smoking dope was one of few ways Lincoln was finding some measure of relief from whatever the fuck was ailing him and having Spumoni running late on his very first drop was not sitting well with Lincoln.
“Be there in fifteen,” Spumoni’s latest reply to Lincoln read.
Lincoln typed back a quick reminder for Spumoni to use the security code he’d verbally given to him over the phone when they’d spoken earlier and let himself in. Spumoni having a long history working with Ivory Tower was certainly a bonus to know he’d already been vetted. If Alex and Wheland could trust Spumoni, Lincoln was more than happy to do the same.
He checked the time on his phone again and swore, more at himself than at Spumoni’s tardiness. He hated how dependent he was becoming on things like pot just to be comfortable in his own skin. What came after the weed and booze weren’t enough? Would he be tempted to switch to pain pills or something more potent?
Nope. He couldn’t allow himself to go down that path. He was lucky to have gotten out when he did before all that shit became a serious problem for him, unlike so many others he knew who had succumbed. He knew his days of ignoring this issue were numbered and sooner rather than later, he would have to face whatever was going on inside of him.
Lincoln spun around on his heels and caught the toe of his boot on one of the wide chaise lounge chairs positioned on the patio around his in-ground pool. His shitty balance did the rest for him and he toppled before he could even attempt to save himself from the fall. His forehead clipped the corner of the chair armrest right before he crashed down onto his side against the decorative patio stones.
The first thing Lincoln realized was his hip was throbbing with pain. The second was the sensation of something warm running down the side of his forehead. He touched his fingers to his head and felt all the blood that oozed from the fresh, inch long cut that had opened up on his scalp.
Anger pushed him to kick the chair out of his way. He followed that action with a string of curses that would have made anyone blush. It was in the middle of that verbal tirade when Spumoni appeared.
“Now you decide to show up?” Lincoln snarled.
“What the fuck did you do to your head?” Spumoni asked and dropped to his knees beside Lincoln to help him to his feet.
“My fucking foot got tangled up in the leg of the chair,” Lincoln answered. He pushed off Spumoni’s helping hand and wiped the blood on his forehead before it dripped into his eye.
“Let me take a look at your head,” Spumoni said.
“I’m fine,” Lincoln barked. “Did you bring the weed?”
Spumoni reached into the inside pocket of his leather jacket, pulled out a plastic bag and handed it over to Lincoln. While Lincoln was sniffing the contents, Spumoni sparked up a previously rolled joint and inhaled deeply.
“I always sample the goods with the customer,” Spumoni grinned at Lincoln before he passed the joint to him. “That way there’s no complaints. Try this shit. It’ll get rid of the headache you’ll have from slamming your head on the chair.”
Lincoln accepted the joint and deeply sucked on the end. He closed his eyes and held the smoke in his lungs waiting for the THC to mask the ever present ache in his limbs. These days it seemed be the only thing that gave him relief from the pain was the pot. Lincoln took another hit and held the smoke before exhaling. He sat down on a chaise and reclined with his eyes closed and the burning joint still pinched between his fingers.
“Did you have any trouble with the pass code on my front gate?” Lincoln asked.
“Nope, it worked the first try,” Spumoni answered. “Speaking of your front gate. What’s with the stalker-groupie you’ve got hanging out there?”
“What are you talking about?” Lincoln took another hit off the joint and opened one eye to look at Spumoni.
“When I got here, there was a dude standing near your gate, like he was contemplating hitting the call button,” Spumoni explained. “But as soon as he saw me pull up, he turned away and started walking down the sidewalk in the opposite direction.”
“As long as he stays on that side of the fence, I’m okay with it.” Lincoln chuckled. The effects of the pot quieting all his nerves. Lincoln could feel the weight of the world lifting off his shoulders with each hit he took. He relaxed into the lounge cushion and felt almost boneless. Apparently, what he heard about Spumoni always having the best weed around was true and for that Lincoln was grateful to know the man.
“Whatever, dude. I need to take a leak,” Spumoni stated. “Where’s your bathroom?”
Lincoln pointed to his left without opening his eyes. “You can use the one in the pool house.”
A few minutes later Spumoni returned and sat beside Lincoln on the doublewide lounger. Spumoni shifted himself to face Lincoln and said, “Look at me.” Lincoln rolled his head toward Spumoni and closed his eyes again when the warm washcloth carefully wiped across his forehead.
“What are you doing?” Lincoln asked sternly.
“What’s it look like? I’m cleaning you up,” Spumoni scoffed and gently swiped the cloth through the crease of Lincoln’s eye socket. He made one last pass over Lincoln’s forehead then tossed the dirty cloth onto the table beside the chair. “How’s the dope?”
Lincoln turned away and grinned widely. “Magnificent.”
“Fucking awesome.” Lincoln laughed. “Hope you don’t mind, but I finished the joint while you were pissing.”
“I expected as much,” Spumoni replied. “Hey, since you’re currently stoned off your ass, perhaps you’d like to tell me what’s going on with you?”
“What are you digging for, Spumoni?” Lincoln mumbled his question.
“I’m not blind, Linc, and neither are the guys in your band,” Spumoni snapped. “Whatever this is it’s not getting better. It’s becoming more . . . pronounced.”
“When did you quit your job with Ivory Tower and become a fucking doctor?” Lincoln barked.
“Have you even seen a doctor about this?” Spumoni countered.
Lincoln sat upright and put his backside to Spumoni. “Why would I see a doctor?”
“Because you’re stumbling around here getting hurt and at Cooper’s wedding you said you were having trouble feeling your hands,” Spumoni explained. “And I’m willing to bet when no one is around to witness it; it’s a lot worse than you’d ever admit.”
Lincoln shoved himself to his feet. “Thanks for the pot,” he grumbled. “You remember how to let yourself out, right?”
Spumoni stood, too, and watched Lincoln waver on his feet like he was drunk. “You want another bag next week?”
“Yeah, but double it,” Lincoln directed.
“You want a full ounce? That’s a lot of weed for one week, don’t you think?” Spumoni commented.
Lincoln turned his head and glared at Spumoni over his shoulder. “Wow, first you’re a doctor and now my fucking mother,” Lincoln said and shook his head. He turned away to take another step and once again, the ground tipped on him and Lincoln’s large frame began to topple.
Spumoni hopped over the end of the lounge chair in time to catch Lincoln before he crashed onto the patio for a second time. “Come on,” Spumoni said and draped one of Lincoln’s muscled arms around his neck and hefted Lincoln up against his side with an arm around his waist. “I’m taking you inside and getting you settled before I take off. If you don’t like that, too fucking bad.”
Spumoni helped Lincoln inside and onto the couch in his living room. “Stay put. I’m getting you some aspirin for your head.” Lincoln didn’t argue and instead leaned back into the butter soft leather couch. Spumoni left the room and returned with a glass of water and a couple of aspirin. “Take these for me.” He waited for Lincoln to swallow and then took the glass back from him and set it on the coffee table in front of Lincoln’s knees. Spumoni sat down on the coffee table and leaned forward. “Okay, you can either start spilling to me now and I’ll keep it all confidential, or you can keep silent and continue to get worse. If you choose the latter, I’ll be telling Dagger how I found you today. Your choice.”
“Fuck you,” Lincoln growled. “You’re supposed to be delivering dope to me, not being a dick.”
“I’m trying to help you, Linc,” Spumoni admonished. “Are you that thick-headed not to see this for what it is? You’ve got yourself a serious problem here and I think you know that.”
Lincoln rubbed at his face and grimaced when he felt the sting in his scalp. “You’re full of shit when you say this stays between us,” Lincoln chided. “As soon as you leave here you’ll be telling someone.”
Spumoni’s jaw muscle twitched with agitation. “We’re just getting to know each other, so I’ll let that comment slide, but I’m a man of my word. Ask anyone who knows me. When I say I’ll do something, I do it.”
A long moment passed and Lincoln’s head remained tipped back against the couch with his eyes closed. Spumoni ran his hands back and forth on his thighs, then stood up to leave. “Well, I guess I have my answer,” Spumoni sighed. “You can continue to keep your issues on the DL for now and I’ll keep my mouth shut for one week. But when I come back with the next bag of weed, I either want to hear you’ve contacted a doctor or I’ll be having a meeting with Dagger.” Spumoni crossed the room in long strides, but before he disappeared out the door, he faced Lincoln again. “Have a good week and try not to fall down the stairs and break your fucking neck.”
Lincoln waited until he heard the front door of his house slam shut before he reacted. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” he shouted into the emptiness of his house. Jesus, he didn’t want to face this—whatever the fuck this was! Lincoln made fists with his hands, pressing the blunt nails into the flesh of his palm until his knuckles turned white. He had little to no feeling in his left hand and moderate tingling and sudden bursts of pain firing off in his right hand and arm. When the pain flared, it shot like a rocket up through his limbs as if his veins were pumping liquid fire. At times when he looked at his arms or legs he could see the muscles spasming, twitching like he had an alien life form living beneath his skin trying to escape. But, Jesus, it was the pain that sometimes kept him up at night tossing and turning. It was unrelenting, rolling through him like an unforgiving assault on every one of his nerve endings.
Lincoln didn’t react positively to threats and Spumoni’s test of wills wasn’t exactly sitting well with him right now. The fucker was giving him one week to spill—or else? Who the fuck did he think he was? Sure, they were friendly, but Lincoln would hardly call them best friends or even beer buddies, and they certainly weren’t fuck buddies, so where did Spumoni get off giving him ultimatums?
Lincoln bent forward to reach for the glass of water sitting on the coffee table. He watched his fingers circle the glass, but when he went to lift it to take a drink, the glass slipped through his grip and hit the carpeting on the floor. He could have sworn his grasp was tight enough, even with the limited sensation in his hand, but dropping it hadn’t been a consideration. He studied his fingers, flipping his hand over, then back the other way as if they didn’t belong to him.
Why are you failing me? Lincoln thought. He flopped back against the couch and closed his eyes again. The sting of tears began to build behind his lids. He was thirty-two years old and at the height of his career. If this loss of sensation continued, he feared it would be the end of his job with Black Ice, and quite possibly the end of his musical career. What happened after that? All he knew was music. He lived and breathed it every single day, so how could he suddenly switch gears and do something else for a living?
One week, Lincoln thought. One fucking week, and then what? Can I trust Spumoni enough to confide in him? Or will he end up running to Dagger anyway?
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Ann Lister is a native New Englander currently living on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with her husband. She has pulled details from her years living in the New England area and uses many local settings and landmarks in her novels.
After graduating art school, marrying, and raising two daughters, she established her own video production company. Her nearly two decades working in video production included work within the music industry and won her a coveted Telly Award. Her ‘behind-the-scenes’ exposure to the music world and her love of rock music is the inspiration for her erotic rock star romances.
The Rock Gods series gave her Bestselling Author status on Amazon. Fall For Me, Book One in the series was a Finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Award. Each book in this series brings her two favorite elements together: musicians and the love between two men. These stories focus on what it truly means to love; love unconditionally, love without restrictions or labels, love without fear or judgment – to just simply love.
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