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SHREDDING DREAMS



A Velocity novel





by Bella Jeanisse



Published by Bella Jeanisse




COPYRIGHT 2016 by Bella Jeanisse


Published by Bella Jeanisse at Smashwords


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher: copyright@bellajeanisse.com



This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.



The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work, which have been used without permission. The publication/ use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.



Cover Design by Stella Price

Editing by Anita Maynard


Visit bellajeanisse.com for more information about the author and her works.



BELLA’S BOOKS


Triple Threat:

Reckless

Tragic Soul

Triple Threat

Triple Time

Rubbed Raw

Raw Reunion

Chasing Chad

Dual Desires

Desires Delivered


Wicked End:

Wicked End

Passionate Needs

Sinful Needs

Fulfilling Needs


Gasoline:

Gasoline

Persistent Urges

Evolving Urges

Forever Urges

Final Urges


In the works:

Silverblade

Brass Monkey

Mark of the Devil

Hands of Fate

Winter Winds

Wounded Hearts



Velocity Series:

Rockin’ Rhythm – Ash’s book

Shredding Dreams – Ian’s book


In the works:

Silver Strings – Bryce’s book

Driving Reigns – Leo’s book



PREFACE


This book took much longer to finish than I had expected. It wasn’t because Ian stopped talking. It was because other projects had taken up all of my time. Ian is my most patient character. He understood that I had to have priorities. I’m just glad he didn’t shut up once he began to tell me his story.


Ian and Sherry’s tale is an emotional one. You may want to have a box of tissues handy. They are married but have been separated for a few years. This means their story is not the traditional boy meets girl and they fall in love romance. It will be so much more.


The timeline of this book overlaps that of Rockin’ Rhythm, so if you’ve read that one, you may recognize some things. This series is written around a short tour, so only pieces of that tour will be in this book. Each book can be read as a standalone, but you will get more out of it by reading the entire series.


In book two, you’ll meet Ian Tate. He is a middle aged, heavily tatted, world famous guitarist with long, silver streaked hair who wants nothing more than to get his wife back. He has lived apart from his wife for two years and worries that it will become permanent. Sherry Tate just wants her life to be stable. Can they find their way back to each other?



DEDICATION


Just like with book 1, I wrote part of this when 98Rockfest came around. This year the bill was a bit disappointing, but we had a good time anyway. I look forward to the many other bands who will stop in Central Florida this year.


The musical inspiration for this book was quite limited. The reason may become apparent as you read. Since Ian is a mature character, some of the older bands stuck in my head. Avenged Sevenfold’s Waking the Fallen album inspired quite a bit this time around. Papa Roach, Van Halen, Metallica, Tal Bachman, Bryan Adams, Journey and many more also gave me what I need.


Thanks to all of those who have come into my life because of my books, if only for a short while: Patricia, Traci, Kathy, Anita, Jacqui, Donna, Paula, Sonia, LaDonna, Tricia, Geri, Christa, Margo, Melissa, Stephanie, Sarah, Naiana, Lisa, Courtney, Jena, the Donna and Stephanie duo, Coralee, Paula and Michelle. I know I can count on you all to support me one way or another, and I will always be grateful.



MEET THE BAND


Ash Taylor - Bass

Ian Tate - Lead Guitar

Bryce Cooper - Vocals/Rhythm Guitar

Leo Danger – Drums



CHAPTER ONE


“Dad?” 15-year-old Peter Tate held his phone with a shaky hand that Tuesday afternoon in March. “Dad, something’s wrong with Mom.”

Ian Tate jumped off the couch in the practice room at Velocity’s Apollo Beach, Florida house. “What do you mean something? Is she hurt?” He faintly heard his bandmates voice their concerns, but his mind was focused on his family.

“Um…” Peter looked toward his 17-year-old brother William, who held his mother in his arms. She was hysterical, unable to tell them anything. “We’re at the doctor. She won’t tell us what’s wrong. The nurse called because she couldn’t drive herself home.” He swallowed hard. “Dad, is Mom sick?”

It was something he and his wife, Sherry, didn’t want the boys to know. If she was that upset, then the news was bad. They had hoped the biopsy would be negative.

“Pete, we’ll talk about this when you get home. I’ll meet you there.” She had told him the appointment was the next day. Why’d she lie to me? “I gotta go.” It took him seconds to run from the house and get onto his black Harley Road King.

He and Sherry had been separated for two years. It was supposed to be temporary, but she didn’t seem eager to take him back. His mind raced as he rushed to her home in Brandon. It wasn’t far from his place in Riverview, but at that moment, it felt like a million miles. I can’t lose her, too. Please!

He didn’t know what he would do if they said the cancer was inoperable. Although they lived apart, they were still close and were often lovers as well. He didn’t understand why she wouldn’t give him another chance.

His habit of shutting everyone out sometimes upset her. She also didn’t like that he would ride his motorcycle to work things out, rather than talk to her. He regretted every damn thing he’d done to upset her.

“It’s OK, boys,” Ian said when he approached the two cars that had pulled into the family’s driveway. “We’ll explain.” He opened the back and lifted his wife into his arms. “We’ll get through this. I promise you.” After a brief kiss on her forehead, he followed his sons into the house. “Billy, please get your mom a pillow.” He set her on the couch and held her close. “No matter what, I swear I’m here for you.”

She whispered, “I’m sorry I lied to you.” She didn’t want him at the appointment with her because she thought he would get angry at the doctor. He had a hot temper sometimes.

“Ssh.” He kissed her forehead. “It doesn’t matter, baby. I’m here now and I’m not going anywhere.”

As soon as Billy handed him the pillow, Ian carefully put it under her head. Then he took the blanket from Pete and cradled her body. His heart pounded in his ears. She hadn’t told him that their worst fears had come true, but he felt it in his gut.

Tears still fell down Sherry’s cheeks quickly. She couldn’t process the words that she had heard not an hour ago. Her mind spun. She had no idea how they would get through the ordeal.

Her eyes went to her children. William, who they called Billy, had been named after Ian’s father. Peter, who went by Pete, had been named after a family friend who had passed many years ago. She hadn’t realized how mature they were until that day. They had done exactly what she’d needed them to.

Lips pressed to her forehead again. Guilt filled her once more. Ian had been there for her in the last few weeks. She had noticed a huge change in him. The man she had married had finally shown himself again.

Their separation had obviously devastated him. She hadn’t intended it to. What she needed was a break from his brooding. He had a very difficult time dealing with emotions. It drove her crazy. When things got to be too much, he jumped on his Harley and took off. Sometimes she hated that bike. Years prior, she’d loved to ride with him. Things had obviously changed.

Her mind drifted from the past to present aimlessly. The emotional overload exhausted her. Her body had weakened with every day she had not gotten checked. She regretted hiding the problem. Her body started to give into sleep when she heard soft voices.

Ian smiled at the peaceful look on his wife’s face. “One minute,” he whispered to his sons. When her breathing changed, he got to his feet and urged his younger children into the kitchen. “I know as much as you guys. She didn’t tell me anything helpful.” He wasn’t sure what he would say to them when he found out the test results.

“Do you know what her appointment was for?” Billy asked as he glanced at his sleeping mother.

Without making eye contact, Ian replied, “I didn’t know she was going. You know we don’t talk like we used to.”

“Everything’ll be OK, Dad.” Pete patted his father’s back. “Maybe she’s just on her period.” His face scrounged up. It was hard to remember his mother was a woman as well.

Ian chuckled at that. “Maybe.” He glanced back at his wife. “Why don’t you guys get to your homework in your rooms so Mom can sleep?”

When alone, he sat in the recliner and tilted his head so he could watch his wife. Their sporadic physical relationship wasn’t enough for him. However, he would rather have something with her than nothing.

The separation hadn’t been his idea. It had been hers. She had said he couldn’t communicate his feelings, which was true. That had always been the case. She had gotten tired of it. He didn’t know how to change that part of him. At that moment, he would do anything to be what she wanted.

Up until two months ago, she had been fine with sex when the time felt right. The last time he had initiated it, she’d pushed him away. After that, she wouldn’t let him touch her at all. Only in the past few weeks did she accept his help. He hadn’t understood her cold stance on intimacy.

Nine days prior they had gone to her primary care doctor. He had tricked her into going, but she didn’t seem angry about it. She did force him to stay in the waiting room while she was examined. When she was told to see her gynecologist, he wouldn’t let her keep him away. He was beyond concerned at that point. Thoughts of that appointment made him shudder.


*** ♫♪♫♪ ***


Ian walked into the exam room behind Sherry and sat in a chair. He wasn’t sure what to expect. When he looked up, she had started to undress. He rushed to help her, since she had been weak at times.

“Hold onto the table.” He reached around her and went to open her jeans. Then he realized they were elastic. That’s weird. He tugged them down and was surprised it wasn’t so easy. “Sorry, just relax.”

When he had her naked, she turned to get into the gown. Immediately his eyes centered on her lower abdomen. It was quite swollen. Oh my God! Did her tubes come untied? He wasn’t sure if a baby would make things better or worse between them.

“Are you pregnant?” His voice was high with fear.

She shook her head. “The test was negative.”

“Maybe it was wrong.” He reached down and caressed her belly.

Sherry cringed and pulled away. “Don’t.”

“Why can’t I touch you? You’re my wife. I love you. Please talk to me about this.”

Her eyes met his and she scowled. “The way you talk to me about things? When Bryce overdosed, you shut down! It hurt me, too. I needed you and all you did was ride that God damned bike!”

“I’m sorry.” He was glad to finally know where things had gone wrong. “You know it’s hard for me to express myself.” He turned to a knock on the door. “One minute, please.” He turned back to his wife. “I’ll try harder.” He held the gown up and helped her into it.

After the exam of her abdomen, a sonogram was taken. Ian’s heart plunged. He saw the non-baby in her uterus. His pulse raced. This can’t be happening again. Sherry squeezed his hand. He glanced down at her as he held back tears.

“We’ll need to take a biopsy. It doesn’t look like a fibroid tumor. This can still be benign, though.”

Ian nodded to the doctor. He couldn’t hold back his fear. Sherry wasn’t the biological mother of his oldest son, Jacob. His first wife had died of pancreatic cancer when Jacob was a baby. The only saving grace was that she had not suffered as much as some.


*** ♫♪♫♪ ***


Reality was even worse than his flashback. Ian glanced at his wife still asleep on the couch. Please don’t take her from me, too. Her reaction to the doctor’s appointment had made him assume she had cancer. It was the likely result, though.

He had asked her why she’d let it go for so long after the gynecologist’s appointment. She said she had ignored it out of fear. It hadn’t been easy to hide the pain, but she hadn’t wanted to scare the children. He wished he had pushed her to see a doctor sooner.

The day they had met 26 years ago came to him. Sherry had grown up with his first wife, Tessa, in Colorado. Sherry’s job had moved to California. He had only seen pictures of her previously. However, Tessa had told him countless stories. When Sherry had arrived, he felt like he had known her forever.

Sherry had stayed with them while she looked for her own home. When she hadn’t found anything affordable within a month, Ian had asked Sherry to stay with them while he went on tour with his first big band, Radical Nights. At only 21, he had been the youngest member of that band.

Days after the tour had ended, Tessa was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They had caught it early, since it was found by accident. Her pre-op tests had revealed she was pregnant. Treatment was suddenly halted. Tessa wouldn’t risk their child.

Sherry had helped Ian and Tessa through the pregnancy. Then she had comforted Ian upon Tessa’s death months after she had given birth. She had become Jacob’s primary caregiver. They’d never meant to fall in love, but it had happened.

Ian’s father, William Tate, was their lone supporter in the beginning. William was the lead guitarist for the biggest rock band of the 1960’s and 70’s, Angel’s Wings. The famous guitarist knew all too well how hard it was to raise a child alone. He had never wished that on his son.

No one spoke of Ian’s mother. She had been a groupie who hadn’t been able to deal with responsibility. She had given birth and signed all her rights over to William Tate.

A groan forced Ian to let the past go. He rushed to Sherry and laid a hand over hers. “I’m right here, baby. What hurts?”

“I’m fine,” she muttered.

He scowled. “Bullshit. What is it?”

“My… my belly.” She laid a hand over her swollen abdomen, which they had been able to hide from the children so far. “They said pain is normal.” Tears flowed down her cheeks. “Ian… it’s cancer.” She held back a sob, sure he would fall apart if she did. “We didn’t talk about treatment. I couldn’t handle it.”

He quickly took her into his arms. “We’ll face this together.” He couldn’t hold back his emotions. Please don’t take her away from me. I can’t go through that again.

She knew he was terrified, just like she was. Regret filled her. I should’ve gotten checked when I knew something was wrong. She ran her fingers through his long silver streaked hair.

Neither of them looked 47, but she felt even older that day. She had hated his long hair and full beard at first. It wasn’t until they had to work together to take care of Tessa that she had seen why Tessa had fallen in love with him. He might have been quite brash, but he cared when it counted.

Her mind went to their three boys. She always thought of Jacob as her son as well. After all, she had raised him from birth. Billy was planned. They had waited until Ian had retired from touring with his previous band, Stricken. Pete was a happy accident. That was the reason they were less than two years apart.

They had moved from California to Florida when their home was damaged by a strong earthquake seven years ago. Billy had been ten and Pete was eight.

Sherry had wanted to go somewhere warm but more stable. She had figured that at least hurricanes were predictable. The humidity had shocked her. It had taken a while to get used it.

The only regret was that Jacob had stayed behind. He had been 18, in love, and his girlfriend wouldn’t move.

She was startled from her thoughts when Ian moved. “I’m all right. Maybe I can go back to sleep.”

“OK.” He laid her down again and walked back to the recliner. “If you need me, I’m right here.” Exhausted, his eyes closed within seconds.



CHAPTER TWO


“Dad?” Pete came downstairs and found his father asleep on the recliner. “Dad? Should I start dinner?” He hadn’t told his father that their mother didn’t have the energy to cook some nights, and that he did a lot of the cooking instead. When there was no response, he shook his father’s arm. “Dad? I can make meatloaf or something.” He loved to cook.

Ian’s eyes blinked a few times. “You know how to make meatloaf?”

“Yeah, I’m in a cooking class at school.” Pete grinned. “Mom loves my spaghetti sauce. I think we have some in the freezer still.”

Proud, Ian smiled. “My son the chef.” He stretched and got to his feet. “Let’s wait for your mother. Maybe she already has something planned.”

“Um, Dad.” Pete swallowed hard. “I need to tell you something.”

Ian saw the worry in his son’s eyes. “Whatever it is, I won’t judge. You can tell me anything.”

“It’s not about me… or Billy.” Pete took a few breaths and relaxed. “It’s about Mom. She pretends she’s fine, but she’s tired a lot. She cries a lot, too.”

Afraid his son might discover the truth, Ian replied, “I’m worried about depression. She had some trouble with that when she was younger. Does she seem better when I’m here?”

“Yep.” Pete glanced at his mother. “I think she misses you. Why don’t you just move back in? She needs you.”

Ian groaned. “I want to… believe me, I do.”

He watched his son walk to the kitchen. His boys both had long dark hair. Pete’s hair was almost to the shoulders, while Billy’s hair was as long as Ian’s. Ian hadn’t expected all three of his boys to enjoy the music he did or embrace his style. Even his oldest had shaggy hair instead of short like his friends.

When Pete came back into the room, Ian grinned. “Do all the kids have earrings in both ears?” Both of his younger sons had multiple piercings in both lobes. He toyed with the two rings in his left ear.

“Not everyone.” Pete sat on the love seat. “Maybe half the guys who have pierced ears. Why?”

Ian shrugged. “When I was a kid, only gay men wore two earrings. Not saying there’s something wrong with it. That just popped into my head.”

“Dad, can I get a tattoo?” Pete had been curious about them for a long time and thought it was a good time to ask.

His eyes on his wife, Ian replied, “The law says you have to be 18.”

“If you come with me, I can get one.” Pete knew that Billy was interested in getting one as well.

Ian took a deep breath. His body was covered in tattoos. He had started at 14 because his father had a tattoo artist on his crew. “I’ll have to talk to your mother about it first. If she says it’s OK, we can get one for your 16th birthday.”

Pete jumped when his mother stirred. “You OK, Mom?”

Sherry was shocked by Pete’s voice, but she smiled when Ian moved back and stood next to the couch. “I’m OK.” She reached out to her youngest.

“You sure?” Pete knelt next to his mother and grasped her hand. “Are you sick?”

She shook her head. “Just don’t feel well, female problems.” It wasn’t a total lie at least. “I’ll be fine.”

Ian met her gaze and knew she didn’t want the kids to know the truth. He hoped it wasn’t for long. She was a very private person, and she tended to protect the boys from things they couldn’t control.

“How about we go make dinner?” Ian wasn’t great in the kitchen, but he knew how to read directions.

Billy’s face scrunched up as he walked into the living room. “Don’t go there, Dad. Can we just order pizza or let Pete cook?”

“Can your stomach handle pizza, Sherry?” Ian hoped the kids bought that worry. Her shrug made him cock an eyebrow. “Are you even hungry?”

She took a deep breath. “Not really.” Her fear had stolen her appetite. “Whatever the boys want. I’m fine.”

“I can make pizza,” Pete offered. “Just need to defrost the sauce and take out the pizza dough I got from Publix the other day.”

It was a side of his youngest child Ian never knew existed until that day. He was eager to watch his son in action. “Sounds amazing.”

Ian followed his son into the kitchen. Pete’s familiarity with the kitchen showed him just how much he had missed while not living with his children. Although he was happy that his kids had flourished despite his absence, it made his chest constrict. Do they even need me anymore? A smile from his youngest squashed that thought.

After he washed his hands, Pete took out all the ingredients he needed. Then he set the two balls of dough on the counter. “It has to sit for a while.”

“OK, then what can I do?” Ian watched his son put a freezer bag of tomato sauce into a bowl of water.

“If you want, you can shred cheese.” He handed over a block of mozzarella still in the package. “Make sure you wash your hands first.”

Ian shook his head. Pete was more like his mother than any of them had realized. He washed up and stood before the grater that Pete had set out for him. It was the first time he had attempted it, so he stared at it for a few seconds. He had seen Sherry and Jacob shred cheese enough times that he understood the dynamics of it.

“You OK, Dad?”

“Uh, yeah.” Ian opened the cheese and debated what to do next.

Pete glanced over as he cut pepperoni. “It’s easier if you cut it in quarters.”

“OK.”

Ian did just that. The first swipe, he caught his finger and winced. After he made sure he wasn’t bleeding, he adjusted the block of cheese. That was easier, but the end was falling apart.

“Have you ever done this before?” Pete frowned at his father’s uneven grating style. He was a bit of a perfectionist.

“Not really.” Ian shrugged. “You know I’m not a cook.”

Billy peeked over his father’s shoulder when he came into the kitchen. “How’s it going in here?” He almost laughed at the condition of the block of cheese in his father’s hand. “You should turn it. That side just makes a mess.”

“Maybe you should do it.” Ian usually messed up anything he touched in the kitchen.

“Sure.” Billy took over. “This is how Mom showed me to do it.”

Ian stepped back and smiled as his sons prepared dinner. It seemed like something they had done quite often. “Do we have mushrooms?”

“Yeah, in the bottom drawer,” Pete replied. “We can put them on your side.” His face screwed up. “No idea how you can eat them.”

Billy chuckled. “You don’t know what you’re missing.”

“They feel weird in my mouth.” Pete had a thing about food texture. “Hey, Dad. I forgot the flour. Can you grab it?”

Sherry listened to them with a smile. It had been quite a while since they had done anything as a family. She missed it terribly. Her biggest fear was that she wouldn’t survive, and that they would feel abandoned. Please don’t let that happen. She rarely prayed, but lately, she couldn’t help it.


*** ♫♪♫♪ ***


When the pizza was in the oven, Billy sat on the loveseat closest to his mother. “Are we old enough to hear about your first band now?”

“Um…” Ian had always been afraid that his sons would follow in his path if they knew how easy things had been for him. He was an exception to the rule. His eyes went to Sherry as he came into the room. “What do you think?”

She sighed. “I’m sure they know some of it from Wikipedia.”

“But we want to hear it from you.” Billy was hopeful. “They probably didn’t get it all right.” He knew that someone most likely removed anything that was fiction, but he hoped there was more to the story. “What did you do when you were our age?”

Ian took a deep breath. “Well, you know Grandpa was always on tour when I was a kid, right?” The two nods were expected. “I had a babysitter, who was technically my bodyguard. He kept me out of trouble for the most part.” Memories flashed by, and he smiled. “Because of him, I met a lot of the greats from back in the day. I learned how to play every instrument I could get my hands on. Didn’t see much of my father, which is why I want you guys to have a normal life.”

Pete walked into the room. Right away, he could tell the subject was not easy for his father. “How about your first band… uh…”

“Radical Nights,” Ian filled in. “That was a long time ago.”

Billy looked up. “How old were you when you joined them?”

“Um, well, your age.” Ian sighed. “I never finished high school.” He hadn’t wanted his boys to know that, since he wanted them to graduate. “Grandpa made me get my GED. He wouldn’t let me leave the state until I passed it.”

Pete laughed. “I can imagine you doing that, too.”

You are graduating.” He pointed at his youngest child. “No excuses.” He waited until the boys had promised that they would. “It took a few years for the band to be known outside of L.A. Then we got to play all kinds of places, including CBGBs and L’Amours in New York City. Those were the places to play back in the 80s. Too bad they’re gone now.”

Billy glanced at his mother, then his father. “Dad? Do you want to meet your mother?”

“Not really.” His children knew the story about his mother. “I’ve seen a picture of her that Grandpa found. She didn’t want me. Grandpa was more than enough.” When he was younger, he had dreamed of meeting her. That had ended when he’d realized that she had signed him away.

“Ian?” Sherry winced. The pain in her lower abdomen had gotten worse. “Can I bother you for some water?”

He jumped up. “Of course.”

In a rush, he went to the kitchen. It was a big deal for her to ask for help. As he walked back with a glass of ice water, he noticed her expression. We need to get back to the doctor soon.

On his knees, he held the glass to his wife’s lips. She looked tired. “Do you want me to bring you to your room?”

“No.” She took another sip. “The boys will worry more.”

Ian had to agree with that. “OK.”

The oven timer went off which made Pete look up. “Dinner’s ready.” After a while, he set plates of pizza on the coffee table. “It’s hot.”

Ian’s eyes moved to Sherry. “If you’re not sleepy, do you want to sit in the recliner? We can watch a movie with dinner.”

“That sounds good.” She grabbed his hand when he offered it. When he lifted her, she almost squealed. “I can walk.”

Ian frowned. “Don’t even try to pretend your body isn’t weak. I know you. I can see it.” He set her in the chair and extended the footrest. Then he leaned down and whispered in her ear, “I’m here for whatever you need. You’re my wife, and I love you.”

She let it go and watched her family. If she died, they would be devastated. That was something she didn’t want to happen. She debated allowing Ian to move back in. He stayed over a few times a week anyway. It wouldn’t be much different.

She had made him leave to teach him a lesson. So far, it doesn’t seem to have worked. She missed the days when their relationship was simple. Memories floated in her mind and made her smile.

Twenty years back, they had lived in California, and it had only been three of them. Jacob had just started school, so Sherry and Ian had plenty of free time, when he wasn’t recording or on tour with his band, Radical Nights. That year, he had most of the spring off. They had taken full advantage of it.


*** ♫♪♫♪ ***


One morning in April, Ian stayed behind while Sherry took Jacob to school. When she returned, she was shocked to find the drapes closed and the house mostly dark. The even stranger thing was that the central air seemed to have been set quite low. It was almost cold.

Suddenly, lights moved around the room while soft music played. She stepped further into the spacious living room and noticed the fireplace was lit. Then her eyes fell to the plush rug in front of it.

“Ian? Where are you?” She smiled when he appeared, naked.

He grinned. “Just waiting for you.” He walked toward her and put out a hand. “You need a break, so I thought we could have a romantic night by the fire.”

“It’s morning.”

His hand closed around hers. “Let’s pretend. This is not possible at night.”

“True.” She giggled. “You always were romantic.”

He led her toward the rug. “First thing we need to do is lose these clothes.” He set her purse a few feet away, then helped her undress. “Much better.”

She stepped into his embrace and sighed. That month, they had not had much time to relax. She closed her eyes as his arms enveloped her. His hands slowly moved over her skin, which calmed her. She loved his spontaneous romantic moments. It was even better than long motorcycle rides along the shore.

“Up here, hon.” He lifted her chin and pressed his lips to hers.

The rough feel of his beard turned her on. She moved closer and ran her hands up his back, to his long hair. “I wish my hair was as nice as yours.”

“Yours is beautiful.” He wove his fingers in her dark locks. “Natural curls and highlights. Mine’s just dark brown.”

She reached up to his lips again. “Perfect for me.”

“And so are you.” He brushed her lips once more. “I’ll love you ’til the day I die.”

Her eyes filled with tears. “I love you too, until the end of time.” She loved how sappy he could be. “What’s the plan?”

“No real plan, just making love until we can’t move.” He tugged her hair so her head would go back. “I think I’ll start here.” His lips moved over her throat slowly.


*** ♫♪♫♪ ***


Across the room, Ian was going down memory lane as well. The most prominent memories were not happy ones. The day Sherry had thrown him out gutted him. She’d had a bag packed for him by the door when he’d come home.

The many times she had threatened to leave him had fallen on deaf ears because he’d been sure she wasn’t serious. Obviously, he had been wrong. That day had been the most difficult day of his life, up until that week. Even Tessa’s diagnosis had not done as much damage.

He glanced at her and prayed that they found a way to work things out. It was awful to live alone. The nights they messed around and he slept over were not enough. He needed to wake up to her beauty daily.

She gasped and his head popped up. Her eyes closed, but her face did not portray more pain. He knew smothering her was not the answer, but it was instinct to him. She used to like when he spent every free minute with her. It was only the last few years that she had pushed him away.

He thought back to every fight they’d had over the past five years. Most had been over the children. Ian felt they should be as strict with the younger boys as they had been with Jacob. Sherry insisted that had contributed to Jacob becoming a young father.

As he sat there, he wondered if she was right. His own carefree, and mostly unsupervised, childhood had been the catalyst in buckling down when it came to his own kids. He had gotten into too much trouble when left to his own devices. Some of those times were awesome.


*** ♫♪♫♪ ***


“Ian? Ian, where are you?”

Backstage at one of the largest venues in California, ten-year-old Ian Tate hid in an empty storage case. His babysitter for the day was a new crew member. Nicky was not aware of Ian’s talent for hiding in plain sight.

Ian stifled a laugh as Nicky passed him several times while searching. He got a kick out of torturing his father’s roadies. It wasn’t like he had many friends back home. They were rarely at the Tate mansion just outside of L.A.

Angel’s Wings’ tours were wild, crowed and extensive. That year they had already been to Europe and Asia.

“This ain’t funny!” Nicky shouted. “Your dad’s gonna kill me.”

Ian let out a chuckle. Then he groaned when the top opened. “That’s cheating.”

“You’re the one who laughed.” Nicky liked Ian, but he was not used to kids. “Mr. Tate said you need to eat lunch before we can take the bike out.”

“Fine!” Ian had gotten a new dirt bike for his birthday. He had yet to ride it. “Do they have weird food again?”

Nicky winked. “I talked them into ordering pizza.”

“Awesome!”


*** ♫♪♫♪ ***


Ian laughed to himself as the memory faded. He had many great ones from his childhood, although his father was not in half of them. That sometimes made him sad, but his father had done his best to be in his grandchildren’s lives.

“What’re you laughing about?” Sherry watched Ian’s facial expressions with a slight smile.

His eyes went to her. “Oh, sorry. Just thinking about something that happened when I was a kid.”

“You don’t talk much about that time in your life.” She had heard the basics and a few tales, but Ian wasn’t one to open up without a lot of prompting. “Why?”

Ian shrugged. “It was mostly playing hide and seek with guys who only stuck around for a few months. The lowest man on the totem pole was usually forced to watch me.”

“You were a brat, weren’t you?” Billy cocked an eyebrow. “Come on. Tell us.”

Sherry knew Ian didn’t want his kids to think being on tour was all fun. They had spoken about that at length when Jacob was young. Neither of them wanted an unstable life for them. At least, that was how they saw it.

“I was.” Ian sighed. He didn’t like to talk about himself. “There was nothing to do. We didn’t have portable video games or tablets, and I was the only kid on the tour most of the time.”

Pete leaned closer to his father. “Didn’t Grandpa take you cool places and introduce you to everyone in Hollywood?”

“Not really.” Ian got to his feet. He had the urge to ride. Memories rarely made him laugh or smile.

When her husband passed the chair, Sherry grabbed his hand. “Don’t you walk out.” She glared at him. That was the biggest reason she had kicked him out. “You said you’d be here.”

“I will.” Ian breathed deeply. “I’m just gonna step outside for a minute. Promise.”

Once outside, Ian closed his eyes and leaned on a wall. It would not be easy to change his ways. He knew he had no choice, though. His wife was too sick to handle his pissy attitude when faced with uncomfortable feelings.

He attributed his difficulty with emotions to the way he had been brought up. Although his father loved him, he had no idea how to show it. He did know how to show anger and frustration. There were many times when everyone on the tour had heard him screaming at his son.

The senior Tate had not been prepared for fatherhood, although he had done his best. Ian didn’t blame him. However, he knew life would have been quite different with an attentive father. It was possible that he would have learned how to deal with emotions better if his father had spent more time with him.


*** ♫♪♫♪ ***


“Why does Dad hate to talk about his past?” Pete had never understood.

Sherry knew the day would come that their sons saw what she did. “It wasn’t as cool as you guys think it was. He didn’t see Grandpa much. That’s why he wants you two to have normal lives. He was always on the road with Grandpa, so his only friends were the crew.”

“That makes sense.” Billy glanced up when his father walked back in. “Dad? You think we could just spend a week with you on a tour someday, so we can see you in action?”

Ian swallowed the worry and fear. His children had been to many concerts close to home and a few on the road when their mother came. However, they always traveled separately, so their kids wouldn’t see anything they shouldn’t.

“Uh…” Ian glanced at his boys and saw the glee in their eyes. “OK, maybe this summer we can work something out. You both have to promise me you’ll stick to the rules I lay down. The road can be dangerous, and we have equipment that can electrocute you if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Both boys nodded. “Promise, Dad.”



CHAPTER THREE


“Why can’t I stay?” Ian stood in the master bedroom with his hands on his hips. “You need me.”

Sherry shook her head. “I’m fine. The boys are here. Go home!” She had needed his help getting into bed because of the pain pills, but she didn’t want him to assume they were together again.

“I don’t understand.” He struggled to rein in his emotions.

She glared at him. “You don’t live here. That means you sleep at your place. If you want to come tomorrow, just come back then.”

“I’m bringing the boys to school. Can I come by after that?”

Her pout was mostly because she didn’t want him to win. “Fine.”

Unhappy, Ian left the room and headed downstairs. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep so far from her. Once on his bike, he stared at the house. His mind went back to when they were looking for a home to buy. It had been a very difficult and disappointing search. They’d had to go in another direction than what they’d originally planned.

Their house was custom built; their dream home. He and Sherry had designed it together. She was quite the artist. When they decided on moving, they’d purchased a double property where there had once been a trailer park. A brush fire had destroyed it, and the owners hadn’t rebuilt.

With six bedrooms, they always had room for guests. Each had a walk-in closet. They had added a large game/music room with a billiard table. The attic was partially finished and climate controlled, so they used it for storage. The dining room was extra-large, as was the chef's kitchen with walk in pantry. It even had five bathrooms.

Sherry had designed a grand living room, and a cozy family room. Both rooms had gotten much use over the last seven years or so. Ian had a personal trainer select everything for their gym. He didn’t have to leave to take his frustrations out on a heavy bag. Then, once their first grandson was born, they’d turned Ian’s den into a play room.

The four-car garage came in handy, since Ian had collected cars at one point. He had sold most of them in the past few years. The entire family spent most of their time outside, though. The pool took up half the wide lanai, and there was an outdoor kitchen on the other side. A fenced in backyard eased their minds when the kids played out there.

If they decided on divorce, Ian wouldn’t think twice about letting Sherry have it. She loved that house even more than he did. It would break his heart to make it final, but he wouldn’t hurt her by fighting it.

The ride to his home in Panther Trace, in Riverview, was short but lonely. He lived close to Ash Taylor, but he didn’t want to bother his bassist. Anyway, since Ash had met his girlfriend, Michelle Reynolds, he had been scarce.

Once in the driveway, he closed his eyes. It hurt badly to leave Sherry in that condition. He loved her to his very core. That was not something he had shared with his first wife. They had been in love, but it had not had time to grow to the level that he and Sherry had.

He punched the gas tank. His father wasn’t in the country, and he was an only child, so he didn’t have family to turn to about his pain.

Sherry had a sister, but they were not on speaking terms because of drug abuse. That was not something Sherry could handle. Their parents had gone down the same path and had been killed in a car accident because of it. Sherry and Ian had dabbled with drugs here and there, but they had been careful.

His eyes went to his one-story home. He had gotten only what he’d needed. There were four bedrooms, so all the kids had their own room when they stayed there. At least the yard was fenced in. He needed that in case the grandkids came over.

When he hit the button to open the two-car garage, he sighed. It was very lonely. Maybe Bryce is home? Velocity’s vocalist and rhythm guitarist was single because of his divorce.

As soon as Ian dropped onto his couch, he pulled his phone out. “Bryce? You busy?”

“Nope.” Bryce Cooper was in bed, but not ready to fall asleep. “You OK? You ran out without saying anything today.”

Ian sighed. “Not why I called. Maybe I can explain that tomorrow. It’s complicated.”

“OK, then what’s up?” Bryce heard the sadness in his bandmate’s voice.

Eyes closed, Ian asked, “How did you deal with being alone? I’m going crazy.”

“Wait!” Bryce was very confused. “You been separated for two years. What changed?”

Ian wasn’t sure how to explain himself. “I stopped dating and messing around. Maybe I have too much hope for my marriage. I want it to work. I need to be the man she wants. It kills me to just leave when she says go.”

“That does suck.” Bryce thought about the many times he had seen his ex-wife with another man. “At least your wife ain’t hooking up with some guy who was around while you were still together.” He exhaled loudly. “Sorry. That just fucking gutted me. I mean I walked in on them fucking.”

The conversation was not going like Ian had hoped. “What do you do about it? Work out, scream, beat off?”

“A bit of all three.” Bryce adjusted his position and sat up. “Did you see that asswipe of a boyfriend she has at Reggie’s party? Never mind.”

Ian felt the rage. “I guess you have it a lot worse. Maybe I’m just sexually frustrated.”

“I get it, but unlike you, my wife won’t let me into her bed.” Bryce was getting a bit tired of celibacy. “I got my hand. Lonely as hell.”

With no good response, Ian stayed quiet for a minute. “It’s been a while for me, too.”

“I’m not being very helpful, sorry.” Bryce knew the anger of that day had not yet dissipated. “You need an outlet. So do I. Maybe the tour will do us both some good.”

Ian hit the release on the side of the couch to put his feet up. “Maybe.” He doubted it, since all he would do was worry about Sherry. “Or maybe I just need some sleep.”

“Call me if you need me.”

After the call ended, Ian stared at the wall for a few seconds. The past few weeks had been stressful for him. As soon as Sherry had stopped arguing about him helping her, he knew things were about to go sideways.

The day that he knew he had to step in was the day of Nicky Cooper’s birthday. The huge party had been at Reggie Wilson’s place, who was part of their crew.

The Friday before that, he had called her doctor, but he was just being cautious. When he had arrived to pick her and the kids up, he’d been shocked at her condition.


*** ♫♪♫♪ ***


Ian stepped into the house and stopped dead in his tracks. His wife was on the couch with no color on her face and exhaustion in her eyes. He had known something was wrong, which was why he had made her a doctor’s appointment for the next day. However, he hadn’t imagined it was so bad.

“If you’re too tired, you can sleep.” Ian said it as nonchalantly as possible.

Sherry looked up at him. “I want to hang out with the kids and the girls.” She hadn’t seen Vanessa or Clara in quite a while.

“OK, you ready?” He nodded at Pete and Billy as they came into the room. “Hey, boys.”

Billy stood next to their mother. “Gimme your hands.”

Ian’s mouth dropped when Sherry needed to hold onto Billy to get to her feet. He rushed to them and wrapped an arm around her back. With his sons right there, he didn’t want to ask what was going on.

They walked her to Ian’s car, and Ian helped her into the passenger seat. He had to take a few breaths after he closed the door. She had never been ill before, never mind been too weak to walk alone. He couldn’t imagine what was wrong.


*** ♫♪♫♪ ***



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