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Saved by the Music (Saints & Sinners Book 2), page 1

 

Saved by the Music (Saints & Sinners Book 2)
 


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Saved by the Music (Saints & Sinners Book 2)


  Saved by the Music © 2016 by Kaithlin Shepherd

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any written, electronic, recorded, or photocopied format without the express permission from the author or publisher as allowed under the terms and conditions with which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution, circulation or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.

  Saved by the Music is a work of fiction. All names, characters, events and places found therein are either from the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to persons alive or dead, actual events, locations, or organizations is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author.

  For information, contact the publisher, Hot Tree Publishing.

  www.hottreepublishing.com

  Editing: Hot Tree Editing

  Cover Designer: Claire Smith

  ISBN-10: 1-925448-28-2

  ISBN-13: 978-1-925448-28-3

  Contents

  Dedication

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgments

  About the Publisher

  Dedication

  “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

  Chapter One

  SAM

  There were moments in life that stayed with you forever, which defined you as a person, and showed you what you were made of. For Sam, that moment came when he was twelve years old and he made a choice that no child should ever be faced with. With the glow of the moon reflecting on his sleepless body, he relived the instance when everything changed.

  The bright image of a twelve-year-old little boy, scared out of his mind and watching his father’s fist collide with his crying mother’s face, felt so real his body shook with fear. The noise of his father’s punches and the high-pitched sound of his mother’s screams echoing in the small kitchen of their run-down house was all he could hear. His small body was immobilized by the dread that it might be the night his father put his mother in a grave. The bent-up form of his mother’s body was clear as tears rolled down Sam’s face. The woman he loved more than life told him to run, but he couldn’t move a bone; his body glued to the floor as he watched his father throw punch after punch.

  His whole body jerked as the vivid memories from that night draped over him like a constant reminder of what he’d done. The replica of the events seemed so real he couldn’t help but be drawn back to that night. He could see his younger self walking toward the bedroom, forcing his small body to keep moving. Reaching for that drawer in the nightstand, the one his father forbade him to ever open. He grabbed the loaded gun stored inside at the same moment his mother screamed, begging for mercy. He ran to the kitchen just in time to witness his father stab his mother, and that was when he aimed the gun straight at his father and shot him twice in the chest.

  At the sound of the gun firing, Sam’s body bounced straight up in his bed. His heavy breathing filled the air, his body covered in a coat of sweat, and he couldn’t hold back the tears from rolling down his face as he relived the day he’d almost killed a man. The day that would haunt him until he died. Putting his head in his hands, he took in his surroundings, slowly beginning to regain control over his body and his mind.

  Nightmares weren’t uncommon for him, but they’d been happening more and more as the date of his dad’s parole hearing drew closer. He pushed off the dark blue comforter, making it slide to the floor, and threw his legs over the bed, welcoming the chill of the wooden floors. He dipped his head and ran his hands through his hair. Years of therapy had given him the power to control his body’s reactions to that night’s memories most of the time, but there were still those stolen moments where everything he’d worked so hard to overcome came back to the surface, making him feel like he was drowning.

  Sam glanced over at the clock on his bedside table, groaning when he saw the red numbers flashing 5:00 a.m. Another night of restless sleep was not what he needed, but he’d learned early on that life was about playing the cards you were dealt. He pushed himself off the bed and headed for the bathroom, his eyes slowly adjusting as he turned on the light.

  He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and winced at the sight before him. Dark circles under his eyes gave away his lack of sleep, and hell, he couldn’t even remember the last time he’d shaved. Trish was going to have a field day with him the second he walked through her and Jarrod’s front door.

  The last year had been completely crazy for the band, having postponed a world tour when Trish went into labor, and pushing back the release date of their new album to allow their front man to enjoy being a husband and a father. But with the dust settled on all the changes, playtime was over; in a few days, they would be back on the road and in the studio.

  When your life was music and you were forced to take time off, you were bound to start re-evaluating everything, especially when your two best friends preached the benefits of a happy relationship. Sam wasn’t stupid enough to think he deserved even an inch of the happiness that Jarrod and Trish had found with one another, but he still longed to find that connection. To find the one person who made him feel complete.

  Sam stripped off his pajama bottoms and climbed into the shower, thinking about how lucky he was to have the life he had. With every day and every success he celebrated, he forced himself to remain humble and grateful for the things he thought he would never have.

  After shooting his dad and going through the motions of a messy trial, he was a lost soul. When his dad was sent to prison for assault, attempted murder, child neglect, and child abuse, the relief he thought he would feel never came. Instead, he’d hung out with the wrong crowd, and before he knew it, he was knee-deep in drugs and heading straight for jail—until he met Jackson, the man who saved him.

  Jackson took him off the streets, helped him get clean and away from the lifestyle that would’ve landed him in the morgue. The man saved his life and introduced him to music, and since Sam had more money than he knew what to do with, giving other kids the same chance was the least he could do.

  His eyes wandered down his chest to the scar on his left pectoral, the constant reminder of what his father was capable of. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he turned on the cold water, hoping to drown the memories away. In that instance, a melody came to him. He never quite understood his creative process—most people didn’t—but he never stopped long enough to question it. Not when it produced hit after hit, and sold millions of albums.

  He turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. Grabbing a towel from the rack, he wrapped it around his waist and headed for his home studio. It was the one place that made him serene, no matter what was happening in his life. He picked up his old guitar and got lost in the music filling his head.

  He lost track of time working on the new song. The next thing he knew, he was rushing to get ready; if he showed up late to the meeting, Trish was going to have his ass on a silver platter.

  For years, she had been their publicist, and more than that, she had been their rock. But last year, she had started to lose the passion for h
er work. When she and Jarrod finally got together, it was clear that her heart wasn’t in her work anymore. Now, she was designing her first fashion line between feedings of her new baby girl, and he’d never seen her so happy. She might not be their publicist anymore, but she could still bring the hammer down when she needed to.

  Sam was half an hour late when he pulled up to Jarrod’s house. He grabbed his phone from the dashboard before rushing inside and, exactly as he thought, they were all over his ass the minute they saw him.

  “Well, shit, look who decided to grace us with his presence after all.” Austin was sitting at the kitchen table holding baby Emma, who smiled and laughed at the man who broke more hearts in a week than most men did in a year.

  “I know, I know. I was in the studio and lost track of time.” The guys would understand, but they weren’t the ones he was scared of. Looking around the room, he didn’t see Trish anywhere, so maybe he was safe after all. It always made him laugh how he could face millions of fans and rooms full of reporters, yet the opinion of one woman made him as nervous as a recent college graduate on his first day of work.

  “We’re just messing with you, man. Mike just got here, so you didn’t miss anything,” Nick told him, handing Sam a cup of coffee. He groaned when the liquid hit his throat. At that point, he would’ve taken anything that would give him enough energy to feel alive and awake.

  Looking around the room at the four men who had become his brothers over the years, he was overwhelmed with the need to get back on stage, to feel that high they all shared when the roar of a crowd filled their ears. Nothing else compared to it.

  “Sam Brooks, you are late. You better have a good explanation.” When he turned around, Trish was in the doorway, hands on her hips, looking as beautiful as ever. Even in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, the woman was gorgeous, but there was something more alluring now. Maybe it was becoming a mother, or maybe it was becoming a wife, but she had an extra confidence about her. He adored seeing the change.

  “I lost track of time. I was in the studio working on a new song. You know how it goes.” He walked over and kissed her cheeks before bringing her in closer for a hug. At one point, he had been scared that their friendship would change with her getting married, or having kids, but luckily it hadn’t. Sure, they didn’t get to see each other as often, but their relationship was stronger than ever.

  “You’re forgiven. Hey, you look like shit, Sam. When’s the last time you slept?” He knew how bad he looked—there was no denying it—he just wished she didn’t feel the need to remind him. He gave her his best smile, hoping it would dissolve the line of questioning she had coming for him.

  “Always saying the kindest things. I’m fine, Trish.” The last thing he wanted to talk about was his dad, and how he’d gone without a good night’s sleep in months. That would open the door to a conversation he wasn’t ready to have.

  He could see the wheels turning in her head. That was the thing about being best friends with a woman—she could always tell when he was full of shit. By the smile she gave him, it was clear they were going to have a nice chat at some point.

  “We’ll talk about this later. You’re not getting out of this one.” He would never stop being thankful for this woman’s good grace. She knew all about his dad and the shitstorm that was his childhood, making her one of the few people with that insight into his life. But what he cherished most about her was that she never pushed him to talk about his feelings. She was happy just waiting for him to talk to her, and that meant more to him than she probably knew.

  Jarrod came up from the studio right on cue, looking every inch the superstar he was in faded blue jeans and a worn-out T-shirt. “Hey, man, what’s going on?”

  Sam smiled at the man sporting the “I haven’t slept more than an hour a night,” “new daddy” look that fit him so damn well.

  “Sorry I’m late. Got caught up in the studio.” Sam watched Jarrod take Emma in his arms, hoping that one day he would be lucky enough to experience that kind of bliss.

  “No worries. You got a new song?” He caught the glint of excitement in Jarrod’s eyes at the mention of a potential new song, and any doubt he had about them going back out on the road, and writing their new album, vanished. Jarrod needed this as much as he did, and that was enough for Sam.

  He leaned back against the wall. “Yeah. It’s still pretty rough, but we can work on it later.”

  “Sounds good to me. I can’t wait to get back out on that stage and play some new songs,” Jarrod said, kissing the top of Emma’s head.

  Sam understood the feeling. Guys like them were built for the stage. They thrived on the high of the crowd, and they needed it to survive. For some people, music was a hobby, but for them it was who they were.

  He looked around the room and smiled at the sight of everyone in the same place. Mike was the strong and silent type, but when he had something to say, you’d better watch yourself because he didn’t hold anything back. Austin was famous with the ladies, sleeping his way through the female population of every city they played in, unable to commit to a relationship because the one woman he ever loved broke his heart. Tyler went through the motions with a smile, and he would give anyone the shirt off his back, but the man had a dark side he rarely showed to anyone. And finally Jarrod, the man who seemed to have it all but didn’t have anything worth keeping until he’d pulled his head out of his ass and made his move with Trish.

  These guys were Sam’s family. There was no denying they were all kinds of fucked up, but they were brothers nonetheless.

  Within an hour, the meeting was done and Sam couldn’t be happier with how the new tour was looking. There was always pressure for a tour to be better than the last, just like any album, and he felt pretty good that this was going to top everything they’d ever done on the road. Keeping fans happy was all that mattered to him, but he knew their label and management would be happy with their ideas, as well.

  When he saw that Trish wasn’t downstairs, he slipped through the living room and headed upstairs. He could faintly hear her voice singing in the air. He loved the woman, but God, she couldn’t sing to save her own life. Emma’s giggles warmed his heart though, and apparently she didn’t care that her mother was tone-deaf.

  When he reached the nursery, he leaned against the doorframe and watched as Trish comforted Emma in the rocking chair.

  “She’s lucky to have a mother who loves her like crazy.”

  Trish looked up when she heard him, giving him a soft smile that said it all. “She’s so precious, Sam. It’s like holding a piece of your soul in your hands.” The ache in his chest grew bigger with every second he watched Trish with Emma. This was her moment though, and he wasn’t going to ruin it by bringing up unresolved issues from his past.

  “She looks like she’s giving you guys a run for your money at night.” It was obvious the little darling was keeping her parents up, from Jarrod’s fatigued face to Trish’s dark eyes and pale skin, but they didn’t appear fazed by it at all. They seemed to be enjoying the joys of parenthood, as they should.

  “That she is, but Jarrod’s been really good with her, so we’re making it work. Just be happy we have our own bus now, because this little angel has some pipes on her. She takes after her dad.”

  “Hopefully, she gets her vocal talent from him and not her mother.”

  Right on cue, Emma’s squeals echoed around the room, showing off said pipes.

  “Hey, now, are you saying I can’t sing?” Trish’s face was lit up with a smile and a glow that he was happy to see.

  “That’s exactly what I’m saying.” Laughter filled the room and Emma joined in, unaware of what was going on but just happy to be rocked by her mom.

  “You want to talk about whatever’s bothering you?”

  He should have known she wouldn’t just let it go.

  “It’s nothing really, just been having nightmares and I’m not sleeping well.” He shrugged it off like it wasn’t a big deal, but
the concern on her face told him she wasn’t buying any of what he was selling.

  “It’s not nothing, Sam. I know you don’t like to talk about it, and I respect that, but you’ve always been there for me no matter what I was going through. I’m here for you anytime you need to talk to someone—or get drunk with someone, if that’s what it takes. Does this have anything to do with the parole hearing that’s coming up next month?”

  The idea that his dad might go free made him sick to his stomach. Sam knew that if released from prison, the man would do anything to get revenge, and he wouldn’t stop until he got it. “Honestly, I don’t know. You would think I’d be over it by now. Hell, it’s been over twenty years.”

  “Sam, you never get over something like that. You learn to process what happened and you learn to live with it, but you never get over it.” She sounded so much like his therapist, telling him that no matter what he did, that fragment of his life would always be a part of him. But that didn’t mean it had to control his life. That was easier said than done, of course. Carrying the fear that if your own father ever got out of prison, he would come after you, never let you truly rest.

  “When did you become a shrink?” He knew she was right, but a grown man shouldn’t still be having nightmares about something that happened twenty years ago, should he? No matter how many hours he spent on a sofa spilling his heart, or how many kids he helped off the streets, or how many gold records he hung in his studio, nothing ever made him feel like he could be saved from his own feelings.

  “You rub off on people. What can I say?”

  He smiled at her, remembering all those nights on the bus when they would stay up late talking about everything and nothing. He never would’ve expected the day would come when he would be the one needing the advice. Leaning over, he kissed her forehead and ran a finger over Emma’s stomach, making the baby giggle. For the first time in months, he felt like his life wasn’t falling apart. The power children held of making someone see the bigger picture was astonishing.

 
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