Sunday, October 28, 2018

Halloween in the Silver Strings Series by Lisa Gillis

Binge watching scary movies in the days leading up to Halloween has become practically a tradition, especially now with access to on-demand and streaming. As a teenager, my favorite October movies were often slashers like Scream, Saw, and the classics like Friday The Thirteenth and Halloween. As an adult, thrillers and paranormal have become my Halloween favorites.

What about books? Holidays with favorite book characters are a must! Christmas novels in December and happy ending romances in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day. As an author I've included at least a mention of all winter holidays scattered throughout all series. When it comes to Halloween, though, I had to think for a minute. As an author had I'd been as enthusiastic about Halloween with my characters?

In Silver Strings Series D Set, Rising Sun, Half Moon, Rock Stars, the Matt and Jules timeline begins mid-year in the early 1970's, and over a several year span, includes possibly every well-known USA holiday--including--yes--Halloween, not only once, but twice.

Chapter 11 of Rising Sun is Matt and Jules' first Halloween together.

At this point, their very hot and steamy relationship is on the "down low"  To their bandmates, Candi and Star, their families such as Jules' brother, Marc, and the rest of their intersecting circles, Matt and Jules are friends only. But can the same be said truthfully to themselves? The scenes in this chapter show the subconscious turning point of a friends with benefits (a label not yet born in the 70's) relationship to something more.

“I was asking if you want to come.”
With great difficulty, Jules cleared the fog from her mind to focus blankly on her brother. “Where?”
“To build a fire!” Marc’s exasperated reply actually shot a crumb of his sandwich from his lips, and she realized it was not the first time he had repeated his plans to hang out somewhere on the shore around a driftwood fire with his friends.
“Oh, um, no. Practice.” The hands on the oven clock spread wide, displaying a quarter after nine.
“Practice? Tonight?” Immediately, the inquiry ricocheted back to her. Now he was the one to stare vaguely over the kitchen bar as he awaited her answer and continued to devour his sandwich with giant bites.
“Sort of,” she amended, wondering why she was suddenly being asked to account to Marc about the band.
Their parents were absentee again. It would be up to a week before their father returned, and their mother at least a week. But Marc’s interest didn’t seem voiced out of responsibility. Her brother’s nosiness about the band seemed personal, as it often was these days.
Lately, if he didn’t have better things to do, he would watch them practice while he shot a few solo games of pool. That night, he clearly had more interesting plans. She noted his usual shaggy hair now tamed against his scalp.
“Well, not with everyone. I don’t think Star and Candi are coming.” Treading carefully, she omitted Matt’s name from the conversation, but Marc shrewdly interrogated.
“He sure is here a lot.”
“I guess.” She shrugged.
“So… the two of you…” Marc withstood her wide-eyed, hopefully innocent glare. “What’s the deal with the two of you?”
“Matt? And me? Nothing. Have you ever heard of ‘D’ tuning? He’s been showing me a lot of chords I didn’t know about. He’s a guitar boss,” she babbled, although it had been months since Matt had first tuned her guitar down to ‘D.’ “Besides, if he were going to date any of us,” she vaguely alluded to the females in the band, “it would be Candi. He likes Candi.”
“Candi? Is that so?”
There was an odd pitch to her brother’s words, and fearing she had gone overboard in trying to steer Marc away from the truth, she didn’t dare look up. “Yeah. I’m pretty sure.”
“Alright then, sis.” Marc crooked an arm about her neck, giving her a combo of a shake and a hug. “If you change your mind, it will be a few before I leave. Got to load my board.”
The last short sentence sparked her attention, and she finally sought his eyes, narrowing her own. “Why are you taking your board?”
“None ya!” As he exited, Marc threw over his shoulder the slanged ‘none of your business’ phrase they had goaded one another with since childhood.
She had to force her feet to stick to the brick floor. To run after him, protesting his night surfing, would do no good. She had learned that she would end up in tears fearing for him, or that her confrontation would simply force him to fib to alleviate her distress.
“Marc? You are coming back tonight?”
“Planning on going out at daylight,” he hollered back from the hallway, to justify taking his surfboard with him.
The door slammed, and she let out a long shaky breath. Whenever his plans involved coming home before daylight, at least her hours of worry narrowed down.
For several long seconds, she stared at the empty doorway and then at the packages of lunchmeat and cheese slices on the counter top. After putting away his snack mess, she tried to put her brother entirely out of her mind.
Matt had called over an hour ago to inform her of his plan to come over as soon as he and his dad closed the Surf Shack at dark—and it was dark now. She headed upstairs to freshen up and left her bedroom door open so she could hear downstairs.
Matt had recently been okayed by her parents to use the gate code.
With the house to herself, she left the bedroom door open while dressing. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she noticed her lone audience. Matt was standing in the hallway just outside the threshold, and the flame in his eyes singed her in every way. Emotionally. Physically.
“You fuck head,” she cursed, as her heart picked up its pace. “You scared the shit out of me!”
She had just pulled a tee shirt over her head, and her jeans were in her hand.
“Don’t bother?” He phrased the two words as a question, but his body against hers was not an interrogative.
The jeans dropped to the floor.
There was something delightfully decadent about falling with him onto her own bed—the bed of so many Matt fantasies.
“Guess where the Halloween gig is!”
His weight balanced equally on her and one of his knees, and the words spoken into her neck made guessing difficult, but she threw a few club names out.
Doing an imitation of a game show fail buzzer, he never paused in their play. “Guess!” he prompted again, but she could only gasp.
With strength born of determination, she shifted their positions, and when she heard his gasp, she demanded, “Tell me!”
His laughter rumbled pleasantly into her ears and against her body. “No. You guess…”
“Tell me…”
They played until the game ended with a wildcard guess from her and his acknowledgment. Pushing herself up, she resounded, “No way!”
“Way.” And he pulled her back down.
The gigs seemed nonstop. Matt booked area dance clubs and private parties. They all preferred the private parties, but the exposure seemed to be in the clubs with the other bands.
Once school started, her parents and Starla’s mother initially put up some resistance to any late weekday nights. Finally, the united parental trio came up with a compromise limiting school night gigs to twice a week.
For Jules and Starla, school was interesting with the notoriety the band brought. Once word got around, they were treated like the queens in their senior class.
Classmates-turned-fans sought them in the halls at school. Because Jules had become a self-imposed recluse during the prior year, after her break up with the unfaithful jerk, this change was refreshing. It was a chance to dish back every injustice ever done to her. The breakup had divided their class last year. Now, girls who had once snubbed her were snubbed back, and guys who had deemed her unworthy of asking out, were shot down when they did.
Starla kept the school bulletin board tacked with current fliers of the show, and a huge group of kids became familiar faces at every show. Possessive emotions reared whenever any girl from her school began flirting with Matt. Although Matt returned this type of attention, she never saw him leave with any of these girls, even for a short time. Before the shows, they loaded the equipment from the rec room to the trailer, and she rode with him. He was always there to give her a lift home afterward, and almost all of the time, they detoured for some private time between themselves.
There had been no more intense moments like the one in his car the day after the starlet party. They were back to their semi-easy friendship state. It was best for the band. Besides, in some way she did not want to think too hard about, it was best for her.
They played a private Halloween party on the weekend before the Hallows Eve and then on the actual night of Halloween, they played the infamous club whose name she had guessed.
Jules smoked a cigarette as they mingled, post show, in the back lot of the club with a group that included some of the kids from school.
Star and Wayne stood a few paces away, laughing it up with another couple. Jules watched with a weird feeling as Marc flirted with Candi, zipping her jacket up and stealing a touch as the zipper settled mid chest.
Realizing she really didn’t know anymore how Candi was arriving and leaving shows, she had her suspicions confirmed when the two unobtrusively moved away from the group, and a minute or so later, the taillights on her brother’s Gremlin arced into the street.
Either Matt had been right a couple of months ago about Marc returning Candi’s interest, or he had predicted it. Sourly, she accepted the fact that her brother was male, and what male was immune to Candi? Only the ones that had watched her in a full-out rage over some stupid something—like Matt, thankfully.
“Jules, babe, you are looking fine tonight!”
The voice came from behind her, and maintaining strict control, she did not immediately swing her gaze from the road. Still sweaty from the show, she had carried her jacket out, needing the cool air on her skin, and now, she took the time to push her arms into it. Only then did she leisurely turn toward the flattery.
The buddy of the unfaithful boyfriend of last school year was part of the dwindling group that remained, and his grin grew wider when she recognized his voice.
Strolling over, she drawled, “What are you guys drinking?”
Feeling glad she had already quenched her after performance thirst with a cream soda before heading outside, she accepted the beer that ‘Buddy’ quickly passed, and pretended to drink it. She had never understood why beer was the one alcoholic drink that she couldn’t even choke down.
As the night wore on, it gave her some satisfaction to realize that ‘Buddy’ was making a play for her. She considered doing it with him just to get back at ‘Unfaithful Jerk.’ The thought of him calling her ex up, the moment he got home, and bragging about ‘making it’ with her was an exhilarating one. With that thought, and unfinished potential plan in mind, she turned up the charm.
The last she had seen of Matt, he had been pouring on his own charm while several heavily mascaraed eyes ogled him. She had looked away, determined to ignore his new fans.
She used the rim of the beer can, putting it to her lips to avoid ‘Buddy’s’ attempt at a kiss, for now at least. Swiveling her head away, she found Matt’s intent stare. Ending an eye roll with a cut of her gaze at ‘Buddy,’ she smirked at Matt, and he returned the gesture.
A short petite girl joined the group, and although Jules shot her a smile, vaguely recognizing her as a cheerleader from school, the girl simply glared back. Irritated at the brushoff while her spirits were so high from the show, Jules put her mouth to the beer again just as the girl stalked away. A few fake sips later, she realized why the girl had acted in that way.
“Don’t you have a girlfriend?” Jules demanded, removing ‘Buddy’s’ hand from the arm of her jacket. The recollection was suddenly clear. At school, a tall, tan cheerleader was usually with him.
“Somewhere. Not here. Out of sight out of mind,” he joked. A couple of the others snickered in male fashion with him. A few who knew the history—Jules’ six-month relationship and then ugly breakup with ‘Buddy’s’ best friend—were probably lingering just to see where this was going.
“So true,” she agreed and received a wide smile of anticipation in return. Nonchalantly putting the can to her lips and faking a sip, she went on, “Unless, of course, when she’s out of sight, YOU are out of mind.” When he frowned, she finished off with a fabrication aimed at keeping him in his place. “Our drummer digs her.”
It took ‘Buddy’ several seconds to process that the tables had turned on him, and for a moment, she was aggravated with herself for not sticking to her original plan. She really had no animosity toward this guy, other than the fact that he was so tight with ‘Unfaithful Jerk.’ As a once disrespected girlfriend, it just made her angry that he disrespected his girlfriend in front of everyone. She wouldn’t be a part of someone cheating.
Her insinuation that his girlfriend might be enticed by Matt after a future show penetrated his beer brain, and his eyes swung the short distance across the lot toward Matt and the gaggle of giggling girls falling all over him.
Matt intercepted the look and held it until ‘Buddy’ was the one to break it. Upon winning the stare off, Matt immediately turned eyes to Jules. His expression was tempered with inquisitiveness and—and something she couldn’t quite read.
Star shrilled out a squealing peel of laughter across the lot while horsing around in her group. Jules transferred her attention from the white sheen on Matt’s features, to the ghostly glow of Star’s face in the neon night, then back to Matt. He was no longer looking at her, but neither was he looking at the group of girls around him. His attention seemed held by the traffic on the boulevard.
It was in that strange moment when she realized she wouldn’t have left the club with ‘Buddy.’ Matt had brought her, and with the exception of the show at the starlet’s house, they had never left the shows separately.
She thought about taking the beer in her hand to Star before it got too hot to drink, any excuse to leave this group. Because her attention was diverted, she didn’t see Matt move. Yet, oddly enough, she knew it was him when she felt the presence behind her and the hands on her waist.
They settled with the ease of hands that had pulled her waist to his many times before, whether jeans to jeans, or skin to skin. A surge of desire rippled through her nerves, but she made light of his nearness. Removing a lighter from the hip pocket of her ripped jeans, she lightly joked, “Is this what you’re after?”
Matt seized it and stepped around to her side as he murmured, “Among other things.”
Raising her brows in warning, she pierced him with her eyes while shooting him a smile for the benefit of the others. “Cigarette, too?”
Matt beseeched a sardonic, “Pleeease?”
From her other pocket, she slid her slim gold cigarette case, handing it off to him. After lighting his cigarette, he slipped the lighter and the case back into their respective pockets, lingering a second or two more than necessary with his hands. Fingers curved unseen to caress her thighs through the thin cotton pocket. With a counteractive yank to her hair, he milled back toward the girls, but halted midway when ‘Buddy’ called out.
“Hey!” The word slurred as a drunken syllable.
Matt curiously turned, as did everyone in the vicinity, unsure for whom the directive was meant.
‘Buddy’ was scowling Matt’s way. “Stay away from my girlfriend!”
Removing the cigarette from his lips, Matt blew out a billow of smoke as he sent a measuring look Jules’ way.
With aversion, she realized Matt was wondering if she herself was being referred to in that possessive way by her classmate. When she shook her head slightly, silently setting him straight, Matt glanced over at his groupies of the night. “Which one?”
“She’s not here.” ‘Buddy’ stammered, when Matt gave him look of confused ridicule, “I mean, when she is here. Stay away from her then.”
If possible, Matt’s face was even more comical, and each surrounding face mirrored his outlandish expression. Matt looked to Jules, and she simply turned her palms up. “So how would I know your girlfriend? Got a picture of her?”
Curiously, she eyed Matt, finding it strange that he hadn’t performed his usual ‘scoff and turn away’ gesture, which he frequently did in moronic situations. She simply stared in astonishment as ‘Buddy’ accommodated by pulling a picture from his billfold, and Matt crossed back over to peruse it.
After passing the picture back, Matt began walking backward toward his waiting female fan club and smoothly phrased, “Sorry man. She didn’t say anything about a boyfriend when we fu—”
A car geared up at that moment, but there was no mistaking the word. Across from her, ‘Buddy’ cursed, throwing his cigarette down with a fist curl. Seeing the dangerous anger in his eyes, Jules recovered enough to assure, “He’s joking…” But was he? “Matt, tell him you’re joking!”
Matt, tell ME you’re joking… her heart cried before her mind could rebuke it.
Then she saw it. A glint of something in his eyes. A shadow in his facial expression. Matt was picking a fight. Matt wanted to hit him.
“Sike…” From his area, Matt’s dark eyes reassured what she might not have otherwise believed from his reluctant lips. Then, he flicked his gaze to the infuriated ‘Buddy.’ “Stay away from my girl—and that’s no joke.”
“Got a picture of her?” ‘Buddy’s’ retort drew laughs from his cohorts.
Even Matt grinned, but the twist of his lips was fleeting and totally gone when stone cold serious, he replied, “No. But you’ll know it’s her when I kick your ass!”
“So what was that all about?” Jules demanded, once they were alone in the ’Vette. At this time of the night, traffic was at its lightest. Matt was driving faster than the posted limit and faster than he should in town.
Everyone had dissolved into even more hysterical laughter before Matt even finished the last word of the sentence. ‘Buddy’ had been the first to leave, actually dragged off by those he was with for wanting to fight Matt. The rest of the crowd had soon dispersed.
A quarter of a minute went by, with Matt innocently pretending he didn’t know what she was talking about, and her pressing him until he finally admitted, “Just having some fun.”
“Fun? What was fun about that?”
“I didn’t like him,” Matt returned, without taking his eyes from the road. A hand left the wheel long enough to turn the stereo up.
She knew he didn’t like her school crowd. He thought they were stuck up, and except for a few, they were, so it wasn’t as if she could be mad at him for saying as much. Feeling the way he did, he had restrained himself fairly well in the past around them.
Turning the volume back down, she asked, “So you didn’t mess around with his girlfriend?”
She just wanted to hear a verbal no, and he gave it to her without pause and with the slightest smile. “No, I’ve never seen her.”
He had though. Jules had seen the girl talking to him a week ago. It made her feel good that he didn’t remember those faces from one night to the next.
However, she wondered what he had seen in her own face back at the club parking lot, prompting that split second of softness in his eyes when he had affirmed he was joking, and what had brought on that sweet smile after his denial just now.
Worried that she was revealing the possessive streak she sometimes had, she tried to recover and tantalized, “She’s fine! You should go for it…”
“I’ll pass. She’s all yours…”
“Ha and ha,” Jules retorted, and then hoped she had successfully hidden the green-eyed monster enough to ask, “And that stuff you said about your girlfriend?”
He slowed the car for a stoplight, stretching an arm across to her side of the car. “If I had a girlfriend, I would be doing this to her…never anyone else…”
His fingers always took her breath away, no matter where he put them.
Sometime back, they had discovered a vacant lot just down the canyon road from her house. It quickly became their private parking place. The view was amazing. The convenience of it was perfect, since on curfew nights it would be hard to explain dumping the trailer in the driveway and then leaving again for privacy. The disadvantage was the super spooky setting. Even during the day, there was something unsettling about the clearing in the woods, and at night, the feeling was amplified.
Matt slowed before the dark overgrown dirt drive that led to ‘their place.’
She jerked from her thoughts with sudden inspiration and informed him of the two days and nights of freedom she had. “My parents are both out of town until Monday.” The car was now idling in the dark road, and turning down the music, he looked over expectantly. “We could go up to my room, or hang out in the rec room…” The rec room couch had not been used in that way since.
Matt nodded, and the car once more began to roll.
The shiny bumper of Marc’s car had the effect of cold water on their hot thoughts as the ’Vette coasted to a stop behind it. They both silently stared for a few moments.
Jules wondered if Candi were here at the house. How weird would it be—if the rec room were already in use, or if Marc had her in his room? The thought was distasteful, but she didn’t voice it to Matt. The last thing she wanted was for him to conjure an intimate image of Candi.
“Didn’t know your brother was home…” Matt’s tone was glum. He soon had his own ideas about how to salvage the night, suggesting they leave the trailer and go to his house, if she didn’t think curfew would be a problem. “What time is your curfew anyway?”
“No time,” she beamed. “Even if Marc cared, he won’t notice I’m gone until daylight when he leaves to surf.”
Unless he had brought Candi home, and was going to drive her home. The pondering thought unwillingly crossed her mind once more.
They unhitched the trailer, and she decided to step inside the house to see if her worst fears were true. Telling Matt she had to go to the bathroom, she unlocked the door, passed the empty rec room, and traipsed through the quiet house. The only sound was the clock and the slight squeak of her soles against the stairs.
As she went into her room, she glanced at Marc’s closed bedroom door, but all seemed silent behind it. Their method of communication in passing was to leave a note on one another’s doorknob. Tearing a sheet from one of her binders, she quickly scrawled something about grabbing a bite to eat with Matt and friends. Folding it in half, enough to rip it without tearing to the edge, she did so and then hung it and went into the bathroom.
She jumped in and out of the shower without taking the time to adjust the water temperature. After throwing on fresh clothes, she returned to the car where Matt was chilling with a smoke and his newest eight-track.
On several occasions, she had met Matt’s father, Cyrus Loren, who was as hunky hot as Matt in an older way. His father surfed in the dawn hours before opening his shop, and most nights was asleep by dusk. Therefore, at this late hour, the Loren house was as quiet and dark as her own had been as they crept through to Matt’s room.
In perfect unison, Matt turned on his black lights; Jules locked the bedroom door. Matt pulled at the bedspread; Jules switched on the FM radio. It was not the first time this had been their private get away. A few times, when curfew had not been an issue, they had driven the extra miles here to Santa Monica and this bed.
Matt encircled her from behind, as she stood lost in that particular memory.
“You smell good…,” he whispered against her neck. “How come you smell so good, huh?”
“Cos I’m not the drummer…”
“Liar…liar. Pants on fire…” The teasing lilt in his quiet words was beguiling. Fingers hooked into the waist of freshly laundered jeans—not her studded show jeans. Fingers making her crazy on the silk under the jeans… “You snuck a shower in…”
“Oh well…Oh well, oh well, oh well.” Despite the delirious sensations, she managed somehow to taunt the hook of the song he was quoting.
Matt whispered something about getting his own shower, but things got crazy fast.
Vertical became horizontal.
Blissful minutes had passed when he spoke again. “I will be right back…”
“The heck you will—” Her protest was accompanied by a lock of her legs around his waist.
He chuckled against her lips, “Come with me then…”
“No… Just stay…” A cajole coated her tone… a way with words that always won with Matt, and this time was no exception.
They were resting comfortably together, music thumping quietly through the speakers on the headboard, when he softly admitted, “I almost kissed you.” When she, having been thoroughly kissed for the last half hour, phrased a quiet, confused interrogative, he elaborated. “With your friends tonight. I forget sometimes that we’re on the down low.” She made a non-committal sound, her attention and lips solely on the pulse of his neck, already wanting again. A groan escaped his lips, but he remained focused on his interrogation. “Why are we anyway? On the down low? Remind me?”
She lifted her lips to look into his eyes. Looking for what, she didn’t know. “It’s just easier, right? At the shows, the folks eat it up thinking me and Candi and Star are fighting over you.”
“Have you told Starla about us?” Matt queried. When she shook her head, he pressed, “Why not?” The silence stretched, and he pushed on, “She’s your best friend, and more right?” She nodded, but uneasy at his odd tone, continued to search his face. “So tell her.”
Why was he so adamant that Star know? Was Star putting moves on him again?
His eyes were searching deep inside hers, probing beneath into her mind. She broke her own gaze, looking beyond him to a psychedelic poster. Starla would make the admission into more than it was, never believing for a minute that Jules and Matt were friends and bandmates as a priority. “I can’t. She wouldn’t understand.”
Matt never agreed or disagreed. Pushing away enough to climb out of the bed, he moved through the shadows of the room, stepping into a pair of shorts. He pulled open the hall door and disappeared through it, leaving her to wonder what he was up to. The bathroom? A drink?
Was he actually mad? If he was mad, then why? He had agreed when they had begun this thing between them that it was best kept between the two of them.
Matt returned to the bed, freshly showered, and passed her a Coke. Cold hands. Cold lips. Cold hair. Passing the can back, she returned the torture of these cold caresses. The disagreement or whatever had happened a minute ago was forgotten as quickly as their body temperatures warmed.

Chapter 22 in Rising Sun is a year forward, but much has changed. 

Our characters are on tour and despite infighting and lineup changes, they've made a name for their band. They're enjoying fame, and although it happened fast, it's the result of talent and a grueling schedule. Matt and Jules have turned a point in their relationship. Intense feelings are something they no longer hide. As for contentions among band members, bitterness has dissolved into friendships and the band is comfortable together. Halloween one year later is very different from the previous.

Halloween came. In the matter of costumes, the band had finally decided to use a ballpoint pen and permanent marker on their skin. Under the bright dressing room lights, they dissolved into hysterical fits as they took turns doing pushups, or whatever it took to get the blood flowing, the veins bulging. They helped each other paint over the actual veins that showed through their skin. From there, they improvised for effect, covering in this way any skin not concealed by their clothes. The effect was dramatic, like some sort of alien beings. The Halloween show was part of a state fair, and afterward, they all walked around, eating like crazy and playing the games on the midway as the other band took the stage.

Marc won Candi a huge stuffed Saint Bernard, complete with a barrel around its neck, by doing a ring toss. Matt was determined to win one too, but after several tries, Jules dragged him away. The others were patiently waiting. They all knew by now to stick together. Dan was with them, either out of boredom, or for once, taking his chaperone responsibilities seriously since they were uncaged—out of the hotel and loose in town.

“No separating from the herd,” Dan reminded them upon leaving the stage area, rousing snickers from them all as they recalled the day he had coined the phrase for them personally.

The herd theory became nonexistent at the fair. Over and over, they were stopped for pictures and autographs with fans.

Most of the people asking for autographs did not have a THING to sign, and Jules hid her possessive feelings with an amused smile as Matt and Dan signed the fifth or sixth breast. One girl’s boyfriend literally glowered as the girl flushed and flirted. It was a tense moment, and Jules was sure punches were about to be thrown, but Matt began talking to the boyfriend about sports scores and things smoothed over. Jules and Candi signed clothing, arms, and in Jules’ case, one extreme lower back, giving Matt his turn to smirk.

In the frenzy, Marc was even asked for his signature. Comically, he scribbled something unreadable and probably less than tasteful each time. Word of them wandering the fair seemed to spread like wildfire, and it got crazier and crazier. While it was fun at first, eventually, they couldn’t go five minutes without being stopped and drawing bigger crowds with each stop.

Unanimously, they decided to sprint for the bus, an impossibly slow feat, given how many times they were waylaid. At last, by stepping over cables and crossing over to the deserted, dark backside of the rides, they somehow emerged at a fence and stopped, staring stymied at their bus on the other side. It was either go around and back into the midway area, or climb it. They climbed.

Safe on the bus, it was only a couple of exits off the intrastate to their motel. They all babbled about the mobbing, as well as unmercifully teased each other about certain incidents before separating to their rooms.

Matt twisted on the shower, and she lingered at the sink, moping at her spidery vein face in the mirror. “I really, really wanted to ride some rides.”

Matt retorted with a totally male comment about a ride waiting for her. But when he saw how serious and disappointed she was at not being able to fully experience the fair, he made it his mission to take her back.

In the shower, they scrubbed at the black ink on their necks, faces, hands, and arms. As they dressed, Matt offered the advice that her ripped jeans were a dead giveaway, so she drew a rarely worn short black skirt and matching satin shirt from her luggage. The leotards and legwarmers she held up as a joke, but when he nodded eagerly, she shrugged and pulled them on. Her hair was soaked, and she braided it into one long braid, which she then folded and pinned up. Its red color would not be obvious until it dried. Matt used a combination of hair bands to keep his long hair pushed into a cap, and he held one of his jackets while she slipped into it.

A little more than an hour later, she screeched at the top of her lungs as their roller coaster car lunged down a long drop of track and then jerked around a sideways curve.

“You look ten years old,” Matt teased, fingering her braid, which had come loose as they waited in their Ferris wheel car for the ride to load and begin.

“Oh really?” She wiped cotton candy from her fingers to his jeans and darted her tongue out to clean her sticky lips. Their car gave another lurch as another loaded on the platform far below.

“Maybe not so much.” He retracted his observation and helped her clean the candy from her mouth. His tongue swiped her lips a few extra times. “Mmh we are definitely getting one of these to go.” Pulling at the sugary threads, he stuck a few to her lips before eating the bite, and instead of kissing the candy off, he sat back to watch her lick it off.

They retained their anonymity as they rode the Matterhorn, bumper cars, the hammer, and more. Matt stopped at the pool table game on the midway, and after a few shots, made the one that won her a pink panther.

As promised, they stopped at a cotton candy vendor on their way out.

Find more about Rising Sun, Half Moon, Rock Stars and Lisa Gillis on

Lisa Gillis resides in Texas, with her husband who is the inspiration to her fictional men, her son who is the light of her world, and a spoiled chocolate lab, Bailey. She strives in her books to blend a perfect mixture of fantasy and reality. Her love for music, bands, and concerts inspired her Silver Strings Series. When she is not writing those little voices out of her head while listening to music, she is making her own noise on drums or guitar.

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