“But she doesn’t have to,” Owen said. “You can give her another Christmas when we get home next week. She’d love that. I’ll even wear my Santa hat and shimmy down the chimney to put a smile on her face.”
Shade crossed his arms over his chest, his scowl deepening. “It’s not the same.”
“At least it isn’t my fault he’s sulking this time,” Adam said. The lead guitarist had his acoustic guitar out and was quietly strumming some riff he was working on for the next Sole Regret album.
“I’m not sulking,” Shade said.
“Looks like sulking to me,” Kelly said. He rose from the sofa to stand beside Owen. He inserted a long, tattooed arm into the sack and dug out a red rope garland. He lifted his eyebrows at Owen, before flicking his eyes at Shade pointedly.
Owen tried not to grin and give their silently exchanged plan away, but it wasn’t easy. He nodded ever-so-slightly.
“You’re the one who signed us up to play a benefit concert on Christmas Eve in the first place,” Adam said to Shade. “You don’t even know that kid.”
Owen winced. Did the two of them really need to pick a fight tonight? Surely they could find it in themselves to put aside their differences on Christmas Eve.
“I didn’t have to fucking know the kid, Adam. She has leukemia. Her family has no insurance, no jobs, no money to pay for her chemotherapy. A few hours out of our busy schedules gives her a chance to see her sixth birthday. Do you always have to be such a selfish prick?”
“I had absolutely no problem with doing the benefit concert. It’s not like I have better plans for Christmas anyway and believe it or fucking not, I do care. But you sitting there looking like your dog just died after you made the decision to do the concert in the first place is pissing me off. I’m not gonna lie,” Adam said.
“There’s a first time for everything,” Shad grumbled.
“All I want for Christmas is a pair of ball gags to shut you both up,” Gabe said and lifted his book until all that was visible of his head was his foot-high red and black mohawk. “I’m trying to concentrate over here.”
“Ball gags?” Kelly nodded. “I can probably fulfill that wish.” He started to wrap the rope garland in long loops from hand to elbow. Owen knew Kelly could produce two ball gags in a matter of minutes. He also knew exactly where Kelly kept his secret stash of kinky implements if he ever felt the need to borrow something. Recently Kelly had taken up a new hobby—tying knots. It was a perfectly innocent hobby for most people, but not so much for Kelly.
Carefully untangling a strand of lights, Owen pretended to be intensely interested in their drummer, Gabe, to keep attention off Kelly, who was fashioning a loose noose out of one end of the garland. The dragon tattoos on the shaven parts of Gabe’s scalp stood in complete contradiction to the colossal, decidedly boring, book in his hands. “What are you reading about?” Owen asked, as if he didn’t already know he didn’t give a shit.
Gabe pushed his reading glasses up his nose and grinned deviously. “Friction.”
“And how to reduce it with proper lubrication?” Owen asked. Gabe was the only person he knew who tried to apply the laws of physics to sex.
“You don’t want to reduce the friction too much,” Gabe said. “You want it slick and wet, but not too juicy.”
“I disagree,” Shade said with a grin. “The juicier, the better.” At least his sulking had diminished.
“Yeah,” Kelly agreed. “I like it dripping wet so I can lick it clean.”
“The conversation on this bus always turns to pussy,” Adam said.
“There’s nothing better to talk about, is there?” Owen asked.
“No,” his band mates said in unison. They all laughed at the one thing they always agreed on.
“And there’s definitely nothing better to think about,” Gabe said, “so you all need to shut up. I’m thinking.”
“Who needs this worse, Owen?” Kelly said. “Shade or Gabe?” He was now prepared to act on his plan.
“Personally, I think they both need it,” Owen said.
“Need what?” Shade asked.
“Looks like Shade volunteered to be first.”
“First at what?”
Kelly moved fast—like ninja—and Owen stepped back out of his way, awaiting his opening to assist him.
Shade was bigger than Kelly, but Kelly had the element of surprise on his side. Before Shade could even react to Kelly jumping on him, Kelly had the garland of red rope around Shade’s forearms, binding them together from wrists to elbows. Shade might have been able to break free of the garland given time, but the instant Kelly stepped away, Owen went after him with strands of lights, wrapping several strands around Shade’s upper arms and chest, crisscrossed in a web of unbreakable art. Kelly had taught Owen all he knew about shibari and Owen had taught Kelly all he knew about calf-roping. Their combination of skill, teamwork and speed ensured that Shade wasn’t going anywhere until they decided to free his arms.