BROWN SIBLINGS: NEVER ENOUGH by LAUREN DANE
Copyright, Lauren Dane 2011
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Releasing September 6
It felt so fucking good up there.
Adrian Brown leaned back, letting the music flow through him. His guitar in his hands because that was where it belonged. That essential, vibrant magic that was music rode him. The pleasure of it, the joy at creation and manipulation. The way he sounded against the drums, over and around the bass.
Music was alchemy.
Music was sex.
When it was right, when everything fit together just perfectly, it was better than any feeling he’d ever experienced.
The throb of it rested low in his gut, and when he sang, he believed what he said. For the first time in three years when he stood up on a stage, he felt everything he did. He feasted on every detail and it showed. Music was a banquet again and he was starving for it.
Adrian Brown was back and no one was happier to see him than he himself was.
The acoustics in the club were total shit and he made it sound good. That utter confidence he’d started with had returned and, goddamn, he liked it.
His family was there to see it, which made it worth more. To the right of the stage his big brother was rocking it along with his wife, also rocking it. His sister was next to him on the small stage. Rocking it they way they had before.
I got nothing left to give
Taken, taken . . .
He stepped back from the mic and let the applause come, a big grin on his face as he looked toward his sister, who grinned and waggled her eyebrows at him.
And they dove in again, leading into a song he and Erin had just finished a few days before.
In that moment, just as his pick was about to stroke the string, he knew he’d done right to make himself take the time away from the business. Because he’d needed to be lost a little while before he could find himself again. He wasn’t found totally, but he was on the way. He had a direction, and that was most of the battle.
* * *
The scent of the orange oil she used on the kitchen table carried through the house, back to Gillian’s office. Miles had gone off to school just ten minutes before and Gillian stood, staring blankly out over the sweep of the front yard, the pale autumn sun warming her skin.
And it did nothing to the cold dread in her belly.
She’d been holding the secret her sister had given up right before she’d died. Holding it tight, not wanting to think on it, knowing she had no other choice.
A little over thirteen years ago, Gillian had received a call in the middle of the night that her older sister, Tina, had been in labor. She’d rushed to the hospital â€“ in a sadly ironic coincidence, that hospital had been the same one Tina had died in just three days before.
Gillian had come home with that baby. The one she adopted and built a life and family for and with. Miles.
Restless, she turned from the window and headed into the family room, to her piano.
Once her fingertips touched the wood, she calmed. As she sat, she let herself fall into that place where only the music mattered. Something simple today, uplifting.
Her fingers danced along the keys of a waltz and the knot of fear and rage began to loosen as the music flowed through her.
By the time she launched into Fantaisie-Impromptu, the line of her spine had lost its rigidity.
And that’s how Jules found her.
“I told you it could wait,” Gillian said, turning to find her friend standing in the doorway. “You have a business to run. You can’t just blow that off.”
“Whatever. You sounded like you were about to lose your shit just an hour ago. Where else would I be right now? Come on. I brought coffee and some chocolate croissant. For you, I brought ham.”
Thank God for friends. Gillian followed Jules from the room and into the kitchen.
Jules hugged her tight before they settled in at the breakfast nook nestled in the sunny corner. “First things first. I’m sorry about your sister. I know you two weren’t close and that she was a total cow for most of your life. But she was your sister and I know you loved her.”
“Thanks. I’m okay about that part. I mean, yes, I did love her, but I’ve known she was on this path for a very long time. I’m surprised it took so long, to be totally honest.”
She gulped the coffee and managed a few bites of the croissant, more to keep Jules from lecturing her than out of real hunger.
Jules waited, saying nothing else, knowing Gillian had to process it all and giving her that time.
“Right before she died, she told me who Miles’s father was.”
Jules’s eyes widened at that. “Do tell. After nearly fourteen years she finally dumps it on you as she’s dying. Typical.”
Just because Jules was supportive of Gillian didn’t mean she would hold back when it came to the subject of Tina’s behavior. She was right, of course. Tina had withheld this information for her entire pregnancy and the years since Miles had been born, despite Gillian’s many attempts to get her sister to tell the truth about it.
“She made me promise to find him and tell him he was Miles’s dad.”
Jules’s sleepy blue eyes snapped wide open. “What? Get out! Well, I hope you know that’s bullshit. Fuck that so-called promise to her.”
Gillian sighed. “I thought it over. I’ve been doing nothing but think about it since she told me three days ago. He needs to know, Jules. Miles needs the opportunity to connect with his dad.”
“Dad my ass. Where was he when Tina gave that baby to you like he was a pair of shoes? Huh? Where was he when you worked round the clock to afford the mortgage on this house? When you busted your ass to pay for braces and bicycles and summer camp? Fuck that. He’s some shithead who fucked a waitress fourteen years ago—without a condom I might add—so his judgment is seriously impaired.”
“He didn’t know. She swore to me that she never told him. I tried to put myself in this guy’s place, you know? What would my life be without Miles? What if I had a kid like him out there and didn’t know it? It’s not right, Jules. Not right that she never told him, and it would only be me furthering that to not tell him.”
“Well, damn it, Gillian, now is not the time for morals.”
Gillian laughed without humor. “Jules, they’re all I’ve got. I’m responsible for raising that boy into a man. What lesson would I be teaching him if I didn’t find his dad as I promised?”
“What if he takes Miles from you? Have you thought of that? Can you really take that risk?”
“No. I can’t. I have an appointment with Cal in a few hours. Before I tell the dad, I have to know my adoption is solid.”
“At least you’re doing that.” Jules shook her head and looked back to Gillian, reaching out and squeezing her hand. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being so judgy. You are doing the right thing, and of course this is about doing what’s right for your son.”
“I’m scared. It’s . . . He’s a rock star. A big one.”
“What? Really? Why didn’t she go after him for money, I wonder?”
“I don’t know. She wasn’t all bad, you know. She had her moments and I do believe she gave Miles up for good reasons instead of selfish ones.”
“Yes, and then had nothing to do with him since.”
True, and yet, in the end it had been a good thing. “That was for the best too. Miles is my son. Mine. She knew it. Even our mother knew it. Tina loved Miles in her own way. Loved me too.”
Jules sighed. “So who is it? How’d she meet him?”
“She met him when she was waitressing in some diner on Sunset Boulevard, she said. She wouldn’t say much more. But that she thought he was an okay guy and that he deserved to know about his son.”
Jules slammed her palm against the table with a squeal. “Adrian Brown. I knew it! It’s him, isn’t it?” Jules demanded as Gillian gaped at her friend.
“How did you know that? Did you know and never tell me?”
“Are you shitting me? You said rock star and immediately I thought of Miles’s face. And hello, have you seen Adrian Brown?”
Jules got up and tugged Gillian over to the far wall where Miles’s picture hung, and pointed. “Look at that.” She pulled her phone out and then shoved it at Gillian. On the screen was Adrian Brown’s website with his picture.
“Well bloody fucking hell.”