Wannabe singer and band front man Erik Von Nordgren hates snarky brit Asher Berkley with a passion. From the moment he turns up at practice with his twin sister Daisy, who is one of the band the two have hated each other.
Through a series of 'tit for tat' incidents they annoy, frustrate and exasperated each other. The die hard goth with purple eyes and the hard core rocker with dreams of the big time have nothing in common and no need to cross paths. Except to wind each other up.
Until the day that Erik throws Asher in the school pool, when everything begins to change. Erik is so far in closet he's in Narnia and Asher has a dark past and trust issues that stand in the way of any relationship, let alone one with the brash American who hurts him every time they try to get together.
A relationship doomed from the start, or so you'd think.
The April weather was perfect. A beautiful Saturday afternoon, with white clouds streaked across a pale-blue sky, washed clean by the spring showers of the night before. Erik Von Nordgren paused to take a deep breath, fresh with ozone, before heading toward his parents’ three-car garage. Since the weather had improved, his band had been consigned to the garage on the basis that now they wouldn’t freeze there was no reason for his parents to suffer the falling plaster in the basement when the band could be as loud as they wanted outside.
Erik was proud of his home. The house itself was two stories high and freshly sided. The quiet cul-de-sac made it the ideal spot for their practice. That was one thing about living in the St. Louis ’burbs. There were plenty of spots with woods in the back where only the random squirrel could bother them.
Having joined his bandmates, Erik took to the stage and spoke into the microphone the time-honored phrase, “Testing, one, two, three.” He proudly surveyed the room, grinned at the small crowd of groupies, and then glanced over his shoulder at his bandmates.
The Von was an awesome band, even if he did say so himself. Joey, a good-looking if a bit nerdy boy of seventeen—half a year younger than Erik—stood ready on the bass, Erik’s best friend, Billy, sat back behind the drums, and Joey’s new girlfriend, Daisy, was hot as hell as she teased some sic riffs from a rather battered lead guitar. Their hook? They were trying to revive grunge.
After taking in his ragtag troupe from the makeshift stage, Erik surveyed the room and checked his reflection in the mirror that hung at the opposite end of the garage. He shuffled his feet, his new combat boots squeaking slightly as he broke them in. As he shifted his tall, muscular body, his ratty black jeans—two sizes too big for his six-foot-three frame—slipped low on his narrow hips. His chain wallet belt added a hindrance when the thick, heavy chain pelted his leg. He cracked his knuckles and flipped his unwashed, messy blond hair over the short sleeves of his tattered red plaid shirt. He puffed air into his hands to exorcise the nerves he’d never admit to having.
Erik cleared his throat and gazed over the spectators—what he called their groupies. Possibly crowd was a bit of a euphemism, but hey, they had to start somewhere, and the fans were dedicated. Some Billy had introduced to him, like his friend Vince, who gave new meaning to bland. Then there was another kid, Sheri, who emulated Daisy’s style of vintage glam. But there was a new face in the crowd tonight, one that made him grimace. It was Asher or Ashen—or was it Dasher or Dancer? Whatever his name was, Erik didn’t care, he just knew this UK emo was gonna be trouble.
He’d only met the freak once, when he’d dropped Daisy off for practice. Unbelievably, he was her brother—twin, no less. They couldn’t have been more different. He wasn’t even sure what the guy was doing hanging in the garage with them, unless he was trying to be a decent brother to Daisy. It didn’t matter—there was music to be played, and at least they had some spectators.
Erik grabbed the microphone. Joey finished his intro, and Billy chimed in with a cymbal crash. Daisy didn’t miss a beat, and Erik began to sing. His voice was low, raspy, and resembled more of a groan than a melody, but the crowd loved it. After the first verse ended, he shot a look over his shoulder at Billy’s wild red hair bouncing in time with the rhythm as he struck the bass drum. Joey was gritting his teeth like he always did when he was deep in concentration, his fingers plucking the strings of the bass guitar. That kid was so slight Erik wondered sometimes how he could even support the weight of the guitar, but he managed. He’d known Billy most of his life, but Joey and Daisy were new. Daisy was different from the rest of them. She was a striking beauty, soft in her appearance. She decorated her large dark-blue eyes with bright makeup augmenting her doll-like features, and tied her long blonde hair into a half-braid, half-ponytail combination. Her outfits reflected her perky attitude and were usually very colorful. She was a shining star in the dark garage. If Erik ever hoped to have a sister, he’d want her to be like Daisy.
When the harmony finished its bar, Erik glanced up to find the pale kid in the back staring him down like the grim reaper. What the hell is that guy’s problem? It’s like the gaze of death over there. Whatever. He shut his eyes and forced the image out of his mind—music was all that mattered. As the lyrics slowly left his throat, another sound interrupted his flow. He spun, assuming the god-awful shriek had come from one of the instruments.
“Dude. What the fuck?”
Joey and Billy both shook their heads, as baffled as he was, but Daisy seemed near tears. She shuffled her feet, making her vintage violet and green dress shift with her.
Erik touched her arm. “What is it, Daisy?”
She pointed to the pale kid and made a fist at him. “It’s my brother. He’s playing with your toys.”