âSimonâs chest constricted. The crash of piano and soaring blend of Margoâs strings was as powerful as it was haunting. Heâd been expecting a lively jaunt. Jazz had demanded Frank Turner for more than half the ride up from the city.
But no. It was a passionate and sweeping song that had more in common with an epic battle of man and nature. In his head it felt like there should be a piano on top of a cliff a la 90âs Bon Jovi videos in MTvâs heyday.
Jazzâs fingers dove up and down the keys and Margo followed her as if she was tethered to every note. The song got bigger and bigger and he itched to match it.
He couldnât remember the last time heâd found the urge to sing. He sang lately out of spite. To prove that he could. But the actuality of the pull had him so out of sorts that he had his hand on the doorknob to the room before he knew what he was doing.
Jazz looked over her shoulder when the door opened. Her purple tipped lashes fluttered so wide they touched her eyebrows. He quietly sat on the stool with the winding arm. Tension fried the edges of every nerve. Why the hell did his fingers ache? He looked down at the white of his skin under his nails from the death grip he had on the arm.
He could do this.
He released the chair arm.
It wasnât the box.
The room heâd practiced in before.
He was used to the closet in Ripper Records. It gave him cold sweats, but he was used to it.
Here he was in front of Jazz. Sitting right beside her.
In front of strangers.
In front of Margo. He kept the music separate from her for so long, it was odd to have her in his space.
Jazz handed him her notebook.
He took it with shaking fingers. He cleared his throat. âPlay it through from the top?â
Jazz nodded. He hummed his way through it once, scanning her lyrics as he followed along. When they went through it a second time his brain was on fire to join in. He wanted his voice to match that sound.
Around the last quarter of the song, he let the words out in a whisper. Margo brought down the power of her strings to account for his sheer cowardice.
He cleared his throat. âAgain.â
He closed his eyes and let the music take him. This time there was a guitar added into the lilting opening of the song. His voice was rough with disuse.
No, donât concentrate on that.
He needed to find the heart of the song.
Jazzâs words were heartfelt, but they werenât quite his. He followed instincts that had never steered him wrong before. He changed the bridge and let his voice soar up with the epic battle of violin and piano.
His voice evened and went bell clear as he climbed up an octave he hadnât touched in two full years. He bowed his head as Gray came in with the guitar solo that hadnât been there the first few times through.
But it was right.
Logan piped it in from the main studio.
Gray and Margo merged until there was nothing but a breathtaking crescendo. He stepped in. His voice ached with the loss that was burned into the lyrics. His head fell back as he brought it full circle with the final verse, and finallyâ¦the bridge.
The room was silent.
He was terrified to open his eyes. He avoided both of the girls as he twisted in the chair and went out the door and past a stunned Gray. He couldnât look at Margo. Not now. He couldnât watch when the disappointment filled her big brown eyes.
He took the stairs two at a time and scanned the area for the nearest exit.