Love Struck (Miss Match #2)

By: Laurelin McGee



But that was mostly because she had barely brushed her own hair for a year or so. It was surprisingly easy to resent the people who had it all together. Sometimes Lacy wondered if people used to resent her, too.

Kat looked up and grinned. Lacy blew her a kiss.

Kat held up her hand in the shape of a phone and mouthed, “Call me later.”

Suppressing a groan, Lacy gave her a thumbs-up and hurried after Darrin, who was waiting in the doorway clearing his throat. As she walked in, he slammed the door behind her.

Which suddenly put Lacy on guard. The last time she’d been in Darrin’s office with the door shut was when he’d told her that due to slow business, he had to cut her studio hours.

She didn’t have many more hours left to cut. Please, oh please, oh please, don’t let it mean I’m getting fired. She would die if she didn’t have this job. Well, not die. She tried not to use that term loosely after Lance—don’t think about him, don’t cry—but it would be near dying. Playing around town and laying down background tracks had been the only things she’d lived for the last few months. The only times she could lose herself in fantasies of him without anyone questioning where she was in her head. She was able to get so few gigs these days, without the studio she’d be …

She couldn’t bear to think about it. She’d wait until he said it outright, even if that was only seconds away.

Tightly gripping the back of the bar stool that Darrin had repurposed—aka, stolen—for his office guests, Lacy attempted to hide her trepidation. “What is it?”

Darrin slumped into his beat-up, faux-leather rolling chair, flinging a leg up on a file cabinet, nearly toppling the pile of sheet music on top. “I just got off the phone with the singer from Bitchy Ether. You know, the girl band from Harvard?”

It was Lacy’s turn to eye roll. “I remember them. Bunch of women’s studies majors, no real inspiration except to represent women in music. I am so not looking forward to mixing their album.”

“Well, that’s the thing.” Darrin was practically bouncing, which was sort of funny considering that he was talking about some of the most annoyingly serious musicians ever to grace the booths of his studio. Also, it was strange for a guy with such a hardcore look. His tattoos were uncountable, his hair was perfectly coiffed in a rockabilly cut, and the spikes on his collar and wristband would intimidate a pit bull. Any behavior that was giddy in nature seemed completely out of place on him, but that was only if you didn’t know the guy.

“What’s the thing? Did they actually figure out how to play their instruments? Or write a song that isn’t copied from the SCUM manifesto?” Lacy giggled a little. She only knew about that particular piece of literature from her feminist neighbor Jaylene. Jay loved Bitchy Ether. She might have been their only fan.

“No, none of that. Apparently, ‘bitchy ether’ is a lifestyle, not just a name. The band has broken up, and I was forced to listen to various reasons why for at least twenty minutes. Which brings me to my point, my darling.”

Dammit, she knew it. Now he was going to tell her that since the schedule was empty, he didn’t need her. At least he was giving her the news gently, with terms of endearment. Darrin was the only person she knew who could say things like ‘darling’ without sounding condescending.

Well, if he was going to be graceful about it, so was she. She could save the crying for home, like she usually did, where she could bury her face in Lance’s pillow. “Out with it, beloved boss. I can take it. Tell me your point.” She’d become amazingly good at false strength. He didn’t even notice her wobbling knees.

“The point is, we suddenly have an opening for studio time. And I wouldn’t dream of opening it publicly without offering it to you first.”

Oh.

She blinked, surprise momentarily throwing her speechless. That was definitely not what she’d expected him to say.

Maybe she’d heard him wrong. “You’re offering their studio time to me?” With the cut back to just one operating booth, the calendar had filled up quickly. Lacy wasn’t on the books now to get in for months, and that was with staff preferential treatment.

“I know you were hoping to record your new album, and this gets you in ten weeks out instead of after the New Year.… How much do you love me?” Now he actually was bouncing. It was so adorable, she could almost ignore that this was the last thing she wanted him to be saying to her.

It was also really amazingly kind. Lacy may have teared up. Only a tiny bit, though.

“I love you the mostest, D. Thank you.” She really meant it, too. Despite the pit that had just formed in her stomach. She smiled extra big so he wouldn’t notice her hand resting on it, trying to quell the sudden wave of nausea.

“You don’t have to thank me. I just can’t wait to hear what you’ve been working on. It’s been a shit year for you, Lace, but I know your music is going to be amazing. I’m so proud of you. Get the heck out of here before I get emotional.” He waved his hand toward the door. “And stop pretending to fine-tune. Go grab a drink or something. Have a good weekend. Tell your sister I said what’s up!” He was practically shouting as she ran from the office.

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