Home > Next Time I Fall (Excess All Areas #2)

Next Time I Fall (Excess All Areas #2)
Author: Scarlett Cole

 


Dedication

 

 

To all the Sad Friday Groupies!

Thank you so much for getting

behind this series.

I couldn’t do it without you all.

I see you and love you!

 

 

1

 

 

Jase Palmer, lead singer of Sad Fridays, wondered which god he’d offended such that he had to watch his brother, Matt, and Matt’s girlfriend, Izabel, fawn all over each other.

Wasn’t it enough Matt had laid him out cold with a broken nose ten weeks earlier? Or the girl he was fawning all over was Jase’s ex, of a fashion?

Fuckers.

The pair of them.

He hadn’t had a single direct conversation with his guitar-playing older brother since then. Signing their first major recording deal with Upper Street Records hadn’t been enough to bring them back together. Even though it had been something they’d always dreamed of, he’d left, alone, before the ink of his signature was dry. The band meetings to discuss their pending month-long trip to Michigan were fraught. Even the nervous anticipation of working with a legendary songwriter and producer on their first major studio album wasn’t enough to unite them.

But that was it.

Apart from every Sunday afternoon at Nan’s for dinner and mandatory band rehearsals, he never saw his brother. And even then, Jase didn’t say a word to him.

He glanced at the front door longingly.

“Take one step in that direction and I’ll slap you silly.” His nan, Rhoda Palmer, a diminutive septuagenarian, stood with her hands on her hips.

He raised his palms in surrender then pushed his mop of curly dark hair back off his face.

Rhoda closed the door between the kitchen and the rest of the open plan downstairs of the Manchester two-up, two-down home she’d raised him in. “You can look at me with those sad blue eyes all you want, but I know what you’re thinking.”

“Fine. I was thinking of doing a runner. Why d’you make us both come on the same day, Nan? Couldn’t I come over for dinner on a Saturday?”

Rhoda returned to the hob where she was making gravy from the beef stock. The meat stood resting, waiting for him or Matt to carve it. The roasties and Yorkshire puddings were still in the oven. Condensation coated the lower half of the window that looked out over the tiny yard just big enough for the wheelie bins. “One of these days, one of you is going to crack.”

“Do you need reminding what happened last time one of us cracked? Matt had a concussion, I needed a plastic surgeon, and it cost six hundred quid to repair your house.”

His nan continued to stir in a slow and steady motion. “You know what I mean. One of you will have to talk to the other at some point, beyond asking for the salt.”

“Wishful thinking, Nan. It’s not going to happen.”

“Make yourself useful and cut the beef. And don’t make them slices too thick. I want some leftovers for a steak and onion sandwich for my lunch tomorrow.”

Jase grabbed the carving knife from the block and removed the foil tented over the beef. The first slice confirmed it was perfectly medium, just like he preferred. Love from his nan was the little things . . . like giving him the roast potatoes with burned edges or meat cooked how he loved. She still made him fairy cakes with his initial in little silver balls on top. Food was her love language. Making him eat the food with his brother was a pain in his arse.

Silence settled over the kitchen, but not an awkward one. They’d spent many hours at the small table tucked up against the wall. Him and Matt doing their homework while Nan made them beans on toast for tea. It hadn’t occurred to them that it was odd to be raised by her. His mum was more of a faded memory. She’d fucked off after nearly killing her own kids in a drunken car wreck.

Once or twice, she’d let Nan know she was still alive.

Jase didn’t care.

Wasn’t like she’d ever done him any favours.

Pregnant with Matt at eighteen, she hadn’t known whom his dad was. Just some guy she met in a nightclub in Ibiza. Only twenty when she had Jase with an arsehole of a man, who ultimately served time for beating Jase up right here in this kitchen on his sixth birthday.

Yeah, Nan was the only mum he’d ever known, and her house his only home.

Until now.

Rhoda opened the door. “Hope you two are hungry. Matt, can you and Izabel come and get cutlery and set the places?”

Within minutes, they were squeezed around the table in the living room, Matt diagonally opposite to him. They’d realised years ago that their six-foot frames didn’t make for easy table mates, kicking each other under the table every time they moved if they sat directly opposite each other, or banging broad shoulders if they sat side by side.

In silence, they tucked into plates of steaming vegetables, slices of beef, and gravy-filled Yorkshire puddings.

“So, are you both packed?” Nan asked.

It was hard to believe their music fortunes had changed because of a woman called Willow Warner using their song in a video app called Shamaze. Now they had a recording contract and a producer because of it.

“Yeah,” Matt said, pushing his dark hair off his face. It was slightly shorter than Jase’s own. “Thankfully, Izabel had some time off yesterday, so she washed and folded everything and then got me packed this morning.”

“How very nineteen-fifties of you,” Jase muttered.

“Jase,” Nan warned.

He shook his head and looked down at his plate.

“No, I don’t mind,” Izabel said. Her voice dripped with something that tasted a lot like pity and he hated it. “It was nice to help out. One less thing for Matt to have to worry about.”

“What about you, Jase?” Nan asked.

“Packed it myself this morning because I’m an adult who doesn’t need their laundry done for them.”

His nan glared at him. It was the silent, “I’m tired of your shit.” She had a knack for reprimanding his twenty-seven-year-old arse without opening her mouth.

“What time are you all leaving?”

This bit he knew. “We fly at twenty past one tomorrow afternoon, have a two-hour stopover in New York, and then we get into Detroit just before ten at night.”

“You guys are going to be so tired,” Izabel commented, cutting her Yorkshire pudding and smiling like they were fucking friends.

Which sucked, because her smile was the prettiest part of their drummer’s little sister.

“I’m not going to think about it,” Matt said. “Luke and I are going to finish up working on a song. And I’ve got books and magazines. Happy to share them with you, Jase.”

He looked up at his brother with a sneer. “No thanks.”

“Anyway,” Nan said. “At least you are flying out in a posh cabin. Flat beds and blankets. Sounds amazing.”

Jase looked at his nan. “One day, I’ll pay for you to travel in style.” She’d given up so much for the two of them. When their grandad had died, a year after Jase and Matt had moved in, it had been tight financially. Holidays had been restricted to day trips to Blackpool, perhaps a weekend in the Lake District, if they were lucky.

“Aw, bless you. What does your Auntie Pat always say? There’s only one way to get out of Manchester. Football or music. I’m proud of the two of you, and your cousins. Well, I’d be prouder of the two of you if you weren’t acting like stubborn fucking goats, dancing around each other like fighting cocks.”

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