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Running with Scissors

Cover of Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors

by L.A. Witt

Eighteen months ago, drummer Jude Colburn made the biggest mistake of his life when he walked away from his band just as they were on the brink of success. Now, he's got a second chance. The band's bassist just quit, and Jude plays bass almost as well as he plays drums. The other band members aren't thrilled, but they are desperate.

Running with Scissors needs him, but there's one condition: no hooking up with bandmates. That's what ruined things eighteen months ago, after all. Jude's on board, but no one warned him about the drummer who replaced him. A.J. Palmer is shy and unassuming . . . until he hits the stage. He gets Jude's attention from the first beat, and suddenly that "no hookups" rule isn't so easy to follow.

Keeping secrets on a tour bus isn't easy either, and it's only a matter of time before the band catches on. When everything hits the fan, Jude has to choose: a second chance at the career he's always regretted leaving, or a shot at the man of his dreams?

Eighteen months ago, drummer Jude Colburn made the biggest mistake of his life when he walked away from his band just as they were on the brink of success. Now, he's got a second chance. The band's bassist just quit, and Jude plays bass almost as well as he plays drums. The other band members aren't thrilled, but they are desperate.

Running with Scissors needs him, but there's one condition: no hooking up with bandmates. That's what ruined things eighteen months ago, after all. Jude's on board, but no one warned him about the drummer who replaced him. A.J. Palmer is shy and unassuming . . . until he hits the stage. He gets Jude's attention from the first beat, and suddenly that "no hookups" rule isn't so easy to follow.

Keeping secrets on a tour bus isn't easy either, and it's only a matter of time before the band catches on. When everything hits the fan, Jude has to choose: a second chance at the career he's always regretted leaving, or a shot at the man of his dreams?

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    Chapter One

    "Hey, Jude?"

    Jude looked up from a stack of invoices and turned to Steve, his cubicle mate. "Hmm?"

    "You're doing it again."

    Jude's foot stopped moving, and he realized he'd been tapping it against the leg of his desk. Again. Tucking his feet beneath his chair, he muttered, "Sorry."

    No reply. At least Steve was more or less polite about it. Their other cubicle mate, Grant, was constantly on Jude's case, and never even tried to hide his irritation.

    Jude knew it annoyed them, and he tried his best not to do it, but telling a drummer not to tap his foot was like telling an eye not to see.

    You're not a drummer anymore.

    He gritted his teeth. He'd always be a drummer. Always. Just because he wasn't in a band at the moment didn't mean —

    Whatever helps you sleep at night, dude.

    Cursing under his breath, he scrubbed a hand over his face. His leg itched with the need to mark time to the rhythm he had stuck in his head.

    He couldn't listen to the radio.

    Couldn't wear headphones.

    Couldn't tap his foot.

    Couldn't fucking concentrate.

    "Jude?" Steve sounded concerned this time. "You okay?"

    Grant muttered something. Jude didn't catch it, but he recognized the tone and glanced at his own fingers.

    Which were tapping beside his keyboard.

    Fuck.

    "I'll be right back." He snatched his phone off the desk and left. Head down, heart thumping, he hurried through the maze of cubicles. His cigarettes and lighter were already in his hand. He didn't even remember pulling them out of his pocket, but whatever.

    As the door to the communal patio came into view, he put a cigarette between his lips. He sensed one of the receptionists glaring at him — it's not even lit, for God's sake — but kept his gaze fixed on the door in front of him.

    And finally, he was there.

    He pushed it open with his hip, and before he'd even stepped all the way out into the SoCal heat, he'd cupped a hand around the end of his cigarette and flicked the lighter.

    One drag brought his pulse back down. The second stilled his hands. Sort of. His fingers might as well have had a mind of their own, and were tapping out the bass line of a song he'd heard this morning on the radio. That tapping, much like the nicotine easing its way into his system, settled him. Centered him.

    And naturally, drove his coworkers insane.

    Holding his cigarette between two fingers, he rubbed his forehead with the heel of his hand. He'd long ago given up telling himself he was just having a bad day. If that were the case, he wouldn't be out here every fucking afternoon, smoking two or three cigarettes in a row just to keep himself sane until five o'clock. And there wouldn't be two more in the car. Three if traffic was exceptionally bad, even by Los Angeles standards.

    At least in the car, he'd have music. The radio worked, and he had his iPod as backup. He'd be able to get the beat out of his system on the steering wheel because there'd be no one around to get on his case about it.

    He lowered his hand and glared at the cigarette. His mom kept telling him these things would kill him sooner or later. After a year and a half behind a desk in a cramped cubicle, he was pretty sure the job would do him in well before the smokes did.

    It's your own fault you're here.

    Jude swore under his breath. Then he took another long drag and held it for a moment as he gazed out at the hazy LA skyline.

    Every day, it was the same shit. He worked until he couldn't anymore. Then he made his escape to this patio. And smoked. And...

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