The next morning, I woke to the sound of giggling. It took me a moment to remember it wasn’t just some groupie having a laugh.
Then I started listening to what they were saying. They were in the back lounge, and with the AC currently running on low, I could hear them well enough.
“A girl’s got to have some talents to go on,” Courtney was saying.
“No argument here.” Ziggy.
“And they say, you know, it’s good money, if you’re saving it and not blowing it all on designer shoes and clothes or whatever.”
“But you have to work hard to get into the top ranks.” It went quiet for a minute then, and I could sense someone moving around.
“Very nice,” Ziggy said.
“Then there’s this,” Courtney answered, and I heard some other movement. Then a thump.
“Really nice,” Ziggy said.
That was it. I had no idea what they were doing, but whatever it was had gone far enough. I slid back my curtain and swung myself out of my bunk. Before you go telling me I was overreacting, get a load of what was actually going on.
Courtney was in nothing but a string bikini, her body up against the floor-to-ceiling pole that usually held a dinette table, bending back so that her hair touched the back of her legs. Ziggy was sitting in the very back of the lounge, watching.
My sister straightened when she saw me and gave me a smile. “Good morning!”
I think I just flapped my jaw and no sound came out for a bit. What I ended up saying was, “That is not a stripper pole.” Even as I said it, though, it occurred to me that the reason the table detached like that was probably that it actually was intended to be used as such. I mean, it was a rock and roll tour bus… But that wasn’t the point.
She fluffed her hair at me. “And I’m not a stripper. Yet.”
“Just thinking about it. Asking Ziggy here if he thinks I might be good enough.”
That was when I put myself between them. “If you really want a pro opinion on strippers, ask Dad when we see him.”
Ziggy, to his credit, swore in one of the languages he spoke that I didn’t. I turned to him. “Yeah, got that right.”
He had his hands up, eyes wide. “I had nooooo idea she was your sister.”
“To be fair, neither did I until she told me,” I said. Then I turned to her. “Put some fucking clothes on! And don’t flirt with my–!” I practically choked I was so vehement. “My bandmates! Jeezus!”
She made a dismissive sniff remarkably similar to the one Ziggy used when he didn’t like being scolded. “You didn’t say that was one of the rules.”
“I didn’t think I’d have to! For pete’s sake! Fine! No sex in the bus! No flirting, either! Get it through your head right now. We’re not on vacation. We’re here to fucking work and this is our goddamn office.” My head started to pound. Maybe it was already pounding, actually, and I only just noticed it. “And everyone who works for me or with me is off-limits. Because they know better than to fuck around with my sister, but you apparently don’t know the same.”
She looked at me with her head cocked. “You think I haven’t heard worse from Claire and her high and mighty guy?”
Ziggy pulled on my arm and I sat down, which seemed to bring my volume down. “This isn’t about setting some kind of bullshit moral standard,” I said. “We don’t make rules because we get off on telling people what to do. We make rules because we’re trying to get a job done and some things, you just don’t fucking do, all right?”
“Words of wisdom from the voice of experience,” Ziggy chimed in.
Which made Courtney give me an intrigued look.
“One thing you don’t do, no matter how fucking tempting it is,” I said, “is sleep around with other people in your…” I waved my hand to indicate the whole bus, the whole tour. “Entourage.”
“Why?” she asked.
“Because it makes everyone miserable,” I said. “It’s like how people aren’t supposed to sleep with co-workers or roommates unless you want things to get really complicated and messy. Well, we’re working and living together, all of us. So it goes double. I’m perfectly fine with you having all the sex you want with… with… appropriate people.”
She huffed a little. “All right.” And then she dug out her bag and went into the bathroom.
And call me a total fucking hypocrite if you want. Because you’d be right. How close was I to letting Colin have his way with me last night? And what I wanted to do right then was flatten Ziggy to the padded bench and fuck his fucking brains out.
Instead, I said, in a much smaller voice. “I think I need an aspirin.”
“And some water,” he replied, patting my shoulder. “Stay here.”
I didn’t stay put, though. I went and pulled on a pair of jeans, since what I was wearing was the T-shirt and underwear I had on when I went to sleep. While I was digging them out of my bunk I looked at the time. It was only like eight.
“Why are we even awake?” I whined.
“I’m asking myself that same question,” came Carynne’s voice from one of the upper bunks. “Go back to sleep, Daron. Everyone. Please.”
Ziggy made me sit back down in the back with a shushing motion. He handed me a bottle of Gatorade and two pills, and then hovered over me until I drank the whole thing. Then he lay down on the side bench and closed his eyes. His stage makeup from last night was smudged in one of the worst “raccoon eyes” I’d ever seen, but somehow, on him, it looked almost right.
I lay down along the back, so our heads were both toward the corner. But I didn’t sleep. I thought about Colin, who was probably behind his curtain, and wondered what he thought about my decree that nobody fuck around. I wondered if he was hurt. I wondered why I hadn’t just said something to him earlier instead of getting his hopes up. I wondered how close I had come to having that limo driver take the two of us somewhere private. I wondered why I couldn’t just be honest with myself or the people around me.