‹ Prequel: Even Lovers Drown
Status: Paused for now

Happily Ever After

Chapter 3

The smell of baking cookies assaulted Sage as she stomped into the kitchen. Trays sat on the cozy dinner table, delicious, handmade treats for band practice filling them. Assorted sandwiches, crackers and cheese, chips and pretzels, mixes, cookies, food Sage had been excited about till she walked into the living room. At the counter, stirring the contents of a large bowl, stood Saylor, humming to herself, looking every bit the happy housewife in her apple-print apron and flowing dress.

She looked up at the sound of Sage’s steps, easy smile gracing her lips. “Hey, stranger.”

Sage didn’t respond, not trusting herself to say an intelligible word, let alone avoid growling. Holding her scowl, she marched to the refrigerator, Saylor’s concerned eyes following her. She ripped the door open, grabbed a beer from the depleting supply, and slammed the door.

“Want to talk about it?” Saylor asked.

Sage didn’t respond, trying to reign in her anger to avoid attacking Saylor, the only innocent bystander in the house. Instead, she yanked the cap from her bottle and took a gulp. The bitter liquid burned her throat on the way down. She didn’t find the calm she was searching for. Alcohol never was a good way to unwind, and she supposed years of watching her foster family become violent while drinking hindered her views of the substance.

She pressed her hip against the counter, crossing an arm. Her scowl remained and the pleasant scenery outside the window received the brunt of her glare.

“How could they?” she snapped.

“How could who do what?”

The parental patience coating her tone didn’t escape Sage, nor did the “accidental” bump pushing a sandwich tray towards her. A tray covered in cucumber sandwiches, the ones she had been promised over the phone. She was being placated, like a belligerent child, but she wasn’t offended. Saylor could talk to her like she was a child, calm her with a metaphorical pacifier, and wouldn’t upset her. Because Saylor wasn’t mocking her, wasn’t talking down to her, wasn’t trying to hurt her. She was trying to help.

She’d make a good mother.

“How could my band mates go behind my back and hire some no-talent drummer?” she asked, snatched one of the triangular-cut sandwiches from the tray, and took a large bite.

Cucumber and cream cheese assaulted her taste buds. Delicious, perfect, exactly what she needed to destroy her hunger. Her stomach growled a low demand for more and she heeded the demand, finished the tiny sandwich in a second bite and started on a second.

Confusion etched into Saylor’s features. “Didn’t you know they found a new drummer?”

“No,” she grumbled.

“No one told you?”

“Apparently, no one saw it fit to include me in any of this.” And she popped the last bite of her finger sandwich into her mouth.

Anger continued to brew in her mind, her stomach, her veins. Eating didn’t help to ease that. At all. Eating didn’t have a chance at penetrating her anger, not with the constant presence taking up space in the living room and fueling her anxiety.


The new drummer, the sporadic new acquaintance, made her stomach flip and her lungs tighten and her whole body tense the moment she stepped into the room. She didn’t like her—what was her name? Calico, Cady, Cathy, whatever? She was just another person. Another person to meet, another person to get to know, another person to learn to understand, another person to befriend, another person to actually like, another person to abandon.

Just another replaceable person.

“Okay, that was wrong of them and I will punish Blake later, but you can’t take this out on Cadeau. She didn’t do anything wrong.”

Sage didn’t take the time to speculate Saylor’s methods of punishment. She knew her well enough to know there was sex involved. Lots of sex. Possibly on the very counter Sage was eating on and she didn’t want to consider what else had been done on the kitchen counter.

But her mind did hone in on the important part, the part where Saylor defended the new drummer. She never defended victims of Sage’s wrath. She agreed with her, helped talk her through her feelings, let her vent until she felt better. Never defended the cause of Sage’s panicked anger. Saylor liked the new drummer—Cadeau—enough to attempt deflecting Sage’s attacks. Maybe Sage should give her a chance, maybe she could be one of her few permanent friends.

No, no, she could not.

“She can’t play,” Sage grumbled.

Not that she would know.

“Yes, she can.”

“She’s a jerk.”

Another contestable complaint.

“No, she’s not.”

“She doesn’t look like a musician.”

She didn’t. She chose natural makeup over dark eye shadow or heavy eyeliner or bright lipstick to accent her blue eyes. Her long, golden blonde hair appeared smooth as silk, not unwashed or choppy in texture, a normal cut consisting of normal layers and a normal color. Her high-wasted shorts and fitted, white V-neck showed off a body that could rival a Victoria’s Secret model’s—a body that could rival Sage’s—and her chunky bracelets and long necklace took the outfit from lazy couture to fashionable. She looked like a model, a movie star, a pop star, anything but an actual musician.

How would their fans react? They were the underdogs who got picked on by girls like her in school. She wouldn’t receive a warm welcome.

“But she’s very pretty,” Saylor said.

She was.

“I guess.”

Smiling, Saylor placed a comforting hand on Sage’s wrist. “I know things feel unstable right now. Inviting someone new into your world, that’s a big life change. Give it time, we’ll work through this.”

Saylor wasn’t pushing her, wasn’t going to reprimand her for her response to the new drummer. Because Saylor understood her, and Sage treasured her friendship. To have someone easily accessible, close to her, willing to help her, who understood her, was amazing.

“What would I do without you?” Sage asked.

“You’d be in jail on first degree murder charges.”

Sage laughed, and Saylor’s laughter followed close behind. Their serious talk broken by her joke—well, the statement may not have been a joke—Sage felt calmer, ready to conquer practice. She could do this.

Saylor caught sight of something through the window. “Here comes my date for practice,” she joked.

Sage followed her gaze, eyes landing on Say Goodbye’s ex-drummer Reese Edwards, his white hair teased and his piercings glinting in the sunlight, helping his son Grayson out of the car. Her spirits lifted. Reese was here, he would be at practice, he hadn’t left her to handle a new drummer.

Why was he at practice?

She turned to ask Saylor the very question but she had disappeared from her spot at the counter, mixing the big bowl of what looked to be cupcake mix, to dig through the cooler.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Grabbing a juice box for Grayson.” She stood, let the cooler lid shut, and turned.

In her hands was a brightly colored juice box, specially picked for the four-year-old barreling through the front door with his father.

“Hey,” Reese called, and Sage caught a glimpse of him before he disappeared into the living room.

The vague sound of similar greetings carried into the kitchen. Even that new drummer’s voice, silky as her damn hair, hit Sage’s eardrums.

“Where’s Auntie Saylor?” Grayson asked, his thoughts no doubt centered on the juice box he was going to receive and the goodies Saylor was creating.

“Kitchen,” Blake answered.

Quick, uneven footsteps rushed toward the kitchen, a call of “Auntie Saylor” in his excited voice pulling Sage’s lips into a smile. He was precious, his childish nature always encouraged by the equally childish band members. Sage envied him. She never got the chance to be the child he was.

He ran into the kitchen and straight into Saylor, tiny arms wrapping around her thighs in a hug.

“Auntie Saylor,” he exclaimed again.

Laughing, she knelt to his level, hugging him. “Hi, honey.” When she pulled away, she held the juice box in front of him. “Look what I have.”

“Thank you,” he chirped and grabbed the box. “Are we making cupcakes today?”

“Only if you help me ice them.”

“Okay.” His eyes left the target of his infatuation long enough to peer up at Sage. His mouth dropped, making way for an excited gasp. “Auntie Sage, you hair’s so pretty.”

She chuckled. “Thanks, buddy.”

“Sage?” Reese appeared in the doorway, curiosity drawing his eyebrows.

Hazel eyes meeting hers, a warm smile spread on his lips, which she returned. For whatever reason, he was here and she was happy. Maybe she could convince him to stay in the band, whine and complain about the new drummer enough to make him want to stay to shut her up.

But she didn’t think she could compete against the wife and child he quit for.

“You’re back,” he said, crossing the room in three long strides and scooping her into his large arms.

“Got in three hours ago,” she mumbled against his chest.

“Ready for practice?”

She looked up at him. “Get rid of the drummer first and then we’ll talk about practicing.”

Laughing, he released her and grabbed her arm, steering her to the living room. To practice. To that drummer.

She couldn’t do this.
♠ ♠ ♠
Thank you to Sincerely-Angela, SpencerG, and choliecole.
And thank you to any new subscribers.
Sage is obviously acting like a child over the whole new drummer thing.
And she's kind of a bitch.
Her thought processes in the next chapter are probably worse, honestly.
She can't help it.
And Cadeau is very... I don't even know the word for it...
Understanding? Nurturing? Has a deathwish if she wants to attempt to befriend Sage?
That last one is probably it.
But you'll understand Cadeau more later.
Actually, her nature may make more sense at the end of the next chapter.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed.
X's and O's,
Dakota Ray