Dare gets lost in music only he can hear.

Since childhood, it’s rolled through his mind, drowning out the rest of the world. When he comes back to himself he has the notes and lyrics for the songs his band plays. But he wonders if such talent is worth it, when the rest of his life is such a mess.

All Sionn ever wanted was Dare’s attention.

But that won’t happen as long as Dare has his ‘musical dreams’, so he keeps his attraction a secret. Too bad it’s impossible to keep anything secret when you live with your three best friends. When Sionn’s temper reaches breaking point, he sets Dare on a quest to ‘fix’ himself, in the hopes of gaining the love of the man he adores.

But Fate has a funny way of twisting things.

And ‘normal’ is just a state of mind, isn’t it? While Dare struggles to change, secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested, and the band is offered the chance of a lifetime. Can they pull themselves together fast enough to take advantage of it, or will Dare’s desire to be ‘normal’ unravel all their lives?






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DARE SAT ON the stoop and hummed. His guitar lay across his lap and he caressed the strings as he stared off into the distance. If anyone had asked, he never would have been able to describe the things he saw when he was ‘dreaming’. They were more like shapes and colors and swirls of notes and images bathed in light. Some thought him a bit eccentric, while others out and out called him crazy, though never when his older brother, Tommy, could hear. Tommy played bass in their band, Desolation Angels. He lived in the house too—the entire band did—but he and the others were at work at the moment.

Dare couldn’t work. He’d tried a few times, but it never lasted long. He always ended up dreaming on the job, and they would have to call his brother to come get him, telling Tommy he was fired. Because when he dreamed, he couldn’t hear anything outside of the music that twisted and rolled through his mind. It was okay with Tommy, though, because Dare wrote killer songs and the people who came to the bars to hear them loved their sound and the dark, haunting words Dare belted into the mic.

Tommy’s boyfriend, Mark, played the drums, and his other boyfriend, Paul, was their rhythm guitarist. They made a weird sort of threesome, but it worked for them, and Dare didn’t mind because sometimes they let him curl up in their bed too. He would cuddle with one of them when he was too restless to stay put in his own room. It only happened when the dreams got really bad and he found himself struggling to tell nightmare from reality. Curled up to one of them was like being anchored to a grounding point. As long as they were there, he didn’t have to fear getting lost in a labyrinth of sound. They’d all grown up together, so who really cared? They were more than just a band, they were family, and as long as they had each other the rest of the world didn’t matter.

The last member of their band was Sionn, who’d moved into the neighborhood when he was ten. His family had emigrated from Scotland, and he still spoke with the rolling, deep brogue of his homeland; a sound that sometimes sent shivers down Dare’s spine. He loved listening to Sionn talk, loved listening to him telling stories of kelpies and red caps and all manner of other lore. Sometimes that deeply accented voice was the only one that could pull him from the dreaming, though at times it felt like Sionn resented the necessity of it all and him, for his oddities, and the fact he only seemed to stay focused when he was onstage playing one of his songs.

Dare hoped that wasn’t the case. He loved Sionn’s stories and wished it was the big, dark-haired Scotsman he was curled up to most nights. Though he’d never dare tell Sionn for fear of the revulsion he’d see in the older man’s eyes. Not because they were both guys, but for the fact it was a screw-up like Dare wishing for such things with him.

Dare sighed, leaned his head against the cool metal of the railing, and shivered. He was unaware how long he’d been outside, or even what time it was now. He had the song, though. Words and music pulled from lines in the air were imprinted on his fingers and in his heart as surely as if he’d written them down. It was always this way; a fact he often marveled at and wasn’t sure he fully understood, much like the dreaming itself. Not that he ever wished it gone. On the contrary, he was afraid that without it he’d lose his music and everything that made him who he was.

Dare closed his eyes for a moment and shivered again, realizing that he was tired and hadn’t had a meal all day. He climbed to his feet, his guitar clutched in one hand and the other gripping the railing as he swayed. Damn, he thought as he waited for the dizziness to pass. It had to be pretty late if he was feeling this dizzy and weak. With a tired sigh he shuffled inside, tucked his guitar back into its case, and wandered into the kitchen to see that the clock read a quarter to five. Holy shit. No wonder he was starving and ready to drop; he’d been on that damned porch all fucking day. He vaguely remembered heading out there at ten, with a cup of coffee, his cigarettes, and his guitar. He checked his pocket and found the pack, happy he hadn’t burned through too many. Sometimes he smoked them all without realizing it. A waste really, or at least that’s the way he saw it. If he was smoking something, he wanted to at least remember the taste of it.

His hands shook as he poured himself a glass of milk. Then he sat at the table, drinking the milk and eating an apple. It would have to do until he could get dinner cooked. He knew the others would be home soon, and hungry. Not that they really wanted him messing with the stove. His dreams were unpredictable, and twice he’d started unintentional fires, staring off into space while the pan beside him burned. Today, though, he figured it would be fine, easy really, to cut up an onion, brown some beef, and toss soup into the pot on top of it to make a meal. He tried hard not to hum as he worked. He tried not to think of music at all. Instead, he wrote out a grocery list while the meat browned, stirring it occasionally so it didn’t burn. He forced himself to focus on what they needed and not the soft rhythm pulsing in the corner of his mind.

It helped to think of the last time he’d burned a meal and Sionn’s disgusted reaction as he’d stood with the fire extinguisher in hand, red faced, and screaming about how Dare couldn’t manage to go thirty goddamned minutes without drifting away to dreamland and how he could have burned the whole place down goddammit all to bloody hell! Dare focused on how ashamed he’d felt over the mess he’d made and how angry he’d made Sionn, and he finished cooking the meal without incident. He checked the time. They’d all be out of work by now, unless one or more had been asked to work overtime, in which case, they’d all be late, coming home in the car they shared. Dare sat at the table listening to the tick of the clock and idly drumming his fingers against the wood.

While he waited, he let the music take over. He lay his head down on the table and stared at the counter, his eyes glazing over as he entered the waking dream. He was oblivious to the roar of the Charger’s engine as it pulled up to the house, the slamming of doors, and the chatter of voices as the other members of the band came in.


LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.

Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.

Layla Dorine can be found at:



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