Reunited in Wishcliffe

This was why that next album just wouldn\'t come.

Jons whole body jangled with nerves as he stripped off his coat and reached out to take Jasons guitar. The other musician was huddled inside a huge black coat, his neon beanie pulled down over his ears, now shivering even as sweat beaded on his forehead.

”Shouldn he go home? ” he asked.

Lucy didn look at him as she replied. ”As if hes going to miss this. Come on. Ill introduce you to the guys. ”

The other two members of Lucys band seemed surprised but not perturbed to have a last-minute replacement standing up front with her, and if they recognised him now hed taken his hat off they didn say anything, which he appreciated.

”Heres the set list. ” She thrust a short, handwritten piece of paper into his hand and he studied it carefully. Over half of it was familiar to him; it seemed Lucy hadn moved on massively musically since hed left. Which was a surprise, given how much he knew she loved writing new music. ”We can switch out the couple you don know for some you do. ”

Jon nodded. ”I think Ill be okay with that. You
e still taking the lead on at least half of them, anyway. ”

”And luckily weve only got a relatively short spot. Although that might change if that lot realise who theyve got up here. ”

Jon followed her gaze to the growing crowd at the base of the stage. ”Maybe I should have kept the hat on after all. ”

Lucy scoffed. ”Yeah, because you
e Superman playing Clark Kent, totally unrecognisable when you put on a baseball cap. Jon, your face has been plastered all over billboards, magazines and the internet for the last two years, and thats still not the most recognisable thing about you. ” When he looked at her in confusion, she explained. ”Your voice. As soon as you start singing, anyone who likes your music is going to know exactly who you are. ”

He hadn thought of that. ”Is that going to be a problem? ”

”Lets find out, ” Lucy said, with a shrug.

Jon had played enough sold-out stadiums recently that standing on a temporary stage in front of a few hundred—okay, maybe thousand—locals really shouldn be a big deal. This was his happy place; performing had always come more naturally to him than recording. Repeating the same phrases over and over again until every nuance was perfect bored him to tears. Give him the adrenaline of playing in front of a crowd any day. For him, the energy and vibrancy the audience added to the music outweighed any imperfections in the performance.

But he was used to standing up there knowing that the people watching already loved him. Theyd bought tickets. And he was used to playing after intense rehearsals, with a whole team behind the scenes to keep things going seamlessly.

Tonight, it was just Lucy, him and the guys. And, for all his bravado to Lucy, he hadn picked up a guitar in weeks.

”Ready? ” Lucy asked.

Jon swallowed. ”Ready. ”

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