“I didn’t,” she told me out in the workout room, where we’d slipped away during yet another complicated skirmish about verse transitions. “I told him I was coming here and that your parents were gone. All he heard was ‘party,’ so he grabbed a bottle and headed over. When Rosie dropped me off, he was in the driveway waiting.”
I thought of earlier, when I’d opened the door to see him standing on the porch, slumped against her. “Does he drink like this a lot?”
“No,” she said, her voice clipped. She added, “I mean, some, sure, but it’s not usually like this. Anyway, it’s not his fault they’re not recording. It’s Eric’s.”
I glanced back at the open studio door, where Irv was now sitting back in the chair by the control board, his hands over his face. I could relate.
“Lay-la,” Spence called out, then leaned forward on the couch, peering at us. “Come here. I miss you.”
“One sec,” she said, pulling her phone out of her pocket. She glanced at the screen. “Crap.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“My mom.” She turned, walking back into the studio, leaning over Irv to hit the intercom button. “Mac. Rosie just texted. She thinks Mom might need to go in.”
He was on his feet immediately, coming out the door. “What happened?”
“I don’t know; I’ll call right now.” She put her phone to her ear, walking over to lean against the wall. Spence, on the couch, offered her the now-almost-empty bottle, but she waved him off. “Hey, it’s me. What’s going on?”
As Rosie replied and she listened, we were all silent. I glanced at Mac, but he was watching Layla.
“Okay,” she said finally. “Yeah. Well, keep me posted. If you decide to take her, we’ll meet you there. What? We were planning ten thirty, but we can come now if she wants us to.”
Someone exhaled, frustrated. Eric, I assumed.
“All right. Yeah, do that. Thanks, Ro.” She hung up, then looked at Mac. “Just the usual. Dizzy, shortness of breath. She got super light-headed and Rosie panicked, but Mom says she’s fine now. She’s going to keep an eye on her.”
“Could be those new meds,” he said. It was like the rest of us weren’t there. “They said the side effects could be more pronounced, even with the smaller dosage.”
“Which sucks, because they’re working.” Layla slid her phone back in her pocket. “Whatever, let’s just try to get this done. I want to get home.”
“Seconded,” Mac said, turning back to the recording room. Once inside, he said to Eric, “This take is the last one for this song. Then we move on. Okay?”
Eric did not look happy about this. Still, he nodded, adjusting his guitar strap as Irv got everything on the board set up again. Mac counted them off and they began playing. I held my breath as they passed the intro into the first verse and then the chorus, the farthest they’d gotten so far.
“Sit down and relax. Have a drink,” Spence said to Layla, pulling her down beside him. She sighed, then, to my surprise, reached for the bottle and took a swig. “That’s my girl. Better, right?”
She swallowed, wincing, then wiped a hand over her mouth. “I swear, I don’t see how this night could get any worse.”
I could. Because right at that moment, Ames appeared in the open doorway. I was so startled by the sight of him, I thought for a minute I had to be imagining it. When he spoke, I knew it was for real.
“Well, look at this. It’s a party.”
I opened my mouth to respond, but, unfortunately, Spence spoke first.
“Now we’re talking!” He turned, looking at Ames, and held out the bottle to him. “Welcome, comrade. Drink?”
“No,” I said, answering for him. Still regrouping, or trying to, I said, “It’s not a party. They’re just recording a demo.”
Ames made a point of looking at the bottle, as well as Spence slumped against Layla, before turning his attention back to me. “Your mom didn’t say anything about this.”
“She’s been distracted,” I replied. “And anyway, they’re almost done.”
“I wish,” Irv said. The guys were wrapping up the song now, having actually made it through the entire thing. “Although we’re further along than we were, I’ll give you that.”
I didn’t like the way Ames was surveying the room, taking it all in: Layla on the couch, the guys on the other side of the glass, Irv in his seat at the controls. Then, finally, me. “Let’s talk outside,” he said. “Okay?”
Layla was watching me as I followed him out into the workout room, where he gestured for me to take a seat on my dad’s workout bench.
“So,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. “Want to tell me what’s going on here?”
“I did. They’re recording a demo.”
“And drinking,” he added.
“Spence is drinking,” I corrected him. “I don’t even really know him.”
“And yet he’s here, in the house, while Peyton and Julie are gone.” He cocked his head to the side. “I have to say, Sydney, I’m surprised. This is not like you.”
“They’re my friends; they needed a studio. It’s not that complicated.”
“And that guy playing drums? Who’s he?”
I blinked, caught off guard. “Why?”
He shrugged, then leaned back against the wall, studying my face. “Just curious. I saw you with him the other day, in the parking lot of that strip mall off Mason. You seemed pretty close. Very close, actually.”