When he learns his rock idol, the legendary Russ London, is making a tour stop nearby, Jake sneaks off to the city, planning a simple night of music and fun--but everything changes when a chance encounter in a coffee shop brings him face to face with Russ London himself.
Jake sighed and shifted his weight to the other foot as the woman behind the counter tried to figure out how to work the cappuccino machine. He didn't need anything as fancy as cappuccino. All he wanted was a simple cup of hot chocolate, no whipped cream. Straight-up, as his uncle liked to say. The woman seemed to be consulting a manual now. He could see two other employees lurking in the back room, and there was one out on the sidewalk trying to entice people inside with coupons offering ten percent discounts on frothy beverages. The only person who seemed to be working on providing the promised beverages, however, was the new girl who didn't know how to operate the machine. Jake suppressed another sigh.
"Oh, right." Sarcasm was evident in the unmistakably British accent as the person behind Jake quoted, "'This place'll be quick'."
"Shut it," a second voice, also British, said. "I'll tell everyone it was my fault, right?"
The first speaker made a noncommittal sound. After a pause, he said, "Perhaps we ought to skip it. We're late as it is."
"Well, if we're already late another couple of minutes won't kill anyone, will it now?"
"It's rude to be late for sound check."
The last word nearly made Jake turn around. Of course there were plenty of clubs in Lincoln, and the chance that it was the same sound check he was interested in was small, but still, a chance was a chance. And those accents . . .
So he rubbed the back of his neck as he turned his head, pretending that he was stretching. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of the speakers behind him just as the English accent was saying, "Since when do you care about punctuality?" It was only a glimpse, but in combination with the accents it was enough to make Jake's heart stutter.
He was witnessing a legendary fight between Russ London and Evan Wilde.
Well, not a fight. They still argued, Jake had read, but they didn't have the knock-down-drag-out brawls they used to get into when they had their first band together, when they were Jake's age. No, this wasn't the kind of fight that got Russ kicked out of Irritating Coworkers -- only to end up singing for a couple of years with the greatest heavy metal band in the world, then and ever: Industrial Revo.
Now Russ had his own band again, reunited with Evan. And they were just short of arguing, at this very moment, right behind Jake.
Jake waited a beat. Then he turned to face the lead singer and the lead guitarist of The Russ London Band, and said as casually as he could manage, "Hey, if you guys are in a hurry, you can cut in front of me."
"Yeah?" Russ London (Russ London!) cocked an eyebrow. Evan (Wilde!) was already nodding his thanks.
"Yeah," Jake said. "I'm not in a hurry."
Russ smiled, and Jake got so lost in it he nearly missed Russ's, "Ta, mate." He stepped back to make room for them, and stood there biting his lip for a moment to control his mouth. This was almost too good to be true, but he was definitely standing in a Lincoln, Nebraska coffeehouse with Russ London. Well, not with him, but next to him at least. He'd probably never have another chance like this. So he let his lip unfurl from between his teeth and moved in a step.