The studio was too quiet. Ricky checked the shabby rooms one by one, but it was clear the band wasn’t around. Everything was set up for rehearsal, though. If he hadn’t known them better, Ricky would’ve thought they stepped out for a pizza.
He brushed his fingers across a cymbal and frowned at the drums, amps and electrical cords. There was never any telling what a group of demons might do next. He should try to track them down before they committed some act of mayhem.
Ricky started toward the door, but the red and gold gleam of Kalila’s new Stratocaster caught his eye. He hesitated. One didn’t handle someone else’s instruments. He picked it up anyway. It had been a few years since he held a guitar and its weight felt unfamiliar, but after a foolish glance over his shoulder as if someone were watching, he strapped it on and picked out a few notes.
The metal strings vibrated under his fingertips, a soft, shy sound that stirred Ricky’s long-fallow ambitions of being something more than a promoter. He wasn’t without ability, but he understood his limits; he lacked the spark of real talent.
He picked out a chord, then a simple melody from a favorite song, fumbling the progression. Well, his abilities had always been more toward keyboards and vocals. The guitar and all its sex appeal had never come naturally to him.
Still…he tried the progression again. Maybe if he worked at it, practiced…
“Thinking of joining the band?”
Ricky looked up in embarrassment.
“No auditions today.” Kalila made a small gesture and the guitar pulled itself from Ricky’s grasp and returned to its stand.
Kalila watched him, a glint of laughter in her amber eyes. “You could play with us sometime, if you like.”
“I’d be wasting your time.”
“Time means nothing to immortals. But as you wish.” She motioned him toward the door and turned out the light. “Go home. No rehearsal tonight.”
Ricky walked out of the room, grateful for the reprieve. She should’ve been angry, but one could never predict what a djinn would do. He was waiting for the elevator when he heard footsteps.
“You forgot something.” Kalila came up to him and set a battered case at his feet. “It’s one I don’t play any more. Someone ought to get some use out of it.”
Before Ricky could speak, she vanished in a curl of blue smoke. The elevator dinged and the doors cranked open. Ricky picked up the guitar case. “Thanks,” he told the empty air.