Chapter 1

Put it in Red

Hell’s Ballad

by Nicola C. Matthews

© 2014 by Nicola C. Matthews

All rights reserved.  Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.

 Published by

X-Isle United Press

 The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious.  Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, or to any other written publication is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Cover art by Bloody Feather Graphix Team

NOTE: this is the raw, unedited version of this book and will contain multiple errors. Once the book has been completed, it will be edited and available for sale through Amazon. As this is the first draft, the final product may be different.

It was that dream again, that same damn dream, the one that left his heart pounding mercilessly in his chest every morning. He could see himself standing over Eva, the woman whom he loved more than anything, the knife in his hand glinting evilly from the dancing flames of the fire. The look in her aquamarine eyes was one of terror beyond measure as she struggled to free herself from the ropes. She begged him to stop, crying desperately in whispers that she loved him, begging to know why he was doing this. He lifted the knife above his head and plunged it deep into her chest, the blade slicing through her abdomen effortlessly, allowing him easy access to the still beating heart that he plucked from her chest.

In that one fatal blow he had sealed his deal with the Dark Prince, forever binding his life and soul to the him.


Jax Monroe jerked awake, his entire body shaking, his skin drenched in sweat. His dark brown eyes darted around the tiny room, taking in his surroundings as the entire floor beneath him lurched slightly. He sat up as a tiny knock came to the door.

“Jax, we’re about half an hour out from the venue,” Rave, his lead guitarist, said through the closed door. “You up?”

Jax ran his hand through his damp hair, mumbling, “Yeah, okay, I’m up.”

He stumbled up from the small bunk as the tour bus lurched forward once again, finally settling into a rhythm that could barely be felt. Jax moved to the tiny sink in the corner, splashing water onto his face. He stared at himself in the mirror, but he didn’t see his own reflection. He was lost deep in thought, his mind replaying the dream over and over again.

Only this time he relived the true events of that night some ten years ago. The woman tied to the altar had not been Eva, his high school sweetheart. She had left him before that, right before he dropped out of high school. She had told him she couldn’t be with anyone who wasn’t going to make something of himself one day. His dreams of becoming a rock legend were not good enough for her, so she had left him, moving out of state with his best friend at the time, the best friend that had been accepted into medical school.

He had eventually found his way in the world, although it had been far from easy. He had moved to LA a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday with nothing but his broken down delivery van, a few clothes, and barely a hundred dollars to his name. He had spent the next three years doing odd jobs and anything else that fell into his lap to keep food in his stomach and strings on his guitar.

Those first few years had been hell on earth. He was almost always hungry and agents were constantly telling him he wasn’t going to make it in this world. The industry didn’t want metal groups with wild hair and black eyeliner, they wanted cute boy bands that were just as good at sucking cock as they were at fucking pussy. He was determined if nothing else, and just when he thought he was either going to die or have to return to his bastard of a father, he got mixed up with people who could help him see his dreams come true, and he had never looked back.

Even now as the events of that long-ago night replayed through his subconscious on an endless loop, he did not regret his decision. As the dreams interfered more and more with his sleep, causing him to feel tired and listless most days, the endless nights of sleeplessness fading together into a sea of faceless fans, he still did not regret one moment since that night.  If anything, he wished he would have bargained for more time.

“Jax, man, we’re almost there,” Rave said as he opened the door just a crack to peer in, his grey-blue eyes smudged with a thick ring of black eyeliner.

Jax’s brown eyes darted over to look at his band mate in the mirror. Rave was freshly shaved, his eyeliner looking like he had slept in it for days instead of being freshly applied, something that Jax had yet to master. The natural dark brown hair he had been born with was dyed a perfect shade of Raven black, his signature color which was only part of the reason why he took on the name when the band came together.

“You want to head straight there or stop off at the hotel first?”

He stifled a yawn with the back of his hand before answering. “Let’s just go straight there and get set up, get at least one sound check in before we head over to the hotel.”

Rave nodded his head. “Sure thing, I’ll let Wheels know that he-“

Rave stopped mid sentence as a loud scream came from the front of the bus. “You fucking son-of-a-bitch, how many times have I told you to not fucking do that shit!”

Rave moved out of the way as Jax hurried out of the small room, almost colliding with Treble and Tribe as the two of them wrestled in the narrow hallway in the middle in the bus.

“What the hell are you two doing?” Jax asked, watching as his other guitarist and drummer bumped along the walls in their tussle.

The two of them stopped, Treble holding Tribe in a choke hold, the white of Treble’s hair mixing in with the black onyx locks of Tribe’s waist-length hair. They looked at Jax like he was some deranged lunatic that had suddenly materialized in the middle of their home.

Dude,” Treble said, looking Jax up and down in disbelief. “What the hell did you do after last night’s show?”

Jax stood there staring at them as they ogled him in disbelief, not really sure what to say. He knew he looked bad. The weeks of sleepless nights coupled with the late nights and binge drinking were really starting to take their toll. Even when he wasn’t partying backstage with the fans and groupies, he was still guzzling vodka in a vain attempt to knock his ass out, trying desperately to get just a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

The toll was really starting to add up. His usual vibrant brown eyes were dull with dark rings that had nothing to do with his eyeliner habit, his milky-white skin tinged an unhealthy yellow, and he had lost at least thirty pounds in the last few months. He really wasn’t looking his best these days.

Jax sighed. The guys were better off not knowing what was really troubling him. He had signed that contract nearly ten years ago, and the final payment was just about due.

“Just haven’t been sleeping very well,” he mumbled, hoping they wouldn’t ask any questions.

Treb released his choke hold on Tribal’s head, the slightly taller man standing up and straightening his Profane Remains tee-shirt, his own face and name blazoned across the front. “Man, you might want to slow it down a bit,” he said. “We’ve still got six months’ worth of shows lined up. I’d hate to have to start looking for a replacement for your old ass.”

Tribe grinned at the six-foot tall singer, Jax smiling ruefully back at him. At thirty-two years of age, Jax was the oldest member of the band, and the founder. It was the running joke among the band, that he was the old fart with one foot in the grave, even though Sphinx, who was the youngest, was already twenty-seven. Tribal a.k.a Tribe and Treble a.k.a. Treb were both going to turn thirty this year, not that you could tell it. They both still looked like they were barely legal. Rave was twenty-nine, and he had to be the wisest and most level-headed of the whole band.

“You guys aren’t kicking my old ass out of the band just yet,” Jax said, swatting playfully at Treble.

Treble ducked the fake blow, throwing a few sparring rounds as the three of them laughed. “So what did our resident dick-head do this time?” Jax asked, curious to find out what had Treble screaming like a girl.

“Bastard stuck the tip of his drum stick into my nose again,” Treb said, using the palm of his hand to rub furiously at his nose.

Jax laughed, shaking his head at the mental image.

“Yeah, and if your sorry ass replaces my tequila with spring water one more time, it won’t be the wooden stick you get next time,” Tribe said, looking hard at Treble, waiting to see if he would get the joke.

Treble blinked a few times, his face curling up in disgust as he screamed, “Eweeeeee! How many times have tried to stick your dick in my face?!”

Tribal howled with laughter as he once again found himself in a headlock. “If I had, I would have taken a photo and posted it to the page!”

Treb took his balled-up fist and rubbed his knuckles viciously back and forth across the top of Tribal’s head, making the man’s hair mat and then stick up as the static built up in the dyed strands. Treble finally let go of his twin brother, the two of them laughing hysterically as they shoved each other against the walls of the tiny bus.

Sphinx had materialized quietly from within his own tiny bunk when the first shouts had filled the air, the young man standing behind Rave as the three of them watched the antics of the twin brothers, the youngest members’ unnaturally blue eyes almost unblinking in his white face. Those two had been through a lot together, and no amount of time, women, or booze seemed to be able to get in between their brotherly bond.

The five of them stumbled as the bus lurched again, slowing down as it turned into the venue.

“This is it!” Rave shouted, taking off down the narrow hall towards the front of the bus. Treb and Tribe tossed their heads back and howled like a set of wolves before they took off behind him, the three of them eager to get onstage.

Sphinx hung back, looking at Jax quizzically. “You alright?” he asked, those light-blue eyes boring into Jax’s dark brown orbs. Of all the members, Sphinx was the quietest, yet he seemed to sense things no one else did. He had known for weeks now something wasn’t exactly right about Jax, but he tried not to pry. Something was changing, and it wasn’t going to be good when it all finally came to a head.

“Yeah, just need to brush my teeth,” Jax said, turning to slip back into his cramped bunk. In all honesty, Sphinx creeped him out sometimes. The way he looked at him, like he could see the clock slowly ticking away against his soul, could see the huge black stain which spread with each passing hour.

Jax shuddered. Forty-four days. If all hell really was going to break loose in that short amount of time, he intended to live his life to fullest while he had the chance.


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