Title: Keep the Beat
A Band-Com for Romance Geeks
Author: Kata Ĉuić
Genre: Romantic Comedy
A Band-Com for Romance Geeks
Author: Kata Ĉuić
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Sophia Reston has never been bothered by the term band geek. The definition of geek is an enthusiast or expert in a particular field or activity. She loves marching band with all her heart, so the term is appropriate. Of course, one of the lesser known definitions of a geek is a carnival performer who is often billed as a wild man and whose act typically includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake. This definition also seems accurate since there is one snake Sophia fantasizes about maiming in the most deliciously torturous ways—her archnemesis, James Fossoway.
He has a stupid nickname, stupidly attractive muscles, a reputation for sleeping around, and he is a fellow band geek. Unfortunately for Sophia, he’s also an enthusiast of pushing all her buttons—and not in a good way.
When their rivalry leads to one final showdown during the competition for head drum major, the entire band is invested in the outcome. And James has some new tricks up his sleeve to win the last battle they’ll ever wage against each other.
Because, after years of pranks, James isn’t out for revenge. He wants Sophia’s heart.
Or maybe it’s just another dumb challenge.
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“Where is this secret meeting being held?” I whisper as we hug the shadows, so none of the underclassmen will catch us.
Shannon is the trumpet section leader; I’m one of the drum majors. That means we’re at the beck and call of any band member who needs help, especially this week. If a nervous freshman spots us, we’re done for.
“In the instrument room,” she whispers back.
Right under my nose on hallowed ground. The nerve of Jimbo.
At least that helps us stay on the side of covert surveillance. We sneak into the main band room without being seen since the lights are on night mode then hightail it into the uniform room, which just so happens to be separated from the instrument room by a weird window. It’s opaque enough to keep our cover but mostly, it’s a useless decoration, so we can still hear everything. With the lights off in here, it makes it even easier to see the vague forms of several bodies in the other room.
Four large bodies in fact. One for every drum major except me.
“Shh,” Shannon hisses.
“You shush,” I whisper back.
We stop shoving each other for the best viewpoint when the sound of Jimbo’s annoying voice carries through the window.
“There hasn’t been a woman drum major in the past one hundred years. There’s not going to be one now.”
Nate’s voice pulls me out of my plans for homicide. “I dunno, man. All she has to do is use the #MeToo movement to get the spot. One word to the directors that she’s faced harassment just because she has a pussy, and they’ll give it to her. You know they will.”
Eww! What the fuck? I always thought Nate was a decent guy, but obviously not. Why the hell would I make a false claim? Why wouldn’t I want to earn my spot, same as anyone else in the history of the band? Obviously, I’m already facing harassment as the only female drum major, but that only makes me want to crush them on my merits instead of on my breast size even more.
“And I’m telling you they won’t.” Jimbo’s voice sounds relaxed on the surface, but there’s an underlying edge to it that makes me think he’s gritting his teeth. He’s never had very much patience for people who don’t bow down easily and accept him as their supreme overlord. “I have a plan.”
“Oh, you’ve got a plan?” Another of the guys, Tim, laughs. “To put yourself in the head drum major spot. What the hell does that have to do with any of us?”
“Nate isn’t wrong. Sophie has the best chance to get it out of any of us.”
I clench my jaw. I hate it when Jimbo calls me Sophie.
“You just said there’s not going to be a female head drum major this year,” Jake, a fellow trumpet, practically sneers. I like Jake. “So, how do you figure she has the best chance?”
“Because she’s a woman,” Jimbo emphasizes like they’re all clearly stupid for not following his invisible train of thought.
I think it’s Tim who throws his arms up in the air. It’s definitely his voice. “That doesn’t make any sense!”
A body presumably belonging to the snake I hate the most leans forward in a chair, resting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together. “The directors are putting it up to a vote this year, yes? And what is the ratio of men to women in this marching band?”
Nate huffs out a breath of frustration. “It’s about fifty-fifty. What’s your point?”
“My point is, it’s not an exact split,” Jimbo explains, his tone quickly running out of patience. “There are a hundred ninety-eight women and only a hundred twenty-nine men. Now, I don’t know about everyone’s sexuality, but I’d rather stare at a sweet pair of tits on that main podium than an accidental boner in wool pants.”
Shannon’s body tenses like she’s going to leap through the window, so I wrap her in my arms to hold her still.
“Don’t. I need to hear this.”
“Get your phone out and record it,” she hisses. “Show it to the directors. You’ll get the spot and be rid of him forever.”
True, but where’s the fun in that? It’ll hurt more if he fails and has to watch my sweet tits up on that podium every game.
“I’ve never let him beat me before. I’m not about to start now.”
“Ugh, fine,” Shannon whispers and goes limp.
“Which brings me back to my plan.” Jimbo grins with his words. “If we take that fine rack and tight ass off the market, the guys’ votes are suddenly more … changeable.”
“Only if you don’t care about the lesbians in band.” Jake snickers.
“I’m going to take care of their votes, too.” The silhouette of Jimbo leans back in the chair, placing his hands behind his head in a relaxed pose that indicates he thinks his plan is foolproof.
“Spit it out already!” Nate yells.
“I’m gonna make her fall in love with me.”
For a split second, everything goes deathly silent. Or maybe that’s just because my heart stops beating.
A chorus of laughter defibrillates me back to life.
“I have never seen anyone hate someone as much as Sophia hates you.” Nate cackles. It takes him a few tries to catch his breath. “There’s no way, man. There’s just no way. It’s a great plan, but you need to let one of us do the wooing. At least we’ll all have a shot at the votes that way.”
Kata Čuić lives in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and three teens. She’s an actual marching band geek, and she attends alumni events for both high school and college whenever her schedule allows. Her children wouldn’t exist today if she hadn’t fallen clarinet over tuba in love with her spouse during their shared time in marching band. Coincidentally—or not—the kids are following in Mom and Dad’s footsteps. Band family isn’t fictional at all.