Title: Summer of Hush
Author: R.L. Merrill
Series: Summer of Hush #1
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release date: October 8, 2019
Cover artist: Kanaxa
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Tropes: secret identity, band on tour, interracial romance
Tags: rock romance, road trip, music blogger, Warped Tour
Word count: approx. 74,000 words
Warnings: Talk of suicide (in the past) and grief
Hush is back… and it’s about to get loud.
After two years grieving the death of his best friend, Silas Franklin is back on the road with his metalcore band, Hush. With a new member, a brilliant new album, and a headlining spot on the last cross-country Warped Tour, life couldn’t be better—unless Silas could meet the intriguing music blogger known only as the Guru. Silas has followed his blog for years and feels the Guru might be the only person who “gets” him.
For years Krishnan Guruvayoor has reported on the metal scene as an anonymous blogger, and he’s just landed an internship on the Warped Tour as well as a potential position with a well-respected music magazine. His best friend arranges for him to meet singer Silas Franklin—but only as Krish the Intern. Their chemistry is instant, and Krish is thrilled to get to know the man behind the music.
The rock star and blogger quickly go from meet-cute to cuddle session, but secrets, overprotective bandmates, meddling media, and a terrible accident all conspire against them. Can their romance survive the summer of Hush?
“Did you see this?”
Los held up his phone and displayed it like Vanna White in all her glory.
“New Guru?” Silas asked, his heart rate making the jump to lightspeed.
“‘The Last Warped Hurrah.’ He’s coming. You’ll for sure get to meet him.” Los wiggled his eyebrows at Silas, who tried to play the whole thing off as though he wasn’t ready to start jumping on the couch and doing back flips.
“That’s cool,” he said, hiding his excitement. The possibilities…. He’d had his hopes up that he might meet him two years ago when they played Warped, but the Guru never said what show he attended. Silas had analyzed his posts to see if he could get any idea where it might have been. Ridiculous. Tons of dates, a blur of venues, and thousands of screaming fans in the hot sun—it was hopeless. The guy didn’t answer private messages either. Because he’d tried that.
“Says here he’ll be posting about the shows,” Los said, still reading through the blog while waiting for his hair dye to set. Jordan volunteered to be their hair maintenance person because he’d gone through barber school before he became a rock ’n’ roller.
“Dude, stop moving,” Jordan scolded Los. He was trying to avoid getting black dye on his red T-shirt, but Los kept moving around.
Silas checked the tour schedule hanging at the front of the bus. “There are thirty-eight dates on this tour. He could be at any of them. It’s not like anyone knows what he looks like. All of his videos are animated.”
“Maybe he’ll post about the different shows, like who he sees. And Brains is doing his workshops. Dude—”
“Dude, why are you guys being so loud?” Billy Brains climbed from his bunk on the tour bus and stretched his lanky body in the narrow hallway. The band had held its final run-through last night at their rehearsal space in Oakland and was headed to Pomona for the opening date of the show that weekend.
“Because, bruh, Silas might finally get to meet his crush.”
Silas threw a rag, but Los dodged it and was reprimanded by Jordan for moving again. It could have had anything on it, but they were just getting started on their tour, so the likelihood it had already been tarnished with some sort of bodily fluid was low. By the third or fourth leg of the tour, you never knew what kind of funk it could be contaminated with.
“Just let it go, Los.”
“Why?” Los asked. “You’ve been sprung on this guy since….”
Silas knew it was hard for all of them to talk about it and they still tended to trail off whenever the topic was brought up.
“He did a beautiful piece about Gavin,” Brains said softly as he slid into the booth next to Silas and rubbed at the stubble on Silas’s freshly shaved head. “Unlike the rest of the press. If I never have to talk to another reporter….”
Silas dropped his head on Brains’s shoulder. “You won’t have to.” Brains was right. The press had crucified the band after Gavin’s death, and they’d all agreed only Silas would give interviews from then on. There were several news sources that were persona non grata with them. Brains was their drummer and truly their rock. Without his determination, songwriting talent, and experience in the business, there was no way they would have made it through the last two years. “Sorry we woke you up. It’s Los’s fault.”
“It’s all right. I wasn’t sleeping. I was watching one of Chris Motionless’s makeup videos. I fucking love how he does his eyes.”
Brains loved makeup and had a huge obsession with shows on horror- and fantasy-inspired art. He’d brought his kit with him to the table to experiment. Silas often let him practice on him. His stage makeup creations were badass.
Los threw the rag back and Silas caught it. “He’s got to meet him,” he insisted. “It’s the last Warped!”
“How do we make this happen?” Brains asked. “Oh, I know. Let’s hit the socials. Spread the word out that we want the Guru to come to my TEI workshop. We’ll send him a free ticket if he’ll come.”
“Yeah, put it on your Snapchat story, Silas,” Los said. “You have an assload of followers. Someone is bound to see it.”
“And what do I say, huh? ‘Gee whiz, Guru. Pretty please, come to my drummer’s workshop for a meet-cute’? That’s lame.”
“No one knows who he is for a reason,” Silas said. “Just forget it.”
Silas didn’t want to get his hopes up. Again. He needed positivity. This tour was going to be hard enough. It was his first time touring without Gavin, and while he was confident the album was a great showcase for their new guitarist, Jordan Barrett, and held enough of Gavin’s spirit to be a hit, he was on edge. They needed this summer to be huge, or else it was time to wrap up Hush and move forward in his life without his true loves—music and his best friend.
“If it’s meant for you guys to meet, it’s gonna happen,” Brains.
“I don’t know. You really believe in that kind of fate shit?”
Silas wanted to. Oh, how he wanted to. But the next part of that wish was that the Guru was just as incredible in person as he was in his writing, and that was probably pushing his luck.
“You know I believe it,” Brains said. “Fate has always kept me going. It’s what brought us together, right?”
True, the formation of their band had been a sort of kismet. Brains, Los, Gavin, and Silas had all been in the same place in their lives with all the magical elements that made their music stand out among their metalcore brethren. If Brains wanted to chalk it up to some mystical force, Silas could buy that.
“Fate is a powerful thing,” Jordan said as he wandered back over with a beer. “You never know when it’s your time, am I right? I never thought I’d end up with you guys, and here we are.”
Los fist-bumped him. “Damn right and a-fucking-men for that.”
Brains and Silas joined in the fist bumps, which turned into some weird, obscure Wonder Twins Power references, and pretty soon they were all cracking up.
Yeah, Fate had been fickle with Silas and his band. She’d given them the world on a platter, then yanked it away. Everything had crashed and broken into pieces, but she was slowly putting them back together. Would she continue to grace them this summer?
About the author:
Once upon a time... a teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ’n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real life and happily ever after, and she’ll keep writing love stories until she does. Both self-published and traditionally published with Dreamspinner Press, Ro writes romance in contemporary, paranormal, and horror settings inspired by love, hope, and rock ’n’ roll. Ro also loves connecting with other authors online, at conventions, and chapter meetings for the Romance Writers of America, of which she’s been a member since 2014.
A sucker for underdogs, Ro has adopted a wide variety of pets including cats, dogs, rats, snakes, a chameleon, and some fish. Her love of horror is evident the moment you walk in her door and find yourself surrounded by decorative skulls and quirky artwork from around the world. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, or else find her educating America’s youth, being a mom taxi to two busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or head-banging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
R.L. is giving away a $50 Dreamspinner gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter: