Secrets in the Sand - Carolyn Brown Page 0,2

school alumni. We ain’t doing a show for Neddie’s Nudie Beauties. Time to go, ladies. Ten minutes until showtime.” Allie, the shortest one in the band and the one with the lightest blond hair, crossed the floor and pushed open the bus door to lead the way.

“Y’all look wonderful.” Angel was proud of her five friends in her band. They wore identical black jeans and black denim vests with the state flag of Texas embroidered on the backs.

“We clean up pretty good,” Susan agreed. “You’d never know we were plain old working women the rest of the week.”

The band members laughed and headed for the ballroom.


“Let’s give the equipment one more check before they open the doors between the banquet room and this ballroom,” Allie said. “Testing.” She blew into the first microphone, which produced an ear squeal, and she nodded toward Bonnie, who was adjusting the amplifiers.

“Smoke machine is…ready,” Mindy said from the side of the stage.

Allie turned a knob or two, double-checked the timer, then sat down at her drums and gave a warm-up roll with the sticks. “Ready to rock and roll,” she growled into the microphone beside her.

“Ready,” Susan breathed into her microphone, and drew her bow across her fiddle, creating a haunting sound that made Angel’s blood curdle, just as it did every time they played.

“Then let’s knock ’em dead.” Mindy stretched her fingers and warmed up on the keyboard with a few bars of Miranda Lambert’s “Hush, Hush.”

The double doors from the banquet room swung open into the ballroom, and people wandered in, not quite sure this was where they belonged. Clancy Morgan and several companions found a table right in front of the small knockdown stage Angel toted around in the equipment trailer behind the bus. Even its slight elevation of twelve inches gave the band an advantage, which was better than being stuck back in a corner of a room on the same level as all the dancers.

“Dark in here,” Angel heard a man say. “These itty-bitty candles on the tables don’t give much light.”

“You didn’t complain about that ten years ago at the prom.” His wife giggled. “Matter of fact, you wanted to blow the candles out so the ballroom would be darker.”

“Yeah, but back then you were fun to be with in the dark,” he teased.

The woman pouted.

Angel thought she recognized him—wasn’t he Jim Moore?

The alarm on Allie’s watch went off, and she did a roll on the drums and pushed a hidden button with her foot. The smoke machine emitted trails of white fog across the stage, and a rotating strobe picked up every flicker of candlelight from the tables. When the smoke began to clear, there were five Texas state flags facing the darkened room. Then, from somewhere behind a huge amplifier, Angel stepped out, all aglitter in red, white, and blue sequins.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” she said in a deep, throaty voice. “I’m Angel—and this is the Honky Tonk Band. There’s Allie on the drums.” She stepped aside, and Allie stood up, bowed, and gave the audience fifteen seconds of a percussion riff.

“And Patty on rhythm guitar.” One of the flags turned around to reveal a honey-blond woman, who struck a chord and waved to the people.

Angel hoped for an enthusiastic crowd. Lord, but she hated to play to a dead bunch, and these alumni sure didn’t look as lively as the folks they’d played to last night.

“Bonnie on steel,” she said and the second flag turned.

Bonnie made the guitar slung around her neck whine like a baby.

“Susan on the fiddle.” Angel waved to her left, and a short woman with platinum-colored hair perched a fiddle on her shoulder and let them hear a tantalizing bit of a classic country tune.

“And over here is Mindy on the keyboard.” Mindy did a few chords of Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date.”

Then the final flag turned slowly to face the alumni of Tishomingo High School. “Hi, y’all,” Angel said huskily into the mic.

“And this is Angel!” Martha stepped up to the microphone. “You might remember her as Angela Conrad. She and these gorgeous band members have agreed to play for us tonight for free. Let’s make them welcome and get ready for a show. These ladies will be at the Twisted Spur Honky Tonk in Davis next Friday night for their final gig, so we’re lucky to get ’em. Angel says she’s tired of working all week and the weekends too. So, give them a big hand to let them