After last week’s voting, all I can say is that you’re all very serious musically minded ladies!
You surprised me—yet again.
Honestly, I can never make an assumption about where you’re going to take the story.
That’s what keeps this entire journey so fascinating and interesting…oh and have I mentioned how much fun I’m having?
I’m having fun! I can assure you of that.
Enjoy this week’s chapter and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
In my haste to get away from New Zealand and from my growing feelings for Liam, I’d overlooked the fact that I was arriving in Thailand in the rainy season.
I’d given up on the Andaman islands and made my way to the beaches, where it hadn’t proved to be quite so wet—but my understanding from the locals was that situation could change at any time.
For the moment, sunshine and the turquoise of the water lapping up against soft white sand had the disturbing effect of making me think of the far north of New Zealand.
I found the similarities of the coastline extraordinary and, considering my motives for leaving New Zealand, the thoughts were unwanted and unwelcome.
I couldn’t get away from the warmth and the beauty of the beach-side resort where I’d managed to secure some casual work behind the beachfront bar.
I hated the commercialisation of the area, but as they say, beggars couldn’t be choosers and I’d burned through a reasonable amount of money while I’d been dodging the rain around the district.
Work hadn’t been as easy as I thought it would be to come across and I hadn’t found the accommodation any easier.
I was bunked in at a local backpackers, but the situation wasn’t the best.
It didn’t take me too long to realise that in my hurry to leave New Zealand and get away from Liam, I hadn’t thought this whole Thailand idea through.
I missed the conviviality of the flat in Ponsonby and I also missed the familiar streets of Auckland. But I couldn’t go back there—so I had to make the best of the situation I found myself in and continue to look towards my future.
I’d always wanted to go to America, but with Liam’s band doing as well as I’d picked they would when Dylan King joined the group, America was out.
Well, at least the West Coast was out.
What about New York?
The thought rustled in my head the same way the large coconut palms along the edge of the waterfront bar rustled in the late afternoon breeze.
It was the other side of the great United States continent and I knew that if the band were going to make it in America, they’d be on the west coast for months, maybe years, before they broke out.
New York was also only across the Atlantic Ocean from home.
My family would love to see me back in Ireland. I’d love to see them, but only for a visit.
The more I thought about the idea, the more it seemed like the sensible option.
Even if I struggled to get work in New York, I could at least hop across to Europe and I’d be guaranteed a job somewhere there.
I mixed another drink and passed it to another holidaymaker. The familiar twang of a New Zealand accent only reminded me how close I was to the country that I’d been happy to call home for such a long time.
Staying here wasn’t really an option.
But New York and Europe.
Suddenly a whole new world of possibilities had opened up to me.
“Is that an Irish accent I detect?” The balding man in red swimming shorts stood in front of me, a slight gap in his front teeth that I couldn’t help staring at as I handed him his drink. Staring at his teeth was preferable to letting my eyes fall to what looked like the beginnings of a middle-aged beer belly.
“Yes,” I nodded, pasting my best hospitality smile on my face. Money here was tight and Kiwi’s weren’t the best tippers in the world, but every little bit would help.
“You’re a long way from home,” he said as, with a little bit of effort, he settled himself onto one of the bar stools secured on the wooden deck that stood between me and the white sand of the beach beyond.
“I’m headed back there soon,” I replied.
A flicker of what I could only assume was disappointment flashed across the man’s features.
“Can’t imagine why you’d want to get away from this place,” he said as he took a swig of his drink and cast his eyes in the direction of the scantily clad bodies walking down the beach.
“You get a different perspective on things when you’re working,” I said as I wiped down the bar for the umpteenth time today.
With any luck, there would be another holidaymaker along any moment. The idea of spending the next twenty minutes or so talking to this chap did nothing for me.
Maybe I would be better off back at the bar in Ponsonby?
Musos may be my kryptonite, but they were certainly a damn sight more interesting to talk to than the assorted bodies that had been along here in the past few days.
“You ever been to New Zealand?” my holidaymaker asked, “You know the Lord of the Rings was filmed there?”
“Yes, lovely country,” I replied.
“I’m from Southland,” he said as he took another drink, “beautiful countryside. A little bit different than this.”
I took a deep breath.
It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon.
I was used to living on the road, but even as I unzipped my suitcase and flipped the lid open I had a hopeful feeling that we were going to be putting down some kind of roots here in LA.
It wasn’t just the fact that the tropical nature of the gardens that surrounded the bungalow made me feel so connected to the area, more the fact that since the moment we’d gotten here, Calvin hadn’t been off the phone to the LA agency.
Aside from the feeling that I’d somehow ‘come home’ even as I began to put away my prized running shirts and the stack of blue jeans that I’d brought from home, I had an odd feeling of creeping depression that had surfaced.
I wanted to put it down to jet lag, but we hadn’t even really been on the plane for that long. Twelve hours was nothing. But then the time adjustment did do strange things to me—but I told myself that wasn’t too far removed from being on the road and staying up all night after a gig.
Something else was up.
And I had a fair idea of what.
I didn’t have to let my mind wander far for Alannah to creep into my thoughts.
Why would she leave without saying goodbye?
Especially after everything that we’d been through over the years.
She’d been seeing off my advances for months—what had changed that forced her to flee the country rather than talk to me? The more I thought about it, the less sense it made, especially with our shared history.
Mates just didn’t run off without telling anyone where they were going.
Someone must know where she was, or have an idea of how to contact her, surely?
“How you settling in, son?”
Calvin arrived at the door of my room, the phone that had been surgically attached to his ear now sitting in his lap. I had to believe that he expected the damn thing to ring again at any minute.
The man’s capacity for arriving at just the right moment, like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland never ceased to amaze me.
“Great,” the bungalow was large enough not only to house each individual member of the band in their own private suite, but it could also have housed a half dozen backing singers and crew as well. “Quite the hotel you’ve secured for our tenure.”
“Nothing to do with me I can assure you. They do everything on a grand scale in this country as you’ll find out in due course. Really though,” Calvin patted the wheel of his chair with affection, “you can thank me for not ending up in an apartment in some squalid part of town. I don’t particularly like to play the cripple card, but this place was owned by a man in a chair, so it’s the perfect choice for us.”
“No complaints from the percussion department,” I replied as I stowed my case in the corner of the large walk-in wardrobe.
“I’m on my way to see what kind of state the other lads are in, but I’ll give you the heads up,” Calvin continued, “your first gig’s in two days. The cabin on the edge of the pool has been set up as a rehearsal space, so the sooner you can get yourself in there and get working, the better.”
“Cool. Where’s the gig?”
“Here. A private house party. All the company execs and anyone who’s anyone will be here. So I want you on your best behaviour.”
“Shouldn’t be an issue.”
“Okay, I’ll leave you to it.” Calvin went to back himself out of the bedroom door.
“Hey,” I called, just as he swung himself back into the overly wide hallway.
“You got an email address for Alannah?”
“Do you want to go there, son?”
More than I wanted to admit. I nodded, “Yeah.”
I watched with a growing sense of anticipation as Calvin fingered the screen on his phone.
“Sent you a text,” Calvin said as he put his phone back on his knee and began to wheel himself down the hallway. The last thing I heard him say was, “Don’t make me regret doing that, okay?”
* * *
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