I guess we all knew that Alannah had a heart of gold.
The question of course remains—how are things going to be when they both eventually meet up with each other.
How long do you think we’re going to have to wait for those fireworks?
Enjoy this week’s chapter and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
It had been another unbearable day down on the beachfront serving in the bar.
If I hadn’t made my decision to leave the other day, today would have been the decider.
I missed Calvin’s bar more than I cared to admit and, as much as I didn’t want to accept the truth, I missed the band and the familiar faces of the musicians who called the place home.
I’d booked my flight to New York and I’d written to me Mam and told her that I was going to come and visit pretty soon.
Like most mothers whose daughter had been away from the fold for an extended period, she’d been ecstatic at the prospect of me coming home to the family.
Someone at least would be pleased to see me.
I opened the email program on my phone and thought I was seeing things.
Liam Herewini’s name popped up in my inbox.
How the hell did he get my address? I sure as heck hadn’t given it to him.
I should be bloody angry with him, but somehow I couldn’t find it in my heart to be pissed off at the man who’d been my surrogate father for the last few years.
My finger hesitated over the message.
I could delete it and pretend that it never got here.
But something inside stopped me from doing that.
Had the email arrived at a vulnerable moment?
Was I reading more into this than necessary?
With a shaking hand, I selected the message and allowed the screen to fill.
Immediately, I could hear Liam’s voice in my head as I read his words.
“What the fuck are you up to? Running off like that and not saying goodbye?
Do I mean that little to you?
I know I might have fucked things up the last time that I saw you, but we’ve been through so much. I would have a least thought you could have fronted me and said goodbye in person.
You’re not a woman who runs away from anything, so what you running away from now?
Not me, I hope?
My ego would like to think it’s me…”
I laughed out loud when I read that line. Nothing changed. It was always about Liam and always going to be about him. I guessed that’s what I found attractive about the moody drummer.
God, I missed him.
I missed them all—but I missed Liam the most—even if I didn’t want to admit that.
Maybe I’d made a mistake leaving so suddenly.
I certainly wasn’t happy where I was now, but at least I had New York and then Ireland to look forward to.
I turned my thoughts away from the near future and back to Liam’s email.
“…But then you always told me it was all in my head.
I don’t think so. I know you felt the attraction between the two of us. I didn’t imagine that. What I can’t understand is why you’ve run away.
Maybe you’ll tell me one day.
Where are you and what are you doing?
We’re in LA, holed up in the hills in a bungalow that looks like it should be part of a film set. Calvin’s pulled out all the stops this time.
I wish you could see the place. You’d love it. I know, I’ll put a photo at the bottom of the email.”
I immediately stopped reading and scrolled down to the photograph of the Californian bungalow surrounded by lush, tropical gardens.
“You’d love it there,” I heard myself say. I could just picture Liam sat quietly in amongst the lush foliage, meditating.
A photo of the pool area followed and I could see Jesse and Marty in the pool larking around and Dylan stood on the side, just about to join them.
I wanted to be there. In amongst it all with them, instead of sitting out here on my own.
I hadn’t wanted to admit it, but I’d been miserable since the day I’d climbed on the plane at Auckland International Airport.
What had I been thinking?
“I want you to want me…” the lyrics of a song flashed into my head.
I’d always wanted Liam to want me.
The fact that he did terrified me more than I was prepared to admit.
Maybe I could maintain a friendship with him, via email. We were going to be on the same continent, but at different ends of it.
If I knew where he was, then I could keep myself safe from him. Keep him in that safe space where he’d always been. My friend.
He wouldn’t be able to cross the boundaries again that he’d crossed last time.
It was a good plan.
I flicked back up and read the last of the email.
“We’re playing a house party in a couple of days. Apparently anyone who’s anyone will be here. Write me if you want to hear all about it. Otherwise I’ll leave you be.
Always here for you,
I hit the reply button.
“Hey, great to hear from you.
I needed to get away. Heading for Ireland to see the family. Mam misses me, so it’s about time I got back home to catch up.
Looking forward to hearing about the house party.
You know I never say goodbye.
It had been two days since I’d gotten the email from Alannah.
I’d gone to reply to it more than once and then I’d let it be.
Rehearsals for the house party had taken up most of my time. Now we were here, I wasn’t going to let anyone down—especially not Calvin.
He’d done the right thing, giving me Alannah’s email.
And I’d always be grateful to him—for so many things.
“You all set?” Marty arrived at the door of my room, his was located just down the hallway of the bedroom wing.
“As set as I’ll ever be,” I replied.
Dylan walked in and dropped himself on the edge of my unmade bed.
He looked pale and nervous.
“You okay, kid?” I’d taken a real shine to him over the months that we’d been working together. It wasn’t his fault that he knew nothing about life on the road, we’d all been there at one time or another.
“Yeah,” he wiped the palms of his hands in a repetitive manner across the top of his jeans.
He looked the rockstar part.
Dark denim jeans.
A thick leather belt with a fantastic silver buckle that Calvin had managed to source from somewhere.
His hair had grown out a little longer while we’d been on the road and the youthful, puppy-dog edges that he’d arrived with had been beaten out of him by long days in the rehearsal studio and long nights playing cards and drinking with the band.
He had on the band’s regulation white t-shirt and he’d taken a shine to a nice brown leather waist-coat that gave him a rock-country edge that would go down well in this town.
Cuban heels set off the entire look.
He was stage ready—and so were the rest of us.
“You’re going to kill it out there,” I said. I knew it was what Dylan needed to hear and it was reassuring to hear those words myself—even if they were coming out of my own mouth.
We all knew that there was a lot riding on this gig.
The record company had brought us over here, but we still had a hell of a lot to prove in this town.
Yellow Lady may well have been the new kids on this particular block, but I knew it wasn’t going to be long until the band’s name was going to be on the lips of a world-wide audience.
But I was also aware of the amount of work we were going to have to do before that day—and I was ready and willing to do that work—alongside, Dylan and the rest of the boys.
“Have you seen the crowd out there?” Jesse arrived at the door, Marty by his side.
The two of them looked as if they’d walked off a country-rock poster.
All blue jeans and white shirts, boots and buckles.
Marty had a red and white bandanna tied around his neck, his yellow-blond hair tied in a tall man-bun on the top of his head.
Jesse’s blond hair lay in disarray around the back of his neck, most of it held in place by a dark blue LA Dodgers baseball cap. I’d wanted him to wear an All Black’s rugby cap, but Calvin had other ideas.
I was the only member of the band who didn’t wear the regulation white t-shirt.
I was dressed in all black. The only concession to colour being the teal and aqua blue stones that adorned the sterling silver wrist and arm bands that I wore and the bright blue aviator sunglasses that I’d taken to wearing since we’d arrived in LA.
“Who’s out there?” Dylan asked, I could hear the slight crack in his voice.
“Half the Hollywood A-List,” Marty replied. “It’s a long way from Milford Beach Surf Club, mate,” he added as he flicked the lid of his yellow drink bottle.
My orange bottle went everywhere with me, but I was touched to see that the lads had each brought theirs with them from New Zealand.
None of us went on stage now without our allocated bottle of liquid. Those drink bottles had become a part of the tight unit that made up Yellow Lady.
“Doesn’t matter who’s out there,” I said, trying to cut these pre-show nerves off at the knees, “all that matters is what we do on stage. We’ve been doing this for months, all we gotta do is get up there and give it our all. Don’t worry who’s out front.”
“Good, you’re all here,” Calvin arrived in the doorway. “You’re needed for photos out front.” Calvin checked his watch. “Then you’re on in half an hour. Let’s go.”
We all trooped out the door of my bedroom and followed Calvin through the sprawling house that we’d begun to call home.
The bedroom wing had been cut off from the rest of the house by a couple of guys who looked like security, but the balance of the house and the grounds heaved with humanity.
Short of bars and clubs, I’d never seen this many people crammed into one place before.
It was wall-to-wall men and women. All turned out looking as if they were going to some kind of awards dinner, not here to see me and the lads play.
I felt as if I’d walked out of the sanctuary of my bedroom into some alternate reality.
Perfect people as far as the eye could see.
Even my stomach lurched as I spotted A-Listers like Beck, Drake, Usher, Jared Leto & Matt Damon to name a few in amongst the crowd.
“Okay lads,” Calvin directed us towards a make-shift photography studio that had been set up in the foyer of the house.
We stood in front of a screen emblazoned with names and brands that I’d only dreamed about until now, a flood of photographic lights and a large stand of press and camera crews ready to take our photographs.
“Holy shit,” Dylan muttered beside me. “This is the big time.”
“It’ll get bigger,” I said to him, “this is just the start. Deep breaths, kid. This is what you wanted, remember?”
“Dylan, over here,” Calvin called Dylan away and I watched as our front man, well out of his depth, but expertly shepherded by Calvin, began the first of many talks to the press.
We were on our way.
Life would never be the same.
There would be no going back now.
Not after today.
* * *
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