I can’t believe that I managed to refrain from looking at the votes all week! I was the kind of kid who had to shake all the parcels under the Christmas Tree…
*Goes to take a look*
I can’t wait to see where our intrepid band mates take us now.
Enjoy this week’s chapter and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
I expected that late Autumn in New York—or Fall as I had to keep reminding myself the season was referred to by the locals—would be a little cooler.
I found myself still assaulted by almost summer temperatures as I negotiated my way from the subway stop to the Met Cloisters. Somehow and I had no idea how, I’d managed to secure myself a job working in the cafe alongside the replica of the stunning Medieval herb gardens.
The view from my new working environment over the Hudson River and the ornate gothic surrounds of my workplace, gave me an unnatural feeling of stepping out of my time and back into the past each day I arrived at work.
For the first time in an age, the abundance of scented herbs, the arches and the accurate replanting of the thirteenth century walled gardens, gave me a real feeling of peacefulness.
This place was a sanctuary away from the frenetic pace of northern Manhattan and I had an overwhelming feeling of being blessed to work here.
While on my break, sitting in the Gothic-period Bonnefont Cloister garden in the shade of a mature cornelian cherry tree with my back supported against an ivy-covered wall, my phone buzzed.
I pulled it out and saw that I had mail from Liam.
His regular trips to my inbox and my irregular replies, along with the perfectly formed gardens at The Cloisters were becoming a highlight of my day.
I’d made the right decision, choosing to continue on with the long distance relationship. I missed the easy companionship of the friendships that I’d made while I was in New Zealand. The bonus with my arms-length relationship with Liam, of course, being that I was safely on the other side of the continent and from this distance, could keep the arrangement firmly as friends.
Liam would love it here, I’d often think to myself as I meandered through the gardens, checking out an unfamiliar to me plant, or marvelling at the tender herbs that would over-winter somewhere warmer in their replica 15th-Century, Italian terra rossa pots.
I often wondered what chance there would be of me being able to join the staff who worked in the gardens with the plants. Having had no formal horticultural training, beyond following me Mam around the back garden, I could see little hope of ever being able to tend anything other than the food and drinks in the adjacent cafe.
Still, I had gratitude for where I found myself these days.
Gratitude that I had been able to secure a job and a place to live, albeit not a lot more than a shoe box almost an hour’s travel away from my workplace. But travel didn’t bother me in the least and I was grateful to be living alone for the first time in a long time.
I flicked open Liam’s email and moved myself further along the wall to escape the encroaching rays of the late afternoon sun.
In three months I knew that most of the ground here would be buried under a layer of snow, but for now, it was nice to enjoy the unusual late warmth of the sun.
“The Gig!” The headline in the email read.
“My dearest Alannah,
Holy shit. I wish you’d been here to see us rip it up through a crowd of LA’s A-List.
If I do say so myself (and it wasn’t just me who said it) we were A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!
Once Dylan got over his initial nerves with the press, he killed it on stage. He had them eating out of the palm of his hand.
And speaking of having them eating out of the palm of your hand. How this?
Our man Marty’s got an A-List fan.
Freaking, Petunia Anders. Yes, that’s right, Pet Anders from Ace Revolution has the hots for our lyrical genius.”
Wow. I took a moment to think about that. Petunia was the big time. World-wide female vocal phenomenon with a penchant for 90s R&B and a stage show that often bordered on musical theatre. I wondered how the hell Marty would be coping with a musical powerhouse taking an interest in him. I could almost be tempted to get on a plane and go take a look for myself.
But then I remembered the hulking, broody drummer that I needed to keep at arms length and reconsidered that idea.
I’d have to rely on second-hand information from Liam.
But I could make sure that I asked some pertinent questions the next time I sat down to compose a reply to him.
But that would have to wait.
I had less than five minutes left on my break and I needed to make a mad dash down to the ladies.
With great reluctance, I flicked away from Liam’s email. I’d take the chance to savour reading his description of the band’s first gig in LA.
I had a long afternoon ahead of me and plenty of time to devour the email and compose a reply on my trip home on the subway.
A couple of days had passed since our initial house party.
We were lounging around the pool, enjoying the break from obsessive rehearsals and soaking up the last of the late autumn weather.
We’d been informed that winter arrived overnight in LA, so we were keen to enjoy the sun while we could. It seemed hard to believe that it could ever get cold while we were behaving like idiots around the pool.
“Heard from Pet?” Jesse asked Marty as he hauled himself out of the water and then shook like a dog, spraying droplets of water everywhere. The band had been ribbing Marty with relentless glee ever since he’d started texting Pet after the house party.
“Strangely, I have,” Marty replied, as he wiped a few spots of water from his torso. “Her band’s playing at one of the clubs down on the Strip tonight and she’s asked if we want to come along. Guests of the band.” Marty grinned like some kind of maniac. A private invitation to one of Ace Revolution’s gigs wasn’t something to be scoffed at.
“Fuck yeah,” I said. “Tell her we’ll be there.”
“Be where?” Calvin asked as he wheeled himself poolside. Even Calvin had de-stressed now that our first gig had gone down so well. He wore a straw Fedora hat and a blue and yellow shirt that sported palm tree motifs. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen him looking this relaxed and pleased with himself. I decided that it must bode well for the band’s future.
“Pet’s asked us to her gig tonight, guests of the band,” Dylan replied, happy that he’d managed to strip Marty of his thunder.
“Has she now,” Calvin said as he tipped his head in the direction of Marty. “Best thank the boy wonder there for that opportunity.”
But there was something about the way Calvin half-smiled at Marty. Maybe it wasn’t just Pet’s attraction to our keyboard player that had secured us the invite. There was wheeling and dealing going on in the back room here that the rest of us weren’t privy too, I was sure of it.
“I want you boys looking hot and on your best behaviour,” Calvin said. “Nothing is missed in this town and, like I’ve said before, I don’t want any band I’m managing to be dragged through the mud. Got it?”
“Absolutely,” I said.
“Be on our best behaviour, Boss,” Dylan replied.
“No trouble from me,” Marty said.
“Except for maybe one lead singer in the band,” Jesse couldn’t resist having a dig at Marty.
Calvin’s finger turned on Jesse. “Cut it out.”
Jesse looked mortified and held his hands up in surrender. “I’ll behave. I promise!”
“Couple of drinks and anything else that’s going in that Club and all hell can break loose. I’m depending on the four of you to take care of each other. You’ve been well received to date and I don’t want even a hint of trouble finding its way onto social media or any other kind of media.”
“Got it,” Jesse said, looking somewhat deflated.
Calvin turned on me, “You hearing what I’m saying?”
It was my turn to hold my hands up in surrender. “Don’t make me responsible for this band of monkeys.”
“You’ve been around a while,” Calvin turned his stony stare back on Jesse, “you too. So I’m expecting you both to lead by example.”
“You’re asking us to babysit?” I couldn’t help but feel the weight of responsibility falling firmly on my shoulders.
“I’m asking you to make sure that these two,” he flicked his hand in the direction of Dylan and Marty, “don’t go overboard and get themselves messed up.”
“Have we let you down before?” Marty asked, sarcasm dripping from the question.
Calvin eye-balled him. “This is the big league. You’re not hanging out in the high school hall in Ecetahuna now, okay?”
“Yeah, we get it,” Dylan replied. “You don’t have to bang on.”
“There’s another reason you don’t want to mess this up,” Calvin added. If he hadn’t got all of our attention already, now there wasn’t an eye not on him.
A slow smile spread across his face. “You’re booked to play the club circuit, opening for Ace Revolution until further notice. So don’t fuck it up tonight!”
Street cred. Calvin had found us street credentials.
We were going to take our brand of Antipodean music to the LA scene.
Someone wake me up. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming.
I surveyed the cheering and whooping young men in front of me. Dylan and Jesse had picked Marty up and were ceremoniously about to dump him in the pool. If I didn’t get in there, they’d come for me next.
Calvin gave me a knowing glance.
Yup. I’d be playing father tonight.
But I didn’t care.
We were on our way and I’d do whatever I needed to do to make sure that we kept on the right road.
* * *
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