So, I’ve had a lovely holiday break from the boys and I hope that you’ve had a restful and restorative time too.
Happy New Year and here’s to a 2019 that brings us all (including the boys of the band) much love, laughter and entertaining adventures.
Did I mention that it’s always a joy to go and check the voting from the previous chapter?
You’re all at odds with each other about Calvin’s motivations for getting between Liam & Alannah. I’m going to be very interested to see where you want to take things next.
Enjoy the first chapter for 2019 and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
If I compared where I stood now to the living quarters I’d been holed up in recently, I could scarcely complain that Calvin had shunted me out into the guest house. Since the band had been here, I’d only seen the odd picture of the main house from the candid photos that Liam had emailed to me, but there was nothing to complain about as far as the guest house was concerned.
The building had obviously been some kind of afterthought and the architect had decided to move away from the theme of the main house and had gone for a much more contemporary look—more in keeping with the pool house that lay just down the incline from the guest house.
As I stepped across the tiny green plantings that marked the edges of the wide concrete path and towards the large cedar front door, I couldn’t help but feel as if someone had taken a floor of a glass apartment building and dropped it into the midst of the sub-tropical plantings.
“Madam,” Liam said, behaving like a doorman and bowing slightly in my direction, as he opened the oversize cedar door to let me pass.
Once inside, the interior of the building was as stunning as the exterior.
A large studio apartment that could easily have housed an entire family had been given a full wall of glass, allowing the strategically lit foliage from the outside to be drawn into the room itself.
The view from through the glass wall reminded me of stories that my Mam had told me when I was a girl of fairy gardens. I felt as if I’d stepped into some kind of fantasy world. No wonder the band were enjoying living here, I’d seen nothing like this kind of opulence in all the days that I’d been travelling.
The impressive glass wall gave way to a fully equipped modern kitchen that ran at a right angle to the glass. A large, marble bench, with four bar stools separated the kitchen space from the living area.
In the middle of the room sat a large grey rug with a sleek grey couch at one end and an amazing smokey glass round table at the other. I sat myself down on the couch, suddenly aware of the exhaustion that wracked my body. It had been an awfully long day.
Liam poured a couple of glasses of water from the fountain in the refrigerator door, put one in my hand and then took up residence in one of the two brown designer armchairs that sat on the other side of the table. It struck me as strange, we were alone at last and he’d sat himself almost on the other side of the room.
I guess I should have been grateful that he hadn’t picked me up and planted me on the large king size bed that was tucked behind me on the other side of the studio suite.
A door on the other side of the bed housed what looked like the kind of bathroom that you’d find in an upmarket hotel.
I still couldn’t work out why Calvin had insisted that I sleep out here. Granted, I wasn’t going to be slumming it—but then neither were the boys in the house from the photographs that I’d seen. What unsettled me more, was the distance that Liam had put between the two of us.
It had been pretty obvious at the Club that he’d been pleased to see me, so why did it feel all of a sudden as if we were back to where we’d been in New Zealand?
What had happened in that hour I’d fallen asleep at the Club?
All I’d thought about the entire time I’d been socialising with Ace Revolution was getting Alannah back to the guest house.
What I hadn’t counted on was her total exhaustion and anyone being able to fall asleep in the midst of the rugby scrum that was the private bar in the club.
The after show buzz had faded and now all I cared about was making sure that Alannah was settled and happy.
I wanted her.
I wanted her real bad.
But I wasn’t the kind of arsehole who’d take advantage of a woman whose defences were rattled.
“Is there a reason you’re sitting over there?” Alannah’s voice sounded cool and accusatory.
“No,” I shook my head. “You’ve had a big day, I thought you might need a little space.”
The look on her face suggested that she didn’t believe a word coming out of my mouth. I knew Alannah pretty well and I’d seen that look plenty of times before.
She patted the grey sofa. “Come sit with me.”
I wasn’t about to decline that kind of invitation—no matter how tired I thought Alannah might be.
My body slid in beside hers and, almost of their own accord, my hands found their way to Alannah’s slim waist.
At my touch, her body did something that I hadn’t expected—she tensed.
Confused, I hesitated. “What’s going on?”
Alannah had flicked me a few conflicting signals over the years, but this was something completely new. She’d made the long trip from one side of the country to the other and now she didn’t seem to know what she wanted.
“I’m just tired, I guess.”
I stood up.
“Look, why don’t you get a good night’s sleep. There’s no food out here, so come into the house when you’re ready for breakfast. We’ll get this place sorted for you tomorrow.”
“Why did Calvin want me out here and not in the house?”
I thought I detected a note of bitterness in her voice, but I wasn’t going to take any notice.
“Look, it’s pretty obvious that you’re tired. We can talk about all this in the morning.”
I lifted her chin and left a gentle kiss on her lips.
The taste of her made me want her even more—but she was tired and probably pissed off as well.
“Sleep well. I’ll see you in the morning.”
I turned to head for the door.
“Liam,” the tone of Alannah’s voice made me stop and turn around.
“I’m not pissed off with you.”
A half-smile crossed my lips, “I know. But you’re tired and you need some sleep. We can work it out tomorrow, okay.”
Alone with my thoughts in the huge bed, the lighting from the undergrowth outside throwing subterranean shadows across the walls, I realised that I didn’t want to be sleeping alone.
I wanted Liam here with me.
Sleep, something that had always come easily to me seemed to elude me now.
I hated that I hadn’t been entirely truthful with Liam—for the second time.
What was happening?
Why did I feel the need to avoid telling him the whole truth? That had never happened before. But then, I guess, I’d never been invested in having a relationship with Liam before. He’d always been the “friend” that I could rely on when things got out of control with my life.
A surge of insecurity made my body shake.
Who would I rely on if things went wrong with Liam?
I shuddered, doing the best I could to shake off the unnatural feelings of vulnerability that rolled over and through me.
Making a conscious decision to put the anxiety to one side, I pulled my knees into my chest and slipped into a foetal position in the middle of the massive bed.
Was that why Calvin had installed me out here? Did he know the two of us so well? I knew Calvin pretty well—I’d been around him and his bands long enough to know that he always had the welfare of the bands and their members forefront in his mind.
Had Calvin decided that I wasn’t good for Liam or for the band?
The idea appalled me. I brushed it away, the same way I brushed away anything that didn’t quite fit with my idea of how my life should proceed.
Besides, I didn’t want to think about Calvin. It confused me almost as much as thinking about Liam. Calvin had always had my back—what was he up to now?
It dawned on me that I was having trouble sleeping because I was pissed off with Calvin and I was taking that anger out on Liam—and Liam didn’t deserve it.
A sigh escaped my body as I rolled onto my back, spread starfish like in the middle of the expanse of cool, fresh sheets.
I could at least be grateful for the accommodation. It was a damn sight better than anywhere I’d been staying since I’d left Auckland—maybe since I’d left Mam’s in Ireland even.
Liam didn’t deserve to be treated the way I’d treated him.
If anything had happened at the club, I reminded myself, he’d have told me. That’s the kind of relationship we’d always had. A truthful and honest one. Except for the couple of facts you’ve omitted to tell him, my conscience unhelpfully reminded me.
I needed to set things straight with Liam.
I resolved to get straight to it in the morning.
In the meantime, sleep continued to elude me.
I pulled my phone from the bedside where I’d left it and pulled up Liam’s email address.
“You still awake. I can’t sleep.” I pressed send and waited.
A full ten minutes passed and still nothing.
Resigned to sleeping alone, I turned on my side and waited for sleep to come.
I resolved to make it up to Liam tomorrow night. I’d come clean. Tell him the truth about what had been happening since I’d left New Zealand.
The thought brought me some peace.
Maybe now elusive sleep would come. I shouldn’t hold my breath. I wondered what time it was in Ireland and whether or not I should call my Mam.
Then I thought better of it. What would Mam say about me roaring across the country chasing a man—and another man in a band to boot?
Sometimes I wondered whether or not I was my own worst enemy.
But it was too late now to second guess myself.
I was here and, besides, the band and Calvin almost felt like family. I would do what I’d always done, I would make the best of the situation, no matter how things turned out.
Tomorrow, the sun would rise on a new day and with it the terrors of the night would vanish.
I closed my eyes.
Visions of Liam sat behind his drums danced on my eyelids.
How long had I been in love with the drummer?
A terrifying thought to ponder as I waited for the respite of sleep to come.
I saw the notification on my phone from Alannah.
My first instinct was to reply immediately, get up, get dressed and head back out to the guest house.
For the first time in my life I ignored my first instinct and I put my phone back down, so I wouldn’t be tempted to answer.
It was the first time I’d ever ignored Alannah and it didn’t sit well with me.
But then I thought about Calvin.
I thought about the night that we’d had at the Club.
I thought about the success that the band was having and how damn hard we’d worked to get here.
Calvin sat behind us all—a force of nature—pulling strings, turning cogs, pressing levers and generally making sure that we got where he (and the rest of us) wanted to be.
It irked me, his suggested that Alannah was some kind of threat to the band and to me. It took all of my self-control not to say something to him at the club.
We’d scarcely spoken since, but I was aware of him watching.
Watching me and Alannah.
Watching Marty and Pet.
How come he condoned the relationship between Marty and Pet, yet he’d tried to pour cold water on me and Alannah?
I struggled with the inconsistency. Calvin was a fair-minded man. I wouldn’t have what had happened to Steve colour his judgment of Alannah, no matter what.
But, I had to acknowledge that another part of me was touched by his fatherly concern. I felt as if I’d always missed out on that and, for what felt like the first time in my life, someone else was looking out for me.
Did Calvin see something that I’d missed about my ‘relationship’ with Alannah?
I picked up my phone again, the yellow light of the screen enticing me to respond to Alannah.
It was almost 3am, if I got up now and went to her, we wouldn’t get any sleep at all.
I turned the phone off and put it back on the bedside.
She was here now. We could work things out in the morning when we’d both gotten at least some sleep. She wasn’t going anywhere and neither was I—at least I knew that much was certain tonight. She hadn’t tracked from one side of the country to the other to get up and leave.
I trusted Alannah. I’d always trusted Alannah. So why didn’t Calvin?
The idea made no sense.
Anger coursed through me.
Making sleep pretty impossible.
I needed a plan of attack.
Calvin had said that Alannah was part of the family, but for some reason I didn’t understand, he’d effectively excluded her from the family home.
I resolved to have it out with him first thing in the morning. One way or another this had to be sorted and I was just the man to sort it.
* * *
What did you think? Let me know in the comment section below.
Never want to miss an episode? Sign up here and I'll send a short alert direct to your inbox.
In the meantime, you need to VOTE!
Click on THIS LINK and have your say on the direction the story should take.
Thank you so much for reading. Feel free to invite your friends to read along too--the more the merrier.
See you next week and have fun voting!
Click here for CHAPTER 40