Welcome to Chapter 41 :-)
I’m still not quite over my excitement that we hit the ‘naughty-forties’ last week, but I guess I’ll calm down soon. I don’t know if I can quite say the same about Liam and Alannah!
Enjoy the chapter and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
Breakfast dealt with and a list of essentials for housekeeping written, I found myself with time on my hands waiting for Liam to return from his meeting with Calvin.
Despite knowing that Liam wouldn’t have invited me to stay at the house without Calvin’s okay, something still didn’t sit right with me.
Why had Calvin called Liam in to speak with him and not included me in the conversation?
And, now that I thought about it, Calvin had barely acknowledged my arrival at all. Considering we’d had a close working relationship in Auckland, something didn’t seem right.
Paranoia setting in at all?
I set the strange on edge feeling aside and tried to concentrate on the banter happening between the rest of the band members.
Part of me wanted to crash the meeting in Calvin’s office, except I didn’t even know where the hell to find his office. The other part of me kept trying to remind me I was fine right here, listening to the relaxed banter between the band.
The boys continued to discuss how well their first show had gone last night.
It wasn’t until I’d settled here, sipping on my herbal tea and eavesdropping on the conversation, that I’d realised how much I’d missed being around a band.
“I’m sure Liam cocked up the opening of Midnight Train,” Marty said.
Jesse laughed. “I dare you to say that to his face when he gets back.”
“You think I’m sick of living,” Marty replied, as he walked over to the coffee machine to make himself another cup. “I’d rather wrestle an alligator than take Liam on.”
Marty turned in my direction, “And don’t you be telling him what I said.”
I held my hands up in the air, “Hey, what happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen as far as I’m concerned.” Yes, I thought, I’d missed the band’s banter.
When I put the debacle that my relationship with Steve became at the end to one side, I don’t know what I’d been thinking when I believed that I could just walk away from them all. Over the years Calvin’s bands had become a huge part of my life. I wouldn’t be making that mistake again.
I belonged here, sitting and listening to the band chew the night’s performance over.
In my heart of hearts I knew I should be grateful to Calvin for letting me come along for the ride—but I couldn’t find that gratitude right this minute.
If I were still in Calvin’s employment, I’d be sitting it out in Auckland while the band were on the road. So, I guess I had a reason to be grateful to Liam as well. If it hadn’t been for my fear of a relationship with him, I’d be serving behind the bar in the hotel. Look where my fear had gotten me, I mused, right here slap bang in the middle of LA on tour with the band.
Mam would say that fate had stepped in a taken a hand. I preferred to believe that this was Liam’s doing. Without his prompting, I’d probably still be trying to figure out how to keep that damn job in New York.
The little voice in my head nagged at me. I still hadn’t come clean with Liam about where I’d been since I left Auckland. Breakfast with the boys hadn’t been quite the right time to tell him I reasoned with myself. While the voices in my head continued to debate with each other, Liam and Calvin returned to the kitchen.
I tried to work out from the look on Liam’s face whether things were going well. I needn’t have bothered worrying.
“Hey, Alannah. How you doing this morning?” The warm tones of Calvin’s greeting told me all that I needed to know. “Sleep well? You were shot when you left the club last night.”
“All day travel will do that to you,” I replied.
“Did you make it home in the end to see your mum?”
My stomach did an immediate clench around my breakfast.
What to do?
Compound the lies by lying again, or was this my opportunity to come out with the truth?
“Nah, didn’t make it to Ireland. I got a great job in New York.”
“It didn’t turn out that great,” Liam said. I couldn’t help noticing that the words were flat. His eyes bored into me. “You didn’t mention anything about New York,” he added. I didn’t miss the underlying implication that I’d been lying to him. We knew each other too well and from the look on Liam’s face he was either furious with me, or terribly hurt.
Either way. I didn’t like the feelings that his words evoked in me.
I tried to smile at him, but it felt as if the action was more of a grimace. “You didn’t ask.”
Yeah, right? That painful voice in my head said. As if putting the responsibility back on him to grill me about where I was living straightened this little misunderstanding out.
“I. See.” Liam’s words were cold and aloof.
We stood in the same room together, but I felt all of a sudden as if I may as well still have been back on the East Coast.
Liam looked at his watch. “We’re late for practice,” he said to no-one in particular.
“Fucking slave driver,” Marty moaned.
“You saw Ace last night,” Liam turned his gaze on Marty.
“He couldn’t keep his eyes off a certain lead singer,” Dylan teased.
“Yeah, well,” Liam replied, “they didn’t get that good standing around eating breakfast at lunchtime. I’ll see the rest of you in the rehearsal room in five minutes, we’ve got shit from last night we need to tease out.”
There was a collective undercurrent of moaning.
“What should I do?” I asked, suddenly aware that I was being abandoned.
Liam shrugged. “I’m sure you’ll make something up, it seems you’re good at that.”
And with the barb that I probably deserved hanging in the air, he turned his back on me and left the room, the rest of the band filing out after him.
Calvin caught my eye and raised an eyebrow. “You been conservative with the truth?”
I closed my eyes and took a deep, calming breath.
“Leave him be, you know what he’s like,” Calvin’s attempts to reassure me weren’t what I needed to hear right now.
“You’re not helping matters, making me stay in the guest house.”
Calvin rolled his chair closer to me. Even sitting in that damn chair he had an air of authority about him that made me want to pluck the words I’d just uttered in haste back out of the space between us.
“We’ve known each other a long time,” Calvin said, “and I’ve always been straight with you.”
I had a sudden sense that I may not be in Calvin’s employ any more, but that didn’t mean that he still didn’t have the upper hand. In fact, I was relying on his generosity allowing me to stay here at all—or was I relying on Liam’s generosity? I made a mental note to discuss that with Liam when he calmed down. I knew he would calm down, it was just a matter of time.
“And I’m grateful for that,” I replied trying to make up ground for my untimely outburst.
“This band is on the rise and I don’t want anything or anyone getting in their way,” Calvin said, “do we understand each other?”
“Perfectly,” I said and I added a cheery smile—even if it felt as if my teeth were clamped so hard together they might shatter.
“Good,” Calvin said, “so let’s get this straight, right now, so there are no misunderstandings at all.” Then he inched his chair back, so now he sat just on the edge of my personal space, instead of inside of it.
I hadn’t realised that I’d been holding my breath until I felt the relief of sucking in a lungful of the warm, Californian air.
Calvin took his time, staring down at his hands, he’d linked his fingers together and for a moment I could almost have believed that he’d forgotten why we were both here.
Then he looked up and said, “I’ve been aware of the growing relationship between you and Liam.”
I could feel the rush of blood to my face and I stammered, “I wouldn’t exactly call it a relationship.”
“I would,” Calvin said, brushing aside my objections. “And what I’m more concerned about is.”
He stopped then. As if he were searching for the right words. He looked back down at his hands again, as if somehow by magic his hands could conjure up the words he was searching for, like some kind of magic card trick. “What I’m most concerned about is the image that you and Liam being together would have for the band.”
“The image?” Now I was confused. He’d never worried about me and Steve before, so why the worry now about the band’s image?
My gut churned.
This had to be about, Steve it was the only thing that made sense.
Calvin looked up again, he had a fatherly look of concern painted across his features—the look that I’d seen him use so many times over the years with people that he cared about.
“I need you to help me out here, Alannah.”
“Spit it out,” now I sounded like my Mam. I was of good Irish stock. I didn’t suffer fools gladly and I guess that’s why Calvin and I had gotten on so well—maybe until this moment.
Calvin sat a little taller in his chair. “What happens in the house, I want it to stay in the house.”
“You know I understand the way the game’s played.”
“And as far as anyone outside the band is concerned, you and Liam, you’re not an item.”
“I’m sorry, am I hearing you right?”
Calvin nodded. “As far as the rest of the world’s concerned, he’s a single man and that’s how I want it.”
“But, Marty and Pet,” I stammered.
Calvin’s face hardened. “That’s a different matter, their relationship is good for the band.”
“And mine and Liam’s isn’t?” I couldn’t help spitting out the words.
He shook his head, “No, I’m sorry it’s not.”
I crossed my arms and hugged myself.
It didn’t seem fair.
Didn’t seem right.
“If it makes you feel any better,” Calvin said, no doubt trying to recover some kind of favour with me, “the rules would be the same for Jesse and Dylan.”
“Do Jesse and Dylan know that?”
“It’s not had to be addressed,” he said his voice taking on the tone that I knew meant this discussion had come to an end.
I honestly didn’t know what to say or what to do. I just stood there, blinking at him.
Then I decided that I didn’t give a flying fuck any more what Calvin thought about me.
What did worry me, though, was what might be going through Liam’s mind right this minute.
In fact, that particular thought terrified me.
* * *
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