The dream always ended the same fucking way. A flash of dark red hair, hurt-filled eyes, and seconds later...the slam of the door. Our door.
At least what used to be our door.
The apartment was on Eucalyptus Street and was one I hadn’t seen since I moved to L.A. I stayed on there for six months—through the U.S. and World Tours—waiting to see if she’d come back. She never did. I heard she had Mandy and her brother pick up all her shit when I was gone in Minneapolis. I figured I’d still be in touch with her, though. She was our PR person, after all. But no. We had Gary now, the schmuck.
Gary was not only a co-worker of Holland’s, but also her friend. Or at least she thought so. She didn’t realize he was the reason I had suggested the stupid break idea in the first place.
Biggest fucking mistake of my life.
And I relived that night over and over again in my dreams. Or maybe I should call them nightmares. Dreams are supposed to be different. Things that never could happen in real life and made no sense whatsoever. Nightmares—at least mine—were things that had happened. Things I can’t change and wish I could.
I tried calling. I did. After about a year, her number was disconnected. I’m pretty sure she’d had mine blocked way before that, though.
All because of Gary-fucking-Pierce and his brilliant fucking idea. I hadn’t wanted to do it. I was the one hold-out against the plan to appear to be unattached, not that it mattered. I was the only one with a steady girlfriend, one I was stupid enough to lose, because—yeah, I’d agreed to go along with it. Eventually.
So, it was really my fault. After all, I agreed to it in the end, right? I could blame Gary, or peer pressure, or the fact that I was concerned I would be tempted while on tour, but it turned out—I wasn’t. Not even the least bit tempted. My dick was pretty much useless for a good while after Holly left. If I wasn’t thinking or dreaming about her, my cock was as flaccid as a hunk of raw, boneless chicken.
Gary. What a douche. He kept talking about Holland to irritate me, even after he knew we’d broken up. I had even told him why we had split, in general terms. Didn’t go into horrific detail or anything. None of his fucking business, as far as I was concerned. His face didn’t light up or anything when I told him, but his eyes did. Knew he had a thing for Holly, and that was my confirmation. That, and the fact he called her non-fucking-stop whenever I was around. And he called her baby, for fuck’s sake. If I didn’t know her as well as I did, I would have thought there was something going on, but he’d always called her that, though now there was a little something extra in his voice when he said it after we’d split—something dark and secretive.
And annoying as fuck.
I knew she would never date him, and I knew the moment she had left the PR firm, because Gary seemed bummed out as well. When I finally asked him, he admitted that Hol had left the company and got a new job. Where, he wouldn’t say. I think Holly never told him, and for that, I was glad.
But, back to my dream.
Red hair, sparkling green eyes glassy with tears, and one final slam to that damn door I had fixed and would never squeak again while I lived in that apartment. It made my chest fucking ache just thinking about it. The last thing I remembered was her eyes, clearly wet with unshed moisture and glittering like emeralds. I did that to her. No one else. I could blame Gary until the oceans ran dry and Savage Melody broke up, but that was on me for bending to his will and agreeing that a break on our first big tour was what we needed. Me—no one else.
Whenever I heard the slam of the door in my dreams, it always woke me up. Chest aching, heart pounding, head throbbing like the worst fucking hangover in the history of the world—and I don’t even get trashed anymore. Did for a while after Holland and I parted ways, but between Chase’s blow habit and me drinking like a fish to forget, I was put on blast by my bandmates and finally got my shit together. By that time, Holly was gone, her phone disconnected, and the ache in my chest had become a full-blown, whole-body agony. One that was still there, though dulled a bit by time. Three years of time.
Though when I woke up like this, it sometimes felt like only yesterday.
The bed moved, and I looked over at the chick sharing my space. Mary, Mirna, Margaret? No fucking clue what her first name was, and I couldn’t say that I cared all that much. It would come to me, eventually. I knew I met her at a bar where I was drinking with my agent last night.
After Dave, our stuffed-shirt agent, left after the meeting, she came over and claimed to be my biggest fan. I’d heard that one from groupies before. It was practically code for take me home so I can tell my friends I fucked a member of Savage Melody. She was cute, and KT and Jett were already gone, so I did. Only I didn’t take her home. I never do. I didn’t need people knowing where I lived, I didn’t need fans camping out outside my house, and I certainly didn’t need them trying to climb the fucking walls to get a God damn photo of me taking a piss in the bathroom or watching reruns of Friends while I was relaxing at home.
Now, I knew this bitch heard me when I told her to take an Uber and get the fuck out. Most women would’ve caught the hint, but this chick apparently had selective hearing. I didn’t like sharing my sleeping space with just anyone, and when I ordered her an Uber last night, I went to sleep thinking I’d wake up alone.
“What the fuck are you still doing here?”
“You didn’t really want me to leave. I could tell.”
My ass, she could tell.
“Usually when I tell someone to leave, I fucking mean it,” I told her. She had the audacity to crawl over and try to kiss me. I didn’t kiss my one-night stands, and I certainly didn’t go down on them. If I could, I’d wrap my dick in two condoms when I fucked, but even one Magnum XL was stretching the limitations of latex covering my cock.
“Don’t,” I warned her when she leaned down to plant one on me. “Told you. I don’t kiss when it’s a one-time thing.”
And it was always a one-time thing nowadays.
She frowned and got up off the bed in a huff. She was naked, and I saw she had our band logo emblazoned in ink on her left shoulder. The ink wasn’t bad, but most chicks didn’t get tattoos for bands. I thought this one was one step away from Stalkertown.
Thank God I never allowed anyone to come home with me. This bitch would’ve probably rolled up with a moving truck and all her fucking fan paraphernalia within a week if I had.
“Listen, Mary—” I started to say.
“My name’s Mina!” She sounded hurt. Fuck.
“Mina, sorry.” I lifted my hands in a half-assed apology. “Like I told you last night, I don’t like sharing my space. The sex was good.” Meh, it was alright. It was sex anyway. “But that’s all it was, and that’s all you’re getting. Don’t do relationships, and don’t give out seconds.”
I knew I sounded like an asshole, but it was better than being nice like I used to be. Had a few stalkers when I first started out who thought we were together or something.
And I’d rather be hated than stalked.
“Fine! I’m just getting my shit and I’ll be out of your hair.”
She didn’t look at me, but I heard a sniffle and got up before I witnessed tears. They usually didn’t bother me this much, but after my dream—nightmare—I wasn’t having any of it. I still felt like a piece of shit over making Holland cry three years ago. She had been my biggest supporter when things were rough, and our biggest fan when things started to work out.
And boy, did they work out.
All because of Holland. Tenacious Holland and her ideas and PR moves that seemed ludicrous at first and brilliant when they worked out. Savage Melody owed everything to her, and I couldn’t even thank her.
By the time I’d scrubbed my teeth, Mina was on her way out the door with her purse. It was a small crossbody thing, and she didn’t even turn around when I called out a “see ya”.
The door at this hotel—like all others—locked automatically when you walked out of it, thankfully. With her gone, I took the first deep inhale since I’d woken up and headed to the shower. I didn’t have clothing with me, but I hadn’t worn what I had on last night for very long. Only for the meeting with David and then to the hotel.
And sex with clothes on would have been a fucking pain in the ass.
My phone was ringing by the time I got out of the shower, and I crossed the room to get to it. It was KT, my lead guitarist.
“Wassup, Karl?” KT hated it when I called him that. If I really wanted to get on his nerves, I’d say his first and middle name together. Karl Thomas. His mom did that shit to him to this day, though everyone else called him KT.
‘Where the fuck are you? I’ve been calling for, like, a half hour.’
“Didn’t go straight home after the meeting,” I informed him. “Took some fan back to the Hyatt last night. What’s up?”
‘You do remember we have a meeting with the new label and PR firm this afternoon, right?’
‘It’s almost 11 AM, fucker. Check the time. You have a few minutes to check out before they charge you for a second night, and if you’re still true to form, you booked a suite.’
“What’s the point of having money if you can’t spend it on nice things?” I asked. I always booked a suite. That way there were rooms and shit just in case my conquest turned out to be nuts. I wouldn’t mind being locked in a bedroom with a phone to the front desk. I would have hated to be stuck in a bathroom in a regular hotel room with its small space, no cell, and no place to fucking sit except for the toilet or in the tub.
‘Just...just get here on time, J.’
“Am I ever late?”
‘Only every other time we have a meeting or another important event. You were 25 minutes late last night.’
I had a real problem with being on time. More so now than a few years ago when...
Yeah. Not going there again this morning. If people wanted me there—really wanted me there—they’d fucking wait.
After getting off the phone with KT, I got dressed quickly. Shaking the moisture from my hair, I ran my fingers through it. Good enough. It’s not like I kept a comb with me at all times. Or that my hair could be tamed even if I did.
Recently, we switched record labels and are now with TKO Productions. Our old label was an independent one that we had kept on with until they could no longer handle David’s demands. He suggested we try a bigger label, one with its own PR department, and we agreed. TKO was huge compared to the independent label, and we had to meet with them and their PR person today to deal with our last drummer’s malicious allegations against us.
Chase had been kicked out six months ago after an all-night blow binge where he nearly died. We gave him an ultimatum. Clean up or get out. He got out, claiming we would never find a drummer like him and we’d come calling, begging for him to come back. Fat fucking chance. A month later, he was in rehab and bringing down our band’s name. That was the same month we got Seth as our new drummer.
Seth…what can I say? The kid was talented. He’d never been in a big band before and had only auditioned because his older brother encouraged him. And practically hauled him to the studio by the scruff of his neck. He knew our shit, and knew it just as well as Chase had. It was an easy decision between KT, Jett, and I to bring him on. Haven’t regretted it yet, either.
I had left my car at the bar last night, and I took an Uber to get it from the paid parking lot a block or so from the bar. Once inside my own vehicle, I relaxed. I wasn’t a fan of hotels, even if they had killer suites like the Hyatt. I liked things that were familiar. Spend months on end at different hotels and on the road touring, and see how you like it. You’d kiss the fucking dusty-ass floor of your own home when you got back, too.
But I didn’t have time to go home. It was already 11:45, and I wanted to eat lunch before I met with the money-hungry corporate stooges that would most likely want a bigger bite of the apple when it came to Savage Melody. And, of course, our new PR rep at TKO. That would be a breeze after Gary. Anyone would have been better than Gary with his baby and Holland’s name slipping past his lips every third or fourth word. He continued to do it even after she left his firm, the name like a stab in my gut every time.
Fucker liked to see my pain, I was sure of it.
Parking in the lot at TKO after lunch, I was certain I saw Jett’s lime green—where the fuck did he find that shit?—sports car there. It stuck out like a bare ass at a monastery. Seth was a little more subtle, and—let’s face it—modest, and his two-year-old Jeep was parked right next to the eyesore Jett drove around L.A. in. I had no idea how KT got here, but my money was on Seth. He had a larger car and drove more responsibly than Jett. KT liked living, and driving with Jett was a constant flashing of your life before your eyes—particularly in that damn car.
Locking my vehicle up behind me, I was hit with nerves. I hated shit like this. Hated meeting new people that wanted me solely for the money the band could make for them. I didn’t really trust anyone with our name after Holland left. Certainly didn’t trust Gary, and I was always looking for a way of breaking the contract with his flabby ass. I finally just rode it out until TKO called and heard we were looking for greener pastures. The guys agreed that we should move our home base to L.A. after our popularity grew, and we dropped everything and moved out west.
Going through the metal detectors at the main entrance, I wanted to laugh. I had a few piercings—most of which people couldn’t see—and was wondering if they were going to use that damned wand on me and realize I had a cock ring. Both of my nipples were pierced, and I had no problems taking off my shirt, but I’d be damned if someone was going to fondle my junk or get me down to my bare skin to check.
They used the wand. It went off right over my dick, and I had to grin down at the little Asian security guard who turned bright pink when she looked up inquisitively and realized who I was. It was pretty well-known by now that I had a cock piercing. Enough women had seen it for word to spread.
“It’s fine.” David Levy, our agent, sighed as he came out of the elevators and walked over. “He’s with me. You don’t need to strip the boy down. He’s got a genital piercing.”
Sometimes Dave was so fucking PC it was precious.
“It’s a cock ring, Dave,” I corrected, grinning. “Call a spade a spade already, bro.”
Dave’s lips thinned, and he gestured for me to follow him, ignoring my usual filth. He did that a lot. I think it’s what kept him sane. I did a lot of shit to piss him off, mostly because I found his anger entertaining.
“The PR person’s not here yet,” Dave informed me as the doors of the elevator closed behind us. “Got stuck behind some damned tractor trailer accident coming in. She should be here shortly. And you’re late. Again.”
I was only thirty minutes late. Wasn’t my fault that Paolo’s Café was slammed and groupies started popping out of the woodwork. I wasn’t about to say no to my fans. I’d pissed off enough females already after kicking them out of bed.
“Got caught up,” I told him.
My brows lifted. “Dave, did you just make a sexual innuendo? That might be a first. L.A.’s getting to you already.”
“This meeting is important, J. Focus.”
“I’m focused, man. Like, hyper-focused. It’s all good.” I patted him on the shoulder and felt the tension there. The man needed to seriously fucking chill. He was going to stroke out if he kept this uptight and shit. I liked Dave as an agent, and I wasn’t about to start looking for a new one just because my current one had zero chill.
We stepped into a large boardroom with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out towards the ocean. The lease must’ve been sky high here to have views like that.
KT, Jett, and Seth were already seated at the table, another rep with them. He wore what I assumed to be an Armani suit in charcoal grey. Unlike Dave, he didn’t look like he’d had the handle of a broomstick shoved up his ass recently. He was totally southern California, totally chill.
Dave could do with a few lessons from him.
“Channing Grey,” the man said as he stood, sticking his hand out to shake. I hated anything too formal, but stuck my hand out anyway. “Your new PR rep will be here in a few. She’s on her way up—”
“Sorry, I’m late!”
Shit. That voice. I’d know it anywhere.