BEHIND THE LIGHTS

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Epilogue

July 6th, 2017
NYC, New York
End of the line- DevilDriver

Time sure flew. It had been almost three months since Alex had that bloody encounter with Jerk-rik—Astrid’s ex. It hurt like a bitch and it was frustrating in the beginning; it took him longer than expected to be able to play the bass again, but it was just a matter of time, and he got the woman. And what a woman.

Those hips sheathed in that leather pencil dress, those insanely long legs that had been wrapped around his waist just a few minutes before, and that mouth that did wonders on his—Okay, enough. Readjusting himself, he kept walking behind her as she talked to Ian.

Running a hand over the top of his head, the hair had grown quite a bit during the last months, Alex glanced at Søren. He seemed like his normal self again, but he knew he was a train wreck inside, a ticking bomb.

When Leah left him with no explanation, he turned into a fucking mess for weeks.

On the day of his birthday, Alex had called his friend several times with no answer. He understood they wanted to be left alone since she was leaving the next day, but she would have to deal with them at least that day. So he had decided to go check on them to make sure she hadn’t killed him and buried his body in the backyard—Søren was like his brother and he loved him, but he could also be annoying as fuck too. But what he found was much worse.

He had seen him happy, sad, frustrated, stressed, and furious, you name it, but not a single time since they had met had Alex seen Søren cry—not even that one time he broke his arm. But that day... He was simply devastated. He had punched the mirror in his bathroom and destroyed it, probably hadn’t showered or shaved in days, he wasn’t even sure if he had eaten enough, and that empty look in his eyes... God, it was just too much.

Even when the shit splashed all over their faces Søren would always remain stoic and cold, acting like the strong and protecting big brother. He never gave away much about how he was feeling inside but at that moment it was like watching the whole world crumbling down in front of him.

Astrid and Alex moved in with him for a few days to make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. He hadn’t voiced it, but his cranky mood and his anxious moves made it obvious for the bass player that he’d had the temptation of knocking himself out with drugs when something too overwhelming haunted him. And losing the woman that had made him smile like he hadn’t done in years and his father—even if he was an ass—in a lapse of two weeks could definitely be a trigger for that shit.

“Is there something stuck to my face?” Søren arched an eyebrow, giving him that shitty look that characterized him.

“Your fucking face.”

“Says Mister Universe.”

Alex snorted. “You okay, though?”

The bastard was pretending everything was okay, but he hadn’t really healed. Astrid had tried to make him talk about it—that was her job—but other than Leah had left mumbling something about her ex, she hadn’t gotten much. He had kept all the pain inside, chewed it, and then swallowed it, acting like an angry orc until one day he put on that fake mask again.

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I?”

Because you’re gonna see the woman that broke your heart and stepped on it a few months ago, you twat?

“Just wondering.” He shrugged.

“I’m alright, so stop staring at me like a creep.”

“Dick.” Alex rolled his eyes.

“Do you want anything to drink?” Astrid asked.

“I’m gonna go out to smoke,” Søren said, gesturing with his head towards the terrace. They were in one of those skyscrapers that adorned Manhattan skyline, up in the exclusive penthouse with some incredible views of the city—the organization for the festival always overdid it for the opening and closing parties. Søren had always liked staring into nothingness in those places, but Alex knew he was just avoiding the inevitable.

“Okay...” Astrid nodded, glancing at him with that sad gaze she had been looking at him with over the last few weeks.

As Søren walked away, Alex approached his girlfriend—still sounded weird to call her that—and put his arm over her shoulders. “You should stop looking at him like that.”

“Like what?” She glared at him.

“Like a worried mom.”

“But I’m worried.”

“But you know he’ll take that as pity.”

“It’s not pity! But he must be feeling weird knowing she’s around here...”

“Guys, just drop this,” Ian said, walking towards the bar. “It’s obvious he doesn’t want to talk about it or admit shit, so just let him be. He’ll come around when he’s ready to face it.”

“Fine,” Alex huffed, glancing one last time at his friend.

“Jørn!” Astrid called when she saw the Viking lost among the crowd after talking to some old friends.

“Isn’t that the chick you used to bang?” Ian grinned, waving his hand at the drummer of the other band.

“So?” Jørn gestured to the waiter.

“Do I have to call Hilde?”

“Dude, that was ages ago.” He rolled his eyes.

“What can I get for you?”

“A beer, please.”

“Coming right up.”

“But I remember you used to have a lot of fun together... How long has it been since the last time?” Ian wiggled his brows.

“A year and a half? What—”

“And that’s ages?” Astrid scoffed. “You’re a bunch of fucking idiots.”

“Whatever. We were single and now we’re not.”

“Ugh.” Astrid protested.

“What now?” Alex asked. He liked that woman, but fucking shit, she was grouchy.

“Taylor.” She turned her face to the terrace. The blond bass player had approached Søren, hand in his arm, smiling at him when he turned around. “I don’t trust her one bit.”

“When have you trusted any woman that wanted to bang him?” Alex snorted.

“It’s different. She’s the bitch of bitches.”

“She’s quite nice.” Ian shrugged.

“I don’t care. She knew he was dating Nadia and still seduced him.”

“You’re saying it as if he was innocent,” Alex drank from his insipid O’Doul’s, nose crinkling. No way I can get used to this shit.

“Of course he’s not! He should have kept it in his pants, but she was the one looking for it, not giving a flying fuck if he was with someone or not.” Astrid narrowed her eyes looking in their direction. “And look at her, acting all flirty again... Ugh. Could she be any more obvious?” She rolled her eyes.

“Forget about them and enjoy the party,” Ian exclaimed, raising his glass.

“You can enjoy it because you can drink alcohol, you punk,” Alex protested.

“Sorry, not sorry.” The Irish cracked up. He was so in his element. The fucker.

“Go to hell.” Alex had to laugh, shaking his head.

As much as he liked drinking and all that shit, it had been a while since his mind was so clear and he kind of liked it. He’d rather be having a good Whisky than that donkey pee, yeah, but eh, at least he wouldn’t end up dying of an overdose now—that was how he always thought he would leave the world, and there he was, still annoying the shit out of everyone.

Lost in thought, he looked around. The place was nice with that dim-lit atmosphere, black and purple light showering everything, classic rock playing in the background... Everyone was having fun, all dressed up like fancy-ass people, women wearing heels and men wearing suits—anyone could still say they were metalheads, but at least they looked like nice and respectable human beings. He could already feel the excitement creeping up in his mind as the next day would be the first of a crazy tiring yet incredible tour.

Unbuttoning his sleeves and rolling them up because it was hot as fuck and Alex couldn’t stand it anymore, he went back to his friends’ conversation.

“Look who’s here!” Ian sang, grinning.

“Oh my God!” Astrid gushed. “It’s been ages since I last saw them!”

“Same.” Ian nodded.

“What’s up Dave?” Jørn asked as the drummer of Custom Killing—a thrash metal American band—approached them. They had been colleagues for years, and even though they had kept talking from time to time, after a car accident three years before where they lost their guitar player, they had stopped performing. Until now.

“Good.” He gave him a side hug, patting his back. “Y’all seem to be doin’ great.”

“Can’t complain,” Ian said. “Good to see you again, guys.”

“Yeah.” Neil, the singer, nodded. “It’s been tough, but we’re back and ready to kill!”

“Good to hear that!” Alex shook his hand.

“Where are the rest?” Astrid asked.

“For the horns of Satan! Woman, how’s it possible that you’re more beautiful every time we meet?” Dave blatantly ogled her and then hugged her.

“Eh!” Alex warned. “Watch what you say.”

“Don’t tell me...” He stared at him. “Good for you, guys!” He laughed.

“The others are probably gettin’ drunk or fuckin’ some bimbo in the bathroom,” Neil answered before sipping from his beer. “Fuckin’ dirty old men.”

“Look who’s talking!” Ian exclaimed.

“Eh! Ain’t blind but I don’t touch, ya jerk. I’m a married man and a proud father.”

“Oh my God! Right, how’s Maggie doing?”

“She’s mah little angel. Wait, I’ll show you,” Neil said as he reached for his phone in the back of his jeans. “Look at this... It’s from her seventh birthday two weeks ago.”

“She’s so pretty and so big!” Astrid gushed.

“She’s coming with my wife to watch us play in San Antonio.”

“Are you serious?” Alex asked.

“Of course, she pitched a hissy fit when her mom said no the first time.” Neil laughed.

“The girl has some temper!” Astrid shook her head, grinning.

As the night went on, with Søren back in the group, they kept talking and catching up with different bands. Some of them had made that tour together several times and they had become some sort of big family. Of course there were a few that didn’t like them, especially since they were outsiders and still headliners on one of the stages, but Alex couldn’t care less.

Søren seemed more relaxed than at the beginning of the event, which was good, that might give the bassist the chance to kidnap Astrid for a short while and drag her to the bathroom—or wherever private—for a quickie. That dress she was wearing and those dark red lips were doing strange things to his cock.

“Hey!” Chris waved his hand as he approached them.

Oh well... That will have to wait.

“Hey, guys!” Jørn greeted them, giving Marc a side hug.

“How are you?” Søren shook Chris’s hand, giving him a side hug.

“Good.”

“Alex!” Marc called, patting his back, distracting him.

“Good, what about you?”

“Same.” He grinned. Alex liked that guy. He was the complete opposite of him, positive, kind, and selfless. He had this light around him, the one only the good guys have, but he wasn’t the typical fluttering annoying prick that liked to tell others how to live their lives, he just went with the flow, laid-back, easy going.

“How’s your mom doing?”

“She’s doing alright.”

“What happened?” Astrid asked before sipping for her drink.

“She fell down the stairs.”

“Jesus!” Astrid grimaced, eyes glowing with concern. “Why didn’t you tell me?” She scolded Alex.

“You know how I am. I don’t talk.” He shrugged. The truth was Marc had told him a week before when he was in the studio and then forgot to tell her.

“Don’t worry, nothing really serious happened. I saw her last weekend and she’s all bruised on the side and knees, but she’s good, and my oldest brother is visiting her every day, so it’s fine.”

Yeah, they had been talking. Søren was okay with it, said that him and Leah breaking up didn’t mean everyone else should stop talking, that they were friends.

“Marc, my man!” Ian called.

“Hey!” Erik greeted Alex and Astrid.

“Hi!” Astrid said. “... Where is she?” she asked him in a low voice, glancing at Søren.

“Bathroom.”

“Not anymore,” Alex noted, making Astrid turn around as he looked ahead of him.

“Hey...” Leah practically breathed out when she reached them, avoiding eye contact, feeling uneasy as fuck. She looked good with her hair up in that Viking style ponytail and that black dress that highlighted her curves—okay, she looked impressive.

Søren’s gonna want to die.

“Hi.” Alex said, giving her a quick nod. He didn’t hate her, not at all, she had brought so much good into their lives on many different levels but—even though she might have her reasons—she had also broken his best friend so he couldn’t be super nice to her. That would be like betraying him, right?

“Hey,” Søren said as he turned to them and shook Erik’s hand, eyes falling on Leah right after that.

The tension was so palpable as their eyes locked that Alex felt like suffocating all of a sudden. It was as if a black hole had swallowed all light and traces of life around them.

This is gonna be the hell of a summer!

________

If you’ve reached the end of this book, thank you. And please, don’t kill me for this twisted end, remember there’s a sequel coming soon... BEYOND THE LIGHTS

Even though this is not my first story, it is the first one that I ever wanted to write. It had been on my head for over two years when I started writing a year ago (way to go, lol), but I never had the balls to do it. I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted it to tell a love story with lots of music in it but also wanted it to mean something. I wanted it to stir emotions and situations we tend to avoid in real life because they’re painful and ugly. Creating awareness and giving some sort of hopeful feeling was always my main intention.

I want to make special mention of a few people that have been rooting for this story since day one, helping me when my brain didn’t cooperate with me. Verónica (one of my besties), Sergio (my bf), and my amazing betas and friends @Laurenwolfe12 and @Hankiebeer (she's only on Wattpad). Thank you for putting up with my sorry ass, for encouraging me, and for virtually smacking me when my confidence faltered.

If you liked the story, please, don't forget to leave a review and vote. It really helps!

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