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“We have about two hours before the driver picks us up. That’s just enough time to talk to Nan, take a few pictures, and close up the house. You don’t have to worry about Layla, I found out her plane leaves at one, so she’ll be gone before us, Jackson? Jackson? Are you listening to me?”

Cheryl was walking towards me, her smartphone in hand, tapping away at the screen to some random checklist she probably created just for today.

I was listening to Cheryl, in fact when she mentioned Layla’s name I could feel the hairs sticking up on the back of my neck. Layla was upstairs right now, getting ready. She arrived here at the house about 4am, while it was still dark out, so that no one would notice. Right now, both boys were napping, at least I thought they were, which was good, that way there would be less chances of fussiness while Nan was here.

The house looked fairly empty, I mean all the furniture was there and everything, but there were no signs of it being lived in. It pretty much looked that way all the time, but Nan didn’t have to know that. Our excuse was that I was leaving today, my tour was starting. Layla was going to spend her time in New York, as always, no one expected her to take a newborn baby out on tour, and since her parents were from New York, everyone assumed that was the reason; her mother would be there to help her.

Nan Kelley was really the only one I allowed to interview us, GAC had exclusive rights to our baby’s first photo, and in a few months People’s Magazine Country Edition would be featuring a story on us. I was dreading that one even more…

I finally focused my gaze on Cheryl, who was standing in front of me, her phone still in hand, this little frown on her face.

“Is Layla ready yet? She looks appropriate right?” It was just some random thing that popped into my head, I could care less how Layla looked.

“Yes, she looks perfect, although she did complain about the boots, but she’s wearing them. Dusty and Brett are in the studio room, so if you need them, or want them to help with the interview, they’re ready as well.”

“Alright, let’s get this over with…Is Colt awake yet? I’d like to see him before Nan gets here.”

“Yes, he’s awake now…he’s playing in the studio with the guys. Finly is with Layla, would you like to see him too?”

I knew what Cheryl was trying to do, she stressed the last sentence enough for me to catch on, and I guess I should be grateful for her, the way she tried to soothe things over all the time. But sometimes I just didn’t feel like playing nice, I didn’t want to pretend, I longed for something real, I just didn’t know where to find it.


I’m barely hanging on

That line just kept playing over and over in my head, all day long, it was set on repeat on my ipod because I just couldn’t get enough of it, the melody, that voice, so full of longing, so full of love. It jumped out at me immediately when I heard it the first time. I understood why Clint took a liking to this music; it had captured me as well.

Today was my early shift at work, I was only there until lunchtime, so once the kids were happy and fed, I headed home. I spent a little time straightening up the living room, listening to that song over and over, memorizing all the words.

don’t just assume I know

I sang along to the music, it was really beautiful, the flow, the rhythm. And that guitar, it was like magic, nothing like I ever heard before, smooth as silk, yet hot as fire.

Who was this guy? This Jackson Stone? How did he come up with such wonderful stuff?

The curiosity got the better of me, and I put down my duster and headed to the desktop computer. It was easy, apparently Google loved him, pages and pages of different links and articles popped up, all about Jackson Stone.

I clicked the first one, mostly out of impatience.

Country Music’s hottest star and wife announced the birth of their second son who they named Finly Paul Stone. Finly joined the family just in time to see his daddy win CMA’s Male vocalist of the year. Wife and actress, Layla Orr skipped the awards show this year to care for her newborn son; her close friends said she watched the entire event at home with her boys, cheering her husband on.

You can catch a first glimpse of Finly on GAC this Friday, when Nan Kelley heads down to visit with the family.

While the timing might not be ideal, Jackson Stone starts his yearlong tour next week, heading out to the West Coast for the first leg of the tour. Fans have been waiting patiently since he ended his last tour over six months ago.

“Wow,” I stared at a few random pictures, focusing my gaze at the handsome smiling man looking at me from the screen, a bold grey guitar in his hands. I looked at the woman standing next to him; she had her perfectly manicured hand on his shoulder, a sparkling diamond ring on her finger, and a megawatt smile on her face, “lucky,” I breathed, before clicking on the next link…


I couldn’t take my anger out on Finly, he was just a baby, and he needed me, to be his father, I wouldn’t take that away from him. So when I walked into Layla’s room, I was determined that I would push all my hurt and frustration aside, and be a good dad to Finly.

Layla looked up at me startled, he eyes wide and round. She was sitting at her custom made vanity, I had it made by one of the finest wood craftsman here in Tennessee, it was one of a kind. I wondered if Layla even realized that.

“Jackson, hi.” She still smiled at me, and even though it was probably a sincere smile, there was a look in her eyes, it never left her, every time she looked at me, I would see it there, this distant, hollow look. We were strangers, and we both knew it.

“Hello,” I paused looking around her room; I hardly ever went in there, “Is Finly awake?”

“Yes, he is, he’s in his bassinet, which is beautiful by the way, thank you.” her voice wavered just a little bit, “I mean, I assumed you purchased it for him, maybe Cheryl did, I’m not sure.”

“I had it made.” I made my way over the bassinet, looking in. Finly was all swaddled up, gurgling happily. He reminded me of Colt, of how Colt looked when he was just born. It tugged at my heart.

“Oh, well, thank you Jackson. It’s perfect.” Layla turned back towards the large mirror in front of her, picking up a gold chain with a small cross attached to it; I’d given her that necklace right after our first anniversary, it stayed here in this room, hanging delicately on the jewelry tree on her vanity. Layla only wore it when we were scheduled to attend events or interviews.

“Does Finly have everything he needs?” I scooped him up from his bassinet, cradling him gently, walking over and standing behind Layla. I stared directly into her eyes, the tone in my voice letting her know that I was dead serious, “In New York? In your apartment, does he have everything to be comfortable? Do you need anything, new nursery furniture, a rocking chair? More money?”

It wasn’t long before I began earning more money than Layla, and she didn’t seem to mind the large monthly allowance deposited into her bank account each month. I wanted to make sure my son had everything he could possibly need.

“What? No, we’re fine, he has everything, we’re fine.” She was always this careful in private, when it was just us two. She guarded everything that came out of her mouth, avoided any type of confrontation; because she would lose, we both knew that, she would lose.

I looked down into Finly’s tiny face; his eyes looked back up at me, sparkling blue eyes. He looked like his mother, and despite it all, I could feel myself wanting to love him, wanting to protect him.

The words just came out of my mouth, I didn’t mean to say it out loud, “He’s beautiful.”

She almost frowned at me, Layla I mean, her look was pure confusion, but she quickly covered it up with a small smile… “Thank you Jackson.”


Clint wasn’t in a foul mood when he got home. He tossed his work jacket over the side of the dining table chair instead of hanging it up like he did every day. He was smiling too, almost giggling.

“Well you look happy today.” I couldn’t help but smile back at him, his mood was contagious. “Work went well today?” I moved away from the computer to give him a kiss on the cheek, but instead he pulled me close to him, swinging me around so that we were face to face.

“I have good news for you.” He grinned at me, giving me a quick peck on my lips. His eyes eager to spill some grand secret.

“What? What?” I was laughing with him now, more curious than anything to know what delicious news he was keeping from me.

“There’s a friend of Uncle Garth’s, he owns a shop, hauling lumber. Anyways, his business is booming, he asked Uncle Garth if he knew anyone who would be willing to help him out, he needs long haul drivers. Uncle Garth mentioned me. So, long story short, he offered me a job. A real good paying job, probably more than three times what I am making now.” Clint beamed at me, pausing mid sentence, waiting for me to respond.

“Really? Really? Where?” He was going too fast for me…

Clint just laughed, “His shop is a little over two hours away from here, but I’ll be driving, well, everywhere!”

“Uh…” I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, “Everywhere?”

“Don’t worry babe, it’s a set schedule. Three weeks on the road, two weeks home. You can even come with me if you want.”

“I have to work.” Now it really set in, what Clint was saying. Three weeks on the road, that was such a long time. But he looked so happy, grinning from ear to ear; I didn’t have the heart to complain. “I mean, you know I would love to go with you, but I have to work, and school. My term is almost over though, but I just put in my timesheet to work more hours.” I think I was rambling, but Clint didn’t seem to mind.

“We’ll work it out babe, you’ll see. Besides,” his eyes suddenly started twinkling, like he had this wonderful hidden surprise inside him. “That’s not the best part.”

“It’s not?” I tilted my head to side, by now I was wary of any other great news; my heart was already pounding anxiously about what the future was going to hold, and not in a good way.

“He gave Uncle Garth some tickets, to a concert. He won them from a radio station promotion that his company sponsored, he doesn’t care to go, and Uncle Garth said concerts are not his kind of thing, so he gave them to me. Get this Arabella, two second row seats to see Jackson Stone play in Terra, in three weeks!”

Now I was stunned, stunned and speechless, and incredibly, insanely excited…


Layla kept a firm grip on Finly throughout the entire interview. I guess she was nervous, or worried. But she was an actress and very good at what she did, no one was the wiser of her disposition.

Nan was wonderful and gracious as always, asking sweet lighthearted questions about our boys. Making conversation with Layla about staying up all night with Finly, and how Colt was adjusting. They both cooed over the baby while I bounced Colt on my knee, making him laugh and clap.

“So how do you feel about leaving to go on tour? Leaving your sons behind?”

I already knew she was going to ask this question, I could see Cheryl peeking out from behind the freestanding fireplace, her eyes boring holes into me. But I was used to this now, I didn’t fumble with my words anymore, or swallow nervously, I could look people right in the eyes and make them believe every word I said.

“It’s going to be more than difficult, I can tell you that. Luckily this tour has just enough breaks in between sets so that I can be with my sons as much as possible. We’re also fortunate that Layla’s family can be with her in New York while she’s filming so the boys will be surrounded by people who love them.”

Nan just smiled at me and gave out this small sigh, placing her hand on her chest as she turned to Layla. “He’s such a hands on daddy isn’t he?”

Layla clutched Finly closer to her, giving Nan a one of her trademark actress smiles, “Oh of course, I couldn’t ask for anyone better. Jackson Stone is a fabulous father, my boys are lucky to have him in their lives.”

“And of course he’s a great husband too right?” I think Nan was trying to be funny, but it made Layla bristle a little bit.

“He’s better than great.” Layla’s words were short, “He’s perfect…”

Nan didn’t even blink, Layla had skillfully left the sarcasm out of her voice, but I didn’t need to hear it to understand.

“So where does your tour take you first? Any place in particular you are looking forward to playing at?”

I could see Cheryl’s fingers gripping the mantle of the fireplace tightly, she clearly knew what Layla had just said, I knew I had to wrap this thing up soon or somebody was going to say something they would regret later.

“Well, were heading to the West Coast first. I think we play in California first, Fresno, San Diego, and then head up to Washington. I always like playing there, a lot of small towns, good people, it almost feels like home.”

That seemed to satisfy Nan for the time being, and she had the camera man take a few family pictures before she left. She wished both Layla and I good luck, gave both boys a quick squeeze, and then left, much to Cheryl’s relief.

Layla didn’t talk to me anymore after that, within thirty minutes of Nan’s departure, Layla had packed up the boys things and left with her driver.

I stood in the middle of the great room for a few minutes after they were gone. The silence in the house was deafening once again. Even though I didn’t want to go on tour this time around, I knew it would do me good. Get my mind off of things, keep me busy, help me forget. But for the longest time I couldn’t shake the feeling, the one I got when I held Colt on my lap, Layla sitting next to me cradling Finly, all of us smiling at the camera. That longing feeling of being complete, of having a family, having people who loved you just because you were you and nothing else.

I wondered briefly if I would ever have that…

I was quiet on the tour bus for most of the trip. Dustin and Brett knew well enough to leave me alone. Our bus was big enough, and the entire back end was remodeled just for me, and even though I knew it probably would never happen, I had a small area created especially for my son, just in case, one day, he might be with me.

I spent the better part strumming my guitar, trying out a few melodies that crowded my mind. It didn’t help my mood that they were all slow and melancholy, or that the only words that seemed to fit the songs were words like lost, hurt, regret

As we got closer to California I began to gaze out at the beautiful scenery that whizzed by, it was always a mixture of gorgeous landscape, a million and one vehicles, and such a wide variety of people. Everyone was always busy here, had something to do, someplace to go to.

A couple of short raps on my door interrupted my daydreaming and I turned away from the window and back down to my guitar, “Come in.”

It was Brett, which surprised me. He loved California, California had every imaginable car at his disposal here and he usually spent most of his time calling up different dealerships in search of something new to drive.

“Got a minute Jack?” Brett looked troubled, there were lines around his eyes that I hadn’t noticed before, and he wasn’t his usual happy go lucky self.

“Sure, come on in Brett, sit down. What’s up?” I shifted my guitar out of the way, focusing my attention on him.

He hesitated at first, sitting down on the sofa and wringing his hands together tightly before even looking at me.

“I have to tell you something, you probably won’t like it, or maybe you already know, but I talked to Dusty, and we agreed that we should be the ones to tell you.” his voice tapered off quietly.

“What’s wrong? Tell me what?” I leaned forward in my chair. He had my attention one hundred percent now.

Brett finally looked up at me and sort of took a half breath, “I know you’ve been pretty unhappy, uh, about a lot of things lately, and it really shows. I don’t think we’ve seen you smile, I mean really smile in a long time now, but what we found out, you need to know, just in case, you’re hoping…” He didn’t keep going, but I had just an inkling of what he might be trying to tell me.

“Layla?” I cocked my head to the side, if this is what he wanted me know, I wanted to at least give him a clue that I wasn’t as in the dark as he thought.

“You know?” His eyes searched mine briefly before he looked away quickly, “What do you know Jack?”

“About Layla?” I raised my eyebrows, “Well I know a lot of things, I know she doesn’t live in New York alone, I’ve seen his clothes there, I know she has a separate bank account with him that she thinks I don’t know about, I know Finly isn’t mine, because I sure in the hell haven’t slept with her in over a year…” I just shrugged.

Brett’s eyes were huge, he just kept staring at me in disbelief that I could say all this so calmly, without a hint of emotion.

"Jackson, we thought you didn’t know that shit, I’m sorry.”

I shrugged again, “It’s not so much of a shock anymore, I’ve known for a while, I mean it’s pretty obvious when I go visit Colt. His shit is everywhere, but mostly in her bedroom, she hasn’t told me, of course, but I assume she knows I know…”

Brett gave out this little cough, “So no talk of divorce?”

“She hasn’t asked for one, and I’m not going to do it. Cheryl and Rick would kill me, divorce is taboo Brett. I’m stuck with her, and as long as she keeps up the charade, we’re fine. Her reputation is at stake too, she knows that.”

“Fuck.” Brett looked mad now, he was swearing, and that was rare.

“Look, it’s not a problem. She’s fine with it, I’m fine with it. I’ll be raising Finly; I made that clear to her. The media doesn’t have a clue about any of this, they think everything is perfect and that’s the way it’s going to stay. Nothing, or no one is going to change that…”


I stared into my closet for the longest time, mostly wishing that some random piece of clothing would jump out at me and scream Wear Me! I’m Country! Well that didn’t happen. I had no idea what people wore to country music concerts, and unfortunately I didn’t have the funds to just go out and buy a whole new outfit. I turned away from the closet in frustration, and headed for the phone, maybe Jolene had a few tips on something I could wear.

Jolene seemed to be more excited than me.

“Oh my god! You’re going to see Jackson Stone! That is so amazing, he is so amazing! And hot! Have you seen his picture? Totally hot!”

I just laughed at her, offering her a can of Coke and ushering her to sit down at the table with me.

“I haven’t really checked him out,” I lied, “I mostly like his songs, there are a few that are really great, I love hearing them.”

“Damn girl, you need to see his picture, he’s amazing. Tight jeans, gorgeous green eyes, and that sexy grey hat that he always wears, totally drool worthy.” Jolene already had this dreamy look on her face as she talked about Jackson Stone; I didn’t want to admit that I had already figured that out for myself.

“Okay, so he’s apparently gorgeous, so what do I wear? It’s an outdoor concert, I have nothing.” I threw up my hands in defeat.

“Oh girl, we have got to get you looking good, something cute and flirty, maybe he’ll smile at you, or shake your hand!” Jolene’s excitement was contagious and I just laughed at her again, “I bet there are going to be a million girls there who are prettier than me who’ll catch his eye, and won’t be there with their husbands.”

“Husbands…shusbands…who cares, husbands don’t count at Jackson Stone concerts.” But this time Jolene was laughing with me, and right there in mid-laugh, her eyes lit up, “Hey, don’t you have that cute white dress? The one with the crochet hem? Do you still have that?”

I thought for a second, “You mean the one I wore to Clint’s cousin’s spring party? Yeah I have it, somewhere, but that dress was short, you remember how short it was.”

“Hell yeah I remember, that’s the point.” Jolene winked at me, “Come on, let’s go find it.”

Fifteen minutes later I was tugging at the hem of this pretty white dress. I bought that dress on a whim, it was a splurge for me, took up all my play money for that month. Jolene was looking at me the way a mother would look at her newborn.

“It’s perfect, just perfect.” She clapped, half bouncing up and down, “Now all we need are a few accessories and some rocking boots to go with it. You have to wear your hair down, okay Arabella? Don’t wear it in that freaking ponytail you always have, wear it down and curl the ends.”

I just nodded at her, I hated wearing my hair down, it always got in my face and drooped over my eyes, I was continuously pushing my hair behind my ears whenever I wore it down.

“I think you’re in luck too, when my cousin Emily came over she gave me these western boots because they didn’t fit her, you wear a size seven right? I bet they will fit you perfect.” Jolene was getting way too excited over my clothing and a simple concert, but I have to admit that tiny bubble of anticipation kept growing and growing as the days went by.

The boots fit just like Jolene said, and they were beyond comfortable, I wondered why I never tried on a pair before. I practiced curling my hair a few times until I was satisfied with the results, poking and prodding a few stray hairs into place. I stared at myself in the mirror for the longest time.

Why was I getting so overworked about going to a concert? I pushed some of my hair behind my ear by habit. I argued with myself, this imaginary soothing voice saying over in my head that it was because Clint and I hadn’t been able to do anything fun in a long time, or because this would be one of the few things we would get to do together before he had to leave for his new job.

“Yeah, keep telling yourself that.” I scowled at my reflection, turning away and heading for the living room. Enough of all this primping, it’s not like Jackson Stone was going to notice me or anything…


We had rehearsed most of the morning, and that went smoothly, but right now, with those bright white lights shining down on me, and all the screaming fans with their hands in the air, it felt amazing. I was on a high.

Every time I grinned down at the audience they went crazy, stretching their arms out to me, trying to get me to touch their hands. I never did, I had a bit of a phobia about touching too many strange people, or having them touch me. A lot of artists loved that part. One of my good pals, Keith Urban, would completely submerge himself right smack in the middle of his fans during his concerts. It would create complete chaos all around him and even with all his body guards around, the fans would still manage to grab and pull on him. Some of them would even get their hands in his hair. He loved it, all of it, he told me once that it made him feel real, alive, and that it made his concerts even all the more fun.

He was all about fun, that guy, and I admired him for it, was even a little bit jealous.

So this time around, while I didn’t work up the nerve to get down into the ground level, I decided to treat my fans to something else that they would enjoy, something no other artist ever attempted, let them have some fun before I even stepped foot on stage.

I approached Cheryl and Rick with my idea even before we announced the tour. They loved it and ran with it, and because they were the best in the business, the headlines soon blazed with all kinds of exclusive peeks to Jackson Stone’s upcoming tour.

It was like a carnival, or a fair, or a mixture of the two. We carefully selected only the perfect outdoor venues who held the space for this type of party. I was proud to have Ford sponsor my concerts and they funded everything. The booths and the rides, and even the staff needed to get this thing off the ground.

There was everything you could possible imagine there, food and snacks galore from cotton candy, candy apples, to tacos and burritos. There were games for all ages that were completely free to play; they gave away small fun items such as bumper stickers and magnets with my likeness. And of course, there were the rides. One was my favorite, it was a simulated race car ride, and just to make it fun, the fans could race one another all afternoon before the concert started and the person with best score would win the opportunity to meet the band backstage after the concert.

It was instantly a bit hit, the reviews were off the charts, and after seeing all the amazed, happy faces when our first concert was over I knew that it would only get bigger as we kept touring.

It was the only bright spot on an otherwise not so thrilling life. I figured one day I would get the courage to do something like Keith did, but for now, what my fans didn’t know, and no one yet realized was, that I actually did spend time out there with them, the fans. They just didn’t recognize me, or my baseball cap, my tennis shoes, my shades.

You see, if I wasn’t wearing my trademark items, I looked just like the next guy, nothing special about him. So I walked around the venues, stood next to strangers, smiled at little kids who would stare at me suspiciously. Sometimes it was the highlight of my day, especially when one or two little kids would recognize my face, they’d get all excited and nearly go crazy trying to get their parent’s attention.

No one ever believed those little kids. The parents were too busy having a good time and would brush them off with a wave of their hand. Most of the time I would give those kids a smile and a wink, just to let them know they weren’t crazy, that they saw things grown adults couldn’t see, that they were wiser than almost everyone around them.

But right now, up on that stage, with the lights all around me, I felt like a million bucks, Brett and Dustin playing hard next to me, our faces flashing on the big screens behind us. The music was loud and fast, I could see people singing along with me, they knew every word to my songs and no matter how many concerts I performed, every time I saw this, it would leave a lump in my throat.

Of course there were the girls, in the middle of the screamers there were always those girls. You could spot them easy, they were the ones wearing high heels, at an outdoor venue, they were the ones with bright red lipstick, even if it looked pretty on them I always wondered where those lips had been. And their clothes, always too tight, revealed too much, shameless and tasteless. Those girls tried to scream the loudest, fling themselves onto the stage, I could see it in their eyes, almost a desperation, that if they could just get one chance, just one, they could try to change my world, and theirs too.

Every now and then the thought would cross my mind, I could have any one of these girls, any one of them, do whatever I wanted with them, and discard them later, on a whim if it interested me. But the manners my parents had installed in me hung over my every move. Women were meant to be treated respectfully, and I was raised a proper Southern gentleman, it was in every breath I took, it was why there was no divorce, why I was going to raise another man’s child, and probably why I let a woman who didn’t love me, keep me…

Both Dustin and Brett were still on a high back at the bus. We were parked around the back of the venue, some of our semi-trucks that hauled our equipment parked specifically to block the public’s view of the bus. A few of them already taken off, headed to our next venue. The ones that stayed behind, mostly for the big screens and computer systems, they were rarely successful in hiding us, the true fans always knew where to find us, and there was at least a group of about fifty people milling around the steel fence that separated us, from them.

“Who needs a drink?” Cheryl was cheerfully pouring Corona’s for the guys, it was their favorite unwinding beer, they requested it after every show we did.

“Me!” Brett’s voice boomed across the bus.

“I’ll take one, babe,” Dustin held up his hand at his wife, blowing her an imaginary kiss.

Cheryl knew better than to offer me one. I didn’t drink. I tried it once, when I turned twenty one, Dustin and Brett dragged me off to this out of the way bar to celebrate. They weren’t really that surprised that I hated the stuff, hated any kind of alcohol. I could sing about the stuff, ironically, but drink it, no thanks. Cheryl told me once, that little piece of randomness about me would drive the ladies wild, but I didn’t believe her. At all my concerts I could see the girls with their beer bottles and plastic cups in their hands as they yelled my name, I had yet to come across anyone who admired a country star that didn’t drink.

“Jackson? What do you want? Coke? Juice? Water?” Cheryl was peering into the bus refrigerator; she had a seltzer water in her hands as she yelled at me.

“Give me one of those Cheryl.” I gestured at the bottle in her hands. I was always thirsty after concerts, and sometimes it took hours before any of us could wind down, shake the thirst.

“Hell! Do you see all those people out there, guys?” Dustin was peering out the bus window. The fans couldn’t see us looking at them through the tinted windows but we could see them clearly. We all crowded around him to see out, he was right; there were throngs of people, some calling out our names. Brett chuckled, the scene before him amused him, and he took another swig from his beer.

“We should go out there and make their night.”

Which of course got Dustin all riled up. “Now that would be totally cool.”

“I think I’ll pass,” I took a swallow from my drink, turning away from the window, “I’m wiped, but ya’ll can go on out there, make some people happy.”

I don’t know what time they all came back inside, but I did hear later from Cheryl that the mob of people almost tripled in size within minutes. I was glad I stayed in.

It had to be after two am when Cheryl rapped softly on my door. I could feel the engine grinding on the bus so I knew we were probably just about to pull out.

“You doing ok?” Her voice was soft, she was tired, by now we all were.

“Fine Cheryl, thanks, go get some sleep. Dustin back yet?” I was pretending to write, my leather book was open in front of me on my lap, but honestly, it had been weeks since I’d written more than two sentences.

“Yeah, both of them are back, they’re already snoring. You should be too. We only have one day rest between this set. Did you say goodbye to California yet? Washington’s next up. We should be there tomorrow.”

“My goodbyes are said.” I joked, “Washington tomorrow huh? That should be a fun place.”

“I think it’s going to be way better than the last time we were here. Our attendance numbers have been doubling almost automatically. Ninety percent sure Washington is going to sell out for you.” Cheryl was always full of numbers and facts, she made it look so easy all the time.

“Sounds cool. Where are we playing first?” I pushed the book away from me. I was done with it for tonight. I could start all the pretending again tomorrow.

“Little place called Terra. We’ll get there mid morning and the trucks should be there before the afternoon. The set up should be done by nightfall. The stage belongs to the venue so you can practice with their equipment until ours gets here. Our system truck isn’t that far behind us, and the sound truck left hours ago so it should be there before we even get there.”

“Okay cool. Thanks Cheryl. Terra…tomorrow…got it. Now I’m going to bed. Sounds like tomorrow’s going to be quite the busy day…”


“Come on, let’s go babe. We’re not going to find parking.”

Clint was rushing me, trying to tear me away from my mirror. I knew I looked good but I felt overdone and silly.

“Wow babe, you look hot.” Clint flashed me that dimpled grin and raised his eyebrows. It actually made me blush.

“You think?” I twirled around for him, thankful that the boots I wore wouldn’t kill my feet tonight, they were so comfy.

“Hell yeah, I always liked that dress. Where’d you get those shoes?”

“They’re Jolene’s, but shhh don’t tell her, I’m thinking of keeping them.” I giggled, Clint just shook his head at me, gave out a little snort.

“Just buy yourself your own pair babe, I kinda like them on you.” He gave me a quick kiss on the cheek before pulling on my arm, “Now let’s get out of here and go see Jackson Stone play. I heard there’s a big carnival like thing going on right now on the grounds. The radio was saying this concert got sold out.”

“Really? He’s that famous huh?” I let Clint lead me out to our car. Of course Jackson Stone was that famous, if Jolene knew all about him already, that meant he was famous.

“Yeah. Let’s go. My buddy told me there’s a cool race car ride there and I want to try it out.”

“Okay okay,” I sighed, however I looked right now, it was going to have to be good enough. “Let’s go.”

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