Read Backstage Pass: On Tour (The Backstage Pass Rock Star Romance) Online
Authors: Elizabeth Nelson
“Geez, ya’ workaholic.”
He took a breath. “I know I’m working at a crazed pace, but losing all that time in the hospital—and I feel the deadline of the tour looming over my head all the time.”
“It’s fine, babe. I was just teasing.”
He sighed. “I know. I just . . . I want this to work so bad, Sasha. I want to give you a life you’ve always dreamed of. I want to be able to keep buying us houses and cars and—”
” I waited for him to mellow out before I continued.
“Do those things matter to your parents? Do you think that’s why their marriage works? Did it work for my Rocker Dad and Mom?”
“’Kay, then stop freaking about money. That’s the last thing I’m worried about.”
“I just want you to be happy.”
Tears sprang to my eyes. “That’s all I want too. But houses and cars and all that stuff
have nothing to do with that. But,” I sat up in the tub and squeezed the phone tight. “I want you to be happy. And if working your ass off and chasing this dream is what makes your heart expand and your head spin, then I will do whatever is in my power to make it happen.”
“Ah, babe. You make my heart expand and my head spin.”
We talked until the water cooled and he had to go, but I could have stayed on the phone with him for hours. We hadn’t talked like that in a long time—I wasn’t sure if we’d ever been able to be that honest, that vulnerable.
Now, more than ever, I knew we were going to be okay.
I slicked my hair back into a ponytail and headed downstairs—counting it!—to veg with Mom and Dad. I found Mom on the couch, flipping through one of her baking magazines. “Hey.”
She looked up and
I caught the look on her face immediately before it shifted into a smile. She folded down the corner of the magazine and set it on the coffee table. “Feeling better?”
“Yeah. I—took a bath.” I almost told her that I’d talked to Jesse, but I really wasn’t in the mood for her piercing my bubble with more of her disapproval. I knew that at some point she and I would find a space to fit our new relationship in, but that didn’t mean I had to let her rain on my parade right now.
“You’re dad’s going out for poker night. I was in the mood for a frozen yogurt.” She looked up at me. “Would you like one?”
I didn’t but I didn’t think this was really about food.
She’d always used it as a lubricant for our conversations and I was just glad that I was finally old enough to recognize it, even if she wasn’t old enough to just ask if I wanted to go talk. “Sure. Let me throw shoes on.”
She stood. “I
have to say goodnight to your Dad, so I’ll grab them. Are they in your room?”
I tried to hide my surprise but that was about the most helpful thing she’d done since the accident. “Uh, yeah. The purple runners.”
Dad came down as we were heading out and gave me a good squeeze and pressed a kiss against my temple. “Keep an open mind,” he whispered against my ear while Mom was grabbing her keys and purse. “She’s only trying to keep you safe.”
ded and pulled away. “I know.”
ed me on the chin. “Not sure how I got lucky enough to deserve the two of you.”
d. “Back at ya.” For a quick second I wondered if he felt threatened about this new relationship with Rocker Dad. I hoped not. I gave him a quick squeeze just in case. “Love you, Pops.”
He held me tight.
“You and your mom are the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“We feel the same way.” I leaned back and looked at him. “I hope you know that.
Nothing that happens between me and Shawn affects anything about our relationship. Okay?”
He kissed my temple again. “I hope not, pumpkin.”
Mom came back and we headed out to the yogurt place down the street.
It was a pretty unseasonably warm night and I tipped my face up to the sky when I got out of the car. “I’m glad it’s not crazy cold.”
“Me too. This winter was rough.”
“Why don’t you guys move? It’s not like there’s really anything holding you here, is there?”
She shrugged and held the door open for me. “
No, but we’re comfortable. It’s hard to change once things get comfy.”
We loaded up our yogurt bowls with flavors and a myriad of toppings. I was such a sucker for the Fruity Pebbles and gummy bears, while she had vanilla yogurt topped with fruit. I craned my neck and looked at her bowl. “Boring.”
“Safe. There’s a difference.”
I watched her while she paid and we walked outside in silence. She’d just told me volumes about her that I’d never noticed—or cared to pick up on—before now. My mom had never been a thrill-seeker, and neither had I, but now I was realizing that even the times when she did manage to leave her comfort zone must have been serious challenges.
We sat at one of the small café tables. “You like safe, don’t you?”
She stirred her fruit into the yogurt, distributing it evenly. “Maybe.”
I jammed my
spoon into the middle of my pile yogurt and toppings and got some chocolate, a little bit of strawberry, and some sorbet, plus a single gummy bear. “Have you always been that way? I mean, you went to rock concerts.”
She shrugged and took a delicate bite of her yogurt, savoring it like we’d just gotten it off a five-star chef.
“Maybe I’m just old.”
I laughed. “Lord save me from old age.”
“Oh, you just wait, missy.”
ter chipped away at some of the ice wall between us. She called this meeting so I kind of wanted her to lead us off before I went charging off on some conversation that she wasn’t ready to have.
“I want you to enjoy your time here,
ed my spoon around in my yogurt. “Okay, well, that’s not exactly why I’m here, so I think maybe you’re worrying about the wrong stuff.”
There was an injured tone to her voice and I was still treading super lightly about where she was taking us. “I don’t want us to fight the whole time you’re here.”
“I don’t either.” But . . .
“Do I need to apologize then?”
I leaned back in my chair. “I don’t know.
I don’t want you to apologize for something you don’t mean. Isn’t that what you always told me? It doesn’t matter if you don’t mean it.”
She sighed and leaned forward, elbows on the table. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Too late for that.”
I don’t mean the car wreck.”
“Neither do I.”
Silence hung between us as we tried to grapple with what we wanted out of both this conversation and the future. If this was going to work, we were both going to have to give up stuff in order to find common ground, and way beyond agreeing to disagree. We both ate some yogurt and watched people come in and out of the store. She got up and tossed her bowl in the trash, then sat down in the seat beside me instead of across the table and took my hand. “Please don’t think I want you to live your life how I want. I just,” she blew out a breath and looked away, then back at me, “I just had hoped that maybe you could learn from what happened between me and your dad.”
“But you said you’d never regretted it.”
“And I don’t regret
honey, I don’t. But I do wish things had gone differently with your dad, with our marriage.” She shook her head. “Not that I’m not so happy that I found Jack, but I sometimes wished you’d have had a normal childhood.”
I shook my head. “There is no such
thing, Mom. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after being around Kerri and everyone at school, there is no normal. Well, except for maybe Jesse’s family. I think they’re the closest version I’ve seen.”
She made a face and I wasn’t going to try
to convince her about them. All it would take would be one afternoon with them and she’d see what I meant. Maybe Jesse and I could finagle a way to get them together. But we could talk about that later.
“I think you know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t think I do. You’re beating yourself up over something that doesn’t exist. I sure know there’s no way to have a normal family when one of them is on the road all the time. I mean, think about Shawn’s job. Yeah, great that he gets to stay in town, but would it have been any different if he’d have been out traveling for weeks on end.”
“I don’t think that’s the same—”
“No, it’s not, but it wouldn’t have been
, would it?”
“You’re missing my point, Sasha.”
“And you’re not even trying to listen to mine.” I stood and tossed my trash in the bin, then paced back and forth, too uneasy to sit.
“I’m trying to be supportive, Sasha.”
“No, I don’t think you are.” I sat down hard on my chair.
“Have you at least decided what
you’re doing about the baby?”
My head jerked up and my jaw opened and closed. I
couldn’t even get a handle on my shock long enough to answer her.
She must have realized
what had happened because she lurched forward in her chair and clutched both my hands in hers. “Oh my god, Sasha! I didn’t know. Oh, honey.” She pulled me forward into an awkward hug around the table.
I let her hold me and then sat up when she let go, wiping the tears from my eyes. “Guess that explains some of the hostility.”
Her hands flew to her mouth. “I’m so sorry.”
“I am too.” Tears stung my eyes and I shook my head.
“Oh, Sasha.” She stood. “Come on, let’s go somewhere more private so we can talk.” She looped her arm through mine and we wandered down the sidewalk toward one of the weekend open air markets. The vendors weren’t open for business yet, but as they set up their tents and wares, there was a good energy that took the sharp corners off the emotion that we’d started with today.
With her arm still stuck through mine, she tipped her head sideways until it touched the exact spot on mine. “I don’t think I ever told you, but I had two miscarriages after you were born.”
I inhaled sharply, my other hand coming up to protectively shelter my womb. “No, you didn’t.”
“Obviously those weren’t as forcefully taken as yours, but I hope you can understand that I at least know some of what you’re going through.”
Yes, I wanted to say, but was your mom supportive of the pregnancies in the first place
? But I didn’t, because she didn’t deserve that and I knew that she was really only trying to find her way back to being my support, even if she was doing a craptastic job at it. Dad had asked me to be open-minded and I had slammed it shut the moment we’d left the house. I took a breath and watched an artist set out beautiful pottery pieces. We paused together, lost in the simple movements of hands on clay.
“I know it doesn’t excuse my behavior, but I really didn’t know Sasha. They didn’t tell me when I came to visit or any of the times that I called.
“It’s okay, Mom.” And I meant it.
We were both quiet on the drive back to the house, but it was a gentler silence. Now there was no supercharged aggression hanging between us. The moon was rising as we pulled into the driveway and I still didn’t feel ready to go inside. “I think I’m going to go for a walk.”
“Is that a good idea?”
I shrugged. “Just more PT, pretty sure I can’t do too much.”
“You can, and if I know you, you’ll push it to the very limits.”
“True.” I shifted from foot to foot. “I promise not to overdo it tonight.”
She crossed in front of the c
ar and pulled me into her arms, pressing her lips against my temple. “I’m sorry, Sasha. I really am. For everything.”
I squeezed her. “I know.”
She let go and headed toward the house. “Don’t stay out too long.”
The tears started before I’d even hit the driveway. I pushed myself further and faster than was wise, but I needed the physical
exertion to override the emotional one. So much had happened since even finding out about the baby, and when Mom brought it up today, I was rolled over by the giant wave of emotion. I still felt the constant pull of the undertow and feared that it would suck me under any moment and I’d never be able to take another breath. Not only had I not gotten my fingers wrapped around being pregnant, but other than a few tears with Jesse in the hospital, I really hadn’t let myself mourn.
Hot tears poured down my cheeks and I
sped up until I was running through the pain that coursed through my body. I embraced it and let it fuel the pain searing both my heart and womb. I mourned the lost birthday parties, Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, and the moments on regular days that we’d never get to know. Every first that I’d never get to see, that Jesse would never get to record, the music that he’d never get to play our baby, the trips we’d never get to take, and the milestones I’d never get to log.
My breath came in jagged hiccups but I pushed on.
One side of my lungs refused to work and my throat was raw from breathing so hard. I didn’t care. This had to come out. I had to move past this. I had to.
After a few blocks, I slowed and bent over, hands on my knees so I could
catch my breath. Running all out had been all kinds of dumb, but I’d rather put my body’s recovery behind a few days if it meant hurrying along what was going on in my head and heart.
I collapsed on a random bus stop bench in the middle of a block somewhere far from home. The gagging hot sobs eased up and I wiped my nose on my sleeve, not caring if anyone saw.
This was between me and what had happened in my body. I couldn’t give a shit if anyone else was judging me right now. If they were, they hadn’t been in this spot, hadn’t felt their heart get expanded to twice its size at the thought of carrying a new life and then popped and shriveled and incinerated to nearly nothing.
And now, with a Mother’s heart, raw and tortured and raggedly stitched back together,
I felt the first tiny bit of scar tissue forming, healing, and the nerves no longer so painful with every single breath.
I slumped further on the bench and let each breath fill me with something new, with new air I’d never breathed before, air that hadn’t had a chanc
e to live inside my body. It was too ethereal to believe that it was any different than what I’d been breathing an hour—or even ten minutes—ago, but somehow it was different. Because I was different.
I could choose to be as fresh as that last breath, as free as my next, and—if I wanted—Jesse and I could start our relationship there too. There wasn’t some magical rule book for relationships. Not a single thing that said that because we’d endured hardships and heartache and loss and infidelity that we had to be burdened by those things.
I drew a breath deep into my lungs and exhaled.
If I wanted, I could exhale all of that—right here, right now. Our next moments together could be an inhale. A balance of what was right for us in that moment, not the past, not our uncertain future, but that span of moments that is right now.
I sat on the bench for a long time, just breathing and trying to keep from over-analyzing that bit of depth that I’d just trudged up from some foreign place. I didn’t normally do deep, but maybe losing something as precious as a baby opened my body to new places that I’d never bothered to see.
Either way, I was more than willing to try out the theory, even if it was some crazy delusion courtesy of my meds and overexertion. I wasn’t dumb enough to think that I could blow all my cares and problems away, but then again, why not? I chose to make them have too much importance a lot of the time, so reversing that by downplaying them should be an option too.
After a while, I stood and stretched, tipping my face up to the
crescent moon. Then I pulled a drink of air deep into my lungs and let it out, along with whatever negativity it wanted to take. I’d never tried yoga, never thought I could sit still long enough. But now I was wondering if there wasn’t something to all the breathing and bending and holding.
Somewhere along the way when I wasn’t looking, this entire thing with Jesse—the good and the bad—had made me grow up and think beyond myself.
And that couldn’t be a bad thing.
I walked sl
owly back to the house, feeling balanced. I wasn’t cured, and I didn’t want to say I was “lighter” even though I did feel like I’d rid myself of a lot of baggage—not that my baby had been baggage, but the sorrow and pain sure had been—and my shoulders didn’t feel so tight, and my body didn’t feel like I was a hundred years old anymore.
But it probably would in the morning.
To stave that off, I walked an extra time around the block, slow and steady, to work out all the lactic acid from the run. If I’d learned anything from PT it was that recovery was dependent on cool down and how I put my body away after a workout far more than the actual workout. Maybe that was true for everyone, but it was life or death for me. Back at Mom’s house, I stretched and stretched and stretched, enjoying the cool night breeze and the kiss of moonlight.
I sat on the top step and watched my old neighborhood, so content for the first time since the accident. I’d felt this way sitting in Jesse’s—our
My phone chirped and I checked my text messages. And smiled.
Without bothering to answer him back, I dialed.
I couldn’t keep the grin off my face. “Hi.”