Authors: Candy J. Starr
CRY FOR YOU
FALLEN STAR SERIES
Candy J. Starr
Copyright Candy J. Starr 2015
All rights reserved
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is purely coincidental
Hers was the face I searched for before we went into the encore. The only face that mattered. I scanned the crowd to the side of the stage, filled with the crew and other band members, but I couldn’t see her. With the number of people gathered there, it was no wonder. Devon gave me the signal and the song started. The festival was over and this was the song to take everyone home, the one that would be buzzing in their heads way into the night.
I’d been shitting bricks before I went on stage. Scared I’d lost it, that I’d never had it. That everything I’d achieved had just been a fluke. And terrified of something darker. That everything had to be paid for, and the price was far too high.
Without Ruby, I’d have still been huddled up under the covers at home. She’d pushed me to play the festival, almost forced me into it.
But that stage was made for me. She was right. It was the place where I came alive. Before, I’d played for myself, for the money and the hope of a brighter future. When that brighter future died, I thought I’d never play again. I’d done it all for Julie and, without her, I had no reason to go on. I’d blamed the music, I’d blamed Devon and I’d blamed myself. I’d wrapped myself up in a blanket of self-pity and hate so thick, I thought nothing could penetrate it.
Then she’d come along and the things that I thought had mattered, the things I needed protection from, disappeared and, in their place, was this crazy, redheaded woman who glowed with a mysterious light.
The encore song was a goodbye to Julie but it was also an acknowledgement of life. The need to say goodbye in order to let other things in.
I put my heart into it and the crowd loved it. Well, I think they did. They looked like a mass of mud monsters by the end of the rainy festival, primal shapes moving as one out of the sludge.
The cheers didn’t stop when I went off stage. They just kept screaming for more.
“Should we play one more?” Brownie asked but the festival promoter swept in with his talk of by-laws and regulations. It was impossible to go overtime. I’m not sure why. Would the cows in the paddocks have complained?
But where was Ruby? I expected her to be there, throwing her arms around me.
“Ruby?” I called, sweeping people aside. One fan made a grab for me but I side-stepped her. “Ruby?”
I hadn’t realised until that moment how much I’d been playing just for her. For her praise and her smile.
Hannah rushed me back to the band area, away from all the hangers-on. Back to the relative silence and peace.
“Where’s Ruby?” I asked, hoping she hadn’t been left behind in that crowd.
My heart lurched. I’d been no good. I’d thought I could win her over with the performance but she’d hated it. She hated rock music. A million insecurities ran through me.
“No, I mean, she’s gone home. She got overwhelmed by it all. She said she’d wait there for you. It’s okay, Tex.”
I tried to grin. Hell, I was disappointed, that’s for sure, but relieved too. And all I wanted to do was get home to her. I’d intended this to be the night. The night where I told her how I felt. Before this, I’d just been some chump living in a crappy studio, grateful as hell that she’d even bothered to stick around when I’d almost destroyed her. I’d had no basis for promising her a future.
“I’ve got to go,” I said. “We don’t have time for hanging around.” I grabbed the sports bag with my stuff in it. “Hurry…”
“The roads are going to be packed. Most of the festival goers will be camping here tonight but a heap will be going back to town. And then there are all the bands. Give her a call if you want to talk to her.”
I didn’t want to give her a call. I wanted to see her face. I wanted to hold her in my arms.
“Why the hell didn’t we get heli-lifted out? It’s going to take hours. What’s the point of having money and headlining a festival if I have to be stuck here?”
I paced around the backstage area, trying to think of way to solve this.
“I suggested it but you thought it sounded like a wank. Anyway, settle down, she’s not going anywhere. I have to hang around and get everyone organised before I leave, and that might take hours, but I’ll see if anyone is going straight back to the city so you can get a lift. There are a few shuttle buses running into the town but you’d have to –”
I didn’t wait for her to finish. I didn’t care about getting some fancy ride. The shuttle buses would be good enough for me. With my bag bouncing over my shoulder, I ran to the bus area. Hannah could organise the guitars and all the gear. I just needed to get home, if I had to run the entire way.
The shuttle buses went from the festival grounds to the small town nearby. There wasn’t much in that town but a lot of the bands and crew seemed to be heading there rather than hanging around the campsite or going all the way back to the city. I didn’t blame them for leaving the campsite. I sure as hell wouldn’t be camping out in the freezing cold.
As I reached the parking lot, one of the buses was pulling out. I chased it, bashing on the back window. The driver slammed on the brakes and opened the door.
When I got in, the whole busload of people cheered. What the hell? I mean, I’d run pretty fast to catch the bus but that was nothing to get excited about. Although, my legs were like jelly and my lungs burnt like motherfuckers. I hugged the bus rail to keep myself upright. I really needed to get in shape.
“Way to go, Tex!” someone yelled.
“You can still rock hard for an old guy.”
I didn’t know why people kept calling me old. I wasn’t that old. I was barely in my 30s.
Lots of hooting and calling. Okay, the bus was filled with musos. Going to stock up on booze by the looks of them and maybe pick up some small town chick who’d be super impressed with their rock credentials. A guy who looked vaguely familiar shuffled over so I could sit beside him.
“Thanks, mate.” I needed to sit down before I fell.
He had that look like he wanted to talk. That hidden agenda look. If I exchanged a few words with him, he’d get his band’s CD out and give it to me to listen to. I turned my back to him. I had one thought in my head and that was to get home to Ruby. I didn’t want to talk. Logically, talking wouldn’t slow me down any, but I couldn’t be logical. If I focussed all my thoughts on Ruby, surely I’d get home faster.
A leggy blonde walked up the aisle of the bus and sat on the armrest next to me. As she sat, the bus took a steep turn and she sprawled on the bus floor. More hooting followed.
I gave her my hand and helped her up.
“Best you stay in your seat,” I said. “It’s an OH&S thing.”
That saved me from talking to her. She had
look about her. With a whole other hidden agenda. I didn’t need leggy blondes, I needed the bus to go faster.
I got my phone out of my bag so I could message Ruby. Part of me wanted to surprise her but I had to let her know I was on my way. It was a moot point since the area had no phone reception. What century were we living in?
I put on my headphones so my seat neighbour couldn’t talk to me and stared out the window into the darkness, punctuated with the occasional farmhouse and the glimpse of stars above. The emptiness of the countryside scared me.
When we got to the town, I needed a plan. There were buses running back to the city, I thought, but I had no idea where they ran from or how often. When we’d gone to the festival grounds for sound check, I’d grabbed a taxi in the town to take me back to the city but I doubted I’d be that lucky again.
The tiny country town had been transformed into something nightmarish. Drunken drivers did burnouts on the dirt roads. The previously quiet pub heaved with noise and bodies. Couples rutted in dark side streets, and people sat, drinking tinnies, all along the gutters. Most of them weren’t even fun drunk, they were just this side of having a punch up drunk.
“Is there a bus back to the city?” I asked a guy sitting on his own.
“One left 10 minutes ago. There’ll be another in about 20 minutes, if you can get on it.” He flipped his thumb at a bunch of people lined up across the road. All drinking and most of them singing. One of our songs. I’d never get on that bus and, if I did, I’d be mobbed.
If the bus was out, I just had to think of another plan. Hitching? A dark highway stretched out of town and there wasn’t a sober driver in sight. If I got in a car with any of these clowns, I’d never get home.
The lights were still on at a local shop just down from the pub. They might be able to help. At least, they’d know the phone number for the local cab company.
Two girls came out of the shop as I entered. They nudged each other and giggled but they walked in a straight line and actually had focus in their eyes. They were the first sober people I’d seen. I asked the guy behind the counter about the cab service. The two girls had followed me back into the shop and stood at the drink fridge, casting glances in my direction.
“Alfie knocks off work at 6.00,” the shopkeeper told me.
There was only one taxi? I scratched my head, wondering what to do.
“Do you think he’d take a fare if I paid him a bonus?” I grabbed a heap of cash out of my pocket and flashed it.
“We will,” one of the girls said. She looked at her friend, who nodded. “Where do you want to go? We were planning a movie night because Justine’s just got her licence and can’t drink but if you want a lift somewhere, we’ll take you.”
I named a price and they gave me the thumbs up.
“We want a photo too,” Justine said. “Of the three of us to post on Facebook.”
I hated fans taking photos but if it was the only way to get out of this town, I’d do it. They ran over, standing each side of me with their arms around my neck while the shopkeeper snapped the picture.
As we left the shop, I had an idea and ran back in to grab some emergency supplies.
The girls had one of those tiny girlie cars.
“Don’t worry, it’ll get you there in one piece.”
They seemed like nice girls. They didn’t talk too much which would’ve pushed my frayed nerves over the edge. Justine wanted to studied Veterinary Science and her friend, Kat, worked on a farm. I took in that much.
“Why are you in such a rush to get out of here?” Justine asked. “Most of the bands want to stick around and party.”
I was about to tell her about Ruby then realised that’d be a big mistake. They might seem nice but the wrong word on social media and this would be all over the gossip sites.
“I have a dog. I’ve got to get home to feed him.”
“Oh, what kind?”
Hell, what kinds of dogs were there? I had no idea. “A pit bull.”
“Wow, macho. What’s his name?”
“Ruby.” She’d never know I said that.
What was this? The dog inquisition? I made up some more answers but couldn’t really focus on what they were saying. All I could think about was getting home to Ruby and wrapping her up in my arms. I’d hold her and never let her go.
What the hell had happened to Tex O'Malley? He'd changed. I knew it as soon as he walked onstage. He seemed the same but something fundamental had changed about that man. Most of those suckers in the crowd wouldn't even be able to tell. They'd accept him at face value. But I knew.
See, Tex and I had a connection. On a primal level. It's a thing that is beyond what most people on this earth know. Like an invisible cord that runs from his heart to mine. Ever since the first time I saw him up on stage, I knew it. It wasn't a lust thing. It went way beyond his rugged good looks or his sculptured cheekbones. It wasn't about his body either, although that was more sweetness than you'd believe any human being was entitled to have. It was that connection you have to your destined person.
I had no idea what had changed Tex but it was in his aura and in his soul. There'd been a subtle shift. If I knew one thing in this life, it was Tex O'Malley. I'd never been to university but I majored in that man. Ask me anything about him and I'd be able to tell you. I could talk for hours about every little detail of his life.
Even though he tried to keep his private life private, if you knew who to ask you could find things out. Old school mates were only too willing to talk about how they knew someone who has become a big star. You just needed to hunt them down and then turn up in the store where they worked or the cafe where they waited tables, wearing the band t-shirt or maybe flaunting some other evidence that you were a fan, and all the words came rushing out. How he was good at finger painting and the time he threw up on the bus when they went on a school trip to the zoo. The dark secrets of his family – the rich father who wasn’t quite right, parents dead when Tex was just 16, sister dying from an overdose a few years later. All the trivia and all the tragedy.
When you love someone, there is no obstacle that will get in your way.
The night I found out FORSAKEN had disbanded, I screamed and wailed. The darkness sunk around me, filling up my soul. I had a bottle of sleeping tablets beside my bed and planned to empty the entire container into my mouth, washed down with a slug of whiskey. The only thing that stopped me was that I had enough hope in my heart to believe that they would reform one day.
I had given up everything else in life for them.
I had no love life because who could settle for regular guy when Tex O'Malley existed in this world? If I wasted my time dating some bozo, I might be at home washing his socks or ironing his shirts when the time for Tex and my destined meeting arrived. I'd never be able to come in bed without thinking of Tex and it'd always be second best. I'd never settle for less in this world.
I quit my career because of him. My boss had told me I couldn't have time off to follow them on tour. I'd told him to shove his job where the sun don't shine because no job was worth giving up on my dream. Then I got a new job in a call centre. I could take off any time I like. If they gave me the sack, I didn’t give two stuffs because I'd just get another job doing the same thing. There's no shortage of work answering phones.
In other words, my life had one focus and that focus was Tex O'Malley.
I’d not quite died the night I found they’d broken up but I was close to it. When I found out they’d reformed, it was like a rebirth for me. My life had focus again. That focus was getting tickets to RockFes. Except, when I tried to buy those tickets – the ones my love and devotion entitled me to – my rat-arsed internet crapped itself. I missed out on the one thing I wanted in this life. I nearly died again.
In the end, after much scheming and planning and calling in favours, I got a job at the festival beyond my initial, rather mediocre dreams. I wasn't just working in a food van. I was working in a taco van in the band area. I'd had to make up a whole work history in food service but that didn't matter. How hard could serving tacos be, anyway?
This is what would happen. Tex would come wandering through the band area with a hankering for tacos. He'd stop by my food van, casually leaning his elbow on the counter. He'd gaze up at me, our eyes connecting as well as our hearts. He'd ask me for a chicken taco and I'd say "here, have my taco, baby". Then we'd run behind the taco van and make sweet love.
No. I'd never say that in a million years outside my head. But our eyes would definitely meet over Mexican food and he'd realise that I was the woman for him. I was the one who had dedicated almost ten years of my life to loving him. We had so much in common.
I knew his favourite pizza was meat lovers with pineapple. That’s the only pizza I ate. In fact, all my fantasies about Tex involved food, like that I’d one day run into him at his favourite pizza shop. Maybe because I had such a deep hunger for him.
And now, I would be in a situation that included both food and Tex. It was fate. It was a sign from the universe that we were meant to be together.
I had to take a few days off work for the taco van job but that was okay since I'd saved myself a heap of money by not having to pay the exorbitant price for tickets charged on eBay. The first day was sound check. We had to set up then stick around in case any of the bands were hungry. Setting up was a bit of a pain in the butt to be honest but after that, it was easy as. Most of the bands breezed in, did their check and then took off without sticking around. I had plenty of time to learn the taco truck business. I also got to sample the tacos.
"Get back to work," Fred, the van owner, kept telling me but I had to keep my eyes peeled for Tex. If I was at the back of the van working over a hot grill, I might miss him. The band entrance was to the extreme left of me so I had to crane my head around to be able to see it.
The other problem with the grill was that it melted the makeup off my face. I'd gotten up at the crack of dawn to get ready for this. It didn't matter what I wore since my clothes would be covered by the "taco or not taco..." logo apron I had to wear but I did my hair in enticing ringlets and made sure my face looked immaculate. That was not something I wanted to ruin over a grill.
Even with my near constant vigilance, the band must've slipped in without my knowing. I heard the opening bars of their song float through the air and had to suppress a squeal. I'd done it. I was there, at the festival grounds, while they were sound checking. How many people got a chance like that?
Every pore in my body throbbed to the sound of the music. I'd be buggered if I'd stay in this lousy taco van when the man I loved was playing my favourite song just metres away
I stepped out of the van. Fred frowned at me.
"I'm running to the toilet, okay? It's not like there are any customers."
I didn't want him to regret hiring me so I waited for him to give me a nod before running off.
I headed in the direction of the toilets but, once I was out of sight of the vans, tried to find my way up to the stage area. If I got the chance to see him on stage up that close, my life would not have been lived in vain. I thought I knew the way to the stage but that backstage area was a labyrinth. I could hear them and I seemed to be getting closer to the sound but there were all these big temporary fences between me and the stage. I thought I was going the right way but then I'd end up heading into a band area or a dead end. Bloody hell, how did anyone ever get onto the stage? Surely, if all these dumbass bands could do it, I could. I just had to settle down.
Then FORSAKEN stopped playing.
What the hell was happening? I tried to get closer. Surely they'd start playing again. They had to. I wanted to be close enough to see Tex's face while he played, to actually see the expression, the sweat that beaded on his forehead. Maybe I would even catch his eye. Not that I wanted to distract him. But some eye sex would make my life complete.
I broke into a run. They'd only played half a song. They had to play more than that. Maybe they were just adjusting the sound mix or had a technical hitch. I saw a sign with an arrow pointing to the stage area and ran even faster. I had to get there before they started again.
There was definitely something going on. I could hear raised voices. I got to the steps leading up to the stage and some fancy looking woman with blonde hair pushed past me.
"Yo, bitch, watch what you're doing," I yelled.
She could've really hurt me if I'd fallen down those steps. But she didn't pay any attention to me. She was on her phone.
"He's stormed off... I have no idea. Yeah, he'll play tomorrow. I swear he'll play tomorrow... The rest of the band are happy with the mix."
I inched closer to her to listen but she'd hung up. "He stormed off," she'd said. Had she meant Tex? There was no music from the stage area.
She was definitely talking about Tex.
Shit, was she Tex's manager? I recognised her from my internet stalking. She was going out with that guy from that other band. I never understood that. When she was that close to Tex, how could she look at anyone else?
She’d said he'd stormed off. I'd missed him. I ran back the way I'd come, hoping to get a glimpse of him before he left. My feet flapped against the black rubber mats laid out on the ground as I picked up my pace. I had to get to him. Maybe he needed a shoulder to cry on. Maybe he needed support. I'd be there for him.
Then I spotted him.
I nearly tripped over. It was him. It was really him.
He headed towards the exit. My feet spun on the dusty ground as I rushed towards him. I had to catch up to him. I had to touch him and speak to him. When destiny comes a-knocking, you have to grab that opportunity with both hands – and when that is a Tex O’Malley-shaped opportunity, you definitely wanted to grab it.
I gained ground. It was definitely him. He was like no other man alive. My heart felt like a jackhammer in my chest and I wasn't sure if it was from the running or the closeness of him. I could run. I could fly if it meant I would be with Tex.
Then I stopped dead in my tracks.
He wasn't alone.
A woman clung to his arm. A bitch. A skanky bitch. Who was she? Where had she come from? I knew nothing about her. Suddenly the jackhammer in my chest turned into a vice, crushing my heart in its grip. I thought I knew everything about Tex O'Malley but she wasn't even on my radar.
I sank down on my heels, my arms folded on my knees and sobs rising up in my throat. I wouldn't let those sobs develop into full-blown crying. This was way beyond tears. This was curling up on the ground and dying.
I couldn't see that manky bitch properly but she hardly seemed like she was Tex’s type. I didn't know what his type was but I figured it'd be someone like a model or that chick who managed the band. Slick and polished. The woman with him was short and had a big butt and wild red hair. She was most certainly not good enough for Tex.
Maybe she was a minder or someone who worked for the festival, thinking she could cling on to him. He didn't look like he cared about her that much.
I stood up and dusted myself off. I didn't have to worry about her. She was hardly competition.
In the distance, I saw Tex and the girl get in a van and drive off. No matter. I'd have a better plan for the next day.
But, when I got back to the taco van, Fred was NOT happy. His face was puffed up and red, in a way that ruined his cool. Even his beard wobbled as he yelled at me.
"WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?"
"I got lost on the way to the toilets." That was so close to the truth, it almost wasn't a lie.
"Bullshit. You've been skivving off. I've had to pack up the whole van myself."
"Sorry. I'll help. I'll do the rest..." I pleaded. I needed to be in his good books and I had no pride.
"I've finished now. You're fucking useless. Give me the pass back. I'll get someone else." He ran his fingers through his beard.
"No!" I clutched onto the lanyard around my neck. "You can't have it."
I cried then. I really cried but nothing moved his stone-cold hipster heart.
He lunged for me, grabbing at the lanyard. I struck out at him. I reckon I had about 20 kilos on his skinny little hipster arse and I had the fire in me. I whopped him up the side of the head.
A few heads turned to look. I glanced towards the exit, gauging my chances of making a run for it. I was still rat shit from running before. I never run so running twice in one day would kill me. I had no idea what he'd do though. Do hipsters run? He was wearing those tight skinny jeans.
He lunged for me again and I backed away.
He had hold of the lanyard but he couldn’t get it off me. Not without a knife. And he had no knife. I pulled back until he let go.
"I'm getting security." He looked serious.
Bloody hell. I ran. I ran for my life. I had to get away from his evil hipsterness. Hipsters never understood true fan devotion. They never knew real love. They only cared about being cool and wearing flat caps. I'd worked hard all day and I'd be buggered if he was going to take my hard-earned access pass off me.
I dodged through people who just hung around getting in the way and knocked through a group of stoners.
I ran out the exit then realised there was no escape. I'd got a lift there with Fred and the festival grounds were way up the country, nowhere near any kind of civilisation. I could try to hitch a ride with someone going back to the city but most of the bands had cleared out already and there was only the crew around. I didn't want any crew ratting me out to the security guys. Bloody hell, how would I get back to the city or even that one horse town we’d come through?