Authors: Lisa Swallow
Copyright © 2015 Lisa Swallow
Cover designed by Najla Qamber Designs
Photo by Lindee Robinson Photography
Models: Madison Wayne & Chad Feyrer
Editing by Hot Tree Editing
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
“I love the world we're in, where you'll always be my summer Sky. I could live here forever.”
Dylan Morgan has lived and breathed his life as lead singer of Blue Phoenix for eight years and now it’s suffocating him. On the verge of a breakdown, he cuts off his signature long-hair and walks away from the band.
Returning to a place from his childhood, Dylan’s life collides with Sky Davis, the girl who doesn’t know or care who he is. Usually girls fall at his feet in a star-struck heap, so Dylan is intrigued by and attracted to the girl who’d rather read about hot guys in books than succumb to his charms.
What follows is an unsuccessful battle to keep his rock star ego under control and his hands off Sky. The harder Sky fights her attraction to him, the harder Dylan tries to get her attention. But a girl like Sky needs more than a smouldering look and a bacon sandwich to win her over.
Dylan and Sky find themselves lost together in the fantasy of a holiday romance by the sea, but the reality of who Dylan is threatens to break the illusion at any moment.
Summer Star is a companion novella to
, a retelling of Part One from Dylan’s point of view.
For the Ladies of the Lounge
I stretch out my hands and examine the rings, thick silver bands on two fingers of my left hand, and a tarnished silver skull clutching my right ring finger. They’re part of me, worn since I was a teen; I put them on every morning automatically. The arguing continues in the room around me but the noise is on the edge of my awareness. Twisting the rings in circles, I focus on the sensation, reminding myself I’m still here even though my head isn’t.
This morning, my ex, Cressida, called, told me she needs to move out of my London apartment she uses. We split months ago but it suits us both to pretend we’re still together. I get less attention from chicks and the press, whereas she gets a penthouse in Mayfair and can hide her affair with footballer, Dean Ryder. Cressida wants out because Dean is set to leave his fiancée next month. My fake relationship is about to come to an end and I’ll be thrust back into the spotlight again, my private life scrutinised and any chick who comes within ten feet of me will get her life dissected.
The apprehension of this news is followed by a stressful drive across London to meet the rest of the Blue Phoenix guys at the Abbey Road studios to finish the album. There, I walk into Steve, our manager, mouthing off about our lack of commitment. Really? Eight fucking long years of commitment isn't enough?
Jem hasn't appeared as usual; probably face down on the floor somewhere, too stoned to move. Without the lead guitarist, there's fuck all we can do at this stage in the recording process.
As I sit in the high-tech studio waiting for a decision to be made, the world retreats further.
Liam argues with Steve. Honey, Liam's fiancée, talks over everyone in her high-pitched, pathetic voice and Bryn sings to himself, tuning out of the conflict. The layers of discordant sounds push at my aching head, and then Steve starts talking about the fucking tour.
I'm here, but I'm not. Everywhere is far away; my brain shuts down against the growing volume of voices. A line from one of the new songs on the album loops over and over through my mind, blocking out the voices:
give me time to breathe, give me time to be.
My chest tightens, aches; my breath disappearing as the panic takes hold. A couple of months ago, convinced I was about to have a heart attack brought on by the stupid amount of drugs I once took, I asked the doctor for tests, asked him to fix me. Now I have pills for anxiety and the realisation I’m fucked.
This is my life but I'm not living. Somebody talks to me, says my name, but I continue to stare at my rings and twist them harder around my fingers.
As the pressure builds, I lean over, elbows on my knees, and wrap my arms around my head. The voices retreat, muffled, as if I'm drowning at the bottom of a swimming pool, the sound of my breathing the only clue to my reality.
I'm not killing myself with drugs as Jem is, but this will end me if I don't walk away now. Dylan Morgan was erased long ago and replaced with the construct in the room now.
I can’t live my life as this Dylan Morgan anymore.
“Jesus fucking Christ, Dylan, what happened?” Blue Phoenix drummer, Bryn stops in his tracks and I swear he's about to drop his coffee.
“Felt like a change.”
Should’ve known the minute I stepped back into the studio ridicule from the guys would start.
“Felt like a change? You've got no hair left! Whoa.” He walks over and runs a broad palm across my head. “You haven't had short hair since... well, since before I knew you.”
“About ten years.”
The day I decided to be a rock star, aged fourteen, I started growing my hair, so it makes sense to cut it all off when I'm sick of being that rock star. When my long curls dropped to the floor in the exclusive salon across the city, I expected to feel loss but the numbness remained. My mind isn’t in the same room as my body, I could be looking at anybody in the mirror so what the hell does it matter what his hair looks like?
The young girl cutting my hair tried to hide her uncertainty about whether she should, but I flashed her a smile and told her to get on with it. The generous tip I gave the chick made being the one who ruined my image more palatable.
Dylan Morgan's famous hair: gone. By the end of today, Dylan Morgan: gone.
Bryn tips his head, fringe dipping into his eyes. “Man, you look different. Hardly recognise you.”
Which is the idea
He grins. “Suits you though, shows off your killer cheekbones and those beautiful blue eyes.” He blows me a kiss then calls, “Hey, Liam! Look at this!”
Liam appears from the studio and shares Bryn's reaction, as expected. Liam’s red hair is longer than mine was and he sweeps his into a ponytail as he stares, as if protecting his hair from attack. “Interesting...”
“I think you look cute!” says Honey and steps closer. I edge away from her, sick of the plastic girl with her fake everything. She purses candy-pink lips. “Super-hot. I wish Liam would cut his hair...”
“No fucking way,” he interrupts, scowling at his fiancée.
I think I'd scowl too if my girl called another man 'super-hot'. What the hell is Liam, the most down to earth, nice guy of the band, doing with the gold-digger? I briefly appraise her Barbie doll figure and the tits no male could fail to be impressed by and conclude she must be a bloody good lay.
“Jem here yet?” I ask, wanting to deflect away from me as soon as possible.
“Nope,” says Liam.
“For fuck's sake, I've been gone all morning. There's no point today, is there?” I slump onto a nearby leather chair.
“Yeah, Steve lost his shit. Jem'd better keep a low profile,” says Bryn.
“Reckon I'll get going then.”
“Nah, Steve's waiting, engineer wasn't happy with your vocals, wants to be around to make sure you redo some before you disappear,” Bryn replies.
“What the...?” I jump up and storm into the studio where our manager, Steve leans over the mixing desk spanning the room, talking to Tony, the sound guy. “What the fuck is wrong with my vocals?”
Steve looks round, sweeps a gaze over my new look, and raises a brow. “Image change. Huh.”
“I said, what's wrong?”
“Too weak.” I glare at the middle-aged man who constantly treats me like a spoilt kid.
“Weak? Isn't that up to him to mix properly?” I jab a finger at Tony.
Tony focuses on his laptop.
“No passion, Dylan. Not you,” says Steve.
“Maybe I'm tired of shit. This album's taking too long. I need a break.”
When was the last time I felt passionate about something and not dead to the core?
“So talk to Jem, it's his fault,” replies Steve.
“I've nothing to say to Jem right now. He doesn't listen and is an obnoxious dickhead when he's sober enough to communicate.” I pause. “We need him back in rehab.”
Steve’s mouth tightens; the tired lines under his eyes grow as the weeks pass and the Blue Phoenix lifestyle ups his stress levels too. “He refuses.”
Liam wanders in and moves his red, bass guitar to the corner of the room we leave our instruments in at the end of sessions. I stare. “Are you leaving?”
“I’m not needed.” Liam grins. “You coming over to mine after?”
“We can't waste studio time,” replies Steve. “Let's redo these vocals and tomorrow...”
“I'm not staying here!” I say, voice rising. “Fuck that, we all stay or I go too.”
“No,” says Steve firmly. “The other guys can go if they want but you need to stay.”
The pressure in my temples gathers at his attitude; I'm at my limit with his constant badgering and controlling behaviour. “No.”
“You want to let the guys down, too? Put out a half-arsed album?” he asks.
“Maybe I'm all out of fucks to give!” I snap and turn. As I storm out of the room, I knock into Bryn’s solid frame.
He steadies me. “Hey. What's going on?”
“I thought Steve wanted...”
“I mean, I'm done. I'm going.”
“None of your business,” I growl and keep walking, not looking at him.
“Dylan! Going where?” he repeats.
“Away. I'll be back in a few days.”
Outside, the noise of London traffic and the polluted air mess with my ability to think, my body crying out for release from all this shit. The band. The city. The weight of the world crushing down. I stride to my shining, black Audi, keys in hand. I planned this, booked the holiday house, and then spent the last few days debating whether I should go.
There’s no choice anymore. If I don't walk away, I'm headed for a complete meltdown, and Jem's fucked up half-life is enough of a warning. We’re not so different, me and Jem, but I don’t want to end up the same as him.
My mobile phone rings again; whoever's calling isn't giving up any time soon. I scrabble around on the seat next to me, pushing my leather jacket on the floor as I retrieve my phone. I should've figured out how to work Bluetooth before I started driving my newest car any distance. Glancing between the road and the phone, I see Bryn's name on the screen and ignore him.
The country lane I'm driving down is quieter than the main roads, a bit narrow for my large car, and the trip will take longer, but if there's no other traffic I've less chance of someone spotting me.
The only other car on the road is a beaten up silver hatchback in front. I bloody hope the car leaves this road soon; it was bad enough when we were trundling behind a tractor but now she's sticking to the pathetically low speed limit. I say 'she' because I doubt a guy would drive so fucking slowly. Unless the driver’s a 'he' and some kind of pussy.
Still crawling along behind Miss Go-Slow, I give up and pick up the incessantly ringing phone.
“Where the fuck are you?”
“I'm not saying.”
Bryn exhales loudly down the phone. “Jesus, Dylan. You can't just fuck off and not tell anyone where.”
Distracted by Bryn's words, I'm not alert enough to stop my car in time when the idiot in front of me suddenly decides to hit the brakes. My car smacks into the back of the hatchback, jerking me to reality. There's nobody else around, nothing obstructing the road. What the hell?
“For fuck's sake!” I yell. “Bryn, I have to go.”
I throw the phone on my seat and my arms into the air in a 'what the fuck' gesture to whoever's car just ruined my paintwork. Just what I fucking need...
A petite girl with dark blonde, wavy hair climbs out of the car and slams her door shut, fury in her stance as she stomps toward the car.
she's bound to recognise me. I hesitate. I could drive away?
The girl gesticulates at me to lower the window, her blue eyes narrowed. Ah well, wait till she sees who I am, then she'll calm down. I wave at her to stand back then I climb out of the car.
I check her out. I wonder if she realises the top button of her blue and white summer dress is undone or that I can see the top of her very nice pair of tits? I inspect the rest of her from behind my sunglasses and wait for the inevitable reaction to meeting Dylan Morgan.
She's hot - in a pissed off way. Her anger puts pink in her pale cheeks and those curves. I'm sick of skinny chicks with fake boobs, and rarely come face to face with one who isn't. This is why I'm so fucking lost. I don't see real people anymore.
Definitely not anyone like her.
I yank off my sunglasses, partly to see her more clearly and partly to give her more of a clue who I am. Yeah, I'm running and hiding from the world, but my ego always wins.
No reaction to me at all.
Okay, this is new. I don't speak and inspect the front of my car instead, brushing the damage with my fingers. Flakes of silver paint stick to my hands.
“It's your fault if you ran up the back of me,” the girl says from behind. She has a local accent, one that reminds me of past summers in this part of England. A past I'm trying to escape to by coming back here; time away to switch off from the crazy shit in my current life.
And she's wrong about the accident; this is not my fault. I straighten and turn back to her. “You stopped without any indication!”
“A dog ran out in front of me,” she snaps.
Is that an excuse? A bloody weird one. “What dog?”
“The dog’s not here now. I don't think the dog realised it needed to be a material witness and ran off!” The girl narrows her eyes at me but her anger is doing nothing except amuse and attract me. She's funny and has no clue who she's dealing with. That open button at the top of her dress catches my eye again and, in response, the girl crosses her arms over her chest, the sexy pink on her cheeks flaring. An image of her naked in bed jumps into my mind.
What the fuck do I do? She's evidently not going to fall in a star struck heap at my feet and I don't want to hang around in a country lane where other people could pass by and see me. What do people normally do when this kind of thing happens? I don't know. What I do know is I need to leave.
“I wouldn't normally do this, but I'm in a hurry. Forget the insurance; I'll give you the money. How much do you think it'll cost to fix your car?” I ask her
She gapes at me as if I'm speaking a foreign language. “I don't know.”
I inspect the damage on her car; and from where I'm standing, it's difficult to tell if the state of the car is all due to the collision. “Not much, I think. It’s an old model. Was the paintwork that bad before I hit you?”
The chick pulls herself to full height, which isn't very tall compared to my six feet plus, and fixes me with an even sourer look. “I'm not taking your money. Repairs might cost more than you have! If you give me your name and number, we can sort the insurance out the proper way.”
There we have it; I knew this wasn't a co-incidence. Groupies go to stupid lengths to get my details and this is one of the more insane attempts.
Try again, sweetheart
. “Very fucking clever. Do you think I would?”
Momentarily, her mouth parts in surprise, and then she takes a deep breath before saying, “Swapping details is a strange and ancient custom which occurs when dickheads on mobile phones rear-end the car in front.”
What the fuck? Who is this chick? People don't say shit like this to me. I'm not often lost for words but she’s managed to knock them out of me. I should be pissed off but her attitude is a breath of fresh air.
“I don't give people my personal details.” I scrutinise her, attempting to see if there's a facade for me to push down. Then I switch on Dylan Morgan, the rock star, who has the girls doing whatever he asks them to. I give the angry chick the look, the one that wins them over. I never have to try hard, she'll be falling over her words soon enough.
“What makes you so special?” she snaps.
Not working, try harder. “Nothing, what makes you so special?” I smile slowly, lingering a look on her lips.
No discernible reaction. Hmm. Maybe cutting my hair was a bad move?
“Do I have to call the police?” she continues, oblivious to my charms.
“No. Wait. Okay.”
She wins. Besides, if the chick sees my name when I give my details and finally realises who I am, I might be able to sweet-talk my way out of this. I bloody hope so because I want to get out of here and into some peace. I turn back to my car.
A door slams behind as the girl gets back into her car. In surprise, I spin round. She revs the engine and the silver hatchback screeches away.
What a weird chick. I rest against my car and watch her disappear along the lane. In case she changes her mind, I wait in my car for a few minutes. Then realisation hits. I'm sitting in a car, in the middle of nowhere fantasising about getting my hands on the body of a girl whose life I just crashed into and will never see again. I should be getting the hell out of here to anonymity, relieved she never found out who I was.
But I'm not; I wanted to talk to her more. Not because she was an amusing girl with nice tits who would be a challenge, but because she didn't know who I was.
If this chick is a taste of how people treat the anonymous Dylan Morgan, I like it.