Reece Ashton is used to living the dizzying heights of being a celebrity, until his only other band member leaves just as they were about to embark on a world tour. Sold out shows, groupies, and living the high life are long forgotten as he has to learn to fend for himself while living in suburbia. Hiding out in the tiny town of Portmouthe, England is as about as far away from the spotlight as possible. He doesn’t want to be there, but he’s got nothing but time on his hands now that he’s been left high and dry by his band mate. No job, limited money and no life skills – he’s completely out of his element. No one in town knows he’s there except one girl who keeps his secret. Falling in love was never part of his comeback plan.
Madelyn Arnett knows all too well what it’s like to be on the wrong end of the paparazzi. She’s quietly rebuilding her life in the sleepy town of Portmouthe away from the prying eyes of trash media when the most famous musician on earth ends up in her workplace. Worried that when the media comes hunting for him, they will find her and she’s worked too hard to let some spoiled little rock star take her life away from her. But this helpless rock star is in need of a friend. Turns out, she’s the only person on the planet to truly know the real Reece Ashton. Fighting to not fall in love, she knows their time is fleeting as the glare of the spotlight comes hunting for Reece.
My ears are ringing. The dull drone is amplified by the drumming of blood thumping in my head. This is not from the hordes of people singing along to our songs at a sold out concert. No, no. This ringing is from the understanding of the conversation that just went down. My band mate Sean is nowhere to be found. He’s dropped off the face of the Earth. That means, without him. I have no band. Without a band, I have no tour. Without a tour, I have no career. And without a career, I’m nobody. My band is my life, and now that the other half of the band is gone, I have no life. A little voice in my head is telling me ‘I’m Reece fucking Ashton, and I’m a superstar’. Well, I was a rock God until about twenty-four hours ago. I stand up, stretch my legs in the jeans I’ve been wearing since yesterday, and start to pace my manager’s office in the heart of London. My hands make a fist and shake my fingers open. This sick to the stomach feeling hasn’t left me since I found his letter of ‘I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you’ in my dressing room yesterday. My stomach rolls again, but my anger tampers it down just for a moment. I close my hands over my ears, but that just amplifies the ringing, and let out a long frustrated sigh when I move my hands.
“There have to be options.” My gravelly voice doesn’t sound like my own. A couple of hours of hard drinking and trying to find the answer at the bottom of a bottle has left me feeling less than stellar. “What about a replacement?” I run my hand over my stubbly chin before grabbing at the back of my neck to try and loosen the muscles. I push off the chair, and it causes it to knock into the coffee table. I turn and catch a glimpse of myself in the window’s reflection. My normally styled blond hair is a floppy, lank mess and in serious need of a wash. Everything about me needs a wash. The dark circles under my green eyes highlight my tiredness. My Hendrix shirt has trapped the smell of sweat and alcohol as I’ve been too busy trying to call Sean to get answers and getting drunker with each dial. My hand slides up to my bicep and touches the tattoo peeking out from under my sleeve. It’s a picture of sheet music wrapping around my bicep. The first few chords of my first number one. It’s my reminder that hard work will pay off. It’s about the only thing that hasn’t been taken from me. As tired and as seedy as I am, I’m itching to go out for a run. I think I got an hour’s sleep on my manager’s lounge. This was the same lounge that I punched and kicked the shit out of when no one could answer me and the rotting truth had been confirmed. The last twenty-four hours have been my version of hell. I’m in desperate need of a shower, but wanting this sorted is my top priority.
“And even if a replacement was an option, what are you going to pay them with? Hugs? You have no access to any equity. The company isn’t going to comp you on this,” David, my manager says while holding his palms up to me. Even when it’s gone to shit, he’s optimistic about the future. “Besides, it was a done deal. Either the pair of you or nothing. That’s what the contract says.” So much for optimistic.
Taking David’s advice, we pooled all our assets under the business name. My bank accounts, bar one, are all managed under the umbrella that is now being checked over by the fine-toothed comb of the taxation department. That equals all my assets, even the money in my accounts tied to the business, are frozen. I have one credit card in my name and was set up for emergencies. I’m meant to be rehearsing on a stage that sits in the middle of an arena getting ready for our first world tour, not chewing my nails in an office watching it all disappear before my very eyes. My fingers dig into the back of the material covered lounge chair, and I lift it off the ground to bring it down sharply. If all eyes weren’t on me before, they are now. The jolt satisfies only a tiny part of me, and I fight the urge to toss the chair out of the window. Knowing that I would have to pay for that window to be fixed is the only thing stopping me.
“I can’t fucking believe this!” My left fist slams into my right palm. Pivoting on my foot, I pace in front of David’s desk. My knuckles rap twice on his desk before I turn to face him. “Truly. All fucking gone?” My right eye starts to twitch. I throw my fisted hands in the air and yell out ‘fuck’ ’til my lungs empty before pressing a knuckle into my eye. The two younger executives make for a quick exit following my outburst. I wait for them to scurry from the sinking ship that is my life before David turns back towards me. I’m fighting the urge to punch someone in the throat. “How in the fuck did this happen? How could this happen? You’re my manager, tell me how this happened! I trusted you that this would be the best decision. Where does this leave me? I can’t leave the country. I have a house I own outright back in Australia, but I can’t leave here to go back to it. What am I supposed to do?”
She’s a mother of two small boys and only told her husband about her book when it was completed. God knows what he thought she was doing on the computer for all those hours!
Josephine’s a lover of tea and has a thing for all things that smell like vanilla. She loves a good book that makes her laugh and has heaps of character growth. Her aim is to write books that inspire, cause sore stomach muscles and have memorable characters for all the right reasons.
Josephine Traynor is not her real name. The pen name is derived from Josephine being her favourite girls name and Traynor is inspired by Will Traynor from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. His message from that book was for everyone to be brave in this world and to make their mark. This was a huge lesson for her to get over her fear of publishing. She’s doing this for her, her dream is to be a published author, what’s your dream and go after it.