Yay! I’m back! Some of you might have noticed that, once again, I was having problems with my website. The good news is I don’t have to worry about it anymore. We got a new host and so I think all my issues are in the past…with my website, that is. 😉
Anyway, I am furiously writing On the Road (Vagabonds #3) which will be released October 30, 2015, and it is the final tale is the trilogy. I know a lot of readers don’t like to read series until they’re complete, and I think that’s been the case with the Vagabonds series. They are most definitely not standalone books–I do want to give you that warning–but I promise I’ll take you on one hell of a ride. What has had me smiling all through the past month is that three different reviewers on three different occasions called me (in various incarnations) the “Queen” of rock romance. I’ll gladly wear that title with pride. Another reviewer asked for the name of my band because what I wrote felt “so real.”
I wanted to share a chapter with those of you who haven’t picked up the book yet, and soon I’ll also share a chapter or two from the second book. On the Run tells Kyle’s story as a teenager, forming what will become the all-girl rock band the Vagabonds. A few readers commented that it “felt” like a YA book, but I want to assure you that it is most certainly not Young Adult. Yes, Kyle’s story begins with her as a teen but she is in her mid-twenties at the end of the trilogy, and the story grows quite dark and very adult once you move into book two. So, for those of you excited about me writing a YA book, I’m sorry. This is not the one.
Without further ado, let me share this excerpt. Again, it comes from On the Run, and it is chapter four. To set the scene, let me simply say that Kyle plays a mean guitar and she played (and won a prize) at the high school talent show. I wanted to share this chapter, because it sets up part of the conflict and some of the main storylines of the first book. If you haven’t yet read the book, I’d love to know what you think about this chapter!
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CHAPTER FOUR of On the Run (Vagabonds #1)
MY JOY WAS short lived. A shame too, because the high feeling was amazing, and it continued for a little while. At the end of the show, they had mini awards, like “Best Band,” “Best Skit,” and the like. Obviously, “Best Solo Guitarist” ensured it was mine, because no one else had done what I’d done, but I thought it was their way of honoring my contribution. I’d known people would respect my playing abilities; I had no idea it would be as well-received as it was.
I looked for my parents as the audience and talent show kids and I made our way through the auditorium and out into the commons area of the school, but I couldn’t see them anywhere. I hung out in the lobby for a while and continued to get stopped by kids who told me how amazed they were with my playing. I felt so proud of it and wanted to see what my parents thought. I hoped they were proud too.
The crowd began to dwindle, though, and no sight of my parents. I was beginning to feel a little worried, so I pulled my phone out of my back pocket. I didn’t have a text from either of them, but I sent one to my mom, asking her if they were waiting for me in the parking lot. After a few minutes and no response, I decided to head outside and was stopped by two more kids offering me congratulations.
Decker walked up alongside me as I made my way down the steps away from the school and said, “Hey, we’re all heading to a party to celebrate. Wanna join us?”
I smiled. I didn’t want to be rude, and I wouldn’t have minded a bit of celebration, but I had to find my mom and dad first. “Where?”
“At the reservoir.”
Ah, yes, one of the notorious party places amongst kids my age, but I didn’t know why they even bothered. Cops knew kids liked to party there and broke the celebrations up often. It was nice to feel included, though—hell, just to be invited was nice—so I told him I might. He and his two friends walked away as I looked around one last time before turning my focus to the vast parking lot ahead.
There weren’t too many cars left in the there, though it was a large space and, even with the large streetlamps overhead, it was hard to tell if my parents’ car was there somewhere. As I walked toward my own car, I felt my phone vibrate and pulled it back out of my pocket.
It was a text from my mother, short and simple. Ky, honey, pls come home. Will explain then.
I felt my stomach knot up, only this time it wasn’t with excitement and anticipation. It was pure dread. Something was wrong.
I got in my car, my five minutes of fame forgotten as my fingers gripped the wheel and I let my instincts take over. I was in no state of mind to focus on the act of driving, because I was focused on what my mom hadn’t said in the text. I had a bad feeling that something was wrong with my dad.
I swallowed hard with that realization as the acid in my stomach sloshed again, making me feel sick. No matter what was going on, there was nothing I could do about it, and there was certainly not a damn thing I could do being away. I couldn’t comfort my mother or ask questions or anything—not until I got home.
I pulled up to the house. The porch light was on and there were no cop cars, even though I’d halfway expected to see destruction and mayhem at my house. The large two-story brick building looked as quiet and unassuming as it always had.
But as I walked up the sidewalk to the house, it felt eerie. I didn’t like the sensation that my whole life was hanging in the balance.
When I opened the front door, I could feel it. It was almost like a blanket smothering me as soon as I entered the living room, and my parents turned to look at me. I could tell I’d interrupted something but what? No idea.
The first thing I noticed was mom’s expression. Her face was normally tanned with pink cheeks, but instead it was red and blotchy, and she looked miserable. My dad also looked distressed but he hadn’t been crying like mom. I wanted to ask what the problem was, what was going on, but my throat seized up, refused to cooperate. I didn’t know exactly how to ask anyway.
Fortunately, mom took over. She rushed to me and pulled me into an embrace. Her grasp was desperate and tight, but I let her do it because I could tell she needed to. My mother wasn’t a large woman, but she held me so tightly, my breathing was restricted.
What the hell was going on?
When mom loosened her grip, I looked at her as she searched my eyes and finally let go of me. Then I looked to my dad. He seemed a little sheepish and reluctant to talk. I tried to pull air down into my lungs but found it difficult. Just as I was managing to form some words, my mother said, “Your father’s moving out of the house.”
My dad quickly added, “For now.”
Mom managed to keep her voice calm and steady, but I could hear a hidden snarl. “For a while. We’re not sure how long.”
Finally my tongue moved. “But why? What happened?”
Dad came over and pulled me close so I couldn’t see his face…but I could hear a crack in his voice. “We just…need some space right now.” He held me in a snug embrace so that I couldn’t move, but when he finally released me, his voice sounded normal again. “It’s not forever, punky. Just for now.”
Oh. That was bad. Dad hadn’t called me punky since I’d been a little kid. It made me feel sad and scared and alone. I couldn’t smile but something inside me told me not to cry. My mom was being too stoic, too calm, and I knew that if I showed weakness, she wouldn’t be able to maintain her composure. Somehow…I just knew.
I was worried about dad, too, and he also seemed distraught, but there was something about mom that felt more fragile.
And I didn’t belong there. I could tell that they weren’t going to talk with me there and they obviously hadn’t finished their conversation when I’d walked in. “So what do you want me to do?”
“Oh, baby,” mom said, walking closer to me again but not too close. She was keeping her distance from dad. “You don’t need to do anything. It’s something your dad and I need to work through.” She inhaled deeply before adding, “Why don’t your dad and I go out on the porch to finish our conversation?”
That seemed really weird, but that told me for certain that they didn’t want me to be in the middle of whatever was going on, and they likely didn’t want me to know what had caused any of it, either. But to conduct whatever cold, calculating business surrounding the division of their things out on the porch seemed ridiculous. “Why don’t I just go upstairs to my room?”
My mom looked up at my dad and he seemed to consider my words before nodding. Then he glanced at me before I moved and said, “We love you, Kyle.”
I swallowed and forced a few undiscernible bobs with my head. “I love you too.”
I had made it across the room and up two stairs when I heard my mom ask, “Oh, how was the talent show?”
I let my breath out of my nose, paused on the step, not sure what to say. I didn’t want them to force themselves to try to be happy on my account when they were obviously miserable and had things to discuss…and, frankly, it just didn’t seem that exciting anymore, not when the lives and hearts of the people I loved hung in the balance. I swallowed and turned my head, careful not to make eye contact so the lie would come more easily. “Eh, it was okay. I kicked ass, though, but no big deal.”
Yeah, right. Up until five minutes earlier, it had perhaps been one of the biggest fucking deals of my life.
* * *
I drove down the highway, forcing myself not to cry, trying to keep my foot light on the pedal, because my anger fueled a heaviness in my foot that couldn’t be contained. But even cranking the radio as loudly as it would go (the fact that the station was playing “Crazy Train” helped) couldn’t drown out the thoughts in my head.
Couldn’t drown out the words I’d heard moments earlier either.
I should have played a CD in my room once I’d headed up the stairs, but I’d wanted to understand what the hell was going on with my parents. Why were they acting cold and distant to each other after a long, beautiful life together? It made no sense to me at all.
So I’d closed the wooden door like they’d asked, but I’d pressed my ear up against it. I’d pulled my hair back over my shoulders with my hand and then rested my ear up against the cool door, straining to hear whatever stray words might rush up the stairs. It was muted at first, and my mother and father almost sounded like they were planning a surprise birthday party for me. But after a little bit of time, I could hear their voices getting a bit louder, a little more emotional, and then I began to be able to pick words out. I also got braver, knowing they wouldn’t be able to hear if I managed to pop the door open a crack.
It was then that I heard my mother say—her voice seething and hot but still barely more than a whisper—“I’m not the one whose dick was getting sucked.”
I swallowed and backed away from the door as though it had grown unbearably hot. It was difficult to breathe then as so many things began swirling in my head, the first of which was disbelief. If my mother wasn’t just flippantly saying something to piss my dad off, it could only mean one thing…that my father had had an affair, and that was why he was leaving. Maybe. Yes, that had to be it. My mom was kicking him out because he’d been unfaithful. At first, I thought maybe he wanted to leave, but some of the things he’d said earlier pointed to my mom wanting him out.
And I guessed he probably should leave.
That was the first moment when I experienced loss…disappointment. It was a hard lesson to take, learning that my parents weren’t gods. They weren’t perfect. They too were human and capable of making mistakes, screwing up, doing something wrong.
I didn’t know how to cope with what I was feeling.
Part of me wanted to rush outside my room and rage. I wanted to scream, not just at my dad but at both of them. Somehow it was both their faults. This pain was hard to manage and I didn’t want to face my parents with that ache inside my chest. Even playing the heaviest song I knew and screaming all the vocals wouldn’t make me feel better.
All I knew was there was no way I was going to cry. Something deep inside me made me feel like crying would make me weak. I had to bottle it inside.
That stupid attitude was likely influenced by the music I listened to, but I wasn’t thinking that at the time.
I held onto the door handle, still debating if I wanted to exit my room, whether to leave the house or take out my confused and heated state on my parents. I couldn’t face them. No way.
So I opened the window to my bedroom, at first just to poke my head outside. The cool breeze on my face helped clear my mind. But, as my parents’ voices escalated and I couldn’t drown them out, I knew I had two choices—I could crank up my music loud and send them a message. It would let them know that they were making me miserable. I could see my mom’s face in my head, though, and I didn’t want to pile on to her torment. She didn’t need to feel like I was betraying her too. The second choice? I could get the hell out of there, just refuse to deal with it.
That was the decision I made, but I couldn’t leave through the window. Sure, I knew, now that I was more exposed to movies and television, that fictional kids hop out their bedroom windows all the time…but this was real life. I had a screen on my window to contend with, not to mention a long jump from the roof that would certainly damage something on my body. There was no flimsy trellis to use as a ladder, no convenient tree I could grab hold of and shimmy down, no lower roof that I could hop on as a stepping stone…and I certainly couldn’t scale the wall. And no way was I going to try the silly trick of tying sheets together to make a rope. That had disaster written all over it. Nope. I had to use the stairs inside and the front door.
All I had to do was know what I would say when my parents asked where I was going. I had planned to tell them that I just needed some time to myself. I took one last deep breath and grabbed my keys before opening my bedroom door and stepping into the hallway. I made my way downstairs, steeled for the question, but my parents had moved into the kitchen at some point, and they would have had to be looking for me to see me. I was certain they’d moved into the other room hoping to muffle their voices, but all the kitchen had done was to project their voices like a megaphone through the house. I sucked in air through my nose and marched to the front door.
By the time I got in my car and on the road, though, I was hit with a new wash of emotion. It all raged over me like whitewater. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel and I couldn’t describe everything moving through me, but I was profoundly unhappy. It felt like my whole life had changed in a matter of minutes and I’d gone from the highest high to the lowest low in less than an hour. That seemed like fate was cruelly punishing me for some unknown reason.
I was driving along, almost blind with my suffering, and it wasn’t until I was on the highway, “Crazy Train” blaring from the car speakers, that I realized I was driving to the reservoir.
To the party.
Why, I didn’t know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
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BOOK NAME: On the Run (Book #1 in the Vagabonds series)
SERIES NAME: Vagabonds
GENRES: Contemporary Romance, Rock Star Romance, New Adult, Erotic Romance
LENGTH: Novel (75,000 words, 255 pages)
RELEASE DATE: August 31, 2015
What if your dream became a nightmare?
Kyle Summers enjoys a carefree childhood traveling the countryside with her parents…until she discovers the electric guitar. When she first wraps her hand around its neck, she knows she was born to play it.
When she discovers boys, she realizes she has a second passion.
But music always comes first, and when Kyle is recruited to be part of a young all-girl band, she jumps at her chance for fame and fortune. It isn’t long before Kyle discovers that all that glitters isn’t gold. Will she survive when she discovers the dark and seedy side of the music industry—or will it ruin her for good?
Vagabonds follows one young woman’s rise to fame past the pitfalls of sex, drugs, and easy money, through fortune and success to heartbreak and betrayal. Five girls build their band The Vagabonds from nothing but a hunger to create and quickly find that they are nothing but pawns in a larger game played by managers, agents, the press, the music industry, and all manner of unscrupulous, greedy people who want to feed on their triumphs. Friendships and lives hang in the balance. Who will survive?
***Not intended for readers under the age of 18 due to adult language and sexual