A nothing-special rock band from Pittsburgh, PA is launched into the spotlight when the lead singer, Vaughan, posts a status on social media announcing the band’s implosion. Ironic that money, fame and the opportunity of a lifetime came knocking at his door after what had been the worst day of his life. Guess it couldn’t any worse . . . or could it?
An all-new Rock Star/Romantic Comedy is out this week from author T. Gephart, and I have a sneak peek for you, as well as a chance to win a signed copy!
There was no support band, just a juiced up DJ spinning records until we got on. Then the lights dimmed, and our names were called over the PA, everything snapped into focus.
“You ready, Vaughan?” It was Nico, his bass hung across his body and a big freaking grin on his face. “It’s the biggest crowd we’ve ever played for.”
Considering the usual crowd we pulled was thirty to fifty people, it was an understatement that didn’t need articulating. “Yep, I’m ready.” My head nodded as I looked out onto the smoke-covered stage.
On cue, Johnny entered from the other side. He was still in the shadows, getting behind his kit while the audience was oblivious. I had a hunch Connor was waiting in the wings, but I hadn’t seen or heard from him since that last call. Smart. Less chance of him getting carried off the stage in a body bag that way.
Nico tapped his hands impatiently against his leg, his grin almost bursting off his face. In his world, there was no scenario where the show ended badly. And I had to admire his optimism. “See you out there,” he called over his shoulder, strolling out onto the stage like he owned the place.
Not sure why I was hesitating, after all, it was what I had always wanted. To be in front of thousands of people, for them to hear music I’d created. And even though it was right there in front of me, ready for the taking, it felt tainted.
There was a reason I’d asked my parents to stay home, promising them there’d be another time. A time that didn’t involve the drama it had taken to get on that stage. Because no matter how much I wanted them to be proud, and see their boy doing what he’d set out to do since he was ten, I’d knew it didn’t count.
I picked a hell of a time to get caught up in the mentality of it all. Couldn’t I just go out there with a smile on my face, a hard-on in my pants, and rock the roof off the joint?
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. The asshole strode out like nothing had happened, sharing a quick fist bump with both Johnny and Nico, and somehow, that just made it worse.
Whatever feelings I’d had before were shoved down as anger bubbled to the surface. Screw him. And screw the situation. Tainted or not, I was taking my minute of fame and I was done sitting on the sidelines and being a pussy.
With my spine jacked up straight and a forced grin on my lips, I strolled—taking my sweet freaking time—out to the center. People in the front had spotted me, my arrival not as stealthy as the rest of the band and they’d started making noise. Then with a pop, the spotlight was on us—both literally and figuratively—as we were lit up, the crowd cheering as we came into view. The noise was so loud that I felt it right in my balls.
I wrapped my fingers around the mic and closed my eyes. The single spotlight followed me, the volume of the crowd rose to fever pitched and the vibration in the air hit me like a brick wall.
My eyes popped open as Connor strummed his guitar, the opening notes to our first song ringing out. Like it had been a signal, what seemed like a million lights all ignited at once, the brightness burning my retinas.
“Hello New York,” I called out to the crowd, seeing thousands of arms raised in unison, ready to hear what we had to say. “This song is dedicated to all the lying, cheating assholes.” The noise got even louder. “It’s called What Goes Around Comes Around.”
It wasn’t a coincidence that it had been the song I’d chosen for our opening number. Everyone pretended like they didn’t like drama, but like a car crash, they couldn’t stop looking at it. So I was just giving the people what they wanted, what they were no doubt hoping to see.
As I sang the first verse, I couldn’t help but smile. Lines about justice eventually being served and karma catching up with you, couldn’t have been more appropriate. Of course when I’d written the song, it was directed at the lack of respect we’d gotten in the music industry. The lack of time anyone seemed to have for a metal band from da ‘Burg. But intention was a funny thing, and wasn’t I just freaking ecstatic that the fuck you could be multi purposed.
By the time we got to the chorus, the crowd was singing it back to us, the sound of our lyrics being chanted by so many people so weird that I almost forgot the words. God, it was perfect, the moment hitting me as I took a minute to look around and absorb the greatness. Unfortunately, the feeling of perfection didn’t last long as my eyes snagged on Connor, the cocky son of a bitch reaching into the crowd and high-fiving the front row while he rocked out.
The fucking balls on him.
Pretending like every word I spat out about the righteous being avenged was notabout him.
I might have forgiven Lindsey if it had been anyone else. Hell, even if I hadn’t, we might have still parted as friends. But I expected more from Connor.
He stabbed me in the back and the freaking heart, tossing aside our friendship, the band, and betrayed me like no one ever had. He should have known better, he should have had my back—Jesus, we’d known each other since forever, he was more my brother than my real one was. It wasn’t just a matter of pride either, how could I ever trust someone like that again? How could I be fucking vulnerable around someone who’d use what they saw as weakness?
Maybe some other man—one who didn’t have a pair of testicles—might have let it slide. Played the gig, taken the adulation and let fate catch up to the sentiment of the song.
But I wasn’t another man.
And he and I had been primed for a showdown I didn’t have a hope of prolonging.
Harnessing every single ounce of willpower I had, I got through the rest of the song. Kept my eyes front and center, ignoring the douchenozzle and all his posturing. Oh, I hadn’t changed my mind and decided to play the rest of the set like it was no big fucking deal. Hell no. Nope, I was just biding my time, getting to the end of the last verse so I could give it the attention it deserved.
So, as the last note rang out, the cheering from the crowd reaching an ear-bleeding roar, I calmly smiled and looked over at Nico. Like the bastard had read my mind, he started shaking his head, his eyes peeling wide as he wisely took a step back.
Sticks clicked from behind me but I raised my hand, signaling for the crowd to hush. “Vaughan,” Johnny hissed, noticing I’d gone off script. “What are you doing?”
But it was too late for that.
The course had been readjusted and I was on a different track.
“You know,” I started, a grin spreading across my face, “there’s been a question that keeps going through my mind.”
Nico and Johnny traded what-the-fucks before their eyes came back to me while Connor wasn’t looking as cocky as he’d been a few minutes before.
Ignoring my band, I kept my attention on the crowd. “And there’s no point ignoring the elephant in the room because let’s face it, that’s why you’re all here.” I bowed to the crowd, giving them exactly what they paid good money to see.
I felt like the dude in the movie Gladiator, in the center of the arena while the audience waited to see if I lived or died—in my case metaphorically—screaming, “Are you not entertained?”
The frenzy inched up a few levels, waiting to see what was going to happen next. “So let’s settle this once and for all because I’m sure everyone else is dying to know too.” I turned to Connor, opening my arms wide. “You still with Lindsey? Or has the novelty worn off now you’re no longer tasting my dick in her? Because that’s what it was all about, right? You being obsessed with me. You wanted to be me so badly, you took it the only way you could. Pity that all you’ll ever be is a second-rate cocksucker and a less-than-mediocre guitarist who can barely write music or sing. I wonder which is worse? Having zero talent? Or no game, considering the only chick you can manage to keep was already screwing someone else. And unlike me, you knew you were getting my sloppy seconds.”