Something transcendental.

Unfortunately, we never made it back there again, either.


After all was said and done, I’m glad I didn’t know that was the end of the road for us. Not the end end, but the end of whatever we’d had up until that point. If I’d known what lay ahead, I might have been so upset I couldn’t have enjoyed that moment with him, that instant of being totally, completely alive.

Or, who knows… I might have savored it even more.

102

It all came crashing to an end ten days later in Vegas.

The last two concerts of the tour took place there, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The first show was an incredible success.

At least something about those last few days was.

Things really started to go south during the last band meeting, just hours before the final performance.

I didn’t know it until everyone was assembled in the penthouse suite, but everybody was planning to go their separate ways after Vegas. Take some time off, then join back up two months later to begin recording their third album.

It was strange to me. I thought of them as a tightly-knit family. I mean, they had lived together for over a year in a run-down house in one of the crappiest neighborhoods in Athens. And here they were about to split apart, even if only for a while.

I sat between Derek and Ryan, with Killian and Riley opposite us. Miles was standing at the front of the room and currently running the show.

“Alright, Killian, you’re going back to London, correct?”

The guitarist nodded serenely. “Might pop over to Amsterdam for a bit, too.”

Every single person in the room looked at him in surprise.

He noticed, and held out his joint as though to say, For the WEED, people. For the WEED.

Everyone settled back in their chairs – except Riley. “You should bang a coupla hookers while you’re there, K.”

“What, to relax him even more?” Ryan asked.

“Come visit me, luv,” Killian said to Riley, “and you can frolic in the red light district all you want.”

“Maybe I’ll come, too,” Derek joked.

I gave him an icy stare.

Now, granted, he was joking. (I think.) But we were having more and more frequent fights – at least once every day, it seemed. In fact, we were in the midst of one right then: about how he kept paying more and more attention to the half-naked groupies at his shows, and flirting with them more and more brazenly.

My jealousy had been in overdrive for a week.

So, no, his joke didn’t go over so well with me.

The rest of the band looked away uncomfortably. Except, of course, for Riley.

“You should get Blondie to bang a coupla hookers, too, D,” she hooted. “Get her to relax.”

“Don’t I know it,” Derek muttered under his breath.

My glare just became colder.

“If the soap opera can be temporarily adjourned until the end of the meeting,” Miles barked, then turned to Riley. “Alright, what are your plans?”

“Fuck you.”

“No thank you. What are your plans?”

“Why do you wanna know?”

“I happen to be the person who looks out for your career, though by your repeated attempts to sabotage it, I can certainly understand your not comprehending that fact,” Miles snapped. “If something happens, or an opportunity arises, I need to know where you can all be reached.”

“Maybe I don’t wanna be reached.”

“RILEY.”

“Jesus, FINE. New York. I’m gonna go to New York and hang out with my sister for a while.”

“Make sure I have her number before you leave.”

“You’ve already got my cell!”

“And we all know how reliable you are. Ryan?”

“I’m going to Athens first, visit the family, then I’m going to go spend a couple of months in South Dakota.”

I looked at him questioningly. This was the first I’d heard of South Dakota.

He gave me a mysterious smile in return.

“Out in the middle of nowhere?” Miles asked.

“That’s the idea.”

“Make sure I can get in contact with you.”

“I’ll be reachable by cell, and I’ll have internet, but I’ll get you the house number, too.”

“That sounds nice,” I whispered.

Ryan nodded. “It should be relaxing.”

“Where are you stay– ”

“AHEM,” Miles cleared his throat loudly as he stared me down.

I shrank in my seat like a chastened first-grader.

“Thank you,” he growled, then turned to Derek. “Well, what about you, then?”

“No idea.”

I frowned and looked at him.

He just kept staring at Miles and didn’t return my gaze.

“No plans,” Miles said. “Really.”

“Nope.”

“You must have some idea,” Miles said. “I’m sure you’ve discussed it with your far, far better half.”

Even though he said it sarcastically, it was practically a declaration of love – coming from Miles, anyway.

“Nope.”

Which was true. We hadn’t discussed it at all.

I hadn’t even known the band was separating.

And suddenly my jealousy and anger were overwhelmed by fear.

“Then we’ll just have to outfit you with one of those GPS bracelets for convicts,” Miles said, with no indication he was joking. Then he turned back to the group. “We reconvene in Athens in two months, people. Show up ready to work.” Finally he looked specifically at me. “Ms. Reynolds, I assume this will be the last I’ll be seeing you?”

I glanced at Derek.

He didn’t say anything. Didn’t even look at me.

“I… guess…” I said hesitantly.

Miles’s eyes flicked over to Derek, then came back to me.

Was it an illusion, or did his gaze soften slightly?

“Then let me take the opportunity to say that, on most occasions, you were less of a pain in my arse than half the members of this band. For which I am moderately grateful.”

The corner of my mouth couldn’t help but curl up the tiniest bit. “Thank you, Miles.”

“Well, now that we’ve had our emotional moment, CHRIST, you people,” he barked at the entire group, and launched into a diatribe on some business-related matter.

I didn’t listen. I was too busy staring at Derek.

He never looked back at me.

103

I waited until we were out in the hallway (and relatively alone) before I launched into him.

With any other guy, I might have acted pissed off and aloof until he started asking, What’s wrong?

Then – and I’m not particularly proud of this, mind you – I probably would have said Nothing repeatedly until he dragged it out of me.

That was a bad tactic with Derek. I’d tried it already and failed miserably. Maybe it was all the fights we were having – battle fatigue does tend to set in at some point – but he never asked me what was wrong. He just wandered off and flirted with more model-actress-whatevers.

So I went on the offensive.

“What the fuck, Derek?!”

He exhaled heavily, sounding irritated and tired. “What now?”

“Back in the meeting!”

“What about back in the meeting?”

“You humiliated me in front of everybody!”

I couldn’t see his eyes behind his sunglasses, but I knew he was rolling them. Which made me even angrier. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Are you serious?!”

“Yeah, I am. I never know what you’re fucking pissed off about from one minute to the next. What is it this time, the Amsterdam thing? Or did I look at another chick without realizing it?”

Shock.

Not that I wasn’t annoyed about the Amsterdam joke – mostly because of the insensitivity and disrespect towards me it had conveyed – but that was small potatoes compared to what came after.

“You basically told the entire band that you’re dropping me after the tour,” I said, trying angrily to keep my eyes from tearing up.

“WHAT?! No I didn’t!”

“Miles asked you if you had any plans, and you said you didn’t.”

“Because I don’t!”

“You don’t have any plans, or you don’t have any plans that include me?”

“Jesus fucking Christ – I said I don’t have any plans because I don’t have any plans, Kaitlyn. That’s it. End of story. I haven’t even thought that far yet.”

I didn’t believe him.

“You didn’t look at me the entire time we were in there.”

“Oh, I’m sorry – I guess you forgot that you reamed my ass out again last night for looking at some women who happened to be standing right in front of me. Which you always do, EVERY… SINGLE… FUCKING… NIGHT.”

Looking at?

More like slobbering over.

And charming the pants off of.

“You were practically all over them!”

He looked away, like he couldn’t stand to go over this again. “I cannot believe we are fighting about this for the goddamn thousandth – ”

“I don’t even care about that!”

“Then what are you mad about this time?!”

THIS time.

I wanted to punch him, he made me so angry. But I controlled myself.

Barely.

“Miles asked if this was the last time he was ever going to see me, and I looked over at you, and you didn’t say anything!”

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