We’re now down to five days.
Five days until I let everyone in on what I’ve been working on for the better parts of a year. Five days until you get to read the story about Emma and Parker from start to finish. Five days.
When I started this project, I never really believed I would finish it.
I’m very proud of myself that I actually did!
Today, I’m giving you another Chapter for free.
It will be the last one, if you want to know what happens after this, you’ll have to order the book. I hope you do.
I also hope you’ll let me know what you think.
Leave a comment, write me an email. Tweet me.
So, until sunday; enjoy!
5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – Gry
I walked to the bar and ordered drinks for everyone. The bartender seemed more than happy to have us, and made it easy for me, “Just sit down, I’ll bring everything over.” “Thanks,” I said and handed him my card.
They were about to close, but as the owner was still there, and he was clearly a fan, we had been let inside as he showed everyone else the door. When I say we, I mean the band, some of the crew, a couple of bodyguards and Sophia and Emma. I asked if the two of them wanted to come have some drinks with us after the show. They both seemed surprised, but also happy about it and agreed to join us. I knew it must have been hard for Emma to say yes this soon after Tom, so I was taking care of her as best I could. Happy the owner left us alone and even happier there were no other fans, I allowed myself to let my guard down a little. I went back to the group that was now seated around a couple of tiny little tables and sat down next to Emma. The boys were relaxed and apparently not afraid that either Emma or Sophia would betray them and run off telling all of our secrets, so some really great stories about touring and fans were running wild around the tables. They listened with big, round eyes, surely not believing what they were being told, but they laughed nonetheless. The bartender came over with a tray full of shots. Tequila! I kept an eye on Emma to see her reaction, knowing tequila would go down fast with the band and crew. She looked like she could hold down a drink, even though I hadn’t really seen her intoxicated before. I grabbed two off the tray before anyone could reach it, handed her one and took one for myself. Shortening the distance between her face and mine, I leaned towards her.
“I dare you.”
She laughed at me, took the glass and kicked it back, slamming it on the table. Shit, she beat me to it? The guys cheered and whistled for her, so I just followed her lead and swallowed back my own drink.
She shook her hair back and laughed.
“Yeah, this isn’t my first bar brawl.”
I shoved my chair back slightly, simultaneously sneaking it closer to hers. She didn’t say anything, just looked at me with her head tilted to one side, probably wondering what I was doing.
“Not very smooth, Parker,” I thought to myself.
“Baby steps, Parker,” followed.
We were seated pretty close now and when I laid my arm on the armrest, it would touch hers. Skin to skin. I left my arm there, not moving. My other arm would have to do all the work this evening. We spent an hour like this, chatting about old times. I even brought up that time she’d fallen on her ass in front of me.
“Do you remember?” I said, and smiled.
She blushed and I loved it.
“I was sick, you know, but I didn’t want to miss that show!”
Sophia added to her explanation.
“Yeah, she had a fever and I told her to say in bed. Let’s just say she didn’t agree!”
I looked at Emma again. She was looking at her hands, but there was a smile on her face. “You’re a little crazy, you know that?”
“Yeah, and you love it!” she spat back with a wicked grin.
Caden shrugged and I knew she had him. My girl could charm anyone. Wait. My girl. When did I start thinking about her as my girl? In my dreams, yeah, but in real life? I wasn’t sure I was there with her. Not yet. I just really wanted to be.
I could have died right there when Parker brought up that time I fell. That was so embarrassing. I knew I was blushing, but decided not to let them get to me, so I laughed it off with Caden. I had probably died and gone to heaven anyway. Walking into this bar with the band, I felt like I had won the lottery. Previous times, when we’d been at a bar with them, we had been two in a crowd of many and we had stayed in the background. Watching Parker flirt with other girls was hard. All I ever dreamed about was to have him look at me that way. Funny thing was, tonight he did. Tonight, I was the only girl he paid any attention to. All evening Parker had left his arm on the armrest next to me. I cherished the contact, not knowing if it was intentional or not. His skin was warm, the hair on his arm tickled me, but I wasn’t moving. We downed a few more shots, too, and I could really feel it. I was getting dizzy, and definitely more than a little tipsy. Looking up I saw the owner of the bar come over and he leaned down to Parker to talk to him. With Parker being the obvious leader of the pack, I understood why people were drawn to him. Parker listened intently and then nodded.
“Hey guys, they wanna close the bar, so let’s get out of here!”
He proceeded to thank the guy, shaking his hand. The guys protested loudly, but Parker just blew them off saying, “Take the party to the bus, guys.”
Lucas shouted over the noise.
“When is bus call?”
I saw Parker check his watch and then answer.
“In half an hour.”
Oh no. I looked at Sophia and saw her face go from utter glee to utter misery. This was it, they were leaving, the night was over and we would have to go back home. Clearing out of the bar, Parker took my arm to hold me back. We walked out next to each other, but behind everyone else. Once outside, Lucas called for a cab. Parker looked down at me. “Would you walk me to the bus?”
Not wanting to miss out on a single minute he was here, I said, “Yes.”
It was easy. Sophia was already getting in a car with Jack and I mouthed to her “See you there.” She nodded as the door shut. I looked around, realizing that we were the only ones left. I had this man all to myself. I was suddenly nervous and started fidgeting with my purse. Parker looked at me but didn’t say anything. We just started walking towards the venue.
“Is it always like this?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
I looked around me. It was dark and strangely quiet for London, only a couple of people outside minding their own business.
“I mean, do you always party like this after a show?”
“You mean, are we living the rock star life?”
It was my turn to laugh. I felt a little embarrassed.
“Sorry, that was a stupid question.” I stuttered.
I may have looked calm on the outside, but the alcohol had me buzzing on the inside…the alcohol and the fact that Parker was there. This was as close as we had ever been. “No babe, it’s okay. We don’t always go out like tonight. Most days, it’s a beer or two to calm down after the gig, before we all go to sleep or whatever the guys do in their bunks.”
I thought about Parker in his bunk and my mind went crazy with ideas. Shit girl, you need to stop fantasizing! We continued walking and my mind raced backwards. Previous times, at bars like this, I’d kept quiet and invisible. There were two reasons for that. One; I never knew what to say to any of the guys, and two; it gave me a great opportunity to check them out, and that was by far one of my favorite pastimes. Parker and I kept a slow pace as our steps brought us back to reality. Tomorrow would be back to work, back to the monotone life I’d been getting used to. This evening had been a welcome break. He didn’t stop until we could see the bus in the distance and then pulled the both of us up to a wall, into darkness. For me, the clock stopped right there. He stepped in close to me, ignoring my personal space, and I felt him breathe more than I saw it. I was looking at the pavement when I felt his hand under my chin, pulling it up.
“Look at me,” he said.
I blinked. Twice. Meeting his icy blue eyes always made me catch my breath and it was no different this time. I looked at him, followed his eyes as they roamed over me. The “Emma” coming out of his mouth was more of a whisper and I said nothing. His hand was on my neck, in my hair and I could have sworn he wanted to kiss me. All I could hear right now was my breathing and his. In and out, in perfect unison. I don’t know if it was the alcohol talking or if this night had finally made me admit what I knew to be true, but I whispered quietly to him.
“You saved me. I would have drowned without you, Parker. You saved me.”
He let out a small hum, a rumble in his chest. I lifted my hand to place it over his heart. Looking up at him I saw hunger. I saw need. And lust.
He leaned towards me. His nose touched the tip of mine. His forehead rested against my own. I closed my eyes so I could memorize this moment, enough that I would be able to bring it back up when he left. His hands came up to the sides of my face and I felt relaxed where I had thought I’d feel panicked. His thumbs were soft against the skin they were caressing. Parker’s mouth was open and when I licked my lips I felt his breath on them. This was more intimate to me than any hug or kiss would ever be. Having a man like Parker hold me like this without feeling me up or wanting to make out, it was amazing. Parker straightened slowly, holding my gaze glued to his. He ran one hand through his hair and let out a long breath and then grabbed me for a hug. Holding me close, I felt him against me. He wanted me as much as I wanted him; I felt proof of that against my stomach. I smiled into his chest. I didn’t want to be the first to break the hug, so I held on tight. I felt safe in his arms. And not alone.
I watched her get into the cab I called for her. I didn’t want her to leave, but the bus was headed out in a few minutes, so all I could do was make sure she was safely off before I had to go. I walked back to the bus and stepped inside. The guys were busy drinking, and asked me to join them. I stayed for a beer before I headed upstairs to find my bunk. Touring was fun, but I missed being alone. Grabbing my headphones, I put on some music to shut the world out. I pulled the curtains for some privacy and closed my eyes. She looked so sad when I put her in that cab. There was a sharp pain in my chest, not a kind of pain I recognized, but not entirely unpleasant, so I stopped myself from following that thought. I knew it had to do with her. There was no question about it, I had fallen for her. I was completely and utterly lost in her beautiful person. Her smile, the way she moved, her sense of humor. She was such a beautiful girl. I wasn’t sure she felt that way, though, and thought to myself that I needed to reassure her. I wasn’t able to stop thinking about her, so I brought up my phone and sent her a message.
– Your eyes are beautiful, like emeralds.
The answer came fast.
– Yeah, and you’ve had too much to drink.
I chuckled. She was probably right, I’d had a bit more than usual, but I loved how it made me feel careless and free.
– I really like you, Emma.
I pressed send before I could stop myself. I’d blame the alcohol later. I hadn’t been able to say it to her face and I beat myself up for it. I had my chance and didn’t take it. I felt stupid. I looked at the screen, waiting for it to light up. It took a couple of minutes.
– Don’t say that, Parker. You don’t get to say that. Not now, after you left.
She was right, of course. I felt like I had lost my chance.
– Please don’t hate me…
This time she was fast.
– I don’t hate you, Parker, not even a little bit. That’s the problem…
Oh shit! There it was. I sat up, bumping my head in the overhead bunk. I swore and just laid back down. I brought up her number, wanting to call her, but took a breath, locked the phone and closed my eyes again. Give her time, Parker. That would be my mantra from now on.
I sat there, waiting for him to reply, but nothing ever came. I waited and waited, but nothing happened. Did I make a mistake right now, sending that text? I pretty much bared my heart right there and the guy left me hanging. Jeez, Emma, you can be so stupid sometimes. I eventually found my way to bed, but sleep didn’t come easy. Twisting and turning the way I did made my sheets super warm and thanks to the alcohol, my thoughts were running wild about that last text I sent. It just made it that much harder to sleep. I ended up getting out of bed to open the windows and strip down to my panties. I finally cooled down enough to fall asleep only to have my dreams filled with images of Parker. I woke up exhausted the next morning, but turned to grab my phone and check it for texts. There was nothing. My Twitter alert for Parker had lit up, though. There were a bunch of tweets from him, all talking about how last night’s show had been special, one of the best in a long time, and at the end a short one: This is when I start living. I wasn´t entirely sure what he meant by those words and I tried not to put myself into the equation. It couldn´t possibly have anything to do with me anyway, right? I got up off the bed and walked into the bathroom. I ran the water really cold and got in. While I was shampooing my hair, I wasn´t able to stop thinking about Parker. Last night had been unforgettable, a night I would cherish forever. There were a handful of other events like that one. The one I really remember was back when I won a dinner with the band. I had been so nervous and even felt too sick to go, but Sophia made me. The guys had all been so down to earth and relaxed and that night had soon become one I looked back upon with utter happiness. Having been to see them so many times, it was inevitable that they at some point would remember me. I never expected anything, but I came to know early on that Parker knew who I was. He had always been kind to me, probably no more than he was to anyone else, but it still made me feel special. He would answer my questions at Meet & Greets and make sure I got good photos. He’d sometimes reply to my tweets, not often, but enough for me to know he remembered me. I got out of the shower, smiling as I thought of those happy times, and pulled a towel out of the top shelf of the cabinet. I was about to close the door when I saw a piece of paper up there. I wrinkled my forehead as I pulled it out. There wasn´t supposed to be anything but towels on that shelf. It was just a folded sheet of paper, nothing on the outside of it, but as I unfolded it there was a handwritten message on it. My knees gave out from underneath me and I found myself on the floor. Holding the paper in my hand I read it.
“Baby, I love you. Thank you so much for breakfast in bed today. You are the light of my life.”
I was shaking like crazy by the time I finished reading. Teardrops fell onto the paper as I read it again, and I realized what I had found. It was Tom´s handwriting. I had made him breakfast in bed the day before I left for the concert. The day before he died. Grief hit me right in the face. I felt as if I had been slapped as the feeling of shock took over. I pulled my towel up to my face, the towel that Tom had to have lifted to slide the paper underneath it; one of the last things he had touched in the apartment. I closed my eyes and tried to remember what his hands looked like. I struggled with it and I felt devastated when I couldn´t. I was already forgetting him! It hurt. It hurt so bad that I just curled up on the floor covering my body in the towel, crying. It wasn´t until the phone rang, what must have been hours later, that I got up, wrapped the towel around my body and walked back into the living room. I checked my phone and saw the missed call was from Sophia. I didn’t trust my voice enough to talk, so I just took a picture of the paper and sent it to her. I turned my phone off and crashed on the couch, pulling my favorite blanket over me. I felt completely drained and the thought of having to hold a conversation with anyone was extremely unwelcome. I put on a Dangerous album and dozed off to my favorite music. I woke up way later from banging on the door. I sighed, but got up. Sophia was outside. Her makeup was a little smudged, like she´d been crying. “Girl, what is going on?” she asked me.
She hugged me tight and I actually felt a bit relieved to not be alone after all.
“I found this under a towel in the bathroom earlier.” I explained, and gave her the paper I’d had crammed into my hand.
“He must have written it the day we left for Amsterdam.”
“Oh shit,” was all she said.
And then, “You look like shit!”
Checking me out, top to toe. Managing a small smile, I went to the kitchen to make her a cup of coffee. She followed me in.
“Did you get any sleep last night?” I asked as I gave her my favorite mug, band merchandise, bought at a concert. She took a sip and shook her head.
“I´m so tired it´s a miracle I´m standing up.”
“I know the feeling,” I said.
“Got any plans tonight?” She checked her phone and looked at me.
“Nope, I´m staying here and we´re ordering Chinese food. We´re gonna eat, have some wine and just hang out, babe, a proper girl’s night in!” I
loved her for always knowing what I needed.
“Perfect,” I said.
“So, babe, did you see Parker’s tweet from last night?”
The question came out sounding completely inconspicuous, but I knew better. She was curious, too, about what exactly he meant.
“Yeah, I did. Doesn´t really make sense, does it?”
“No, I’m not sure I understand what he meant about that.”
Sophia looked intently at me.
“So… did anything happen last night?”
I dug the menu, from that awesome little Chinese place down the road, out from a drawer and sat down next to her. As we both tried to figure out what food we wanted, I told her everything that happened yesterday, realizing my mood was on the way up and I felt so relieved having a best friend to lean on.
“Love Comes Twice” is set for release 04.30.17.
Available for preorder now, on iBooks and Barnes and Noble.