How to Catch a (Rock) Star (The Dead Hour #1)

Gabrielle Aquilina

 

Gabriella Aquilina has lived in America (twice), Hong Kong and Western Australia but has finally come to the conclusion that England is where she wants to be. She now resides on the south coast of England where she can run off all her baking efforts whilst breathing in the tangy sea air (and simultaneously achieving ‘beach waved’ hair. Not always a good look).

 

Visit her website: www.gabrielleaquilina.co.uk

How to Catch a (Rock) Star

 

A story of sex, love and Rock ‘n’ Roll

 

 

Gabrielle Aquilina

 

It’s a So Vain Book

 

Published in Great Britain in 2015 by:
SO VAIN BOOKS Ltd
75 London Road
Oxford OX3 9BB

 

www.sovainbooks.co.uk
Email: [email protected]

 

Copyright © 2015 Gabrielle Aquilina

 

The moral rights of the author have been asserted

A catalogue record from this book is available from the British Library

 

ISBN: 978-0-9930660-6-1

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places and events other than those clearly in the public domain, are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Cover Design by Jude A. Mag-asin

Printed and Bound in Great Britain by PrintOnDemand, Worldwide

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publishers.

 

 

For my gang, who never fail to make me laugh until I cry and have all overcome big heartbreak. Here’s to many more laughs and no more heartbreak!

CHAPTER ONE

 

Lillie caught a glimpse of the bassist as he threw himself to his knees and smiled to herself. Tattooed muscular arms. Check. Ripped black jeans and vintage band t-shirt. Check. Very good looking. Check, check. He ticked every box for a rock musician and, on top of that, he played really well, unlike the last band’s bassist. She looked at her ticket – The Dead Hour. Cool name. If only she could see the singer but he had spent most of his time on the other side of the stage and there was a wall of sweaty, overly-tall teenage boys determinedly blocking her view.

‘They’re really good, aren’t they?’ Kate shouted in her ear.

Lillie nodded and returned Kate’s wide grin. They were definitely the best band so far, although they didn’t exactly have much to beat. The band before them had been a trio of ageing glam rockers with pony tails and bald spots, wearing their tight, bright spandex with seriously misplaced confidence.

‘I’m going to the bar,’ she shouted to Kate. ‘Same again?’

Kate nodded and as Lillie turned her back on the stage, the song ended and the singer started thanking the crowd for being so great. Lillie carried on forcing her way to the bar, smashing the jealous bitterness deep down inside her.

She envied him. She envied the whole band actually, and if she hadn’t listened to her failed-as-a-singer mother, perhaps she would be performing on a stage like them, doing what she loved. Okay, so she’d have needed to find a cure for crippling stage fright too but still. It could happen. She shook her head. Could have happened. She was way too old to be pursuing a singing career now. The charts were full of tweens these days so at twenty four she was practically a grandma.

Reaching the tiny bar, she fought for a place, sighing as yet another beanstalk teenager appeared in front of her. Was there nobody above the age of sixteen in this place? And what were they giving teenagers these days to make them so tall? Steroids in McDonalds fries, growth hormones in Coca Cola?

Lillie held a twenty pound note out conspicuously and tried to make eye contact with the barman, shouting her order when he finally arrived, adding a tequila slammer as an afterthought. The so-called headliners were onstage and were decidedly Screamo, definitely not her thing. She figured a bit of tequila might help her appreciate them, downing it as soon as it was pushed in front of her and biting gratefully into the lemon slice.

‘Drinking tequila on your own,’ said a low, husky American voice in her ear. ‘Either you’re hating the music and trying to get drunk so you don’t remember it tomorrow or you’re just plain badass.’

Lillie tried and failed to swallow the bitter lemon juice without making a face and turned to the owner of the amused voice, feeling her eyes involuntarily widen and her cheeks glow bright red. He was easily the hottest man she had ever
seen. The bassist from earlier was Seth Rogen compared to this guy.

She suddenly remembered to breathe, inhaling a lemon pip which lodged in her throat, making her choke and splutter. Super attractive, she thought, at least I can blame my red face on a lack of oxygen.

‘Hey, are you okay?’ he said, reaching out a hand to slap her on the back.

She took a step back and nodded. If he touched her, she might spontaneously combust he was that hot.

‘I’m fine,’ she forced out, grabbing her beer and taking a huge swig.

‘Sorry,’ he said, his wide green eyes full of concern. ‘I didn’t mean to make you choke. Are you sure you’re okay?’ He put his hand on Lillie’s forearm and her stomach flipped. She stared at his strong, graceful fingers as they slid from her bare skin through the air before resting on his bottle of beer. Dreamily, she moved her gaze from his hand to those amazing jungle green eyes and realised he was waiting for her to answer him.

‘Oh, yes, I’m fine, thanks. Just wasn’t expecting you, I mean, someone to -’ she trailed off and gestured vaguely, staring intently at a small puddle of spilt beer on the bar. She was sure he could hear her heart beating loudly over the awful, awful music the headliners were creating.

‘So, what’s up with the slammer?’ he said, leaning in close to talk into her ear. ‘Don’t you like the music?’

Lillie rocked back a little, almost afraid to be near him. He smelt very slightly of sweat, a lot of that strong soap you get in miniature form in cheap hotels and something else she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Whatever it was, it was totally doing it for her.

‘I much preferred the band that was on before,’ she shouted at him from a safe distance. He smiled and her heart skittered. God, she didn’t think it would have been possible for a smile to make him even more gorgeous but it did. He had ever so slightly crooked teeth that made her heart race. For some reason that slight imperfection amongst all the beauty made him all the more sexy.

‘Really?’ he said. ‘That’s great. That’s real great.’ He looked over her head at someone behind her and frowned. ‘Listen, I gotta go but I’ll catch you later?’

Lillie nodded trance-like, still recovering from his incredibly sexy lop-sided grin. ‘Good to meet you -’ he tilted his head enquiringly, his black hair obscuring an eye.

‘Lil. Lillie,’ she said, holding out her hand. He looked down at it and Lillie moved it away, realising too late what a weirdly formal thing it was to do. He reached out and took it, shaking her hand.

‘Jed. Jerome,’ he replied before letting go, hitting her with that grin one more time and walking off.

Lillie watched him leave, heart pounding, face aflame and wished she had been more interesting or sexy or, let’s face it, more normal and coherent. Maybe he would think the hand shaking was a cute British thing and not just really lame.

She stayed at the bar for the rest of the set, taking refuge in an alcove where her ears were a bit more protected from the thrashing guitars and screams coming from the stage. If she was honest, this was also a better vantage point for Jed-spotting too. The first guy she had been attracted to in nearly a year and she had been a stuttering, bumbling fool. If she saw him again, she would be cool and funny and, oh, who was she kidding? She would be overwhelmed and incoherent again.

Finally, the set was over and the crowd was dispersing. Squeezing past more perspiring bodies than was probably sanitary, she found Kate, several feet from where she had previously been, her cropped blonde hair damp with sweat.

‘Some of the bands are doing a meet and greet afterwards – do you want to stay, get some autographs?’

‘We’re not fourteen, Kate. We’re way too old to be lining up for signatures!’

‘No, we’re not! Anyway, some of the band members are really cute.’ Kate pouted at her and fluttered her eyelashes.

‘Ah ha. So, you have your eye on one of the sexy sugar daddy guitarists from the first band - ‘ Lillie teased.

‘The drummer from the second band actually,’ Kate laughed. ‘And don’t tell me you weren’t drooling over the bassist!’

Lillie shook her head, leaning into Kate to tell her about Jed.

‘Well, let’s go and find him, it’s time you got back on the horse, so to speak,’ Kate laughed at the look on Lille’s face. ‘Come on. I’ll stalk the drummer when they’ve finished signing boobs or whatever it is they do.’

‘Well, I owe you a drink because I drank the one I got you earlier and I could do with some more Dutch courage if I’m going to talk to Jed.’ She could feel the nerves knotting in her stomach already as Kate grabbed her arm and pulled her through the pockets of fans.

The headlining band were already sitting at tables signing CD covers and tickets, a long line of barely dressed girls giggling as they waited to meet them. The second band was there too. Lillie recognised the hot bassist who was signing a girl’s chest. She shook her head and sighed. Looked like things hadn’t moved on much and groupies still abounded. Her eyes flickered over the rest of the band, a guy with longish hair whom she didn’t remember seeing, the singer who was searching for something in a bag on the floor and Kate’s drummer.

‘You see?’ said Kate. ‘If we’d queued up, I could have just met him without going all stalker on his arse.’ Kate had stopped and was watching as a young girl flicked her blonde hair extensions over a fake tanned shoulder and pushed out her chest at the drummer. She tutted and Lillie laughed.

‘Kate, she’s about fifteen. And if he likes girls like that, then he’s shallow and not worth your time.’ Kate rolled her eyes and they watched as the girl passed him a piece of paper which he took, smiling and then ditched onto the floor as soon as she had moved on.

‘Not shallow then,’ Lillie said. ‘Come on, lets get a –’ she grabbed Kate’s arm and turned her back to the table. Her heart knocked against her chest like it was going to explode out of it. ‘We have to go the bar right now,’ she forced out.

‘Why? What’s wrong?’ Kate said.

‘That guy, Jed? The hot American I was telling you about? He must be in one of the bands.’ She braved a quick look at the table. ‘He’s the singer of the band your drummer’s in. Crazy good looking – don’t stare!’

‘Oh God yeah, he is hot,’ she paused. ‘He’s looking over here.’ Lillie moaned.

‘Oh, he’s getting up. I think he’s coming over. You should turn around, Lil. Right now. Casually.’

Lillie took a deep breath and turned, willing the blood away from her burning cheeks. Thank God The Cavern was so dark. He was coming towards them, that crooked grin on his beautiful mouth. Kate nudged her and she forced a smile as he neared them.

‘Hey,’ he said. ‘I’m glad you’re still here. I thought you might have left already.’

‘No. Still here,’ Lillie replied. There was a beat of awkward silence where he obviously expected her to say something else but her brain, deprived of the blood that had taken up residence in her face, wouldn’t work.

‘Hi, I’m Kate.’ Thank God. Kate to the rescue.

‘Hey, good to meet you Kate, I’m Jed.’

‘Loved your set,’ Kate continued. ‘I really liked the second to last song you did. Very haunting. Great lyrics and that riff in the middle was awesome.’

Now why can’t I be cool and collected like that, Lillie thought to herself.

‘Oh yeah?’ he said. That’s one of my favourites.’ He turned to Lillie. ‘Have you recovered from the last band yet?’

Lillie nodded. God, he was achingly gorgeous. He looked over his shoulder at the bassist who had just shouted his name and was waving him over.

‘Listen, I’ve got things to do but will you stay for a drink? We shouldn’t be too long now.’ They all looked at the queue and Lillie raised an eyebrow. ‘Okay, well they’re probably not all for us, so –’ he laughed.

‘We’ll be at the bar,’ Kate said. ‘Make sure you bring your drummer with you.’

Jed laughed again and put his hand on Lillie’s arm. His touch was cool against her skin and sent a skitter up her spine. ‘See you in a while.’

‘Crocodile,’ Lillie said, instantly regretting it. She could feel Kate’s stare burning into the side of her face. Could she have been any more lame?

Jed grinned and called her Alligator before nodding at Kate and going back to the table.

‘What was that?’ Kate demanded as they headed to the bar.

‘What?’

‘You know what. I was so embarrassed for you.’

‘Oh thanks.’ Lillie pulled a face and squeezed into the crowd waiting at the bar.

‘I know it’s been a while, Lil, but that was really bad. Crocodile?’

Lillie groaned and put her hands to her cheeks.

‘I know. It just slipped out.’

‘Well, try to be a bit more chatty when he comes over because I’ll be busy with the drummer so I won’t be able to save you again,’ Kate said, grinning at her.

‘Yes, yes. I’ll be fine.’ Kate looked like she highly doubted it. ‘I will,’ Lillie said. ‘I’ll be funny and charming and confident.’

‘You should be confident. He came up to you. Twice. He obviously likes you and if that crocodile thing didn’t put him off then I’d say you’re good to go.’ She held Lillie by the shoulders. ‘Forget about Married Matt, Lil. You’ve punished yourself enough and now it’s time to get back on the horse. I mean, really on the horse.’ Lillie widened her eyes and Kate sighed.

‘Look at him, he’s perfect. And so, so hot. You deserve him.’

They watched Jed and the bassist as they joked around, leaning across the poor guitarist who looked like he might explode from irritation any minute now. The bassist signed yet another girl’s chest, holding up his hand for Jed to high five, but he shook his head and turned his attention back to the fans.

Lillie liked the way he seemed to have time for everyone, chatting as he signed T-shirts, arms or bits of paper. She noticed that he refused to sign any body part other than arms. She loved that. It showed some respect towards the girls who were busy throwing themselves at him. He glanced over towards the bar, his eyes searching her out. When his gaze found her, he smiled that knicker pinging grin and waved. She waved back and told herself that she wasn’t going to sleep with him no matter what Kate said. She just wasn’t ready for that yet.

The memory of Married Matt’s wife on her doorstep, baby in her arms, flashed into her head. Two years of dating and she had never suspected. Not for one moment. She was obviously a terrible judge of character and, even if Jed was the hottest guy she’d ever met, he was in a band and everyone knew about bands and groupies. She didn’t want to be used again. Not ever.

 

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