Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!My Christmas present to you is the first chapter of Understand Me. (Unedited) Look for the book to be available Jan 2014!
Glory Days was about to head out on tour. Finally! I understood the need for Mary and Ash to be all lovey-dovey and shit with Ivy, their baby, but damn, this year between tours was killing me. I needed to be out on the road.
Everything was back to normal in our little fold. Well, about as normal as you could call our clan. We all had some type of misfit syndrome going on, so none of us could be called ‘normal’, because we all had issues.
Mine were just a little bit stranger than the others. I looked like a damn freak, and of course, I really didn’t fucking care. My tattoos were my warning signals for people to stay the hell away from me. I liked my inner crowd and didn’t care much for outsiders, but if you were close to me, then I’d give you my one hundred percent.
“Hey,” Mary said, coming up beside me. “Where’s Ash?” She was holding their baby girl, who was about to turn a year old. Ivy Nicole Martin was the most adorable baby I’d ever seen, even after she came out all scrunched up and red from Mary’s vajayjay. It took weeks before that child looked anything near human. Of course, when I asked Mary why she looked that way, I just got slapped in the back of the head and told I needed to use my filter. Whatever that meant.
“I think he’s around back somewhere.” She frowned and looked around, but Ash was nowhere to be found. I just shrugged and held out my arms.
Ivy leaned away from her mom and held her hands up for me to take her. Mary sighed happily and let me have my little niece. Man, she was adorable with her blonde curls and big green eyes. Ash griped all the time about getting her a damn chastity belt when the girl turned twelve.
“Hey beautiful,” I smiled and kissed her soft cheeks. Man, if kids didn’t scare the hell out of me, I’d have a slew of them, just so I could smell their sweet scent all the time. I started hopping around with Ivy, she giggled at me. I was totally wrapped around her finger from the first time I held her. If Ash didn’t get her one of those belts, I sure as hell would.
“Kane,” Mary growled. “Don’t drop her!”
“I won’t!” I yelled as I ran up on the stage. It was time to teach this girl how to play a real instrument. “You ready for your daily lesson, girly?” We were back in the old warehouse prepping the set for our upcoming show. Today we were doing a trial run, and since we were still waiting on Gabe to get here, I used that time to spoil this baby just a little longer, and to give Mary a little break.
When Ivy giggled and tried to pinch the skull tattoo on my forearm, I handed her the sticks and let her beat the hell out of the drum in from of me. It killed Ash that she was more interested in the drums than the guitar, but as soon as he’d sing all bets were off. She was a daddy’s girl through and through.
“K….K…Kaaaa,” she gurgled on my lap. Bang…Bang…Bang.
I grabbed a stick and tried to beat out something that sounded like music while Ivy laughed and bounced up and down on my knee.
Movement on my right had me looking up to the father of the child on my lap. Ash was a force and one of my best friends. Ivy didn’t see her daddy coming, because she was too busy spitting on my arm.
Ash picked up a microphone and started singing a lullaby. Ivy dropped the stick and wiggled out of my arms. She held her arms up in the air and stumbled over to Ash saying, “Da…Da…Daaaaa!”
“Hey Little M,” he laughed and scooped her up into his arms. That man was a complete pussy when it came to his girls. I couldn’t blame him though. If I had two amazing women in my life, like Mary and Ivy, I’d be a complete and utter wuss too.
My phone rang in my pocket and I frowned when I saw it was my cousin Coraline. She’d told me not to call her until she was due to show up for work. So, what the hell was she doing calling me?
“Hey,” I answered. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” she giggled. “I need to ask you a favor.”
“Shoot,” I replied.
“I have a friend…”
“No,” I cut her off. I didn’t hire ‘friends’.
“Listen Kane,” she growled. “I need help. It kills me to admit it, but you guys keep getting bigger and bigger every damn tour and I need help. My friend has run stage set up for years with other bands and she’d be a really huge help for me.”
“Ah, Cora,” I moaned. “You know how I feel about this?” I didn’t like new people and roadies were always weird anyway.
“You’ll love her,” she begged. “I promise”
“Coraline,” I growled.
“Please,” she pleaded into the phone. I never could tell her no, even when we were children.
“She has a three week trial period. If she even breathes on me wrong, she’s gone.” I turned on my seat and watched as Mary came up to take Ivy from Ash. Gabe must finally be here.
“Thank you, Kane. You won’t regret it,” she clapped into the phone and I just shook my head. This girl better work her ass off just as hard as Coraline did, or I’d fire them both. Well, not Coraline, because she was just awesome at what she did.
Gabe finally showed up and we got down to the rehearsals. I just hoped that Cora didn’t put me in a situation I wasn’t going to be able to handle.
“He said yes,” I asked into the phone.
“He said yes,” she replied. I couldn’t believe it. I finally found my way out of Seattle, and this shithole apartment. My last job had been with my now ex-boyfriends band and I wanted to never ever think about shacking up with a rockstar again. He was a loser and a prick. I’d finally gotten away from his multi-million dollar house on the water. This rent-by-the-week studio apartment wasn’t much, but at least it was mine.
“When can I come out to LA?” I asked. “I’ve got to get out of here.” Coraline Maddox was my best and only friend, and she knew what was going on. The fuckwad of an ex sent his goons to bully me into coming back, but I’d gotten pretty good at hiding from them. Except for recently, but I wasn’t going to tell Cora that.
“Whenever you’re ready,” she said. I took that opening and ran for it.
“Um, yeah,” she said. “You can crash here until we leave.”
“Thanks, Cora. You’re a lifesaver,” I sighed. “I’ll be there as soon as I can get the next flight out.”
“Is everything okay, Delilah,” she asked.
“Yeah,” I feigned stupid. “Just eager to work, and to get out of town. He’s not happy.”
“Yeah, girl. I want you out of there too.”
We hung up and I dialed the airline while I tossed what little clothes I had into my suitcase. Thankfully, I’d moved around a lot over the past seven years to know what to keep and what would just weigh me down. I’d be on tour for at least four months with Glory Days, and the income was enough to keep me living comfortable for the following six after we got back home.
I didn’t have a home to go to. Maybe I’d find someplace that fit me while we were traveling this fall.
I was different than most girls. My hair had always stood out, being long and jet black, and the fact that I was tattooed over seventy percent of my body didn’t help me stay in the shadows either. Most guys liked my rocker chick look, but I didn’t really care what they thought. I liked the way I look. Even if most of my tattoos were to cover up scars from my past.
Luck was on my side, and there was a flight to Los Angeles leaving in two hours. I called for a cab and didn’t waste time getting the hell out of Seattle. If I ever saw that place again, it’d be too soon.
I closed the window screen by my seat on the plane. I didn’t want to see the lights of Seattle fade in the distance. I didn’t want to be reminded of the hell I’d been put through over the past two years by the hands of a rockstar. He was a monster. Even his goons liked to rough me up a little when they’d find me and pressure me into coming back to his place. I didn’t want to say his name; to give him the satisfaction of hearing it fall from my lips.
I tried to close my eyes and sleep, but the pounding in my head kept me awake. I asked the flight attendant for a water and took four Motrin for the pain behind my ear. I reached up and felt the rigid bumps where they’d sewed my scalp back together after he’d cracked a vodka bottle over my head one night. He had been mad, and I was his outlet.
Forgetting, or at least trying too, I closed my eyes and by the time we landed at LAX, my headache was gone. My dear friend Coraline Maddox was waiting for me by the baggage claim.
“You look so good,” she beamed at me.
“Thanks,” I squeezed her now bigger muscles. “Your cousin’s been working you hard, I see.”
She waved off my hand with a goofy laugh. She was really tiny, but the girl was stout. She was stronger than an ox and had a personality to kill for. Cora was damn near perfect.
“Just you wait till you see this set they’ve designed. It’s massive. I’m talking four times as many lights and television screens. I’m going to have to retire by the time I’m twenty-five, or they’ll run me into the ground.” She grabbed my huge suit case and wheeled it out into the parking garage to her little Honda Civic. We crammed the suitcase in the trunk and off we went.
She had some nice digs in LA, and I was happy that she had a spare room for me to use for the next week before we left. The further away from Seattle we got, the better I’d feel.
“You want to see the tour schedule,” Cora asked from the kitchen where she was pouring herself a glass of juice.
“Sure,” I said as I dropped onto her overstuffed leather couch. God, this thing was comfortable. I wouldn’t mind sleeping here instead.
“We’ve been to most of these places before. I’ll tell you about each one and what the set up will be like, if you’ve never set up at any of them.” She thrust a folded piece of paper into my hand and sat down beside me. I unfolded the paper and felt my shoulders relax. We were starting on the East Coast first, before working our way back toward California. Seattle was on the list but it was months away, and hopefully by then he would have gotten a clue that I wasn’t his anymore.
“Look, I have a photo shoot in New York on this week,” I said pointing to the paper. “It’s only a day shoot and it looks like we are on a three day break between Atlantic City and Philly. They don’t mind if I disappear for a day, right?”
“Naw,” she drawled. “As long as you are there for tear down and back before it’s time to set up in Philly, I don’t see a problem with it.”
“Cool,” I smiled. This was good. The money I made from the magazine spreads helped keep me afloat sometimes, but because of some recent altercations with the ex, I wasn’t appropriate for photos. The bruises were too visible and makeup just couldn’t cover them. Since I posed damn near naked for the tattoo magazines that hired me, I needed to have perfect skin. Well, the skin that wasn’t covered by the tattoos.
“So,” she began. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not really,” I turned up my nose, rubbing the scar behind my ear.
“I don’t want you to worry, D. You’ll be safe with us. He won’t get to you.” She sat down and pulled me close. I rested my head on her shoulder and sighed heavily. Cora ran her fingers through my hair and traced the ridge of the scar. “I could kill him, for what he did to you.”
“Me too,” I sniffled. “I’m sorry you had to run out at the end of the tour.”
“When you called me from the hospital, we had just finished up the last show. Ash and Kane saw me talking to you and demanded to know what was going on.”
“You…you didn’t tell them, did you,” I panicked. I didn’t want anyone knowing what only Cora and I knew. It made me look weak, and I wasn’t weak. I just made a bad choice and now I have to deal with it.
“No! Of course not! I told them I had a friend with guy trouble and it wasn’t anything for them to worry about.” I accepted her answer and leaned forward on the couch. She patted my knee and got up to leave. “I’m going to bed. Sleep in as long as you want. We don’t have to be anywhere tomorrow.”
She kissed the top of my head, and I followed her back to the bedrooms. We parted ways and I crawled into the guest bed, pulling the covers up over my shoulders. This bed was more comfortable than the overstuffed couch in the living room. I could get use to this place. With the comfort, also came the memories of that night.
That night I called Coraline, I’d been planning on getting away, and had made the mistake of preplanning where I’d escape too. He had his security detail following me, and I’d thought I was in the clear when I went to talk to this lady about an apartment for rent.
By the time I’d returned to his place, he’d already started drinking. Most of his band members were there, along with about thirty other women I didn’t know. His devilish scowl followed me as I ducked my head and walked toward the bedroom.
At least I had my own room when I was forced to stay with him. In the beginning, he was a charmer, and very kind. After months of being in love, or so I thought, he became demanding, almost territorial toward me. The lifestyle we lived was different, but he soon forgot how that worked.
Being a rising rockstar, he took fame a little too far. The late night parties, and the drinking, then the drugs, became a daily thing. There were times I was afraid to be there with him, and even with the comments he’d make in front of others, I knew something was changing in him.
At first, if I didn’t do the things he wanted me to do, he’d backhand me. Shortly after that, I tried to leave in the middle of the night, but was quickly found by his people. They’d bring me back, and the abuse continued. Then it got worse.
The day I’d gone to talk to the woman about a place to rent, I was followed by his second hand guy, Charles. When I walked in the door, Charles had already told him what I’d planned. The things he did to me that day still caused an ache in my bones that will probably never go away. By dinner, he was vibrating with anger. I sat on the couch to untie my shoes when it happened.
An excruciating pain like nothing I’d ever felt bloomed behind my ear. I immediately lost my vision, but I felt the warm stickiness of my blood oozing out of my head. Voices screamed next to my body as I slumped to the floor.
I found out later, that he’d taken an empty vodka bottle to my head. Once I was on the floor, and thankfully unconscious, he proceeded to kick and punch my body until one of his guards pulled him off of me.
I was dumped at the hospital and when I finally woke up, the nurses and doctors asked who I was and if I had any family. My family didn’t want me, so the only person I knew to call was Coraline. She was at my side the next day. My best friend had to find me a place to live, and get it somewhat furnished so that when I was released from the hospital I’d have a safe place to recover.
Cora, bless her heart, stayed with me for months. She bathed me, fed me when I couldn’t, and basically took over my care until the bones healed and the bruises faded. The scars were covered up with a few new tattoos after that. Granted it was hard to do, because scars don’t like the ink, but we managed to find some really awesome designs that did the trick. Now, only if you ran your hands over them would you know anything was there.
She’d begged me to come back to Los Angeles with her, but I just couldn’t leave Seattle yet. She yelled and cried until I promised to come, only if I could find work there. Her cousin’s band Glory Days was about to strike out on tour, and since I had plenty of experience setting up lights, the way Coraline does, she asked Kane if I could come help her.
Thankfully, he said yes. Now, here I am, away from the abuse and starting a new life for myself. Hopefully, I can use this time to focus on the direction I want my life to go. If he ever found me, I’m afraid he won’t stop his anger, until I was dead.