Home > My Night with a Rockstar(7)

My Night with a Rockstar(7)
Author: Michelle Mankin

“Your band, dipshit. I’ve been looking for acts to bring in, and I want Steele Hammer.”

A slow ache builds behind my eyes. He’s speaking in riddles I’m too tired to decode. “Bring in where?”

Steff exhales through his teeth as he reaches into his jacket pocket. “I promise you: this is an offer you won’t be given twice. I suggest you don’t blow it by acting, well, like you.” A business card flutters onto my lap. “Call me after you’ve sobered up. You might want to consider a shower, too. Wash off the day-old stink of smoke and Jack Daniels.”

I lift the card and mumble aloud as Steff turns toward the door. “Stephan Duke the Third, RatBird Records.”

That sobers me up.

I’m off the couch in an instant. “Wait . . . you’re with RatBird?”

“Yeah. Maribelle and I attend the university together. She was sure she had her hands on the next big thing. She can be quite convincing.”

He opens the door, but I grab his arm before he can leave. “Why are you giving us this shot after what I did?”

“Maribelle believes in you, and I believe in what I saw. That’s an amazing woman you have there. Don’t fuck that up.” With that, he turns to leave.

Guilt skates down my spine and swims in my gut. I fucked up. Possibly ruined the only thing in my life that’s truly good with petty jealousy and my bullshit need to feel untethered.

I want to be with Maribelle. Together, we can have it all.

I hope it’s not too late.


• • •


Aviators shield my puffy eyes as I slink through the black, wrought iron gates of the Vista View. This place I’ve called home I’ve taken for granted. I’ve worn this face for so damned long. The cocky rock-star mask fit so seamlessly it grew hard to figure out where Lizard ends and I begin. The lines blurred. I tirelessly crafted this persona until I lost all sight of the real me.

A little boy who was beaten when he cried.

I moved cross-country hoping to break free, but that boy came with me. He’s still inside, drowning in the river of booze and crying in private. The only way to relieve myself of that burden is to open the box and let him out.

Highway traffic echoes around me, the hot pavement burning through my boots. A gleam in the bushes catches my eye. My heart sinks. Pyramid studs embedded in leather; my pants clinging to the leaves.

“The fuck?”

I pluck the pants from their green resting place, noticing my Union Jack tee sitting in the mulch below. My gaze scans the patio. T-shirts and jeans are strewn about. My entire life scattered on the wind.

Once upon a time, I was punished for feeling.

Now, I’m being punished because I can’t.

The weight on my chest crushes my lungs. I look up at the apartment door, taking the steps two at a time. It’s not just my stuff hanging off the railings making my heart feel heavy. It’s the fear that I’ve lost her for good.

I slide my key in the lock, but the chain stops me from entering.

“Maribelle,” I shout through the open gap. “Maribelle, I know you’re home.”

When she comes into view, my stomach twists. Leopard satin kisses her skin, her flowing robe just transparent enough to show the lacey black tank and panties underneath.

“Unlock the door. This is bullshit.”

Expecting her to fight, I brace myself for the blow, but her calm demeanor is almost worse than her wrath. Eyes once filled with passion-fueled fire seem vacant and empty. She lets out a long, low sigh, her chin falling to her chest. “You’re right, Lizard. This is bullshit. You. Me. This whole situation. I’m done.”

Attempting to get to her, I slam open the door, but the chain holds firm. “Baby, c’mon, don’t be like this.”

“I always believed in you. I may have been the only one who consistently believed in you, but after last night, I see the truth. You’re the brick wall standing in your way.”

“I’m sorry, Belle. I overreacted. I just . . .” I beat my elbow into the side of the doorframe. “Maribelle, please.”

“Please what?” She steps closer. The scent of her perfume wafts through the crevice, the fragrance of home. “I already got you everything you dreamed of. What more do you want?”

“Baby . . .”

“Say it, Lizard. I want to hear you say it.”

I press my lips together, nostrils flaring, words I’ve never said stalling on my lips. “Don’t you already know?”

Pain slashes across her features. She bites down on her lip, her darting gaze searching my face for the truth I’ve kept hidden deep inside. “I need to hear it.”

Panic surges. Three little words should be so easy, yet they stumble over the bitter lump forming in my throat. “I love you,” I mumble.

She swallows hard and squares her shoulders. “Louder.”

The dam bursts, and it all comes rushing off my tongue faster than my reluctant brain wants to allow. “I love you, okay?” The sound of my admission ping-pongs across the courtyard and echoes off the surrounding buildings. “I can’t live without you. I can’t fucking think knowing you’re mad at me. There . . . I said it. I fucking love you. Why is everything fucking labels with you?”

Another streak of anguish flashes in her gaze, but she blinks it away. “I love you, too. But it shouldn’t have to be this difficult,” she says, closing the door and latching the deadbolt.





“What are you doing tonight?”

My friend Heather walks alongside me, frizzy strands of her Ogilvie home perm sticking to her frosted pink gloss.

“I don’t know. Paint my nails, maybe watch The Facts of Life.”

She stops near a bench and lifts her foot onto the ledge. “You and Lizard broke up, like, a week ago. You have to snap out of this funk,” she insists, adjusting the slouch on her neon green sock.

I blow out a strong puff of air. “I will.” It just may take me a couple of years.

She presses her lips together in a knowing smirk. Heather was the first friend I made at UCLA. She’s fun and cool, despite her hideous wardrobe choices. “The best way to get over a guy is to get under another one. There’s a party at the Sigma Chi house tonight. You should come with.”

A scowl lifts my lips. “A frat guy? Gag me with a spoon.”

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