Authors: Jade C. Jamison
On the Road
Jade C. Jamison
On the Road
All that glitters isn’t gold. Sometimes it’s plastic.
Kyle Summers hits the road with her band the Vagabonds, living the dream. Five young women are tossed into the limelight with little supervision, seemingly left to the wolves. Kyle is driven and headstrong, and—while she enjoys the temptations of sex and drugs on the road—music always comes first. In spite of her friends crumbling under the pressure and lack of support, the Vagabonds become a household name and enjoy success not experienced by people far beyond their years.
But Kyle realizes two things—one is that her relationships are hollow without love, but she and CJ, her main love interest, are only on-again, off-again at best, leaving her feeling unfulfilled. The second is that Kyle quickly grows weary of dealing with egos and prima donnas, and she feels helpless while watching her band fall apart.
Can she save her band—and her relationship with CJ—or will she end up alone and forgotten?
Vagabonds follows one young woman’s rise to fame past the pitfalls of sex, drugs, and easy money, through fortune and success to heartbreak and betrayal. Five girls build their band the Vagabonds from nothing but a hunger to create and quickly find that they are nothing but pawns in a larger game played by managers, agents, the press, the music industry, and all manner of unscrupulous, greedy people who want to feed on their triumphs. Friendships and lives hang in the balance. Who will survive?
I asked CJ if he wanted to wager anything. “Like what?” he asked.
I laughed. “How about that sweet car? I know you could afford another one.”
He looked up at his score. There was no way in a million years I could beat him. Well, maybe a million, but it would definitely involve a miracle of some kind. He grinned and started to say, “You know there’s—”
“Shh,” I interrupted, placing my index finger on his lips. “Are you man enough to take my bet or not?”
He chuckled and then sucked my finger into his mouth.
That was hotter than it had a right to be, and I was pretty sure he read that reaction all over my face. I forced myself to let the air out of my lungs while he released my finger. Then he replied, “Fine, darlin’, I’ll take your bet.”
“Sweet. I love that car of yours. Now…what do you want
to wager?” I chewed on my bottom lip a second before adding, “I could make some suggestions.”
He blinked once, slowly and methodically, a slight grin making his eyes twinkle. “I’m sure you could. Why do I get the feeling you’re being naughty?”
My smile grew wider. “Am I
“Mm-hmm.” Yeah, like he hadn’t encouraged it.
“Okay, so let’s take care of this last frame.”
“But the bet—”
“How about…” He lifted my ball off the return and held it in his palm for me to grab. I stuck my fingers in the holes and he continued. “I choose my prize if I win?”
Okay. That would involve a lot of trust. Two seconds and I decided—I
I trusted him. Two more seconds and I felt a thrilled shiver charge through my spine wondering just what he’d choose. I nodded. “All right. Wish me luck.”
“Absolutely. Good luck, babe.”
Another shiver darted through my body. He hadn’t called me
often, but I loved when he did. I couldn’t quite smile at him as I took my ball out of his hand and walked up to the line. I took a step forward and swung the ball, closing my eyes as I let go of it. I kept them closed, listening for the sound of the ball hitting the gutter. But that sound never came. In fact, I heard the steady whirring sound of the ball rolling down the lane in a straight-ish path.
I finally peeked through a slit of one of my eyelids and saw that my ball was still traveling right down the middle, ready to hit the front pin.
And it did. My first strike of the evening. I couldn’t help but squeal and then I jumped up and down. I knew I’d get to throw the ball twice more now, and I turned around, smiling wide. “I got you now, mister!”
CJ grinned and brought the fingers of both his hands to his mouth, imitating the act of biting all his fingernails off. “Oh, no.”
Even had I hit all the pins twice more, I would haven’t beaten his score. But I didn’t even come close. I was still behind, and CJ hadn’t even had his turn yet.
He picked up the heavy black ball off the return and said, “This doesn’t even seem fair.”
I rolled my eyes. “Just get it over with.”
He threw the ball, this time
getting a strike, but he did get a spare and an extra ball. Talk about adding insult to injury. So, as we took our bowling shoes off and put our street shoes back on, I said, “Well?”
He looked over at me. “Well
“What’s it gonna be?”
He shrugged. “I have to think about it a little bit.”
So we turned in our shoes and walked outside into the cold. “Have you decided yet?”
He laughed. “Nope, not yet.” We got to his car and, after letting it run for a few seconds, he turned the heater on.
He laughed. “Impatient.” He reached over and turned down the radio. “I think I’ll collect sometime this summer.”
Oh. Oh, God,
. I knew what that meant. That meant he
want to have sex with me, but he was going to make me wait until I was eighteen. That stupid fucking rule of his. But I kept my anger in check and instead figured out a way to slither myself in between his body and the steering wheel to straddle him. He was laughing again and held his arms up to allow me to sit on his lap facing him. I pressed my forehead into his. It was only thanks to the glow of the dashboard and the lights in the parking lot that I could see his deep brown eyes in the darkness of his car. “I
you to collect
And there was that magnetism, that draw, that
I felt for him as my lips brushed over his. My eyes were closed by then and he responded—thank the heavens he responded—touching my tongue with his. It was another magical kiss, one that transported me out of that car and into the sky, out of the freezing night air and into a flaming furnace…
Copyright © 2015 by Jade C. Jamison
Cover design © Mr. Jamison
Cover image © Shutterstock: Andrii Muzyka, arbit, and white snow.
All rights reserved.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author. Characters and names of real persons who appear in the book are used fictitiously.
Table of Contents
“If it’s illegal to rock and roll, throw my ass in jail.” ~ Kurt Cobain
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI. The place was fucking huge, and the Vagabonds were the opening act for two other bands—a punk band called Fluidity and the headliner was a metalcore band by the name of Black Matter that I’d been hearing about recently. What a weird combination, the three of us…but I couldn’t wait to hear Black Matter play.
If I could make it to their act.
I was blitzed out of my mind and only hoped I could make it through our entire set without fucking up or passing out.
It had all started the morning before when we’d been loading up, getting ready to hit the road on our very first tour. Our producer, Peter Cyrus, had met us all in a Walmart parking lot where we packed the moving van with all our stuff and our roadies set out, followed shortly thereafter by me and my girls. We had one stop first, and that was to pick up Andrew Curtis, the guy who was apparently going to be our road manager. I had no idea what to expect. In fact, Barbie predicted that he’d be another order-giving “asshole douchebag.” I think we were all a little worried about that, because none of us could tolerate another Peter. No way in hell. One was enough.
Imagine our surprise when out of the house came a guy who was twenty-five if he was lucky…and he was hot. Dimples, a little bit of scruff on his face, short blonde hair, green eyes, a voice that was almost lower than it should have been. He was definitely easy on the eyes, and it was hard to tell, but he looked like he might have a rad body underneath all those clothes too. Hot damn.
As I looked at my cohorts in the van, I saw I wasn’t the only one ogling the new guy. Peter got out of the van and opened the back so Andrew could put all his shit back there and then he told Barbie to get her “slutty ass” back in the middle seat where it belonged, instead of up front where she’d settled in.
“Dick,” she muttered as she moved back to her original seat.
When they got back to the front, Peter got in on the passenger side and Andrew took the driver’s seat. He turned around and looked at us. “Hi, ladies. I’ve listened to the album, read your press, and seen the video, so I think I know your names.”
He shouldn’t have said that, because all hell broke loose. We all spoke at once in varying degrees of loudness.
“You’ve seen the video?”
“Hey, wait, we didn’t get to watch it?”
“How do I look?”
Once our voices died down, questions unanswered, he pointed to each of us, starting at the middle of the van and ending in the back. “Barbie Bennett, gorgeous vocalist.”
“Aw. You’re sweet,” she said. I think our little blonde Barbie doll might have even blushed a little.
“Kelly Cambridge, a bass player who can go toe to toe with the best of ‘em.” Kelly smiled but didn’t say anything. She was definitely feeling a little shy.
His eyes moved to the back. “Liz Mayer, lyrical mastermind and beautiful rhythm guitar.” In typical fashion, Liz just nodded and I could see the gratitude in her eyes, but she didn’t say anything. “Vicki Graham, a hell of a drummer and, I’ve heard, quite the party animal.” She grinned but didn’t deny it. “Which leaves...” His eyes landed on me and, yes, I could tell already that he was an incorrigible flirt. “Kyle Summers, guitarist extraordinaire. Ladies,” he continued, looking at us all, “wait’ll they get a load of you. You are going to blow them all away.”
I smiled. “Thanks.” Yeah…the guy was a charmer. If it had been just him and me, I would have easily fallen victim, but I saw how he was working the room. He wanted us all to adore him, and I wondered why. He was going to get paid whether we loved or hated him. Maybe he thought he could get more compliance with honey than with vinegar. He was the good cop to Peter’s bad.
I wondered exactly what his role would be on the road. Would he be the one making sure we set aside time for study? Would he be in charge of making sure we made it to bed at a decent hour? And what was Peter’s role in it all? Only time would tell.
As we headed east, it didn’t take long for me to dislike our arrangement. The van was tight for seven people. For an hour-long ride, it would have been fine, but we would be riding thousands of miles in this van for months at a time. I didn’t know how long I could handle it. What threw me over the edge was when we lost our radio station and Andrew begin searching for a new one. He left it on a station that was playing some kind of pop/ dance/ hiphop tune. Don’t ask me exactly what because all that shit sounds the same to me. I hate that shit in all its mediocre flavors. We’d already been on the road for several hours, and there was no way I could handle that. “Hell, no. Turn that shit off.”
“What?” Andrew looked in the rearview mirror at me. “You don’t like Tay—?”
“Anything with that kind of sound sets me off and makes me grumpy as hell. I cannot tolerate it cooped up like this. I’d rather listen to the wheels rolling on the pavement.”
Liz and Vicki started laughing, but Barbie turned around. “I like it. Makes me wanna dance, feel the beat…” She put her arms in the air and started moving her upper body around. She was definitely dancing like a white girl. That was another good reason to bang my head—I never had to look like a jackass. There was more to Barbie’s insistence than that, though. I was sure she was beginning her slow flirtation with Andrew.
Andrew, a guy I would eventually begin to call
, said, “No prob, Superstar. You got something I can plug in up here?”
Vicki said, “I got an iPod with some good shit on it.” She handed it to Kelly who passed it up front. Barbie was still dancing.
It was less than two minutes before we had some Godsmack soothing my nerves.
But we still had miles to go.
By the time we got to Limon, Barbie was complaining that she needed to “use the ladies’ room.” At that point, Peter asked if we had eaten lunch. I’d gobbled a late breakfast, but none of us had had lunch. So we stopped at a gas station/ convenience store, and Peter gave us each ten dollars. I bought a giant icy Diet Coke and a pack of bubblegum. We all used the restroom. When we met back up at the van, Kelly cracked me up. She had a bag full of snacks, and she admitted that she’d not only used the money Peter gave her but also her own cash to “stock up.” The girl was skinny, so no surprise that she could eat whatever she wanted.
When we got back in the van and settled in, Peter said, “Let’s see if we can make it across the Kansas border before we stop again, okay?” He turned to Andrew. “We’ll gas up then as well.”
It was nice getting the ten bucks, but I was hoping to myself that wasn’t all I could expect as far as the “daily stipend” went. I wouldn’t be able to eat three meals a day—two, maybe (if they were cheap), which would have been okay—let alone buy other stuff if that was it. But I’d sit tight and see what the future brought. Peter had promised our parents he’d take care of us, so I had to believe he would.
The drive was fucking boring. Everything grew flat the farther east we drove. There was nothing to look at. Field after field after field and
as far as the eye could see. I remembered driving all over the U.S. with mom and dad as a kid, but I must have had more to do in the car or I was more entertained by my parents than by my friends now. Maybe I was too excited to get started with our careers as the Vagabonds. I suspected, though, that I’d grown so used to having mountains around me that I didn’t know how to handle nothing on the horizon as far as the eye could see. It was disconcerting.
All I really wanted to do was text or call CJ. After Vicki had shown me that video of a song CJ was writing about “a girl” who was “wrapped around his heart,” I hadn’t been able to think of much else. It hadn’t hurt that just last night he’d texted me a video promising to “do more than kiss” me next summer. I didn’t know why he had the weird hang up he did, worrying about my age. I was less than a year away from eighteen, and it wasn’t like he was some old creeper dude. Maybe next time I saw him I could just tackle him and refuse to let him go.
That kiss we’d shared a few weeks ago was fueling my fantasies.
But the Vagabonds were going to be on the road for four months nonstop, so I’d have to wait at least that long.
Barbie kept yapping about clothes and flirting with Andrew whenever she had the chance, and Vicki was air drumming between Liz and me.
was going to be the hard part—traveling. What was worse was I couldn’t read much in a vehicle before getting carsick, so that was out of the question. I could look at my phone some, but not much before beginning to grow queasy, so I couldn’t even watch a lot of videos. I wound up resting my head against the window and closing my eyes, trying to tune everyone out and maybe nap a while.
When I awoke, it was like I hadn’t even closed my eyes. The landscape hadn’t changed much, and Barbie was still talking fashion, only now she was yammering on about shoes.
Man, it was gonna be a long drive.
Yes, I was excited, but everyone else seemed to be handling the excitement in their own way. Liz was her usual quiet, introspective self, and I was feeling that way myself. I just wanted to chill. Barbie and Andrew were striking up quite the friendship. Peter was working on a laptop doing what, I had no idea, but even
seemed to be tuning out Barbie’s inane chatter.
Evening came and Vicki started clamoring that she was hungry and needed to pee. I too could have stood a bite and my legs were feeling stiff. So Andrew dropped us off at a restaurant and asked Barbie to order him “any kind of burger and fries.” He drove off to gas up and promised to be back soon. Peter had already contacted our roadies earlier, and they’d suggested Junction City, Kansas, as a good stopping point. They’d already eaten dinner there and were back on the road.
Once we were seated, Peter said, “Try to keep your meals less than twenty dollars, drink and all, and let’s not linger over dinner. We still have a few hours until we arrive at our hotel. Fortunately, we don’t have to unload any instruments or anything, but I do want you to have a little downtime and then a lot of rest. I want you in good spirits and well rested for your first show tomorrow.”
We all seemed to like Andrew’s idea of a burger and fries, so we each had variations on the theme. I ordered a cheeseburger and fries and another Diet Coke to wash it down. Andrew got back just as the food arrived and Barbie patted the chair next to her—as if Andrew had any choice—and said, “You can sit here.” I didn’t know if Barbie had a bad crush or just liked flirting and knowing she could wrap any guy around her finger, but it was sickening to watch.
Dinner was a nice break from the monotony of the road, but I could already see the light fading in Liz’s eyes. I suspected the trip was taking its toll on her as well. Even Kelly seemed less bubbly than usual. Fortunately, the restaurant was quick, so we were out of there in less than an hour. We were ready for the last stretch.
It had been dark for about an hour by the time we approached the bright lights of Kansas City, but it didn’t take long to get to our destination. We were staying in a cheap chain motel, but its saving grace was that it had a swimming pool. I never would have thought to bring a swimsuit along for the trip, but my mom had suggested it when we were making a list of what I needed to take. Already I was saying a silent
to her and her foresight, because—after that long drive in a warm car—I wanted to cool off. The van had A/C, but it didn’t seem to be working as well as it should have, and maybe that was because we were crammed to capacity in there…and summer wasn’t over yet.
So we each grabbed our “carry on” and walked into the hotel. The roadies were sitting in the lobby, waiting for us. Apparently, they’d been given money for gas but Peter was taking care of the hotel arrangements. We stood by them while Peter and Andrew walked to the desk. TT, the slightly chubby roadie with straggly brown hair, said, “We’ll bring your bags up to your rooms once we know where they are.” He paused. “Sorry. It’ll take a while for me to get to know you gals. Which one of you had all the bags?”
“It was me. Barbie.” And then, for dramatic effect, I guess, she added, “Vocals.”
“Cool. Which bag do you need us to bring up for you?”
“All of them.”
TT grinned. “You’re kidding, right?”
Oh, this was gonna be fun. “Absolutely not. I need all of them.”
“You don’t need
of them, dude. You need a change of clothes, your makeup and shit, and that’s it. What all do you need?”
Barbie huffed. “I need it all. I need street clothes for tomorrow and then stage clothes, and what I wear will depend upon my mood…and I
know my mood until tomorrow.
Bring them all.
Oh…he’d riled up the diva. It was going to be interesting to see who won. Peter and Andrew rejoined us and they had a handful of key cards. Apparently, Barbie and TT had been getting loud, because Peter asked, “What seems to be the trouble here?”
to bring my luggage to the room.”
“Dude, I didn’t. I just asked which bag she needed me to bring and—”