Today’s Teaser Tuesday is all about Vance Idol, an up-and-coming rock star battling demons on the eve of his band’s big break. When we first meet him in Lorelei’s Lyric, we find a troubled man in a very, very bad place. No wonder his heartache calls to the healer and nurturer in Lorelei.
This one’s for all of the angst junkies out there!
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“Hey Vance, we’re on in ten, okay?”
Vance Idol nearly jumped out of his skin. The sound of his bassist’s knocking ricocheted through his pounding skull. Mark Rogen’s voice, on the other hand, sounded muffled and distant though he stood right outside the bathroom door. Vance cradled his aching head in his hands, brow slicked with sweat underneath trembling fingertips, and let out a low groan.
“You okay in there, bro?”
“I’m fine,” Vance managed to croak. He hoped he sounded more convincing than he felt.
“Look, I know it’s been tough…but we can’t blow this gig. Mags would’ve wanted us to go on.”
“I know,” Vance snapped. “Just give me a sec to get it together, okay?”
“Okay, but if you aren’t out in five I’m grabbing Josh.”
Heavy footfalls echoed down the corridor, and Vance’s nanosecond of relief faded with them. He needed to get a grip. He couldn’t afford to screw this up. The band had been working their asses off in every dive bar, shit hole, and roadhouse from New York to Cali and back again for the past five years. Nashville was one of their last stops on the long and winding road to discovery and a shot at the big time.
After all those years of paying dues, they’d wrangled a tour/production manager, a couple of regular crew, and plum gig at Marathon Music Works. Along with a loyal fanbase, Internet buzz, and a lot of self-promotion, The Rivermen, with Vance Idol billed as the frontman, managed to attract a sizeable crowd. The frontman bit happened on account of the small sliver of “fame” Vance garnered on a television talent show. He didn’t make it to the finals but got far enough to be remembered. Yeah, that fame was about fourteen minutes, thirty seconds and counting, but it apparently still helped. Their lead guitarist, Joshua Rollins, had even spotted a couple of producers in the audience just before Vance excused himself.
I need a drink.
Okay, technically, he couldn’t chalk his misery up to withdrawal anymore. That nightmare passed shortly after he’d quit drinking cold turkey. No, the oh-so-clinical term for this special brand of hell, according to the docs and counselors, was post-acute withdrawal syndrome. PAWS, they called it. Yeah, real cute and clever. Only there was nothing cute or funny about chronic insomnia, soul-sucking depression, or cravings that never went away. Then there was the joy of panic attacks and mood swings, though the latter fit with the surly rocker image. Good thing he’d picked a profession that allowed him to channel his inner black-hearted bastard.
He’d been warned, to be sure. His stint in rehab had been short, if if not sweet, and the staff thought he’d left too soon. But hell, the band needed him and he didn’t want to let them down by bailing for a few months, not when he was convinced he could deal with his problems all on his own. Now, faced with performance pressure and the ghosts of his past, he was on the verge of blowing it.
He stood and paced around the small room. Sweat seeped from every pore as anxiety pierced his gut like a thousand knives. His innards protested at the sudden change in equilibrium, forcing his left hand to grip the cool porcelain in front of him as his right strummed along the surface of the sink.
Perched on that sink was the key to oblivion, the bottle filled with amber liquid that would ease his pain and steal his soul. Again.
Everything had been fine. Scratch that, it had been shit, but the manageable kind of shit that still allowed him to drag his sorry ass out of bed, sleepwalk through his day, and pull himself together long enough for a gig. But then he’d walked into the dressing room and found a fifth of Jack sitting front and center on a small table, gift-wrapped with a damned purple ribbon. Someone must have sneaked it in while the crew was busy. Those guys knew alcohol was a no go on account of their lead’s little problem. But hell, he should’ve been prepared for the possibility. For staff, groupies, sleazy execs—anyone on the scene who wanted to get in good with the band and grease some wheels with social lubrication—booze was the go-to. Just like the pills some skank out on the floor shoved into his palm, some kind of free sample as she breezed by, chilling him to the bone in her wake. He hadn’t been on the wagon that long, and dealers knew how to sniff out desperation.
Not that he was into pills.
Jesus, this was bad. Really bad. He should’ve turned around and bolted out the door as soon as he spotted the bottle. But no, he’d stuck around long enough to let his old mistress start whispering her pretty lies, tempting him to sneak off to the bathroom and take a swig. He was such an idiot for jeopardizing his recovery and his band’s last shot at the big time, but a combination of nerves and grief had him clinging to his old crutch. He could have poured it down the sink, but then that sweet scent hit him, almost eased him. At first, he thought knowing it was there would be enough, buying into the delusion that he could always get rid of it as soon as they wrapped up their show.
Instead, he now stood at the precipice of disaster, overlooking a downward spiral from which he might never emerge.
He slammed his fist against the sink as anguish, frustration, and shame forced the strangled cry from his throat. The pain of the blow might have made him throw up, but he hadn’t eaten more than a bag of chips the entire day. He couldn’t risk it. Three bottles of Pepto and a Dramamine over the past twenty-four hours served as insurance against the messier symptoms he could ill afford on stage.
Just one more time, and I swear I’m done with this. I gotta get through tonight and then I’m done.
Hating himself, Vance picked up the bottle and pressed it to his lips. He’d had the lid unscrewed by the time Mark started banging on door. His eyes were already bloodshot, and he could chase the hooch with a couple of uppers and still make it to the stage. He’d have to scarf down some breath mints if he didn’t want Josh to find out he was drinking again.
No, damn it, this is the last time!
Staring in the mirror, he wished he could punch the guy glaring back at him. He still had his looks, but weight loss and insomnia had taken their toll. His already prominent cheekbones jutted out from a gaunt face he barely recognized, and the hard set of his jaw told of a life lived too hard and too fast. Though bloodshot, his green eyes blazed with all the rage and pain he carried inside. He looked dangerous.
Yeah, you’re real fucking glamorous, asshole.
He took a swig, letting the sweet taste and slow burn assault his senses as the liquid filled his mouth, but stopped short of swallowing. He closed his eyes, and waited, savoring the sensation before shame could drown it. The sweet oblivion he craved wouldn’t come, not without a lot more. But maybe he could get through the next few hours. The ache in his back and legs would ease, and his hands might stop trembling. All he had to do was let it roll down his throat.
A vision of Maggie flashed in his mind, smiling, healthy, and whole—so very different from the strung-out junkie he’d last seen at the morgue after losing her to her demons and a poison not unlike the one he was about to swallow. Different from the ruined man he saw every time he looked in the mirror.
He couldn’t do it. He wouldn’t do it.”
Will he or won’t he? To find out, grab your copy of Lorelei’s Lyric (Southern Elemental Guardians Book 1) today!