Behind the Scene
Red & Black Series Book One
She thinks through everything that happens to her. She’s not a chatterbox. Instead, she plays the piano at Brighton Station most Saturday mornings to digest her week. This is the piano in real life. That is the bench that Alex comes along and sits down to listen to her play.
I knew where Tara went on a Saturday morning. I didn’t care I might get spotted. Wherever she was, I wanted to be. When she didn’t answer last night when I called her, I had my car keys in my hand to go over to Tara’s place to make sure she was ok. Two thoughts entered my head. She was a grown woman and can lead whatever life she wants, which led me to my second thought. Maybe Tara was on a date. If she were having dinner with Valentino, my heart would break. He was the only competition I had with Tara. She’d never mentioned another man except for the restaurateur, Valentino Armanti. The suave, sophisticated man, with a proper job, had turned her head.
I couldn’t stand the man. Valentino wouldn’t take no for an answer when Tara was in Italy many years ago, and while she had forgiven him, I hadn’t. No one should ignore the word no. The suave Italian didn’t harm her, but he scared her. Valentino appeared in Brighton last year and had been calling her off and on, trying to make friends. I’d heard her talk to him on the phone, they spoke in Italian. Thankfully I’m fluent in that language. I’d hidden outside her open office door and eavesdropped to her side of the conversation. It was mainly pleasantries but just the sound of her laugh at something he’d said, made my heart fall to my stomach. I assumed that I had lost my chance. As soon as I entered the room, she finished the call.
My mind lurched between wanting to know where she was last night and hoping she didn’t volunteer any information that indicated that she was with another man.
I parked my car at the back of Brighton train station. Grabbing my baseball cap from the back seat, I locked the car. At eight in the morning, the train station was busy which helped me slip in through the crowds. The wooden planks at the back of the station by platform eight then changed to concrete, and then onto tiles. By the time I walked on the tiles, I was one of a couple of hundred people milling around the sandwich bars, and coffee stations looking at the departure boards. In the centre of the concourse, next to the seating area, I could see Tara. She sat on the piano bench with her hands in her lap. The lid of the piano, covering the keys was closed. Usually, by this time, she was midway through a melody, but today she had the key clutched between her fingers, and her head bowed.
Lengthening my stride, I reached her, sitting down on the bench. Taking the key from her fingers, I watched her expression change from spaced out to confusion until her eyes met mine. For a few seconds there are all kinds of hurt emanating from her face, and then the mask slipped into place.
“You’re early,” she said.
I wasn’t, I was on time, she was late.
“You seem in a world of your own sweet pea,” I said and opened the lock that secured the piano from vandals.
I gave her back the key and lifted the lid. Someone had broken the ornate decorative piece that said Play Me on the front where you would put the sheet music. I made a note on my phone to see if I could get it fixed.
Tara had put her paper teacup on the top of the piano. I stood to make sure it was empty and then sat back down. It looked like there wasn’t any liquid in the cup. Another point that had changed in her routine, there would usually be a few drops of mint tea, but today the cup was dry. Why hadn’t Tara had her usually peppermint tea from the tea cabin by the flower stall. I glanced over to make sure it was open, to see a dozen people waiting to be served. Something must be worrying her, Tara was a woman of habit, and she rarely gravitated away from her version of normalcy.
Tara shifted around on the hard wooden seat, today she wore tight skinny black jeans, plain black t-shirt, and flip-flops. No jewellery or makeup. Her long hair was in a ponytail. I adored her simplicity. No fuss or grandeur.
Tara experimented with the keys, softly touching them, hardly any noise came from the piano until she found her pace.
“Move up a smidge,” she said. I shifted along the seat an inch, and she smiled.
That side glance and genuine smile were all I needed to know somewhere in her mind she was happy. I sat and watched her caress the keys and play a piece of classical music that was familiar, but I didn’t know the composer or the title of the melody. Tara lost herself in the music, playing several other pieces, alternating between modern and old. Her paper cup was filling up, one passenger stuffing a note into the container after emptying the coins first to weigh it down.
Tara was a professional busker of sorts. She played the piano in the middle of a busy train station for peace.
I knew our time was almost up because the teacup was full. Tara played until the tips were being placed on the top of the piano because there was no room left. The routine was the same every week. Today we’d been sitting at the piano for two hours. I couldn’t feel my arse but there was no way I was moving, I loved hearing her play. I’d tried to get her to play on a track at the studio, but she insisted that it would take the enjoyment away from playing.
She finished the tune and rested her hands in her lap. We were looking at each other, having a silent conversation. I didn’t know what she was saying, but I was telling her, I loved her, and that I hoped we did this every Saturday until we were too old to walk. I wanted to gaze at her profile when she was grey, and her hands were speckled with age spots.
She smiled and gave a quiet laugh when the round of applause stopped. More loose change covered the piano top as we stood. It was mid-morning, so we didn’t have to lock the piano up. The piano was there for any passenger to play the keys while they waited for their train. Tara had her own key, given to her by the train station manager who had gotten fed up of coming out at seven in the morning to open the piano.
“Come on, let’s take your loot, and get breakfast,” I said and collected the loose change.
She picked up the cup full of change and notes. We escaped the station’s bustle and headed down to the seafront. The money she raised on a Saturday morning used to go to the homeless man around the back of the station but then word got out, and one day he wasn’t there. After some investigation, Tara found out he had been ejected from his usual spot, and replaced by another man who demanded Tara’s money. When she wouldn’t hand it over, he became aggressive. Since that incident, she took the money home and donated it to the local homeless shelter via their online charity page.
“Where shall we go today?” I asked, taking her hand after she dropped the change into her backpack.
“Can we go to Brookes?” Tara answered. She was holding my hand hard, and if I wasn’t mistaken, there was a slight shake of her arm.
“Great idea. I could devour a plate of breakfast burritos,” I answered.
The shakes became unmistakable after a few hundred yards. Halfway down Queen’s Road, I pulled her to the bench in the park and sat her down. I didn’t get to ask her what was wrong because she threw her arms around my neck and hugged me tightly. I held her, my arms encased her back, her bag at my feet. She was shaking in my arms, and I hadn’t the first clue what to do.
“What’s wrong, Tara?” I asked.
I stroked her ponytail in my hand, twisting it around my wrist lightly while I waited for her to answer. She pulled away and slumped back against the bench. Buses, cars, and pedestrians were going past behind us on the main road. Children were playing in front of us. We could be any typical couple having a chat on a bench, and I loved that. I loved the simple life we had at that moment, away from the manic life of a rock star and record label.
“I’m sorry I didn’t answer your call last night,” Tara blurted out. “I didn’t trust myself not to sob down the phone. I’m over emotional at the moment. Missing Erin to talk to about the things in my head isn’t helping me make good decisions. She’s not here, and I don’t know what to do.”
“You can talk to me anytime you want to,” I said. Unless it’s about Valentino, and then I didn’t want to hear a single word. That was my selfish side coming out, so I didn’t say it out loud.
“I can’t cope with Casey. We had a big fight last night, and he left. He hadn’t come home by the time I left for my run, and he wasn’t back by the time I left to come to the station to play. I know he’s a grown-up, but he’s drinking more these days. I never know whether he’s still high or was coming down. His personality changes so much, I don’t know which Casey I will get.”
I felt such a dick for thinking this was a frivolous worry. I should’ve known better, this is Tara.
“What was the fight about?” I asked, holding her hand tight against my chest.
“I told him that Erin won’t be back for three months, and he freaked out,” she said.
Jackson’s Bay Mini Series
The six stories are set in the fictional town of Jackson’s Bay that only comes alive once a year. Ipris Magazine has its gala ball at the Imperial Estate on top of the cliffs, and this year they are celebrating 140 years of publication.
The town is basking in an usually long heat wave. Clothes are coming off, and inhibitions are being lost. We follow twenty-two people throughout the week leading up to the party. Secrets, revelations, ambitions and desires will come to the forefront. Will the men and women overcome inhibitions, stigma and blackmailers by the time they attend the Gala celebrations that will have over a thousand people in attendance?
THIS LOVE (Book 1)
“…’Do you love me yet?’ Alex asked, hoping the answer was yes…”
The first book in the THIS LOVE trilogy tells the story of Erin Brodie and her struggle to come to terms with what she did that had far-reaching consequences. It is an epic tale of love, passion, and revenge.
Erin Brodie has tried to put her past behind her, but like every bad penny, they always turn up. She owns a music venue called Green’s. The venue only allows unsigned bands to perform so when Alexander Devlin the guitarist from the rock band Fragile writes a begging letter to perform their finale album, her interest is piqued.
Alex was there the night of her birthday all those years ago when she suffered a devastating loss and by coincidence, he crosses paths with her every year after that. Erin dismisses the coincidence, but her best friend Tara Adkins is convinced fate is throwing them together.
The group of friends Erin picks up along the way helps her hide from those who wish her harm. It doesn’t take long for her harasser to find her and make her life a misery once more.
The question is, will Alexander Devlin be there in time to save her?