Read Never Land Online

Authors: Kailin Gow

Never Land (4 page)

            “Danny...” I cried his name out over and over again.

            We were wrapped in each other's arms, kissing each other slowly, tortuously slowly, when there came a knock at the door.

            Immediately we sprang to our feet, putting on the black silk dressing gowns the hotel had provided for us. I opened the door to find a familiar female face. It was Cassandra Curry, meticulously dressed as ever in couture garments that seamlessly blended fashion and professionalism. Her eyes fell on Danny first.

            “I was actually looking for Neve,” she said, flushing slightly. I could see her react with faint pleasure to the sight of Danny's magnificent tanned abs peeking through the gown.

            “I'm here,” I said.

            Her eyes went back and forth to me and him.

            “I've been trying to reach you and Geoff all morning,” she said. “The photoshoot with Rolling Stone this afternoon has been pushed up to one o'clock – we need to get you into hair and makeup, pronto. Where's Geoff?”

            My heart sank once more. How was I going to explain to Cassandra that Geoff had to go – no matter what?

            “He can't make it,” I said quickly. “Plastered.”

            “I don't care if he's throwing up on the carpet, Neve – this is the cover shoot for Rolling Stone. The whole band needs to be there. You know that.” She gave me a stern, almost maternal look. Clearly Cassandra was used to dealing with difficult rock stars. “I'll tell you what I told Jagger. You can throw up just out of frame.”

“We can't have him there, Cassandra,” I said.

            “Why not? Is he dead?” She rolled her eyes. “Even then, I'm sure the make-up department can make him look presentable.”

            “I just...can't deal with him right now,” I said, my heart pounding. “Look, some pretty serious stuff's gone down with Geoff – and I'm not sure how we're going to stay together after this.”

            Cassandra looked unimpressed. “I don't take kindly to band drama, Neve,” she said. “Whatever this is, this had better be good.”

“Cassie, Geoff's a liability. He made a sex tape of me without my knowledge and threatened to send it to the tabloids last night unless I slept with him.”

            Cassandra looked shocked. “Fifteen years in this business,” she said. “Since I was eighteen. And I've never heard something so disgusting in my life. I thought you were all so close...”

            “We were,” I said grimly. “But Geoff – it's not just the drugs or the booze. Something's wrong with him. Seriously wrong. It’s like he’s a different person. Don't tell me you haven't been worried about him...”

            Cassandra sighed. “I've got my work cut out for me today. I don't care if he's at fault – the second the words “sex tape” hit the press some hacker,
someone
will get hold of it, deleted or not. And it's bad for your image. You don't need me to tell you that. If you want him out of the band, I'll have to come up with a pretty bloody good cover story to protect all of your asses. Including my own. Do you definitely want him out of the band?”

            I knew I did – but I also knew that
Rolling Stone
was preparing a studio for us halfway across town. For all of us. “Can we get the rest of the band over?” I said. “I figured it was best they heard the story direct from me.”

            “Don't worry, Neve,” Danny said, cradling me in his arms. “Listen – the second Geoff sobers up, he'll be so ashamed and so relieved not to be in a jail cell he'll drop out of the band of his own accord.”

            Cassie looked over at Dan. “Who's this?”

             “Cassie, meet Danny Blue.”

Her eyes widened. “Your old guitarist?” She looked impressed, looking back and forth between me and him, clearly taking in the situation. “I
see...

            No sooner had Kyle, Luc, and Steve arrived than I explained to them the situation. Luc and especially Kyle were distinctly awkward around Danny – even changing into a crisp white T-shirt and jeans had not gotten rid of Danny's decidedly “post-coital” messy look – and Danny picked up on the fact instantly. “Listen, Neve,” he said. “I've got to go see my father about some business – why don't I let you sort all this out with your band mates without getting in the way?” He kissed me lightly on the lips and out of the corner of my eye I could see Kyle tense as Danny walked away. Kyle and Luc were both glowering, but once I had explained to them about Geoff, their whole expressions changed.

            “The asshole!” Kyle exploded. “The absolute asshole! How dare he!”

            “Where is he?” said Steve. “We're going to give him one hell of a
talking-to
.” He clenched his fists.

            “With security,” I said. “They've already questioned him. They're working on the laptop now.” I sighed. “But we have to decide what to do,” I said. “About the band. About our guitarist. In time for the shoot.”

            “Let's go pay Geoff a visit,” Luc said. “Shall we?”

           

 

 

Chapter 4

 

            A knock came at the door. Luc and I started. “Are we expecting anyone?” I asked Cassie, who shrugged.

            “I hope not,” said Cassandra. “I can't deal with any more surprises today. Already I have about ninety minutes to tell
Rolling Stone
that either the Never Knights is short its lead guitarist or that he's somehow failed to materialize for their shoot.” She sighed deeply. “Look, there's one thing I can do to buy time – but that's all. I can suggest that we do the shoot in the hotel. A sort of candid “rockers behind closed doors” sort of thing. If they agree to hold it here at least that will save you time getting across London...” She didn't look too thrilled. “But I'm warning you – all of you. I don't tolerate too much distraction in this line of work. My job is to make sure you turn a profit for the record label regardless of your rocker partying – and I've seen plenty of bands just as talented as you burn out through drama and drink before they'd even had their fifteen minutes. RRR wants to support your careers – but don't sabotage them.”

            “No, I understand,” I said, flushing. The last thing I wanted to do was make Cassandra think we were anything but professional. “This won't happen again.” I went to answer the door. Before me stood a very elegant older gentleman wearing a perfectly tailored Saville Row suit. “Hotel management,” he said, his accent dripping with world-weary disdain. “The...gentleman in question has been detained by hotel security after a rather riotous night. Mr. Blue has instructed me to take you to him, although I doubt he's in any condition to be of much explanatory use to you.”

            The man led me and the rest of the band down a flight of stairs and across a corridor. Located in the walls, almost imperceptible, was a door that led us into a control room filled with monitors. “Security,” he said lightly, leading us through the room and into the staff quarters, rooms far simpler in scale than the grand suites upstairs. Geoff was lying on one of the plain white beds. He looked utterly miserable. His eyes were blood-shot, and his face was bathed in sweat; the whole room and his clothing smelled of vomit. Geoff was holding an ice pack to his jaw, hyperventilating. When he saw me he stumbled to his feet, still dizzy and reeling from the drugs.

            “Neve...” he breathed. “Neve, I'm so sorry, but...”

            Luc and Kyle looked ready to snap, but to my surprise it was Steve who leaped forward, fury written clear on his face. “Save it,” he said, punching Geoff clear in the guts, causing him to double over in pain and stumble back on the bed. “Listen to me, asshole,” Steve's face had gone bright red, and his jaw was contorted in a look of pure rage. He pulled up Geoff's shirt, dragging Geoff back to his feet, and threw him against a wall. Geoff moaned loudly as Steve smashed his body against the wall repeatedly, pummeling. “Don't you ever go near her again, asshole!” Steve shouted. “Do you understand me? Do you? Do you?” His face was the color of a red, ripe tomato. “Got it?”

            “Steve, cool down!” I cried, trying to pull Steve off Geoff. I was shocked. Off all of us, Steve was always the coolest head, the calmest voice in the room. The only one not to succumb to the band drama that had seemed to engulf us lately. But now I saw a different side of Steve. He'd finally snapped, finally lost control, whaling on Geoff like a punching bag. “Come on,” I said, grabbing Steve by the back of the shirt. “He's not a threat to me anymore – let security deal with it.” I looked at Kyle and Luc. They were friends of Geoff's – or were, at any rate. They'd know how to deal with him. “You two talk to him,” I said. “I can't look at him right now.”

            “Sorry, Neve,” Steve said when we were outside, still shaking with anger. His fists were clenched and his face was still blazing. “I didn't mean to lose it like that. I was just so angry.”

            “It's okay,” I pulled Steve in for a hug. “Believe me, I was so mad at him I wanted to do the exact same thing. It was hard for me to restrain myself. But the last thing we want is more gossip – I'm just trying to get past it...”

            “I just...” Steve was still gaping, in shock. “I trusted him. I knew him. I felt safe around him – he was a
friend.
I never thought he'd hurt you – or any of us – like that. Especially you. You're like family to me, and I keep thinking...how could he do something so vile, so evil? You're more than family to me, Neve. You're like the sister I never had. You're my sister. There's no way any guy could do what he did to you and not hear from me...”

            “Well,” I said grimly, “I guess I don't have to worry about that tape getting out after all. If Geoff so much as accesses Facebook I know you guys will pummel him before he can leak the video. But still...” I exhaled sharply. “I thought of him as a friend, Steve. I really did. I trusted him, too. And what he did to me...it was awful.”

            “I know,” said Steve darkly. “We all feel that way. That's what hurts. And what he did to you – or try to do to you – it's disgusting. I know we all joke about the rock star lifestyle – about losing control. But that's different. The girls I go with – I respect them, and they respect me. It's consensual, always. Even if a girl's drunk, I'd never...but with Geoff, it's like he gets off on the power of...I can't say the word.” He looked up at me. “No real man has to do that to get with a girl – no matter what. I have no respect for any guy who has to force it.”

            “I'm just glad Danny got there in time,” I said. “Even if I'd been able to get to the laptop, or convince him not to send the video – who's to say he wouldn't have resorted to violence, to force...” Just the thought of Geoff on top of me, his eyes filled with hatred and lust, disgusted me. Steve saw my stricken face and pulled me in close for another hug. “I may pretend to be a ladies' man onstage, Neve, but I'm a gentleman. All of us are – except for that loser Geoff. None of us would ever hurt you like that, believe me.” He paused. “But, about that tape...”

            “Danny's security team is going through his computer right now.”

            “When we get back home, we can search his apartment too.” He laughed bitterly. “To think, we used to play poker at that place every other night.”

            “I know. It's crazy.” I looked up. “Then...what about the band?”

            “What about the band?”

            “Are we keeping Geoff?”

            Steve's eyes bugged out of his head. “Of course not, Neve! How could you even think we'd do that to you? After what Geoff did he's lucky he doesn't end up in prison. I'd never put you in harm's way like that...”

            “But the shoot today. And the performance tomorrow. How are we supposed to find a new lead before that?” I smiled sadly. “Here we are again, huh.”

            “There
is
someone who knows all the songs. Who could play for us at a moment's notice – no audience required,” Steve grinned.

            “Danny?”

            Steve nodded. “He's here, he knows how to wield a guitar, and he's
good,
Neve.”

            “And what about Kyle and Luc?” I said. “The whole reason Danny left the band is because of them.”

            “We can work on that,” said Steve. “Time's passed. Both have had time to cool off. And Kyle really hit it off with one of the girls we met last night – turns out they both love Goth rock. He's taking her to the Siouxsie reunion show next week...”

            I smiled with relief. So Kyle was moving on. His single-minded obsession with me was cooling down a bit. But still...I couldn't help but feel a pang. I'd come to take for granted Kyle's feelings for me, his loyalty and his kindness. Had he really forgotten about me so quickly? I knew I could never return Kyle's feelings, not with Danny in the picture, but what would have happened with him if he'd made his confession before I'd met Danny? Or if Luc...?

            “And is Luc doing okay?” I asked. Luc – whom I have always thought of as a close friend, and yet who always gave me a strange tingle when we touched, a gentle spark. Like the night we sat together on the porch swing after Geoff was injured. Luc and I – had we had
something
going on? Something that had never quite come to fruition? I thought about Luc's kindness, his warmth, his enormous loving Italian family – would they have come to treat me like one of them, if I was Luc's girlfriend? Another road not taken.

            Steve shook his head. “I know he's still having a kind of hard time with things,” he said. “I should know; I'm his roommate. But in a way I'm less worried about him than Kyle. He's older, more mature. He's dated a lot of girls. He'll be able to put on a brave face for the team more easily than Kyle will. But he's not over it.” He leaned in. “He's wanted this since junior high, Neve, and when you guys kissed apparently he thought you really liked him. When he found out about you and Danny he went out drinking, came back home drunk, punching the wall. He didn't want to talk about it too much, but he was really upset.”

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