Read an Excerpt
Two days later.
Derek curled up in his favourite recliner, a glass dangling from his fingers. He rested his head against the cushion and closed his eyes.
"Derek, you need to get away."
He didn’t look at Eddie, who had respected his need to sleep and waited two days before coming back. Except for getting up to take more pills, pee, and drink some more alcohol, he hadn’t even tried to act like a normal human being until this morning.
"I’d love to, but there isn’t anywhere I can go where I won’t be recognised." He opened one eye and checked out where Eddie stood.
One wall of his living room was made entirely of windows, giving him an unobstructed view of the lake. He often sat and watched the deer come down to drink at night. His brother stood there now, staring out of the window.
"If I found you a place, would you go?" He turned and Derek saw the worry in his eyes.
Derek shrugged, then took a sip of whisky and closed his eyes. "Not sure a place like that exists."
"Sounds fucking arrogant, Derek." Eddie sat down on the couch and leant forward, resting his elbows on his knees.
"I know it does, but it’s the truth. Don’t you think I’ve tried to get away? Do you think I like having to be Derek St fucking Martin all the time?" He swallowed the rest of his whisky.
He pushed to his feet and staggered to the bar where a half-empty bottle sat. Setting his glass on the counter, he started to pour another drink.
Eddie took the bottle and glass away. Derek braced his arms against the smooth wooden edge. His throat still hurt, but the pounding in his head had lessened slightly.
"Fine." He’d wait until he was alone again.
"You need to stop this shit, Derek. The booze and pills aren’t good for you." Eddie sat on the stool next to him and shook his head. "I can’t believe Thomas lets you do this."
Derek laughed harshly. "The pills keep me going. I can rest with the sleeping pills. Other pills for energy so I can perform. The alcohol dulls it all so I don’t care how fucking messed up everything’s gotten."
He went back to the chair, drawing his knees under his chin and wrapping his arms around them.
"Thomas could care less as long as I can sing, continue to make him obscene amounts of money, and don’t get caught fucking a guy."
Eddie poured himself a drink. "You chose this life. You don’t have to go to all those parties and clubs. It‘s your choice to drink and pop pills. I thought country singers weren‘t quite as caught up in the whole scene as rock stars."
Snorting, Derek eyed his brother. "You’re kidding, right? Haven’t you ever heard of any of those country singers whose careers were cut short because of all the boozing and hard living they did? I’m just following in illustrious footsteps, my friend."
"But I thought this is what you wanted." Eddie gestured to include the expensive furniture, the large house, and the gold records on the walls.
He sighed. "That’s the twisted, fucked-up thing. When I started all this shit, I would have given anything to be successful. Eight years later, I’m starting to think I sold my soul."
Eddie sat on the coffee table in front of Derek and reached out, putting a hand on his knee. "Is all of this simply because you’re gay and you have to pretend not to be?"
Laughing, he shook his head. "It’s only a small part of a bigger problem, Eddie. When I first fell in love with music, all I could think about was the music, the lyrics, and the songs. Then I became famous and there isn’t time to focus on the music anymore. I have to be seen and be ‘on’ all the time. I have to keep in shape because a fat singer doesn’t sell records, unless he’s Elvis, and I’ve never claimed to have that kind of talent. I have to smile and look like I’m enjoying my life."
"I feel for you, man. It must be terrible having all this and having to act like you enjoy it." Eddie’s voice dripped with sarcasm.
He slapped Eddie’s hand off his knee and shot to his feet. Pacing from the windows to the bar, he shoved his hands through his hair and moaned. His head hurt and he longed to take another blue pill. Drifting along on whatever current he found sounded like a great way to spend his vacation, though if he didn’t go somewhere, Thomas would find him and drag him out to do some sort of publicity thing.
Also, as much as he had come to depend on the liquor and drugs to soften the edges cutting his nerves to shreds, he knew the danger he was in. He didn’t want to be a stereotypical drug-addicted musician. Shit, he simply wanted to play his guitar and sing.
He froze in front of the bar, staring at himself in the mirror above it. He’d been blessed with slightly golden skin, looking like he always had a tan. Dark circles had taken up permanent residence under his eyes and he realised he looked older than his thirty-two years. Hell, he felt older than thirty-two as well. He was so tired of everything, and he wasn’t sure he could take much more of it.