Out of Play by Jolene Perry and Nyrae Dawn
Rock star drummer Bishop Riley doesn't have a drug problem. Celebrities-especially ones suffering from anxiety-just need a little help taking the edge off sometimes. After downing a few too many pills, Bishop wakes up in the hospital facing an intervention. If he wants to stay in the band, he'll have to detox while under house arrest in Seldon, Alaska.
Hockey player Penny Jones can't imagine a life outside of Seldon. Though she has tons of scholarship offers to all the best schools, the last thing she wants is to leave. Who'll take care of her absentminded gramps? Not her mother, who can't even be bothered to come home from work, let alone deal with their new tenants next door.
Penny's not interested in dealing with Bishop's crappy attitude, and Bishop's too busy sneaking pills to care. Until he starts hanging out with Gramps and begins to see what he's been missing. If Bishop wants a chance with the fiery girl next door, he'll have to admit he has a problem and kick it. Too bad addiction is hard to kick...and Bishop's about to run out of time.
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Out of Play
By Nyrae Dawn, Jolene Perry, Heather Howland
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Kelley Vitollo and Jolene Perry
All rights reserved.
Bishop! Bishop! Bishop!
The chants from the crowd won't stop rattling around in my head.
Bishop! Bishop! Bishop!
I stumble from the car to the front door, catching my foot on the step and slamming into the side of the house. The world around me blurs. It always does after a show.
Look, it's Bishop Riley from Burn!
Left, right, and left again, I look over my shoulder like the paparazzi are still behind me, their voices mixing with fans that haunt me. What kind of rock star can't handle crowds? It's pathetic. I'm pathetic the way I let the anxiety practically swallow me whole.
Just get inside. I need to get inside, and then it will all go away.
I wave my personal guard back into the car before grasping the handle, desperate for quiet. But as soon as I push the door open, it's like I'm back on stage again, everyone wanting a piece of me. People are everywhere, closing in. No one's supposed to be here. She promised. Maryanne fucking promised there wouldn't be a party tonight.
I shove my way through the people crowded in her living room. The crowd's screams during my drum solo overtake me, wipe away the high I get when my sticks slam down on the drums. No one's staring, but it feels like they're climbing inside my skin, gnawing from the inside out.
I need Maryanne. She said she had a surprise for me, and it sure as hell better not be this party.
Someone hits me on the left, scoots around me on the right. Each touch amplifies the screaming in my head, the vice twisting around my throat. I flex my hands, wishing I had my drumsticks.
I cover my ears, but then I realize it's Maryanne calling my name.
She bounces over to me, a big-ass smile on her face. "Come with me!" She's yelling, but I can still hardly hear her.
My feet tangle again as I go up the stairs and follow Maryanne down the hallway. With each step, the vice around my throat gets tighter, flashes of the show tonight playing in my head.
Burn! Bishop! Burn!
It mingles with the phone call from my asshole dad. He wants more money, he always does. It's the only way to get him to leave us alone. I squeeze my eyes shut, everything becoming too much.
We slip into one of the rooms ... and it's quiet. Blissfully fucking quiet, the noise of the party muted by the walls. I turn on Maryanne, hating the way my hands shake. "You better have something good."
She holds up a pill bottle and grins.
My mouth goes dry. "What is it?"
"Come and see." Laughing, she backs away. As soon as I step toward her, she tosses the bottle at me. When I get the lid off, I toss the pills in my mouth and grab the beer Maryanne hands me to wash them down. Pills and beer gone in three seconds flat. Gone the way we used to be before I had the money to pay Dad off, when he would find us in whatever new town we moved to so we could escape him. Only the pills make me feel a whole lot better than leaving did.
Maryanne trails her fingers down my stomach. "How many did you take before you got here?"
"A couple. I only had a few with me, though."
"Here." Maryanne hands me her beer, and I down that as well.
It doesn't take long for the edge to start drifting away, for the vice, the voices, the hands grabbing for me to fade.
My cell rings.
I pull out my phone, knowing I'll get hell if I don't answer. People are always checking up on me.
"Where'd you disappear to?" Blake, my band's lead singer, asks. "I thought you were coming over."
The room is spinning. How the hell does a room spin? I fall onto the bed to see if that makes it stop. Nope. My body tingles all over. It's such an incredible feeling. So much better than the hands ripping at my skin during a show or the chanting trapped in my head.
Oh, right. I'm on the phone. "Paparazzi wouldn't stop following me," I say. "I had to ditch them." True. The word sounds funny, so I keep playing it over. True, true, true, true.
"You could have ditched them and still come over. I thought we all decided the band would hang together after the show tonight."
We did? Little bits and pieces try to form in my brain, but struggling to figure them out takes too much concentration. Blake's trying to kill my buzz. I'll be damned if I let that happen. The spinning starts to slow down, and I'm pissed about it. The dizzy was way better than dealing with him. "It's not that big a deal."
My upper teeth brush against something on my bottom lip, and it startles me. But then I realize it's my lip ring, and laughter starts pouring out of me. I don't want to stop. I don't remember the last time I laughed this hard — the last time I let loose with people who weren't in my head.
Burn! Burn! Burn!
It's more than our band's name when they yell it like that. It makes me feel like they're burning me alive. My high starts slipping more ...
I want to grab onto to it. Find something else to take to make sure it doesn't go away for the rest of the night.
"Bishop, you need to take this shit seriously. I can only cover for you so long before — "
Wait. "Cover for me? What the fuck does that meant?"
Mean? What is he talking about? The spinning slows to a stop. He's giving me shit for something all of us do. They're going out tonight. There's no difference if I do it with or without them. And at least I have an excuse. They don't feel like they're going to lose their shit on stage like I do. Not that I'd ever tell any of them that.
"Bishop," Maryanne whines. "You're ignoring me. I don't like to be ignored." She falls onto the bed next to me and runs her fingers down my chest again. My heart picks up. This is what I'm in the mood for. Not Blake's shit.
"Is that Maryanne?" he asks.
Bishop Riley! Burn, Burn, Burn!
My buzz is sizzling away ...
"Gotta go." I hang up the phone and drop it on the bed ... floor, I don't know and don't care. Maryanne's skirt is short — so short. "What'cha want, B.R.? I know you want more."
Do I? Yeah, I do. Just a few minutes ago, I was laughing. It takes the stress away so I can be happy.
I think she bats her eyelashes at me, but I can't tell. Maryanne gets up and walks over to the dresser. A bottle of vodka flies at me, which I almost don't catch. With a slow smile, she pulls out two more pill containers. The stress immediately seeps out of me, just that easily. I deserve to party once in a while. I'm tired of people telling me otherwise. I don't know anyone who doesn't let loose sometimes. Who doesn't need help relaxing after the crazy schedule we keep? The rest of the time, I just maintain. We all have to maintain.
For once, I want to do more than just maintain.
I get up and grab one of the bottles out of her hand, don't bother reading it before trying to twist off the top. It takes me three tries to open the stupid thing, but I finally get it before shaking whatever's left into my mouth.
"B.R. What about me?" Maryanne swats my arm, but I ignore it. I'm so tired of getting shit from everyone. Tired of feeling on edge all the time, like my own heart wants to eat me alive. I just want it all to go away. After fumbling a couple times, I finally manage to open the vodka before I down some, pills and all.
What feels like a second later, my legs go weak. The spins pick up again, but it feels like my head and not the room. Maryanne starts laughing and dancing around. I try to watch her, but a sheet keeps dropping over my eyes.
The room lurches. I fall to the floor. Maryanne's laughing, and I'm fighting to talk, but nothing comes out. Something tries to crawl up my throat. That stupid sheet drops down again, but it doesn't go away this time. Why won't Maryanne take it off? She keeps laughing ... laughing ...
Soon, there's nothing left.
* * *
I try to open my eyes, but it's like they've been sewn shut, giving just enough to partially lift, only to fall closed again. They're puppets on a string, someone pulling the lines so they don't listen to me. The thought makes me want to laugh. When I try, the sound won't come out. My throat burns. My tongue's dry as hell, and I'm heavy, paralyzed or something.
Oh, shit. Am I dead?
My heart starts pounding a really killer drum solo. If my heart's beating, I can't be dead, right?
I try to sit up. It's a no-go, so instead I focus on my eyes, fighting like crazy to pull them open.
"He's coming around," someone whispers. Mom? I think so but can't tell. When I feel a hand against my head, I know it's her. She's done that since I was a kid, and I want nothing more than to lean into it. That has to be good. If I can remember stuff like that, I have to be okay.
Do I want to be okay?
"Bishop?" Mom whispers again. The pain in her voice slices me open. I hate it when she's hurting — hate it more that I'm pretty sure I fucked up big, and I'm the one who made her feel that way.
"Ma?" My voice won't come out right. There's something in my throat. I fight to open my eyes, but they sort of flutter instead. First, I only see fog, but slowly it starts to clear, and she's leaning over me, her brown hair hanging down. She smiles, but a tear slips down her face and lands on my cheek. I'm supposed to protect her, not make her cry.
Yeah, I totally screwed up.
This time, I try to move my arm but realize it's strapped down. Tubes are all over the damn place: on me, hanging from stuff. There's a constant beep that I must have missed before.
Panic sets in, and I try to push up again. To do something, anything. Since my arms aren't happening, I go for my legs. Try to get up.
"Shh. It's okay, honey. Just relax."
I can't stop. I'm freaking the hell out here, and she wants me to relax?
"He's too agitated," a voice I don't recognize says. "We're going to give him something."
Give me something? Yeah, that actually sounds good.
Mom's face starts to blur. The last thing I notice is she's not even trying to smile anymore, and then I welcome the darkness that takes me over again.
* * *
"I'm not going to Alaska." When I feel my heart kick up, I fight to slow it down by squeezing the arms of the chair.
My band's manager, Don, doesn't even attempt to hide his anger the way Mom's trying to hide her sadness.
Don crosses his beefy arms and leans against his desk. "You're going."
I shove out of the chair, and it crashes to the ground behind me. "First of all, I'm an adult. You can't make me do shit. Second, it was an accident. A onetime accident."
I still can't believe it happened. Waking up and finding out I could have choked on my own vomit? I've never been that messed up before. It was a really bad night, and I got a little carried away, that's all.
Pills are a way to unwind. A way to stay calm when I feel like I'm cracking apart.
Mom's shaking hand moves to her mouth, and she gasps. I didn't even say anything, but it's the first time we've even partially put it out there since I woke up in the hospital a week ago. "Ma, I'm sorry. Seriously, you know I didn't mean anything. It was ..." I shrug. "I don't know. Just something to do, or whatever. I was tired after the show and all that press stuff. It helps me relax. It's not like I do it all the time." When Maryanne hooks me up, I can make a whole bottle last over a month. That's nothing compared to some of the people I know. Not that I could tell my mom.
"Bishop ... you could have died." Mom's crying again, wiping tears with her pink-painted nails. I hate myself a little more for making her feel like this. "Do you realize how serious that is?"
Do I realize how serious that is? That's the stupidest question I've ever heard. "Yeah, Ma. I'm the one who woke up with a tube down my throat."
That only makes her cry harder. If possible, I feel even shittier. Mom doesn't deserve this crap, doesn't deserve my screw-ups since she's given up everything so I can be here. Too bad I can't seem to make myself do anything about it.
Don clears his throat. "If you understand how serious it is, you get why you're going to Seldon. Your mom and I have been talking, and we think — "
"Don't talk about me like I'm an idiot. I don't need you two discussing shit behind my back."
When he speaks again, Don's voice is hard. "Do you know how long I've been in this business, Bishop?"
Right now, I couldn't care less.
"Over twenty years. I've seen a lot of talent come and go. I've seen people make it big and people screw it all up." He shakes his head. "I've seen people die."
"I — "
"Shut up and let me finish. I believe last week was an accident, but I don't believe this was a onetime thing. You might think I'm an idiot, but I can tell when someone's high. I've been around the block with musicians both in better and worse shape than you. I also know you're on the edge. If you keep going the way you are now, you'll take a header right off it. It starts out as a way to relax, then you start losing control once in awhile like last week, and before you know it, you don't have any control at all. I've seen it."
"We just want you to take a little break, sweetie," Mom adds. "That's all. Get a clear head and see what you're doing."
Looking at her hurts too much, so I look at Don instead. It's easier to be pissed at him.
"You're lucky you have people who care about you. Not everyone has that. I've been around long enough to know that even though you're making me money now, you get worse and you're going to start costing me money. It's Alaska or rehab. You choose. We can keep Alaska quiet, which honestly is a damn blessing. The press doesn't know what happened last week, and we might be able to keep it that way. They find out and every thing changes. It's not about the band's music anymore. It all turns into 'How's your drummer? Staying clean?' I won't let you screw up my band up like that, Riley."
I hate the way he pulls that last name bullshit. Don looks at me all cocky, like he knows he has me. Music awards are all over the walls of his stupid office, taunting me. Our Grammy from last year.
"And if I refuse?" The look on Mom's face tells me I broke her further. Don's scowl says he's beyond pissed, but what the hell? They're not the ones getting shipped away.
Bishop! Bishop! Bishop!
Focusing, I think of the pills I have back at home. After dealing with this, I deserve one
"You're a natural drummer, kid."
I shake my head, wishing my hands would stay still. He knows it pisses me off when he calls me kid even more than the last name thing.
"You're one of the best I've seen, and you're still a damn teenager. I'd hate to lose you. The guys would hate to lose you, but you're no good to us if we have to worry about you swallowing your own tongue because you're too fucked up to see straight. One night leads to two, to three. You'll keep getting closer to that cliff and I'll be damned before all our hard work goes to waste because you couldn't handle it."
Handle it? How do I handle this? The feeling that everyone at a show is inside me, taking over my insides and jumping on my heart. Pills are the only things that dull the chaos in my head.
Mom reaches over and touches my shoulder. "I only want you okay. I don't care about the band. I care about you. We need to do what's best for you."
If that were true, she wouldn't be listening to Don. "The guys won't go for this. They have my back." We're on top of the world right now. Three number-one singles in the past six months and he wants me to hide out?
He rubs his beard. "You disappeared for a day in Tokyo. You passed out and missed that interview in New York. You missed a band meeting the same day you downed a bunch of pills. They're not going to have your back on this. And they've also been instructed not to talk to you while you're gone. You're stepping away from everything while you're there."
"I —" They're not allowed to talk to me. The guys, my bandmates, know about this. They sold me out. I've talked to every one of them this week and no one said anything about Alaska.
Don cuts me off before I can think of something to say. He sighs, his body going a little limp like he actually cares. "We have nothing going on for the next couple months. The guys are all taking some time off. This is the perfect chance for you to figure out what you want. To back your ass away from the cliff. You have two months to get it together or you're out. That'll give us enough time to pull someone in before the tour."
Excerpted from Out of Play by Nyrae Dawn, Jolene Perry, Heather Howland. Copyright © 2013 Kelley Vitollo and Jolene Perry. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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