That’s what a doctor told me at just twenty-nine years old.
My headaches and exhaustion weren’t from overexertion like I thought.
It was more. A lot more.
Despite my unimaginable challenges,
I found love at a time I needed it most.
Layne, a rising star and popular frontman,
was unknowingly singing life into my soul through his allusive lyrics.
I lived and breathed for the mesmeric sound of his voice.
Kismet led us to a kind of love anyone would die for.
However, Layne shouldn’t be stuck loving me after I begin to forget him.
We will once again be strangers, separated by a crowd.
I can no longer promise him a future like the one he vowed to me.
Layne is determined to help me get better.
I’m determined to make him see past my illness.
The outcome … to be determined.
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Copyright 2019 – Shari J. Ryan
“Hey! What did you think?” Layne, the frontman, jogs over to us and gives Lexi a hug.
“You guys are insanely amazing,” Lexi responds. “Like, blew us away.”
“Oh yeah?” Layne asks, glancing over at me. Lexi is speaking on behalf of both of us, which gives me a free pass to avoid conversation and just take in the scene, but I feel I need to praise them too.
“You were seriously incredible. I can see why you won that battle.” I just made it sound like they were fighting a war by singing music, but if that’s the worst thing that comes out of my mouth tonight, we should all be so lucky.
“That means a lot, thank you,” Layne says, staring at me as if I look fascinating. Sometimes I feel like my past is tattooed on my forehead and everyone I meet already knows what path I’ve walked along.
Layne shakes his head to the side, shuffling the hair away from his eye. It’s weird that I want to touch his hair. It’s even weirder that he’s been talking to me and I haven’t heard a word he has said. “You okay?” When I refocus on his face, his lip is curled to the side, the side where he has the lip ring.
“I’m so sorry, I think my ears are still ringing a bit. What did you just say?” I ask him, trying to hide the fact that I was too busy gazing at him with imaginary hearts in my eyes.
“I asked how long you and Lexi have been friends?” He combs his fingers through the sides of his hair, pushing the strands away from his face and his piercing emerald eyes. With dark brows and lashes, there’s an immediate pull to his alluring stare. He’s stunning and fascinating. He also asked me a question for the second time.
“Oh, um, we have been friends since we were babies actually. Our moms are friends, so we kind of grew up like sisters.”
“That’s awesome,” he says, glancing over at Lexi, who is biting down on her bottom lip, while staring into Johnny’s eyes. How is it, some of us have the natural born instinct to flirt, while the rest of us have knees that threaten to collapse the moment anyone looks in our direction? It’s not fair. I have no game. Not that I need a game because there isn’t a game I could possibly win with my life trailing behind me like a ball and chain. I love Aly, but I could have given her a different kind of love five to ten years from now too. “Damn, I think Lexi has a thing for Johnny.”
“She does,” I tell Layne, ratting her out like an awful friend. I slap my hand over my mouth, “Crap, don’t repeat that, and I hope that doesn’t bother you … like, I mean, if you have a thing for Lexi.” My foot can leave my mouth now.
Layne’s eyes narrow against his smile, his smile that reveals two perfectly located dimples by the corners of his lips. As the face of this band, he gives the fans a good reason to sit and watch them, but with the music I heard tonight, all the guys could be hideous and no one would care. It only helps that he’s gorgeous and he’s probably turned many local women into rock fans. “I don’t think I have to inform Johnny that Lexi has a thing for him. It seems like he’s gotten the hint,” Layne says. I glance over my shoulder again and yup, Johnny got the hint. Their lips are locked and if steam could release from hot bodies, the smoke alarms would be going off. “And I’m okay with it because Lexi and I aren’t into each other like that.”
“Huh, did they already know each other?” I ask Layne. I thought I would know who Lexi has been spending her time with, but I’ve been a little preoccupied.
Layne shakes his head, looking past me, toward them. “Nope, I don’t think they’ve officially met before tonight.”
“Well, I guess when you have no fears, you do what the moment tells you do, right?” I say.
Once again, Layne seems fascinated by the simple little remark I’ve made, and I can’t understand what it is that is so enlightening about my nervous chatter. “It’s funny you say that about fears. I wrote this song about fears, and you totally just hit the nail on the head.”
I know the song. I know it very well. It spoke to me two years ago when I heard it the first time, and it spoke to me again tonight when I heard it. “I think I’ve heard it,” I tell him, trying to sound casual about my love for his music. In fact, the song we’re both talking about is the song that drew me in as a “Divi-O Groupie.”
“You had heard of it before tonight? We haven’t performed here in a couple years.”
“Yeah, I remember it,” I tell him, biting down on the tip of my thumb.
Layne seems frozen within his star-lit smile and unblinking stare. “It’s my favorite of all our songs, but we were following trends and, you know how it goes. Oddly enough, we’ve been talking to a record label about that song, but I am talking too much and shouldn’t have said that to you, so pretend I stopped talking like thirty seconds ago.” He laughs and covers his hand over his face, showing off pen scribbles across his fingers, weaving in and out of the several rings I saw flashing around while he was running back and forth across the stage with the microphone, pouring his heart out of his lungs.
“Your secret is safe with me,” I tell him. “Now we each have something to forget.”
“Thank you,” he says, tugging at a loose curl beside my ear.
I hold my breathe when his hand comes near me, but it’s gone just as fast, hanging back down by his side.
“I think you got a little pen on your fingers there,” I point out, looking for a way to change the subject away from our spewed secrets. Seriously though … a record label? That’s insane.
“Yeah, I’m a sloppy artist,” he says, admiring his smudged artwork. “I have these three or four lines of a couple songs that always seem to slip my mind so I write them on my hand, but then I end up sweating them off during the show. I think the actual method of writing the words down helps me remember though, so it became a habit.”
Okay so he’s not just drawing on his hand for the sake of looking badass, which is sweet. My heart is already flopping around in my chest like a fish out of water, but I have to toss it back because I can’t take part in this type of lifestyle. Of course, I can’t exactly go anywhere now either since Lexi is still playing tongue tag with the drummer.
Shari J. Ryan is an International Bestselling Author of Contemporary Romance and Women’s Fiction.
She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two young sons. Shari started her career as a graphic artist and freelance writer, then found her passion for writing books back in 2011. She has been slaying words ever since and creating imaginary friends ever since.
With over 125k books sold, Shari’s books have hit Amazon’s Top 100 bestseller list, Barnes & Noble’s Top 10, and iBooks at #1. Some of Shari’s bestselling books include Last Words, The Other Blue Sky, A Heart of Time, and Man Flu from the Man Cave Collection.