Does he know how hard this is to hear? Of course not. I’ve told him I want nothing from him. So we’re people who fuck...and apparently now I’m his therapist as well.
I’m tempted to establish some kind of barrier here. A line in the sand meaning we don’t talk about Sienna or Jeremy. But my morbid curiosity is still thick inside me and I find it impossible to ignore.
‘Do you miss her?’
His eyes latch to mine and his smile spreads across his face slowly. But there is resignation in that look, too. ‘I seem to have found the perfect Band-Aid.’
‘LOOKING FOR SOMEONE?’
I tweak the E-string, play a chord, closing my eyes as I find every single note. They are floating through space and I am able to see them from every angle—but, more than that, they reverberate in my blood, hitting a frequency that I know intimately.
Then I hear the question. Carl has toured with me for years; he knows me well. In that moment, I think he knows me better than I would like.
It’s a lie. I keep wondering if she’ll come. Thinking how annoying it is that she hasn’t.
Why does it piss me off so much? Hard to say.
Sienna? Is that who he thinks I’m scouring the audience for? ‘Nah. We broke up, remember?’
‘Fuck. Sorry, mate.’
I grimace, turning back to the guitar. I play the beginning of ‘Wild Silver’, sing a few lines into the mic and then stop abruptly. I wrote this song for Sienna. With Sienna. The memory is like a ball, bobbing on the horizon of a stormy ocean. I can see it, but it keeps fading away and there’s no way I can reach it.
How many of my memories will be like this? Inextricably linked to her but no longer tangible?
‘Did you hear about the tickets?’
I blink, focusing my attention back on Carl. On the now. Only there’s a different mirage on the horizon now. One that makes me smile rather than frown.
If Ally’s not here, where is she?
I picture her naked in my suite. In the shower, lathered up, slippery and sweet, singing in that sweet off-key way she has. All of me is pulled. I want to be with her. Fuck the concert.
‘Nah. What about them?’
‘Someone’s scalping seats for a thousand bucks.’
I arch a brow, yet I’m not totally surprised. The concert was booked out in under thirty minutes. My management refused a second show.
Carl hands me another of my guitars. I pass the Fender over and begin to tune the Gibson.
‘You all good for drinks after?’
Shit. I’d forgotten about that. Our tradition. I always take the crew out for a post-concert wind-down.
But... Ally. Naked in my shower. In my bed.
I’m saved from needing to answer by the arrival of Grayson and my manager, Paul. I smile at them, but in my mind I’m already back at the hotel, and Ally’s eating out of the palm of my hand...
* * *
I tell myself I made the right decision. I’m not a groupie and I think it would be weird to see Ethan up on stage, larger than life, as Ethan Rock God Ash.
So why am I sitting glued to my phone, stalking the Twitter hashtag #ethanashNYC? Which is trending—of course.
There are videos of the concert being uploaded and I watch them almost faster than they can appear.
There’s his beautiful acoustic cover of ‘Hallelujah,’ which sends goosebumps into every part of my body, like shooting stars chasing their natural end. Then there are his faster, earlier songs, full of youth and enthusiasm. There’s a few ballads. He performs a song with Hunter Smith and Esther Scott, of Scott Smith—only my favourite band ever.
He looks amazing.
I mean, amazing.
And like himself as well.
Only it’s so hard to reconcile Ethan—my Ethan—with this guy. This guy who’s performing in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans. Women who are passing out. Who are shouting his name, waving their hands, holding posters that cry out their love for him. And he’s so...cool. So effortless. He waves. He sings. He wanders from one side of the stage to the other, sauntering with his trademark nonchalance, and my pulse is raging.
He is so hot.
And he is mine.
Shh! I silence the grumpy part of my mind that constantly wants to remind me not to get too possessive or invested.