Keep your secrets close and your enemies closer.
Dominic Trudell has been Consistently Inconsistent’s drummer since the band’s conception. He keeps to himself, separates his regular life from his fame, is brilliant beyond measure and is a self-proclaimed bachelor. He has never said ‘I love you’ and has no intention to start now.
When Stasia Marquette joins Consistently Inconsistent, there is only one rule—no inter-band relationships. Dom, who isn’t known for dating or breaking rules, is doing both.
She’s captivating him in ways he can’t explain, but he doesn’t do love—never has—and she wants more than he can give her.
While he’s pushing her away—more for her own good than his—she finds herself tangled up with someone from Dom’s past, and that man knows that Dom keeps secrets as well as he keeps time.
Dom tries to keep his backstory hidden, while the band will do anything to stay on the charts. Can they stay relevant—or is it time for them to take their last bow?
Reader advisory: This book contains references to heart disease and blackmail. It is best read as book three in a series.
General Release Date: 22nd March 2022
Green signs with white text reflect the names of familiar streets as the tour bus flies underneath them.
Twelve pages, I think as I peek at the last page number of the book I hold. Only a few exits from home and I’m a dozen pages short of finishing the story.
“Did you do it?” Theo sits down in a chair nearby and sips from a beer bottle. “Did you get through all fifty?”
“Almost.” I hold up the book but keep my eyes on the text, trying to finish before we reach our destination. “I’m a bit short right now, though.”
“What number is this one?” He leans forward and flicks the cover.
“Forty-eight.” I shrug. “But unless I can finish this one and two more in the next fifteen minutes, I’d say I’m not reaching my goal.”
“Technically.” He takes another sip between words. “We’ve still got the Boston shows. The tour isn’t over yet, so you’ve still got time.” He winks as he stands and heads toward the back of the bus. I bury my face in the text.
As the bus pulls into our drop-off spot, my bandmates holler and cheer, kicking off the usual welcome home parties they throw themselves upon arrival. They will get off this bus almost before it even comes to a full stop and hop from bar to bar until last call, then open the doors to their own homes, where they will continue to drink until the sun comes up, sleep the day away and not wake until we’re required to be at the venue for our home shows.
We close every tour at home. Sometimes it’s one show, sometimes it’s three. The number of shows and the Boston venue we play at varies, but our traditions upon returning don’t. They will launch our home stretch with their inhibitions off and their ‘check liver light’ on. Some things never change, no matter how much we’ve grown. My bandmates always revert back to their wild youth years the moment the tour bus wheels hit Boston’s pothole-filled pavement.
“Planning on staying the night?” Xander hits me on the back of the head in an annoying but playful way as he passes me. “We’ve been parked for a few minutes now.”
“I only have a few pages left. I’m surprised it’s taken you this long, though. You’re usually halfway down Boylston Street by now.”
“I forgot my sunglasses. What is that, anyway?”
“It’s a book, Xander. Ever read one?”
He smiles and shakes his head, but I can’t tell if the no motion is sincere or sarcastic.
“I’m headed out. You sure you don’t want to come?”
I’ll say ‘no’ and he will tell me that I’m missing out. The tour bus final scene never changes.
“You ask me that every time.” I peek up at him over my glasses and the top of my book. “I’m good. I have somewhere to be.”
“You say that every time.” He shakes his head and puts his sunglasses on.
“It’s true every time.”
“You’re missing out.”
“You say that every time.”
“It’s true every time.”
We laugh a light sound at our exchange. It’s not the first time we’ve had this conversation. For as long as we’re touring, it won’t be the last. He turns to head off the tour bus.
“Xander?” He turns and looks at me, though his gaze is hidden behind dark lenses. “Be careful. Take care of yourself and the boys. I know I don’t partake in the crazy sideshow that you guys put on when we return home, but I do care. Get everyone home in one piece.”
Xander pushes his sunglasses into his in-desperate-need-of-a-cut hair. “You say that every time.”
“It’s true every time.”
He slides his sunglasses over his eyes once more and retreats from the bus.
Alone on the silent tour bus, I finish book number forty-eight on my list and I’m not impressed. The story had so much potential. For nearly four hundred pages it was perfectly executed with many memorable parts, then the story crumbled in the last ten. I sink my head back too hard into the headrest. There are few comparable disappointments than investing yourself in a story that has a bad ending. At the same time, there’s no stronger parallel to life. It has its ups and downs with good and bad sections along the way. Characters are introduced that we get attached to and some who are forgettable. It’s colorful, exciting and every day is like turning a page until there are none left to turn. It ends. It’s over. It will happen to every single one of us. For most, our final pages will be disappointing. I wish that wasn’t the hard truth, but it is. Turning the final pages of one’s own story or the one of someone close is always disappointing.
I order a car service on my phone then toss the book and my cell into my bag and carry it off the bus with a goodnight wave to our remaining equipment staff. My ride arrives and the driver gets out of the car to take my bag to the trunk then open the door for me. I slide into the back seat. When the driver returns, he sets his focus on the rear-view mirror.
“Consistently Inconsistent, eh?”
“Yeah,” I admit in a small voice, but I’m not exactly sure what he’s asking.
“I saw the patch on your bag.” He puts the car into drive and pulls away from the curb. “You ever seen them live?”
There it is. He’s a fan. He used the patch as a gateway to start small talk about something we might have in common, yet failed to recognize he has the drummer of said band in his car. It’s not the first time. If I had a dollar for every person who has asked me to take a photo of them with Xander or Blake, I could buy a small island.
It doesn’t bother me. When I’m not on stage, I lead an incredibly quiet existence. I am different than my bandmates, and though they are closer than family to me, I’ve always been the black sheep. We are so close, yet so far apart. We live entirely different lifestyles. One of my biggest joys comes from watching Xander and Blake smile. There were so many years that they didn’t. They are so full of life that it’s contagious, and I’d confidently say ninety percent of my laughter is caused by them or at their expense. Theo, too—his favorite moments are ones he gets recognized before Xander or Blake. He keeps on about it for hours. Even after all these years, the celebrity never gets old for them.
I fade into the background, and nine times out of ten I’m okay with that. I get lost behind walls that I built. Though I don’t let it bother me widely or outwardly, it does sting every once in a while, when people know the band but don’t know I’m in it. Perhaps, somewhere along the way, I let myself get too quiet.
“You sure this is the address you meant to put in?” he asks with heavy skepticism as we arrive at my destination.
“It’s dark out there, you know. And…kind of scary, don’t you think?”
I smirk as I open the door. The judgment in his eyes and stillness in his body language makes it clear he’s not getting out of the car.
“I’ll be okay. Pop the trunk for me, if you don’t mind.”
I retrieve my bag then slam the trunk closed. “Have a nice night now.” I wave as he speeds off. The light his headlights had provided dimmed more and more as he got farther away. The world gets darker—and more silent.
I walk the familiar path through the gate, passing a thick grouping of trees, and continue onward into the perpetual darkness that the cemetery offers. I turn down the dirt pathway that leads to my final destination, and in the distance, I can see the light of a single flickering candle that dances against the headstone. It seems the light winds have extinguished every other candle within a visible distance—but not hers. Hers dances in the dark.
I wonder for a moment who might have lit it and smile at its resilience. She would have liked the symmetry in that—surviving brilliantly, even when the odds were stacked against her, dancing when the time seemed the most inappropriate.
The headstone is heart-shaped—a choice I never agreed with but didn’t get a say in. It’s made of a brilliant blue-green marble that shines with a topcoat that’s so clean it’s reflective. Five years of rain and snow haven’t taken its toll on the stone outwardly. Just under two thousand days of battling weather day in and day out and it gleams the same way it did when it had been placed. She would’ve liked that, too. She’d also smiled and glistened, though she’d battled her own elements each day of her life.
Two dates—dates that are not nearly far enough apart—are carved deep into the rock. It has always been odd to me that we focus on two particular days, when the real magic and the true memories were all of the dates in between. The ones not mentioned are the times that made up her legacy and her life. There were so many of them worth publishing throughout her twenty-seven years.
The cold from the ground seeps through my jeans as I sit, but it doesn’t bother me. All my memories with her come flooding back, and those mental comforts outweigh the physical discomforts.
Starting from night one, I sit and talk out loud, recapping the tour. My voice echoes as I share everything I can remember in detail, and though I am aware there is no one within earshot listening, I know she is.
“I finished Among Broken Clocks today. I wish you’d annotated in the margins or something to prepare me for these garbage endings.” I wrap my jacket tighter around me. “I would’ve loved to know your thoughts on every book you left behind.”
The sun peeks through the trees, turning the midnight-black canvas to shades of pink and orange. I spent the entire night sitting and talking about the tour and the books—the same way I’d spent each night I’d returned from tour for the last five years that she’s been gone and with her in person the ten years before that.
I push myself off the ground and place one hand on her headstone. “I miss you, Raya. You told me all this would get easier with time. You were wrong.”