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by Nikki Archer
Description: Summer knows that her relationship with Chris is over--she's in her first year of college, and he's touring with his band. Ten years of friendship, and barely twelve hours of romance are gone. Forgotten. Right. The more Summer tries to move on, the more she's reminded of Chris. And she'd give just about anything to be the forgetful, instead of the forget-ee. Because Chris had no problem taking off without so much as a backwards glance. As it turns out, one-night stands do an okay job of pushing away unwanted memories. But each new conquest makes her feel cheaper. Each 'improvement' takes her farther away from who she used to be. Then she hears it; Chris's apology to her, verse after painful verse, playing on every radio station. His words bring everything back, and make her take a long, critical look at the life she's disappeared into. But is he still the same Chris who wrote the song for her? And even if he is, can she find her way back to being the girl he loved?
eBook Publisher: Solstice Publishing/Solstice Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: April 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [318 KB]
Reading time: 206-288 min.
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I handed the bouncer my fake I.D, still not entirely sold on the idea of subjecting myself to this level of torture. I'd taken two buses and a train to get from UMass to this shitty little venue in New Jersey, and of course it was now that the anxiety kicked in.
But I had to see it for myself. I'd tried a thousand times to imagine Chris, who'd grown up in the dirt just like I had, as a famous musician, but couldn't do it. So there I was, hundreds of miles from home, having emptied most of my checking account for the chance to see him one more time.
As soon as the doorman nodded me inside, I made a beeline for the bar. Not only did I need a drink, but it had the added bonus of being in a darkened corner of the club. Being seen by Chris would make this little outing exponentially more painful.
When the bartender came over I ordered a beer, resisting the urge for something stronger. He winked at me as he pried the top off and slid it over. Maybe another time, sweetie. Tonight, I'm not going to be such entertaining company
I checked the clock on my cell phone--five minutes before show time. And six texts from my roommate Julie telling me what an idiot I was for going through all that trouble to see a guy that I insisted meant nothing to me.
And maybe he did mean nothing to me by that point. After six months of silence, you couldn't even say that I knew him anymore. You couldn't even say that I was the same person who'd been his best friend before he left. But the guy he was before he left, the guy whose life I ached to be a part of, meant everything to me.
The already dim lights of the club flicked off, pitching the entire place into darkness for a split second. I drained half my beer, waiting for the inevitable moment, staying stoically silent even as the entire place erupted in cheers.
The spotlight hit him as he reached the mic stand. I recognized the old Gibson that he picked up, deftly swinging the strap over his head. I'd lost count a long time ago of how many bonfires that thing had attended.
He strummed a few random chords as the rest of the guys got settled. His fingers moved over the strings as his eyes roved over the crowd. I ducked my head down further, letting my hair fall into my face.
The speakers whined with feedback as Chris leaned in to the mic. He gave his audience a charming grin in apology, and tried again. "Hey y'all."
Painfully feminine screeches answered back.
"We're Goodbye Crusade, and this here's a song you might know. It's called 'Summer's Song,' and it's been on the charts for a few weeks now. It's named after the girl I left behind back home, who never got the goodbye that she deserved." He dropped his eyes for just a moment, allowing the sympathetic hum of the crowd to die away. "If y'all sing it loud enough, maybe this time she'll hear it."
The band launched into the familiar melody, one I'd listened to and dissected a thousand times too many. I slid a ten from my wallet and tossed it on the bar, pinning it under my empty beer bottle. And Chris, accompanied by his adoring fans, sang the first verse of the song he'd written for me, the song that was supposed to make up for everything he took with him when he left.
There's another side of summertime,
Where you're alright and I'm just fine.
The rain, it pours on this broken town
But you're long gone and I'm not around.
The bartender came back around as I slid off my barstool. "You don't wanna leave yet, honey. Trust me. I saw these guys back in Charlotte, they're awesome."
I chanced a look at the stage, where Chris was wrapped around the mic stand, eyes shut, belting out line after line of apologies. "Yeah, I know. I've got someplace to be though."
He spun my empty bottle between his hands, watching all too intently as I pulled on my leather jacket. "Come on, stay for one more song. I'll even make you a drink on the house."
If I could've shut the music out, I would've considered it. I would've stayed all night and drank for free and gone home with this nameless bartender. But with Chris's voice all around me, with him literally fifty feet away, it was unthinkable.
"Sorry," I said. "But I really can't stay here."
I shoved my way through the masses of cheering people as the song ended. It took all of my self-control not to look back over my shoulder, to meet his eyes across the venue. But there was no point in doing that.
I wouldn't find the person I'd come looking for.