If you haven’t seen the new cover of Wonderwall yet, here it is for your pleasure. Also, if you haven’t had the chance to read Wonderwall yet, don’t miss the opportunity to snatch it up for only $0.99. The promo will last until January 9th.
If you are still in doubt, here is Wonderwall’s Prologue:
“Bottoms up, girls!” Saylor shouts, and everyone at the table raises their glasses.
“To Liv, and to a fantastic time in London!” Kennedy adds.
I toss my head back and let the alcohol slide down my throat, parching everything in its path. I ignore the lemon in front of me, choosing to drink tequila how it was intended, straight, and without any help. I slam the glass back down almost at the same time my friends do. I’m all warm and tingling inside.
“Patron gets better and better with each shot,” Mandy says as she swoons on the spot, and I know she’s had enough. I think we’ve all had enough, but Mandy, being the petite girl she is, can handle even less alcohol than the average person. It’s hard to believe she’s Irish.
“And the guys keep getting better and better, too,” Emma says as she stares appreciatively at two tables down from us where a group of frat-boy-wannabes is parked. They would be in a fraternity for sure if our school had a Greek row.
I wrinkle my nose. “I don’t think so.”
Now Kennedy is looking their direction too. She groans. “Oh, God. I know one of them. He’s in my Drama class, and he’s a pest. Quick, look the other way. Don’t make eye contact.”
Too late. One of the guys sees us staring, and with a cocky grin on his face, stands up and walks toward our table.
Saylor shakes her head and smiles. “Good luck, girls. I’m about to go on.”
“Break a leg, Blue!” Mandy says before she starts to giggle like a little girl. Saylor gets up and looks pointedly at me. I hear her message loud and clear. It’s time to take the baby home.
“Hello, ladies.” Frat boy turns the chair Saylor has just vacated and sits down, leaning his forearms on the back of it.
With super tanned skin and shaggy, sun-kissed blond hair, he has the looks of a surfer, and kind of reminds me of Owen, my brother-in-law.
“What do you think you’re doing, Levi?” Kennedy glares at him.
“What does it look like? I’m bestowing my awesome presence upon you.” He tosses his head to the side, trying to get his long bangs out of the way. A second later, they’re right back where they were.
“Does your ego have to ride shotgun when you drive?”
“My ego is the one driving, babe.” Levi leans back and stretches his arms, making his t-shirt ride up and show us a peek of nice, golden abs. Kennedy’s gaze travels down and stays there longer than normal. Levi smirks when he catches her staring.
“Warning, chicas. That’s a classic Levi move.” Emma throws my abandoned lemon slice at him, hitting him on the chest. He brings his arms down and sticks his tongue out at her.
The background music stops, and a sudden wave of anticipation takes over the crowd. Decibel levels of conversations turn down a notch. Saylor’s familiar guitar riff echoes in the room before her voice breaks through the silence.
“Good evening, ladies and gentleman. Are you having fun yet?”
Her energy is intoxicating, and her stage presence is undeniable. The crowd cheers and whistles.
“Damn, that girl is hot,” Levi says as he stands up. We do the same because there’s no way we can remain seated when Saylor is playing.
She tosses her blue and green mermaid hair back, and glances over her shoulder at the bass player. It’s their ‘are you ready’ signal. They both nod and Saylor faces the audience again.
“We are Wreck of the Day.”
The first notes of I Want You to Want Me by Cheap Trick blare through the speakers and the crowd goes wild. Mandy grabs my hand and pulls me into the melee, toward the front of the stage. Shit, Saylor wanted me take Mandy home, but it will be impossible now. Oh well, this is my last night out with my girlfriends before I fly across the pond. It’s okay to be wild.
Emma, Kennedy, and Levi have followed us, and now we’re dancing like there is no tomorrow. I let the music run through my veins, and finally the anxiety of the past week leaves my body. It wasn’t only the last minute preparations for my upcoming trip that have made me tense. It was also the fact that, in two days, I’d be in the same city as him. But I can’t let the thought ruin my night and I won’t. I’m determined to have fun for real, without pretense.
Twenty minutes into our groove, we’ve lost Kennedy and surfer boy already, and Mandy has almost fallen on her butt twice.
“I really think we should take Mandy home,” Emma yells in my ear.
She’s right. As much as I would like to stay, I don’t want to deal with a pukey Mandy in the nasty bathroom here. Better if she spills her guts out in the comfort of our home.
“Where did Kennedy go?” I glance around.
Emma bobs her head up and down, in sync with the tempo of the music. “Probably making out with Levi.”
“I thought she didn’t like him.”
Emma rolls her eyes. “She doesn’t like him when he opens his mouth. He can’t really talk when they’re kissing.”
I don’t like the idea of leaving one of my friends behind with a guy I don’t know. “Shouldn’t we look for her?”
“Nah, I know Levi from way back. He’s harmless. Kennedy is safe with him.”
Trusting in Emma’s judgment, I take Mandy’s hand and begin dragging her away from the stage. She resists my pull. “Aww, Liv. I don’t wanna go. I’m fine.”
“You’re not fine. You’re five minutes from embarrassing yourself in front of all these people. You’ll thank me tomorrow.”
Emma takes Mandy’s other arm, and together, we stride across the bar, reaching the exit in less than a minute. The crisp, fresh air of September is a shock against my skin after the heat of inside. It helps make me more alert. There are a few cabs waiting by the curb, and we make our way to them. We dip inside one, and after giving the driver our address, Emma turns to me.
“I had so much fun tonight. I can’t believe we won’t get to do this for another year.”
I can tell she’s had fun. There’s a sheen of perspiration on her forehead, and her light brown hair is matted and plastered to her head. Her eye make-up is a little smeared, too. I bet mine is in the same condition.
“You can always come visit me.”
Emma’s smile falters a fraction. “Ugh, Dad is still set on getting married to bimbo number five during Christmas break. He won’t allow me to miss it.”
I squeeze her hand. “A year will go by in a flash. And now, with Periscope, I can stream all my adventures live. It’ll be like you guys are there with me.”
“You’re such a geek, Liv. But I love you just the same.” She lets go of my hand to give me a side hug.
I peer at Mandy, and she’s already passed out, leaning against the car door and snoring loudly. Oh boy, dragging her ass up the stairs to our apartment will be so much fun.
To my surprise, Mandy wakes up once we arrive, and we don’t have to drag her anywhere. She seems weirdly energized for some reason. As soon as we come through the door, she kicks off her shoes and makes a beeline for the TV.
It’s still early, not even midnight yet, and I don’t feel in the slightest tired. We follow Mandy to the living room. Emma plops down on the couch next to her, and I take the loveseat.
“Let’s binge watch something on Netflix.” Emma takes the remote control from Mandy’s hand and starts pressing buttons.
“Oh, I’ve been dying to watch that new show produced by Tina Fey.” Mandy glances in my direction and I can already guess what’s coming. “But we need popcorn.”
I throw my hands up in the air. “Why must I always make the popcorn in this house?”
Emma smirks at me. “Because you’re the best popcorn maker in the world.”
With a huff, I get up from my comfy position. I don’t even attempt to fight my roommates. They will beg and plead, relentlessly, before I give in.
“How are you going to handle movie night without me? Who is going to make the popcorn then?” I say from the kitchen.
“The microwave.” They answer in unison before they start to laugh.
* * *
Ten minutes later, I go back into the living room with a big bowl of buttery goods in my hands. I’m two steps away from the couch when I hear the E! Channel presenter speak the name I’ve been avoiding for the last five years. A cannonball of unwanted memories barrels through me. My heart lurches of its own volition before it lodges itself in my throat. Traitorous muscle.
“Can we change the channel, please?” I plead, hating how choked up my voice sounds.
“No way. They’re about to replay the interview with Boys Future I missed tonight. I totally forgot to record it.” Emma says, almost bouncing with excitement.
Mandy’s eyes land on the bowl in my hand. “Popcorn!”
She makes a grab at it, not noticing my stiff posture and the deer-caught-in-the-headlights vibe my eyes are probably giving. None of my friends know the reason I’m freaking out right now. Only Saylor knows the history because she lived it with me.
My heartbeat is frantic, and I attempt to steady my breathing. It has been five years for crying out loud. I can’t hide from my demons forever. With reluctant steps, I mince back to the loveseat, but I can’t actually sit down. I turn and face the TV instead. When the interview starts and the boy who crushed my soul so long ago appears on the screen, I steel my heart.
I try to pay attention to the questions and what the other band members are saying, but my eyes are glued to Sebastian’s face. He has grown into his looks, and who was once a very cute boy is now a roguishly handsome man. His face is more angular, and his shoulders are broader. His hair is short on the sides and longer on top. I can tell it has been styled by a professional. There’s a hint of scruff framing his chiseled jaw. But one detail, the most important one, remains the same. His eyes. Since we were kids, those volcanic mahogany orbs had the ability to evoke confidence and yearning at the same time. A killer combination. Even through the TV screen, I can feel their combustible power reaching for me.
He’s quiet and seems unhappy to be there. When the interviewer addresses him and asks about his relationship status, my hands curl into fists by my side. Sebastian leans back in his chair and strokes his chin, a polished grin unfolding glacially across his face.
“You know I don’t like to talk about my private life, but yeah, Gretchen and I are dating.”
“There will be a lot of unhappy fans out there.”
“Nah, our fans are cool. They know they’re our number ones,” the blond and lean guy next to Sebastian pipes in.
The presenter nods, barely sparing a glance in blondie’s direction, before his attention returns to Sebastian. “Even so, in your line of business, you had to contend with some overzealous fans. I heard there was one in particular, a girl you knew in high school, who wrote emails to you on a regular basis. Is that true?”
My blood freezes in my veins and I fight to get air in my lungs. What. The. Hell. I close my eyes and feel them burn behind my eyelids.
“Yeah, she wrote to me every day for over a year. I still don’t know how she got my email address. We were never friends in high school. I had to close that account in the end.”
“So, what did she write?” the presenter asks.
“I don’t know. I never read any before I deleted them.”
I can’t take it anymore. I feel the walls closing in, and I know I’m about to lose it in front of my friends. I bolt to my room before any of them can finally notice the state I’m in. I close the door and lock it for good measure. My gaze zeroes in on my bed, and I stride toward it, collapsing on the floor once I reach it. I finally let the sobs rack through my body like a devastating tsunami. I hope the TV is loud enough to cover the sound.
How could he? How could Sebastian twist the truth like that for the world to hear?
With shaking hands, I pull the cardboard box out from under my bed. I’m a masochist and I know it. I sniff and swipe my dripping nose with the back of my hand. My vision is blurry as I lift the lid. Inside, there are hundreds of gossip magazines and clippings from websites, all depicting the same person—Sebastian.
My family believes I avoid any bit of news related to him and his band. And I do. I’ve never read any of the articles inside that box. My unhealthy obsession only goes as far as collecting them and keeping them out of sight. This is the first time I’m opening my very own Pandora’s Box just to look at its contents, without adding to my morbid collection.
I pick up the first thing on the pile, a magazine where Sebastian is front and center on the cover. I trace his face with the tips of my fingers, letting memories flood my brain and overwhelm my heart. I stare at the picture, frozen in time and space while my tears stream down my face like a waterfall. Then I remember his expression during the interview, the slow smile he gave the camera when asked about his girlfriend. There was a hint of a secret in that grin, and I can only imagine what kind of things would illicit such a reaction from him.
I shove the magazine aside and lay on the floor, turning my body into a tiny ball. My tears mingle with the agony that threatens to swallow me whole. I’m tired of being trapped in the past, of feeling broken. When will my heart finally mend?