Florentine Tragedy Excerpts

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Tainted Love (warning: contains graphic language)

Published February 15, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

This week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge was all about twisted love. I took this opportunity to add another layer to my work-in-progress novel, Florentine Tragedy: A Rock Story. Thanks, Chuck! You really know how to help boost a word count when an author feels like they’ve run out of things to say about their characters. xxx

Moe Alvarez stood outside by the stage door and watched the road crew load the instruments into the van. The band brought the house down tonight, the years of polishing their onstage persona culminating in a triumphant end to their cross-country tour. Florentine Tragedy never failed to blow him away with their performance, every time like the first time.

He could still remember that first time, clear as day. The band had performed at a small venue with just fifty people in the audience but they had played as if the place was packed. After that day, he went to see their shows whenever they were within a sixty-mile driving distance. he wanted to see the band more, especially their lead singer.

God he’d never seen anyone like her, a tiny woman with a big voice that sent chills up his spine, belting out the notes she sang. In between lyrics, she tumbled, somersaulted, and danced around on the stage as though she were determined to give those fifty people their money’s worth. He loved the way she would strut across the stage as though she owned the venue and every living soul in it, commanding the audience, holding them in the palm of her hand. She was the queen of that venue and they were her loyal subjects.

After the fifth show he attended, she had walked right up to him.  “Hi, I’m Daisy Carter,” she grinned, flicking her long, dark hair over her shoulder, sticking out her hand to shake his hand. “I keep seeing you at our shows. Thanks a lot for the support.” Her off-stage persona was just as energetic as it was onstage, and twice as friendly. He had let her do most of the talking that night, just so he could keep staring into her hazel eyes. When he asked if she had a boyfriend, her smile froze. Had he said something wrong?

“I don’t have it narrowed down to just one,” she winked at him, and left it at that. After a few months of friendship, he asked again. “I don’t have time for a boyfriend,” she said, “my band’s trying to make it.” Two months later, just before she spent the night at his place for the first time, she said with a half-smile, “Moe, this doesn’t mean I’m narrowing it down to one.” He was okay with that. At least, that’s what he had told Daisy. He would satisfy her in bed and one day she would satisfy his heart.

The stage door opened, interrupting his thoughts. There she was. Fans swarmed around her the moment she emerged from the venue so she didn’t see Moe standing there. That gave him the chance to watch her talk to her fans, which he did until there were two or three people left. He was proud of the way she handled herself in the face of so many requests for photos, autographs, and questions, knowing she hadn’t always felt comfortable with strangers wanting something from her. He smiled every time she threw her head back and laughed. She had such a great laugh; people always joined her even if they didn’t hear the comment or joke that amused her.

Unable to wait anymore, he walked over to her, touched her back and whispered in her ear. “You coming to my place tonight?” He raised his eyebrows, pleased to see her eyes widen in surprise at his sudden materialization, a big smile lighting up her whole face.

“Yeah,” she murmured, making sure only he heard her, “I’ll see you there in about an hour.”

“Can’t wait.” He winked and walked away, running his hands through his long, dark hair. Perfect. That gave him plenty of time to go back to his place, light some candles, and put on some nice music. He wanted the atmosphere to be perfect tonight. After they made love, he was going to tell Daisy he loved her and didn’t want to share her with other men anymore. After all the support he had given her over the years ― the emotional support, the financial support, the massages to any part of her body that was sore after a performance ― she could see how much cared about her.

Three hours later, Moe wrapped his arms around Daisy and kissed her on the cheek. Being inside her always felt fantastic, but holding her in his arms afterwards ran a close second. She usually complained that she didn’t like cuddling after sex, but tonight she lay still in his arms. He smiled at her and she looked up into his small, dark eyes. She put her hand on the back of his head and pulled him closer, with soft kisses, but her kisses became more intense, more heated. They made out that way for several minutes until Moe broke away. He couldn’t resist taking one last little taste of her lips before he spoke. “Hey, you know Divine Condemned is in town tomorrow night?”

“Of course I know!” she beamed.

“Are you going to the show tomorrow night?” Moe asked.

“I wouldn’t miss it. We know the guys in the opening band, so they’re putting our band on the guest list.”

“Oh.” What was he going to do with those two tickets now? He had paid quite a bit of money for them.

“What’s wrong?”

“Well, I thought I’d take you with me.”

“How about if you come with me? You can be my plus one.”

“Cool.” He settled her in his arms again and closed his eyes. His plans had changed, but at least they’d be there together. After a few minutes, Daisy tossed the covers back and sat up. He lifted his head up. “Where are you going?” He tried to pull her back into his arms, but she eased herself out of his embrace, got out of bed, and started dressing.

“Babe, I’ve got a lot to do tomorrow before the concert. I’m going to head home now, but I’ll pick you up at five.”

He frowned at her in silence for a few moments until Daisy turned around and saw the expression on his face. “Just once I’d love to wake up next to you in the morning,” he sighed, sitting up.

She bent over to pick her jeans up off the floor, turning her back. “Were you going to make me breakfast?” He could hear the faint sarcasm in her voice.

“Is it so wrong to spend some time with me when we’re not fucking?” He hated that word for the act of love, but when she got up and left in a hurry this way, there was no other word for it. He made an effort to keep from losing his temper, but he could feel his plans for the evening slipping out of his grasp.  

She turned to face him again, smiling. “Don’t be so dramatic, Moe. The band has a lot going on right now, you know that. I don’t have time to lie around in bed spooning all night.” Ah, so her old excuse ‘I don’t have time’ made its comeback. She walked back to the bed and leaned over to kiss him. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” She patted his cheek. “Get some sleep. You’ll need it. We’re going to rock our asses off tomorrow night.”

He watched her walk out the door. The moment she was gone, a string of profanities left his mouth. He flopped back down on the bed and punched the pillow where Daisy’s head had just been. How much more did he need to give her before she finally cut him a fucking break and let him into her heart?

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Rockin’ Titanic

Published January 31, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

 Since August of 2012, I’ve been working on a novel about an up-and-coming American rock band, fronted by Daisy Carter. The trilogy (gee, I’m not at all ambitious for a first-time author, am I?) will tell the story of the band over the course of five years: their ups and downs, loves and losses, triumphs and letdowns. 

Daisy’s bandmates are Pete (guitar), John (drums), and Beth (bass and keyboards.) They are touring with an English rock band whose members are named Noel (lead singer), Reg (guitar), Dev (drums), and Paul (bass). If you’re visiting my site to read my story and are unfamiliar with my novel’s storyline, I wanted to inform you about some of the characters before you began reading. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea who these people are

Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge for this week fit nicely into my work in progress. We have been asked to 1) Invent a cocktail AND 2) write a story around this cocktail. 

Rockin’ Titanic

John and Paul staggered into Noel’s hotel suite, their arms around each other’s shoulders, both of them grinning with amusement. In each of their free hands, they held an ice bucket, which held full bottles of different kinds of liquor. Beth trailed in a few steps behind them, grinning and shaking her head. She walked over to the sofa where Daisy and Noel were seated, then perched herself on the arm of the sofa next to Daisy.

“We have an announcement to make,” Paul’s voice rang out over the laughter and conversations of the groupies and hangers-on who had congregated in the room. “We’d like to introduce you all to our little bundle of joy.” John snickered as Paul produced a sleeve of cups from his ice bucket. The two men started pouring five different liquids into the cup, eyeing with precision the amount going into the cups each time they poured.

“Ladies first,” John walked over with two cups in his hand and gave one to Daisy and one to Beth. Paul handed a cup to Noel and one to John. “We call her the Titanic,” he raised his cup in salute to the new addition to the rock family.

“Yeah,” Paul added, “because this shit will sink your ass if you drink too much of it.” He and John laughed as though that was the funniest thing they had ever heard.

After a wide-eyed stare at the constant laughter from two otherwise quiet men, Daisy looked up at Beth on the sofa arm above her. “Should we tell them that there’s already a cocktail with that name?”

“Don’t bother,” she replied. “I already tried to tell them, but they were too busy shouting over each other about what should go in the drink.” She looked around the room. “Where’s Pete?”

“He said he was going somewhere with Reg.” Daisy sniffed the drink and immediately recoiled. “Jesus, what’s in this, John? It smells strong.”

“Says the woman who drinks a bottle of whiskey in one sitting,” Beth remarked under her breath. Hearing that, Daisy punched Beth’s side in response.

“Let’s see,” John thought, ticking a finger off each time he named an ingredient, “tequila, vodka, dark rum, bourbon, and Irish whiskey.” He smiled down at Daisy. “The whiskey’s in your honor.”  Paul had said something to John that only the two of them understood, causing John to fall to his knees in front of her. For a moment, she thought he was bowing down to her as a joke, but she realized he was still laughing hysterically about whatever Paul said.

“Why don’t you guys…” Daisy began, but Paul pulled John to his feet and they were both shouting “Whiskeeey,  WHISKEEEEEEY” over and over, drowning her words out.

She got up and walked over to John, waving her hands up and down, back and forth in John’s face until he looked down at her. “Why don’t you guys give it more of a rock name, since you invented it on a rock and roll tour?”

John’s eyes filled with wonder and he stared at Daisy as though she were the most brilliant person in the world. He kissed her on top of her head and said “Perfect.”

“Let’s call it ‘Rockin’ Titanic’,” Paul shouted in triumph. He and John now started shouting ‘rockin’ Titanic’ repeatedly until it became a competition to see who could shout it the loudest.

“Well, you tried,” Beth walked past Daisy to mingle with the other people in the room.

Daisy returned to her seat next to Noel, a stunned expression on her face. “I’ve known John for almost ten years. I have never seen him like this.”

Noel shrugged in between sniffing and tasting the drink. “So what? He’s happy.”

“No, no. I’ve seen him happy before and he didn’t act like this. Now he’s…I don’t know. Giddy. And boisterous. Well, he’s boisterous for John.”

Noel didn’t respond, but continued drinking. “Paul’s right, this will put you on your ass. But it tastes pretty good.”

“Yeah,” Daisy agreed, taking large gulps, “it’s like if a Long Island Iced Tea was cranked up to eleven.”

Within an hour, the effects of the invented beverage began to sink in. Two girls fought over who was the better dancer and then began an impromptu dance-off just to show the room who really was the best. In one corner of the room, people started having a loud sing-along, even though no one knew all the words to the song they were singing. Others started making out with whoever sat next to them, not bothering to leave the room when things began to heat up.

John sat on the floor by himself, looking around the room and admiring the outcome of his handiwork. Daisy left her seat where she and Noel were quietly watching everyone and sat down next to John, tucking her legs up under her so that she was resting her butt on her feet. “You okay, John?”

He turned and smiled at her, his eyes showing her that he had sampled quite a bit of his own creation. “I’m good, Daiz. You?”

She returned his smile and said, “Yeah, I’m good.” She leaned to one side so that she was now slanted and seated on her hip. “You know, I tell people that when you first joined the Tragedy, it was a good six months before you started speaking in full sentences around us. Before that, it was always ‘cool, man’ and ‘yeah, sounds good.’ But tonight…” she trailed off and shook her head as though she still couldn’t believe the version of John she had witnessed.

A brief smile flashed across John’s face, but then he was quiet for a few moments, staring into space. “It’s because I was scared,” he said finally.

“Scared?” Daisy repeated. John was typically a quiet man, very shy until he became more comfortable around people, but scared was not something she would ever attribute to him. “Scared of what?”

“Losing my spot in the band.”

“What?!” She was incredulous. How could he think he would lose his spot? Why had he never said anything before?

“It’s true. I walked in that first day for my audition with you guys and I listened to Pete’s guitar playing and your voice…” he trailed off, thinking for a moment. “I’d played drums in bands before where it seemed like it was working and next thing I knew, they were looking for someone else. There was just something with the Tragedy, I felt it right away. Beth and I played so perfectly, like we had always played together. I was scared it was just a matter of time before one of you decided I didn’t fit in with the band. So I kept my mouth shut until I felt like the probation period was over.”

Daisy didn’t know what to say. She wished she had known back then that John was feeling that way. She would have done everything in her power to make him feel at ease and make him understand that they wanted him. She got up on her knees and  put her arms around his neck. “John, you’re one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen. No one else brings the drive and passion to our rhythm the way you do. You were irreplaceable back then and it’s even truer now than it was before.” She gave him a smacking kiss on the cheek. “Sorry, dude, you’re stuck with us.”

“Thanks,” he laughed, rubbing her saliva off his face.

She returned to her seated position and peered at John. “So…what happened tonight? I mean, I’m not complaining about the way you’ve been tonight. It’s been great. I’ve just never seen that side of you before now.”

“Daiz, don’t you get it?” He looked at her and his eyes were shining with a brilliance she had never seen. “We’re here, we did it! We’re on tour opening for one of the biggest rock bands in the world. All our hard work and living through shit pay and shit gigs finally paid off. It’s the Promised Land.” A contented smile spread across John’s face, like someone bathing in sunlight on a chilly day. “And it’s better than I could have imagined.”