Bree Darcy shares an excerpt from her upcoming debut, Don’t Mention the Rock Star.
They fell in love in an instant … so why have they spent a lifetime apart?
As a teenager Kellie dated an American boy but circumstances meant they went their separate ways. Now he’s back and she’s so tempted to see him again. But two decades have passed and they are both married with children.
And the last thing a celebrity reporter like her needs is the world finding out about her past relationship with a rock star. Especially as Kellie’s husband doesn’t even know she once dated AJ Dangerfield, lead singer of legendary band Danger Game. And she has no intention of him finding out. EVER.
As Kellie deals with a demanding boss, a bullied son, an infuriating mother-in-law and a best friend who won’t act her age, she finds herself playing a dangerous game. What will happen if her two worlds collide? And is it possible that first love never fades?
Celebrity reporter Kellie Carmichael is lining the red carpet at the Sydney premiere of Red Rover …
Our photographer Zoe was pacing up and down. Her sister had gone into labour an hour ago and she was supposed to be her support person.
“How long do you think they’ll be?” asked Zoe, eyeing the event staff who were prepping the scene for the stars’ big arrival.
“Just go already,” I said. “Your sister needs you. Give me your camera and I’ll do the photos.”
“I couldn’t. What would Zara say?” But Zoe’s eyes had lit up at the possibility.
“Leave Zara to me. Go on, get going! I’ll be fine.”
Zoe gave me a quick lesson on the relevant buttons on her spare point-and-shoot camera before she was swallowed up by the crowd. How hard could it be? And if worse came to worst, I’d use my phone. I’d taken some really cool action shots of Ryan at his Cobra Ninja class last week.
The media throng was growing thicker by the minute and the fans jamming the entrance to the Tivoli Theatre were buzzing excitedly. It had threatened rain all day but the grey clouds had held their load and the event staff could breathe a sigh of relief that they wouldn’t need umbrellas to escort the guests down a soggy red carpet.
It wasn’t long before the first of the VIPs made their appearances. From my prime position on the rope, I was having a wicked time, snapping shots as the famous faces swanned past.
“Bella, over here,” I called as the model swivelled to give me a view of her backless dress.
“Tyron, looking hot tonight. Let’s see your new tatt.” I fired off a series of shots as the Acton Avenue bad boy pulled open his shirt to show the “Vive la Revolution” ink across his collarbone.
As the Star Power contestants were herded along the red carpet, a group of photographers with lenses a mile long shoved in next to me. “Excuse me!” I shouted, straining to hold my ground. “I was here first.”
“No hard feelings, sweetheart,” replied one with a Londoner accent and a boxer’s physique. “But that means jack shit.” He laughed as he turned his back on me to snap some Home and Away actors.
Suddenly the air turned electric as word passed through the crowd that Neil Lucas had arrived. He was actually here! All the photographers scrambled to get an even better vantage point and I was jostled right out of the way. I couldn’t even see the red carpet anymore. How did Zoe deal with these thugs? I was used to observing proceedings from a more civilised distance.
As I copped an elbow to the cheek, I realised my life wouldn’t be worth living if I didn’t get a fantastic shot of Neil. I owed it to Zoe. So channelling the desperate determination of a Walmart customer on Black Friday, I charged my way back through the heaving throng until I reached the rope again.
But it was still no good. Neil was chatting to a nearby TV crew but the tightly packed paps still blocked my shot. So totally breaking with protocol, I decided to slip under the rope. Just for a second. I’d snap my picture then scoot back under before anyone spotted me. But as I bobbed up on the red carpet side, my shoulder hit a bollard and the jolt knocked Zoe’s camera out of my hands. As it spun, in slow motion, through the air I instinctively lunged forward to catch it.
Instead my hands hit a solid object. Then slowly slid down a silky shirt covering rock-hard muscles until I crumpled to my knees.
I reopened my eyes.
And somehow, despite having my head buried in a crotch, I could still see all the camera flashes.
“I can’t believe you were on Sunrise,” Nikki snickered. “And the top story on Perez Hilton. There’s even a meme of you doing the rounds. My best friend is famous!”
“I’ve never been so humiliated,” I said. Well apart from that time my bikini top came undone when I dived off a jetty at camp.
Neil Lucas had been lovely about the whole incident really. As I peeled myself away from his nether regions, my face burning in mortification, he’d held out his hand and gallantly helped me to my feet. He waved off all the responding security personnel and encouraged me – in his seriously hot gravelly voice – to pose with him. Then he picked up Zoe’s camera, which thankfully was still intact, winked at me and sauntered off down the red carpet.
It showed he was a real pro at handling women throwing themselves at him.
“I’ve had endless interview requests,” I told Nikki. “I’ve even had messages from celebrity agent Digby Strause saying he wants to represent me. I just want this whole thing to go away. Andy Warhol had no idea what he was talking about. My fame – or shame more like – has gone on far longer than fifteen minutes.”
“If you can’t bear showing your face in public, you can always go shove it in Neil Lucas’ groin again.” That set Nikki off on a fresh peal of laughter.
The good news was that in Zara’s eyes having a viral sensation on her staff outweighed the fact our photos were rubbish.
And in even better news, Zoe’s sister had a healthy baby boy.
On Monday, I slunk back into work, hoping the furore over me getting too up close and personal with Neil Lucas had died down.
“Well hello there,” said Lenny, with a smirk on his face. “If it isn’t the Gunner Groper.”
I ignored him as I logged in.
“I’ve been taking messages for you,” Lenny said, dropping a bundle of notes on my desk. “LOTS of them.”
I swept my arm across to brush them straight into the bin.
“There was one call from an American guy-”
“I’m not interested in talking to any of them.” All those comedians on the late shows had been making jokes at my expense. Even Ellen had had a crack.
“This one guy said he was an old friend – what was his name again? It started with A …”
My pulse quickened.
“Adam, Anthony … ANDY, that was it.”
“Where’s the message, Lenny?” I scuffled around in the bin, trying to locate it.
“I stuck it right there.” Lenny pointed at my computer screen. “So it wouldn’t get lost. I’m sure it’ll turn up.”
I grabbed on to Lenny’s arm to prevent him leaving. “Did he say anything else?”
“Nope, just left his name and number.”
I started overturning everything on my desk. Maybe the note had fallen behind the plant pot. I shook my thesaurus, hoping it would fall out, and checked inside every magazine holder. Perhaps it was stuck to the bottom of my chair or had floated behind the filing cabinet. Drat it! No sign. I re-emerged from under my desk, brushing off the fluff clinging to the knees of my trousers.
“Look Lenny, if he calls again, can you email or text me the number immediately. Or better still, give him my personal mobile number.” I scrawled it on a piece of paper.
“Yes ma’am.” He saluted. “So who’s this Andy guy, anyway? And why are you so desperate to talk to him?” He narrowed his eyes.
“Just an old family friend,” I replied nonchalantly, before clicking on Sebastian Sloane’s website in the hope that another celebrity scandal had pushed my embarrassing story into the dark outer rim of cyberspace. Thank you Harry Styles for finding yourself a new squeeze! But I couldn’t concentrate on a single word. Why on earth would Andy be calling me after all this time?
Bree Darcy is the pseudonym of Australian journalist Stephanie Pegler. She is the publisher of several popular websites for readers and authors, including Chicklit Club, Connect and We Heart Writing. She worked as a newspaper sub-editor in Perth for about twenty years, and is married with three children. Don’t Mention the Rock Star is her debut novel.