Harris wanted two things in life. His band, Silver Knight, to reach success and
his girlfriend, Amber West, by his side when it did. Amber wanted one thing in
life; Austin. Sounded simple, right? Wrong.
Silver Knight got its chance to tour, Austin and Amber had no idea how quickly
their lives would change. Caught up in the pursuit of stardom, the pressures of
his new life tested their trust and bent their relationship in ways they never
imagined. With Austin on the road and Amber left behind, it didn’t take long
for temptation to surface, jealousy to form and promises to be
Austin is determined to have it all as he promises Amber the life they always
dreamed of. But eventually, the long distance breaks them. And him. Years
later, Austin and Amber’s paths cross again. Fresh from rehab, Austin’s
prepared more than ever to reclaim the life he was meant to live and this
includes a life with Amber.
they find themselves battling between following the love that’s still in their
hearts and the repeated failures of a life together.
the lingering blame and doubt from years of broken promises be enough to break
them once and for all?
nervous flutter that has taken residence in my stomach turns into a raging
swarm of motion as I sit in my car and reread Austin’s text. I've tortured
myself, reading his vague words at least a hundred times since first receiving
them two days ago. I haven't heard from him in weeks and I miss him.
I don't want to, but I do.
fell in love with Austin Harris in the tenth grade. He’s the love of my life, I
know that, but we can’t be together. We’ve proven that repeatedly. Regardless,
life continues to carve a path back to one another. It's like a sick experiment
by a higher power to see how many times a heart can break until it just stops
shiver vibrates through my body when I open my car door to step onto the busy
sidewalk. I’d like to think it’s the chill of another fall day in New York, but
I know it’s not. It’s my nerves causing the tremble in my steps. As my unsteady
feet take me further from the safety of my car, my stomach threatens its
upheaval and I swallow hard.
foot in front of the other. Breathe, Amber,” I mumble to myself like a crazy
person as I walk the two blocks to the community center.
my company transferred me from St. Louis to New York just two months ago, I
never dreamed our paths would cross the same week. I’d spent the first month in
New York living with my best friend, Kelly. When Austin was released from
rehab, he became her second houseguest since he’s best friends with her
those short two weeks when we both lived under one roof, I made sure my job
kept me busy and out of their house for long hours each day. I avoided him, at
least in person, but never in thought.
always with me, regardless of distance and time.
powerless and I know it.
glance up to the bold black numbers above the glass door, checking the address
once more. With a deep breath, I step inside the dingy hall of the community
center. Worn black and white linoleum square tiles color the floor in a
checkerboard pattern while billboards litter the walls. My gaze is drawn to the
different sized colored flyers that hang from the cork with equally bright
colored thumbtacks. They advertise everything from trade schools to substance
I help you?” an older man asks, slowing his pace as he rounds the corner.
have a friend who has asked me to come here today,” I stutter, not really
knowing why I’m here, only that Austin’s text said it was important to
man’s chocolate eyes soften as his smile claims his face. “Ah, yes. Come this
way. I’ll show you.” He turns and leads the way down the hall. I follow him
silently, no less nervous than I was when walking in.
in here. We should begin in just a couple of minutes.” He motions toward the
you.” I offer a meek smile before stepping over the threshold.
sets of unfamiliar eyes land on me as I narrow my sights on an open area in the
front corner of the room. I keep my head down, avoiding eye contact with those
in the room, trying to hide my unease as I step carefully between the rows of
metal chairs and settle into the last seat near the wall. I focus on the one
lonely plastic chair sitting front and center of the small makeshift stage and
concentrate on breathing, trying to forget the buzzing nervousness that has
taken control of my stomach.
large, African American man dressed in all black draws my attention as he finds
a seat across the room. I’d recognize Dave Smith anywhere. He’s hard to forget
at six foot eight and all muscle. Last I knew, he was a bodyguard for Ashton
Harris, Austin’s older brother and lead guitarist to Silver Knight.
Knight wasn’t Ashton’s dream; it was Austin’s. He and Kyle started it when we
were in high school. Ashton only stepped in when Austin was sent to rehab and
the label threatened to cut Silver Knight weeks before their first tour. He
saved the band for Austin and the others, but it was never supposed to be his
forever. Austin was to return when he beat his addiction, only that day hasn’t
breath catches and my heart stutters as Ashton and his girlfriend, Meagan, walk
in and take seats in the back row. I’m certain he blames me for Austin’s
addiction and wouldn’t be happy if he knew I was here, but I have a hard time
pulling my eyes away. With the exception of a little size—and a whole lot of
confidence—he and Austin look identical. Ashton commands the room’s attention
when he enters and makes no apologies for it. Austin doesn’t possess that
quality now because his addiction took it—or maybe it was rehab. He turns heads
for his good looks, but that attention comes from women. Even straight men
same man who showed me the room walks up the center aisle, steps onto the small
platform, and clears his throat. “Thank you for coming, ladies and gentlemen.
Most of you know how this works, but I see a few new faces, so I’ll explain
briefly. This is a no judge zone. What is said in this room is not to be taken
for granted. The words spoken by anyone who wishes to speak are the feelings,
the regrets, and the hopes of the individual speaking them. We will be
respectful of those words at all times. We don’t follow scripts or take
assigned turns. If you want to speak and the floor is open, you take it. If you
don’t want to speak, you don’t have to. With that, I’ll open the
appears out of nowhere, stepping up on the stage and sliding onto the lone
chair. His dark brown hair is longer than the buzzed cut he’d sported directly after
rehab. His leg begins bouncing up and down; this is the first time I can recall
him nervous on a stage. He leans forward and rests his elbows on his thighs as
he studies the floor. Lifting his focus, he looks toward the back and I know
without following his line of sight that he’s looking at Ashton. He takes a
deep breath with a long exhale before he speaks.
didn’t have anything growing up, but I never recognized that because of my
older brother. He provided love, support, an ass beating every now and then.”
Austin laughs lightly. “I had great friends. No, I have
great friends,” he corrects. “We had dreams of being the best rock band in the
world and we were on our way. I was on my way until I thought
I was unbeatable. My life was on the fast track and there was no stopping me.”
He pauses, taking his attention from the back of the room and landing it
directly on me.
had the love of my life by my side, a bright career ahead of me and lots of
money being pushed my way. There was nothing I couldn’t conquer, until the most
important piece of my perfect world stepped out of it. I couldn’t cope without
her, so to soothe myself I drank and drank, until that wasn’t enough.
Eventually, I added drugs to my cocktail. I took them by any means to feel the
high. Swallowing them, snorting them, injecting them … I stopped at nothing to
stop the pain of losing her.”
eyes hold mine captive until I can no longer focus through my tears. I look
down, not wanting him to see my carefully constructed walls crumbling. Those
walls protect me from Austin; I need them. And more importantly, I need him to
think they exist.
can’t tell you how many times I wanted to clean up my life during that dark
period, but I was powerless. The once unbeatable kid from the ghetto of St.
Louis was beaten by it all. My brother swooped to my rescue, and to the rescue
of my friends. He gave up his dreams for mine and for theirs. I vowed to him
and all of them that I would get clean, and I did, but I didn’t stay that way.
And again, I got clean and didn’t stay that way. Letting down my brother, my
friends, losing the only woman I’ve ever loved and coming close to death by way
of overdose … none of it rattled me enough to stay straight.”
pause causes me to look up again. His gaze is on the ominous-looking Dave.
Tears spill when I close my eyes, holding them shut briefly, saying a silent
thank you to Dave for saving Austin’s life from overdose.
brother is still rescuing me, but he’s changed and I can’t help but think it’s
because of the love of the incredible woman he has by his side. Together
they’ve inspired me to want to be better, to give back for all the wrongs I’ve
done. Recently he allowed me to step into what my former life would have been
and let me tell you, it was a hell of a lot sweeter than anything I lived while
high. I plan on renewing my promise to him and to my friends because even if I
can’t live that life with them, another door will open. And I know there is
something just as good waiting for me there.”
stands from the chair and within a few long steps, he’s down the center walkway
and in his brother’s open arms. Their quiet, inaudible mumbles fill the room
before walking out. Dave’s large body rises from his seat, his expression is
strained with tension, visibly choked up by Austin’s comments and exits the
stay in my seat, stunned motionless by his words. I replay them on repeat and
one thing stands out that I hadn’t heard before.
About Lynn Rider
Rider lives in the south with her husband, two kids, two dogs, two fish and
much to her dismay, three cats. She loves hanging out with friends, reading and
a good glass of wine.
she’s not spending time with her family and friends, she can be found sitting
in a quiet corner or locked away with her laptop bringing life to the
characters in her head.