Month: February 2018

Groupie: The Complete Box Set

This is an excerpt from The Cage – Book One Of Groupie Series:

I love music. I love life on the road. I love everything about this industry. There are so many great bands. Well, there’s only really one great band, one band that have changed my life, one band that truly, truly makes me happy.

Let me start at the beginning. My name is Katy. I used to be journalist for Metal Road. You’ve probably heard of it, and if you haven’t, your teenage son or daughter has. It started in the 90s as a fanzine, but its online these days, and it does pretty well. It’s still in the top twenty of most read US metal sites, at least, I think it is. I haven’t checked recently.

Metal Road was my first writing job after college. I was pretty raw, keen, thought I was going to be the next big thing in journalism, was going to change the world. I didn’t manage that, instead I changed my world, which is much, much better.

My first six months at the Road were pretty frustrating. I was mainly employed checking sources, booking tickets, covering for reception and fetching coffee for the editor, Stu, and the other senior writers. But I did what young, hungry writers are supposed to do: I kept pestering Stu and making myself a nuisance, and eventually, they gave me an album review.

This wasn’t really a big deal. They do hundreds of these things every month. But to me it was huge. It was my big chance. I was finally going to get to make my mark. It didn’t matter who the band were, this review was going to be the best ever.

As it happens, the band were a three-piece from LA called Sugar Bean. I didn’t realize that the band name had a particular meaning, I just thought it was pretty lousy. I listened to some of their music. It was kind of punky, kind of glam, and I kind of liked it. But I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to like it. So I casually mentioned them to a couple of the writers and got their feedback. Turns out Sugar Bean were generic sub-grunge re-treads, shallow emo wanabes, and lesbian music porn. So I went back to my desk and listened to them again.

You might think this was pretty shallow, and it was, but I’d been there long enough to know that it was easier to go with the majority opinion than against it. Only one or two of the writers, like Ed or Steph were allowed to set trends and break moulds. The rest of us didn’t have much leeway. Anyway, the evidence was clear. Metal Road did not like Sugar Bean.

I put the promotional picture of the band on my keyboard and started to write. The photo, which apparently was also going to be the album cover, was pretty ropey. It showed the three band-members: Misha, AJ and Chloe dolled out in black leather, boots heels and way way too much make-up. The other promotional picture was even more dodgy. It featured AJ kneeling on a bed, Misha lying back with her head covering AJ’s crotch, while a naked Chloe knelt between Misha’s legs, and appeared to be licking her out. It was pretty gross, I thought.

In fact, it looked like a low budget lesbian porn shoot. So I put that into the review. Then I went on for a couple of paragraphs about how silly the name was, and by this time, I had hit a seam of snark and was really going for it. I went on about how they were selling their sexuality, how their music was wannabe metal, the worst of pop and the worst of metal, and rounded it all off with a few lines about how they were degrading to women.

Almost as soon as I pressed send, I felt doubt loom up over me like a dark cloud. But I pushed the feeling aside. I had done it. I had submitted my first piece. I was an actual music journalist now, or so I thought.

Still, I couldn’t quite shake my doubts. On the subway home, I saw a poster for their new single. They looked so cool; exactly the kind of band I had wanted to be in at high school. I tried to snap myself out of it by remembering what Stu had said when I started: you’re a music journalist, everyone will hate you. If people take your writing personally, that’s their fault, and if you get squeamish about criticizing music, you aren’t doing your job, and you’re letting the readers down.

I managed to keep that thought in my head until I got back to my apartment, then I made the mistake of looking at one of their videos on line. It was pretty good. The music was fresh, and they had exactly the kind of punky attitude that I thought I was in tune with. Then I found an interview from a few weeks before. It confirmed what I had already discovered: I liked them.

Chloe, the white, blonde, lead singer swore a lot and made me smile. Misha, the black bass player was a totally kick-ass, incredible woman and delicate Latina AJ turned into a demon when she began to thrash her drums. They were good. Better than good. They were great.

But it was too late. My social media was already lighting up as readers, writers and fans began to spew their bad takes on top of my bad take. The comments seemed split between likes and dislikes, but by this time I agreed with the dislikes. Worst still, it seemed that the band had read the review too. Misha posted an angry face and AJ wrote something about haters and losers on her feed. I closed my eyes and lay back on my bed. What a mess!

Just then, my phone rang. It was Stu. I braced myself for a tirade of abuse. Stu had approved the piece, but that didn’t matter. I’d seen him turn on people before.

Turns out I read him wrong. He said he loved it. It was just the kind of big opinion, going against the grain kind of conversation starter he wanted. I was relieved, and I thanked him. Maybe I was wrong, I thought, maybe I was being too sensitive, maybe it was all just part of the industry, and I should be grateful for the exposure.

Well, turned out that was wrong too. Stu loved it, but Jack Wildermann, the CEO of Metal Road and the sister magazine Shred Work, hated it. He thought it was exactly the wrong kind of message about a band that was taking off with key demographics. So he chewed Stu’s ear off and when I came in the next day, Stu banished me from reviews.

I was back on coffee duty. Still, I kind of felt it was poetic justice, and for a few days, I was glad to sink into the obscurity of office flunky once again. As the online abuse began to dry up, I thought maybe I could put this behind me and have a re-do.

So a week later, when Stu called me into his office to discuss a news piece, it felt like redemption. I was going to get a chance to relaunch my writing career.

“Katy, my favorite reviled hack, how are you?”

“Fine, thanks.”

“I don’t really care, I was just being polite. Well, you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve got you an assignment. Actually Jack suggested it.”

“Great,” I said, “What is it?”

“It’s a band interview.”

“Cool. Who is it?”

Stu smiled.

“Guess,” he said, grinning.

*  *  *  *

Sugar Bean were leaving on tour that afternoon and Stu said I had to meet them on their tour bus. My heart sank as he handed me the details. He also told me not to screw it up.

How could I interview them after what I’d written? All the way there in the taxi, I tried to come up with ways of apologizing but everything I rehearsed either sounded like I didn’t mean it or like I was trying too hard. As the taxi pulled into the street where their pink, black and silver tour bus was parked up, I tried to reassure myself. After all, this was a business, it was just part of the game. They were professionals, they would understand, right?

Wrong. All three of them were frosty with me from the start. Chloe, who smoked the whole time despite the fact that I coughed more than once, barely bothered looking at me. Misha glared directly at me, answering questions in a hostile monotone, and AJ was slumped in a chair to one side, making an incessant drumming noise with her sticks on the armrest.

It was hard going. I’d decided to go with pen and paper not to record the conversation, as I was sure they were going to shout at me, and I didn’t want to have to replay my humiliation at some point in the future. After a few painful, awkward minutes, my notepad had begun fill up, and while the quotes I was getting were boring and generic, there was at least something to work with. I began to think that maybe I would get out of there unscathed. So I thought I’d risk something relatively controversial. Big mistake.

“So, what would you say to those who suggest that maybe your whole kind of image is like degrading to women or whatever?”

Misha frowned.

“What do you mean our image?”

“Well, I mean the whole kind of slutty clothes and the…”

I didn’t get to finish my sentence. Before I could react, AJ had leapt from her chair and grabbed me by the throat.

Continue Reading…

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Lustica: The Complete Box Set (3 Books)

Hi, I’m Jasmine and I’m an accountant. That’s how I tend to introduce myself at parties. It’s one of the reasons why I haven’t been to many parties in the last five years since leaving college. No-one wants to hear about the trials and tribulations of balance sheets and revenue and cost analysis. My lack of interesting conversation topics, combined with my chronic shyness and my tendency to hide in the corner drinking red wine until it’s time to go home, means that parties were not really my natural environment.

But the last party, at Anastasia’s, changed all that. In fact, it changed everything.

Anastasia is a writer, quite a successful one. She writes fantasy and science fiction stuff. She’s won awards and there’s even talk of one of her books being made into a film, which is pretty cool. She’s promised to take me with her when she moves to LA!

I’ve known her since the first week of college. She was in the room across the hall, and she just wandered in one morning, sat on the end of my bed and introduced herself, just like that, flashing her trademark enormous, warm smile that you can’t help but feel relaxed by.

She’s pretty easy to get along with. I’m definitely not. I have issues. I’m quite fussy about what food I eat, what I wear, where we go for lunch, and I analyze everything to death. She’s the complete opposite. I’m slim and blonde and pale and she’s curvy and tanned, with flaming red hair and wicked green eyes. She’s a natural people person, as well as having a fabulous imagination. I really don’t know why she is my friend. She said that I had a fairy spirit in me, which I thought was nonsense, at least, I did until the night of that party.

Ana threw a lot of parties. This one was to celebrate finishing the second draft of her latest novel. Usually I found an excuse not to go, but this time she insisted, and the guilt was pretty intense. Worse still, it was a fancy dress party.

So I compromised. I spent three hours getting ready – which is quite quick for me – and didn’t leave my apartment until my hair was silky and immaculate, my make-up was perfect and I had tried on every dress in my wardrobe. I eventually settled on a short black outfit, one of the few I had that was in any way revealing. To balance the fact that the dress clung to my thighs and emphasized my pert butt, I wore flats and opaque tights. My plan was to pretend that I had forgotten it was fancy dress. It was not a good plan.

“No, no, no, no,” said Ana, frowning, when she answered the door. Before I could object, she took me by the hand and marched me upstairs to her bedroom. She made me sit down on the bed, amid the mess of abandoned clothes, paper, books, coffee cups and strange antique objects that filled the room, while she rifled through her wardrobe.

”There,” she said, triumphantly, holding up a sparkly green fairy costume.

“No. Way.” I said.

“This is a fancy dress party, girl, and you are not going to be the only one here who isn’t joining in with the theme.”

“But, it’s so, so, short!” I said.

She pouted a little.

“Come on, you’ve got great legs, a smoking body. What’s wrong with showing it off a little?”

“I’m not a slut!” I replied.

She sighed.

“No-one will think you’re a slut. It’s a fancy dress party, Jas, everyone is dressed up fancy. Please. For me?”

It was my turn to sigh.

“Fine,” I said and snatched the dress.

I was wrong about it being short. It was very short. Very very short. A tiny little frilly pale green skirt, a skimpy little yellow bodice that barely contained my breasts, a pair of silly little wings that fastened to the back and golden heels with long silky ribbons that looped round my legs in a criss-cross pattern. I looked, well, I looked quite good actually. I admired myself in Ana’s mirror. Not bad at all. But still, was I really going to go out there like this? Showing my bare legs, pretty much all the way to the top of my thighs?

Well, I didn’t really have a choice.

Her house was full of people. Fortunately no-one saw me slipping down the stairs and I worked my way through the throng in Ana’s hallway, grabbed a glass of red on my way and reached the relative shelter of the corner of her dining room. My plan was to stay there for the rest of the evening. That didn’t really work out. I’d only been there about five minutes when I found myself standing next to a cute guy. Our eyes met and we both smiled a little. But he didn’t speak. Desperate to break the awkward silence, I blurted out the first thing in my head.

“Hi, I’m Jasmine, I’m an accountant,” I said.

He looked at me, nodded.

“That’s…great,” he replied. “Would you excuse me?” And then he left.

I closed my eyes. This was why I don’t go to parties, I thought.

I decided that I couldn’t stay there, with all those people. I pushed my way back through the throng and into the corridor. Fumbling at the nearest door, I found myself in Ana’s study. Alone. I closed the door behind me and breathed a sigh of relief.

I looked around the room. It was full of Ana’s trademark clutter. There were papers everywhere, books, and empty pizza boxes, along with all kinds of artifacts. As I instinctively began tidying, gathering papers together, I saw a curious looking wooden carved necklace. I picked it up. It seemed to depict fairies or pixies dancing around a tree trunk, but when I looked closer and, blushing, I realized that the thing they were cavorting about was not a tree. It was an enormous, swollen, monstrous cock.

At that moment, I heard voices outside the door and the handle started to turn. Panicking, I looked around. Despite the clutter there was nothing to hide behind. My only option was the French windows. I ran over and opened them, stepping outside into the darkness and closing the windows behind me. As I did so, I heard a click. I fumbled at the handle. The doors were locked, and I was trapped, in my fairy costume, outside in the dark.

My legs were already feeling cold and I didn’t want to stay out there but the thought of going to the front door and knocking on it and having strangers gawp and stare at me and having to introduce myself all over again was too much. And then I saw her. Ana, wearing a long medieval princess gown, was hurrying across the garden, heading to the apple orchard.

I called after her, but she didn’t hear me. Looking around to see if anyone was about, I walked quickly after her. As I entered the darkness of the orchard, I felt a throbbing in my hand. I realized I was still holding the wooden necklace and for some reason it was vibrating. I put it round my neck because it was one of Ana’s things and I didn’t want to drop it and lose it in the dark.

I couldn’t see Ana, but I thought I saw movement in a row of shrubs that marked the end of the orchard. I ran through the trees to the shrubs. There was no sign of Ana, but beyond, I could hear what sounded like voices. I called her name again, but there was no response. Taking a deep breath, and closing my eyes in case they got poked by twigs or thorns, I pushed through the bushes.

I opened my eyes to find myself standing at the top of a gentle slope. The sun was out, and there was a soft gentle breeze passing over my legs and bare shoulders. Ahead of me, a little way off, was a dense, dark forest, which spread in all directions, and beyond it were snow capped mountains, gleaming in the sun.

I turned. The bushes were gone, and so was the orchard. All I could see was a high brick wall, taller than three, maybe four women. It didn’t make any sense.

“Hello little lost fairy,” said a voice nearby. I jumped with alarm and span around. I couldn’t see anyone at first, and then I looked down. A small creature, wearing a rustic tunic stood gazing up at me. He had a ruddy, almost red complexion and was beaming up at me with a sinister smile. Peaking out from the top of his mass of curly hair were the tips of what looked like horns. As I stared, open-mouthed, I watched the creature reach under his tunic, lift up the material and reveal an enormous, swollen, deep-red cock.

Continue Reading…