|Pam Howes - Author||
A different sort of blog this month. A taster of the next novel in my Rock'n'Roll Romance series. This is the fourth story about The Raiders and their lives and loves. Why - "Not Fade Away" - as a title? Well I thought it appropriate as The Raiders are now clocking sixty but still touring and recording. Like The Rolling Stones and Eagles, they'll carry on until they get carted off to Rock'n'Roll heaven. Old musos who enjoy what they do, never fade away. The song was written by Buddy Holly, you'll see it credited to Charles Hardin and N. Petty. Charles was, of course, Buddy's real name and Norman Petty, his producer, at the Clovis Studios in New Mexico. The Crickets and Buddy recorded a classic album there in 1957 called "The Chirping Crickets". "Not Fade Away", with its Bo Diddley beat, featured on this album, along with other golden tracks; "That'll be The Day" and "Oh Boy". Then along came The Rolling Stones who, of course, had a major hit with it in 1964. But for me, Buddy's is the greatest, and the book will be dedicated to his memory. Below is the first chapter. Please let me know what you think. All comments are welcome as we're in first draft early stages and nothing's yet set in stone.
NOT FADE AWAY
When Roy Cantello, lead singer with chart-topping band The Raiders, had an affair with Livvy Grant, a young singer half his age, it was to change his and wife Sammy's lives forever. Roy fathered a daughter. Livvy handed baby Harley to he and Sammy to bring up as their own and then vanished from their lives, only to reappear when Harley was sixteen. Roy became reinvolved with Livvy and when she claimed to be pregnant again with his child, Sammy divorced him. The child wasn't Roy's, but the son of Livvy's late husband. Roy has raised Danny as his own. He and Livvy had a son the following year but their relationship didn't work out. Roy remarried his wife Sammy six months ago and shares joint custody of the two little boys with Livvy. Everything is now warm and cosy in Roy's world, but not for long…
ABBOTT'S EDGE, CHESHIRE MAY 2005
Roy swatted a wasp from the neck of his lager bottle and pushed his sunglasses up on top of his head. 'Bloody nuisance,' he muttered, wafting after the wasp with his newspaper. 'Bit of sun and they come out in swarms.'
'A single wasp's hardly a swarm,' his wife, Sammy said. She stopped watering the patio planters as the wasp buzzed angrily around his head. She batted it away and it flew round to the front of him.
'See, there's another one!'
She shook her head, laughing. 'It's the same one, you dope! You're turning into a right grumpy old sod, Cantello! And besides, wasps don't swarm. It's bees that swarm.'
'Aren't you the clever one?' He smacked her playfully on the backside. 'And less of the old, you. And I'm not grumpy. Don't you remember how I nearly swallowed a wasp once when I was abroad with the band? The little bugger got into my can. Next thing I knew it's stinging my bloody tongue and I couldn't sing that night. I could have swallowed it. Might have proved fatal.'
Sammy sat down on a lounger beside him. 'Yes, but it didn't and you're still here to tell the tale! Did you get the barbecue out of the garage? Was there any gas in the can?'
'Yep. I'll switch it on in a minute. They'll be getting hungry. I promised them hotdogs.' He dropped his glasses back down his nose and looked across the well-tended garden to the play area where RJ and Danny were in the sandpit, squabbling over whose turn it was to play with the digger. Never in his wildest dreams did he envisage having two under fours at the age of sixty-one. Running around after them kept him fit though. He looked at Sammy who was watching the boys closely. He knew what she was thinking; well at least he thought he did. She glanced at him and he reached for her hand and squeezed it. She had a nostalgic look on her face and sadness in her eyes. He swallowed hard, wished he could make it go away permanently. But it would take time, maybe the rest of his life. He'd never give up trying to make amends though. Sammy was his world. He'd love her forever.
'Wish we could go back in time,' she said wistfully.
'Me too,' he said. 'But you're happy, aren't you, Sam? I mean, with what we've got now. There's nowhere on earth I'd rather be than with you in this place.'
'And me too, but don't you think it's a bit too small when we have the boys to stay? I really wish now that I'd hung on to Jasmine House.' She was referring to their old Edwardian home. 'I miss all those spacious rooms and the huge garden. This place was supposed to be for my retirement. It's not big enough for a family. We can't stay here when the boys get older. We'll have to buy another house.'
'We'll see. Here's Harley.' He waved at his daughter who emerged from the French doors and joined them on the sun-loungers. 'How did the scan go, sweetheart?'
'Great,' Harley said. 'Everything's on track. Ten more weeks.' She rubbed her very pregnant belly. 'I'll never get up off this lounger. You're gonna have to get a crane.'
'Still only two in there?' he teased.
'Dad!' She laughed. 'Idiot. There's hardly room for two never mind more.'
'We'll definitely need more space when the babies arrive,' Sammy said. 'Perhaps we should see about building an extension.'
'Maybe.' Roy lit a cigarette, ignoring Harley and Sammy's disapproving looks. Too late to stop now. He'd tried, half-heartedly, a couple of times, but life was too stressful and he needed his fags. He didn't smoke indoors anymore, so that was an improvement. He closed his eyes and thought about the birthday surprise he'd be springing on Sammy in a couple of months. Unbeknown to her, he'd bought back her beloved Jasmine House from the boy band she'd sold it to following their divorce. It was in the throes of a complete makeover courtesy of their interior designer son. Roy had instructed him to spare no expense. It had to be perfect. Sammy wasn't that happy at turning sixty. He thought buying their old home might soften the blow. Hopefully they'd recapture some more of the magic they'd lost. He felt happier now than he'd felt in a long time. He wanted to make sure she did too. A feeling of contentment washed over him. A feeling he was getting used to. Life was pretty sweet and about to get even better. So much to look forward to. His new grandchildren and the house. He finished his cigarette. 'I'll start the barbeque and …' he stopped as the telephone rang out in the kitchen. Bloody phone, always disturbing his peace. Harley struggled to her feet, announcing that she needed the loo and would answer the phone.
Roy stood up. The boys were getting noisier and a loud squeal made him jump. 'RJ, don't pull Danny's hair like that,' he shouted. 'Naughty boy. Come here, Dan.'
'Daddy,' Danny yelled as he ran to Roy who caught hold of him and sat back down with him on his knee. He stroked his blonde curls and wiped his blue eyes with a tissue. He loved the little boy as though he were his own flesh and blood. He looked up as Harley returned.
'It was Livvy,' she said. 'Tour's finished. She got an earlier fight from the States and she's getting the shuttle from Heathrow. She'll pick the boys up at seven.'
'Bloody hell,' Roy said. 'That's all we need.'
'She never thinks,' Sammy tutted. 'Why can't she wait until tomorrow and we'll take them home ourselves like we arranged? I hate her coming here. Sorry, love, I know she's your real mother, but…'
'Mum, it's okay, I understand,' Harley said.
'What time is it now?' Roy asked.
'Five-thirty,' Sammy said. 'Doesn't give us much time to get organised. Forget the barbecue. Make them beans on toast, Roy. I'm getting in the bath. No way is she seeing me in shorts and a scruffy top!'
Roy shook his head as she hurried away. Scruffy top? Sammy never looked anything but immaculate. 'For God's sake. I could throttle Livvy at times,' he said to Harley. 'She's a bloody nuisance, swapping arrangements without warning. She knows damn well that Sammy doesn't like her coming here.'
Sammy pulled the curtains across and lay down on the big brass bed while the bath filled. She stared up at the beamed ceiling, smiling as a little spider spun an intricate web just above the window. He'd have to go before bedtime, but for now she'd leave him in peace. She could feel a headache starting. Probably tension, she thought. Hardly surprising with her nemesis dropping in later. She turned as Roy came into the room.
'You okay, darling? You look pale.'
'Bit tired,' she said. 'And annoyed.'
He bent to kiss her. 'I'm sorry she's messed up our last night with the boys.'
She sighed. 'Go and see to their tea. I'll be down as soon as I'm ready.
She closed her eyes, but found it impossible to switch off. A nice soak would work wonders, she hoped. There was no way she was greeting Livvy without full makeup, freshly-washed hair and figure-hugging clothes. That was one thing she still had in her favour - her slim waistline and long, slender legs. Roy was always telling her she looked wonderful for an old bird, cheeky sod that he was!
Sammy lay back in the bubbles and closed her eyes. Bliss. She could hear the boys jabbering as they came upstairs. She heard Harley chastising RJ. With his thick dark hair and big brown eyes he was the spit of Roy and Harley, but a right little devil at times.
'See you later, Mum. I'm off out soon,' Harley called. 'Sorry I can't stay until Livvy arrives, but I'd already made arrangements. Tell her I'll catch up with her tomorrow.'
'Okay, sweetheart.' She wished Harley could stay. She always managed to diffuse any tense situation when her birth mother was around.
Sammy didn't mind Roy sharing joint custody of the boys with Livvy. Even though Danny was not his flesh and blood, she and Roy had formed a bond with the little lad. He had a sweet and gentle nature. Livvy had reappeared in their lives when Harley was sixteen. Roy became re-involved and when Sammy discovered Livvy was pregnant again, she'd called time on their marriage, even though it wasn't really what Roy wanted. A few months after their divorce she realised her mistake, in spite of all the pain and betrayal, she was still in love with him and he with her. Roy begged her forgiveness and they'd remarried. This time it was for keeps, she was determined. She knew Livvy still had a hold over him with their children. But there was no way she was getting her hands on him again. She climbed out of the bath and wrapped herself in a big fluffy towel, ready for a pampering session that would keep Roy's eyes glued to her, and her alone.
'Right, boys, sit on the sofa and wait quietly for Mummy,' Roy said as RJ sucked his thumb and twiddled the ear of his bunny. Danny yawned and rubbed his eyes, snuggling into the favourite old blanket he always took to bed with him.
The lounge door opened and Sammy walked in, flicking her long, light brown hair back over her shoulders. She perched on the arm of the sofa and he stood in front of her. He felt an instant twitch as he gazed down into cool blue eyes that held a wicked twinkle. She could still turn him on and she knew it. 'Wow! Looking good, Mrs C.' He pulled her up and into his arms, pressing against her.
He loved the way her tight black jeans sat neatly on her slim hips. He ran his hands over her firm backside, clutching her closer. Her cream silk sweater, with the wide neckline, slid off one slender shoulder as he held her. He buried his face in her neck, breathing in the seductive scent of her perfume. He wished he could drag her back up the stairs right now and shag the arse off her.
'Just a little something I threw together,' she whispered, running her hands through his hair.
'You know, Sam, for a woman clocking sixty, you look terrific. I'm so proud to be seen with you. I love you.'
'I love you, too,' she said, pulling him onto the sofa. 'But don't get any ideas before she arrives. It's taken me ages to get ready. You can save it 'til later.'
'Just one kiss to keep me going,' he said, leaning in.
'Roy!' Sammy nodded at the boys who both had their eyes shut now. 'Oh, look, poor little things. They're asleep already. They should be in bed.'
'Might as well have that kiss then. Promise not to mess your hair up.'
She smiled and moved into his arms.
He kissed her and squeezed her and thought about how thrilled she'd be when he told her he'd bought back Jasmine House. He couldn't wait to have long, loving nights in their old bedroom; to share the new Jacuzzi bath with her, as they'd done so many times in the past, with an accompanying bottle of wine. Here at the cottage there was no Jacuzzi and the bathroom, tucked under the thatched eaves, had such a small bath and at over six-foot tall he was hard pushed to lay full length in it, never mind share.
'What are you grinning at?' Sammy said.
'Oh, you know. Just thinking about later,' he said, winking at her. He looked at the clock. It was now seven-thirty. Typical of Livvy that she didn't think to call and let them know she was running late.
'Wish she'd hurry up,' Sammy said. 'I feel all churned up inside.'
'I know,' Roy said. 'Me too.' The doorbell rang. He got up to answer, and let in Livvy and a tall grey-haired, denim clad man, wearing a Stetson and a big friendly smile. 'Come on in. The kids are asleep. Pity you couldn't leave them until tomorrow.'
Livvy shook her head, blonde curls bouncing. 'I want them home tonight. I've not seen them for four weeks. You remember Hank, my drummer.'
'I do,' Roy said, shaking Hank's outstretched hand. 'How you doing, mate?'
'Howdy,' Hank replied. 'I'm doing good thanks, Roy, and you?'
'Okay,' Roy nodded. 'Come through. They're on the sofa.'
Sammy got to her feet as Livvy ran into the room and fell to her knees beside her sleeping sons. She dropped kisses on their heads and hugged them. 'I've so missed them. Have they been okay?'
'They've been fine,' Sammy said. 'You could have called more often, you know.'
Livvy shrugged. 'Don't like being a nuisance. And I get upset when I hear their voices. Anyway, I bet they haven't missed me half as much as I missed them. They love coming here to stay.' She got to her feet and took Hank's hand. 'Hank and I have some news.'
Roy stood behind Sammy and put his hands on her shoulders. 'News?'
'Yeah. We err; we got married last week in Vegas!' She held out her hand to show off a plain gold band. 'We'll have a proper ceremony when we get organised.'
'Married? Well, congratulations,' Roy said. 'Didn't even know you two were an item.'
Hank cleared his throat and put his arm around his new wife's shoulders. 'We've err, well we've been good friends for a long time. But you know, it's two years since my wife passed. I felt I was ready to move on and so did Livvy.'
'I'm pleased for you.' Roy shook Hank's hand again and pecked Livvy on the cheek. He looked into her baby-blue eyes and felt nothing. Even looking down at her neat little figure in tight denim jeans, fringed leather jacket and cowboy boots, a mass of golden curls framing her face and falling to her shoulders, a look that had driven him crazy a few years ago, he still felt nothing. He was also surprised to find he felt no jealousy or animosity towards Hank. He breathed a deep sigh. It was definitely over. The feeling was good. He turned to Sammy and saw relief in her eyes too. She pecked Hank on the cheek and gave Livvy a hug.
'I guess we should have a drink to toast you,' Roy said. 'Sam, there's a bottle of Moet in the fridge. Will you do the honours?'
In the kitchen Sammy leant against the worktop and said a silent prayer of thanks to whomever. Livvy, married, meant there'd be less likelihood of her calling Roy so often in the future and having him running back and forth to Ashley Grange if one of the boys were ill or for any excuse she could come up with. She usually called his mobile too and not the cottage land-line which always had Sammy feeling uneasy. Now she'd got Hank to rely on, life hopefully would get better. She poured four flutes of Moet and carried a tray into the lounge.
'Well, here's to the pair of you.' Roy held up his glass in a toast. 'Hope you settle down okay at the Grange, Hank. You'll soon get used to the UK weather.'
'Thank you.' Hank cleared his throat as Livvy's cheeks flushed bright pink.
'I'll tell them, honey,' Livvy said and put down her glass on the coffee table. 'We're not going to be living at Ashley Grange, Roy. Hank has four daughters and grandchildren in LA. So we're going back to the States and taking the boys with us. It's all arranged. We'll be living there permanently from next month.'
Sammy felt Roy stiffen beside her. He gave a strangled gasp and put down his glass.
'Over my dead body!' he roared, startling RJ into wakefulness.
'You can't stop me taking them,' Livvy said as RJ began to cry. 'I knew you'd be like this. They're my babies.'
'They're Roy's too,' Sammy said and picked RJ up and cuddled him. He snuggled into her neck, thumb back in his mouth, eyes closed again. Sammy swallowed hard. She loved the still-baby scent of him, and stroked his sweaty little head. She couldn't bear to part with him and as much as he complained about kids under his feet all the time, she knew it would destroy Roy to lose them both.
'There's no way you're taking them. If you want to go off with Hank, that's fine, but the boys stay here,' Roy said, quieter this time.
'We'll see about that,' Livvy snapped. She took RJ from Sammy. 'Hank, you carry Danny out to the car.'
'I hope you've got some child seats,' Roy said, standing by the lounge door as Livvy tried to push past him.
'Of course we have. We went home to get my car. I'm not that stupid, you know.'
'Honey,' Hank said, lifting Danny up. 'Just go. We'll discuss this tomorrow with Roy.'
'Nothing to discuss,' Roy said. 'They stay in the UK with me and Sammy. And not only that, our daughter is due to give birth to your first grandchildren soon,' he flung at Livvy. 'Don't you even care enough about that to wait?'
'I'll be back for the birth,' she said. 'Hank will take care of the boys. They'll be fine with him. Two of his girls are mothers; they'll help look after them for however long I'm over here.'
'You haven't a bloody clue about parenting,' Roy said, shaking his head. 'You dumped Harley on me and Sam, and now you're talking of taking the boys to another country and leaving them with strangers? No disrespect to Hank, but what about when you're both on tour, or recording for weeks at a time? Who'll look after them then? I'm sorry, Livvy, but I'll fight you to the ends of the earth for custody. They're going nowhere.'