I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Elle Field’s new release in the Arielle Lockley Series.
B-Side tells Etta’s version of events and I have the Prologue for you today. Not only that, Elle is holding a tour-wide giveaway so be sure to enter.
“What do I honestly know about the music industry? I’m just another idiot with a dream who is naive enough to hope that I might be the next big star.”
Etta Millhouse has always had big musical ambitions to match her big voice, but she’s also got three very big problems – the addiction she won’t admit to, her godmother’s illness that she can no longer ignore, and her godmother’s useless business partner (who she wishes she could ignore).
Keeping an eye on Arielle’s poor business decisions is the last thing Etta wants to do when she’s offered the chance to record a demo with a top producer. But, a promise is a promise, even if it has her reaching for another pick-me-up… And then another. And then one more.
When the secret she must keep for her godmother, Felicity, sends her drug habit spiralling out of control, can Etta battle her demons in time and make her dream happen? Or, will her music career be over before it’s even begun?
B-Side sits between Lost (out now) and Found (out summer 2016) in the Arielle Lockley series – read Etta’s version of events in this gritty Lost spin-off.
‘I’ll probably never be allowed back in the country once
I’ve left. I’m surprised they didn’t arrest me. And then there’s Felicity,’ I
choke out. ‘And–’
I can’t continue. The tears are gushing down my face, and I
probably look like I’ve aged twenty years in one night, though Piers isn’t
looking any better.
He pulls off his oxygen mask. ‘Oh, Pony,’ he croaks at me.
‘Don’t “Pony” me,’ I snap, suddenly feeling tremendously
angry. I turn away.
There’s silence, except for the awful, yet reassuring,
steady beep of the machines he is hooked up to. I can’t look at him. I don’t
want to see how frail and weak he is – how it hurts for him to even breathe,
let alone move – and I certainly don’t want his sympathy when he’s in this state.
So, instead I look around this private New York City
hospital room and try not to think about the nagging voice in my head. The one
that is asking me how can I trust this man when he’s been lying to me for the
past umpteen months, when he’s…
‘I’m glad you’re OK,’ I mutter, suddenly feel ashamed. One
minute I’m up, the next minute I’m down.
I blame the tiredness, the awful mind-numbing tiredness, and
the shock of all this – I’ve not slept in nearly thirty-six hours. Whatever
chemicals were spinning around my bloodstream, courtesy of my forced visit to
the medical centre at JFK Airport, they’ve faded away now.
I’m still amazed that I wasn’t arrested for my behaviour,
but when I thought Piers was dead… well, I lost it. Instead, it wasn’t Piers,
it was… I start crying even more at the thought of it, at the thought of
Felicity lying in some morgue.
‘She was fine when I got on the flight,’ I wail. ‘How has
Piers makes a gesture with a tilt of his head, beckoning me
closer, and I shuffle nearer to him. He takes my hand, and I try and ignore the
IV, though it’s the tube sticking out of his chest that freaks me out the most.
There should never be a hole there. Ever.
‘I’m so sorry, Piers,’ I choke out. ‘I thought it was you,
and then it wasn’t, but for it to be Felicity…’
I shouldn’t be doing this now, especially since visiting
hours are technically over and I’ve only been allowed in because of the
circumstances. I should be comforting Piers, seeing if he’s OK after his
surgery. I shouldn’t be stressing him out. I tap Piers’ hotel key, nervously,
on my leg.
Everything is a big jumble though; nothing makes sense.
Felicity was deteriorating, sure, but not to the point that we all needed to
prepare to say goodbye to her… I mean, I only saw her a couple of days ago,
and she was more than capable of calling me out on my bad business decisions. I
was never naive enough to think that she was magically “getting better” but,
likewise, I was never despondent enough to think that her time was going to be
up so soon.
Piers takes off his oxygen mask again and croaks something
that sounds like a cross between “Mum” and “Giles”. He is seriously flagging,
and he needs to keep that mask on. I glance again at the tube in his chest. He
should be resting. I can never get anything right.
I assume he means his brother, Giles, not my mum – I’ve not
spoken to either of them since my meltdown at the airport. Hank, the man who
found me on the floor in the Arrivals terminal, told me afterwards that he
instinctively knew I wasn’t a threat to others, just to myself. He pointed out
that it’s not uncommon to spot people receiving devastating news when they
clear Immigration and switch on their phones – a lot can go wrong when people
are in the air.
‘Giles?’ I gently ask.
He nods and makes a half-hearted phone gesture with his
I gently lean over to kiss him on the cheek, scared I’ll
disturb one of the wires. His skin looks even more waxen up close, except for
the violent purple smudges under his eyes.
‘You’re tired, aren’t you?’
With a tilt of his
head, I know it’s time to go.
‘I’m tired, too,’ I admit, ‘but I’ll be back first thing.’
I study him, committing how he looks to memory, but also
trying to remember the last photo that was taken of the two of us. I wish I had
that photo with me, or any photo of us, but I remember that Piers always takes
a framed photo of the two of us on his business trips. There will be one in the
‘I love you,’ I choke out, ‘and of course I’ll call Giles.
I’ll let him know you’re OK.’
He squeezes my hand reassuringly, and I get up and leave the
hospital room quickly before I burst into tears again. Deep down though I’m
terrified that I’ll come back in the morning and Piers will be gone, that he
won’t survive the night. Like Felicity.
As I hop into a cab and tell the driver to take me to
Gramercy Park Hotel, I give his brother a quick call, promising to update him
tomorrow as soon as we’ve spoken to the consultant. Giles ticked off my list,
I’m about to call my mum back when we’re already pulling up outside the hotel.
That was quick.
As I make my way through the beautiful lobby of the hotel, I
barely take in the cool black-and-white Moroccan tiles that juxtapose the rich
red rug lying on top of them, but as I call my mum, I pause to admire the
massive Venetian glass chandelier. No one could ignore those sparkles.
‘Hi Mum,’ I say wearily, as I head to the lift, the spell of
the dazzling chandelier broken.
‘How is he? How are you?’ she fires at me.
‘I’ve just left the hospital, and I’m like the walking
dead,’ I admit. ‘Piers is doing as well as can be expected, but he’ll probably
be in the hospital another week–’
‘A week?’ Mum interrupts.
‘Maybe longer, and who knows when he’ll be allowed to fly
home. We won’t be allowed to stay in the hotel forever,’ I continue, ‘but
that’s next week’s problem.’
Mum tuts sympathetically as I unlock the door, and I
immediately change my mind. There is no way Piers’ work is moving us. I could
happily live in a suite like this.
‘Is Atlas OK?’ I ask as I shut the door behind me and dump
my handbag on the floor.
‘He is. He’s happily purring away on my knee.’
‘Dad will be jealous.’
‘Oh, Dad isn’t here. He’s going to pick us up tomorrow.
We’ll look after him at ours until you get back.’
‘Wait, why isn’t Dad in London with you?’ I ask, tearing
myself away from exploring the suite, though the mahogany English drinking
cabinet – more notably the bottle of Hendrick’s gin in it – is calling my name.
‘I didn’t want to tell you earlier, but there’s been a
development,’ Mum says slowly, ‘with Felicity’s death. Your dad is with Etta
I let the words “Felicity’s death” wash over me – I don’t
want to deal with that now; I need to be strong for Piers – but as I squint at
myself in the ornate dresser mirror and clock the photo of me and Piers, I
think about what Mum has just said. Why would my dad be with Etta? That makes
no sense at all. In my tiredness, I must have misheard Mum.
I pull a face in the mirror at my messy bun, which is now
dishevelled to the point of pure scruffiness, no longer chic, and I notice that
I’ve managed to splash tea down the sleeve of my cream knitted jumper. These
are the only clothes I have in New York, the ones I am wearing. Even worse, I’m
wearing a sequined baseball jersey underneath my jumper, which now seems
extremely tacky this side of the pond. I’m such an idiot for not grabbing any
clothes, but when Giles called me and told me I needed to get on a plane to New
York because Piers was about to have surgery, I dashed straight to the airport.
I flop down wearily onto the king-size bed and snuggle into
the vibrant malachite-green Italian linen that covers four impossibly soft
Hungarian goose-down pillows and a duvet. Heaven.
Then I remember my mum is still on the phone.
‘… which is why they are there as they have to make sure
that it was natural causes.’
I’ve missed half of what Mum has just said because of my
moment luxuriating on the world’s most epic bed. I could fall asleep in
seconds, and I suspect I will as soon as I get off the phone. Forget my plan of
a long bath with a neat gin or two – I’m climbing straight underneath these
‘Don’t jump to conclusions, love. I’m sure it’s just
procedure and that nothing–’ she falters, ‘–external happened to Felicity.’
I’m seriously confused. What does she mean by external? Felicity died in her sleep…
didn’t she? And what does any of this have to do with my dad?
‘That’s what I’m saying, Arielle. Your dad is at the police
station with Etta. They’ve taken her in for questioning.’
‘Questioning?’ I echo. My head feels like I’ve just downed
two bottles of champagne in quick succession.
‘Yes, they need to rule out that Etta wasn’t involved in–’
Mum stumbles again with her words, ‘–Felicity’s death.’
I’m wide awake now. I always knew Etta was trouble, the
fucking murdering bitch…
Elle Field writes romantic comedies, and is the author of the Arielle Lockley series and Geli Voyante’s Hot or Not. She grew up in Yorkshire, then moved to Scotland to study International Relations and Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews. Elle now lives in London with her boyfriend and their cat. She’s a massive fan of sunshine, giraffes, The Killers, Audrey Hepburn movies, playing Scrabble and tea. Oh, and reading, of course!
You can buy Elle’s books here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00CHIC1GE
Visit her website: http://www.ellefield.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ellefie
Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ellefieldauthor
To celebrate the publication of B-Side, Elle is running a giveaway.
Prizes are Amazon vouchers, a paperback set of the full Arielle Lockley series (Kept, Lost and B-Side), and a set of vinyl coasters.
Please note, Jera’s Jamboree is not responsible for this giveaway.