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Taking Her by Banks, R.R. (1)

Chapter One




The funny thing about being an addict is that you can get addicted to just about anything you put your mind to. Trust me, I know. We don't even have to try all that hard. There are, of course, the usual suspects – the alcoholics, cokeheads, meth burners, and heroin slammers, not to mention the fans and devotees of a thousand other drugs.

But, the fact is, you can get addicted to almost anything. Gambling is a popular one. People chasing that elusive high can sometimes get off on the thrill of a big bet. But, there are other addictions you'd never think of. Really bizarre and ridiculous ones. Exercising. Stamp collecting. Fishing. Golfing. Knitting. Extreme couponing.

Fuck me sideways if I ever let myself get addicted to anything like golf or extreme goddamn couponing. If that happens, I'll pay good money to have someone put me down like a rabid dog. At the very least, I'll ask somebody for a good and thorough ass kicking – one I'd absolutely deserve for being such a wanker.

Like a good drug, the rush I get from being with a woman is intense. It gives me a powerful release. But, once that high is gone, it's completely gone. And, like the addict I used to be – maybe still am – I'm off to find the next high. Or, in this case, the next woman to share my bed.

Thank the good Lord above that I don't have a problem getting women. The faint Irish brogue that still colors my voice – something I play up when necessary – never fails to make the ladies swoon. And although I might not be Calvin Klein underwear model gorgeous, I'm a pretty good-looking guy, if I do say so myself.

Add to that, the fact that I was pretty goddamn famous for a time. Maybe my band, FUBAR, wasn't on the same plane as Metallica, but we made a pretty big footprint in the music industry in our own right.

And oh yeah, I'm hung like a mule.

Throw that all into the pot, simmer, stir, and what you get is a goddamn walking, talking aphrodisiac. Catnip for the masses. All of that has ensured that I have a line of eager and willing women out the door.

They say, when it comes to addicts, we're always looking to fill some hole inside of us. And we'll fill that void with anything we can. Anything that makes us feel good. Anything that takes our minds off our shitty lives for a while. And once we use that up, we move on to the next thing that fills us.

Yeah, it took a lot of rehab and a lot of money spent on therapists for me to eventually come up with that little nugget of wisdom.

And when I say that women are my addiction, I'm not being metaphorical. I feel the same kinds of cravings I got back when I was slamming heroin. Just like when I was using, when those cravings strike, I'm nearly powerless to stop them from consuming me. My mind hyperfocuses on it and getting laid is all I can think about.

Basically, if I have any intention of functioning like a normal human being, I have to find a woman willing to sate me and curb that craving.

Although I haven't been particularly relevant in the mainstream music world for about a decade now, that little brush with fame still sends women into a frenzy and keeps me knee-deep in panties.

Believe me, it's something I still dine out on. Having a famous name – even if you haven't been in the spotlight for a while – is still pretty fuckin' great.

I drop down into the chair in front of the mirror and stare at myself, somehow feeling a lot older than I look. I run a hand through the light brown hair that falls to my shoulders. My green eyes are sparkling like polished jade and there's color in my cheeks.

There's a knock at the door that pulls me out of my thoughts. A second later, it opens and one of the club's production assistants – a kid who doesn't look old enough to even drink in this club – steps in and looks around sheepishly, as if he'd expected to find me in the middle of a wild orgy or something. Little does he know that it's been years since I did anything like that.

“Five minutes, Mister Grigson,” he says, a slight tremor in his voice.

“Connor,” I reply. “Just Connor.”

“Connor,” he says and smiles nervously. “Can I just say how much your music means to me? Your work with FUBAR, I mean. It was basically the soundtrack to my youth and – I mean, not that your music now is bad or anything, that's not what I mean –”

I laugh softly and shake my head. Christ on a fuckin' cracker, I'm thirty-eight years old and yet, the way this kid is talking, you'd think I was seventy-eight. The soundtrack of his youth? I know he means well, but shit, I don't need to be made to feel older than I already do.

“I appreciate that –”

“Damian,” he says quickly, as if he's dying for me to know his name and hear me say it.

“I appreciate that, Damian,” I say. “That means a lot.”

Damian beams and looks very pleased. Good for him. We look at each other for a moment, neither of us seemingly sure what to say. Finally, he clears his throat and checks his watch.

“Sorry,” he says. “Four minutes.”

“Thanks, mate.”

Damian closes the door behind him when he leaves, giving me a few moments of peace before I go take the stage. Gone are the days of the sold-out stadium tours and all the chaos it entailed. Music is still a much-needed outlet for me. But now, I prefer playing small clubs and more intimate settings that isn't really compatible with my old style.

My music with FUBAR was hard, loud, and aggressive. It was angry. I used it to lash out at anybody who'd pissed me off or whatever I perceived to be some slight or injustice. Today, I like to think that my music has a message. To me, it's more personal. I write my songs because I have something to say.

Whether or not anyone actually understands what I'm saying isn't my concern. I hope they can. But, it's just as important for me to get those thoughts and feelings out there. Let people do with my words as they will. They usually do anyway.

I check my watch and let out a breath, feeling the first fluttering of those old, familiar butterfly wings in my belly I get right before a performance. You'd think with how often I'd been on stage, it wouldn't bother me in the least. Even now though, after all those shows and all these years, I still get nerves.

Back in the day, I would have smoked something or taken a shot to settle my nerves before I went on. These days, a beautiful woman usually does the trick. Though I'm not going to lie, there are times when I get that urge to take a needle. When my body craves that old, familiar rush. Sometimes, that urge is almost overwhelming.

It's a byproduct of my former lifestyle and I just have to weather the storms whenever they arise. Copious amounts of booze, drugs, debauchery, and absolute excess – such was the lifestyle of a rock and roll god. Or, at least, a rock and roll minor deity.

It was a life though, that was unsustainable – unless I wanted to go tits up before I turned forty, anyway. Heroin damn near ruined my life. In my mate Ronnie's case, it took his. That was my wake-up call – the night we both OD'ed. I somehow survived. Ronnie didn't. To this day, I don't know why the good Lord spared me and took Ronnie instead. It doesn’t seem right. It isn’t fair.

Of the two of us, he was the better man. He was the one who deserved to live. Not me.

And his death is my fault.






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