Getting Real - By Ainslie Paton
1. If Only
Los Angles, USA. Twelve months ago.
“It’s a twenty-five city tour. We’ll be on the road for eight months and we start in Australia.”
Jonas Franklin looked around the boardroom table, big toothy grin, dancing eyebrows. From the top of his shiny head to his blunt fingertips he radiated excitement as he fanned the heavy contract document with his thumb. “We iron the bugs out in Oz and then do Europe and the US. What do you think?”
Rielle Mainline pressed back in her seat, put her feet up on the table, and looked at the bleeding heart tattoo on her ankle lit by the down-lights in the ceiling. She pushed today’s blood red fringe off her forehead and sighed. A tour this size was the culmination of five years of sell-out local tours, each more elaborate and to a bigger audience than the last. She wanted this bad and so did Rand.
After ten years in the business, two platinum and three double platinum albums, two Grammy Awards, an American Music and Billboard Award plus countless MTV awards, it was what they deserved.
Not that it would ultimately change anything. Nothing that was important, anyway. Nothing ever would.
But why start there? Of all the countries in the world, why that one? Of all the places where their music charted, where Ice Queen had lunatic fans and a ready audience, why start where it all began?
Not that Jonas understood that. Jonas was the best executive producer in the business, but he thought it all began in Eagle Rock when Ben bought Rand his first electric guitar. With Ben gone, no one but Rand would understand it.
If only. If only. If only.
She shot a look at her brother sitting opposite, both hands flattened on the table top, his purple nail polish horribly chipped. He tapped the edge of his black titanium thumb ring on the wood, the riff to Over n Done from their latest album, Flagrant Disobedience.
“What?” he said, sounding annoyed, but he stopped tapping.
“Rielle?” asked Jonas. He took a seat alongside executives from the record company, the legal firm and the media consultancy. “What do you think?”
“I think everything but the schedule is fantastic. Can’t we start in Europe? Why do we need Australia at all?
“Are you kidding, Rie? You’re huge in Australia, the support of the hometown crowd, why wouldn’t you start there?”
“Because we’re already huge there would be one reason.”
Jonas scratched his hairless head. “We could take it out of the tour but it’s worth millions. You’ll earn more in Australia than half of Europe. What about you, Rand?”
Rand rocked his boardroom chair more violently than its makers ever intended. He looked like he’d had about two minutes sleep and needed the motion to stay awake. “I could live without Australia.”
Rielle plucked another hole in her fishnet tights. They all watched.
“Can we have the room?” Rand said.
When the suits exited he stopped rocking and shifted around the table to her. He’d deferred this decision to her deliberately. He was making her choose for him, for the whole band. “We can do this, Rie. It’s kinda fucking cool. Twenty-five cities. I mean, shock and awe.”
“I know we can do it.” She tucked her chin down to avoid looking at him. “I just don’t want to do Australia. Anywhere else but there.”
Rand stood behind her chair and pressed his thumbs into the tight muscles of her neck, making her groan. “Rie, it’s time we went back. Twelve years—it’s time.”
She snapped, “Why is it time? Why do we need to go back ever? There’s nothing there we want.”
“What’re you still so frightened of?”
She swivelled the chair around and faced her brother. “I’m not frightened.”
“Right.” He sighed, palms raised in submission.
“I’m not. What have I ever backed away from? Tell me.”
Rand pulled up another chair. “Fuck all. You’ve never backed away from anything, or anyone, except this.”
Rielle dropped her eyes, looked at the twist of silver chain around her waist and bounced her rubber boot heel on the floor. “So we do Australia, but skip Sydney.” That was like making an album without a hit song. But Rand would be too good to call her on it.
Too good but not too stupid. “Rie, that’s too weird.” His eyes narrowed. “Jonas is gonna flip out, but if that’s what you want?”
“What do you want?” She knew what he wanted. For her to forget, to get over it, and that was never going to happen.
He sighed again. “For this not to be such a big deal for