everywhere, throwing themselves at him, desperate to keep him company for the evening. But at the end of the day, he was still alone. He stared once more into the dirty water, and wondered how long it would take to drown. The current here was powerful. And at this time of year, the cold might just be enough. He wondered if it would hurt, not that it mattered. Every day hurt, and the pain only seemed to get worse.

It took his full strength to haul himself over the guard rail. Jack sat on the edge, his legs dangling over the nothingness below. He wasn't crying any more. The cold wind on his face and the damp smell of the river were almost a comfort. A promise. He'd been sitting there about twenty minutes, when the buzz of his phone in his pocket disrupted his reverie. He pulled it out of his pocket. Jared. He hesitated, then pressed the button to answer.

“Jack? Thank God, where the hell are you? Are you okay?” There was genuine concern in his manager's voice. Jack sighed.

“I'm fine man, just needed some fresh air.”

“Okay, well can you get your butt back here? I've got press people waiting, this gig is going to go down in history!”


“Come on Jack, you just need to show your face, then you can go right back to the hotel. Shall I come pick you up?”

“Don't worry about it Jared, I'll take a cab. Be there soon.”

“That's my boy. Just hurry up, ok?”

Jack hung up, cast one last look into the black depths of the river, then swung himself back over the rail. Like it or not, today life went on. He had work to do.

Sara rolled her eyes. Erica was laughing herself silly at yet another one of Michael's jokes, her legs draped over his lap. She had homed in on the bass player as soon as he'd appeared at the party, and with Erica's long blonde hair and blatant curves on display, the attraction seemed to be mutual. Sara winced slightly as Erica tipped her head back, and let Michael pour another shot down her throat. Her friend had already had way too much to drink, and she wasn't sure how they were going to get home. Although by the looks of things, Erica had no plans to leave any time soon. Sara took another swig of her beer. She was trying to pace herself, but she could already feel the buzz of the alcohol in her own bloodstream. Yet somehow she couldn't let go and enjoy herself. While the rest of the band were in party mode, Jack Carter was still nowhere to be seen. Sara kept seeing his face in her mind, the pain behind his eyes as he gazed back at her. It was silly, she knew, but she was worried about him.

“Sara! Get over here,” Erica demanded, and Sara sidled awkwardly over to the couch where her friend was still entwined with Michael.

“Mike says we can crash in his hotel room tonight, isn't that awesome!? Cos, you know, I don't think I should try and drive us home right now.” Erica giggled.

“Awesome.” Sara said, trying to keep the disdain from her voice.

“Anything to help a pair of lovely young ladies out,” Michael said in his syrupy voice, giving her a wink. “ Maybe you should come join us on the couch here, instead of standing around all by yourself.”

“I, uh, just need a refill, I'll be right back.” Sara shuddered at the thought and hurried off towards the bar. As she waited for the bartender to take her order, she heard a commotion at the other end of the room. Looking up, she saw Jack Carter striding through the crowd, not smiling, avoiding everyone who tried to catch his attention. He was dripping wet, and unless she was imagining it, his eyes looked red. Sara's stomach gave a little flip as he approached the bar.

“Scotch neat please Jim,” he said gruffly. He turned towards Sara, and she thought she saw him start, as if he recognised her.

“And whatever the lady wants,” Jack added. He smiled at Sara, and she felt her heart melt. Up close, he was even more handsome than she had imagined. His scent invaded her nostrils, a mix of leather and sweat and aftershave. It gave her chills.

“I saw you in the crowd. Did you enjoy the show?” Sara's eyebrows shot up in surprise; she wasn't imagining things, he actually had been looking at her.

“It was incredible. The best one I've ever seen…you were, just, wow. When you sang 'Back Track'…I've never seen anything like it. It was amazing.”

Jack seemed to consider her for a minute, and she felt her cheeks flush as he examined her face. Expression unchanged, he knocked back his Scotch and motioned to the bartender for another.

“You really liked it that much, huh?” Sarah nodded.

“In that case, it was worth it.”

Sara shot him a quizzical look. Despite her nerves at being confronted with her idol, she felt she had to know.

“Worth it? It really hurt you to sing that song, didn't it?”

Jack's expression darkened, and Sara instantly regretted her question. She had touched a nerve.

“I…I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry, I just…when you were singing, it felt so raw. Like it was more than just a song.”

“You're not a journalist, are you?” Jack said, then not waiting for her reply, “ No, I didn't think so. You don't seem like the type.”

“No, not a journalist. Just a fan.”

After an awkward moment of silence, Jack sighed.

“It always hurts. Seems like it's worse lately. That's why we don't sing it any more. Not when I have any say in the matter, anyway. But still, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Sorry, I don't think I even asked your name.”

He reached out and shook Sara's hand. His touch sent a little shiver through her. There was something so gentle, so sincere about him…she hadn't expected that. It was so different to the commanding persona you saw on stage.

“Can I get you another drink then, Sara?”

They sat and drank, and talked. About life on the road, the new album, the European tour. Jack told her he'd been trying to learn French, and made her giggle with his terrible attempts. He smiled when she corrected his pronunciation.

“I'm still not sure what you're saying, but you sure make it sound beautiful.”

Sara flushed. Was he flirting with her? She drained the remains of her drink, and realised she desperately needed to pee.

“Excuse me just a second…” Sara murmured, feeling a little dizzy as she stood up. As she turned to head to the washroom, she realised Erica and Michael had vanished from their spot on the couch. She felt a little rush of fear. Where had her friend gone? Scanning the room, she could see no sign of either of them. Surely she wouldn't go back to the hotel alone…Erica was smarter than that…but she was pretty drunk “Sara? Are you ok?”

Jack was at her side, his face a picture of concern.

“My friend. She's gone. She was with Michael.”

The look on Jack's face was hard to read, but it didn't make Sara any less anxious for her friend.

“She's had quite a few drinks, I just hope she's ok. She wouldn't ever leave without me, not normally.” Sara tried calling Erica's cell, but there was no answer.

“Maybe we'd better go look for her. I'll help.” Jack took her hand and led Sara through the crowd as she scanned for Erica. They checked the second room, and both sets of washrooms. No sign of her.

“Let's try Michael's dressing room. Maybe they went back there.” Jack's voice was grim as they hurried down the corridor. Jack marched right up to the dressing room door and hammered on the wood.

“Michael? Are you in there?” Sara called Erica's name, but there was no response. Bending slightly, Jack pressed his ear to the door.

“There's definitely someone in there,” he said, pounding on the door again and shouting his band-mate's name.

“Erica!” Sara called again, and this time they both heard the faint sound of a woman's voice from behind the door.

“Michael! Open this door! Oh fuck it,” Jack said, and squaring his shoulder, gave the dressing room door a hard shove.

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