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Love on the Edge of Time
Author: Julie A. Richman


Chapter 1

 

 

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Bongo Cole was seething mad as he slammed his boss, who also happened to be his oldest friend and leader of their band, into the concrete block wall of the backstage tunnel. “I have a family and every time you fall off the wagon, Jesse, you hurt my family. Does that mean anything to you?”

Hitting the wall like a ragdoll, Jesse Winslow, lead singer of the chart-topping band, Winslow, unsuccessfully attempted to pull away from his drummer’s grasp. Jesse’s limbs were having no part of interacting with the limited messages he could access from his substance-polluted brain.

“C’mon, Casey,” he addressed Bongo by his given name. “They were crucifying us, man. What was I supposed to do? Just let them crucify us?” The handsome rocker slurred, defiantly defending his crowd-enraging behavior.

“Fuck you, Jesse. Maybe if you weren’t too trashed to remember the freaking words and riffs, they wouldn’t crucify us. I am so through with you, dude.” Bongo turned from his friend, a look of utter disgust marring his long, thin face. Walking away at a brisk pace, he called over his shoulder, without stopping, “This time, I am done with you.”

And that was how Winslow ended the highly anticipated Australian leg of their world tour.

••••••

It was all over social media in a nanosecond. The press loved it. Bad boys of the stage were irresistible. Like Jim Morrison or Billie Jo Armstrong before him, the public could never get enough of the charismatic Jesse Winslow, who couldn’t keep his shit together. When he lost it, as he invariably often did, the Internet, TV paparazzi shows, radio, and news broadcasts were sparked to life by his over-the-top antics. This publicist’s nightmare was truly a gossip hound’s wet dream.

But, more than anything else, like the other bad boys of rock, Jesse was the stuff fangirls and music sales were made of. And luckily for him, bad behavior and swoon-worthy were two of his strongest attributes. Hot. Sexy. Talented. And fucked up. Jesse Winslow was pure eye candy with intrigue and charm.

What more could you ask for in a rock star?

Embodying bad boy and then taking it to the next level, his backstage after-parties were legendary, although he probably possessed very few actual memories of them. Tennessee whiskey and blow, all while he was getting blown, was his nightly version of a relaxation technique. Rock star meditation, he’d been quoted as calling it.

When performing, the man prowled the stage like a caged animal, releasing pheromones in palpable waves that made females in the audience drip with desire and male fans feel like they were big-cocked stars, fist-punching the air along with him. When he looked out into the audience, every woman, right up to the last row of the nosebleed seats, swore he was singing to her with his low, raspy growl. He was begging her, and only her, when he sang the words,

Please come back.

Baby, please come back,

Please come back to me

There wasn’t a woman in the arena who didn’t want to fix him, heal the hurt residing behind those words and his sexy, clear grey-blue eyes.

When Jesse held it together, there was no doubt why this charismatic, talented man had throngs of loyal fans–men and woman alike. Men wanted to be him, they aspired to duplicate his effortless cool, his everyman working-class hero style and women wanted to be his lover and confidante, exploring the darkness in his soul and being the one to finally fix him.

When Jesse lost it, allowing his first teen lover bourbon access through the door he’d slammed on her a million times before, there hardly seemed to be a soul who didn’t want every detail of his latest fall from grace. The public could not get enough of him. The worse the behavior, the more they loved him. And the media outlets loved him for it.

He truly was a tabloid’s wet dream.

••••••

Looking over her notes from the late-night emergency phone call, Claire Stoddard thought, Jesse, Jesse, Jesse, how do I get through to you?

Out of rehab for the third time in less than four years, she wondered if her exceedingly sexy, rock star patient would make it to his thirtieth birthday. Hell bent on letting his demons have their way with him, Jesse Winslow was a tortured soul. Of that there was no doubt.

But why?

And that was the question that plagued psychiatrist, Dr. Claire Stoddard, as she sat with her psychiatric supervisor, Dr. Marshall Reid, early on a Monday morning.

“How long have you been treating him now?” Marshall pushed up his glasses from the bridge of his nose.

“Just over a year,” Claire’s eyebrows were drawn together forming a pair of twin arches, that screamed frustration from their rounded tops.

“Have you done regression hypnosis with him? Explored childhood trauma he might be repressing?” Marshall continued to make notes without looking up at Claire.

“We’ve talked about it, but he didn’t want to begin the process prior to his last tour. He’s just about to return from a tour in Asia and Australia with his band. I think he’ll be home, or at least in the states, for the better part of a year, so I’m hoping it’s a topic we can broach again.”

“Potentially that gives you time to work with him in a concentrated and in-depth capacity. Hopefully, that will provide the opportunity to see if you can get to the root of some of his self-destructive issues.”

Continuing to look through her notes, “I’m almost fearful of the demons I’m going to find,” she sighed, shaking her head. “He’s definitely a tortured soul. Are you familiar with his music? His lyrics are a dark poetry and the melodies are positively haunting.”

“My son’s a fan,” Marshall confessed. Giving Claire a pointed look, “Let’s talk about you, Claire. Your interest in this patient has been almost obsessive. You’ve had other high-profile patients before, and I have never noted anything but a detached professionalism from you. So, that makes me question if there is some countertransference going on between you and Jesse Winslow.”

“That’s absurd,” she shot back, her spine straightening as her shoulders squared for battle. Countertransference. Seriously, did he think she was falling in love with her own patient?

“Is it?” Marshall’s tone remained even, his face betraying nothing, as he pinned her with his unwavering stare.

And for the first time, Dr. Claire Stoddard came face to face with the shocking realization that like most women on the planet, she was not immune to the mystery and charms of bad-boy rocker, Jesse Winslow. And she was in a position to actually fix him, something most women only dreamed of.

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