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What Goes on Tour

By:Claire Boston

What Goes on Tour
Claire Boston

       To Mum and Dad

for teaching me I can do anything I set my mind to

and to my husband, Luke

for his support and encouragement

I love you





Chapter 1




Breathe.

Libby Myles' heart was doing its best rock concert impression, thudding  hard enough against her ribs that she thought it was going to break  through.

She was going on television, not to face a firing squad.

Hurrying alongside the keep-up-or-be-left-behind production assistant, Libby figured it amounted to the same thing.

If she messed this up it was the death of her fledgling career. One  wrong word, one misinterpreted sentence, and she'd be that sound bite on  tomorrow morning's radio. The one that was played over and over again  while the DJs asked each other, "What was she thinking?"

Suddenly the blond-haired assistant stopped and directed her into a  room. Libby braked, wobbled on her four-inch heels, and took a couple of  quiet, slow breaths to stop herself panting. God, she was unfit.

"This is the Green Room. You can wait here with the other guests and  I'll be back to get you when it's your turn." The woman turned and  strode away before Libby could ask for introductions. Libby cursed the  fact she had missed the earlier rehearsal due to her book signing and  snail-like traffic.

Who had her publicist said would be on tonight's show? An English comedian, Tony someone, and American rock god, Kent Downer.

Stepping into the room, she noticed there wasn't any green in sight,  rather the walls were painted a pale beige reminiscent of a doctor's  waiting room. Two men sat on a retro red couch, turned toward each  other, deep in conversation, perhaps mid-forties in age. Manager and  comedian, Libby decided as she heard their English accents. No point  trying to get a seat there.

The other red couch had a single occupant. Not the kind of person you wanted to meet in a dark alley, late at night.

Kent Downer stared straight at Libby, one hand in his lap, the other  over the top of the couch, his long, rangy legs crossed at the ankles.  She smiled, but he didn't respond, staring but not seeing, his attention  somewhere far more interesting than these four walls. She took the  opportunity to study him. Short, spikey black faux-hawk, pale skin and  the thickest black eyeliner she'd ever seen on a man. His clothes were  black too. Skinny-leg jeans, plain, fitted T-shirt and a waistcoat that  hung unbuttoned at the sides. Stereotypical rock star. She'd never be  able to use him in one of her books  –  she'd have to make him different  in some way. Otherwise she'd get the comment from her editor  –  "Don't  make him a cardboard cut-out."

Libby moved across the room and sat on the couch next to the rock star.  He must have felt her movement, as he blinked and looked at her briefly  before returning his gaze to the spot he'd been staring at.

Obviously a charm school dropout.

But then again, a rock star of his reputation wouldn't be interested in  talking to an author. She pushed aside the twinge of self-doubt. It was  his loss.

Libby had a moment of regret for insisting her publicist have the night  off  –  and then shook her head. She didn't need to be babysat.

She poured a glass of water, grabbed a handful of chocolate from the  bowl on the glass coffee table and scooted back on the couch to relax.

It didn't happen. The couch was as comfortable as its color was subtle.

Shoving the chocolate into her mouth, she took her notebook and pen out  of her bag and opened to a blank page. She was about to be interviewed  in front of a live studio audience and broadcast all over Australia.

Libby's skin grew clammy and she shook her fingers briefly to release some of the stress.

This was a huge opportunity. Struggling writers didn't get this kind of  thing. Someone must have owed her publicist a favor. Big-time.

Libby knew if the viewers liked what they saw, they'd mention her to  friends, maybe go out and buy her books. If enough people bought them,  she'd finally be able to give up her day job and write full time. And  prove to her parents she could make it as an author.

Right now, though, she'd settle for a decent royalty check. The repairs  on her car had used up every last cent of her savings, and if she didn't  get a new temp job when she finished her tour, she'd have to survive on  whatever she could harvest from her vegie patch.

There was no way she would ask her parents for help. She couldn't face the ‘I told you so' she'd get.

She couldn't stuff this up.

"Tony, you're up." The efficient assistant was back, motioning the  comedian toward the door. The two Englishmen rose and followed her out  of the room.

Nerves clenched in a death grip in Libby's stomach. She ignored them,  taking some more chocolate, then shifted her weight, lifting her knee so  she was sitting sideways on the couch.                       
       
           



       

All the better to observe the rock star.

She needed the distraction.

He was attractive, if you went for the bad boy type, with his designer  stubble and dark brooding eyes. Libby imagined some women would get a  thrill to have those eyes focused on them, even for a moment.

The man was so still, so absorbed, he almost looked like a wax dummy.  Then his fingers twitched, a minute movement, almost indiscernible, the  tiniest drum of his fingertips against the back of the couch. A pause.  Then the drum again.

Nerves?

From the television in the corner came the sound of applause as the comedian was introduced.

She was next.

Libby swallowed hard.

Making a note in her journal, she heard laughter from the set and  stifled her urge to fidget. She was a writer, not a performer. She  wasn't used to being the center of attention.

At least the producers had got it right  –  start the show off with a  laugh, end it with a rock star and allow the young adult writer to sag  in the middle.

Her stomach danced a tango with her nerves.

No.

She knew how to fix a sagging middle. It was all about being friendly,  chatty and enthusiastic about her new book. That was the easy part. She  straightened her spine.

"Didn't your mama ever teach you not to stare?" The deep Texan drawl  took her by surprise. The rock star had come out of his trance and was  now watching her with intense brown eyes. His whole body was rigid, as  if waiting to pounce if she said the wrong word. She was the baby  antelope coming face to face with the cheetah. Adrenaline zinged through  her veins.

"I, ah, no." She stopped babbling, took a deep breath and smiled.  "Sorry, I was visiting my muse. I wasn't really staring at you." She  held out a hand. "I'm Libby Myles."

He looked at her hand as if she had something contagious.

"Libby, it's your turn."

Saved by the efficient assistant.

Libby dropped her hand, stuffed her notebook and pen in her bag and  tucked it next to the couch, hoping her face would return to its normal  color quickly. Then she jumped up and hurried after the woman.

She didn't need rock stars and their egos.

They reached the edge of the set. She was about to be on television.

Dread smashed into Libby like a wrecking ball and her breath came faster. Oh, God. She hadn't checked a mirror.

She could have chocolate all over her teeth. She ran her tongue across  them, prodding at the spaces in between, then gently patted her hair to  make sure it was in place and smoothed down her knee-length skirt. The  television make-up that had been caked on earlier was thick, but the  make-up artist had assured her it would be fine on screen. She breathed  deeply, once, twice, willing the dread away.

She forced herself to stand still as someone attached the microphone to her.

"You look fine." The efficient assistant gave Libby a smile. "This is your intro."

The chat show host's voice rang out. "Our next guest is the author of  much-loved young adult series, the Jessop Chronicles. The latest book,  On Winter's Edge, is out now. Please welcome Libby Myles."

The assistant led Libby toward the set and gave her a gentle push in the direction of the stairs.

Stairs.

She hadn't thought about stairs when her publicist convinced her to wear the highly impractical four-inch heels.

Libby's legs threatened to turn to jelly, but she couldn't let them. The  crowd was clapping and she had to make her entrance. Placing her hand  firmly on the bannister, she slowly descended, ensuring one foot was  firmly planted before moving the next one, smiling at the first couple  of rows of audience members.

At the bottom she gave herself a mental pat on the back and walked  toward the host, Brian Lowry. His infectious grin made her smile back.  He wore a dark, pin-striped business suit buttoned over a white shirt  and his short, brown hair was gelled into position. She clasped his  outstretched hand and kissed his cheek before turning and greeting Tony,  who had moved down a chair. Finally she sat down, crossing her legs and  placing her hands in her lap.

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