To Have and to Hold (The Hold Series Book 3)(5)

By: Arell Rivers


Sitting back in the chair, I look down at the shell of the woman I love. With a harsh tone, I command, “Wake up!”

Nothing.

I don’t care what the doctors say, she will return to me. I pay them good money to ensure she has the best round-the-clock care. She has to do her part, too.

Exhaling, I lean close to her ear and whisper, “I have to leave now. You’re my heart, Rose. I can’t wait to see your shining blue eyes again. Fight for you, for me, for us. I love you.” I kiss her eyes, nose and mouth. Memorizing her face with my lips.

Standing, I walk to the open door, stopping only to put on my baseball cap. My head refuses my heart’s frantic requests to run back into the room.





“G’DAY, SYDNEY!”


The response from the sold-out audience is deafening. Twenty-one thousand screaming Aussies are packed into the Allphones Arena. This stadium world tour certainly is not intimate. The larger venue has a different energy. I’m more disconnected from individual fans, but their excitement builds off one another, and the effect is electric.

“Bonza!” According to the list of Australian slang words Shari sent me before the show, the word means “excellent.” Judging by the crowd’s delighted reaction, she’s right.

I tip a bottle of water to my lips and drink deeply. Setting the bottle down by the bass drum, I soak up the opening night vibe. “So, tonight’s special and not just because it’s the opening night of my world tour.”

Will I ever get tired of hearing a stadium’s excited roar? I hope not. I continue, “You know why? Today’s my birthday.” Signs are raised above fans’ heads, but the words are masked by the stadium’s lights shining down on me. Is Starr is out there holding something written in red lipstick? I resolutely squelch that fear.

“As my birthday present to you, I’m going to play my next single for you.” I pause. “No One to Hold” was released right before the accident, and I’ll play it during the encore. That song was inspired by Mom, and it never fails to tear me up, but this one . . . I wrote it for Rose, and it’s downright heartbreaking. And it’s also the first time I’m singing it live.

Inhaling deeply, I close my eyes as the lights go dark. I pull the microphone away from my lips and whisper, “For you, Rose.”

The opening strains of “Taboo” ring out in the stadium. The song is the fifth track on my newest album, Moving Forward Slowly. The response from my fans here is amazing. The stadium joins me as I sing the first verse:



I see you there

Where you’ve always been

Only now, now, I really see you

Were you always there?

Will you always be here?



The guitar solo, played by my new lead guitarist, Zed, sounds sweet. Better than I could play it. The light show is perfectly choreographed to the lyrics and music. Everything is technically right, except it’s all wrong because she’s not here to hear it. Leaning on the mic stand, I pour my heart into the next verse:



I need to know you

I need to feel you

It doesn’t matter that it’s taboo

‘Cause everything’s so right

When we’re together

Were you always there?

Will you always be here?

Drums take center stage. The music rolls through my body. The light show caresses the audience. I’m facing a sea of cellphone lights swaying in time with the down-tempo beat. Strolling down the long catwalk, I sing the last verse:



People only see what they want

Illusion, fantasy is everything

Hiding in plain sight

I want to scream your name

Now that I’ve found you



Were you always there?

Will you always be here?

I know I will



The stadium plunges into darkness. Good thing, because my mind’s not really here, at least not at the moment. A memory of Rose—the look in her eyes when I first shared the song with her, the brush of her lips against mine—has me in its grips. In my speaking voice, I repeat, “I know I will.” The crowd explodes. It takes several seconds for me to pull myself together, to push the memory back into the vault it escaped from.

Jeffrey, the drummer who has toured with me since my first album dropped, catches my eye. He twirls his stick, ending by pointing it at me. “Okay?”