A rock-and-roll love triangle... a music journalist’s story of a lifetime... the bad boy front man who broke her heart.
Tru Bennett was just fourteen years old when her best friend and first love, Jake Wethers, moved from England to America and left her brokenhearted. Now twelve years later, Jake is the world’s biggest rock star, lead singer of The Mighty Storm and every woman’s bad-boy fantasy. Every woman, that is, except Tru.
A successful music journalist, Tru knows better than to mix business with pleasure. But then she receives the assignment of a lifetime: interview Jake before his band launches its highly anticipated world tour. Tru vows to keep the meeting strictly professional—but nothing can prepare her for the sparks that fly the moment their eyes meet again.
Now Jake wants Tru to join the band on tour, offering her a behind-the-scenes exclusive that any journalist would kill for. There’s just one problem: Tru’s boyfriend, Will. Can their relationship withstand Tru hitting the road with rock and roll’s most notorious womanizer? Or will she risk it all for a second chance with the one who got away?
I pick my ringing phone up just as I’m sitting down at my desk, taking a quick sip of my first coffee of the day.
“Tru, it’s Vicky…get your cute little butt in my office ASAP, I need a word.”
“Okay, gimme five.” I hang up the phone.
Vicky is my boss and the owner of the magazine I work for—Etiquette.
I’m a music journalist. Etiquette is…well, it’s a fashion magazine.
So in essence, I’m a music journo that works for a fashion magazine.
It was the first and only writing job I could land after finishing university. I majored in popular music journalism. The two loves of my life always were, and still are, music and writing, in that order—so it was a no-brainer for me what I wanted to do when looking at university courses after I finished sixth form.
This job was meant to be a filler until I could get a writing job working for somewhere like NME or Rolling Stone, but six years later and I’m still here.
My job at Etiquette is to write up reviews on new album releases, talk about popular bands and singers, and also do the odd interview, that type of thing.
I’m a good writer and even better at music. I grew up with music as my dad is a musician. He fed me it from the day I was born.
It’s not my ideal job, working at a fashion mag, but I like Vicky a lot. We’ve become really good friends. At first, when I started here, I was just a column writer, but Vicky wanted me to keep working here, and, with that and my constant nagging, she let me take my column and make it a full feature page.
That was a happy day for me.
It’s been running for a year now and has been well accepted by the readers.
The only downside of my job is that I have to keep the music mainstream as that’s what the readers of Etiquette are into.
I’m not so much into girlie music, well, except for Adele, I love her, but basically I’m more a rock, indie kind of girl. And all I want to talk about in my articles are rock bands, metal, indie, and brand-new bands; bands no one knows about that I’ve come across in clubs. Bands that deserve a shot at the big time.
The good thing, recently, is a lot of the major rock bands have mainstreamed a little from their early stuff, to pull them into the Top 40, and now the gals who read Etiquette are listening to them, so it gives me the opportunity to talk about these bands. But still, it’s mainstream, and I want to talk a little off the beaten track.
So for now, I’m resigned to writing about easy listening.
But you never know, maybe one day.
I switch on my Mac; take another gulp of coffee, burning my tongue in the process; and set off for the short walk through the open-plan office, heading towards Vicky’s office.
Her door is already open when I reach her office, and she’s on the phone.
She indicates for me to come in with a huge, white toothy smile. I sit down in the chair across from her desk.
Vicky is stunning. I would say she’s mid-forties—although I’ve never been able to get her to confirm her actual age—and believe me, I’ve tried. But whatever her age is, she looks like she’s in her thirties, and I can only hope I look as good as she does when I’m her age.
Vicky has blonde shoulder-length hair, trimmed neatly into a bob. A fantastic figure, and I’m not entirely sure everything on her is real. But I love her. She is no-nonsense. Tons of fun. And an amazing businesswomen and writer.
She used to be a journalist for a magazine when she first started out. Then she met her husband. He was a wealthy, older businessman. Very old school and didn’t believe in women working—they were to stay at home with the children. Vicky loved him, so she gave up her career for him.
They married; then Vicky discovered she couldn’t have children. They didn’t have the happiest of marriages after that.
She was the trophy wife. He was the habitual cheater.
He died ten years ago of a heart attack, leaving Vicky a very rich woman. His business is still going; I don’t know much about it, something to do with acquisitions I think. I’m not sure, and I don’t think Vicky is either. It has a board and a CEO that run it, so when he died, Vicky decided to stay well out of it, and instead took a chunk of the money he’d left her and went back to her first love, magazines, and that’s when she started up Etiquette.
It’s a small, low-priced magazine, a monthly, with a readership of 500k.
The magazine just about breaks even. Vicky doesn’t make much on the magazine; she does it for the love of it and to keep busy.
She’s determined to make it a success, and because she took a chance on me and gave me a job when no one else would, and also because I love her to bits, I’m determined to help her see that dream come true.
She’s a brilliant, vibrant woman who was dealt a shit hand in life, and she deserves happiness. This magazine succeeding will make her happy.
And you never know, one day, if the magazine grows huge, she might let me spin off and create an insert, music magazine.
Okay, well, I can dream can’t I?
Finishing off her call, she hangs up and grins at me, big hazel eyes alive, and I know straight away she’s up to something.
“What?” I ask, suspicious.
“Jake Wethers,” she says, practically humming his name.
My heart sinks. I let out a light sigh.
Jake Wethers, one of the biggest rock stars in the world, lead singer of the hugely successful rock band, the Mighty Storm.
Who also, once upon a time, used to be my best friend.
We lived next door to each other growing up. We went to school together, did everything together, until he moved to America with his family when we were fourteen.
He was also the absolute love of my life, not that he ever knew that, of course, and I was devastated when he left.
I don’t have a single childhood memory that doesn’t have Jake in it.
When he left with his family to move thousands of miles away, we vowed to stay in contact. But that was twelve years ago, when there was no Internet or mobile phones for kids. Those were things solely reserved for adults, usually the ones with more money than mine or Jake’s family had.
We wrote, had the odd phone call, then the calls from him stopped, and the letters dwindled until they became nonexistent.
I wrote to him for a while, but he never wrote back, so I gave up.
My heart broke for a long time over Jake Wethers. Well, if I’m being honest, I don’t think it actually ever really healed.
And I didn’t see or hear from Jake again. Well, until six years ago…
I was two years in at university, sharing a flat with my still, to this day, best friend Simone, and she was watching a Saturday music show that used to be on back then. I was nursing a hangover, like most days, and was coming back into the living room from the kitchen, with a coffee in hand, and there he was, Jake, on the TV, staring back at me.
He’d grown, obviously, looked a little different, yet exactly the same.
Covering my mouth with both my hands, I dropped my cup to the floor, coffee everywhere, but I didn’t care. I stood there transfixed, watching him singing with his band.
I’d heard about this new fast-rising band, the Mighty Storm. I’d even heard their songs on the radio, but I’d never seen any pictures of the band members until that point.
Simone was obviously interested to know why I’d just dressed our living room in coffee, so I sat down and told her my history with Jake. Then we both immediately went to my room to Google him on my computer.
It made sense that Jake became a musician. He loved music as much as I did.
I knew he could hold a note vocally, but I never realised just how great a singer he actually was.
I’ve watched Jake’s career over the years. Watched him rise to stratospheric levels.
And I’ve also watched his lows.
I still care for him, of course; he was my best friend for a huge portion of my life. We shared everything.
But I’m not in love with him anymore. That ended years ago. And really, what do you know about love when you’re a teenager anyway?
One thing I don’t do is tell people I knew Jake growing up.
I’m a private person generally, and I feel like telling people I knew him well would just sound a lot like bragging. And if my friends and colleagues knew I used to be so close to him, they’d want details, and there are things from Jake’s past that I know he wouldn’t want shared, so, for fear of a slipup, I pretend like I never knew him and that I'm just another TMS fan.
Outside of that, and I know I’m going to sound silly when I say this…but talking about Jake would be like sharing him.
The world has him now, and I don’t want to share the Jake I had with anyone, because now, well…from what I see and read in the news, Jake’s not so much like the Jake I knew back then anymore.
He’s now the epitome of the rock star he is meant to be.
The only person I’ve ever told about Jake is Simone, and, of course, my mum and dad knew Jake too. Oh and…well, I also told Vicky, but that was in a complete, drunken error.
Last year I was ridiculously drunk at our work Christmas party, and for some unknown, alcohol-given reason, I made the fatal error of telling Vicky that I used to know Jake.
And when I say fatal, it’s not because she has told anyone about my connection to him. Oh no, it’s because ever since she found out that we were former buddies, she has been on my back for me to get in touch with him to do an exclusive interview for the magazine.
What Vicky fails to grasp is that I’m no longer friends with Jake, and haven’t been for twelve years. It’s not like I can just call him up to ask him for an interview.
She thinks I can. She thinks that Jake would be made up to hear from me. I know she’s only saying that to try and urge me to get in touch.
But I won’t ever get in touch with Jake. I think if he did want to see me again, then he would have been in touch himself by now.
Honestly, I think he’s forgotten all about me. He’s moved on to bigger and better things, and me rocking back up in his life, asking for an interview, would just be plain awkward and a lot weird, for him as well as me.
I’ve done my best trying to explain this to Vicky, but it’s not sticking, so I’m now at the stage of dodging her whenever his name comes up.
“Earth to Tru, have you listened to a word I’ve just been saying?” Vicky clicks her fingers, instantly bringing my focus back to her, and I realise I’d zoned out.
My face flushes. “Um…no, sorry.” I bite my bottom lip. “It’s just the whole Jake thing…I know you want me to get in touch but I just can’t—”
She holds up a perfectly manicured finger, halting my words.
“Well, if you’d been listening to me, my darling, you would have heard that I don’t need your help getting an interview with Jake Wethers after all.”
She’s full-on grinning, like a kid who thinks they’ve just seen the real Santa Claus in Harrods.
Damn me and my zone out.
I sit up a little straighter in my seat. “Y-you got an interview with Jake?”
She nods proudly.
“How?” I breathe out, dumbstruck.
Jake’s well known for not doing interviews. Another of the reasons Vicky was so desperate for me to try and grab one with him. An exclusive.
Jake’s intensely private. He talks about his music when he has to for PR, of course. But he never talks about himself outside of that.
Which is funny, considering how he lives his life—very publicly in many ways—the drinking, the drugs…the women.
Vicky shifts uncomfortably in her seat and grimaces slightly. “Well, it doesn’t matter how I got it—just that I did, and you’re going to do the interview.”
“What!” I almost reel backwards off my chair.
“Don’t look so surprised. You’re my best writer, Tru, and well…you’re my only music writer. And you have this huge connection with Jake. You grew up together, for crying out loud! He’ll open up to you more than he would anyone else. You could land us an exclusive here.”
“Oh no.” I’m shaking my head rapidly. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
I might be a journo, but I do have this thing called morals. I’m not going to spread Jake’s guts all over the magazine in the name of news.
“It’s an excellent idea, and we need this, Tru.” Her normally smooth features furrow. “Sales are rubbish at the moment, and this exclusive with Jake Wethers will give us the boost we’ve been waiting for.”
Ugh. She’s right. It will be good for the magazine. No, scrap that, it will be amazing for the magazine.
All I need to do is get a great interview from Jake and keep my morals at the same time.
Holy fuck! Is this really happening? Am I really going to see Jake again after all this time?
A frisson of nervous energy passes through me.
He probably won’t even remember me. It’s been twelve years.
“Okay. I’m in.”
“That’s my girl.” Vicky smiles, clapping her hands together.
“When and where?”
“Tomorrow, ten a.m., at the Dorchester.”
“Tomorrow?” I feel another, much larger, shot of nerves rush through my blood.
“He’s only here in the UK for a few days. This is the only window we’ve got.”
“Okay…should I book Jim to go with me?” Jim is our photographer.
She shakes her head. “No pictures. We’re to use old press photos. You’re going in solo, gorgeous.”
Crap. I was hoping for the backup.
I swallow down the nerves ramming up my throat and nod. “Okay.”
“Don’t look so nervous; you’ll do great, Tru. Oh, and here’s a review copy of the new album”—she picks up a CD case from her desk and peers down at it, reading—“Creed…Ahh,” she murmurs knowingly. “Anyway, have a listen before the interview, and it’s not released yet, so remember…”
“Guard it with my life.” I take the CD from her and start to walk away.
“I bet he’ll be delighted to see you,” she sings from behind me.
I look at her over my shoulder. Pulling a face at her, I stick out my tongue.
She laughs. “Well, maybe not with a face like that, he won’t.”
I grin, and then with my new Mighty Storm CD, and the heavy weight of the interview on my shoulders, I amble out of her office.
I slump down in my chair at my desk and look at the CD in my hand.
Okay, so tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., I’m going to see Jake for the first time in twelve years.
Jake Wethers, the man who used to be the boy I loved.
Jake Wethers, the biggest rock star and most wanted man in the world, tomorrow will be sitting before me giving me an interview, and I haven’t got a bloody clue what I’m going to ask him.
I put Jake’s album into the disc holder in my Mac, plug my headphones in, and start to listen as the music flows into my ears.
I pull the insert booklet out and start to read through the track listings. Then I flick to the back page to read the dedications.
There’s one person I know, without doubt, who this album is dedicated to.
The person who co-wrote the album, and who it’s named after—Jonny Creed.
Jonny was Jake’s best friend, the lead guitarist in TMS, and Jake’s business partner, and he died in a car accident a little over a year ago.
Jonny’s car crashed through a barrier then rolled down into a steep ravine not far from where he lived in LA.
I saw the pictures in the news the day after it happened. His car was totalled.
He never stood a chance.
There were no other cars involved in the accident, and after the autopsy was done, it was revealed that Jonny was way over the legal alcohol limit, and the level of drugs in his system was enough to take down a small horse, or so it had been reported.
The accident happened late at night, and the police said Jonny could have been swerving to avoid an animal in the road, or maybe, because of the alcohol and drugs, he could have fallen asleep at the wheel, though there’s no evidence to prove either to be the case.
The press have speculated that it was a suicide. But the band’s spokespeople have vehemently denied it, and there was no evidence to show that Jonny was depressed in any way at all.
His life was good. He was at the top of his game. He had everything to live for.
The band took his death badly. Jake even more so. And his pain was splashed all over the pages of the press for the world to see.
Jake upped his drinking and his drug use, and then fell in the worst possible way when on stage in Japan eight months after Jonny’s death.
It was the band’s first show since Jonny’s death. Jake was wrecked. He could barely talk, let alone sing. When the crowd got antsy at the poor show, he berated them. When they heckled, he unbuttoned his jeans and urinated on the stage.
He was arrested for public indecency.
I saw the clips of the show after it happened. It burned my heart to watch.
He was so far from the Jake I had seen over the years in the press, and even further from the Jake I remembered and once loved.
He was lost to grief, trying to bury it with drugs and drink. And for that one moment he lost control.
It could have ruined his career.
Luckily for him it didn’t. If anything, it only catapulted his status higher and the world’s obsession with him further.
He is the ultimate bad boy of rock.
Jake was fined for his behaviour in Japan and thrown out of the country. Soon afterwards he went into rehab.
He spent four months in rehab and has been out for the last four weeks, and he’s still maintaining a low profile.
But I know that’s soon to change, hence the interview, as the band has the album, which Jake and Jonny wrote together, to release and promote.
For a while there was a worry amongst the fans that the band wouldn’t go on when Jonny died, but from the press release that TMS put out a month ago, shortly after Jake got out of rehab, they said the band was Jonny's life and love, and that this album, his last and now his legacy, was his best to date. And also that if they didn’t put out the album, Jonny would more than likely come back to kick their asses for quitting now.
And this is not me being cynical, I just understand the music business, and well…basically the band is what keeps the music label riding high, and you see Jake owns the label that TMS is signed to; if it’s possible to sign the band you are in.
But basically, if the label falls because the band quits, then that’s an awful lot of people out of work.
When TMS first started out they were signed to a small label, Rally Records, but as the band rapidly grew, becoming one of the fastest-growing bands ever and breaking sales records worldwide, basically becoming a phenomena, Jake grew too. And him and the guys soon outgrew the small label they were signed to.
It’s well documented that Jake is a shrewd businessman for his young age, and a serious professional, barring his drug and alcohol addiction and the pissing-on-the-stage incident. It's also widely reported that he is notoriously difficult to work with.
Apparently, he was once quoted in the press as saying, “When you’re the best like I am, and give only the best, why is it so wrong to expect the same in return?”
That, I can believe. Because that reminds me a lot of the Jake I knew. Never one to mince his words or hold back from sharing his thoughts.
So when the band felt they were too big for Rally anymore, they walked away from the label, buying themselves out of their contract.
The figure has never been reported. But I’m in no doubt they could have afforded it.
Jake is rumoured to be worth around $300 million and growing. They say he earned $90 million in the last year alone.
So when they left Rally, Jake and Jonny set up TMS Records together, put the band on the label, and have been signing other growing bands and musicians to the label ever since.
Well, until Jonny died, that is.
When Jonny died, his half of the label naturally went to his parents. It was reported that Jake bought them out, as per their wishes, because it was too painful for them to have any involvement with the label after losing Jonny.
So now Jake runs TMS alone. And he had maintained running it even in rehab, from what I’ve heard in the business news.
But even with Jake’s combination of music and business talent, it is sadly not what he spends most of his time in the news for.
Pissing on the stage in Japan aside, Jake was already tabloid fodder for his drinking, partying, and women. He works hard and plays harder. He goes through women like most people go through loose change. He has dated some of the most beautiful women in the world. Actresses, models, singers…the list goes on and on.
More recently, he’s been quiet on that front, obviously from being in rehab. But now he’s back, clean and ready to reclaim his place in the news and on the charts.
Maybe that’s how Vicky got the interview.
Jake will be keen to show he’s back and means business. If anything, surprisingly, Jake and TMS’s popularity has increased since the Japan incident.
The fans love his outlandish behaviour. Men want to be him, woman want to screw him…most wanting to be the one to tame the untameable Jake Wethers.
All Jake did that night in Japan was immortalise himself as the rock god people always believed him capable to be, putting him among the ranks at the young age of twenty-six.
It’s crazy—he left the UK when he was fourteen, and then four years later, the band was signed, and they were hitting the big time when he was twenty.
Such a fast rise. And I wonder, if he can achieve what he has in only eight years in the music industry, just imagine what he’ll be able to do in twenty.
But all of this aside, ignoring all the gloss and the money, all I see when I look at pictures of him is my old best friend, Jake Wethers. The guy I used to have movie-and-pizza night with. The guy who helped me bury Fudge, my pet rabbit, when he died. And sat with me holding my hand all day while I cried over his loss.
It’s just been so long and we’ve been so far apart, our lives taking such different paths…what will we even have to say to each other? Anything at all? Will he even remember me?
My phone starts to ring, breaking my reverie. I pull my earphones out and answer it.
My heart melts a little. It’s my very lovely, very gorgeous, blond, blued-eyed, smart boyfriend, Will.
I’ve been with Will for two years. I first met him at university, but nothing ever happened between us, then after I graduated, I didn’t see him again until two years ago when I bumped into him on a night out with Simone. We’ve been together ever since.
“We still on for dinner tonight?”
“We sure are.” I smile.
“Wonderful, so I’ll pick you up at your place at seven.”
“See you then.”
I end the call with Will and stare at my screen. I open Google and search for pictures of Jake.
I click on one, enlarging it on my screen. He’s bare-chested, and he looks so incredibly beautiful.
Jake is lean but muscular, defined, with lovely slim hips. His hair is black, shaved close around the sides, longer on the top; he wears it high and messy. His hairstyle, on anyone else, would probably look silly, but not on him. On him it looks perfect. And in contrast to his black hair, his eyes are blue. Startlingly so, just like the colour of the ocean.
He’s always had this cute little smattering of freckles over his nose ever since I can remember, but now, they somehow make his gorgeous bad-boy edge even more apparent.
Jake is also covered in tattoos. He’s almost as famous for his tattoos as he is for his music and bad-boy antics.
Jake has a full tattoo sleeve on his right arm. Tattoos on his left forearm and “TMS” in script on its inner, but his most distinctive tattoo, for me anyway, is the one on his chest. It spans right across, sitting just below his collar bone, and says…
I wear my scars, they don’t wear me
Sometimes I wonder just how true that statement is.
Looking back, I don’t know at exactly what point I knew I was in love with Jake. I guess I just always was.
My mum used to say when we were toddlers I followed him around like a puppy dog.
Jake and I were best friends—as close as you could get. And I know it was all he would have, and ever did, see me as. He was always way out of my league.
I guess the sad thing for me, or maybe in hindsight the best thing, was just as I was realising the depth of my feelings for Jake, he was gone.
One thing I do find amusing is knowing how Jake is with women nowadays, basically a slut, when he was younger, he was never interested in girls.
Back then, we were all about the music. I guess it was what bound us together. Well that and the other stuff. The bad stuff in Jake’s life.
Jake was always heavily into music, as was I, thanks to my dad.
My dad used to be a guitarist in a small-time rock band back in the eighties called the Rifts.
I was spoon-fed music. And my dad fed it to Jake too. I think to my dad, Jake was the son he never had.
My life was a little different than other kids’; when their parents were teaching them to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” my dad was teaching me the lyrics to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
I was brought up listening to the likes of the Rolling Stones, Dire Straits, the Doors, Johnny Cash, Fleetwood Mac, and the Eagles, to name a few.
My mum tried to balance it out, bless her, but my dad lives and breathes music, and he is such a force in my life that she never stood a chance. I love my mum of course, but I absolutely adore my dad.
So because of my differences, and there were plenty of them, believe me, I never really fit in with any of the kids at school. And neither did Jake.
We were our own island, and when he left, I was left adrift for a long time.
My dad taught me how to play the piano. He tried with the guitar, but I could never get the hang of it. Jake, on the other hand, was an absolute natural on the guitar. My dad gave him his own first six-string when he was seven. He always did say Jake was a born musician, so I guess it’s no surprise to him Jake is as successful as he is.
My dad is really proud of Jake’s career.
He’s always said I should get in touch with him, but I brushed it off, so there is no way I’m calling Dad to tell him I’m seeing Jake tomorrow. He’d probably try and come with me.
It’s going to be surreal seeing Jake after all this time.
I click off the picture and open another, a close-up of his face. I stare at the picture, my eyes tracing the scar on his chin, the one that stretches along his jawline. It’s not as noticeable as it used to be; maybe he covers it with makeup nowadays.
I know more about Jake than anyone. I know about a part of his past he’s managed to keep hidden away from the rest of the world.
Then a thought sweeps my mind. Maybe he won’t want to see me. Maybe he feels like he left behind the life he had here, and that’s why he dropped contact with me.
Maybe me, home, reminds him of a time he’d rather forget.
Jake had a pretty rough time growing up, which led to his dad, Paul, going to prison when Jake was nine. Susie, Jake’s mum, remarried a few years later to a lovely man called Dale. He was an architect brought over from the firm’s office in New York to work on a long-term project in Manchester, where we lived. Then when Jake was fourteen, Dale was offered a promotion back in their New York office, and he took it.
Six weeks later Jake was gone. And my heart was left broken.
With a resigned sigh, I click off Google, and Jake disappears from my screen.
I force myself to open my Word document to get the questions compiled for tomorrow before I go to dinner with Will tonight.
I don’t go to interviews unprepared. Especially if said interview is with my old best friend and onetime love of my life.