Most of us writer-likes will absolutely hate our first drafts. To us, they are steaming piles of horse feces having stood in the sun too long and caked over. Got a good image yet? Good. Because that is a first draft. We inhale the plot, compact it, grind it, put it through the wringer… and it comes out the other end like a piece of poo–completely different than how we originally expected it.
But this draft, my friends, this draft…
This draft came out rainbows and Killarney.
I wish I could say it was a standalone, and it could be, but it’s really part of the Radio Hearts universe without being tied directly to that universe. Do the main characters ever meet Roman? Or Junie? Or Jason? No, and this is also the first book with a dual POV, so it doesn’t follow the MO of both The Sound of Us and We Own the Night.
Without giving too much away, it’s a fantastic side-step from the RH series. And I love it. I love it so much I’m going to share a little bit with you. I haven’t even shown it to my editor yet. That’s how much I love you readers. THIS MUCH. <3 (Also, she’s super swamped and I don’t want to bother her because she is TOTALLY AWESOME IN EVERYTHING SHE DOES and up to her nillies in manuscripts).
So here is The Ballad of Lost and Found.
“Whisky! Whisky!” I yell, stumbling out of the emergency exit after him. A stage hand tells us to come back, but neither of us listen. I wobble on my heels. “Whisky! Whisky wait—ow!” My ankle bends at an awkward angle, but my resolve keeps me upright, hobbling after him. “Wait!”
“What, you can’t keep up with a cripple?” He spits over his shoulder, the distance growing between us. He yanks open the door to his van. He’s going to leave—but we have the finals to perform! He can’t leave yet! Panic wells in my throat.
“Whisky, please!” I cry, catching up to him. My hair has fallen out of its hightop bun, and hangs in disastrous, defeated ringlets around my face. “Let me explain—”
“What’s there to explain?” He spins back around to me, eyes dark with anger. His fists are clenched. “You lied to us, Lonny. You made us look like complete fools. Do you get that? We looked like idiots!”
“I’m sorry,” I croak. I can’t meet his gaze. “I’m sorry I didn’t…I didn’t think who I was was important. I’m not her anymore. I’m not that girl.”
“Give me a break,” he scoffs. “You’re Zachary Glass’s little sister. And what are we? What am I? Your—your pet? The little crippled boy on your arm? Your martyr’s trophy?”
The poison in his voice steels my shoulders. He’s wrong. I raise my eyes to meet his. “I didn’t want trophies. I didn’t want a pet. I wanted friends who didn’t see me as Zachary Glass’s little sister. I wanted you to see… to see me as me.”
My words hang in the air like the frosted clouds coming from our lips. It’s cold, but I can barely feel it. It’s not why I’m shivering. My blood sings, terrified, in my ears, thrumming so loud it sounds like a funeral march. There are so many more words I want to say, but they’re stuck between my heart and my lips, and I’m too afraid to let them go.
The sound of the next band onstage murmurs through the thin winter air, the soundtrack of a pop-rock anthem.
It feels like we stand there forever, unmoving.
But then his fisted hands slowly unravel, and he shuts the van door, almost defeated. “Well, fat chance of that happening now.” His dark eyes flicker with something unsaid—I can’t imagine what it is. Nothing but bad things, I suppose. “After tonight, I’ll never play with you again. Do you understand? I’ll play one more time tonight if you stay the hell out of my life from now on.”
His words feel like a punch in my stomach, but I manage to nod.
“Good.” Then he brushes by me, back into the venue, leaving me alone in the dimly lit parking lot.