Smile, Alice (Four Fallen Souls #1)Ellie R. Hunter
Table of Contents
Book One in the
Four Fallen Souls Series
Ellie R Hunter
Ellie R Hunter
© 2017 Ellie R Hunter
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and situations within its pages and places or persons, living or dead, is unintentional and co-incidental.
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Also by Ellie R Hunter
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Table of Contents
Dedicated to my husband, because of you, I smile every day, even when I don’t want to.
The last time I landed in the UK, I was drunk off my ass and I fell down the plane steps and sported a lump on my head for three days. It was funny as fuck. This time, I solemnly take the stairs down to the car waiting for Slate and me completely sober.
Harry collects our luggage and puts it in the trunk while I climb into the back of the town car, feeling mixed emotions of heartbreak and excitement. It’s draining me.
“We can get back on the plane and go home, you don’t have to put yourself through this if it’s not what you really want,” Slate says, climbing in and slamming the door behind him.
“For you to say that, you haven’t been listening to a word I’ve been saying. This is happening and when we go home, we won’t be alone. Everything is set, there’s no going back now.”
I don’t bother to look at him when I speak. Lately, Slate, our manager, is all about making money no matter what he has to put the band through and I’m getting tired of it.
“I don’t think you’ve taken into account what this is going to entail…”
“Oh, I have,” I sigh, as the car pulls away from the airfield, “If I do one good thing in my life, it will be this and I will see it through to the end, no matter how ugly it gets.”
And an ugly end is the only end. He manages to keep his mouth shut until we arrive at our hotel, even though it’s killing him to do so.
I linger around in the lobby while he books us in and I dig my notebook out of my back jeans pocket.
Wedged in between the pages, a folded piece of paper is neatly tucked away and as the jet lag starts kick in, I don’t have the inner strength to read it again. I put it away before Slate heads towards me, passing over a key card.
“Get some sleep, tomorrow is a big day,” he mumbles.
We take the elevator up to our suite and Slate disappears into his room. I grab a bottle of beer from the fridge and fall onto the couch.
The band thinks I’m mad for coming here.
Maybe they’re right.
Maybe I am mad.
The letter burns in my back pocket, but I can’t bring myself to read it again. I have spent the last couple of months being kept up at night by its raw sadness.
“If you’re going to drink tonight, I’d keep to beer, I doubt he wants to meet you hungover.”
Lifting my eyes, Slate hovers in his doorway.
“He wants the real rock and roll experience, it’ll be a good introduction.”
It’s a lie.
Well, he does want that, but he wants more and that’s what breaks my heart every time I think of him.
“You’re starting to sound like you’re having seconds thoughts,” he murmurs.
I haven’t had one doubt, but I am petrified of letting him down.
I have failed at so much in my life and not given a flying fuck about it. But this, this is something I can’t fail, and the antes are the highest I’ve ever faced. It’s life and death.
I stretch out lying on the sun lounger and the warm breeze drifting in off the Mediterranean Sea sweeps over my body. I’m so relaxed, I feel like I’m floating. I have no worries or stresses, only me and the beach becoming one.
My eyes fly open as they do every time he calls out for me and like every other time, I hate myself for falling asleep and wasting what precious time I have left with my brother dreaming of thoughtless holidays.
“What’s up?” I ask, sitting forward.
I roll my neck and release the kinks spreading down into my shoulders. Hospital chairs are not comfortable, and they are not made for sleeping in. You’d think I would be used to them by now, considering how much time we’ve spent here. Roll on tomorrow when he is released, and I can take him home where he belongs.
“Rosie, from Wishes for You is here,” he says, casting his eyes at the door.
And there she is in her long, flowy, flowery skirt and a cream blouse I wouldn’t have paired together. Her wacky, curly hair bounces in every direction it could possibly bounce, and I want to scrape her ridiculously big grin off her face with a cheese grater.
It’s not her fault I hate the sight of her. Her reason for being here is why I hate her.
Wishes for You is a charity that works with the hospital to grant children’s last wishes before they…die.
Yes, my brother is dying and every time Rosie with her bouncy hair shows up, it cements it in that Joel is leaving me and qualifi
es for his last wish to make his last days on earth something to live for.
“I come with fantastic news,” she beams, far too chippy for this time of the morning.
My heart picks up and thumps ridiculously hard against my chest. I’ve been dreading this, don’t get me wrong, I want Joel to have everything he wants and more, but I want him to be safe and comfortable. It’s been weeks since Joel made his wish and he’s refused to tell me what it is. He needs rest, not getting over excited and wasting the little energy he has left.
“Great,” he grins, “Alice, why don’t you go and get a coffee.”
“I’d prefer to stay, I might get to find out what you wished for.”
The smile on his face scares the shit out of me, and I’ve already explained how I feel about Rosie’s smile, who is now slipping into the room and taking a seat.
“You’ll find out soon enough, but not until I know what’s happening.”
This whole wish business has been one big secret from the beginning and I know my brother, he wants it to be perfect and done his way. I grab my bag from under the chair and reluctantly leave them alone. I’m giving them half an hour and not a minute more before I come back and demand to know what’s going on.
I could walk to the concourse with my eyes closed with how many times I’ve made the trip for coffee during Joel’s hospital stays.
I thank the lord there isn’t a queue in the coffee shop and I order a velvety flat white. I snatch the last available table and dig out my phone. I scroll through Facebook and roll my eyes when I see the silly memes Joel’s friends have posted on his wall to cheer him up.
Joel has Leukaemia and it is terminal. He’s seventeen years old and he has already been given a death sentence.
He doesn’t have a large circle of friends but the ones he does have are the type of friends you have for life.
In the most recent posts, they keep asking him when he’s coming home so they can kick his arse on the Xbox. I stop myself from thinking that one day, they’re going to ask, and he won’t be able to give them an answer. He hasn’t been able to go out with his friends in a long while now, they come to the house and hang out with him for hours, sometimes they stay over, and it feels like I’ll be tidying up after them forever. I don’t mind it though, I like to see Joel happy and laughing, I soak those moments in and save them to memory. They act normal with him, which he tells me is something I struggle to do.
I put my phone away and drink my coffee as I people watch. It takes four minutes and roughly forty seconds to walk back to Joel’s ward. I finish my velvety cup of heaven and see I’ve been gone for twenty-five minutes. Half an hour is all they’re getting, it’s plenty enough time for them to talk.
I wonder again what he could’ve wished for as I walk back. There was a list of options he could choose from, a trip to Disneyland to being a zoo keeper for a weekend. He took one look at the list and asked to speak with Rosie alone, from that day I have been out of the loop.
Turning the last corner, I’m met with two guys dressed in black suits with sharp white shirts staring intently at me when I come to a stop. I press the buzzer to be let in and they step in front of me.
“Name?” one of them asks.
“Excuse me?” I snort.
“Your name? What is it and who are you here to see?” he states, like I’m an idiot.
“That is none of your business,” I hiss.
Who the hell are these guys?
“It is for the next twenty minutes,” he grumbles, “Who are you here to see?”
I’m losing all patience and I didn’t start the day with much of it to lose. Whoever these men are, they need to get out of my way.
“Let her through, for goodness sake, she’s been here more than I have lately.”
I release a pent-up breath when Susan swipes her badge and brushes me past the two men.
“I’m sorry about that. Go on, go back to Joel.”
As much as I hate seeing Rosie, the nurses I love. They are angels who work very long hours and for little money, but do it because they care.
After rinsing my hands with the hand sanitiser, I’m met once again with a strange man standing outside Joel’s door. This time, Rosie is standing with him and starts flapping excitedly when she sees me. Her flowy skirt gives the illusion she is floating towards me and I brace myself.
“Oh, Alice, you’ll never believe this,” she begins, reaching to hold my hands, “As I said, I had wonderful news, but I never thought for one minute, he would show up today…”
I tune her out and my eyes drift back to the man still standing in the doorway. He isn’t dressed as smartly as the guys outside the ward, choosing a simple black t-shirt and jeans and his dark hair is tied back in a ponytail.
“Normally there are procedures, he just turned up…”
“Who did? Who showed up?”
My heart pounds in my chest and I struggle to keep up with her babbling. Maybe if I slap the excitement out of her, she’ll start making sense.
She stares at me and a genuine smile shines brightly for me.
“He really didn’t tell you anything, did he?”
Joel tells me everything, it’s how we’ve survived together for the past twelve years but now he has this secret, everything isn’t so true anymore.
“Come and see for yourself,” she says, keeping a hold of my hand and leads the way past the guy in the black t-shirt.
He tips his chin at me and says nothing.
A small sigh leaves me when I see Joel sitting up in the chair I slept in last night, then six and a half feet of slender muscle, tattoos and long hair rises from the bed and turns to look at me.
“Surprise,” Joel beams, but I can’t match his enthusiasm. In fact, my mouth hangs open in shock.
Piercing green eyes lock with mine and brilliant, white straight teeth flash me a glowing smile as he extends his hand towards me.
Rosie releases me and nudges me towards him. I remember my manners, and go to shake his hand. Only, he lifts my hand to his mouth and presses his lips softly on my skin before letting it fall.
“You must be Alice?” he says, sounding like he’s purring.
Purring? Wow, I need to get a grip.
A one-word answer is all I’m capable of right now. I have seen this man’s face every day for the last four years, Joel has his posters up on his bedroom walls and now he’s here in the hospital, in my brother’s room, in the flesh. Bloody hell.
“Your…” I choke out, clearing my throat, I continue, “Your wish is to meet Damon Coleman?”
A sly grin appears on his face and it tells me there is so much more to hear.
“What do you mean, sort of?” I dare to ask.
The guy in the doorway steps into the room and stands beside the rock star. I already don’t trust him, or the papers he’s holding in his hand.
“Miss Butler, I am Slate Morley, the band’s manager. Joel’s wish is to come on tour with Four Fallen Souls. We have made all the necessary arrangements to accommodate his condition since granting his wish.”
My jaw falls in shock and I hear Joel chuckling in amusement behind me. I don’t find it funny in the slightest.
“That’s highly unlikely, no, it’s too much for him,” I tell him, shaking my head.
“Don’t Alice me, you need doctors and nurses, not to be on a bloody rock tour off god knows where.”
I don’t care if we have an audience watching our squabble. This is crazy. It’s insane. It’s certainly out of the fucking question.
“I’m his legal guardian, and he’s underage to make this decision himself.” I throw in their faces.
“With all due respect, Miss Butler. This is Joel’s wish and you did sign the papers,” the manager throws back at me and I could slap him so bloody hard, he’d wear my handprint for the next week.
It’s true I signed the papers, I done it blindly be
cause Joel asked me to trust him and I did. Now I understand why, he knew I never would’ve agreed to this. How was I to expect this to be his wish?
I squeeze my hands into fists and dig my nails into my palms. The stinging sensation does nothing to stop the freak out that’s erupting inside my brain and I turn my back on the room.
How can he go on a bloody tour? It’s not possible.
“There is six weeks left on the tour, we’ll fly to LA for the next show, all your costs will be covered...”
I stop listening to the manager, he has absolutely nothing I want to hear. It has nothing to do with the cost, although I’m one thousand per cent sure we couldn’t afford it ourselves.
“Let me talk to her,” the Rockstar says, and his manger and Rosie quietly leave the room at his command. It must be nice to have people actually listen to you when you speak.
I turn around and I have no words for him, all I want is to talk with my brother, alone.
“Before you say anything, this is what I want, I know I can do it,” Joel pleads.
I can only look at him, I don’t want to be the one to let him down but he’s ill. Terminally ill. It makes me feel sick at the thought of him with a rock band.
“What are your worries, Alice?” the Rockstar asks.
“Besides the fact my brother is seriously ill?” I snap, frowning at his audacity to even ask such a thing, “he needs doctors, rest, nurses, peace and quiet…”
“He’ll have all that, what else concerns you?” he cuts me off.
“How can he have all of that? If I’m not mistaken, you’re a rock star on tour. Loud music, drinking, drugs, women, sleeping on a tour bus…”
“Sounds perfect and I have my own drugs, prescribed and everything,” Joel mutters, cutting me off, again.
“Shut up, Joel,” I snap, waiting for the rock star to answer me.
“He’ll have a round the clock nurse at his side the entire time and a hotel room to sleep in every night. We can take it day by day. We have located all the hospitals in each city and the routes that we would take if needed. We have covered all the requirements Joel may and will need.”