The Mighty Storm (The Storm #1)

By: Samantha Towle

Chapter One

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.

“Trudy Bennett.”

“Tru, it’s Vicky, get your cute little butt in my office asap, I need a word.”

“Okay, gimme five.” I hang the phone up.

Vicky is my boss and 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 in to.

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 that no one knows about who 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 low priced, small 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 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 slip up, I pretend like I never knew him and that I'm just another TMS fan.

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