Electra threw her cigarette out of the open window of Ryan’s pick up truck and turned to him as they drove through the winding country streets. She still didn’t really believe he was here with her, as her boyfriend. They had never officially labelled themselves as ‘dating’ but everyone knew they were, the two of them were inseparable.
“How much longer?” He asked as he shoved a different CD into the portable car radio and lit up a cigarette of his own.
“Not far,” Electra replied, “hey – look, just follow that limo.” She settled back into the seat and took a deep breath, she knew it would be her mother in the car ahead. At least she wouldn’t have to direct Ryan anymore…
She could see the house ahead, the summer home of her family. Thankfully she knew enough about her mother to know that she would never dare make a scene in front of a guest, however low on the social scale that guest was.
“This is your weekend house?” Ryan asked in shock as they emerged from the truck at the bottom of the drive and began walking up to the house. He had expected something a lot smaller, he knew Electra’s family had money, but not this kind of money.
“My mom has to go over the top, I told her we didn’t need something so big but she only wants the best. It’s really nice though.” Electra replied, snatching the still lit cigarette out of Ryan’s hand and throwing it away so her mother didn’t see.
Electra was glad she had brought Ryan here, it would be better to spend time away from the city so they could really get to know each other, and she loved this house much more than the penthouse. The city was an amazing part of her life which she loved, but the country was where her heart lay. Riding on her horses, playing with the dogs, taking long walks in the woods behind her house, sitting by the fire with a book and a cup of hot chocolate, she loved it. Walking into the double story entrance of the ranch-style house Electra kept her eyes peeled for Olive while Ryan looked around in wonder at the size of the place.
“So you’re spending the weekend here then?” Electra jumped in shock as she heard the clipped tones of her mother. Olive stood staring at the two of them, her face giving nothing away.
Decked out in her full country attire Olive stared at the two teenagers in front of her. She had never seen Ryan before, but she could sense he was bad news by the way he looked at her, by the arrogance in his face.
“Yep, I didn’t expect to see you or I would have told you.” Electra said lightly. “William!” She shouted with joy as the family dog came running towards her, picking up a brush from a side table she began to groom him as Olive continued to look at them with scorn.
“Well I’m going shooting with the Duke.” Olive informed them grandly as she opened a hidden panel on the wall and pulled out her gun. “I’ll probably be spending the night there, but Marcia is around somewhere.” Marcia was the live-in for the ranch house, and had quite a cushy job living in the huge house as if it was her own, only having to cook and clean for her employers an odd weekend here and there, it was a summer house but the real summer was usually spent in France or Italy at one of Olive’s other properties there.
“Cya.” Electra didn’t look up as Olive left, but she could hear her saying hello to the group that had just rolled up outside the house in their mud coated landrovers, with dogs barking all around as they prepared for a day of pheasant shooting. Grabbing Ryan’s hand Electra took him on a quick tour of the ranch before they settled in a small reading room in front of the fire.
“Your mom seems nice…” Ryan lied, feeling awkward and out of place.
“Shut up, she’s a witch!” Electra laughed, leaning back in the comfortable chair. Now that she was here she wasn’t sure what to do with herself, she had envisioned them having non stop fun, but the conversation had became stilted, the only sounds the crackling of the fire and the light footsteps of the dog, William, as he roamed around in the adjacent kitchen. Finding nothing to do with herself Electra began to sing to herself idly, as she always did. Ryan was taken aback as he listened to her singing PJ Harvey’s ‘The Last Living Rose’.
“You didn’t tell me you could sing!” He said as soon as she was finished. “You’re really good you know.”
“I’m just being dumb.” Electra replied, blushing. She had never thought much to her singing, she had been in the choir in school but was mainly a classic shower singer.
“I’m serious, you could really get somewhere with that voice, you just need to learn to use it better.” Having been singing with his band for two years Ryan considered himself pretty well versed on the music industry, and although his band ‘The Wild Ones’ hadn’t got a recording contract yet there was one company interested. “Can you play anything?” He asked, genuinely interested now, getting excited as ideas began to form in his head.
“I can do a bit on guitar I guess.” She replied shyly, flattered that he thought she was a good singer.
“Jesus, why didn’t you tell me?! This is perfect. Come on!” He grabbed her hand, yanking her off the sofa, running through to the main room of the house which Electra had showed him briefly. He had noticed the guitar and the piano and was determined to get her singing. Sitting down at the grand piano he got used to it for a few minutes while Electra plugged the guitar in, protesting that she was no good the entire time.
“OK, I guess I’m ready. I’m really no good though – this is embarrassing!” Electra protested, getting redder by the second.
“Just try it, ok?” The piano was heaven under his fingers, he had never played something so beautiful, but it was clearly never used.
Her voice was quiet at first as she tried to get into the swing of the music. It was one of The Wild Ones songs that she had heard the first night she had seen them. After seeing a half a dozen shows she knew all the words, and the two of them easily fell into a new rendition of the song. Ryan was in awe, the boys music was loud and raunchy, with the deep, throbbing voices of Ryan and Kris mixed with the booming drums of Rasta. Electra brought a much needed tenderness to the music without being overtly feminine. It was perfect. As she sung the last line of the song she broke out in a huge smile, she had surprised even herself with her ability.
“Bravo!” The two of them spun around in shock as they heard the clapping and cheering, and were greeted by Sebastian. “That was really great. Hi, I’m Sebastian.” He said, extending a hand to Ryan, who he had seen play at a show he went to with Liberty, but never met. Sebastian was quite shocked by Ryan’s bright blonde mohawk and his beard, he thought he looked frightfully old and much too rough for his sister, but he was determined to give him a chance. Ryan was less shocked than Sebastian, but still cast his critical eye over his girlfriends brother in his Adidas gym clothes, his black hair coming down over his forehead a little since he had started to grow it, and his muscular arms and sculpted chest on show through the clinging shirt.
“You really liked it?” Electra asked, her tough exterior vanishing for a second, hoping he wasn’t being sarcastic.
“Of course I did, you two are brilliant together. You had better get to work.” A big grin spread across his face as Ryan and Electra looked at each other, both thinking the same thing.
Olive never did come back from shooting at the Dukes. She left a message on the machine saying she had gone to the Klosters with Marcus for a few weeks of skiing and didn’t contact them again all summer apart from telling Marcia to FedEx her mink coat and white fox stole over, PETA wouldn’t be asking her to pose any time soon. Ryan, Electra, and Sebastian became a team, working together on the music. Sebastian would sit on the floor with the lyrics of the songs Ryan and Electra had been working on and read them out, correcting here and there, trying to make them better as Electra strummed away on the guitar, her confidence growing by the day, and Ryan used his magic fingers on the piano. Even William would join in, laying at their feet, and inspiring the song ‘Golden Mane’ which was all about him, written by Electra.
When Sebastian, who seemed to be more vested in their practice than they were themselves, took Olive’s dark green Aston Martin, which she had never drove in her life as she preferred the limousine, for the hours drive back to Redcliffe to see Liberty once or twice a week the two of them would curl up on the sofa in front of the fire, usually with William at their feet, getting to know each other more and more. Electra opened up about the resentment she felt towards her mother for showing no interest in her and her sadness about not knowing who her father was, a mystery which infuriated her and which Sebastian didn’t understand as he usually spent a few weeks here and there in France with his father, Maxwell, and his formidable grandmother, Alice, who had once almost came to blows with Olive. Ryan told her of his about his own mother, who had once been a stunning (albeit little known) stage actress, who had now fell into depression and alcoholism and his father, an Army veteran who now lived in California with a new wife and seven beautiful blonde haired blue eyed children who took up all of his time, leaving none for Ryan. Their own tragedy brought them closer together emotionally, they had no problems on the physical side; having hijacked Olive’s master bedroom they took full advantage of it, spending every night together.
Every day they would work on their music, occasionally taking a break to go and visit the horses in the stables out the back of the house, or to take William for a walk. Electra’s favourite times were the ones spent down by the pond at the back of the house with Ryan on the hot summer days, she never wanted summer to end in case the bubble of happiness that surrounded them popped. After weeks of practice, when Ryan finally began to think Electra was ready, he gently started persuading her into doing a show. She had already met the bandmates, who had came over for a long weekend of partying earlier in the summer, leaving masses of overflowing ashtrays, empty beer bottles and discarded clothes for Marcia to clean up. They were more than willing to give Electra a go with the band, although Kris was more against it than Rasta, thinking that a girl would mess up the vibe of the band. Ryan would bring the idea up as they walked through the gardens with William, gently persuading her into it, trying to make her suggest it rather than have him ask outright and scare her off.
He felt he was making progress, but summer was coming to a close soon, it would be back to the hustle and bustle of the city, back to school, back to the crummy bars playing for disinterested crowds. He was certain that if Electra was with them they could generate a lot more interest, and, crucially, be a better band. Coming into the great room one afternoon he was enchanted by the sight of Electra, wearing a yellow polo shirt with a white collar, and beige jodhpurs tucked into shiny black boots; just back from a riding lesson at the local equestrian center. Her blonde hair was shining in the light, her face devoid of makeup apart from some glossy pink on her lips, the yellow top clinging to her slender body. He thought she looked fragile, beautiful, and ridiculously preppy.
“Hey beautiful.” He said as he joined her on the sofa, smiling as she slid easily into his arms. “What you up too?” He admired her smooth, creamy skin as she spoke, completely blemish free without the help of makeup, the pink lips, the long blonde hair. Everything about her turned him on.
“Just thinking. Listen, I’ve got an idea, you don’t need to say yes or whatever, just hear me out.” Ryan felt like a lightbulb had gone off in his head as she outlined her idea for a collaboration of her and The Wild Ones, his plan had actually worked! He knew that if he’d pushed her into it she would have backed off, it was a blessing that she’d finally brought it up.
“It sounds amazing, I’m totally up for it.” He said as Electra smiled up at him. She found it funny that he didn’t realise she knew what he had been doing all summer, telling her how great she was, how people would love to see her, etc. It made her like him all the more that he hadn’t pushed her.
“You know what Electra?” Ryan looked into her eyes as he spoke, he had known how he felt for a long time, but the only person he had ever said the same words to were his mother, and that was completely different.
“What?” She replied, flicking hair off her face and looking back into his eyes.
“I love you. I really do – I mean, sorry for just saying it but -” Electra cut him off as he began to ramble, one of his nervous tendencies.
“You do?” She asked, beaming up at him. She felt ridiculously happy.
“Course I do. I love you!” Ryan floundered for a second as Electra didn’t say anything back. He hadn’t presumed she would, he just wanted her to know how he felt. He was stumped, what was he supposed to say next?! You can’t really talk about the weather after dropping the L word. For lack of anything to do he began to kiss her, his favourite activity after music.
They made out for a few minutes, and as their lips parted Electra whispered the words Ryan had wanted to hear; the words she had been wanting to say for weeks.
“I love you too.”
They could hardly contain themselves any longer, the longing between them had amplified by a thousand after those words. Ryan’s shirt was about to come over his head when they heard the crunch of wheels on gravel and drew apart in shock. Looking out of the window Electra saw a sleek black limousine and turned to Ryan in horror.
“It’s my mom!” Electra screamed, fixing her hair with her compact and smoothing down her shirt which he been hitched up beneath her breasts as Ryan had caressed her stomach. “You’re not supposed to be here, shit!”
At that moment Olive entered the house, swanning into the great room looking ludicrously glamorous and very unsuitably dressed for a ranch house in a belted Burberry trench with a mink stole thrown over her shoulders, red soled Louboutin’s tapping on the wooden floor.
“Marcia! My bags are in the car, can you get them for me?!” She shouted before turning and looking over at Electra and Ryan, now drawn apart as if they were sat talking. “And who is this?!” She asked in shock, quickly jumping to the conclusion that Electra was having a liaison with this boy, who she thought looked very rough trade.
“Mom – this is -” Electra never had to finish the sentence for at that moment Sebastian, who had been listening at the top of the stairs, came running into the great room.
“This is my friend.” He waved over at Ryan with what he hoped was a vague gesture. “How are you?! How was skiing? We’ve missed you so much! You must be so tired, you should get a bath and rest.” If he had any desire to Sebastian could have made an excellent actor.
“Oh, thank you darling.” Olive gushed, happy to see her favourite child. “But really, you shouldn’t have guests without telling me.” She said, not really meaning it as she didn’t mind Sebastian having guests, casting a critical eye up and down Ryan, completely forgetting that she had met him at the beginning of summer. He wasn’t important enough to store in her memory.
“This is Winthorpe Faberge IIII, one of my friends from school.” He said, trying not to laugh as he pointed towards Ryan. Olive instantly relaxed, she guessed he must have just been going through a difficult stage, and prayed to god she never had that with Sebastian, putting Ryan out of her mind.
“I’m going to take your advice and have a nice bath, I hope Marcia has my room ready, you have to keep the help on their toes at all times.” Olive said, looking around for her trusty maid.
“Oh mom, I’m so sorry -” Sebastian began as Electra and Ryan widened their eyes and stared at him, hoping he got the hint that they had been using her room and if she went in she would find it covered with overflowing ashtrays, whiskey bottles, old clothes, and music sheets, all coated with a fine layer of Williams golden fur. “- but I’ve been staying in there, I hope you don’t mind. I’ll get Marcia to clean it right away, why don’t you use my bath?” It was lucky that Marcia had just cleaned Sebastian’s room this morning to the point where it looked more like a showroom than a bedroom.
“Okay that’s fine. I might just read for a while.” Electra narrowed her eyes, shooting signals of ‘get her out!’ to Sebastian.
“Mom, I wanna catch up, come on.” He grabbed her hand and guided her away from the great room, looking over his shoulder and finding Electra and Ryan smiling at him in thanks. They would never have gotten away with it without him.
Sebastian guided his mother into the breakfast room, where he sat down with her and they caught up. He thought his mother was a ridiculous social climber who cared more about money than emotions and who prided herself on always being perfect, but he still loved her.
* * *
Three weeks later Electra, Ryan, Kris, Rasta and Sebastian stood in the backroom of a Redcliffe bar. They were about to play their first show and Electra had never been so nervous in her life. Sebastian had been the real mastermind behind it, going out and sparking interest in the band with some glossy publicity shots taken by their uncle Oliver who owned a very successful gallery in Redcliffe. They had received this booking as soon as he’d showed them the picture, with the three boys stood in the background, staring at the camera with unsmiling faces, while Electra stood in front, blonde hair glossier than ever, but taken far away from her preppy look with an all black outfit and some dark makeup. They looked amazing, and they knew it.
Electra, pretending to be checking out her makeup, stood in front of the mirror, her stomach doing somersaults. She didn’t know if this was going to work – if they would gel as well live as they did in their practice sessions, and her look wasn’t exactly calming her nerves either. Sebastian had insisted that she, as front-woman of the band, had to stand out, and had persuaded her to dye part of her hair a shocking orange, and had watched approvingly as she applied far too much black eye shadow and mascara, as well as dark blush to her usually fresh cheeks. Opting to go without a t shirt underneath she had slipped on a tiny black waistcoat and skin tight black jeans, as well as her favourite cowboy boots and the strawberry necklace made up of rubies and emeralds, with a diamond chain, which Olive’s ex-husband Dimitri had given her for her birthday. She thought she looked a mess, but Sebastian had done them well so far, and he had said she could begin to tone it down as they got more attention, they just needed a fan base.
“You ok sis?” He asked, turning away from Kris for a second and looking over at Electra.
“Fine.” She lied, not trusting herself to speak in case she threw up. Sebastian knew she was nervous, why wouldn’t she be?!
“Listen,” he said, his voice dropping so the others didn’t overhear, “you’re gonna be great. You know these songs backwards, you’re amazing. You can do this.” Her face lifted as he spoke, instilling her with confidence.
“Thanks.” She turned to him and smiled before embracing him in a hug, she was glad he was here, she would never have been able to get on the stage without him.
“You better get out there!” He said, hugging her again. “Good luck, I know you’ll be great.”
As The Wild Ones walked onto the stage a cheer traveled through the room. People had seen The Wild Ones before, but now that they had this ravishing front woman with the wild hair and the perfect body they were much more interested. Electra thought she was going to faint, and was only steadied by Ryan slipping his fingers through hers for a second as he passed her on the way to his keyboard; a far cry from Belgrave Ranch’s grand piano, but it would do. The lights dimmed as they got themselves ready, she was about to run off the stage in terror when she found herself forgetting everything as the purple lights popped on, lighting up the band in a blaze of colour, Rasta’s drums, Kris’ guitar, and Ryan’s keyboard kicked in as the music started and she found herself swept along for the ride, hardly thinking about what she was doing, just playing as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
She began singing in time with Kris, whose doubts about Electra had faded away once he saw the huge crowd who were getting into the music like never before, bouncing around the room as they played their heavier songs, keeping in the spirit of the original Wild Ones. Gradually the songs began to meld into the new style, which, while still loud and booming, was given a softer edge by Electra’s exquisite voice, which sounded much better than when Ryan had first noticed she could sing all those months ago.
Apart from occasionally glancing down at the set list which showed the order of the songs they were playing Electra either kept her eyes on the crowd (which she could hardly see for the lights) for the entire performance, or tightly closed as she let the music overcome her, letting her voice soar freely during the slower songs. After what felt like only a few minutes the lights, which had been alternating between purple and red for the entire show, suddenly turned a bright white and she knew they were on the last song. This was her moment, it was ‘Golden Mane’, her song. It started off slow, with just the beat of Rasta’s drums being heard before they were joined by Ryan’s keyboard for a few more notes before Electra began to sing, closing her eyes tight as the words poured out. The audience were mesmerised, swaying slowly to the music before she began playing the electric guitar around her neck and Kris joined in on his guitar, taking the song on a roller coaster of sounds, her magic voice joining it all together in perfect harmony. Kris and Ryan’s low voices offered the perfect backing vocals as the song picked up, sending the audience into ecstasy as they threw themselves around in time to the music.
Running off the stage to screams of approval, coated in sweat, the four of them hugged each other, slapping backs and beaming. Sebastian soon joined them, equally as euphoric. Electra looked back to the stage where she could see the crowd, still cheering and screaming for more. She knew this was her destiny.