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Have I got a treat for you all today! Who has read the Saving Angels series by Annie Rose Welch? If you haven’t, you should! It’s one of my most favorite series in the universe. In fact, it needs to go over in my sidebar. I need to work on that today.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, these are the books –
One of my favorite things is when an author sets up a playlist to go with their book. Music is so much to me. It sets the mood, tells your story, helps you pour your heart out. Every time I come across a playlist on Spotify that goes with one of my favorite book I follow it. I have found some of the coolest new-to-me artists that way.
Annie and I were talking about playlists and her books. I told her she needed playlists. (I was truly being selfish, I love these books and I love music, I wanted to hear what Annie would put to the books.) Marigny Street is set in New Orleans, even if you haven’t been there, you know New Orleans is full of music, it is one of the things New Orleans is known for. Great music full of soul.
Red Dirt Road is based around music. The whole book is about music. If there was a series perfect for building a playlist around, the Saving Angels series is it.
Annie is awesome because now I have a playlist from Gabriel to share. He wants us all to know how he is feeling, what he wants, he is telling us his story through song.
Along with the playlist, Annie sent along a short story told from Gabriel’s point of view. *sigh* I love Gabriel. The story is heart wrenching.
There was the slightest sound of tinkling piano keys before fingers started to snap in a steady rhythm. Then the deep thumping started, and with each thump, it felt like the inside of my skull was taking a good lashing. The pumping and bumping was grinding and vibrating things in my mind that should probably stay put. P.M. Dawn was blaring loudly. Under any other circumstance, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. But I was too foggy, like the kind of fog that comes with three or four days of lush-style drinking. Yes, I was drunk still, and I was experiencing one of the worst hangovers of my life. Though I wasn’t sure if this was from the drinking.
My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth and I felt as though someone had hung me out to dry in the dry desert heat, but my body was soaking wet, as though I had gone swimming in a heated pool. The thin white sheets that tangled around my naked body were soaked with slick sweat and pore-fermented booze. My hair was matted with perspiration, and I knew my face was probably red as hell. I was hot. I was confused. I was lonely. And I was suffering from the most shattering heartbreak imaginable and I had no idea why.
I ran my hands along the sheets, searching for something I felt was there, but wasn’t.
I thought long and hard. I waited for it. I waited some more. I was waiting for the news to come alive in my thoughts, reminding me of whatever horrible thing had happened to me. I was repressing something that just wouldn’t come forward. I had the feeling something life-shattering had happened to me, and I drank myself unconscious to forget and now couldn’t remember. God, what happened to me? The heavy pain in my head, in my stomach, in my heart, in every part of my being was talking to me. Telling me I had lost something I had had, but had never had, something I desperately craved.
Does that even sound logical?
No, I suppose it doesn’t. But me and logic had never been on such good terms anyway. I had always craved something that I knew would complete my life. Or add to it. Or release me from the insurmountable pressure I always felt to find my purpose in this life. The one reason, existing somewhere in this vast, perpetual moving universe, that was put on this earth to set me free.
It took all my energy, but I sat up and forced myself to look the sun in the eye. She was bright that morning, glistening inside the gold-dusted hotel room, shining her light through every whiskey and rum bottle littering the floor. I could see her rays glinting off the rain drops still barely hanging on to the windows. I stood and my stomach dropped, forcing me back to the bed. The feeling of loss was like a great weight inside of my heart, and I had no reprieve from it. I put my head in my hands and leaned over my legs, wiping at my face and running my teeth over my bottom lip. I wanted to cry. I wanted to pick up the damn phone and make a phone call. I wanted to write a letter. I wanted directions to where I should be. I wanted to go back to sleep and for once on my life, dream!
But I couldn’t do any of those things. I refused to cry. I had no number. I had no pen. I had no address to send a letter to. And even if I were to sleep for a hundred years, a dream would never come. Oh, I suppose I did dream. Perhaps. But I could never remember them. They say everyone dreams—but who are they? Piss on them—I never dreamed. It was just one of those logical things I wasn’t on great terms with. I tried to believe it wasn’t personal, but it was hard to do when you seem to be the only person on this earth who didn’t have the ability. Even dogs dream. My life was turned inside out, that’s why. My reality always felt like a dream, but not a very good one, and in my head—there was nothing.
Phil Collins was sneaking through the radio. He was singing “Do You Remember?” I looked at the fancy contraption spilling all this music out and wanted to break it into a million pieces. Phil Collins, who the hell did that guy think he was? Do you remember? He was mocking me. I took a glass bottle from the floor and hurled it at the contraption. I missed, hitting the clock on the wall instead. A million tiny diamond pieces went flying in a hundred different directions, along with pieces of time. And the song started playing louder.
“Phil bloody Collins!” I mumbled under my breath. My voice came out hoarse and rough, as if I had been crying or shouting. I hadn’t done either. “Such a wise guy, singing on my radio like he owns the place. I have two words for you Phil bloody Collins, shut up. You could never say you’re sorry enough.”
I was too spent from my phantom heartbreak to get up and turn the music off. Instead I laid back and was forced to listen to every lyric and verse to the song. From the corners of my eyes, cool tears started to roll down my cheeks, into the crevices of my ears, and onto the sheets. I didn’t cry. Couldn’t tell you the last time I had. I didn’t even cry when my brothers were killed. And there I was, crying for something I felt I had lost, that I truly had never had. The feeling had been so long lost that at first it felt like my eyes were quivering, until the tears started to come faster and harder.
Oh, how I wished I could remember.
I closed my eyes tight, put my hands together, bringing them to my mouth, and rocked a little on the bed. I begged and pleaded that somehow, just the slightest bit of this aching pain would be lifted. But no relief was given, not even the slightest bit of a breeze on what felt like the day of burning. I breathed in and out a couple of times, and despite the hurt that resided inside of me, I stood and dressed in crumpled clothes from the hotel room floor. I threw on old blue jeans and a blue shirt and put a beanie on my head to hold back my hair. I looked down at the floor, at all of the bottles, and a diluted version of me was staring back. I never looked in a mirror, did my best at all costs to avoid it. I was paler than usual, my eyes bloodshot and puffy. And no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to extinguish the smell of liquor on my breath.
I cleaned up behind myself, picking up all the bottles and throwing them away. I cleaned the broken glass, using a tray as a pan to scoop up the mess. Then I stood in the warmth of the sun. Even though she was shining, I felt as though I was in perpetual darkness. I was starving, but nothing seemed appealing. I had no idea what I was even craving, and there lay the crux of the matter in its entirety. How do you soothe an ache if you haven’t a clue what the ache needs?
There was a quick knock on the door before it flew open and Carter Max rushed into the room, like a gold digger looking for a million pennies. He was dressed in a custom-made suit, his expensive cologne wafting in the air ten minutes before he even arrived. He was snapping his fingers to the rhythm of time and money, and he quickly ended his call when he saw me waiting by the window.
“Food poisoning. You had an extreme case of food poisoning from eating some rotten mud bugs while you were enjoying their perfect city, made of drowning heat and west-Nile spreading mosquitos, and that’s why you were in the hospital.”
“You heard me. That’s what you say if anyone asks. I doubt they will. They’ve been talking non-stop about how you never got to enjoy their city.” He slapped his hands together. “You ready? We have a radio interview to do and then we are out of the dirty south.”
“No,” I stared at him. “What happened?”
He checked his phone, before he looked at me again. “You don’t remember, do you?”
I shook my head. The inside of my body was quivering, making my hands tremble.
“You drank too much. You had to have your stomach pumped. You almost died. You have a drinking problem, something called alcoholism. But right now, we have a plane to catch. You do this next movie, then we get you some help.”
I turned away from him and pushed the curtain aside, staring down at the street below. I closed my eyes and thought back. Why did I take that first drink? Why did I always take that first drink? Because I heard the voice, the voice that never left me, tangling me up in ghost knots.
I opened my eyes. “What did you just say?”
“Get it together, kid. I said you started off at a place called Nouvelle’s and ended up in a dive bar called The Evangeline Lounge…”
I remembered then, flashes, nothing but flashes of what I assumed to be a dream. I blinked my eyes a couple of times. I had a dream. I held on to the thin fabric of the curtains, sliding down until I fell to my knees. The realization brought me to my knees, the smallest amount of relief washing over me. The last day of filming. I was tired. God, how tired I was. All the pulling I felt, too many roads, too little time to find my way. By the time filming was over, I was exhausted. I went to sleep. I pointed to the long couch in the other room. Right there. I had fallen asleep right there and I had a dream. It was beautiful, because the presence of what I longed to find was there with me. It was beautiful, magical, it brought my heart tremendous peace. I woke up and that’s when the nightmare began. It was over, and with it it took every ounce of my reason. But I knew it was a dream, because nothing in my life compared to the feelings in those short-lived moments of my life.
“Where did you find me?” I asked.
“On the couch. You went out drinking after filming wrapped. It was like suicide, the amount you drank.”
I heard laughter from the street. I jumped to my feet, running from the room. Not a clue as to why I was running, or where I was running to. I stabbed my finger at the button for the elevator, watching it glow as Carter came up behind me. He continued to talk nonsense while I waited in agony. Finally the doors opened and inside a man and a woman were feverishly making out. Not even the door opening halted their fondling. They stopped when the doors closed and they inhaled the air, the interior filling up with the fumes from my breath. As the elevator descended, I held onto the bar, because my head was light and my stomach felt raw and bruised.
I averted my eyes to the floor, keeping my hands wrapped around the bar, resting all my weight on the back of the wall. The elevator made a screeching noise before it jolted to a standstill. Carter started cursing, pulling his cellphone from his pocket. My eyes lingered on the woman’s high heels, then her tight leather pants. She had to be suffocating. When our eyes met, she smiled and asked if she was on punked. Then she started laughing raucously.
“Dean James,” the man stuck his hand out to shake mine. “This is my wife, Ella.” He nodded to her. “We’re big fans.”
I nodded and shook back.
The three of us stared at each other. These people, who I had never met before, looked so damn familiar.
“Have we met before?” I asked.
“Only in the hottest of dreams,” Ella said and laughed again.
I could feel my cheeks flush and I shook my head.
There were a few minutes of steady conversation, Dean James doing most of the talking, while me and this Ella kept staring at each other in a strange way. It wasn’t attraction, it was something else. She picked up on it too. It was the way she looked at me, like she knew me, but different than anyone on the street who ever stopped and asked anything of me.
“Hey, Gabriel, can I ask you something?” Ella said.
“No questions,” Carter said from behind his phone.
I nodded at her again and she cleared her throat.
“I was born with this talent. I can read people’s dreams. I don’t have them too often—my cousin, she’s the one who has a deeper root for that. But me, I can read them. You can learn so much about a person from the kind of dreams they have.” She took a step forward, her eyes intense on mine. “Where have you been, Gabriel? Why are you so lost? Tell me now, what do you dream about?”
I cleared my throat, about to answer, when her phone rang. She jumped a little and reached into her pocket for the phone.
She turned her face away, plugging one ear with her finger, like she was in an auditorium full of noise. She listened for a few moments, nodding, and every so often she would look at me. “Yes, Rose. No, I’m stuck in an elevator with—what? Hello? Hello? Damn reception!” She looked at me again, the look in her eyes changing. Then the phone fell from her fingers, as if her muscles went slack.
The elevator started moving then, and as soon as the doors opened I ran. I could hear Ella screaming for me stop, but I needed to be somewhere—hell, I had no idea where I needed to be. Carter caught me as I was making my escape and led me to a waiting car. He was ranting and raving about us being late and missing our plane, about the importance of being where I needed to be, which was where the money was at. I stared out of the window, watching the world disappear around me. We pulled up next to a streetcar—one of those beautiful iron time machines, that I had read so much about in the brochures at the hotel.
And right then, I got the strangest feeling. It was one of those déjà vu things everyone talks about. Before it could take off, away from me, I jumped out of the car. Carter jumped after me and I knew this had to be the end.
He started yelling at me, his face turning red, his feet stomping on the concrete like a petulant child.
I watched him for a moment until he started wheezing from lack of breath and had to shut his mouth.
“I quit,” I told him.
“You heard me. I quit. I quit the rush, the noise, the bullshit. I quit Hollywood and I quit you.”
“You can’t quit Hollywood!” He threw his phone to the ground and it shattered into pieces.
“Watch me. After this last movie, I’m done. I’ll find my own way to the interview and then to the airport.”
“I’m not leaving until you do!”
I shot him the bird.
I never looked back as I walked away from a life I had never really wanted. I collected Mirror from the hotel, the only thing worth any value to me. I found a streetcar and sat there, feeling its slow rocking, back and forth, sweating from the heat, purifying myself, as I listened to the music of a man sitting a few rows back. He was scruffy-looking with a long beard and a top hat, with a feather sticking through the brim. When he stopped singing, he packed his things, patting me on the shoulder. He handed me a pen and a piece of paper.
“Magical isn’t it? This city, this way of traveling? You can really feel it. You know, the groove, the movement, the time and energy, rhyme and reason. It’s all here just begging for someone to catch it while it floats somewhere in the mysterious realm of time. Like a beautiful dream—a dream you can really dig yourself into, where the characters are exquisite, and you can really feel and touch everything, just like the scene is right there dancing in the palm of your hand. Just like sugar plums in your head and all that whimsical mojo. Yeah, padnah, I know you know what I’m rambling on about.” He laughed and it was like sandpaper, grating against an uneven surface. “I wrote the song of my life. I caught it, brother. Maybe you can catch it too and write the song of yours. We’re nothing but troubadours. That’s all, really. You dig that?” He fist pumped me and was gone.
After the radio interview, I rode that streetcar for hours until finally I exited, finding shelter underneath an old oak tree. I sat underneath its branches, on its ancient roots, both spread out for what looked like miles against the sky, miles buried underneath sea level below me.
I wrote this letter.
To Whom It May Concern,
To my Reason,
Last night was the first time in my entire life that I dreamt. It was because of you, I feel it. I don’t know you, even though I do, and you are the cause of such a rare phenomenon in my life. I suppose you are the rare phenomenon in my life. You are the moment in a soul’s life that stops time from moving forward.
In my dream you were nowhere to be found. I searched for you, but you weren’t there, yet your presence surrounded me. I could feel your warmth. I could see myself standing in front of a large screen, watching my life go by in flashes. And with each flash a different part of my life disappeared. With every flash I was searching and writing and singing. And it was all for you, to find you. You linked my life together. Your arms are the fence, your heart the home I wish I could find.
Tomorrow, as I rise with the warm sun, I will think of you. When I feel the heat on my skin, I will already be searching for you. I will open my eyes and I will struggle with the reality, were you truly real? Was it true that you were here with me? Or was I there with you? Somewhere deep down, some place only reasons like you can understand, I know I held you in my arms, kissed your lips; I knew from the moment I felt you, you were the rest of my life. Were those things true?
After years of searching and finally feeling the person who is the core of all your reasons, how do you just leave that behind? How do you hang on for dear life to something so close to perfection that your heart is warning you it was just a temporary road in your life? How can you walk away from the other half of your heart? I wish someone would tell me, because I am lost—so lost without you, Reason. You’re all that I know, but don’t, and need to.
I wish you would lead me. Or someone would guide my shoulders and my feet, direct me to you, even if I am blindfolded and have to go through many trials and tribulations to arrive to the place I’ve always longed for—your home, the place where I know I will find everything. What is everything, you ask? Love. Love is everything, Reason. You are everything.
Please, show me the way. Give me just one road and I will take it.
Tomorrow, as I lie awake under the blue moon, with every aching pain my heart, I will want you. Waking up was one of the hardest tests of my life. Without you, with only the feeling of you, my heart is not whole, my mind cannot stop searching, my hands cannot stop playing, my mouth cannot stop singing, my feet cannot stop walking, and sleep will not come. You bring me peace, Reason. I will write you each and every day, although I have no home to send the letters to.
This life is not big enough to keep me from you. I cannot live a lifetime without you. I refuse to.
I love you, whoever you may be, for your name matters none, for you are just to me, all of my reasons.
After my name had been signed and I felt as though there was no music left in me, I folded the paper and stashed it in my pocket. I stood and stretched. Even though the heartache of a million lost loves lingered in me, I felt freedom, more freedom than I had felt in years. I made no plans, but I planned on going home to Ireland. I planned on getting my bearings, reconnecting with a place that never left me. I was going back to my native Ireland to speak my language, play in pubs, and drink some beer in faraway places that no one had ever heard of. I had to get lost to find myself again. Then, after all was said and done, I would return to New Orleans. I would come back, because she was calling to me. She was my home too, and I had no idea why. Why do we connect with certain places? It wasn’t my mystery to figure out—it was just one of those things you have to believe in, even when they are the most unbelievable—like me having a dream while I was dying.
I took a long, deep, pardoning breath. Yes, I’d be back. What I was leaving behind here, what felt like my heart and soul, was beckoning me back—New Orleans, she just wouldn’t let me go.
two of my most prized possessions
Annie sent along a bonus playlist too. I told her we need a Spotify Playlist New Orleans style. This one is for the book Marigny Street.
Make sure you follow Annie on FB and Twitter! Book #3 is coming soon! I cannot wait. This is one of those series that is full of just hauntingly beautiful books. If you haven’t read them, put them on your TBR. You won’t regret it!
Not Everyone’s Mama