Authors: Shona Husk
Out of Rhythm
Out of Rhythm
They might be one of the hottest up-and-coming bands in Australia, but the members of Selling the Sun have a lot to learn about life, love, sex and each other
Coming off a successful Australian tour and prestigious industry award nominations, Gemma Field’s life should be perfect. Instead her parents want her to get a real job, the second album isn’t coming together, and her best friend Kirsten wants nothing to do with her.
Falling for her best friend was never going to make life easy. After an almost-accidental drunken kiss six months ago, they aren’t even speaking. Gemma can’t talk about it with anyone – not her family, not her bandmates, not even the one person she used to share everything with. Instead she lives in a space of indecision and pain, and it’s affecting all aspects of her life, including the band.
Kirsten Vincent misses Gemma like crazy, but does she miss her as a friend or as something more? She’s confused and Gemma is hurt, and the consequences of a bad decision will affect more than their personal lives. Will another kiss, a sober kiss, a kiss with intent, do more damage, or could it be the start of something more?
Three time ARRA finalist Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination, she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back.
With stories ranging from sensual to scorching, she writes contemporary, paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi romance. You can find out more at
Between edits I often write a story just for me, kind of a working holiday. This was one of those stories that I eventually dusted off, cleaned up and submitted. I’d like to thank Kate for seeing the potential in this book.
After an almost endless tour of the eastern states with Selling the Sun, it was nice to be back home and in the west. To be sleeping in her own bed — even if her bedroom was now part junk room, courtesy of her brothers. Gemma Field was pretty sure that the rest of the band felt the same way. Gemma also knew they were still feeling burned about getting pipped for an Australian Recording Industry Association award for breakthrough artist and for song of the year. She gritted her teeth. At least Selling the Sun had earned two ARIA nominations. That was something to be proud of. And if she thought it enough times she might start to believe it.
They were supposed to be celebrating the successes they’d had this year today. One day back and already the Vincents were throwing a barbeque. Unlike her family, Ed’s family supported his dream. She’d desperately wanted to dodge the invitation, but the alternatives of finding an excuse or staying home were worse than facing Kirsten again.
The last time she’d been to a party here she’d kissed the wrong person and ruined her friendship with Kirsten, Ed Vincent’s younger sister. Ed, who had invited her to join the band, despite being three years younger, and a chick. He’d believed in her talent when no one else had, not even her parents. They’d expected her to go to university and become a music teacher or something more productive. They’d already reminded her that she was wasting time and making a spectacle of herself by partying with the guys in the band.
When on the road she’d been able to avoid talking about Kirsten, here that wasn’t going to be so easy and Ed didn’t realise that the falling out hadn’t been about a boy, but because she’d kissed Kirsten. At the time it had felt like the right thing to do…but a few vodkas and a few sambuca shots made almost anything seem like a good idea.
Gemma plastered on a smile, the one she usually wore to anything press related. She could do this. Kirsten may not be there. She could be out…yeah because she’d totally skip celebrating her brother’s success. Just because they’d had an awkward kiss, and then an argument and hadn’t spoken in over six months didn’t mean they couldn’t be civil today. She was getting used to acting the way people expected. No one needed to know the truth.
The lessons her parents had drilled into her about not airing dirty laundry echoed in her mind. She was pretty sure they wouldn’t like her dirty laundry, and she had no intention of telling them for a long time. Gemma had no plans to tell anyone. It was too hard and complicated. Everything was complicated at the moment, even the stuff that had once been fun.
When she knocked on the front door, Mr and Mrs Vincent greeted her with the same warmth as always. During high school she’d probably spent more time here than she had at home. Did they know she and Kirsten hadn’t spoken since the last party? Not a call, not a text, nothing. It hurt. If she could take back the kiss, she would. She wanted her friend back.
The backyard was full of friends and family — well, Vincent family — the barbeque was going, filling the air with the scent of charring meat, and the music was cranking. The radio, not their album. Small blessings. She was a little tired of their music, mostly because it reminded her that they had failed to write more than a single decent song for the second album.
She paused before stepping outside. It was one of the lovely sultry summer evenings that proved that Perth summers could be great when they weren’t trying to break temperature records. She scanned the crowd for familiar faces, people she hadn’t seen in months, closer to a year for some of them. There would be no hiding out there. No going through a set list and playing up for the crowd, knowing it was all for show. Here she was Gemma girl-next-door, not Gemma wanna-be rock star.
Her feet had barely touched the grass before Ed grabbed her. ‘Here she is!’
Ed dragged her over to where Mike and Dan were standing. Because they hadn’t already seen enough of each other. When she could tell which guy had farted from the sound, they had spent far too much time together.
No one else around them seemed to notice the tension or the tiredness. And since no one was talking about it, she wasn’t going to start. She let the friends they’d had since high school hug her and chatter about how exciting it was, how she was famous and how they must be millionaires already.
Ha. One album does not make millions, unless you were a prefabricated boy band.
There was a reason all of them, except Mike, were living at home — when they were at home.
But she smiled and laughed and tried to keep an eye out for Kirsten. Someone pressed a beer into her hand, which she accepted. She had to enjoy tonight, make the most of it. Enjoy the hero’s welcome even if she didn’t feel it. The way Selling the Sun had been going lately nothing was guaranteed. There may not be a second album, as they couldn’t string two measures together without bickering.
Burnout. That’s all it was.
Dan had broken up with his long-term girlfriend, and was being a pain in her ass, while Ed and Mike were too tired to bother picking up after a gig. Living the dream was tearing them apart. Somewhere between Melbourne and Brisbane they’d lost the fun…maybe it was in an airport or a cheap hotel waiting to be claimed. If someone locked them in a recording studio now, there would be no survivors.
A break over Christmas and a nice Western Australian summer filled with beer and days at the beach would fix that. She hoped. She brushed her almost grown-out fringe out of her eyes and couldn’t help but check out the butt of the blonde woman. She really appreciated skinny leg jeans for the view they offered.
Then the woman turned around.
Gemma’s stomach tightened as though she’d just been hit and she glanced away. Kirsten had cut all her hair off. It was now in a chin length china doll bob and the blonde was so pale it was almost white. It suited her. And she was walking over.
. If Gemma bolted now it would be obvious. She’d have to stand her ground and smile and act as if nothing was wrong. Her life was perfect according to everyone else. The smile became less forced as Kirsten drew closer. They’d been friends since primary school. Why had she fucked it up by kissing her?
Because somewhere along the way Kirsten had become more than a friend. She was in love with her best friend and had been for a while. But she could never admit that to anyone. It had been hard enough admitting it to herself. That was why their fight had hurt so much. Losing Kirsten as a friend cut more than it should.
Those lyrics were too personal to share with any of the guys. They’d want to know who it was about. Perhaps she should get together with Dan and they could write a few more breakup songs. She was sure he’d bled a few songs since Lisa had ended it. On the other hand, she didn’t want to spend that much time with him until he’d pulled his head out of his ass and stopped acting like a tool around her.
Maybe she and Kirsten could move past it and put things back the way they were. What was one kiss between friends? There hadn’t been any tongue, from memory. Just a lot of questions and angry words afterwards. She sighed and sipped her beer. Kirsten smiled at her, but it was strained. It was all Gemma needed to see to know that there was still a vast frozen wasteland between them.
‘Hey, blossom.’ Dan put his arms around Kirsten and tried to kiss her cheek.
Kirsten shoved him away. ‘Paws off, I don’t sleep with the band.’
At least it wasn’t just her…the thought didn’t make Gemma feel any better.
‘Not the whole band, only me.’ Dan smiled. The kind that would melt a woman’s resistance and ability to say no.
‘She said no.’ Ed tugged Dan back by his t-shirt.
‘I was having a bit of fun.’ Dan turned sulky. Lisa dumping him right before the ARIAs had cut. He’d cried, and had then made a pass at her. But he’d been drunk and she didn’t hold it against him. They’d always gotten on well, but then he’d always been taken and she hadn’t had to fend off his advances. Ever since Lisa had cut him loose he’d been overly keen to get her interest…and now Kirsten’s. Was he deliberately picking women who were going to say no, and seeking more rejection?
‘Not with my sister.’ Ed pulled his over-protective brother act. Gemma was used to seeing it during high school. She used to wish her brothers were more like him. Hers were loud, rude and cared only about what it would get them.
Ed would be pissed if he knew what had happened between her and Kirsten.
‘It’s fine.’ Kirsten tapped Ed on the arm so he’d release Dan. ‘It’s good to see you all again.’ Her gaze flicked to Gemma.
For the first time, Gemma had no idea what Kirsten was thinking. Her expression was unreadable. Gemma had the distinct feeling that no amount of time apart could fix what had happened. Did she need to apologise again? She’d wanted to tell Kirsten the truth. She’d wanted someone to talk to. While she’d known for years that she was attracted to women, she’d hidden it and tried to be normal and then avoided the issue...until the kiss. The kiss that should never have happened because Kirsten was her friend and Gemma was sure Kirsten was straight.
She’d mucked up the friendship of a lifetime in under ten seconds.
Kirsten was talking, but not to her. She was almost ignoring her while talking to the guys. ‘You were robbed at the ARIAs.’
They had been robbed by some electro-pop band in animal onesies. The three guys cheered and Gemma joined in. They raised their beers. She could fake enjoying the party. No one needed to see the wounds.
‘But seriously, congrats on the nomination. That’s something to celebrate.’ Kirsten hugged her brother, then Mike, but she gave Dan a glare and a handshake.