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Fame can be a two-faced bitch. More often so lately than back in my twenties.

Running my palm over my scruffy cheek, I drink in the crowd packing The Black Lagoon. I don't hate blades or shaving per se, but I hate the fact that I have to do it religiously day after day when I'm on tour.

Ditching the ritual for a few weeks feels good. Makes me feel...more human.

"Back to the studio in January?" Tony, one of the bouncers working for Marvin, grins at me from his spot across the table. He shoves a handful of onion rings in his mouth.

Marvin, the owner of the joint, went all out when I told him I was going to stop by to see my nephew, Jake's, band. He called in extra security and loaded our table with every item on his menu. Not that it's that big of a menu. The Black Lagoon is no Spago. Either way, I don't have much of an appetite. I'm still on European time.

"You know what they say. No rest for the wicked." I nod, watching Jake talk to his bandmates. Reminds me of my own first show here. Back when I still somewhat worshipped my famous jerk of an uncle, Elijah, when his opinion about my music still mattered to me, when my best friend Chance was still clean and sober. When we were merely local guys full of dreams, ready to kick ass, ready to rock 'n' roll. We had no clue our first EP would blow up the Billboard charts a few years later. We just wanted to play music. Dirty, loud, and unapologetic music.

"You need a break, man," Tony says, shaking his head.

Tonight, he's undercover, sporting a blue Dodgers jersey and a pair of sneakers.

TMZ rarely stalks me all the way to Tahoe, but since a leaked copy of my divorce is the hottest Twitter trend at the moment, having extra security by my side can never hurt.

At the start of my career when I changed my last name, my publicist hired a few computer wizzes to clean up my presence on the net. The things money can buy. Elijah isn't listed as my uncle anywhere. Not on my Wikipedia page, not in any of the fan clubs or socials. Press is not allowed to ask about my relation to the infamous Hale. Fuck that asshole and fuck The Gates of Hale legacy. I made it okay on my own.

"It's time to write another album, brother," I say, watching the crowd.

It's not that I disagree with Tony—after over a decade of nonstop touring I could definitely use some rest. The short breaks we took in between were always deliberate, always coinciding with our longings to be back in the studio. It's become as routine as brushing our teeth. The question is whether we need another album right now. We've got six of them. All platinum.

I shake off the unsettling feeling and take a sip of my beer that I've been nursing for almost ten minutes. Alcohol doesn't have the same hold on me that it does on my soon-to-be ex-wife. Nikki has been to rehab more times than she's done the red carpet. I consumed my fair share of booze and drugs in my twenties, but a sense of self-preservation kicked in after my first and only overdose. A wake-up call like never before. After that, the desire to keep getting fucked up dulled down on its own. I can still have a drink or two and be able to stop if needed, which makes me think that maybe I was never into that shit in the first place. Everyone in the band was doing it because it was cool, because that's what a bunch of dudes with tons of cash coming in do when they're on tour.

Play a show. Get fucked up. Bone some chicks. Pass out. Wake up. Repeat. Week after week. Year after year.

Until someone slips.

Chance was the one who slipped.

Tony's voice pulls me back out of my reverie. "You've been on the road for two years now."

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