The Standalones

Chapter One

Ken Preston

29 May 2024

Silhouette of a rock band against a spotlight and the words The Standalones

Chloe Martino-Yamaguchi dropped her bulging holdall on the station floor and wiped her arm across her forehead. Why did it have to be this hot on the day she was meeting her new band mates for the first time? She’d wanted to make a great first impression, and instead she was going to turn up all hot and sweaty and looking like something the cat dragged in.

Rail commuters bustled past Chloe, paying her no attention. That would change one day soon. Chloe had known from the age of ten when she had seen Suzy Quatro on Top of the Pops that she was going to be a pop star, and she was going to be huge. A couple of years from now and she wouldn’t be able to stand anonymously at Euston Station; she would be mobbed by a crowd of adoring fans.

She could see it now, a sea of bodies being held back by Chloe’s bodyguards, hands outstretched to catch a fleeting touch of their idol. Chloe would smile and wave at them, maybe even choose one or two lucky fans to be allowed to chat with her for a moment. They would have brought copies of her latest single with them, obviously, and she would sign them with a flourish.

Finally, her bodyguards would whisk her off to the car waiting outside the station. She would have a concert to play that night and she had to have time to prepare and rehearse. But none of this having to carry her own gear around any longer; no, that would all have been delivered to the auditorium already, along with her personal belongings to the hotel.

She would spend the rest of the afternoon preparing for her concert, checking with her entourage that everything was ready and exactly as it should be. Then, that evening, she would step out onto the massive stage, the spotlights on her, and be greeted by the cheers and welcoming roar of a capacity audience.

Chloe could see it all now in her mind’s eye, she could feel the love for her emanating from her fans as she launched into her first song—

A body stumbled against Chloe, knocking her shoulder and yanking her from her daydream.

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