Authors: D. H. Cameron
I felt sick, but Vicky wasn’t done yet, “You’ve managed to drive up the price of the stock buying it up at a premium but after I dump mine and reveal the status of Roland to the world, I’ll have a boatload of money and you and your pathetic group of investors will be left with stock in a ruined company that’s barely worth the paper it’s printed on. Thank you all for making Emma and I even wealthier than we already were,” Vicky said and walked out with her lover and Phil right behind them.
James collapsed into the nearest chair and slumped over. This was all a ruse. We now owned a nearly bankrupt company. Vicky had James and Battery by the balls. We’d been had by the evil bitch and soon we found out just how badly. Vicky dumped her stock as promised that very afternoon and once she was divested and had pocketed the money, she quietly let it be known that Roland was nearly bankrupt. The rumors took the stocks to historic lows. We couldn’t even sell what we had purchased and get the money back. Rence and Blade had significant portions of their self-worth invested and now they had nothing. This had become a complete and unmitigated disaster.
At home that evening, James was acting strangely. He was pensive and paced around his office as I sat and watched. I felt horrible for him. We’d spent the afternoon revealing the bad news to our fellow investors. Vicky had indeed sold her stock and at a record high but then her announcement of our hostile takeover and the financial instability of the company sent it plummeting. James and I expected some in our group to try to sell their stock to avoid some of the losses, but they all stuck with us.
“This isn’t your fault, James. No one could have known. We were double crossed,” I said to James trying to make him feel better. He only paused for a moment to regard me and then looked back at the floor and continued to pace. It was killing me to see him like this. “You’re going to be OK, aren’t you?” I asked. I didn’t want to express my fears to James, but he seemed to sense what worried me.
“I’m not going to start drinking, if that’s what you mean,” James told me without so much as looking at me.
“Sorry, I just…,” I began to say but I knew nothing I could say right then could help.
“I need to pack for the trip,” James said and went to leave the office. I got up and stood in the doorway.
“Don’t shut me out, James,” I told him. James looked at me and he had a strange look on his face. Worry creased his brow but there was a spark in his eye. I assumed it was determination to make things right, maybe a need to extract revenge. That’s how I felt, I just had no idea how to do it.
“I’m not shutting you out. I just need to think. I wish I didn’t have these damn shows coming up,” James told me.
“We’ll figure this out. Come on, let’s go get packed,” I replied. James gathered me up and we headed upstairs.
“I’m sorry, I’ve been brooding. You need to know that having you here makes it easier. I love you, little girl,” James told me.
“I love you too, James,” I said. James stopped and turned to face me. He hugged me tight and then kissed me. His beard tickled my neck and I giggled. We allowed ourselves to enjoy the moment before we went upstairs to get ready to go on tour.
The next evening, I shared a luxury box with Josie and Anna. I had stopped watching the shows from the floor. I was becoming better known and with all the drama swirling around, I just didn’t feel comfortable. Even from our lofty suite, I could feel the energy coming from the stage but it was different somehow. James and Battery played just as hard and with just as much emotion as ever, but tonight it felt angrier. Maybe it was just me.
The show, however, did take the edge off. Spending the show in a luxury suite with Anna and Josie was quite different than being amongst the crowd but it was still fun. We had food, drinks and comfortable seats. Even though the music was still loud, I could hear myself think and I could talk with my two companions.
“So, how’s married life?” I asked Josie. How I wished I could have run off with James and gotten married, now more than ever. Now Josie, along with Anna, was married to a band member. I wasn’t but it seemed I was somehow more inextricably connected with the band. Josie and Anna were wives. I was James’ girlfriend but more importantly, I was deeply involved in Battery’s business as their agent.
“I finally got all of my shit out of our old apartment. I love it. It’s been a blast. I still can’t believe it,” Josie replied.
“You and Tommy were made for each other,” I said.
“I agree. You’re both nuts,” Anna added and grabbed Josie and hugged her close. It was true. Josie had always been impetuous and a little crazy. Tommy was the same way. Anna and Chad seemed to both be more subdued. They seemed perfect for each other also. I guess James and I were a lot alike too. We both seemed to thrive amongst the maelstrom around us. Funny considering how different I thought we were when we met.
“It’s pretty awesome. I love Tommy harder every day,” Josie said. I was worried they might burn out too quickly considering how suddenly Josie and Tommy had fallen for each other but as time passed, I thought that less and less.
“How are you and James doing?” Anna asked. I wished she was talking about our relationship but I knew she meant the business with Vicky.
“We're still trying to figure out what to do. I’m just at a loss as how to fix all this. I feel so bad,” I told Anna. She smiled warmly.
“I bet James will figure it out. He seems to have the touch,” Anna told me. I hoped she was right.
“Tommy says he thinks James planned all this,” Josie said. I wasn’t sure what she meant.
“He thinks we wanted this?” I asked trying hard to keep my temper in check. I know she didn’t mean it that way but I was raw and edgy.
“No, he just thinks James knows exactly what he’s doing. Tommy thinks this is part of some grand plan,” Josie explained. I wish I could have believed that. That did sound like James but not this time.
“I doubt it. I’d know,” I told her but I couldn’t help but wonder. James did have a penchant for keeping things to himself. He seemed to enjoy surprising everyone. However, I didn’t think that was the case this time. This was too serious.
“Either way, I hope this all works itself out for you guys. You deserve a break,” Josie said. Anna nodded.
“That’s for sure. You and James have been through the ringer. I hope things work out too,” Anna told me. I smiled, feeling like I might cry if I let myself.
“Thanks,” was all I could say without losing it. I hugged them both and just then, James and the band began to sing “Destroyed.” I went to the window of the suite and listened. James sang the lyrics with the same feeling he always did, though there was an edge tonight. He looked up and found me watching. He stood on the stage illuminated by spotlights and looked like a God. Vicky could never take that away from him and seeing him like that made me feel as if things would really work out.
Two nights later after our last show but before heading home to finish the tour in L.A., James and I laid in the dark of our hotel suite. I hadn’t felt like doing much more than just lying in bed with James and letting him hold me. James hadn’t seemed interested in much more either. I was glad the tour was all but over. Now we could focus on fixing this. Now James and I could take the time to figure out how to proceed but I still had no idea how we might accomplish that.
“James, I’m so scared. What are we going to do?” I asked him. With the shows completed, I finally felt I could bring it up.
“We’re going to set things right,” James told me. I was glad for his confidence but that didn’t really answer the question.
“Do you have any ideas? I sure as heck, don’t,” I told him. Just as James began to reply, his phone lit up and buzzed on the table next to the bed. James picked it up and looked at the screen.
“I need to get this,” he said and sat up on the edge of the bed. Only his phone illuminated the room. “Yeah? So it’s done? Fantastic. Set up the press conference, Pete. Thanks.” James said in reply to the unheard person on the other end of the line, Peter apparently. James hung up and turned to look at me after turning on the bedside light.
“Was that Peter?” I asked curiously.
“Yep,” was all James said.
“What did he want?” I asked wondering why James was being so evasive. I should have known.
“Just a little business stuff,” he replied. I sat up and stared at James. He was wearing the damned grin. He knew something I didn’t.
“Dammit, James! What are you up to and don’t you dare give me any of that dramatic flair crap,” I said heatedly. James just laughed.
“I love it when you get fired up, little girl. OK, it’s time. Before I tell you, you need to understand. I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell anyone. Things were moving too fast and I needed everyone to play along so this would work. Peter didn’t even know until I called him yesterday,” James said. I wasn’t sure what to think. I was kind of pissed he had been keeping something from me but if James had good news, I might forgive him. Maybe.
“Out with it, Mr. Turner,” I demanded. James threw up his hands.
“All right. Phil has what I need to finish this once and for all and Roland is ours. All ours,” James told me cryptically. I tried to wrap my head around that but it wasn’t working.
“What do you mean? Phil? Isn’t he the enemy?” I asked.
“Nope, never was. He was working for Vicky all right, seemingly double-crossing us, but on my orders. She was only too eager to use him to try to hurt us. Too eager to think it through. Now, we’ve got Vicky by the balls,” James told me. I was suddenly too anxious to be angry.
“Oh my God! What does he have?” I asked.
“Everything. What I need to get Sylvia’s charges dropped. What I need to get out of my contract with the record label. And most importantly, exactly what I need to get Roland Talent back on its feet,” James told me.
“How?” I asked absolutely stupefied.
“I don’t know and I don’t want to know. Phil assured me everything would be nice and legal but that I was better off not knowing,” James told me.
“You knew about this the whole time and you didn’t tell me?” I asked torn between elation and anger.
“Look, I’m sorry. I needed to keep this quiet. I trust you, I swear. I wanted to tell you but I things were changing so fast. I didn’t know what was happening half the time myself,” James explained.
“You couldn’t have told me yesterday or the day before?” I asked.
“I wanted to know for sure. I didn’t want you to get your hopes up. I promise you, thinking everything had failed like you did was preferable to the roller coaster I’ve been on. Please don’t be mad at me,” James said and begged me for forgiveness with his eyes. He even stuck his bottom lip out. I tried to be mad but I couldn’t. I laughed and rolled my eyes.
“So the security guards and the letter were all phony?” I wondered.
“I knew something was up but no details. I suppose it was for show or maybe Phil thought it was a precaution. All I know is he had Vicky convinced he was ready to double cross us for a price and it’s better we don’t know the details. Plausible deniability and all that,” James explained. I was glad all this might be over but I wished James would have told me.
“You owe me, Mr. Turner. I’ve been worrying my head off. Is this really finished?” I asked.
“I think so, little girl. The Fraulein, on the other hand, is probably about to have her own set of problems crop up,” James said. I glared at him for a moment and then hugged him. James hugged me back and all my anger melted away. I could tell he was as relieved as I was. This may have been dramatic, but I think James was as worried as anybody was. I held him for a moment and then I let James go and lay down on the bed. I spread my legs and pointed.
“You owe me, James,” I told him. James laughed and climbed between my legs.
“I do love it when you…,” James began to say but I interrupted him.
“When I get fired up? I know. Now shut up and eat my pussy, Mr. Turner. It’s the least you can do for not telling me. Don’t forget to use the beard,” I said. James smiled up at me and for the first time in weeks, maybe months, he looked like the man that walked into that boardroom and swept me off my feet. He was the bad boy rock star I both hated and wanted desperately again.
“Twist my arm, little girl,” James said. He dove in and took me places I hadn’t been in weeks. I needed the release and James provided it. I just hoped this time we had Vicky for real and she wasn’t about to prove she was one-step ahead of us yet again. Maybe for once, James had gotten the best of her. We were due for a break and maybe this was it.
James and I revealed what we knew to the band on the plane as we flew back to Los Angeles the next morning. They were all glad to hear it but nothing was certain yet. We apparently had information that might fix everything, but anything could happen still. Tommy wasted no time telling us he knew James had this under control all along but as James and I discussed it further, I came to understand this was as much luck as anything else.
James revealed to me that Phil was always on our side but the rest of it was as big a surprise to James as anyone. He and Phil were reacting to the events as they happened. Vicky had a slew of surprises that threw them both for a loop and it had become so much more complicated than anticipated. However, Phil had managed to convince Vicky that he could be had for a price and that she had the upper hand. She did, but only if Phil was really working for her. He wasn’t.
What really turned the balance in our favor, however, was The Fraulein’s arrogance. She thought she had gotten the best of us and she became reckless. She spoke proudly of what she had done and Phil was there to hear it all. She detailed how she had tampered with the talent agent’s board, how she had hired Sylvia, first in an attempt to break James and I up and then to accuse James of having an affair but getting the picture that let her accuse him of assault instead. She spoke of how she had set up the photos of the other woman and me and provided them to the tabloids. In short, she had proudly spilled her guts and Phil was there for all of it.