Copyright© 2016 by Jay Cantrell
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 33 - Travis Blakely had a comfortable existence. He had a decent job and good friends. He was comfortable with what the future held for him. Then he ran into a girl he remembered from high school. His life got a lot more interesting - and infinitely more complicated
My schedule for Tuesday had been complicated by the seemingly endless play of the video from the airport the day before.
I had planned to just wander around on my own but Ryan told me that might not be the best idea. I was now recognizable by a lot of people. So far, we had kept Liz’s location secret and he didn’t want me leading anyone back to the hideaway.
It made sense to me. Liz had a lot of appearances scheduled during the day. She was supposed to visit two radio stations and do a short visit to a hospital pediatric ward – all before two o’clock. I was going to skip the radio stations since she told me the Nashville crew had sent someone to watch over her and I didn’t want to risk being the focus of any questions. Unlike San Diego, the L.A. concert wasn’t benefitting any charitable organization.
After a discussion that lasted far longer than it needed to, I was permitted to wait at the hotel until the backup security team arrived at 11. I would meet everyone at the hospital to join Liz as she made her way through the ward.
Instead of going out to shop, shopping was coming to me. A single call to the front desk and a concierge arranged for a tailor to come to the suite to do a fitting. I thought it was overkill but everyone else assured me it was the best way to handle things so I acquiesced.
I caught Stephanie before everyone departed.
“Watch for a sandbag at the station,” I warned. “It’s going out live and that’s a prime time to drop a bombshell.”
“I’ll warn her,” the manager promised.
Jill stopped in front of me on her way out.
“That’s why you can’t walk away from one without walking away from the other,” she said. “Think that over.”
She was gone before I could formulate a reply.
Bored, I sat down and flipped on the TV. The channel was set to an entertainment station and I saw Liz and me from the day before. I didn’t turn the volume up because I’d been there and didn’t need to know what I’d said.
I watched Liz as we left the VIP lounge at the airport. The camera operator had been stationed to our right so he was able to get both of us in the frame. Liz walked with poise and confidence as she smiled to the assembled group. I took a quick glance at my face and was thankful I didn’t find dumbfounded ineptitude there. Liz must have said something because I glanced in her direction and laughed. It seemed like a natural reaction between two people that were close.
The tape was edited so Ryan’s interruption was left out. The camera followed us through the terminal and then to the SUV. Liz turned and I went with her. Again, it didn’t seem forced or awkward. It looked as though we’d been a couple for years. I played off her pretty well. That was a relief because it had felt both awkward and forced when it happened. Suddenly my face went stern and I barked a command to the media. I looked like a harsh schoolmaster lecturing a tardy student and I shook my head in embarrassment.
The segment ended and returned to two laughing correspondents. I wondered if they were laughing with me or laughing at me but decided I didn’t really want to know.
I shut off the TV and picked up my phone. It was barely past 10 o’clock. I figured Rick would be home so I dialed his number.
“Don’t say it,” I said when he started to answer.
“Man, that was fucking sweet,” he said. “Did you hear what Matt did to Sarah?”
“She told me,” I replied, laughing at how pissed off she probably was by this point.
“We’re calling her every 10 minutes or so,” Rick said. “I’m glad you called. It was my turn and Susan said Sarah is threatening dire consequences on the next person to dial her phone. Are you at the station now?”
“I’m backing away from that today,” I confided. “RFN sent their own guy down and it would be awkward if we had a disagreement.”
“And I’m sure you would have had a disagreement,” Rick said. “What are you into?”
“Well, thanks to my fucking big mouth, I’m stuck at the hotel for another hour,” I said. “Ryan is worried that I might get spotted on the street and lead a photog back here.”
“It’s a valid concern,” Rick said. “What’s the general reaction been to your newfound fame?”
“From me or from everyone else?” I asked.
“Both,” Rick replied with a laugh.
“Everyone else thinks it is better than sliced bread,” I said. “Liz’s fans seem really behind her so they’re good with it. I’m a little pissed off at myself.”
“You know, from a professional standpoint, it was good,” Rick said. “I debated with myself whether having you assume such quick prominence was good or bad. I think it’s good and the public clearly thinks so. A couple of the tabloids took shots at you but you had to know they would. Or, at least you should have known.”
“I knew,” I told him.
“The backlash was pretty quick,” Rick continued. “The Angels had to make a statement clearing up what happened because Liz’s fans overloaded their phone lines this morning. The Tattler revised its story overnight. You went from being a failed pro player to a guy that had a promising career ended by injury. They didn’t change it because they got the facts wrong. You know as well as I do that facts are secondary to a good story. They changed it because people were fucking pissed that they were dumping on Liz Larimer’s new guy.”
I found myself again amazed at the power of public opinion.
“Any luck on getting her to pinpoint what might be coming?” Rick asked.
“Not much,” I said. “Ryan has almost every minute of her life accounted for. There are a couple of gaps when she wasn’t supposed to be out and about but might have been. RFN had someone with her pretty much every minute from 17 to 24 or 25.”
“I agree with Sarah,” Rick told me. “If all the label has is sex and drugs from a decade in the past, this story has no legs. Her fans are ... far better organized than I’ve seen before. I wasn’t prepared for how quickly they mobilized on ... you. RFN is going to have to go big or go home. If they bring that weak-assed shit, her fans will destroy them.”
“I guess I see that now,” I said. “Maybe I was wrong.”
“Being right makes a hell of a lot more sense,” Rick said. “They have gone out of their way to antagonize their biggest draw right before contract negotiations. Who the fuck does that? Certainly not a corporation as big as RFN.”
“I got a little clearer look at the actual corporate picture last night,” I said. “I think we’ve been a bit misled by their terminology. We hear RFN and think of a corporate entity. Right?”
“Uh, yeah,” Rick said, sounding as if he was beginning to question my mental acuity.
“They are using the terms ‘RFN’ and ‘label’ to refer to a handful of people they deal with,” I continued. “Do you think you can do a little corporate back-checking for us? We need to get a clearer idea of who actually makes decisions that affect Liz. It sounded to me like there is a mid-level manager handling most of it. He has a staff that answers to him but I’m a little unsure of how much his superiors actually know about what he’s doing.”
“Like Jennifer Clement,” Rick said. “So long as the budget stays in the black and we don’t wind up with no one to see the patients, St. Joseph’s board doesn’t really pay much attention to her.”
“Exactly,” I said.
“But the dude she deals must know he’s cutting his own throat!” Rick said.
“I think his throat was already cut,” I countered. “Liz confirmed it in a phone call to him yesterday. She flat-out said that she was going to make RFN fire him before she would even sit down to talk about a new contract. He might just be doing this to piss her off and push her into a mistake.”
“If there is nothing out there then I guess that makes as much sense as anything else,” Rick said. “Are you sure nothing is going to land on her?”
“No,” I said. “There is one time that Ryan said she disappeared in Italy for a couple of days. Someone had tuned her up when they finally found her.”
“Like ... hurt her?” Rick asked.
“Exactly like that,” I said with a sad shake of my head that he couldn’t see.
“Dude, that’s fucked,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Was she... ?” he asked, leaving the obvious question unasked.
“No,” I said. “She had a black eye and some banged up ribs. I don’t have the full rundown of her injuries. I just know that the doctor performed a rape kit and it came back negative. But she said or did something that got her ass whipped. Given what we know of that time period and the people she was running with, it could be almost anything. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had tried to rob a liquor store back then.”
“That caught me by surprise,” Rick agreed. “The rumors were there but...”
“Pictures or it didn’t happen,” I finished.
“Yeah,” my friend said after exhaling noisily. “And if any pictures exist, they would have come up by now!”
“Unless RFN has them,” I said.
“Fuck,” Rick said. “You need to find out what happened and quick.”
“I’m walking a pretty fine line here,” I said. “I’m trying to hide in plain sight from her label. I’m trying to do public relations for her while I’m sleeping beside her. You’ve seen how upset she gets at even the mention of that time period. It’s not going to be easy. She’s pretty stressed right now and she’s got a short fuse.”
“And you’re pretty caught up with her,” Rick added.
“Yeah, I guess I am,” I admitted.
“I was nice to see you ... I don’t know ... so happy,” Rick said. “You and she are really good together.”
“Sometimes,” I said. “I don’t know what she’s used to. I mean, she says she wants people around her that aren’t afraid to call her out. I’m not sure she wants that in her boyfriends. It’s fine when we’re alone but she seems to only want my input when she asks for it. Then I have to put on a different hat 20 seconds later and offer her advice as a part of her team. I’m a little worried I’m going to miss the cues about which role I’m playing at the time and it’s going to get me dumped and fired.”
“That sucks,” Rick said. “I didn’t really get that from the weekend.”
“That was Liz just ... forgetting about the rest of her life,” I said. “It’s different on the ground. You know ... I’ve never liked being told I have to do something.”
“Up until you threatened to kick Thompson’s ass, my favorite work memory was when you told Jennifer that you had to die, crap and pay taxes but you damned sure didn’t have to play nice with people you hated,” he said. “I actually had coffee come through my nose. What are you going to do about now?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’d like to take a step back and let you guys do the heavy lifting until we get off the road.”
“I bet you would!” Rick said.
“I’m not actually under contract yet,” I pointed out. “You three are collecting a paycheck from her. I’m not.”
“You’re not?” Rick asked. “I thought...”
“I told her I had my own attorney that I wanted to look it over first,” I said.
“Do you?” Rick wondered.
“Yeah,” I said. “My agent still handles the medical thing with the Angels for free. I talked to him Monday morning and asked him if he’d look this over. I was hoping to have some time today to run it over to him but that’s shot in the ass. He texted me this morning to give me crap. Well, he didn’t. One of his staff sent it. I haven’t actually spoken to him in ... maybe ever. No, he showed up once we signed the deal and then shuffled me off to a guy that works for him. I doubt the agent even knows he represents me. It ain’t like he gets any money from me.”
Rick laughed again and I heard the elevator ping in the hallway.
“I need to go, Man,” I said. “My babysitters are here.”
“OK,” Rick said. “Talk to you later.”
“If I don’t catch you tonight, I’ll see you in the morning,” I said. “You’re still coming to the beach with us, right?”
“I’ll be there,” Rick said. “Sarah and Susan are coming, too. It’ll be fun.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’ll have my watchers with me, too.”
“We’ll deal with it,” Rick said. “See ya!”
I turned in my chair when the suite door opened without a knock. I was a little put off by the lack of privacy. I mean, I could have downloaded some porn on Pay-Per-View and been rubbing one out at the time. I was about to give the security people a ration of shit when a young Latina came into the room pushing a vacuum cleaner.
She looked as startled to see me as I was to see her. She let out a long stream of Spanish and pulled her earbuds out.
“They say no here,” she said in broken English. I had taken four years of Spanish in high school and two more semesters in college. The majority of my teammates in the minors had come from Latin America. San Diego had a very large Spanish-speaking population. I answered her in her native tongue.
“There was a change of plans,” I said. “Will I be in your way?”
She smiled and relaxed slightly.
“No,” she answered in Spanish. The inflection told me that she was a native of western Mexico (which didn’t surprise me).
My accent was more Atlantic Islander but we understood each other as well as someone from Southern California understands someone from New England.
“Just tell me to get lost if I get under your feet,” I said. The woman smiled broadly. She was slender but well proportioned. I put her age at between 18 and 24. She looked at me for a long moment and then nodded.
“Behave yourself!” she said in English.