Copyright© 2016 by Jay Cantrell
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 40 - 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
I found Liz in the parlor (or what I call the living room). I could immediately see that she was irked that I had denigrated the people that allowed her to live in a $3 million home as well as the fact she believed me to be indifferent about the skills she possessed that acquired those fans.
“It’s not true,” I said when I sat beside her. I had refrained from sitting in the room since my arrival because I wasn’t positive the furnishings weren’t authentic Civil War possessions.
“You don’t have to lie to spare my feelings,” Liz said.
“I won’t,” I replied. “My initial assessment of your music was predicated on ignorance. I, quite wrongly, grouped you in with the other mainstream country performers, mostly male ... and I don’t like their style. It’s a cliché. You’re different. You transcend genres. I can detect influences in your work from outside the traditional country format. I’m not an authority by any means but I can hear some folk; I can hear some R&B; I can hear jazz. I like all three of those styles of music. I can even hear a throwback to the types of country music my grandfather listened to: Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins. That first concert, I was astounded at the level of maturity in your lyrics. You don’t normally find that in the current mainstream country releases. Today, if you had not given me your complete body of work, I would gladly pay to own it. If you did not sneak me into your concerts, I would happily pay to see them. I was really impressed that you did a completely different show in Los Angeles.
“I expected a repeat of San Diego. Instead, you had a completely different set. Liz, I really enjoy your songs. What do you think I was listening to on the airplane while you were snoring your heart out?”
“Really?” Liz asked.
“Really,” I said. “You snore like a champ but I would pay to listen to you sing in the shower!”
Liz slid onto my lap and wrapped her arms tightly around me. I saw tears in her eyes when she pulled back.
“That’s ... that’s one of the nicest things I’ve ever heard,” she said. “You ... you listened and you get me. Yeah, I mix in some R&B and some old-school country. I do a few jazz riffs and some folk. I ... I can’t believe you picked up on that. I mean, I have to keep it subtle to get airplay. But you noticed.”
“And reggae,” I said. “There is about 20 seconds in ‘Daydreamer’ that has a real calypso feel to it.”
“Yeah,” Liz said, smiling. Then she slapped me on the (good) arm. “You dork! You could have started to follow me years ago! We could already be married with two kids.”
“Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” I said. “Since I’m being honest with you, there is a secondary reason that I never paid attention to your work: Jealousy. I didn’t realize it at the time and I should have. I am no different than the studio people. You got famous before I did and it pissed me off, I think. I paid my dues and you didn’t. Then I got hurt and knew I’d never be famous so you got shit on again in my head. I’m not proud of either of those facts and I’m very happy that I appear to have matured enough to be happy for the success you’ve had so far ... and committed to making sure that success continues. I’m sorry that I felt that way.”
“It’s OK,” Liz said. “I’m sure I would have been bitter if I’d been dropped after my first release and then had to watch you make it to L.A.”
“Probably not,” I said. “You were always too nice for that. If I had to put up with the shit that you put up with ... I might have brought a gun to school. We were freshmen when those kids in Colorado went ... apeshit crazy. That had a big effect on me, Liz. My dad ... when I got home and saw it, he sat down with me and just ... hugged me. As the story came out ... about the bullying and the ... apathy ... he told me that I was in position to make sure that never happened there. And, he also told me that if he ever even heard a whisper that I’d treated someone like that, he’d wear his belt out on my ass. He wasn’t kidding.”
“No,” Liz said. “I doubt he was. I ... I wish I had just once told him how great I thought he was.”
“Me, too,” I said. “I never did. He died so suddenly that I had a lot of things I’d left unsaid.”
“He knew,” Liz said.
“That’s what Mom tells me,” I replied. “Still...”
“Yeah, still,” she agreed. “I’m sorry for getting shitty with you.”
“I’m glad we were able to get past the misunderstanding,” I said. “Like with Dad, I should have taken the time to tell you how impressed I am with your skills.”
“You told me last night,” Liz said with a wink. I knew she was trying to lift the maudlin mood that always seemed to fall on me when I thought about my father.
“Who would guess that isn’t even your biggest talent?” I said.
“I’d say it’s about even,” Liz replied. “No, scratch that. It’s far below my singing. Now I have reasons to work harder on it!”
“Lucky me,” I said.
Liz hugged me hard again and we kissed softly.
“We do have some serious things to talk about before we spend the rest of this crappy morning in bed together,” she told me as she pulled back. “Can you concentrate with me on your lap?”
“Huh?” I asked with feigned confusion. “Oh, were you talking to me?”
“Dick!” she said, laughing.
“That’s all you ever think about,” I chided. “But, yes, I will do my best to pay attention ... and keep my hands off your butt. Incidentally, I think I like you in blue jeans as well as I would in yoga pants.”
Liz rolled her eyes but her smile said she was pleased at the news.
“Now, about Cabo,” she said.
“How long were you thinking of staying?” I asked.
“A few days,” Liz said. “Three or four, maybe a week if we’re having fun. Then I thought we’d do a couple of days in New York. I want to get the East Coast media their opportunity to see us together. Incidentally, Late Night contacted my reps to see if you might consider doing a segment with them.”
“Your label would never agree,” I said.
“Not me,” Liz said. “They know I’m locked out of TV stuff. They wanted you. I ... I told them no. I hope that’s OK.”
“It’s fine,” I said. “Christ, after the first 10 seconds, what the hell would they want to talk to me about?”
“Me,” Liz said.
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “I forgot, you’re almost as famous as I am right now.”
“Almost,” Liz said, joining me in laughter.
“That’s alright, Kid,” I added with a wink, “you keep letting me see ya nekkid and I’ll take ya places!”
“Uh-huh,” Liz replied. “So, Cabo and then New York?”
“How long in New York?” I asked with a sigh.
“Two days tops,” she replied. “That will give us almost two weeks in San Diego before we go to Jacksonville.”
I nodded. I needed to go to Austin for a couple of days but I figured I could bring that up later.
“Is that a yes?” Liz asked.
“Yes, Dear,” I said.
“Good,” she said. “And you’re going to let me pay?”
“I will,” I said. “Just ... don’t go overboard. Give me a month or two before you buy me a Ferrari.”
“I’m not going to buy you a Ferrari,” Liz said. “If you want to drive a fast car you can take my ‘Vette for a spin.”
“Pass,” I said. “Pink isn’t my color.”
“You like my pink just fine,” Liz retorted.
“True,” I agreed, putting my hand on her upper thigh.
“Uh, before I forget,” she said. “I asked Pete to sell one of my cars so we’d have room in the garage for the Mustang. You can drive it around here without much trouble but I’m worried that you’ll run into trouble out West. Nashville isn’t a big tabloid town. Most of the time, I can go out with only a single person with me. I can go some places without anyone with me. But San Diego is too close to L.A. for me to feel comfortable with you driving yourself there.”
I closed my eyes and let out a long breath.
“It’s not that you can’t handle yourself,” Liz cut in. “It’s ... it’s the Princess Diana thing and the Jason Elliott thing. These people are reckless and they’re ruthless. Maybe Ryan can make arrangements for you to take the driving classes that his guys take. But if something were to happen to you because of me ... I’m not sure what I’d do.”
“We’ll talk about it,” I said. “I will take it under consideration for now. But, I think a lot of it depends on how much time I spend here. If I’m in San Diego eight or nine months out of the year, I’ll need to be able to drive myself places.”
“Thank you for getting us back on topic,” Liz said, smiling at me. “I wanted to fully explain what I hope you’ll agree to do for me ... outside of our bedroom games. I prefer to demonstrate those for you.”
I shook my head. For some reason, Liz had a way of bringing a risqué comment into almost all of our conversations. I found it very endearing.
“After talking with Susan, I have come to understand that I have not been entirely forthcoming about my expectations,” she continued. “As you admitted earlier, I was operating out of ignorance. I did not realize that you have no real concept of the industry.”
“I told you that,” I countered.
“Yes, you did,” Liz replied. “I assumed that meant that you didn’t know the specifics. It turns out from watching you on Thursday that you don’t really have the basics. Ryan and Jill said you spent most of the day asking them who people were and what their jobs might be. So, I wanted to give you a primer if that’s OK.”
“I think it’s necessary even if it isn’t OK,” I said, smiling.
“I just don’t want to sound condescending,” Liz told me. “I’ve lived this life since I was a teenager and a lot of it is second nature to me. Just like you can explain the concept of a sacrifice bunt and I don’t have a clue. So, let me give you a rundown on the people I have working for me either directly or through the label for now.
“First, there is my manager.”
“Stephanie,” I said.
“No,” Liz said. “In a few months, she will take over for the guy that handles it now. He works for the label. His name is Jeremy DeWitt and he is a toad. His job is to act on my behalf and to oversee my career. He has done a fine job of the second; he is lousy at the first. He will, without fail, put the label’s interests ahead of mine. He is supposed to guide my career even if it conflicts with what the label wants.”
“I have spoken to my manager six times in a year,” Liz continued. “That is about a hundred times too few. I have not spoken to him at all in two months. He, along with Michael McHenry, is the biggest reason I will retire before I sign another deal with RFN.”
“And McHenry?” I asked. “You told me his title but I don’t really understand his job.”
“I suppose it doesn’t matter if we go in order or not,” she said to herself. “McHenry is supposed to be the liaison between the label and my manager. Since my manager is a piece of shit, McHenry deals mostly with me directly. His job is to mediate disputes between me and the label. Instead, he often instigates disputes. When I move to RaveLand, the artist relations person will work to build a bridge between me and the label. He or she will help you with promotions and help me and Stephanie with the disc releases. I do not foresee developing a confrontational relationship with RaveLand; but, should issues arise, the artist relations representative will work to make sure neither party feels slighted.”
“Makes sense,” I said. “I mean, I can see why you’d need someone in that role. What’s next?”
We went down the list from booking agent and concert promoter to sound technician and stagehand. At one point, I asked if I needed to take notes but Liz said she had a printout available because she was using it to make sure that she had every job filled.
“Now we come to marketing,” she said.
“Susan will be director of publicity,” she said, telling me something I didn’t know.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes,” Liz said. “I’ve spoken about this with Rick and Sarah and they’re on board. Susan will oversee the entire operation. Rick is going to work as the chief of my business holdings. His department is going to work on endorsements and ensuring that the companies I deal with are aboveboard. Sarah is going to head up the team that handles my musical releases and my charitable organizations. They will both be assistant directors.”
“Cool,” I said.
“Which brings us to ... you,” Liz said. “You are also going to be a director.”
“What?” I interrupted. “Wait!”
“Just listen to me before you lodge your protests,” Liz said, smiling sweetly.
I let out a long breath but nodded my agreement.
“The most important part of my musical empire is my tours,” she said. “I need a director of tour relations that works with the others in PR but is separate from them. This is for two reasons. Your staff will not only deal with arranging promotions for my disc releases but I will need you to formulate a plan to keep my name in the news in positive ways and to work to generate ideas for ensuring my tour dates continue to be successful. For every dollar I make from a disc sale, I make 50 from my tour dates.
“Now, part of it comes back to the fact I tour every year and usually drop a disc every year and a half. I’ve had eight discs and 15 tours. But another is because the profit margin on my tours is considerably higher than my disc sales. Yes, the move to RaveLand will close the gap but I will still make far more from performing live than from selling a disc. To use a term that you’re familiar with, you will be my chief publicist and my spokesman. That is why I would like for you to seriously consider relocating closer to here. Ideally, I would like for you to consider relocating to this exact address but I understand that things might be moving a bit too quickly for that right now. I will say, however, from my perspective, if there is never another morning I don’t wake up beside you I will be very happy indeed.”
I ran a hand over my face.
“I was thinking that I would be a ... cog in the machine,” I admitted.