Copyright© 2016 by Jay Cantrell
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 79 - 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 stood and answered questions for another 15 minutes before the doors opened and the group – minus Caley Cross – emerged into the sunlight.
They all wore solemn looks as they walked back to the crowd of reporters and photographers. I took the opportunity to slip away.
I had managed to answer 30 or 40 questions without really saying anything. I was tired from all the tap-dancing I’d done – but I knew I had more to do. I pushed my way through the horde and stationed myself in front of Liz as she approached.
“No more questions today,” I said. “Miss Rojas, Miss Svencova, Miss Larimer and Miss Yurchenko have had an emotionally draining day. You’ve gotten your pictures and your videos for the day.”
“You heard him,” Zoe Brewer said stepping forward with a pair of deputies. “The clinic has asked me to announce that this is private property and your presence is no longer welcome.”
I noted that she left “now that they’ve gotten a bunch of free publicity from you” out of the statement.
The bodyguards joined with the police officers to form a cordon around the celebrities. Liz’s hand found mine as we made our way to the car that had replaced the limousine that carried Caley’s former manager to wherever he next was bound.
I wished I had more on him. My professor had found two arrests for “lewd and lascivious conduct with a person younger than 18” from 20 years earlier but neither case went past the preliminary hearing when the complaining witness failed to appear.
My professor said that the charges were pre-Megan’s Law and most likely the victim was past the age of consent but younger than the age of majority. He said that many municipalities often used such charges to protect young people aged 15 to 18 from unsavory people like Caley’s manager. The adult would promise things – a career, material possessions, cash – in exchange for sexual favors.
Aside from the two unprosecuted arrests, the man had also been the defendant in seven “Jane Doe” lawsuits. “Jane Doe” was the pseudonym used in many locales for plaintiffs alleging sexual abuse or sexual assault in civil court. The cases were sealed because the complainants were underage and, even if they weren’t, the plaintiffs would have been designated by initials only to preserve their anonymity. The cases were spread out across the United States but mostly came in rural counties.
Liz had told me that Caley Cross had been “discovered” at age 15 while competing in a beauty pageant in upstate New York. She’d also told me that anal penetration was the price of a modeling contract for the teenaged Caley Cross – and that her mother had set up the rendezvous with the man that managed her career. It wasn’t a stretch for me to think that he’d used the lines before and since and I’d been proven correct.
But, as with so many things in the celebrity world, gossip and innuendo was all I had. I hoped the few facts I’d located would be enough to make him disappear. I wasn’t certain I could keep Caley out of the limelight if he popped back up in her life.
The photographers moved as a herd alongside us as we made our way to the cars. Ours was closest to the road. We got away first but we also had to put up with a dozen more questions shouted in our direction.
I let out a long sigh when we finally pulled free from the rehab center and loosened my tie.
It was Friday the 13th and the May air in Los Angeles was hazy and heavy. San Diego was only a hundred miles down the coast and I wondered why I didn’t find life there as oppressive as I found Los Angeles.
I had been amazed none of the questions fired in my direction had anything to do with extortion or murder or drug smuggling. Most involved personal questions about me and Liz. I was thankful that the air conditioning in the car appeared to work well. I pulled my jacket off and put my head against the back of the seat. I could feel the sweat on my back and under my arms.
“That came off pretty well,” Liz said.
“She seemed ... genuine,” I replied.
“Who?” Liz wondered.
“Caley,” I said.
“Oh,” Liz answered. “It’ll last a day or two and then she’ll be right back to the way she’s always been. What were you talking about with her?”
“You,” I said. “She told me to take care of you. I told her to take care of herself.”
I glanced toward the front of the car where the driver sat. Any personal discussion would have to wait until we got back to my house.
“I was talking about your performance out front,” Liz said, reaching over to take my hand. “You handled the Q&A really well.”
“I thought you went inside,” I said.
“I did,” Liz told me. “There was a TV on in the rec room and they were showing the scene live. We switched on the TV while Caley got settled in. I’m very happy with how you phrased the response about Stephanie’s ... departure. I’m glad you talked me into letting you send a release last night.”
“It lets us set the narrative,” I reminded her. “We were vague enough that she knows you’re not going to bury her if she goes away.”
The breach of confidentiality could have cost Stephanie a lot more than her job. If Liz wanted to be vengeful (which she did, but I talked her out of it), she could probably leave Stephanie and her husband without a home. Stephanie’s husband was a loan officer at the bank. He was not a bigwig with a huge salary. Stephanie had been the primary breadwinner since she took over as Liz’s road manager.
We were saved from trying to speak in code when the driver spoke. He had a slight European accent (or perhaps Australian).
“Are there any stops you’d like to make in the city?” he inquired. “I am a fully licensed security agent in the state of California and I can serve as your bodyguard. I also would like to note that I signed a confidentiality agreement. Nothing said or seen in this vehicle will be repeated. If you would like to travel elsewhere today, I am assigned to you for the duration.”
Liz considered her answer for a moment before looking at me.
“Yes,” she said. “I’d like to go to Rodeo Drive so we can look for some lightweight suits for Travis.”
“Uh,” I said, shaking my head, “my bank account isn’t healthy enough yet to visit those shops again.”
“I’ll pay for them,” Liz noted.
I shook my head again.
“You said your mom bought the shirt and tie set you’re wearing now!” she protested.
“My Mom bought this at an outlet mall in Columbus,” I pointed out. “It cost maybe $20 – not a hundred times that amount.”
Liz looked at me for a long moment before pulling her phone out of her pocket.
“Mom is at work,” I said.
“I know,” Liz said. “I’m not calling her.”
I waited for a moment for her to clarify. She didn’t. I didn’t know who she was calling until she spoke again.
“Hi, Morrie,” she said. I knew Maurice Epstein was the corporate attorney that represented Liz Larimer Entertainment. He was different from the entertainment attorney she used in Nashville. “I need you to put together a rider for all personal contracts.”
Liz frowned for a moment.
“No, it doesn’t involve her,” she said. “This is ... let’s call it the Travis Blakely rider. I want you to add a clothing allowance to all exempt employees retained in a personal capacity, say... $20,000 a year. Make it in addition to their salary.”
She shifted her eyes to me.
“I wanted to buy him a couple of suits,” Liz said into phone. “He wouldn’t hear of it. So instead of spending a couple of thousand, I guess I’ll just have to spend ... what, quarter of a million?”
Liz nodded at something.
“It seems excessive to me, too,” she said. “But if it will make him understand I have a lot of money, I guess it’s what I’ll have to do.”
I rolled my eyes at her but she ignored me.
“He seems to think I should accept things the first time he tells me,” Liz stated. “Yet he keeps hitting the same dead horse time and time again.”
“OK, you made your point,” I said, shaking my head. “You don’t have to pretend you’re talking to somebody else.”
Liz lifted her eyes and hit the speaker function.
“ ... think about this, Liz,” I heard a man’s voice said. “You’re talking about 16 exempt employees and that’s off the top of my head. That’s $320,000 every year. I know you have the money to do it. My job is to make sure you always have the money to do it. I’m not opposed to the idea if you think it’s really necessary but I’d rather you consider if you want to push that sort of outlay because you’ve finally met someone that doesn’t expect you to spend money on him.”
“That’s the thing, Morrie,” Liz said, “he’s spent money on things I’ve needed or wanted and never once batted an eye. Then I want to do something for him and it’s an argument. He insists upon wearing a suit and tie to anything he deems a professional appearance. He needs something lightweight for days like this. I thought he was going to spontaneously combust while we were hustling around in Dallas last week.”
“All true,” Maurice replied. “You have to admit that his idea has merit. He wants to look his best when he’s acting as your representative. His manner of dress also alerts the media if your appearance is personal or professional. Perhaps I could just add it to his contract.”
“Wouldn’t work,” Liz said, shaking her head. “He’s an all or nothing sort of guy. He wouldn’t want it to appear as though I’m treating him any differently than I do the others that work for me.”
“Yes, I can see that,” Maurice answered thoughtfully. “I think you could justify it, though. The others don’t act as your personal representative. They are ... I don’t want to say employees because I know you dislike that term ... but they do not truly act in your stead. He does. Perhaps you could try that argument on him.”
“I’ll give it a shot,” Liz said with a sigh. “But I would still like for you to put something together for me. I’ll let you know if we need it after we wrap up the tour.”
“Sounds good,” Maurice said. “While I have you on the line ... I wanted to talk to you for a moment about the building you’re purchasing in San Diego.”
“Problems?” Liz asked, no longer looking at me but now down at her phone.
“Not as such,” Maurice replied. “It’s more of an opportunity, I think. I am not entirely certain what you’re planning to do. I know a large portion of your marketing team is going to be housed there but I’m not certain exactly how much space you’ll need.”
“Would it surprise you if I didn’t know either,” Liz said, smiling slightly.
“It would,” Maurice answered. “You pay me to stay on top of things but I’ve seen how much attention you pay to your holdings. I suppose I wondered exactly who you plan to put in that office complex.”
“The marketing and public relations teams for certain,” Liz said. “I’ll need room for about 40 to 50 people there.”
“Yes,” Maurice said. “That’s no problem. The fifth floor is set up perfectly for that ... or so I’ve been told by ... Mr. Weller and Mr. Carter. They’re happy with the accommodations and believe the setup is fine without modifications.”
“Good,” Liz said. “I’ve ... well, I trust Rick and Eric on this. Susan and Sarah know what they’ll need better than I do. If they’re happy then I’m happy.”
“That leaves five other floors,” Maurice said. “The entire first floor is going to be security. Their offices are already in place and they started to work last week. I’ve been asked by your property team if they should try to rent the other offices or if you plan to use them. I told them that I have no idea at this point. I figured since I had you on the phone, I’d ask.”
Liz nodded thoughtfully.
“The top floor is being renovated into offices,” she said. “I’ll need a personal office there. I’ll want all my upper-level staff to have a space there. I’ll want an office for my manager and my road manager. I’ll want someone from A&R there and someone with copyright experience. I’ll want people from your staff there as well as people that understand entertainment law. You can see if anybody is willing to relocate or help me find the right people. They’ll need to work without your direct supervision. I’m not talking about complete autonomy. They’ll answer to you but they have to be able to give input without calling you for instructions.
“The truth is, Morrie, I’m going to do away with the New York office. I’ll give the people there an opportunity to relocate if they’re willing but my bases of operations are going to be in Nashville and San Diego. I’ll have a few things going in Los Angeles still but New York isn’t going to work any longer. I’m going to have you put the New York apartment on the market in a couple of months and I’m going to have you serve notice that we’ll no longer be renting office space in Manhattan. I think you have to give them 90 days notice that we don’t plan to renew. I figure the last of June will suffice. That’s double what the contract calls for. So, I guess I’ll need space for anyone that works for me in New York. We’re going to streamline a good bit and eliminate some of the redundancy and the overlap you’ve mentioned to me. But, if I’m being honest with everybody, I’ll probably find a space for anybody that wants to come to San Diego.”
“OK,” Maurice said. I got no impression from his tone of voice if he was appalled or excited at the news. “That brings me to another point I wanted to bring up. There is a second building right beside the one you’re buying. It’s a similar setup and the owner is motivated to sell. We can pick it up at a fair price. It has tenants with leases that will need to be accommodated for the next two to three years but ... if your holdings continue to expand ... it might be best to have it now.”
“Do you think it’s a worthwhile investment?” Liz asked.
“Potentially,” Maurice said. “Much of it depends on your usage. As a pure rental facility, I’d probably pass on it. If you’re thinking that down the road you’ll want to move more of your operations to San Diego I’d recommend you buy it now while the price is reasonable. It’s in good shape and has full occupancy for the next ... let me check on this real quick. It’s fully occupied for the next seven months. Ninety percent of the tenants have a lease that will cover you for 30 more months. The owner is looking at some overruns somewhere else and needs capital so he’s willing to offload it. His main concern is that the buyer be reputable and treat the tenants well. Mr. Carter knows him and put him in touch with us. Do you want us to put a bid on it?”
Liz looked at me for a long moment. I kept my face neutral. This was entirely her decision to make.
“Yes,” she said. “I can foresee moving everything to San Diego in the coming years.”
I managed to forestall a trip to trendy (and pricy) clothiers by noting that it would seem improper to roll a shopping trip into a visit to see a friend into rehab.
Liz reluctantly agreed – with the caveat that we would go to Los Angeles or New York in a few weeks and she could take me shopping. I agreed, figuring I could find a way to talk her out of it in the interim.
It was almost supper time by the time we arrived at my development – and found four police cars sitting along the road by the turnoff to the property.
There were probably 50 photographers lining the road opposite with motorcycles and small cars parked haphazardly along the roadside.
“Damn it,” Liz muttered as a police officer waved for the driver to stop.
“How would you like me to handle this?” he asked.
“Just give them my name,” I said. I fished in my back pocket to find my wallet and produced my identification.
“This is a private residential neighborhood,” the office said sternly when the front window came down.