Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Superstar-Chapter 54

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Chapter 54: What’ll I Do

    Avant Groove rocked the house and made it look easy. They played R & B, Soul, Funk, Rock and Jazz with uncanny precision and energy. Dominique’s voice soared on top of it all, an instrument unto itself, and complimented her bandmates’ effortless groove.
    All of this wasn’t lost on James Parker as he watched them perform. Just listening to them, he knew this band had something special, especially, Dominque, the lead singer. Most singers used every vocal trick they knew when an industry professional showed up, like they wanted to show how good they were. Parker got the impression that Dominique was actually holding back. She commanded attention and truly knew how to work a crowd. Yeah, she was good. Great, actually.
    As Avant Groove finished up their second set, Parker had already decided, he was going to sign Dominique LaSalle. If he could get the band too, that’d be a bonus.

    “How y’all doin’?”
    Terry turned and looked at the man who would possibly determine his future. He was dressed in a dark suit, with matching shoes and a smoothness to his manner that suggested he’d just stepped out of the pages of Ebony. Terry disliked him instantly.
Groove, on the other hand, seemed to like him and was unfailingly polite as he introduced Mr. Parker to everyone.
    “Thanks for coming.” Eric said.
    “Not a problem.” Parker said. “I already heard your demo tape, so I already knew how good you sounded on tape. I just wanted to see how y’all grooved live.” Parker nodded and smiled. “You guys are the real deal. Especially, you, Miss LaSalle, is it?”
    “Yes it is.” Dom answered. “Please call me Dom.”
    “So, what are our chances of getting signed?” Terry asked abruptly. Eric glared at Terry, who was oblivious to everything but Parker.
    “Direct, aren’t you?”
    “Yes. Yes, I am.”
    “Your chances are good. Very good.”
    “And you like what you saw?”
    “Absolutely, Terry.” Parker said as he looked at his watch. “I have to go. It was great meeting all of you and, Eric, I’ll be in touch with Russell tomorrow around three.”
    “Great. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.” Eric said as he shook Parker’s hand. Parker nodded and walked out of the door.
    “Well, Terry’s rudeness aside, we may end up getting signed.” Eric said.
    ”I’ll believe that when I see it.” Lisa stated.
    “Come on, y’all. We gotta have some faith.” Groove began.
    Lisa folded her arms. “Groove, we’ve been running on nothin’ but faith.”
    “We can’t give up just because things are a little difficult.”
“Groove…”, Rob interjected, “…Things ain’t difficult. They straight up hard, dude. We been tryin’ to get signed since forever, man.
    “I know that, but…”
    “Eric…” Lisa said and put a hand on his shoulder.” Frankly, I‘m tired of putting ourselves out there and getting egg on our faces. So, instead of tryin’ to impress some suit, let’s enjoy playing for our fans here.” She gestured towards the crowd of people who were waiting patiently for Avant Groove to take the stage and continue playing. Eric turned back to Lisa and smiled.
    “You got a point there, L-Boogie.”
    “I’m glad somebody else sees this besides me.”
    “So, we’re giving up?” Terry asked.
    “Nope.” Eric said. “Redirecting. We’re still gonna pursue a deal, but it’s gonna be on our terms. No compromises. If we stay independent artists, we can record and release records on our own or on one of the small labels around town. We can make the music we want to make without having to change anything about it unless we want to. I’m talkin’ real creative freedom, y’all.”
    Eric looked at everyone in turn, the personal force of the man washing over each member of the group. “I’m ready to do this.” Eric said with a grin. “Who’s with me?”
    Almost everybody said Yea to his idea. Dominique kept quiet and sipped on her O.J. She felt Terry’s hand slide into hers. Dom closed her eyes. She knew he probably noticed that she hadn’t spoken up and was trying to get her to agree. She was fine with what Eric said, but, deep down, she knew what she wanted and if the chance came, she was going for it.

(c)2015 Courtney and W. L. Sherrod

Monday, April 20, 2015

Superstar-Chapter 53

Thanks for reading... Follow me on Twitter and Like me on Facebook! Check out previous chapters of Superstar and samples of my first novel, Facets: Stories of the Mundane and the Weird, here on the blog. Facets is available on the Kindle Market!

Chapter 53: Blue Lines

“Two lines you’re pregnant…” Dom read out loud. “…and one means you’re not.”
Dominique’s period was late. She’d been feeling queasy in the morning for the past few weeks. Dom and Terry had used a condom every time they’d made love, but one day they’d gotten so hot and bothered, the thought of protection never entered their mind. All it takes is one time, she’d heard.
Dom paced back and forth as she waited for the results of the test to show. She hoped she wasn’t pregnant. She was close to moving into her own spot and buying a hooptye to get around in. A baby didn’t figure into her plans at all.
She walked into the living room, trying to keep her mind off of things, when she saw a picture of Terry on the table. He was in a casual pose, with a white button down shirt and a pair of jeans on. The gleam of iron will in his eyes, however, was anything but casual. They said that Terry would be able to do anything he set his mind to. Dom also thought he could make some pretty babies.
They’d actually broached the subject and Terry was all for the idea. Dominique? Not so much. She wanted to have her career in place before she even thought of children. The only thing she was sure of at this point was that she wasn’t going to tell Terry if she was pregnant.
Ever since he’d gone out of his way to keep from teaching her keyboards, Dom had the niggling doubt in the back of her mind that Terry wanted to control her. To tell her how to live her life and what decisions she should make. Dom refused to allow him to do that. Having a baby with him would make it possible, if not outright probable, to have a de facto hold on her and, like Ava, she wasn’t about to let any man, even one she loved as deeply as she did Terry, do that to her.
Dom looked at her watch. The two minute waiting period was over and she went into the bathroom and picked up the test indicator.
Two blue lines. She was pregnant. She sat down before her shaky knees would leave her sitting in a heap on the floor. “Of all the lousy…”
After a long quiet moment, Dom sighed and went to the kitchen to get a plastic bag. She put everything in the bag, tied it and put it at the bottom of the cardboard box that served as a garbage can under the sink. Terry never touched it and the bag wasn’t clear so she figured she was safe.
She walked to the living room and sat in Terry’s chair. Her hand rubbed a small circle on her stomach as her mind matched the motion. She could almost see the embryo in her mind. Visions of changing diapers, running after a light-skinned little baby and late-night feedings bubbled up and made her grin.
She looked over at Terry’s keyboard and she saw herself, singing in front of a crowd, applause and adulation raining on her; The Big Life, as real as the keyboard in front of her, close enough to touch.

Dom picked up the telephone, looking at Terry’s picture, guilt exploding inside her as she dialed.

(c)2015 Courtney & W.L. Sherrod

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Superstar-Chapter 52

Thanks for reading... Follow me on Twitter and Like me on Facebook! Check out previous chapters of Superstar and samples of my first novel, Facets: Stories of the Mundane and the Weird, here on the blog. Facets is available on the Kindle Market!

Chapter 52: Chicago, Illinois 1994  Here It Comes

It was eight o’clock in the morning and all the members of Avant Groove were gathered in the Warehouse, ready to rehearse.
Everyone, that is, except for Eric.
“Has anybody seen or heard from Groove?” Terry asked.
“Not since our show last weekend.” Lisa said.
“I ain’t seen him,” Rob added.
“Nope.” Larry said.
“Haven’t heard from him, Sweetie.” Dom said.
“Great.” Terry groused. “Just great.”
It had been a little over a year since they’d recorded their demo and no one had come knocking on their door yet. They knew and understood that the process could be slow, but their patience, as well as their morale, was running low.
As for Terry, a fear started to take root inside him, fear that he’d end up just like Carl. It ran in tandem with the fear he’d lose Dom to her thirst for success. It wasn’t so bad when he had things to occupy his mind, but when night came and Dom was asleep, he would watch her and every fear, doubt and insecurity fell on him and wrapped their toxic tentacles around his heart and mind.
Basically, Avant Groove was caught in the pull of inertia and nothing they did seemed to kick them loose or lessen the feeling of restlessness and futility.
Then, something happened.
Eric came through the door, his eyes bright with excitement and smiling from ear to ear.
“About time you showed up.” Terry looked at his watch. “We were about to start without you.”
“Not until you hear what I have to say.” Eric gushed. Terry found that strange because Eric never gushed. He was always the calm, composed one, who rarely let excitement get the best of him. Whatever is it, it must be big, Terry mused.
“Everybody knows who James Parker is, right?”
“He’s the A & R executive for Quiet Storm Records.” Larry said.
“That’s right.” Groove said, not even bothering to hide his excitement. “He called me just before I was about to come here and said he wants to hear us perform and possibly sign us.”
The overwhelming silence and general air of nonchalance did manage to turn down Groove’s furious excitement.
“Come on, y’all. This is legit.” He began.
Terry held Groove by his shoulders and looked steadily into his eyes. “I believe you, Eric. Thing is, we’ve had plenty of legit offers that went south. Let’s take it slow and see what Mister Parker’s about before we get excited.”
Eric took a deep breath. He knew Terry wasn’t trying to bring him down, just remind him about what had been plaguing them for the longest time: Record execs reluctance to sign bands, even one as talented as Avant Groove.
“You’re right.” Eric agreed. “Let’s celebrate when we sign the dotted line.” Eric strapped on his guitar and they started working on songs for their next show at Club Jam.

(c)2015 Courtney & W.L. Sherrod 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Superstar-Chapter 51

Thanks for reading... Follow me on Twitter and Like me on Facebook! Check out previous chapters of Superstar and samples of my first novel, Facets: Stories of the Mundane and the Weird, here on the blog. Facets is available on the Kindle Market!

Chapter 51: Silence

         “What’s the matter, honey?” Dom asked Terry.
         “Terry? Did you hear me?” She tried again. He didn’t answer and his eyes were solidly on the road, his hands rigidly holding the steering wheel. Terry had been strangely quiet ever since they left the studio. Dom knew something was bothering him, but he wouldn’t open up and talk to her about it. Her good mood was slowly being spoiled and it was slowly pissing her off.
         “Yeah, I hear you.” He answered tersely.
         Dom leaned over and whispered, “Say something.”
         “Okay. Something.”
         Dom was not amused. “You know what I mean. C’mon, talk to me. You’re being awfully quiet.”
         “Guess I’m talked out right now.”
          Dom folded her arms, sat back and said, “Fine.”
         They pulled up to Terry’s apartment and went in. Dom went to the bedroom and closed the door. Hard. Terry sighed and sat on the couch.
         He knew Dom was annoyed with him right then, but he didn’t know how to open up and tell her what was bothering him without sounding like a whiny punk. Terry grabbed Fourplay’s first album, popped it into the CD player and sat in the recliner, trying to relax. Try as he might, he couldn’t break the fear that had his heart encased in a block of ice.
         His eyes snapped open and he stared at Dom as if he just woke from a trance. “Yeah? What’s up?”
         “We need to talk.”
         “What about?”
         “Why you were so quiet on the way home and was totally crappy towards me when I asked you what was wrong…”
         “I wasn’t crappy…”
         “Yes. You were.” Dom said sharply. “I don’t know what the Hell’s wrong with you, but I suggest you start talkin’ to me or I’m gonna get really pissed off.”
        “Wouldn’t want that would we?” Terry muttered to himself.
        “It’s a problem that has to do with me.”
        “Well, I’m your roommate now and your problems affect me too.” She folded her arms, rested her weight on a hip and waited for a reply. Terry didn’t really want to, but he could tell she wasn’t moving. So, reluctantly, Terry gave with the truth.
        He sighed and said, “You sounded great on ‘Free’ tonight.”
        Dom narrowed her eyes. “What?”
        “You sounded so good and looked so happy.” Terry explained. “I had a flash of you standing in front of a crowd, singing and you totally belonged there. I was happy and proud of you, y’know?”
        “Yeah.” Dom smiled.
        “Then it hit me: What if somebody wants to sign you and not the whole group? I know you want the ‘Big Life’. It’s what you’ve always dreamed of and I don’t wanna stand in your way, but…”
       “But what?” Dom asked.
       “I don’t wanna lose you, Dom.” Terry sighed. “I don’t want you to walk away and forget about us, about me.”
       Dom sat on Terry’s lap and kissed him. “Why would I do that?”
       “I dunno.” Terry said and bowed his head. “I can only hope you don’t.”
       “Well, lemme clarify something.” Dom said as she lifted Terry’s face so she could look him in the eye. “I do want to be famous. I do want to make it to the big time, but I want to take you with me. I don’t want to do it without you, baby.”
       Terry sighed in relief and held her close. Dom returned the embrace and said, “You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”
       “I wouldn’t want to.” They held each other close, secure in the knowledge that whatever happened, they would be together.

 (c)2015 Courtney & W.L. Sherrod