And as every spy knows, common enemies are how allies always begin.— Ally Carter
BRINDLETON BAY The Elysium
Nervous already, even more so when she heard Charlie, the old German Shepherd bark inside the home she had just rang the doorbell of and now knocked as well for good measure.
The door was opened, Hailey appeared, all smiles and aglow, happy and sweet, Sophie’s nervousness dissipated.
“Oh my goodness, Sophie! What a surprise. How about that crazy winter weather, I can’t believe you drove all the way out here in that mess. Should have called, I could have come to you.”
“I don’t mind coming here, your home is so beautiful, plus I need a favor. A really big favor. HUGE. Would be rude to ask you to come to me to help me out.”
“After you came to me to save my butt catering for that party last week, and you nailed it so fiercely, I’d do anything for you, baby cakes! Come, let’s go sit and talk.”
Entering, and after taking off her coat, hat and scarf, Sophie followed Hailey to the soft, comfortable seating group, while declining Hailey’s offers for beverages, they sat down together.
Sophie started just asking for a makeover, explained that she was originally just gonna ask her sisters, but realized she wanted a special kind of look, one that would impress someone in the music business, and she knew Hailey would know best how to be edgy, sexy while still keeping it classy. Somehow, Hailey’s warm personality and sweet disposition just had everything pour out of Sophie, even all the things she didn’t want to tell her, from the first moment she met Stryker over the pregnancy to his girlfriend and his continuous invites to his concerts and the strange way he made her feel sometimes. All the stuff she hadn’t even told her family about. Nobody knew about Stryker. Just her. And now Hailey. Oops.
When she was almost finished, she realized Maddie had been in the room too. Oh boy! Now two more people knew, aside from Stryker and her.
“Okay, so sorry to eavesdrop, but when I heard that name Alycia, I couldn’t help it, my ears perked up! Girl, we got this. Imma gonna turn you into something so hot, that Stryker won’t fit through any doors with the boner he’ll get by just looking at you. Speaking of, not the worst choice for baby daddy genetics. I approve. Kudos.”
“MADDIE! For Christ’s sake, this is Sophie.” Hailey reprimanded her friend but had to suppress a chuckle. Maddie only shrugged and plopped down on the couch across, before retorting.
“So? I am married, not dead, and I have eyes and those can appreciate that Stryker’s got a nice ass, face isn’t bad either. Facts, girl. Also a fact that Sophie’s a hundred times prettier than that fuckin’ ugly from the inside out skinny ass hussy Alycia, who seriously kept trying to get herself all wrapped around MY MAN in OUR home at OUR party right in front of my eyes. Colton was even like ‘get the eff of me, woman!’. Oh, I told her something and then some and there is more where that came from. Bitch picked the wrong girl to try this shit with. Next time her bitch ass is all over my Colton, I am gonna dry-hump that Stryker right in front of her … oh wait, hang on, I forgot you and he and all that … sorry Soph, but that Alycia just brings out the uber-bitch in me.”
Hailey nodded then said
“Yeah, hate to admit it, but same. She tried with Chase too. Oh, I shut that down quickly cos he was pretty shocked at her being so forward with me standing right there, he went into full-Gump-mode! So, I made clear to her that this was my home and not the street corner she works. What a hoe! Not like I think Chase would go for her, but the fact she dared to try makes me want to slap her face with a barb-wire glove! And then she had the balls to go after Blaine. I mean, he is literally the uber-boss for the band at this point, they are completely at his mercy and she does that. Well, it actually turned out seriously funny, he completely blew her off after making fun of her but is that girl for real?! Trying that with Vampires? Part of me wants to know what would have happened if she had tried that in front of Scarlett. I mean, death wish much?! Sorry, Sophie, I am not a mean person, but that girl brings out the worst in me!” Hailey added.
“Same here. I am just so darn shy … so I just stand there and take it. Besides, Stryker is hers, not mine. And he is way out of my league.” Sophie shrugged.
“Oh, hell no! Nah. Stryker quit being all hers and none of yours when that fool stuck his business in your business and knocked you up. You got rights on his ass now. And if you like that dude in a certain way and want him, Hailz and I will get you looking the part, then go to that concert with you. If bitch shows up, Hailz and I will keep her busy. And if that Stryker has a problem with that, I will gladly explain the 99 problems I have with his bitch, before reminding him that Chase is the proprietor of the club his band plays at and Hailey’s the manager.”
Next Sophie knew was she was whisked upstairs into Hailey and Chase’s bedroom.
“All right, let’s do this!” Maddie exclaimed while rubbing her hands.
Later that night SAN MYSHUNO Skyline Club
Instead of having to use the general admission ticket Stryker had dropped off, Sophie followed Hailey and Maddie in the backdoor to the VIP section, where Maddie now opened a door, after knocking on it briefly.
“Hello – everyone decent? Oh, you all are, bummer, no show for me. Anyway, management check.” she chirped, causing the band members to chuckle, then get up and greet them.
Sophie felt ten feet tall when she noticed that Stryker didn’t recognize her immediately, but when he did, his eyes lit up and he clearly liked what he saw, making her happy and blush at the same time.
“Wow!” he just said, looking her over, taking in what he was seeing, which felt so good to her.
“Yeah, you finally did it. Made me come see ya. You can stop drowning me in tickets now.” she couldn’t hide the smile.
“Oh, I am thrilled beyond words you finally came. Not even gonna mention that you are not wearing the band tee I gave you. This is better … really nice, looks great on you! You look amazing tonight, Soph. Didn’t expect you to bring an entourage like that. No pressure for the boys and me, right? Stage fright just went through the roof.”
“Just Hailey and Maddie. I have known them all my life. Literally. They’re not as young as they look.”
“Hailey is 2Dark 2C’s band manager, she makes all decisions regarding the supporting acts for their shows, but also for the entertainment at the Skyline since Chase runs the San Myshuno club for Blaine. In a way, 2Dark 2C are my boss, so this is like an impromptu performance review, especially with Hailey here. She’s kinda the head honcho.”
“Glad to see you are okay with a woman on top.” Sophie blurted out trying to be nonchalant, maybe even a little flirty, then blushed crimson, while Stryker laughed.
“Wow, I don’t even recognize you, girl! Whatever you did, you need to keep it up. It looks good on you, that confidence.”
Someone knocked, then opened the door.
“You’re on in 5!” a staffer from the club said poking his head in.
“Well, sounds like we are going to go watch a concert now. Come on ladies let’s find a good vantage point backstage. Impress us, gents. Leave it all on that stage, boys.” Maddie told them winking. A well-wish among performers.
“Yes Ma’am. Hate to see you all leave, but sure love to watch you all go! Hmm hmm.” Nate said, making the other boys laugh.
Maddie huffed and slapped her own butt on the way out. She wasn’t easily thrown off course. Not after 25 years of 2Dark 2C, as the wife of one member and PR Manager to the band.
The concert was great, from the sideline, Sophie only saw Stryke 3 perform from the back for the most part but at least she didn’t have to stand like sardines getting squished with the other fans in the audience.
Sometimes, Stryker would turn around to his band members, probably discuss the next piece, and his eyes would catch Sophie’s and he’d smile.
“Yeah, he’s definitely into you.” Maddie whispered in Sophie’s ear, making her smile big.
The evening was amazing, Sophie felt amazing, invincible.
Everything went better than Sophie could have dreamed, right up until after the show was over. Back in the dressing room, Stryker was packing up equipment with the other band members, Hailey, Maddie and Sophie stood by talking – or, according to Maddie – appreciating the ‘view’ of the boys bending over.
Then Alycia appeared and the mood turned. Instantly she saw Sophie.
“Ah, the fry-cook is here too for the next round of man-stealing. Did they forget to bring you in from the pasture. You look ready for the milk machine with those udders. Do you really have to hang it all out like that, you couldn’t find a top in your size, maybe check the camping department next time for a two person tent in camouflage so we all don’t have to suffer? These things are dangerous, need a warning, my eyeballs are bleeding. Just nasty.”
Instantly, Maddie appeared.
“You done yet? Were those all the mean lines you practiced at home in front of the mirror or did you have some more? Nothing? Okay, my turn then. Oh, hell no, girlfriend. First of all, I am her stylist, so tread super-lightly now! And how would you even know the first thing about boobage, seeing how you well … got nuttin’ going on up there, and I don’t just mean that you are the queen of the no-tittie-committee! And about cooking, clearly you know NOTHING about food, or you’d know she’s a chef, not a fry-cook, Bimbo-Barbie. And don’t you get ME started on man-stealing, you tit-less wonder! For future reference, my man would NEVER be so desperate to fuck yo nasty ass!”
The three guys from Stryke 3 halted and stared, almost visibly gulping. Uh oh. Catfight incoming.
“Listen, lady. I know those pregnancy hormones and all do a number on people, but seriously, you think you need to attack me, while looking like trailer trash yourself is kinda ridiculous. If you styled the cow, I wouldn’t go around admitting it. So, you got big tits now because you’re knocked up, so impressive. And that one just looks pregnant year-round. With quintuplets, minimum. Uber-Gross, yet, she is sticking those preggo-boobs right in my man’s face hoping he’d bite, and I am supposed to sit over here and just take it? Not happening. Besides, someone needs to tell her he’s got tons of fangirls lining up for him, like seriously pretty ones, who I could ALMOST consider competition if I were the insecure type, so he really would never be desperate enough to screw that walrus.” Alycia pointed at Sophie for the last part.
Maddie was about to lay into her, when Hailey took over instead. Maddie knew better than to mess with a fuming Hailey. Especially when pregnant.
“All right, that does it. Final warning or you will be banned from this club! Permanently. If you think someone is hitting on your man, welcome to the club, just a taste of your own medicine, isn’t it? Or did you think I forgot about your hands all over my Chase? I am not your boyfriend, I don’t forget things like that, and I am warning you. Don’t try it again or I’ll rip those hands off you.”
“Oh, come on, Hailey, it was just a … a … misunderstanding … let’s just keep calm.” Stryker tried to come to his girlfriend’s rescue, which gave Sophie an intense jolt to the heart. Ouch. Why was he defending Alycia and not her?! Why?! Next to her Maddie sighed.
“What an idiot, but I guess the dumber the guy, the better the lay. Dumb fucks good as Blaine likes to say.” she said.
Hailey turned to Stryker, very displeased.
“YOU – will stop talking right about now, young man, if you know what’s good for you. Your girlfriend is a grown woman and responsible for her own actions. Her behavior was disrespectful at my home, but I let it slide, thinking she was just really nervous. Turns out it’s a pattern and I won’t have that. I don’t know if you are oblivious to her behavior or deliberately stick your head in the sand, and I really don’t care, but I urge you to be vigilant about her demeanor around people who are important to your band, or this will blow up in your face if she tries hitting on the wrong music exec. In case you really didn’t know for some reason, I’ll put you on notice now, your girlfriend tried to hit on my husband, on Maddie’s husband and on Blaine Cameron at that party. And she continuously verbally attacks a family member, Sophie, for no reason. That is unacceptable behavior, if I see that again, there will be serious repercussions. I get the rock ‘n’ roll band bad behavior thing, all newcomers fall prey to it, but know your limits. Oh, and Stryker, Sophie and I had a really intense discussion. The kind you need to be having with your girlfriend.” Hailey pointed at Alycia for the last part.
Stryker froze in his tracks, shocked, staring at Sophie, who wanted to sink into a hole in the ground.
“Okay, wait a minute here! I love how you are all ganging up on me because you know each other, but I was just being friendly at that party. The only one trying to steal someone else’s man is THAT one, the cow, thinking Stryker for some reason would be into tubby chicks now or whatever. Stryker is with me. He is MY man. Not hers, no matter how much she would like that. She and an army of fans, he could have his pick of girls, yet he is with me. The end.”
Alycia now turned to Stryker, possessively putting her arm around his neck, then proceeded to kiss him in the most intense and demonstrative way, just short of being X-rated.
Sophie gasped, felt as if she couldn’t breathe and just turned around and ran out of the room, out of the club and into the night. Maddie ran out after her.
“Sophie!” Stryker called, trying to pluck Alycia off himself to run after her, Hailey stepped in his way.
“I think you have done enough, Stryker, by doing what you have done and even more so, by what you haven’t done. You should really think about your actions, past, present and future, you may not realize it now, but in my 25+ years in this business, I have seen men and bands like this one come and go by the hundreds. I will tell you this: low-integrity women like your girlfriend are a dime a dozen in this business and have caused a lot of terrible things for men who were blinded by beauty, by love or whatever. A real chance is exceedingly rare, don’t squander yours for the wrong reasons.”
“Hey lady … you don’t even know me!” Alycia piped up.
“I DO know your kind, Alycia. You’re not as special as you think. But YOU do not know me. You haven’t the first idea of whom you are dealing with. Do not make the mistake and underestimate me. That has NEVER ended well for anybody. Just remember, I don’t HAVE to be nice to you, YOU have to be nice to me and my guests though. This is not an office building, this is the entertainment business, there is no HR department for complaints, a different set of rules apply, and I make the rules here, I am just being professional, don’t make me reconsider! It won’t end well for you or your boyfriend’s band and I have a feeling they won’t be happy with you if you screw this up for them. And you Stryker need to start thinking with the head atop your shoulders, because thinking with the other one is leading you down a very dark path. Drake and Nate, you two need to start doing your part or your front man is going to lead you straight into the abyss by way of his girlfriend.” Hailey said firmly, then gave Stryker one last intense glare before leaving.