A Date for Midnight (The Dating 1) - Page 19

To bide my time, I pull out my cell phone and scroll through the pictures I took of Natalie. I feel bad because I haven’t been able to call her as much as I would like. I’m busy, she’s busy, the time difference makes talking complicated, and even though texting is my preferred form of communication, there was a recent outbreak of some rabid fan hacking into phone accounts. The worst part, the hacker was employed by the cell provider and had access to everyone’s accounts. The last thing I want is for the media to get wind of Natalie’s existence and hound her. It was one of the main reasons we never left her apartment while I was there. Plus, staying entangled between her legs was a far better way to spend our time.

“Bren, you ready?” Allen, the sound board tech asks. I nod, but truth is, I’m not. I don’t want to be here right now. I slip my headphones back on and wait for the music to play. I’m trying to get into it. I’m tapping my foot, bobbing my head, and my fingers are keeping in time with the beat, but the music sucks, as do the lyrics. As soon as I open my mouth, I close it and pull my headphones off.

“Let me know when you’re ready,” Allen says into the intercom. He gets it. He knows.

“Listen Brennan, the record company is paying a lot of money for this. You’ve been at it for two days, what’s the issue?” Saldi Ashington asks. He’s worked for the record label for eons, and according to my manager, knows his stuff. He’s won Grammy’s, been nominated for an Oscar, and has produced some of the country’s biggest albums, but this time, he’s lost his mind.

“It’s the lyrics . . . ‘I’m tied up in bubble gum, sticky and sweet’ do you really expect me to sing this?”

“It’s a song,” he says.

“It’s a stupid song. Never in my life have I sung about bubble gum, let alone sticky and sweet. This screams fourteen-year-old pop star, which in case you haven’t noticed, isn’t me.

“It’s what the label wants.”

“Then find someone else. I’m not doing it. I have an album to make and this song isn’t going on it.”

“You’re under contract,” he reminds me.

“I am, guess I’m in breach.” I stand and set the headphones down and exit the room, walking right past Saldi. I hear Allen tell him he agrees with me, which I suspected. The song’s a joke and would ruin my career.

When I’m out of the studio, I walk toward the parking garage. Now would be a good time to call Natalie, but the paparazzi are lurking, and I don’t want anyone to eavesdrop on my conversation with her. Yet, when my phone rings and I see it’s my manager, I have no choice but to answer it.

“Yeah,” I answer, already frustrated with what is about to happen. Vance Davis has been my manager / agent since I came into the industry. He’s also been a pain in my ass and best friend and has never steered me in the wrong direction.

“Tough session?”

“Ridiculous. Did you know about this song?”

“Only that the label had one for you to record. What’s wrong with it?”

I tell him everything, reciting the lyrics I have memorized. As a musician, I pride myself on remembering the song before I have to preform it, even if it’s something I don’t plan to sing. It’s part of having a photographic memory, everything stays whether I like it or not.

“I can’t do it, Vance. It’s going to ruin my career.”

“I’ll take care of it. What are you doing now?”

“Nothing, gonna go home and chill for a bit, make a few phone calls and then hit up the Laker’s game. Why, what’s up?”

“There’s this newcomer, Halle Fulton. She’s twenty-five and has a movie coming out in a few months. She’s with the agency and we’re looking to build her status. You interested in taking her tonight, courtside seats?”

I groan. “Why me? Isn’t Zac Efron available?”

“We don’t want her linked with a co-star. Plus, she likes your music. Super sweet girl, college educated. Talent scout found her at a coffee shop or something equally random. She’s shy, nervous about Los Angeles. You’d be helping the agency out a lot if you show her the ropes.”

As much as I don’t want too, I agree anyway because if it’s not this woman, it’s Rayna and I want to steer clear of Rayna. “Do I have to pick her up?”

“Nah, we’ll send a car for the both of you. Have fun at the game. Tell Jack I said hi.”

Right, Jack Nicholson. Perfect. Love sitting by him.

I finally enter the garage where my car is parked and hand the attendant my slip and am told it’ll be a few minutes. The sun is shining, it’s warm and a far cry from the weather I experienced in Boston. Warm weather brings out the paps, which is annoying. As one approaches, I look down at the ground, completely fascinated by a piece of gum on the ground.

Tags: Heidi McLaughlin The Dating Romance
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