Main Bodyguards

Bodyguards

My name is Cheryl Walker, and I’m a hot, rising country-western singer. Things are going great, as I embark on a two-year around the world tour! But, when a deep-fake sex tape comes out, starring yours truly, everything comes crashing down! My stepmother hires two bodyguards, Chad and Brad. They are handsome, luscious twins with rippling muscles and tight abs. I dream about all the things I’d like to do with them…and to them! I know I am setting myself up for a world of emotional hurt by falling for first one, then the other. Things are getting very HOT! Then, a sudden betrayal – and my life changes in an instant into a wild, sassy ride through the world of music, entertainment and the dark underbelly of international espionage!
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Bodyguards



A Twin Ménage Romance





Stephanie Brother





Contents




EXCERPT





Prologue



Chapter 1



Chapter 2



Chapter 3



Chapter 4



Chapter 5



Chapter 6



Chapter 7



Chapter 8



Chapter 9



Chapter 10



Chapter 11



Chapter 12



Chapter 13



Chapter 14



Chapter 15



Chapter 16



Chapter 17



Chapter 18



Chapter 19



Chapter 20



Chapter 21



Chapter 22



Chapter 23



Chapter 24



Chapter 25



EPILOGUE I



APPENDIX A



APPENDIX B





EPILOGUE II



EPILOGUE III



THE MANDARIN CONNECTION SERIES



SPECIAL BONUS EXCERPT TWO:



SPECIAL BONUS EXCERPT THREE:



SPECIAL BONUS EXCERPT FOUR:



About Stephanie Brother



Also by Stephanie Brother





© 2019 Stephanie Brother





All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.





This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locations is purely coincidental. The characters are all productions of the author's imagination.





Please note that this work is intended only for adults over the age of 18 and all characters represented as 18 or over. None of the characters are related by blood.





Kindle Edition





Book cover designed by Kaya Woodward Cover Design





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EXCERPT





The twins and I watch the distant horizon.

It’s the first time in several days that the three of us are together.

Even now, it’s a battle to not just run over and strip off my clothes, and fuck them.

I look at the sand, or the waves, or the clouds.

Anything to distract me from the burning desire, the lust.

I know it’s just as hard for them, too.

“What are we going to do?” Brad asks.

Chad;  stares at the sea birds, and the waves in silence.

He leans against the railing of the deck, an open Red Stripe next to him.

We’ve all been drinking, because it helps to deal with the urges.

As much as I want to fuck them, it can’t be because of this – thing, that happened to us.

Every waking moment is agony. We try to avoid each other as much as possible, not from shame, but from needing to be careful. The need to touch is overwhelming.

This melding thing is powerful, and seductive.

It’s not fair!

Here we are, stuck on this isolated romantic island, with everyone catering to our every need, save one.

I’ve never felt so lonely in my entire life.





The staff on Noah’s island is used to having visitors pop up unexpectedly, so we aren’t any big deal for them. They probably think we’re just some investors, or something to do with NLS.

We’ve been here for a few weeks, and I’m pretty sure we’re being watched, at least from a distance. Satellites, maybe?

It wouldn’t surprise me.

Brad and Chad do have each other, but their conversations seem strained, at least from the little I’ve seen. I don’t think they are arguing about me, or how much either of them loves me. It’s not jealousy.

It seems more to do with tactics. What are we doing next?

And, more and more, my mind turns to Lois. What the hell was she thinking?

Contents





Prologue





The two lovers watch the sun setting across the ocean. It’s almost the end of their time together here in the Caymans. What was supposed to be a short business trip ended up extending into three blissful days.

He holds her to him, trying to draw out this ephemeral time, this last little bit of contact.

“Hey! I’ve got an idea! Quick, lie down here, on the ground, next to me! Hurry!” he tells her.

She looks at him as if he is crazy, but laughs and joins him. She loves it when he’s spontaneous like this. It’s one of the things she loves about him.

They lie there, on their backs. He wants to kiss her. He hopes it works.

“Okay, watch the sunset!” he says.

The sun slowly drops below the horizon, and at the last second, it makes a small, green flash!

“Wow! I wasn’t expecting that!” he exclaims.

“What is it?” she asks.

“No time to explain! Stand up, quick!” he responds, leaping to his feet.

He helps her up, and she shakes some of the sand from her arms. His touch electrifies her.

She’s sad this is their last night together for a while, but is looking forward to the next time, already.

“C’mon, Joanie, look!” he pleads, pointing at the horizon.

She gasps.

“How?” she asks, as she watches the sun set, again.

He’s smiling, hoping against hope it will happen a second time.

They watch as the sun dips below, and the green flash occurs, once more.

“Yes!” he shouts, pumping his fist in the air!

“That-that was amazing!” she says, with awe. “How did you know?”

“I didn’t. I actually wasn’t sure that was going to work at all,” he admits.

He bends down to kiss her. She opens her mouth, and her tongue probes him, gently caressing him, and he suddenly remembers the first time he made love to her.

The guilt, the self-hatred.

He was married, for Christ’s sake! What was he thinking?

And then, he pulls himself back into the moment, and all is right with the world.

“That was nice,” she says.

“It was incredible!” he smiles. “Two green flashes!”

She pulls a face.

“What?” she asks.

He looks at her strangely, and then laughs.

“Oh! You mean this,” he says, pulling her close and kissing her again.

Her stern look softens, and he kneads her lower back, let’s his hands roam down the crack of her pert butt, and lightly gooses her.

She starts, giggling.

“You bad boy! Is that all you think about?” she scolds.

“Pretty much, when I am with you,” he confesses. They gaze at each other for a moment, before turning to go back inside.

“Douglas, what are we going to do?” she asks suddenly.

He sits down, and lights a cigarette, inhaling and blowing the smoke out.

It hangs in the air, obscuring her face.

“Dunno. Fuck one more time, I hope,” he leers at her.

She comes over next to him, massaging his shoulders.

“You know what I mean,” she says with a sigh.

He decides to avoid the issue by changing the subject.

“So, the earth is curved, right?” he begins.

He makes a motion like a plane flying around a globe with his hands.

“When we were on the ground, we were on a visual plane with where the sun was setting. And, we saw it set, the first time. Then, when we jumped up, it was like we climbed a ladder to see above the horizon. That’s why we saw two sunsets today!” he grinned.

She mussed his hair, wondering what other kind of scientific nonsense went through his brain. She was in love with a genius. Lucky her.





Douglas company had lucrative government contracts, but the real money was in spare parts he sold to Dorcan Industries. Oh, and the money laundering for his friend Wade Wilson. He flew occasionally over to the Caymans to deposit satchels of cash, with the stipulation that Douglas would receive a percentage.

Wilson’s bank was financed in turn, by Walter Reighland.

Douglas had asked Joanie to accompany him, as she was an account manager at the bank. He wanted to make sure most of what he was doing looked legal, at least at first glance.

She’d educated him on the methods the rich used to hide their fortunes, and the two of them spent a lot of time together. It took two years before he’d worked up the nerve to make a pass at her.

She’d thought she was going to have to make the first move, but he surprised her one afternoon, suggesting they have lunch at a nearby IHOP. It had a conveniently attached motel, and he’d gotten them a room.

Three short hours later, and they had both forsaken their wedding vows. And, neither of them regretted it one bit.

Falling into a routing, their couplings were always intense, and one day he’d said the magic words. She said them back.





This trip, they’d made the deposit, and were readying to go back. A fluke storm had cancelled their return flight for two days. They took advantage of their luck.

Douglas had called his wife, apologizing that he would be delayed by the weather. She was blissfully ignorant of their arrangement, or so he’d told her.

She had called her husband, who was aware of her indiscretions. She could care less, and told him repeatedly how much more of a man Douglas was than he. She knew it was cruel, but the idiot wouldn’t grant her the divorce she craved. She’d taken every opportunity to torture him with the lurid details. One time, she left her phone on, and the dumb fuck actually listened for three whole minutes before ringing off.

She had gone home, expecting him to be gone.

Instead, he had made them dinner, and acted as if nothing at all had transpired.

The ache in her loins, and the lingering taste of Douglas cock was hard evidence that she had indeed been fucked into eye-rolling orgasm after orgasm.

The man was a sex god!

She hated what her husband was putting them through.

When this Cayman trip was scheduled, she told him that this was the last time.

Because, she was filing for divorce, whether he wanted it or not.

Sullen and hurt, he had left her at the airport, driving his dingy car into the rain.

The three days with her lover had steeled her resolve.

And now, tomorrow they were flying back to their real lives.





“I filed papers, Doug. I want out of that hideous marriage,” she says to him, later. He’d fucked her silly, one last time. The sun was rising, and he had just come back from his shower. He looked fine, if a bit worn, to her.

She rubbed her hair with a towel, the tingling in her pussy and ass still keeping her aroused. She was tempted to suck him off. But now they were running late.

Maybe they should just say fuck it and stay here forever.

She laughed. That would show both of their spouses!

“Fine, do what you want. I can’t. Not yet,” he shrugs.

She felt that quick stab of panic, that he was only using her, that he only like her pussy.

She pushed it down.

He loved her. He’d said it time and again.

“When is the next time I am going to see you, then?” she asks.

When he doesn’t answer, she thinks he is angry.

“Joanie, we need to talk,” he sighs.

Fear grips her heart.

“She knows. And, it’s got to be over,” he tells her.

She stands up, shocked.

Angry. Terrified.

“What, how did she find out?” she asks.

“I called her yesterday. She flat out asked, and I couldn’t lie to her anymore,” he says.

“Are you insane! What if she calls Wilson? Christ, what if she calls Dorcan! You could lose your clearance! Hell, you could lose your contracts!” she shouts.

Douglas looks at her, comprehension finally dawning on his face.

“I see. So, that’s what this was all about,” he says, in a neutral tone, and begins packing his bag. He thrusts a cigarette into his mouth, and looks around for the lighter.

“Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare ignore me, Douglas Walker!” she screams.

She manages to barely keep control.

Sex god or not, this fool was on the verge of screwing up both of their futures. She wondered if she could stop her divorce proceedings? She’d actually already filed the papers, two weeks prior, and she expected her attorney would serve the papers any time.

“Why on earth did you do it, Doug? I thought you love me!” she says, finally breaking down and sobbing.

He walks over to her, and takes her chin in his fingers, tilting her head to stare at her wet eyes.

“It’s just business, babe,” he whispers.





Chapter One





I’m waiting, behind the curtains, and nervous as all hell.

The huge television screens display my name for all to see.

“Cheryl Walker –Twilight of the Butterflies”

It’s a big concert, but I’m not the main attraction.

No, that honor goes to Merle Nelson, the old, great and classic star. His songs are legendary, and made him not only one of the biggest names in the business, but are guaranteed to have everyone in the audience crying at some point.

He’s been a real inspiration to me, and thanks to my Stepmother, Lois, and a lot of luck and hard work, I am finally opening for the Great One.

My songs tend to be a bit more ‘lonely woman misses her man,’ or ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ kinds of things.

The lyrics are bittersweet, and seem wiser than they really are.

Sure, I can write some decent words, but the real magic is being able to mate that with a catchy tune.

And, that’s my gift – hooks.





I can come up with a series of notes that will leave you floored, feeling like your heart is just ripping right out of your body, one moment, and singing like an angelic choir the next. “Country and Western Music Today” called me ‘a combination of Tammy Wynette, Reba and Dolly all rolled up and sprinkled with some Beyoncé.’

At least, that’s what Lois had them write when they did that spread on me back last June…





Now, peeking out at the audience, I take a deep breath. The band is all ready to go.

The instruments are glowing in the stadium lights, and the colored spots are bouncing around and painting everything in surreal colors.





I’m a big country western singer. Not quite a ‘real’ star.

Well, technically, that’s not exactly true.

I am a big girl. Curvy in all the right places, sassy, and loud.

Especially loud when I am singing for a crowd.

So, I am a singer; ‘star’ is a bit of a stretch.

Lois thinks I’m a real country western star.

That’s why she hired Brad and Chad Strong, to be my bodyguards.

They are twins.

And, boy are they fun to look at!

Tall, muscled, with tattooed forearms, and six-pack abs. They look like linebackers, and can part the crowds at a show by just standing up and walking on by. All the ladies drool over them.

But, lucky me, I get them all to myself!





Chapter Two





I live for this kind of thing, to be honest.

I always loved attention, from the time my Daddy would pick me up and twirl me around, to when I used to go on pony rides at the county fair, to graduating Julliard with my music degree.

Yeah, I went there…

And, it was there that I made the brash decision that I would remain, in the words of my inimitable Grams, a ‘good girl.’

Oh, the temptations surrounded me the entire time I studied my music. My loins ached just as much as any other red-blooded country gal. But, my upbringing, and my Daddy’s keen eye, kept all the boys who’d have ‘spoilt’ me away.





I remember the one day when Jimmy, my childhood neighbor and the latest quarterback and man about campus from Robert Lee High came a-calling. I’ve got to admit, I led the poor boy on, teasing him for all he was worth.

I had bounced past him in the halls, my boobs pretty big by then, and sashayed my ample butt in his direction. His eyes bugged right out of his pumpkin head.

He was a typical jock, thinking with his thing, and not his brains. I had him right where I wanted him.

Prom was coming up, and even though I knew he was dating that head cheerleader, Karen, I had set my sights on him.

“Hey, Jimmy!” I laughed gayly at him, fluttering my eyelashes. They were fake, of course, and I had about a pound and a half of foundation and mascara on my face.

He gave me the eye, punching Thumper Sullivan on the arm, hard.

Thumper and his twin brother, Stinger, were the stars of our high school team. (Years later, they went on to become college athletes, winning Heisman trophy’s and other accolades, before mysteriously vanishing.) “Hey, Thump! Looka that!” Jimmy said, giving me an evil wink.

“Hey, Cheryl! How’s your dad?” Thumper asked. He and his brother were always really polite to everyone. Their stepdad was in the Marines, if I remember.

I sidle up to Jimmy.

“You going to prom?” I asked. I make sure to bend over, and stretch to pick up my compact, that I conveniently dropped. Jimmy got an eyeful of my ass.

I can see him thinking dirty thoughts…

Thumper leaned over and picked up my compact for me, foiling my plan.

Dummy!

“Thanks, Thumper,” I mumbled, trying to keep the disappointment from my voice.

I liked him, but he and his brother had this step-sister, Bea, and I just didn’t think we’d all get along all that well, tell the truth.

“Pleasure, Cher,” he mumbled back.

Luckily, Stinger came around the corner, with a couple of other girls in tow.

“Hey, Thump! Jimmy! Look what I found!” he laughs. He’s the spitting image of his brother, but I can always tell them apart, because Thumper is always serious.

Stinger looks like he’s always about to pull a prank on someone.

“Stinger! Hang a second, will ya?” Jimmy says.

Thumper joins his brother and the girls and they wander off a bit, while Jimmy gets close to me. His brown eyes look at me hungrily, and I gaze back. I want to fuck this boy.

He’s everything I fantasize about. Muscles, nice hair and he smells nice!

And, that wonderful smile!

“Say, Cher, you got a date for the prom?” he asks.

Falling right into my trap, I smirk to myself.

“Why? I thought you and Karen were a thing? You aren’t a cheater, are you James Francis Wilson?” I say, curtly.

Jimmy looks shocked.

“Cher, you ain’t called me that since we were in sixth grade together! That time I whacked you in the stomach with that baseball!” he says, looking scared.

I laughed, remembering how worried he was when Daddy found out.

We’d been playing in the field, just goofing around with a bat and ball and he’d smacked it a good one. He’d always been good at sports, and didn’t really know his own strength.

The ball knocked the air out of me, when it slid past my pink leather mitt, and I fell down, unconscious.

He ran off to find someone, but I had already come to by the time he came back with Gramma in tow.

“You okay?” she asked me.

“I guess so,” I nodded. “It was an accident,” I confessed, coughing lightly.

She gave Jimmy a look.

“You’d better be sure it don’t happen again, James Francis Wilson, or I swear by God that I’ll tan your sneaky hide!” Grams warned.

He looked fit to be tied.

“Yes’m! I mean, no ma’am! I’m sorry, Cheryl!” he stammered.

That night, when Daddy found out, he called Mr. Wilson, and a short while later a car pulled up. Jimmy and his daddy got out, and they went into my Daddy’s den.

When they came out, everyone was all smiles, but I knew Daddy let them no in no uncertain terms that was the last time that would happen!

And now, Jimmy was looking at me in a way I liked, a lot.

“Naw, Karen is going to be out of town for prom. Her aunt is sickly, and her family is driving to Richmond. She’s going to miss a whole week!” he said, not unimpressed.

Karen was a typical airheaded mean girl. Beautiful to look at, but with a nasty streak a mile wide.

We’d also had run-ins over the years, since her momma was Principal at our middle school. But we had managed an uneasy truce and stayed out of each other’s way, for the most part.

Except, I always had a crush on Jimmy, and now, I had an opportunity to even things up a bit.

“You wanna go together, James?” I teased.

He looked me up and down, and then, without realizing it, adjusted his pants. They were probably pretty uncomfortable with that thing he had in them. I could see its outline.

Not too shabby! He looked a bit uncomfortable, but then he got his nerve.

“Will you go to prom, Cheryl, with me?” he blurted. I swear the boy almost blushed!

I let him twist for a minute. Then, tossing my hair, I gave him my answer.

“Sure, Jimmy! Pick me up on time, now!” I said, walking away in a hurry.

I was almost running because I didn’t want to let him know how excited I was.

A real date, with the Big Man on Campus, Jimmy Wilson!

Looking back, it was the first of many mistakes I would make…





When prom night arrived, Jimmy came to pick me up in his Corvette. His family had money, and I think maybe that’s why Daddy had a bit of a grudge against him.

He didn’t trust bankers, and Wade Wilson was the biggest banker in four states.

The times they had to be together in public, like at ball games or fairs, when they were trying to act like pals, Daddy and Mr. Wilson were all smiles. But you could tell it was forced.

So, when Jimmy came to the door, Daddy took him aside, like before.

They were only in there for a few minutes, when Jimmy came out, white as a sheet.

“You have a good time, hear?” Daddy smiled at both of us.

“Yessir, thank you sir, and ten-thirty on the dot, sir!” Jimmy recited.

I rolled my eyes.

Ten-thirty? Heck, by then I hoped Jimmy would be plowing me rough and tumble, making me hear bells and see stars!

“Daddy!” I said, exasperated.

“Remember what I said, James,” he warned.

We left, and Jimmy was a real gentleman, holding open my door, and driving all cautious and the entire night he treated me like a princess. He even kept the other boys from me, making sure they didn’t get too fresh.

“I enjoy all this nice attention, Jimmy, but maybe we can cut out a bit early? I have something to tell you!” I said to him during a break in the dance.

He looked uncomfortably at me.

“Cheryl, uh…” he started.

I kissed him full on the mouth.

He kissed me back. It was pretty good for a first kiss.

Not all rockets and flags, but hey, he’d only really had Karen to kiss, and she looked like she kissed like a fish.

He grabbed my arms, holding me away.

He reached some kind of decision, then kissed me hard.

“Fuck it!” he mumbled as he mashed his face against mine.

We snuck out as fast as we could, and the next thing I know I’m in a room of his big old house. He’d practically flew that car back there!

We ran into the house.

“Parents not home! Let’s go to the romper room!” he said, between hot kisses and grabbing my plump ass.

I squealed, getting horny and wet, and held his hand as we got to the Romper Room, which was a big play room that his family had made to entertain guests.

Imagine our surprise when we walked in to see Daddy and my mother sitting there, watching television, eating popcorn and drinking lemonade.

Jimmy nearly fainted, trying to pull himself together.

He glanced around.

“My parents! They told me… but, what are you… why?” he stammered, his eyes wide and full of fear.

“Cheryl-Ann, let’s go clean up this mess in the kitchen,” Mother suggested, and I followed her.

I could hear my Daddy as we walked away.

“Well, at least you got her home by ten-thirty, son!” he said, chuckling.





Later, Jimmy told me that Daddy had talked to him like a man, for the first time. He told Jimmy that he was not too disappointed, but that he should be more careful in the future. Of course, Jimmy could date me, if I wanted to and all. He liked Jimmy, and especially how well he played football.

But Jimmy also told me that if Daddy found out Jimmy wasn’t ‘playing fair,’ as he put it, either on or off the field, then Daddy had a shovel, a shotgun and forty acres up North. He was very nonchalant about it. Jimmy almost asked him what he would tell Mr. Wilson, but Daddy interrupted him.

“Plenty of room, son. Enough for your relatives, too!” he smiled.

Jimmy swore me to secrecy, and never told anyone, not even Mr. Wilson about what Daddy had said to him.

Thinking back, I don’t think Daddy was serious about it.

Usually.





Mother had given me the ‘getting to be a big girl / young woman’ talk, before prom. She wasn’t at all surprised by my behavior. My lipstick was all messed up, of course, and my dress was in disarray.

She sighed.

“Cheryl, honey, I know this is one of the big nights in a girl’s life,” she began.

I was near tears, but more from the unreleased sexual tension, and not from letting my parents down. I didn’t feel I had done anything wrong. Hell, it was MY prom!

We stood in the kitchen, listening as my Daddy read Jimmy the riot act, or so I thought. It was pretty calm, for an ass-reaming, now that I considered it.

Mother snooped around the kitchen, admiring the various appliances that a lot of money could buy.

She and Daddy did just fine, mind you, but nothing like the Wilson’s.

“Why are you here, Mom?” I asked, suddenly.

“Oh! Janet and Wade asked if we wanted to house sit, since they were taking Amy to a show in New York City. They’ll be gone a couple of days,” she said, off-handedly, as if it were perfectly natural for her and Daddy to be in my potential boyfriend’s house.

She waved the next question away, peering deep into the freezer.

“Italian ices! Wow! From Costco, too! Who would have thought!” she said, disapprovingly.

She stood and stared right at me. She smiled.

Then, she walked over and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the nose.

Smiling, she held my hands for a moment, then let them fall.

“I can’t fault you, dear,” she said. “It’s in your genes, that hot passion, that wanting to feel loved.”

I didn’t understand what she meant.

She walked around the kitchen, cocking her head, judging where the men were in their own conversation.

Nodding, as if she’d come to a decision, she glanced at the bottles of liquor sitting on the shelves, as if in an exclusive pub.

“I don’t think so,” she said out loud, wrinkling her nose as she smelled a bottle of Scotch.

Then, she turned to me again.

“You were a prom baby, after all, you know,” Mother said, quietly. She rummaged around the Wilson’s pantry, and found a bottle of white wine, something pretty expensive.

“This’ll do!” she smiled.

“You come by it honestly, Cheryl, so don’t feel shame. You’re a good person, a wonderful daughter and I love you and want you to be happy. Just be careful, you know,” she said, glancing at my stomach.

“I don’t regret what happened with your father. I love him and you so much! But that choice meant taking a hard look at what was really important to me, and I think you deserve a different – opportunity,” she said, diplomatically.

She smiled again.

“Get some wine glasses, would you, dear?” she said, pointing to a cupboard.

I extracted a couple, their crystal making tinkling noises as they clinked against each other.

“No, no! Get four!” she insisted. “Take them out there, to the boys!” she laughed.

Her laughter was always magical, and full of joy. It would be something I missed when she was gone.





The four of us drank wine and laughed, and watched ‘Friends.’ The Wilson’s had all the games, so we played Wii tennis for a while, then tried the bowling, and then Dance Dance Revolution, and then Mother and Daddy excused themselves and went off to the guest bedroom. Leaving the two of us totally alone.





We made out, and kissed and groped around, and Jimmy even fingered me a bit. But I kept remembering what Mother had said, about me being a ‘prom baby’ and it just finally got to be too much.

Jimmy and I sat and watched the Late Show, and finally fell asleep on the couch.





The next morning, we all had breakfast, and then Jimmy went off to practice, and we went back to our house.

Jimmy and I dated for a few more months, but it was more platonic than a real relationship. He was a good friend. It was just that my Mother’s words would echo in my head, and when I looked at Jimmy, I saw a weaker version of my parents – a couple who could tolerate each other, not love each other. My parents were very much in love.

I didn’t love the musclebound lummox, as nice and polite and rich as he was or would be.

My fantasies of what our children would look like always had his eyes, but my ample booty. It was ridiculous.

So, we started drifting apart, and a lot of that was my fault. I would find reasons to be upset. Silly reasons, too.

Like he had practice, and I would sometimes make sure to tell him I wanted to do something that conflicted with it. So, of course we fought about it.

Finally, I’d heard through the grapevine that Karen had managed to confront Jimmy about the whole prom thing. It seemed as though her aunt wasn’t really sick; it was just she had wanted to see another boy and didn’t want him finding out.

Jimmy threw our relationship in her face, but she just laughed at him, warning him he’d be back.

And then, Mother was getting ill.





One day, at lunch, I noticed that Jimmy and Karen were talking again.

I felt stupid, and dull.

My reluctance to do anything ‘sexy’ with him drove him straight into her arms.

But, by now, I was too worried about Mother to care. She was getting very sick, and Daddy had begun taking her to specialists, to find out what was wrong.

You could see it in his eyes, though. He knew.

He was the first to figure it all out.





A few scant months later, Mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer; she was gone before I graduated high school.





Daddy took Mother’s death pretty hard.

She had been his only love, and I had been the thing that made it real for him. It took him quite a while to get back on the horse, so to speak, even though most of the women in our social circles felt he was a real catch.

Daddy must have played the field, but he was pretty discrete and when he finally brought Lois home, I could tell that he’d made up his mind to get married again.

It had been four years since Mother had passed.

Lois was pretty, and vivacious, but she also was not one to tolerate bullshit, if you catch my drift.

She helped me digest my abortive relationship with Jimmy Wilson, and taught me that it was okay to be sad. Lois was pretty shrewd, I thought.

But she also could be hard.

Where my Mother had a way of putting things so that I would have to make my own decisions, and think them over, Lois was sometimes impulsive. And, she didn’t like being questioned too deeply.

It was pretty funny – she’d be full of good advice, but when you tried to point out to her that she didn’t seem to follow it, she’d cut off the conversation – like flipping a light switch – or change it to another topic.

She didn’t seem rude, but she knew when she had made her position clear, and that was that.

Daddy told me he liked that about her. She was decisive, and knew what she wanted.

I guess that was why he let her make almost all of his decisions after a while.

He started staying in the background, and I felt him shrinking away from me. After Mother passed, he grieved, and then I thought he’d processed it. His decision to marry Lois wasn’t sudden, after all. It was a right genteel courtship, actually.

But he took on the marriage on his own terms, and maybe Lois and he had a different idea of what that meant.

It seemed to me that they were comfortable, but not truly happy.

But I was definitely biased.

No doubt about that at all.





After she and Daddy married, Lois pushed me to look into becoming an entertainer.

“You’re pretty, and funny! Let’s see what we can do with that!” she told me one day.

Daddy was on board, so I felt it would probably be fun to enter some contests, not really thinking about it very seriously.

Lois began to enter me into beauty pageants, and talent shows.

I quickly grew out of the beauty pageant circuit, as my body decided to become ‘more developed’ as one Judge kindly put it. I looked like I was in my twenties, even though I was still in high school. It made me stand out, and not in the way that would win pageants. I was what people referred to as ‘big-boned.’ As if my boobs and ass have any bones…

Talent shows were another thing altogether.

I could sing, but my voice was in a key that didn’t work with my look, and all the songs I was given to perform were either pop nonsense, that all the other kids would also sing, or some ancient Sinatra tunes. Boring!

I tried to add baton twirling into the mix, but I was not coordinated enough to do it right, and after bonking myself in the face a few times, I swore it off.

At first, musical instruments proved too difficult to manage. I could read music just fine, but my fingers were not made to manipulate the controls or strings or keys or even drums! But, I liked the idea of making music, I just couldn’t get the hang of the doggone things!

I mean, I could ‘play’ them just fine, but the sounds came out crazily distorted, either too loud or too soft. My music teachers just shook their heads, and sighed. It was obvious to them that I’d never be good enough at playing.

All that changed on my seventeenth birthday. For some reason, I had been humming a tune in the shower, and began to sing it out loud.

Lois came running into the bathroom, (don’t all mothers do that?), and told me to turn off the radio.

Which was weird, as we didn’t own one.

When she realized I had been singing, and doing a pretty decent impression of Beyoncé, she got a strange look on her face.

Then, she ran back out.

At least I could finish my shower in peace…





A short time later, I found myself being dragged from one talent agency to the next.

Lois had asked a friend to record a short demo tape, where I repeated my Beyoncé act. Her friend, Tom was a long-time guitar player, and he’d been in many bands over the years. His most recent one lacked a singer, and, after listening to my bit, he suggested I try a few other tunes.

Over the next week we spent almost all my spare time in the studio, as Tom added backup music tracks, and tuned my voice. He was very helpful, and it wasn’t until much later that I realized he had a crush on Lois.

What finally came out of the sessions was a decent rendering of a Janis Joplin / Britney Spears combination of sounds. I had the ability to add a quavering contralto, and hit some good high notes.

Tom signed off on the project, and soon Lois was shopping it around.

Tom even got me a few gigs, backing for his band.

At first, it felt silly, but pretty soon I started getting noticed.

Then, it happened.

Almost two years had passed since my demo tape sessions.

Thanks to Lois, I was now lead singer in a small rock band, “The Dire Boys.”

Tom had moved on to other projects, and women. Apparently, Lois was just a crush, and he was a rolling stone…

She didn’t seem worried, and had me try out for about a dozen local bands. She’d settled on “The Dire Boys,” mainly because she liked their music.

They were a bunch of horny guys, and even though they tried making a move on me once or twice, Lois made it very clear I was off-limits to them, if they wanted me to sing for them.

It was awkward at first, but soon I was more of a sister than someone they wanted to fuck.

We did pretty well, and even won a few battles of the local band competitions.

It wasn’t the big time, but we were booked solid for months.

Since I had finished high school, I was thinking about going to a college that might be able to provide me with a small music scholarship.

I’d goof around during the week, practicing with the band, or singing solo.

Apparently, I’d gotten good enough to attract some real attention.





One night, Ron Stone, a handsome dude with long blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a pair of lips that looked very kissable, asked me out for a cup of coffee.

He was the lead singer of another band, one that was doing a lot better than “The Dire Boys.”

I didn’t see anything odd about his request, so I went with him.

Ron told me that the current female vocalist of his band was pretty strung out, and unreliable. He confessed that the band had only kept her on this long because of a misguided sense of loyalty, but her recent behavior had ended up with her getting arrested and sent to rehab.

Ron frowned as he related this story, and I watched those dreamy eyes take on a look of sadness.

“How can I help?” I asked him.

Ron swirled a spoon in his tea, and then took a sip. His blue eyes regarded me, intensely.

He nodded.

“Look,” he said.

He twirled the spoon some more, smiling tightly.

“Look, Cheryl, you’re pretty good. But, you’re kind of young…” he started to say.

I rolled my eyes at him.

“Hah! I didn’t mean it like that!

Then, he leaned in close and took hold of my hand.

“How would you like to be our vocalist?” he said, simply.

I was stunned.

Ron’s band, “The Dukes of IRL,” was pretty well known, and had even managed to cut a few albums. One of their songs was a top 100 single, for a few weeks.

“And, would you like to start dating?” he smiled.

He leaned over and kissed me, and I found out I was right about those lips.

But, as I mumbled my agreement with my mouth full of Ron’s tongue, I had no idea how wrong I was about everything else about him.





Chapter Three





Ron’s band all agreed I met their ‘look,’ and they listened to me belt out their hit single, which was pretty catchy. I could feel their eyes on me as I sang the words, bouncing and swaying to the rhythm.

When I finished, I waited for their verdict.

Ron was smiling, a Cheshire cat grin plastered on his face.

“What did I tell you?” he asked the band.

The drummer, Mark, gave me a look.

“She can sing, all right,” he said, with a bit of a growl.

“But Allison is not going to like this at all, Ron,” he added.

“Leave Allison to me, Mark, okay?” Ron replied. Suddenly, I noticed he wasn’t grinning, and I sensed that maybe there was something off below his surface charm.

The bass player, Dave, gave me a wink. His gold grille was dazzling in the light, and his smile was warm.

“Don’ let them boys bother you, girl. Just keep doin’ what you doin’,” he drawled, his Caribbean accent thick. His black body was lean and taught, and his dreadlocks rolled down his back. He pulled out a spliff, and fired it up.

“Come here, girlie, and have some of God’s medicine!” he grinned.

I took a puff, and nearly coughed myself to death!

The other band members laughed and partook of Dave’s weed. When they offered it to me, I shook my head no. Once was enough. I was already feeling light-headed.

The keyboard player, Pat, gave me a look, rolling her eyes.

“What a lightweight!” she sneered, taking a pull from a bottle of Jack Daniels.

I felt her judgement, and wondered if it was a good move for me to leave “The Dire Boys.”





We sat around, jamming for a bit, when Pat came by and looked me up and down, holding her bottle of whiskey.

“Ron and Allison were a thing, Cheryl. You’d better understand that, before you get in too deep here,” she warned.

“I can take care of myself,” I said brazenly.

She shrugged.

“You sing better than she does, that’s for sure,” Pat replied.

She leaned in close, and I could smell the whiskey on her breath.

“I like girls. I like you,” she purred.

I felt slightly embarrassed. I had never been hit on by a woman.

“I’m flattered, but…” I stammered.

Pat leaned back and laughed.

“Boy! The look on your face!” she giggled.

“You’re okay, you know that, Cher?” she said, and smacked my upper arm with the bottle, which was nearly empty.

I smiled awkwardly, and went to stand next to Ron, who was tinkering around with another chord combination. It sounded like something Paul McCartney would have written, if he’d been born in Alabama.

Ron played the tune for a few moments, then looked at me. He had this distant look in his eyes.

“That was beautiful,” I whispered.

I was awestruck.

“Well, it ought to be. Paul McCartney wrote it a long time ago,” he joked.

“Wait. I know all the Beatles songs?” I asked.

He just stared at me with that look, again.

He sighed.

“You want to fuck?” Ron said.

I was a virgin.

“Yes,” I answered.





We lay in Ron’s bed.

It had gone terribly.

I had no idea what to do, so I spent most of the time kissing him, or tugging at his limp manhood. He played with my boobs, but stayed away from me other than that. He kissed great.

But I felt put off, and even when I tried, I just could not get into the mood.

After a while, he rolled off me.

Nothing had happened. It was really unsatisfying. I wondered if it was because he was thinking about Allison.

Ron lit up a joint, and offered it to me. I shook my head no, and he just shrugged.

I put my clothes back on, and sat on the side of the bed.

“If you want to stay on, you’re going to have to lie to the others and tell them we’re fucking,” he suddenly blurted out.

“What?” I replied, shocked.

“I don’t think we are compatible, but, as the lead guitar, I’ve always got to have to be seen to be banging the lead singer. It’s just how things are, Cheryl,” he added, nodding to himself as if in agreement.

“I don’t understand?” I said, confused.

He sat up; his limp dick pasted to his thigh.

I unconsciously pulled a face. I suddenly had zero sexual interest in Ron.

He looked at me with those blue eyes.

“Look. We are an up and coming band. We are going places. I’ve made some deals to see to it we are going to have a decent shot at an album, from a big production company, in two months. That’s going to happen, whether you are lead vocals or not, okay, Cheryl?” he explained.

“But, part of the deal is I need a beard. A cover, so that people will see that we are all together, do you dig it?” he asked.

I shook my head. I didn’t understand. All I wanted to do was sing.

Ron sat back, lying on the pillows, smoking his weed.

“I have certain…tastes…that are difficult to explain. I need a face, a girl, to deflect suspicion, at least until we hit it big. After our first two gold albums, we can part company and I don’t give a shit,” he told me.

I looked at him, as though he were a bug.

I was aghast.

“You need to put on a show, like we are sleeping together, when we are out in public. Once we are off stage, you can fuck whomever you like, but don’t get caught. That won’t go over well with my…investors. They value discretion,” he said ominously.

I stood up.

“Maybe I should just leave now, Ron. Thanks, and all that, but…” I began.

Ron leapt out of the bed, stopping me from leaving by blocking the door.

“Maybe I haven’t been clear, Cheryl. You are in the band. That’s the deal. You get fame, you get to sing. You get to travel and maybe one day you’ll get enough money to do your own thing. But there are rules,” he said, growling.

“Get out of my way, Ron,” I said.

When he didn’t move, I tried to push past him.

He grabbed my wrists and twisted, hard.

I yelped out in pain, and then he punched me in the stomach.

I fell to the ground, writhing and breathless. I flashed back to that day Jimmy had hit me with the baseball.

This was far worse.

I saw Ron standing over me, that distant look in his eyes.

“You keep your mouth shut, and you’ll be fine. If you say anything, I guarantee your career is over, Cheryl,” he hissed.

Then, he walked back to the bed, and got dressed. When he left, I was still holding my stomach, weeping.





Chapter Four





Ron was right about “The Dukes of IRL.”

By the end of the year, we’d cut a deal with Bullwhip records, and it looked as though it might go gold.

We were getting air play all over the place, showing up on download sites and even had two television gigs.

We began to do shows on the road, and sold out every one.

Ron was ecstatic.

I played at being his girlfriend, hanging on his arm at parties and making it seem as though he were the only man on the planet worth having.

Some of the tabloids put out crazy headlines, and made it seem more than it was.

The reality of it would disappoint their readers, for sure.

While I didn’t exactly outright hate Ron, outside of that one night he never laid another finger on me.

The other band members thought we were sleeping together. We shared rooms, and Ron would jerk off with enough vigor that it sounded as though we were fucking. But he rarely came, if he did it with me in the room.

I would read a book, or watch tv, and moan or make some kinds of noise, if he thought the others needed some reassurance.

Allison had been informed she was out of the band, and when she came out of rehab, she ended up joining some church group and becoming a missionary to Africa.

Pat gave me knowing looks, and we chatted once in a while.

Dave and Mark left me alone, except at rehearsals.

All the while, a strange thing was happening.

Our reviews were pretty good, but the one main component of all of them was how well I sung.

At first, it was just flattering to be noticed, but soon it led to some friction.

A band is, after all, a team. And, if one of the team is a lot better than the others, problems can arise.

And that is exactly what happened.





“Julliard?” I said, astonished.

“THE Julliard?” I repeated, my head spinning.

Lois just smiled and held the acceptance letter in her manicured fingers.

She was looking very smug, as if she’d just pulled off an impressive stunt.

“I believe the words you are looking for are ‘Thank you, Lois!’” she said.

I ran over and hugged her tightly.

“Watch the dress and hair, darling!” she chuckled.

I had happy tears, but I also heard the tone in her voice. I stepped back, smiling and weeping, and noticed that Lois eyes looked mirthful, but not in a happy way. I realized she wasn’t really happy for -me-. She was happy because some puzzle piece of her own plans had fallen into place.

Still – Julliard!

Wow!





Telling the band I was leaving was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my entire life.

I thought losing my Mother was tough, but this was far more emotional. She wasn’t ever coming back. I knew that. I had accepted it, and even though I missed her terribly, I made my peace with the reality of what had happened.

But these people – they had been my friends!

We were a team! Musicians!

I was in the studio, telling them that I’d gotten a full ride to Julliard, one of the most prestigious music academies in the entire world, and I got the sense that they felt I had just taken a gigantic shit all over their dreams!

They were making me feel completely awful about something for which I am sure Mother would have sung my praises to the hilltops!

“See ya!” Pat said. She barely looked at me as she went off to the bathroom.

Ron and Mark shrugged, and followed her. I guess they were going to do some blow or something.

I didn’t care.

Tom just said “Good luck! You’ll be missed!” and went back to forging the soundtrack for the album we’d been recording.

Dave was the only one who had offered any semblance of congratulations.

“Look, mon,” he said. “You doin’ what you gonna do, you know? But these others, they may not admit it, but they jealous. You got a good voice, good instincts. You young. You too new at this, still,” he said, wagging his fingers.

“What should I do, Dave?” I asked. I didn’t really expect an answer, but Dave put his hands on each of my shoulders.

“You do you, mon. That’s all an all what we all gonna do, and it be what Rasta want,” he whispered. He kissed my ears!

Then, he slapped my ass!

It stung!

“Always wanna do that, Cherry!” he laughed, his voice booming.

I couldn’t help but laugh as well…





Three months into my studies, Lois informed me that the band was suing me for breach of contract.

“Don’t sweat it, sweetheart!” she joked. “It’s part of the deal!”

“What does Daddy think?” I asked her.

“Oh, don’t you worry about him. He’s got his own problems,” she said.

There was menace in her voice.

I felt suddenly afraid for my father. I didn’t know why.

He was capable, and if his marriage to Lois had any cracks in it, they were hidden very well. They always appeared a perfect couple when I visited and we’d go to dinner or the theatre.

I didn’t see anything.

But once again, Daddy saw it before anyone else.

And it didn’t do him any good at all.





I studied hard for three years. I learned music theory, and to play the piano, and also became decent enough with a guitar. I used to strum out little tunes, humming and writing lyrics. My classmates were all talented, and most of them were from wealthy families.

I didn’t feel exactly left out, but I did find myself spending a lot of alone time.

The whole thing with the band had left a sour taste in my mouth for the music business.

Lois and Daddy had managed to deflect the brunt of the lawsuit away from me, and so I didn’t worry as much as I might have.

Lois was fierce, and I was glad, suddenly, that she was in my corner. She countered the suit, hiring some very expensive attorneys. They went after Ron and the studio, which really upset me. What had Tom to do with all of this?

One day, feeling a bit lonely, I dialed up Tom’s number.

“Hello, Cheryl. I can’t talk to you while your stepmother is suing me, sorry. Please speak to my attorney,” he said automatically.

“Tom! Wait!” I pleaded with him.

“I didn’t mean for it to go this way! I’m sorry! Really!” I cried.

There wasn’t anything for a moment or two.

“Cheryl, I know that this is all just business. Let me give you some advice, okay?” he said, calmly.

“Off the record, and I’ll deny all of this if you tell anyone,” he warned.

I listened, stifling the sobs that were just below the surface.

“Cheryl, you’ve got ‘it.’ That undefinable thing, that everyone thinks they have. Ron thinks he has ‘it,’ but he’s full of shit, and no one in this part of the country is going to let a fag like him make it. I don’t care how much dick he sucks…That doesn’t really matter,” he stopped.

I held my breath. What was he saying to me?

“Once you get out of there, and sincere congratulations on getting there, I really mean that,” he said.

“Thank you, Tom, I really appreciate that,” I whispered, my heart in my throat. My chest ached. I missed the band! I missed all of them so much!

Tears began flowing down my cheeks.

“Hey. Don’t do that. Be strong. You’re gonna make it big, Cherry. Don’t doubt it. I’ve had hundreds of people come through here. I’ll be all right, and ‘The Dukes’ will go on to have some decent gigs. They’re middle of the road, so they won’t ever worry about making a living. Unless Ron… but never mind that,” he said.

“You didn’t do anything wrong. You did what you had to do. Your parents are doubtless very proud of you. And, Lois is a cast iron bitch, but she cares about making sure you don’t get fucked over. That’s good to have in your toolbox, kiddo,” Tom added.

“I don’t know what to say, Tom,” I whispered.

“Tell you what, Superstar, when you get that big concert, get me some passes for old times sake and we’ll call it even. By the way, I am not supposed to tell you this, but we’re settling. It’ll be in the blogosphere next week. Take care, Cherry!” Tom finished, and hung up before I could say anything else.

I just sat there, in my dorm, crying into my pillow for hours. For my losses.

My mother. My childhood. My team…





When the tears dried, I promised that I would get those passes for Tom, one way or another.





Chapter Five





Two Years Later





I’m in a limo outside of the offices of Hackthorne and Burns, in Nashville.

Lois is sitting next to me, primping and putting on a bit of pancake makeup. She’d had some things lifted, but Daddy apparently didn’t care, one way or the other.

I sense there was some distance forming between them.

Lois had insisted on accompanying me to this.

I’m glad she is here, honestly.

After the way she’d handled The Dukes, I had new-found admiration for her skills.

Daddy had told me that, even though the settlement was confidential, they were lucky to be even playing Bar Mitzvah’s or kids birthday parties.

I didn’t know what she’d done, but Lois had neatly excised me from that contract.

“Thank you,” I blurt out.

“For what, dear?” Lois says, as she wipes an invisible speck of lipstick away. She smacks and puckers her lips, and then snaps shut her compact.

She places it in her clutch, a very expensive Gucci.

I’d never figured out Daddy and Lois’ financial arrangement.

They had moved into some larger accommodations, and Lois always traveled by drivers these days, but this was the first time she’d shown any signs of being ostentatious.

“It’s all for show, dear,” she insisted, when I’d protested the limo.

I look at the limo driver, who is a handsome, dark man, with gleeful eyes, short black hair, and a handlebar mustache. He wears the typical uniform for the company.

I smile at him.

“Thank you for the smooth ride, sir!” I say.

“Not at all, Miss Walker! My pleasure!” he smiles back.

“You know me?” I reply, surprised.

“Everyone knows you, after that show you did last month on Saturday Afternoon Alive! It was breathtaking! Such music!” he gushes.

I think he might be slightly starstruck, when he brings me back down to Earth.

“Do you know, earlier today, Mr. Brett Ghent was my passenger!” he brags.

Lois gives him a look that would freeze an iceberg.

“Are you always so indiscrete, name-dropping like that, Mister…Bloom? Is it?” she says evenly.

The man turns pale.

“Umm…Of course, I meant no disrespect, ma’am, but Mr. Ghent is the owner of ‘Pecker’ and since Miss Walker is a presence there…” he stammers.

I can see him actually begin to sweat.

Lois regards him, as if he were something in which she had accidentally stepped, and acts annoyed.

“Mister Bloom,” she says archly, “We do not appreciate either gossip or your attempts to impress us with your ignorance of decorum. Be assured, your company will be informed of your impropriety!”

The driver slumps down in his seat, as if his balls have been cut off. It was the exact effect Lois tried to achieve. I feel badly for him.

“It’s now time for our appointment, Cheryl dear, so let’s not dawdle. Driver, the door, please! Lord have mercy! If you were any slower…” she trails off, gathering her things.

The driver quickly exits the limo, and opens Lois’ door.

She gets out, muttering awful things about his behaviors, his ancestry, and the likelihood of his needing to find suitable employment in the very near future.

“Thank you for the ride,” I say quietly, when he opens my door.

I lean close to his ear.

“You have your boss give me a call, if anything happens, okay? She’s just nervous,” I whisper.

“Thank you, Miss Walker,” he says earnestly. I can tell he isn’t too hopeful after Lois had flayed him like that.

“Cheryl! Come!” she barks.

“See?” I wink, as she twirls on her Jimmy Choo’s and walks into the lobby of the offices, another doorman already at her beck and call.

“Indeed, I do!” says Mr. Bloom. He smiles at me, and I love how warm and good-looking he is. I blow him a kiss, and he gets back into the limousine, chuckling.

I feel happy I cheered him up a little, and make sure to remind myself to check he isn’t fired because Lois had a bug up her ass for a few short minutes.





“A four-year contract with Aerial Vista Productions?” Lois asks.

She is looking at her perfectly manicured nails. Her hair is coiffed immaculately, and her tan business suit is regal, and perfectly offset by the pillbox hat she wears.

The lawyers and the C-suite players sit around the large, mahogany table. It’s been polished to a smooth, clear sheen, and each one of us has a silver pitcher of water, and a crystal glass, on a linen napkin, carefully positioned to hand.

I am excited and scared!

This is big league stuff!

Lois has a team of attorneys on our side of the room, sitting behind us.

They all attentively lean forward in their rich leather chairs, eager to get into the fray with the opposing lawyers.

Lois sighs.

“You did see Miss Walker’s performance last weekend? That Saturday show? And, her trending numbers, from, what is that abysmal sounding – thing? ‘Pecker,’ is it?” she asks.

A cute blonde woman, from NLS Holdings, leans forward.

“NLS has analyzed the current numbers from FaceLook, Pecker, Tweets and ImageYour and Miss Walker is trending with Keefer Suburban, Garth Snook, and Reva. That puts her in the ninety-ninth percentile of country-western performers by followers. Her financials, of course, are not as strong…” she recites.

“Hold it! That’s enough!” Lois says, holding up her hand.

I look a bit embarrassed. Those numbers are pretty impressive, at least to me.

A dark-haired man, sits at the back of the room, dressed impeccably, steepling his fingers and looking at me. His powerful gaze leaves me weak in the knees.

He nods at the blonde woman.

“Vic?” he says, clearly. “Proceed.”

“Yes, sir, Mr. Stone,” the woman replies.

Lois bristles, but holds her tongue. At least for the moment.

“Miss Walker’s receipts have underperformed in her last four venues. Our analysis is that she is under-capitalized, and would benefit from an infusion of seventeen point four million dollars, to be broken into advertising campaigns over a seventeen-month period, starting in Q3 of this year. Our ROI projections, should she accept, will gross at 118%, with a capital gain exclusion on reinvestment of just over twenty-two and an eighth,” Vic says.

A lot of the heads at the table are nodding, including my stepmother’s. It’s all way over my head.

The man named Stone looks at Lois.

“This is all pre-benefit and remunerative considerations, of course. We anticipate, based on Miss Walker’s not inconsiderable talents and the projection of some proprietary information we have obtained, that a compensation package for the administrative cohort will initiate at one-hundred million, with three points on acceptance, a prescribed bonus payout for main principals of one-half point per venue, depending on receipts, and a severance consideration of between eight and ten million. Each. Does that interest you, Mrs. Walker?” Stone asks.

For the first time in my entire life, I see Lois smile. Really smile.

It’s frightening.

“I see now, Mr. Stone, why you came so highly recommended. Mr. Ghent’s attorney, Mr. Freiberg, assured me you were a ‘good investment,’ as he put it,” Lois smiles. She extends her hand to the man.

He stands up, and crosses the room to her.

He moves like a lion, regal and sure of himself.

Lois remains sitting, and he takes her hand and presses it to his lips.

“A true gentleman, as well,” Lois says, and she almost seems to blush.

Lois Walker! Blushing!

I can’t believe my eyes!

“Call me Noah, Mrs. Walker,” he says.

“And, you may call me Lois, Mr. Stone, umm, I mean, Noah. A pleasure to finally make your acquaintance in the flesh!” Lois says. She’s almost gushing! She takes back her hand, slowly, as if not wanting to end the physical contact with him.

The rest of the room looks to Lois.

“Are your documents ready for signatures, Mr. Hackthorne? Mr. Burns?” she asks, still watching Noah. She turns slightly to acknowledge two rugged, older men, seated at the head of the table opposite her.

“Good job, Ms. Bishop!” Noah whispers to the blonde girl.

Vic is smiling broadly.

I can tell what she is thinking, because I was wet as well.

What power! What presence! The man looked like a wild beast, but reserved, all pushed into the finest clothing possible.

Noah returns to his seat.

“Gentlemen, I believe we have a deal!” he smiles.

The room erupts into applause, and Lois rises. I am still spinning as she takes my hand and escorts me from the conference room.





“Everyone in that building just made a boat load of money, dear,” Lois says, as we ride along in the limousine. “Not the least of it, yourself, you know,” she purrs.

The final numbers were staggering.

I am contracted to put on seventeen shows during a two-year tour, with stops in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Berlin, Moscow (how they are going to pull that off I have no idea!), London, Amsterdam, Sydney, Paris, Madrid, Rio de Janiero and even Johannesburg! There are even four shows in the United States! Madison Square Garden! Anaheim! Honolulu! And finally, Las Vegas, Nevada!

The expected ticket sales for each show were projected to be between fifty thousand, for the smaller venues, up to over two-hundred thousand in Moscow and Shanghai!

There had been some talk about Dubai, but Noah had brought his reservations about that part of the world to the attention of everyone else, and it was decided to table that for a second world tour!

A SECOND WORLD TOUR!

My mind blows up with the possibilities!

I Gaggle Noah Stone on the web as we enjoy the limo.

I blow out a breath as I read his wiki.

NLS Holdings is huge, and Noah Stone is infamous as a mover and shaker in New York and London. His firm moved higher and higher in the social and financial hierarchies over the past decade.

NLS Holdings guaranteed their investors a pre-tax gross of almost fifty percent, year over year. It was unheard of, and many people in the know felt it was only possible if he were dabbling in money laundering or other illicit activities. But SEC, IRS and Interpol investigations into his activities turned up no evidence to suggest he was involved in shady dealings.

In fact, Brett Ghent, the founder of ‘Pecker’ had personally vouched for Noah Stone during Congressional hearings, and impressed the Senators and other politicians by exposing, with Noah’s permission, some private conversations that related to underworld activities.

He also pointed out that Noah rescued his daughter, Ava, from one such situation, at great personal and financial risk. Ava Stone was now wed to Corban Winthrop, the former billionaire playboy. Noah had also been instrumental in financing some operations for a clandestine operation involving MI-6, the DEA and the infamous Alpha Team, in the Caribbean.

Noah’s bona fides are impeccable.

Several other articles in financial magazines and newspapers cement just how far-reaching Noah’s influence extends.

One pundit had drily commented that Noah had flooded all the world’s markets with pots of gold at the ends of his company’s rainbows.

I smile, noticing some tabloid pictures of Noah in the company of a beautiful young woman, very much younger than he.

“Tinsley Whittaker,” I murmur.

“Hmm?” asks Lois.

“Oh, yes. She was in my Pilates class, back in Manhattan. Lovely woman, very striking,” she says.

“You do know she’s Noah’s woman? According to these articles at least,” I point out, tapping the screen on my smartphone.

“Yes, yes. You didn’t know that, dear?” she replies.

I shake my head.

“She looks – regal,” I whisper.

The limo stops.

We arrive at our hotel, as guests of the Ghent organization.

Mr. Bloom walks around, and opens my door, and then Lois’.

He looks as though he is opening the gates to Hell itself…

But Lois surprises us both.

“My dear Mr. Bloom. I beg your forgiveness for my inexcusable behavior, earlier. I have no idea what came over me! I suppose it was just nervousness. In any event, here is a small token of my appreciation, a gesture far inferior to show my apology to you!” she says and hands him a wad of bills.

The man’s mouth opens; his eyes wide. There is likely ten thousand dollars in that stack!

“Th-thank y-you, Mrs. Walker! I don’t know what to say. I behaved poorly, and your admonition and advice will serve me well in addressing the needs of my clients in the future,” he replies.

“Nonsense! You are just being kind to a foolish old woman! Now, I have called your boss, and made arrangements for you to take a week off, with pay, to vacation with your family at a resort called Ocaba Bien. Please accept both my apology and this small token of my appreciation for your selfless service!” she says, and turns to me.

“Come now, dear! We have reservations for dinner, with the Ghents! And, I have heard they have a special guest, from the network! Brian Cox!” she gushes.

We walk into the hotel, the doorman holding the door for us as we enter the most opulent lobby I have ever seen.

As the door closes, I glimpse Mr. Bloom, excitedly talking to the phone in the limo.

I feel happy for him!

And, suddenly, very hungry!





Chapter Six





It’s been a roller coaster tour!

I can’t believe how my life has changed. It’s like a dream come true!

In Las Vegas, the crowd goes crazy over my cover of “Hurt.”

Backstage, I meet an older gentleman, who requests a few selfies, and a short video.

My security guys tell me he’s been vetted. He’s from some obscure blog, but it’s all fan love for various female singers. With a nod, they let him come over to where I am having a drink of water.

I notice he’s already filming, which is a tad annoying, but I smile and extend my hand to him. He takes it and introduces himself.

“I’m John Cage!” he says, smiling.

He looks a bit creepy, but I try to ignore it. He’s overweight, and balding and his teeth could use a bit more attention from a brush.

But, at least he’s not too pushy.

“For your fans, would you mind a couple of staged shots?” he asks, a bit nervous.

I sigh. I figure he’s just going to whack off to them later.

But he surprises me.

“Just hold your head, a little higher, that’s perfect!” he says, and takes a couple of shots with his smartphone.

He has me do one sitting down, and another with a leg on the chair. It’s all pretty silly, and I can’t see how he’s going to get off, unless he’s got a fetish for blue jeans.

When he’s finished, he gets a couple selfies, with me smiling and him shooting a peace sign, and another where he does the okay sign.

He shows all of them to me, and that makes me feel better, because at least he did that.

“Do I need to sign a model release?” I joke.

He makes a sudden face, but it’s gone almost instantly.

“No, ma’am. These are on a fan site, or personal use, and you are a public figure. If you want, I can explain it again to your PR people?” he says, and smiles.

“No, no, that’s fine,” I say. I’m ready to get out of here.

He thanks me, and the security team escorts him off premises.

I’m glad that’s over.

There was something a bit off about that guy.

He never took off his shades…





I feel like dying inside!

I stare at my face, on the phone, as I suck a huge black cock that shoots cum all over my face. Then, I hit the replay, to watch the hideous thing again, for the hundredth time.

I’m sitting backstage in Vegas, and a black guy walks up to me. I put down my water bottle, and unzip his pants. Then, I lick the tip of his monstrous penis, and tug on it.

As it gets hard, I make noises, and then cram it into my mouth. After a couple minutes of this, he shoots a massive white, ropey cumshot across my eyes, nose and mouth. I smile and lick my lips, then give the audience a peace sign, and an okay sign, as he laughs in the background.

The words “Nice White Cuntry Singer Gal Loves BBC” are superimposed over my face, as the whole things fades to black.

I watch it again, the tears close.

I’ve never even kissed anyone! It’s just not fair!

We’re on the plane to Anaheim, and then we are supposed to go to Honolulu.

It’s only been two days since my last concert, and we had a wonderful time visiting with Mr. Cox and his fiancé, Kim Wilder.

Kim even told us she would do a vlog about the tour!

But, now, there’s a very real possibility that the tour is over.

I sob, unable to believe how my world is crashing down.





Lois is furious, hissing and nearly shouting into her phone. I can hear the voices on the other end making apologies, but Lois is having none of it.

“I don’t care if they are those, what do you call them, deep fakes? That’s my star singer! Do you have any idea the kind of effect this is going to have on ticket sales? What do you mean, you’re on it? Why the hell did this happen? If, no - when NLS Holdings sees this, we’ll lose the goddamned contract, you idiots!” she seethed.

Lois listens for a moment more, pinching the top of her nose, and nods lightly.

“Yes, I know Mr. Ghent. Black Dog Security? Captain David Spalding? Fine. Have his people call me immediately! I won’t wait to act on this, you can rest assured! Hmm? Yes, we are still intending on performing at Anaheim. What? Are you serious! They can’t…never mind. Get Martin Freiberg for me. Yes. Any time,” she says.

Her voice turns deadly serious.

“You’d better handle this,” she says, and presses the button to disconnect.

Lois sits back for a moment, her eyes closed, listening to the sounds of the Gulfstream IV as we fly at forty thousand feet.

“Would you care for some refreshments, ma’am?” asks the steward.

For a second, there’s a look in Lois’ eyes; the same one she had that time long ago, with Mr. Bloom. Then, it’s gone.

“No, thank you,” she says, smiling. But the smile doesn’t extend to her eyes.

She’s absolutely furious.

She looks out the window, down towards the ground.

“Don’t worry, dear. Nothing is going to change. It’s all going according to plan,” she murmurs.

I’m not sure if she’s talking to me or herself, but I nod.

“Please make sure your seat belts are fastened, we are beginning our descent into the landing pattern,” comes the Captain’s voice over the speakers.

The steward walks by, checking on us, and smiles.

Then, he goes and sits in his seat, and soon enough, we are landing.





In our limousine, Lois takes several more calls on the way to the hotel.

When we arrive, the driver pulls into an area behind the building. It is screened off from the usual travelers. I am getting used to this kind of lifestyle, now. All the secrecy and subterfuge, just to be able to move about in a bit of anonymous peace.

Men in black suits open our doors.

“Ms. Walker, Mrs. Walker, please come with us,” says a tall, handsome man. He has brilliant blue eyes. Very well put together. Athletic. And, his voice is deep and enthralling. He catches my attention, and then directs me to a doorway.

Obviously, this must be the leader of the Black Dog security team.

We are surrounded by men, all wearing the same suits, and earbuds, barely visible.

They scan the area, and then we all move as a unit.

We are escorted past the lobby, and are approaching the elevators.

Suddenly, there’s a thin man running towards us, waving a digital recorder. Before he can get close, two of the team intercept him.

“Hey, Cheryl! You got anything to say about your sex tape,” he yells at me.

“Ignore him, please,” the first man instructs.

“That’s good technique you got! Doesn’t that hurt your throat? Aren’t you worried it’ll break your vocal cords?” the recorder guy shouts.

A crowd is gathering now.

“Make a wedge, boys,” the man orders. His voice is firm and strong. The two other men get in front and shove into the crowd.

“Go! Go!” the tall man orders, shoving the paparazzi aside, hard. He falls flat on his ass.

“Hey! That’s assault, you asshole!” he shouts.

The rest of the team just stride past him, never stopping.

Two men are on either side of Lois and me, with their hands on our elbows.

We make it to the elevators.

“Inside, now! And, don’t stop when it opens, it’s Room 850, two down on the left. There’s four more team members there!” our security man says.

The elevator doors close, and it begins to go up.

I watch the floor numbers increasing, and then we are at eight.

Lois is primping, looking at her makeup in her compact. She snaps it shut, as the doors open, and she steps out, worming past the two big men in front.

The Black Dog team follows her, and one man inserts himself between Lois and our room.

“Ma’am? If you please?” he says, and gently places a hand to block her path.

She glares at him, then nods.

“Of course. Forgive my eagerness,” she says quickly.

Seeing no one else in the hallway, we make our way to our room.

The door opens, and I am stunned to see the man we just left down in the lobby!

“Uh…what? How did you?” I stammer.

Lois just barges past him into the room, not even blinking.

“I see you met my twin brother, Brad?” the man smiles. He’s even better looking than his twin, somehow. I can’t even speak.

He grins, and I feel myself getting lost in his blue eyes. There’s a bit of ruggedness to him, a slight five-o-clock shadow, and he smells wonderful.

“Oh, Brad. Of course. Twins. And, you are?” I say, feeling stupid.

He chuckles.

“I’m Chad. I’m the better-looking one!” he says, and puts a hand behind my back, just at the base, as he steps aside to let me pass. He’s not wrong.

“Be careful, Ms. Walker!” he warns, with a wink.

I can feel the warmth of his palm against the flat of my back.

It spreads out, and I suddenly am squirming against it, and quickly disengage before I embarrass myself.

“Th-thank you!” I stutter.

“I heard that, bro!” I hear, as a tiny voice rings out from near Chad’s left ear. I want to nibble on that ear.

Chad laughs, and then turns serious.

“Assets have been placed. All nominal. Copy,” he says.

“Roger that. Situation secure here in lobby. Limo parked and driver debriefed. He’s off for tonight, but if we need a lift, we’ve backup allocated,” Brad replies.

“Have a good evening, ladies,” Chad smiles, and leaves the room.

I can feel the space where he was just standing, and then, he’s gone!

I blink.

The room is gorgeous, and well-appointed, with flowers and candy and all manner of refreshments, fruit baskets and even robes.

We walk in, and the security team makes sure our luggage is carefully placed in the closets, which are enormous. Three valets and two concierges ask us what we require, but I’m emotionally wrung out, and Lois is still angry, so we excuse them quickly.

“If you need us, we will be just outside,” a concierge tells Lois.

“And, don’t be shy to call for room service. Anything at all,” she confirms, then nods and exits smoothly.

It’s like there were never anyone else here.

Lois walks over to the window, surveying the beautiful California sunset, and then closes the drapes.

She turns on the huge flat-screen television, and puts the volume at a reasonable level.

Then, she motions for me to join her at the dining room table.

“Sit down, please, Cheryl,” she begins.

I sit down, and find a bottle of Perrier in a bowl of ice.

As I open it, Lois also sits, and frowns.

“We have a small problem, as you can tell, dear,” she says.





Chapter Seven





“I’m taking a chance on you guys,” says Capt. Spaulding.

He looks at Brad and Chad, his furrowed brow giving him a look of severity.

His gleaming black scalp sets a sharp contrast against the blue sky behind him.

A sharp, dark handsome man, he looks as though he would have no trouble at all scoring with the ladies.

Lois and I watch as he paces the room on his artificial legs.

“Normally, I’d avoid placing a tactically-trained team on a celebrity. No offense, Miss Walker,” he adds.

The two men eye each other uneasily.

“Sir, we don’t understand?” Brad says.

Their boss grunts.

“Naturally,” he replies smoothly.

He sits down and puts his titanium feet on his desk, rearing back in his Aeron chair.

He looks like half a Terminator.

I giggle, thinking of him saying “I’ll be back!”

Then, I fake cough, to cover my embarrassment.





When Brett Ghent recommended Black Dog to us, Lois did her usual due diligence.

She had the Stone agency do a work-up on Black Dog, and it was apparent that Captain David Spalding was a man of high regard.

According to his dossier, David went into the military as a First Lieutenant. He deployed to Iran, then Iraq. He embedded with Delta Force. While there, he asked for and received a transfer to take training, and managed to work his way into a Special Ops Delta Force. He advanced rapidly in the military. The dossier made mention that David was a proficient athlete, top marksman, and a natural leader. A true Alpha dog.

His life had changed while he was riding in a convoy transporting medical supplies in Afghanistan.

David’s legs had both been blown off by an improvised explosive device. When it detonated, the car flipped. David had dragged his driver from the car, which then exploded again and burned to the frame. With his crew pinned down enemy fire, David had saved their lives, but the relentless attack from the other fighters took its toll. Two of the men were killed.

The wounded driver called in an air strike, and a loitering A-10 responded. It swooped down from the sky, putting down a strafing run of 30mm cannon fire, and wiping out the enemy attackers.

By the time the medics had arrived, only David, the driver, and one other man had survived.

David would lose his legs.

He then spent eleven months in recuperation and physical therapy before mustering out. As part of an experimental program, he had been offered to be fitted with a new type of prosthetics. They were pure carbon fiber and titanium extensions that were spring loaded.

With enough time and practice, they would allow him to walk again.

His military career over, he was retired with honors. He moved to Washington, D.C., to be close to his parents. Soon, his morning regimen included a two-hour jog around the museums and government buildings near the Capitol.

He was a familiar sight around the reflecting pool in Washington, D.C. as he ran laps. The President had even come out one morning to talk with him and jogged a bit alongside.

After the President had gone on to more pressing matters, the Secret Service team leader had spoken to David. The Agent had suggested David speak to a friend of his. This man had been the Director of a business engaged in providing private protective services.

He confided to David that he had absolutely no problem with David being the head of his own protective service agency. They came to an agreement and then shook on it. David had approached Brett to look over things, respecting his friend’s opinions and insights.

When Brett had reviewed the documents, he gave David his promise to help his friend out with anything, including a loan, if he needed it. And so, David had entered the world of private executive, protective services.

He formed a company, Black Dog Protection Services, and had managed to get several lucrative contracts. Many of his clients were A-list celebrities and business leaders. Black Dog grew, and with it, David’s reputation as a shrewd businessman and no-nonsense leader.





Lois had shared all of this with me a few days earlier, during our ‘talk.’

She’d made a point of making sure that I understood that I was a big name, now, and that the kind of incident that had initiated this protection was not likely to just stop.

“You have to more careful, Cheryl, and less approachable. But you can not be too off putting, either, dear,” she informed me.

I rolled my eyes at her.

“What am I supposed to do, then?” I asked. “Just pretend that creeps like that don’t exist? Or get in the face of everyone who wants a selfie?” I cried.

Lois solution had been to hire Black Dog.





Now, here in the penthouse offices of Black Dog, I watched Captain Spalding as he narrowed his eyes at the ‘boys’ as I secretly called them.

They sat like a couple of teenagers, caught in some kind of trouble.

And, I could think up a few troubling scenarios of my own.





I imagined running my hands through Chad’s hair, while Brad slowly stripped my dress from my body. I felt the fabric slide off my ample thighs, and fall to ground around my feet. Chad would lean in close, his hot breath brushing my cheek, as Brad uncoupled my bra, and worked it off my shoulders.

Then, the two of them would –





“Don’t you agree, Miss Walker?” I hear, as if surrounded by cotton.

I rise up from my fantasy daydream, my eyes blurred with secret lust. My nipples are hard, and to my shock, I find I am wet. I jostle around on my leather seat, my thighs sticking to it, pulling my weak flesh.

“Umm, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear the question?” I stammer, as two sets of brilliantly blue eyes stare at me. I want to die, right there and then.

I crumple into the seat, rolling my body to hide my tits, and pull my dress down around me. The chair rolls away from the mahogany conference table, slightly, and I panic as I grab for the edge.

“Oh!” I cry out, and both of the boys jump up and run to stabilize the chair.

Now, I am staring into Chad’s crotch, mere inches from my flushed face, while Brad grabs both sides of the chair, stopping it.

“Thank you,” I manage, and whip my head to the side so fast I think I am going to smack my head into Brad’s groin. I stop short, my lips slightly parted.

But I don’t stop fast enough…

My face hits Brad hard, and bounces off his hard cock.

As I ricochet between them, I can’t help but notice that both are sporting enormous erections, my lips brushing each in turn.

I leap from the chair, and smack into the table, slightly knocking the wind from my lungs.

“Whoof!” I go.

The two of them each try to steady me.

David and Lois watch the entire thing.

He looks at her, with a grim smile.

“See what I mean?” he says, spreading his hands.

Lois gives me a dark look.

“Yes. Yes, I do, Captain,” she says, her tone judging me and making me feel like a little girl again.

The boys back away, and quickly sit back down in their own chairs.

“They certainly are quick, and responsive. I believe they are perfect for the job, Captain,” says Lois.

David Spalding sighs, and steeples his fingers as he leans over his desk.

“Look, you two,” he begins, pointedly staring at the boys.

“This is a delicate operation. Your mission is just to protect Miss Walker from creepers and possibles, but not from paparazzi, okay?”

“Sir, we understand that, but …” replies Brad. Chad is shifting uncomfortably, trying to adjust his huge boner.

“This means you cannot bring undue attention to yourselves! What you just did, although chivalrous, took both of you out of protective mode!” he warns.

He sits back in his chair, his artificial feet firmly planted on the tiled floor.

“Think. What if this were any other client? Say, Kenny Rodgers?” Spalding asks bluntly.

“Sir?” Brad replies.

“Would you be so eager to assist him in such an amateur manner, Mr. Strong?” Spalding asks.

“Well, sir, our duty is to provide a safe environment, so…” Chad begins.

“Bullshit, son!” Spalding barks.

“Pardon my French, ladies,” he apologizes.

Lois and I each stifle a chuckle.

“You’re thinking with your dicks, and that is not what I am paying you to do!” he snaps.

“You both need to focus on the task. Miss Walker, and her stepmother, need a personal cordon set up around them. Does this sound familiar? Maybe Scenario Four? Or even Two?” he intones.

The two men lower their heads.

“It’s a One, sir,” Brad mumbles.

“That’s right, son! The most basic of all, and you both messed it up! I have interns that work here that would do better!” he grumbles.

Lois sits up, looking at the two men, who are now miserable.

“David, perhaps you are being too hard on the boys?” she says.

I have to put my hands up to my mouth, I want to giggle so bad!

They look at her with dumb gratitude.

I know what’s coming next.

Those poor bastards!





“Thank you for allowing us to remain on your detail, Mrs. Walker,” says Brad.

We’ve left the Black Dog facility, and are being driven back to our room.

The two men are completely professional, scanning the road, checking in with the other guards, and making sure that everything is running smoothly.

That dressing down from their boss did the trick.

They barely look at me.

Lois and I get to our room, with no incidents, and settle into our routines.

As I practice my latest song, she makes some calls, and confirms our next gig – Singapore.





Chapter Eight





I wait for the elevator to my room, the attendant happily chattering on about the grand features of the Marina Bay Sands. It truly is a marvelous place, with outstanding views, and diamond-level concierge services. There is a large dining hall, with teak and rosewood tables, suitable for any large gathering we could want, says the attendant.

He goes on while I watch the panel lights illuminating for floor after floor.

I smile at him, noncommittally, and dig for some bills for a tip.

“No, no, ma’am! No tipping! No gratuities! All is already pay for you by Mr. Brett Ghent!” he says, embarrassed.

“Well, thank you all the same,” I say, and exit.

Lois and I have been invited to an after party, in one of the many splendid dining halls.

We are walking along the glamorous Main Atrium, Brad and Chad escorting us, and a team of Black Dog men discretely deployed, when Brad stops us.

“Session Alpha,” he whispers into his wrist. At least, it looks like his wrist, but I know he’s got a microphone hidden there.

“Derek White! You old son of a bitch!” Chad shouts to a man walking the other way from us.

The man stops for a moment, and says something into his wrist! What the hell?

“Hey, Chad! Brad! Good to see you guys! Busy at the moment, but we can catch up later, right?” he smiles.

He’s immensely fit, good-looking and fuckable. He’s rugged and taut.

The boys definitely know him. He looks as if he could be their older brother.

Brad leans close.

“Alpha Team?” he whispers. At least I think that’s what he says.

Derek nods.

He winks.

“Ah. The Jaeger clan? I thought I saw Bone and Karl?” Brad says.

Derek spins Brad to the side of the aisle, and I hear him hissing.

“When did you see Bone? Shit! That’s not supposed to be public knowledge!” Derek says.

A man walks by, wearing a black Drover’s hat, that is raked on his head at an angle. He’s dressed impeccably, with a slight bulge near his right-hand waist. He’s looking around, attentively.

Derek spies him, and curses. He spins around, trying to be unobtrusive to the man.

“Shit! It’s fucking Mitchum!” he whispers to the boys.

Brad and Chad can’t help but stare, and Chad speaks into his wrist.

The man with the hat just waves at the boys as he walks past, and laughs. He’s smoking a cheroot, which is odd, since I thought they didn’t allow smoking in here?

He walks towards another group of men, who are with an older man, who is using a cane.

The group stops at the doorway to the Great Dining Hall.

The man with the black hat follows them, and then stops and laughs, astonished.

“Travis! Randy! Walt! Son of a bitch! Look at all you guys!” he yells, loud enough to be heard on the mainland. He’s enjoying himself immensely, apparently reuniting with some old friends.

“Keep mum about Bone Jaeger, guys. Okay?” Derek says, evenly.

Chad and Brad nod.

“Who’s that?” I ask. “You mean the swimmer? That guy with the huge di…”

“He’s a diver,” Derek corrects me, cutting me off.

I stick my tongue out at him.

“Aren’t you Cheryl Walker? The country-western singer?” he asks.

He smiles. It’s a nice smile.

“Yep, that’s me!” I say, and pretend curtsey.

“Hmm. You guys want to share anything?” he asks the boys, seriously.

Chad fidgets for a moment. He looks at Brad, who nods.

“You remember that tape a few months back?” he says.

“Who doesn’t…oh, my apologies, Miss Walker. Curse of my trade. I see a lot of stuff,” he says, solemnly.

I feel a bit angry, but it’s all in the past.

“It is what it is,” I answer.

Brad continues.

“Rumor has it that the guy is going to try something more drastic, and we’re running interference,” he says.

I gasp, and Lois rolls her eyes, staring at Brad, and shaking her head.

Chad shoots him a look.

“Ahem!” he grunts, giving me a side-eye.

Brad looks at me, and smacks his forehead.

“Shit. Sorry, bro,” he says to Chad.

“Look, I’d love to stay and chat, but we’ve got a job to do here. Brett Ghent and the Jaegers are having a soiree, and the Alpha Team are covering. Don’t get into any trouble, guys! Talk to you later!” Derek says, and then walks back to the Great Hall, whispering into his wrist.





As we walk along, I see many beautiful women. I think I recognize one or two.

Lois spies Kady Ghent, and peels off to speak with her. There is a beautiful young woman, who is accompanied by Brian Cox, and I see it’s Kim Wilder. They chat amiably with Lois and Kady, then go into the hall, with the others.

I wonder what they are going to be up to in there?

Brett Ghent approaches with David Spalding, and a contingent of Black Dog operators.

Brett has several days of beard on him, and is looking pretty cool, like a very young Steve Jobs, or maybe a rock star. Kady sees him coming, and looks radiant, her love for Brett illuminating her face.



Brett joins Lois and Kady.

David Spalding takes Chad and Brad to one side, while the Black Dog men circle us protectively. They chat animatedly, as I glance towards them.

“You sure you can’t join us, Lois?” Kady asks.

“Now, now, you know how much I would love to stay, but we’ve other plans. Mr. Noah Stone has requested our presence in a lesser hall. How he managed to not steal this one away from you is completely beyond my comprehension, Brett,” she laughs.

“Noah and I have an agreement. It’s his turn to be in the guest house!” Brett chuckles.

“If you’d like, I’ll buzz him and we can dine later on the yacht? I think Karl has the Miss T at the marina here?” he says.

“Karl Jaeger? Om Jaeger’s son! That would be delightful! Can we expect the pleasure of your wonderful parents, Brett?” Lois asks.

“As a matter of fact, they are indeed here, for this celebration!” Kady squeals.

Lois hugs her! “Wonderful!” she exclaims.

“Then, it’s a date!” Brett says. “I’ll text Noah and see if he’s available,” he adds.

We excuse ourselves, and continue down to our dining room.





“Captain Spalding and Derek have been surveilling the various targets of interest for us while we inspected the corporate filings for the various shells set up by Walter Reighland during the Ocaba Bien venture,” Chad tells Lois.

“Really?” she replies, surprised. “I must ask Noah his perspective on that. I believe he had some competing interests with Reighland Industries.”

Chad shoots Brad a strange look.

A staff member holds the oak doors to the dining hall open as we stride into a magnificent scene. It’s all bustling with excitement and energy, as waiters are quickly organizing everyone and everything.

There are fantastic displays of cuisine, with every gourmet delicacy imaginable.

The wonderful aromas make me instantly salivate!

I see all manner of tables, inlaid with exotic woods, such as teak, mahogany and rosewood. There are a billion flowers, and the servers rush around, immaculate and impeccably well-mannered.

“Greetings, everyone!” says Noah, from the head of the largest table.

Ushers lead us to our places, and the Black Dog team takes up positions around the room, trying hard to avoid notice.

We are all seated at this gorgeous table, with white linens and flowers everywhere, alongside Noah and his fiancée, Tinsley. She looks like a queen.

Next to them is seated Corban Winthrop and his wife, Ava. A genteel man and an elegant woman sit at the table as well.

“Lois, I would like you to meet my sister, Athena, and her friend Aidan Wilde,” Noah Stone says, introducing everyone.

I find myself sitting next to Tinsley, who is absolutely delightful!

Noah sits back down, kissing her cheek and her eyes sparkle with her love for him.

Such a lucky couple!

We begin to dine.

The finest goblets, and China dishware, and expensive silver, and all the trappings of wealth are laid out, and the courses are mind-boggling! I feel like a Princess, at the dinner of a King, with the full Court in attendance!

The food is heavenly, and I am finally able to relax.

Captain Spalding enters the hall, followed by a huge black Jamaican man, and several other men.

“That’s the Alpha Team,” says Tinsley.

She looks amazing! She is the perfect embodiment of royalty. It was only recently announced that she and Noah had become engaged.

I am in awe of the Alpha Team men! They enter the room, commanding attention. Every one of them id buff, and looks like a linebacker. They are stern, and observant. One or the other of them smile at various Black Dog personnel, and I see a lot of recognition. David Spalding’s business has deep roots in the military.

Surrounded by friends and Lois and all these rugged men, I feel as safe as I ever have.

Nothing can bring me down!





Chapter Nine





It’s unbelievable.

All those people killed!

I am still shaking from the terrible disaster at the Marina Bay Sands.

It’s like a bad dream.





We’re just finishing dinner. Noah had told us he had great news, and that everything was coming together, finally.

The concert had been a smash success, and we broke box-office records with my performance. The show was perfect!

We’re ready to move onto the next phase, now. We’d proven we were money-makers, exceeding NLS Holdings projections, and were being courted by all sorts of companies.

There were clothing and accessories, shoes and other merchandise offers from all sides!

We had made it!

The SECOND WORLD TOUR was almost within our grasp!

And then, suddenly, it all comes crashing down.





I don’t really know what’s happening. One minute, we were all cheering, and the next, it is a horrible nightmare!

Gunshots ring out from the Great Dining Hall, where Brett and the rest are having their celebrations.

Screams and explosions echo throughout the halls, as the wait staff and other employees scramble for cover.

All I know is that Brad and Chad grab me and Lois and high-tail it out of there!

I can hear Brad yelling over the noise, and the rest of the Black Dog team runs ahead of us, crashing through anyone in our path.

I remember seeing Aidan and another young man; I think his name was Lucian? Lucius? They grabbed Noah and Tinsley and a cordon of security personnel appeared as if by magic and whisked them away just as we were exiting the hall. Noah was roaring out commands, but he was standing near Tinsley, pulling her close to him.

And then we are gone from the dining hall.

Lois is practically carried down the corridor by Brad, and Chad has me held tight and is carrying me like a babe in arms. I put my arms around his neck, and tuck in close.

He smells incredible, and my brain flashes back and forth from the terrors around us to how it feels to be nestled against Chad’s manly chest.

It’s crazy!

We round a corner, and now are outside the hotel.

It’s pandemonium, as police and emergency vehicles come screeching up to the drive.

The boys don’t hesitate, and carry us past the incoming first responders, flashing IDs at a few who seek to stop us.

Mr. Bloom has the doors to our limousine wide, and the boys practically throw us into the cabin.

“Move! Now!” orders Chad, and I am surprised to see Mr. Bloom is holding a gun in one hand.

“Where to, Sir?” he asks.

“The airport!” Brad shouts. Chad nods, coming to a decision.

“The Compound.” he repeats. “Good call, bro!”

“Let’s go!” he orders, as Mr. Bloom slams the doors shut. He jumps into the driver’s seat as the boys strap us down. The limo roars and its tires squeal and I smell burning rubber as it heads for the highway. Taking a corner at speed, we are slung around and rocked, and I’m thrown into Brad’s lap.

I look up into his gorgeous face.

“It’s okay, Cheryl. You’re safe!” he smiles, grimly.

I look over at Lois, and Chad. They stare behind us, and Lois has a strange look on her face.

Almost as if she was expecting something like this…





Chapter Ten





A dull throbbing ache penetrates my skull.

Laying on the bed, at least the room is no longer spinning.

I can’t believe all this is real.

I hear Lois in the next room.

“What happened, Captain?” Lois says into the phone.

I watch as she listens to whatever excuse he gives her. She’s silent for about three minutes, making some noises of disapproval now and again.

Suddenly, I hear her bark out an ugly laugh.

“You are joking, of course!” she says, and my blood runs cold.

I try to rise up, but my head hurts too much.

I fall back into the comforter and pillows.

The air conditioner hisses above me.

I feel numb.

Lois is giving Captain Spalding a piece of her mind, all right.

“Those boys? I want them off our detail. Immediately. I was roughly handled during the incident. What? I broke a heel! What? Jimmy Choo’s! Yes, of course! How rude! Very well. Good day, sir!” she says, and then disconnects.

Storming into the room, she flips on the lights, which cause daggers of pain to shoot into my eyes.

I shove my head under the pillows.

“Can you imagine the nerve of that man, asking me if my shoes were knockoffs! Really!” Lois says, angrily.

From under the pillows, I can see how agitated she is. She picks up the broken shoe, and hurls it across the room. It bangs against the window, and falls to the floor.

She peeks over at me.

“Can’t handle your liquor, eh, dearie?” she sneers.

I roll my eyes, and then regret it.

I feel terrible.

I’m hungover, from all the drinking at the banquet; and then I got car sick in the limo; and now my head is just pounding.

Hearing that Lois has fired Brad and Chad makes me sad. They aren’t so bad. Maybe just a tad.

Jesus! I really am drunk as a skunk!

I’m in a funk!

Shit.

I punch my fists into the bed.

At least the rhyming has stopped.

I roll over, and sigh.

Personally, I thought they did a great job of getting us out of harm’s way. Me, especially.

I felt all snug as a…fuck that shit! No rhyming!

Okay.

I loved that feeling. Safe and sound.

I drift off thinking about that song…





“Wake up, girl! It’s time to get on toward our next destination!” Lois says.

Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I roll over, groaning.

“What time is it?” I peer around, all bleary-eyed. It looks to be night, but it could be because all the curtains in the room are drawn.

“It’s nine-fifteen, silly girl. Come now, let’s get going, I’ve given you enough time to rest, and you can go back to sleep once we are underway,” Lois orders.

I get up, and go into the magnificently appointed bathroom.

Brett Ghent cuts no corners, for sure.

I yawn, and scratch myself beneath my boobs. Sitting down, I do my business, and then turn to the shower.

It’s one of those amazing automated things, with nozzles everywhere.

You barely have to do anything, other than stand there and let it spray water and shampoo over your naked body.

I feel the water cascading down my thighs, across my back, my boobs, and then wash my hair. I love the temperature; it’s perfect.

As I finish, I twist my hair around my hands, wringing the last of the water out.

I step out, and get the towels, and dry myself.

I am feeling a bit better now, but I am still in shock from the events at the Stone’s dinner.

I wonder how everyone else made out? I’ll have to ask the boys.

Then, I remember that Lois had fired them.

I’ll probably never see them again.





“Cheryl! Come now, dear! Or, we will be late!” she prattles.

I look over the clothes she’s picked out for me.

Nothing too special. An Abercrombie hoodie, and some shades, of course.

There are blue jeans, some Adidas sneakers, and my undergarments. A tie-dye blouse.

What the fuck is she thinking?

“Lois? Really, that’s the best you can do for travel clothes?” I protest.

Lois peers around the corner of the door.

“Suit yourself. If you aren’t in the limo in fifteen minutes, I am leaving you here,” she sniffs.

I sigh, and get dressed. She can be so unreasonable sometimes. Not at all like Mother.





“Your father sends his regards. He wishes that he could be here to assist, but I told him it was not necessary. He’s busy with his own things, as always. He did tell me to inform you that he’s going to be in New York City in a few weeks, and we should be able to see him then,” Lois says, not really looking up from her smartphone.

I wonder about her and Daddy’s relationship. It’s been strained, before, that I can remember. But, somehow, he always relinquishes in the face of her leaving him.

I just don’t understand it.

Lois isn’t all that. She’s easy on the eyes, I guess, if you are a middle-aged man. But to me she always seems a bit strident, and somewhat unsexy.

We ride to the airport. Mr. Bloom and the two guys from Black Dog that replaced Brad and Chad are all very serious. No nonsense with these dudes.

“This is Daniel, and this is Robert. They are your new guards,” was all Mr. Bloom said when we got into the limo.

Lois seemed satisfied, not even speaking to them.

I offered a couple of “Hello, how are you doing?” remarks.

They actually just grunted! Like “Fine. Urgh.”

I could tell they were packing heat.

You couldn’t tell with the boys. They did have Glocks, but were very discrete.

These two were like rent-a-cops. They were older, and not as fit.

The one was balding.

I was very taken aback by this. Captain Spalding always seemed to be on top of things, and it felt odd to me that he would hire two men such as these.





The limousine went past the normal turnoff to the airport, and at first, I was not going to say anything. Then, I saw one of the men looking at Lois.

She gave him a nod.

“Sorry, Miss. Don’t you move, now, okay? Don’t make this any harder than it has to be,” he said.

I turned to him. He had a large pistol pointed at me.

“What the fuck!” I yelled.

“Mr. Bloom!” I yelled, but the divider was up and he couldn’t hear me. Then, the other dude comes over to where I am sitting, and tries to put some kind of restraint move on me.

I kick out, and smack him in the nose. He howls with pain.

“Fuck! You bitch!” he snarls, the blood pouring out from between his clasped fingers.

I jump across to the other side of the cabin, and push the CALL button. Mr. Bloom looks up, and I can see his eyes in the mirror. He shakes his head. No help there.

“Lois! What’s going on?” I scream, as the two men hold me down.

“It’s for the best, dear. I am going to be very rich. You’re going to make certain I stay that way. Goodbye, Cheryl!” she says, waving.

A black cloth bag is put over my head. It smells of some kind of chemical.

Then, blackness.





Chapter Eleven





I wake up in a crappy warehouse. They must process fish here. It stinks to high heaven.

My head aches worse than ever. I promise God, no more drinking, and no more getting kidnapped and chloroformed!

I look around. The room is empty, and I am handcuffed to a bed.

There are two bottles of water, and a Clif bar, and a package of baby wipes.

Next to all of that is a plastic bucket, with a lid.

FOR YOU is printed on a piece of paper taped to the lid.

I get the picture.

Not feeling the need, I pick up a bottle of water, and the Clif.

I hate those things. Always taste gummy to me.

I shrug, and drink the bottle, emptying it in one or two big gulps.

I burp, not caring who may hear me.

Fuckers. I am going to rip their fucking balls off when I get a chance!

What the fuck did Lois do here?

What did she get me into? Does she owe someone money or something?

Daddy is going to be fucking pissed when he finds out…

I toss the empty bottle as hard as I can, and it ricochets off the far wall.

Good.

I open the next one, and take a couple sips.

I need to be careful, or I will end up using that bucket.

I eye the Clif bar wrapper. Fuck it. I tear it open with my teeth, immediately regretting my decision.

Yuck.

I choke it down,