CHAPTER VIII- plus incorporated changes

starstruck2

The butterflies in her stomach had nothing to do with the slight turbulence the plane was experiencing and everything to do with her impulsive decision to fly to Las Vegas and meet up with Zechariah Rohnan. This was no business excursion; on the contrary, it was all for pleasure. She glanced around the cramped commercial flight self-consciously, wondering if anyone close to her noticed the sudden infusion of color that flooded her cheeks as her body flooded with anticipation.

For the next several days, she would not be attending concerts as a music industry professional, and the truth of the matter was that she couldn’t remember the last concert she’d been to “off the books.” But neither was she going just for the opportunity to see IED live and hang out with the band. After all, she’d done that only a few days before. No, not this trip.

She wasn’t going to skirt the implications of Zach’s invitation. Anyone would recognize that agreeing to fly to Vegas to be with him meant just that and clearly had sexual overtones. And she was looking forward to it, probably had been since the interview at the studio if she were to be honest. Thinking about the clothes her brother packed for her, she grimaced slightly. She was fairly confident there would not be any alluring outfits or lingerie among the toothbrush and deodorant. She doubted he’d even thought to pack her perfume and makeup. When she’d talked to him about going by her house and picking up some things for her, she’d intended on heading up to her uncle’s ranch, so the bag was probably filled with jeans and thermal teeshirts, her preferred ranchwear. She made a note to stop by at least one boutique and acquire some appropriate seduction apparel.

Stop being so slutty! she admonished herself. Then she argued back silently that in a town full of showgirls and legal prostitution, how else was a girl to compete?

She must have dozed off because the next thing she knew, the person next to her gave her a nudge. She was an older woman, clearly ready to hit the strip, by the excited sparkle in her eyes.

“Wake up, honey. It’s party time!” Standing up, she removed an overstuffed carry-on from the compartment above. Starr only had her purse with her, so after she deboarded the plane, she headed straight for the luggage claim. As she impatiently watched for her baggage, she thought about calling Zach. He said he’d have a car pick her up at the airport and bring her to his suite at the Bellagio. But self-conscious of the excitement she knew he would hear in her voice, she opted for a quick text.

“Just landed. At baggage claim. Will wait out front in passenger pick-up.”

To her surprise, he texted back right away.

“GREAT! I’ll have a car there for you in 20. REALLY glad you came.”

Unable to help the gutter thought that crept into her mind, she thought, I’ll be really glad when you make me come. She’d already decided she would ask the driver to stop so she could shop for something dazzling to wear—inside and out.

An hour and a half later, she was dropped off at the beautiful hotel with her one suitcase and four boutique bags. Not sure what else to do with a bellhop patiently waiting, she went up to the hotel desk and gave her name. The young woman checking in guests did a double-take when she looked up Starr’s reservation.

“It seems your booked in Mr. Rhonan’s suite,” she murmured and Starr could have sworn she heard a touch of envy in the woman’s tone.

Starr wanted to shout, “Yeah, baby!” but refrained. Instead, she asked, “Is he in?”

“I don’t believe so. There’s instructions here to give you a key card and put any charges to the room on his tab.”

Starr wanted to feel embarrassed. It was evident she was here as the rock star’s romantic interest. It was also evident she wasn’t just some groupie. She really didn’t want to feel the wave of satisfaction flutter over her at the woman’s obvious resentment, but she couldn’t stop it, either. Trying not to appear smug, she accepted the key and headed for the elevator.

Once she was in the luxurious room, she headed over to the elegant couch so she could check out exactly what her brother had packed since she hadn’t had the opportunity to do so yet. As she suspected, it was full of jeans and tee shirts, some long-sleeve, some short. White bras, white panties. Oh, yes! Her make up bag was in there. She’d purchased some just in case, but just the bare essentials—mascara, eyeliner, lip stick (since it could be used for blush too!)—but she was glad to have all her colors with her now.

She noticed there was a card sticking out from a vase of two dozen white roses sitting on the coffee table with her name on it. Smiling, she opened it up.

Here’s to a fantabulous week. Dinner plans for 8. Z,” it read.

Eight?! That only gave her a little over an hour to get ready. And the first thing she would do was shower. Grabbing the bag that had all the hygiene stuff, including a bottle of eighty dollar shower gel, she headed for the bathroom.

Just under an hour later, she preened in front of the full-length mirror in the master bedroom. She wore a sapphire silk cocktail dress, halter-style, with a plunging neckline and bare back. There was no wearing a bra with this number. It fell to her knees in a gathered skirt. She wore black, fishnet hose but only for the black garter belt that held them up around black-laced panties. Four inch black patten leather heels finished the outfit.

Her close-cropped hair lay flat and shimmering against her scalp with tendrils curled along her cheeks. Her earrings were made of hundreds of tiny royal blue crystals gathered together to form identical stars, their arms stretching out to cover her ears. Her eyes were outlined in a similar color liner with a bit of brown shadow below her brows that made their extraordinary color really “pop.”. Ruby red lipstick and a touch of blush completed her look.

She hadn’t thought to bring any of her jewelry, obviously, on this spur of the moment, escapade. However the dress had come with a sash, but rather than where it around her waist, she doubled it over and wore it as a scarf. This had the dual purpose of shielding the substantial amount of exposed flesh, as if trying to preserve a bit of modesty, as well as providing a casual accessory to the outfit, making it a tad bit less formal.

And the butterflies just kept fluttering, fluttering, fluttering…

The sudden knock on the door startled her send a fresh deluge of adrenaline pumping through her and she rushed to open it, pausing to inhale deeply, knowing the sight of Rhonan would leave her breathless. Trying to demonstrate an air of non-nonchalance, she forced herself to open the door casually., Her face fell in disappointment. It was only Junie, Zach’s “gal Friday,” as he called her.

Starr had also bought a clutch earlier, almost groaning as she forked over another chunk of change. She’d spent nearly three grand at the boutique, but she rarely splurged like she had since she’d met Zach, so at least she had the funds, although today’s trip had gone on a credit card. And it gave her something to grip and she tried so very hard not to betray her nervousness, her excitement, anxiety, anticipation. Suddenly, her mouth went dry. She didn’t know if she wanted to do this, but she was certain she didn’t not want to do it.

“Well, come along, sweetie. That boy’s itchin’ to see you. He’s been like a kid in a candy store all day. I’m ta take ya to the ‘rendezvous.’ Tonight’s gonna be special… Just you wait and see.”

And in that instant, in a wave of certainty that swept over her, she knew nothing could have held her back.

Ok, readers and fans, I got up the revisions for the last posted chapter. It’ll stay as is for a few weeks and if there are no more changes, then this will be the final version of chapter eight. Love to my son and daughter-in-law who are being welcomed to Camp by Hurricane Arthur. And she thought her mother in law was bad…LOL!!!

TTFN, kg

 

Ok, I’m Gonna Offer a Tease…

… because I’ve been working so much at my new job, I haven’t had a lot of time to write, edit, tweet, post, yadah, yadah, yadah.  Below please enjoy a sneak peek at the next full-length novel that will be available on this site… Well I was shooting for the end of summer but since we’re pretty close to July already, I’m thinking it’ll be closer to Halloween before I knock this baby out.  For now, enjoy Chapters 1 and 2 of A.K.A. Aurora.

 

aka auror cover1

 

Chapter 1

Dawn’s Journal-Present Day

I am the only living child of blue-collar parents. I grew up in a small town in Michigan called Ypsilanti, whose only claim to fame was a series of murders that took place before I was born. My father, Seamus, Shae for short, worked at one of the auto manufacturer plants on the outskirts of Detroit and my mother, Ruth, worked in the cafeteria of University Hospital in Ann Arbor, which is where I was born on December 13, 1976. Just in time to be a tax deduction, my parents always joked.

In 1994, the summer before I turned eighteen, I was in a car accident that changed my life. My boyfriend, Jeremy Boothe, whom I had given my virginity to the night of our Junior Prom because I was sure we were going to get married someday, and two of my friends were killed in that wreck and the boy who was driving, Randall Swift, well, he got off without a scratch, physically and legally. That just didn’t seem fair since it was his idea to play chicken with a train in the first place. Turns out, the families of the three of us who survived, besides Randy, as well as those of my friends who died, were paid off by his parents, one of the wealthiest families in our small town, whose ancestors were founding members of the Washtenaw Country Club, world renowned for its golf course.

Of course, I just found that out about a year ago because I spent the next twelve years of my life in a coma. My own parents refused to give up hope that I would someday awaken and so they used the money they had accepted from the Swifts to keep me alive and cared for at a special hospital one of the doctors suggested. My name is Dawn Fairchild and miraculously, on my twenty-ninth birthday, I got my life back. Or so I thought…

Leaning to walk and talk again came surprisingly quick. I had a dedicated physical therapist that my mother met at the hospital she worked at who not only kept my muscles from atrophy, but toned and defined as well. My primary physician seemed able to explain the excellent physical condition even though other doctors working with me were amazed, if not skeptical, by my rapid recovery. Eventually, all was chalked up to modern medicine and the power of prayer.

I have been told that my parents came to the upstate hospital in the middle of nowhere to visit me every week until my mom got sick and then my father came alone if she was too ill, but toward the end he had to take care of her so sometimes it would be months before he came back. She died of cancer while I was comatose, a mixed blessing for me because the mother I remembered was spunky and a little on the heavy side. She was a fine looking woman with platinum blond hair and laughing hazel eyes, but the pictures I have seen of her in her final days portrayed a woman far skinnier than she’d ever hope to get and a bandana covering the bare head which no longer boasted of the silky blond locks chemotherapy had destroyed. Too bad it didn’t take away the cancer as well.

I guess the worst I have endured was waking up feeling seventeen, having those adolescent memories of my parents and my friends come flooding back and then learning of their deaths. It left me so sad and desolate, which was probably why I immediately found salvation in the one thing considered by others as yet another tragedy…

Because somehow, after twelve years of inactivity, before I was able to recall any memories relating the pain or pleasure of sex, when I did regain consciousness, or should I say sometimes in the months just prior to my cognizant awakening, I had managed to become pregnant.

My father raised hell of course. Clearly one of my care-givers had raped me while I was unconscious, but DNA testing of all the male hospital staff proved none to be the father. In a way, I was thankful. I have been able to bond with my daughter, Esther Ruth, and I don’t believe that would have been the case if I had to remember a forced conception.

My daughter is the light of my life and even strangers remark on what a beautiful child she is. If my dad hears a comment about her beauty, he is the first to pop up with a quick response.

“Well she takes after her grandpa, of course!” he is fond of chortling. I say this teasingly but that is only because reality is so far from the truth. He is no Brad Pitt, but a decent enough looking man. His hair is bright red, not pale like my mom’s ultra light hair or even mine, which tends to be more of a coppery gold. I’ve been told that it is the perfect mixing of both of theirs, lighter than what would be referred to as strawberry-blond, but neither the flaxen locks of a “blonde” blond.

His eyes are blue and mine are very green, so I can only believe that Esther gets her coloring from her donor. Yes, that is what I call him because to refer to his biological connection in any other way taints the innocent tiny being that grew and sprang forth from my womb.

Our minister calls her a little “Liz Taylor,” because of her inky black hair and wide unusual eyes. The famous actress was a little before my time, but still, as a Hollywood icon, I know who she is, and I have to agree with him because my daughter’s eyes are truly violet.

After giving birth, I finished my high school equivalency and went to college, where I learned how to run my own business working as a waitress on the side. I have always loved to cook and found I had a natural talent for the skills of a chef which my father told me I inherited from my mother.

I am quite adept with slicing and dicing, so when I told my father I wanted to use part of the hundred thousand dollar settlement I received from the hospital after it was determined I had been impregnated while in a coma, he offered to use his retirement to give me the additional financial backing I needed to open my own restaurant. I took on the role of head chef and general manager. I am proud to say that with only a year into this venture, Horizons has fast become the most popular eatery in town.

As my daughter starts school, I am discovering that I seem to know of places I have never been to. I have taken on some gourmet cooking classes and find I do not have to be told more than once what the English equivalent is to dishes in French, Italian and German. I took French in high school, but I kind of sucked at it so I became quite impressed with myself at the proficiency with which I repeated the words in foreign languages.

It has been during this past year that I started having very strange dreams. They all have the same young woman in them, but I know it isn’t me, because her hair is long and dark, always kept pulled back from her face. Ever since I woke from my coma, I have kept my hair short and manageable because it is very straight and doesn’t hold curl well at all. I am tall and “blond” like my mother, but unlike her, I have managed to keep an athletic figure despite my love of food. Regardless of all the years of inactivity, or perhaps because of them, exercise doesn’t just come naturally—it’s a force that drives me. I have yet to figure out where this conditioning comes from.

It was at the suggestion of one of my therapists that I began keeping this journal. Michelle Harris has been a Godsend to me—just don’t call her Shelly, she prefers Midge. She has also become my best friend and is only a couple of years older than I, but is so much older than me, if that makes any sense. She has been married and divorced twice and has two children, a boy and a girl. Frances and Esther are playmates, although Frankie is a year older than Esther and Tony, two years older than his little sister, flips back and forth between the roles of child terrorist and big brother protector. Midge often remarks that is how boys and brothers tend to be. Since she has a couple of older brothers, I assume she should know. I had a big brother once, but he died of pneumonia when I was a baby.

When I first approached the subject of these dreams to Midge, who is just a friend these days and not a therapist, she asked if I thought hypnosis would help.

“That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?” I responded, feeling a bit foolish at that point.

“Maybe, but if they are really troubling you, it might be something to consider,” she said, glancing at me through bifocal corrective lenses. Her eyes are intensely blue and kind of “don’t go with” her dark hair and regardless of her milky, freckled complexion.

“It’s not so much that they are troubling,” I told her hesitantly. “They just seem very real, like watching a movie play out in my head. And I remember them in detail.”

“That in itself is strange, Dawn. Generally, the conscious mind does not hold on to unconscious memories like dreams. You should start writing things down as soon as you wake up after having one. Then we can look over them together.”

I didn’t, of course. I thought I was just under a lot of stress—after all, I had a lot on my plate—pun intended. But I did become a bit more curious about the skills I seemed to master without much effort, which included my proficiency with naming the new dishes I had learned to prepare. After buying some self-teaching CDs, I became fluent in several languages within a couple of months. And the dreams are now more frequent and vivid than ever.

__________________________________________________________________     

Chapter II-Somewhere, USA two years before 9-11

She wasn’t exactly sure where she was, but she was not afraid, not really. When she opened her eyes that morning, she had no memory of who she was or where she had come from. She knew basic things, of course… For instance, she could tell she was in a hospital room of some sort but there were no windows or even a phone or a television. She knew that it was morning though because there was a clock over the door that read in red digital numbers “0540.” She was hooked up to some machines but had no idea what they were intended for. Glancing around, she felt a tug at her scalp and looking sideways, she saw long, dark locks hanging over her shoulder that were unfamiliar as they rested against her breast. Surely there’s a nurse call button around here somewhere, she thought, trying to move her arms and finding her muscles would not conform to the command from her brain. Then she tried to move her legs and found the same difficulty. She began to panic, thinking, I’ve been in an accident and I’m paralyzed!

She heard voices just outside her door and listened, trying to decide whether or not to call out.

“You are sure she is going to wake up? How do you know?” one voice said in a demanding manner.

“Her brain scans have changed. They are showing activity that has not been there in the last five years. That is why I notified you. And we took some time to alter some things about her physical appearance. I think she will be an excellent candidate. Her memory is bound to be affected and should be easy to manipulate under these circumstances. The new drugs and methods we have developed here will help insure that will remain the case for an extended period, perhaps several years. She’s only twenty-two, so she will be ripe for training as well. Of course the final call will be yours,” the other voice concluded.

“Fine. Alert me when she wakes up. Nothing can be decided until then. You got a name for her?”

“I thought I would leave that to you,” came the reply. “Personally, I think Aurora would suit. She is a beauty.”

“Despite the similarities between her and the Disney fairy tale, don’t you think that particular name cuts a little close to the truth?” the demanding voice asked ironically.

There was a pause before the other voice continued. “If you are concerned about her making the connection, that is highly unlikely, General. Coincidences are a part of life. After all, there is a significant one between your name and hers as well. But as I stated earlier, the choice is yours. And you better decide soon because, my guess is that she will awaken in the next 48-72 hours.”

Hello? I am awake now! she tried to call out and realized, even though the words formed in her mind, she could get them out of her mouth. What the hell is wrong with me? she wanted to cry from the prison of her body. The doctor chose that moment to enter the room.

She knew one of the men was her doctor because it was obvious. He was in scrubs and a white coat, a stethoscope swinging from around his neck. The other man, she assumed from the number of stripes adorning his uniform, was some high-ranking military official. And then she recalled just moments earlier, the physician had referred to him as “general.” In the window, just outside the hospital room door, she saw the face of a man in dark glasses, a man she would later describe—once she had the frame of reference to do so—as the nemesis in the Matrix movies.

His non-descript features stood out because of the dark sunglasses he wore indoors, and ruined the effect of being inconspicuous, if in fact, that was what he was going for. But the woman in the bed soon lost all curiosity with him as she trained her open and questioning green eyes on the doctor.

“Well, good morning, Bright Eyes. Welcome back.” He saw that his greeting was confusing to her so he sat on the edge of her bed and proceeded to explain.

“You have been in a coma. I am Dr. Jonas Rupert, head neurologist here at the Master’s Clinic for Neurological Disorders. With the aid of some new remarkable and experimental drugs, I’ve facilitated your return to consciousness. I am not sure how much you recall from before your acc… aneurysm—” the doctor’s words were interrupted by the clearing throat of the officer.

She looked at the other man, wondering exactly whom he was and what he had to do with her situation. Again, the brilliant green eyes fixed on the doctor inquisitively. The doctor turned to the military man who stepped forward, clearing his throat again.

“Hello, Aurora. Do you remember me? I am your father.”

***

Her eyes narrowed as they shot daggers at the man towering over her. Waiting for the breath that had been knocked out of her by this new PT’s maneuver, she pushed herself up from the floor.

“I don’t know exactly what kind of physical therapist you are, but your bedside manner sucks. Who are you anyway? Better yet, which of my doctors recommended you

for my recovery?”

“Therapy? You still think you’re in therapy? Lady, you’re a bit beyond therapy.”

“So then, this is the start of my training?” she asked in confusion. “I just barely agreed to take part in this program. I thought I was supposed to be a soldier of some kind. Why is this one-on-one and not with a whole company?” she continued breathlessly, bending over to rest her hands on her knees.

A year ago, she couldn’t walk or speak. Part of her therapy included not just calisthenics, but some self-defense maneuvers as well. She knew shouldn’t be so ungracious, but this man was unlike any of her other physical therapists. He wasn’t trying to build up the physical capabilities being in a coma robbed her of. If anything, the man was trying to show her how weak she still was. But considering what she had agreed to do, to become, her strength and weakness would mean everything to her in a few more months.

“You’re not here to ask questions. You’re here to learn how to defend your country through pre-emptive striking, to defend yourself from those who will try to kill you and for technical, geographical and political knowledge that I deem fit to teach you. You can call me Yown.”

“What kind of name is Yown?” she asked contrarily, regardless of his previous directive. It was an odd reference since she’d been told his name was David Curry.

“Your Own Worst Nightmare.”

“Well, you can forget about calling me Aurora. Call me Tigby instead.”

“Oh, yeah, Aurora, why is that?”

Looking at him levelly, she sprang to her feet, at the same time using a sweeping kick to send him down to where she’d been only moments before—facedown on the athletic mat cover the floor.

“Because when we are through here, Then I’m Gonna Be Yours.”

Curry pushed himself up, hiding the smile of satisfaction he experienced at the young woman’s ability to take him down as she had. She was turning into quite an adept student and he was pleased. The general would be, too.

“I saw you talking to my father earlier. What did General Bellenfant want?” she asked, emphasizing a haughty formal tone in reference as she said his name. She backed off and lifted her arm up, wiping the sweat from her brow on the shoulder of the gray tee shirt she wore. If the man thought her sarcasm was disrespectful, he gave no indication. Aurora herself had yet to feel the familial connection to the man; quite the contrary. His brisk manner and lack of affection toward her made it very hard to summon any tender emotion for the man. She acknowledged it, because ever since she’d awakened, everyone around her seemed to reinforce that awareness. According to Dr. Rupert, the fact that the feeling hadn’t connected inside of her was another side effect of her comatose state. She still did not recall any memories of her childhood or of the mother she’d been told died when she was young.

Curry grunted as he pulled himself up to a sitting position on the mat. “He asked me if I thought you were cutting the mustard,” came the curt reply.

“And what did you tell him?” she asked, extending a hand to the older man as she offered him aid in standing.

“I told him you were a bit cocky and might not be right for the assignments they have in mind for you,” he lied. Another few weeks and she’d be ready to move on to her firearms training. For that she’d be turned over to someone else, but they would still have daily sessions to keep her in shape.

His answer brought a petulant look to her features. Damn, she’s pretty, he thought before he could stop himself. He reached for a towel resting on a bench, wiping away his own sweat and covering the look of appreciation that flared in his eyes. He knew better than to go there. Besides, he was twice her age and definitely not the May-December type. In fact, he now felt like a pervert. She was young enough to be his daughter.

“Why’d you have to go and do that for?” she asked in a slightly whining tone. David felt even more like a pedophile as he realized the young woman still probably felt like a teenager. After all, until she woke up a year ago, she’d been unconscious since was seventeen.

“Stop whining like a child, Aurora. With an attitude like that, who would trust putting a weapon in your hands?” he barked a little harshly. Her eyes narrowed in anger but she bit back any further remarks. David was please to see she’d begun to show more verbal discipline. When she’d first awoken, although she wasn’t aware he’d been around to observe her behavior, she’d blurted stuff out quite frequently once her speech had returned. And she’d cried a lot. It was a good thing that the doc had kept her sedated when she’d had visitors.

“Come on,” he said, a bit more gently. “We still have a five mile run ahead before we break for lunch.”

Ok, folks. That’s not all she wrote, but that’s all you’re getting for now. Hope it intrigues you enough to come back for the full download and please, share my ebooks with your friends. I don’t write for the love of money. I write because I have the soul of a bard(ess!)

TTFN

kg

Starstruck- Chapter VIII

starstruck2

The butterflies in her stomach had nothing to do with the slight turbulence the plane was experiencing and everything to do with her impulsive decision to fly to Las Vegas and meet up with Zechariah Rohnan. This was no business excursion; on the contrary, it was all for pleasure. She glanced around the cramped commercial flight self-consciously, wondering if anyone close to her noticed the sudden infusion of color that flooded her cheeks as her body flooded with anticipation.

For the next several days, she would not be attending concerts as a music industry professional, and the truth of the matter was that she couldn’t remember the last concert she’d been to “off the books.” But neither was she going just for the opportunity to see IED live and hang out with the band. After all, she’d done that only a few days before. No, not this trip.

She wasn’t going to skirt the implications of Zach’s invitation. Anyone would recognize that agreeing to fly to Vegas to be with him meant just that and clearly had sexual overtones. And she was looking forward to it, probably had been since the interview at the studio if she were to be honest. Thinking about the clothes her brother packed for her, she grimaced slightly. She was fairly confident there would not be any alluring outfits or lingerie among the toothbrush and deodorant. She doubted he’d even thought to pack her perfume and makeup. When she’d talked to him about going by her house and picking up some things for her, she’d intended on heading up to her uncle’s ranch, so the bag was probably filled with jeans and thermal teeshirts, her preferred ranchwear. She made a note to stop by at least one boutique and acquire some appropriate seduction apparel.

Stop being so slutty! she admonished herself. Then she argued back silently that in a town full of showgirls and legal prostitution, how else was a girl to compete?

She must have dozed off because the next thing she knew, the person next to her gave her a nudge. She was an older woman, clearly ready to hit the strip, by the excited sparkle in her eyes.

“Wake up, honey. It’s party time!” Standing up, she removed an overstuffed carry-on from the compartment above. Starr only had her purse with her, so after she deboarded the plane, she headed straight for the luggage claim. As she impatiently watched for her baggage, she thought about calling Zach. He said he’d have a car pick her up at the airport and bring her to his suite at the Bellagio. But self-conscious of the excitement she knew he would hear in her voice, she opted for a quick text.

“Just landed. At baggage claim. Will wait out front in passenger pick-up.”

To her surprise, he texted back right away.

“GREAT! I’ll have a car there for you in 20. REALLY glad you came.”

Unable to help the gutter thought that crept into her mind, she thought, I’ll be really glad when you make me come. She’d already decided she would ask the driver to stop so she could shop for something dazzling to wear—inside and out.

An hour and a half later, she was dropped off at the beautiful hotel with her one suitcase and four boutique bags. Not sure what else to do with a bellhop patiently waiting, she went up to the hotel desk and gave her name. The young woman checking in guests did a double-take when she looked up Starr’s reservation.

“It seems your booked in Mr. Rhonan’s suite,” she murmured and Starr could have sworn she heard a touch of envy in the woman’s tone.

Starr wanted to shout, “Yeah, baby!” but refrained. Instead, she asked, “Is he in?”

“I don’t believe so. There’s instructions here to give you a key card and put any charges to the room on his tab.”

Starr wanted to feel embarrassed. It was evident she was here as the rock star’s romantic interest. It was also evident she wasn’t just some groupie. She really didn’t want to feel the wave of satisfaction flutter over her at the woman’s obvious resentment, but she couldn’t stop it, either. Trying not to appear smug, she accepted the key and headed for the elevator.

Once she was in the luxurious room, she headed over to the elegant couch so she could check out exactly what her brother had packed since she hadn’t had the opportunity to do so yet. As she suspected, it was full of jeans and tee shirts, some long-sleeve, some short. White bras, white panties. Oh, yes! Her make up bag was in there. She’d purchased some just in case, but just the bare essentials—mascara, eyeliner, lip stick (since it could be used for blush too!)—but she was glad to have all her colors with her now.

She noticed there was a card sticking out from a vase of two dozen white roses sitting on the coffee table with her name on it. Smiling, she opened it up.

Here’s to a fantabulous week. Dinner plans for 8. Z,” it read.

Eight?! That only gave her a little over an hour to get ready. And the first thing she would do was shower. Grabbing the bag that had all the hygiene stuff, including a bottle of eighty dollar shower gel, she headed for the bathroom.

Just under an hour later, she preened in front of the full-length mirror in the master bedroom. She wore a sapphir silk cocktail dress, halter-style, with a low neckline and bare back. There was no wearing a bra with this number. It fell to her knees in a gathered skirt. She wore black, fishnet hose but only for the black garter belt that held them up around black-laced panties. Four inch black patten leather heels finished the outfit.

Her close-cropped hair lay flat and shimmering against her scalp with tendril curled along her cheeks. Large royal blue stars were attached to her lobes. Her eyes were outlined in a similar color liner with a bit of brown shadow below her brows that accented the color of her eyes. Ruby red lipstick and a touch of blush completed her look.

She bought a clutch almost groaning as she forked over another chunk of change. She’d spent nearly three grand at the boutique, but she rarely splurged like she had since she’d met Zach, so at least she had the funds, although today’s trip had gone on a credit card.

There was a knock on the door and she rushed to open it, but paused to inhale deeply, knowing the sight of Rhonan would leave her breathless. When she opened the door, her face fell in disappointment. It was only Junie, Zach’s “gal Friday,” as he called her.

“Well, come along, sweetie. That boy’s been itchin’ to see you. I’m ta take ya to the rendezvous. Tonight’s gonna be special… Just you wait and see.” 

So There Was A Glitch…

Sad but true. Somehow when I updated my Kindle it killed all my edits so I’m having to go back and redo. Give me another week, folks. Stay tuned for next week–same bat time, same bat channel…
Am I showing my age too much??  But hey, as long as I’m here, let me wish happy 13th to my baby who became a teenager on Friday, May 23rd and my number two who turns 21 today. Love you boys!!

TTFN, kg

I Admit It… I’ve Been LAME!!!!

I am so sorry I haven’t posted Chapters 4-7 or written Chapter 8 yet. I started a new job about two months ago and have been putting in a LOT of hours. PLUS I have been editing a book I started a couple of years ago but haven’t worked on much because I started it right before I parted ways with my publisher, which was NOT a good time. However, I am working on both books now… the one I am sharing on this site, STARSTRUCK, and the one I hope to have available for download on this site by the end of the summer, A.K.A. AURORA. I have finally mastered (or at least learned to speak the language of) Gimp. For your approval, criticism or amusement, these are the two book covers that I have decided to go with.

 

 

 

I promise I will have the last edited chapters of  STARSTRUCK up by next weekend. And maybe the next chapter as well. But that I won’t promise, because even though it will be Memorial Day weekend, I have two kids with birthdays then as well…  Monumental birthdays–my “baby” becomes a teenager on the 23rd and the brother who got him as a” birthday present” (at least he thought so at the time–these days not so much, LOL!!) turns 21 on the 25th. Happy birthdays, my sons. Love you more than there are stars in the sky.

 

TTFN, kg

Starstruck–Chapter IV (Final Revision)

starstruck
“I’m sooo excited. We’re just minutes away from the arrival of our special guests, Zach Rohnan and Jason Maldonado from the band IED! As you all know, that show has been sold out for weeks now but KSTR still has some tickets to give away, so keep listening all the way up to my show tomorrow when Bad Boy Billy, who, sweetheart that he is despite his name, will be pulling a double shift, giving away the station’s last pair of tickets while covering my show and then his own. But I’ll be checking in via live remote throughout the night as one lucky contestant and a guest join the members of IED for dinner, front row seats and the after party! And people, let me tell you that you wanna stay tuned in for the rest of my show today, especially if you’ve been registered for the awesome night tomorrow! Zach Rohnan himself will announce the big winner. That’s just a couple of hours away! Now, let’s start the afternoon drive home with the latest single from the new IED album, Under a Blood Red Moon. Here’s Your Money’s Worth on the only station that rocks Denver twenty-four-seven, KSTR.”
Starr flipped a switch and then moved and clicked the mouse, confident that the run of music playing the next several minutes would give her a chance to run to the restroom and double-check her appearance for the umpteenth time. Her hot guests hadn’t arrived yet but they would be here any minute and she didn’t want to use the mirror in the green room and be caught primping. She would never hear the end of it from her co-workers, especially since her “no-celebrity-rule” was commonly known. For the life of her, she could not fathom what was going on inside her head. This wasn’t the first rock stars she’d interviewed and they sure wouldn’t be the last. But, she admitted to herself, she’d really gone all-out to look good for these guys—okay, one of these guys.
Looking in the mirror, she said out loud to her reflection, “Confess, bitch. You know you’re crushin’ on Rohnan.” Certainly not the first time the thought crossed her mind.
Yes, she was. She was just so impressed with how he handled the rock and roll lifestyle. He wasn’t a bleeding heart, but he wasn’t an asshole either. And, honestly, those were usually the two extremes that many celebrities fell into. She remembered being on a flight to L.A. a couple years back, covering a Lollapalooza event and she happened to be sitting in first class with Jay Leno. She’d always loved the guy on late-night TV, but he was a total dick to the flight attendant. It really colored her opinion of him. And besides her own ill-fated romance years before, most all of the media personalities she’d met fit into one or the other category.
Using a cotton swab under her eye to wipe away some mascara, she then took a finger to rub a bit of shadow that seemed darker on one side. She sprayed some spritz on her hair, careful not to get any on the black and brown feathered earrings, scrunching up the strands at the top to give it a little lift and a bit of a messy look. Finally, she pulled out her lipstick and re-applied the burgundy color along her lip outline. A quick spray of Chloe perfume on the leopard print suede short dress she wore with fishnet stockings that encased her slim thighs right before they disappeared into a pair of knee-high black moccasins finished her off and she raced back to the studio with seconds to spare before the last track finished. Just as she sat down, clicking over to the advertisement spots set to run in the first break of her show, she saw through the large window next to the studio door the band members being led in by her now-officially-former producer and the new assistant program director Mac Sherman. He waved to her, as did the other men, while they passed the studio onto the green room, where they could relax and gather their thoughts for a few minutes before she introduced them. Maldonado blew her a kiss with two fingers, smiling suggestively at the same time, but Rohnan just nodded his head in acknowledgment, turning his attention back to Mac. She ignored the rush of disappointment, focusing on the next segment of her show.
“And we’re back and just moments away from our very special guests, Zach Rohnan and Jason Maldonado, lead vocals and bass for the bad-ass IED! In fact, I have a pair of tickets to give away for the first caller to correctly name, in order, all the singles of their first full-length CD and the CD too, of course. Now here’s some System of a Down, Spiders, to get us all in the mood.”
Over the next several minutes, Starr took callers who were trying for the ticket give away. She returned on-air with the recorded call of the winner.
“Who am I speaking to?” her voice asked energetically.
“My name’s Mandy,” came the excited reply of a young woman.
“So Mandy. You say you know all eight of the songs on IED’s debut album. Let’s start with the name of the CD.”
“The CD is called Run For Cover.”
“Now can you name the singles?”
“Yes, I sure can. I love that album. And I love you, too, Zach! Track one, Give It a Rest, track two, Take It or Leave It, track three Hit By a Bus, track four, On the Run, track five is the cover title, track six is Redemption, track seven is Blood Splatter and track eight is Longing,” the young woman finished breathlessly.
Hot damn, you got it! Mandy, you and a friend are going to the show. Hold on while I get your information to be added to the guest list. You already know who you’re taking?” Starr asked the wailing caller.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe it! And yes, even though my boyfriend might not like it, I’m taking my sister. Her birthday was a week ago and we have been trying to get tickets to this concert for a month. In fact, I listen to your show everyday on the way home from work. I was hoping that somehow, I’d win tickets! I’m so excited and Gwen, if you’re listening, happy birthday, big sister!” the woman finished as Starr disengaged the call.
“Well, I imagine Gwen doesn’t mind this late birthday present one bit! When we return, I have a gift for all the listeners out there. Zach and Jason are coming up after this commercial break. Stay tuned!” she finished, clicking on the next set of advertisements scheduled to run during the show. She buzzed into the green room and told Mac she’d just run a five-minute, thirty-second ad reel and was ready for her guests. A few minutes later, all three men entered the studio. Bar stools had been brought in earlier that day in anticipation of the band members. Jason carried an acoustic guitar and three mircrophones had been set up, two about the height of the men and one about the height of the instrument.
Starr immediately stood up from her chair and greeted the men with an outstretched hand. Mac, in the back, nodded his head and ducked back out of the studio.
“Welcome, welcome,” she said enthusiastically, although later, she’d wonder if she’d “gushed” a bit much. The tingle that ran up her arm at the first contact she made with Zach Rohnan felt like a mild shock of static electricity and she could feel a growing irritation at herself for acting and feeling so unprofessional. Gesturing to the stools, she held up a hand for the five second countdown as they settled in their seats.
Deciding it would play well with the listeners, she gave up her internal struggle and announced, “So we’re back and in the studio I have very special guests, Zach Rohnan and Jason Maldonado from the band IED. I have to say in all honesty, I am kind of crushing on you guys,” she started and Jason immediately let out a whoop of laughter. The handsome Mexican clapped his hands together and turned to his bandmate.
“Hey, dude. It looks like I might have a fighting chance with this one,” he laughed. When the lead singer replied, Starr thought her insides would just melt at the lilt of his Irish accent.
“That’s only cuz she ain’t seen you drunk yet, brother,” came the amused reply. Staring at the auburn-haired man with the bottle green eyes, she almost lost track of her cue as she continued on.
“So, Zach. Clearly you’re Irish-born. Is Zach short for Zachary?” she asked, trying to recover her cool and put her interviewing hat on.
“Actually, my full name is Zechariah, and yes, I was born just outside of Belfast. But me mum’s American and we moved to the states when I was a teenager.”
“I think I read somewhere that she’s a naval officer. Is that true?”
“Well, she’s retired now and m’ father is a protestant minister. So, as you can imagine, he wasna too popular back in the homeland. Northern Ireland is still very Catholic.”
“So your name is biblical. I’m a little rusty on my scripture. Zachariah was a king or something?”
“Well, yes, Zachariah was, but I was named for Zechariah, the profit. My full name is spelled with an ‘e.’ It means ‘the Lord is remembered’ My nick name, Zach, is a bit of a misnomer.”
“Clearly you’ve had a spiritual upbringing. I gather your parents weren’t too thrilled with your career choice?”
“Nae, no’ at first. But they’re great people and my t’ree brothers are all respectable,” he laughed. “A teacher, a lawyer and a chef.”
“Jason, you’re from Texas, right?”
“That’s right, born and bred on barbeque and ice tea. We all graduated from the same high school in Austin. That’s how we met and that’s when we started playing together.”
“I read somewhere that your influences were Metallica, Pantera and Iron Maiden. No Beetles or Rolling Stones?” she asked.
“I got this,” Jason told Zach, exchanging a wry smile with his compadre. “We love Zepplin and Sabbath. Lord knows, my folks will be Santana fans ’til the day they die, but we really grew up with the hair bands of the 80′s and grunge of the 90′s so you’re more likely to hear us cover Alice in Chains or Pearl Jam.”
“You mentioned Santana and a few of your tracks do sound like they have a mariachi melody playing. Who came up with that?”
“No question there. That was all Espinoza—Roy or I guess I should say Rogelio,” Jason answered, jokingly putting a hard emphasis on the Spanish pronunciation so that the name came out sounding “Roy-hell-ee-o” making the “hell” sound like he was choking up to spit.
“Yeah,” Rohnan commented dryly. “I think he prefers Roy.” This elicited a chuckle from both Starr and Jason. “He also doubles as our production manager so he’s already out at Red Rock overseeing the set-up.”
“He’s your drummer, correct? I’ve heard him compared to Phil Collins. What does he think about that?” she continued.
“Well not too many of the ‘X-Gen’ even know that Phil is a phenomenal drummer. And I’d have to say Genesis is also one of our influences,” Zach answered.
“Roy gets a woody anytime he’s compared to the greats like Bohnam or Collins,” Jason added, once again eliciting a chuckle from everyone in the studio.
“You guys have done South by Southwest a few times, right? How was that? It must be amazing to be around some many other bands, many legends of the industry…”
They turned and looked at each other, more or less sending a knowing smile between the two of them. It was Zach who answered though.
“We’ve done SXSW four times now. What’s really great is seeing how our fan base has grown in the last ten years. The band’s been together for twelve years now, but those first couple of years were mainly playing friends’ parties or open mike gigs. In 2002, we were offered our first record deal and 2004 was our first show for SXSW. I think there were twelve people at that show,” he laughed and Jason agreed.
“But we played our asses off and got the opportunity to tour with Drowning Pool and Static X. Then we cut another CD and played some smaller venues on our own. But in ’06, we toured with Disturbed and Godsmack. That was when things really started taking off for us. It was an awesome experience and gave us a lot of learning tools as a band.”
Signed With Our Own Blood was released back in 2009. That was the first CD that you toured as the headlining band. I was at that concert. It was one of my first as a working dj. I saw you guys in L.A. I almost didn’t go because I was there covering Lollapalooza and y’all were playing at another venue on the last day. But someone invited me, a record exec, and I thought, yeah, I should network this. But I was blown away. You have such a great sound. A bit of System, a bit of Maynard, a bit of Reznor. I could hear a bit of Rage in your performance as well,” she continued referring to several other bands and the talent that drove them to success.
“Oh, hell yeah!” Jason interjected. “My mom even knows the words to Guerrilla Radio. I think we were seniors in high school when De La Rocha announced he was leaving the band. Heartbroken, just heartbroken,” he groaned efficaciously.
“Well, guys, we need to take a break here but when we return, I was hoping you might do an unplugged version of Hit By a Bus?”
“Absolutely,” Zach affirmed.
“And then that moment the listeners have been waiting for. Zach and Jason will announce the winner of tomorrow night’s big give away! Stay tuned, headbangers and hard rockers. We’ll be back in a bit with Jason Maldonado and Zach Rohnan from IED!”

 

 

TTFN, kg

Starstruck–Chapter III (Final Revision)

guitarstage
Central Colorado in the summer was one of the most beautiful times of the year. Although some days it could be unbearably hot, as soon as the sun went down, everything cooled off. Starr was looking forward to the concert Friday night, which was being held at Red Rock Stadium, one of the premier venues in the country. Listening to her colleagues promoting the IED giveaway all weekend, she’d felt the usual rise of excitement that normally overtook her as a major promotional event was drawing near.
A few months back, when KSTR had participated in a charity event sponsored by KUSA, the NBC affiliate in Denver, she’d really been psyched because it was her first public event since the ad campaign promoting her rising recognition. She’d even been interviewed for a fluff piece about her grandfather owning a horse ranch and how she’d become a proficient rider and roper. KUSA’s general sales manager, Rebecca Downey, was head of the local chapter of the A.W.R.T.–American Women in Radio and Television. All the employees of Denver’s media outlets had been invited to participate in different sporting and rodeo events–bronco riding, stunt riding, tug-of-wars, a softball game. The event raised scholarship money for young women pursuing careers in media. Ad and PR agencies, network and cable affiliates and radio stations signed up their employees either as individuals or as teams to “open a can of whoop ass,” as KSTR’s local sales manager, Brent Jackson, described it, on each others’ business competitors and associates. It was a lot of fun and Starr made new friends and contacts through the event. She’d even received a few offers trying to tempt her away from KSTR, but Starr was nothing if not loyal and had graciously promised to “think about it” when each offer was presented. Hers was not an industry that paid to insult the wrong corporate execs.
She was looking forward to her first day back on the air after a very relaxing weekend. She’d taken the time to have her hair trimmed and the highlights touched up, get a mani-pedi and shop for two bad-ass outfits one for the interview in the studio on Thursday and the other for Friday’s concert. She met several music personalities in her short career in radio, especially since her career really took off several months before, but she had to admit, she was kind of crushing on Rohnan. And it wasn’t just because he was rock-star hot!
Zach Rohnan was very much into children’s causes, whether it was helping the ill, feeding and supplying orphanages and educating those in under-developed countries. Last year, he’d donated one hundred thousand dollars to building a school in South America and campaigned tirelessly for continual donations to keep it well-stocked with both educators and supplies.
She wasn’t quite sure why she wanted to look extra appealing for this particular studio guest. She’d promised herself years before when she’d gotten involved with a one-hit-wonder who’d spiraled down the dark, drug drain that she would never date a celebrity again. And she had managed to stick to her guns on that. But when one is “in the business,” one’s choices for companionship usually meant someone else in the business. So far her black book included two ad executives, one account executive from another radio station and a program director from the local PBS station, who was also a communication professor at her brother’s school. She wasn’t a virgin by any stretch of the imagination, but she made sure she never acquired the reputation of a slutty party girl either.
Stepping out of her shower, she grabbed a towel and quickly scrubbed at her head, her short hair almost instantly going from soaked to damp. As she wrapped it around her body and padded from the bathroom to her bedroom, the midday day news was broadcasting a breaking story.
“…David Moore on location with today’s top story. KRFX dj Michelle Thomas, of the Michelle in the Morning show, is in critical condition at Mile High Hospital this morning after a late-night attack at her apartment. A police spokesperson will only say that Ms. Thomas was found after a frantic 911 call in which she lost consciousness before the police and paramedics reached her. She was the apparent victim of a home invasion with injuries consisting of several stab wounds. At this time, the police have no suspects and are not releasing further details. Back to you, Laura,” a man in the customary suit and tie concluded from the front parking lot just outside of the hospital emergency room. The scene switched to the studio as the female anchor concluded the segment.
“Thanks, David. This is the second media personality to fall victim to assault in the past several months. Our viewers will recall the violent and untimely death of one of our own, Elizabeth Wright, known to those who loved and worked with her as Betsy–commentator and program director here at this station. This case is still unsolved and the twenty-five thousand dollar reward we are offering will stand until her killer is caught. We will keep you informed on both cases as information develops. Laura Jaffe, Channel 7 News.”
Wow! Starr thought. Weird… and scary. She felt a small sense of satisfaction that she’d promoed the company that monitored her home security system. It had cost her next to nothing to have installed and as long as she regularly plugged them on her show, she didn’t even pay the monthly maintenance fee.
She knew Michelle Thomas and decided she would stop by the hospital on her way into work. They weren’t really friends, as the other woman worked at a station that played classic rock and was in her mid 40’s, but they were socially acquainted enough that Starr felt compelled to add her name to what she was sure was a long list of well-wishers.
Applying her deodorant and perfume, she donned her bra, panties, black jeans and a gray tee shirt with her station’s logo. She almost tripped pulling on her thong sandals as Bruja brushed against her standing leg while the other was mid-air, her finger hooked into the back strap to secure the shoe around her ankle. Hopping twice to keep her balance, she shooed the kitty away in annoyance.
“Damnit, Bruja. What is it going to take to get you to stop doing that?” she raged in exasperation. “One of these days, you’re going to make me break my neck!”
She finished getting ready by putting on her makeup and squirting some gel into her palm. Rubbing her hands together, she spiked the product through her hair and combed it out, curling the sides along the sides of her face against her cheeks, giving it a sleek appearance. The last thing she did was grab a pair of sterling and crystal earrings that hung down almost to her shoulders.
Giving herself the final once-over in her dresser mirror, she was satisfied with the results. The black eyeliner and gray and purple eyeshadow made her deep blue eyes pop and the dusky rose of her blush and lip gloss complemented her dark coloring.
For what must have been the thousandth time, she thought, What does it really matter, you twit? You’re on the radio!

 

 

TTFN, kg

Starstruck–Chapter II (Final Revision)

 

starstruck
August-The Summer Before
“Well, folks, Superstar is about to call it a day, or rather night as the case may be. But not before my Friday night finish. So to wrap up our summer concert series, KSTR is proud to present I-E-D! And I do believe their latest single has made it to our end-of-the-week Top Ten countdown tonight. For those of you new to the game, here’s how it goes. I’m going to play the top ten songs requested for the week and the first caller to get through the Listener Line with the correct answer to all ten songs and their artists wins a twenty-five dollar gift movie card. AND as an added bonus, the winner’s name will be added to the drawing to win a night with IED. That’s right, guys. We’re going all out on this one:  dinner, front row seats, a jam session, and backstage passes to the concert Friday night.
“Hey, that’s not all. Zach Rohnan himself will be in the studio next Thursday evening with one of the most awesome and influential bass players in today’s music, Mr. Jason Maldonado! So fans and friends, be listening all next week. Kit and Kelly will be giving away tickets on the morning show, Rockin’ Roger will have some during his lunchtime time run, Bad Boy Billy will have a chance for you to win this weekend, and Wayne West will be registering listeners during the night owl broadcast.
“Wow, what a mouthful. Too bad I don’t get paid by the word. Eh, then again, since we are the rock connection with more music and less commercials, that might not always work out so well. Speaking of our sponsors, I do believe it is about that time. When we return, I’ll have the Top Ten songs of the week.”
Flipping a switch, Starr Jennings cut to commercial, letting the audio actors peddle the wares of popular advertisers. Mac Sherman, her producer, poked his head in the studio door.
“Hey, Starr, don’t forget to plug the new IED album. Maybe when you wrap up tonight, announce that Zach and Jason will be the ones drawing the winner of the promo.” The thick, black rimmed glasses he was forever misplacing fell down his nose and he pushed them back up in annoyance. He was what Starr considered an 80′s hippie. He had long light brown hair that was always in a ponytail hanging down his back and when he could get away with it, he was in concert shirts and jeans. But those days were drawing to a close. Mac had just been promoted to Assistant Director of Programming. In fact, the morning show personalities were giving him a professional haircut on the air the following week.
Mac hired Starr first as an intern, and then got her on the payroll doing the advertising traffic log. As she hoped he would, he noticed right away the coincidence between her name and the station’s call letters. She was pretty sure it had been a contributing factor in his decision to hire her. Two years later, she was given the overnight DJ spot and moved up from there. She was about to celebrate her fifth anniversary as an on-air personality. Ever since she’d landed the late afternoon/evening show, her career, and the station’s ratings, had skyrocketed. Mac looked at her fondly. She was not long for this place, he mused. This girl really was going to be a superstar, he just knew it.
“And we’re back. Number ten on tonight’s countdown is The Pretender by the Foo Fighters…”
It was close to ten when she finally made her way down to the lobby, purse on her shoulder and keys in her hand. Chester, the night security guard, wished her good night and stood in the outer lobby, watching her, as he always did, to make sure she made it safely to her car. She often thought it really wasn’t necessary since the parking lot was fenced in by a wrought-iron perimeter and the gates were “Security Access Only,”( i.e. requiring a code to enter or exit the premises.) It was also brightly lit, but should someone consider an attempt to shimmy over the columns of slim metal, the daunting spikes on top of each of them further discouraged such an endeavor.
She was usually able to park right in front, but she had to admit that lately, it was comforting, knowing someone had her back, so to speak. She couldn’t really explain it; maybe it was a bit overwhelming at times, all the publicity she got now. Her fan mail had increased exponentially over the past year and she had to maintain privacy settings on all her personal social media. It was true what they said, fame definitely came with a price.
She pressed the button on the remote to her silver Volkswagon Passat. She watched the taillights flicker and the alarm chirp as she approached the driver’s-side door. When she reached for the handle, she paused, noticing right away the black-eyed Susan lying on her dashboard through the windshield aligned with a wiper blade.
She looked around and saw no one.
Chester’s outline was still visible at the doors and she waved to him as she got in the car. Puzzled by the token, but not really concerned, she gave herself a mental shrug, thinking that perhaps she’d forgotten to lock her car when she came in that afternoon. It wouldn’t be the first time. And it had been a busy day. In fact, she’d had to go in early to do some promos and tape a couple ads, one of the assets of her career. In addition to the fringe benefits of working in broadcast media, she also got paid extra for doing radio spots for some of their advertisers. Anyone could have left the flower in the last eight hours, but she made a mental note to ask around on Monday. For now, she was just going to enjoy her weekend off.
Summertime was always the busiest time in the radio industry. With students of all ages taking a break from school, it was the most popular time for family vacations and her beloved state, with its Rocky Mountains and ski resorts, national parks and a dozen other adventures that Colorado has to offer, got advertisers loosening the purse strings. Many were even starting to capitalize on the maybe-not-so-surprising new and revenue-generating tourist attraction in Colorado… Being one of the two states to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Starr was often doing a live spot on the weekends, promoting a theme park or a bar or at a midnight showing of a blockbuster movie. There were plenty of free concerts and festivals and all of them had some public personality hosting or making an appearance. This year she’d hoped to go to Texas for the Austin City Limits festival. The popular attraction had grown so much in recent years that for the first time, it was being split over two weekends in October. She was lucky enough to do a series of live broadcasts from the Texas capital a few years back during the South by Southwest event that is held in the Lone Star State at the beginning of every March. She had entertained the idea of relocating there a few times, but her heart belonged to Denver. Her family, or what remained of it, was close enough for impulsive visits and that was comforting, especially since her mother’s diagnosis. Grown woman or not, she didn’t really want to be too far from her family so semi-permanently. Earlier in the year, Ann Jennings had been told by her long-time friend and doctor that she had early onset Alzheimer’s. It had been a crushing blow to Starr and her younger brother, Noah, who was now working on his master’s degree. She’d felt selfish, though, thinking of her own devastation before considering what her mother was experiencing. Although Starr had to acknowledge, Mom never recovered losing their dad.
Granger Jennings was a meteorologist, but had died while he was covering the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. What really sucked is that he’d survived the storm and the floods. It was looters that took his life. His murderers had never been caught, something that still haunted her mother. Her maternal grandparents lived on a ranch in Montana, which her uncle now ran, since her grandfather’s last spill off a horse required a hip replacement. Starr’s other grandparents were also residents of Denver, but rarely in town. Her grandma had told them since they were small, that when she finally got her professor husband to retire, they were going to travel. And travel they did. The last postcard Starr received had been from Ireland. Yes, she thought. Some day she would like to travel the world, but at twenty-seven, she had time. She couldn’t waste the time she had left with her mom, and the knowledge that in a few years, her mother would slip away, at least mentally, weighed heavily on her. Lost in her thoughts, she failed to accelerate at a green light until she heard the sounds of honking cars behind her. As she fumbled with the gearshift, her flustered haste made her stall out, causing more cars to honk. Ignoring the single finger salute of the driver in the car who swerved around her vehicle, she restarted her ignition and pulled forward, right as the light turned yellow.
“Well,” she told herself, staring at her blue eyes in the rearview mirror, “At least they didn’t recognize me.”
She hated tweeted criticism, and she already got her share.
Five minutes later, she pulled into her one-car garage in the three-bedroom town home she purchased a couple of years before. She stayed in the small suburb of Englewood, one of the many mini cities that surrounded the Denver metroplex. Pressing the remote on her visor, she made sure the garage door was closed before exiting her car, something she did out of habit these days, although when her mother had first demanded she take that precaution as a woman living alone, her initial instinct had been to rebel. But her mom was hypersensitive when it came to random acts of violence and common sense won out over adolescent protestations. This was her first home, her first mortgage, her first true act of independence. For the first time, she lived alone, no family, no roommates and she loved it.
As she entered the dimly lit kitchen, she immediately turned to the control box beside the doorframe, disengaging and re-engaging her alarm as she felt the familiar softness rubbing against her bare ankles. Tossing her keys and purse on the kitchen counter, she bent down and picked up her black cat, rubbing her face against the fur of the feline’s neck. Her own raven locks mingled with the cat’s and it would have been hard to distinguish whose were whose to an observer if not for the blond streaks that trickled throughout her hair.
“One of these days, Bruja, you are going to make me trip and fall. You could at least wait until I’m all the way through the door,” she admonished the animal.
“Meow,” came the response as the cat jumped down and immediately went to the sliding glass door behind the small kitchen table.
“Yes, yes. I know. You’ve been cooped up all day and want to go out on the prowl,” Starr acknowledged turning on her back porch light and opening the door. A small beeping sound came from the box on the wall behind her as the home security system acknowledged a breech on the premises. “Plan on being out there a while, Kitty. I’m gonna take a bath.”
Heading through a short hallway which skirted a small den, she made her way to the steps by her front door, kicking off her shoes once she moved from tile to the lush pearl carpeting that covered the floors everywhere except the kitchen and the bathrooms. Her room was at the top of the stairs to the right, the other two smaller rooms were above the kitchen, and garage and a guest bathroom rested about the middle of the upper landing. She had her own bathroom. The house was not large, but it was comfortable.
She was already pulling her shirt off as she entered the room. She went to the dresser and withdrew a some men’s boxers and a t-shirt, her usual sleepwear, and tossed them on the bed, along with a clean pair of panties.
Damn! she thought. I didn’t even bring anything up to drink. Or snack on for that matter. Glancing at the mirror over her dresser, she took in short inky hair with blond highlights, glad she sported the pixie haircut and noting the makeup starting to smudge under the sapphire blue eyes. Darting into the bathroom, she turned on the water and plugged the tub, adding a generous amount of scented oil before she decided to go back down to the kitchen.
This was the best part of living alone, she acknowledged as she padded her way back down the stairs in just her bra and jeans. Not having to throw on a robe when I leave my room.
Opening the fridge, she debated over the leftover Chinese or some cheese, salami and crackers. Thinking the cold option would be better with a hot bath, she grabbed the Swiss and lunchmeat, a bottled ice tea and a box of Wheat Thins, setting everything on the counter as she went to call her cat inside. Leaving the door opened for a minute, she turned and grabbed her makeshift meal and tucked what she couldn’t carry under her arms. But apparently after being stuck inside all day, Bruja was not about to make a short night of it, so resigned, Starr locked the door and went back upstairs.
Setting her snacks on the bed, she went and turned off the water and turned on the TV that sat on top of a display case across from her bed. She loved watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, but it was still too early so she removed the rest of her clothes, threw everything in the hamper by her bathroom door, and proceeded to set her little feast down on the toilet lid as she slid into the liquid warmth. Leaning back, she closed her eyes, only half-listening to the nightly local broadcast.
“Police still have no leads in the death of Betsy Wright, our dearly departed producer-slash-lifestyle commentator, who was so brutally murdered almost six months ago and today, Lieutenant Jack Draper announced that without further evidence, the case is on its way to the cold files. The station is still offering a twenty-five thousand dollar reward for any information that would aid in this investigation…”
Thirty minutes later, with her face freshly washed free of make up, and the salami breath defeated by a toothbrush, she nearly screamed as Bruja jumped on her bed. Scolding the cat playfully, a sudden wave of panic came over her. Alert now, frightened even and second-guessing herself whether or not she’d locked up during her attempt to call the cat in earlier, she grabbed the baseball bat she kept under her bed and slowly crept down her stairway. She heard nothing, but the dim house suddenly felt eerie, so she turned on every light on her way back to the kitchen.
Holding her breath, she ducked around the corner, the bat raised for attack. Nothing. No shadows, no burglars, no boogey man. The back porch light was still on and the sliding glass door was still locked, as was every other door, she found when she double-checked. But the real comfort came from the green light on the box by the door that led to the garage.
“Damned smart little kitty,” she said out loud. “She must have sneaked in when I opened the door earlier.”
Breathing a sigh of relief, she turned off the lights and headed back upstairs to bed.

 

 

 

TTFN, kg

Starstruck–Chapter I (Final Revision)

guitarstage

What was that smell?—dank, musty, mildewy. As consciousness returned , she realized she was no longer sleeping. Sleeping? she thought, as a rising dread began to grip her. No, not sleeping…unconscious. She could feel her lids opening and closing, and groggy as her mind was, she knew no amount of blinking could clear up the darkness that was totally absolute as it surrounded her. Her mind grasped for the most recent memories, trying to piece together any errant image that would produce a relevant thought. She tried to fight the rising panic. It was too late, the levy had broken.
The floor was hard, without the padded feel of carpet. She could feel the cold of stone. It gave her goosebumps on her legs, even through her jeans. Whatever she leaned against was equally hard. In a panic, she turned her head and felt the roughness of cinder block grind against her smooth, right cheek. She was also aware that she was bound, hand and feet, as well as gagged. Almost anyone could easily identify the bonds as duct tape. It took her a moment to notice that the grunting noise she was hearing was actually coming from her own throat… like a half moan half grunt. “HRRRH!!!” She would have called out, screamed even, if she had been able. She knew it would be useless with the swatch of tape over her mouth. Suddenly a flash from her adolescence appeared in her mind’s eye; her little brother was challenging her that he could get the tape off his mouth she was threatening to use to shut him up by working his jaw muscles. That had been almost 15 years before when they were kids, her a new teenager, and him, an annoying seven-year old pest. She felt a solitary tear slip out of the corner of her eye as Noah’s face danced before her, no longer the child who had been the bane of her existence, but now a recent Berkley under-grad, now working on his graduate degree at the University of Denver.
Noah, take care of Mom, her heart silently commanded. Then she prayed for herself. Heavenly Father, I know I have not lived the most pious life these last few years, but I swear to do better if You will only help me get out of here!
But where was here? She turned her head from left to right, and could not even make out shadows in the pitch of her surroundings. It was chilly, but that wasn’t unusual for anywhere is Colorado. Was she still in Denver, or one of the many “mini” cities that encompassed the state capital? She had no way to determine. She moved her jaws back and forth, up and down.
She probably wasn’t in Denver anymore, she reasoned. Although she wasn’t nationally famous, she was a well-known personality in the city. Of course, as the most popular disc jockey in town, at least according to The Denver Post, it was her voice more than her face that people knew. At least those who hadn’t seen her famous finger-guns blazing, larger-than-life image on the mass transit signs or billboards on the interstate that advertised her show, which ran during one of the two “prime times” in radio, the morning commute and the afternoon/evening commute. Hers was the latter. She could hear herself broadcasting as she worked her jaw—up, wide, down, up, wide, down.
“Gooood afternoon, folks. So how’s the traffic out there? Sucks as always, I’m sure. We’ll get an update from Dora Sims on that, as well as hear from meteorologist Ted Summers of KUSA in just a few minutes. You’re here with Superstar, that’s Starr Jennings to those of you just tuning in to KSTR, Denver’s Number One rock connection. Later on this week, we will have two member of the band IED in our studios, lead singer Zach Rohnan and bass master Jason Maldonado, where you, the listener, will get the opportunity to call in and ask them about their music, their madness, and ooh, maybe even there mistresses. You’ll also get the chance to have your name entered in the drawing for a night on the town with IED, including front row seats to their sold-out show, the jam session before and backstage passes. After the break, we’ll return with the debut of their newest single, Darkness Falls, kicking off thirty minutes of non-stop rock…” Ah, Zach. If only you had been there to rescue me this time…
She was almost positive who’d taken her, although she didn’t know his name, at least she didn’t think it was his real name, the creepy caller-turned-stalker, who identified himself as Howard Johnson. When he’d first called into her radio show, she thought his name was a joke, since many of the guys who called in had some sort of sex pitch for her. She remember how she’d teased him over the air about trying to get her to his “place,” i.e. a hotel room. And that’s how it all started.
Giving herself a mental shake, she tried to clear her mind and listen to the void around her, intent on detecting her captor’s return. Up, down, wide…up, down, wide. If she could just get the tape off her mouth, she would be able to use her teeth to free her hands. She heard only mostly silence, which seemed more ominous then if she heard movement. She prayed there weren’t any furry or multi-legged creatures creeping around close by. She detested bugs but most especially hated mice and rats. The thought sent an irrational panic through her , breaking her concentration.
Stop it! she told herself furiously. Focus!
Another image came to her mind, this time making her heart break just a little bit more. This one was of a man, with messy auburn, shoulder-length hair, a small tattoo of a scimitar at the corner of his left cheekbone just under one of his brilliant green eyes. He was reacting to a band mate’s antics, his perfect teeth exposed as he threw his head back in unabashed laughter. That was the first time she’d met him, at the station, when he and Jason came in for the on-air interview. My God, was that really almost a year ago? she thought.
Unable to contemplate the fate that might await her, she let her mind wander back over the previous ten months… Back to that first phone call and back to the interview that would change her whole life.

 

 

 

TTFN, kg