Los Angeles Nights – Book One
Copyright © 2013
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the
United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the
material or artwork herein is prohibited.
This book is a work of
fiction. Any similarities to places, or persons living or dead is purely coincidental
Cover Art designed by the author
You Under My Skin” Lyrics by Cole Porter
At the height of singing the last note, when my lungs were still
full and I was switching from pure physical power to emotional thrust, I was
blindsided by last night’s dream. Like most dreams, it hadn’t had a story. I
was on top of a grand piano on the rooftop bar of Hotel K. The fact that the
real hotel didn’t have a piano on the roof notwithstanding, I was on it and
naked from the waist down, propped on my elbows. My knees were spread farther
apart than physically possible. Customers drank their thirty-dollar drinks and
watched as I sang. The song didn’t have words, but I knew them well, and as the
strange man with his head between my legs licked me, I sang harder and harder
until I woke up with an arched back and soaked sheets, hanging on to a middle C
for dear life.
Same as the last note of our last song, and I held it like a
stranger was pleasuring me on a nonexistent piano. I drew that last note out for everything
it was worth, pulling from deep inside my diaphragm, feeling the song rattle
the bones of my rib cage, sweat pouring down my face. It was my note. The dream
told me so. Even after Harry stopped strumming and Gabby’s keyboard softened to silence, I croaked out the last tearful strain as if
gripping the edge of a precipice.
When I opened my eyes in the dark club, I knew I had them; every
one of them stared at me as if I had just ripped out their souls, put them in
envelopes, and sent them back to their mothers, COD. Even in the few silent
seconds after I stopped, when most singers would worry that they’d lost the
audience, I knew I hadn’t; they just needed permission to applaud. When I
smiled, permission was granted, and they clapped all right.
Our band, Spoken Not Stirred, had brought down the Thelonius Room. A year of writing and rehearsing the songs
and a month getting bodies in the door was paying off right here, right now.
The crowd. That was what it was all about. That was why I busted
my ass. That was why I had shut out everything in my life but putting a roof
over my head and food in my mouth. I didn’t want anything from them but that
I bowed and went off stage, followed by the band. Harry bolted to
the bathroom to throw up, as always. I could still hear the applause and
banging feet. The room held a hundred people, and the audience sounded like a
thousand. I wanted to take the moment to bathe in something other than the
disappointment and failure that accompanied a career in music, but I heard
Gabrielle next to me, tapping her right thumb and middle finger. Her gaze was
blank, settled in a corner, her eyes as big as teacups. I followed that gaze to
exactly nothing. The corner was empty, but she stared as if a mirror into
herself stood there, and she didn’t like what she saw.
I glanced at Darren, our drummer. He stared back at me, then at his
sister, who had tapped those fingers since puberty.
“Gabby,” I said.
She didn’t answer.
Darren poked her bicep. “Gabs? Shit together?”
“Fuck off, Darren,” Gabby said flatly, not looking away from the
Darren and I looked at each other. We were each other’s first
loves, back in L.A. Performing Arts High, and even after the soft, simple
breakup, we had deepened our friendship to the point we didn’t need to talk
We said to each other, with our expressions, that Gabby was in
“We rule!” Harry gave a fist pump as he exited the bathroom,
still buttoning up his