Monday, May 30, 2011

Chapter 7 - Fame and Fortune

NOTE: This story has a rating of PG-13. It is intended for a mature audience, as it contains strong references to things such as woohoo, crime, language, etc. You have been warned!

A few months wasn't long for word to get out about Whitney Cross, the country girl who moved to the city to be a famous musician. And she was living her dream.

Simon got Whitney great gigs, though they did start out small. She had a few more at Waylon's...

then there were some at the Bridgeport Sports Zone...

some at Eugi's...

and eventually, even one at the famous Plasma 501.

Whitney tried to hide her fear when she played there, but that was easier said than done. Vampires hung out there and Simon expected her to play there like everything was normal? At least no one tried to eat her.

The money began piling in and Whitney began looking for her own place, though she was hesitant of leaving Darcy since she'd done so much for her. There was a nice penthouse across town that Whitney had her eye on, but she still wasn't sure if she wanted to move out just yet, in the bad event that money got extra tight due to lack of gigs.

Not that she had much to worry about there. She had plenty of gigs and fans, and was always randomly being stopped by fans to have her picture taken or asked for her autograph. But Whitney didn't mind; she enjoyed that part of the stardom.

But what she didn't enjoy was having to hide the most important part - Riley. A few weeks after that night at Waylon's Haunt, when Whitney had gotten her record deal, the two had been hanging out and playing music together (Riley had invited Whitney to his place several times since then) and he'd asked her to be his girlfriend. There was no denying her feelings, so she simply said yes. The memory was a pleasant one.

Riley had invited Whitney to see his place and jam with him. He lived in the Floodgate Apartments on the other side of town, and he had the place fixed up almost like a music store. There were posters, speakers, guitars, and all kinds of things all over the place, along with a drum set against the far wall. His place was considerably bigger than Whitney's and Darcy's, so there was plenty of room to jam.

When they took a break, Riley said, "So, I've been thinking about that kiss from a few weeks ago."

Whitney almost dropped her guitar. "Uh...yeah, about that..."

"Don't worry about it. I thought it was pretty funny."

"I'm sorry, though. I don't normally do that, I swear. In fact, you're only the second guy I've kissed."

"You're kidding, right?"

"No, and I've never..."

Whitney cut herself off, wondering why in the world she almost told Riley she'd never woo'd with anyone, and that she hadn't kissed anyone since her high school boyfriend. Maybe all her fame and fortune was starting to go to her head.

"What?" Riley asked when she didn't finish her sentence.

"Nothing. But listen, I'm sorry about that night."

"Why are you apologizing? I didn't say I didn't like it."


Whitney wasn't sure what to say to that.

Riley stepped closer as he said, "In fact, I wish we could do it again."

"We can't."

"Who says?"

"Our contract says. As long as we're both signed on with Simon, we can't be involved."

"So I'll drop him as an agent. I haven't gotten very far with him anyway."

"But you might lose your whole dream if you do that."

"There are other agents in Bridgeport."


Before Whitney could object, Riley's mouth was pressed hard against her own. Now that he wasn't caught off guard, his kiss was even more intense. He really knew what he was doing. And Whitney found herself really liking it, even kissing him back while wrapping her arms around him.

She suddenly sprang away. "Riley, we can't..."

"Whitney, listen. If there's one thing you don't know about me, it's that I don't always play by the rules. I want us to be together, and a piece of paper isn't gonna tell me we can't be. If it would make you feel better, we can keep it on the down-low."

Whitney recalled that being Darcy's suggestion before. She couldn't deny that she wanted to be with Riley as she looked into his stunningly beautiful eyes. He was kind to her, shared her love and enthusiasm of music, and even helped her out. In fact, he was spending more time playing for her at gigs than playing with his own band. How many other guys would do that?

"I guess we can give that a try," Whitney said finally.

"That's what I wanted to hear. So, you're gonna be my girl then?"

"Unofficially, yes. But just so you know, where I come from, even if it's not official, it's exclusive."

"I've seen the chicks in this town, and trust me, I don't want them. I want you."

Whitney blushed as Riley kissed her again. Another first was added to her list - her first relationship in Bridgeport.

That had begun their relationship. A week after that, Whitney had broken down and gotten herself a tattoo on her ankle of a pink rose. Not long after that, she got another one, a purple butterfly on her lower back. She felt they defined her as the country girl she was but still living in the city. Riley had gone with her both times and held her hand all the way through the pain.

Now, a few months later, Whitney was up for an award for best new solo artist. She, Darcy, and Riley met Simon and Erica at the stadium, and waited eagerly for the announcements. When Whitney's name was called as the best new solo artist, she hugged everyone around her. She gave a big thank you speech to Simon, Erica, and Riley and Darcy for being so supportive, as well as the rest of her band and her fans. She also included a thank you to her family, though she hadn't heard from them in a long time. They'd check in once in a while after seeing her in the tabloids, but her father was pretty busy, her mother still wasn't too thrilled that she'd been proven wrong, and Dustin was mostly wondering about the girls in Bridgeport.

Whitney felt so proud of herself for winning an award. Yet another "first" that happened to her in Bridgeport. Afterward, Simon and Erica took Whitney out to dinner while Riley went back home (though he had invited Whitney over afterward for a celebratory dessert). During dinner, Simon said, "Whitney, congratulations on your award. You deserve it."

"Thanks, but I couldn't have done it without you and Erica."

"I do have one concern though," Simon admitted as he bit into his burger (Whitney had finally proven that she could stomach a hamburger without gaining weight, and he was getting on a hamburger kick himself). "You extended special thanks to Riley as well as your band. Riley's part of your band. Why mention him specifically?"

Whitney almost choked on her burger. She took a drink, swallowed, and said as calmly as she could, "He's just been a big help to me, and he's been playing for me more than with his own band lately. I thought he deserved it."

"You haven't forgotten about your contract, have you?"

"No, of course not. We're just friends."

Simon seemed to accept that and resumed eating, but Whitney was fuming. She was getting tired of being reminded of that particular part of the contract. What difference would it make if she and Riley were official and public? It wouldn't hurt Simon any. If anything, it would make him more money. But she'd asked him that once before out of curiosity, and he'd replied that if two of his clients began dating and something happened, he could possibly lose one or both of them, and therefore, lose money. Were his clients just trophies to him? A way to make money? Did he even actually care?

When dinner was over, Whitney said she was taking a cab home so she could clear her head, though Simon had offered to drive her. But she insisted on taking the cab. In reality, she wasn't going home - she was going to Riley's.

When Riley buzzed her in and she walked into his apartment, he greeted her with a big grin while setting two plates of cobbler on the table. She saw that he'd already changed into something more comfortable than his previous suit.

"Sorry this isn't more formal," he said apologetically, "but I'm not much of a cook, so on the way back here I picked this up."

"Cobbler's fine."

"Hey, congratulations again on your award," Riley said as he gave Whitney a big hug. "You totally kicked ass."

"Thanks. I just wish I felt 100% happy."

Riley let go and stared at Whitney. "Why don't you?"

"Oh, just Simon and his stupid contract. I wish he'd stop reminding me of how we're not supposed to be seeing each other."

"That's what I keep saying. But I can still fire him as my agent."

"I don't want you to do that. The Raging Rebels are getting a lot more gigs now."

"I know, but I wonder for how much longer. Jordan's being a dick again."

"How so?"

"Just the usual flirty crap. He spends more time chasing girls than he does practicing. I talked to Kirk and Sid and they both think I should get rid of him, and I'm seriously considering it."

"Wow, I'm sorry to hear that. Wish I could do something to help."

"Well, it's not your fault. But let's not talk about bad stuff. Let's talk about good stuff. Where are you gonna display that trophy?"

Whitney laughed as they both sat down to eat their cobbler.

"Probably on the dresser at my and Darcy's place," she replied as she took a bite. "I don't have a special shelf or anything to put it on."

"That sucks. But hey, as long as nobody steals it."

"That's what I'm hoping for."

When they were finished eating their cobbler, Whitney helped Riley clean up the dirty plates. He washed them in the sink and set them to dry before turning to face Whitney.

"So, you still upset about Simon?" he asked gently.

"In all honesty, yes. I hate hiding like this. But I don't want either of our careers to be ruined."

Riley took Whitney's hands in his.

"Whitney, I love you. You know that. I'd do anything for you. I won't let Simon Burke tell me who I can and can't be with. At this point, I don't even care about the band anymore. I didn't want a band anyway. I want to be a solo artist, so I need to start getting gigs by myself."

"But you need the band to play."

"For now, but I'm gonna have a major talk with Simon, and I'll tell him he better either get me more solo gigs or I'm out."


Riley silenced Whitney with a kiss. "I've made up my mind," he said as he briefly pulled away. "I'd rather have you than a half-assed career. Tomorrow, I'm gonna talk to him."

"You'd really do that for me?"

"For us. Yeah. I would."

Whitney felt her heart flutter as she thanked Riley with a kiss. A very long, aggressive kiss. His was just as aggressive, filled with desire and various emotions ranging from love to lust.

Before she knew it, Whitney's dress had hit the floor. And she didn't care.

When the two sprang apart to take a breath, Riley's clothes also hit the floor. And the two picked up right where they left off, both enjoying every second of it.

Every step brought them closer and closer to the bed. It was obvious what Riley had on his mind, and Whitney no longer had any doubts. It was on her mind as well. It had been for a while. She never had told Riley that she'd never shared a bed with a man before, but she felt no reason to now.

"I love you, Riley," she said instead.

"I love you, too," he replied.

And they added another first to her list.

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