Passages 20

Millwood - South Lake Shore

Windshield wipers smacked ineffectually at the mist while Jimmy struggled with an old map, coffee stained and cigarette burned, and Rayne stared silently out the window. No he didn't have GPS. No he didn't know where he was going. No he wouldn't stop and ask for directions. It was early in the morning. She hadn't called her father yet because he probably wouldn't be up. She'd looked at the restaurants and shops they'd passed until they drove way past them, and she was wondering morosely what she was going to do about money, and wondering how high Cooper was going to blow when he found out she'd left rehab. And found out she was staying, even if temporarily, with the Toad.

They were way out somewhere near Millwood. Her grandparents lived out here somewhere with the pine trees and the rocks and the lakes. It was the kind of place grandparents lived, not agents. Jimmy had pulled off the road and spread the map out on the hood. "What kind of agent is this?" she grumbled. "Where'd you find her, in the classifieds on Craigslist?"

He'd yanked at the map so hard he'd torn it. He swore, muttered, dragged one hand through his hair and glared at her. "She's good. She said to me she knows your dad and she's got a contract."

Sighing, Rayne leaned back against a rusty wet light pole. Her back hurt. She'd slept on some piece of crap bed in a hot attic, awful scratchy sheets, sheet count zero, and pillows she had covered with one of her shirts because they looked dirty. Cooper didn't like Jimmy. Jimmy was being evasive about an actual real contract he'd actually seen, which meant he hadn't seen one, which probably meant there wasn't one. "Toad, you're being naive. My dad's had a lot of women. She couldn't use it - you don't know him."

He quit studying the map, lit a cigarette and, sounding affronted, like it was his responsibility to defend the woman, "Jesus Rennie, I didn't mean she screwed him."

"Yeah well you don't know that, do you? That's what most of them mean when they say they know him. He wouldn't do any favors for her even if she did, and if you haven't seen a contract, I'll bet you there isn't one." Rayne paused, another thought crawling up the inside of her head. "She's hot, isn't she?" she demanded.

Jimmy dragged hard on the cigarette, snapped it down and stepped on it. "No. Yeah maybe she is. Look you don't get it, me that's not why I'm working this with her. She says she's got her some connections and I need that. I fucked up bad. Cut it out and help me find the damned road."

Brooding, unhappy, suspecting he was going to get slammed hard, already disliking this woman, whoever she was, Rayne straightened, stretched, and pointed north. "It's probably over there. Jimmy...if it doesn't turn out, I mean you need to be prepared that it won't."

He looked away from her. "It's gonna work, Rennie. I'm gonna make it work."

Millwood - North Lake Drive

Rayne slammed the truck door, slammed it twice since the frame seemed to be bent and it never closed on the first try, and walked around to join Jimmy. "This is it?" she asked. "It looks like somebody's old vacation house." He was taking a last drag on his cigarette and looking at the house. He fought with a lighter, turning his back to the wind. “Look, let me handle this ok? Don't be getting all pissy with her. She don't know anything about you."

Exasperated and confused, Rayne looked at the house again. It was a two story stone building with a garden, the lake behind, heavy bluffs crowding the other side of the road, a cat running around under the shrubbery. Except for the fact that it was stone, it looked a lot like every other place in Millwood. “If she’s been working with my father, she’ll know who I am. You ought to be more concerned about me knowing who she is.”

Two old cars pulled up to the curb, one of them belching oil. Jimmy smiled, leaning close to her. "That’s them. Be sweet for me, Rennie. Will you do that? When we get back, you call Cooper like you said and tell him we’re good. You call him, call him and tell him we're good. You let me work the rest.”

All the sugar in the world wasn't going to sweeten this mess, but she mumbled all right and let it go.

The other three members of the band huddled up on the sidewalk and shared a few tense, inaudible words. Rayne started sorting out what she knew and what she didn't know. Vince Salvatore, the other guitarist and the one with the blackest scowl; Adrian Rutherford who looked about as blond and fey as his name but she knew he'd done work in the studio for Storm Warning, and he was good; and the drummer, Woody. She thought she'd met him once at a club, and remembered he was loud and energetic, laughing and joking and drinking and flirting and generally making up for the fact that he wasn't the greatest looking guy in the world.

Vince strode up, still frowning, glanced at her, looked directly at Jimmy and said, flat and cold, "I thought this was a working meeting. We agreed not to bring girls when we're working, or have you thrown that out along with everything else we agreed on?"

Jimmy stepped in front of her, cutting off her stunned and furious retort. "You want you some rules Vince?" Jimmy shot back. "Here's a rule for you - I make the fucking rules."

Adrian, watching them, maybe not as angry as Vince but he didn't look happy, sliced in one long cool complaint.  "Jimmy, you know we had to cover it when you didn't even show for the last gig, and I had to borrow the money.  You owe all of us." 

Something like oblivious, Woody slid past them with a big grin on his face. "Rayne? Rayne Stanfield? Hey, remember me? The Backyard, maybe a month ago?"

Vince was still up in Jimmy's face, his voice hard and angry. "Make a rule? You can't make your way across the damned street. What the hell are you doing here? You're supposed to be in rehab."

"You think you'd be here without me?" Jimmy towered over him, and he was using it, leaning forward, blowing smoke into Vince's face. "I'm thinking it's me who doesn't need you. You got yourself a prissy little cover band without me is what you got."

Adrian had caught what Woody said though, and he looked past the other two with a strange expression on his face. "Rayne Stanfield? Cooper Stanfield? That Stanfield?"

Brushing aside Woody's question, wondering if Vince really believed anybody would show up to watch Brew perform if Jimmy wasn't there, uncertain whether the Stanfield name was a good thing right now or a bad thing, Rayne cautiously replied, "I didn't bring him with me, but that's the right Stanfield."

Finally the noise must have alerted someone in the house, because the door swung open and a woman walked out. Rayne took one look at her and gasped. Wyatt's mother. Wyatt's dead mother. This was the agent? The wonderful great agent with the magic contract? The one who was working with her father?

The guys quit arguing. Jimmy unexpectedly stepped close, touched her waist, and asked very quietly, "You ok?"

Rayne felt heat in her face and goosebumps prickle up her arms, hot and cold, as she stared at the woman. The woman stared back. Jimmy wouldn't know. He hadn't even known Cooper had a daughter. He certainly wouldn't know about Julia. Something was seriously wrong. The Toad dropped one long arm across her shoulders, weight and warmth, probably his attempt to make it clear she belonged there with him. Maybe he thought the Julia woman would intimidate her, or maybe he was trying to remind her to be sweet. "Hey," Jimmy said, "I brought a friend. Her name's Rennie. Ren, this is Gemma Wilson."

Vince pushed past them on the left,walking in the wet grass. "And we're overjoyed you've got a friend. Can we get down to business?"

She curled her hands into fists, nails biting into her palms, and her nails were pretty short so she was really clenching. The same last name? What was she, some kind of bizarre long lost twin sister? Or a fraud. A woman trying to use the creepy resemblance to get close to Cooper. And she was going to use Jimmy to get there, use his hope and his talent and give him nothing and he was going to be crushed. Reputable agent my ass, she thought angrily.

Gemma Wilson stepped out onto the porch where the wind off the lake blew her long black hair away from a smooth, quiet, and absolutely perfectly lovely face. She smiled. "Rayne," she greeted her. "What a's a pleasure to finally meet you. Please, come in."


NEXT CHAPTER: Passages 21


Qui. said...

as always, your pictures are perfect!
I really, REALLY don't trust Gemma! I don't know why but a red flag pops up when I see her! Even though Jimmy called her Rennie, she knew who she was.
Rayne is going to be able to see right through her, isn't she?

That picture of all of them was nice! Adding Rayne to the band might not be a bad move!

S.B. said...

Hi Qui! Absolutely Gemma would have made it her business to know who Rayne was.

Right now Rayne's suspicious and a little bit jealous. She can handle Gemma. They might turn out to be, if not BFF's, at least two women who can work together. That's rare LOL!

thank you so much!

Muzegoddess said...

I'm glad we get to meet Jimmy's band here; interesting blend of personalities and the dynamic between him and Vince...definately seems to be an ego clash going on. But I'm feeling like Jimmy has left them hanging more than once and the trust is worn to say the least.

Rayne's presence throws an interesting variable into all of this, one that Jimmy wasn't counting on. As if she didn't have enough issues with her father, throw in a dead (pardon the pun) ringer for his ex-wife who claims to "know" him. No telling what thoughts she's having now about the two of them. A lot has happened so the next time she and Cooper see each other should be very interesting.

Lots of wheels in motion here; can't wait to see how it plays out.

S.B. said...

thank you Muzegoddess. There usually is at least one ego conflict, particularly if the frontman is an irresponsible screw-up and someone else feels like he's been carrying him.

Rayne knows how much Jimmy wants this to be real. She'll give Gemma time and space for his sake.

There is no mystery about what she's thinking about Gemma and her father.

thank you. for so much.

AtomicSpaceKitty said...

We finally get to meet Jimmy's band. Yay! Although, it looks like Jimmy has a lot to make up for before they start trusting him again.

I almost feel sorry for Gemma. She gets prejudged based on her being identical to her dead cousin. I say "almost" because she seems like a woman who can handle things herself. She's an interesting character.

S.B. said...

ASK, I must have rewritten this a hundred times trying to work out the dynamics with those guys. Resentment and anger and mistrust. Jimmy let them down one too many times.

And you're right. Gemma can handle things herself. She put a foot wrong with Cooper, but she's really not hunting him down. She might be able to work this out to everyone's benefit.

and thank you for leaving me a comment. I'm always thrilled!!

Phoenix said...

Oh Lord!! Gemma needs to realize, real quick like, that Rayne is no push over.

I like the look of Woody! He's that guy who you know knows how to have a good time without being a douchebag! Unlike Vincent! I already don't like him! It was good to finally meet the band! They're an interesting group of guys!

And Jimmy being so protective of Rayne. He's such a sweetie...underneath all his gruffness!:P

I'm happy to see another update from you!!:D

S.B. said...

Phoenix, I feel the same way when you update: happy!

I like Woody too. He's a good guy. Adrian is the peacemaker. Vince is the one who has taken most of the heat when Jimmy showed up trashed, fell off the stage, didn't remember the lyrics, and on and on. The one who hauled his ass to the ER. He's tired of it, and he's good enough that he could quit and get something else with another band. Jimmy got on his last nerve.

I doubt Gemma will discount Rayne for long. Miss R has a very sharp tongue.

thank you girl.

Gayl said...

You know I loved this...but I wanted to mention how different Jimmy is when he is "working". His attitude is reminiscent of a certain rock monster I know. When it comes to his music and his talent, he has no doubts. The rest of his life is another matter. You really showed his strength here, a side of Jimmy that we haven't seen before and it really works. The nuances in your writing, how he stood tall and leaned in, all those things you used to shine the light on this facet of Jimmy was brilliant.

And every single shot was stunning. You should be proud of this...and with everything you do.

S.B. said...

Gayl, if I got that, if I came close, then I am satisfied. Jimmy is on unstable ground everywhere except with his music, and he has NO doubts about that. He'll be obnoxious and arrogant, but he'll be certain. It is the one single thing he is certain about.

thank you

Dinuriel said...

I read this earlier this afternoon (or, maybe yesterday afternoon, depending on the time zone), but I had to rush off to work and didn't have time to comment.

Anyway, gorgeous work, as always. It was great to meet Jimmy's band and get a sense of the dynamics there. I especially like Woody--he seems like a lot of fun.

Also, Gemma seems more and more suspicious every time she shows up. I don't think Raine quite hit the nail on the head with her assumption, but something's definitely up.

S.B. said...

Van, you're right, Rayne doesn't understand what's going on. Wrong wrong very wrong assumption. She makes a lot of those.

This was one of those 'nothing happens' pieces I really worry about. I had to introduce the band and work through who is who and etc. That's my excuse anyway.

not so gorgeous work but thank you so much. You have been so kind to me. I really appreciate it.

The Lunar Fox said...

You nailed it. The relationship of Jimmy to his band was perfect. There's so much there, but even as I was watching him interact with his band mates, I was keeping an eye out for Rayne.

I love all the little details that tell another story. Like when Jimmy asked her if she was okay. He noticed that something was wrong, and actually asked her about it. That's a small detail that's huge to me.

It seems clear to me that he doesn't really intend on using her.

And then Rayne surprised me with her semi-protective thoughts about Jimmy. Even if in the same breath she was cursing this strange woman who is obviously using her likeness, it still means something!

For some reason this update, I kept looking at her face, and couldn't figure out why. I just realized that she never wears much make up does she? Just some mascara it seems. Anything else is very subtle and natural. I think that's a very telling detail about Rayne.

Gemma's certainly going to meet her match in Rayne I think.

Rad said...

Some great shots here, and love Gemma being in this story. Excited about getting to know the band more as well.

S.B. said...

*grinning* Oh thank you thank you Lunar Fox! I don't find it easy to introduce several people, keep things focused, and still draw out the different personalities and relationships. The other guys in the band are in a difficult situation: they're tired of putting up with Jimmy but they know they need him.

Jimmy is definitely crushing on Rayne. He's aware of her: what she's doing, how she's reacting. And despite her mental tantrum over Gemma, she's worried about Jimmy too.

You're right. Rayne has never used much makeup. She's very comfortable with herself, plus she spent a lot of time outdoors at the beach when she was growing up. And her mother doesn't use much makeup either.

Gemma's met her match all right. But if she can convince Rayne she really is interested in furthering Jimmy's career, she may have a powerful ally instead of an enemy.

thank you!!!

S.B. said...

Thank you Rad. We've always enjoyed covering the characters from different angles in the different stories.

~Drew said...

Rich, dense update, shots and plots wise.
I am starting to warm up to Jimmy a bit more, under that rough and ragged, dragged through a knothole look he has, I think is a man who is truly messed up and vulnerable. Not sure that is exactly what Rayne needs, but maybe so, they can help each other. Love their banter.
Also interesting how Jimmy's whole being changed with his band, fascinating. 'I make the f'ing rules.' Then his protective gesture toward Rayne, very telling.
Nicely done! Great character dynamics.

S.B. said...

Drew, yes...

Jimmy is truly messed up and vulnerable about everything except his music. He has no doubt about that, no doubt about his rank in the band. They don't exist without him. He knows it and they know it.

Rayne has her own issues, but she's also been spoiled and protected. Strong men who tried to take care of her.

The protection is going both ways with these two. They bicker openly but they're comfortable doing it. They're starting to trust each other, and the music they share is a huge connection. Jimmy's there for her, and Rayne is there for him. Yes, that protective gesture was very telling.

They've got a lot to work through. Both of them are fragile.

thank you so much!!

Sinclair said...

Girl Fight!!!!! I absolutely love watching to top dogs duke it out. This is one for the books. I can already see it. I hope Gemma learned her lesson from flirting with Coop. The family relation card wont work with the stansfields. Gemma better work hard for this one.

But if she is using Jimmy i hope Rayne eats her alive. He's to sweet in the rough way to be jerked around. He deserves better.

S.B. said...

Hi Sinclair!!!

Gemma's not stupid. She definitely got the message: the family card doesn't work with Cooper. He expects results.

Is she using Jimmy? Sort of, but only in the sense that he's her first big chance to make a name for herself. Writing a crap contract to get a deal might backfire, and it is definitely not going to happen now that Rayne's in the picture.

Jimmy is sweet, isn't he?

Thank you so much!!

S@ndy said...

Oh oh.... looks like Rainie is getting seriously and ready to defend her Toad if she needs too...
I just love how their odd relation-friendship or whatever they seem to have keeps on growing!

I don't really like Gemma, but now Rainne made me even more suspicious... is she really an agent? or is she just using Toad to get to Coopper?

looks like Jimmy is still the leader of his band, lol hopefully he can win them and their trust back... I hope he stays clean too.. how many days have they been on the road?
Really wonderful update... lovely shots and incredible writing...

Penelope said...

I'm with Rayne. Do not trust that woman. WAY too nuts to be a coincidence. And regardless of whether or not Gemma is who she says she is, there is something pretty threatening about her presence. She knows full well how disturbing her resemblance is.

I love how Jimmy has gone from being simply "Toad" to "The Toad". And what was going on with that possessive arm around the waist? Someone has a crush!

S.B. said...

Pen!! OMG! And all that but I'm doing huge happy to see you again!

Gemma is remarkably like someone else Rayne ran into. At least I think she is. Gemma does know how disturbing her resemblance is and she's going to use it.

Someone does have a crush. From "Toad" to "the Toad" and when Toad becomes an endearment, things have changed.

cheripye said...

I loved the tension between the band very effectual and really pulled you into the whole situation...

LOL! Jimmy is really a typical man isnt he refusing to stop for directions. :)

I dont know though is it possible that Raine is feeling correctly in regards to Gemma :)

Beautiful screens as always and great writing :)