Passages 21

Millwood - #24 North Lake Drive: 10 AM


Gemma was standing aside until all of them finally made it through the door, Rayne and Jimmy first, Jimmy's grip on her hand tight, reminding her maybe, maybe still reminding her to let him handle it. She didn't even want to walk into that place and kept thinking she should have called her father first, but she hadn't, and she didn't know about the Gemma/Julia woman so she couldn't have asked him about her. Jimmy was almost dragging her in. Vince waited over by kitchen talking to Adrian in a low voice while Woody wandered around looking at the pool in the back and trying to get a yellow cat to come to him. Rayne balked. She wasn't going any further in there. Three steps into the foyer, she stood where she was and watched Gemma until she finally shut the door and turned back.

"We may as well get it out of the way," she said pleasantly. "I'm Julia's cousin."

Her father never talked about his first wife; that was a black hole in his past and nobody ever asked him about it because they knew better. It was possible she was a cousin. Did cousins look that much alike? Jimmy was standing right next to her, his arm brushing against hers, and she told herself she'd committed to being sweet. She couldn't challenge Gemma about Julia and whatever that meant, but she could go after what she did know. "You know my dad? I just know he's thrilled! I mean, how exciting! Julia's cousin just showing up and you're already into the business how great is that! You told Jimmy you had a contract. It must be so wonderful, considering the old family connection and everything. Can I see it?"

Jimmy glanced down at Rayne, and she saw his mouth tighten. Something was wrong and he knew it now. She backed up against him and glared at Gemma, and felt the Toad push his foot against hers, warning, he'd said he wanted to handle it and he knew her and knew what she was doing, and wanted her to back off. "You said you got us a contract," he said to Gemma.

Gemma gestured toward some couches off to the right in a little room past the stairs. She didn't blink, didn't answer him, didn't wave a contract. She walked. She walked gracefully. In the other direction. "Let's have a seat and discuss the situation."


Gemma stepped aside, holding the door open, watching them trail in one at a time, and hardly able to contain her excitement as Cooper's daughter swept through. Jimmy was still hanging onto her hand. Perhaps he thought he was taking care of her, but it didn't take more than one quick exchange to know that Rayne was the one holding onto him. Or perhaps it was a mutual death grip. Either way, they came in together and moved up close to each other, forming a little army of two.

The three stragglers, Vince and Adrian and Woody, they were extraneous. If they worked out, they did, and it would make her job easier. If they didn't, she knew they could be replaced. Jimmy was the only one who mattered.

The girl, tall and tan and wary, stalled in the foyer, played with her hair, and jabbered a long string of almost childish compliments ending in an obviously disingenuous request to see the contract. Gemma hesitated as she tried to read her.

"You said you got us a contract." Jimmy Breaux, still hanging onto Rayne's hand, but trying to take the lead. Gemma took her time, studying them. How on earth had these two come together? She'd heard the girl sing and play; she didn't remember the details but Rayne had an interesting voice for a female vocalist. Nothing as striking as what Jimmy brought, and she struggled to remember how she'd played.

"Let's have a seat and discuss the situation." Both Jimmy and Rayne exchanged glances before she threw him a smile and breezed past everyone into the living room. It took a moment for Gemma to begin. "There has been a small complication."

"There is no contract is there..."

Gemma didn't give him a chance to finish his thought. "Look Jimmy I don't need to remind you how many bridges you burned. It shouldn't surprise you that Cooper is hesitating. His reputation is on the line as well as his label. No one wants to be saddled with cleaning up after your episodes." This wasn't how she wanted it to play. Drawing a calming breath Gemma tried to put a better light on it. "No one can deny your incredible talent, Jimmy; it's your bankability that leaves you vulnerable. I just need a little more time and some kind of assurance I can offer."

Gemma looked over at Rayne. If there was some angle she could use with her that could seal the deal maybe she could make this work. Understanding Rayne's position here would help - or blow it up completely. "I can get the contract Jimmy, you just need to trust me one more time. If I don't deliver, you can fire me."


Rayne glanced at Jimmy. He looked flattened, thinner and paler and older and empty. He was flattened. Gemma had just run over him with a truck and now she was trying to spin it so it was his fault: he shouldn't have been standing in the road. "I can get the contract Jimmy," Gemma was saying. "Trust me one more time. If I don't deliver, you can fire me."

Vince stood up, made a disgusted sound, and said, "Well I'm out of here. I've got things to do." Adrian followed him but not without casting a withering glance at Gemma and adding, "A phone call would have been polite. I don't suppose you're offering gas money to cover the trip we made out here for nothing."

Jimmy was staring at the floor. What kind of assurance could he offer? Rayne wondered. He'd just hopped out of rehab early, and that was the only good faith effort she could think of. It's not my fault, she told herself. This time she had nothing to do with it. It was up to him to work it out with Cooper. That's what she'd told him. That's what she'd always said. If he couldn't get a contract then he'd have to go back to playing in clubs and forget about it. Almost nobody got a contract anyway. It wasn't her problem. He was pressed close to her on the little couch and she could feel him breathe, rapid irregular breaths.

"What kind of assurance?" Woody asked. Rayne had forgotten about him; he'd settled down in a corner and said nothing until now. "You mean like collateral? He wants the pinks slips on our cars or something?"

A car? Between Gemma and her 'trust me' and this idiot and the other two who didn't have a freaking clue about what it would take to get something through her father, Rayne snapped. "What would my dad do with your old junk rides? You think you can negotiate with him using pink slips? Get real - you've got nothing that would mean anything to him! Everything you're collectively worth multiplied by the power of ten would mean nothing! Who the hell do you think you're dealing with?"

Gemma sat back, caught her attention, held it. All right, there was no point in playing dumb anymore, she'd blown that. Rayne leaned into Jimmy, feeling his tension as she watched Gemma. Blue eyes in Julia's face, but they were clear and cool and keen and reminded her, a jagged and still bleeding memory, of another pair of calculating blue eyes. She'd been wrong about him. She might be wrong about Gemma. Gemma didn't want Cooper. Gemma wanted the deal. They both wanted the deal, definitely not for the same reason, but they both wanted it. Gemma smiled. "That's right, Rayne. We are negotiating. And I wonder, do you have something to suggest?"

Everyone stopped and looked at her as if she was hiding the answer in her pocket and was just waiting for the right dramatic moment to whip it out and hold it up and save the day. Uneasy, Rayne struggled to come up with something until the Toad got up abruptly and said to Gemma, "Don't be looking at her to fix it for you. I'm thinking that's what you get paid to do. Come on Rennie, let's go."

But even as he said it, he searched her eyes and her face just as if he were hoping it might be true.

It wasn't true. She had nothing, and he knew it. No magic tricks, nothing. A pocket full of empty air.

Sand Point - 9 PM


"I'll talk to you about it I am not going to tell you anything more I said I want to talk to you in person tomorrow...Dad you're going to have to trust me." Rennie'd been at it for a while up there in the attic, trying to get her some privacy and he hadn't been listening close but he did listen to some of it.  She wasn't yelling. She was telling him something, telling Cooper Stanfield something, giving him one long piece of her mind. Unreal. Fucking unreal. She was sure trying it and trying it hard. One very sweet girl. He smiled thinking about her, and shut it down. He couldn't do a damn thing for her now. Nothing was any good anymore. Not a single thing.


NEXT CHAPTER: Passages 22


Gayl said...

You know my heart just breaks for Jimmy. So fractured with a huge heart and huge talent and he got shot down hard. His dreams, what he wants to do with his music, and what he wants to do for his Ren make me just want to squeeze him and make it better.

I absolutely loved how it worked with mirroring POV - seeing both sides of the coin.

I'm thinking Gemma needs the fast track course on tact. I think if anyone can work a deal, it may be her. I can see the wheels turning in her head already.

You did good Beth! Your shots sparkle, they really do, and the emotion behind this piece just grabs you.

Gayl said...

And I have to say I ADORE that shot of Jimmy with his face in Rainie's hand. That did it for me; I broke down on that one.

Dinuriel said...

Oh no! He can't start drinking again! Aaaagh!!

...but I guess a lot of them do *sigh*

I still wouldn't trust Gemma. At least she doesn't want Cooper, but there's still something about her that's rather... off. I don't know what it is, but I just get that vibe from her.

Love the way you used the multiple POVs. This flowed beautifully :)

S.B. said...

Gayl, couldn't have done it without you.

Jimmy had all his hope tied to Gemma, and she couldn't work it. Not with Cooper. With a lesser label she might have been able to come up with something, but that wouldn't be where she wants to go.

Rayne couldn't pull the rabbit out of the hat and she let him down too.

I hope it worked, mirroring the different points of view.

And thank you SO MUCH for indulging my last minute GOTTA HAVE IT idea. It wouldn't work, it would NOT work, without those last shots.

S.B. said...

Van, yeah they usually do. He hasn't been clean long, and this was a huge hit.

Thank you SO MUCH. It worked? No green chairs LOL!

S@ndy said...

:( Poor Jimmy... well I knew Gemma had nothing to offer yet, but it must had been really hard for him to listen to what she said...

He really is a very likable guy, he made some mistakes, but we all do...and I do believe he is eager to change... I think having Raine next to him is somehow making him stronger, more determined to make his dream come true...
again, I believe those two make a great pair... I don't know what kind of relationship they have, but they seem to have a positive effect on each other!

I wish there was something Rayne could do, but I also think this is something Jimmy has to do on his own (get the contract because of his own merits)

Gemma, I'm starting to like her a little more... she is handling the situation really nice...and I think maybe she might be the one to get the contract for Jimmy... she seems to be really persistent!

Lovely shots and the writing is fantastic, it pulls you in from the first paragraph...
The third shot is awesome, I think you capture Rainie's emotions really well in that shot, her sarcasm is written all over her face!

The last shots are heart- wrenching... he looks lost and confused, down... is he drinking? :( I hope he wont get wasted again...

Wonderful update...

S.B. said...

Hi S@ndy! It's so good to hear from you again, and I LOVE your new piece!

Well, Gemma has nothing she hasn't already thrown at Cooper. Sex. Old memories. Begging for a chance. He didn't buy it. He does not like Jimmy, he really does not like him.

Sometimes things don't work out the way you think they will.

Of course he's drinking. He just got his whole life crushed, and he wasn't all that committed to 'clean and sober' to begin with.

At this point Jimmy and Rainie are very close friends with a lot of mutual flirting. They're tight. Will she have a positive affect on him? Rayne? I doubt she'd yank the bottle out of his hand.

Thank you S@ndy. Your long support for us means more than I can say.

Qui. said...

The different POVs worked! This was just like the others, made me say "Damn, it's over! I can't wait for the next!"

I have the same issue with Sims disappearing off the lot! I wonder why that is...

Jimmy.. shirtless... MEOW!

S.B. said...

Qui, I just read yours and I'm doing the same thing! Want more!

Jimmy shirtless is way to see if Rayne can take off the rest LOL!

I have no idea why people disappear off the lot. I resolved it by deleting them as soon as I summoned them. Then pulled them in again.

AtomicSpaceKitty said...

Oh,! I so want to see this guy succeed that it's painful to watch him stepping back into his self-destructive habits.

I trust Gemma will come up with some plan. She seems really intent on furthering her career and I think having Jimmy (and perhaps Rayne???) would be a great coup for her.

I adore the picture of Rayne and Jimmy holding hands. Just imagine if they were truly a couple--united and strong. There is nothing they couldn't accomplish (kind of like Cooper and Beth).

And, I wish I were in a fly in the room where Rayne is arguing with her dad on the phone. XD

Muzegoddess said...

I really like seeing things from both Rayne and Gemma's perspective here. They both seem to want the same outcome but have a bit of a different way of getting there and different motives. They could help each other out if they work together, but that might be a bit weird, especially when and if Cooper gets involved.

And if Jimmy doesn't fall completely off the wagon given the huge first wrong step he just took...not looking good for cleaning up his image.

As usual the writing and the shots are amazing. I really love Jimmy's house by the way, fits him perfectly.

Sinclair said...

O Toad. I hope he can pull through this. Because if one thing is for sure its that Coop dont play with drunks.

And im glad he and Rayne are moving past that using stage with each other.

S.B. said...

Kara, I know how hard it is for someone to give up the crutch they know. Jimmy doesn't yet see what he's doing as self destructive. Cleaning up was just slopping some new paint on the walls. Gemma can only do so much, and if she manages to convince Cooper to sign the boy, and then he falls apart again, she hasn't done much for her reputation.

I love Jimmy and Rayne together. There's a lot of strength there if they can come through all this and become a real couple. And thank you so much for the compliment on the shot. It was a happy accident!

S.B. said...

Muzegoddess, I'm so glad it worked for you! I had fun writing it. Gemma and Rayne might be able to work together on this, but Rayne has her own problems and might not be much stronger than Jimmy. Plus yeah, Cooper. He will be in the middle of it. He had a very different vision for Rayne; he won't be at all happy about her decision to drop out and run around playing music with a guy he doesn't like or respect.

I really felt it was inevitable that Jimmy would fall at least once.

And I love Jimmy's house! That's Gayl's masterpiece!

Thank you!!

S.B. said...

Sinclair, you're right, Cooper doesn't put up with drunks. He's been there himself. His band had problems with Danny. And he's watching his daughter struggle with it. But he's not heartless.

I don't think Jimmy and Rayne ever really used each other. They haven't known each other very long. He's not a calculating sort of person, and neither is she. Both of them are too impulsive and emotional to successfully use anyone.

thank you so much for your support. I really appreciate it.

The Lunar Fox said...

I think this is amazing. There was an energy in this piece, and I don't know where it's coming from. The pictures are wonderful, and the story telling works bouncing to the different views of the situation. I found it especially interesting to hear Gemma's inner voice.

I've read it twice, and skimmed it again. There's still so much going on. I am loving Jimmy and Rayne's friendship right now.

Gemma's a piece of work turning the situation around, making it Jimmy's fault and throwing Rayne pretty much out there in front of the whole group. I can't outright hate her though. She's just too fascinating. I just end up wanting to know more about her.

S.B. said...

Lunar Fox I'm just jumping up and down thrilled!

I don't know about energy, although that fascinates me. I really wanted to throw Gemma up against Rayne without making either of them come out ahead. Gemma has a force all on her own. She's a risk taker. She sort of reminds me of Gabe, and people like that have so much energy, so much self confidence, that they light up the room. Even if they don't always come out on top, it really doesn't slow them down. She didn't throw Rayne out there for any other reason except she thought Rayne might come up with something useful, and it was worth the risk.

Jimmy and Rayne. I wanted the friendship to trump romance. What they've found in each other is something they've both been looking for.

Every time you push me one way or the other with the writing, I am beyond grateful. Thank you!

S.B. said...

I'm going to add that it is important to me that Rayne does not come across as a Mary Sue. She does not have all the answers. She can overreach. She can be seriously wrong, and sometimes outmatched.

Penelope said...

I feel awful for the Toad. This could be his one shot and it is such a delicate situation. On the one hand, he has Gemma and well, that's a blatant issue. On the other hand, he has spring Rayne from rehab prematurely and is parading her up and down the highway. Even if there were another label that might do business with him, Coop could (and might) ruin Jimmy's career. The stakes are high and his odds are crap. I hope it works out for him.

I really liked what you did stylistically. The time jumps worked to paint a pretty cohesive picture of what everyone in the room was thinking.

And YAY for author's notes! I'm a nerd for stuff like that. :D

Penelope said...


"sprung" not "spring". :p

S.B. said...

Pen, if you like author's notes, I've got a ton of them. Thank you for encouraging me to let loose!

Gemma could write a contract with another label, if she's willing to get down into the dirt. Piss off someone like Cooper, the options become vanishingly small.

The Toad might have to go his own way.

I'm not quite up to 24, but I'll keep trying different things. Thank you!

Phoenix said...

I read this when you first posted it but I had other things on my mind and couldn't leave a proper comment like I wanted to! Now I can!:P

JIMMY PUT DOWN THE BOTTLE!!! It's the devil water!! LOL!! I hope he can straighten himself out without falling back into the same cycle. He has so much potential. If he could only see that!:(

I like how Rayne is standing up to her dad. I mean, she always did, but I feel as if she's standing up to him in a grown up way instead of childishly(if that makes sense!). She's fighting for something that she really, really wants. Good for her. Jimmy and Rayne together! Aww...adorable!

I hope Gemma can work something out for the work. It will all do them a world of good! Seriously!

I love, LOVE, LOVE what you did with this! There was no confusion at all and I adore seeing different view points of the same situation. Everyone sees something different. You did an amazing job! :D You have to know, you must know, I ♥ your work!(LOL!! Okay, I'm a little tipsy and I love watching Pride&Prejudice!)!

Oh god, I've had the second floor invisible ceilings as well! Usually I do the same thing as you!:P Works like a charm!

Sorry I'm late commenting!:(

S.B. said...

Phoenix, you're making me cry. THANK YOU!!

Rayne is able to stand up to Cooper because, so far, he doesn't know where she is or who she's with. She's probably going to find it a lot more challenging once he does. But you're right, she's not just throwing a temper tantrum, she's fighting for something she really does want.

Jimmy's sobriety was mostly an illusion. He's not there yet. And Rayne's not far behind him. But they are sweet together, aren't they?

Thank you again, SO MUCH!

oh and ps, thanks for commenting on that insane ceiling problem. It drives me crazy.

~Drew said...

Interesting with the different POV's, it flowed very well. Gemma seems a manipulative, cool piece. And focused. Jimmy is the one who matters, the rest? Pfft.

And wow, I felt for Jimmy, crushing blow, like a baseball bat to the midsection. And ending it with Jimmy's lonely beer guzzling on the beach did not need words.

great update and shots, as always~

S.B. said...

Thank you Drew! Gemma is definitely focused, and she's right. The rest of them don't matter; they're replaceable.

Jimmy had his hopes set on something he didn't get and might not ever get. The sequence at the end was something I envisioned at the last minute. Gayl fixed it for me.

Thank you!!!

collidingwithme said...

Finally caught up! You know, I'm actually feeling kinda sorry for Jimmy now. ':( It didn't happen until the part where he got all quiet and simply stared at the floor. It's like he's getting desperate. Or at least I thought he was. Yet he still stopped Gemma from "bullying" Rayne (lol, I can't think of the right word to use, so "bullying" will have to do). That is something that really surprised me. +1 brownie point ^^

Gemma, on the other hand, is starting to creep me out. o_o She's so calculating and.. and... I don't know! It's like you need to watch every word you say when you're around her! She seemed to be planning her every move to maximise the advantages she can reap from everyone around her. *shudders* The picture that went with "And I wonder, do you have something to suggest?" was totally awesome, by the way. ;)

I'm liking the different view points, by the way. I think it brings a lot more life to the story.

Oh, and I almost forgot: He's back to his addiction again? I can't remember, but was Jimmy in the rehab for being an alcoholic?

thelook said...

Gemma equals determined much!? I think she just wants to make her 'mark' as an agent now. She knows if she gets someone like Jimmy, then everyone'll be singing her praises - and if she doesn't they'll all want to drown her into the River Nile or something.

But really, she has a terrible way of doing so. Evoking old memories (especially the bad ones) never leaves anyone too happy nor co-operative and yet she's doing so to Cooper!

And spinning the 'I think Rayne is the key to your future' line is almost as low. Because what guy can resist the charms of his daughter? None!

And in all of this poor Jimmy if this ends up bad. Maybe the others too but really Jimmy. You can tell it's something he more than really wants and then along comes Gemma with her 'It's your fault. You screwed it up with your addiction and now you have to pay. Don't blame me if Mother Nature and all her allies are giving you your comeuppance' thoughts.

He's already crushed by the prospects of an unclear future but really Gemma? Blaming him for something that was in the past and is (was?) trying to work on is just plain unfair! Your the agent that has to big him up - all he can do is bring the cards of talent onto the table.

I hope he ends up with more than what he bargained for. Even if it does leave Gemma smug and way too choked up on pride.

Sorry for my ramblings :) But great shots and writing! Sometimes something different helps.

-PS. Update should be soon. That's if I stop going back and correcting things because it bothers me or doesn't suit the 'angle' my friend and I constantly change!-

S.B. said...

Hey ning!!

hehehe...finally got some sympathy for Jimmy huh? LOL! And he is desperate, or at least close to despair. He had very high hopes this time. Although Gemma wasn't quite bullying Rayne (LOVE that btw), she certainly put her on the spot. Jimmy and Rayne can read each other; he knew she felt bad, and he didn't like Gemma making her feel bad.

Thank you for the compliment on that shot. I spend a lot of time trying to get the emotional expressions the way I envision them, and I take try all kinds of different camera angles to try to maximize the feeling, so I'm really pleased that shot worked.

I never definitely said why Jimmy was in rehab, but alcohol was definitely one reason. He was there more to try to mollify the other guys in the band than for himself, and yeah, he's using again.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and let me know what you think. It's so interesting to see the different reactions to characters like Jimmy.

S.B. said...

thelook, I laughed over your last sentence about updating soon, if you can ever stop changing things. I continue to change things even after I've posted an update, and sometimes I change them significantly. I am really looking forward to what you do!

hey, I love ramblings. I don't think in a straight line and will happily go on and on. I love your comments.

Gemma is trying to make her mark in an extremely tough profession. If she's not focused and close to ruthless, she won't succeed. If Rayne has something she can use, she's going to use it. Cooper has a soft spot for his daughter, and if she approached him and asked for help for herself, I'm sure he'd do whatever he could to help her, within reason. Asking for Jimmy is another matter. "My friend wants a contract. He's a screw up but please Daddy pretty please" probably won't work. And as much as Rayne resented Gemma telling Jimmy that his past failures are the reason she can't come through for him....well Gemma is right. Cooper is reluctant to take a chance on someone who is notorious for showing up wasted, forgetting lyrics, falling off the stage, or just not showing up at all. Gemma doesn't strike me as the nurturing type, and that's probably something she needs to work on. A lot of creative people don't respond well to being told buck up and clean up and behave or else. She misread Cooper. She thought he would feel nostalgic about the past and her connection to his first wife. Not the case, not at all.

I hope the best for Jimmy too.

It was great to hear from you! Update soon!

cheripye said...

Gemma really did a number on Jimmy and the band but I think Raine could find a way to make it work.

Great shots BTW and I feel your pain with the whole build/buy :) especially after three recent installs. :(

S.B. said...

Hi cheri!

Gemma's trying her best to make it work. Rayne doesn't have much power in this situation, not that she ever did, but her connection to Cooper isn't going to work miracles.

thank you so much!