Passages 27

The walls of her room fell down. Rayne was cold; she wanted to pull the blanket up over her bare shoulders. She lay on the bed in the forest in the snow and watched as he walked toward her.

Passages 26

Sandy Point - 1100 Bridge Pass: 10 AM

"It's nice." Randi stood in the middle of the only big room in the little beach cottage, stepping around suitcases and trying to figure out where the front door really was. In the kitchen? It wasn't that nice. It was kind of too close to the road and the bridge and the ferry, and the backyard was a bunch of rocks. Somebody had hung up purple curtains and painted something strange on the wall behind the tv.

Rayne slammed down a suitcase next to an old sofa. "I don't even care."

Passages 25

Sandy Point - #6 Big Tree Lane; 2 PM

"When? But why....Mom, is Ryan involved in this, is that why....ok, ok I know you haven't, I probably understand that better than anybody but I'm just asking - Dad did WHAT? Is he all right?"

Passages 24

Sandy Point - #6 Big Tree Lane; Midnight

"Why did you go up on the roof?"

"I don't know."

"Weren't you afraid of slipping off?"

"Guess I was more scared of something else."

Passages 22

Sandy Point Marina - 10 AM


Pulling up by the marina, Jimmy took another long scalding gulp of coffee and leaned against his truck. He hadn't gotten more than a couple of hours of bad sleep, drunk sleep, the house hot and full of those girl mosquitoes that bit, and he'd heard Rennie walking around upstairs, when he could remember anything from last night. Couple of hours ago she'd run water and yelled at him to get dressed, and made coffee for him and sat next to him on the back porch for a little while, saying nothing, just sitting there, until they got in the truck and drove here.

"That's his bike. He's early," Rennie was saying. "That's not a good sign."

Passages 21

Millwood - #24 North Lake Drive: 10 AM

Gemma Wilson stood aside to let them in where they stood around a cottage foyer looking at one another,  awkward and off balance. Rayne held onto Jimmy's hand. Gemma shut the door and smiled at them, sweeping them all up in that smile.  

"We may as well get it out of the way," she said pleasantly.  "I'm Julia Wilson's cousin. Her name probably means nothing to most of you but Rayne will surely know it."

What the hell...Julia Wilson was her father’s first wife, her father's dead first wife.  So this was why she thought she knew Gemma Wilson.  The women were related although 'related' didn't usually mean identical.  It would have been weird if they were both alive, it was sort of grotesque because one of them wasn't. 
It was like a slasher movie – stupid kids meet a strange woman in the woods who looks just like someone’s dead stepmother then bad things happen.  Gemma Wilson looked exactly like Julia Wilson. Not just a little exactly.  Totally exactly, totally and completely EXACTLY like her.
Plus Julia Wilson had been murdered.  Not that the murder had anything to do with Gemma Wilson but still it upped the creepy factor considerably.  Did she go to Julia's funeral? What did people think? 
Her father must have been freaked out when he met her.  What did she do, just show up and go Hi! I’m your dead wife’s clone! Maybe we can have some fun!
It was strange he hadn’t mentioned her, strange in a way that made her feel uneasy.  Maybe she just hadn't heard about it.  She'd been more or less locked away for a while.
Rayne drew a long steadying breath and went after Gemma the agent, leaving Gemma the clone aside for the moment.  "You told Jimmy you had a contract with my father’s studio.  I'd like to see it."

Jimmy glanced at Rayne, and she saw his mouth tighten. Something was wrong and he knew it now.  "You said you got us a contract."

Gemma gestured toward some couches off to the right in a little room past the stairs.

"Let's have a seat and discuss the situation." She threw him a smile and breezed past everyone into the living room.  "There has been a small complication."

"There is no contract is there."

Gemma sat down, crossed her legs and began to talk in a firm but almost gentle voice.  "Look Jimmy I don't need to remind you of how many bridges you have burned in the past. 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."

It got very quiet.  Gemma went on.  "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 from one of them to the other, her hands folded in her lap, her expression calm but intent. "I can get the contract Jimmy, you just need to trust me one more time.  If I don't deliver, you can fire me."

Jimmy looked thinner and paler and older.  He was flattened.  Gemma had just run over him with a truck.  It was a hard thing to have to say but Gemma was right, he shouldn't have been standing in the road.  She couldn't just leave him there though.

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 Jimmy and adding, "Yeah we could’ve guessed he’d be a problem.  Don't suppose you're offering gas money to cover the trip we made out here for nothing."

Nobody said anything, Rayne stared at them.  It was a dumb typical question and mean.  They walked out the door still grumbling about their gas money.. 

Jimmy was staring at the floor and didn’t seem like he could up with anything to say.   

He’d entered rehab on his own, paying for it himself by selling most of his gear and mortgaging the house, and that should count as a good faith effort.  It would have counted if he hadn’t left early.  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 piping up from the corner by a plant. Rayne hadn’t been paying attention and thought he’d gone with the other two.  "You mean like collateral?  He wants to hold the titles on our cars or something?"

Oh my god...the stupid was strong with this one.  "Hitman doesn’t take old cars as collateral for a contract.  You’re not buying a contract on credit Woody.  It's not a loan."

Gemma sat back, caught her gaze and held it. 

Rayne met it and held it right back. She studied the woman. So this was the thing.  Gemma wanted a deal.  She wanted a contract for the band. Her father was a way to get that contract, not a goal in himself.  Probably.

It was the 'probably' that scared her.  She really fucked up by thinking she understood people.  Ryan was the worst but she’d gone wrong with Cruz and Nic.  She had no idea at all what to think about Gabe.  On top of all that, she’d already begun to worry about understanding the Toad.  She could be wrong about what Gemma wanted, catastrophically wrong but she had nowhere to go but forward so forward it had to be.

"Obviously you have to offer Slim something that balances the risk. I don't know what you're asking or what he's offering.  Is he offering anything at all?"

Gemma smiled slightly.  "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. Jimmy abruptly stood up 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 as if he was really hoping she could do something, hoping she did have the magic solution in her pocket.   

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

Sandy Point - 9 PM

"I want to talk about a contract for Jimmy's, no that's not true...that's not the way it would work because you've done it before no matter what you say would yes you would you did ok Slim did and you don't know it...I don't care about that nobody cares about that... Tell me why he wouldn't write one...I want specific details...all right...tomorrow night and could you have something there I could eat..anything even your eggs...thanks Dad, I love you too...oh and Dad, I met someone today and I want to talk to you about that too."


NEXT CHAPTER: Passages 22

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.

Passages 19

Sandy Point - #10 Big Tree Lane: 8 PM

Late, sweating, Rennie taking a shower and me checking calls from two weeks. Vince crawling up my back. Gemma, that was a good one. Called back on that one, and maybe she’s not as positive as she claimed to be last time I saw her, but we got a meeting tomorrow at her place. Not sure where that is, address somewhere way the hell out in the north; I’ll make it. Definitely I am making it.

Passages 18

Oceanside - Starfish Cove Wellness Center: 6 AM

R's Journal

I thought someone would try to stop us. The people who run around in the freaking dark before the sun comes up, a couple of them looked at us, watching the Toad throw suitcases in the truck bed, but nobody said anything. Jimmy strapped the Martin down like it was a baby, like he thought it might try to crawl out on its tuners and hurt itself. If my dad hauled it all over the place for years I doubt it's going to break just sitting in the back of a truck. Excited, this feels like an adventure, like I need more of those, but I'm glad to be leaving this place. I didn't even ask where we were going, and Toad was quiet and worked fast.  It was chilly, goosebumps on my legs, dew on the grass so wet and shining and full of those spiders who only spread their grass webs in the dew and the dark.  Why am I still writing in the journal? Maybe because it helps make sense of what really makes no sense.  It's me making my web in the grass.

Passages 17

Oceanside: Starfish Cove Wellness Center

J's Journal 1

First night here. Puked my guts out. At least I got my smokes. I can't sleep, don't want to sleep. Been staring at that big rock out in the ocean. Stared at it all day. Saw Cooper Stanfield, larger than life, right here on the beach walking around with one extremely fine girl. Thought he had some kind of trouble with that, reason he quit touring, so who’s that? No matter, ain’t my business. He’s set up for life and I’m out here fighting the shakes.