One year later, it was in the middle of the summer. On an unusually hot night, Therapy was in the garden of Owen’s home performing for their family and friends as they usually did when they all got together.
By this time, several weddings had taken place. Bishop and Katrina married, and came to California for their honeymoon. Smoke and Brenda, Richard and Grace, and Frederick and Charlotte had gotten married as well. James and Odile came from France just to hear Owen’s band play. Odile insisted.
There was a big party going on at Owen’s house, and this particular night, Owen didn’t feel like celebrating. He did move on with the show.
“Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, family and friends. Thank you for coming out tonight. Congratulations to Bishop, Katrina, Smoke, and Brenda. May you one day know love the way I do.” Owen played a slow tune as he spoke. “James, Odile asked me a favor, and since I’m so fond of her I will oblige. She said, and these are her words, “I will marry you if you can commit to me.” You know what she’s saying big brother. How about it? Get yourself together, don’t be afraid, and marry her. I think she will be good for you.”
Owen was angry, though he was doing what he loved to do. Entertain. He played softly for a moment longer and continued. “I understand that congratulations are also in order for Isaias’ mother. I’m glad you decided to join the light side, and fight off the dark.” Owen could hardly stand playing anymore. He decided that he could cut the set short. “We are going to take a short break, so don’t go anywhere.”
His band was confused, but didn’t argue. The band took a short break, and Owen continued.
Trying to stay in character despite his mood, Owen smiled. “We are going to start this off with a song that was a surprise to all of us. Our sax player Alex wrote this one. Why is it a surprise you ask? Because Alex doesn’t compose. He just plays. At least that is what we all thought. Ladies and gentlemen, I will introduce for the first time, Alexander Davis. More affectionately known as Alex.”
His band was as equally as talented as he was. When the song was over, he gave credit where credit was due.
“Ladies and gentlemen Alexander Davis. Sax player extraordinaire!”
“Yeah!” Everyone clapped, and genuinely enjoyed Alex’s composition.
Owen still agitated, and he himself didn’t know why initially, played softly as he gathered his thoughts.
“You know, right now, I think I want to talk about something that has bothered me since I was young. I have gone through a rough time with my father for a long time. So a long time ago someone wrote a song that expresses my transformation to a tee. We would like to play it for you tonight. I’m not going to talk about my feelings. I will let the song say it for me. Herbie Hancock once played a song called “The Egg”. Just listen and you will feel me.”
In the beginning, the song was loud and scattered. Owen had a chance to play erratically, which is how he felt that night. Alex put down his sax and sat this song out. Kenny picked up his trumpet and had his chance to show his talent, and Owen banged at the piano a bit more. In the middle of the song, Smoke and Isaias had their chance to show what they had. It was short. Owen then had a few moments alone to show why he was the leader of the band.
He played masterfully, as Isaias interrupted intermittingly with a cowbell here and there.
No one knew what to make of the song. To just about everyone there, it wasn’t really a song, but four instruments playing at the same time, or depending on where they were in the song, a single instrument making a bunch of noise. It made a statement about Owen’s feelings that night, and no one understood but his mother.
After a long fourteen minutes, “The Egg” came to an end. Owen continued.
“Did you feel it?”
“Yeah!” Everyone yelled, but he knew no one really got it, but he didn’t care. It was how he felt and no one was going to take it away from him.
“Good. I played that song specifically for my father. Congratulations father and Grace. I’m sorry for all of the ugliness. I’ll change. Well I can’t do a show without telling my baby how I feel about her. Bear with me as I do a little R & B number for you.
Owen played his last song.
“That’s it boys and girls. I hope you enjoyed our special show. I would like to think of our music as the treatment of physical, mental, or behavioral problems that is meant to cure or rehabilitate someone. Come visit often, because were always playing. Ladies and gentleman, we are Therapy.”
He stood and took a bow with the rest of the band. They received a standing ovation from his family and close friends. But for some reason, this particular performance meant nothing to him. He walked towards his mother who was standing next to the buffet table.
“Owen, you are indeed brilliant,” she said kissing him on the cheek.
Owen wasn’t in the mood for her accolades. “Not now mother.”
“What’s the matter?”
Owen poured his own glass of Chardonnay. “I’m tired of this. I want more.” Owen crossed his arms and took a sip from his glass. Unexpectedly, a man he’d never seen in his life spoke to him. Owen wasn’t in the mood for idle conversation.
“Hello, Mr. Thomas.”
Owen’s head snapped in the direction of the unknown guest. “Excuse me sir. I don’t know you, and have no desire to do so right now.”
Appalled, Nadia said, “Owen, don’t be rude. This is my friend Scott West.”
Respecting his mother, Owen said in a more polite tone, “Nice to meet you, Mr. West.”
“I would have to say, your band is very good,” Scott said genuinely.
“Your band reminds me a lot of the jazz bands from the late sixties,” Scott added, sipping his own glass of wine.
Still agitated, Owen answered as politely as he could. “I like jazz to be pure and exciting.”
“Where did you learn to play?”
“I didn’t learn to play, Mr. West, I was born with it.”
Scott nodded. “I will say I like your sound.”
Bored with the conversation of his mother’s guest, Owen excused himself. “Thank you. Now if you will excuse me, there are many people here I do know, and I would love to mingle more with them.” Owen walked away.
Nadia and Scott watched as Owen stormed away from them.
“Scott, please excuse him,” Nadia said apologetically. “He’s beginning to get frustrated. He’s wanted to get a major deal for so long, I fear he’s about to give up.”
Scott smiled. “Well I’m glad you invited me. They’re wonderful.”
“So can you help them?”
“I can try.”
“What can I do to help?”
“Have Owen call me in the morning.”
“I will. Thank you Scott.”
“You’re welcome Nadia. I’ll see you at dinner tomorrow night. We are still going right?”
Nadia nodded. “Yes darling see you then.”
Scott kissed Nadia on the cheek. “Goodnight.”
Scott left the party, and went back to his hotel room.
Sitting next to his wife still brooding about the lack of a record deal, Owen watched Scott kiss his mother on the cheek and leave. Owen didn’t like it.
“Desi did you see that?”
“No honey, what?”
“That Scott guy kissed my mother.”
“So what,” Desiree shrugged. Isn’t that what we all do?”
“No.” Then a devious smile crept up on his face. Desiree knew exactly what Owen was going to do.
“Oh Owen come on. Don’t go start a fight. It was probably nothing.”
Owen stood and turned to Desiree. “Come on let’s go see what’s up.”
He didn’t wait until Desiree got up from her chair. He started walking toward his mother who was still standing next to the buffet table. He handed her a glass of her favorite white wine, and tiled his head to the side before he said a word.
“So mother, who is he?”
“He’s a friend of a friend.”
“Are you dating him?”
“If I was it would be my business, right?”
“Fine. What does he do? Is he just some leach looking to get into your purse?”
Nadia still had Scott’s business card in her hand. “He told me to give you this,” she said handing Owen the card.
He took it and didn’t look at it. “Yeah, yeah. He has a business card, so what. What does he do for a living mother?”
“Read the card, Owen,” she said sipping her wine.
Owen clicked his teeth then read the card. All of the anger he’d been holding on to all night, was suddenly washed away. “You’re kidding right?” He asked his mother, slowly beginning to grin.
Nadia shook her head. “No. He wants you to call him in the morning.”
“Who is he?” Desiree asked, curiosity starting to get the better of her.
Owen leaned in close and whispered in Desiree’s ear. “He’s the A & R President at Columbia records.”
Desiree smiled widely and hugged Owen tight. “I’m so happy for you baby.”
Owen grabbed Desiree’s face and gave her a quick smooch on the lips. The then turned to his mother and hugged her. “Thank you, mother.”
“You did all the work. I just got him here.”
Struck with a sudden wave of wanting to play, Owen ran back up on stage and sat at his piano.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to play one more song for you. If Smoke and Isaias will please join me on stage.” Smoke and Isaias looked at each other, and then back Owen. Initially, they didn’t move. “Well, come on!” Owen said enthusiastically.
They walked up on stage and prepared to play. Confused, Isaias asked, “What’s up man? I thought we were done.”
Owen didn’t reply. He immediately engaged his guests. “Ladies and gentlemen, I just feel like I let you all down. So I wanna play one more song for you. The name of the song is, Happiness.” Owen gave the count and they played the song. Everyone clapped.
Smiling wider than he had in weeks, Smoke and Isaias were instantly suspicious.
“Whew! That felt good,” Owen said. “Now if the rest of the band would just come up here, I have some news. Bring your women too.”
Everyone joined Owen on stage.
“Well perhaps you are wondering what’s going on. I will be honest and tell you tonight my heart just wasn’t in it. I am so tired of rejection after rejection, and I know my boys are too. So tonight, I played half ass, and we were still hot. That song was to make up for my shortcomings.”
“Get on with it son!” Nadia yelled from the back of the yard.
“Oh sorry mother. I do tend to ramble on don’t I? Well tonight, my mother invited a friend of hers to listen to us. His name is Mr. Scott West. The band will be having a meeting with him soon.”
Again confused with Owen’s odd behavior, Isaias asked, “A meeting? For what?”
Owen walked over to his friend and put his arm around his shoulder. Having no idea what Owen was going to say Isaias stood still.
Owen put the mic to his lips and said as calmly as he could, “Scott West is the A & R President at Columbia Records.”
Jaws dropped, and eyes grew wide. His band gasped with excitement. “What?” They questioned loudly in unison.
Owen smiled and nodded his head. “Yep.”
Everyone hollered with excitement. Isaias turned to his best friend and hugged him tightly. He couldn’t believe that they’d finally made it. Everyone around them hugged, kissed, and sighed at this great news.
Desiree was still standing next to Nadia, and true to her nature, she was curious about Scott. Who was he really? She decided she would ask.
She watched as Owen and his band were going crazy with joy on stage. She didn’t look at her mother in law and said, “This is so exciting.”
“Yes, it is.”
“So how do you know him, and why did he kiss you?” Desiree asked, not looking at Nadia.
Nadia turned. “First, like I said, he’s a friend of a friend, and second, that’s none of your business.”
Desiree smirked. “Oh come on. Owen has what he wants now. Come on tell me. Who is he really?”
“All right I’ll tell you.” Nadia sighed. “But first you have to promise to allow me to tell Owen about Scott myself.”
Desiree drew a cross across her chest. “I promise.”
“I have known Scott for years. He started as a friend of a friend, but not anymore.”
“Don’t tell me.”
“Oh yeah,” Nadia nodded. “I’m still a young woman, Desiree. My husband was giving himself to another woman. Not loving me, or giving me any loving. So yes. Scott and I are lovers, and have been for at least five or six years.”
Now totally in her mother in laws business, she said, “Oh you’re kidding me. So now that you’re divorced? Now what?”
Nadia smiled coyly. “We’ll see.”
Knowing she wasn’t about to get anything else out of Nadia about her personal life, she changed the subject. “So if you held the power to make Owen famous in your hand, why didn’t you just give it to him?”
“Some things must be earned my dear.”
“You have to ask? You know him as well as I do. Owen is a very outgoing and happy young man. He’s always been that way. Lately, there’s nothing. There’s no spark when he plays, there’s nothing. I knew what was going on in his head, so I told Scott about the band.”
“And what about Scott? Are you gonna marry him or what?”
“He hasn’t asked, and I don’t know if I will or not. It’s just good to be free for now.”
Desiree nodded in agreement even though she didn’t get the answer she was looking for.
The following morning, Owen was excited about what was about to happen in his life. He didn’t care about money, because both he and Isaias already had that. He only knew he had to share his music with the world. As far as his other band members, it was about money for them. Owen loved them like brothers, and he was determined to get the best deal for the other four. Instead of calling Scott right away, he gathered up the band members so they could talk about what was going to happen.
“Fellas this is it. There is no way we are not going to be on Columbia’s label. So, we have to talk about some things. After we do this, then we hire an entertainment lawyer, let them know what we want, and they negotiate for us. I’m not really worried about that because we are in there.”
“Owen, you know that the company can say yes or no at any time. Even though Scott is an exec, he is still just a scout,” Smoke reminded him.
“You’re right. That’s why we need to talk.”
The members of Therapy sat around and talked about royalties. Isaias and Owen didn’t care about the money since they were already rich.
“Great,” Kenny said, getting a quick lesson on royalties. “So how much do we ask for?”
“Industry standard for new artists is ten percent. I don’t expect our album to go platinum. Possibly gold. That equates to about a half a million copies nationwide.”
“Is that a lot?” Jeff asked.
“It’s not great, but it will put a few dollars in your pockets.”
Isaias sat and listened to the possibility that his band mates may not profit from their little venture and had an idea.
“I propose that if the album does not sell the way we want, we help our band mates along until it does.”
“What are you talking about?” Owen asked.
“A year’s salary for the average man. Does sixty thousand a year sound good to you? I’ll do half, and Owen takes the other half. That is only if it does not sell the way we want.”
Owen nodded. “I agree. But if it does sell, well obviously you don’t get any money from us.”
Jeff shook his head in disbelief. “I said it before and I’ll say it again. You two are incredible.”
Owen smiled, and Isaias brought up the next point. “What about marketing?”
Knowing that the band wouldn’t have to do any of that, Owen was curious. “What about it?”
“We need to move.”
Alex snarled, “Now? Hell we just moved up here.”
“No doubt, we gotta get to L.A.”
Jeff rolled his eyes. “I hate southern California.”
“Ya’ll aren’t hearing me. Listen. In L.A., there are more clubs, jazz, and engagements. That’s the only way. You do remember the response we got at Harlow’s, right. We need more of that.”
Owen sat and placed his hand on his chin. “That was the best show we’ve ever done.”
“But it was only an hour away. L.A. is six.” Kenny added.
Isaias shook his head. “So what does that mean for me? I mean shit I’m the president of a major corporation now.”
Owen wrapped his head around Smoke’s idea and said, “If we do make that move to L.A., it’s on you to decide how you’re gonna getting back and forth to work everyday.”
Isaias wanting the fame just as everyone else, shrugged. “I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”
They went on and discussed the music itself. Masters, shelving and the consequences.
“If we let the label represent our first album,” Owen began, “it doesn’t guarantee success. If they decide to shelve it, we won’t be able to record any of that music with another label for up to ten years. So I suggest we come up with new stuff for the contract. This way no one can take away our hard work, and we will still be paid for what we’ve already done.”
“Good idea.” Isaias replied.
They discussed who would manage them.
“Bernard Loams,” Jeff suggested.
Familiar with his name, Owen was curious. “Because?”
“He’s the best, and he manages jazz musicians. There aren’t a lot of them out there.”
“I agree. I’ll see if my mother has some connections. If so, we can get ahead of the pack. She knows everyone.”
Alex felt slighted. “If that’s the case, we should have been on our way a long time ago.”
“Hey, I don’t tell my mother what to do,” Owen said in return. “She picks and chooses her own battles.”
Knowing the fight was coming Isaias stepped in. “Hey stop. Let’s not argue. It’s time to get our shit together. What do we charge for appearances?”
The members of Therapy discussed that.
“What’s the difference between a small and large venue?” Jeff asked.
“About twenty three hundred seats.” Owen said plainly. “Think of it this way. It would be the difference in my wedding, and Carnegie Hall.”
Jeff then understood. They talked for another hour, and agreed on everything they discussed. Owen then called Scott to set up the meeting.
“Mr. West, this is Owen Thomas.”
Scott sat back in his chair and put his feet on his desk. “I’ve been waiting for your call. So can we possibly get together soon?”
“Certainly. But I just wanted to let you know my band and I have talked, and before we see you we are going to hire a lawyer.”
“Not a problem. Though many new artists aren’t aware that they have this right. Good job for doing your homework. Hey, Owen, I’m out here looking at more bands. I’ll be here for another week. Give me at least a day’s notice so I can be ready for our meeting.”
“Talk to you soon.”
Owen hung up the phone and smiled at his band mates. “He gave us two days. Let’s go get that lawyer.”
Two days later, the band and their lawyer went to see Scott, and as far as he was concerned, all was negotiable.
“It sounds like you have everything in order. I suggest you find a management company. This will have to happen before I present you to the label. When doing this, keep your lawyer handy. There should be a contract between the band and their manager, just like the one you have between yourselves.
Owen nodded. “Right.”
“When you have found a manager, have them call me. Between your lawyer, your manager, and I, we will work together, to get your terms.”
Owen could hardly believe that he was negotiating a real live record deal. His heart was pounding in his chest. “Sounds good.”
Isaias realized that he was late for a meeting of a different type. “I’ve gotta go take care of some different work fellas.”
Not wanting to hold Isaias to an obligation of any type, Owen asked, “Isaias, you sure this is what you want?”
Isaias smiled. “Don’t worry about me. If my mother has to take over for me a little while, I will be here for all of you.”
One month later, Therapy signed a five album contract with Columbia Records. They completed their first album within eight weeks, three weeks ahead of time. Bernard went to Napa to discuss the second album with the band.
Smiling as he entered the hall, “I have to say that you all are going to make me rich.”
“Not as rich as me.” Owen stated.
“Okay, maybe not, but listen. Scott called me yesterday, and asked me to come out here and see you. It seems that the label has an idea for you.”
“What is it?” Isaias asked. Not ready to alter his already busy schedule.
“I don’t know how to say it, but they want a change for the next album.”
Owen spoke up immediately. “What kind of change?”
“They want to see what you can do with a different type of jazz.”
Owen shook his head and didn’t stop. “No way.”
Bernard ignored the constant and insistent head shaking. “Owen, you don’t have a choice.”
“They can’t really expect us to change our style, Bernard. Bop is what we do.”
“I know that, and so do they. But they want to open up your market a little. Honestly, marketing thinks if you change your style to contemporary jazz, you will get more radio play.”
Not against more radio time, but against the style, Isaias was in disbelief. “No way.”
Bernard nodded. “Yeah. And there’s one more thing.”
Kenny clicked his teeth. “Come on man.”
“Yes Kenny, one more thing. They are looking for the next Anita Baker. Someone with a soulful sound. They haven’t been able to find what they were looking for in any of the audition tapes that they have.”
Owen was a bit uncomfortable with the idea. “They want us to help them launch someone’s career.” Bernard nodded. “So if the label hasn’t been able to come up with anyone, how do they expect us to do it?”
“I have a crazy idea that just might work. Since just about everyone out here already knows who you are, we are going to keep auditions to local girls only. I’ll have all of the jazz stations announce that Therapy is looking for the perfect female vocalist. The girls will submit demos to the station, and you can decide on their sound. The announcement will run for a month, giving everyone who wants to audition, time to get their stuff recorded and mailed in.”
“How long do we have to listen to the thousands of tapes that are going to flow into the studio?” Owen asked.
“Six weeks. I suggest you all split this task up. Pick twenty out of the batch that each of you get. Take good notes, because then you will all sit down together and listen to the demos together. Out of the one hundred and twenty that you listen to, I want you to narrow that down to twenty. Get those women in front of you, and listen to them live. Now in my experience, I’ve had all kinds of things happen with this kind of open audition. I will guarantee that at least five of the girls that come before you did not do their own audition tape, and they can’t sing at all.”
“So, how do we get in touch with the voice we liked?” Jeff asked.
“Don’t even bother,” Bernard said. “In this business of strict deadlines, there is no time for games. Scrap it, and move on to the next.”
“That seems unfair to the one that actually did do the tape.” Isaias chimed.
“It’s a possibility that they were only doing it as a favor to their friend, and have no desire to get into the music business, so as I said before, don’t bother. Whoever you choose, Scott has told me he wants to meet her so he can get on with his own plans.”
All that sat around Bernard were impressed with his skills, yet none of them had anything to say. Owen, being the most versed in the industry of all of them, said, “Bernard has a point. I suppose we choose one out of the twenty.”
Nodding. “That’s right.”
“So when are you going to start the auditions?” Owen asked.
Bernard chuckled. “I already have.”
Bernard ended the meeting, and everyone went their own way. Owen went to the library, to talk to Desiree about what was going on with the band. He wasn’t entirely comfortable with what his label decided. He was used to doing his own thing. Instead of lashing out, he decided to talk to his wife.
“Desi baby, I have to talk to you about something.”
Desiree was in the kitchen reading the paper. “What is it?”
“The label says we need a vocalist.”
“As in singer? Therapy is fine the way it is. Why do you need a vocalist?” Desiree asked, putting the last plate in the dryer next to the sink.
“They say they want us to branch out to a wider audience.”
Knowing her husband’s talent, she was now really curious. “Meaning?”
“Right now, we sell records to an older audience. Those who can really appreciate what we do.”
“Those are the ones with the money if I’m not mistaken.”
“I agree, but marketing thinks that if we change our style a little, we can draw in a younger age group.”
Desiree knew Owen would never change anything in his life, except for her. She was irritated that he mentioned it, and had not previously discussed it with her.
“Change your style? I thought all of you were totally devoted to bop. What do they want?”
“They want us to do a crossover album. Smooth jazz. Contemporary.”
Desiree scoffed. “Owen, come on. That is not what you do.”
Not dismissing the idea, Owen replied, “But we can. It’s not hard.”
“Okay honey I understand that you have to do what the label wants, because they own you. So why are you stressing about this?”
“I guess I’m nervous because we’ve never had a vocalist before. I’m afraid we won’t find the right girl in time. If we do find the right girl, and she sings well, maybe she’ll be a diva. I don’t have time for divas.”
Desiree rolled her eyes, determined to finish in her kitchen. “As long as she doesn’t change the chemistry between the original members of Therapy, everything will be fine.”
Three months later, Therapy held live auditions for the twenty women they had chosen. The site for the auditions was the Nadia Raye Thomas Theater, right in Owen’s own home. They sat through ten auditions, and selected two of the ten. They sat through the next ten auditions, and selected three. They dismissed fifteen, and took a break.
“So, fellas what do you think so far?” Owen asked.
“It’s gonna be hard to choose from the rest,” Smoke said. “All of these girls are fantastic.”
“True enough, but there can only be one,” Isaias added.
Owen agreed. “Okay so let’s have them do one more song for us. We’ll go through an interview session and choose from there.”
After the second round of auditions was over with, the six of them took another break.
“I don’t know fellas, but I really like Lillian,” Isaias said.
Owen nodded. “I agree.”
Smoke also agreed. “She has the looks and the voice to go with it.”
“Alex, Kenny, Jeff, what do you think?” Owen asked.
Both Alex and Kenny said, “Lillian.”
Jeff disagreed. “Sharon.”
“Okay, majority rules. Lillian it is.” Owen stated.
“I guess we go back in there and break some hearts,” Jeff said.
Suddenly Isaias had an idea. “Not necessarily. I say we keep them all.”
Smoke shook his head. “But the label only wants one girl.”
“And if Lillian needs backup singers? Do we do this process all over again?”
Owen nodded. “Again I say it, Isaias you are brilliant.”
They went back into the theater where the five women sat, naturally nervous. Owen wasted no time.
“Will you five ladies please step on stage in the order I call you and move to the left of the stage?” The five stood. “Kendra, Shelly, Danae, Sharon, and Lillian.”
The five women were standing on stage hoping to get their shot. Owen examined them as they stood their extremely nervous. They all held hands in support of one another, but secretly wished it were one of them.
“First I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to be a part of this lengthy process. Unfortunately we can only have one of you as the lead vocal on our next album.” They continued to fidget. “Lillian, will you take two steps forward please?” Lillian stepped forward. Owen turned to his band mates. “What do you think?”
Smoke shook his head. “Switch them up. Danae should be next to Lillian.”
“Danae will you trade places with Sharon please?” Owen asked and they switched places. “Yup, I agree. Thanks Smoke.”
The five women looked at one another, confused. Lillian spoke up.
“Excuse me Mr. Thomas, but what’s going on?”
“Well, we like all of you, so we’re keeping you. But, only one of you will be the lead.” Owen paused for a long time. “Congratulations Lillian, you are our choice.”
She screamed and jumped up and down like a teenager. “Thank you Mr. Thomas.”
Owen smiled happy he could give her the news. “Okay now that the auditions are over, everyone please call us by our first names. Save that formal garbage for the ones who pay you.
“Lillian, next week you will have a meeting with our A & R man. His name is Scott West. I’m almost certain he will want to hear you sing. So how about we get something prepared for him. As far as the rest of you go, we will have formal contracts drawn up for each of you. Once that happens, I pretty much own you. We rehearse when I say, and perform when I say. Therapy has creative control on all songs, so you also will sing what I say. With that said ladies congratulations. You may go. Lillian, please stay.”
The other four girls left and the seven of them got down to business.
“Come down here Lillian and have a seat,” Owen said.
Lillian sat down at the table with Owen. Kenny couldn’t help himself.
“Lillian. I just want to know where that big noise comes from. You are such a tiny little thing.”
Lillian smiled and shrugged. “Just born with it I guess.”
Owen rolled his eyes. “Kenny, stop flirting with her, there’s no time for that,” Owen said, turning his attention to Lillian. “Are you ready to get down to business?”
“Next week if Scott likes what he hears, he will be ready to present you to the label. He has a good ear, so I’m sure that if he likes it, the label will like it. You ready to be famous?”
“I’ve waited for this moment my entire life.”
“I’m glad to hear it. While we were going through this audition process, we prepared a song just for this moment. Jeff, will you work the playback for me?”
Jeff got up and went to the booth. The song started to play and Lillian listened.
“I like it. What’s the name of it?”
“California Mist. The lyric is simple, and you should be able to pick it up in no time. With that said, I’ll see you in the morning.”
“I’ll be here,” Lillian said, smiling.
“I have a meeting with my production manager tomorrow morning. I won’t be here until after my meeting,” Isaias said.
Owen nodded. “That’s fine.”
Isaias smiled. “Well I have to get home to my wife. See all of you later. Congratulations again, Lillian.”
“Thank you, Isaias.”
When Isaias left, everyone else decided to leave also.
They all said their goodbyes.
“Bye guys.” Lillian said.
“Well it’s late, and I have things to do. I will see you bright and early in the morning. Be ready to go. I want your vocal perfect when Scott gets here.”
“I understand.” Lillian said, smiling.
Early the next morning, the band was setting up in preparations for Lillian’s first rehearsal.
“Jeff, let me hear it again.” Owen said. Jeff started the track again. “Turn the bass down. It’s going to drown Lillian out.”
As the track was playing, Lillian arrived an hour early. Jeff was watching Owen, waiting for his nod of approval, when he saw Lillian standing behind Owen. He smiled and pointed. Owen turned around, surprised to see her. He waved for Jeff to turn down the music.
“Lillian. I didn’t expect you this early.”
She smiled and shrugged. “I’m ready to get started.”
Lillian nodded. “Right now.”
“Well then let’s get right to it.” Owen said smiling. “Jeff will play the track. I’ll sing it for you so you can hear how it’s supposed to sound. Then we will get started teaching you the lyrics.
“All right.” Lillian was excited about finally getting her shot.
Jeff once again played the track, this time, Owen sang. Always amazed, his band, at his soulful tenor, Lillian was as well.
“Got it?” Owen asked when he finished the song.
Lillian stood with her mouth agape. “I had no idea you could sing. You have a beautiful voice, Owen.”
Owen smiled. “Nothing like yours. Come on now let’s get going.”
Eight hours later, Isaias showed up, and rehearsal was still going on. He walked in as Lillian was singing. Still amazed at how much she reminded him of Sarah Vaughn, he sat continued to listen.
When she was finished, Isaias asked, “How long have you been at this?”
“Eight hours, on and off.”
Still not satisfied with her own vocal, Lillian said, “Almost.”
Scott made his scheduled appointment to listen to Lillian. The band played live for Scott so he could actually hear her sing with Therapy. When the song was over, Scott was silent.
Owen and the rest of the band was anxious waiting to hear what he was going to say. Scott was often silent after he heard something new from Therapy. Lot’s of times, this meant he didn’t like what he heard.
After an entire minute of him tapping his foot slowly and scratching his head, he asked, “Lillian, can you sing something else for me?”
The members of Therapy looked at each other, worried that they picked the wrong girl.
“Sure. What would you like to hear?”
“How about you sing what you sang for your final audition? Can you do that?”
Lillian’s heart was beating so fast, and she was extremely nervous, but she smiled and nodded her head.
Owen, Smoke, and Isaias started to play, and Lillian sang. When she was finished, Scott tilted his head to the left, stroked his chin, and sighed. The room was extremely quiet as Scott contemplated the two different songs he heard.
A slow smile crept upon his face. “Lillian, you are by far one of the best female vocalists I’ve ever heard. You will go far in this business. See you in New York in three weeks. Congratulations.”
Three weeks later, Lillian signed a one-year contract as a member of Therapy. After the year was over, she would be a solo act.
A few months later, Isaias left work and went straight to Owen’s house for rehearsal. He walked into the theater ready to play. They were working on a new song and Owen gave Lillian a few days off until they worked out the kinks.
“Hey fellas, what’s up?” Isaias asked. “Where’s Desiree?”
“She’s at your house with the rest of the girls.”
“I’m glad I came straight over here then. So has Desi met Lillian yet?”
“Not yet. She can’t stand to be here when we’re rehearsing. She says we play to loud.”
“So none of the girls have met Lillian?”
“Nope, but when our women get a look at Lillian, they are going to freak. She is fine as hell right. Kinda reminds me of when we first saw Whitney.”
“How did that go?” Jeff asked.
“I paid no attention to her, but Isaias was lost. We all know Whitney is hot. Isaias is a lucky man. Not saying that our women don’t measure up, but damn.”
Immediately recognizing something about Owen that Isaias hadn’t seen since college, he had to speak with him alone.
“Owen, can I see you alone for a minute?”
They stepped outside of the theater doors. Once they closed, Isaias immediately lit into him.
“So what is it that you like most about Lillian? Her voice or her damn near perfect body?”
Confused. “It’s not even like that. You know I love Desi.”
“Since you brought Desiree up, this can only mean one thing.”
“I’m not cheating man I promise. You know I love my wife.”
Isaias remembered how he was often pulled between Owen and his many women before he got serious with Desiree.
“Don’t do this. Because our wives are so close, this could have an affect on me.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Isaias rolled his eyes. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve known you since we were ten years old. Stay away from Lillian.”
Owen smirked. “Oh give me a break. We have a professional relationship. That’s it.”
“Okay, if that is what it is, I trust you. But don’t cheat on Desi. I will have to get involved if you do. I don’t want to have to kick your ass.”
“Hey I didn’t hire her alone. All of you had a hand in it too,” Owen said defensively.
“Because she’s good. That woman can sing her ass off. She reminds me so much of Sarah Vaughn, I can’t stand it. But I’m not trying to sleep with her.”
“I’m not either.”
“Okay. I believe you.”
“As you should.”
Two months later, the band was in the studio with Lillian late rehearsing one of the songs for her debut concert. Owen wanted the song to be perfect. This song was the one that was supposed to leave the audience clamoring for more, but Owen wasn’t satisfied.
“One more time fellas. Lillian I need more from you girl.”
Tired of playing the same song for the last thirty minutes, Isaias looked at his watch. “It’s late Owen. Let’s call it a night.”
“Not until Lillian gets this right. It’s good, but it doesn’t make me want to go out and buy the album.”
“Come on man let’s quit and start fresh in the morning,” Smoke pleaded.
“It’s already morning. It’s twelve-thirty,” Kenny added.
Owen looked at his own watch and realized they were right. “Okay, okay. Let’s just go through the whole song again. If I’m not satisfied with Lillian’s vocal, just she and I will stay. The rest of you can leave.”
Everyone agreed. Owen gave the count, and they went over the song once more.
Owen nodded his head. “Good job. Go home.”
“Thank you,” Lillian said, breathing a sigh of relief.
“Not you. You stay.”
“Oh Owen, come on.”
Owen shook his head. “I wanna feel it before I go home.”
The rest of the band kissed Lillian on the cheek and left. Owen started playing the song again.
“Come on Lillian, you can get this.”
“Owen, I’m tired. Can’t we just continue tomorrow?”
“Nope. Your vocal is weak tonight. I usually get goose bumps just listening to you. Tonight there is nothing. You’re not feeling it therefore I’m not feeling it. The show is in two weeks. You have more in you. Come on let’s hear it.”
Lillian put her heart into the song, and Owen got what he was looking for.
“Thank you. That’s what I’m talking about.”
Rolling her eyes. “I’m glad you approve.”
“I want you to sing it like that tomorrow. Everyone will love it.”
Lillian sighed. “I realize we have a deadline, but you’re pushing me to hard Owen.”
Owen got up from the piano, and moved close to Lillian. He gently held her around the waist. “Not hard enough.” Owen said, giving her a chaste kiss on the lips. Lillian backed off.
“I’m not getting involved with you, Owen. You’re a married man. We have a professional relationship and that’s all.”
Owen leaned against his baby grand piano and looked into her eyes. “Lillian, when you walked into the studio the first day, I thought you were just a pretty face. Then you sang for me. I fell in love with you with the first note. Why do you think I push you so hard? Why do you think that I want to hear you sing for me all of the time?”
“I’m here because I want to sing. Nothing more.”
“You’re lying if you say you feel nothing for me. I happen to know that you were a fan of our music before you auditioned.”
“The band, Owen. Therapy as a whole. Not just the front man.”
“Hell girl, I am Therapy.”
Lillian smirked, looked away, and quietly said, “You know what I mean.”
“Fine. I’ll let you go home if you just give me one thing.”
“Kiss me like you mean it.”
Ready to go home, she would do just about anything. She hadn’t planned to get caught up in the moment, but somehow his slow sensual kiss made her think about Owen just a bit differently. She did understand the consequences of what could happen if she got involved with Owen.
“We can’t do this. I want to keep my spot. If someone finds out, I’m gone. You have to continue our professional relationship at all times. What just happened must remain a total and complete secret, or I will quit, and-”
“And what? We hire another girl? That will only allow me to express my feelings for you more.”
“Owen, you love your wife, and you don’t love me. I’m a member of the band, and that’s all.”
“I cracked on Isaias when we first met Whitney. I told him that a woman as hot as she was would not give him the time of day. Now I see what he was talking about. There is something about a sexy black woman that is erotic. You do realize that I’ve had a hard on from the moment I heard you the first time.”
Owen smiled. “Okay, so not since then. But tonight I have one. Lay with me, Lillian.”
“No. It’s not right. I can’t do this. Your wife will kill you, and Scott will fire me. No, Owen.”
Lillian gathered her things, and left the studio. She was attracted to Owen, and wanted to be with him. But if he couldn’t do it on her terms, she wasn’t going to do it.
A short time later, Lillian was ready to be with Owen. She was attracted to him, but had no desire to fall in love with him or break up his marriage. Lillian lived in Sacramento, so she was close, but not too close. When she was ready, she called Owen on his cell phone. She told him she wanted to see him about the show, but she couldn’t come to him, he would have to come to her. He agreed.
Lillian prepared herself mentally as well as physically. She took a bath, put on a nice dress, and made up her face. She only had fifteen minutes before he arrived. She went to her CD cabinet, and picked out John Coltrane. Then all she had to do was wait on the doorbell. Owen arrived right on time.
She opened the door and smiled. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Stepping into her home for the first time, he asked, “So what’s going on?”
“What if no one likes the way I sing and I get booed off the stage?”
“You made me drive all this way to ask me that?”
Realizing she’d better get on with her plan before he got angry, she moved towards her kitchen. “I’m sorry, would you like something to drink?”
Owen nodded. “Just some water with lemon if you have it.”
“Coming right up,” she said going into her kitchen.
She returned from her kitchen with two glasses in her hands. One, she handed to Owen. Owen took a sip and just stared at her. Lillian quietly stared back.
Owen was upset that he drove to see her about something they could’ve talked about on the phone. “Okay Lillian, what did you really want?”
“You,” she said without hesitation.
Not sure he’d heard her correctly. “Excuse me what?”
“You heard me. But we do this on my terms.”
Owen suddenly felt the blood rushing away from his head to a different part of his body. “Okay, I’m listening.”
“We can only be together outside of Napa, only when you can get away from your house. You cannot spend the night with me ever. We can be together for a matter of hours only. I will not come between you and Desiree, understood?”
“Are you serious?”
“I’ve given it some thought. Yes, I’m very serious.”
That was all Owen needed to hear. He pulled her close and kissed her deeply.
Lillian pulled away slightly and said, “Owen, make love to me.”
“Lillian if I do, you’re mine. No one else can have you.”
“I know you want me. Just take me.”
“I do want you. But you can’t be with anyone else.”
Angry, Lillian pulled away. “How can a married man say that?”
“Don’t be angry, just hear me out.”
“I’m in a committed relationship. I won’t be with anyone else but my wife. You on the other hand are single, and can be with whomever you please. I don’t want that. I want you to commit yourself to only me. I will take care of you as I do my wife. But you can only be with me.”
Lillian didn’t want to commit to that. She didn’t understand why he was even asking her to do that.
“Owen, it wasn’t me who started this, it was you. Please just make love to me.”
Owen didn’t hesitate any further. He gave Lillian what she wanted. Afterward he needed a guarantee.
“Whew! You are an animal. I can’t share you with anyone else Lillian. We will make beautiful music together. We will perform as a team, and then we will be lovers, just the two of us. No one else.”
Satisfied that he would keep his word, she replied. “You have my word.”
“I have to get home. I’ll see you in two days.”
Owen wanted to know what it was like to be a free spirit again. Lillian was perfect. They were able to keep their secret, and no one suspected a thing.
When Lillian’s debut concert was over, Therapy sold more music than they had in a while. The label decided to sign her to another year contract. Owen was happy that he wasn’t going to have to give up his woman on the side, so he didn’t mind a bit.
With a third album under their belt, they went to New York to begin their promotional tour. After the show, they decided to go out and eat to celebrate. Lillian told everyone she would meet them later.
“Owen, I’m so proud of you. I thought smooth jazz was going to ruin you,” Desiree said, planting a kiss on her husband’s cheek.
“Baby I’m still a bop man. We just have to go with what the label wants for now.”
Isaias looked around the room. “Where is the queen of the quiet storm anyway?”
Whitney took a bite of her food and replied, “She said she wanted to go back to her room and freshen up.”
“Oh well, no need to wait. Let’s get this party started!” Owen shouted.
Two hours later, Owen and the rest of his friends were on their way to being intoxicated. Owen however was waiting to lay eyes on the woman that made him feel alive when she was in the room. Another hour went by and Lillian finally showed up, but she was not alone. By this time, Owen was drunk. His emotions took over when he witnessed her with another man, and lost control.
Owen jumped up from the table, walked up to her date, and punched him in the face. Her date was more surprised than anyone was. When Owen went to hit him again, Lillian grabbed his arm.”
Owen turned and slapped her. “Bitch! What the fuck are you doing?” He asked loudly.
Everyone gasped. Her date, taken aback, rubbed his jaw with confusion. Smoke and Isaias grabbed Owen and held him back.
“Owen, what the fuck are you doing?” Smoke asked.
Struggling to get away, Owen shouted, “How dare she show up with another man on her arm!”
No sooner than it left his mouth, Isaias knew what Owen had done. “Owen, chill out. You’ve had too much to drink. Calm down.”
“No! She loves me. How dare she show up with someone else?” Owen continued to shout.
Desiree didn’t understand what was going on. “Excuse me?”
Whitney stood up from her chair, grabbed her purse, and tapped Desiree on the shoulder. “Desiree, let’s go.”
“No. Did he say she loved him?”
“It’s nothing Desi. Come on ladies, let’s go.”
The wives and girlfriends left the restaurant.
Owen was so drunk he held nothing back. Everything that was going through his mind, escaped his lips. Isaias stood there and couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Lillian, how could you do this to me?”
Still trying to hold on to what they shared, she attempted denial. “Owen, there is nothing between us. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“What do you mean you don’t know what I’m talking about? I held you in my arms and made sweet love to you woman. Of course, there’s something.” Owen turned to the tall handsome man standing next to her. “Who is this? Some asshole you picked up off the street?”
His name was Lamont and he was confused as to what was going on, and still angry that a perfect stranger punched him in the face. “I’m her boyfriend. I should kick your punk ass right now.”
The alcohol made Owen very cocky. “If you think you can asshole, go for it.”
Back when they were in college, it was usually Isaias that Smoke had to help get under control. He’d never seen Owen like this, and didn’t understand.
“Owen calm down. We’ve just finished giving a killer performance. Do you want your name in the paper?”
Still trying to free himself from his friends, Owen slurred, “I don’t care about that shit. I just want to know why Lillian is here with this dumb ass.”
Lamont was ready for round two. This time he would be ready. “Dumb ass?”
Owen nodded. “You heard me. Why is my girl here with you?”
The restaurant was emptying out because Owen would not stop. Isaias had to take control of his friend, and he had to do it quickly.
“Owen, you’ve had enough. Let’s go.”
“No!” Owen shouted. “I want an answer.”
Lillian stood in his face perfectly sober, wanting to keep what they shared. But since he was so forthcoming with secret information, she had no choice but to tell the truth.
Lillian closed her eyes, sighed, and glared at her lover. “Owen you said what we shared would be a secret.”
Lamont was shocked. “What?”
Lillian nodded and admitted the truth. “That’s right. Owen and I are lovers. You and I can’t be together because we weren’t meant to be.”
Hurt, Lamont replied, “So you’re saying you want to be with him?”
“Go on home, let me work this out, and I will explain everything later.”
“Don’t bother.” Lamont smirked and left the restaurant.
With Lamont’s exit, the host approached Owen’s party.
“I’m sorry Mr. Thomas, but you and your party are going to have to leave.”
Still held by his two closest friends, Owen said, “No. I want to talk to Lillian.”
Furious at this point, Isaias calmly replied, “Owen, they are kicking us out of here. We have to leave. Come on let’s go.”
Desiree and her friends reached their hotel, and went to Whitney’s room. They entered in silence, trying not to believe that one of the one’s who brought them all together was having a serious problem. They sat in different chairs within Whitney’s suite and removed their shoes.
Desiree let her right shoe drop to the floor. She was devastated. How could the only man she ever loved in her life cheat on her? He told her he was different. He told her he didn’t approve of what his father and brother did in their past. So how all of a sudden, he could be just like them.
Desiree looked at Whitney and said, “Whitney, please tell me he didn’t cheat on me.”
Whitney was Desiree’s closest friend and she didn’t want her to hurt. Whitney wanted her to keep her head up. For all she knew, Owen hadn’t cheated on her, but was just going through something else. Perhaps in his mind, he was dealing with a lack of fan worship. Owen did have a huge ego as far as his music was concerned. Maybe, he only saw Lillian as one of his fans, but deep down, she thought otherwise.
“We won’t know that until we talk to him.”
Desiree crossed her arms in front of her, angry. “I don’t have anything to say to him.”
The remainder of her friends in the room felt sorry for her. They themselves could easily be in the same predicament. Their boyfriends and husbands, also famous, in the same band.
“You can’t just give up on him Desi,” Brenda said.
“Oh yes I can.”
“What will you do? You’ve turned into a rich socialite like his mother. Hell, we all have.”
Desiree was angry with Brenda for even thinking such a thing. “Do you bitches think I’m stupid? You seem to forget, I am a genius, literally. I have a degree from one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation. I can do my own thing.”
Feeling the same pain as her friend, Whitney tried to reason with her. “Desi, the both of us have turned into different women. We are spoiled and pampered. I personally lack the ability to do anything without my butler.”
Not giving up on her original question, Desiree needed to hear someone say it. “Whitney, please tell me that my husband is not cheating on me.”
Whitney closed her eyes and sighed. “I wish I could. But that is what it sounded like to me.”
Desiree suddenly stood up and yelled, “Damn it! I knew he would do this!”
“Owen loves you,” Michelle said quietly.
“Bullshit!” Desiree exclaimed, placing her hands on her hips, pacing back and forth in front of her bed.
“You know he does,” Whitney added. “Lillian sang, and made him feel good. That’s her job. That is what she does. She has incredible pipes, and I believe that if she wanted to, she could move anyone to tears, even me. It’s not his fault that he fell under her spell.”
Desiree stopped pacing and stared at Whitney. “So, Lillian was out to sleep with my husband from the start. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Desi look,” Michelle said. Desiree looked at her sharply and listened to what she had to say. “Owen is not himself tonight. You don’t have to stay with him tonight if you don’t want to. Alex and Owen can bunk tonight. You can stay with me.”
Thankful she had her friends around her; Desiree sat on the bed, and broke down in tears.
“Desi, calm down. We don’t even know if he’s really with her.”
Her tears dried up in a fit of anger. “You don’t really know Owen. I do. That man has never spoken a word of untruth in his life. If he says Lillian loves him, it’s the truth. I could see if he was sober. Then he could hide what is obviously the truth. Drunk he can’t keep his damn mouth shut.”
Remembering the engagement party she attended, and what happened that night when Owen was obviously intoxicated, Whitney couldn’t ignore it.
“So what are you going to do?”
“I love him. I want to hear him out.”
Isaias and Smoke went out the front door of the restaurant, with Lillian in tow. They still held onto Owen so he wouldn’t lose his mind and hit Lillian again. Determined to give Owen a piece of his mind, Owen was still putting up a fight. Isaias tried to convince him to leave.
“Owen come on let’s go back to the hotel.”
Shaking his head, inebriated, and insistent. “I don’t think you heard me. I want to talk to Lillian.”
Owen wouldn’t calm down, and Lillian tried to help. “Owen come on, let’s go home. We can talk later.”
Drunk, and confused, he looked Lillian in her eyes. “Why? Who is he? Why did you do this to me? Why?” Owen screamed at her again.
Isaias had enough. Owen was making a complete ass of himself, and he had to get him under control. He could only do this if he were alone with his best friend with no distractions.
“Would you fellas mind walking Lillian back to the hotel?”
Jeff nodded. “No problem. Come on, Lillian.”
Owen watched as Smoke and Jeff left with Lillian. He still didn’t give up on the fact that he wanted to talk to her. “Wait up for me. I still want to talk to you.”
Lillian and the others didn’t acknowledge his words. Isaias was finally able to let go of his anger.
“Shut the fuck up for one damn minute will you?” Isaias shouted, still with a firm grip on Owen’s arms.
“Let me go man!”
Isaias shook him. “Owen, calm down or I will beat your ass right here! Relax!” Isaias pushed Owen against the wall outside the restaurant, still seething with anger.
Isaias pointed an angry finger in Owen’s face. “You tell me right now, what in the hell are you doing?”
“What are you jealous now? I got me a fine sistah just like you.”
Isaias couldn’t believe what was coming from Owen’s face. He knew he was more intoxicated than he’d been in a while, but Owen was about to throw away his marriage. Isaias had to understand. Isaias had to stop him.
“I told you not to mess with her. You promised me that you wouldn’t do this.”
“What’s the big deal? A little ass on the side never hurt anyone.”
“Listen to what you’re saying. Don’t you love Desiree anymore?”
Owen nodded his head. “Of course I do.”
“So why are you cheating on her?”
Reality set in as Owen had a moment of sobriety. The look on his face was pure shock when he realized what he’d done. “Oh God. I didn’t mean to it just happened. I love Desi man, you know I do.”
Isaias slapped Owen on the shoulder. “Well why? And why with Lillian? You do know we have to work with her right. She is a part of Therapy now.”
Thinking about all it took to get Desiree, Owen started to cry. “I don’t know man, it just happened.”
Having no sympathy for his friend of many years, Isaias told him what was on his mind. “Well guess what? Desiree will probably divorce you now. There is no way that she’s ever going to trust you ever again. And if she doesn’t, I don’t blame her.”
Owen’s tears stopped and he grabbed Isaias by his arms. “I messed up didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did. So now what are you gonna do?”
Still as drunk as he was twenty minutes before, a ridiculous reply left Owen’s lips. He shrugged as if everything was normal. “If Desi divorces me, be with Lillian I guess.”
Isaias had enough of his nonsense. He lost control, and hit Owen in the face. Owen fought back this time. The two best friends fought outside of the restaurant. The next thing they knew, the police pulled up and broke up the fight.
The next morning, Whitney rolled over and woke up to her cell phone ringing.
“Good morning, darling.”
Whitney rolled over and looked at the empty space in her bed. She realized at that point, Isaias shouldn’t have been calling her. “Honey where are you?”
“I’m in jail.”
Whitney sat up. “Jail? What happened?”
“I will explain everything to you when you get here. Please just bring the checkbook. I need to get out of here.”
“All right. Where’s Owen? Is he with you?”
Isaias nodded on the other end of the phone. “Yup.”
“Should I tell Desiree?”
“Sure, why not. I doubt that she will care, but okay. Honey, please hurry up. I’m suffering.”
An hour later Whitney and Desiree showed up at the police station. Dressed to the nines, they stepped to the front desk. The officer on duty turned to face them.
“May I help you?”
“Yes. My name is Whitney Reynolds. I’m here to bail out my husband, Isaias Reynolds.
“Certainly. Just fill out this paperwork, and I’ll have him brought down.”
After he handed Whitney the necessary paperwork he instantly recognized Desiree. “Aren’t you Desiree Thomas?”
“Yes and how did you know?”
“I’m a fan of your husband. I was at the show last night. Your husband is brilliant. I’m a little disappointed to come in to work this morning to find him in lock up.”
In no mood for fan accolades, Desiree only had one request. “Can I see him?”
“Sure. Officer Phillips will take you to him.”
Feeling Desiree’s anger from the night before, Whitney had some idea what Desiree was about to do. “You’re gonna leave him in here?”
Regardless to what her friends may have thought, she had her own agenda. “Maybe.” Desiree left the front desk and followed the policeman to Owen’s cell.
No sooner than she showed up in the inmate area, the catcalls began. Owen ignored it. He was too upset to wonder what the entire population of the county jail was looking at. He sat on a bench with his head hung low. Desiree stood at the bars looking at him, thinking about how much she loved him, and never for one second wanted to let him go. However, he broke his promise. That, she wondered if she could ever forgive.
Head still on the floor, he though he imagined it. Desiree’s voice was so clear in his mind. He looked up, and there she stood. He could hardly believe it.
Owen moved quickly to the bars of his cell. “Oh, Desi baby thank goodness. Get me outta here.”
Desiree backed away, not wanting him to touch her. Her precious Owen, who was pure to her once, was now soiled. “I want to know everything,” she said coldly.
Desperate to leave, Owen replied, “We can talk about it after you get me out.”
Desiree shook her head. “No. I want to hear all about it right now. If what you say is acceptable, and the truth, then I’ll get you out.”
Not wanting to air his personal business to strangers, Owen hesitated. Desiree felt it.
“That’s right, Owen. If you want out, you will have to spill it. I want to know every last dirty detail. If I don’t hear everything, I’ll leave you here.”
Hesitating only for a minute, his voice was quiet and he told Desiree everything about his affair with Lillian. As she listened, Desiree had no intentions on getting him out. She just wanted to know what happened.
When Owen was finished, she turned to walk away. “Thank you, Owen.”
Desiree took a few steps when Owen’s words stopped her in her tracks. “Baby I thought you were gonna get me out.”
She looked over her shoulder at her husband. “Nope. I’ll leave that to your mother.”
Desperate for freedom, Owen replied, “You called my mother?”
“No one else is gonna get your ass out of jail.”
“When is she coming?”
“She didn’t say.”
Owen begged with all he had in him. “Desiree, please don’t leave me here. Baby please, get me out.”
Ignoring his plea, she poured more salt on his open wound. “I’m moving out of the house.”
Owen panicked. “Oh God, Desi, please don’t leave me. I promise I’ll make it up to you. Just don’t leave me, and don’t leave me here.”
Desiree turned her back on Owen. “You leave me no choice. Goodbye, Owen.”
Watching her walk away from him he quietly said, “I love you, Desiree.”
Again, she stopped in her tracks, but she didn’t turn to look at him. Disgusted with his actions, she was firm with her decision, and walked away.
Owen locked in his cell whispered her name. “Desi.”
Though he offered his heart to her, begging for her to take it, she ignored him. She transcended the stairs with tears of regret in her eyes.
Whitney saw her best friend enter the small stuffy room.
“So?” Whitney asked.
“I’m leaving him.”
“Oh Desiree, I’m so sorry.”
Wiping her tears away, “Don’t be. I’ll be fine. I’m going back to California today. I’ll wait until the two of you get back to the hotel before I leave.”
“You’re really just gonna leave him in here?”
“Since he decided he was going to be like the rest of his family, they can have him. Nadia is going to come out here and get him out.”
“You called his mother?”
“Why is everyone so surprised that I did that? Yes, I did. After all, he is her son. I’ll see you back at the hotel.
Desiree went back to the hotel, and packed her bags crying the whole time. She finished her packing and waited for Whitney and Isaias to come back. After a while, she heard a quiet knock on her door.
“Who is it?”
“It’s me Desi,” Isaias said from the other side of the door.
Desiree opened the door.
Isaias walked in and gave her a hug. “I’m sorry, Desi. You gonna be okay?”
“Whitney told me that you’re gonna leave him. Where are you going to live?”
“I talked to Nadia, and she said I could stay with her for a while.”
Isaias nodded. There was a momentary awkward silence between them.
“So what happened? How did the two of you end up in jail?”
“You know my temper. I got pissed at him and I hit him. The next thing you know we were fighting. The cops came and broke us up, and took us to jail for disorderly conduct.”
“Oh great now you have a record because of Owen.”
“No big deal it was just a violation. We go to court and probably pay a small fine, and that’s the end of it.”
“Why do you think he cheated on me Isaias?”
“I don’t know.”
“He told me everything.”
“Yeah. It’s not pretty either.”
“He still loves you, Desi. He did tell me that.”
“Obviously not the way he used to. I refuse to be like Nadia, Isaias. I will not stay in a marriage where I know my husband is running around on me.”
“So are you going to divorce him?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“It will destroy him, Desi.”
“You’re only thinking of the band right now, Isaias. I know that.”
“No I’m not, Desi. You know Owen really loves you.”
“I know you’re not trying to talk me out of leaving him are you?”
“Hell yeah. I don’t want to see you break up. But you can do what you want. We have another show tomorrow, and afterwards we’re coming back to California. I’ll call you when we get back.”
“I hope Nadia gets here so Owen is able to play tomorrow. I’d hate to have you all cancel because Owen is in jail. Does Bernard know?”
“Not yet. But I guess I’d better call him.” Isaias hugged Desiree. “I’ll see you at home okay?”
Isaias walked out of the room, and went to shower. Afterwards he gathered the band together to discuss what their strategy was going to be.
“Okay fellas this is bad. Owen did cheat on Desiree with Lillian. So what do you suppose we do?” Isaias asked.
“Isn’t that a violation of our contract?” Smoke asked.
Jeff turned to Smoke. “So what you’re saying is that you want to fire her.”
Smoke nodded. “Yeah.”
Isaias shook his head. “Unfortunately it’s not.”
“Well what do we do if we can’t fire her?” Kenny asked.
“Let’s talk to her first. Then decide,” Alex said.
Isaias nodded. “Good idea.”
Isaias picked up his cell phone, and dialed Lillian’s number. Minutes later, Lillian knocked on the room door.
“What’s up fellas?” Lillian asked, smiling.
“Have a seat, Lillian,” Isaias said seriously. “We need to talk about our future.”
The smile left her face and she sat down on the edge of the bed. “Okay.”
“We’re a little concerned about what is going on between you and Owen,” Smoke said glaring at her.
“I won’t let it get in the way of what I’m supposed to do.”
Isaias couldn’t believe it. He shook his head. “That is not the answer I wanted to hear.”
“Well what do you want me to say?” Lillian asked.
Isaias paced the room. “I would like you to apologize to Desiree, and end this nonsense between you an Owen right now.”
“And if I don’t?”
“I don’t know. Smoke, what do you think we should do if she doesn’t do what I ask?”
“Break up the band.”
“You would be in breach of contract if you did that,” Lillian said confident that they wouldn’t actually do it.
“Between Owen and me we can pay the label for all future revenues without even breaking a sweat. But what about you?”
Lillian’s mouth fell open. “You’d leave me hanging like that?”
“Oh yeah,” Isaias nodded. “Then we would get back together, find a new label, hire one of your backup singers as our lead vocalist, and go on our merry way.”
“That’s not fair, Isaias. You can’t tell me who I can and can’t be with.”
“Oh in this case, I can. This isn’t business where I’m concerned, Lillian. It’s very personal. Desiree and Owen are my best friends. Now because of you, neither one of them are going to be happy. So I still say apologize to Desi, and stay away from Owen. If not, well I guess you’re going to have to figure out a way to come up with at least a million dollars.”
“All right, All right. I’ll do it.”
“Good girl. From now on when we rehearse neither you nor Owen will be left alone together.”
“For how long?”
Again, Isaias was dumbfounded. Lillian really was in love with Owen. “For as long as it takes him to get back on track. Hey, we’re good, but without him totally focused, we will sound like shit. And when we sound like shit, Owen blames everyone for screwing up the music that he wrote. I don’t want to go through that. It’s not good for a band to have their front man in turmoil. He doesn’t love you, Lillian. Though you may love him, he loves Desiree. Believe me.”
“Guys, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for this to get out of hand.”
Kenny smirked. “Well you never should have slept with him in the first place.”
Four hours later, Owen was sitting in his cell waiting for someone to get him out of jail. He would have preferred his wife bail him out, but his mother was supposedly on the way. She was going to scold him for being so stupid and reckless. She was going to scold him for being exactly like his father. Owen didn’t want to be like his father. He was supposed to be different. But he allowed a sexy vixen to poison his mind and take over his thoughts. How was he going to get Desiree back after all of this? As he was sitting there, his cell door opened.
“Mr. Thomas you’re free to go,” The officer said.
“Oh thank God. Did my mother pay my bail?
“Well who bailed me out?”
Owen knew he was going to get an earful from Richard. He sighed and went to sign his paperwork.
When he got to the small stuffy room, his father was standing there extremely upset. He couldn’t believe what his usually in control youngest son, had done.
“What are you doing here?”
“Your mother called me. I told her I would come and get you out.”
“Why couldn’t she come?”
“Two reasons. I’m on my way to France, and I had to stop here anyway. Secondly, she had to be home for Desiree when she got there didn’t she?”
Owen was surprised. “Desiree left?”
“Wow,” Owen said, hanging his head in disbelief. “Well, thank you for bailing me out father.
“I’m not finished with you yet. Come on lets get something to eat.”
“Don’t you have to get to France?”
“You already know that Stephanie and James can handle things for one day. I have to get you straight. Come on.”
Richard took his son to a nearby steakhouse, ordered two steaks with two sides. Richard was so angry with his son he didn’t even let him order his own food.
“I don’t like green beans, you know that.” Owen said.
“Don’t eat them,” Richard replied.
They sat in silence until their food arrived. Richard poured some steak sauce on the side of his plate, and cut into the ten ounce T-bone. He dipped his steak in the sauce and put it in his mouth.
“Mmm. This is good.”
Owen chewed his steak and nodded in agreement. In the time it took their food to come, Richard had calmed down enough to talk to Owen.
“So what was it?” He asked.
Confused by his father’s question, Owen replied, “What was what?”
“How did she get to you? Was it her smile, was it her walk, what?”
Now on the same page, Owen answered. “Oh Lillian. Honestly, it was her voice. Not the way she talks, but how she sings. Every time she opens her mouth and sings something that I wrote, I get all warm inside.”
Richard put some beans in his mouth. “I know what you mean. For me it was Grace’s laugh. It’s quite infectious, her laugh.”
Owen nodded and tasted his potatoes.
“So what are you going to do now?” Richard asked.
“Get Desiree back.”
Richard having been through this before tilted his head to the side. “So you’re just gonna go say you’re sorry, and that’s it.”
“That’s what I was gonna start with, yeah.”
Richard waved his fork around in the air. “If Desiree is anything like your mother, it’s gonna take more than that. That is if you really do want her back.”
Owen was shocked his father would say something like that. “I love her, father. I have to get her back.”
Richard cut another piece of steak. “And your feelings for Lillian?”
Owen thought about it, and he couldn’t figure it out. “I don’t know.”
“Well you had better figure it out. Because if you have any real feelings at all for Lillian, you and Desiree will never get back together.”
“Why are you telling me this? Are you trying to sabotage my relationship with my wife?”
Richard shook his head. “I’m not. I’m giving it to you straight.
“Certainly sounds that way to me.”
“This is how things will go if you don’t know how you feel about your mistress. You will go back home to Desiree, and try to live life the way you did before Lillian. The late night creeping will start, and all the while Desiree is happy you’re home. Then you will start to travel without Desiree. But she doesn’t mind, you’re an executive at a huge winery, and you are a well-known musician. She’ll understand if she can’t go with you everywhere. So she is still happy at this point.
“The next thing you know, you won’t come home for days at a time. Then, Desiree will start to get angry and suspicious all over again. After that, you will be tired of trying to hide your other woman, and choose not to do so anymore. By this time, you have three kids, and it will be too late. You’re in a marriage that you can’t get out of because you want to do what’s right for your children. I know what I’m talking about son.”
“You felt trapped?”
“Of course I did.”
“So why didn’t you just let mother go?”
“Because if I did, it would’ve hurt you.”
“You didn’t care.”
“Oh but I did. I had appearances to keep up. My image was more important to me than my own family. I was happy when you graduated. Then I could finally set your mother free to do as she pleased, and I could be free to marry Grace. So you see it’s a vicious cycle you’ve started.
“If you have any real feelings for Lillian at all, just let Desiree go. Don’t put her through the same pain I put your mother.”
Owen sat for a moment and thought about how many times, he saw his mother crying. He didn’t want Desiree to cry for something he did to her. He really did love her, and never wanted to hurt her for any reason.
“I’m glad you do.” Richard put some potatoes in his mouth. “Mmm these are very good as well.”
Owen sat with his head hung, playing with food like a child.
Richard swallowed his potatoes, and continued. “Now as far as you and Isaias fighting in public like gutter trash. That is unacceptable.”
“I don’t care what anyone thinks. Isaias is my best friend. We’re entitled to fight every now and then.”
“You don’t get it do you? Isaias is president of one of the largest steel conglomerates in the world. You are the president of operations at Red Rouge. Not to mention the both of you are a part of an extremely successful jazz band. It’s bad press Owen, plain and simple. I’m sure your manager is going to tell you the same thing. And if the press finds out what the two of you were fighting about? Well it will only get worse.”
“So what do I do?”
“You’re a grown man now with a lot of responsibility. I can’t tell you what to do. All I can say is do what’s right by everyone including you.”
“I will. Thank you, father.”
After the two of them finished eating, Richard dropped Owen off at the hotel. Owen was in for a surprise. He went to his room and almost made it to the shower, when there was a knock on the door. He opened it up, and there stood everyone led by Bernard.
Red in the face angry, Bernard said, “We all would like a word with you, Owen.”
Owen stood back and allowed everyone to come in.
“I’m not here to talk about your personal life, I’m here as your manager. And this goes for all of you. You will not make me or your label look bad. Do you hear me? So there will be no more public brawls, or anything that is going to put you in a bad light.
“I work my ass off for you, and I want to continue to do so. If by chance something like this happens again, find a new manager, because I will not stand for it. Now hurry up and get your affairs in order, all of you. Rehearsal at Birdland starts in two hours. I expect all of you there and ready to work. Got that?”
“Yes sir.” Everyone replied.
Bernard walked out of the door. Everyone was silent waiting on Owen to say something.
Owen plopped down on the end of his bed. “I’d like to apologize to everyone. Especially Isaias. I don’t know what came over me last night.”
“You weren’t yourself man,” Kenny said.
Owen shook his head. “No, I wasn’t. I haven’t been myself since I heard Lillian sing.”
Confused, Smoke asked, “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Her voice. Her beautiful voice. For some reason it moved me like nothing else ever has. I know you all feel something when she sings.”
“True enough,” Isaias started. “But we aren’t here to talk about Lillian singing. We are here to set you both straight. We had a talk with Lillian, and she agreed to apologize to Desiree, and to stay away from you for good.”
Thinking for a second, that he really might be in love with Lillian, Owen asked, “Really? Is that what you want Lillian?”
Lillian nodded. “I want to continue to sing. I will do what’s necessary.”
Maybe she didn’t love him. “All right.”
“The two of you are not to be trusted alone together. I don’t care how bad she may sound, no more late night rehearsals. If the two of you can’t stay away from each other, then we break up the band.”
Owen looked at Isaias sharply. “You can’t do that.”
“Watch me. This isn’t for us individually, Owen, it’s for Therapy. We love what we do, and will continue without either one of you if necessary.”
Owen closed his eyes and sighed. “All right, All right. I get it.” The next thing that came to mind was his wife. “Has anyone heard from Desi? I want to talk to her.”
Isaias shook his head. “I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m pretty sure she hates you right now.”
“Yeah. I fucked up…again.”
Lillian stood there watching the man she loved devastated about another woman. Lillian thought about what a fool she’d been. Kenny was right. She never should have let him into her bed.
“Well, I suppose we should all get ready to rehearse,” Owen said. “I need a shower.”
Everyone left his room and allowed Owen the time he needed. Two hours later, they walked into the club, and an unexpected surprise was waiting for them. Scott had shown up to listen to them before the show.
“Hello everyone,” Scott said with his hands crossed in front of him. “I’m sure Bernard has already talked to you about what happened. I’m here speaking for the label, and I agree with him one hundred percent. Now with that said, let’s hear the first set. I don’t want you to stop. Do it as if there were an audience here right now. Go on. Get to work. Let’s hear it.”
They played the first set, and Scott wasn’t very impressed.
“Okay, what’s really going on? You all sound like shit.”
“There is a little personal issue going on,” Bernard said.
Scott tilted his head to one side. “Really? Owen what’s going on?”
“Desiree left me.”
“Okay, and Lillian what’s your problem?”
“I broke up with my boyfriend.”
“And the rest of you?” No one said a word. “Okay, we’re professionals here people. There is no time to let personal problems and fatigue get the best of you. So take a break, get some water. Jog around the block I don’t care. In twenty minutes, I want to hear the second set, and I want to hear the band and the vocalists that I signed, or we cancel the show.”
Twenty minutes later, not everyone was back. Kenny was on the phone. Scott saw everyone coming back in. He was ready to get the rehearsal over with.
“Okay let’s go.” Scott sat down and noticed Kenny missing. “Where’s Kenny?”
“I think he’s on the phone,” Owen said.
Scott rolled his eyes. “Bernard, do you mind?”
Bernard got up and left the room to look for Kenny. Minutes later, both of them appeared in the ballroom.
“Sorry Scott,” Kenny said.
“I thought I said twenty minutes. If you’re late again, you’re fired. Now let’s go. I want to hear Therapy, and not a band trying to sound like Therapy.
They played the second set. It was better than the first, but Scott still wasn’t very happy.
Scott smirked. “Better, but still not the band I signed. I want you all to get your shit in check before the show. I will be here, and I want to be proud that I have a good ear. See you tomorrow night. Bernard can I see you outside for a minute?”
Bernard got up and followed Scott outside of the club. Scott lit a cigarette, and folded one of his arms in front of him.
“So why did Desiree leave Owen?”
“Turns out that Lillian and Owen have been sleeping together.”
“Oh, shit. This can’t happen now. We only have a few months to go before we sign Lillian as a solo act. Please do what you can to keep them focused.”
“So is that what the fight was about?”
“Yeah. Apparently, Isaias saw this coming a long time ago. Owen punched Lillian’s date in the face, and then slapped her.”
“He hit her?”
Scott threw his cigarette in the street and went back into the ballroom.
“Can I have everyone’s attention please?” Scott yelled over the music, and everyone stopped playing. “I only have one more thing to say before I let you get back to work. Under no circumstances will any man in this band ever hit a woman. I don’t care if it’s your own wife. I don’t like men that bully women, and I won’t stand for it. You fellas understand that?”
“Yes sir,” they said in unison.
“All right get back to work. Please do a great show tomorrow. If you think I was a dick today, screw up the show, and I’ll show you a true asshole.”
Scott walked out of the door, and everyone was in shock.
Bernard apologized. “Sorry I couldn’t warn you that he was going to be here. He showed up like five minutes before you got here.”
Owen also apologized. “Bernard, I’m sorry man, this is my fault.”
“Hey, don’t worry about it. Just do a perfect show. Come on, let’s concentrate, go through the whole show again, and then I will let you go home. That means go back to the hotel, get some sleep. No alcohol at all. I want you all rested. Okay fellas let’s hear it.”
They played the show in its entirety. Bernard was pleased.
“Good job. Not perfect but good. Get out of here, and rest. The show starts at eight, I want you all here by six. Sober, happy, and loving each other. Goodnight everyone.”
The following night right before the show, Smoke felt the need to talk to his band mates.
“Good luck everyone. This could be our last performance for Columbia records. I don’t want that to happen. So let’s go out there and rock the hell outta this. Let’s just forget that we are hurting. Owen man you have the stage presence of a giant. I want to see that tonight. Lead us as you have in the past, and we will follow.”
Smoke shook his head. “No try. Do it. Because if you don’t, we’re done as major artists.”
It had taken him so long to get a record deal; Owen didn’t want to let it go. Though his heart felt like it was in two pieces. He was determined not to lose his dream.
“Okay. Let’s do it then.”
Smoke smiled, and slapped his long time friend on the shoulder.
At eight on the nose, Lillian stepped out on stage to a very loud applause. She, also hurting, grinned at the audience, and introduced herself.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Lillian Baker.” The crowd applauded, and she smiled and bowed her head. “Thank you. Tonight, I have the most distinct honor to introduce my band mates. First, let’s start with my girls. I call them the divas four.” Lillian looked offstage, and called each by name. As she did, they appeared on stage. “Dana Burnett, Sharon Roy, Shelly Fleming, and Kendra Miller. They are spectacular vocalists, and I’m proud to work with them. Now on to the stars of the show.
The applause was quiet at first. “On trombone is Jeffrey Rhone. We know and love him as Jeff.” Jeff stepped on stage and bowed to the audience. Lillian continued. “Trumpeter spectaculaire, that’s French you know, Kenneth Seaholm. Kenny waved to the crowd, and Lillian moved on. “Alexander Davis our sax man from hell. I always said if the devil played the sax, he would look like Alex. He is on fire ladies and gentlemen.” The crowd continued to applaud as Alex stepped on stage. “Now for our rhythm section. I know you are all familiar with Charlie Mingus. Well unfortunately, he’s not here tonight, but we have someone who is just as good. Ethan Doyle ladies and gents.” Smoke stepped on stage and waved. “Oh by the way, we all know him as Smoke, and you will see why. On drums, we have, in my opinion, the best in the business, Isaias Reynolds.” In anticipation of Owen coming to the stage, the audience began to clap louder. “Last but not least, our leader, front man, and extreme genius behind it all. Ladies and gentlemen, Owen Thomas.”
The audience was on their feet. Owen stepped out on stage, waved and took a bow. He sat down at his piano, and the crowd was still going crazy. Owen waved again and acknowledged his audience.
Over the years, he knew they would not quiet down until he started to play. So, that is just what he did.
When they were almost silent, Owen turned to them spoke into the mic. “Hello New York!” The crowd hollered, and Owen continued. “As Lillian so delicately put it, my name is Owen Thomas, and we are here to play for you. Obviously, that’s what you paid your good money for, so we are going to give you a show tonight.
“Contemporary is new to us, but I think with the addition of Lillian, we do a pretty good job. What do you think?” The audience applauded loudly, and Owen continued. “Good. I’m glad you like it. First, tonight we are going to give Alex his props. This boy wrote a killer. For the longest time, we thought we’d never get him to compose anything, but he has come up with a really good song. So sit back relax and enjoy. Ladies and gentlemen, we are Therapy.”
Alex played the song he wrote, and Owen continued with the show. “Damn that was hot! Did you want to take off your clothes and get nasty?”
“Yeah,” the audience replied loudly.
“So did I, but no one wants to see a naked, pasty white boy playing the piano right?”
“No!” The audience said in unison.
“Me neither.” Owen played whimsically, allowing the audience to laugh. When they were quiet, he continued. “You know, Lillian never likes to toot her own horn. She always leaves that up to me. So I will toot her horn loudly. I know you all are familiar with Sarah Vaughn, right?”
“I thought you might be. Lillian Baker is huge. Isaias once said that she reminded him of Sarah Vaughn. Let’s see if you agree. Ladies and gentlemen, our featured vocalist, most diva of all divas, Lillian Baker.”
When the song was over, there was a standing ovation. Owen was pleased. Therapy continued to play for another thirty minutes. They finally reached the last song of the first set, and everyone was ready to take a break.
“Wow, I have to say that I love every one of you tonight. We have one more song, and then its break time. One day Kenny came to me and said, “Hey man, when do I get my shot?” I was confused. I looked at him and asked, “A shot of what? Gin or cognac?”
The audience again laughed. Chuckling a bit, he moved on. “What he meant was he had written an absolutely beautiful song. I said, “Let me hear it.” I liked it, and I think you will too. The baddest boy on the trumpet ladies and gentlemen. Kenny Seaholm.”
They played the last song of the set, and so far so good. Scott came to their table to give them all praise.
“Now this is the band that I signed. You are setting the house on fire tonight. Don’t blow it.”
Scott walked away, and didn’t give one of them a chance to respond. When it was time for the band to hit the stage again, Isaias spoke.
“Hey New York.” The audience applauded. “You know for being a man behind the scenes, I hardly say a word, but tonight I have that chance. First, let’s give it up for the divas five. Lillian being the head diva you understand. We are going to give you a little of our beginning. The second set consists of our roots. That means Lillian and her girls will be sitting out for a minute. The second set consists of our interpretation of some of the great bop masters. For the next thirty minutes, you will hear familiar tunes. None of which we wrote. This is our take on other greats. Think of this set as something comfortable. Our first tune is the song that made Ramsey Lewis famous. It’s called, The in Crowd. We are Therapy.”
The band played their second set up until the last song. Owen introduced it.
“We are working on a Christmas album folks. Obviously, it won’t be out until that time, but I just have to give you a taste of what’s to come. Lillian, do you mind?”
“Not at all.”
“All right then. I had a crazy idea for a jazz rendition of something most of you are familiar with. This is truly hot. We have a special appearance by rhythm guitarist, Ray Washington. Boys and Girls, Lillian Baker.”
The bass line started, and Lillian sang her heart out. By the time the song was over, the audience was on their feet.
“Thank you. Thank you very much. Lillian Baker and Ray Washington, ladies and gentleman!” The audience stood and clapped again. Owen began playing a little piece to signal the end of the show.
“I really appreciate you all coming out to listen to us play for you. I would like to think of our music as the treatment of physical, mental, or behavioral problems that is meant to cure or rehabilitate someone. Ladies and gentleman, we are Therapy.”
They all took a bow and left the stage. The audience cheered for another minute. They went out, took another bow, and left again. The crowd wouldn’t stop clapping. They were screaming encore. Owen went out on stage alone.
Owen waved at the crowd and sat down at the piano once again. “All right, All right. The rest of the band is tired. So if you want more, I have one more in me. I thought that I would give you something that I wrote a long time ago.” Owen started to play the song he wrote for Desiree, and remembered that even though he had a good time, the show meant nothing without her there. “My beautiful wife Desiree is not here with me tonight, and I have given her props from the moment I realized that I love her. I wrote an R & B tune just for her.”
The audience was quiet and they hung on to his every word. “I would like to say that I miss her, and it is going to be a little weird playing this without her here. I really shouldn’t do this, but I guess love compels me too. I just feel like telling her once again that I love her very much. Don’t be surprised, because I’m also going to sing. This song is for my Desi. I love and miss you baby.”
Owen played solo, and the audience loved it. Lillian stood backstage and listened to Owen sing. Wishing just once he would do something like that for her. Hearing the love and devotion for Desiree in his voice, Lillian finally gave up. She was no match for Desiree. Owen obviously didn’t love her, so when the song was finished, she resolved to give him up.
Scott, on the other hand was extremely impressed. When the song was finished, Owen received another standing ovation, and this time, he left the stage for good.
A few minutes later, Scott came back stage to congratulate them.
“All right! All right! All right! That is what I’m talking about! I’m so glad that I didn’t have to come back here and be an ass tonight. You were all fantastic. Owen, Desiree’s song was beautiful. Can we record that?”
Owen shook his head. “No. I want to sing that whenever I want. I can’t take the chance that the label will own it and not be able to perform it.”
“You have done your homework. I’m proud of you. Okay fellas and ladies, we have two months before we finish the Christmas album. So you have some time to do what it is that you do. Bernard may book some things for you, and obviously, you have to do them. But as far as tonight goes, you were awesome. Take some time off, get your personal affairs in order, and let’s move on. I love you guys. See you in a month.”
Scott disappeared out of their lives for a while, and they were all happy about that.
Bernard stood backstage with his clients and smiled when Scott left the room. He was happy that Scott was happy. This meant he would get to keep an extremely talented band as his clients.
The room was quiet for a minute. During the show, Owen had resolved his own issues, and decided that his wife and career meant more to him than some fling. He didn’t love Lillian. She was a singer in his band and nothing more. There was nothing that she could possibly give him that was worth risking his marriage over. At that moment, he let her go.
Owen sighed, happy that he could please Scott. “I’m glad that went well.”
“So am I,” Bernard said. Now, I’m afraid I can’t party with you tonight. I have a date myself tonight a cute little honey that was at the show. I’m outta here. I’ll see you all back in Cali.”
“Bernard, wait,” Owen said. “When is our next show?”
“Oh, two weeks. I’ve booked you in Houston. See you at home.”
Happy that he still had a client, Bernard waved and left the room. Owen closed his eyes and thought about the next task in front of him.
“Again, I want to apologize for the shit that has gone on while we were here. I need some rest.”
Knowing Owen better than anyone, Isaias asked, “Next task?”
“Desiree. You already know that.”
Owen tapped his friend on the shoulder twice and led the entire band back to the hotel.