Two days went by and all was going well in Whitney’s world. She had everything she could possibly want. Her man, her friends, and her brother’s acceptance of her new relationship. Bishop was ready to go back to Philadelphia.
“How about I take all of you out to dinner tonight?” Bishop asked.
Owen shook his head. “Aw man we can’t. We have a gig tonight.”
“Even better. Where are you playing?”
“Down in San Francisco. A place called Zebulon,” Isaias said.
Desiree looked at Owen. “I don’t like their food honey.”
“Well, we don’t have to eat there. We can eat on the way down.”
“Sounds like a plan then. I’d love to hear you play,” Bishop said.
“You like jazz?” Owen asked.
“It was one of my favorite things I shared with my mother.”
“Who’s your favorite?” Owen asked.
“I love it all.”
Isaias smiled and said, “You will love us as well.”
In the meantime, across town, Smoke’s telephone rang as he was taking a nap so he would be well rested for his night ahead.
“Hey Smoke what’s up?”
Smoke didn’t want to get between the fight Isaias had going with Victoria. “He’s not here. He’s over Whitney’s.”
“Oh,” Victoria said. “Do you think he’ll mind if I come down?”
“We won’t be here. We have a gig at Zebulon tonight.”
“I see. Well I want to see him. I guess I’ll call him at home.”
“You haven’t been down here in months. Why now?”
“I just wanted to come and celebrate with you all. I saw the album in the store the other day. Congratulations.”
“Thanks, but we won’t be here.”
“Okay, well I will talk to you later.”
Smoke hung up the phone, and rolled over to go back to sleep. Then he suddenly realized what was going to happen. He immediately called Isaias.
“Hey Smoke, what’s up?”
“Be on the lookout man. Vicki just called here looking for you. I told her where we were playing tonight, and I think she might show up.”
“Oh damn. This will be bad. Whitney’s brother is in town, and I just got him to like me. Guaranteed Vic will find a way to mess it up.”
“Well you had better have a plan just in case she does show up.”
“Not a problem. How is it I always end up in the middle of you and your women?”
“I don’t know man, but thanks.”
Isaias hung up the phone and went back to the living room.
“Who was it honey?” Whitney asked.
“Can I see you in the kitchen for a minute?”
“Sure,” Whitney said following Isaias to the kitchen. “What’s up?”
“Smoke talked to Vic. He seems to think she’s going to show up tonight.”
Whitney smiled. “Well, that will be nice. She hasn’t seen you play before right?”
“You’re okay with this?” Isaias asked squinting in confusion.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Whitney asked shrugging her shoulders. “She’s a friend of yours I’d like to meet her.”
“As long as you’re okay with it.”
“You look concerned. What’s really going on, Isaias?”
“I’m worried she might try something with your brother here, and mess up my thing I’ve got going with the both of you.”
Whitney smirked. “Don’t be silly, Isaias. If she shows up, she does. It’ll be fine. You’ll see.”
An hour later, everyone was preparing to leave. They decided on a restaurant in San Francisco, so there would be no rush when it was time for Isaias and Owen to get ready for the show. Everyone included Victoria. She wanted to see Isaias badly. After his visit to see her, she hasn’t been the same. She always missed him, but now she missed him even more. She packed an overnight bag, and started on her trip to San Francisco like the others.
Over dinner, they talked about various things, but Bishop was mostly curious about the relationship between Owen and Desiree.
“So how long have you two been together?” Bishop asked.
“Around a year and a half,” Desiree replied.
Isaias looked at Owen and asked, “It’s been that long?”
“You had to know even before you actually guessed Isaias. I was slipping out of the house to see someone.”
“I just figured you were sleeping with a married woman.”
“You know me better than that.”
Isaias grinned. “Exactly.”
“Hey, I like ass man, but not that much. Anyway, it just made it easier for me to get away when you met Whitney.”
“So Owen, Isaias tells me your family has money,” Bishop said.
“Money in what?”
“Ever heard of Red Rouge Wine?”
“My great grandfather started the Reynolds Vineyard about one hundred years ago. And well, here we are today.”
“So how is it?”
“How is what?”
“I have no idea.”
“I don’t drink our wine, and I have no desire to be in the wine business. My father and older brother are handling it pretty good.”
“So has Desiree met your family yet?”
Everyone at the table was waiting on Owen’s response. Especially Isaias. Owen knew the reason Desiree hadn’t met his family, but he wasn’t about to talk about it in front of her.
“We’ve been so busy with the album, I hadn’t thought about it actually.”
“Well it’s about time we all took a trip home anyway. I want my mother to meet my girl. So, what do you say Owen? Before we start school this fall, how about we take a trip up north?” Isaias asked.
“I’m not making any promises, but we’ll see what we can work out.”
They finished their meal, Bishop paid the bill, and they made their way to Zebulon. Owen and the rest of the band set up and went back stage. Isaias was very concerned about two things. Owen and Victoria. He decided he was going to discuss both with his long time friend.
“I need to talk to you about something.”
“What?” Owen asked.
“Earlier when I talked to Smoke on the phone, he told me Vic was coming down here.”
“So,” Owen said plainly.
“So? I didn’t tell you what happened when I went to see her, did I?”
“You tried to sleep with her,” Owen said with a straight face.
“Yeah, how did you know?”
“Because I know you. Why do you think you did that?”
“It felt right at the time I guess.”
“I told you that you still loved her.”
“I guess I do to a point, but that’s not what’s got me all bugged out.”
“You’re afraid she’s gonna start some shit,” Owen said, again with a straight face.
“Exactly. I don’t want any trouble man. At least not while Bishop is here.”
“Don’t panic. I’ll try to keep her off your back as much as possible.”
“Was there something else?” Owen asked.
“Yeah,” Isaias said. Then he paused for a moment before he continued. “Why hasn’t Desiree met your family yet? I mean you have been together this long. Don’t you think it’s time?”
Owen suddenly got defensive. “Nope, and you know why. My father would disinherit me in a minute.”
“I guess you have to decide what’s more important. Your money or the one you love.”
“I’m not ready to be disinherited yet. I need him to continue to pay for my education. When I graduate, he can disinherit me.”
“Your mother wouldn’t let that happen.”
“Are you kidding? My mother has no say in our house. She’s there for one reason. To entertain. My father could care less about my mother anymore.”
“Man I didn’t mean to pry,” Isaias said in an apologetic tone.
“No, it’s okay. It’s about time you knew anyway. My father has had a mistress for at least ten years. My mother hasn’t said anything or left him because she wanted the best for her children. Staying married to a wealthy man would insure her children’s future. So, as long as he shares his knowledge with my brother, and pays for my education, she’s satisfied. Not happy, just satisfied. I don’t want to ruin my mother’s dreams so I can’t take Desiree home.
“Now you know. So how about we just worry about the task at hand? Let’s promote our album, and keep Vicki off your back tonight. Then we’ll worry about my problem later.”
It was time to start the show, and everyone was ready. Three of the band members were already on stage. Owen gave Smoke a pat on the back as he went out on stage to do his traditional introduction.
“Good evening ladies and gentleman, my name is Smoke, and welcome to Zebulon…”
Owen stepped out on stage and the crowd went crazy. Bishop was surprised. Owen waved and sat down at the piano. “Thank you ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. As you know my name is Owen Thomas, and I am very happy tonight. Why? Because I have great friends. I know those of you who have heard us play before have heard me say that. And it’s true. You can’t do shit in life unless you have someone close to you to share it with. Am I right?”
“Yeah!” The crowd yelled.
Owen continued. “I know I am. Our drummer, Isaias, has a girlfriend. Her name is Whitney. Whitney’s brother is in town, and he wants to hear us play. Do you think we should go all out and let him hear what we really sound like?”
“Yeah!” The crowd yelled again.
“I thought you might. By the way, his name is Bishop. He’s single and good-looking. Bishop, stand up and let all the single women see you.”
“Just play man!” Bishop yelled from his seat.
Owen looked around the room. “Ladies, do you wanna see him?”
“Yeah!” The women in the room screamed.
“I thought you might. Come on Bishop, stand up.”
Whitney looked at her brother and said, “If you don’t stand up, he’ll call you out again.”
Bishop sighed, and stood up. The women in the crowd whooped, cheered and hollered.
“So ladies, what do you think? Is he doable?”
“Yeah!” The women in the room answered loudly.
“I thought you would like him. Now I have one other thing to say, and we will get on with the music. I’m in love with a beautiful woman. Her name is Desiree. It took me a while to express my feelings for her in public and now I tell her how much I love her whenever she’s in the house. This way she knows I’m for real. Desi, stand up baby.”
The men in the crowd whooped and whistled.
“Now fellas, I know she’s hot, but she’s mine. So there will be no touchy-feely on Desiree, okay?”
The male half of the audience was disappointed. “Aww.”
Owen smiled and continued. “Well I think I’ve talked enough. I hope you enjoy our sound. Just sit back and relax. 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.”
Victoria waited until Owen gave the count, and she stood in the back of the room listening to them play. She watched Isaias intently. He looked good in his element. Secretly she still loved him, but she had to stick to her plan. If her son was to be an heir to a fortune, she had to do what was necessary. She would do whatever it took to shake things up. She waited until the set was over to make her first move.
“Well, it’s break time. Eat a little, drink a lot, and enjoy. We’ll be back in fifteen,” Owen said as he stood and waved to the crowd. They cheered as the band left the stage to take a break.
“So Bishop, what do you think so far?” Owen asked.
“Original, and extremely soothing. You have a copy of the album with you?”
“Always. I’ll buy your copy for you at the end of the night if you give me an honest opinion.”
“You got a bet.”
Victoria moved through the room and made her way to the table. Isaias didn’t see her come in, so he wasn’t as ready as he should have been.
“Hello,” Victoria said.
Owen greeted her as a fan. “Hello there miss, you here for an autograph?”
“Very funny, Owen.”
Isaias turned to see if the voice he heard really belonged to whom he thought. “Vic, what are you doing here?”
“I was in the music store the other day, and I saw the album. I just thought I would come down and congratulate you.”
Owen changed the subject. “So Vicki, how’s everyone back home?”
“Fine,” she said not really wanting to talk about home. “Neither of you have introduced me to the rest of your friends. I’m Victoria. And you are?” She asked holding her hand out for Bishop to take it.
“Bishop Matthews. I’m Whitney’s brother.”
“Nice to meet you, Bishop,” she said averting her attention Whitney’s direction. “You must be Whitney.”
Whitney smiled and shook Victoria’s hand. “I am. Nice to finally meet you, Victoria.”
“Same here. I heard you were pretty, but Isaias never mentioned you were beautiful.”
Isaias knew Victoria was about to start trouble, so he attempted to stop her. “Vic.”
She ignored him and continued. “You do know Isaias and I were childhood sweethearts.”
“Victoria,” Isaias said louder.
“Actually I did,” Whitney replied.
Isaias wasn’t going to let her do what she was intending to do. “Vic, can I see you privately for a minute?”
Owen was also aware of her intentions, so he interceded. “No, Isaias. You sit. I’ll talk.”
“I don’t wanna talk to you,” Victoria objected.
Owen stood up and grabbed her by the arm. “Now,” he said pulling her away from the table. Owen pulled her into a dark corner, and let her go.
“Just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?” he asked.
“Saving Isaias from a life he doesn’t deserve.”
“And what the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Being an outcast. You know as well as I do, he can’t be with her.”
Owen defended his friend. “Isaias is a grown man and he can do what he wants.”
“Come on Owen, you know what I mean. She’s black. Isaias is white.”
“I agree with you to a point. But don’t you think he deserves a little happiness?”
“He can only be happy if-”
“If he were with you. Right? Well he wanted that, and you didn’t. He’s moved on and you should respect his decision.”
“I made a mistake,” she said pouting.
“You were the one who chose to let him go. He would’ve been with you today if you hadn’t chosen to do something so stupid.”
“A woman reserves the right to change her mind.”
Owen sighed. “Well do us all a favor and don’t mess with his mind tonight. We’re working. He has to concentrate on music. We’re here promoting our album so don’t you dare get him off track. After the night is over, you are free to cause as much drama as you like. However, while we’re working, it is totally out of the question. Got it?”
“So as my long time good friend, I want you to sit at a different table, and just enjoy the show. Afterward, I don’t give a shit what you do.”
“I said I got it.”
“Good. See you later,” Owen said walking away leaving her to herself.
She wanted to defy him, but he was right. They were working. She did as Owen said, and waited her turn. When they were finished with the set, Owen said goodnight.
“Well ladies and gentlemen boys and girls, our time is up. I just wanted to say you have been a wonderful audience, and I hope you enjoyed our show. Our album is on sale everywhere, so go pick up a copy. Ladies and gentlemen, we are Therapy.”
The crowd gave a standing ovation, as the band left the stage. Owen sat down next to his woman.
“Oh damn I’m tired. Baby, I’m gonna stay down here tonight. I can’t drive back.” Owen said.
“I’ll stay with you if you want me to,” Desiree said.
“Yes, please do,” Owen said, turning his attention to the others sitting at his table. “What about you?”
“I think I’d better get back. I have a plane to catch in the morning,” Bishop said.
“Yeah, that’s right, I forgot. What about you, Whitney?”
“I’ll have to see what Isaias is going to do.”
Owen was ready to go to bed so he wasted no time. “Isaias!” He yelled across the emptying club.
Isaias looked up. “Yeah!”
“Come here for a minute!”
Isaias stopped what he was doing and started moving toward the table. When he got there, he immediately acknowledged Whitney.
She smiled. “You were spectacular, baby.”
“Thank you, honey,” he said grinning. “What’s up Owen?”
“Desi and I are staying down here tonight. What are you gonna do?”
“I’m not that tired. I think I’m gonna go back.”
“You want me to wait for you?” Whitney asked.
“No. You go on ahead. I’m gonna help get this equipment put in the truck and then I’ll be on my way. I’ll see you later.”
“All right, baby. Come on Bishop lets go.”
Bishop stood up. “It was nice meeting all of you. Oh and Isaias, take care of my sister. She’s all I have.”
Happy to be accepted, he smiled. “I’ll be sure to do that. I’m glad we were able to settle things.”
“Me too. Have a safe drive back.”
“Bye baby,” Isaias said kissing Whitney’s cheek.
“See you later honey.”
Bishop and Whitney walked out of the door and headed back to campus. That made Victoria happy. Now she would have Isaias all to herself. The club was emptying out fast, and she had to find a way to stay. So, she slipped into the restroom and waited another ten minutes. When she emerged, the bouncer noticed her.
“Miss, the club is closed. You’re gonna have to leave.”
Owen knowing she wanted to talk to Isaias gave her permission to stay. “It’s all right, she’s with us.”
The bouncer nodded and allowed Victoria to pass. She made her way to Owen and gave him an appreciative smile.
“What are you still doing here? I thought you left.”
“I wanna talk to Isaias.”
“He’s busy,” Owen said, still trying to save his friend some heartache.
Victoria said firmly, “You said I could see him after the show, and it’s after the show.”
“All right, all right,” Owen said, and walked away.
Isaias and the rest of the band was diligently breaking down their equipment and loading it into the truck. As Isaias walked back into the club, he noticed Victoria still there.
“What are you still doing here Vic?” Isaias asked.
“I wanted to talk to you.”
“Obviously. About what?”
Isaias shook his head. “There is no us anymore. I know it, and you know it.”
Victoria smiled a coy smile and said, “A woman has a right to change her mind.”
“Not about me. You hurt me. I loved you. I mean I really loved you. But, you only thought of yourself. Well someone else holds my heart now. We will be friends until we die Vic, but nothing more.”
Determined as she was, she grabbed him and kissed him. Isaias was immediately offended.
He pushed her away from him, and angrily asked, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Didn’t I tell you we are finished? Done! Vic, we can’t be together anymore!”
“Well why did you say the things you did when you came to see me?” she asked trying to understand where his head was.
Isaias calmed down. “I was angry, and I needed to talk. I’m sorry I kissed you. I was hurting at the time, and that was all.”
“So you used me,” she said smirking.
“We didn’t do anything Vic, come on.”
“We would have had I let you.”
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it,” Isaias said and sighed. “I do still care about you, only in a different way.”
“So we go back to being just friends then.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry.”
Victoria paused staring into Isaias’ eyes. “I thought you were a different person Isaias.”
“I had no idea you liked niggers,” she said as plain as day.
Isaias’ eyes nearly popped out of his head. “Excuse me? What did you say?”
“You heard me.”
Isaias had enough. He called for the bouncer.
“Yeah, what is it?” The bouncer asked.
“Could you escort this woman to the door please?
“Not a problem. Come on Miss.”
Owen witnessed the entire episode, and approached Isaias. “What happened?”
Isaias sat down in a nearby chair. “She pushed to far.”
Owen pulled a chair out and sat down to look his friend in the eye. “So she still wants to fuck you, and you said no.”
“Seriously Owen, I don’t understand you two. You know exactly why I said no. I love Whitney, and there isn’t shit either one of you can do about it.”
“All right, all right. I’m finished trying to get you to see the light. If you wanna love Whitney, then you love Whitney. I’m fine with it.”
“And since we are on the subject of the woman I love, what about yours? Are you taking her home next month?”
Owen scoffed. “You still on that?”
“Yeah, I’m still on that,” Isaias said nodding. “You wanna throw stones, well what about your Puerto Rican girlfriend? You love her, why don’t you rush her home to daddy?”
“We’ve already discussed it, and you know why. I’m not gonna fight with you about it so leave it alone.”
“My point exactly. Can’t we just be friends, and not worry about what each other is doing?”
“You’re right, my fault. I like Whitney. She’s sweet, and she’s good to you. I guess I should just forget the rest.”
Owen, his band mates and roadies, finished gathering the equipment, and went their separate ways. Owen had given some serious thought about Desiree meeting his parents, and he decided he would give his mother a call.