Perion sat up on the bedside. She could feel the back of Blaine’s hand caressing her naked back. She was extremely ticklish and his feather light touch gave her goose flesh. She looked as if she were experiencing a hard chill rather than the gentle touch of a lover’s hand.
“Have you given any thought to my marriage proposal,” he asked.
“You know I’m not ready yet,” she told him. The discussion was tired. She was sick of his insistent proposals. She had refused every one, yet he continually persisted.
“Come on Perion, you have to be ready some time or another. We’ve been together a long time. Aren’t you getting tired of just shacking up? Don’t you want to get married?”
“Some day, Blaine, but not right now. I’m just not ready to get married,” she repeated.
“Is there somebody else? Is it Lein Blake? I’ll bet he’s starting to get to you, isn’t he? Are you thinking about seeing him?”
His questions came at her in a rapid fire, hitting her like bullets, rocking her. Perion pulled away from Blaine’s touch. She stood and pulled on a robe. “Don’t be ridiculous, Blaine, I’m not thinking about seeing anyone. How in the world could you even think that about me? Not once have I thought about anything close to that.” Is that true, she wondered fleetingly.
“I believe you think about it a lot, especially with the prick coming to your damned routine every fucking night,” Blaine spat out, livid.
“I can’t control what Lein does, I can’t-”
He cut her off. “You could tell him to back the fuck off, that is, unless you want him there.”
She sighed in disgust. “YOU can just go fuck off.”
Perion slammed out of their bedroom and into the one shared by the other three girls. They awoke at the noise she created. “Sorry guys,” Perion sobbed. “I need to bunk on the floor.”
“God, did you and Blaine get into another fight,” Syndi asked sleepily.
Perion wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “I just don’t want to talk about it, okay? I just want to go to sleep.” She made a makeshift bed on the floor, collapsed into it, and fell immediately into a stress-induced sleep. It wasn’t for long. Blaine banged on the door seconds after Perion fell asleep.
“Go away, you bastard, you’ve already made her cry. What else do you want to make her do,” Debi called out nastily.
“Am I talking to you? No, I don’t think so. Perion, stop acting like this, come back to bed,” he demanded.
“Go to hell you son of a bitch,” Perion screamed at him, “I’m through with you, and with California. As soon as this pissy ass week is over, I’m gonna beg my mother to take me back. I’m going home. I hate everything about this place, including you!”
“Okay, Peri, fine. I don’t give a ripe shit about what happens to you anymore. If you’re so damned ready to go home, then go. I’m tired of hearing your whining. There are other singers, better singers, ready to fucking front a band. You won’t be missed.”
They heard him stalk away into the other bedroom, slamming the door behind him. By that time, Perion had totally lost any control over herself that she might have had. She broke down into a scary crying jag. The girls did the only thing they knew how: they got down on the floor with her and soothed her.
“We’re not going to let you leave without us. He’s crazy if he thinks we’d ever replace you,” Debi said.
Perion, at that moment, did not care. All she wanted was to get her crying jag out and over.
Toward the end of the week, Lein went to Tranquility Lane to catch Bitter Wynter. To his extreme surprise and pleasure, he spotted David Cochran in the audience. He decided to stay in the back away from his view until the band finished playing. Only then would he come out of hiding and listen to Cochran’s job offer.
When Bitter Wynter came to the stage, Lein’s eyes were riveted upon Perion. She wore ripped blue jeans and some type of white top with puffy sleeves. Her body was covered well, but he still thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
As the band began to play, Lein quickly looked over in the direction of Cochran’s table. The man looked shocked, in rapture, as if he would have a stroke at any second. Lein smiled, Cochran was hooked, so hooked he’d never be free. The band was sure to play ′Thunder, no doubt.
At the end of the second song, the crowd enthusiastically screamed out their approval of the band. Among the screamers was David Cochran. Lein felt as if he were floating or high or both. He watched as Perion waved the crowd into silence.
When the roar died down, she spoke, “Okay, guys, enjoy while you can. This’ll be the last show for us,” she announced.
Lein felt the bottom of the floor dropping out from underneath him. He knew that he’d be at the center of the earth before he stopped falling. The last show, he thought, what the hell is she saying? He looked quickly at Cochran. He displayed some shock of his own. Lein had to move in and fix the situation, whatever it was.
Before the show was over, Lein pushed his way through to the backstage and waited for the band. He wanted to talk to them before Cochran could push his way back. The first person back was Perion.
“What the hell is going on,” he asked, trying his damned best not to sound as devastated as he actually felt.
“Nothing’s happening here, we’re going home.”
“That’s about to change. I have a feeling you’re going to receive an offer tonight you can’t refuse.”
She sighed. “I don’t care, I’m going home. Besides, Lein, Blaine has been using the same line of shit on me for the past two years.” Perion walked past him and into their dressing room.
The other girls followed behind by a few moments. Lein stopped Debi next. “What’s going on?”
“Basically, Lein, Perion’s tired of busting her ass for nothing. She hates doing music for the same crowds. And to tell you the truth, the rest of us are getting kinda sick of the same ol’ shit, too. She also had a big blow out with her boyfriend that didn’t help her mood any.”
“You’ve got to change your minds. I wasn’t supposed to tell you this, but David Cochran is here tonight, and I think he’s going to offer you a gig. By the look on his face earlier, it’s a definite thing.”
Debi’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “No shit? Oh man, that would be the ultimate. But I don’t know if it’ll change her mind, she’s really messed up right now.”
“If Cochran comes back here to offer you a job, I’ll talk to her, anything to change her mind. If you go home, one hell of a good band will be wasted.”
Lein and Debi waited to see if David Cochran would come backstage, and they weren’t disappointed.
He approached Lein smiling and then he looked at Debi. Recognizing her, he said, “You have one hell of a stellar band, my dear.”
Debi smiled. “Thanks, I know.”
“Think I could offer you a job?”
Debi began to laugh happily, hysterically. “I think you could.” She looked over at Lein and smiled silent thanks. “The others have got to meet you.”
Perion, Syndi, and Randi looked up as Debi, Lein, and a man they didn’t recognize entered the room. Lein and Debi stood back as the man introduced himself to the girls. Randi and Syndi revealed obvious shock in their faces. Perion looked as if she didn’t give a rip. In fact, Perion didn’t catch much of what he said until he announced he’d like to have them play at Heavy Metal Thunder. She then turned her hearing back on.
Perion temporarily forgot her fight with Blaine and her desire to go home. All she could think of was Cochran’s six words: I want to hire your band. Of course, the girls would leave the decision up to Perion. After all, she was the decision maker. If she wanted to go home, they’d follow her. If she wanted to stay, they’d stay. They’d not abandon their friend, their sister. If the band took the job offer, she would have to stay in California. She would have to keep dancing and doing some things she hated. Ultimately, she couldn’t let the band down.
“We’ll do it,” Perion said.
Three screams of joy swelled around the room as the girls expelled their happiness.
Lein approached Perion after a few moments. “I think you made a wise decision,” he told her.
“It might lead somewhere. It might not. If it doesn’t, I don’t think we can hang around here.”
“Oh, it’ll lead somewhere, I’ll make sure of that. I didn’t think you should go, you should be here, you belong here.”
She smiled sarcastically, bitterly. “No, I don’t. The others might, but not me.”
He shook his head. “Yes, you do. You’re a fantastic singer. You could do anything with that voice of yours, and you will. I’m making that promise to you, and I never go back on my word.”