Blaine slammed into Tranquility Lane after he knew the girls were gone. It was nearly closing time and Brett was behind the bar cleaning up. Blaine leaned over the bar, grabbed a fifth of whiskey, and slid onto a barstool. He opened the bottle and took a deep swig.
Brett glanced briefly at his cousin and smiled. “I see you’re celebrating. Congratulations.”
He looked up sullenly before taking a second pull from the bottle. “What the hell are you talking about? What should I be celebrating? Should I celebrate the facts that I’ve wasted shitloads of time, my parent’s money, and my dick for a ‘stuck in a rut’ bitch?”
The smile never left Brett’s face for a second. “So, you haven’t heard.”
Blaine sighed and covered his face with his hands. He let out a yell of aggravation. He then eyed his cousin viciously. “If you don’t stop talking in stupid circles, I just might have to kick your ass, cuz. I’ll repeat real slow so you can understand. What...the...hell...are... you...talking...about?”
The other man didn’t become angry; he in fact, was quite amused. “Dude, calm down. Perion’s band is history at this bar. That Hard Axe guy was here, and I think he brought a friend, namely David Cochran. Does that name ring a bell? He put them on his club’s schedule, and Mr. Hard Axe gave me notice on their behalf. That’s funny, Blaine, I thought you were their manager.”
Blaine’s face grew white. He had completely forgotten the deal he’d struck with Lein. He suddenly felt very interested in getting back with Perion. “I got to go.”
Brett chuckled. “Yeah, I thought you would. Bring roses. They work every time.”
The girls went back to their apartment after they set up a rehearsal schedule at Heavy Metal Thunder. The first thing they noticed upon entering the living room was the sickeningly cloying scent of flowers, reminding them of a funeral parlor. None of them knew what was going on. Perion saw tons and tons of flowers. She hated almost all flowers because she was allergic to them. About the only kind she could stand were roses.
“What the hell,” Syndi mused aloud.
Perion saw a card leaning against one of the flower baskets. She picked it up and opened it. It read: I’m sorry, Peri, don’t go, Blaine. Her first instinct was to rip the card into a million pieces and force them down Blaine’s throat. But she couldn’t follow that reaction. She didn’t actually know how to react. After a moment, her nose began to tickle, and she began to sneeze.
Blaine came out of the bedroom carrying a long stemmed white rose, her favorite. He was playing her, plain and simple. She’d been with him too long to call him up on it. She realized that she did, after all, love him. Needless to say, she would make him pay for what he’d done.
“What do you say, Peri,” he asked.
“I’m not going anywhere, Blaine, but it’s not because of anything you’ve said or sent me, that’s for sure. I’m staying because of something Lein did for us. He’s gotten us a gig at Heavy Metal Thunder. We’re out of the ′Lane. Now, get out,” she told him, sneezing repeatedly throughout her speech.
“Perion, come on, I’m sorry. And I’m glad you got the gig. Brett told me all about it. I was going to apologize to you there, but you’d already left. Come on, Perion, I’m sorry,” he repeated.
She strode angrily past him and stomped into the bedroom. She slammed the door behind her. Blaine followed closely behind. The other girls waited for the storm to blow over. They sometimes wished she’d give Blaine the boot for good. None of them thought he actually loved her, they felt he used her for her talent and the money she made as a stripper. They couldn’t tell her anything about him. She never listened.
Perion lay belly down on the bed. Her sneezes came in frequent intervals. She wasn’t paying attention to her boyfriend.
Blaine laid the rose on the nightstand before he continued his act. “Peri, come on.”
“I wish you’d stop saying that,” she said, annoyed.
“Look, I don’t see why you’re torturing me so badly here. I’ve apologized a million times. Look at all the flowers. What more could I possibly say or do? Can you stop being mad at me long enough to tell me?”
“What have you done so bad,” she asked him, suddenly sitting up, “What have you done? You literally told me I didn’t matter, not to you, my band, to anything. All of this is because of your jealousy of Lein. I barely know him, yet you’ve already got me fucking him behind your back. I already have enough shit to deal with right now. I don’t need any from you.”
“For God’s sake, Perion, I can’t help being jealous. I love you and I can’t think of anyone else with you. It makes me crazy, that’s why I said what I did.”
She looked at him, crying. “Don’t you ever do that again. If you do, it’s over; this is your last chance. I will kick you out without thinking twice. Got that?”
Blaine went to her and held her. She began to cry all the harder. “I won’t baby, I promise,” he whispered to her, secretly concealing a triumphant smile. He’d won, again.