Axton Hamilton and Drywall International could not match Saturn’s deal. Bitter Wynter became the newest signees of Saturn Records. They were to begin work on their debut release immediately. When David Cochran heard the news, he decided to throw the band a party in their honor. The girls, of course, could not believe that their dreams were finally coming true.
One evening, not long after the signing, Perion went to Heavy Metal Thunder with the girls to rehearse. During a break, Perion left her band and made her way backstage. Once inside the band’s dressing room, she locked herself in and dug around in her jeans pocket for some loose change. She walked over to the pay phone, picked up the receiver, and plugged some coins into the slot. She dialed Lein’s home phone number and listened to the burring rings.
“Hello,” a sultry female voice answered.
Perion’s heart thumped in her chest. It was the voice of the girl Lein had been with at the record company meetings. She nearly hung up, but didn’t. She needed to talk to Lein. “Um, yeah, can I speak to Lein?”
“I think he’s in the shower, but I’ll see. May I ask who’s calling?”
IN THE SHOWER, she screamed to herself. What were they doing! Jealous rage licked at her soul like a well-stoked fire. “Thorn,” she spat out, “Perion Thorn.” You know, like Bond, James Bond, she thought crazily.
Estella clanked the phone down in her ear. Her voice, as sultry as ever, told Lein he had a phone call from ‘that girl singer.’
She heard Lein pick up the phone. She heard a couple of muffled voices before Lein’s voice came on the line. “I thought you didn’t want to hear from me again. I think I’ve kept up my end of the bargain.”
Why were you just in the shower, she wanted to ask, did you just finish fucking Estella, then decide to wash her off you? She shook it off and spat, “Lein, stop it. I don’t want you to put Ronnie in charge.”
“He knows the business as well as I do, Perion, but if you want to find your own person, be my guest.”
“No, Lein, you don’t understand. I don’t want you to step down at all. I want you to stay.”
“Oh, and why is that,” he asked, and managed to sound thoroughly amused and sarcastic at the same time.
“I don’t know why. I can’t really pinpoint a specific reason. Maybe it’s because I want you to see us through our first year. I don’t know, Lein, I just don’t know,” she spat out.
“The hell you don’t, Perion. Why don’t you be honest with yourself for once? Why don’t you tell me why you really want me around? And until you can, I don’t see a need for us to be talking. Goodbye, Perion.” He hung up in her ear.
Perion slammed the phone down and covered her face with her hands. Why had she married Blaine? Why hadn’t she listened to her friends and to Lein? Why, why, why, so many fucking whys. They literally tore her apart. She knew why she had married Blaine. She was afraid of the emotions that had taken her over since meeting Lein, and the ones that would rule her if she ever became involved with him. He was, after all, a heavily sought after man. If he tired of her, he would simply pack his overnight bag and move on. But you don’t know that for sure, do you, her conscious asked her. No, she didn’t know that at all. However, it was enough to keep her from Lein and with Blaine, whom she felt would be the safest. She’d had crazy feelings for Lein lately, and if he theoretically walked out on her, or if it didn’t work out, she would be crushed.
Perion was in love with Lein, had been for a very long time. It had come to her instantaneously and was more than deadly serious. She became even more convinced of her feelings for him on the night they’d made love. Nothing had ever felt so right for her then or since. Her entire body seemed to have been designed to work only with Lein’s. Since marrying Blaine, she had never felt that sense of rightness. In fact, in a strange twisted way, she felt as if she were cheating on Lein each time Blaine touched her. On those nights since her marriage, she had prayed Blaine would discover that she had made love with Lein. She was in a marriage she would never get out of to be with the man she was meant for. Maybe her situation was the best one. After all, what had Lein really wanted from her than what had happened? She felt it was nothing more, and those thoughts made staying with Blaine seem like the right thing for her.
That night, Bitter Wynter played for another sold-out crowd. The girls were excited more than ever. Their being signed to a major label had heightened the performance to a degree like never before. No one in the audience seemed to mind. After the performance, they made their way backstage through hundreds of fans. Once inside the dressing room, they found that Lein and Ronnie had arrived. Again, Lein had brought Estella, and Perion could not take it.
Debi automatically went to Ronnie and hugged him, asking if he had heard about their deal. Of course he had, no one had been left out of that news. Perion knew why Lein had come. He would announce his departure as their manager.
“What’s going on? Why are you here, Lein,” Randi asked him.
Perion closed her eyes and nearly held her breath. Don’t say anything, please Lein, don’t, she thought to herself. She knew it would come, but decided to grin and bear it since she had no other choice. She also didn’t want to see Lein with that girl.
“Just thought I’d come down and see if that record deal made your performance lazy, since you got it in your pocket,” he joked.
“Ah, fuck you,” Randi said smiling.
Perion opened her eyes and focused them on Lein’s face. He was looking directly at her. His eyes were amused, as amused as his voice had been over the phone earlier.
“Could you excuse me for a minute,” Perion spat out to no one in particular.
Suddenly, she could no longer stand to be in the same room with Lein. She made her way to the private exit door. Once outside, she took in gasping gulps of air. What was happening to her? She felt as if she were losing her mind. For an indefinite amount of time, she leaned against the brick wall and gasped for air like an asthmatic. If I don’t stop this, I’ll hyperventilate and pass out, she thought.
The exit door opened out from the inside, and she groaned. She didn’t want to deal with Blaine, and was sure someone had summoned him to check on her. It wasn’t Blaine. It was Lein. She tried to put on an indifferent face. She didn’t want him to know any more about how she really felt than she wanted Blaine to come out and comfort her.
“Won’t your girlfriend wonder where you went,” Perion spat out bitterly.
“No more than your husband,” he spat out, mocking her on purpose. “As you noticed, I didn’t change management.”
“I don’t care,” she said, although she cared immensely.
He stood with one hand on the door, propping against it. He stared at her in deep concentration for several minutes, seemingly trying to read her. “You know,” he finally said, “when I lay in bed at night and think back, I can still smell your perfume in the room, especially all over the bed. Every night before I go to sleep, I inhale that scent and think about what I could’ve done to keep you there, in my arms for the entire night. Maybe if I had managed to keep you there, things would have turned out differently.”
“Never. I was going to marry Blaine despite anything you could have done, regardless of what happened. Sex is sex, nothing more, nothing less.”
He laughed a little. “Ah, we’re back to that old argument. Has anybody ever told you how much of an expert bullshitter you are? Apparently not, because right now, you’re really laying it on thick.” He moved away from the door and approached her. She shrank back. “You’re so damn afraid of me. I’m not going to do anything you don’t want me to.”
Standing against her, he kissed her softly. She didn’t fight him away at all. She let him kiss her and she kissed him back just as softly.
When the kiss was broken, she whispered, “Why can’t you leave me alone, Lein?”
“Because I can’t, I’m totally unable. When I’m around you, all I want to do is touch you, kiss you, and just be near you. It’s beyond any human control I have. And I think it’s like that for you, too, isn’t it?”
She sighed, and wished for a moment that she had never met him. At the same time, she thought the idea was totally absurd. “Yes, it is,” she said so softly he almost didn’t hear her.
“What do you want me to do,” he asked. “Just say it. If you want me to walk away from you right now, I will. I’ll let Ronnie take over permanently and you’ll never have to see me again. But if you don’t, I can’t guarantee I’ll keep my hands off you, whether Blaine is around or not. So tell me, Perion, what do you want me to do?”
So many thoughts and emotions whirled around in her head. What was he really asking her to do? To have an affair, or not have an affair, that was the Shakespearean question, was it not? Was he basically just asking her to cheat on her husband? What would she get out of it? True love? Respect? Or just sex? She didn’t know, nor did she give it as much serious thought as she should have.
“I think you know,” she told him, drowning in his melted almond colored eyes. “I think you’ve always known.”
“So I have.”
He leaned down and kissed her long and breathlessly. He drew away from her and held her hands in his. He stepped back and pulled her toward him.
“Where...” Perion stammered.
“I’m taking you with me,” he told her.
“I told her to go home. I couldn’t touch her, Perion. Every time I tried I could only see you,” he told her honestly.
“Let’s get out of here.”