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Authors: Donna Every

What Now?

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What Now?

Donna Every

 

What Now?

Copyright © 2015 by Donna Every. All rights
reserved.

 

 

No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any way by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the
prior permission of the author except as provided by USA copyright law.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

 

Cover design © 2015 by Simone Davis of
Designers Coast. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

 

 

White smoke billowed from the floor of
the stage as if each burst was impatient to escape. As the smoke cleared,
leaving only a thin shroud, a figure began to emerge from its bowels like a
creature from the underworld. This triggered the eruption of hysterical screams
all around Shari, bombarding her eardrums. A single, but powerful, spotlight beamed
from behind the figure casting a giant shadow. The rising platform soon became
one with the stage, delivering what the audience had been waiting for. The
spotlight shifted, now shining down from above as a single beam of light in the
darkness. His head was bent as if in prayer, revealing short, dark hair; his black
jean-clad legs were spread apart, intimately cradling a black electric guitar between
them and a black T-shirt boldly proclaimed BAD in silver from between the
lapels of a black leather jacket.

A disembodied voice reverberated around
the arena, competing with the screams of the fans. “Ladies and gentlemen, Nick
Badley!"

With that, Nick Badley’s head snapped up
and he simultaneously strummed the electric guitar as lights began to explode
all over the stage like fireworks, revealing the band that had been in the dark.
If possible, the screams escalated, torturing her ears even more and now her
chest was vibrating with the music that was blasting through massive speakers.

"Niiick," shrieked the girl
next to her, grabbing her hair wildly with one hand and reaching frantically
towards the stage with the other. Shari fought against panic as she felt
herself being pushed against the edge of the stage by the surging fans. She turned
her head, glimpsing the fans closest to her, and was shocked at the raw emotion
on their faces. Claustrophobia gripped her, making her fight to free herself and
push her way frantically through the crowd. Relieved, she tumbled against the
rope which separated the hysterical women from the line of men in black with the
word “Security” printed across the T-shirts molded to their massive chests. One
of the men lifted up the rope and allowed her to slip under.

Although the arena was air-conditioned,
the heat generated by the crowd and their sheer numbers threatened to overwhelm
her. It was marginally better on this side of the rope and she was glad that
she could still see the stage from a vantage point of relative safety.  

The goose bumps that broke out over her
arms as she watched the figure on the stage surprised her. She thought that she
would have been immune to the spell that he was casting over the crowd. However,
the presence and the power that Nick Badley brought to the stage pulled her in
almost against her will.

It was a relief when he paused to put
down his guitar and, in the time that he took to remove the mike from the
stand,
s
he
shook her head to clear it and free herself from the seduction of Nick Badley’s
performance.

Trying to get back to the reason she was
there, she began to look objectively at the crowd which she noticed was made up
of mostly women. Tears poured down many of the faces that she could see and
those who weren’t crying were screaming; some were doing both. Others were
gazing at the figure on the stage in something close to worship. The outpouring
of emotion all around her was almost suffocating. She turned back to the stage to
the one who was causing it: Nick Badley.

By the time he was into his fifth or sixth
song, sweat had darkened his short hair to black. After wiping his face with a
towel, he tossed it into the crowd, causing a frenzy as women fought to grab
it. With the last strum of his guitar which he’d picked up at the beginning of
the song, the floor opened up to swallow him amidst more screams while the band
continued with a musical interlude to give him time to change.

She caught the eye of the security guy
nearest to the backstage door and made the “time out” sign to him. Relieved
when he indicated with his head that she could follow him, she was hustled
through the door that many would pay dearly to enter.

As the door closed behind her, the
muffled sounds that penetrated it made her wonder if she had gone partly deaf.
Could your eardrums burst from too much noise, or could the vibrations in your
chest do permanent damage to your heart? She wondered. If so, she would sue the
TV station. After all, she hadn't wanted this assignment in the first place.

 

 

Two weeks earlier

KZM Television Offices

 

Shari Goodwin knocked at the door of her
boss’ office and let herself in. Trying to contain her excitement, she sat in
the chair he gestured to while he wrapped up his call. She hoped he had called
her in to give her good news. Her heart was set on doing a piece on the plight
of women in developing nations and the effect of micro-financing on their lives
and families.

"Shari. Great job on that last piece
you did on at-risk kids. We’ve had a lot of feedback and people asking how they
can become mentors to them."

"Thanks, Gerry," she smiled.

"Since you did such a good job,
I've got a great assignment lined up for you. Most of the women would kill to
get this one, but I think you’re the best person for it because your head is
screwed on right.”  He paused dramatically. “We've just got the go-ahead to do
a documentary on Nick Badley!"

"Nick Badley?" She repeated
disappointedly as scenes of her flying to developing nations screeched to an
abrupt halt in her mind.
Lord, is this your idea of a joke?

"You know who Nick Badley is, don’t
you?" He asked incredulously as if he couldn't understand why she wasn’t
tearing her hair out in excitement.

"What kind of journalist would I be
if I didn't know who he is?"

She could hardly read the entertainment
section of any newspaper or magazine in the last year without seeing him
featured. He’d had two multi-platinum albums in succession with three top ten
hits from the latest album
Moving On
, not just in the US but in most of
the major cities of the world. 

Although she was a journalist herself,
she was often skeptical about the stories she read in the entertainment sections
but, if half the reports were true, he was bad news, which meant good news for
the tabloids. Maybe she was naïve, but surely the exploits that earned him the
nickname Nick Bad had to be exaggerated.

"What about the story of the women
in developing nations? I've already started researching that."

"That’s not a priority at the
moment. You should know how it goes by now, Shari: What's hot gets shot and
Nick Badley is very hot right now. We need to boost our ratings and this is a
great opportunity to do that. We've been given an exclusive and his people have
arranged for us to go on tour with him, follow him around and get into his
life. Marketing has worked hard to get this.”

Shari rolled her eyes at the thought of
following around Nick Badley like some brainless groupie. She was not even into
rock music. This was not what she had in mind when she decided to become a television
journalist. She had visions of following in the footsteps of Diane Sawyer or
Christiane Amanpour and telling serious stories about what was happening in the
world. She had thought she was on her way with the last assignment she’d been
given.

“It's a golden opportunity and I'm
giving it to you! You know how many journalists would give their eye teeth to
do his story?” He was starting to sound impatient.

“OK, OK. It’s not that I don’t
appreciate your confidence in me, but you know I’m not into the star-struck
reporting.” As he opened his mouth again, she hurriedly added, “But I’m happy
to take on the challenge to bring a deeper dimension to this documentary.”

“Good. You'll be flying out to Vegas next week to
catch up with him as he wraps up his world tour. You're one of my best
reporters, so I expect a damn good story. And try not to end up in his bed. Although
that might give you an added dimension to report on," he added, with a
calculating smile. Shari wasn't sure if he was serious or not.

"That’s not my lifestyle. The probability of me
falling into Nick Badley's or anyone’s bed is the same as east meeting west!"

He laughed. "Now don't go judging the book by the
cover. And, for goodness sake, ask questions, but keep your smart comments to
yourself and bring me back another great story."

"That is going to be a challenge. Most of these
stars think they're gods and, worst of all, most of them act like it! I'd be
wonderfully surprised if he was different, but somehow I doubt it."

 

 

Backstage of the
concert

 

Finding
a quiet spot was no easy task as backstage was crazy. Shari took out her
digital recorder to make observations about the show while they were fresh in
her mind. An eruption from the crowd signaled that Nick Badley had completed
his costume change and was now back on stage. If you could call what he wore a
costume, she thought snidely. He’d probably exchanged his T-shirt and leather
jacket for dry ones.

Although
she wasn’t into his music, she grudgingly had to admit that he had been very
thorough in preparing for the show and she couldn’t fault his performance on
stage. Before the show, she had caught sight of him going through the sound
checks and making sure that everything was working to his satisfaction, which
had surprised her. She’d associated the bad boy image with a laid-back
approach, but that was far from the truth, at least when it came to his music.
For the short time she’d watched him, he had given the audience what they had
paid a fortune to see and more.

Before
she realized it, an hour and a half had passed as she recorded thoughts and
observations on her digital recorder and transferred them to her tablet. Soon
the energy of the backstage area intensified as the concert ended and Nick
Badley and the band burst down the stairs. High fives were shared around as the
crew greeted them on the way to their dressing rooms.

Shari
packed her bag as she waited for her camera man, Brian, to appear. He showed up
minutes later, his face red with excitement and the heat.

“Wow!
That was some concert! I got some great footage. What’re we shooting next?”

“Lily
had said we could take footage of him and the band in their dressing rooms before
we go to the after party.”

Excitement
charged the air as they celebrated another successful concert. Lily Petroski,
their PR contact, appeared as they looked around, trying to figure out if they
should follow the crowd. Her jet black hair was cut in a very blunt style,
grazing her neck, and she was dressed in the standard black that seemed to be
the uniform for the night. Having met her earlier, Shari already figured out
that she was very focused on her job and she was on top of every detail associated
with promoting her clients.

“Hi,
guys,” she greeted them. “Wasn’t that amazing?”

Shari
nodded noncommittally while Brian enthused about the footage he had shot.

“Great!
You can have a few minutes to see how Nick and the band wind down after a show before
you leave for the party. It’s at an exclusive club called ZigZag. I’m giving it
a miss tonight.”

Shari
wished she could give it a miss as well, but this was part of the assignment
and where the band went she was supposed to follow. She was tired from
travelling that day so she didn’t plan to stay at the club until the crack of
dawn as they no doubt would.

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