Monday, May 31, 2010

Sessions 24 - Half Light

Fade black light, white light and stay
Stay half light
Half night and day

Hitman Studios: South Beach Crossing, Late Afternoon

It was late afternoon, scattered beams of sunlight filtered through the windows as Cooper made his way downstairs. There weren't many people left, a few staffers, a couple of studio musicians and him. Pushing open the door to the recording studio Coop picked up his Kramer wrapping his long fingers around its neck almost lovingly as he eased onto a stool. He was surrounded by mahogany and expensive rugs, sensual deep colors that Beth had chosen. Closing his eyes he breathed in the aroma of rich leather as he began to carefully pick at a particular melody with which he had been toying.

His hands slid fluidly over the strings as he played drawing himself deeper into the song until he was oblivious to everything else. Cooper played the melody over and over changing it up, slowing it down, dropping the key. However much time had passed, he was unaware. This was his element and Cooper's entire body hummed; he was the hypnotic melody that flowed through the amp and filled the room.

It would have been impossible to count the number of times over the years that he spent long evenings playing and writing music. How many dinners had he been late for, how many times over the long span of time had he lost himself here in this room. Cooper wasn't sure what caused it but he suddenly felt a prickly sensation on the back of his neck. The music stopped as he rose, gently set his guitar against the leather couch and glanced around the room. His heart hammered in his chest as he saw the reflection in the control room window, a petite woman with long black hair stood in silhouette watching. Once the moment had passed, Cooper motioned for her to join him.

Gemma entered the room and smiled at Cooper as she lowered herself onto the couch. "That was impressive! I had heard that you really got into the zone when you were creating music but I never expected it would be like that. I still have goose bumps."

Cooper leaned against the stool, folded his arms and suspiciously watched her. "How did you get into my control room Gemma? Why are you here?"

Gemma rose and walked around the room admiring the various guitars and other equipment scattered around. Her hand rested against the neck of the guitar that Coop had been playing moments ago and drew a quick breath as if she could still feel the heat of his hands or the vibration of his music still flowing through it. Without looking at him she sidestepped his question and instead answered, "I was here once, a very long time ago. I'm sure you don't remember. It was just after Julia had disappeared."

Walking forward, Gemma watched him thoughtfully, "You were wasted out of your mind and entertaining a couple of girls, equally wasted as I recall. You were a very sad man, I could see that, but I was a star-struck young girl who wanted what my cousin had and lost. I envied her luck finding a guy like you, I was never as lucky in love as Julia. And there you were grieving for her, drowning in your loss."

Cooper stepped back struggling to remain focused. He didn't want to relive those painful days and preferred to keep them buried. "That was a lifetime ago. You're out of your mind to come here and try that with me."

"I'm not trying anything Cooper! I've spent the better part of my adult life trying to make something of myself no thanks to my family. So what if I use what I have to get my foot in the door? That's all I'm doing! Give me an opportunity; take a chance on me, is that so much to ask? I don't want anything else from you and I swear you won't regret it."

"I'll ask again, how did you get in?"

Gemma waited, held her breath for the briefest of seconds, let it out and replied, "The girl at the desk let me in. I told her who I was. Look, don't fire her please? I was pretty convincing."

He hesitated, glancing past her at that leather couch. He remembered stretching out on it, his wife wrapped in his arms, her skirt hiked up, his pants unzipped, and Beth's laughter afterwards when he'd murmured a teasing complaint: he would never be able to look at the couch without seeing her there naked. "That," she had purred in contentment, "is the exactly the point." They'd grown closer, closer than they'd been in years, trying to rebuild trust, trying to keep everyone else out.   Gemma's little trip down memory lane felt like an intro to seduction, and it alarmed and infuriated him. She was not just another woman; she threatened the fragile peace he'd finally attained.

Leaning in toward her, he spoke in a low, almost menacing voice. "Understand this, Gemma. You have no claim on my attention or my business. None. You want a chance? You've got the same chance any other agent has, and so far I am not impressed. Now get out of my studio, and do not, I repeat, do not pull this kind of stunt again."

Finnigan's Pub, South Beach Crossing, Early Evening

Gemma walked purposely down the street toward the garage where she parked her car. Angry and distracted, she abruptly turned and headed toward the pub just ahead. How could she have been so foolish; she knew better than to play the seduction card. Hell she hadn't really even tried but that's exactly how she came off and now she may have blown her chance. Worst of all, Cooper, a notorious flirt, didn't even give her the time of day. Gemma always thought she was much more attractive than her cousin. She was certainly considerably more outgoing if her sordid past with men was any indication. Had Cooper buried his feelings for Julia for good? "He's moved on, cousin, truly over you. I wonder how that would make you feel?"

Pushing through the door Gemma chided herself, "Stupid girl, now what are you going to do?" She as much as guaranteed a contract to Brew, to Jimmy in particular, and he was the key to the kingdom. If she blew this he would walk and effectively flush her career down the toilet. What band would trust her after this?

Gemma ordered a drink, an expensive Merlot, and carried it with her upstairs. She had to think, find an angle that would get her back into Hitman with a signed contract before she met with Jimmy and the boys. She was so preoccupied, so lost in thought, that the man who approached her from behind caught her off guard. "Well hello there gorgeous; you look lost in thought. Did you know that would give you wrinkles frowning like that?"

Smiling, she turned slowly and faced the man behind her. Perhaps this night wouldn't be a complete bust after all.

Hitman, Late Evening

It was long after dark, hours after he'd planned to finish and leave. The last riff still running through him, through his hands, Cooper shut it down, left the studio, slammed and locked the door and strode across the parking lot toward his bike. A light flickered, spat, burned out, leaving him in the dark.

"Cooper." One word, his name, quiet, close, neither male nor female, a breath carrying his name.

He stiffened, turned hard, staring into the shadows. A couple at the far end of the sidewalk crossed the street toward the club, laughing and hanging onto each other. A car drove by and took a left at the light, red tail lights shining. There was nothing there, nothing but ordinary traffic in the city at night. Unnerved, recalling his reaction when he saw Gemma's reflection a few hours ago, so much like Jules standing there watching him and waiting for him, waiting and watching, he found it hard to breathe. Come on, he told himself.  Don't do this. You're gaslighting yourself.

"Fuck," he muttered, tired, close to exhausted, thinking he wanted to make that trip again tomorrow to see Rayne but damn it was two hours away. He needed to go home, take Beth to bed, let her help him shut it out, the memory, all of it, deal with the rest of it tomorrow.  He'd set the whole issue of Gemma aside, hadn't explained her relationship with Jules to Beth, and he wondered, again, if he should.   And decided again, that it wasn't worth it.  There was no point in worrying her about nothing.  Things were good between them now, very good, and he was determined to keep them that way.

He dug into his jeans for the keys, found them. He threw one leg over his bike, still struggling with the key, when he thought he heard it again, the quiet voice calling his name. This time he ignored it. Started the bike, revved the engine, and with one last look back into shadow, his skin crawling, turned his back and tore away, burning rubber, leaving a long black smoking track behind him.


NEXT CHAPTER: Passages 20


Muzegoddess said...

This was absolutely wonderful. The writing and the shots completely drew me in to this world (as they always do). I could feel Cooper lost in the music. I also felt his fear and residual pain thinking back to that time so long ago, that hell he was in after Julia "died" and before he met Beth. Lost and drowning. Gemma's presence is forcing him to revisit that and I would hate to see him fall into that place again. He's got to just hold onto the person who pulled him out if it. She's there and she wants to try to make it work. I have a feeling though that he might, in true Cooper fashion, try to handle this on his own.

thewynd said...

Thank you so much Muzegoddess! It is interesting how you mentioned Cooper getting lost in the music. I sort of like to think of him as finding himself there, it is so much a part of who he is.

Gemma did take him back and it is jarring and it hurts but the big thing here, the thing that Gemma realized was that it didn't work. Cooper really knows himself now, who he is and where he wants to be. I think after the debacle with Stevie he has set his priorities straight and wants to share it with Beth. I don't think he will shut her out.

Thanks again!

S.B. said...

He hasn't told her about Gemma yet though, has he? Considering who he is, I think it's probably second nature. He's not going to share every encounter; there are too many of them.

Gemma went for it and it didn't work. Some bitterness there about Julia, isn't there? She's got to find a way to make it work with Jimmy. Who will probably show up with Cooper's daughter.

Qui. said...

She played the cards in her hand and lost the game. Looking for a new avenue, I hope she doesn't try to use Rayne when Jimmy shows up with her.

Damn, just when he gets a little bit of peace, here comes Gemma, reminding him of Julia! Poor Coop!

Wonderful update!

thewynd said...

Qui she did lose - a very dangerous game she was playing. It was jarring for Coop to see the image of his dead first wife staring back at him from the control room, a familiar thing to him.

We'll see what happens with Rayne and Jimmy...


Van said...

Woah, took Gemma long enough to get the hint. She strikes me as someone whose confidence may actually turn out to be her undoing. She's so strong that she thinks she's invincible.

Her and Cooper have a fascinating dynamic, though, especially seeing as she essentially intruded on his soul there by meeting him in the studio. Okay, that was a ridiculous metaphor--maybe the eight-hour closing shift has left me slightly high on meat spices O_o

Beautiful work, as always. Definitely worth the wait :D

thewynd said...

Van I think you're right about Gemma's confidence being he undoing. She is the type that can fall into dog poo and end up smelling like a rose though so we'll see...she will have an opportunity thrown in her lap that she will use. Or try to anyway.

It was interesting playing with different scenarios in our heads about Coop and Gemma but at the end of the day, he wasn't biting.

Thanks Van! Hopefully we can start posting more regularly...if work and life stop taking such a toll.

Phoenix said...

How is Gemma jealous over a dead woman? That just makes her seem pathetic to me! *shakes head*

I like the fact that Coop told her what was what! I like that a lot. He deserves to grab a little happiness with his wife for awhile without drama...but that's Coop's world so it won't last I'm sure!

And Lord! If/when she meets Jimmy she's going to mess with his head because of how badly he wants his dream. And I wonder how Rayne will react!?

Wonderful writing! The pictures are stunning as well! I sure did miss it!:D

thewynd said...

Hey Phoenix! I'm not sure it is jealousy right now as much as it is the fact that she couldn't play the lookalike card and get what she wanted. Honestly if this had happened a few years ago, Coop may have fallen for it. He has really gotten his priorities straight and he wants to make his marriage work.

As for Jimmy, I don't think Gemma will mess with his head. She is going to use what she can to deliver her promise of a contract. And that will probably be Rayne.

Thanks! We missed it too!

~Drew said...

It seems, the past is never really that far away, no matter how much we think it may be buried. That point was punctuated here with Cooper's haunted thoughts.
Gemma is a bold piece, walking into the control room. And trying to butter him up, good for him for not taking the obvious bait.
Great update all around ladies, shots and writing glowed with a soft incandescence of a street light glowing on a darkened street~

S.B. said...

Drew, you're right. The past is part of the present. Cooper can't lock it up behind a door; light will leak out.

Gemma used what she thought would work. As Gayl remarked, a few years back Cooper might have grabbed it. Not this time. Not after Stevie, and definitely not after Ryan.

Thank you so much from both of us!! Your support means a great deal to us.

S@n said...

Amazing update! The writing is inspiring, beautiful and every word just pulls you back to the story, present, past, it doesn't really matter, everything does make sense in this story... I really loved this chapter... I agree with Drew, the past is never far away, and you captured that really nicely in this chapter... after all the time, after, all the women, and children... Julia is still there, hiding, haunting a part of his life... I think RL is like that, you can't really let go someone you loved so much...
I think he should talk to Beth... if they are doing so great, he should open up... but maybe it is not that important... but maybe it is... we never know...
And I also agree with Phoenix, Gemma is a little bit too pathetic,what she tried to do, as Gayl called it, "the lookalike role" is just pathetic, trying to get what she wants because of Julia... that is just sick...

Really great update ladies, you are a wonderful team! I'm always in awe of what you do together (and alone) it is always beautiful...and the shots are incredible like always.!

thewynd said...

Drew - wonderfully put. The past is a part of what makes up the present so it never really is far away. It either consumes you though or you learn to deal with it. Gemma definitely does not know Coop well enough to assume she could use Julia as a tool. Thanks so much!

S@ndy - thank you! Everything ties together and makes the story what it is. If we can keep that connection, that history, then hopefully we are doing our jobs as storytellers. I agree that Cooper needs to involve Beth in this. She is there for him and he needs to avoid cutting her out. Not sure I would call Gemma pathetic but her ploy was ill-advised.

S.B. said...

Have to add something here.

S@ndy, I agree that it's impossible to let go of someone you loved as much as Cooper loved Julia. It will be there. It probably should be there. That love informs love he feels after her.

Should he pull Beth into it? Yes he should. But I absolutely understand why he would hesitate to do it. Going back to when Beth talked to Ryan about Julia, her unease, feeling like she would always be haunted, and Ryan's response, to walk away if she felt she couldn't get past that ghost, and that exchange opened up everything between them.

I've known people like Gemma. Use what you have. She's not in love with Cooper; she's ambitious. She picked up the wrong tool.

And I'm also fascinated because nobody wonders if he was really hearing someone call his name instead of just imagining it.

The Lunar Fox said...

Gemma is quite determined. She comes across to me as the sort of person that won't give up or let go. I didn't even think about it until I read the comment up above, but I wonder what Gemma will do/think if she finds Rayne with Jimmy? Which then makes me wonder what Jimmy will do then.

Gemma is gorgeous. Dangerous. I love that Cooper's thoughts turned to Beth. Haha, nice way to get and keep his attention and remind him of her.

And I'm also fascinated because nobody wonders if he was really hearing someone call his name instead of just imagining it.

Haha, see? The things you think people should notice are rarely the things they do notice. Though I will say that I was worried on the first read through that there might be someone hanging out around the corner waiting to ambush him or something.

I think what happens is that the same way you trust the readers, readers also trust you, so I know when I reached the end and nothing happened to him, I figured that it would be something that might be touched on again. I don't know if someone else was there or if he was just imagining it because he was thinking it, but I believe that it'll come back up again.

S.B. said...

ha, LunarFox! What a fascinating explanation - and you're so right. I know I sometimes focus on a detail the writer didn't intend to be important, and miss other things.

Gemma's reaction to Rayne would probably depend on what Jimmy wants to do with Rayne. And what Gemma thinks she can do with Rayne. Gemma definitely does not want to anger Jimmy; she's already got a problem since she more or less promised him she had a contract for him, and she doesn't.

Thank you for all your support!

Anonymous said...

I must say that I am SO RELIEVED that Cooper didn't give in to Gemma's charms. I was totally holding my breath, thinking it'll happen but hoping it won't. And it didn't! *applauds Cooper* You're finally on the right path, guy! :D

Also, that scene with him working his tune felt very nice. It's this very wonderful feeling of doing something you really love and totally enjoying the moments. ^^ I wonder how many of us can say that our job is our love too?

Now that you guys mentioned the "voice", it makes me think that there's a mystery behind it! Did Cooper perhaps imagined it? It seemed like no one in particular was in his range at that time. :S Julia's spirit?

S.B. said...

Hi ning!

Van was right; Gemma saw his soul when she watched Cooper compose.

He's not as impulsive as he used to be. Grabbing what he wanted right there got him into too much trouble.

He definitely didn't see anyone, and given the shock he felt seeing Gemma, bringing back memories of Julia, he might have imagined it.

We both really appreciate your support!!

Whymustallthegoodonesbetaken said...

I'm just as astounded as always at the beauty of your imagery and the emotions you put into the story. I have to admit I kinda miss Julia with all this talk of her that's been going on. But Cooper and Beth are so wonderful together.. I'm glad that Cooper didn't screw things up by giving into Gemma! Gah, Made me a little nervous..

I've finally started writing myself but I'm nowhere near this! I've even started posting now. No pictures though as I can't figure it out quite yet.. not so good with that! hahaha

thewynd said...

WhyMust, that is very exciting that you are writing! You know there are all kinds of us out here that will be happy to help you get on the right tracks with shots. It takes a lot of practice believe me. Mine were just awful when I started out but I was fortunate to have people like Beth and others who helped me along and encouraged me.

And thanks so much for the compliments on the writing. We try very hard to make sure the emotions and imagery come through so that means a lot.

AtomicSpaceKitty said...

Uh, oh, Gemma. I'm really glad her ill thought out seduction was shot down by Cooper. Not only because it meant Cooper is remaining faithful to Beth, but because it's best if their relationship remain in the professional business realm for awhile. Then maybe they can become, if not friends, then people who can respect each other.

Also, is Cooper having some sort of psychotic break? Is that why he's hearing his name called? Or is it something else? Not that I'm expecting an answer, of course. ;)

thewynd said...

Hey Kara! You're right, Gemma did not go about this the right way. I don't think it was seduction so much as her mistakenly thinking that Cooper was a soft touch regarding Julia. She doesn't know him at all if she thinks that. As for the last bit I can neither confirm nor deny what is going on with the voice other than to say that Coop is not psychotic.

We both always appreciate comments from you so thank you very much!

Sinclair said...

I was right! She does have an agenda. Though its not nearly as sinister as i thought. Sucks for her though that she played the wrong card. Though i can totally understand how a personality can come across as flirtatious. i get pinned with it all the time even when it isnt intentional. poor thing. hows she going to make up for this one?

and once is a dick. he could have told her it wasnt going to happen and give her a chance. he of all people knows flirting gets you far in entertainment business. who's he to judge? although it is kinda slutty to hit on someone who was a cousin. but still. slutty and rock go together :D

gemma is definetly good for the story. rayne cant be the drama forever lol. what will she think of next?

thewynd said...

Sinclair Gemma does have an agenda but you are right in that it isn't sinister. We'll see what she does next very soon.

Coop has several reasons to blow her off not the least of which is her using his past and trying to manipulate his emotions as well as the fact that he has a very very low opinion of Jimmy. Gemma made a mistake in choosing not to approach him from a more business-like angle, not that she would have gotten what she wanted however.

Thanks so much!

Emily said...

Sorry I'm late to the party! But you guys should be used to that now, right? LOL.

I loved this update, gorgeous shots to accompany some deep, fabulous writing as always they make up the perfect combo. The hard work both of you put in really shows.

Love the part with Coop playing the guitar, nice to see him in his element and I like that he shut Gemma down! I hope he can keep it up, concentrating on him and Beth, glad to hear that they are doing better and I hope it can stay that way!

The whisper in the dark was sooo creepy! I got goosebumps, no lie!

Great update, looking forward to reading more!

S.B. said...

Hi Emily!! You know we are not counting; it's always great to hear from you!

Cooper shut Gemma down because she tried to manipulate him, but it did freak him out to see her when he didn't expect her - memories of Julia. Whether he can continue to focus, well...maybe.

Thank you so much from both of us! And hoping you are going great!