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Tea Totaling Pt 1
Wed Dec 13, 2006 00:40

It was sitting on her pillow.

The rose bore a black satin ribbon just below the leaves. The crimson silk of her sheets were barely a shade darker than the petals, allowing the note beneath the flower to stand out like a scar. Withdrawing back out into the hallway, Lara glanced towards her mother's room, but the 'do not disturb' sign still hung from its hook, signaling that Amanda had not yet returned from Colorado. Only the two of them were allowed to touch the signs (Lara had an identical one, but hers was painted sunshine yellow instead of light blue).

For a fleeting instant, she wished that Nigel had stayed behind, but there'd been no invitation, just a heartfelt 'Thank you' on her end and a mumbled something on his. It was too late anyhow, the cup of tea she'd made had given him a five minute head start, not to mention the half hour devoted to a bubble bath.

Eyes flickered towards the open door again, able to mentally picture the words 'My Angel' scrawled across the front of the envelope in bold writing. Masculine. Actually, she was becoming more nervous by the moment but the phone in the living room seemed so far away. What if there was someone still in the apartment? Throat absolutely dry, Lara made herself walk back into the spacious living area, eyes darting around the room before they settled on the cordless phone near the television.

It only took a few punched in numbers.

"Hello, security? This is Laramie Sorensen up in the second penthouse. I ... I think there's been an intruder up here." There was a bigger penthouse on the very top floor, and Lara's home was only half its size. Rumor had it that some filthy rich movie star owned the place.

Security personnel had their own skeleton key, so she stayed right where she was until the supervisor and a subordinate unlocked the front door and stepped into the apartment about ten minutes later. Still apprehensive, especially when wearing nothing but a matching cream silk nightgown and robe set, the singer busied herself by tearing kleenex into a thousand pieces on the coffee table while the men searched the place thoroughly, though neither touched the rose and envelope still positioned on her bed.

"Has this happened before?" One asked, jotting down something in a little black notebook.

Lara shook her head. "Not to my knowledge, no. You'd have to talk to my mother or my agent." Both numbers were rattled off, butterflies in her stomach just beginning to settle down when the supervisor spoke. "I'm going to call the police, Miss Sorensen." Her eyes rose in mute protest - it was the reaction of a young woman who had lived her life in the glare of the spotlight, but the words died on her tongue before she could even think of uttering them. He was right.

While he borrowed her phone and made the call, Lara braved her room long enough to extract a t shirt and pants from a pile of folded laundry sitting on her beside table, determined to at least appear together for the nice cops. Not that she felt anything close to it. Someone had broken into her home. There wasn't anything out of place, except for the two items on her bed, but there was a vague feeling that the walls of the apartment weren't completely safe anymore.

But she was overreacting. Right?

Police arrived about twenty minutes later, a man and a woman. Both wore stern expressions, and it was the female cop who settled down at Lara's side to get a statement while her partner prowled the environs of penthouse B in search of any telltale signs of entry.

"... So my bandmate's brother dropped me off at my doorstep and left. I unlocked the door, stepped inside and threw the bolt," Lara motioned to the heavy bolt that her mother had installed a few years after Eddie had passed away. "I made tea, which I think took about five minutes and then had a bath." It was hard not to cringe at the resigned look on the male cop's face. Maybe she should have taken a look around, but there hadn't been any sign of trouble. Not until she'd walked into her room.

No way she was going to sleep in that bed tonight.

"Let's take a look inside, shall we?" Mister Policeman had returned from aforemention bedroom, holding the envelope, flower and a small digital camera - one had to assume he'd taken photos before moving everything. Lara watched CSI like the rest of America -- when she had the time. There were think plastic gloves on his hands, the latex ones that doctors wore. Using a letter opener from the kitchen table, the officer carefully slit the envelope open at the top and slid out a sheet of paper.

Thinking of you fondly.

A Friend

They all stared down at it in silence. Lara was the first to speak, her voice shaky. "I think I'd better call my mother."

. . .

“It’s a full house.”

Michael Pierson was doing what he was best at, as far as Lara was concerned, lurking about in the shadows. Three weeks after the ‘break-in’ as her mother was calling it, Benny’s sister in law had talked her into pulling song duty for a benefit concert that Lucy was co-ordinating with some government types. The funds they produced would go to a small handful of charities and research groups trying to find cures for various types of cancers.

Caleb Holmes’ mother had died of cancer, so this was near and dear to his heart. Well, until they’d been summoned to Italy for a vacation not four days past, leaving everything to their friends. Apparently Lucy’s grandfather was ill, and wanted to see his great-grandson once last time. Lara couldn’t fault him for that, but she could fault Lucy for leaving two slots open – slots that the singer was going to have to fill herself.

“I suppose that’s good, moneywise” Lara answered absently, running over the lyrics for a song that she and Michael were going to perform together. Originally, it was supposed to have been Lucy and the Brit, but …

She glanced up at aforementioned Englishman, “I am so not dying my hair blonde for this. Evita can be a brunette tonight.” Of course, Lucy hadn’t dyed her hair either, and there was a perfectly acceptable wig in the costuming room.

Michael just grinned, the expression adding an inhumane amount of charisma to his subtle good looks. “Break a leg, ducks.” They were announcing her name for the first slot now. Snorting, she accepted the guitar he held out and strode out onto the stage.

“Thank you,” she smiled after the applause died down and settled on a block of wood used in the last number. “I’m going to sing something written my senior year of high school. It’s never been recorded officially, so this should be a treat.”

Fingers slid across the nylon strings that were her only accompaniment. “I wanna laugh
until I cry. Wake up with you each day 'till the day that I die. Let's go to New Orleans
and watch the parade. Take funny pictures, eat jambalaya, and drink lemonade…”

And so it went. By the time she’d stepped off stage the first time, donations were pouring in across the Tri-State area, both rows of volunteer phone bank members were busily writing down credit card numbers. More acts followed, then it was her second spin ‘round the stage.

This time her band had been given a small set-up. One, two … one, two, three, four…

“So you can see my bra underneath my shirt. Watch the wind underneath my skirt. But that ain't the picture, it's just a part. Everybody's got a story that can break your heart.” Benny was pounding away on the drums, though he sounded maybe half a beat off.

“See my eyes, don't see what I see. Touch my tongue, don't know what tastes good to me. It's the human condition that keeps us apart. Everybody's got a story that can break you heart. Yeah, everybody's got a story that can break your heart …Na na na na na na.”

It was probably just her imagination. Everything seemed to have ulterior nuances in the last few weeks. Trying to shrug off the feeling that there was something wrong with her drummer, Lara finished the song before introducing the band, much like her father had done halfway through Checkmate's concerts. And then the three of them, plus backup singers, slunk offstage to let the next group on.

Somehow, she found time to land a kiss against Benny's mouth in the labrynthine maze behind the stage before hurrying to her dressing room. This last performance had been learned in only two days, and they'd been forced to hunt down a dress two sizes above Lucy's willowy build yesterday.

Lara was not exactly model-thin.

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    • Tea Totaling Pt 1 — Laramie, Wed Dec 13 00:40
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