Authors: Abby Reynolds
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher or author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
Under My Thumb
Cover Design provided by Dinoman Designs
Editing Services provided by Final-Edits.com
ht © 2014 by Abby Reynolds
All Rights Reserved
I couldn’t wait to get out of this city. London had been my home for my entire life. My childhood was spent in the busy metropolitan, fighting the streetwalkers and traffic. My favorite music store was still on Abath Road. It’s where I got my first guitar. Now the shop looked run down. It seemed like I was their only customer—ever.
I went to Cambridge for university and got my flashy degree. It had absolutely nothing to do with music. Perhaps that’s why I hated it so much. But I had
to choose chemistry to receive free tuition since my dad would only pay for a science degree. I was grateful I received any education at all, but I still felt resentful toward my father. He didn’t support my dream. And he didn’t think I had any talent. Maybe I didn’t.
“I still can’t believe you’re going to the States for the summer.” My brother held my carry-on while he walked me t
o security. “Now I won’t have to deal with your drama. It’s a breath of fresh air.”
I shoved him gently. “You know you’ll miss me.”
I shoved him again. “Well, I’m not going to miss you either.”
“Ha.” It was his turn to shove me back. “You’re going to call me every day like you always do.”
“And you’ll answer, like you always do.”
He shrugged then adjusted the strap on his shoulder. My brother and I were closer than most siblings. After the difficult childhood we had, we were forced to depend on each other. We both went to university together but received very different degrees. He was always protective of me, so I knew this was more difficult for him than he was letting on.
“Don’t do anything stupid, alright?” H
e stared me down.
“When have I ever done something stupid?”
“What about when you locked yourself in the lab on campus?”
He was never going to let that one go. “I let my assistant borrow my keys. She was the one who locked me in there on accident.”
“And who’s the one who got you out?”
“Gavin, Mason, and Desi are all going to be there. I’m not going to be alone.” Seriously, my brother act
ed like an overprotective parent. But I let it go since I knew it was coming from a good place. And I’ll admit it was nice to feel loved by someone.
“Call me if you need anything—anything.” He gripped my shoulder and looked me straight in the eye. “I’ll be on the next plane.”
Jeremy looked at his watch. “Your plane is boarding soon.”
“I guess this is goodbye.” I could tell my brother didn’t want it to be. And to be honest, I didn’t want it to be either. But for a very different reason.
“Yeah…I’m just glad you’ll only be gone for the summer.”
I averted my gaze because I couldn’t look at my brother. Not when he said that.
Hey, mate.” Gavin approached us then clapped Jeremy on the shoulder.
My brother nodded to him then looked away. It was clear Jeremy didn’t care for him. Gavin turned his gaze on me.
His green eyes immediately lightened a shade. “We need to chivvy off. I’m excited to get on American soil.”
Mason and Desi appeared a moment later, both
carrying their gear. Desi had a large pink bag. It exceeded the weight limit for a carry-on, and I wondered how she was going to get it on the plane.
Desi dropped the bag on the floor, unable to hold it a second longer. “My parents cried their eyes out at the
curb.” She rolled her eyes. Her light colored hair covered one shoulder, and her golden hoop earrings shined under the florescent lights of the terminal. Her hard and defined body was noticeable, even under her hoodie.
Mason tapped her bag with his shoe. “You got a lawn mower in there?” He crossed his large arms over his chest then looked down. The black tattoos on his
forearms showed the outline of drumsticks, his instrument of choice. He tapped it again, and a quiet bell rang out. “Are the tambourines in there?”
Desi shrugged. “Maybe…”
“Why do you need those for the carry-on?” Gavin asked. He shook his hair out of his face. It was a habit that never died out. The annoying thing about it was the length of his hair. It wasn’t even that long. I stopped myself from rolling my eyes.
“I didn’t have any room,” Desi snapped. “And I’m not trusting the airlines with these.”
“I’m sure my drum set will be fine,” Mason said.
“It better be,” Gavin said. “Otherwise
, our budget is gone.”
Jeremy listened to my friends speak but he didn’t participate. I knew he was still emotional about me leaving. Normally
, my brother was easygoing and calm. But I could see the pain in his eyes. He felt obligated to protect me, and when I was out of his reach, it made him nervous.
Gavin grabbed the
other bag from my shoulder. “Allow me.” My bag was purple with yellow writing, clearly a feminine purse.
“I got it, Gavin.” I extended my hand.
“Don’t worry about it.” He cleared his throat then looked at Jeremy. “Pru will be fine. I’ll watch her.”
My brother clenched his jaw but held his words back.
Mason looked at the clock on the wall. “We should get moving.”
“Please,” Desi said. “I’m ready to meet some American boys.” She picked up the bag again and struggled with it.
Gavin extended his hand to Jeremy. “She’s in good hands.”
Jeremy didn’t shake it. Instead, he pulled me into a hug. “Are you sure you’re okay with this?” His voice was quiet.
“Yes.” I gripped him tightly. We hardly shared affection, but I wanted to feel his embrace in that moment. He was the mother and father I never had. “I wouldn’t be going if I wasn’t sure.”
“Please be safe.”
He pulled away and looked at me one more time. Then he pulled out his wallet and handed me a credit card. “It has a thirty
thousand dollar limit. Use it in emergencies.”
I felt awkward holding the heavy metal card. My bro
ther was a successful investor and had clients all over the world. He just bought himself an Escalade for his birthday. Money was never an object for him. But I still couldn’t take it. Not even if he was the wealthiest man in the world. “No, thank you.”
“Don’t be stubborn.” He still held it out to me. “It
’ll give me peace of mind.”
I pushed it back.
“I’m not taking no for
an answer. You don’t have to use it. Just hold onto it. You never know when you might need it.”
I felt the guilt rise up just thinking about it. I appreciated the offer, but I could take care of myself. I never needed a man to take care of me, especially family.
“You’re going to miss your flight,” he threatened. He still held it out.
I shoved it into my wallet. “Fine.”
“Thank you. Seriously.”
My friends stepped back and gave us some privacy. I was glad Gavin moved out of the way. My brother was patient, but not extremely so.
“I love you, Pru.”
He hardly ever said that. In fact, he only said it one other time. And it was a day I’ll never forget. “I love you too, Jer.”
He hugged me again. “Let me know if Gavin bothers you.”
“He’s just friendly—not a threat.”
He rolled his eyes as he pulled away. “Have a good time. You’re going to make it big, Pru. There isn’t a doubt in my mind.”
I found that hard to believe. I’d been in this band forever, touring and trying to get recognition. I practiced my instruments three hours a day, every day. It still got me nowhere. To be honest, I was a little resentful about it. But I was overjoyed by my brother’s confidence in me. “Thank you.”
“Now go break a leg. And the best of British.”
“Best of British to you too.”
He smiled then stepped away. His hands moved into his pockets and he waited for me to turn around. After I reassured him with a grin, I joined my friends by the gate. Gavin was still holding my purse, waiting for me to come beside him.
“It’ll be all right.” He patted my back gently.
“It was hard leaving my family too,” Desi said. “But it’s only three months.”
“Yeah—only three months.”
“That’s a wrap.” The stage manager cut the scene and the crew dissipated. The noise
level increased as everyone congratulated each other. The rehearsal was over and they were prepared for the live show. I sat in the middle row and watched them work like ants.
“What did you think?
” Ted asked as he sat beside me. He adjusted his baseball cap then flattened it on his head. He wore it even when they were inside.
think the joke about North Korea was distasteful. We should change it.”
“To what, exactly?”
I rubbed my chin while my head filled with ideas. “Cut the images of the concentration camps. This is supposed to make people laugh, not make them depressed.”
nodded. “I’ll tell the writers.”
“And we’re overkilling the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. I feel like that’s old news.”
He made notes on his clipboard. “Anything else, Cash?”
“Other than that, it’s perfect.” I gave him a thumbs
“Thank you, sir.”
As the executive producer of the show, I had the most input when it came to the final product. It was my money they were using, after all. I could hire and fire anyone I wanted. Hell, if I didn’t want Jay Leno to host my show anymore, I could just replace him. And I was thinking about it…
rose from the chair. “We’re breaking for lunch at the food trucks. Coming?”
Yeah. I’m starving.”
The crew and I left the studio and crossed the street to Lankershim Boulevard.
Food trucks stopped every day, so the choices were always different. We ordered our grub then sat on the grass. Julia, one of the writers of the show, sat next to me. She had a particularly short skirt on, which wasn’t normal for her. And she kept glancing my way. I ignored her and ate my pad thai.
“Any plans tonight?” she asked.
“None.” I used my chopsticks to place a ball of rice into my mouth. The stickiness and lightly buttered taste was to my liking. The sun was bright, so I pulled my sunglasses over my eyes.
told me you didn’t care for the North Korea joke.” She picked at her fruit cup and didn’t look at me.
“It wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be
“Why didn’t you say something at the table read?”
I knew she was angry by the tone of her voice. Of all the writers, she was the most sensitive. Things were considered then scrapped on a daily basis, but she always took it personally.
“I didn’t realize how it would
sound until I actually heard it.” I kept my tone professional. I was annoyed with her attitude but didn’t want to embarrass her in front of the rest of the crew.
She shook her head slightly then concentrated on her food.
I was glad the conversation was over.
Parker joined us a second later. He worked on a different lot so I didn’t see him much, but he was a good friend. “Lacy wants to head to Loaded tomorrow night. A good indi
e band is playing and she wants to see them. You down?”
I didn’t have any plans. “Yeah.”
“And she’s bringing a friend—just so you know.”
That got under my skin. “Then count me out.”
“Dude, I’ve seen her—
Doesn’t matter. I don’t do blind dates.”
“Do you do dates at all?” Julia snapped.
I eyed her angrily. Like the coward she was, she looked down at her food. I knew Julia had a thing for me. She was clearly upset that I never asked her out. Which explains why she took my rejection of her joke so seriously. “I’m not interested, Parker. But thanks.”
“It’ll be fun.”
“Drop it.” I left the ground and tossed my garbage into a can. My personal life was private, something I kept to myself. And I definitely didn’t do blind dates—no exceptions.