“Hi, babe – how are you?”
“Tired now, and I can’t wait
to see you tomorrow night! I’ve missed you so much! Did you manage to book the table for Saturday?”
“Baby, tell me about it...bet I’ve
missed you more! So...what table, kitten?”
“At the Four Seasons – don’t
worry if you can’t. Anywhere quiet will do, so we can be alone together.”
“Sounds just the ticket. Now, don’t
you fret, everything will be sorted.”
“I know. Well, I managed to escape
unscathed from Kay Deno...oh, and Larry and Andrew had a lovers tiff while I was there. It was so comical! For arguing, they
are even worse than the kids - they soon made up though!”
Spike smiled and said, “Good.
Xander’s flat’s all finished. I helped him shift the last few bits and pieces in."
“Oh, great! He’ll have to have
a proper house-warming party!”
“That’s what I said – anyway,
kitten, I can’t hang around. I’ve been summoned.”
“Oh? Where, and by whom?”
“To Sweet’s house. Lorne phoned
me first thing this morning, telling me his lordship wants to see me, so never mind what I’D got planned, never mind
that there’s nobody in the office, I’ve just got to drop everything and go.”
“Oh, poor baby, what had you got planned?
Nothing important, I hope?”
“Well, truthfully, I hadn’t really
got anything planned, just the daily grind to keep the wheels turning, you know. I was just going through the tapes of the
new bands Xander and I have been talent spotting, seeing if there’s anything worth signing. It’s time-consuming,
that’s all, but it needs to be done.”
“Never mind – oh, Clem’s
here. I’m going shopping so I’ll speak or text you later then, babe.”
“Okay sugar, you take care now. Bye...love
“Bye, babe. I love you and I
“Miss you, too. Bye.”
Spike thought the first thing he ought to
do was to phone the Four Seasons…
“Hello...I’d like to book a table
for Saturday night...I’m on the special list…yes, it’s William Carling-Blake from...."
“Aphrodite Records. Yes sir, that will
be fine. For how many?”
“Nine o’clock suit you?”
“Perfect, thank you. So nine on Saturday
for two...thank you...bye-bye.”
“Bye Mr. Carling-Blake. We look forward
to seeing you.”
“Sure you’ve checked the dates?”
“Sure I’m sure. See, they had
a kid...Elizabeth Ann, born on the.."
“BUT HER NAME’S BUFFY!”
Willy said in exasperation, slamming the shot glass down on the bar.
The journalist grabbed the drink, downed
it and pushed the glass back across to the spluttering barman. “And again, fill her up. It’s a pet name, a
nickname, for Elizabeth. The parents names fit, the kid’s birthday fits, I CHECKED!”
Willy sighed and pushed the shot glass up
against the Scotch optic. “Give it here then…it better be right, I’m warning you!” He slid the
drink over to the disheveled man in the crumpled suit in exchange for the piece of paper with the info on it.
“Just tell me when the show is on.
I want to be there with Pavayne at the ready.”
“Who’s he when he’s at
“A Paparazzo. Front page headline Glory
promised me, you said – now fill her up!” He slammed the shot glass down, grimacing as the Scotch burned on the
“Bloody hell…have you got hollow
“Just shut up and pour.”
Willy looked at the clock, it was twenty
to six. “Look, here, take this and piss off now, will ya? I don’t want you here when the boss gets back.”
He handed the half empty bottle across to the guy.
“Eh, charming....oh, now just hold!
I said a BOTTLE!”
“It WAS a bottle! You must have had
six doubles already you greedy sod. Take what’s left....if this is good, I’ll be in touch.”
The guy stood unsteadily, grabbing at the
half full bottle of scotch, and lurched out, with a "see ya".
Willy waited until he heard the slam of the
fire-doors, and picked up the phone. “Hi, s’me. You still in the market for info on Mr Summers?" He rolled
his eyes. "Buffy’s dad! Good...well where can we meet?…no, you won’t come here at all...we’ve got
to discuss a price…really?...that right?...okay then, but I swear, you’ll want me before I want you...bye!”
He threw down the phone with confidence. Time was running out for Glory. She’d come running.
He was right for once; he DIDN’T have
to wait long, all of ten minutes in fact, when the phone rang again...
“No!...I’ll come to YOU for a
change…and you better be on your own...well, come on, what’s your address?....I’m waiting...”
Silence greeted him, and he felt the anger well up inside him. “Okay, have it your own way! Bye!”
He went to slam the phone down, but heard Glory shout. “Yes? – Hold on, I’ll get a pencil…231,
Kennedy Drive, Eastwood...Right...I’ll be there, around 1 AM....what?.... I can’t, I’m working until midnight.
Yes, it’s good info! Bye...oh, and feel free to, you know, slip into something …more comfortable.”
He winced as the phone was slammed down on
him, but he still grinned. Now, all he had to do was to make up another bottle of watered down grog to replace the bottle
of Scotch laddo had…
Spike slowed as he drove up through the tree-lined
lane towards the gates of Sweet’s mansion.
He knew he’d be watched by the CCTV
cameras, and as he approached, slowly...as if by magic...the electric gates silently parted and opened inward, allowing him
to drive through. The gravel crunched under the tires as he pulled up with a flourish outside the huge entrance, complete
with Corinth style columns and massive double doors. He got out of his car and, out of habit, he locked up, smartened his
jacket, ran a hand through his hair and then ran up the entrance steps to press the front door bell. The door opened with
a click....still there was nobody there.
The inner security door was still locked,
and Spike pressed the bell and said into the intercom, “It’s Spike.” The inner doors clicked
open, and he went in. He could hear music playing, and shrieks of laughter.
Through the intercom speaker Spike heard
Lorne say, “I’ll be with you in just a minute, Spike.”
He stood and waited, looking at the various
prints on the walls and then suddenly realized that the one he was looking at, a Picasso, wasn’t a print...it
was the real McCoy!
Lorne’s metallic voice crackled into
life through the intercom again. “Go through to the lounge, Spike, we’ll be with you shortly.”
Lorne had hoped to tell Spike that Dru was
there, but Sweet was already in the office so he couldn’t. He just hoped that Spike would be okay with it, as he and
Sweet had argued that morning over the manner in which the meeting was taking place.
Spike rolled his eyes. As he’d
been there hundreds of times before, he walked down the corridor until he came to the lounge door where the music and
laughing was coming from, although the music had now stopped.
He entered the lounge and turned and closed
the door carefully. Before he had a chance to look up, he found himself in an embrace from a woman who gripped him tightly,
even encompassing his arms so he couldn’t move.
“SPIKE! – Oh, god... how are
you? – Let me look at you!” Dru positively beamed at him.
Spike was totally taken by surprise, it was
all he could do to step back slightly. “OH...bloody – um, D-Dru...oh, erm...“
“You look WONDERFUL! Doesn’t
he, Cec? – God, it's SO good to SEE you again!” Dru was excited. Her chest heaved and she babbled, briefly
looking at her friend and then back to Spike.
Cecily could see that the feeling so obviously
wasn’t mutual, and frowned uneasily, biting her bottom lip. She turned off the CD player and looked at them both.
Dru babbled on. “I’d been meaning
to phone you, let you know I was back, but, well – “ she said breathlessly, before continuing, “you
know how it is, one thing or another, jet lag, getting settled in, acclimatizing, generally sorting myself out!” She
giggled, heaving through excitement for breath. “Oh god, where are my manners? Come in and sit down! We have SO
much to catch..."
She tried to lead him to one of the sofa’s,
but Spike resisted and said, “Hmm, actually Dru, I won’t, thank you. I’m here to see Sweet, I’ve
got a meeting with him at three o’clock, and then I’ve got to shoot off, I’m afraid.”
Spike hardly looked at her, he fiddled with
the keyring on his car-keys, and looked at his feet. He was relieved that he felt nothing really, only perhaps a little shock
at her almost emaciated state, but he knew he was well over her now.
His lack of enthusiasm did nothing
to quench hers. Dru laughed and in a bright, loud tone she said, “Course you have! Always busy – So!
How have you been? – You look amazingly well, all fit and tanned – AND you SO have been working out –
just look at those biceps, Cec! Quite the muscle man now!”
She went to squeeze his arm, but Spike moved
slightly and was relieved to see Lorne coming towards him.
“Spike, Sweet will see you now.”
Lorne had stopped outside the office and opened the door to allow Spike inside first.
“Right! Um, well...bye, then!”
Spike quickly strode towards the office door, leaving Dru to turn, beaming at him still, and watching until he was out of
sight. Then she dashed over and grabbed Cecily.
“OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD! DID
YOU SEE HIM!” Her voice rose with every syllable.
“Dru, calm down! Ow, that hurts, will
you please stop grabbing my arm!”
“Oh, never mind your arm – did
you SEE him? He looks SO WONDERFUL! Fan-TASTIC even – oh Cec! This is going to be SO brilliant!”
“THIS IS – god – I’ve
just thought, where’s Lorney? I must ask him if Spike is invited to –“
She was about to hare off towards the office
when Cecily stepped in front of her, and stayed her shoulders. “Dru, no! Look, Lorne’s in a meeting with
Daddy and Spike, so you can’t go in.” She dropped her voice to little more than a whisper. “And the
party is supposed to be a surprise, remember? ” Cecily then dropped her arms from Dru’s shoulders, frowned
and rubbed her own where Dru had kept on grabbing her.
“Oh, yes. Well, never mind that now
– I should imagine that working there he’s invited to the party, don’t you? – Anyway, I can always
ask Lorney to ask him if he’s not – this is going to be SO BRILLIANT! I’m SO glad I came back! It’s
fate, it’s what I came here for!”
“What is? Dru, will you calm down and
try and think ration...“
“Calm down? Calm down? Cec, you’re
the one who’s always telling me I’ve no life in me! Now I feel alive again, and everything is going to be just
Dru spread her arms and twirled around, giggling
and waltzing around the room dreamily. She bumped into one of the Chesterfield sofas, and collapsed on it giggling, and then
she sat up alertly. “What day is it? – What time is it? Come on, lets go shopping! I want to go and buy
something special to wear for the party!" She jumped up and ran to the doorway. “Shopping! Come ON,
NOW! I want a blue dress! – He used to love me in blue – NO – no, I’ve just thought, not blue, red!
Yes. A red dress…his favorite color!”
“Dru!” Cecily whined frowning.
Dru’s smile dropped and she too frowned.
“Calm down, that’s all. I don’t
want to upset you, but I don’t think that..“
“I don’t want you to think!”
Dru said, and bobbed her knees, then grinned.
“Just, just take it easy, calm yourself,
don’t get so over-excited!” Cecily warned.
“Then shut up and come ON!” Dru,
not wanting to listen any more, ran and grabbed Cecily’s arm and began dragging her towards the stairs. “I’ll
need shoes, too, and some pretty underwear! I’ve got that credit card Daddy’s given me, and we can go and
have some tea at the food court! Come on!”
Cecily heaved a sigh and decided to just
go with it. She hadn’t seen Dru this fired up for years, and for once, she looked happy. So who was SHE to burst
her friend’s bubble, huh?
“Come in Spike, sit down.” Lorne
studied Spike’s face, but he was a cool character, and was giving nothing away if he was shocked or upset at seeing
“I expect you’re wondering why
I called you here,” Sweet said, with his lopsided leer of a smile.
“Well, I did wonder, seeing as it’s
Xander’s day off, and Cordelia is still on holiday. The office is a bit chaotic as it is, without me being out, too”
Sweet flashed Lorne an annoyed look. He hadn't
known this, and wouldn’t have called Spike over if he’d known the office was so understaffed.
“Okay, you want me to get straight
to the point, so I will. Thing is, it’s the amount of artistes in our stable, we really need to up the numbers”
Spike frowned and wondered why this couldn’t
have waited until the next monthly meeting...or whether Sweet DID have an ulterior motive for bringing him here? - Well,
Spike thought, Sweet wouldn’t be able to read anything in his behaviour or demeanor over seeing Dru again, because he
didn’t feel anything – there was no reaction to see.
“It’s something Xander and I
are already working on, I was listening to tapes of new band’s stuff – can be boring, but it needs doing. We’ve
been out the last three nights and will be out tonight too.”
“Good. Good, we need another boy band
at least – The Sharks, even though we got rid of the lead singer, they’re still arguing between themselves. If
they don’t bring out a decent single in the next two months, sack them. And we need a girl band too.”
“Yes, I know.” Spike said coolly,
then he continued, “I’ve got several auditions lined up, and I’ve put a talent contest ad in Music!
“Good! Well, I see you have it all
in hand! I um, I also called you in because I want you to do something for me, and it’s a bit delicate. I’ve heard
on the grapevine that the singer Jesse Simone is unhappy at Midnight Music; I’d like you to negotiate the closure of
her contract with them, and sign her to us. I’m asking you now, because it’s debatable if I’ll be here for
the next monthly meeting…” Sweet lied.
Spike just nodded, not believing Sweet for
a second, because it was well known that Sweet had flown in from the Caribbean to be at a monthly meeting once,
it was how he kept his finger on the pulse, so to speak.
“Well, we need half a dozen bands at
least, and a couple of singers. Another couple of male singers, and at least one more female. How’s that Betty getting
Both Lorne and Spike said, “Buffy!”
“Buffy.” Sweet said, without
acknowledging he’d made a mistake.
“She’s in Northern California
at the moment, and she’s still number one.”
“Excellent, excellent...right, well,
I’ll leave you to get on with what I pay you to do then!” Sweet stood and held out his hand. Spike stood and shook
the proffered hand, resisting the temptation to wipe his own hand on his trouser leg; Sweet’s handshake was warm, damp,
Lorne had come out of the office to see Spike
out. On his way back, he saw Dru looking full of the joys, pulling Cecily downstairs and babbling about shopping. Well,
perhaps Sweet was right, Dru certainly looked happy enough, and Spike didn’t say a thing about Dru being there,
so all the misgivings he was feeling began to fade. The one thing Lorne did know though was, Dru wasn’t as mentally
strong as Sweet liked to think. She was definitely fragile and she still had the manic look in her eyes, even when she was
bubbly and happy.
They had disagreed that morning, Lorne and
Sweet, on how to go about things. Lorne thought it a little, well, cruel for want of a better word to let Spike know that
Dru was back the way Sweet wanted to do it, just letting him see her in the lounge.
Lorne had suggested Sweet tell Spike
she was back, and have the option whether to meet her or not.
“He’s a grown man, they were
over years ago!” Sweet had said irritably.
“Yes, but! They were together for years,
and it ended badly – don’t you remember all that business on the roof?” Lorne had asked.
Sweet had snapped back, “Course
I remember the bloody roof! It was MY roof! I haven’t got TIME for all this...this molly coddling and messing
“Well, if not for Spike, do it for
Dru's sake. She's still very fragile mentally, and-“ Lorne had reasoned, but Sweet had again cut him short.
“Dru’s fine. She needs for people
to stop treating her like she was some sort of china doll. She’s tougher than you think. All I want is for Spike to
sort this contract out, and sign a few more bands. He might have already seen Dru anyway – I’m NOT pussy-footing
around, I want things done, and done today, so get him on the phone! Get him here this afternoon, three o’clock, and
if Dru is here, than she’s here – I can’t help that.”
Lorne had opened his mouth to speak, but
Sweet held his hand up, eyes closed and head turned away from him and added to mark the conversation’s finality,
“And that’s the end of the matter – now go!”
Sweet had dismissed Lorne with a shoo-ing
motion of the hand, and Lorne had left the office. He'd toyed with his conscience, then went looking for Dru. and their conversation
had gone like this………
“Hi, sugar...look, cup-cake," He held
her hand gently. "We might be having a visitor this afternoon, okay? I don’t want you to get upset
if you see him.”
“Who is – oh! Is it SPIKE?!"
”SHUSH!" He'd looked towards the office,
then back at Dru. "Quiet pet, don’t let Daddy know I’ve told you, okay? We don’t want to upset him now,
do we? It's our little secret. Will you be okay?”
Dru had been wild-eyed and grinning.
“Oh yes! I’ve been wanting and wanting to see him!”
“You have? Okay, then, pet....just…well,
be careful.” He had patted her hand, and Dru had beamed at him.
“I know, don’t tell Daddy you
Dru had practically skipped off, she'd looked
so happy, and Lorne had already felt the stir of his misgivings, hoping that everything would be all right later
on that afternoon when Spike turned up....