Title: Dreams Realized, But Not As We Planned
Rating: PG-15 for Language
Summary: Dreams, plans, and goals. What really happens after they come true. The evolving relationship between two women. It you blink, or speed read you’ll miss it.
Disclaimer: This story and the characters are fictitious. Certain long-standing institutions, agencies, and public offices are mentioned, but the characters involved are wholly imaginary.
It was over. The last note of the last song from the band echoed through the room along with the cheers, screams, and applause from the crowd. If Krista Dillon wasn’t already numb from the beer and whiskey the waitresses delivered from the fans, she was positive she’d be emotionally bleeding out on stage. Now all she had to do was survive the rest of the year.
Krista knew she was abundantly blessed and was in no way she thumbing her nose at what the Gods and Fates had given her. After battling with the big boys in the recording industry … Being afraid she would never get her music out to her faithful fans, who followed her to every honky-tonk, blues bar, and county fair. She was finally able to play her music with her people and give the love back to her fans.
By saving every dime, eating over a hundred thousand miles worth of McDonald’s dollar menu, selling single mp3’s, t-shirts, and making her stage outfits from treasures she found at thrift stores, she and her best friend, Cameron Gray, were realizing their dream of starting their own recording studio.
She finally had it all, but without the one thing she wanted most. To share the music and its production with Cameron. Due to contractual obligations and scheduling conflicts she’d be going on the road to promote Austin Women Productions’ inaugural ‘album’ with a new rhythm guitar player providing backup vocals while Cameron stayed in Austin running their studio.
Eight years her band’s been together, and they had become part of her family, but they weren’t Cameron. Without her best friend she felt held together with scotch tape, but so many artists wanted the services of Austin Women Productions, they felt they couldn’t complain about their schedules. The publicity from Krista touring would push their company to the forefront of the recording business in Austin and success. Cameron was their genius in the recording studio, but that meant she sacrificed her ten years playing at Krista’s side.
It was half past midnight, and she was flying out in the morning, laying over in Memphis long enough to have lunch with her parents. Then it’s off to meet the band in Nashville for two gigs and a final meeting with the A-list artist that hired her as an opening act for his award-winning tour.
Finally, it was back to Austin, pick up her new stylist, and catch up with the band in Kentucky. Next month, she had an appearance at the Austin Film Festival for a show and screening of a movie in which she had a minuscule part. They would board the bus Sunday morning to start their opening act obligations. The saving grace to their grueling schedule … They were building their fan base and selling their songs.
When Krista got home, Cameron was in New Orleans meeting with a management company looking to change recording studios. Between co-writing and producing songs for a new artist’s debut album, she was also overseeing her assistant’s scheduling television appearances to promote Krista and their studio. God alone knew when they would see each other in person again.
Instead of standing on their deck in the dark listening to her wine-addled brain argue with her heart, Krista should be in the house getting an explanation for the mixed signals she’d been receiving from her friend. As she looked over the twinkling lights of Austin, she chided her brain for sounding like a Lifetime movie while her heart was already homesick for Cameron. Slender arms slid around her waist as a shower damp Cameron wrapped around her back.
“You’re brooding.” The voice was raspy from fatigue and too many cigarettes.
“I miss you,” Krista answered back softly.
“Come inside and we’ll console each other ‘til time for you to leave.” The blonde tugged the broody brunette through their condo and shoved her onto the bed.
“Turn your brain off, Kris and be here with me now.” She growled.
She did. Right up until Cameron tucked her head on her shoulder and slid into a sated sleep. She savored the smell and warmth that meant home to her, but being accustomed to working nights, Krista woke a few hours later. She tried to go back to sleep, but somewhere in the past year, her brain had picked up a hitchhiker. Her internal accountant counted her blessings while deducting the price paid for every one of them. Why can’t I count sheep like everyone else? Her alcohol fogged brain asked. She finally dozed off, savoring the last few hours of quiet until she finished the tour.
Her phone became a lifeline to sanity until Cameron had teased her about not being able to get any work done. Stung, Kris had snapped her emotional shell shut and became determined not to be a bother to her partner.
They had a rare three days off, so she took the red-eye to Memphis. She was packing the rental truck with her possessions from the house she sold to move to Austin when her phone sang out Cameron’s ringtone. She held the phone away from her ear because of her partner’s yelling.
“Where the fuck are you and why haven’t you called?!” Cameron yelled.
“Memphis … And I was letting you get your fucking work done.” Krista yelled back.
“What?!” Cameron sounded confused.
“You said …”
Cameron cut her off. “I know what I said. Dammit, Krista, I was teasing.” Cameron sounded exasperated. “When will you be home?”
“Tomorrow afternoon.” Kris answered quietly.
“Good. We don’t do phone so well.” Cameron’s chuckle sounded watery.
“I think we’ll be getting practice.” Krista grimaced at the thought.
Parking the rental truck in the driveway, the women spent a long afternoon settling Krista’s stuff in with their stuff. Sprawled out in their big bed. Krista was quiet.
“You’re brooding, again.” Cameron tugged a curl to get her attention.
Krista rolled her eyes. “Not brooding, just organizing my brain for Kentucky and Ohio. In a couple weeks, we’re at the film festival doing a gig after my big film debut.” She made air quotes before picking at a loose thread on the comforter. “Did you ask about getting a booth for Austin Women at the festival?” Her expression was hopeful.
“Yeah. No dice. Said it was past the deadline, plus I’ve got a session scheduled that day.” Cameron watched Krista’s expression fall.
“Oh.” She rolled off the bed, snagging her phone as she went.
“Kris?” Cameron watched her dark-haired other half wave her off, and put the phone to her ear as she left the bedroom.
Cameron flopped back on the pillows with a sigh. She loved her life and what she was doing. She loved expanding into writing and producing other artists, but sometimes she longed for the days before contracts and having to consult six different people to play music with someone anywhere. Spontaneous jam sessions had become a thing of the past. A glance at the clock had her rolling off the bed to find Kris.
“Thanks, Jer.” Kris listened to the person on the other side of the call.
“You excited about the film festival?”
“Cameron going with you?”
“No, it didn’t work out. Sometimes I wonder why I’m trying so hard to do this. Some days it hardly seems worth it.” Her Memphis accent was heavy with her emotions.
“What the f…, I mean … Dammit, Kris! You’ve put a lot of years into your music career.”
“Yeah, ten years is a long time, but I could be here instead of the other side of the fucking country.” Kris whined.
“Are you whining about being on tour with the flavor of the year singer?”
“No, Jerry, I’m not whining. Damn, sounds like the circus is at your house.” She teased her brother.
”It’s what happened after we had enough kids to cover for you not having any.”
“Jerk. Hug Rita and the kids for me.” Kris looked up from her conversation to see a frowning Cameron at the end of the couch. “Cam?”
“What’s not worth it, Kris?” Her tone was breathy from her anxiety.
“This music thing.” Kris stared at her hands. “It seemed so easy when we started. Nobody gave a damn or tried to label us. We made music on our own … No contracts … No lawyers or bean counters … Handlers … Stylists. Just us and the music. Now the music’s trapped somewhere under all the fucking bureaucracy to where we can’t breathe without someone getting a cut.”
Cameron just stared at the top of the dark curly head in amazement. Making it in the music business had always been Kris’ dream and for her to have lost faith in that dream was like a blow to the gut.
“Kris.” Cameron wanted her to look up. She needed to be able to read Kris. Blue eyes glittered wetly, but she shook herself like a wet dog and the expression disappeared.
“Want a beer?” She asked as she practically ran to the kitchen.
Too soon for them to have solved anything, it was time for Krista to leave for Kentucky to begin months of being on the move.
The rehearsal was rough. No one would have believed they’d played together for years. The band finally got it together in time for a decent sound check. By show time it had all come together until the question she’d been dreading was shouted.
“WHERE’S CAM?!” The fans yelled in unison.
She and Miles, her lead guitar player, exchanged a look before Kris pulled together any acting talent she could find and gave the fans a pretty speech about scheduling conflicts. How these tour dates had appeared as an unexpected opportunity, and maybe in the future they’d all be in the same place at the same time. After that, she had to do the speech at every show until it nearly gagged her to say it. Miles worried at the amount of Jack Daniels that disappeared from the bottle.
Jerry and Rita left the kids with Rita’s parents, and flew in for the show in Cleveland, which helped Kris’ state of mind. Before they all flew out the next day, Jerry promised they’d be at the film festival in Austin. He threatened to kick her ass if she didn’t cut back on the booze. This led to a shouting match that ultimately left the siblings laughing at how stupid the insults had become while Jerry dialed Cameron then shoved the phone at his sister.
The film festival was an odd experience, though Krista counted it a win when famous actors knew her name. She got a tiny role in a film after the director asked to use one of her songs. It was a surprise that her performance was drawing good reviews.
She didn’t know how her brother did it, but he managed to get their whole family at the festival … All except Cameron, who was working. She strangled the ache in her heart into submission after her last conversation with Cameron. When her show at the festival ended, she would be boarding a plane for her television appearances in Los Angeles and the last two months of their tour, leaving no time to go by the studio or their condo.
With Jerry standing on one side and her parents on the other, Krista thanked her fans for their support of the movie, and for staying for her show after they showed the movie.
“Before you ask, Cameron’s still in the studio working with a wonderful young singer she’s written some kick ass songs for.” She paused for the usual sounds of disappointment from the crowd. “I did manage to convince my brother, Jerry, to stand in on backup vocals.” She pointed at the tall dark-haired man to her right. “You should remember how to do this, Bro. We started doing this when we were still in training pants.” She laughed at her brother’s embarrassment. The crowd roared its approval. “Hopefully by the time we get off this tour, Cameron will have penciled us in for some more awesome shows right here at home.”
While Kris talked, Jerry pulled his microphone off the stand and disappeared into the dark. Kris took a healthy drink from her bottle of Jack before Jerry reappeared. Setting down her bottle, she looked over at the band. Georgia, her rhythm guitar player was missing.
“Where the fuck did Georgia go?” She asked.
The crowd got silent thinking they were about to witness the infamous Dillon temper. Jerry smiled brightly at his sister hoping to head off the explosion.
“What the hell did you do, Jerk?”
“How many times do I have to tell you not to call me that? You trip over your feet a couple times …” The crowd laughed.
“So what’s the fucking punch line?” She growled.
“Actually…” A familiar voice came from the dark. “He was stalling to give me time to tune my guitar.”
The crowd rattled the rafters as Cameron set the microphone on the stand and plugged her guitar into the amplifier. She barely had time to brace herself before her arms were full of a shocked and surprised Krista. She finally let go of Cameron and grabbed her brother in a neck cracking hug.
“You just wait.” She threatened.
Jerry grinned and shoved Kris back to the mic.
“Y’all came to see a show!? You’re gonna get a hell of a show!”
From beginning to end, not one fan used the seat they’d paid good money to sit in as contracts, obligations, and scheduling conflicts were thrown out the window for the love of their music and the love of each other.
~ Finis ~