Page 55 of The Keeper

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“I don’t see what’s so wrong with that.”

Billie makes a bitter noise and faces back to her computer again. “I have to work, Cal.”

“Okay,” I say with a sigh. “Look, I’m sorry for hurting your feelings, for what it’s worth.”

Billie doesn’t answer.


relationships are messy


I’m sweating after a blistering band practice. As I’m taking a swig from my water bottle, my phone rings. It’s Kit, who hardly ever calls me.

“Yo, brother, what’s up?”

“Hey, little sister, how’s it going?”

I lift a shoulder, even though he can’t see me. “It’s okay. You?”

“Good. I’m working in post-production on my new movie, and we were talking about trying to bring in some new sound to the soundtrack.”


“Yeah, I maybe might have mentioned that my sister is in a band…”

“Kit! What the hell, dude?”

“Look, Mom’s in a tizzy ever since your boyfriend outed you. Dad looked you guys up and you’re really good, Billie. People should hear what you’re doing.”

It saddens me that Dad has taken the time to listen to our band but not reach out and tell me what he thinks. But it’s also not surprising. He gets so absorbed in himself…kind of like his son. Whattheydon’t get is that we are getting heard. “People do hear our music, Kit,” I answer glumly. “Every time we play live, which is two weeks out of four. Sometimes more.”

“In bars.”

“Yeah, in bars. Though we’ve got a music festival lined up soon, too.”

Kit laughs. “Well, I’m just thinking you don’t have to do that whole struggling artist thing. You’re not some garage band of nobodies. You have the connections to help get yourselves heard.”

“I don’t want it to happen that way, though. You know that.”

“You’re being a total brat about this,” Kit insists. “People would kill to have your connections. Family who can literally open any door to help you. Instead, you want to struggle and act like these opportunities don’t exist for you. Tell me something, Billie, what do your bandmates think? Are they happy doing the local scene and toughing it out like some group of teenagers waiting for their big break? Or would they maybe like to walk willingly through an open and potentially lucrative door?”

I look over my shoulder at Sven and Nikki, who are thankfully engrossed in an argument about a lyric Nikki doesn’t like in one of our newer songs.

“What is it you’re thinking of for us?” I ask, resigned to hear his pitch.

“Come in. Watch the rough cut. Spend a few days in the studio making songs to go with the storyline. See what happens. We’d pay you, even if we don’t use the work.”

I sigh and look at my bandmates again. I know they would want to do this. And it’s with Kit, rather than my parents, which makes me feel point-five percent better about taking the handout.

“Let me think about it and talk to the band.”

“That’s all I can ask. But don’t fuck around too long. We’re on a timeline here, Bill.”

We hang up, and I decide I need to get comfortable with this before I bring it up with Nikki and Sven. They will say yes automatically, and I need to be on board before it happens.

I call Stuart and tell him I need to talk. We agree to meet up for dinner at one of our favorite bars, and when I get there, he’s already in a booth. His face lights up when he sees me.

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