Welcome to another Sample Sunday! we are just about two weeks away from the release of Same Time Next Week, so I’m sharing another sample from that project today. It is a LONG Snip in which we meet Rod Phillips, reigning prince of rock and one of Jackson’s oldest friends. This scene takes place after Jackson and Shelby begin dating and Jackson is determined to keep his budding love life under wraps.
Jackson wandered the studio, picking up random items here and there. He liked to spread out and get comfortable, so he often left things everywhere he went. Part of his routine every night was working his way from one end of the room to another, stuffing things into his bag to make sure he had everything when he went home. The only missing item was his cell phone, which he was sure he didn’t leave out except for the five minutes he was in the bathroom. It was, however, nowhere to be found in the studio.
“Shit.” A sick feeling was developing in the pit of his stomach as Jackson dropped his bag on the chair and rushed out of the room. Down the hall, Rod’s office door was open, the light was on, and there was a light chuckle every few seconds.
A thin, oblong device was cradled in Rod’s hand, his thumb scrolling. Rod’s eyes lit up and he tossed his head back and laughed, just catching Jackson in the doorway.
“Oh, man. These text messages are great! This one? I love it!” Rod read the text aloud, his voice booming. “My favorite part of last night. You under me, stars above me, sounds of nature around me, doing something naughty but so much fun in the backyard. It sucked having to be quiet, dot dot dot. You know how hard that is for me. WINK.”
He tossed the phone down onto the desk, clapping loudly, laughing that obnoxious high pitched hyena sound that Jackson hated. It grated on his nerves, especially when Rod was laughing about his private business while snooping in his phone.
Jackson marched across the room and snatched up the device, locking it and shoving it in his pocket. He was shaking, he was so angry and beginning to rethink taking this job and rekindling his friendship with Rod.
“How’d you get through the lock?”
“Your access code is still the same as your alarm code, idiot.”
Jackson cursed. And paced. The laughter died down and Rod glanced at him, incredulous at his reaction. “Aw come on, man. It was just a couple texts I read. I didn’t even get in deep. It was right on top. Why didn’t you tell me about her?”
Jackson seethed. “Because she’s none of your business.”
“Dude. Chill.” The smile began to disappear. Rod looked… evil. “She’s just a chick, right? They come and go, you know that. Nothing comes between me and my bros. Not even chicks that send sexy text messages. Is she hot? You wanna bring her around? Use the office bed sometimes?”
Jackson cringed involuntarily while he paced, trying to form words wouldn’t risk his job, though he wasn’t sure losing his job wouldn’t be worth it right now.
A few things were coming to light in that moment, namely why he and Rod had drifted so far apart in the first place. In the back of his mind, Jackson wondered why someone like Rod would need someone like him to help write his album and lead his band. Jackson was good, mind you. But not that good.
Rod Phillips was one of those child prodigies. Smart as a whip, multi-talented, as handsome as a model, even at eight years old. He started out as an actor, as the cute kid that every ensemble cast needed. By the time he hit puberty he was a bona fide star and once the network realized he could sing, dance, play piano and guitar, they had him in their clutches. They’d turn him into another Hilary Duff, Jonas Brothers, Ashley Tisdale… a Disney kid-turned- pop star. Rod had other plans.
To everyone’s surprise, he refused to renew his studio contract. Rumors flew about his intentions and the vultures descended. Rod’s manager masterminded a landmark record deal. Not long after, he began releasing hit after chart topping hit. His much anticipated solo album blew everyone out of the water in its first week. His biggest hit, Evil Side of Me, written and produced by Jackson Sweeney, cemented him in the Top 40, listing him among entertainers that people most wanted to work with and adding him to the growing pile of men that women most wanted to sleep with.
As he aged, he grew taller and leaner, his dark hair, brooding eyes and nonchalant stance on everything from war and peace to which way the toilet paper should hang -Hey, I don’t care, as long as it rolls, you know?- were among his best features. Rod developed a penchant for alcohol and leggy models, good food and good times. Really good times.
Clues began to connect in Jackson’s head, stockpiled with all the rumors about how difficult Rod was to work with, how poorly he treated his partners and how Rod used people to make his own star bigger. Personal tragedies and triumphs all seemed to come back to Rod. Jackson remembered, much too late, that Rod was spoiled and immature, used to getting what he demanded. And when he didn’t get his way, he made a way to get his way.
But Rod couldn’t write songs alone and he couldn’t produce himself and he only knew how to play guitar and piano. His reputation had worked him into a tough spot. No one but Jackson would overlook that reputation to work with him. Jackson began to regret being so nice, giving him the benefit of the doubt, giving in to the ‘remember the good times’ speech.
“You know what, man?” Jackson paused, leaning onto the back of one of the guest chairs in front of the massive desk. “I’m not your ‘bro’. Not anymore. You brought me here to do a job. I’m doing that job. My personal life is not that job and it’s not your business. I’d appreciate it if you could keep your hands off of my stuff. If we’re going to have problems with that, I can walk out of that door and not come back.”
Rod seemed apologetic, as apologetic as a cocky asshole could appear. He sat back in his leather chair, his arms falling to the armrests. “Sorry, man. It was just some jokes. Won’t happen again.”
“Damn right, it won’t,” he spat. Without another word, he stormed out of the room, gathered his bag and left the studio. By the time he got to his car, he had almost convinced himself to never go back.
Rod’s words rang in his ears over and over. ‘She’s just a chick, right?’ But Shelby wasn’t just a chick. She had potential. In the few weeks since he met her, Jackson had been more relaxed than he’d been in months. He was happy and it wasn’t just the sex, though the sex was good. Shelby was bringing out his fun side, a side he’d long forgotten and thought he had to put away, to deal with them in LA. Someone always had to be the adult. That job had fallen to him.
He didn’t have to take care of Shelby. He’d never had to fish her, drunk off her ass, out of a pool. He’d never had to talk her out of dangerous 3 AM trip down windy, twisty Mulholland Drive while high on cocaine. Shelby’s biggest vice was the chocolate torte from Dessert Lady and frankly, when she insisted on smearing it over his lips and across his chest and licking it off, he could deal with that kind of vice.
She was cagey though… and that worried him. She had yet to really tell him anything about herself, about the Shelby that existed before he ran into her at the Winter Park Publix. She so clearly had something to hide.
Jackson was determined to figure out what that something was before someone else did.