Some first meetings don’t take place in person, such is the case with Cullen Fellowes and Jazz Rialto. He sees her performing at the mall with her brothers. Making the mistake of singing with her, he outs himself—which is a problem, since he’s a famous rock star. Later, Lowell, Jazz’s brother posts the video of their performance, and Cullen makes a comment.
“Did you share it around?” Jazz asked.
“Yes, Mom. I shared it everywhere,” Lowell replied.
“Good. How did you label it?”
“The Jazz Trio sings with Cullen Fellowes.”
“You did not! He’ll be so pissed!”
“Wanna bet? Look who the first comment is from.” He pointed to the screen, reading it aloud. “Great concert! Wish it hadn’t ended in such a weird way, I wanted to come up and say hi. You all are great, and I had fun singing with you. Sang my damn song better than me! CWF”
The comment was posted under the name The Cullenator, with a picture of his sassy grin, blue eyes twinkling.
“Did you reply?” She sat next to him once more.
“That comment, big sis, is directed at you.”
“Then move, and let me answer!” She grabbed the laptop, nearly knocking him off his chair.
“Don’t be lame. Let me read it before you post.”
Thinking for a moment, she started typing. Lowell read over her shoulder.
“What? That’s a great response.”
“Mr. Fellowes, my brothers and I enjoyed your participation at our concert. We hope you can join us again. You sound like you’re replying to a business letter. That sucks completely.” He deleted her message, typing one of his own.
“No! You didn’t post— Lowell!”
He’d typed: Cullen, thanks for the duet. Let’s do it again sometime. You’re super hot.
“You bastard! I can’t believe you did that! Oh, my God, you bastard!” She was in the process of pummeling him, when her phone rang. “Behave!” she cautioned. Her phone was the official business line. If the number wasn’t on her list, she treated it like a business call.
“Thank you for calling the Jazz Trio, Jazz speaking—”
“So, I’m hot, huh?” Cullen’s voice sounded over the phone, a soft laugh followed.
“Oh, God,” she whispered, hand over her eyes.
“You’re supposed to say that later, while we have sex. Right now, it’s completely inappropriate.”
“My brother wrote that. The drummer. The youngest. He can’t be trusted. My reply was—”
“Boring,” Lowell said loudly.
“Professional,” Jazz amended.
“So—boring,” Cullen said with a loud laugh. “I don’t like boring, or professional. I’m a relaxed kind of guy.”
“Why were you there?”
“At the mall? Sometimes, I like to be—boring,” he confessed. “Honestly, I like to connect with people. Growing up rich, being a rock star, it’s easy to forget what it’s like. Your music, your voice. That makes people take notice. Sorry I spoiled the ending of your concert, with my precipitous escape.”
It took her a second for her mind to flip into high vocabulary mode. Laughing softly, she cradled the phone. “It’s okay. Not being you, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be mobbed.”
“Not quite as entertaining as it might seem. I was lucky, though. Two of the security guys helped me out.”
“Who was the guy who got arrested?”
“How did you know?” he sounded genuinely puzzled.
“My brothers saw, as they drove by.”
“Tell him I filmed it,” Lowell nudged her.
“No!” she whispered.
“No? What? I didn’t ask anything,” Cullen said.
“I was telling Lowell no. He’s like a little kid, bugging me. Go away, Lowell!” She shoved at her brother.
He didn’t move, so she trotted up the stairs to her room.
“I was calling, partly to thank you for the compliment, and partly to ask you to come to the concert this Saturday.”
“Oh, gosh, I can’t!” Her face hit her palm. “I have a prior engagement.”
“I can’t. It’s my great-grandmother’s ninety-ninth birthday. The entire clan is meeting up for a party. We’re hoping she’ll make it to a hundred, but you never know.”
“Oh, no sure. That’s far more important. Ninety-nine, huh? I didn’t think I’d even make it to thirty, that’s pretty cool.”
“Make it to thirty. You’re not sick, are you?”
His laughter rang out. “Do I look sick? I thought I looked hot.”
“You don’t. You do! Just—” She paused. “Are conversations with you always this difficult?”
“I’d love to say no, but probably. My brother says I don’t filter, and my sister says I don’t have an off switch. Both are correct.” He chuckled softly, sobering somewhat. “I didn’t think I’d make it to thirty, because I don’t live an exemplary life. I drive too fast, like to jump out of planes, love free climbing, and want to snow board in the Alps.”
“That last doesn’t sound so dangerous.”
“It is, if you jump out of a helicopter.”
“Oh. Wow. You can do that?”
“Yeah. You can do that.”
She paused so long, he thought she’d lost connection.
“Yeah, hi. I was just thinking about all those things. Dangerous. Expensive.”
“They are. Both.”
“I can’t even dream of having that kind of money.”
“Actually, you can. You have talent—all three of you. You sang my song better than I do, and I wrote the damn thing. Part of my reason for this call, besides inviting you to the concert, I wanted to see if you and your brothers are available to go on the road in a few months. We’re doing a tour of the greater northeast, and Canada. Specifically Newfoundland/ Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec, and all those funky-do islands that I can’t remember the names of. You’d need your passports, and whatever instruments you prefer. Everything else provided.”
Her gasp left her breathless. “Are you serious right now?”
“Yes. This isn’t just a play to get in your pants.”
“Though, I would like that. But I can wait. The offer is completely serious. If you say yes, I’ll call our manager, and have him talk to yours.”
“Actually, I’m the manger for now. We can’t afford a regular one.”
“Then, you need a manager.”
“Call this number, and tell her I sent you.” He rattled off a phone number.
“Wait, hold on. Let me get a pen and paper.”
She scrabbled around, finding what she needed. “Okay, go.”
He repeated the number. “Got it?”
“Yes. Who is this?”
“We can’t afford her! She’s the best agent in the business!”
“Call her. Talking is free. Mention my name, and that we want you on our tour. I guarantee she’ll say yes.”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes