Monday, January 19, 2015

'Real Time' by Jeanine Binder on sale for $0.99!


Twenty-five years of fame comes at a price for Nick, leaving him hard—a machine to produce nothing but his music. True to his British upbringing, he’s very set in his ways. Things are just as he wants them—no deviance.

In steps Kate—a studio musician who, by a strange twist, manages to get hired into his band. Everything starts out with the boundaries firmly placed, and it doesn’t take long for Nick to realize she’s going to change his world. To his surprise, he’s the one who is attracted to her first. She gets under his skin.

Living by the creed that letting people close gets you hurt, Nick stays driven in his commitments. He is a musician, first and foremost, but a turn of events leads him to investing in the recording company who produces his music. Can he handle this new venture, his music, and keep the woman he now loves?

Read the first chapter!

Chapter One

                Nick Marshall planted his booted foot onto the desk in front of him, taking a long drag off the cigarette in his left hand and closing his eyes as he laid his head back on the chair.  This cannot be that bloody hard, he thought, exhaling and opening his eyes to watch the smoke swirl over his head.  In a city the size of Los Angeles, how difficult can it be to find ONE person who can play the piano?  Nick was starting to get anxious and more than simply irritated.  He had been auditioning to replace Marcus Daily, his keyboard player of fifteen years.  Marcus had retired in the spring, stating he wanted to be closer to home, closer to his kids.  Nick appreciated his sentiments and sent him off with a bang - a new job at the studio which would accomplish that.  Now the bang was in his head as a headache continued to grow through a well of sheer frustration.  He’d thought this would be an easy task – now he was three weeks away from his six-month US tour and no keyboard player in sight.
                Nick was forty-five years old, six-foot-four, blond hair, and a body to go with it.  In the past thirty years he had become a solid force in the music world:  twenty-five gold records, twenty-three platinum records, fourteen double platinum records, one diamond record, and sold out shows wherever he went.  What started out as a career as a humble guitar player had turned into quite an entourage.  To make a Nick Marshall show required six band members, including himself, twelve roadies to put up and take down the stage, two bodyguards for Nick and a security force of six for the rest of the band, two bus drivers, two truck drivers, and a very overworked manager. 

                And it was the overworked manager, Mickey Simon, who came over with the next resume for Nick to look over.  Once they had figured out about half the applicants couldn’t actually read music, it cut down the number of people applying for the position and Mickey was able to screen those out.  But after almost three days, Nick was starting to be convinced he would be better off hiring a guitar player and playing the damn keyboards himself.  Not something he wanted to do, but he was not about to hire some twenty year old who thought he could make an electronic keyboard ‘sing.’  Most of them froze when he pointed to the baby grand piano in the corner and asked them to play something.  
“Here’s the next one,” Mickey said, handing him the resume.
                “Great.  How bad do you think this one will be?” Nick asked, with a cynical tone.
                Mickey had been his manager since the beginning and he knew Nick well.  He knew Nick’s patience for this was just about at its end.  “To be honest, this one has the talent.  But there’s a catch.”
                “There’s always a catch, mate,” he agreed, putting out the cigarette.  “What is it?”
                “It’s a woman,” he answered.  “I know you usually don’t screen women just because it’s a pain in the arse.  But if you look at her resume, she has lots of talent.  And experience.”
                Nick scanned the paper.  Katelyn Thomas was the name on it.  He cocked his head a little, trying to recall where he had heard her name.  “Mickey, right now if they could read music and play the piano, I’d hire a chimpanzee.”
                Mickey laughed as he walked away to show her in to the studio.  Nick went back to the resume and saw she had been working as a studio musician for the past six years.  Satellite Records.  That’s why her name is so familiar.  Nick had never used her services – up until now he didn’t need a stand-in keyboard player for his records.  This would be interesting but complicated, he thought.  He wasn’t so worried about her being a woman.  He could work around the issue although it would mean changing some arrangements at hotels and things, but Mickey was a genius at adjustment work.  No, the parts he wanted to avoid were the rumors and the accusations she was sleeping with him to get the job.  It would be the first headline on the tabloids and would follow him from city to city.  Contrary to the said tabloids, Nick stayed away from the young girls and the only one night stand he could even remember was when he was sixteen.
                The woman following behind Mickey was pretty and Nick was glad to see she at least appeared older than twenty.  She had auburn hair pulled into a ponytail, going down her back, green eyes, and looked to be about five-foot-nine.  She was dressed well in a pair of nice jeans, nice blouse, jacket, and stylish boots.  She appeared confident and when she made eye contact with him, she had a professional look on her face.  There was no hint she even knew who Nick was.  It was nice to see a woman who didn’t want to fawn in his presence.
                “Katelyn Thomas,” Mickey said as an introduction.  “Nick Marshall.”
                Nick put his hand out and she put her hand in his.  “I’m pleased to meet you, Katelyn.”
“Kate, please,” she said.  “It’s good to finally meet you.  I’ve heard lots about you from other musicians I have worked with.”
                “Hopefully it’s all good,” he answered.
                “Most of the time,” she replied with a smile.
                Nick liked her smile.  Matter of fact there wasn’t much about her he didn’t like so far.   “You do studio work?”
                She nodded.  “For the past six years I’ve been working for Satellite Records.  I’m finishing up Jason Doonsby’s latest album at the moment.”
                Nick was familiar with Jason’s music.  They sang different genres – Nick’s was rock and roll and Jason’s was country and western.  They did not meet very often, but Jason was usually at the same parties and events Nick would occasionally attend. 
“Well, here’s the thing, love.  My keyboard player retired and it’s been the bloody devil trying to find a replacement.  The biggest issues I’m having are either they don’t read music or they only seem to be able to work with electronic keyboards.  So if I pointed over there to the piano and asked you to play something, could you?”
                Kate took her jacket off and laid it on the chair next to Nick’s and walked over to the white baby grand piano.  She paused for a moment, hearing music in her head then sat down on the bench.  She took a deep breath before she started into some lively Chopin, moving into some well-known Mozart, and jazzed it up by playing some modern pieces – Burt Bacharach, Billy Joel, Elton John, and even played the chorus for one of Nick’s better known ballads.  Nick sat in his chair mesmerized.  Mickey wasn’t kidding when he said she had the talent.  She made the piano sing and he was startled back to the here and now when she stopped, turning to look at him.  “Enough?”
                Without speaking, he picked up some of the sheet music on the desk and brought it over, sitting next to her on the piano bench.  Each piece he put in front of her she would take a moment to look at it and then would play like she had done so all of her music career.  Nick put his best known song, the one he needed the piano for, the one he even hauled a piano around the country for, in front of her.  She took about two minutes, as she did with the others, and played it perfectly with no mistakes and no hesitation.  In the middle of it, Nick got up and started to pace the room, thinking.  He knew, without a doubt, he couldn’t let her go – he had to hire her, no matter what happened with the press or the fans.  He had never heard his music played with such beauty before.  He saw Mickey watching through the sound booth windows and he motioned for him to come back in.  Nick whispered something to Mickey and then Nick turned back to Kate.  Mickey walked back out of the studio quickly.
                “I have no idea why, love,” Nick began, “because you’re definitely over qualified.  But the job is yours if you want it.”
                “You’re sure?” she asked, surprised.  “I know my being a woman has to complicate things.”
                Nick sat back down on the bench beside her, picking up the music.  “It’s only a little complicated.  And it’s nothing I can’t change with little or no effort.”  He put the music into a folder and set it back on the music stand.  “Where did you learn to play like that?”
                Nick saw a shadow cross her eyes and the excitement of winning the job starting to fade. “I trained as a concert pianist once,” she replied.  “I had great dreams of a magical career.  It all went down the drain ten years ago with a broken hand.”
                She didn’t say any more and Nick wasn’t going to press her.  It was obvious this was a bad memory and he didn’t want to cause her pain in order to satisfy his curiosity.  “How much more do you have left on Doonsby’s album?”
                “A couple more tracks.  We should be finished this weekend or by mid-next week at the latest. “
                “And you’re good to be gone for six months?  That’s how long this tour will be, then a three week vacation, followed by three months in Europe and Asia.  After that, it calms down for a while until I get the rest of the music written for the next album.  Then the chaos starts all over again.”
                “I have no commitments,” she told him.  “The lease on my condo is paid through the first of the year, so I don’t have to worry about rent and things.  I have a cat, but I can take her to my parent’s house while I am gone. “
                Nick stood up, holding out his hand and Kate took it.  “Then I welcome you aboard, love,” he said, sealing the deal with a handshake.  “Mickey will want to set up time to go over the contracts and all the Mickey-stuff with you.”
                She nodded.  “No worries.  I’m overwhelmed I got the job.  I hadn’t planned to audition for it.”
“What changed your mind?”
                She smiled, walking over to get her jacket.  “One of the kids you turned down was Michael Grayson’s son.”  Michael Grayson owned Satellite Records, this studio’s biggest competitor.  “Justin came storming back into the studio two days ago complaining you wouldn’t even give him an audition because he didn’t know how to play the piano; he had self-taught himself keyboards.  So I thought, okay, I know how to play the piano and began to wonder if I had a shot.  Justin was calling you all kinds of names by the way.”
                “I wasn’t very nice to some of them, “he admitted.  “I don’t need a kid who can push buttons on a keyboard and become a one man band. One of my songs has a long piano solo and I suppose it could be played on electronics.  However, I prefer the way a straight piano sets it off. “
                “We see a lot of it at the studio – kids thinking an electronic keyboard makes them a musician.  Real musicians appear to be few and far between.  It’s your music, Nick.  Play it however you want.”
                “And I do.”  He started to walk with her out of the studio.  “Is Monday good to come in and sign all the legal stuff?”
                “I’ll make the time,” she promised.
                Nick escorted her out of the studio and back to Mickey.  Nick turned around, moving back to his desk and lighting another cigarette while waiting for Mickey to come back.  After about five minutes, Mickey came back into the studio and sat down across from him.  Nick was grinning from ear to ear.  Just looking at him, Mickey had to laugh.  “I’ll start making the changes tomorrow.  You realize this is going to cost you a bit.”
                “I don’t care,” Nick answered.  “She is over qualified but I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth.”
                “I saw her play once.  Back when she was doing the concert stuff.”
                “Really?  Where?”
                “My niece was at Julliard at the same time.  They had a performance and I went to watch.  I always wondered what happened to her,” Mickey said.
Nick put the cigarette out in the ash tray.  “She said something about a broken hand.  It really must have been a bad one if it would have put such a promising career away.”            
                Kate was excited and a little stunned she had gotten the job.  It was a known fact through the studio world that Nick Marshall’s band did not have turnover very often and he rarely screened women.  Kate thought it had to do with how the press would report the relationship – it added more fuel for the tabloid newspapers.  She wasn’t sure whether she got the job for her talent or for the anxiety of not having found someone much sooner in the audition process.  Kate was glad for the change; not all the musicians on Satellite’s roster were easy to work with and Kate always seemed to be assigned to those who tried her patience.  They were never satisfied and the work became twice as hard as it had to be.
                Driving the forty minutes back to the studio, Kate was going over in head exactly what she was going to say to Michael Grayson.  She owed a lot to him – he didn’t have to hire her when her dad had asked.  It had given her a much needed boost in her confidence level because she hadn’t been sure she was going to be able to continue with any kind of a music career.  There had been a lot of damage and sometimes her hand would get stiff and sore when she played for long periods of time.  Nick had seemed pleased with how well she played.
                Once at the studio, she rode up to the eighth floor, where Michael’s office was located.  She had only been up there a couple of times since starting work there but had no difficulty finding it.  His secretary, Rebecca, told her he was in a meeting for another hour but was willing to add her to his calendar for later in the afternoon.  He only had thirty minutes available – Kate told her it would be more than enough time for what she needed.  She left the area, going down to the studio to see where things were at for Jason Doonsby’s album.
                Jason was one of those difficult artists to work with.  He was never content it appeared, with anything which didn’t take at least five or six retries.  He was a big hit with most of the women in the studio, except for Kate, and he would spend lots of time trying to convince her to go out with him.  Kate always turned him down, which only seemed to spur him to try harder.  She had tried on numerous records to trade the shifts with one of the other keyboard players, so she wouldn’t have to deal with him.  Next thing Kate knew, she was permanently assigned to his music; this told her Jason had thrown a fit to Michael.
The red warning light was off on the door for studio B, so she opened door, walking quietly into the sound booth.  Jason’s backup singers were on the studio floor, telling Kate the vocals were being done and she wasn’t needed.  This was helpful to her peace of mind; she was not looking forward to the conversation she was going to have in about thirty minutes with her boss, and she was not in a good mood to deal with Jason.  Thankfully, she only had two songs left and she planned to get those done quickly, especially since she would be leaving with Nick in three weeks.  Jason wasn’t going to like it but there wasn’t much he could do about it.  Studio musicians were free to quit, same as any other employee.  There was not a specified contract stating otherwise, which Kate knew there would be one with Nick. 
                At five minutes to the hour, Kate was back up on the eighth floor, waiting by Michael’s office.  The waiting room was nicely decorated with pretty artwork and there was a large salt-water aquarium along one wall with brightly colored fish.  She loved to watch the clown fish as they swam in and out of the coral reef which was built in the middle of the tank.  She felt like a ten year old watching all the fish intently until Rebecca interrupted her, telling her she could go into Michael’s office.
                Kate walked confidently into the office.  Michael Grayson was about six-foot tall, around fifty-eight years old, and wore a three-piece Armani suit.  Kate couldn’t remember seeing him wear anything but nice suits, including a matching silk tie and usually a diamond pin.  He smiled at her as she walked in; Kate’s step-dad, Allen, was a good friend and she knew him fairly well.  Michael motioned to one of the chairs in front of his desk and she sat down.
                “What can I do for you, Kate?” Michael asked, starting their conversation.
                “I came to give you my verbal resignation,” Kate said, without preamble.  “I’ll have the written one on your desk in the morning.”
                “Resignation?” he echoed, surprised.  “Why are you resigning?”
                “I signed on with Nick Marshall this afternoon,” Kate answered.
                “With Empire Records?” Michael asked, thinking she was going there to do the same kind of studio work.
                “No.  Nick hired me to replace his keyboard player.”
“Now I am surprised,” Michael said, raising an eyebrow.  “Nick doesn’t audition women.  At least he hasn’t in the past.”
                “I think he was desperate,” she replied smiling.  “He said he’d been having issues finding a piano player.  You and I both know playing keyboards isn’t about playing the piano and he didn’t want simply a keyboard player.  One of the reasons he rejected Justin two days ago.”
                “I’ll be sorry to see you go, Kate,” he said seriously.  “Artists ask for you by name to work on their records.  I’m going to have some very disappointed folks.”
                “I wanted to tell you in person because you were my salvation six years ago when I really needed it.  And I also need your help with getting Jason to finish the remaining keyboard tracks this week.”
                “I’ll help, but I’m not looking forward to the conversation,” Michael agreed.  “When is Nick leaving?”
                “Three weeks and I want to have a week free for vacation and things, since I will be six months on the road with him for the first tour.  I need to get all my personal stuff in line so I can be gone for such a long stretch.”
                Michael stood up and held his hand out to her.  Kate took it, shaking his hand.  “I wish you the best, Kate,” Michael said sincerely.  “And if things don’t work out with Nick, you are welcome back any time.”
                “I appreciate all you’ve done, Michael,” she said smiling.  “Good to know I have other options if this doesn’t work out.” 

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About the author:

Jeanine Binder grew up in a small town in California on the outskirts of Palm Springs, where the Hollywood celebrities liked to vacation. After thirty years, she packed up, moved to Arkansas where she still lives today. Her hobbies include her writing, reading good books, and seeing exotic places (loves to go on cruises).

Writing has always been a passion and hoping the next twenty years will bring many enjoyable books for others to read.

You can connect with Jeanine via the following:
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