The sound of the alarm clock jolted him awake. No, not the alarm, Brad realized, groggy and disoriented from lack of sleep. The telephone. He hadn't left a wake-up call. Who would be phoning him at six o'clock, the morning after a concert?
Still on his back, he reached over the nightstand and fumbled for the handset in an effort to stop the irritating clamor. "Yeah," he answered, "this better be good."
"Bradley, Darling, I'm always good." The familiar female voice at the other end purred like a Siamese in heat, and Brad bolted upright in the bed.
"What the hell are you doing calling me at this hour of the morning, and how'd you get this number?" he demanded.
"Sweetums, you forget that I'm a journalist. It's my job to stay on top of things...so to speak," she added with a snicker of innuendo.
"Leona, I'm not in the mood for your games, and I know you got your little care package this month, so why don't we just cut right to the chase. What do you want?"
"My we're testy. Now is that any way to treat such a dear friend? Especially after the big favor I did for you last night."
He could feel the beads of sweat forming over his forehead as he dangled his feet over the edge of the bed, trying to calculate what his next move should be. Leona Farnsworth never did favors for anybody--unless she expected a big pay back. And he could only hazard a guess as to what the witch was talking about now.
"All right, Leona, why don't you tell me what favor that was," he suggested, in a tone that was far more controlled than his anxiety.
"If you insist. It has to do with the Celebrity Spotlight Column the Chicago Press runs. It is syndicated, so you should be acquainted with it."
"What if I am?"
"Well then you would realize that little gadabout town you pulled off last night, in that crazy getup you wore, was quite a newsworthy stunt."
Brad let out a caustic laugh. "I take it you were at the Pavilion? Spying on me again? It's a pretty sad commentary when the American public has nothing more significant to read about than what I do with my free time. Still, I'm not sure what this has to do with favors, so why don't you enlighten me?"
He heard her sharp intake of breath. "Of course, Bradley. By the way, who's your new little nymphet? She doesn't seem like your usual type."
He ran his hand over his neck and could feel the vein that began to protrude whenever his anger was on the rise. "That's none of your freakin' business, Leona!"
"Now don't get edgy. You can't blame people for wanting to know. After all you are in the limelight."
"My association with the lady is private. It has nothing to do with my music! So are you telling me we made the damn news?" Not that he cared about himself. He was used to all the press, both good and bad. But if someone had written something about Tori--before he could even get the chance to slide his foot in the door with her...
"Once Upon A Secret" is a Five Star publication,
released in November 2002. It is my first full-length novel.
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