“If you keep booking us in shitholes, I might quit.”

Chris Irvine stared at his bassist, wondering if she was serious. The grim red line that was her mouth told him she was. “Now Jonny, how do you expect to get any exposure if we don’t play anywhere and everywhere?”

Jonatha Collins stared at the lead singer of their band over the rims of her black sunglasses; piercing blue eyes boring holes into him. “Exposure to what, exactly?” She demanded in clipped tones. “Head lice and roaches?”

The keyboardist –Jacob Black- snorted, busy setting up.

“So walk.” Chris folded his arms over his chest; arching a blond brow challengingly.

“She would, Chris, but it’s a damn long trip by foot back to New York.”

Jake grinned, looking up as the guitarist –Karma- moved between Chris and Jonatha. “There you are, I was afraid I was going to have to play peace keeper.” He joked, smirking when Jonatha shot him a look and returned it with a wink.

Now it was Karma’s turn to snort. “You, Jake? Play peace keeper, who the hell do you think you’re fooling?”


Shaking her head, Karma glanced back and forth between her friends. Best friends, one for each gender. Though they butted heads, a lot. Their little band, as Jonatha liked to refer to it as, was actually Chris’ band.

Chris was the lead singer, of course. It suited him as he loved being the center of attention; all eyes on him, that sort of thing. It helped that he looked, dressed and acted like the rock star he was aspiring to be. Shoulder length blonde hair that he loved to flick and toss; intense blue eyes; tanned and built.

When he was onstage, he ran around in either vinyl or leather pants; usually black but on rare occasion he went with a gaudy silver and black muscle shirts, silver and black vests. Offstage, designer jeans that undoubtedly fell off the back of a truck, and shirts that could have been painted on.

The man was vain. He knew he looked like an Adonis and used it to his advantage.

Karma genuinely pitied his one night stands.

Jacob Black, or simply Jake, was the keyboardist; which at first had seemed a bit odd considering how tall he was. Well past the 6’5” mark, lean and muscular. If you didn’t actually know him, he could be quite intimidating. He was a Native American, of a Quileute tribe out of Washington and that was all they really knew about him.

Or at least his past.

Whenever asked, all Jake would simply shrug and say he had gone off to seek his fame and fortune.

Karma and Jonatha both speculated there had been a woman in his life.

Rich, ebony hair that hung down to his chin and russet colored skin; Jake was very easy on the eyes. He also had a very generous mouth that was usually turned upwards into a mocking grin. He had a sarcastic sense of humor and wasn’t afraid to unleash it at a moment’s notice; but he also had a kind heart, even if he did try hiding it.

Jake was a jeans and a shirt kind of guy, but Chris had a ‘dressing up’ rule whenever they performed. Grudgingly, he sported leather pants onstage; always grumbling about how nobody could see his legs as he shimmied into them.

Then came the drummer, who one of them really knew besides Chris; as he was Chris’ friend. Phil looked grungy, and he didn’t really talk a lot; just grinned. When he did talk, it was usually about his straight edge lifestyle.

Usually, he was knocking back a few shots while explaining how straight edge worked.

Needless to say, Karma tried to steer clear of Phil.

Jonatha was an entity unto herself. She was bold as brass, tough as nails and yet frail as a snowflake all in one. She was also the one who normally told Chris where to go whenever he got too demanding, which always drew laments from Jake who would insist he had been about to do it.

On stage, she was as Chris liked to call it ‘a bit on the Satanic side’, or as Jake laughed ‘Gothic Lite’. Jonatha offstage was a tomboy who wore make-up. Tall, curves that belied her feminine status no matter what she wore with long black hair and sapphire blue eyes; Jonatha looked like an angel but she was a demon.

Or could be.

Which left Karma herself. If she had to classify herself, she’d be a punk. When she was rocking her electric guitar onstage and then off of it too. Phil was… Phil. Jake had his good-nature with a side of sarcasm. Chris was charismatic and Jonatha was the ‘tough cookie’, the way Karma seen it, she was the glue that managed to hold them all together.

That and she was the only one who could tolerate Chris for extended periods of time. That could be because they had known each other for over two decades.

Their friendship was probably the reason she did the duets with Chris opposed to just vocals like Jonatha. That and Jonatha had told Chris flat out if he tried making her sing something that she termed ‘retarded’, she’d kill him.

“If we get head lice, Chris has to forfeit his share of the cut.” Karma said with a grin; adjusting the suspenders that held her blue, gray and black plaid mini skirt up; the black sequined straps contrasting against the pale blue baby tee shirt she wore.

“Hey!” Chris protested, frowning when he seen her blue lips curving into the barest hint of a smile. Growling; he looped his arm around her waist; drawing her into him. “Not nice, Karm. Besides, if there was even the remotest of chance that I could get lice, you know damn well I’d be running in the opposite direction.”

“Apparently, Chris missed the sarcasm behind Jonny’s ‘head lice’ remark.” Jake said dryly.

Jonatha snorted.


Karma looked around the bar/club from her place on stage; glad to be back in New York; at their regular haunt opposed to the last place Chris had gotten them… booked. She spotted some new faces among the many regulars, smiling when she was waved at.

When the song ended, Chris announced a short break and that was all the incentive she needed to carefully set her Stratocaster American Series HHS electric guitar (which had cost her damn near a thousand dollars but had been so worth it) tucked safely between its case and Jonatha’s case.

Jonatha snorted, shaking her head as she gently set down her own Mexican Fender Jazz bass guitar behind the cases and leaned it against the partition. “Needing a drink too?” She chuckled.

“Don’t you know it.”

Laughing, they hopped off the stage to the bar floor; Jonatha kicking aside an empty beer can.

“Charming.” Chris grunted, maneuvering between the women and wrapped his arm around Karma’s shoulder. “That was amazing, ladies.”

“Jonny, let’s go get a beer.” Jake gestured her towards the bar, smiling when she automatically moved away from Chris. “You buy the first round.”

“Hell, I’ll buy the second.” She chuckled; shaking her head as she glanced over her shoulder.

Chris and Karma were best friends, and they had chemistry on the stage that was off the charts; she knew damn well that chemistry could extend off the stage if they would just realize they liked each other as more than friends and just go there already.

Like, how she would go there with Jake if she knew for certain he was ready to put behind whatever had happened to him and move on. As she wasn’t certain yet, she was just chilling and waiting it out.

For now.

Patience wasn’t one of her redeeming qualities.


“You know, it’s a good thing you can sing or the rest of us would be fucked.” Karma remarked, clinking her glass with Chris’ before they each knocked back their vodka.

“You have the voice of an angel.” He teased, reaching out to push a lock of her hair behind her ear; smiling when she automatically moved to stop him. “Vain wench.”

“I am not vain.”

Karma’s hair was naturally a warm shade of brown; however, even though she was only in her late twenties, she had streaks of silver shooting through her tresses. Something that annoyed the ever loving shit out of her.

“Then stop worrying about your damn hair, you look hot, as always.” Chris waited until she gave him a smile before refilling their glasses. “So, how did I really sound?”

Karma couldn’t keep herself from laughing. And she was the vain one? “Awesome, as always.” She answered finally, rolling her sparkling green eyes at him; smirking when he just pouted. “If it weren’t for the fact that I don’t date blonds, I’d have to suck your lip right now.” She teased.

“Baby, you know you couldn’t handle this.” Chris licked his lips lewdly, gesturing at himself.

She promptly smacked his arm.

Chortling, Chris dropped a kiss on her cheek before going to mingle.

One of the oddly beautiful things about her and Chris was that they were a lot alike, except in gender. That and she kept her ego in check. Though she did play the field as often as he did, they were both smart enough to NOT play with each other however.

That was bad for business as the saying went.


Karma considered a guy who looked like he was working up the nerve to approach her; offering an encouraging smile. She sighed exasperatedly when he blushed a furious red and promptly tripped over a chair.

Her attention was mercifully distracted by a man stumbling past her; with tears streaking down his face. A cry baby drunk, that was never pleasant to see. But when he procured a set of keys from his pocket, she frowned.

A cry baby drunk who was driving was even worse.

Ignoring Jonatha’s ‘you got fifteen minutes’, she followed him slowly; procuring her silver cigarette case with a sigh. Once outside; she lit up and arched an eyebrow, watching the crying drunk stand there looking confused.

Then she glanced down and seen his key ring, swooping to pick it up.

The man in question was patting his pockets; beginning to curse loudly. He whirled around and almost toppled; catching hold of a wooden light post for balance. “Shiiiit!”

Karma slid the keys discreetly into the waistband of her skirt.

When he took one tottering step forward –almost right into her- she threw her hands up and caught his shoulders before he could plow her. “Whoa there, sport!” She said with an easy smile; catching the scent of whiskey literally pouring off of him. “You need a cab, honey.”

He blinked; looking like he was trying to get her into focus. “I-I don’t need a… cab…” He managed to get out; moving his hands to rest on her shoulders for support. “You’re beautiful…”

“Yeah, I know, I get that a lot.” Karma cheeked, shaking her head. “Usually from guys just as drunk as you. Come on…” She guided his arm around her neck, sighing in relief when the bouncer –Glen Jacobs- stepped out of the shadows. “Have Tiny call a cab, would you?”

“Sure thing, Karm.” Glenn smiled slightly, knowing she had a bad habit of worrying about people, including strangers. “Just let me move him away from… Adam?”

“Who the hell are you?”

Glenn shook his head. “Sober.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Copeland Adam, no…” Adam frowned. “Adam Copland. Copelin.”

“Copeland?” Karma suggested helpfully.

“Yeah, that.”

“What the hell happened to you?” Glenn demanded, guiding Adam to a bench.

“I uh… I don’t know… I…” He sighed, shrugging; trying to focus on Karma again. “She’s a sight for sore eyes, ain’t she?”

Karma smacked her own face, shaking her head when Glenn went to reply. “Don’t even, Jacobs.” She winked at him, smirking when he licked his lips. “Okay, since you know… Adam, is it? Since you know him, maybe you can get him to take a cab?”

“I need my keys…” Adam blinked repeatedly, his head swaying before looking at Glenn; arching an eyebrow and began laughing. “Hey Jacobs, when did you get here?”

“He’s fucking toasted…”

Adam just kept on laughing, running a hand through his hair then groaned. “God, I don’t feel good…”

“I wouldn’t either if I ingested a shitload of whiskey…”

“Wow, a shitload…”

“Which is WHY we’re calling you a cab, honey. So you can go home and drink it off.” Karma said gently. “You hold him there, I’ll call a cab. If he pukes, I am SO out of here, Jacobs.” Her nose wrinkled in disgust.

“I ain’t gonna puke!” Adam shouted indignantly, pushing himself to his feet only to fall right back on his ass. “Everything is spinning!”

“He’s sleeping here, there’s a spare cot in the back.” Glenn sounded disgusted himself, tossing the much smaller man over his shoulder and headed inside. “Tiny, can he use the spare room?”

Tiny –who happened to be even smaller than his name implied- looked up and nodded.

“Thanks.” Glenn headed around the bar, Karma following; trying to convince Adam he wasn’t being kidnapped by a woman in drag.

“But she’s-“ Adam turned green.


“OH MY GOD…” Glenn froze.

“I feel so better now…” Adam sighed, using Glenn’s shirt to wipe vomit from his face.

Glenn promptly dropped him.

That’s when Karma scooted on out of there, setting the keys down on the bar and hauled her cookies to Chris, meeting him backstage.

Chris arched an eyebrow.

“Don’t ask.”

“Baby, you look like you’re going to be –AHHH, FUCK, KARM! These are new!” Chris shrieked, trying to evade the arc of puke that splattered his boots. “Fuck!” He repeated, dashing off.

“Oh man… that’s foul.” Phil shook his head, following after Chris.

Rolling her eyes, Jonatha accepted the bandana Jake passed her and headed towards Karma. “Here.” She didn’t bother asking, figuring someone else had been sick and Karma had seen it. Karma had a hard time being around sick people, she couldn’t go to a hospital to visit someone, none of it. She had grown up taking care of her mother who had been bedridden and ill frequently.

It had stuck with her into adulthood.

Jake had his head cocked, listening to Chris cursing and Phil laughing. “I think we’re done for the night. Need a ride home, Karm?”

“I am NOT riding on your motorcycle, Black.” Karma still looked a shade of green.

“I’ll drive her.” Jonatha said, trying to hide her smile.

Karma just groaned again.

That. Was. Disgusting.


Karma woke up to a voicemail.

“My new boots are OFF limits, don’t hurl on them.”

“Nice…” She muttered, plucking sleep from her eyes as she rolled out of bed; stretching.

Just another day in paradise.

She went through her morning routine without pause, at least until it came time to brew coffee. She was out.

Paradise lost.

“Well fuck…” She cursed, knowing this meant she had to run across the street to the market. Sighing, Karma banged her head on the cupboard. “Ow…”


Since she had to go out, she figured she’d just make an event of it and actually do her grocery shopping. Not to mention she was running low on toilet paper and didn’t fancy using paper towel. Shopping for food was a chore she didn’t particularly like so she made short work of it.

Then hauled ass back to her apartment, that coffee still beckoning. Juggling her brown sacks of groceries in one arm, she reached down the front of her halter top to fish out her apartment keys; leaning her hip into her door to balance the bottom of the bags.

“Okay, okay, no, no, SHIT!” She shrieked when the bags went flying upon opening the door.

She was a walking accident and she knew it.

Sighing resignedly, Karma began cleaning up the mess of unopened goods; starting with her jar of coffee beans.

“You know, you could always-“ Chris cringed when she jumped, the coffee jar flying out of her hands and smack into the wall; shattering.

Glass and coffee all over the place.

He quickly held out the Starbucks he had brought. The look on her face told him she was about to explode and take his ass with her. “Can I leave first?”

She growled.

“Look, I’ll buy you some more, just don’t-“ He sighed in relief when the coffee was snatched out of his hand. One thing Chris had learned early on about his friend was not to screw with her and coffee, she was an unholy coffee fiend.

“You can’t sneak up on me!” Karma said when she had calmed down, beginning to pick stuff up again. “Why are you here anyway?”

Chris shrugged, pulling her keys from the doorknob before dropping them down her shirt.

“Thank you, my day is complete now that you’ve completely violated me.” She joked, now heading to get her vacuum cleaner.

Grabbing her by the wrist, Chris stopped her. “I know you well enough to know you probably have a jar of instant coffee in one of those bags, go make coffee, I’ll clean.” He flashed her a reassuring smile.

After hugging him, Karma took her Starbucks cup –which was about drained- and started rifling through bags. She preferred fresh to instant but liked to keep instant on hand for when she ran out; like this morning for instance.

Chris whistled while he picked up the shards of glass, then vacuumed up the coffee; shaking his head. When he had finished, he joined her at her small round table. “We have a gig tonight.”

“Do we now? Where and what time? By the way, you still owe me money for last night.” She held out a hand, wriggling her fingers; grinning when Chris produced some folded twenties. She shook her head when he made the attempt to stuff the cash down her top. “Nuh uh, I’ll do that thank you very much.”

He groaned, watching as she made a show of putting the money down her bra. “Tease.”


“So…” Chris stretched leisurely in his chair, nodding his thanks when Karma set a mug of coffee down before him.”I see you have a new neighbor.”

She cocked an eyebrow.

“Drive them nuts with your music yet?”

“I wasn’t even aware I had a new neighbor.” Karma blinked, looking towards the left. The apartment next door had been empty for some time, when had someone moved in? “But… I can drive them insane now.” She picked up the remote to her stereo and pressed play, grinning when Lita Ford blared. “Loud enough?”

Chris shook his head.

She notched the volume up.

He flashed her two thumbs up.

The only reason they realized someone was banging on the door was when a picture of them, Phil, Jonatha and Jake fell off the wall.

Pulling a face, Karma walked over to open the door; Chris right behind her. She opened it and gave a start; letting out a shrill curse when coffee splashed from her mug onto her shirt. “CHRIST ON THE GODDAMN CROSS!”

It was Adam Copeland, the puke guy.

He stared at her out of red rimmed eyes; obviously suffering a hellacious hangover. He did look much better however in that he was showered; not crying and didn’t smell horrible.

The painful reminder she had burnt herself was all over her chest; groaning Karma turned her back to him and peeled off her shirt. She wasn’t shy but…

Chris was laughing softly as he turned off the stereo.

“Hot, hot, hot…”

“Do I know you?”

She glanced over her shoulder. “You puked in front of me last night.”

He blushed. “That was you?”

“That was him?” Chris echoed, blue eyes narrowing.

“I’m Karma.” She scowled when Chris pulled her hair; reaching over to jerk the fuzz on his chin. “This jackass is Chris and I need ice cause this hurts.” She winced, looking down.

Adam frowned, trying not to look at her breasts and just focused on the burn. “I have aloe.” He offered finally.

“I have ice.”

“Did you want something, bro?” Chris asked conversationally.

“Oh yeah, the music… it was a bit loud and-“

“You have a hangover.”

Karma was going to smack Chris for that smug tone of voice. “I’ll keep it down.” She called from the kitchen; busy numbing herself.



“Why do you always have to cop a feel?” Karma whined later in the night, polishing her guitar as Chris set up his microphone.

“Because he’s a pervert.” Jake answered, walking by her. “And your clothes are a bit…”

“Provocative.” Jonatha supplied with a snort.


She looked down at her black ‘skinny’ jeans, which she had slashed up to the point of almost indecent; rolling her eyes. A pair of black heeled boots and a grey tank top, along with her ever present suspenders; tonight’s were a simple black with grey dots. She figured not wearing a plaid skirt for once was a media event.

Chris smirked.

In retaliation, she reached out to squeeze HIS tit. “How’s it feel?” She giggled, enjoying his expression.

Phil groaned, folding his arms over his own chest.

When she let go, Chris peered down at his bare chest. “Oh thank God, I thought I was going to lose my nipples.”

“Oh look Jake, someone’s bringing you flowers.” Jonatha teased, smiling when his head shot up.

Jake shook his head. “I prefer…” He gave her a once over. “Red heads.”

“Oh fuck you.”

He grinned, flashing white teeth at her.

Jonatha actually blushed.

“What the hell…” Chris trailed off, watching as Adam approached carrying what looked like daises and sunflowers. “Oh my god… Karm, you have a groupie.”

“Shut up.” She shot him a dirty look, managing to smile when Adam walked up to her. “Hi again.”

“Hello.” He held them out shyly. “Hope you don’t mind…”

“Stalker.” Jake coughed from behind the keyboard, having heard all about it from Chris and Karma earlier.

“I um, didn’t get to thank you for last night…” Adam was trying to ignore the open stares from her band mates. “For not letting me drive and stuff.”

“Oh, well, you’re welcome.” She took the flowers; clearing her throat awkwardly.

“Well, um, that was it. Break a leg.” He smiled shyly before heading back the way he had come.

As soon as he was gone, everyone started laughing at her.

“Oh shut the fuck up you guys!”

“Hey you fucks, you’re on in five!”

They all sobered up when the club owner hollered at them.

Once she was out of hearing, Jake shook his head. “Such a lovely woman, really. We must perform here again.”

Jonatha and Karma shared amused looks while Chris didn’t say a word. Phil was staring up at the ceiling, obviously trying not to laugh.

Within the hour, they had the place… jumping wasn’t the exact word but bodies were definitely moving.

Karma was having a blast, the audience was very response and she was feeding off of it; just like the others did. She was very glad she had worn her hair up for once because she was literally drenched in sweat.

Chris, the cocky bastard; had removed his vest, completely naked from the waist up.

Now not only were women swooning over Jacob’s rather intimidating abs but Chris’ own if not perfectly chiseled but still very sexy musculature.

One girl in particular was eyeballing Chris like he was sex on a stick; which in his humble opinion, he was. Smirking wickedly, Karma strolled up to his side; chuckling throatily when he turned; turning with him so they were back to back.

Though she made a mental note to fine him five bucks when she felt his free hand running up the outside of her thigh.

As far as Chris was concerned, it was worth it just because harassing Karma was amusing. That and he could spot her new admirer in the audience watching their every move.

Which prompted him to move until he was in front of her; the mic resting at his side as she rocked out on guitar and he danced suggestively before her.

Karma rolled her eyes at him; trying not to grin.

Jonatha was grinning like a Cheshire cat, observing them and shook her head. It looked like Karma’s new boyfriend was a tad bit jealous.

Nodding to Jake, Chris walked off-stage after settling the mic back on the stand.

Laughing, Karma moved to take over the singing; knowing Chris needed a breather.

I went to a party last Saturday night
I didn’t get laid, I got in a fight,
Uh, huh
It ain’t no big thing.”

Her favorite song, and one she could actually sing.

From the ‘wings’, Chris watched her; grinning as he sucked down water.

He waited until the chorus before running back onstage, skidding to a halt beside her; one arm looping around her waist and leaned in to sing with her.

But I know what I like
I know I like dancin’ with you
And I know what you like
I know you like dancin’ with me
Yeah, yeah
Kiss me once
Kiss me twice
C’mon pretty baby, kiss me deadly”

She was now charging him a hundred when he poured water over her head; blinking it from her eyes and turned her head; kissing his cheek. “Prick.”

Chris winked at her, taking over the song.

As the night wore on, she forgot about everything but losing herself in the music; in what was happening on stage. They did covers and songs they had written themselves, mixing it up to keep the crowd’s interest. Fast, head banging songs and slow ballads.

To the people who watched them, she and Chris looked like a couple, and in a sense they were. A stage couple. Once they weren’t performing, they were just good friends who knew better than to contemplate anything but friendship.

Of course, others might assume otherwise. Especially after Chris decided she needed to lose the wet shirt and ripped it off of her; leaving her there in her shredded jeans; white sports bra and suspenders.

“Two hundred.” She mouthed.

He winked, bending down to croon in her ear; careful to avoid getting the Stratocaster jammed in his ribs.

Phil let out a whistle that was barely audible over the drums.

Oh yes, Karma was going to have to fine Chris to Hell and back.


By the end of the night, Karma had counted damn near three hundred dollars worth of fines she was going to have to charge Chris. As the stage lights dimmed to black and they were cast in shadows; she unstrapped her guitar.

Chris watched as she put it in it’s case, knowing what was coming next. He barely caught her when she lunged at him.

“You are such an ass!” She laughed, knowing he was probably hoarse which meant he couldn’t verbally taunt her anymore. Talk about a perk, left her at leisure to verbally rip him a new hole. “Did you have to do all that?”

Chris nodded, his sparkling blues eyes matching the grin he was flashing her. She could have fined him a grand and it would have been worth it. He gestured out towards the club, smirking when she rolled her eyes.


Chris nodded again.

“You. Are. A. Prick. Picking on that poor guy.”

Jake draped his arm around Karma’s shoulders; kissing the top of her head. “I love you Karm, but that was hilarious. Your boyfriend looked ready to blow up.”

“Be nice, he’s not her boyfriend.” Jonatha appeared on Karma’s other side; wearing a smirk as devious as Jake’s. “He’s her future husband.”

Karma groaned; covering her eyes with her hand and shook her head. “Shoot me.”

“Can’t, left the gun at home.” Phil said as he walked by.


Karma was woken up earlier than she had to be by a knock on her door. She opened one eye, waiting until the red numbers of her digital bedside clock came into focus. Eight A.M., who the Hell was stupid enough to wake her at this ungodly hour?

Sighing, she rolled out of bed; glaring down the hallway at the door like it was her sworn arch nemesis. With every intention of kicking someone square in the box or jewels, she literally stalked out into the living room.

“Are you a complete fucktard-“

Adam looked taken aback.

“Sorry…” She couldn’t pull off a contrite expression though, managing to hide a yawn behind the door before looking at him intently. “Bit early, don’t you think?”

Not subtle perhaps, but she was too tired for subtle.

“I was… well, I was going to see if you wanted to go for breakfast with me, or maybe a coffee.” He said it all in a great big rush; staring hopefully at her. “It’s a really beautiful day out.”

Karma personally felt it was too early for the conversation they were about to have but knew she had to get it out of the way now.

Preferably before he drove her to committing murder.

“Adam… you seem like a really, really nice guy and all, but-“

He held up a hand, stopping her. “I’m not your type and you’re not interested.” He sighed. “Thanks for being honest.”

She genuinely felt bad.


“So you told him…”

“I got as far as ‘you’re a nice guy’ and he interrupted with a ‘thanks for being honest’.” Karma sighed, refilling her coffee cup.

Jonatha leaned back in her chair until it was resting on two legs; waving off her friend’s offer for a fresh cup. “Not all of us can live on that shit.”

“Your loss.” She sat back down. “He’s cute and seems he’s nice, but…”

“But he’s a flake. He’s a flake who got shitfaced, hurled on you and then had the balls to ask you out. Seriously, vomiting on a girl doesn’t qualify as an ice breaker.”

“Well, it could in some foreign country.”

“Do NOT let that pitifully kind heart of yours go apologize and then date this clown.”

“He’s NOT a clown, Jonny! You know, instead of harassing me about my personal life, maybe you should go ask Jake out before someone else hops on it.”

Jonatha shut the hell up right quick.

“Cause if you don’t, maybe I will.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Oh yes I would.” Karma smiled an evil little smile. “He’s so tall and those abs, oh my god, can you just imagine running your hands along his stomach?” From the look on Jonatha’s face, Karma was guessing she had envisioned it several times. “Fuck using your hands, try the tongue. Oh my god… I bet you anything he is HUGE.”



“Your problem, Karm, is you like all the bad boys.”

Karma was going to murder Jonatha. It had been two days since they’re little chat and apparently, Jonatha had relegated some of it to Phil. Who was now sitting beside her at a bar; both of them nursing drinks. “How do you figure?” She sighed; glancing over at him.

“Let’s look at your past boyfriends in the last three years, shall we?”

“Oh my god, are you serious?”

His response was to nudge her cigarette case towards her.

Sighing, she lit one up.

“Let’s start with… Mark.”

“Seriously, Phil? Seriously?”

“Heavily tattooed,” Phil ignored her look as he glanced down at his own tattooed arms; tonguing his lip ring. “Drove around on a fucking motorcycle; in and out of trouble with the law…”

“ONCE, they couldn’t prove the others!”

“Then there was Paul…”

She slammed the rest of her beer.

“Another big guy –come to think of it, you like the bigger men-, likes his motorcycles too, getting in trouble and…”

“Don’t you dare.”

“Smacking ladies around.”

She signaled for a refill.

“Should I go on?”

“Only if you want me to rip all your piercings out.”

Phil arched an eyebrow.

“And I do mean ALL.” She looked pointedly down at his crotch.

“That’s harsh, Karm.”

“Am I paying you two to chat?” Chris shouted from across the room. “Practice people, we’re here to practice!”

“Practice shutting up!” Jake hollered, dropping down next to Karma. “Jonny’s ignoring me.”

“Uh, okay?”

“I think she’s mad.”

Karma didn’t want to explain that Jonatha was currently sorting out how best to ask the guy out, if ever and busied herself with her cigarette.

Getting that she wasn’t going to say anything, Jake scowled. “Women, I’ll never understand you. You’re all a bunch of confusing bitches.”

“Oh no, Black, you did not just…”

“Oh yes, I did.”

She was about to slap the taste out of his mouth (granted, she’d of had to stand on the bar stool to do it) when she seen Jonatha emerging from the bathrooms. “Have dinner with me.”

“You go-“ Jake stopped mid sentence, looking confused at the change of pace.

Phil looked mildly confused, turning on his stool to watch them; sipping his beer.

“Go to dinner with me, tomorrow; before the show.”

“Like, uh, a date?” Jake scratched the back of his neck; stealing a quick look at Jonatha.

“Yes, on a date.”

When he glanced down at her, he looked suspicious. “Is this a joke, Karma? Because if it is, I will make you eat your Jazz thingy.”

“It’s a Stratocaster you moron.” Karma smiled sweetly. “Besides, it would make Jonny jealous, perhaps even jealous enough to finally ask you out.”

Phil caught on before Jake did. “Nice, Karm, very smooth.”

She winked at him.

When Jake finally did catch on, he grinned and nodded. “Sure, Karma, I’d love to have dinner with you.”

They all heard Jonatha’s cursing as she stormed right back into the bathroom; the trip sharing an amused look.


The ‘date’ was more like pizza and a blood and guts movie. Karma had no interest in Jake and vice versa, they spent a lot of time discussing work, Jonatha, Chris’ newest ideas for the band, Jonatha and the weather.

Karma was going to have to set Jonny straight, providing Jonny didn’t attempt to murder her.

Though when she went to the next rehearsal –Chris was running them ragged for a ‘big show’ in a few days time-, it looked like Jonatha wasn’t mad.

When Jake bent down to kiss her, Karma knew why.

Well it was good to know her little scheme had worked out alright then. Karma wasn’t going to deny she had been a bit worried that Jonatha might do something a bit… evil to her. Even though she had told Jonny she would ask Jake out.

“Ouch!” She yelped when the cherry of her cigarette fell, quickly brushing it off her arm and winced. Muttering under her breath; she stubbed it out in an ashtray and headed for the stage. “Hot, hot, hot.”

“Yeah, I’m feeling, hot, hot, hot!” Chris laughed, waiting until he had her attention before doing a dance that looked moronic, chuckling when she facepalmed herself. “What’s so hot, hot, hot, hottie?”

Not about to give him anymore ammunition to tease her –as if he needed it- Karma just laughed and spun in a circle so her pink and black plaid skirt flared; revealing her fairly modest black boycut briefs. “Me!”

Chris was gaping at her.

Like she’d actually go on stage, with him, in easy access panties? Hell no.

“C’mon, I’m gorgeous and you know it.” She teased, snapping her suspenders playfully.

“No comment.” Chris cleared his throat; looking around at the assembled band. “Did you all listen to the cd’s I gave you?”

“Oh yeah, by the way, did you know… it’s all shit we don’t usually do?” Jonatha said sarcastically. “Hate to break this to you Chris but you are never going to sound like Amy Lee.”

“Ha ha, very funny.”

“Seether, Evanescence, Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, Marilyn Manson… mind telling us what the hell is going on?” Jake asked not so politely.

“New material.”

“You want us to cover those bands?”


Karma arched an eyebrow, shrugging when everyone but Chris looked at her. “He didn’t tell me about this.”

“It was a… spur of the moment decision.”

They all groaned.


“So why are we doing new material?”

“Go away.” Chris said quietly, popping a lozenge in his mouth.

Jake and Phil both folded their arms over their chests; shaking their heads. Jake looked much more impressive and intimidating than Phil did. It had a lot to do with his formidable height.

“Where’s Jonny?”


“Attempting to give Karma a swirly for going out with me.” Jake grinned, loving how much of a spitfire his girlfriend –finally- was.

Phil and Chris both flinched.

“So?” Jake prompted.

“Look, if I tell you, neither of you can tell Karma. Or Jonny, because she’ll tell Karma just to fuck with her.” Chris said, sounding a bit worried. He stared sternly at Jake, or at least tried too. If Jake told Jonatha and she really was in one of her moods, she would say something to Karma just to get Karma’s nerves going.

Vindictive wench that she was.

Phil and Jake both nodded, Phil even crossing his heart.

“Our show, the-“

“Big one.” Both men sighed in unison.

“Wrong, smartasses. The one we did in Syracuse.”


“Yeah, that one. There was a scout there.” Chris paused to let that tidbit sink in, smirking when they both began to look a little hopeful. “He liked how we do as a group but suggested we try something…”

“Rock goth?”



“Because the BIG ONE coming up, he’ll be at. If he likes what we do, there’s a good chance he’ll sign us.”

It was Phil who said what Jake was thinking. “Is this guy the real deal or just some skeez off the street looking to jerk your chain?”

Now Chris looked a bit smug, pulling a business card out of his wallet and presented it proudly.

Jake and Phil both stared down at it, their eyes getting wider and wider.

“You tell me.”

“For real?”

Chris nodded.

“Holy shit, man!”

“Don’t tell Karma!”


It was amazing, Chris thought as he watched Karma take center stage for a solo; stepping into the shadows for a quick drink. She was playing in front of what had to be their largest crowd ever, without freaking out. She could lose herself in music quicker than anyone he knew, himself included.

However, if she knew that there was a talent scout watching, she would have come down with a case of stage fright. It’d be missed notes and puke galore.

He chanced a peek towards the private lounge over the crowd; grinning when he caught the scout nodding his head as he stared down at Karma.

Oh yes, stardom, here we come.”


“Open the fucking door, Karm!” Chris banged on Karma’s front door; grinning like a Cheshire cat when she opened it; ignoring her protests of wanting to relax without annoyance as he shoved his way inside the apartment. “You look… odd.”

She glanced down at her blue jeans and white tank top; scowling. “I’m trying to wind down, I just got off a double shift at the restaurant. You know, the other job I have, the one that actually pays my bills.”

“Ouch, low blow there, babe.” He pressed his hands over his heart; looking mortally wounded.

Karma shook her head, looking away. When she glanced back and his expression hadn’t changed, she exasperatedly threw her hands into the air. “How come I always give into you? Seriously? Explain this to me because I just don’t get it.”

“Because I’m irresistible and a sexy beast, baby!” Chris couldn’t resist, smiling when she let out a reluctant giggle. “Seriously? Because you love me.”

“I’d love you more if you gave me a raise.” She teased, shrugging.

Chris grinned.

“I’m still trying to figure out why I do so many nice things for you… Must be because you have a cute ass.”

“This is true, I do have a cute ass.”

Karma rolled her eyes. Vanity, thy name is Chris; she thought dryly; walking over to her guitar rack.

“Yours isn’t half bad either.”

She jumped when he literally squeezed her backside; which wasn’t too smart a move considering there wasn’t anywhere to go but backwards; unless she wanted to topple her guitar. “You are such a brat.” She murmured; straightening up and turning to stare at him.

The gleam in his eyes said he clearly agreed with her.

“Since you got a feel, it’s only fair I should get one too.”

He arched a blond eyebrow.

She smiled sweetly, stepping forward until they were pressed together and reached around his waist; pressing her hand against the small of his back. Not looking away from his unreadable gaze, Karma ran her hand down until it was resting on his ass; palming it. “Now we’re even.”

“No, we’re not.” He growled huskily; forgetting the reason he had come to see her; more intent on memorizing the feel of her pressed to him.

The friendship lined had been crossed, and neither of them cared.


“So…” Chris murmured, trailing a finger along the curve of Karma’s back; smirking when she trembled; her damp, glistening body now quite familiar to his touch. “Does this mean no more fines?”

She snorted into her pillow, turning her head to look at him from underneath her hair. “I don’t know about all that.”

“Wench… don’t provoke me, I’m too exhausted to punish you right now.” He feigned weakness, dropping down onto his back and draped a hand over his eyes.

“Is that right?” Sitting up, Karma moved until she was straddling him; skimming her hands up his chest; loving the way his muscles flexed under her touch. “You’re exhausted, hmmm?”

“Well… maybe not as much as I thought…”


All in all, it wasn’t too bad; too awkward, the after. Karma watched as Chris crooned into the microphone, wondering if he purposely did his best to make every girl fall in love with him and snorted; shaking her head as she strummed.

As if knowing she was thinking of him, Chris turned to flash her a smile; the strobe lights glinting off his blinding silver vest. He had already met with the scout, a representative of the agent he was hoping would sign them. He was just waiting until after the show to tell everyone else.

They were so close to signing a deal and making all their dreams come true.

When Chris began eyeing the crowd, Karma knew it was a habit of his she was going to have to break. The habit being, he would search out the beautiful women. Slowly, she made her way to him; leaning over to kiss his cheek lingeringly and smiled innocently when he looked at her.

Though she did retreat back by Jake, deciding to jam with him a bit, simply because Chris couldn’t get her there.


“You hooked up with him!”

Karma occupied herself by splashing more water on her face; refusing to meet Jonatha’s eyes in the bathroom mirror.

“About goddamn time, too! You two have been friends for HOW long?”

“Over twenty years.”

“Yeah, since you were itty bitty kiddies. You’ve been digging on each other for about ten of those damn years and just NOW you’re getting together. Was it a one nighter or something more? You DID have sex, right? Cause you look like you got laid to be honest.”

“Do you never shut up?”

“Not often. Consider my drilling you payback for going out with Jake.”

“You tried to flush my head down a nasty toilet!”

“You stopped me!”

“Well no shit!” Karma whirled around exasperatedly. “Besides, you can’t count pizza and a shoot ‘em up flick a date, especially when all he did was talk about you!”

Jonatha beamed. “Did he? What’d he say?”

Karma gladly began recounting the conversation with Jake, anything to take the heat off herself.


Chris, Jake and Phil were surrounding Tiny, who was shelling out their take for the night. After divvying it up, the three turned; all arching eyebrows at the sight of the girls standing there with their hands outstretched.


“Nice try, where’s our cut?”

“Uh…” Chris looked at Jake. “I gave it to him.”

“We’re dating, not married.” Jonatha flexed her hand. “Pay up or I’ll bust your jaw, buddy.”

“Well, just listen to me first.” Chris wasn’t worried about Jonny’s fist so much as the look in Karma’s eyes. “We’re going to L.A.” He blurted out finally.

“We’re what?”

“We were signed.”

Phil and Jake were both grinning.

Jonatha and Karma exchanged looks, obviously not believing it.

“Look, Shane McMahon sent-“

“Shane McMahon?” Karma interrupted, holding out a hand to stop him. “Shane fucking McMahon? Music guy?”

“Yes, music guy. He sent out a scout and-“

“We’re moving when?” Jonatha interrupted this time.

“As soon as we can, we-“

“Oh my God, I have to break my lease…”

“Me too…”

Chris rolled his eyes.


L.A. was… different. Sunny, warm… crowded beyond belief. Karma had honestly thought New York was bad, this was a bit worse. Everyone looked, dressed and acted like a star. She felt out of place.

Of course, Chris was eating it up; this was his element. She had no idea how the others were adapting, too busy unpacking and ensuring he didn’t hog the entire closet to himself. The man had more shoes than she did, it was depressing.

Karma probably wouldn’t have moved in with Chris unless they had made it to a year or so of dating, as it was, this sudden change in their lives had made it more convenient. They were in a strange city, strange neighborhood, and she wanted to be around someone she knew.

Their new agent –who Chris had met, though everyone else hadn’t had the pleasure- had procured apartments for them all, nothing major because they wouldn’t actually be at their new homes very often.

“We have no coffee!” She shrieked, running through the living room and then into the bedroom; jumping onto the bed. “Chris! We have no coffee!”

“Do you really need any?” He gruffly demanded, not a morning person in the slightest; though there was a hint of a smile on his face.

“Probably not but the fact remains that I WANT it.”

“There’s a Starbucks down the street, my wallet is in my jeans.” Chris somehow managed to drag himself up into a sitting position, leaning forward to kiss her. “Go get your coffee and let the sexy beast get his beauty rest.”

“You should… stop kissing on me… if you want to go back to sleep…” Karma groaned, pushing herself off the bed and bounced over to their half unpacked closet. Eventually, they were going to have to organize or possibly risk death by the mess that surrounded their bed.

Finally, she find her favorite pair of old ragged jeans that were more comfortable than practical and a crimson tank top, quickly dressing. Then she snagged some cash from Chris’ wallet, shaking her head when she seen he had actually written a K on some of the bills. So that’s where her cut from their last gig had gone; the smartass.

Glancing over her shoulder, Karma was not surprised in the least that he was already dozing again. The man was high maintenance, bless his heart.


Down the street and three blocks over more like it. After getting lost only once, Karma managed to find the Starbucks and refused to leave; sitting down to enjoy her java. She ordered a second, taking her time in strolling back to the apartment.

She stopped to watch some guy and woman dancing for cash on the street. L.A. was pretty much like New York, just a lot warmer and more sunshine.

“Mrs. Levesque?”

Karma damn near let out a scream; stifling it as she jumped instead, whirling around to see who apparently knew her here.

A man in a sharp black business suit with black and a bit of gray hair was surveying her; looking her up and down appraisingly.

Karma felt like a prized heifer on a selling block. “Do I know you?” She demanded coldly.

He smiled, extending his hand. “Shane McMahon.”

Her mind supplied the ‘oh shit’ she wanted to let slip; feeling her cheeks flush scarlet. “Oh, Mr. McMahon, I’m sorry.” She had just about attacked their agent, a very well known and respected man in the music industry. One she had until just now, known only by name and reputation. “I don’t go by Levesque anymore.”

He glanced pointedly at his hand; smiling good-naturedly when she flushed again and took it. “So, Miss?”

“Mallory, Karma Mallory.” She felt like such an ass. Though… when he looked her up and down again; she frowned; clearing her throat.

“Sorry, habit.”

She didn’t ask. “Um…”

“I was on my way to see Chris, and you.” He offered his arm.

Reluctantly, she took it. As far as she was concerned, he could deal with Chris. After all, Chris was technically the product; the band –herself included in that- just made him look good.


“Hey beautiful.” Chris grinned when Karma walked inside; standing in front of the TV in nothing but his pajama bottoms; a mug of tea in his hand. When he seen who followed her; his grin grew even broader. “Shane-O!”


Karma half-expected them to kiss when they approached each other; arching an eyebrow when they exchanged what could be deemed a ‘manly’ hug.

Shane stepped away, glancing between the pair. “You two are going to hit the studio today.”

“What about the band?” Chris asked, frowning slightly.

“We don’t actually need them today, just you two.”

“Uh, I’m part of the band.” Karma interrupted.

“Not anymore, Karmie, do you mind if I call you Karmie?” Shane plowed on without waiting for her to speak. “My assistant sent me some video of you all performing, a lot of clips of the pair of you singing. You and Chris have… remarkable chemistry, very commanding stage presences.”

“Which means…?” Chris prompted.

“Which means, Karma will be singing with you.”

Karma was fairly close to slapping herself in the face; dropping down onto the couch to listen to them go back and forth; trying not to get a headache as she finished her coffee. When Shane actually started talking FASTER than Chris –she hadn’t believed that was possible- she lit up a cigarette, knowing this was going to be interesting.

“Sex sells, you can’t deny. We’ll have you both on the scene, the STARS of the group. You have to admit, she’s quite a knockout…”

“Yeah…” Chris wasn’t entirely comfortably exposing his girlfriend –his best friend- like this, but then again, it was business after all. “It’s up to her.”

Shane turned his stare towards the couch. “Well, Karmie?”

Karma arched an eyebrow, having only followed maybe half of that. But she had gotten the general idea, taking a long pull off her cigarette. “Whatever works, I suppose.” She said finally, wondering just what exactly he meant by ‘sex sells’. She wasn’t going any more revealing than what she already was.

Which, now that she thought of it, was borderline porn anyways, especially when you mixed it with her and Chris’ onstage antics but… That was because it was comfortable and they were usually lost in the music anyway.

Then she frowned. “What about everyone else?” She didn’t like the idea of being made a star and leaving her band mates and friends in the shadows.

“They’ll be known worldwide, just relax honey, relax.” Shane waved her off dismissively. “You’ll have your own stylist; oh Karmie, just you wait, honey.” He was getting excited; dollar signs beginning to flash in front of his eyes as he looked into the future. “You two have an hour before the car will be here to pick you up, be ready!”

Chris just mutely nodded.

“Speaking of the studio, the music…” Karma hesitated.

“The music is in your hands.” Shane said firmly. “That is one thing I wouldn’t touch or mess with, you guys keep doing what you do musically and let me handle the rest.” He winked at them before walking out, humming to himself. “Don’t be late!”

“What the hell was THAT?”

“I have NO idea.”


“Chris, is this what you want?” Karma asked as they tried to share the bathroom mirror. Luckily for them both, he was taller so he could sort of do his hair standing behind her; though it was obvious from the slightly frustrated expression on his face; it wasn’t panning out so well.

She knew how arrogant and egotistical Chris was, could be. If not for all his other redeeming qualities –and he did have a few- she would have had to kill him a long time ago.

“Yes.” Chris said firmly, reaching for the hair spray and ignored her snicker. “This is our shot at making it big, Karm. Shane knows what it’ll take to get there, we’ll be fine. The band will be fine, I promise.” He pulled his hair back into a ponytail and then sprayed it. “What? It’ll frizz in this heat if I don’t spray it in place.”

She just shook her head, finishing plaiting her own hair so it was out of her face.

Chris watched as she began applying her make-up, folding his arms over his chest. This was all he had ever wanted: fame, fortune, known worldwide and her at his side through it all. What could be better? “Money makes the world go round, babe, and we’ll have enough to do whatever the fuck and buy whatever the fuck we want. We’ll have the biggest mansion and load it with anything and everything; it’ll be awesome.” His eyes were going glossy now, apparently visualizing it. “A gaming room with twenty big screen televisions…”

“Wow, that’s um, interesting.” Karma laughed, shaking her head after finishing with her mascara. “All I want is my own place and room for my guitars, that’s it. You can have all the rest.” Turning, she slid her arms around his neck; pressing her head against his. “I can already see I’m going to have to keep your feet on the ground.”

Kissing her tenderly, he smiled. “Nothing is going to destroy us, Karm. If anything, this is going to bring us closer together. We’ll be happy, we won’t have to struggle to make ends meet. It’ll be wonderful. We’ll be on top of the world and can do whatever we want.”


When they reached the studio, Chris was in his element; this was HIS thing. Hell, he even LOOKED like a rockstar and they were just in a damn recording booth. He looked very good actually… Karma eyeballed the way his black vinyl pants clung to his legs and ass, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively at him when he looked at her.

Chris smirked.

While he was dressed to impress, she went with her usual. A skirt and suspenders! For some reason, Karma adored suspenders. Possibly because it was a good place to store guitar picks.

“What do you mean I won’t be lead guitar anymore?” She demanded when Shane introduced the new guitarist; shooting Chris a look.

“Well, since you’re going to be singing, you can’t very well play guitar, now can you?”

“I’ve done it before.” She said impatiently.

“For a song or two, not a whole show.” Shane waved a dismissive hand at her, gesturing towards the sound booth. “Time to sing, my little birds.”

Chris looked just as baffled as Karma, though he automatically moved towards the booth.

Shooting Shane a dirty look, Karma followed.

So they sang together. Which was fine, if they were doing a ballad; or if Karma was singing something that didn’t involve a lot of screaming. She had a ‘voice like a broken angel’, as Chris had informed her several times and singing wasn’t her thing.

She was not surprised in the least when at the end of the session, Shane informed her she was going to be taking singing lessons.

“Shoot me.” She croaked, feeling like her throat was on fire.

Chris shook his head, trying not to laugh and look sympathetic, knowing this was going to take some getting used to for her. At first he was a bit… surprised… to find out Karma would be singing alongside him full time, but… Shane knew how to get them to the top.


When they were dropped off at their apartment, he led the way inside; gesturing to the couch. “I’ll make some tea.”

Nodding, she dropped down; rubbing her throat.

“Here.” Chris sat down beside her five minutes later, passing her a warm mug. “It’ll soothe your throat.” He promised, gently brushing a strand of hair from her face. “Are you okay with all this, Karm?”

Karma started to say something only to jump when the door burst open; both of them shooting to their feet when a small crew came walking in; all of them carrying cases and totes. “What the-“

“Karmie, come on doll; we only have twelve hours to turn you into a ROCKSTAR!” Said a tall, lithe man in black pleather pants and what looked like a gossamer muscle shirt. “Chris, Maggie is going to take you down the street to have your hair done, your highlights are-“

The woman behind him took one look at Chris and shielded her eyes. “HORRIBLE!”

All Karma could do was gape as the man swooped down on her, literally dragging her down to her bedroom.

Chris blinked as he was shoved out the door by Maggie, who was now loudly criticizing his hair.


Karma wasn’t sure if this was Hell, but she FELT like she was in Hell. Her brown hair, her long brown hair had been chopped and thinned and… and… and she was going to cry. The lengths were all different, the top the shortest with long, thin tendrils hanging about her neck here and there. When the stylist –who’s name was Matthew but he preferred Mattie- had started off, she had thought for a moment she was going to look like Amy Winehouse, but thankfully, he chopped instead of piling.

To top the cutting of her hair however, he had covered the silver streaks in protective foil and then dyed the brown, covering it with black. When she had finally gotten to see herself after a very long and trying night; she found black hair, her silver streaks mostly intact save for the ends which looked like they had been dunked in purple and turquoise paint.

As if that hadn’t been enough, her skirts and suspenders had been messed with. The skirts had been shortened and the plaid was now gone; one plain color: turquoise. The short part wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if she had some decent panties underneath. Opposed to her boy cuts, she now had ‘sex me up’ panties.

Colored thigh highs and corset boots, those were okay. The black and purple tank top with accompanying mesh, she could deal with.

Her face though, she didn’t recognize. Karma stared into the mirror, trying to figure out who the woman staring back at her was.

Mattie stood behind her with a satisfied grin on his face as he played with his own spiked white blond and black streaked hair.

Her green eyes had been rimmed in black, a coat of purple; glittery eye shadow across her lids that extended outward and her eyelashes were much long than she remembered; a lot longer. She frowned, then scowled; watching her lipsticked mouth turn down angrily.

They had even replaced the silver stud in her nose for a black one off.

What capped it all off… she hadn’t even been to bed in the past twenty-four hours and Mattie was now pushing her out the goddamn door. “Where the FUCK is Chris?”

“Right here baby and…” Chris’ jaw hit the sidewalk when he seen his girlfriend.

Karma’s jaw followed suit. His shoulder length hair had been cut, cut! It was now short and spiky up top, with fresh; subtle highlights running through it. When she had recovered from that, she took him in completely; not missing the hint of eyeliner beneath his eyes, making the blue pop out vividly.

He did look scrumptious, in black leather pants and a dark blue button up silk shirt; a silver chain around his neck.

Very scrumptious indeed.

“You look stunning.” He said finally.

“Thank you.” She said flatly. “You look the same… besides they totally killed your hair.” Snorting, she lit up a cigarette; Matthew hadn’t let her smoke. He had only given her bathroom breaks, the prick. When Matthew raised one arm up and slid bangled bracelets on her wrist, then the other and followed all that up with rings on her fingers, she was ready to snap. “Okay, no more!”

She was going to go crazy.

“Must. Have. Coffee.”

Mattie surveyed her for a moment before glancing at Maggie who passed him a Red Bull. He pressed that into Karma’s free hand. “Here. No more coffee.”

Her jaw dropped for a second time.

“Baby… You’re going to need the energy for singing and-“

“I’m a GUITARIST and not a-”

“You are a singer, now shush, drink your Red Bull and save it for later. You got to go.” Matthew pushed them both towards the waiting limo.

“I’m going to KILL that little-“

“Fairy. No time, move.”

Chris was honestly trying not to laugh as he slid through the open door and onto the plush seats, scooting over for her to join him. “Shane’s organized a little press deal followed by a three song set, and we’re running a bit late.” He wrapped an arm around her shoulders; sighing when he got shrugged off. “What’s wrong, Karm? You look incredible.”

“I’m dead on my feet?” She wondered if he was serious or something. They hadn’t gotten any sleep, she had been tortured with make-up and hair care products beyond even HER usual and if she didn’t keep her legs firmly together; she was going to be showing off her wax job. “Well, at least you’re in a good mood.” She smiled, unable to help giving him a very appreciative once over.

“Baby, I am STOKED about this.” Chris’ enthusiasm was contagious and he grinned when she began smiling more broadly; moving to kiss her.

Matthew leaned over the seat to smack Chris’ shoulder. “Hands!”

“She’s my girlfriend!”

“And she’s also a sex goddess fledging rock and roll star, now don’t fuck up her make-up or else.”

Chris just sighed.

Maggie smiled sweetly. “You’ll get used to this.”

“Sure.” Karma agreed amicably, falling into silence. As soon as Matthew wasn’t watching, she put the Red Bull in a cup holder; out of sight. Next they’d be forcing her to quit smoking!

Then, as a thought crossed her mind, she began grinning. She sincerely hoped Shane had tried pulling this make-over bit on Jonatha.

Simply because Jonny would probably have murdered someone with an eyelash curler.


Karma was a bit disappointed when they arrived, spotting Jonatha; Jake and Phil congregating in a corner of the large conference room; all of them laughing at something. “What’d we miss?”

“Holy shit!” Phil exclaimed when he turned to her; blinking.

Karma echoed that sentiment, staring back at him. “Uh… Punk?” She asked hesitantly, using his nickname.

Phil frowned slightly. “That Shane guy, he made us come early so we could… be made over.” He closed his eyes, looking pained.

Karma would be the first to admit; Phil looked a lot better ‘made over’. His hair had been trimmed; his facial fuzz reduced to a mustache and goatee opposed to the horrendous beard he had been sporting and whatever shampoo they had used on him was awesome; he didn’t look greasy.

Jacob had had his hair cut, much like Chris’, only it was still it’s natural color with no highlights. He just shrugged at her arched eyebrow.

Then there was Jonny.

“Say one word and I will KILL you.” She threatened dryly.

“Is that um, pink?” Chris asked, clearing his throat and draped an arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders.

“It’s fucking magenta.”


“Seriously, I will make you eat my picks until you die.”

Jonatha’s long black hair had been… destroyed. In an attractive manner, but destroyed. The volume was almost reminiscent of 80’s hair; liberally streaked with magenta. Her make-up wasn’t so heavy handed and evil looking, but more of a “emo” look.

She looked pissed.

“At least they left your clothes alone.” Karma offered; surveying the black bondage pants and striped sleeveless, midriff baring sweater.

“Only because I broke a finger.”

“It was ACCIDENTAL.” Jake said loudly.

Jonatha snorted, giving Karma the ‘up and down’. “What the fuck happened to you?”

“A gay man.”

They all looked anywhere but at each other.

“I think she looks…”

“Hot.” Chris finished, shooting Phil a back off look.

“Alright folks, five minutes!” Shane called over, oblivious to the band’s tense mutterings.

“Karm, where’s your guitar?” Jonatha demanded as she pulled her Mexican Fender from its case; arching an eyebrow.

“No idea.” She sighed, flexing her fingers wistfully.

“She’s strictly a singer now.” Chris said proudly.

Karma rolled her eyes.

“Oh jeez, how wonderful.” Jacob snorted, shaking his head. “We haven’t even really done anything since coming here and already the band is being torn to shreds.”

“Her case was carried out onstage with the rest of our equipment.” Phil volunteered, keeping his eyes away from Karma as Chris was still eyeballing him. “Shane said something about a press thingy?”

“Yeah, we’ll just go out onstage, he’ll introduce, some talking and-“

“Just him, right?” Karma interrupted.

“I don’t know, maybe us, why?’

“Chris, you told him I can’t speak in front of a lot of people or I get sick, right?’



Jonatha tailed Karma as she wound her way through the room until she was standing in front of Shane, folding her arms over her chest with an amused grin. Ask Karma to perform in front of a million people and she’d probably do fine, ask her to SPEAK to a million people and she’d turn deathly white and hurl her coffee over you.

“Shane,” Karma tapped his shoulder; wondering if he was attached to that damn cell phone. When he held up a finger and mentioned his fucking interior decorator, she scowled; wondering if he was serious. After five seconds, she took the phone from him and snapped it shut; ignoring his open mouth. “I can’t speak in public, I will PUKE.” She told him point blank.

Shane arched an eyebrow.

“Sing, dance, do something lewd; yes. Actually SPEAK, no.”

Jonatha smacked her face when Shane’s eyes dropped down and then slowly came back up on her friend, then sniggered when Karma did a slow turn. “Yes, yes, she’s sexed out. Did you hear a word she just said?”

To his credit, he didn’t looked remotely abashed; just smiled. “Yes, I heard every word.” To Karma: “You’ll be fine, precious. You’ll only have to say a few things, nothing big. Chris will do most of the talking, and myself of course.”

Karma had to restrain Jonny when Shane actually waved them off and presented his back to them. “No, no, prison time is not worth it!”

“The pompous little shit!”

Shane was already talking to the room at large. “Alright people, these are my next big stars, let’s make the magic happen. Where are my magicians?” He looked around, beaming when he spotted Maggie and Matthew. “You two did FABULOUS!”

“Don’t we always?” Matthew batted his eyelashes, giggling when Maggie told him to stop being such a slut and then glanced at Chris who was now standing with Karma; who seemed to be hissing profanities at him. “Maybe she should take a valium.”

Karma heard that and flipped him off, accepting the cigarette Phil passed her and lit it up right then and there; not giving a shit right about now. “Chris, I will fuck you up for this.” She informed him sweetly. “And I don’t mean in the ‘I’ll fuck you so good you see stars’ sense either.”

Chris could only sigh.


Somehow, Karma got through the ‘speaking’ part without losing her cool or last meal. Though once it was over; she did have to slip offstage to breathe; looking so sick and pale that Maggie took pity and let her have a few hits from a cigarette and a sip of coffee before returning onstage.

Once the music started, the world seemed right again and it was like they were back in New York; just doing another gig and having a good time. Even Jonatha was trying not to smile as Jacob opened the song on keyboard; one of their original songs, which was awesome.

Karma felt awkward though. She didn’t know what to do with her hands now that they were free; more than used to having the comfortable weight of her Stratocaster in her arms. She sang with Chris; praying she didn’t flubbed anything.

Phil watched from his place behind the drums as she sang; wincing when the new guitarist missed a note. To someone who wasn’t familiar with the song; it probably wasn’t noticeable. He wasn’t surprised when Karma whirled around from her spot; her green eyes flashing.

Letting Chris handle the singing all by his lonesome –and truthfully, she was more than relieved to do so- Karma glanced around for her guitar case; nodding gratefully at Phil for letting her know it was out her. Once she had it strapped across her shoulder and upper torso; she shooed the amateur aside and showed him how it was done.

Automatically, Jonatha walked over so they could play face to face; grinning at each other.

From the wings, Shane was shaking his head; frowning. “This isn’t going to work! They’re ruining my show!”

Matthew rolled his eyes, busy bobbing his head. “Are you insane? Look at her go!”

Magge chewed her lower lip thoughtfully. “Why can’t she do both?” When both men looked at her, she sighed exasperatedly. “Sing AND play guitar. If she wants to play guitar and you let her Shane, she’ll be more likely to do other things you ask.”

Shane considered that. “She’d outshine Chris though.”

“Your point?”

He didn’t really have one.

When they got backstage, Karma was flying high, and so was everyone else. She knew Shane was probably going to ream her out but she didn’t care. She LOVED playing her guitar, especially when the amps were cranked; the crowd was jumping. It was a drug and she was hooked.

Apparently Chris was remembering just how hot they could be together because she suddenly found herself being smothered by a scorching kiss; returning it explosively.

“This is it, admit it.” He growled against her lips; kissing her again before she could answer; feeling her body melting into his.

Shane waited patiently until they came up for air. “Okay, Karmie, maybe I was wrong. You can still play guitar AND sing, how about that?”

“Sure, whatever.” She was more focused on Chris; busy undressing him with her eyes.


Soon they were traveling all over Europe; where Shane said: ‘Europe is the best place to start a career, people make it in Europe quicker than the States’.

It was astonishing to say the least.

Contracts had been signed, percentages and salaries agreed on, and then came the work.

Every night it was a new place, a new gig; new faces. Life was a whirlwind. One night they’d be performing, the next signing autographs at a sponsor hosted event, sponsors Shane had gotten them. Within six months, they were becoming known; opening at high profile clubs and preparing to cut their first CD, which Shane kept reminding them “we’re going to try to get a single out in the US.”

He was literally pushing them in the world’s face with radio interviews; magazine covers, any connection he had; he used. And the world was finally beginning to notice them.

Karma had fallen into a habit of staying dressed as her ‘stage’ self all of the time, much like Chris had; falling into the lifestyle reluctantly but there wasn’t all that much choice. It was either a shoot here, an interview there… Shane was constantly reminding them that even though they weren’t known so well in America, here in Europe they were famous and they needed to look the part.

The part about being really well known sunk in when some guy actually got onstage one night and mauled Karma.


“You alright?” Jonatha asked softly, daubing antiseptic to the fingernail cut on Karma’s cheek. “That fucking creep…” She shook her head; knowing Chris was down in the hotel bar with Phil and Jake; giving the girls some alone time.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Karma winced, rolling her eyes when her friend blew on the cut. “Funny.”

“Well, it won’t scar and I’m sure Mattie will have fun covering it.”

“I bet he will-“ She broke off when Shane let himself into the hotel room. “You really need to stop getting keys to our rooms, it’s creepy.”

“I need to introduce you to someone.” He said flatly, walking over to grip her chin; studying her face. “I’m sorry about this, Karma, really sorry.”

Jonatha mouthed ‘wow’, wondering if it were possibly that Shane might be human. Then her jaw dropped, alongside Karma’s when a large, very well built man stepped into the room; his hard brown eyes automatically taking them in before scanning the room.

Shane glanced over his shoulder, smiling when he turned back to them. “Karma, I’d like you to meet your new bodyguard, Dave Batista. David, this is Karma.”

David nodded at her.

Karma could only gawk at him.


Jake and Jonatha found it amusing Karma now had a bodyguard. Phil was his usual oblivious and uncaring self while Chris… Chris wasn’t so amused.

It was almost like he was torn between feeling like he wasn’t doing his job as a boyfriend by protecting her and insulted that she was given such a high priority.

Karma for her part, found it a bit disconcerting when she realized David went everywhere she did. True, she usually forgot about him he was so good at blending into the background; but when she’d turn around and see him, it was generally a bit of a shock.

And he did go everywhere she did.


“Well,” Jonatha said, glancing over her shoulder at the big man before turning back to Karma. “At least he’s good looking, right?”

“I didn’t think of that…” Karma glanced back as well, shaking her head before halting to stare into a boutique. “What are we doing again?”

“Buying Jacob some birthday presents.” Jonatha frowned, studying the displays in the window. “I don’t know what to get him!”

“He’s your boyfriend!”

“He’s complicated.”

“So go with the fail proof birthday present. Buy some slutty lingerie, a bottle of champagne, black tape and whipped cream.”

Jonatha cocked her head to the side; obviously trying not to smirk. “You know, I think I will do that. You try that on Chris?”

“Nah… not as a surprise, that’s an every other night thing with us.” She teased, pushing a strand of hair back underneath her plaid bucket hat.

As if remembering they weren’t alone, both women looked back at David.

Dave looked as unmoving and expressionless as possible.


“Holy hell!”

Chris strolled out onto the balcony of the hotel they were currently staying at. “What baby?” He smiled when she leaned back into him; wrapping his arms around her.

“This is HIGH.” She said, taking in the view. They were in Amsterdam of all places, which she had been told by her friend Amy back home in New York, was the best place for weed.


“It’s supposed to be, a room with a view and all that.” He chuckled, nuzzling her neck. The rooms were incredible, and according to Shane, incredibly well priced compared to similar suites in America.

Whatever, it was all the same to Chris.

Slowly, he turned her around; staring down at her. “Are you happy?”

“I’m good.” Karma grinned, not sure if she was happy per se, but she wasn’t depressed or sad. She was STILL taking singing lessons, not keen at all about singing; more interested in playing guitar but Shane wasn’t having any of it.

So she was getting used to not only playing electric guitar but wearing a headset to sing at the same time. She had also given up smoking; reluctantly, needing the air.

“Since we don’t have anything to do tonight,” She began slowly. “Did you want to go out? Explore some?”

Chris considered that. “Let’s ask Shane first, I don’t want to do anything without him knowing.”

Her eyes narrowed.

Clearing his throat, he led her out of the room.

When Chris finally let go of her hand, Karma lightly smacked him upside his head. “I’m an adult, I don’t have to ask anyone for permission to go out.” She informed him, catching Shane stepping out into the hallway from the corner of her eye.

While he was nice as far as in general went –okay, actually, he usually annoyed the shit out of her- she didn’t take his every word as Gospel, like her boyfriend did. He wanted to be a rockstar but was living like a goddamn monk, unless Shane pre-approved.

“Hey, I know, ask him if you’re allowed to fuck me still.” She teased wickedly, green orbs nothing but slits.

He scowled down at her as Shane approached them, squaring his shoulders. “We’re going out.” He said flatly, refusing to ask; knowing that Karma was right but also wanting to prove that he wasn’t whipped either.

“That’s fine.” Shane replied, looking back and forth between them. “Just make sure you’re ready to catch our flight to the States at six A.M.”

They nodded.

“Oh, where’s Ba- There you are.”

Chris frowned, turning to arch an eyebrow at Karma’s bodyguard. He hadn’t heard the man come up behind them, it was disconcerting.

“Karma is going out with Chris.”

David nodded.


Karma idly wondered if Batista could be bought into NOT tailing her for once, contemplating it as she changed into ‘going out’ clothes, knowing they would probably wind up at a club or something. She could sleep on the plane, she wanted to enjoy her night and not spend it in a hotel room for once.

From her understanding, there were some wild as hell, off the wall clubs here.

After dressing and managing to do her hair well enough that Mattie probably wouldn’t have flinched at, Karma was ready to rock and roll. Not surprisingly, she was ready before Chris; stepping out into the hallway to wait for him and leaned against the wall; folding her arms over her chest.

David was standing opposite her.

“Do you HAVE to go?” She asked, not surprised when he nodded.

He needed a life.

David didn’t say anything, it wasn’t his job to talk to her. His job was simply to be there to protect her if she needed it. She would forget he was even there once she started having fun, so he wasn’t bothered in the slightest by her tone of voice.

Sighing with frustration, Karma bent down to reach into her boot; pulling out the small flexible case Phil had given her, along with an ‘emergency’ stash. She had quit smoking but on the rare occasion, she just needed the nicotine.

Now was one of the moments.

There was nothing like getting kinky with one’s boyfriend on the dance floor while your bodyguard jerked off to it.

Her crimson painted lips curved into a smile at the thought, finding that a bit amusing as it looked like Dave Batista hadn’t jerked off in years; which would also explain why he was such a damn robot.

David was aware she was smiling at him, not so much at him, but at whatever it was playing through her mind and just kept up his visual examination of the floral wallpaper opposite him.

“About damn time.”

Chris had finally come out, looking like the mega superstar he was aspiring to be. “I had to look good.” He joked, gently fingering his spiked hair before giving her a once over. “You look gorgeous, as usual.”

“Mmm-hmm. Let’s go.”

David would, however, admit to himself, that Chris was right. Karma was gorgeous.


Karma was happy. She and Chris were just enjoying themselves; drinking and dancing together, like they had when they were simply band mates. Only this time around she got the benefit of knowing she was the woman he was going home with.


“What the hell is that?” She demanded when he pressed a glass in her hand, bending down to sniff and then took a tentative sip; pulling a face. “You’re nasty, Chris.” She shoved it right back at him with a wink and took off for the dance floor.

Keeping her eyes on him, she grabbed a pole and swung around it; hooking her leg and crooked a finger at him; laughing when his jaw dropped.

Damn if she wasn’t being a little cock tease tonight, Chris thought with a grin; slowly following her. When she was within reach; he grabbed her hips and jerked her against him; bending down to nip her throat. “Tease.”


Closing her eyes, she leaned into him; swaying in time to the music with him. this was what she missed, just being able to go out and do simple things, like dancing. If they were to hit their old haunts in New York now, they’d probably get swamped.

“Karm, I think we were just noticed.”

She couldn’t miss the hint of smugness in his tone, his breath hot against her ear. Frowning, she looked up and around; finally seeing the contemplating look on a woman’s face while the group behind her examined something in a huddle.

When the ‘pack’ raised their heads and looked back at her and Chris, she knew it was time to go.

A chorus of ‘Chris’ reached her and she darted out of the way in time to let him get stormed by a few apparently crazed fan girls; arching her eyebrow with a snort at his surprised look.

He wanted to be famous, he could enjoy all the little aspects; including having his hair pulled.

It wasn’t quite as amusing when a few women turned towards her, she was fairly certain she seen a particularly buxom red head shoving a strand or two of Chris’ hair down her shirt front.

Before she could really panic however, a burly guard –who she was assuming was a bouncer- appeared. She had no idea what he was saying but she was hoping he was asking that they not maul her. Autographs and socializing were fine, having her hair ripped out were not.

“NOT MY HAIR!” Chris wailed.

Whatever was being negotiated didn’t seem to be working out, so Karma kept backing up.

Which turned out to be a mistake as someone from behind grabbed the back of her dress; tugging.

There wasn’t time for the unseen assailant to do anything else because Karma was being lifted into the air and placed over a heavily muscled shoulder.

David didn’t spare a glance at Chris who wasn’t shrieking any longer, not really caring if he wound up bald. Chris wasn’t his concern, Karma was.

“Dave, my ass is hanging out!”

Rolling his eyes, he placed a large hand over her backside.

Karma jumped.

“Karm!” Chris shouted when he seen her being carried out of there, unable to keep the smile off his face though, obviously beginning to love the attention.

Karma was trying not to laugh; patting David’s back. “Put me down.”

He didn’t reply, just made his way outside into the warm night air.

She wasn’t surprised that when he did set her down, it was inside the car. “What about-“ She turned to look out the tinted black window, arching an eyebrow when the few women came outside. “Nope, let’s go!”

Chris could have the fame.

Sinking back into the leather seat, she drew her legs underneath her; shaking her head as she met David’s eyes in the rearview mirror. “Okay, I take it back, I like having you around big man.”

He didn’t say anything.

Which didn’t surprise her.

Karma watched the city fly by, knowing after this incident, going out was not likely to happen unless it was for an event for something.

When they reached the hotel, she slid from the car before Dave did; hauling her cookies inside.

Then she backtracked outside; glancing across the street.

Dave followed her gaze, then looked back down at her; arching an eyebrow.

“I’m going into that liquor store to buy cheap booze.” She informed him, just because for her, normalcy would mean buying her booze opposed to room service bringing it up and she wanted to feel normal for a minimum of three minutes. “Is that okay?”

“You already know I’m going with you.”

Karma was a little taken aback. “You can speak!”

He rolled his eyes but nodded.

She grinned up at him, crossing the street alongside him. She had idly wondered if he had a high pitched, squeaky voice and maybe that’s why he didn’t utter a sound.

In reality, he had a deep voice, a rumble that was slightly rough.

Who knew.

Karma browsed the vodka section, knowing Chris wouldn’t touch it; he was a beer drinking kind of guy. After selecting the cheapest, most ‘burnt toast’ vodka they had; she snagged some soda to go with it and a bag of hard cinnamon candy.

David was so damn quiet and amazingly inconspicuous for a man of his size that it would have been all too easy to forget that he was there, but she didn’t. It was a bit nerve wracking to realize everything she did was being watched, while at the same time; he was watching around her.

She was the reluctant rock star, she would have been content to just play guitar while Chris took all the fame.

“Okay, I’m ready to go be locked in my tower; safe and sound.” She joked once she had paid, holding the brown bag under her arm.

David didn’t laugh. He escorted her back to the hotel and up to the room she shared with Chris; his own right next door. Which was good if something were to happen, bad because it also meant he usually had to listen to her and Chris going at it.

Or had had to listen too. He had invested in an iPod.

After bidding David a good night –and she did try to not be sarcastic about it- Karma disappeared in her room; calling out for Chris immediately and wasn’t surprised when she got silence. Knowing he would be along eventually, she stripped down to her underclothes and settled herself on the bed with her bag.

Cinnamon candy on the tongue, the soda for a chaser… She eyed the vodka as she uncapped it, finally taking a shot straight from the bottle.

“Holy shit!” She coughed, laughing at herself and did it again.


“Karm, I’m-“ Chris dropped the remains of his silk shirt onto the floor; staring wide eyed towards the bed where his girlfriend was sitting. She was laughing at something only she knew, which wasn’t really what had gotten his attention. It was the fact that she was naked as the day she was born.

He took in the half filled fifth of vodka and smiled, beginning to shed his own clothes.

“I’ve been waiting for you.” She informed him sweetly.

Chris smirked.


If she hadn’t been fairly good and buzzing, Karma would have insisted on stopping hours ago. As it was, common sense didn’t prevail and as Chris hadn’t shown any signs of slowing down, it only got wilder and definitely crossed into the kinky zone several times.

By the time he did finally come, she was already half asleep; just holding onto him so she didn’t fall and finally slumped back against the wall he had pinned her too; dropping her face in the crook of his neck. They probably only had an hour or so before Shane would come knocking, telling them to get around to leave. “That… hurts…”

Chris was feeling it now, the rush he had been on wearing off as he held her up with shaking arms and legs; his entire body caked in sweat. “Jesus…” He groaned, pulling back to look at her. “Are you alright, Karm?”

She let him half carry, half drag her to the bed and immediately rolled onto her stomach. “I think… I’m…” She sighed, groaning. “I think you broke it.” She snorted finally. “Yeah… you broke it… Tell Shane I can’t move…”

She giggled, trying to envision their manager’s face if Chris actually told him, pushing herself half off the bed and then slumped back down, groaning.

Chris’ jaw dropped, eyes bugging out and paled. “I broke it?”

She nodded.

He jumped a foot in the air when there was a knock on the door, followed by Shane’s voice; hurriedly pulling on a pair of pants. Trying to regain what little composure he had had, Chris stumbled to the door; opening it. “I broke her pussy!”

Shane –who had been enjoying a cappuccino- spewed it all over Chris, who just blinked.

Behind Shane, Maggie and Matthew could only gape.

“Chris, you moron!” Karma shrieked, wrapping a sheet around herself and limped over to smack him upside his blond head. “It was sarcasm!” Her slight morning buzz was dissipating rather quickly now that Shane, Mattie and Maggie were staring at her.

“WHAT DID YOU DO TO HER?” Matthew shrieked. “Oh mah GAWD, she’s bruised! Maggie, we need make-up! Is this a hickey? And her HAIR!”

Karma just stood there and slapped her face when he actually tugged away the sheet, shaking her head. And to cap it all off, Chris was STILL freaking out.

Nobody realized David was in the room until he was suddenly wrapping the sheet back around Karma’s body and guiding her away from Chris. “What happened?” He growled over his shoulder.

“Chris… got a little rough with her.” Shane said limply, running a hand through his hair, obviously unaware he was messing it up, or uncaring.

That was obvious, rough was an understatement, it looked like she had been ravaged. David’s keen and trained eyes hadn’t missed the hand print shaped bruises on her hips, bite marks on delicate parts of her body.

He narrowed his eyes at Chris, letting Maggie and Matthew take over with Karma while he snatched the blond man up, dragging him into the bathroom.

Nobody said a word when they heard water running, followed by Chris wailing: “IT’S COLD!”


By the time Matthew and Maggie were done, Karma looked like her usual self. They had even let her have a coffee, decaf, but a coffee. Now that she wasn’t buzzing, she was wondering the HELL had she been thinking? It had felt so good at the time, now it hurt.

Damn kinky sex.

“I’m fine, honestly.” She insisted when Maggie asked her again and attempted to flash her usual smile.

“What the hell is the hold up?”

Oh now shit was going to hit the fan. Karma groaned, turning away from Jonatha, Jake and Phil as they walked in.

“Shane, seriously, you make us get up for a flight and now we’ve missed it?” Jonny was not happy, frowning as she took in the little social gathering; arching an eyebrow when Karma’s guard came out of the bathroom, the front of his shirt soaking wet. “Uh…”

Jacob wasn’t saying a word; just arched a black eyebrow.

“Where’s Chris?” Phil asked, then coughed when Chris came stumbling out behind David, looking wild eyed and… soaked.

“What the hell were you thinking, Christopher?” Shane demanded angrily, ignoring the way Chris lowered his head and snorted. “Do you have any idea what you could have done to her!?”

Jonatha folded her arms over her chest, arching an eyebrow of her own. “What did he do?”

Jake placed a cautioning hand on her shoulder, subtly nodding towards Batista who was standing just behind Karma a bit to the side.

Karma turned to stare out the window, Shane’s shouting giving her a whole new headache. She heard a stifled curse from Matthew followed by both him and Maggie hollering, Shane sputtering almost incoherently and sighed.

It was just rough sex, it wasn’t THAT damn big a deal.


Phil and Jake moved in time to stop Jonny from attacking.

“Let me do it.”

Karma turned in time to see Jacob swinging one of his large fists at Chris; flinching when Chris went down. She wasn’t surprised when nobody went to help him, unable to move herself, in a state of shock.

Groaning, Chris held his jaw and finally looked up at them, blinking tears of pain from his eyes. When he finally stumbled to his feet, he turned to Karma and held out pleading hands.

Dave stepped in front of him before he could approach.

“Move, that’s my girlfriend.” Chris mumbled, still rubbing his bright red and swelling jaw.

“Who you hurt because you were high.” David rumbled darkly, not budging. “I’m here to protect her, from you if need be.”

“Karma, please, Karma, baby I’m sorry; it’ll never happen again.” Chris pleaded, looking ready to really cry when she sniffled. “Karma, I’m sorry…”

Karma hesitated for a moment, wondering if this was the first of many future episodes and sincerely hoped not.

This was Chris.

Her curious, but good intentioned boyfriend; the guy who had been her best friend for years. She placed a hand on David’s arm to let him know it was okay before flying into Chris’ arms; wrapping her own around his neck.

“Goddamn Karm, I’m so sorry, baby. I don’t know what got into me. I’ll never touch that shit again.” Chris promised, burying his nose in her hair.

“If he does, we’ll kill him.” Jonatha promised darkly.

“If we don’t anyway.” Jake added.

Phil was keeping quiet, having a hard time understanding why this was being let go so easily. From Karma he knew why, she loved Chris and people in love were stupid. Jonatha and Jake on the other hand…


That night in Amsterdam was soon pushed to the back burner because as soon as they touched down in the States, it was another round of clubs and openings. Then came the fun stuff, they did their first music video; which everyone but Chris agreed was a lot less exciting then they thought it would be.

Mainly because it was a lot of lip syncing and playing instruments without actually playing them.


“I hate you.” Karma cursed as she limped into the dressing room; ignoring Jonatha’s snickering from right behind her. “I hate you too.” She shot the low heeled boots her friend wore a covetous look.

“It’s not MY fault they turned you into a living doll.” Jonatha said with a smirk; sighing when she was pushed into a chair. “Crap.”


“You too.” Matthew caught Karma by the arm before she could get too far, pushing her towards a large vanity that looked foreboding.

To her at any rate.

The only perk was she was able to remove the perilous three inch heeled, stilettos of death.

“I have a pair of high top purple sneakers you can wear tonight.” He promised with a wink.

Grumbling, she let him get too work; knowing they had a big night ahead of them. They were opening for a singer named Nero, which was just his stage name apparently. His actual name was Jeff and so far, he was at the top of the ladder they were currently climbing. “So, this guy….”

“He’s what you see. Crazy hot, gothic and wild.” Matthew sighed longingly. “He’ll probably ignore you when you pass him so don’t bother gawking.”

Jonatha rolled her eyes, or tried too, Maggie was busy applying false lashes to her upper lids. “Sounds like you tried to go there, eh, Mattie?”

“Shut it.”

“He’s straight as an arrow.” Maggie giggled. “And it drive’s Matthew crazy.”

“Crazy with lust.”

Karma so had not needed to hear that.


Right up until ten minutes till stage time, Shane was constantly reminding them that they needed to do their best out there as Nero’s opinion of them could be what tipped them into mega stardom or sent them packing from the business completely.

“No pressure.” Jake grinned, wrapping an arm around Jonatha and Karma; grinning down at them. “So, you ladies free tonight after the show?”

“I’m spending the night with my shower, washing this gunk off me.” Karma replied sweetly, snorting when Jonatha made a very lewd comment under her breath.

Jake’s already broad grin grew even wider; pearly whites contrasting against his russet toned face. “You want to spend the night in the shower with what, Jonnny?” He teased.

“You and a loofah.”

“That could be arranged.”

“That is SICK!” Karma shrieked, pushing away from the pair, turning to avoid seeing them engage in what was probably going to be a hot and heavy kiss. It was great seeing them together finally, not so great seeing their public displays of affection.

“Ten minutes, people!” Shane bellowed, bellowing because the noise level from the audience was deafending.


“It’s like we’re a non-entity.” Phil joked, helping Karma with the strap to her guitar. “Think this guy is really that good?”

“Are you kidding?” Chris snorted; finger combing his hair carefully. “He’s the best.”

Maggie was squirming her way between Jonatha and Jake. “Save it for later, you two got to get out there, you too Phil.”

Shane was adjusting the mic on Karma’s headset. “Now… no stage fright, okay?” He managed to smile, though it was tense. Obviously, tonight was a big night.

“I’m not going to puke.” She blinked slowly at him. “I’m fine, Shane-O, really.”

“Been drinking Mattie’s tea?”


“Good, good.” He patted her shoulder, nodding to Chris. “You two get out there and make the magic.”

Chris rolled his eyes.

“Go!” Shane hissed, shooing them off.


As usual, it was pure magic on stage and Karma had mentally tallied several fines for Chris as he was feeling especially touchy feely tonight.

Even though the fans weren’t there to really see them, it was a lively and responsive crowd which made a world of difference; especially when they did several of their own songs, written by Chris and Jonatha; edited by Karma and Phil.

Much to Chris and Jonny’s chagrin.

When they launched into their last song for the set, Karma removed her guitar and picked up the handheld mic; setting down the headset and moved across the stage away from Chris.

She still preferred letting him take the lead and shine, it had been that way from day one and Shane still hadn’t broken her of it. Though she was secretly sure he was trying to put her out there over Chris and that wasn’t flying.

This was Chris’ band, no matter what Shane liked to think.

Or that’s how it was supposed to be anyway.

When a spotlight found her, she tilted her head back; smiling slightly when Chris wrapped an arm around her and leaned back into him.

Then came the serious, fanatical screaming and she knew there was an issue, looking down at the hand resting on her abdomen.

Chris did not wear black nail polish.


Nero was an ebony haired Adonis.

His amazing hazel, almost green, eyes were enhanced with black eyeliner, his raven black hair hanging down his neck and just grazing past his shoulders. His face was smooth shaven except a soul patch.

Karma lowered her head back down when he smirked at her.

Nero listened to her sing, already swept up in the music; his eyes drifting shut.

Chris did not appreciate this… Nero… putting his hands on Karma, trying to hide his anger as he sang; watching jealously as Nero’s other hand –the one that wasn’t kneading her stomach like they were old lover’s-, moved to rest on her hip.

When the ballad was finished, the audience exploded all over again as Nero gently turned Karma so she was facing him; bending down until his mouth was by her ear. “They love you.” He whispered, feeling her tensing before stepping back, the spotlight following him and bowed his head, arms outstretched.

And that was their cue to vacate the stage, Karma accepting Jonny’s hand as they ran to the wings, leaving him to his adoring fans.

As soon as they were offstage, Chris pulled her into his arms; giving her the wiggle room so she could turn to watch Nero perform.

She could hear Mattie demanding to know what the guy smelled like; if his breath was sweet; if his eyes were really that vivid and ignored him. She had NO idea what had just happened out there but apparently it was good because Shane was talking a mile a minute; hearing him announce a moment later that they would be opening for Nero across the world and bit her lower lip.

“Why couldn’t he be GAY?” Matthew sighed longingly.

Shane finally snapped his cell phone shut and walked over to kiss Karma, then hugged Chris. “That was excellent, spectacular! You were…” He was beside himself, unable to finish and knew they had gotten their foot in the door thanks to Nero. “I’m going to send him flowers and candy and…”

Jonny snorted. “What are you trying to do, date him?’

“I saw him first!” Matthew shrieked; flapping his arms so vehemently that Jake and Phil backed off.

Maggie bravely approached and slapped him upside the back of his head. “For the FINAL freaking time, the man is NOT gay!”

Shane just rolled his eyes, already on the phone again.

Karma just listened to Nero, watching him. He was wearing a pair of black leather pants that fit him… quite well and an ankle length black trench coat that was opened. She was fairly certain she could see a hint of green underneath.

But the way he sang, whether he was screaming at the top of his lungs; whispering or just crooning… it was pure magic.

He was the embodiment of a performer.

But she also had a feeling he lived his life off the stage exactly as he did on it.

They stood there and watched him, listening to the music and basically taking mental notes.

“God, isn’t he fabulous?” Matthew sighed after awhile, groaning when Maggie smacked him again. “God… and look at that ass. You could bounce a-“

“MATTHEW!” Jonny and Jake shouted together.

“I’m sorry.” He didn’t sound remotely apologetic. “But honestly, can you deny that?”

“No, but still.”

They all looked at Phil, even Chris arched an eyebrow.

“That will be QUITE enough talking about Nero’s ass.” Shane said, shaking his head.

“Put the boner away, Mattie.” Karma teased, moving to lean against a partition and folded her arms over her chest.

“If I must…”

She smiled but didn’t look away, watching as Nero disappeared offstage opposite them, swallowing water and shedding his coat. He wore a dark metallic green shirt that hugged his torso. Green and black were the man’s colors, she’d give him that.

When he glanced back, she managed to keep the smile on her face; not sure if he was looking at her or Matthew who was mouthing: I love you! Marry me! From right beside her, along with a lot of other crap that made her blush.

When Matthew started shouting it however, she had to walk away.

Ten minutes later she was being dragged out of her dressing room where she had been contemplating taking off the gunk that made up her face.

“Get her out there.”

She twisted in Shane’s grasp. “What’s going on?” She demanded, staring at the man walking before them who was talking over his shoulder.

“And make sure she takes her guitar.”

“You’re going to go onstage with Nero.” Shane said excitedly.

“I don’t know his songs!”

Matthew came bobbing up, fixing her hair the best he could. “Yes, you do, Karmie. You were playing them for me earlier.”

“You had me playing your fantasy crush’s riffs?!”

Karma didn’t have time to start shouting at Matthew because Shane was shoving her out on stage; guitar somehow around her.

She realized the music was nothing but a soft, throbbing tempo; Nero wasn’t singing.

He was in fact, staring at her with a perfectly arched eyebrow raised.

Almost as if by some silent cue she missed –which was very likely- a spotlight found her.

Adjusting her guitar strap, Karma’s brown eyes never left his and she waited a moment, finally bowing her head; strands of her colored hair falling into her eyes.

Then she played.

Her fingers moved over the strings, almost effortlessly. THIS was her passion, just playing electric guitar. There was nothing like hearing a song played out, no words; just chords, the music itself. A guitar could set a crowd to a screaming; hyper frenzy or tear at the heart with sadness. It could produce sadness, wail the blues and right now, she was lost in it.

Nero watched her intently, letting her play for some time before beginning to sing.

Karma opened her eyes, almost startled when she realized she was on stage with him; thousands of people screaming and singing along with him, or trying to anyway, that’s how lost she had been. Knowing the song was coming to a close, she started backing off stage. This was his set, but he had gotten her lost in it quite well.

When Nero turned, she bowed at the waist to him and then to the fans; letting the last note linger before disappearing off stage. She promptly handed her guitar off to a stagehand and walked straight to Matthew. “He smells like sandalwood and ink.” She informed him then went to find Chris.

“Sandalwood and ink…” Matthew blinked, looking back at Nero who was now screaming out another song. “Well… that’s hot.”


Karma found the band in the hotel bar; having been escorted by Dave who didn’t seem happy she was actually going into the bar. “Relax.”

“It’s crowded.”

“It’s a bar, Dave, it’s supposed to be.” She shook her head, trying not to laugh at him as they weaved their way towards the booth everyone else was sitting at.

“Karm!” Chris smiled when he seen her, a few empty shot glasses littering the table in front of him. “Where the hell have you been beautiful?” He scooted over for her to sit down.

Karma hesitantly looked at David, wondering where he was going to sit only to watch him move just behind the booth; dropping down on a chair and seated herself. The man was a mystery, she wasn’t interested in puzzling him out either.

Unless she got bored.


“So? What happen?” Phil demanded, pouring a shot of tequila and sliding the glass to her; ignoring Jonatha and Jake’s little make-out session right next to him. “One minute you were in your dressing room and then we couldn’t find you.”

“I was back onstage.”

There was a muffled ‘mmm-ummm’ as Jonny pulled herself away from her boyfriend, turning to look at Karma. “What?”

Karma downed the shot, plucking sweat dried turquoise hair from her forehead impatiently. “I about died out there.” She admitted, ignoring Jake’s smirk and rolled her eyes. “I thought I was going to fuck up his song.”

Chris’ smile was slowly sliding from his face. “What do you mean?” He demanded quietly, blue eyes narrowing.

“I played a song with him, you know, on my guitar.” She smiled appreciatively when her shot glass was refilled; swallowing it down and followed up with Chris’ beer as a chaser. “I wish you would have been there to see it, it was… mind blowing.”

That about summed it up.

“You PLAYED with him?” Chris echoed, shrugging her away when she tried to lean up to hug him. He blinked, wondering if he had heard that right; pushing away from her. “You played with him, without me?” He could not believe this.

Chris was going to strangle Shane.

Jonatha cleared her throat, almost able to see the storm clouds rolling in. “Well…”

“I can’t believe this!” He stood up so quickly the table rattled; drinks sloshing in their glasses. “That is fucked up, Karma.”

“Chris, I-“ Karma was moving out of the booth so he didn’t plow her over in his sudden haste to apparently get out of her breathing bubble.

Chris was the leader of the group, the singer, the star and she had OUTSHONE him with Nero?! “I’m going to bed.”

They all watched him stalk away.

Sighing, Phil refilled all their shot glasses. “What the hell was that about?”

Jacob said it before Jonny could. “He’s an asshole.”

She nodded her agreement. “A jealous asshole.”

Karma snorted, draining both Jonatha and Jake’s shots –feeling somewhat tipsy at this point- before chasing after Chris, completely oblivious to David following behind. “Chris!” She groaned, running to keep up with him. She actually chased his backside all the way to their hotel room and then inside; where he couldn’t run away.

Shutting the door, she then leaned back against it; breathing heavily as she stared at him. “I didn’t ASK to go out there, he HAD me come out.” She informed him angrily. “So don’t be a cock smoker to me!”

“Oh don’t give me that shit, Karm! You know damn well you enjoyed having the spotlight to yourself with Nero! Why wasn’t I informed about this until now? I’m the fucking leader of this damn group! I’m the one who started it! I should’ve been out there with you since we ARE a team, or is that being fucked with now too?” Chris was steaming, kicking a wall as he tried not to lash out at her.

But at the same time, he was so pissed off he couldn’t help it and knew he was hurting her. “I bet you’d love to suck Nero’s cock too, huh Karma? Maybe he wanted you out there to see how well you could stroke your damn instrument!”

Karma had been through a lot of bullshit in her time, seen a lot of it and tried to avoid drama in all it’s forms. And that’s all this was, bullshit drama; that she couldn’t avoid simply because she had too many ties to Chris. Though that last comment he made, which he then followed up with a matching gesture, all bets were off.

“Well fuck you too!” She snarled, tears beginning to make their appearance and wiped them angrily away. “I hope your jealousy keeps you warm tonight because I sure as hell won’t be here too!”

Chris watched impassively as she snatched her vinyl trench coat off the back of a chair and slid it on. When the door slammed shut behind her, he just threw his hands up into the air.

“Fuck you too.”


“Don’t.” Karma held up a hand at David as she stalked past him, fairly certain he wasn’t going to say anything as that wasn’t his style but… just in case. She made her way outside the building, avoiding people the best she could; especially her band mates.

Fifteen minutes later she was loitering against the back wall of the hotel, enjoying one of the rare cigarettes. Contraband from Phil as Shane had expressly forbidden her to smoke as it could affect her ‘signing’ voice.

Of course, Dave was lurking not too far away.

Basically, he was becoming a background at this point. But… he was also the reason she wasn’t afraid to go out by herself, he had proven just how good at his job he was. And Karma trusted him completely.

Even if his constant presence –when she was aware of it- could get annoying.

Karma was brought out of her musings when she heard Chris’ unmistakable laughter; frowning as she stepped away from the building in order to peer around the side of the hotel.

Dave didn’t have to look to know what she was seeing, the woman’s laughter following Chris’ told him the story. He watched as she made her way back inside; observing the way her shoulders slumped and inwardly wondered if Shane would fine him for mugging Chris.

The feeling intensified when she stopped a bellboy and requested that a bottle of their strongest liquor was sent to her room.

Just what he needed, a drunk Karma, but he couldn’t stop her either. He was contemplating staying in her room just in case but that was nipped in the bud when she slammed the door shut right in his face.

“Damn it…”


“He did WHAT?” Matthew shrieked indignantly the following day, halting in the process of styling Karma’s hair. “What a BITCH!”

Karma nodded miserably, leafing halfheartedly through a portfolio with pictures of outfits that wardrobe had assembled for her. A ‘time saver’, according to Maggie. “Okay, this one.” She pointed to a pure black dress that matched her mood perfectly. Closing her eyes, she leaned back and let Matthew have free reign. She knew when Chris found out –if he hadn’t already- that she was now going to be performing a song with Nero each night they were on stage, he would probably explode.

“Don’t you even worry about Chrissy.” Matthew said when he had calmed down, forcing his tone back to normal. “This is a ONCE in a lifetime opportunity and you’re not passing it up.” He said firmly, shaking his head and grinned in spite of himself.

They both looked towards the door when Shane walked in, his customary earpiece in place though for once he was talking into the mouthpiece. “Has ANYONE seen or heard from Christopher?”

“He took off last night.” She said quietly, blinking when Shane stormed from the dressing room. Ten seconds later he came storming right back in; launching into a tirade about how Chris wasn’t answering his phone.

“Well… if we have to pull out of the show,” Matthew said after a moment, surveying her. “At least you’ll be pretty.”

“Why pull out?” Shane demanded edgily. “That would destroy us! Karma could cover.”

At that, Karma panicked. “Karma can’t sing like Chris!”

“Oh my God, this is a nightmare! You’re supposed to go on in ten minutes!” Shane was beginning to go into a full blown panic. Before he could have a heart attack though, Chris strolled in; ignoring the incredulous looks they all gave him.

“I’m here.” He announced unnecessarily, already dressed to go onstage in leather pants and a dark blue shirt that shimmered, waving away the bitching Shane. “Let’s go, we’re up.”

Matthew hurled the still hot iron at the door just as Chris was walking out of it.


Shane shot Matthew a dirty look before following Chris, still bitching.

Karma slowly got up from the chair, turning to look at her friend; arching an eyebrow.

Mattie just gave her an innocent look.


On stage, it seemed like nothing was wrong between them and Karma wondered if this was Chris just letting things be and moving on. When he got on his knees in front of her onstage, she moved so one boot was resting lightly on his chest; offering him a smile.

She actually thought they might have put the previous night behind them until it came time for her guitar solo which marked the end of their set. Instead of allowing her to do it, Chris suddenly moved to the forefront of the stage instead of retreating like usual and began singing by himself, no music, no nothing.

When he was finished, Chris glanced over his shoulder at her before walking off to the wings, ignoring the stuttering Shane.

Karma had NO idea what the Hell had just happened and it showed. When she was backstage, she was STILL wearing a shocked expression.

“Chris took off.” Maggie said apologetically, moving aside so she didn’t get plowed by Jonatha who was muttering ‘I’ll rip his fucking head off’, with Jacob right behind her wearing a murderous look on his usually open and friendly face.

Karma wanted to go after him but was gently reminded by Matthew –who was slightly annoying because he was treating her like she was invalid-, that she had to change costume for when she went out with Nero.

She allowed him and Maggie to take over, moving mechanically as she was dressed; noting the green and black vaguely but didn’t comment. Her mind was on Chris. What the hell was he doing? Trying to bury her now? Jealously, that’s all this was, his damn jealously.

“Shane,” She began softly when he peeked into the room, knowing she couldn’t fall apart until she was safely tucked away by herself somewhere. “Could you please make sure from now on Chris and I have separate rooms?” She knew that stunt of his had pretty much been his way of telling her to fuck off.

Sighing, Shane nodded; walking over to give her a gentle hug. “Don’t worry babydoll, I’ll take care of it.” He promised, glancing over his shoulder. “David?”

David nodded. “He’ll stay away from her.” He said flatly.

“Good.” Shane managed to smile at her then left her to the stylists, beginning to feel anger taking over the surprise and sympathy. He called the shots, not Chris and whether Chris liked it, Karma was rapidly becoming the star; even if she didn’t believe it.

He figured his next step in her evolution was getting her over her humility and injecting some confidence and arrogance into her personality, not a lot or else she’d be another Chris; but enough to make her fiery and able to stand her now ex-boyfriend’s attacks.

Karma needed some attitude.


If this had just been professional issues, Karma probably would have stepped back and let Chris have the limelight he wanted so damn bad. As it extended to their personal life –they were, or had been, a couple after all- she was hurt and it showed.

Even if they hadn’t been a couple, they had been friends for over twenty years; this hurt.

And it was like Nero knew she was suffering because when she went onstage for their one song ‘duet’, he launched into a song all about pain; which she damn near drowned in as she played; keeping her head down so the tears glistening on her cheeks wouldn’t show.

Chris had done what he did to prove a point, he didn’t need her at all. She had somewhere along the line stopped being his completing piece and he had publically made sure she knew it.

From offstage, Matthew was crying like a woman; watching as she played her heart out and fanned his face with his hands; blinking rapidly. “My contacts are slipping now…”

Nero had no idea what had happened with his opening act; he had seen the change from their usual set but wasn’t aware of the cause. It was obvious there was tension between the lead singer and the guitarist, Karma.

When she had walked out tonight to play with him; he had met her chocolate brown eyes for a moment and felt her pain piercing him. Love, she was suffering from heartbreak.

And he felt her pain.

Maggie screwed up her own eyes when the song changed, Nero literally screaming angrily into the microphone; as his own band launched into a song that clearly said: fuck love.

Karma was totally lost in the music now, sweat mingling with her tears as she moved her head in time with the music. She knew she had overstayed her song but he had launched into the second without pause and she had flown with it, they were meshing together in a mutual hatred for one specific emotion.

When she straightened her head, she felt someone from behind slipping a headset over her ears and stopped playing long enough to adjust the mic.

Nero almost shivered –which wasn’t normal for him at all- when Karma accented his angry singing with a haunting; musical wail which then turned into a gritty, earthy growl of pain that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

He moved to stand behind her, one arm snaking about her waist; gently pulling her so she was leaning into him; feeling the material of her top sticking to his sweat covered chest. Together their voices became one in a beautiful; gothic, heartbreaking and still somewhat angry symphony, accompanied by her electric guitar.

When it was finished, Nero sank to one knee in front of her; closing his eyes and rested his forehead against her thigh; just breathing.

“Holy shit!” Matthew squealed. “Shane, those singing lessons you made her do, just paid off.”

Shane’s jaw was on the floor.

Karma slid the guitar strap down; staring at Nero as she blinked sweat from her eyes. When the stage went pitch black, flames from lighters instantly appeared and she felt him getting to his feet; still staring at him.

Did that voice come from her?

Apparently it had.

She felt herself being pulled backstage, turning to look at Shane quizzically. “Is something wrong?” She asked, surprised at how calm her voice sounded, feeling like she was having an out of body experience.

“I had no idea you could sing like that, Karmie…” Shane was feeling identical to her, outer body experience; gently taking her hands in his. “There was so much emotion and fire in that performance.”

“That was-“


Pulling away from Shane, she nodded and tried to smile but her lips weren’t working. “Thank you.” She whispered huskily, reaching up to brush away a tear with the back of her knuckle.

Mattie knew her well enough by this point to know she probably wanted nothing more than to sleep, after having a good cry. “Well… we have a flight to catch, Jonny said she’d pack your things for you and meet you at the terminal.” He said gently, placing a hand on her shoulder. “And you’re first class, babycakes! You can sleep comfortably!”

Even Karma had to laugh at that.


The show went on. They traveled from place to place opening for Nero. Sometimes it seemed like Chris had finally gotten over his jealousy issues only to wind up doing something on stage to make himself shine, to push her back into her ‘place’. Then she’d go out and perform with Nero during the second half of his show, channeling all her anger and hurt just for that.

Somehow, Shane even managed to book them on late night shows for performances and another music video, even Chris didn’t dare fuck those up. She just went with it, running on autopilot for the most part.

As long as she looked like a rock star and remembered to smile, everything was fine.


“What do you think of this one?”

David stared at the tank top Karma held up, slightly tilting his head to the side. It was black with jagged magenta lightning bolts running throughout it.

She sighed when he just stared. “Hey, I only get a day off a week if I’m lucky, it’s not MY fault you insist on following me everywhere.” She informed him sweetly, smiling when he arched an eyebrow.

He did silently admit though, she seemed much happier now that she was out in the world minus everyone else and the constant barrage of ‘keeping up the rock star’ pretense.

“Okay, so you’re paid to do it but… I want to shop so you’ll suffer. And since you’re my shopping buddy…” She moved around the bin and linked an arm through his, waving the shirt. “What do you think?”

She was lonely. Jonatha and Jake had gone to New York for a few days, Phil was doing whatever it was he did and Chris hated her. Shane wasn’t exactly a friend in the ‘let’s go have lunch and see a matinee’ sense and she didn’t dare go out with Matthew or Maggie, HELL no.

David had become fond of Karma, as much as he hated it. It helped she was so damn easy to take care of, she didn’t argue with his travel arrangements (which had drastically changed since her split with Chris to help avoid ‘tensions’); or when he would steer her past a bar her friends might go to unwind a bit after a show.

Finally, he eyed the top critically before taking it and tossing it back in the bin; rifling around until he found a dove gray tank top that was design and frill free. “That one.” He said gruffly; remembering seeing her in the color once; before Matthew had finally taken over her wardrobe completely.

She studied it, noting the color; which happened to be one of her favorite colors, though Mattie said it was ‘dull’ and pretty much axed it. She flashed another smile and folded it over her arm, moving onto skirts.

David followed, keeping on guard even though it was obvious there was nothing to be worried about –old habits died hard- and quietly offered his opinion when she would ask for it.

Contrary to her stage image of badass, hard rocker with a hint of goth (and truth be told, more goth was being tossed to the mix lately), Karma was a punk through and through. Today without Mattie to interfere she was back to basics. Blue and grey plaid mini skirt with a grey baby tee and of course, suspenders. She wore high top sneakers with a plaid blue and grey bucket hat to hide her wildly colored hair and a pair of sunglasses over her face. No jewelry and minimal make-up, she wasn’t recognizable in the slightest.

Personally, she didn’t think she had to worry about being recognized anyways but David had insisted on the hat and shades.

“Hey, look.” She stopped to stare across the street, smiling as a pair of kids ran down the sidewalk with their parents laughingly chasing after them. She had never wanted that life at all, but she was nearing her thirty and beginning to realize she was only going to get older, no matter WHAT business she was in, even show business.

David looked, arching an eyebrow. He did look momentarily startled when she suddenly whirled around to stare up at him, wearing an unusually odd expression.

“Why the fuck ain’t you married with some kids? Don’t tell me protecting my boring ass is fun.”

He hesitated, having not been expecting that and cleared his throat awkwardly. “Usually, for this line of work, having a… significant other isn’t a good idea. Too much time on the road and in the company of…”

“Other women.” Karma finished quietly.

He nodded.

Silence reigned between them for a moment before she finally cleared her throat. “Let’s go pay.”

After carting her clothes to the cashier and paying for them, they headed outside into the sunshine. “Your line of work is shit.” Karma informed him. “Of course, I’d be toast without you so… I guess I’m lucky and you’re just…” She looked back at him, frowning. “Kinda depressing.”

David felt it was the other way around a little bit and gestured towards the waiting car.

She shook her head, walking over to the driver and passed him her bags. “I’m not ready.” She said quietly, having every intention of enjoying her day and glanced down the boulevard.

They weren’t that far from the beach actually…

David did not like the appraising look Karma gave him, shifting.

“Come on big guy, hope you brought your trunks.”

Was she serious? He followed her down the way until they hit the sandy paths that led down small dunes to the beach; the ocean winking at them when the sunlight hit the waves just right. It was scorching however and he did peel off his shirt; draping it over an old; weathered rail watching as Karma removed her shoes, socks, hat and sunglasses. “Are you really-“ He shook his head, groaning as she took off plowing through the sand and dived straight into the water. “Insane. Yes, yes she is.”

Karma waved at him from the water, laughing when he just shook his head and began to swim; glad for the suspenders because they held her skirt up. When she finally emerged, she was actually a little tired. “It was COLD in there, but… worth it. You looked… baked.” She said, poking a finger into his chest, laughing when he just arched yet another eyebrow at her. “Careful now big guy, that was expressive, you MIGHT be turning human.”

He managed not to snort or let the corner of his mouth quirk.


The problem with Karma was that she was too damn sweet and nice, she had a mouth on her and could be feisty but overall, she was way too likeable. She had a way of bringing things out in a person even if they didn’t want that. He even found himself trying not to laugh or smile when he was around her, which was a nuisance because he didn’t WANT to laugh or smile.

“What do you want to eat?” He finally asked, dryly.

To Karma, Dave was just… there. She knew he probably thought she was an annoying, pain in the ass brat who he was sadly stuck protecting but… She couldn’t help it. He didn’t talk, she had no one to talk too or do things with and since he was constantly *there*, he was the poor bastard who got stuck with her constant chatter.

Realizing just how sad and pathetic she was, she sighed. “Scratch that, I’m not hungry. Let’s go back to the hotel.” Being famous and all was a bit of a double edged sword.

“Karma…” David reached out to gently grab her wrist, stopping her from walking away and slowly turned her around to face him, staring down into her sad eyes. “I’m sorry sweetheart, I’m… not good at… this.” He gestured lamely around them, then at her and him. “At being social. I can try though.” He didn’t want to get close to her but at the same time, she was like a magnet.

It was right then David realized he had become attached to Karma.


Make my pain go away, Numb me with a lie. Lie down beside me; hold me and hide me…” Karma frowned, strumming idly on her acoustic guitar, sighed and then laid it aside. This was getting retarded. She and Chris shouldn’t be fighting like this. She couldn’t understand why the Hell he seemed to hate her so much.

She had always acknowledged she didn’t have even half the talent he did, could she help it if suddenly someone saw something in her nobody else did?

Deciding right then and there to fix things between them, she got off the bed and crossed over to the full length mirror to quickly fix her hair. After adjusting her make-up and making her eyes appear ‘smoky’, she switched out her sweat pants and tank top for a pair of jeans and a belly shirt.

Once certain she was presentable, she stepped out into the hallway.

Which turned out to be a big mistake.

Apparently, Chris didn’t feel the least bit remorseful for his antics as of late nor was he interested in making amends with her because he was pinning a busty; beautiful blond to the hallway wall.

Karma felt like someone had wrapped a fist around her heart and squeezed when Chris actually kissed the other woman.

As quietly as she had come out, she retreated.


David had been clearing the stairwell –just in case they needed to make a fast exit, it could happen- and opened the door into the hallway; almost instantly closing it again. Well, not completely; he wanted to be able to hear just in case something happened.

But he had seen.

He had seen what Chris had missed, with his face buried in what looked like mountains of silicone covered with skin.

Karma’s face. The shocked expression that had quickly dissolved into agony and heartbreak. Chris and his giggling fling disappeared into his hotel room, and David stepped into the hallway. He watched as Karma’s hair disappeared around a corner.

Knowing he should call Mattie or Maggie, or hell even Jonny (they were her damn friends after all), David chased after her. He caught her on the back steps, the fire escape stairs; hunched over the metal railing. Slowly, he moved to stand behind her. “Karma…” Hesitantly, he reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. “He’s not worth it, sweetheart.”

“Tell that to my heart.” She whispered raggedly, not turning to face him as she reached up to wipe away her tears. When she glanced down at her hand, she wasn’t surprised to see the ‘cheap’ mascara running and snorted.

What had she honestly expected? Chris hated her, like he’d be sleeping alone and not sexing it up with some… some fucking whore!

She admitted it, she was a moron. She knew Chris better than that, he had always been a player. Why the hell would he change? Just because she was in his life?

“Ouch…” She gasped, holding her chest, then groaned; starting to laugh.

Who knew, heartache actually hurt.

David did not like the sound of that anguish riddled laugh; gently wrapping an arm around her waist and pulled her back from the railing; bending down so he lips were brushing her hair. “Karma, he doesn’t deserve you.” He murmured softly. “He’s jealous of the talent you have and he’s trying to hurt you. Sweetheart, use this, release the pain in your music.”

It was a mouthful for him, and he had never realized until that moment that he could be so… eloquent.

He was right, Karma reluctantly admitted. He didn’t know a damn thing about her except that her ex-boyfriend had broken her heart and he was right.

Nodding, she reluctantly turned around; preferring to stare at his chest then look up. Dave did not need to see just how pathetic she truly was. “You’re right.” She whispered, closing her eyes with a sigh.”You’re right.”

Nodding in return; he gently tilted her head up; using the pad of his thumbs to brush tears and mascara from underneath her eyes.


Karma began channeling everything into music. She had never been much of a songwriter, leaving that to Chris and the rest; though she had added or suggested things occasionally. She was writing now, whenever she had the chance.

Of course, it was likely nobody but herself would ever hear these songs but that was alright, it was a form of therapy and she indulged it.

The band was feeling the strain of the obvious separation between her and Chris and she didn’t know what to do to fix it. If Chris was sitting with them, she felt like going and joining them would make things… awkward.

Of course, the odds of Jonatha staying in a room as long as Chris was slim to none these days. She had made it abundantly clear that he was a world class asshole and wanted nothing to do with him off the stage.

They were falling apart and Karma didn’t know what to do it make it right again. Apart from quitting, which she couldn’t do. None of them could, they were locked in contracts. Shane had reminded them all of that fact when Jacob had mentioned leaving Chris to perform his prima donna act all by his lonesome.

They usually traveled by bus, two of them. Her, Dave, Jonatha, Jacob, Maggie and Mattie on one. Chris, Phil, Shane and the rest of the ‘ensemble’ in the other.

Nights were a lot different now too. When discovering she was rooming alone, Maggie had automatically offered to bunk with Karma. Which Karma had politely turned down. Then Mattie had offered, which David had turned down.

Dave… that was an interesting relationship. He was all business whenever they were out and Karma couldn’t quite figure him. Opposed to sleeping in a room next to her or across from her, they had started sharing a suite when possible, a room with two beds when they had too. During those times, he was mostly… human.

But still aloof.

She figured with his job, it wasn’t a good idea to get close to anyone, especially the person he was trying to protect.

Though that didn’t stop her from chattering at him if the mood took her. She was pathetic and lonely, she admitted it.

Secretly, she sometimes thought he was as lonely as she was.


Shane could only stare at Nero; wondering if the young man was serious. “You want her to-“

“Perform, alone, in front of the crowd tonight during my show, yes.” Nero said calmly, staring intently at Shane.

“What do you want her to do though? She hasn’t rehearsed anything. It can’t be done, no-“

“MAKE it happen, McMahon. She’s been writing songs, I’ve heard her playing them between shows. I want her to sing one of them. Make it happen.”

Shane could only stare after the mega-star who had just demanded he add to the tension already reigning with his clients.


“He wants me to WHAT?” Karma gaped when Shane told her the ‘good’ news. “I can’t do that! None of my songs are FINISHED for one and… and… HOW does he KNOW I’ve been writing anyways?” She turned to possibly throw up, not surprised when Mattie instantly held out a mug of tea and downed it, knowing it would calm her down. “I can’t, I can’t…” She shook her head.

“Yes, you can, Karmie. Look, Nero thinks you have a lot of potential and… please, my hands are tied here. If you don’t do it, he can request we’re dropped from the tour, so just suck it up. Karma, please?”

“Karma, please what?” Chris demanded, walking into the room and stared at all of them with an arched eyebrow. “Just what the hell is she doing now?”

“Nero wants her to sing a solo tonight during his show.” Matthew said innocently, just a hint of smugness in his tone.


“Chris, shut up.” Shane snapped, not in the mood to deal with the diva attitude today. “Save your drama for later.”

Shock kept Chris silent.

“Karmie, you can do this honey, you can do anything.”

Karma groaned, covering her face with her hands and just nodded. When she glimpsed through her fingers, she stared at Chris; not surprised to see he was turning bright red. “Oh grow the fuck up and deal with it!”

Matthew began applauding as Chris walked out.

“Okay, I need some alone time to try to figure out WHAT I am going to do. All out you, OUT!”

David was the only one who didn’t budge.

When the door closed behind Shane, Karma shook her head. “None of the songs are finished, Dave. What am I going to do?”

“Pick one, finish it and sing it.”

“Gee, thanks.”


“Are you going to stop being an asshole and WORK with me or are you going to keep acting like a total bitch?” She demanded later that night, staring holes through Chris as they waited to go onstage. She could hear Jake and Jonny behind her talking silently; though Phil wasn’t even pretending not to listen to them.

In honor of her ‘special performance’, Mattie had given her a somewhat different look for the night. She wore a pair of black ‘skinny’ jeans with slashes throughout them horizontally, front and back. A black tank top that would shimmer under the lights. Her hair had been teased into spikes, temporarily dyed black and green (which coincidentally happened to be two colors Nero seemed to sport), and her make-up was totally punk thanks to Mattie having a merry ol’ time.

Chris didn’t answer.



Everyone was staring at Chris, obviously waiting for an answer. Chris just sneered at Karma, not believing she was putting him on the spot like this. “It’s not me tearing this apart, Karma, it’s you. You’re more interested in sucking up to Nero than performing with our band.” He snorted when she shook her head, then sneered again. “I bet his dick is real good too, isn’t it, Karm?”

Her jaw dropped.

“Oh no, bitch did not just say that.” Mattie said angrily, raising a hairbrush to throw but was stopped by Maggie.

Chris ignored them, still staring daggers at Karma. “When you finally realize who the star in this group is, who the REAL talent is, THEN maybe we can go back to the way things used to be, when you stop performing with Nero.”

“The thing is Chris, is that he thinks I DO have REAL talent and that’s why he’s had me on stage with him. He BELIEVES in me, unlike you!” She shot back, forcing down the pain; knowing she could unleash it when she was on stage. “A total fucking stranger seen something in me that my best friend, my boyfriend, never did. How sad is that?”

He didn’t say a word.

“But then again, you never could see anything but the reflection in the mirror.”

Mattie and Maggie both began applauding.


As if he was out to prove a point, Chris behaved himself on stage. True, when he looked at her, it was with cold eyes but he still sang well and touched her as usual. But there was a spark missing between them that was made even more clear by the concerned looks on their band mates faces.

When it was over, Chris left as quickly as possible; which was probably a good thing since Mattie still wanted to brain him.

So did Jonatha and Jake for that matter. Phil was simply Phil, he was pretty much in his own world.

Karma was fairly certain he was spacing out.

She was in her own world however as she was dressed for her songs with Nero, dimly aware Dave was studying her. If she hadn’t been so lost in her thoughts, she probably would have seen the more than slightly casual interest in his brown eyes.

As it was, she didn’t.


Paint me your dreams
And I’ll show you such things
Your heart belongs to me
You’ll love only me
My pleasure, your pain
Your heart will belong to me.”

“That one of Nero’s songs?” Shane asked curiously from the wings, listening as Karma sang the slow ballad, her voice sad and drenched with anguish that he had a feeling was all too real. If he pushed his concern for her aside, he was able to focus on how well that anguish was working out. It made the song believable, like she was feeling what she was singing (Which he knew she was), which meant it would connect with the audience.

The dagger you once stuck in me
My blood crimson red
You twisted the blade
I smiled through my pain
Your heart will belong to me.”

Johnny shook her head, taking a long pull off a tiny black cigar; her azure eyes squinting dangerously. “She wrote it.” She said dully, flicking ash carelessly; ignoring the dirty look the stagehands shot her. “After the cocksmoker –she refused to say his name- broke her heart.”

Figuring Jonatha was in a bad mood and likely to shank him, Shane kept his lips closed. The song was a love song, but it was a song about once loving someone and being rejected. About making that person fall in love and feel all the pain they had inflicted.

He arched an eyebrow when the tempo and beat went from sad and haunting to a pissed off rock beat.

A second later the black gauze skirt Karma had been wearing lie in a heap on the stage, revealing black leather pants that hugged her calves and thighs; clinging to her hips in a very unwholesome way. Slinging her electric guitar over her shoulder while the instrumental played, Karma adjusted a headset and the mic piece; her hair moving wildly in time with the music.

Shane’s jaw had dropped.

There’ll come a time
When love isn’t blind
You’ll scream and you’ll plead
Your heart belongs to me
You’ll beg and you’ll cry
Come crawling to die
But your heart
Your heart belongs to me
Eyes will weep
Agony keeps
Yet your heart still beats
And it belongs to me.”

Silence reigned after the last note had fallen for maybe ten seconds, before thunderous applause, Nero applauding right along with those in attendance. He knew what Chris secretly did, that Karma was the star. She was going to skyrocket to the top and leave Chris in the dust.

Karma looked at him, brushing a damp lock of hair from her face and nodded to him; bowing from the waist with one hand extended in a thank you gesture. She repeated this to the fans before leaving the stage to Nero again; accepting the water Mattie held out as she walked offstage.

“Thanks.” She downed in it one swallow, arching an eyebrow when she spotted Jonatha lingering yet. So Chris had missed it. Well, that was probably a good thing as he was very likely to blow right the fuck up considering that song had been written after she found him pouncing the blond bimbo.

But Chris hadn’t missed it. He had watched from the back of the arena, near the exits; feeling something like guilt squirming in his chest. The words she had sang had been a painful slap to his face and Chris felt his jaw tightening at the memory.

This was Nero’s doing. He was the reason Chris and Karma were falling apart. Chris had to make this right and caressed his chin in thought as he disappeared beneath the bright red EXIT sign.


Karma was somewhat amused but mostly astonished when Nero insisted she perform her song once a night, during the show, on top of opening with Chris and the rest and playing guitar for Nero during his set. She was beginning to spread herself out almost a bit too much.

When Shane mentioned making the song into a solo single, she was actually kind of scared and begged him not too. The band was barely making it as it was. Onstage everything was fine, ‘we’re so into each other’ and all that.

Offstage they were barely talking. Well, nobody was talking to Chris and he didn’t seem to bothered by it. This would just tip the scale and cause Chris to walk off.

Why she cared at this point was BEYOND her. But this had been HIS dream and she had tagged along for the ride, now it was becoming her passion.


“Wow…” Karma had woken up from a long plane ride, and apparently slept through being carted to the hotel, to a beautiful view. She had made her way out to the balcony and was just taking in the breathtaking sight. She could see the Eiffel tower. “Holy shit…”

From behind her in the balcony doorway, David tried not to laugh.

Karma whirled around, rolling her eyes when she spotted him. “I’m going to make you start wearing a bell.” She cautioned teasingly, guessing he was the one who had probably brought her up here. “How long have I been out?”

“Few hours.” He shrugged. “Maggie unpacked you.”

“Bless her.” She turned back around, placing her hands on the cool rail; her fingers curving around it. If she and Chris had been on speaking terms, they would have probably gone out; but… She wondered idly what Jonatha was doing; then wryly smiled.

Probably Jacob.

She needed more friends.

On the other hand…

David arched an eyebrow when Karma shot him a speculative look over her shoulder. He did not like the grin that slowly spread over her pink lips; groaning when he seen her brown eyes beginning to sparkle.


There were several things David did and did not know about Karma, he reflect fifteen minutes later; standing before a fogged bathroom mirror as he brushed his teeth; prepping for the ‘night out’ she had informed him he was participating in. She had even pulled the ‘you’re my guard so where I go, you do too’ card on him.

What he knew was that she was thirty and starting out in the business a bit late.

He also knew she hadn’t really had any aspirations to fame but had gone along with it all for Chris, because it was what he had wanted. If not for Shane informing her she had to behave, he knew she’d probably be up to all sorts of hijinks; shuddering as he recalled a conversation she and Jonny had had about a bar, too much to drink and asking some ‘dumb broad’ if she could pick a quarter up off the floor with her cocksucking lips.

Talk about a bodyguard’s worse nightmare.

He also knew she was completely wrong for the rockstar lifestyle. She was fairly humble and modest, definitely had little confidence in herself. She wasn’t into the glam and fame, posing for cameras and all the rest, though she did do it.

He was the one who got to hold her hand when her nerves or ‘stage fright’ as Phil called it kicked in at large functions.

Karma was funny, intelligent, easy on the eyes even in her customary suspenders of all things and a plaid school girl skirt (that would give a man of lesser self-control a hard on) and well on her way to becoming rich and famous.

She was also very lonely and usually tried not to show it.

But for all the things he knew about her, he wished he knew more; he sometimes could read her thoughts in her warm; chocolate colored eyes; other times he would have given all he possessed to know what was on her mind.

He would also give all he possessed to not care.

Because caring was dangerous.

And he was starting to care for Karma.

He might have been starting to love Karma.



To think, Chris thought Karma was sucking on Nero’s cock… a thought that made Karma snort as she watched David weave his way towards her. Of course, even though he was only ten feet away ordering their drinks; he had barely taken his eyes off of her.

It would have been flattering if she could say it was because he was attracted to her but she knew that wasn’t the case. He never stopped protecting her, even when he was traditionally supposed to be attempting getting into her pants.

Or up her skirt as she wasn’t wearing pants.

“Thank you.” She murmured, sipping her drink when he set it down in front of her; pulling a face. “There’s no alcohol in this!”

David actually gave her a ‘duh’ look; snorting into what was undoubtedly the most wimpiest drink ever. A beer… a no alcohol beer.

He was almost ashamed of himself.

Almost. Getting drunk around this woman –who he was supposed to be protecting no less- was the brightest idea.

“Karma, you wanted to go out, that’s fine. But you didn’t really expect me to contribute to your delinquency, now did you?”

“Aiding and abetting a rock star to have a good time, yes, I can so see the harm in that.” She said sarcastically; pushing away the drink. “Well at least dance with me.”

He would have preferred her to actually drink, clearing his throat. “I don’t dance.”

“I say you dance.”

“I said-“

“David…” Karma’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “Who do you work for?”

He had a feeling he knew where this was going and smirked. “Shane, which means, you can’t fire me, sweetheart.”

“Who does Shane want to cut a single?”

His face fell. “You…”

“So who does Shane want to keep happy?”


“So… theoretically, if Shane were here and knew it would make me happy, what would he tell you to do?”

David stood up and held out his hand too her.

Grinning, Karma took it.


“You know, you can’t keep pulling the employee card on me, or the bodyguard goes where I do, every time you want your way you know.” Dave said later that night as they were walking down the hallway towards their hotel room.

Karma smiled sheepishly. “I didn’t really mean any of it, if you really hadn’t wanted to go, you didn’t have too.” She sighed dramatically. “David, from here on out, I will never ask you to go out with me again, as my date.” She amended quickly.

“I don’t mind.” He said quietly, unlocking the door and giving the room his usual cursory sweep before ushering her inside. “I’d just prefer, you know, not being or feeling…”

“Forced.” Karma finished for him, her cheeks reddening and promptly headed for her room. She blinked when she felt herself being pulled back; glancing questioningly up at him.



“Next time…”

“Yes?” She breathed, her eyes half closing.

“I pick where we go.”

She almost reeled when David let go of her, mentally slapping herself stupid for that one and nodded; hastily beating a retreat.


“Look, we can order you a big ol’ dildo and-“

Karma slapped her face, not believing Matthew had actually said that. “Do you MIND?”

“Hey, you’re not a slut, that’s a good thing girl. Head forward.” He ordered, busy with her hair. Karma had told him about her ‘date’ and then even confided the almost kiss. “Most people would just rush out and fuck the first thing they could. Like… your ex.” He snorted. “Instead, you stayed to yourself and just drank yourself to sleep. That’s mostly a good thing, not the drinking but, you know.”

Karma was just glad she hadn’t told him ‘why or who’ had planted the whole ‘I need laid but won’t go sleep with a stranger’ mood. She was also glad David wasn’t in the room at the moment. THAT wouldn’t have been fun, Mattie would’ve probably gushed and gone… gay. “I only had one glass, mixed with Coke.”

“Good girl. Now… about that toy…”

“Oh man…”


She wasn’t the only one having that issue, Dave was trying to talk himself into… Hell, he didn’t know. He DID know that a line had been crossed last night. Karma was no longer his ‘job’, he had to reluctantly admit that he cared for her.

Which meant he couldn’t do his job properly.



Over the next few hectic weeks, there was no time for either to really consider their ‘date’, or what could or could not have been a kiss. Karma was kept busy by performing back to back sets, avoiding fighting with Chris and everything else Shane managed to cram into their schedules.

So when he announced they had a meeting with Nero, she was a bit apprehensive. If he announced he wanted to do even MORE shows, she was going to slit his throat and watch the blood stain his customary white, crisp dress shirt.

With a smile on her face no less.

Karma drummed her fingers on the conference room table, glancing across the table at Chris who was staring at Shane expectantly through a pair of sunglasses. Beside her she could hear Jonnny cursing under her breath, not she blamed her friend.

They had just come a photo shoot and hadn’t had time to change. Which meant Karma and Jonny were both wearing black bikini tops, black flouncy mini skirts; fishnet tights with knee high boots. Jonny had possessed Jacob’s leather jacket and was firmly wrapped up in it, fuming.

Karma had done the same, only with David. Only… he had wrapped it around her as soon as the shoot was done and it was announced they had to go, now. Not that she wasn’t grateful, she hadn’t felt like running around Manhattan almost bare assed; even if she did look like a ‘tard in a brown leather jacket with a top hat carefully pinned to her head at a cocked angle.

Ah well, such was the glorious life of a rock star.

“What’s this about?” Jacob demanded, knowing if Jonny didn’t get into some real clothes soon, she was going to become dangerous… to Shane.

Phil raised his head off the table long enough to see the grin on Shane’s face and snorted; letting his head drop back down with a thud.

“Nero,” Shane stood up when the other man walked in, flanked by his ‘entourage’. “Thank you for joining us.”

Nodding, Nero dropped down at the far end of the table, folding his arms over his chest as he surveyed the people assembled.

Chris was now glaring at Nero, over his shades.

“To make this short and sweet,” Shane cleared his throat to get their attention again. “After the performance in Italy… Karmie, you’re going to cut a duet with Nero.”

“WHAT?” Chris bellowed.

David stepped up behind Karma’s chair; resting one hand on the back of it.

Jonny began laughing. “Oh man… This’ll be fun.”

Nero was smiling slightly as well.

All Karma could do was stare at Shane, listening as Chris actually started going off like the diva bitch he was. She knew he had held his anger in when she had recorded her single, which incidentally, was being released today. This had been too much for his ego apparently.

But when he called her talentless, her head flew up, eyes blazing. “WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT THE HELL UP, SHIT DOWN AND STOP ACTING LIKE A GODDAMN BITCH ALREADY?”

Jake led the applause.

Nero coughed behind his hand.

David was trying to keep his face straight; which wasn’t easy when Jonny began laughing outright at the shocked look on Chris’ face.

When the laughter subsided, Shane cleared his throat again. “It’s already been finalized Chris, so you either deal with it or you know where the damn door is.”

Chris could not believe this was happening, his band had spiraled out of his control and scowled darkly; standing up slowly. “I hope you fall flat on your face.” He spat hatefully at his one time girlfriend, eyes burning with jealousy before storming out; leaving everyone staring at him out of wide eyes.

Shane proceeded to lay out the details, giving Karma the general idea he was either trying too, or eventually going to try to sell her on the idea of releasing a solo album.

Now THERE was a thought she had never entertained before and if Chris walked away from the group… That wasn’t the biggest issue at the moment though. The biggest issue was Shane requesting she collaborate with Nero, actually write a song with him.

THAT was her problem. So instead of going out with Jonny on her next free night, she was going to be staying in.

“Aw damn…”

Jonny clapped her friend on the back. “I’ll bring popcorn and Jack.”

“Don’t forget the whipped cream.”

Phil and Jacob both perked up.

David could already see this was going to give him a migraine.


“You two aren’t helping.”

“Course we are,” Jonny said, her lips brushing against Jacob’s. “We’re providing you with…”

“Sexual inspiration.” He finished, smirking as his girlfriend nodded eagerly.

Karma rolled her eyes, wondering if she was out of her mind. It was a Friday night, they didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to be for once, and instead of enjoying herself she was in her hotel room making the attempt at writing songs.

Jonny and Jacob had come to keep her company and help out where they could, but so far… making out was happening more than musical genius.

Dave sat at the table in the corner; his eyes glued to the newspaper in front of him though Karma could see a hint of a smile on his face. While her friends had taken over her bed; she had sprawled out on the floor; pillows surrounding her.

It was a particularly hard sofa pillow she hurled at him. “I seen that.”

Dave batted it away before it hit him; not looking up from the paper. “Sure you did.” His eyes snapped to the door however when there was a knock, glancing at Karma.

She shrugged from her place on the floor; laying on her stomach with a notebook before her; a pen between idle fingers. “Probably Phil, he went out to get pizza and beer.”

Snorting, Dave got up to answer the door; arching an eyebrow when he seen who it was. “Karm?”


Jonny and Jake both glanced towards the door along with Karma.

Nero stood there in straight legged black jeans and a white beater; his black hair pulled back into a half ponytail. “May I come in?” He asked politely, staring up at Dave.

Dave stepped aside mutely, wondering if Karma had invited the man without mentioning it; shooting her a questioning look.

She just shrugged, gesturing him aside.

“Thanks.” Nero murmured, stepping into the room and took inventory; smiling awkwardly at Jonatha and Jacob. He then glanced at Karma; offering her a half grin, pulling a leather bound from under his arm. “I thought we could… write.” His eyes were taking in the scattered and crumpled papers that surrounded her.

“Yeah, that’d-“

“I brought beer!”

They all began laughing as Phil stepped into the room; trying to balance everything.


David could only listen and watch as what had started out as a simple ‘writing’ session had gone into a full on jam. Jake had gotten a keyboard, Jonny procured two acoustic guitars and Phil was using an array of things for drums as they all sat in a circle on the floor, with Nero and Karma, Karma strumming the other guitar.

Leaving the musicians to themselves, he began the monumental chore of cleaning up pizza and ridding the room of all the beer bottles; Jacob having sent out for more of both when it soon became apparent there wasn’t enough to go around.

Scowling, he cracked open a window; glancing over his shoulder. Apparently Phil thought it would be funny to give Karma cigarettes, just what she didn’t need. But he couldn’t say anything, it wasn’t his place. Not to mention, Jonny and Jeff were also smoking.

The room looked like a fire had occurred and the smoke had left to lift.

Are you an angel
Or are you a dream
Nero sang; his voice carrying even without a mic.
Sometimes in life, things aren’t what they seem.”

Karma glanced down at the notebook that lay before her, then shared a smile with Jonny who nodded.

Beyond this night
This darkness that is my life
There’s you, standing so tall,

Yet so alone.
Nero chimed in, their voices blending together.

You’ve captured my soul
With a song.

David had to turn away, staring out the window even as it felt like he might die; not understanding the feeling one bit.

Sing me your song,
Make me your own.
Save me from darkness.
From dying alone.

Jonatha frowned when she realized Karma was singing but not really paying attention on the group; almost jumping out of her skin when Jake nudged her thigh; nodding over her shoulder. Trying to both play and look over her shoulder at the same time, she finally realized where Karma’s attention was.

Shocked, she glanced back at her boyfriend who just nodded with a small smile.

Paint me in music,
Lyrics of gold.
Sing me your song,
Make me your own

Karma and David, Jonatha mused. That was an odd pairing.


Karma woke up surrounded by paper, torn from their books and scrawled upon only to be cast aside in a music induced frenzy. She was fairly certain that how she had been feeling last night, was what it felt like to be high.

Groaning softly, she reached underneath her; her fingers brushing the mattress before latching onto a pen and gently threw it away from her. Yawning, she rolled onto her side and looked around blearily, glad she hadn’t drank anymore than she had, she could only imagine the hangover she would have woken up too.

Somehow, it wasn’t surprising to find David sitting at the table; reading what looked like a novel. She would have assumed he hadn’t moved from that place all night if not for the fresh clothes he was wearing. “Morning.” She smiled.

He looked over at her; closing the cover of his book and returned it. “Morning, coffee?”

“Mmmm.” The prospect of coffee was enough to get her mobile; hardly believing that she now considered coffee a treat when it used to be a daily part of her life. “What time is it?”



Dave looked at her warily, half expecting a mouthful of coffee to come flying at him. “You didn’t go to bed until…” He glanced down at his wristwatch. “Seven this morning, I’m surprised you didn’t sleep any later actually.”

“Would you have let me?” She asked shrewdly.

“No. Breakfast,” He snorted. “Is on its way up.”

After excusing herself to attend to necessary calls of nature, Karma was feeling more awake and definitely in the mood for the waffles and sausage she knew Dave had ordered. Anticipating her breakfast eagerly, she bounced around the hotel room picking up their mess; not wanting housekeeping to think they were a bunch of pigs.

Even if they occasionally acted like it.

“I’ve got it!” She trilled when the door opened; all but running in an effort to beat Dave. Which she did, barely; pulling it open the rest of the way so the server could wheel in the food.

Dave pinched her hip lightly. “I answer the door for a reason.”

“To intimidate and flex those awe inspiring muscles.” She teased, already lifting lids and inhaling. “Mmm…” Her eyes landed on a small card; arching an eyebrow. “What’s this?” She asked the server.

He frowned, looking apologetic. “It was on the floor by your door so I assumed…” He trailed off. “I’ll just throw it away, ma’am.”

“Oh no, let me have a look.” She opened it, pulling out the tiny card and read it; having recognized the hand-writing immediately. “It’s for me, thank you. Dave, tip him, please.”

More than a little curious about that card, David did as she had… asked.

Karma, I’m so sorry for the way I’ve been treating you lately. It’s been inexcusable. Please forgive me and let’s work this out. I love you. Chris

He seen the expression on her face and knew that card had probably come from her dimwitted ex-boyfriend; trying to understand the look in her eyes.

Why now, Karma was musing; more than slightly distracted. Why was Chris offering to make peace now? Because he needed to make sure he wasn’t left on his own without a manager? She knew Chris well enough to know his ego had been severely wounded and wasn’t sure what to make of the card.

What she did know was that she didn’t love him anymore, not after all the pain and heartache he had put her through the past few months.


“I’m going down to make the check-out arrangements.” David grunted when Karma didn’t come out of her silence; figuring they both needed a moment alone.

Karma heard the door click, that was enough to know Dave had left; now seated before the window; staring down into the busy street thoughtfully. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt a hand on her shoulder; her head turning sharply; mouth opening with every intention of telling David off for startling her.

“How’d you get in here?” She demanded when she seen Chris; knowing David point blank refused to let her ex-boyfriend near her without someone else around.

Chris stared back at her, trying to keep the anger out of his expression but failing miserably. He had seen the papers scattered about the room; knowing she had been in here all night writing, with someone besides him.

“What happened to us, Karm?” He demanded softly. “Just answer me and I’ll leave.”

“You let your jealousy and anger trample all over us.” She informed him just as quietly. “I never wanted all this Chris, you know that. I didn’t ask for it, but I’m not going to say I don’t want it now, because I do. I LOVE music, I love writing songs and singing, and being on that stage. I loved being out there with you.”

At least until he turned into megaprick.

“But…” She shrugged. “I’m not just your accessory anymore.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” He was defensive now, trying to swallow it down. “Karma, you were never my accessory. Why would you think that?” He sounded hurt; reaching out to caress her face and frowned when she shied away. “What, I can’t even touch you now? Jesus Christ, I would NEVER even THINK about hurting you!”

“I just don’t want you touching me, Chris.” She didn’t NEED him touching her, knowing damn well love and lust didn’t equal the same thing, not to mention he would make her forget what she was saying. “You said it yourself, you’re the star, the real talent.” She quoted from memory, the harshness of his words from that day still stinging her heart.

“I didn’t mean that. Christ, we’re pure fucking magic together, remember? Do you remember saying that, Karm?” He filled the space between them, baby blues locked on brown. “I love you, Karma. I was irrational and angry. I didn’t mean any of it. I realize now how much of a prick I was being, but all that is going to change. I just need you back on my side, not on Nero’s.”

He had a VERY hard time not gritting his teeth or spitting that name out.

Karma’s eyebrows drew together in a frown when he bent down to brush his lips against hers.

“I know you still love me.” He breathed.

She was fairly certain she didn’t though.


“You actually let him kiss you?” Matthew sounded appalled. “After everything that jackass has said to you, you actually let him put his DISGUSTING mouth on yours? Girl, you SING with those lips, are you nuts?”

Karma rolled her eyes, wincing when he jabbed the eyeliner pencil at her and held still. She hadn’t let him do anything BUT that little kiss. She wanted to see how well he handled himself for awhile before she let things go back to normal as normal could be. “Just get me ready to be onstage.”

“You had Nero in your room all night long, hmm? How’s he look without a shirt?”

“You really do have only room for one thought at a time in that head of yours, don’t you Mattie?”

“Details, wench, details!”


Chris was all smiles, at least until he was jerked into what had to be a janitorial closet and pinioned against a shelf of cleaning supplies; sputtering incoherently when the light flickered on. “You!”

David glared down at the little fool; baring his teeth in an unpleasant grin. Karma had informed him Chris had been to see her, which hadn’t made Dave very happy. “If you so much as LOOK at her wrong, I’m going to rip your heart out with my bare hand and start eating it before you die. Understand me?”

“You can’t-“ Chris groaned when David applied pressure to his throat.

“I CAN. Do NOT, fuck with her, Irvine.” His feral grin turned charming, which made Chris shiver as it still looked evil. “

Chris could only weakly nod.


Karma noticed throughout the performance that Chris was doing his best to bring back the old ‘magic’, but she had stopped feeling it some time ago. She still got lost in the music, she still loved listening to him sing, but the thrill of it… the way it had made her spiral into oblivion, that was gone.

Though when they had finished their set and she had to get around to perform with Nero, all thoughts were pushed aside. Mostly by the sight of David leaning against the vanity, looking stern.

“What Dave?” She sighed, hearing him tapping his foot and had a feeling she already knew, knowing he was annoyed. “Hey, toss me that corset top, please.” She peeked around the screen, pointing to a black corset with emerald green swirl designs on it.

Grunting, David did; still tapping his foot impatiently. What the hell had she been thinking, allowing Chris in the room? He was pissed and didn’t bother hiding it; his eyes alit with fire. “I want an explanation.” He said in a low, even voice; folding his arms over his chest. “Why?”

Karma stayed hidden behind that curtain, realizing Mattie and Maggie weren’t in there to help her because of Dave and pulled on the black taffeta skirt with emerald green trim, wearing matching pettipants beneath it. After lacing up her corset boots and taking as much time as possible, she walked out.

Promptly, Karma flinched at the expression on his face and turned, presenting her back to him; the laces of her corset undone. “Lace me, please.” She murmured, hearing him mutter something and sighed. “Please, David.”

His anger was turning into something else quickly as he took in the creamy expanse of her pale back, wondering if she was torturing him on purpose.

“I didn’t let him into the room, I was sitting at the window and… I suppose he just slipped in.”

Which made him now curse himself out, knowing it would have happened right after he had left; which probably meant Chris had been lurking waiting for a moment when Karma would be alone. Gritting his teeth, he vowed that the only alone time Karma would be seeing would be bathroom time, and possibly not even then.

When he was finished lacing her into her top; he gently turned her around; staring down into her warm brown eyes; his fingers brushing her shoulders. “I don’t like him, Karma, he doesn’t treat you right. You deserve better.” He said softly, knowing what he truly wanted to tell her but couldn’t. “If you get back with him, let me know… so I don’t kill him.” He almost sighed, letting her go and walked out of the room, before he kissed her.

“Hey, don’t run off without letting me speak!” Karma chased him down; catching him round the wrist. “Dave, I’m NOT getting back with him, trust me.” She placed her hand on his arm; staring up at him.

They were standing in the narrow hallway that led to the stage entrance, thousands of screaming fans swooning as Nero’s amplified voice pierced the building. “Though,” She got a teasing smile on her face. “What would happen if I decided to bring a stranger home?”

David groaned, not wanting to hear that. “That’s not funny, Karma. You know damn well you’re not that type anyway.” He reached across to take her hand from his arm, gently squeezing her fingers. “If he comes into your room again unannounced, I’m going to hurt him, understand?”

She nodded.

He leaned forward and kissed the top of her head. “Have a good show, you’re up.”

Being the loveable and affectionate being that she was, Karma responded to his kiss with a hug; beaming up at him. “Thank you, Dave and by the way, your human side is peeking.” She winked cheekily before leaning up to kiss his jaw. “You need a life, big man.” She teased, heading down the hallway.

“You know, for a famous person, she sure is a nice girl.” Mattie sighed from the doorway to the ‘break’ room. “She doesn’t act like she should.”

“A stuck-up, haughty bitch who’s too good to talk to the help?” Maggie chimed in from his side; a cigarette between her fingers.

“Yeah, that.”

“That’s not Karm, she’ll never be like that.” David said confidently, his jaw burning from her lips and watched as she strapped on her electric guitar. Either he was going to have to give in to the feelings he kept trying to suppress or inform Shane that he needed to find a new bodyguard for Karma as soon as possible.

As if knowing he was watching her, she glanced down the hall at him and waved; smiling broadly.

And quickly.


“Karma, David is taking some time off, meet Steve Austin.”

Karma couldn’t stop staring at Shane, wondering if this was a joke. “David is doing what?”

“Taking some time off.” He repeated calmly, not understanding it himself. Dave had informed him only a few nights before that Shane needed to find a replacement for Karma’s body guard as he needed some time to reassess things.

Shane had no idea what that had meant but as David had assured him he would be back, he wasn’t going to pry too much. Shane wasn’t blind, he had a feeling it had to do with Karma herself, not that he was going to tell his starlet that.

Sighing, Karma finally turned her attention onto her temporary guard, knowing she had been rude and managed a tense smile as she took him in. He was tall, tan and bald with intense blue eyes and a golden goatee/mustache. “Pleasure to meet you.” She said, extending her hand.

“Same here, honey.” He replied; his accent southern.

“Dave personally recommended Steve.” Shane said quickly, as if that would make this sudden transition easier.

Karma just shrugged. “Cool, whatever.” She snorted when Phil draped his arm around her shoulder, looking back to find Jonatha and Jacob standing there as well.

“Davey boy finally quit on her boring ass, huh?” Phil teased, leaning down so his head rested against Karma’s. “Not that I blame him, she’s never in any danger, not my idea of a good client.”

“Remind me again why Karma needs a bodyguard?” Jonny asked with a snort.

“Yeah no kidding.” Jake chimed in, sounding too cheerful to be allowed in Karma’s opinion. “The rest of us don’t have bodyguards, not even Chrissy. So what gives, Shane?”

Shane looked appropriately flustered.

“Shit, boy,” Phil fielded this one with a smirk. “Don’t you know, he’s got more money wrapped up in Karm then all the rest of us.”

“He’s protecting his investment.” Johnny said with a sweet smile, winking at Karma.

“I’m about to invest in your-“

“Say it, I dare you.”

Karma growled.

Jonatha just batted her insanely long eyelashes.

Steve wasn’t sure if he was cut out for this line of work.


Without David there to constantly hound her, Karma did start going out more often. Steve was a shadow in the background but he also seemed a lot more laid back. Appearances were deceiving Karma mused often because even though he didn’t seem to be attentive, she had caught him staring at her or her companions intently, sizing up the situation constantly.

His blue eyes were fairly terrifying, thanks to their icy demeanor.

David had been gone only a month and things were beginning to rapidly change. Chris seemed to be back in the fold though he and Karma were no longer an item and the band was stable.

Off-stage however, Shane personally felt they were going to get in a load of trouble. Now that Karma could actually go out without David, he was discovering she liked to party. It didn’t help her friends also liked to party and apparently between the five of them, they could shut down three bars on a good night.

“Can’t you STOP her?” He had asked Steve, repeatedly.

And Steve always gave him the same answer: “My job is to protect her from others, not herself.”

Shane missed David.


“You HAVE to come back!”

“Still gathering my thoughts.”

“Please, I will TRIPLE your pay!”

David couldn’t believe Shane McMahon was actually offering him such a substantial pay increase, wondering just what on earth Karma was doing after him being gone only two months to drive Shane to this. He tried not to keep tabs on her but it was rather hard with some major music award show coming up and she was one of the headliners, alongside Nero of course; their duet having skyrocketed.

Karma was becoming mainstream in the music industry, thanks to her association with Nero, but ‘her’ band was also beginning to reap the awards as they would be the house band for the award show, which was a big step up from the clubs they used to play.

According to the latest gossip show, she was apparently dating the drummer, Phil; who went by a stage name of CM Punk for some ungodly reason. He had never quite figured Phil out and he never wanted too either.

Did he believe she was actually dating that moronic joker?



Dave just sighed.



Karma cringed, stumbling backwards into Phil who flinched; both of them staring at Mattie out of guilty eyes.


“It was only a-“


“Catch ya on stage, Karm!” Phil darted out.

If not for the fact that he wasn’t out to get in her pants or in a relationship with her –thereby making him her best friend at the moment- Karma would have castrated him. As it was, she was too busy trying not to squirm under a seriously angry look from her gay stylist.

“Look, it was only a few drinks and-“

“You’ve done this TWICE this past week, how many times do I have to tell you NOT to drink before work?” Mattie planted his hands on his hips; scowling as he eyeballed her hair. “I don’t know HOW I’m going to fix that mess… Where the hell were you?”

“Actually, that’s a good story and…” Karma shut and locked the door after glancing up and down the hallway. “And I will tell you it another time.”

Matthew sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Steve?”

She nodded, trying and failing at looking meek.

Steve hadn’t endeared himself to the ‘crew’ when he had informed Jonny she was a bulldyke in training who needed to check her attitude. Of course this was AFTER Jonatha had informed him he wasn’t doing his job very well.

And all this had occurred AFTER Karma had gotten socked in the jaw by some crazed woman and Steve hadn’t been there in time to stop it.

Steve’s answer had been to ‘crack down’ on Karma and as he didn’t go about it very nicely and seemed to be a bit spiteful, Karma had rebelled.

Her friends were only too eager to help her.

“What’d you do to that poor man now?” Mattie wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

“We uh… ditched him…”

“Where at this time?”

“54 and East.”


“Yeah?” Karma tried to look innocent.

“We are in ALBANY!”

She began giggling, ignoring Matthew’s requests to know ‘how the HELL this had happened’.


How it happened was really easy. Karma had hired lookalikes to meet them at the JFK airport back in New York. Given that Shane usually met them at hotels, it wasn’t that hard for the band-mates to lose themselves in the crowd and let their imposters guide Steve all over the place.

If it had been David, well, Steve already knew his friend would probably murder him for this. He had discovered ‘Karma’ was a fake when he grabbed her hair to stop her from running… and the clip on extensions of turquoise and purple came out in his fist.

Karma did not wear hair extensions, her hair had actually been dyed those hideous colors.

Steve had instantly called Shane to inform him of the… issue and caught the flight he SHOULD have been on hours ago, vowing he was going to KILL Karma for this.


It was actually peaceful without Steve around. Jonatha was more relaxed, Jacob wasn’t threatening bodily harm on anyone… Chris was just Chris, as moody and aloof as ever. The guy was becoming a wallflower, it was… odd to say the least as Chris had been the social butterfly of the group.

So when Karma walked into the arena the following night and right into Steve’s waiting arms, she was mildly worried. “It was just a joke, you know? I wasn’t-“ She watched as he knelt down, arching an eyebrow when he lifted her leg. “Uh, Steve, what’re you-“ She felt something cold and metallic clamp around her ankle. “Doing?”

“When I can trust you to not run off and have me chasing a decoy, then we’ll discuss removin’ it, kid.” He said, sounding smugly satisfied as he stood up; staring down at her out of cold blue eyes.

“You’re kidding me, there is no way I’m wearing this thing, TAKE IT OFF!”

“Girl, you best lower your tone.” He cautioned, sneering at her. “Let’s get one thing straight Karma. I’m not Dave Bautista.”

“Obviously.” Was the cold reply. “He wasn’t a jackass!”

“I’m getting paid to protect you, sugar, not be your friend.”


“Hold STILL, Karm.” Jacob growled irritably, gripping her slim ankle in his large hand and stared down at the tracker as if it was his mortal enemy. He had to admit; to anyone who didn’t know the truth, it looked like nothing more than an ankle bracelet. “I can’t believe they actually allowed him to do this to you.”

“That makes us both, I get more than seventy-five yards from the cue ball and HIS locator goes off.” Karma pulled a face, remembering ducking into a bathroom at a hotel only to find him bursting in on her trying to pee. Now that had been awkward, for her. Steve had merely tossed her a roll of toilet paper and told her to hurry the Hell up.

“So he’s…”

“In my room, one floor up.”

Jonatha snorted, shaking her head as she made them all a drink from behind the bar. “This is bullshit, David wouldn’t allow it, where the HELL is that moron anyways?”

Karma felt something akin to pain flit through her heart; refusing to admit that she might have, possibly, been harboring feelings for her body guard, as impossible as it had seemed. “Shane said he needed ‘personal’ time.”

Jake gritted his teeth; about to blow a fuse after spending the better part of an hour tinkering with this damn thing and he STILL could not yet it off. “Karm, I think you’re stuck with it, unless you can somehow get the key from Austin.”

“I could try bribing him.” She mused slowly, knowing damn well that wouldn’t work. Since the airport incident, the man took great delight in tormenting her within his bounds.

“I suggest seducing him.”

Jake and Karma both gave Jonny disgusted looks.

She shrugged. “Hey, he’s a man and that might be the only way to get the key.”

“I don’t think so…”

“It was just a suggestion.”

“Noted. Next?”

“We could kill him.” Jake offered after a few minutes silent, fruitless thinking. He grinned when Karma gave him an exasperated look. “Bad joke?”

“I don’t need you tempting me anymore than I’m already tempting myself.”

“Ah, I see. Murderous little vixen, aren’t you?”

“Jacob,” Jonny said, walking around to pass them each a drink. “Stop flirting with her or I’ll put a tracker on YOU next.”

Jake flashed a conspiratorial smile at Karma while he took his drink. “Bless her heart.”


“What the Hell, Chris?”

“Just… come in here.”

Karma was on her way back to her room after the unsuccessful attempts at prizing the tracer off her ankle, and a bit buzzing truth be told, when Chris had poked his head out into the hallway. “No, the tracer-“

“Trust me, this is within your limits.” His tone was challenging, a double meaning in there if she ever heard one.

Sighing, she stepped towards him; her eyes narrowing when she seen what was in his hand. “Are you fucking INSANE? Do you remember the last time, Chris?”

Apparently he didn’t, he was already reaching for her.

Karma remembered all too well, how drunk she had been so she hadn’t noticed anything until the following morning and then the fiasco that had followed.

Chris glanced down at his hand then rolled his eyes. “Christ woman, I’m not going to rape you.” His voice took on a little boy’s wheedling quality. “Karma, you know I’d never hurt you… Sweetheart…”

Karma was already walking away.


“Shane, I can’t work with this thing on me!”

Shane stared down at the tracer around his star’s ankle; frowning and then sighed; pinching the bridge of his nose. “Karma, look, it’s a safety precaution, just… think of it as an accessory.”

“Um, no.” Mattie interrupted, a frown on his face as he teased her hair higher and higher. “I would never allow her to wear such an ugly… accessory.”

Karma grimaced painfully. “Shane, it’s degrading, I want it off. Order him to remove it.”

“Him is in the room, his name is Steve.” Austin spoke up from his place in the doorway; his blue eyes nothing but ice, as usual though a hint of cruelly amused grin flickered over his lips.

“Noted, now fuck off, moron.”

“Woman, you ain’t in any hurry to have that thing removed, are you?”

Shane just shook his head.


“You are a stuck up little bitch, you know that?”

Startled, Karma looked into the vanity mirror; her still black lips curving into a scowl. “Get out. I might have to share a suite with you but that does not give you the right to come into my rooms, Austin.” She reached for a tissue, daubing at her lips violently.

After a show, she liked to unwind by removing her make-up; soaking in the tub and then laying in the bed with the TV on and the volume muted. Steve Austin was interrupting her ritual and it was annoying.

“Where you go, I go.” He reminded in a serious voice; though his expression was malicious. He would never, ever, forget the airport incident, he would never trust this woman or her friends. They had made his life HELL for quite some time, enough was enough.

He knew how to deal with hell raising bitches who thought that because they were famous, they deserved to get away with practically murder. Collar ‘em.

“When’s David coming back?” Karma demanded, without looking at him; now using cleanser and a cotton pad to remove her heavy make-up.

Steve was actually mildly surprised by that. She hadn’t mentioned Dave at all, he had figured to her, one guard was the same as the rest. “Why? Prefer him?”


That was also surprising. From his understanding, Dave had gone as far as to actually share a room with her, sleeping on floors or couches and without her doing anything to warrant it.

Steve needed a reason to take such measures, Dave didn’t. Now THAT was a body guard who took his work way too seriously.

“Why’s that?”

The look she fixed him with was the coldest thing ever and it pissed him off. “Missy…”

Karma stood up, deigning to shoot him a hateful look before disappearing into her bathroom, the lock clicking audibly.

He banged a fist on the door. “Like this would keep me out if I really wanted in?” He called through the wooden door.

“Keep pushing my buttons, Austin and you’ll find out how big a bitch I can really be.” Came her response.


“I don’t like him, Mags, he treats her like she’s dirt.”

Maggie sighed, busy sewing lace onto the bottom of Karma’s skirt, a few pins between her lips. Mattie was SUPPOSED to be looking online for ideas to go with it but so far, all he had done was bitch about how Steve and Karma got along.

Not that she blamed him, but her opinion didn’t really count for shit in Shane’s eyes when it came to anything but fashion.

“He keeps saying she’s a stuck up, pampered rock star who needs knocked back down to earth, does that sound like our Karma?”


“No. It sounds like he thinks he had her figured out from day one and stuck her in a pair of shoes that aren’t hers.”

“Nice metaphor.”

“Thank you.” Mattie sighed, closing down the laptop. “I’m calling David.”


He smirked. “You heard me.”

Maggie couldn’t help but return the smile. This was going to be… interesting.


“It’s inhumane, Shane!”

“You have to take it off her!”

“And fire that jackass!”

“That too!”

Shane rubbed his temples, listening as Karma’s bandmates pleaded her case, having already heard a mouthful from Maggie and Matthew. “Steve stays and so does the tracer. Look,” He held up his hands when they all fixed him with glares. “That stunt you guys pulled at the airport… didn’t endear any of you to him, but she’s his responsibility so he deals with her how he sees fit. He’s the best next to David, now get off my back.”


Speaking of Karma…

He whirled around with a smile on his face, holding his arms out to her. “Karmie, baby!”

“Don’t you baby me, McMahon!” She actually jabbed her finger in his chest; Steve coming up behind her with his usual smug smirk firmly planted on his face. “Do I usually get in trouble?”


“Do I?”

“Well, no…”

“Don’t I behave and usually keep to my rooms when we’re traveling?”

“Uh… yes, except for…”

“Except when David left and then you decided to be a little party girl.” Steve spoke up scornfully, looking nonplussed when she whirled on him.

Karma bared her teeth at him, clenching her fists. “You know absolutely NOTHING about me, Austin. For the past YEAR, I have done what Shane asked me too. I have gone from being the guitarist to a singer against my wishes. I have stopped going out except for publicity events, awards and concerts. I have given up my entire fucking LIFE for this band so DON’T presume to know a GODDAMN THING ABOUT ME!”

Matthew, Maggie, Phil, Jacob and Jonatha all began applauding loudly, much to Shane’s chagrin.

“Now THAT is attitude.” Mattie mockingly wiped away a tear. “I’m so proud of my little rockstar.”

Maggie was applauding. “Our baby is all grown up.”

“When you two are finished.” Shane growled, giving serious consideration to firing them both and hiring new, mute stylists.

Karma was still engaged in her stare down Steve; neither of them giving an inch. “Take it off.” She ordered.

“I’ll think on it.”

Her hand flew out to slap him only to be caught in his fist.

“I’ve thought on it and I think it looks pretty good on you, honey.” He said coldly. “Remember Karma, I’m paid to protect you, not be your friend.”



Shane thought the drama had ended on that note. Rehearsals had gone well and not a word was said regarding the tracer, of course he had to endure a lot of dirty looks from several people but such was the price of keeping his star safe.

It was only a half hour until show time when Maggie came running into the lounge, demanding he follow her.

He did, knowing he wasn’t going to like whatever was going on.


“Take this goddamn thing off me RIGHT now, Austin.” Karma ordered, trying to snatch the key from the chain he wore it on around his neck. “NOW!” When he shook his head, she slapped him, not caring if she was probably going to jail for assaulting an employee.

What a laugh, he wasn’t even HER employee! He was Shane’s!


“You can hit me as many times are you want, Karma, it’s not going to change a damn thing.” Steve said evenly; his eyes narrowing.

“Now, Karma…” Shane began, stepping into the room.

“Get it off of me, McMahon.” She ordered coldly. She had done everything he asked of her. She had taken singing lessons, agreed to the whole ‘sex sells’ shit, she had even started upstaging Chris –which wasn’t intentional on her part- and all because Shane said these were smart business decisions.

But NOW…

“I will FUCK this whole concert up if you don’t get this off of me.”

“Karma, please… it’s just a safety precaution is all…”

She sneered.

“Look, you’re a famous singer; you NEED to be monitored so nothing bad can happen to you! And so you don’t do anything retarded, like the airport incident!”

Karma was forcing herself to be calm. “I want this off my ankle, Shane. This isn’t open for debate, give me the key.”

“No.” Both he and Austin said at the same time.

Shane walked away then. He had too much money invested in her for her to piss it all away. NOTHING could happen to her.


Karma was NOT amused at all and when show time rolled around, she hadn’t changed. She was still in a pair of tan capris and a black and pink checked tank top; her hair not done and her make-up minimal. She was also barefoot, showing off her accessory and smiled grimly while she waited; seated atop a metal case.

“Karma, baby, you have to get ready, we have ten minutes.” Shane pleaded, staring up at her.


“Honey, please, look, we can talk about the tracer AFTER the show but-“

She folded her arms over her chest.

“Karma, you-“ Shane didn’t get to finish his sentence, grunting as he was shoved to the floor face first.

Steve was already moving to stand between the attacker and Karma, his blue eyes widening.

Maggie was peering out from behind Dave Bautista’s broad frame, her face lit with a mischievous grin. “I called the calvary.”

David’s eyes were fastened on Karma’s bared ankle; rage clearly etched in every line of his face. “Take it off her, now.” He ordered.

Sighing, Steve did.

Shane was now getting to his feet. “Dave-“

“You shut the fuck up.” Dave snarled, stepping over Shane and gripped Karma around the waist; gently lifting her off the crate and lowering her to the floor. “You alright?”

“Yeah, I’m… fine.” She stared at him, wondering just why he was back at least until she heard Maggie’s snickering and got the feeling she already knew. “You back for good or is this just a one night only deal?” She asked quietly.

“If you want me, I’m here to stay.” He replied, just as softly.

She knew that meant so much more than just as her personal guard and bit her lower lip; smiling shyly. “Stay.”

Mattie was crying into a handkerchief loudly. “Oh… this is so….”

“I know!” Maggie exclaimed, beaming.

Shane walked away, throwing his hands into the air exasperatedly.

“Does this mean I’m fired?”

David glanced over his shoulder at Steve.

Steve grinned. “Alright, alright, I’m going. You can deal with the little hellion.”

“Thank God.” Karma muttered.


Sing my Angel, my Muse
Let your pain be mine
Drench me in bittersweet tears
And scream to me your agony

Sing my Angel, my Muse
Make your heartache mine
Caress me with your weeping eyes
As the pain crests again

A broken heart never killed
It’s the anger and rage you choke upon
Scream for me, scream for me, oh
Scream my Angel, my Muse

Let the anguish run through
It’s only the shards of
Your dead, broken heart
Scream my Angel, my Muse

I can be your savior
I will absolve all your pain
Believe in me, my Angel you’ll see
We’ll sing my Angel, my Muse

We’ll sing, my Angel, my Muse

“When’d you write that?”

“No idea, sometime this past month, most likely while I was shit-faced.” Karma laughed, strumming idly on her guitar; humming the chorus. David had just been tortured with an acoustic version of her next single, soon to be single at least.

“It’s nice, in a slightly pissed off sort of way.” He smiled, reaching across the bed to brush a strand of hair back from her forehead. “From what Shane says, you’ve been… busy.”

Her brown eyes gleamed for a moment, obviously considering whether or not to laugh or snort; finally settling for a combination that came out all wrong. “You could say that.”

After the concert, they had returned to her hotel room, Dave hadn’t seemed pleased with the fact that she and Steve were sharing a suite but he hadn’t commented on it either. There were a lot of things about Steve that he wasn’t pleased with, the tracer the main thing.

They had talked for a little about nothing at all or so it seemed; him finally asking her if she had written anything new. Which had led to her singing her latest piece to him; he could already picture McMahon doing his ‘here comes the money’ song and dance routine.

“Shane said you left for… personal reasons.” The way she said it was like a statement with only a hint of question in there. Like she wanted to know why but wouldn’t press him for an answer.

Not just yet anyway.

He nodded.

She arched an eyebrow.

“I left because of you.” Dave said bluntly, smirking when her jaw dropped; using his fingers to press her mouth shut.

“Me?” She sputtered indignantly. “What did I do to you?!”

He hesitated.

But Karma didn’t notice that, she was fuming… and feeling a little hurt. “Honestly, I wasn’t THAT bad was I? No, I was NOT. So what did I do?”

He tried to get a word in edgewise but it was almost impossible; finally plucking the guitar from her hands and set it down on the floor; leaning against the nightstand. Still she rambled on, now dissecting all their time together; apparently trying to figure out where she had gone wrong and alienated him or some shit.

After saying her name five times in a row in various tones, David finally grabbed her by her forearms and dragged her across the bed, into his lap.

Karma promptly shut up, staring up at him owlishly.

“I left because I…” He felt like she had taken all his words from him and found himself stumbling over his own tongue, groaning inwardly.

After a moment, her eyes lit up and she was practically all aglow with a smile. “Just shut up and kiss me already.”



Phil glanced at Chris, scowling. “No, what’s disgusting is what a little coke-whore you’re turning out to be.”


“Look at you, Chris!” Phil wasn’t interested in dissecting the dynamics of Karma and David’s new relationship, already knowing it wasn’t just a bodyguard and employer thing anymore, they were more of a couple. “Your pants are falling off, you look like shit and you’re TWITCHING.”

“I am NOT!”

Jonatha and Jacob ambled over, Karma trailing behind while Dave was hanging back; apparently watching for signs of trouble. In reality, he was staying back because this was a moment between friends, a moment he had known would be coming the moment he had seen Chris.

This was an intervention.

“Chris,” Karma stepped up to him, cupping his face in her hands and forced him to look at her; feeling her heart break at the look in his eyes. She honestly hadn’t known his addiction had gotten this bad; she had… been too wrapped up in her own misery. She no longer loved him as anything but her friend, which in the long run, was the best thing for them both. They couldn’t be anything BUT friends, they had already proven that. “Baby, you need help.”

His glazed, red eyes searched hers intently; finally pushing her away though there was no heart in it. “I’m just tired.”

Jonatha shook her head, looking like she might cry; something very unusual for her. “Chris, come on, let us get you help.”

“Please, Chris.” Jake held out his hands in a supplicating gesture. “You have to let us help you.”

That seemed to stir something in Chris. His ego had died, if anything, the drugs had made him worse in that aspect. He drew back; looking at them all like they were insane; his lips curled into a sneer. “I don’t need ANYTHING from ANY of you!” He jabbed his finger at them all, each one in turn. “I’m the one who got us this far, don’t any of you forget that!”


“No!” Chris waved Jonny and Karma away from him agitatedly. “This is MY band goddamn it! MINE! I’m the star and I DON’T need your fucking help, understand me?”

Jonatha cracked her knuckles but just nodded.


“You can’t do this to me!” Chris screamed, thrashing about madly as his bandmates pulled him from the limo; his eyes widening when he seen where they were. “LET GO DAMN IT!”

“Watch his foot!” Phil cautioned, grimacing as Chris’ hand grabbed a handful of hair; tugging viciously at it.

Nodding, Karma and Jake both did their best to tuck the flailing limbs beneath their arms; letting Shane clear a path as they carted the struggling Chris into the rehabilitation center. Luckily for them, it seemed nobody knew who they were or what was going on; for now.

By the time Entertainment Tonight rolled around, they’d be headline news.

An hour later, they all trudged back out, minus Chris; none surprised to find the press waiting. Dave ushered them all into the waiting limo while Shane fielded questions.

Nobody said a word.


Beyond the night
This darkness that is my life
There’s you
Standing so tall
Yet so alone
You’ve captured my soul
With a song

“She is going to burst out of that dress.”

“Any minute now…”

“Will you two shut up!” Shane hissed, shooting Jacob and Jonatha Black dirty looks.

The married couple both flipped him off.

Dave snickered but didn’t take his eyes off the pair onstage. Chris and Karma were both perched on wooden stools, a guitar on her lap; resting awkwardly against her stomach as they sang the band’s newest hit single together, acoustic.

This would also be their last appearance before Karma went into hiding to have the baby, her baby, his baby.

Dave felt himself swelling with pride as he took in his fiancée.

Rehab had done wonders for Chris, not only was he a recovered addict but he had also lost his ego somewhere along the path; now it wasn’t HIS band but THEIR band. Phil’s. Karma’s. Jake’s. Jonatha’s. And Chris’. They were actually being a band again.

Which was great as Shane had started them on their own tour; with Nero’s blessing of course. Not that Nero and Karma didn’t collaborate still, because they did, frequently.

What was the best was that when contract time had rolled around, they all had taken much more interest in the terms. Shane wasn’t getting 60% anymore, he was getting 40%. His job was to book them, handle public statements as needed and basically keep them in the media’s eyes, in a good light.

As there were five of them and only one of Shane, plus they had other expenses to cover, they figured it was only fair.

As Shane wasn’t in any hurry to lose that 40% (because quite frankly, that was still an obscene amount of money) he accepted.

Karma looked up and towards the wings; her eyes fastening with David’s for a brief moment, a smile lighting her face before looking back to Chris who was singing the end verse.

Chris’ blue eyes sparkled happily, glad to have his best friend back, even if they were nothing more. So long as Karma was in his life, he was happy. That… and as he had jokingly told her, he needed a woman to be there on his arm; not perched on his head constantly nagging.

Karma had jammed a guitar pick up his nose for that one. Being pregnant and hormonal had it’s perks.

Sing me your song
Make me your own
Save me from darkness
From dying alone
Paint me in music
Lyrics of gold
Sing me your song
Make me your own