Popstars, Friends, & Lovers...a dreamer's tale
Burnouts Series #2
by Karen Gordon
Publication Date: November 2, 2014
“The poorest man is not the one with no penny in his pocket, but the one who has no dream.” – The Burnouts, Class of ‘99
For two weeks Steve Shrader lived a dream. A dream that he didn’t even know existed until he felt it. For two weeks he had love - in the form of Hello Kitty bandaids and hot soup and his best friend, MG. Then he screwed up, like he always did, and the dream he was living went away.
Now school is over, MG is gone and he’s headed down the only path he knows; drifting along and numbing himself with drugs and alcohol. But he’s seen a better life. He’s seen what he wants. He wants MG. The question is how to get to her from where he is now.
MG dreams of living large in New York City - in a kick-ass apartment with a glam fashion job and photo shoots with rich friends in magazines. She left everything familiar back home in St. Louis and everything she thought she knew about Manhattan and life isn’t turning out to be true.
When MG's dreams crumble and fall though her hands she’s left with what’s real. A real life with a real job and real problems. And maybe, real love.
When they had talked on the phone about this visit their conversation always veered toward sex. It was their default setting and both were hanging on to a lot of saved up sexual energy. But now that she was here and exhausted and hungry and wearing clothes that had been dragged across the floor of several major airports the mood between them felt different.
As soon as they were in the truck on the way to the condo, they had started talking, which they did on the phone every day, so you would think that they would be talked out and ready for nonstop screwing. They only had eight hours together before she had to be back at the airport, but the rush to fuck just wasn’t there.
While she told him about all her waiting and flights in her MG way that made him laugh, he ran her a bath. He found a big box of leftover catered stuff in the fridge from Bryce’s last party that he brought into the bathroom. He popped a mini sandwich in her mouth then grabbed one for himself.
He set the box where she could reach it and opened two Fitz’s root beers (her St. Louis favorite) as he caught her up on gossip updates that had happened in the past few days–Bryce’s latest conquest, Casey still not talking to Pat, Carrie and her twins and Nick. Then he stripped and slid into the tub with her.
The physical contact felt fantastic and added to the slowly building burn between them, but it was still secondary to their need to connect. Talking in person with gestures, touching and eye contact came first. They were reconnecting slowly, enjoying the change in their relationship that had started when he was in New York. Fuck buddies had been replaced by a deep connection that defined their relationship now.
This is what she really came to St. Louis for--this little slice of heaven that she could only get with him. He was the one man in her life who had ever fought to stay with her, even after she left him. He was permanence, even if neither had any idea where they were going. She wasn’t lost alone.
She lay with her head against his chest, resting her hands on his thighs, between rounds of grabbing little sandwiches and swigs of root beer. He started talking about general stuff going on at work then told her about working on the accounts. His voice was more hesitant, as if he wasn’t sure he was ready to share this with her.
“I started a couple weeks ago with the invoices. I don’t know. I always thought that stuff would be so hard, but … it’s all pretty logical and just creates a paper trail.”
“Yeah, well that paper trail was the highway to hell for me. I only passed accounting because I talked the professor into letting me do a paper to make up for my shitty test grades.”
“Accounting was hard for you?” He couldn’t hide his shock that he got something that she didn’t. He’d always considered himself the bottom of the barrel at school.
“I hated accounting. Never want to see that shit again.”
“Maybe it’s the way Robert explains it.” She felt him shrug. “It all makes sense to me.”
From the way he talked about Robert, MG knew Steve really admired the guy. He thought he was a really smart businessman.
When the water got too cold, they moved to his bed and had the most un-Steve-and-MG-like conversation about sheets. Bryce’s felt just like Alex’s. They both agreed that great sheets were one benefit of being rich they could get into.
Then they wrapped themselves up in those sheets and made love, slowly, taking time to stroke and caress and explore all the parts each missed on the other. Their pace was a confirmation to each other that they didn’t need to grasp at something that might disappear.
At seven-thirty a.m., Steve woke MG from a brief nap so she could have a cup of coffee and get dressed to go back to the airport. The snowstorm on the East Coast was over, but its effect, along with the Christmas holiday, was still rippling through the airline schedules. She had a nine a.m. flight to New York, through Dallas. She wouldn’t be home until around five p.m.
It was worth it. She would be willing to spend days sitting in airports fighting other passengers and gate agents again to get another eight hours with him. She was floating in a calm, happy place that only he could take her to. She left him at security with a quick kiss and an “I love you” that she felt all the way through her soul.
It’s Been Awhile – Staind
This is the song that got me into Steve’s head. It’s so full of regret and passion from a guy’s perspective. It’s a very raw song.
Drive – The Cars
This song inspired the scene where Steve gets MG in LA. When I listen I hear about a person who sees the flaws in another, but loves them enough to be the one to show up for them.
Hey Jealousy – Gin Blossoms
This song inspired the time when MG and Steve were together in New York.
That Girl Could Sing – Jackson Browne
This was the inspiration for MG’s relationship with Daniel (although she cannot sing.)
Take Care (featuring Rhianna) – Drake
The idea of a guy understanding that women can be sexual and have a past and it’s no big deal, he has one too—that is so Steve. He’s not hooked up on the idea of a woman as property or something to be conquered, claimed and marked.
Junior Prom, 1998They all piled into the limo, ready for food and a reprieve from the stares and drama that had been prom. Steve scooted across the bench seat to make room for his dates: Carrie, Casey, Gina, and MG. Casey wanted the window seat so she crawled over his lap, almost kneeing him in the balls on her way.
“Case, jezus!” He doubled over, protecting himself.
Her look of surprise said she hadn’t really noticed who she had just climbed over.
Gina and Carrie arranged themselves on either side of him, popped off their high-heeled shoes and draped their legs across his to rest their feet. He unconsciously grabbed their toes and started rubbing, causing both of them to moan in ecstasy. But his mind was on MG, kneeling on the rear facing seat with her butt squarely in his field of vision while she gave the driver directions to the all-night pancake restaurant.
At least fifteen different guys must have come up to him tonight and high-fived or fist bumped him for having four dates to prom. Fifteen guys who normally never talked to him but probably talked about him as a burnout, drug addict, loser. He’d never considered himself the smartest guy, but he was sure as shit smarter than them when it came to girls.
It started when he was fourteen. Girls started coming on to him, usually older ones. That was the summer he grew five inches and towered over all his friends at a gangly six feet tall. That was also the summer that his dad stopped making him get his hair cut. Women of all ages couldn’t seem to keep their hands out of the dark brown waves.
Desiree was sixteen and lived in his apartment complex. She gave him his first joint and first kiss and he was hooked. He loved everything about both, especially the way they made him feel. Having grown up with only his dad and brother, girls were exotic to him and he couldn’t get enough time hanging out with them. He wanted to hear what they had to say, study their bodies, taste them, smell them, make them smile. Desiree and her friends taught him how to do just that in a way that guaranteed they couldn’t get pregnant. He had hours and hours of oral lessons from his first girlfriends. When he met MG he volunteered to teach her, then Casey, then Gina (though they never got that far). He’d be happy to go over the finer points with Carrie too if she ever asked.
“Don’t stop!” Carrie moaned and he went back to rubbing her feet. Casey took off her shoes and stuck her feet on his lap too. He rotated rubbing Carrie’s, then Gina’s, then Casey’s. MG’s were notably missing.
The tough-looking night shift waitress at Paul’s Pancakes flirted with him. She teased him about what he had to keep four dates happy then passed him her number on the back of the check.
Gina saw it first when she grabbed the check to divide the total by five. “So, who do you think this is for?” She joked as she held it up to show the others. They all smirked at Steve.
He shrugged off his innocence. “What?” There was no jealousy in the group. If he wanted to call the waitress he could. But that was the problem too, there was no jealousy, especially not from the one he wanted it from.
MG wiped the last of the syrup from her plate with her finger and licked it off. Steve watched her with rapt attention. Try as he might he couldn’t give up the hope that she might really care, that he hadn’t majorly fucked up when he told her that he loved her. He breathed out his frustration and looked away. Carrie caught him and gave him a small smile of understanding. She had it just as bad for her neighbor Ben as he did for MG.
He thought back to the two weeks when he had lived at MG’s house. His older brother Tony (better known as Stony) had come home wasted and beat the crap out of him. When he got to a pay phone the only person he wanted to call was MG and she didn’t hesitate to drive in a snow-storm and come get him. Then she took care of him, well, her and her mom. She put Hello Kitty band-aids all over him and made him laugh through his pain. She made stupid airplane noises and fed him soup because he could hardly move his shoulder and his lip was too swollen to eat solids his first day there. She fell asleep, spooned against him, watching movies on the couch in her upstairs TV room. He even stayed through Christmas. She bought him fingerless gloves and a hat, and her mom spent way too much on a new leather jacket for him. Best damn Christmas he could ever remember. Best two weeks he could ever remember. He wanted more of it.
But he fuckin blew it. Somewhere in the middle of telling her about his memories of his step-mom, he told MG that he loved her. He meant it, but he should have kept his mouth shut. Ever since then, they were still friends, but … it just wasn’t the same. She barely touched him anymore.
♪ ☺ ♥After pancakes they were all back at MG’s house where Steve was sprawled on the couch in the upstairs TV room. He had changed out of his tuxedo and was waiting for the girls to finish changing. It was past two a.m. and he had really had enough for the night, but MG insisted they needed to stay out all night. He slumped over the plump arm of the soft chenille sofa. Gina came in and flopped across the giant bean bag chair, looking like she had had enough too. Carrie and Casey both stretched out on the carpeted floor, sharing one of the big floor pillows for their heads.
“Don’t go to sleep,” he warned. “She’ll drag your ass down the stairs and out the door.” When it came to fun, MG was determined. If she wanted to stay out all night, they would all stay out all night, even if she had to drag them kicking and screaming.
But MG took too long to get ready (nothing new there) and they were all breathing deeply, sound asleep, when she came in the room.
“Come on you guys,” she pleaded to the silent room, then gave up when no one stirred and pulled a pile of blankets from the hall linen closet. Through half-open eyes Steve watched her drape a blanket over Carrie and Casey, then Gina. He closed his eyes when she sat on the coffee table in front of him, wondering what she would say or do if she thought he was asleep. She reached forward and twirled some of his wavy hair around her finger. She had been doing that ever since they met sophomore year. It made his hair stand up and her laugh.
He was half on the couch, one leg still on the floor. She laid the blanket over him and leaned in and sniffed his shirt when she tucked it around his neck. Hopefully smelling his cologne (not that he owned any). He had stopped by Walgreens to use a sample on his way to her house.
His heart lurched when he felt her climb over him and under the blanket and snuggle into his back. Her arm wrapped around him and burrowed into a warm spot against his chest. He opened his eyes and swallowed, willing his traitor heart to slow down before she could feel his reaction to her, that stupid hope he worked hard to keep buried. In his mind “Love Sucks” by the Addicts played in a loop ‘til he fell asleep.
Ten Fun Facts about Karen Gordon
9. My weaknesses are cherry Poptarts, Jameson whiskey, and anything covered in dark chocolate.
8. I once tried to stowaway on a Greyhound bus, but was kicked off when I tried to get everyone to sing camp songs with me.
7. At one point in time my brother had my address listed as “suitcase” because I moved so often.
6. I’ve taken thirteen years of French and still struggle to form a complete sentence. (But it’s great for seduction—then they don’t care what I’m saying.)
5. I’ve only had one nickname, Squid, and I’m not sure why.
4. I was the only person at my college to graduate with a BS in English. They removed the degree from the catalog after I left.
3. I watch English Premier League futbol for the beautiful men, soccer thighs and muscle-defining jerseys. (Go Arsenal!)
2. My four major holidays are Mardi Gras, St. Pat’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Halloween.
1. I am a font of useless information and kick ass on cruise ship trivia. (My claim to fame).
Burnouts, Geeks, & Jesus Freaks (Burnouts #1)
Publication Date: February 24, 2014
They’re burnouts - a little short on parents, money and plans for the future, but they’ve got each other and a whole lot of fun. With a world of crazy at home, Carrie Gould needs them to keep her sanity. To stay in their world she needs to keep dating the guy with the party house, which would be fine, if she hadn’t fallen in love with someone else.
He’s such a geek. Ben Gorman is obsessive, smart, strong-willed and on the fast track to his dream of becoming an Army Ranger. He’s also the only geek with a girl. Joelle Welker is perfect for him; a self-proclaimed Jesus freak, who is dedicated to her beliefs and to building a future with Ben. But those plans don’t include his neighbor, Carrie, or Ben’s dedication to her.
Their friendship started by chance. Their love started with trust.
***This book is recommended for readers age 17 and older due to sexual content.
About Karen GordonKaren Gordon was born and raised in the suburban paradise of St. Charles, MO, on the outskirts of St. Louis. She earned a B.S. in English from the University of Central Missouri (BS being the operative term) and a M.A. in Media Communications from Webster University, where, always a rebel, she graduated in a hot pink motarboard because she didn’t like the school colors.
She currently resides in Olive Branch, MS (formerly Cow Pen) on the outskirts of Memphis, TN with her 2.5 super-smart kids, and an amazingly-funny, cute, geeky husband.
When not writing, she is a stay-at-home mom (chick in charge) and part-time teacher. Any down time is spent reading, catching up with friends and obsessively worrying about every little thing.
Her first novel, “Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks: a love story” was published in March of 2014 with the second novel in the Burnouts series, “Popstars, Friends & Lovers: a dreamer’s tale” being released in November, 2014. She is currently working on the third, and final, novel in the series, tentatively title “Boi H.E.A.”
Contact Karen Gordon