Throughout the three novels that make up The Prodigal Band Trilogy, drama is everywhere, between the six band members, between their women, and especially between a band member and his woman–with double the drama when the two are a married couple. The snippets in this post concern bass player Keith and his wife, Jarris, whom had married prior to Keith rejoining the band Sound Unltd on the cusp of their huge success.
The first snippet from Chapter 5 of Battle of the Band (all the snippets here are from this first novel in the trilogy) occurs at a bash to celebrate the ending of Sound Unltd’s banishment from their home country, the UK (if you want to find out why they were banned, buy the book!) In the midst of the party at their manager’s estate in the southeast of England, Keith sees an up-and-coming pop singer he would like to get to know for various reasons. Her name is Lisa Brent, and she is conversing with another rock singer when the bassist sees her. At some point months later, Keith’s wife Jarris notices the relationship but appears to blow it off.
February 23, 1991
Of all the parties celebrating the ban’s end, Joe’s Torquay Hall jamboree with over four-hundred notables beat them all. Among those making themselves known to the society and gossip press was the manager’s latest sensation, Lisa Brent, formerly a southeast cabaret singer who loved to be surrounded by gaping fans.
Keith Mullock, his leather-clad, gold-chained body parked on a velvet futon and silk pillows, now tired of the mundane questions offered by two of his London groupies. His mind wandered to the view of the sexy white-blonde diva conversing with Peter Slade.
Isn’t that Lisa Brent? She’s just starting to hit the big leagues, and she’s still looking for a new songwriter. Maybe I could just—yeh, I’d love to have someone to write songs for. What a splendid babe she is. Yeh, I’d like to—need to see her right now. If I can get her away from that bloody Slade.
He turned to his groupies. “Look, babes, I got to take care of a business proposition. Would you excuse me?”
Lisa and Slade, a twenty-three-year-old screaming rock singer with very long straight brown hair marked by a streak of blond hair cascading down his left shoulder, spoke over by the smoking room mantle.
“I heard you were forming a group with Bruce Letham,” Lisa said. “Can you handle his ego?”
Slade snorted with a laugh. “Do you know that everyone who brings that up always asks me if I can handle ol’ Brucey? That’s not the point, dear girl. The point is, can Brucey handle my ego? Shit, babe, I’m not forming Hot Bandits with him just so I can watch him grab star billing.”
“But, sweet Pete, do you really get along with him? I mean, nobody really gets along with Brucey!”
The young man from lower aristocracy couldn’t handle any woman believing he was in any way inadequate. “Well, I don’t let his jealous streaks and his obsession with riches get to me. Actually, we’re quite together now, eh?” Slade took a goblet off the wine tray. “Cheers, eh? Actually, the only problem is bass. Rob Falcone won’t leave John Mocke.”
“Of course not. They’re only best lovers.” Lisa turned away from Slade just in time to notice Keith walking toward them. “Speaking of bass players—”
Peter then turned at her cue. “Well, Keith ol’ boy, how’s the night treating you?”
With smiling black eyes for Lisa, the bassist told Slade, “The night’s not doing anything for me, eh? It’s the highs and the babes that are. You dig?”
Keith needed to get rid of Slade fast. He asked Lisa straight out, “Are you still looking for a songwriter?” Oops! I forgot to introduce myself.
“Yes, I am.” Teasing smile.
“I’m sorry, love. I neglected to introduce myself. I’ve been hanging around low-life rock musicians most of my life. I’m—”
“Keith Mullock. Of course I know you. You don’t have to introduce yourself to me, sweet love.” Her eyes glowed with fresh opportunity. “And I’m—”
“Lisa Brent. The loveliest new singing sensation around. I wondered about you when I was stuck Stateside, wanting to meet you. I’m so glad you came.”
They said Keith Mullock was a devilish rogue. But he’s also quite gallant! Totally handsome with his Adonis curls and those scars and sideburns. Soooo scrumptious. Only one thing wrong with him. He’s married. Yet maybe, just maybe— “Thank you for being sooo sweet, Keith. But listen,” Lisa said with a honeyed voice as she ignored Slade, “we need to talk business. I need a good bass player—”
“And you also need a songwriter—”
“Indeed, yes. The one I have now is—well, he just doesn’t understand my style. He won’t do bold and bruising. Just sweet and light. I need someone like—”
“Me?” Keith put his right arm around her waist and turned her toward the room’s exit. “Am I the man you need, babe? ‘Cos if I am, I will take care of you. That’s my new mission in life. Taking care of my women the way I would have them take care o’ me, eh?” He kissed her cheek. “So, babe, how can I take care of you?”
“Be my new songwriter. And be with me tonight.” She turned to his face and engorged his full lips. And my mission in life is to snare you, Keith Mullock, married or not!
And into a steamy summer, 1991
Tattle Tales “Exclusive! Keith Mullock Smooches Lisa Brent While Performing At a Theatre Homeless Benefit: While singing her latest hit, ‘Make Me Yours,’ Lisa sauntered over to Keith playing as her bassist and patted him on his rear. They blew each other kisses, assuming no one else—especially Mullock’s wife Jarris—would notice.”
Jarris saw the pat and the kisses—or thought she did.
In the second snippet at another party given for the band while on tour of the US in the fictitious Bay Area city of Richmont, Keith and Lisa are again together but this time conspiring to undo his marriage. This is from Chapter 6.
However, as the bash reached full swing, the bassist stood with Lisa at the foot of the stairway leading to the guest rooms. She wore silver lace panties and halter top while Mullock wore his usual black leather trousers and assorted chains.
Lisa teased him. “Will you be spending time with me tonight, or do you have other plans?”
He answered with a rogue’s smile. “Will you spend time with me now? This party’s a bit of a bore, eh?”
Keith then looked around. Man, there hasn’t been a bash arranged for us on this whole bloody tour that can compare to what we could do for ourselves. And where the hell is that skuz tray? To Lisa he said, “So, what you need, babe?” Lowered her halter top and plucked on her exposed nipple.
“I want you for longer than just now.”
But he didn’t hear her as he saw a ghoulishly dressed waiter approach with the tray. “Is that skuz?”
Keith took a pinch in his left index finger and thumb and sniffed. Instant ego trip.
“I’m a married man. It’s gonna have to be now.” He butted his forehead against hers. “I live for now, sweet love, and what I want now is a damned good lay.” Laughing with abandon, his black eyes glowed. “You’re me lover, not me wife.”
“I don’t mean to be your wife. I mean your woman. And I want you for my co-star.”
“Co-star?” He laughed with sarcasm. “You want me to leave Sound Unltd? The world’s top band? To play second-fiddle to you?”
“No, Keith. Not second fiddle. We’ll be like Andre’ and Cheetah. We’ll be superstars together. That way, you can get out of your marriage. Isn’t that what you want?” Lisa snuggled up to him, rubbing her clothed ladyhood on his thrust thigh while he squeezed her rear.
“You know,” he said with a snort, “I’ve been thinking about getting a divorce as soon as I get back home.” He looked up and around the mock-horror expanse. “I got too much going on to be married. Should never have done it.”
“Won’t a divorce violate your Code?”
The skuz tray came by again. Keith took another pinch.
“No,” he said with a sneer. “I don’t really follow it anymore. Besides, the Code says a woman must be faithful, not the man. I haven’t been faithful in years, babe, and neither has she, eh?” He turned to her disgustedly as he remembered another excuse to leave his wife—Brent, whom Jarris just gave birth to. “Now I have a baby son I’ve barely seen, and, shit girl, I really couldn’t care less about.” Me? A father? For two weeks here, two weeks there? What the hell kinda father is that? Why’d you do that to me, Jarris? To keep me married to you? Really screwed me over, didn’t you, wife o’ mine?
They walked up the winding stairs, arms around each other in bliss.
“You’ll live with me, then?” she asked.
“Lis, I’ll buy us an eleventh century stone castle on the Isle. But I’m not leaving Sound Unltd. They’re me brothers, girl.”
Later that evening, Keith has a relationship with a groupie, and, when Lisa sees the two together outside by the pool looking out the bedroom window on an upper floor of the party estate, she fumes and conspires to get revenge on Keith. In the third snippet from Chapter 7, she plots with that other rock singer her ‘revenge’ while at a night club. But her plan was just a ruse. And when Keith’s wife Jarris finds out from a tabloid that her marriage really appears to be on the rocks, she nearly loses it! When Keith returns from tour, Jarris’ lawyer hands him divorce papers.
Swami Negran, two hours late for the start of the circus at Forkyz, had to fight through hundreds of stargazers milling outside the club. Then he had to push and shove his way through a host of silky-tanned bodies raising their fists or jutting their hips to the tom-tom honky-tonk beat of Uh-uh-oh-oh-oh-oh! Until he made it to the northwest corner. He was almost accosted by a bikini-briefed Lisa Brent and a Peter Slade in nothing but spandex shorts and Denny Spradlin’s mojo-sandals as they tried to move Keith’s skuz-wasted, pulsating body which grasped his bass in his left hand and Lolita’s bra in his right.
While the lame bassist howled and laughed through Slade’s and Negran’s attempts to prop him against the wall, Swami shouted, “This is even worse than fighting my way in here. There’s a couple o’ thousand people outside clawing to get in!”
Keith slurred loudly. “Well why the hell don’t we bloody let ‘em in? There’s room for—” Down onto the floor he fell in a heap. “Ah, shit! Get me the hell up, eh Mystic Man?”
Lisa, still acting disgusted from Keith’s perfidy the night before, snickered. “Just leave him there!” She then turned to her back-up lover, Slade. “Sweet Pete, listen to this, babe. I got a plan that’ll get us mucho headlines. Help bolster your career, eh?”
“And yours, Lisa love.”
“My career’s doing nicely, thank you!”
“So’s mine, thank you very much!”
“Oh, shut up, Pete, and listen. Both of us’ll go out there in front of the people out there—” Lisa turned to Swami. “Did you see any paparazzi out there?”
“Dozens of photographers, and some with camcorders.”
“Super! Okay, Pete, we’ll go out there and I’ll do my little act. You know, yell and scream about how Keith has betrayed me? And you escort me in your limo to the airport. I need to go on to Phoenix anyway to see my agent there about next year’s tour. I’ll meet you again when the Party Machine lands in Phoenix. Then, I’ll finish the little bastard off! How’s that sound, Pete?”
Slade answered noncommittally, “Sure, babe.”
Lisa then looked down on Keith. “Is that okay with you, you little shit?”
The bombed bassist mumbled his assent, knowing full well that the night before, he and his prime lover planned to greet each other with lavish affection aboard the jet—in full view of perplexed reporters.
Just as most of the horde of stargazers thought they’d leave the sidewalk in front of Forkyz and go home, just as reporters decided to call it a night, an enraged Lisa Brent blew out the front doors of the night club, escorted by a confused-looking Peter Slade. Seeing the mass of reporters hovering in front of Slade’s limo, she saw her chance. “Now listen to this, press boys!” she yelled for their benefit. “You can forget that goddamned Keith Mullock! We’re finished! You understand that? And you can quote me!” She stomped into the car.
Some scribes held Slade back.
“She’s just upset, eh?” he told them. “I’m just here to help her get over it.”
“What happened, Mr. Slade?”
“Listen, I can’t get into that here.”
Slade shut the door on the reporters and the limo beat a hasty retreat to the airport, where Lisa caught a plane to Phoenix, Sound Unltd’s next stop.
One week later at Cedar Woods
“Though Lisa Brent made her wounded feelings loud and clear in front of her fans at Forkyz, her rendezvous the following weekend, when she jumped into Mullock’s arms upon entering the Party Machine at the Phoenix Airport, caused tour reporters to believe a publicity stunt was at hand. But one thing’s for sure—Keith and Lisa are alive and well.”
Jarris read the Tattle Tales item in her parlor and blew up. First she trashed the tabloid, then the parlor.
The breaking of bone china brought her maid onto the scene. “My God! What happened, miss?”
Jarris plopped into her seat, exhausted, and broke into sobs. “I can’t take it anymore!”
“I’ll get you something—”
“No.” The redhead poked her tearful face out from her hands. “I need to be alone. I’m going up to my room.”
Once there, Jarris popped six valiums at one time.
Her maid found her lying on the floor semiconscious an hour later.
A ‘close confidant’ notified Tattle Tales of the incident, and, after her recovery, Jarris told the tabloid editor over the phone from her room, “I know it was stupid of me to do that, but I felt barraged with items of his cheating on me. I just overreacted.” Later, she told the editor, “I am considering divorce. It’s obvious our marriage hampers his bloody lifestyle, and it’s not doing me much good, either.”
Fully better and more mentally resolute for a pre-divorce battle, Jarris took her infant son Brent and moved back to her mother’s comfortable Parkside flat in Walltown.
In the next snippet Jarris, back home with her mother and sister along with her baby son, finds out that her abusive father, Gus, in prison for assault on her mother several years before, is getting released for ‘good behavior.’ Jarris remembered Keith’s promise to protect her from her brute dad if Gus ever tried to come after her again, and knew that he would come to harm her upon release from jail. But he would not protect her if the divorce went through, so he and she and the lawyers got together to try to work out some agreement.
The editors of Tattle Tales didn’t miss a beat with their World Beater Exclusive: ‘It’s True! Jarris to Divorce Keith over Love of Lisa.’ The story contained a lurid account of ‘rendezvous’ at the Isle castle called Dragonhead, once owned by a man “known as the ‘Warlock of Isle,’ who used to de-vein girls” after love making. Inside sources reported Keith and Lisa “participated in pagan love-spirit-rites” before pleasure “using candles at pentagram points and chanting pagan love-psalters, which is no surprise considering the alleged before-sex rituals of Mullock’s band mates.” A confident of Miss Brent was quoted saying, “Miss Brent and Mr. Mullock will come out of seclusion as soon as they are notified by Mrs. Mullock’s attorney of the proceedings.”
Jarris threw the open tabloid face-down on her mother’s parlor table so that Lisa’s face landed in Jarris’ coffee. “That son-of-a-bitch! Does his father know what Keith’s doing?”
Her mother, living in style now in Parkside but still wizened from past years trapped in poverty and fear of husband, said doubtfully, “And what of it? Keith’s dad was a bit of a ladies man in his day. Never mind what he says about The Code.”
“Like father, like son,” her sister Jesse said, scarfing a pastry. “You don’t have to worry what Sean Mullock says. Take my word, he doesn’t like what Keith’s up to, but he’s not about to argue with his bread and butter. You need to worry about if Gus Melby knows about it.”
Anxious at the mention of her brute father’s name, Jarris stared hard at Jesse. “Don’t you ever mention him to me again!”
“Oh, begod!” Mother anguished. “Begod, Jarris, I forgot— No, I kept this from you because this news will terrify you!”
“What news?” Jarris gripped her chair.
“We heard a month ago. The prison warden told us Gus would be released on parole in a couple of months. Good behavior.”
Jarris trembled. “And when he gets out, he’s coming straight for me, isn’t he?”
“He’s coming for all of us.” Mother got out of her chair and placed her left hand on Jarris’ shoulder. “And now that we’re all here, he can get three birds with one carving knife.”
Gus Melby—forty-three, bald with head tattoos and scars on both wrists from his wife’s knife swings in a dark kitchen after he broke her chin with his pounding fists three years ago—read the divorce story in his cell and wickedly smiled. “Well now, lass of mine, you won’t have your Prince Charming t’ save you now, eh?”
“But he’s mainly coming for you, girl,” mother said. “He has a score to settle wi’ you over your wedding he wasn’t invited to. And now’s the perfect time. He’d never think to go after you if Keith was still with you.”
Jesse sat up. “Aye! That’s it! Keith promised by The Code to protect you, eh? With dad coming after you—”
“No, Jess! Nothing will stop me from leaving that son-of-a-bitch! I can hire body-guards—” Not that I want body-guards. Keith promised me, and I want him to protect me! “—because even if that lout was still with me, he’d be so skuzzed up, he’d never know dad was taking an axe to me head. I don’t need him!”
“Jarris wants to make these proceedings very, very simple, and very, very to the point, Mr. Mullock—”
“Yes, simple,” said Brooks. “Simply highway robbery!”
“Mrs. Mullock has been caused tremendous anguish. Her valium overdose and all.”
“My client isn’t quite convinced that episode wasn’t just good acting. After all, Mrs. Mullock was in a movie—”
Jarris lunged for Keith, who slouched in a leather chair across from her at her lawyer’s mahogany desk. “You son-of—”
“Please!” Her lawyer barred her with his right arm. “Jarris, this will only—”
“I nearly killed myself over you, Keith Mullock!”
“Sure, babe, if you say so.” Keith laughed to himself.
“In any case,” her lawyer continued, “these are her terms. Twenty percent of Mr. Mullock’s annual income—”
“No way, man! I work too bloody hard for my money,” he looked at Jarris, “just to hand one-fifth of it to you, woman!” He turned to Brooks. “About how much are we talking about, eh?”
Brooks leaned to Keith and whispered, “According to your accountant, you should gross about twenty million pounds this year. In other words, about four mil this year.”
“Yeh, yeh,” Keith sighed. “And which estate, eh? I ain’t giving her Cedar Woods. Me studio’s there. She can have any other place.” Snickered at Jarris. “Is that good enough for you?”
“No,” she sneered back. “I also want your London townhouse. I need a place close to my cosmetics company. And two mil a year child support. It’s the least you could do for a son you never see, eh Keith Mullock? It’s the least you can do to win your freedom from married bondage so you can keep seeing those silly groupies. Besides, you’d only waste it on your skuz habit!”
“This is not an atmosphere conducive to negotiations,” her lawyer argued. “And—should I tell him, Jarris?”
“I wouldn’t dream of keeping this news from him,” she sneered. “Might make him feel guilty enough to sign the agreements. Or stop his gallivanting and come back to me.”
Her lawyer’s eyes bored into Keith’s. “You might be interested to know Gus Melby gets out of prison next month on parole and will likely come looking for your wife. Remember your Code promise protect her? If you divorce, you won’t be able to keep your promise, if that means much to you.”
Though the bassist had given up The Code for all practical purposes, his anxiety over a promise to protect a woman for whom he still felt love sent a wave of goose flesh down his sweaty spine. Keith bowed his thoughtful head. I can’t go through with this divorce now. I’m stuck! Stuck as if I’d stayed a riveter in Walltown. I want to be free of all obligations. Promises! Code! I’ll never be free of it!
Forced to reconsider, he spoke with a quivering sigh. “Ummm, look babe. A promise is a promise, eh?” Nervously toe-tapping the floor, he leaned to Brooks and asked, “Can we go with a waiting period?”
Her lawyer stood firm. “We’ll want some kind of restraining order.”
“No, wait,” Jarris said, upbeat. “I want him around when my father comes.” Her eyes set to lay a guilt trip on him. “Will you be with me, Keith, and keep your promise?”
Humble, he slowly lifted his head with the relief of a headmaster’s pardon. “Yeh, babe, I will.” Weak was his smile. “I promise, eh?”
“And you won’t be skuzzed up when he comes?”
Keith, reminded he was overdue for his next hit, nodded with jitters. “Promise.”
As they got out of their chairs, Keith felt the awkward weight of two heavy crosses on his back, craving the skuz to throw off his burdens.
The final snippet has the brute father Gus invade Keith’s and Jarris’ fancy estate. A character that would become important later in the trilogy, Keith’s butler Rodgers, is introduced.
The Ides of March, 1994
Early March came in like a lion in the Cedar Woods area. A revenging angel named Gus Melby knew he needed to take advantage of stormy weather to sneak into the twenty-four room Victorian mansion where Jarris would be alone when the ‘missing’ bassist was out working, or, as Melby still believed, out ‘working’ with Lisa Brent.
Not even the fortress-like atmosphere Keith’s money bought, complete with a round-the-clock company of security guards, stopped Melby from breaking into the pantry via the garage on the night of March 14, less than a week before Mullock’s departure for North America.
At half-past nine the next morning, Melby knelt behind an opened opaque black lace-patterned drape in the morning room as Jarris and unknown voices intruded upon him. Probably servants. And no Mullock.
At half-past nine, Keith was still asleep.
Outside the house, a tall, brawny figure approached the morning room window from the east, front, wall, a pistol at his hip.
Rogers, the butler, entered with the morning mail. He placed a tray with two personal letters next to Jarris’ cup and poured her more coffee. Then the butler looked between the curtains and saw the guard walking toward the window. When he thought he saw the curtain move, he raised his eyebrows. “It’s not a terribly bad day, is it, miss?”
“Yeh.” Jarris didn’t turn around.
“So much milder than it has been. I see some trees getting their leaves, miss.”
Still she didn’t turn around. “Yeh.” She opened a letter.
The alerted butler definitely saw something move behind the curtain and began to move with open arms between her and the window.
The guard’s heavy footfall outside startled Melby. Who turned around. The pistol was drawn on him. Nowhere else to go. Melby stood up from behind the drapes into the awaiting arms of Rogers.
The guard then fired at Melby’s upper torso.
Jarris, startled—screaming—shot out of her chair and stood terrified facing a madman struggling to grab her.
The guard fired again, this time at Melby’s head, and missed.
Keith woke with the first shot, flew out of the bedroom in cotton shorts, rode the stairway railing down with the second shot and intercepted another guard rushing into the hallway leading to the parlor. First the bassist and then the other guard zoomed into the room.
While Keith grabbed Jarris and flung her to the floor leaving Melby wide open, the second guard blew away the assailant’s chest.
Jarris, her head hidden under Keith’s protective body, heard the body of her father thud on the carpet. She asked her man with a frightened voice, “Is he dead?”
Tender sweet whispers expressed Mullock’s relief, his thanks, and his renewal of breathtaking love for a woman he’d wronged. “Yes, he is, love. And you’re safe forever and always. Thank God you safe. And you always will be, my love. I’ll never leave you again.” He caressed her life.
Yet, after tender minutes, he stared into space. But what of my childhood vow to kill him?
Talk about drama!
The Prodigal Band Trilogy © 2019 by Deborah Lagarde, Battle of the Band © 1996 by Deborah Lagarde, The Prophesied Band © 1998 by Deborah Lagarde and The Prodigal Band © 2018 by Deborah Lagarde. Permission needed to copy any materials off this page.