Home > Money Shot (Blue Ivy Prep #4)

Money Shot (Blue Ivy Prep #4)
Author: Heather Long







“Juliet,” I called as I slid down the banister. The long slope of the fat wooden banister gave me time to pick up speed before I whipped around the corner. You had to jump at just the right time to hit the thick padding of the rug in the living room.

“Kaitlin Crosse,” Juliet scolded, but since she was also laughing, I just timed my jump and landed it. Laughter escaped me and I caught Juliet shaking her head even as she smiled. “You need to be careful. I don’t want to have to be the one to tell your daddy you hurt yourself.”

I grinned, but I didn’t make a promise I didn’t want to keep. “Good morning, Juliet.”

That just earned me another half-laugh, half-sigh. “Charm will not work.”

“Are you sure?” It had taken me time to master that line, but I had all the practice with Mom when she was working on her last movie. Since then, it had become my get-out-of-trouble catchphrase—well, that was what Davina called it.

“No,” Juliet told me with a light swat from the dust cloth she was carrying. “Your daddy is in his studio and I’m going to have breakfast in thirty minutes. So go tell him for me?”

I loved the studio. “On it!” I promised and then raced for the door, half-skipping when I remembered I was not supposed to run in the house. Once at the door though, I hurried down the stone steps, then through the garden, and around the pool where I could follow the rock wall to the bungalow that housed Daddy’s studio.

When he was actively recording, the red light on the door would tell you to wait. If he was just working, the red light wasn’t on. No red light. I let myself in and danced to the music spilling out of the work booth.

Spinning on a chair, Daddy grinned at me. “Sweet Kaity,” he called, and I skipped right over to him. He was seated at the control panel and after a hug, he lifted me up into his lap. “What do you think?”

His hair tickled my shoulder. Daddy had hair almost as long as mine. His wasn’t as pretty, or so he at least said. I liked the longish waves, especially when he let me brush it. I leaned forward to stare at the soundboard and the mixing. Music flowed from the speakers. A steady rhythm of the keyboard and sweet metal from the electric bass, but it was the acoustic guitar that made the piece really sing.

I pointed to the mixer board and tapped the guitar control. “Needs more.”

“Yeah?” Daddy nodded and I nudged the switch upwards a half degree. It gave a little more focus to the mournful notes Daddy teased out of the guitar. The song had a good beat, but it made my chest hurt. “Yeah, I like that,” he answered.

“It’s sad,” I told him after we listened to the full piece. It was almost eight minutes long and it made me want to cry.

“Music is life and life can be pain, Sweet Kaity,” Daddy told me. “But we can flip that sound around…” He tweaked the dials and started it over. The tears in the music gave way to something almost taunting. “How is that?”

“It’s meaner,” I told him and then looked at the controls. “Can I play with it too?”

“Yep,” he said, shifting to put his guitar on the stand and hooking a chair to drag it over. “On you go.” He lifted me right onto it and then knocked out a cigarette before he touched the controls to explain them. “Pitch. Tempo. We can also fade or increase…”

The flick of his lighter was a familiar sound, along with the crisping of the tobacco catching fire. The blue smoke he exhaled made me grin, especially when he blew little rings.

“Got it?” he asked and I pointed to each dial, repeating back what they did. “That’s my girl,” he said with a grin before he tugged my ponytail. “What do we want to do with the song?”

I hit play again after I switched the dials back, and then I nudged up the violin a little more. That took the sad and the taunt and kind of tied them together. I played it three times before I touched the dial for his guitar. Bit by bit, I nudged it up until the guitar became the dominant thread. The other instruments came and went but Daddy’s guitar set the tone and there—it went from sad to mean to almost a real dare that climbed at the end.

“Hey,” Daddy said. “Do that again.”

He picked up his guitar and began to tap out the tempo on it, cigarette between his lips. And then, on the next go-through, he played along and I practically vibrated in the chair as the new thread made it seem like a contest—a fight between Daddy’s guitar and the guitar on the recording.

When the song came to an end, he flicked off the ash on his cigarette and eyed me. “What do we think?”

“I love it,” I told him. “Can I play with you?”

“Hell yes, you can.” He stubbed out the cigarette and then settled the guitar on my lap. I loved this guitar; it was so much bigger than me, but if he put my hands in the right places—there we go. “All right, one second…” He grabbed his second guitar and then rolled the dials around before he eyed me. “Ready?”

I grinned. “I’m always ready, Daddy.”

“Yeah, you are…”

When he hit play, I tapped out the first two beats, then jumped in on the third.

Daddy never stopped grinning.







I was going to throw up.

“Kaitlin Crosse, you’re up. We had a slight change. Your girls are coming on right after you, but you’re up first.”

“Go straight out—”

“Kaitlin Crosse on stage in five, four, three…”

The roar hit me like a tidal wave as the spotlights picked up my arrival.

Movement had me turning to the man waiting out there in his own spotlight.

“For the first time ever, Gibson Crosse and his daughter Kaitlin, from Torched, will be performing together right here for you tonight…”

I was going to do more than throw up.

A thousand thoughts collided in my head as the crowd lost their goddamn minds. This—wasn’t supposed to happen. Nothing on the schedule indicated Dad had even been invited, much less agreed.

Why the fuck hadn’t Teddy warned me?

“Hey, Sweet Kaity,” Dad said, his smile warm as he gazed across the stage at me. If not for the microphone, I wouldn’t even have heard him. As it was, I had to wonder if I was making it up. His guitar was plugged in, so he wasn’t exactly walking toward me.

That meant I had to go to him.

The slam of my heart was not the metronome I wanted to perform against. In the rush to get me out here, they’d pressed a microphone into my hand. But I didn’t have a guitar. That sent another spasm of pain through my chest.

It was just the two of us on the stage—no band to back us up or hide behind. Staring at Dad, I couldn’t tell if I wanted to scream or to cry.

Maybe both.

He’d pulled his long hair back into a tail, keeping it out of his face. There were streaks of gray that caught the lights. Those, along with the lines around his eyes, were a testament to the passage of time. I didn’t remember the crow’s feet being so pronounced.

Then again…the stage lights had never been kind to anyone. It was why we did makeup and hoped we didn’t sweat through it.

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