AN: New Story. This story is sort of a parody of the VH 1 reality show ROCK of LOVE. Summary below. Hope you enjoy!!
Summary: Tom Quincy is looking for love—kind of. When his boss at the record label he works for asks him to participate in a reality TV show, Tommy agrees, but only because he wants to jump start his music career as a solo artist, something that's been on the back burner since his days as front man for a popular boy-band ended. He's not sure what he's getting himself into, but he'll do anything for his career and if that means dating a bunch of women on national television, he'll gladly make the sacrifice. His assistant and best friend, Jude Harrison, is along for the ride, but only because Tommy's done so much for her. He got her a job and she feels like she owes him…she might also have feelings for her bad boy boss. So what happens when the bad boy starts looking for love…will he get caught up in the buzz of reality TV matchmaking or will he recognize what's been right in front of him all along?
Chapter 1- Solitary Man
Don't know that I will but until I can find me
a girl who'll stay and won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
He wasn't expecting her to laugh. Of all the reactions he'd imagined, this was the last one that crossed his mind. And this wasn't laughing with him. This was– bent over at the waist, from the gut, face red, can't breathe because it's so funny-- laughing at him.
She wiped at the tears leaking from the corners of her eyes, laughter still bubbling up and filling the air around them.
"Are you done yet?" he asked, annoyance reverberating through his voice.
She held up a finger, her bright red hair swinging forward to cover her face as another surge of giggles escaped. "Ok…I think I'm done now," she got out, still tittering.
Tommy rolled his eyes. "I'm so glad this amuses you, Jude."
She schooled her face in a mock expression of seriousness. "Sorry, Tom," though clearly she was not. Her blue eyes sparkled with unrepentant mirth. "I just didn't realize you were so lonely."
"Ugh…" he groaned into his hands, covering his face before raking frustrated fingers through his hair. He'd really hoped she'd be more supportive. "This isn't about being lonely," he bit out. "If I wanted a relationship, I could have one. I choose to be single…"
Jude rolled her eyes and settled back into the chair. This was a speech she'd heard many times. She could probably even recite it from memory if Tommy ever lost his mind and needed her to give it for him. There were too many beautiful women throwing themselves at him for Tom Quincy, former Boyz Attack front-man, to ever settle down with just one. For as long as she'd known him, almost eight years now, he'd always been unabashedly proud of his playboy image. When she was fifteen, she'd bought into the story, the image portrayed in the tabloids of the partying bad boy living fast and wild. Now though…
She'd been an intern then, a fresh-faced, snot-nosed teenager, eager to get her foot in the front door of the music industry. The opportunity was handed to her when her father called in a favor owed him by Darius Mills. Darius was the man with a musical Midas touch. He'd started off as a small time manager for an unknown boy band that, with a little publicity magic, became one of the biggest, most popular musical acts in the world. They made it big and so did Darius. Now he was a music mogul with his fingers in every aspect of the industry. He managed artists, financed music magazines and was President and Co-Owner of G-Major records. He also intimidated the hell out of Jude. When she showed up for her first day as an intern, Darius had given her a stern lecture on the pitfalls and perils of showbiz, ending with a "Be good to Big D and he'll be good to you." Then he'd stuck her with Tommy. At the time she'd seen it as a test. A type of torture that required her to work with the former boybander, who was the epitome of everything she hated about mainstream pop music. It was a lesson in dealing with arrogant, egomaniac assholes and her response was to annoy and irritate her reluctant mentor. It wasn't until much later that she realized Darius was using her to punish Tommy.
Tommy had brought Darius part of his success. He'd been an essential element of the boy-band formula. The suave player, charming and charismatic. Women of all ages had loved him and because of that, they'd bought millions of dollars in records and merchandise. Who wouldn't want their own Little Tommy Q doll, after all? But as was typical of boy bands, they flared out faster than a fireworks display, all flash and noise, brilliant and thrilling but over quickly, leaving only a twinge of excitement at the fading memory. The group had succumbed to any number of temptations, Tommy's the biggest. He'd decided to go solo, lured away by the promise of the group's fame focused on him alone, only to come back with his tail between his legs, begging Darius for a job. Darius was fair, he set Tom up as a producer, but he never let him forget what he'd given up.
Jude was fairly certain that it had amused the hell out of 'Big D' to pair them together. She spent weeks mocking Tommy even as she became his shadow in the studio, devouring the crumbs of information and knowledge he tossed her way. Of course he'd done his fair share of teasing and tormenting. He forced her to fetch his coffee, a special order from Starbucks that had never been quite right when she got it back to him. She also picked up his dry cleaning and anything else he demanded. Everyday there was a list of things he just had to have before they could start recording.
Mid-way through the summer there was an unfortunate incident involving one of those lists. He'd written condoms down at the bottom, underlining the word several times to indicate the item's importance. Despite her mortification, Jude took it as a personal challenge and marched into the convenience store located blocks away from the studio and demanded the smallest size available. "It's for Little Tommy Q," she told the female clerk. "Emphasis on the little. Although what he lacks in size, he makes up for in ego," she assured the disappointed fan-girl ringing up the purchase. Then she'd calmly walked back to the studio. She thought of it as a sort of personal victory. She'd never forget the look on his face, equal parts impressed and stupefied, when she plunked the teeny-weenie protection down on the soundboard in front of him. Priceless. A girl couldn't buy that kind of amusement. Kwest , Tommy's best friend, had been there right next to him and watched the entire scene with barely restrained mirth.
Darius, however, had not been nearly as entertained when the next issue of Talk National had featured a picture of Tommy and Jude together along with an article implying a relationship, beyond professional, emphasized by Jude's purchase and a quote reiterating her comment to the convenience store clerk. Of course, the article had been called "Little Tommy Q. Lives Down To His Name." D had called them both into his office where they received an extensive lecture that left them both shaking with laughter. It had been a turning point in their relationship. A tentative friendship formed and the rest of the summer as spent with a comfortable understanding between the two. He respected her guts, and she respected his easygoing attitude. He could have gotten really pissed about the article but he didn't, he'd laughed the whole thing off. After that Tommy took the time to show her how a real producer worked, he even introduced her to some of his artists and she found herself admiring his talents as a musician and a writer/producer.
Of course something else happened that summer, something she'd never in a million years admit to anyone unless held captive and under extreme torture.
Jude Harrison developed a crush on Tom Quincy.
Of course at fifteen, it hadn't taken much more than a brief ruffling of hair to make her swoon, especially when Tom was such an outrageous flirt and, as her best friend Kat like to say "an Orlando Bloom sundae, smothered in Johnny Depp sauce." The crush was solidified when, on her last day before school started, Tommy surprised her with a hug. His final words "You know, you're not half bad, Harrison. Don't be a stranger," left her twitter-pated. Her adolescent heart practically thudded right out of her barely developed chest. She spent the whole first week of classes doodling 'Jude Quincy' all over her notebooks, much to the disgust of her other best friend, and next door neighbor, Jamie Andrews. It was Jamie who took it upon himself to rid Jude of her Tommy-induced delusions. He drove her to G-Major one day after school so she could 'drop in' and say 'Hi'. She'd been so excited about the visit and seeing Tommy that she spent all of her last period study hall fixing her hair and gasp putting on makeup, only to arrive and find some Paris Hilton wannabe grinding in his lap, attached to his lips.
Her innocent heart was crushed and Jamie had happily been there to pick up the pieces. Somehow they ended up dating and Jude stayed away from G-Major until the following summer. At 16 she'd thought herself grown up enough to be beyond childish crushes. She had a boyfriend, a built in defense that made her impervious to Quincy's charms, or so she thought. Even so, she was relieved to be assigned a new producing mentor. Kwest Taylor, Tom's best friend, treated Jude like a kid sister and she had a lot of fun working with him. Tommy stopped by a lot when they were working, always trying to tease her, but she hadn't taken the bait. Not even when he admitted disappointment that she hadn't stopped by to see him at all during the year. Jude had calmly looked him in the eye and explained that she had stopped by, but he'd been too busy sucking the lips off of some girl to notice. He'd been surprisingly embarrassed about it at the time and even apologized.
Looking back now, Jude couldn't remember how they'd ended up friends again. It probably happened more out of necessity than anything. Her sister Sadie started dating Kwest that summer and somehow she and Tommy always ended up along for the ride. She remembered an endless amount of teasing and taunting; her barbs had flown fast and furiously in his direction and were returned with equal fervor. Despite the bickering, they seemed to click when it came to working in the studio together. Side by side, they were kind of unstoppable. When they worked together, she could almost anticipate what he was going to say, do or need next. Jude went back every summer to intern and G-Major became her home away from home. Fast forward to the present and she was now gainfully employed by the place where she'd been molded and nurtured in her youth, the place that had fed her craving for music in all of its unfettered creative glory.
Of course, she was still working with Tommy. He'd shown a moment of selflessness and gotten her a job after she finished college. The salary was pitiful and she was basically his slave-slash-assistant, but she got to sit in on all of his sessions, learning the ins and outs of the industry from the best. He took her everywhere, business meetings and trips to make distribution deals. She'd made all sorts of industry contacts. Hell, she'd even dated a rapper for a while, much to Tommy's displeasure. Everything he'd done for her was setting her up for a spectacular career, and aside from the fact that he was annoyingly arrogant and entirely too good looking, she had no complaints.
Tommy's speech on the perils and pitfalls of committed relationship was winding down and Jude blinked, hoping she didn't look glazed over with boredom. "Yeah, yeah. You're a Super Stud who still needs to sew his wild oats. I got it."
He looked momentarily offended. "It's not about sewing oats, because I hope to god there haven't been any seeds 'planted'…." That panicky look he sometimes got when he didn't like thinking about something took over, distorting his handsome features.
Jude covered her ears with her hands. "Ugh…Say no more about seed. Ew!"
The panic receded and Tommy laughed, patting her legs. Her feet were resting in his lap as they sat in opposite chairs in front of the Studio A soundboard. Her chair moved, jiggling a little, as he tugged on her shoes. "Someday, when you're older, I'll explain the birds and the bees to you, Jude. I understand you're not ready now…"
Her response was a raised middle finger.
"Oh…ho…Looks like you know more than you let on," he nodded toward the obscene gesture and took great pleasure in the blush that spread from her neck to her cheeks, almost the same shade as her vibrant hair.
Ignoring his suggestive tone, she focused back on his original statement. "So, seriously, Quincy. Explain this to me. I'm not sure I understand where this is coming from seeing that, as you've already stressed, you don't have a problem getting your own dates."
Tommy's head rolled back onto the chair's headrest. He exhaled at the ceiling. "It's Darius Brainchild." That pretty much said it all. Tommy was still playing up to Darius, trying to make up for walking away from Boyz Attack all those years ago. If Big D wanted something, Tommy usually didn't have a choice.
"So you have to pimp yourself out, publicly date fifteen women at once so that it can be documented for posterity and pad Darius' pocketbook?"
Tommy grinned. "Put that way, it doesn't actually sound so bad." He paused, his expression turning semi-serious. "If I do this, he promised to put me back in the studio as an artist, not just a producer."
It was Jude's turn to smile, her whole face brightening. "Really?" She could see the hesitant excitement in Tommy's sky colored eyes. It was something he'd wanted for years. He'd been working on songs for a solo album since she'd met him. She knew he was constantly slipping Darius demos, waiting for an opportunity, another chance to try and get his music out there. That moment was now.
Impulsively she leaned forward, scooting closer until she was practically in his lap, hugging him excitedly, her knees in his armpits. His arms wrapped around her, returning the gesture.
Jude's obvious excitement for him only made Tom's smile bigger. He pulled back, their foreheads resting together. Jude was his best friend. She knew more about him that anyone and was the only constant in a life where too many people had come and gone. She drove him crazy, but he trusted her with his secrets, so she knew just how important this was to him. "This could be the break I need," he admitted quietly. Her eyes filled with understanding.
"Hmmm…Am I interrupting?" A voiced asked from the studio doorway.
Their heads turned simultaneously in the direction of the voice.
Kwest stood there, arms crossed, propping up the doorframe, smirking at them.
"Just the usual," Jude spoke up first. "Plotting to take over the world." Her voice mimicked Brain from her favorite cartoon. "Right Pinky?"
Tommy rolled his eyes and snorted. "I'd hardly call you the brains of this operation."
She mocked offense. "That hurts, Tommy. It really does." Her lower lip plumped out into a pout and Tommy stuck his own out. "awe…boo hoo." His arms were wrapped around Jude's legs as her feet rested on his chair, one on each side of his waist, and she was pretty much sitting in his lap, thighs spread. If it had been anyone else in the studio with them, the scene would have looked disturbingly intimate, but Kwest was used to it. They always seemed to be touching or sitting on each other, or hugging or …
"I see you two are still up to the usual antics." Kwest said with a shake of his head, unable to conceal his amusement. Sometimes he wondered if there wasn't more going on between his friend and sister-in-law. But he always squashed the thought. If there were something going on, he doubted they'd be able to hide it. As it was they'd fallen into friend mode a long time ago, something they'd probably never get out of because they were too comfortable with the status quo.
Jude stuck her tongue out at her brother-in-law. "You're just jealous because I don't belittle and berate you on a daily basis."
"Yeah, I'm real jealous."
Tommy slapped Jude's outer thigh a couple of times and wiggled his eyebrows. "She's a real ball-buster, this one."
"Hey!" She jerked back, frowning, lower lip sticking out even further.
Tommy shrugged and smiled innocently.
"Uh huh…" Kwest shook his head and stepped more fully into the studio. "Since you're using Quincy for a chair, mind if I steal this other one." He pulled the chair out. The movement startled Jude and she started to lose her balance. She might have ended up on the floor if Tommy didn't have such fast hands. He caught her, cradling her waist and scooting her further onto his lap. Jude flushed at the too intimate position and tried to scramble off him, her longs legs twisting until she stumbled to her feet, tugging awkwardly on her shirt, pulling it down over her stomach. She took a moment to smooth out her hair.
Tommy and Kwest looked on with amusement at her embarrassment, both snickering.
Her huffy retort only further amused them as she muttered "You guys are assholes!" and practically stormed out of the studio. They watched her march across the waiting area over to reception where her sister, Kwest's wife, Sadie was answering phones. Jude's fiery hair swished with her movement, hanging like a thick curtain down her back, a start contrast to the light pink of her tight Neil Diamond t-shirt. Worn blue jeans hung low on lean hips and her boots clunked angrily against the tiled floor. Tommy smirked. The girl sure knew how to draw attention. Even the studio musicians waiting for their session appointment with him stopped horsing around to watch her walk by. She finally reached Sadie's desk. Hands flailed and her head jerked towards the studio in their direction.
"Such a drama Queen," Tommy commented affectionately. He glanced over at Kwest. "She's bitching to your wife about you."
Kwest shook his head. "Probably. Although I'm sure your name and a few four letter words have also escaped."
"Yeah, but Sadie's used to Jude's tirades about me."
Jude and Tommy had the market cornered when it came to bickering and five alarm arguments. Some of their matches were legendary. Tommy had fired her at least four times, but it never stuck. Not when she was the only one to call him on his bullshit. He'd never admit it to her, but he loved her feistiness. It kept him on his toes.
"So there's a rumor going around that you're going to join the ranks of reality TV."
Tommy pulled his gaze away from Jude. She seemed to have calmed down and was laughing at something with Sadie, head thrown back, perfect teeth flashing. He could practically hear the bubbling laughter and he momentarily wondered what was so funny.
"It's not rumor. It is in fact…a fact," he admitted turning back to the soundboard he was supposed to be setting up.
Kwest's eyebrows rose and Tommy went on. "Darius has decided that I'd be perfect for a new VH1 Reality Show. He already pitched it and the producers there practically creamed themselves. 'Former Boyz Attack front-man is looking for love. ' Of course he" Tommy pointed to himself. "is actually looking to rebuild his solo career, but there will be less emphasis on career and more on cunt."
"You talk to your mother with that mouth?"
"Nah. Just Jude when I want to see her blush." He grinned unapologetically.
"So how does it work?"
Tommy shrugged. "I'm not entirely sure. It's in development stages. The show doesn't have a name, but the concept is in place and they want it to air in six months. And there are definitely a few perks. They're going to send me tapes of 'auditions' for the show. Each girl is supposed to make a video that explains why I should pick them."
Oh the possibilities.
Tommy imagined there'd be plenty to choose from. Women of all ages, shapes, size and colors and he'd get his pick. Not since his touring days had his options for female companion been so limitless. Not that they were really ever limited. If he wanted a warm body in his bed, he normally didn't have to search very far. But, unlike his boy-band days, he tried to be a little more discrete when he felt the need for sex. Although that need hadn't seemed as pressing as it had a few years ago. Truthfully- and he'd never admit it to anyone, not even Jude-- the one night stands, the string of faceless women without ties-- were no longer appealing. He was far from ready to settle down, but he wasn't into bed hopping for sport anymore.
He wasn't worried about his lack of sex drive…not yet, anyway. He just attributed it to the workload he'd taken on. When Jude had started to work with him full-time, he'd asked Darius for more artists and he'd gotten involved in more aspects of each album than just the studio side of things. And Jude was helping him with his own music. It was a lot of work, but he loved it, even if he didn't always make it home at night. Most of the time they both just crashed wherever they were. But now, with this little reality show, his job for a few weeks would be nothing but focusing on women, something he was very good at, even if he was a little out of practice. Maybe things would start to look up for him in the romance department.
Kwest asked a couple more questions about the show and Tommy answered what he could. His attention was diverted when he glanced out the studio window and noticed Jude talking with the studio musicians. They were a group of young guys, still in high school, that worked cheap but played back up like a dream and they seemed completely enamored of her. The guitarist was ogling her boobs shamelessly and Tommy fought the immediate urge to beat some manners into the boy. There was a subtle art to boob admiration and this young man had clearly yet to learn it. Jude continued to talk, hands whirling, face animated. She didn't even notice the group's admiration. The drummer was leaning forward, eagerly hanging on to every word coming from her mouth as he fiddled with the drumsticks. One slipped from his fingers as he fidgeted. Jude smiled and bent over to pick it up; not realizing he'd dropped it on purpose. Tommy saw the hand that reached out toward her ass and was immediately out of his seat, sprinting towards the group, leaving Kwest gaping at him from behind. By the time he reached her, Jude was blushing beat red and her hands covered her butt almost protectively as her mouth hung open.
"Get your stuff and leave," Tommy growled at the group. His hands fisted at his sides as he resisted the urge to punch the little punk that dared to cop a cheap feel.
The boys' heads all turned, startled, guilty expressions on their faces. "Dude…it was an accident." The drummer stuttered, eyes big.
"I saw how big an 'accident' it was pal. And you just blew your chance to work here. Now grab your stuff and get the hell out, before I call security." This wasn't a joke. Nobody touched Jude like that and got away with it. She was clearly still shocked by it and stood there watching as the boys scrambled up from the couches and grabbed their things.
"Dude, seriously. We're sorry." The lead guitarist, the one with the grabby hands, mumbled the apology.
Tommy grabbed the kid's shirt front and yanked him forward, none too gently. "Don't apologize to me. Apologize to Jude. And then get your scrawny asses out of here."
One of the other guys, the taller one that played base, shifted nervously. "We're sorry," he mumbled. "Come on, man. Don't fire us. This is our break."
Tommy jerked his head and narrowed his gaze causing the kid to take a step back. "You should have thought about that before groping the lady."
The drummer stepped up. "You can't fire us. Mr. Mills is the one that hired us to play on the backing tracks for the new Instant Star."
Tommy released the guitarist, who stumbled back against the sofa. "Fine. By all means, let's go talk this out with Darius. I'll even let you explain exactly what happened."
Jude stood back, shocked at Tommy's show of protectiveness. He was pissed. She didn't think she'd ever seen him so mad. He was herding the group of gangly teens toward Darius' office when he looked back and caught her gaze, his expression concerned. She tried to give him a reassuring smile, a look that told him she was really okay. And she was okay. She had just been startled, not expecting to get goosed by a teenager unable to control his hormones.
"Jude, you all right?" Kwest came up behind her and put a hand on her shoulder. Sadie was fast approaching, having abandoned her spot at reception to see what all the commotion was about.
"What's going on?" she asked when she reached them.
Jude sighed. "Tommy's firing the studio musicians we've been working with."
Kwest snorted. "The guitarist totally copped a feel and Tom saw. He's pissed. He might be a player, but he's never disrespectful to the women he plays."
Jude wrinkled her nose with distaste. "That hardly sounds any better than being on the receiving end of a little grab-ass. Honestly, it's not that big a deal. That's probably the most action I've gotten since my vibrator broke."
Both Kwest and Sadie winced. "TMI, baby sister. Seriously."
"If it's not that big a deal, why didn't you say something to him?" Kwest ignored Jude's over-share.
She shrugged. "It's not every day Quincy plays caveman protector for me. I figured I'd wait and see how it played out. Besides, even if they don't get fired, you can bet for damn sure, they won't ever grope some girl's ass without permission again."
"How did this even happen?"
Jude glared at her sister, not appreciating the look of disbelief on her face. "Hey…I happen to have a nice ass. Of course they would want to grab it. I mean, who wouldn't? If I were a guy, I'd totally grab my ass," she said defensively.
"Harrison!" Jude jumped when she heard her name from behind her. Turning around she saw Tommy standing there, scowl in place, eyes narrowed.
Uh. Oh. Now he was doing that squinty thing. He only did that when he was really pissed.
"This isn't a joke Jude. Those guys were out of line."
She wanted to roll her eyes. This was another lecture that she could live without. It wasn't quite as easy to memorize because there were usually inserted parts that pertained to each situation, but the gist was that Jude needed to be careful around guys, because they weren't always nice and were only after one thing, which he knew because he was the worst of them and blah blah blah. And then he would say he was only trying to look out for her, that he felt like her big brother and that's when she usually stopped listening and walked away. She didn't want Tommy to tell her that he felt like her big brother. There would never be a day in her life when she would see Tommy as her brother.
In an effort to stop his tirade before he could really start Jude walked up to him and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing tightly as she rested her head against his chest. She pulled back and looked up at him, inwardly smirking at the confused look on his face. "What was that for?" he asked.
"For defending me. That was very sweet of you and you didn't have to do that." She may have been laying it on a bit thick, but it was worth it when his expression softened and he hugged her again. "Of course, I did, Harrison. You're my girl."
She smacked a kiss against his cheek. A gesture not unfamiliar to them, but one that left her lips tingling each time. The tingling was only magnified by his words, the 'you're my girl' echoing in her brain. She only wished he meant them.
"C'mon. Let's go get some coffee," Tommy suggested, grabbing her hand. "You can tell me all about that vibrator that doesn't work anymore."
Sadie and Kwest stayed rooted to their spots, watching the retreating duo. "Those two are…" Sadie started but her voice trailed off as she noticed her husband shaking his head before filling in the rest of her sentence. "There are really no words for what those two are."
Disclaimers: Song is Neil Diamond, Solitary Man
Rock of Love belongs to VH1, I'm just borrowing the name and the concept.