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Crowds made Ian Summers crazy. Because of this, he became increasingly unsure just why he even wanted to stay in the business. Even managing the sem-successful careers of an entire stable of musicians and bands, he was beginning to resent the life. The business full of groupies, slackers and rack jobbers gave him constant indigestion and migraine headaches.

After this tour, he thought to himself, he was going to retire. Yes, that was it. He would retire, take the considerable amount that he had made or managed to steal from his stars while he was in the business and live his life in Costa Rica or Thailand or somewhere warm and away from rock and roll people. He wanted no more of the drugs, no more drums and silly artistic proclivities - no more of Caroline and her stupid boyfriends always hanging around. He would no longer have to endure the loss of income due to her needing to go to rehab for cocaine. Even though all in all it was really rather negligible when you got right down to it, it still boiled down to no income while she was in treatment. It wasn't just her that gave him fits. It was everyone else in the vicinity, including and especially Caroline's latest boyfriend - a Greek! As if she couldn't get any more cliche' than that! Ian intensely disliked Stelios Lakiotis, and if he had anything to say about it, he would make sure that he would split the two of them up just as he had ensured that Caroline didn't somehow end up being Mrs. Vincent Hanna number five.

Summers elbowed his way to the back of the Roxxy, rolling his eyes as he stood behind a cocktail waitress whose breasts were ridiculously corsetted up to just inches beneath her wobbling double chin all assembled and tottering precariously on a pair of four-inch fushia and cobalt blue fuck-me pumps.

He ground his jaw and carefully made his way around her, but at the last moment he purposefully bumped some elder Goth nearby who was too self-absorbed in showing off his latest tattoo to what undoubtedly was to be his conquest for the night. The cocktail waitress fell off of one of her pumps, spilling drinks on herself and her patrons. Ian made certain he took another step to the side so that it appeared that it was the Goth who got blamed.

The ensuing scene of the trussed cocktail waitress and the sad and sagging barfly ended up with arms and trays and drink filled glasses flying. Ian had to admit that the entertainment value alone was better than watching WWF Saturday Night Smackdown on American cable!

Ian straightened his rumpled coat and went toward the table where Caroline was sitting in the company of some well-heeled Middle Eastern guy that her former cop boyfriend knew. There was Caroline holding court with the Greek, the Cop and this newest one. The kink that went through his mind made him cringe. One ting was for sure, the Middle Eastern gentleman was just too classy to be in a place like this overrated Hollywood dive! Caroline' shifted uncomfortably when she saw Ian. She shifted a little closer to Stelios.

"Ian," Caroline took a sip of her wine and gave him a look that he was unsure how to read. "I'd like you to meet Vincent's friend and associate, Hani Salam, from Jordan. Hani, this is my manager, Ian Summers."

Oh, she and the new guy were on a first name basis now?

Ian reached out a hand to shake that of the Jordanian, "Mr. Salam," he said sliding in a space next to Caroline. "I hope you will enjoy the show tonight."

"Yes, of course," Salaam said taking a sip of his own drink, "I'm sure that I will. Caroline is quite popular in Jordan. I myself am a longtime admirer of her work."

"No doubt." Ian smirked in surprise, "But I was not aware that anyone in that part of the world liked anything that resembled pop music."

Caroline gave Ian a sharp look. It had been an undeniably bigoted statement. She looked like she was ready to hit him again. "Hani was just telling me about a new website in the region called....what was it? Mid-east Tunes dot com? Well, he was saying that there is a great deal of popular music going on there, even in Iran."

"Fascinating," Ian bit back his natural inclination toward sarcasm. He then remembered what he came back to the table for "Oh, yeah, Caroline," he said reaching into his vest pocket, "here's your cut of tonight. Oh, and the manager said that we needed to move your car. Apparently they're moving in some equipment tonight and it's just blocking them a little."

A look of concern crossed Caroline's face, "Oh, ok," she said looking around, then suddenly remembering. "Oh wait, my keys are with my stuff in your car. Would you be an angel and move it for me Ian?"

What was he now? Her fucking errand boy? Ian forced a smile in front of the other men, "Sure,I'll just put it in the parkade just down the street. I won't be long," he said, then turned to Hani, "It's nice meeting you. Maybe we can talk about a tour in your part of the world sometime."

"A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Summers," Salam said.

With that Ian left the scene and got out into the welcome open air away from the club.

The L.A. night was chilly and the alley behind the club was well lit enough. A place like this needed to be. If it wasn't the junkies it was the dealers and the pimps. The sooner he got out of this place and back home to England the better he would feel. Ian opened the door and slid into the seat of the DS-21. He eased the seat back, slid the key into the ignition, and turned the key.

The explosion blew a crater deep into pavement, sending the glass and metal of the classic car shooting sky high. The force of the blast shattered every window out of the Roxxy as well as every car in the area. The heat and impact of the explosion was felt at least two blocks away.
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