Authors: Lisa Mondello
Exciting dog food. Well, there was something new. It
wasn't like the guy was singing the Star Spangled
Banner at the World Series. But hey, to each his own.
"To be perfectly truthful, Mr. Clyde, the sound is
coming through crisp and clear in here. Maybe the
problem is that you're hearing it through headphones,
which is not the way your customers will hear it. Why
don't you come into the control room and I'll set it up
to go through the small speakers. It will mimic more of
what the general public will hear when they're driving
down the interstate and hearing it through the car
His face seemed to brighten up with that idea. Josie
said a prayer of thanks for small favors.
While she waited for her client to come around into
the sound booth, she cued the last master tape to the
take they'd just finished. She could have chosen any
one of the thirty takes Mr. Clyde had already done and
she was sure he wouldn't know the difference. Once
she'd set up the sound to play through the small,
makeshift car speakers sitting on the panel, she hit play
and settled back in the chair.
Watching the look on good of Vic's face, she decided
she'd been played and played hard by her manager,
Brian. He knew exactly what he was doing by giving
her this job.
"I've decided to throw you a bone and give you some
real exposure, Josie girl," he'd said in that same condescending tone he always used with her. "You've been with us long enough and your work has been good. You
can handle this one."
She'd argued it was time for her to move on to some
bigger projects, work with musicians again and do
some producing, but Brian had always held those coveted sessions close to his chest or given them to one of
the other sound engineers. He left the bones for Josie.
The more time that passed, the more she wondered if
it was time to get out of this business altogether. She
wasn't as cutthroat as were some of the other engineers
who did sound. Aside from the politics in the studio,
she loved her work.
Glancing at Mr. Clyde and recalling the afternoon
she'd just spent, Josie decided to qualify that she loved
her work with a big, fat, sometimes behind it.
The tape ended and she quickly re-cued it to play
again. As Mr. Clyde listened to the playback once more
on the mini-speakers, she gathered plugs that she'd
used during the session and wrapped them neatly
around her arm to keep them from tangling. She liked
a tidy sound room. There was nothing worse than hunting for what she needed when she was in the middle of
To her relief, Mr. Clyde appeared satisfied with the
"Thanks, little lady. I'll be sure to pass on a good
word for you with your boss."
She smiled, glad the day was finally done. "Brian
will be in touch."
Mr. Clyde propped his cowboy hat on his head and
tipped it once. "It's been a pleasure."
As the door closed behind him, Josie sighed with relief. It would only take her twenty minutes to straighten
up the sound room, collect all the cables, mark the master reel and store it. What should have been an easy
one-hour job had quadrupled into four hours. Dexter
wasn't going to be too happy with her when she got
Josie heard the outer door squeak as it opened and
then again as it closed. She groaned. Please don't let
him have a change of heart.
"Did you leave something behind, Mr. Clyde?" she
said, turning around and peeking into the control room.
But it wasn't the owner of Clyde's Dog Food
Emporium. Instead, the man in the control room stood
tall and lean, just staring at her. Slowly, he pulled off his
hat and held it in front of him as he was probably taught
to do as a child.
He was a cowboy, through and through, Josie thought.
Not just a wannabe like so many she'd seen pass through
over the years. And she could tell the difference. This
man didn't need dirt under his fingernails or sun-baked
skin to tell his story. Although, he had the latter and she
was willing to bet if she got up close and personal with
this cowboy she'd see the freshly scrubbed dirt and callused hands.
"I'm not Clyde," he said, his voice low.
"I can see that. Can I help you?"
He smiled one of those high voltage smiles she'd
seen on men in the business before. It usually meant
they were charming the pants off someone for something. She liked to think she'd become immune.
"If your name is Josie Tibbs you can. Is it?"
"Well, that depends."
He gave her a crooked smile. "On?"
"Are you selling something?"
He laughed and even though there was distance
between them, she could see the mark that made him
truly magnificent. He had a deep dimple creasing just one
cheek. His right. And with that lopsided smile, it made
his whole face transform into something incredible.
She was in trouble.
"I guess I am at that," he said.
And her stomach fell. Why couldn't he be wearing a
blue suit? Why did she have to meet him here instead
of as she walked the aisles of the grocery store or something equally boring and coincidental?
"I'm not interested," she said flatly and went back to
what she'd been doing.
"You don't even know what I have to offer."
She eyed him again. "Sure I do. It may be wrapped
up in a different package, but I've seen it before."
Cocking her head, she said, "What's that for?"
"Nothing. I've just heard that about you is all."
Something prickled the back of her neck. He wasn't
some dog food storeowner looking for someone to produce an annoying radio commercial. He was a musician. That much she already knew. Josie could smell
out a musician a mile away. And she'd sworn off musicians years ago.
"Blue suit," she muttered to herself.
"Nothing. I suggest you go back to talking to
whomever you've been hearing things from. Like I
said, I'm not interested in what you're selling."
Brian had to have sent this guy. Another bone, she
fumed inwardly. This man wasn't slick, but there was a
touch of arrogance about him, wrapped coolly around
his charm. He didn't need to have a woman tell him he
was handsome with his blue eyes and crooked smile. He
had appeal. No doubt about it. And a woman would give
herself away easily after just five minutes with him.
Josie turned away and continued her task, reaching
for the last cord. "If you're looking for Brian, he'll be
back around eight-thirty tomorrow morning."
"I already talked to Brian. That's how I found you."
She snapped her gaze around to him. She searched
his clear blue eyes for the teasing, the crooked smile
that would give him away, but it wasn't there. He was
serious. He'd come looking for her.
She tried not to show her surprise that even after he'd
spoken to Brian, he was now standing here talking to her.
Brian usually snatched up all the sessions with musicians.
It was just as well, Josie thought. Yeah, she wanted
creativity in her work and she longed to produce again,
but the work she had was steady and it paid the bills.
And although dog food wasn't exciting, it sure didn't
break hearts. She wasn't wrong about this guy, was she?
"I need a sound engineer."
No kidding. There had to be a reason Brian passed
this guy off on her. Maybe he stunk, both musically and
literally. Brian wouldn't spend more than two minutes
with the man if that were the case.
"I need to do a demo for a record company."
So he was a musician. And he definitely stunk. Brian
didn't waste his time dealing with amateur work and didn't want his name attached to it. She'd been complaining so much lately that he had decided to send the
poor guy her way. Take his money, let the kid think he
had a chance at the big time and throw Josie another
bone all in one shot.
Another banner day at DB Sound.
Josie sighed as she walked over to the control room
and joined him inside.
"What's your name?"
"Brock. Brock Gentry."
"Never heard of you. I know most of the bands
around. Are you local?" Just because she'd sworn off
musicians, it didn't mean she'd tossed her love of
music to the wind.
"I've been mostly playing around Steerage Rock."
"Steerage Rock? There's nothing out that way but
"Don't I know it. But there are a few local spots.
She nodded, folding her arms across her chest.
"I haven't done too many gigs in the city," he continued. "That's what I'm gearing up to do once this
demo is complete."
"Is it just you or do you have a band?"
"Just me. But I do have some regular players that
I've been working with on and off for a while."
He was bigger than he'd seemed when she was
standing in the studio looking at him through the glass,
Josie thought. He held his cowboy hat in front of him
with both hands as comfortably as she imagined he'd
hold a guitar. Big hands, she noticed, with long, graceful fingers.
Darn but he was young too. They all were these days.
Young and filled with bright ideas and dreams of making it big. He was just one more. He'd soon learn very
few ever made it past a quick handshake standing outside the record company doors.
An amused smile lit his face when he caught her
staring at him.
"Well," she said, clearing her throat. "Did Brian set
you up on the schedule?"
Brock shook his head. "He said I needed to talk to you
first. He said if I insisted on working with you, you'd have
to fit me in since your schedule is already tight. Said he
normally does studio sessions with musicians and your
forte is working on commercials and audio books."
I'll just bet. "Did he?" She gave Brock a quick smile.
"But I told him I wanted you or no go. I want you to
do sound on this. That's the only reason I came to this
She wished her shock didn't show on her face, but
Josie knew it did. And because it did, Brock laughed.
There were a hundred studios between Steerage Rock
and DB Sound Studio and Brock could have chosen
any one of them. Some at half the cost of what he'd be
dishing out to record here.
"What's the deal? Why me?"
"I heard the demo you did for Grant Davies a few
It was Josie's turn to laugh. "That was about a million years ago. How did you come to hear that demo? I
thought all the extra copies Grant didn't burn were taking up space in a landfill somewhere."
Brock tossed his hat to the table by the soundboard.
"You must have been fresh out of high school when you
worked with Grant Davies on that project."
"Something like that. And you were fresh out of
He ignored her slight jab at his age. In reality, he was
probably only a few years younger than her. "I've been
listening to music a long time. I like your style. It's too
bad Davies moved in the direction he went. I'm not a
fan of his work these days."
Josie wanted to say she'd stopped being a fan of Grant
Davies the day he'd broken her heart. But in truth, it had
taken a while to get to that point. Musically, she couldn't
agree more with the kid.
"Grant had a lot of potential. He's used it to his
Brock sputtered. "Well, he's made a name for himself. I'll give you that. But I favor his earlier work. The
stuff you worked on."
She quirked a smile of pride and actually used one of
the "f' words she hated. "I'm flattered. There aren't a
whole lot of people who've heard his earlier work. Or
"That's too bad. It's good. So what do you say?"
Josie sized him up. Time-wise, she couldn't have
been more ready. In the five years she'd been working
at the DB Sound Studio, she'd had plenty of days like
today, thinking she couldn't handle doing one more
commercial. It was easy work that didn't require a
whole lot of creativity on her part. The hardest part was
suffering through take after take while the Clyde's of
this world made up their mind that the commercials she
recorded on tape would make them millions.
The hours were good and the jobs were steady, but
the creativity on her part was zero. She'd missed that.
Like so many of the young faces that strode through
those studio doors, hoping to make a demo that would
shoot them straight to stardom, Josie had her dreams
too. But she'd learned all too quickly that dreams had a
way of fading when reality came knocking at your
"I'm late for an appointment."
It wasn't a total lie, but it did send a prickle of regret
picking at Josie. Dex would take major exception to be
considered an appointment. But then, her eight-yearold double-pawed tabby took exception to her treating
him like the cat he was.
"Good-bye, Brock," she said, and turned to go back
to what she was doing.
Brock took in Josie Tibbs and had to keep from acting like a fool. The woman was beautiful with her long
brown curls and ocean blue eyes. He hadn't expected
that. He'd been all set to come in here and convince her
to work with him on this demo.
"Wait. Maybe we can talk about this later, say over
She did a double take, her sleepy eyes getting wide
so he could see their color fully. They were the color of
the sea with gold flecks that reminded him of sunshine
glimmering on the water. She was a few years older
than him. He knew that from what little he'd been able
to uncover about her background. And there was definitely something captivating about her that caught him
Brock swallowed. Major fool. He knew better than to look at any woman and see only what was on the surface.
His whole fife he'd hated it when people assumed things
of him. He wasn't assuming she was beautiful; Josie most
definitely was. He just didn't want to have that overshadow his reason for seeking her out in the first place.