Part 1 - Chapter 11

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Mandi looked at her watch for the fifth time and sighed.

"Mandi, you are stressing me out," Vyola said.

"I'm sorry," Mandi said as she looked at her watch again.

"How long can it take for a doctor to write a prescription?"

"I'm fine, Mandi. I don't even know why I'm here."

After she passed out in the hotel room, Mandi insisted on taking her to the emergency room. Now here she was, lying on gurney in a small curtained space watching a tinny, tiny television that hung on the swinging arm next to her.

"Vyola, the last thing you need is to get ill on the plane ride back and pass out again."

"Mandi, that's not going to happen. Even the doctor said it was just stress."

Mandi shifted in her chair, adjusting her skirt and patting her hair, "Stress can really get to you, Vyola. And you've been through a lot in the last 24 hours."

"Wow, Mandi," Vyola wondered aloud, "Are you actually worried about me?"

Mandi clicked her compact closed and pursed her lips.

"I know that you girls think that all I care about is the band and the money, but you have to know how much I care about you. All three of you, even Patience -who by the way is a huge pain in the ass and steps on everyone's last nerve - tell me it's not true."

Vyola just laughed.

"Anyway, I care a great deal about you, Vyola, and I'm responsible for you. I realize you're eighteen and legally an adult but I promised your parents - especially your mom - that I'd take care of you and I take that very seriously. The first thing I did after that asshole tried to pull you off the stage was call your folks to make sure they knew you were okay. I talked to your stepdad, by the way, and he said he'd let your mom know but keep her away from the TV. I even called Patience's and Jjeni's families."

Vyola felt instantly guilty. She was so wrapped up in what had happened and how it had affected her and the girls, she didn't even think about the fact that she hadn't heard from her parents or why. She hadn't thought about them at all. She felt tears well up in her eyes and turned her face away from Mandi so she wouldn't see.

Mandi walked over to her and patted her hand.

"Oh, honey. Don't cry," Mandi reached over the bed railing and fished out the little box of tissues that had slipped into the side of the bed.

"Thank you, Mandi," Vyola said, "I feel like such a little shit. We've really been giving you a hard time lately. I'm so sorry."

"Don't worry a thing about it. That's what I'm here for, Vyola. I'm here to insulate you against all the crap that goes on in this crazy business. And I feel terrible. That guy should have never gotten that close to you. This industry has changed so much, what with all this social media garbage and the constant self-promotion. I'm not saying that the old days were so great, but there were more people working for you, more layers between the artist and the public. Your fans are your life-blood, but these days it's too easy for fans to get too close. This is a horrible business, Vyola, and you need eyes on you twenty-four seven."

Vyola just stared. Sandi Bardell's words came back to her. Mandi had never spoken to her like this before. Perhaps Sandi was right, and Mandi was as tough as she was for a very good reason.

"I know all about that radio show promotion, too. I had quite a bit to say to the station manager about that stunt that they pulled, and how that disc jockey went over my head to schedule another interview with you," Mandi's voice dripped with disgust and she practically spat out the phrase disc jockey.

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