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When it became clear to Victoria that she was going to pursue the whole band thing, she made one rule for herself and one rule only: no jealousy. No jealousy of other women, of men, of contracts, anything. Jealousy was just plain off the table. It was too distracting, and it made her mean. She was fine with being mean for good reasons, but jealousy wasn’t such a reason.

She promised herself that the minute green became her color, she was out. She could find something else to do with herself. She wasn’t so sure she could rehabilitate herself from a complete spiral into jealousy-based danger-beast.


Cobra fit in nicely with her no-jealousy rule, because nobody ever made her feel like she needed to live up to her predecessor. She got that part of that was bad blood, but it would have been just as easy for them to constantly be contrasting her with Elisa, and they didn’t do that, either. They took her as she was, good, bad or indifferent.
They also made it easy to keep her second rule about not sleeping with business partners, because Gabe had the same rule, Alex and Nate were both monogamous with their girlfriends—who, as a bonus, were both easy to get along with—and Ryland just wasn’t her type.

So Victoria was kind of surprised by herself when the band made the deal with Leighton for the feature bit in “Good Girls”. Sure, Gabe was flirting with her, and Leighton had a more mainstream voice, but that described a lot of women over Victoria’s years in show business. And Leighton was down-to-earth, cracked jokes that Victoria found funny, and was all around pretty fun to hang around with. But something inside Victoria tightened when Leighton came around, like she was prepping for a fight, or steeling herself to hold on.

It was irrational, and she hated it, and also, against her fucking rule. After they finished recording the song, she took herself out to a bar, had a few drinks, danced with some guys, a few girls, and took the one that was most pleasing to her home. She wasn’t a fan of the whole sleep-and-duck-out routine, so she toasted bagels the next morning and sent him home with one. Then she showered and went back to the studio, hoping she’d gotten whatever the hell it was she had going on out of her system.


By mutual—if unspoken—agreement, Alex and Ryland decided to lay down tracks by themselves for most of the afternoon, since Gabe both looked and sounded like he needed a rest. Nate agreed to stay just in case he was needed, but Victoria had finished up her tracks that morning, so there was no point to her being around. Instead, she knocked herself into Gabe and asked, “Want me to make you some tea?”

He managed to look pathetic even while rolling his eyes at her, so she just pushed him out to his car and said, “See you at my place.”

He actually followed, like a good boy, and by the time he came up her drive, she had started the water. He grabbed one of the pens and the pad she kept by her phone and sat down at her kitchen table. When she came to sit down while waiting for the water to boil, she looked at the question he’d scribbled. “What’s eating u?”

She shook her head. “Nothing. Stupid shit.”

He wrote, “can’t talk, u might as well tell me.”

She got up, agitated, and tried to calm herself through basic motions: setting out the mugs, finding her sugar. When that didn’t work, she admitted, “I don’t know, maybe I’m feeling replaceable.”

Gabe knitted his brows together in a frown. He turned to his pad and then held it up for her to see. “WTF?”

She made wavy hands. “Probably just hormones.”

His response to that was a verbal, “Victoria.”

“Sh,” she admonished. She turned away from him and shrugged. “Just, Leighton sounded good, you know?”

She heard the scratch of his pen and then, somehow, he was beside her, putting it in front of her face. “Just different. And she doesn’t play.”

“I’m not exactly G-d’s gift in the keytar department, Gabe. You guys hired me for my legs and my sass.” The water boiled and she poured two mugs, then held up canisters of peppermint and chamomile tea for Gabe to choose from. He pointed to the peppermint and she took out two bags, dipping them before carrying the mugs to the table.

He followed her and sat back down before writing, “Not y we kept u, tho.”

She made a face of acknowledgment but didn’t say anything. Gabe started writing again. When she looked over it said, “That was b/c u were u. We were never going to find another u.”

She made a different face and told him, “Stop being sweet. You know I hate sweet.”

Gabe grinned. That was his line for when she was getting a little too close to someone he wanted to take home forever. He wrote, “Yeah, I know.”

Just for that, she didn’t say a word when he put enough sugar to make three dozen cookies with in his tea.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile