SNEAK PEEK CHAPTER 1
February 24, 2021
“And now, Mesa Palms, here’s a little flash from the past. Let’s rock this afternoon with ‘Immigrant Song’ by Led Zeppelin. Enjoy.” After pushing Play, I leaned back, removed my headphones then massaged my temples. The song played in the background, and I sighed.
I love my job.
“Psst.” Terri, the radio station’s producer—and owner—poked her head through the doorway. “Angela, you in-between?” She gave a quizzical rise of her eyebrows.
“Yep. I’m good for another”—I glanced at the readout—“ten minutes. What’s up?”
“Girl, you ain’t gonna believe this shit.” She bounced into the room, her brown eyes wide and lips curved into a humongous grin. Her bright-pink Vans contrasted with the neon-blue skirt and green silk shirt decorated with tiny pineapples stamped across the material.
She’d been my best friend since I’d started at K-ROC six months ago, and not one time had I ever seen her color coordinated. Terri Kingston, with her no-nonsense attitude and quirky clothing, was a life-giving breath of fresh air for those times when life smothered me or I needed a friendly ear. It was hard to think of her as my boss because, most days, she was the sister I’d never had.
“Love today’s outfit.” Smiling, I shook my head and turned to program the next block of music.
The bright Arizona sun barged its way through the windows of the studio, washing the signed band posters on the walls in afternoon rays of golden light. My attention wandered to the floor-length windows overlooking the north and west sides of the building, toward the lonely highway.
Ever since I moved here from South Texas, the beauty of the desert never ceased to amaze me. At first glance, one would think it sterile and empty. But after six months of driving to work along the long stretch of road, it was easy to see the seemingly barren land teemed with life. From the majestic Saguaro, succulent plants, and vibrant brittlebush, to the coyotes, javelinas, and rabbits, all the way up to the hawks, bats, and occasional hummingbird—its beauty was subtle, but once seen, it could never be forgotten.
“Woman, did you hear me?” Terri’s voice rose, forcing my attention to her narrowed gaze. “I gotta sit before I have a damn heart attack.” She fanned a hand against her face, her eyes wide and chest heaving.
“What’s the emergency this time?” Chuckling, I spun a full circle on my stool, my heart light and happy. “Another Elvis impersonator wants to go on-air?”
Ignoring me, she rushed to the guest chair directly on the other side of the table, then shifted the microphone boom to the side. “No, girl. I’m serious. This is like”—she twirled a finger in her hair and leveled her gaze on my face, brow lowered and face serious—“big-time and shit.”
“Okay.” I leaned my elbows on the table and propped my chin into my hands. “You won the lottery and can now afford to keep our doors open, maybe even install an inground pool out back?” Though my tone was light, the joke really wasn’t funny because, with the digital age of streaming, a lot of small radio stations struggled to keep afloat, us included. The only way she kept K-ROC in business was by using interns from the local university since they were free. Between me and Johnny, the only other paid DJ, it was a passionate labor of love to keep things going.
“Viktor. Freaking. Farrow.” Her thick black eyebrows wiggled, and she pursed her lips.
My stomach dropped to my toes. Viktor Farrow—England’s gift to the new wave of hard rock fifteen years ago. The lead singer of Angry Gods had, at one time, held the world in the palm of his hand, yet dropped out of the limelight a few years ago after multiple narcotics possession charges and numerous drug rehab stays.
Please don’t say he’s coming here.
There was no way he would’ve graced us with an interview, though. Even out of the spotlight, the public still hailed Viktor Farrow as one of the greatest rock singers of all time. Most considered him the catalyst for the current rock and metal trends.
I had no idea why the thought even crossed my mind that he’d show up. He might’ve been a washed-up junkie, but the world still played his songs on heavy rotation, including this station, and hell would’ve frozen over before I could picture him in our tiny, run-down building. The mental image of his larger-than-life persona stuffed into this little room made me chuckle.
That man wouldn’t be caught dead in this station.
“Hello. Did you hear me, Angie?” She flapped her hand in the air, the movement reminding me of a bird’s wing.
“Yes, I’m not deaf. What about him?” Maybe he was going to hold a come-back concert in Mesa Palms. If he can manage to stay away from the white powder and needles long enough to sing…
“Well, I just got off the phone with his personal assistant, and they’ve scheduled an interview here in the studio. It seems he’s recording a new album nearby and wants to get some traction ahead of the tour before he heads back to England next week.”
Oh my God. This can’t be happening. Sighing, I rubbed my temples again. Most musicians in the music industry I’d interviewed were low- to mid-level players. In other words, they weren’t full of themselves yet. But Viktor Farrow was a megastar and bound to be a real pain in the ass.
“Well, schedule it when I’m not here. I don’t want to—”
“Sorry.” She left the chair and sauntered to the door. “He’s on his way right now.”
“What?” Groaning, I glanced at the timer. Three minutes left until I went on air. “Terri, why would you spring this on me without any prep?”
“You’re out of your mind if you think I’d have him reschedule. When the singer of Angry Gods asks for something, you give him what he wants.” She glanced at the watch on her wrist. “I need to get back to the desk. His team will be here any minute.”
Rolling my eyes, I shook my head and waved her out, trying to tamp down my annoyance. I’d seen his past interviews. The guy was a total asshole, even if he looked like a cover model with his long blond hair and soft-brown eyes. Cocky and full of swagger, he was every DJ’s nightmare—at least this DJ’s nightmare.
I dragged my purse into my lap and searched for the last of my Xanax. Since Jeff and I had divorced, I’d prided myself on not needing anything for nerves. With this news, though, the old familiar stirrings swirled in my veins, popping sweat on my brow and twisting my stomach into knots.
After washing down the pill with a bottled water, I replaced my headset and turned on the mic, lowering my voice to a soothing alto. I tried to ignore the dread settling around my shoulders like a heavy metal chain.