After Jax and Rolf leave, Bettina gets up and sits next to Mike.  Let me see your palm.  He turns toward her so he can give her his left hand.  No, no.  Give me your right hand and sit comfortably.  Now close your eyes so you won’t be self-conscious.  Relax.  Breathe in through your nose.  And let it out, she tells him as she slowly and methodically pinches and rolls each of his fingers between the joints using her thumb and forefinger, front to back.  She eventually turns his hand vertically, and then does the same with each finger, side to side.  Then she massages the meaty part of his thumb.  She liked you, Mike, Bettina says as she turns his palm face down and starts gripping it and working down to his fingertips.

You did everything right.  And she starts clamping his arm at his wrist and working slowly up to his elbow, and then back down to his palm, going ever gentler.  It will all work out for the best.  She rubs the back of his hand.  You can open your eyes now.  He inhales deeply and lifts up his head from where it has been resting on his chest.  He sees Simon grinning at him; Lana with her eyes closed, her head resting on Simon’s shoulder; Jon buying a book, and the bookstore deserted.  

What just happened?

***

Raul locks the door behind them, and chuckles at the unlikely ending to the evening.  He watches Lana and Bettina get into the white Mustang convertible and drive off.  The rockstars get into a white compact SUV with black trim.

***

It only felt like I was out for like five minutes.  Mike says.  Did she cure you?  Jon asks.  For tonight anyway.  I’ve got no ambition.  I just want to go to sleep.  I know exactly what you mean, Simon says.  She did that to me in Las Vegas, only she gave me a neck rub on the drive back from the range.  I still remember every word she said, even though I was out of it.  It was like I was in a hypnotic trance.  And after we ate, I zonked right out once I got to my room.

Jax’s girlfriend - you guys really get along good.  Mike states.  Simon sighs.  Lana’s cool.  I wish I met her first.  What do you guys think Rolf did to Sam?  Some kind of hypnosis/mindreading?

I think he mesmerized her.  Jon says.  He freaked her out.  Mike replies.  And that is one tough chick.  Bettina likes him, Jon says.  That’s not going to happen, Simon replies.  Jax said that Rolf refused to double with him and Lana.  And only agreed to meet them for coffee because Lana insisted.  And he had Jax invite the rest of us.

Something I’ve been wanting to talk to you guys about.  This is the best album we’ve ever recorded.  You all know it.  The guys nod.  Jax and I aren’t sure how long Rolf is going to stick around, or if he’ll even tour with us.  You saw what he did tonight, and he just up and left afterwards.  Well, before the club fight, Rolf told Jax and I that this was going to be his last album.  That he needs “to explore the inchoate alone”, and that tribal drumming is the new frontier.  Jax thinks that he’ll tour with us.  I’m not so sure.  Rolf said that Jax and I were losing the fire and settling down, and that he was happy for us.  And then he implied that we were turning into Nickelback.

So what do you want us to do?  Jon asks Simon.  Plan accordingly.  Let’s leave it all on stage when we play that club, like it’s going to be our last set.  Then we have a band meeting after, and get Rolf to promise to tour with us, and be supportive of his decision to drum with the Aborigines afterwards.  And we go on hiatus until he gets back, with the realization that he may not come back.  The guys ride in silence.  I’m good with that, Jon says.  Mike?  I’m going to kick that boxer’s ass, and Sam is going to be in my corner when I do it.

Simon and Jon laugh.  Mike, let’s turn her story into a music video, Jon tells him.  She’s waiting for you by your car when you come out of your place.  And the band is playing inside the apartment.  That’s perfect, Simon says.  Starlet will go out with you just to get this role.  But you need to be the victim, Jon.  Mike nods at this.  There is no way I could go out with her alone; I’d be too nervous.  I’ll borrow Lana from Jax and double with you, Simon tells him.  Mike, you get Sam to come along.  Not Bettina?  Mike asks.  I don’t have a chance with her until Rolf disappears.

========================================================

What are you going to do about Jax and his sex book?  Bettina asks as Lana drives them home.  Lana rolls her eyes.  It’s time for him to meet my parents.  How much of a shock is he in for?  Fifty-fifty chance that he’ll run out the door screaming.  Want me to double with you?  No.  You are so brave, Bettina says.  Not really.  I’ve been down this road before with my previous fiance.  I know what to expect.  Poor Jax.  But I need to cool him down.

I don’t have that problem, Bettina says with a sigh.  Lana looks over at her for a moment, then looks back at the freeway.  What?  Rolf wants to be alone. He likes you, but he’s not going to step up.  Did he tell you that?  No, but I had to twist his arm just to get him to go to coffee with us.  It shouldn’t be like that, Bettina.

What should I do?  Lana thinks for awhile.  Tell you what.  That day I’ll leave a note on the basement door that I had to leave early because I’m taking Jax to meet my parents, but I’d like to stop by later to talk about a tricky case that I’m not sure I want to handle: an older man is worried about his grown daughter.  Call me if it’s alright and you’ll be staying in.  You are so devious, Bettina says grinning.  I’m not going to lie to Rolf.  You have to bring your dad, or I won't set it up.  Bettina nods her agreement.  Jax and I will come by after to help.  I love you, Lana.  I love you too.

========================================================

Uncle, I want Raul Gutierrez for a husband.  Does he want you for a wife?  Comes the immediate retort.  Psalm 128 is what he wants.  He stares at her.  She pulls it up on her phone and goes to hand it to him.  I know what it says, Sam.  I have to be a Catholic, and then be a stay at-home mom once we have kids.  Does he want you for a wife?  Her uncle repeats.  She frowns, and shows him her palm.  “So you think I’m a pig?”  And do you know what he said?  Her uncle grins. If he’s still above ground, he backed down.  She shakes her head no.   He said “prove me wrong”.   Her uncle ponders this in silence for awhile.  Go to Mexico and size up Ortega.  Do you want him dead?  I want answers, Sam.

***

So nice of you to visit, Tia tells Samantha, as she steps down off the private jet.  I like this dry heat, she announces.  Several men carry her luggage into the back of a waiting SUV.  Tia looks at Sam’s sleeveless v-neck top, drawstring lounge pants, and sandals.  Raul said that he likes this look.  I’m going to marry him.  Oh, Tia remarks.

Don Ramon, may I introduce Samantha Zeller?  Tia says.  She’s going to marry Raul.  First I’ve heard of it, he says, as he looks her over.  I’m going to go change, he says chuckling.  You’ve inspired me, Ms. Zeller.  Everyone calls me Sam.  Back in a jiffy, Sam.

She walks over to his desk and plucks the framed photograph off it.  This is a beautiful picture, she tells Tia.  Who is she?  Trouble.  Do you want something to drink?  Yes – surprise me.  Tia looks like she is going to say something, but then changes her mind, and walks off.

So this is Lana Radley.  Raul told me everything.  I seriously doubt that, Ramon tells her with a grin.  Three temptations, how is that coming, by the way?  She has nothing to do with any business of ours, he replies seriously.  I already gave Raul my word that no harm comes to her and hers.  Alright.  The temptations are in abeyance as the rock band is in studio recording.  And I don’t think his friends will let him do anything stupid.  So what is the plan?  We’ll hit him at the gym.  The whore is a waste of time, Samantha declares.  Hear me out, Sam.  My thought was that we’d use an abusive John.  Jax steps up to protect her, and she’s grateful.  And she invites him over to her place so she can cook him dinner.  Hmmmpff.   The strange woman?  I’m thinking a fitness model from Europe.  Very forward and direct.  And the adulteress?  Tia set this one up.  She’s now the gym manager wearing a big engagement ring.  She’s plain, but friendly to everyone, and sweet on Jax.  They’re on a first name basis now.  Her fiance is a fat slob coder at one of these tech startups with the infantile names.  And his company has just been acquired.  And she’s leaving for Silicon Valley with him.  But just one time, she begs him.  I’m leaving town tomorrow; you’ll never see me again.

I’d place my money on that one.  So then what?  He’s going to be so guilty that he confesses to Lana.  Wrong.  He’ll buy her a rock the size of Gibraltar.  She says yes, and then they’re sleeping together on the pre-marital couch.  Can’t have that, Ramon agrees.  What do you recommend, Sam?  She frowns.  Don’t do audio.  Just photos.  Black and white would be a nice touch.  I like that, he says enthusiastically.  What do you think about time stamps?  Yes, she replies without hesitation.  We make a good team, Ramon tells her with a grin.  Want to do a re-enactment of each?  Sure, I’ll be the rockstar, Sam responds.  Tia comes in with drinks.  Ramon goes up to her.  And sets the drinks on the counter.  And then has her grab his wrist.  You’re hurting me, let go.  Sam comes up.  Hey, the lady said to let go.  Tia covers her eyes with a hand.  Antony and Cleopatra, when you’re done roaming the streets of Alexandria, come find me.  And she turns and leaves.  That kind of killed the mood, Sam states.  He hands her a chilled drink.  What’s in the glass, beetch?  Sam asks Ramon.  And Ramon breaks down laughing.