(Scene: that night, in the living room of an apartment. MATT and KARA are lying on the couch and making out; she is on top of him. There is a pizza box beside the trash can in the kitchen.)
KARA: (When they stop to catch their breath) Oh, Matt, do you have to go so soon? We've barely gotten to know each other. (They kiss again)
MATT: I know, and believe me, I wish I could stay longer. But the Star Seekers bus is all the way in Arizona, and I've already missed it twice. I have to go where my dreams take me.
KARA: I'm gonna miss you so much. (They kiss again) And every day I'll think about what we might have been.
MATT: Aw, babe, don't be so dramatic. I have your number, and you have mine; we can talk every single night until we see each other again.
KARA: But it won't be the same. (Sits upright) And how long will it be until then?
MATT: I have no idea. If I get signed to Free Mantle, I'll be hard at work for months on my debut album. It could be a year before I'm free to fly out here.
KARA: (Sighs) You're so lucky to have a big outlet like this. Everyone loves the people who sings the big songs, but nobody knows who wrote them. I mean, a lot of great artists write for themselves, but most of us live in the shadows, watching other people get famous off of our work. Of course, I haven't written for anyone famous yet. A girl can dream.
MATT: Kara, you have your whole career ahead of you. Maybe Nashville just isn't your scene. Maybe you'd have more luck in L.A. It's a bigger city, there's different kinds of singers-
KARA: (Lights up) Then I'll come with you!
MATT: (Surprised) What?
KARA: To Los Angeles. I'll never be able to fly out there on my own. Your friends won't mind, will they? Although, they might, since I'm not auditioning for Star Seekers.
MATT: Well, you could. There's still time to sign up, it's easy to do online.
KARA: No, they'll only turn me down. Nobody ever gets excited when I sing. I did a "Memphis' Got Talent" show a few years ago, and the judges said I was just okay, nothing special.
MATT: Screw them. These guys are professionals. And for what it's worth, I like your voice.
MATT: I've had it in my head ever since we went for that midnight drive.
KARA: You're so sweet. (They kiss again) But I just don't think it's for me. I'm better off writing. And if I can get in with the people at Free Mantle, maybe they'll hire me as a songwriter.
MATT: I don't see why they wouldn't. They're always looking for new ideas.
KARA: So can I come with you? Please?
MATT: If it were up to me, you know I'd say yes. You wouldn't even have to ask. But the van's already pretty full, now that we have Anoop and Lil coming with us-
KARA: (Disappointed) Oh...Anoop. I forgot. Never mind, he definitely won't want me there.
MATT: Why not?
KARA: I didn't tell you this before, but...he and I...used to have a thing. And it didn't end on good terms. He's avoided me ever since. So no, I don't think he'd want me to join the team.
MATT: (Disappointed) Oh... (Thinks for a moment, then turns to her) Well, maybe you don't have to join us. Maybe you can just follow along.
KARA: Are you sure that's a good idea? Anoop would recognize my car, and if he saw it, he'd know what was going on. I'd hate to come between you when you're getting along so well. And what if I get cut off from you on the road? How will I catch up to you?
MATT: Don't worry, I'll make sure you end up in the right place. If you get lost, just call me and I'll get you back on track. We're leaving on the fourth, can you be ready by then?
KARA: Of course I can. (Excited) Oh, I can hardly wait! My dream of writing songs for the world's biggest artists is finally going to come true! (Lays back down on top of MATT, rests her head on his chest) And it's all thanks to you, Matt.
MATT: We'll meet up every single night. And our secret will be safe with me. I promise.
(They smile and gaze into each other's eyes for a while before they start making out again.)
(Scene: the next morning at the Songbird Tree. LIL is sweeping the floor and ANOOP is wiping down the bar, but they are the only ones in the room. The area around them is quiet.)
ANOOP: So I know it's none of my business, but I think I figured out where Matt's been going.
LIL: Have you now?
ANOOP: Kara came to watch the show the other night, and she was really into him. I watched him as he left last night, and he turned right at the first intersection instead of left, like the others who were going back to their motel. Kara's apartment is down that street.
LIL: Really? But what would Matt be doing there?
ANOOP: (Chuckles) What do you think?
LIL: (As she puts away the broom and dustpan) Oh, stop it. You have a dirty mind.
ANOOP: It may be dirty, but it's also accurate.
LIL: Come on, would Matt really bail on his friends to go hook up with a girl he doesn't know?
ANOOP: I wouldn't put it past him. But I'm not too worried. Eventually he'll get annoyed with her.
LIL: (Chuckles) That's not very nice.
ANOOP: Neither is she.
LIL: Well, he'll have to say goodbye to her regardless, since we're leaving in two days.
ANOOP: And she sure as hell isn't coming with us, even if he begs. Wait, I thought we were taking off tomorrow.
LIL: Are you kidding? I'm not leaving on the Fourth of July. I was actually gonna invite our new friends to the barbecue. Are you coming?
ANOOP: (As the camera pans to the door) Yeah, I'm not doing anything else.
(Just outside the door, we see VITO looking into the building, with his four associates around him.)
RICKY: See, boss? That's the girl we heard singing the other day.
VITO: Well, she better be as good as you say she is, or I got up early for nothing.
SETH: Trust me, Ray, you won't be disappointed.
LIL: (Cut back to inside) Anoop, I don't think I've ever been more excited for anything! For the first time in my life, I feel like I could actually be a star! (Laughs) What's gotten into me?
ANOOP: Like I said, when you're this close to your dreams, nothing makes sense.
LIL: If you don't mind, I'm gonna do a little sound check. Tonight's our last show before we start chasing down that bus! And let's hope it waits for us this time!
(LIL picks up a remote control and presses a button, and music plays from the sound system. She sings "Independence Day" as she sets up chairs around tables, dusts the tables and lays out some places at them. At one point, VITO and company walk in and stand against the wall as they listen, fascinated. ANOOP continues working but also enjoys the music. When the song is over and the room falls silent, VITO slowly claps for her, and LIL, surprised, turns and sees him. He is smiling.)
VITO: Bravo! Encore!
LIL: (Blushes) Aw, you're too kind. I didn't even hear you come in. We just opened up, but would you like something to drink?
VITO: No, thank you. Actually, I came in to see you, Miss...
LIL: Lil. Lil Rounds.
VITO: A pleasure to meet you. (They shake hands) My name's Ray. Ray Vito.
(At the sound of this name, ANOOP looks over from where he is restocking the liquor cabinet; he is suddenly on high alert. He continues to restock the liquor but watches VITO very suspiciously.)
VITO: My friends came in here the other day and heard you singing, and they said I absolutely had to come down and see you for myself. And boy, am I glad I did, because that voice of yours is something special. I'm not gonna be able to forget it all day.
ALEX: And he doesn't say that to just anyone.
LIL: (Laughs) Oh, stop it, you're making me blush.
VITO: Well, there's more where that came from, so why don't we have a seat somewhere and we can talk more...I'm sorry, I've already forgotten your name.
LIL: (As they all sit down at a large table) Lil Rounds.
VITO: Right, how could I forget that? Is that a stage name, like Lil' Kim and Lil' Wayne?
LIL: No, it's real. My grandmother's name was Lily, and my mom wanted to name me after her, but she also wanted it to be unique, so she dropped the Y and here you go.
VITO: Well, Lil, today's your day to stand out, because I'd like to make you an offer.
LIL: What kind of offer?
VITO: I own a music label that's based out of Little Rock. It's called White Cross Records. (Pulls out a business card and hands it to her) You probably haven't heard of us, we're a very small operation right now, but we're hoping to expand into Nashville, or maybe even here in Memphis. And with your help, we might just be able to make it happen.
LIL: What, are you saying...you want me to sing? For your label?
SETH: Yeah. We only have a few singers signed right now, and we don't have anyone like you.
VITO: No, we certainly don't. But our doors are open to singers of all backgrounds and different genres. The only thing we specifically look for in our singers, besides a good voice, of course, is that they be practicing Christians. White Cross is a Christian music label, as you might have guessed by the name, so I have to ask. Are you a Christian, Lil?
LIL: Yes, sir. I grew up singing in church. My whole family went.
VITO: That's good to hear. I think you'd do very well with our label. I know Christian music isn't exactly topping the Hot 100, but we at White Cross are hoping to fix that, and with the right combination of singers and songwriters on our team, I believe we can do it. And you'll have a lot of songwriters and producers to work with, one of the benefits of working with us.
LIL: (Still smiling) Why are you being so nice to me? We've only just met.
VITO: Because I believe talent should be rewarded above all else, and I know talent when I hear it.
LIL: Well, your offer sounds very interesting, Mr. Vito, but I'll have to think about it. You see, I was planning to go to Phoenix with some friends of mine, to audition for that new Star Seekers program by Free Mantle. Would it be alright if I got back to you tomorrow?
VITO: Well, of course, but I don't see why you have to go all the way to Arizona when you've got a good deal right here in front of you. No disrespect to your friends, but...
LIL: I know, and I really appreciate your generosity, you're a very kind man. But we've been planning this for a week, and we just put the down payment on a brand new van so we could all go together. There are seven of us right now, but I have a feeling that number's gonna get bigger before we catch up to the bus. (Chuckles)
RICKY: Look, sweetheart, this road trip of yours sounds like fun and all, but in the music industry, you gotta look out for number one. My friend Ray here is handing you a recording contract; you might as well take it.
VON: Yeah, when you're just one in a sea of voices, there's no guarantee that a big label like Free Mantle will appreciate your talent. We may be your best chance of getting signed.
VITO: Now, now, boys, don't pressure her. This is her decision to make on her own. (Looks at LIL) You go home and talk about it with your friends, Lil. My number's on the card, you can call me when you've made up your mind. But I just want to know that we've helped quite a few people in situations like yours, and we'd be more than happy to help you out, too.
LIL: (Confused) What do you mean?
VITO: Well, when my boys came and saw you perform, you mentioned that you'd been working here for a long time, and that you had kids, and I can only imagine how hard it is for you as a young mother, working a crap job, trying to support a family. I'd like to offer you a way to make something of yourself, move beyond your...background, your circumstances.
LIL: I still don't understand...
RICKY: What the boss is trying to say is that he wants to help you get off welfare.
LIL: (Looks intently at VITO) What?
VITO: (Tries to maintain his composure) My friends only means that many of the girls we've met in your situation have been raising kids by themselves for a while, paying for all their groceries with food stamps, taking desperate measures to stay in their houses, and once they sign on with our label, they make enough that they don't have to live off the government anymore.
LIL: And at what point did I say I was living on welfare?
VITO: Well, I didn't mean you specifically. I just know that many of the young moms I've signed are grateful that I was able to help them support themselves-
LIL: I'm sorry, but I don't appreciate you making assumptions about my life when we've only just met. (Hands him back the business card) You can have this back. My answer's no.
VITO: I'm not trying to be rude, I was only offering to help.
LIL: (Stands up) Well, I'll have you know, my husband and I are doing perfectly fine taking care of our kids, and the only time we ever needed help was when our house was blown in by a tornado. So you better watch who you're calling a welfare queen. Good day, sir.
(As she walks away, VITO stares at her, dumbfounded. His associates look a little nervous.)
SETH: (Quietly) I'm sorry, boss, did we blow it again?
VITO: (Low, angry voice) We'll talk about it later. Let's just get out of here.
(They get up and start to walk away, but as they pass by the bar, ANOOP sets down a bottle of liquor and looks over at them. They stop and listen when they hear him speak.)
ANOOP: I notice you didn't bother to offer me a recording contract.
VITO: (Turns and faces him) Well, why would I? You're not a Christian.
ANOOP: (As he polishes some glasses) That's an awfully big assumption to make, considering we've never met and you don't know anything about me.
VITO: I'm sorry. Are you a Christian?
VITO: Then what are you?
ANOOP: (Still polishing glasses) Nothing, really. My parents came from India, and they raised me as a Hindu, but I gave up on organized religion a long time ago.
VITO: So why are you upset that I didn't offer you a contract with a Christian label?
ANOOP: The contract thing doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that you took one look at me and decided that I couldn't possibly be a Christian, what, because I'm brown? Considering Jesus was Middle Eastern, it's safe to say the first Christians looked more like me than you.
VITO: (Groans) Stop wasting my time. You college liberals think you know everything.
ANOOP: I know that you're racist, and that you refuse to admit it, so instead you turn the argument into an attack on my character, just like you did with Kris.
VITO: (Getting frustrated) I beg your pardon?
ANOOP: Well, not exactly like Kris. With Kris you pulled out the old "No true Scotsman" fallacy.
ALEX: The what?
ANOOP: You say that Christians don't support same-sex marriage, or any advances in equality for gay people. Kris says he's a Christian and he supports these things, so you then say that no "true" Christian supports these things. You're cheating by moving the goalposts.
VITO: Yeah, whatever, now quit your fancy talk and pour me a Scotch on the rocks.
ANOOP: Uh, I don't think so.
VITO: Excuse me?!
ANOOP: We reserve the right to refuse service here, and I don't serve people who pass judgment on me and my friends based on racist stereotypes. Exit's to the right. Goodbye.
VITO: You know, I can sue your sorry ass for your insolence...
ANOOP: You could, but I'd win. It says so right on the door: "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." A man like you should be very familiar with those signs. Now get out of my bar and take your bodyguards with you before I go get the manager.
(VITO, mutters a few unintelligible things in anger and disbelief, and his face turns somewhat red. He then storms out of the Songbird Tree, shortly followed by ALEX, RICKY, VON, and SETH. LIL goes over to the bar and sits down as ANOOP finishes restocking the liquor cabinet behind him.)
LIL: Did you hear what just went down?
ANOOP: Every word. Don't worry, if he comes back around here, I'll throw him right out.
LIL: I just can't believe...the nerve of some people. To think they know everything about a person just by looking at them. I mean, I was making an assumption, too, but I assumed he was nice. No harm in thinking the best of someone, but he was thinking the worst about me.
ANOOP: Some people are only nice to their own kind. And who they consider to be their kind is always changing, which makes it harder to know if you're in or out. One little slip and you go from being their best friend to public enemy #1. That's what happened to our friends.
LIL: Wait...they know that guy?
ANOOP: You probably missed this discussion, but Vito there used to be friends with Kris. He offered him a contract with his label, but Kris said no for the same reason you did. It's a very long, very messy story; they can fill you in.
LIL: And he's followed them all this way...for what? To get revenge? To beg their forgiveness? I'm surprised they haven't filed a restraining order against him.
ANOOP: He hasn't threatened them or tried to hurt them, so they'd probably be denied. But I wouldn't be surprised if he did sometime down the road, if he keeps this up.
LIL: Which he probably will, so we better be ready to meet up with him again. (Sighs)
ANOOP: Hey. We're going after our dreams here. We've got great friends and a great ride, and the odds are in our favor. Don't let one asshole mess it up for you. By this time tomorrow, I'll forget all about him. He can follow us all the way to Hollywood, and he still won't matter.
LIL: (As ANOOP pours them each a drink) Let's hope I can do the same. (They hold up their glasses) To Star Seekers, new friends, and second chances.
ANOOP: Cheers. (They toast and then drink)
(A brief, dialogue-free montage set to music of LIL'S family barbecue on the Fourth of July. The five friends are made to feel welcome, meeting LIL'S husband and watching her children play, and even joining in sometimes. There is a lot of food, and when the sun goes down, some of the kids shoot off fireworks in the backyard for everyone's entertainment. Fade into the next scene, the following morning, outside of the same house. LIL comes out with her suitcase, gives her husband and children each a final hug and kiss goodbye, and goes over to the van, where the other six are waiting inside. After loading her suitcase into the trunk, she gets in and sits next to ALLISON.)
LIL: Okay, let's get out of here before I start crying. (Some of the others laugh)
ANOOP: That feeling never goes away, being sad when you leave your kids. You should've seen my mom the day I left for college. I thought Dad was gonna have to drag her away.
KRIS: Yeah, that's something I have to look forward to.
LIL: I thought you didn't have any kids.
KRIS: Not yet, but hopefully someday, if all goes according to plan.
MATT: Well, right now our track record for that isn't great.
ALLISON: I'm just glad I'm not the only girl on the team anymore.
ADAM: Me, too. Now I can go back to rooming with Kris.
DANNY: Wait, then who will I share with?
MATT: Me and Anoop. We can order an extra cot.
DANNY: Then why didn't we do that before, so Allison wouldn't have to share with Adam?
ADAM: Because as you've seen, we need to be careful with how we spend our money.
ALLISON: You never know when you're gonna have to drop over a hundred grand on a new van.
KRIS: Hey, don't complain, you didn't have to put anything into that.
(They continue to talk, joke, and laugh as the van takes off down the road. Once again, VITO'S car is in hot pursuit, though keeping a safe distance from the white van. Fade into a dialogue-free montage set to music of the two cars driving down the highway. Spirits remain high in the van, but VITO'S associates are all asleep as he drives with a sour expression on his face. At the end of the montage, the white van is driving on a dirt road through a small town somewhere in the Southwest. There are very few people around, and the street has an old-fashioned look to it. The sun is low.)
KRIS: Okay, what do you say we find a place to crash for the night?
OTHERS: (Surprised, not entirely in sync) What?
LIL: No! Are you kidding?
ANOOP: We're only halfway there! We're not even into Arizona yet!
KRIS: Guys, we are not pulling an all-nighter to get to Phoenix. It'll still be there tomorrow.
MATT: Yeah, but the Star Seekers bus might not be! And given our current track record, I don't think we can take that chance. (The others voice their agreement)
ALLISON: (Yawns, sits upright from her sleepy position) What's going on? Are we there yet?
ADAM: (Resigned) No, and we're not gonna make it there tonight.
ALLISON: (Waking herself up) What? Why not?
KRIS: (Yawns) Because if I keep driving like this, we're gonna get into an accident.
DANNY: Then let someone else take over. I can drive for a while.
ADAM: And we still won't get to Phoenix until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, maybe get an hour or two of sleep, and then we'll show up to the auditions looking like s**t, having no time to practice our songs, do you really think the judges are gonna like that?
MATT: Please, you just don't want to pick a fight with Kris.
ADAM: (Hint of a smile) And what if I don't?
ANOOP: Now that you mention it, I haven't even thought about what I'm gonna sing. Maybe it is better if we call it a night.
DANNY: Oh, fine. I can see a vacancy sign up ahead, and after that, everything goes dark. If we're gonna get off the road, it looks like this is our last chance.
LIL: (Cut to the outside as KRIS pulls the van into the parking lot of a motel) Well, this ought to be fun. First night out on the road, and we're spending it in a ghost town.
(The camera pans to the top of the neon motel sign, the name of which is indecipherable because some of the letters have burned out. The word "Vacancy" is lit up underneath it. Cut to the next scene, in one of the motel rooms. Some time has passed since the gang checked in, and the sky is now black, as can be seen out the window. ALLISON is sitting on one of the beds in her pajamas, turning off her phone, while LIL places a long, black wig on a wig stand and brushes it.)
ALLISON: What's that for?
LIL: I was thinking about wearing it to my audition. My hair's a little long for it now, but I might have it cut before we get there. You talk to your parents yet?
ALLISON: Yeah, I just left them a message. (Sets her phone down on the nightstand)
LIL: (Looks over at ALLISON, still brushing the wig) If you don't mind my asking, why do you always turn your phone off right after you call home?
ALLISON: So my parents can't use the GPS to track me. If they found out where I was, they'd drive out here and drag me back to L.A., and then I'd be grounded for the rest of my life.
LIL: (Smiles) And I wouldn't blame them. (Runs her hand over the wig) There, that should do it.
ALLISON: (Small laugh) What are you saying? Do you not want me to follow my dream of becoming a rock star?
LIL: (Sets down the brush) Of course I do. (Turns to face ALLISON, walks over to the bed opposite her) But I also understand where they're coming from. I've got three of my own, remember? What do you think I'd do if one of them up and ran away?
ALLISON: Fair enough. (Sighs, leans back) I just wish they'd stop treating me like a kid. They don't understand how badly I want to be a singer. I mean, I was happy that they let me perform in their store, but I want this to be my career, not just a hobby. Every time I brought up the idea of meeting with a record label or getting a band together, they looked at me like I was crazy. (Turns to face LIL) It's like they don't think I have what it takes to make it.
LIL: I'm sure your parents believe in you, Allison. No good parent wants to keep their kid from following their dreams. But you'll always be their little girl. And even when you're all grown up and...going on world tours and selling our arenas, I guarantee they're still gonna call you every night just to make sure you're okay. Now matter how much it costs.
ALLISON: (Not very sincere groan) Really?
LIL: Yup. My mama does it to me, and we still live in the same town. Even on days when I see her. I walk in the door, and the next thing I know, my phone rings and it's her. Every time.
ALLISON: I just wish they'd see that I'm mature enough to make my own decisions now.
LIL: Well, you took off in the middle of the night without telling them, so that doesn't help your case.
ALLISON: Yeah, there's that. (They both laugh, she turns over onto her back and sighs) Man, I should not have taken a nap in the van. Now I can't sleep.
LIL: (Short pause as they music from the next room over) Well, nobody's gonna sleep here with all that noise.
ALLISON: It's probably Kris, he loves his jam sessions. (Sits up) Come on, let's go join them!
(Cut to the next room as KRIS and DANNY sit on opposite beds, singing an old gospel song as KRIS plays his acoustic guitar. MATT keeps time and adds riffs and runs in certain places. There is a knock at the door, and MATT goes over to open it. ALLISON and LIL are standing there, and he wordlessly invites them in as KRIS and DANNY keep singing and playing. MATT jumps right back in as ALLISON and LIL stand and listen, and MATT throws in a long, impressive run at the end. ALLISON and LIL clap when it is over, and everyone's attention turns to MATT for a second.)
DANNY: Woo! Sounds like someone caught the Holy Ghost!
LIL: I'll say. Whatch'all doing, practicing for your auditions?
KRIS: Nah, this is just something we do at all our stops. I actually haven't thought about what I'm gonna sing at all. How about you guys?
DANNY: Nope. I probably should be, but there are so many good ones to choose from.
MATT: I have an idea of what I want to sing, but I need to try it out first.
ALLISON: Well, it shouldn't matter what you pick, just throw in some of those runs and you're good to go. I still don't know how you do that.
(There is a knock from the door inside the hotel room. MATT goes over and opens it, and ANOOP stands in the doorway from his room next door.)
ANOOP: Hey, guys. You sounded great. Are we gonna get any more?
DANNY: Nah, not tonight. I'm kind of tired.
ANOOP: Well, Adam and I are going out now, if any of you guys want to come.
LIL: (Confused) Going out where? In case you haven't noticed, this place is a ghost town.
ANOOP: I'm not sure yet. But it can't be totally empty, or else this motel wouldn't still be open. There's gotta be something still open, it's not that late.
DANNY: I don't know, it's pitch black outside and half the streetlights aren't working. Don't you think it's a little dangerous to be wandering around when we don't know the place?
(Suddenly, the sound of a motorcycle engine sounds from outside the room. They all get up and go outside and are shocked to see ADAM sitting on a motorcycle. He is not wearing a helmet.)
ADAM: Life is short, my friends. You gotta live dangerously.
KRIS: (Comes around for a closer look) What the...where did this come from?
ADAM: There's a rental place up the street from here. Come on, let's take her for a spin!
LIL: Uh-uh. No way am I risking my neck on that thing.
ANOOP: I was surprised when he told me he was going to get it. I didn't think he had a motorcycle license.
ADAM: Actually, I don't. But it's not a real one. If it were, there's no way I'd be able to rent it this cheap. (Revs the engine) Sure sounds real, though.
DANNY: Sure smells real, too. (Coughs)
ALLISON: (Super excited) Can I go for a ride, Adam? Please, can I go?
ADAM: Sure, hop on!
ALLISON: All right! (Runs over to the motorcycle and hops on)
LIL: (Reaches out) Wait, Allison! You can't go out in your... (The engine revs, LIL lowers her arms and sighs, turns back to the others) Does she always do this?
KRIS: (Smiles) Yup. Once something catches Allison's eye, there's no stopping her.
ADAM: (To ALLISON) You ever ridden one of these things?
ADAM: Me either. (Hands her the helmet, she puts it on) Hold on tight!
(The others watch as the motorcycle takes off down the street. There is a short pause.)
ANOOP: Well, there's no point in hanging around here. Let's see where they're going.
MATT: Sweet! I'll grab the keys.
KRIS: I don't think we'll need the van. This town is so small, wherever they end up will be within walking distance. And they'll be pretty hard to miss.
(They keep talking as they walk away, towards the direction of the town. DANNY and LIL are left standing alone, and after a short pause, they turn to each other.)
LIL: (Shrugs) If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?
DANNY: Sure, why not. (They both follow in the same direction as the others)
(Scene: the main strip of the ghost town. ADAM and ALLISON ride along on the motorcycle, lit by the working streetlights and the neon signs of a few buildings. Music plays, and ADAM sings "Born to Be Wild," making flawless turns at the end of streets and popping wheelies at the choruses. At different times in the song, we see the other five following along, running through the streets in a carefree way. At one point, MATT and ANOOP duck into a convenience store and come out with two six-packs of glass bottles. The second chorus of the song finds them all in a glow-in-the-dark bowling alley, with everyone getting a throw, and we see ANOOP get a strike as everyone cheers. At the bridge, ADAM and ALLISON are back on the motorcycle, with the others following close behind. At the final bridge, we see ADAM standing on a stage in a bar dimly lit with multicolored lights. The place is completely empty except for the seven friends. ADAM finishes the song on the stage, running around and sliding onto his knees for the high notes. The others fist pump and/or head bang along, and when the song is over, everyone cheers loudly. Some of them raise their glass bottles, and ADAM grabs one for himself when he goes over and joins them.)
(Scene: just outside the karaoke bar. A small red car pulls into the parking lot and parks in the spot farthest away from the building. Sitting in the driver's seat, KARA pulls out her phone, types out a message, and presses "Send." Cut to inside the karaoke bar, as DANNY is on stage. As soon as the music starts, MATT feels his phone vibrate. He pulls it out and reads the message "I'm outside" before putting the phone away and returning his focus to DANNY, who is dancing around as he sings "Dance Little Sister." Some of the others are moving and dancing along, and everyone applauds when the song is over. DANNY goes over and joins them.)
LIL: I never knew you could dance like that!
ALLISON: Didn't I tell you? His moves are sick!
MATT: Hey, Anoop, how about you do the next song?
ANOOP: (Finishes the contents of a glass bottle) Me?
MATT: Yeah, give us a nice, slow love song. Those are the ones you do best.
(The others voice their agreement, and ANOOP gives in with a smile and goes up to the stage. As the music starts, MATT sneaks along the wall and slips out the back door, but no one notices, as their attention is on ANOOP as he sings "Ooo Baby Baby." Cut to the parking lot, with the music still heard at full volume, as MATT walks over to KARA'S car and gets in. She smiles at him.)
MATT: Hey. Sorry to keep you waiting. I had to wait for the right moment.
KARA: That's alright, as long as your friends still don't know about us.
MATT: They don't have a clue.
KARA: Good. Let's see how long we can keep it that way.
(They lean into the middle and start kissing passionately. Cut back to the bar, as everyone is still entranced by ANOOP'S performance. The camera cuts back to KARA'S car one more time during the song, as we see that she and MATT have moved their make-out session to the back seat. At the end of the song, everyone gives ANOOP a standing ovation, and ANOOP nods his head as if to say "Thank you." Cut back to KARA'S car, as she and MATT have apparently come up for air.)
MATT: Hey, what do you say we take this back to the motel?
KARA: The one you're staying at? And risk them walking in on us? I don't think so.
MATT: Well, apparently it's the only one in this town. You know somewhere else we can go?
KARA: As a matter of fact, I do. And I think you'll like it.
(She gets out and makes her way up to the driver's seat. As she starts the car and drives away, the camera cuts back to inside the bar. LIL has taken the stage, walking around as she sings "The Way You Make Me Feel." Once again, the others move along to the music, some dancing with LIL when she moves to the floor, and they all applaud when the song is over.)
DANNY: We are having way too much fun!
ADAM: No such thing, Danny. Alright, who wants to go next?
LIL: Matt hasn't done anything yet, has he? Hey Matt, you wanna go up and give us a... (Looks around, notices MATT is not there) Matt? Where is that boy? Matt?
ANOOP: He's probably in the men's room. Give him a minute.
ALLISON: I don't know, I thought I saw him go out by the back door. Aren't the bathrooms on the other side?
DANNY: But why would he just leave without telling us?
ADAM: When did you see him go out?
ALLISON: It was...right when Anoop went up to sing.
ANOOP: So he requests a song and then doesn't stay for it? What an ass.
KRIS: (Feels his phone vibrate) Oops, hang on. (Looks at his phone) It's Matt. He says "Sorry I disappeared on you, I wasn't feeling good and went back to the motel. See you when you get back." (Puts his phone away) Well, that answers that.
ADAM: Oh, well. Some guys just can't hold their liquor. At least we heard it from him and not Vito.
KRIS: (Confused) What?
ALLISON: What do you mean, what? You don't think he's given up on us, do you? I wouldn't be surprised if he's here in town right now.
KRIS: Yeah, but he's not gonna do anything to Matt.
DANNY: Are you sure about that? I know you know him better than I do, but he gets really angry really fast.
LIL: Not to mention he's still got his little gang to back him up.
KRIS: Guys, I know Ray. He likes to make people think he's dangerous, but trust me, he is all bark and no bite. So what do you say, one more round and then we call it a night?
(The others voice their agreement as the camera cuts to a view of them from above. We then cut to a view of MATT and KARA in bed together at a seemingly abandoned hotel, half asleep and cuddled close together. The scene fades to black.)
(Scene: a beautiful, sunny forest. The edges of the image are slightly faded, indicating that this is a dream. Soft, classical-sounding music is playing in the background. A wide river cuts through the walls of green trees, and a well-dressed ANOOP is rowing a boat down it. Sitting across from him is a woman about his age, with long blond hair and bright blue eyes. She smiles at him, and he looks at her affectionately. Cut to the riverbank, as ANOOP brings the boat to land, stands up, and helps the young woman out of it. She is wearing a long, flowing dress that trails slightly along the ground as ANOOP leads her down a path through the woods, but it does not get dirty.)
MEGAN: Where are we going?
ANOOP: Just trust me. You'll love it.
(Cut to the end of the path, as the two of them enter into a clearing surrounded by wildflowers in several different colors. The woman's eyes light up at the sight of a large table with a banquet for two spread across it, complete with fine plates, glasses, and silverware. There are birds singing in the surrounding trees, and the occasional butterfly flutters across the scene.)
MEGAN: What on Earth...?
ANOOP: I put it all together last night. Thank God it didn't rain.
MEGAN: But how did you...and why?
ANOOP: (Walking around to the other side, stepping back from her) Because picnics are cliche and restaurants are too mainstream.
MEGAN: (Laughs) It's wonderful.
ANOOP: And actually...I wanted us to be alone when I said this. Somewhere no one else would think to look.
MEGAN: What is it?
ANOOP: I know we haven't known each other for very long...but ever since I first laid eyes on you...I knew you were special. And I've had such a hard time...finding someone and holding on to her...but I think this could be different. That we could last...forever.
MEGAN: (Slightly taken aback) Wow...Anoop...this is all so sudden...and so not like you...
ANOOP: I know. It's weird for me, too. But you make me want to be better. And I hope...that if you give me a chance...you'll see it.
(The music in the background changes, and ANOOP stand before her and sings "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)," never taking his eyes off of her, except for a few moments where he closes his eyes and turns his head slightly away. She blushes slightly, and he sings the last lines after the pause at the end on his knees, taking her hand at the very last line. When the song is over, he slowly stands up, and they gaze into each other's eyes. There is a short pause, but just as they both lean in for a kiss, the scene goes blurry and fades to black. Cut to the real world, where we see ANOOP stir slightly in bed, and ADAM is completely still in the bed next to him.)
(Scene: early the next morning. VITO, ALEX, RICKY, VON, and SETH are getting dressed in two separate hotel rooms, which are connected by an open doorway. The rooms look very different from the ones at the motel where the seven friends are staying.)
RICKY: Well, boss, you can't blame us for this one. You were driving the whole time.
VITO: Shut up, Ricky. This isn't the time for "I told you so." What matters is, we've lost the trail on Kris and his little friends. If we don't pick it back up today, we may never catch up to them.
VON: You know what, maybe that's for the best. We've spend enough time and certainly enough money on this little adventure, maybe we should just go home and make the best of what we have. I mean, that's how we started out, wasn't it?
VITO: Things are different now, Von. In the beginning, we had nothing. We took on everyone we could get and took care of them as our own. But Kris is more than just a talented singer and musician. You all know what he means to me, and I won't allow such a good, God-fearing man to be stolen away from me by some glittering vampire and his little Spanish lapdog.
SETH: Look, Ray, I get that you don't like them. But this is Kris' life, and he has the right to spend it how, and with whom, he chooses.
VITO: (Glares at SETH, slowly moves in his direction) No one has the right to condone that kind of behavior. We have had the Word of God passed down to us since before we could walk and talk. Someone needs to lead him back into the light, and I will be the one to do it! (A frightened SETH falls back onto the bed to get out of VITO'S face) Do I make myself clear?
SETH: (Buttoning the last buttons on his shirt) Y-y-yes, s-s-sir...understood.
VITO: Good. (Looks around at the others) I trust you guys with everything, you know. If this operation is going to be successful, then I need you to stand by me every step of the way. A house divided cannot stand, we all know that. So can I count on you or not?
(The others all answer in the affirmative. VITO throws a long-sleeved shirt on over his wife beater.)
ALEX: Hey, boss, can we stop at McDonald's before we get back on the highway? I could really go for an egg McMuffin right now.
VITO: (As his cell phone rings) Hold that thought. (Answers the phone) Hello?
MISHAVONNA: (In the White Cross Records office building, which is empty except for the young, brown-eyed brunette and a man in a suit) Hello, Mr. Vito? It's Mishavonna Henson.
VITO: Hey! I'm surprised to hear from you, darling! How is everything?
MISHAVONNA: I'm alright. Sorry to catch you so early...
VITO: Oh, no, it's nothing, I'm wide awake. What's going on? Is everything okay back at HQ?
MISHAVONNA: Yeah, uh, listen...we need to talk.
VITO: (Suddenly worried) Talk about what? What's wrong?
MISHAVONNA: Well, when I heard you let Nate Marshall go, I got kind of worried. I always thought he was one of the best singers you've ever found.
VITO: Well, let me assure you, dear, you are in no danger of being cut from the roster. You're the best girl we've got on right now-
MISHAVONNA: I'm not finished. I talked to Nate right before he left town, and he told me the reason you fired him was because you quote, unquote, "disapproved of his lifestyle."
VITO: Well, it's a Christian label, Mishavonna. You knew we had rules when you signed on.
MISHAVONNA: I'm sorry, Mr. Vito, but your personal rules can only go so far, and I don't think you have the right to cut a great artist because of who they are.
VITO: I beg your pardon, sweetheart, it's my label and I'm going to run it as I see fit.
MISHAVONNA: I know you are. But I don't have to be a part of it if I don't want to. And that's why I called. To tell you that I'm walking out.
VITO: (Shocked) What...but...you can't just walk out on me! You're under contract.
MISHAVONNA: I know. That's why I've brought on a lawyer. (VITO'S jaw drops) Would you like to speak with him?
VITO: No...no, I'd really rather not.
MISHAVONNA: Fine. But he's eager to meet you, and you better come to court prepared, or else he's going to give you a very hard time. Have a good day, Mr. Vito.
(She hangs up. Cut back to the motel room, as VITO slowly lowers his phone onto the counter by the outside sink. ALEX, RICKY, VON, and SETH are fixated on him, very worried.)
ALEX: Boss...what's wrong?
VITO: (Still stunned) That was...one of our singers... (Slowly turns to face them) She's...she's suing to get out of her contract.
RICKY: What?! She can't do that!
VITO: Oh, yes, she can, and she's already hired a lawyer. (Sighs, sits down on one of the beds) My whole career is slipping out of my hands...
VON: Did she say why she wanted out?
VITO: Apparently she doesn't like the way I run my business. (Balls his hands into fists, starts to shake and growl) Just like Kris...and his freakish friends... (Pounds the bed) Argh! The virus is spreading! (Shoots up to his feet) They must be stopped! All of them! I can't have them stealing any more clients from me! (Grabs his loaded suitcase) Come on, boys! Pack up your things, we're hitting the road right now! There's not a moment to lose!
(The others turn to each other, still worried and now fearful, before moving about the rooms.)