Home > Fall (VIP #3)(13)

Fall (VIP #3)(13)
Author: Kristen Callihan

Well, he’d still be able to find me if he tried. Dad was always good at flushing out a mark. But he’s never bothered coming back.

A little laughing sob breaks free, and I burrow my face in Stevens’s ruff, heedless of the hairs tickling my nose. I should’ve let this go a long time ago. Dad left me. Fuck him. He doesn’t deserve another thought. But it didn’t stop me from spending far too much money looking for him.

I’m not even sure what I wanted with him. A chance to say fuck you for leaving me. A chance to ask why I was disposable. Maybe even to ask if we had other family. My mom didn’t have any.

Mom. There are days I struggle to remember her face. I have nothing left of her, no pictures, no mementos. By the time my dad had thought to pack up her things, an irate landlord had already thrown everything out and our apartment in DC had been rented. I’d never forgiven my dad for that.

It horrifies me that her features are nebulous in my mind. I know she had blond hair that was silky and cool to the touch, and deep blue eyes—the same color as mine. She smelled of fresh apples, and when I was sad, I used to rest my head on the slope of her breast and listen to her heartbeat.

I miss her so much it hurts to breathe sometimes. But she is gone. I have no one to rely on but myself. It’s been this way long enough that I should accept it and move on. I’ve been stuck in a holding pattern, trying to find a dad who failed me in too many ways.

Wiping my face, I set Stevens aside and stand, stretching my tired muscles. “No more self-pity, Stevens.”

Walking into the bathroom, I grab some tissue and blow my nose before washing my face. Stevens follows, watching with curious interest.

“I’m young and intelligent. My whole life is ahead of me. I’m staying in a penthouse with the cutest cat ever.” At this Stevens meows, and I grin. “Cutest, smartest cat ever. I don’t need to find the asshole who made me miserable when he was around. No more. Onward and upward.”

Stevens meows again, and I nod. “It is decided.”

With that, I take a long, hot shower. And if I happen to cry the whole time, there’s only Stevens to hear my sobs, and he’s not going to tell anyone.

John

* * *

I know the signs. They’re pretty damn clear. The weight in my chest, the way it becomes harder to get up in the morning, because the bed is comfortable and dreams are better than reality. Everything becomes heavy. Even my mind.

That’s the worst thing about it, not being able to escape your mind.

The mind is everything, right? How do you get away from your own thoughts? You can’t. There is only distraction.

It used to be that when my world started to go dark, I’d distract myself with music, drinking, partying, sex. Great distractions when you’re a rock star and everyone wants to please you. At least for a while. But the dark will always find a way in.

Besides, drinking, doing drugs? Worst fucking distraction ever. I might as well have pushed a self-destruct button and saved myself some time.

I slouch down on my couch and run a hand over my face to feel something other than the heaviness pressing into me. Doesn’t stop the whispers, though. The insidious little thoughts creeping through my brain, telling me that I deserved this, that I am a waste of space.

“Goddamnit.” I lunge up and prowl the living room. Coping mechanism number one: remind yourself that your thoughts are not always your friend. They can lie like a motherfucker.

I’m Jax fucking Blackwood, a goddamn legend. I’m the voice of my generation.

Not anymore. You’re the cautionary tale of your generation.

“Shit.”

It’s not true, man. That’s just anxiety trying to make a nice, comfortable home in your brain. Fuck off, anxiety.

I settle a little, but not enough. I’m on medication, but that isn’t as black and white as it sounds. It’s a matter of finding what medication works for me. Trial and error. And no matter what I take, I have to stay mentally vigilant.

I make an appointment with my therapist. I won’t lie—the childish side of me chafes at the fact that I need to reach out for help. It’s stupid as hell, but there it is; I feel dependent on others and don’t like it. But that’s part of what pulled me under before—the refusal to believe that I needed help.

I know better now. And right now, I need reinforcements. Even if this is going to suck ass.

I pick up my phone and dial.

Thirty minutes later, my doorbell rings.

Fucking, fuck, fuck, this is really going to blow chunks.

Rye and Whip grin at me from the other side of the door.

“Hello there, Sting,” Rye says as he shoulders past me.

“Sting?”

Whip walks in and gives me a patient look. “You sent out an SOS.”

Right. “Message in the Bottle,” one of The Police’s best songs.

“Cute,” I say as Scottie follows, his expression stern and a little pissed off. Since he always looks that way, I don’t take it personally.

“Jax,” he says by way of greeting. But I see the worry in his eyes too. He knows I wouldn’t call all of them here if it weren’t serious.

I glance at my now empty landing.

“What are you looking for?” Scottie asks.

“Making sure Brenna isn’t lurking in the shadows.” Where Scottie goes, she usually follows like an evil henchman in five-inch designer heels. “Where is she?”

“In L.A.,” Scottie says as he leans against an arm of the couch. “What’s going on, Jax?”

“Just jump right into it, eh?” I walk to my kitchen, pretending like I’m not about to hurl. “No ‘Hello there, Jax, good to see you. How have you been?’”

Scottie lifts a brow. “How have you been, Jax?”

“Fine, thank you.”

“Glad to hear it. Now tell me what the hell is going on.”

Rye and Whip plop down on armchairs and watch us. I pull out a couple of beers and toss them each a bottle. They catch their drinks with ease.

“You want one, Scottie? I haven’t any tea brewed.”

Crossing his arms over his chest, he gives me a level look. “Am I going to need it?”

“Probably.”

Scottie pulls the cuffs of his shirt, adjusting them just so. His suit is dove gray and impeccable. I’ve only seen him truly ruffled once and that was over his now wife, Sophie. I know he’ll remain calm when I tell him my news. I rely on that. He’s the glue that holds this band together—an excellent quality to have in a manager.

“Dude,” Rye says from his slump in the chair, “just spit it out already.”

Rye, our bassist, is big bruiser of a guy with an encyclopedic knowledge of music. He’s also a pain in the ass.

“Jesus,” Whip says with a shake of his head. “Let the guy have a minute.”

“Thanks, Whip.”

“Sure thing, Jax.” He winks. “Shit either floats or sinks. Either way, it’s still shit.”

“I don’t … even know what the fuck that means.”

He grins. Like a moron.

Girls love Whip. He’s got the whole dark hair, blue eyes, and model face thing going for him. Hell, I have that look too. But Whip somehow makes himself appear innocent and a little lost, like all he needs is the love of a good woman to save him. And they all fall for it. He’s our drummer. Even now, he’s tapping his hands on his thighs because he can’t be still.

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