And yet after every show when he was cooped up again in another hotel room he wasn’t able to shake the emptiness he had been feeling since Bianca’s death. The funeral had been private and he had walked away from it with both a sense of freedom and a blinding agony. That was the hardest part, wearing the mask that veiled all the pain threatening everyday to rise up. No one he met knew a thing, that’s how careful everyone had been. The entire Mars crew did what they could to give him space, to give him support. He was grateful, more than grateful for everything they were doing for him. How could he not be?
Explaining his daughter’s birth was a little harder but only because he hadn’t been willing to do so at first. But it became something that couldn’t be hidden after awhile since he had insisted on taking her out on tour. The fans soon began to adore her and despite their constant questioning of the identity of her mother he welcomed it. He kept her away from the spotlight the best he could given how young she was but he was glad nonetheless for their acceptance of his not giving them any information.
He was glad for what felt like some sort of new lease on an otherwise wasted life. He wasn’t so alone now at least he didn’t really feel like he was. He settled into his bed and switched off the lights. They had one more show tomorrow night here and then in the morning they were off to New York. He looked towards the small playpen he had set up for Elise and couldn’t help the smile that tugged at the corners of his lips. The light from the balcony glistened in, echoing off of her beautiful face. For this moment he had peace, drowned in the nights dark with his daughter and his familiar world ready for him in the morning.
New York was exactly what her sister had promised. It glistened beautifully and danced with all its glorious imperfections. Her sister had urged her to come out here and accept an invitation to hold a small showcase for her work. It had taken awhile but eventually she had accepted and soon enough she was off on a plane going east. She had managed to recreate the images she had plastered so painfully on her old apartments walls and some people seemed to like it. It had surprised her and yet she was glad for it. She was able to pay her own way to a great extent and with her success came a surge of inspiration.
She was nearly giddy as she stood in the middle of the gallery surrounded by the paintings she had done. She really couldn’t believe it, the glimmer of hope that brought itself into her reality. Of course success didn’t mean a road to happiness but it did mean an intense feeling of sudden accomplishment.
She caught the reflection of herself in a mirror hanging in the other room and she sighed. She had healed over nicely on the outside, the bruises had cleared away and although tears made their way to the surface every now and then she felt as though her scars were beginning to wash away. She hadn’t heard anything from her dad since he had been arrested and she had avoided every possibly thing that she could when it came to Jared. Of course every now and then she would stumble on something, finding those perfect eyes looking out at her from the screen of her computer. She had to suppress the memories that came with her building tears and often times she failed, only able to lock herself away and cry alone. She was still hurting, her sorrow was still there and yet she was able to finally press on with the freedom she had never been able to have. It was a surprise to feel it, a shock to experience it, and a relief to have it.
The only part of her life she was never able to hide from was the perfection of the love she had found with Jared. That was the one part of herself that she didn’t want to let go of. She felt so terribly alone without him, so unlike herself. She had thought to herself a million times to go back to him, call him and let things fall back into place but when the news broke that he had a daughter she knew that thought was a futile one. It was over now, the possibility. He was probably with Bianca still, raising their daughter and yet she couldn’t bring herself to be upset with him. She just wanted him to be happy and maybe now he was. It was hard to swallow but she knew it was something she had to face.
Her sister had been nearly unable to believe her about the things that had happened but eventually it became less impossible. She constantly told Rowan that she had made a mistake leaving Jared to that sort of woman but she knew that no one could understand. Even now she got sporadic phone calls from Shannon asking how she was, but they never spoke about Jared, they just created something of a friendship that came so easily with him. He asked about her sister often but they never talked to each other, Rowan thought that was hilarious. Everything seemed to be at peace and that was something she was going to make herself get used to.
Her phone rang startling her out of her thoughts. She set her cup of coffee down and pulled the phone out of her purse. She smiled as her sisters name flashed on the screen.
“You’re in New York already right?”
“Of course…my showcase is tonight.”
“Oh well…that’s great…”
Rowan shook her head. “You’re terrible at hiding things. What’s going on?”
“Rowan, Jared’s in New York. He’s got a show out there tonight.”
Rowan stopped what she was doing. She knew that Mars had been out on tour for awhile now but she had made it a point not to follow what was happening with them. Knowing that he was in the same state as her was nerve wrecking. She knew that it was perhaps ridiculous but how could she possibly think that she could get through today knowing that he was somewhere near?
“Rowan? You alright?”
“Yeah…” She gave a small laugh, hoping it was convincing enough. “..of course I am. But I really have to get going. I’ll call you after the show.”
They said their goodbyes and then Rowan hung up. She settled down into a nearby chair, lowering her forehead to her palm. She was trying to be calm, remain as normal as she could possibly be. Just because he was in New York didn’t mean that they were going to somehow run into each other. He was no doubt busy all day especially with a show tonight. She let out a bit of a sigh once she had relieved herself of her worry. Things wouldn’t get complicated. She wasn’t sure what she would do if she did see Jared and Bianca was there as well. What pain would follow after that? It wasn’t even a possibility. Tonight would go without problems, she was sure of it.