Finally they drove up into the driveway and Jared killed the engine. He just wanted to rest his head back and clear his head but with Audrey sitting there in the passenger seat he wouldn't have much privacy. So instead he pulled the keys from the ignition and made to open the door.
"Are you sure you're alright?" She asked, as concerned as before.
Jared glanced at her wondering why she cared. "Just a migraine." He stated, wondering if that was a stupid excuse or not.
Her brows furrowed with disbelief and looked away.
"If you're going to say that I need to go to the doctor, don't because I'm fine."
Audrey nodded defeated, she could tell by the look in his eyes that he wasn't one to give into anybody. "If you say so."
"I do. Now let's go." Jared pushed open his door and without waiting for her went on into the house.
Once inside he glance out the window and watched her come up to the front door. He figured he was being a jerk but he just didn't want to do this and having her there when something so personal had happened wasn't working too well with him either. He hadn't even told Shannon what had been going on.
She came into the house looking a little lost but still so gorgeous. Heavily he sighed and went over to her.
"Can you wait here? I'm going to go upstairs for a minute." His eyes were apologetic but he would never say anything like he was sorry. Those words just didn't have a place on his lips.
"That's fine." She replied although she knew he wasn't asking for permission he was merely telling her what he wanted her to do. She could tell this was going to be frustrating, exactly why she hadn't wanted to agree to do it.
Jared turned away from her and went up the stairs. He could hear other people in the house and he hoped that they would be kind enough to take Audrey off his hands. He was in no mood for company just then. He would do anything to get out of this.
He stopped halfway in the hall seeing that his bedroom door was opened. His brows knitted together with confusion. He always remembered to shut his door. He heard the sounds of somebody rummaging around in there and an anger flushed through him. What the hell was that person doing in his room? Hadn't he said that area was completely off limits?
Stalking towards the door with a heavy anger he pushed it open and saw Shannon going through the top of his closet. There were boxes that had once been taped on the ground now opened.
"What the hell are you doing?" He demanded, folding his arms across his chest.
Shannon turned around quickly, shock all over his face. He obviously hadn't been expecting him. "What are you doing home?"
Jared pushed off the door and dropped himself down on the edge of the bed. He wasn't so angry, more exhausted and frustrated. Besides it was Shannon in here, he could handle that.
Shannon looked down at his brother, noting the sharpness on his face and he took in a breath. He felt guilt rise up inside of him but he pushed it down knowing that everything he was doing was the right thing. He sat on one of the more sturdier boxes after checking that nothing fragile was inside and waited for Jared to talk. He could just tell there would be a mouthful.
"She's downstairs." Jared said, wiping his hand across his face with a heavy sigh.
"What's she like?" Shannon tried to brush off the fact that he had just been looking through Jared's things. Maybe it would be overlooked?
"Damn beautiful, that's what she's like." Jared laughed a little, wanting to make light of the situation. "But she's sleeping with one of the big guys, more than obvious. So her music's probably crap and all this is useless. Waste of time."
"Ah, come on can't be that bad."
"Dreading to find out." Jared looked away, turning his eyes out the window. Everything around him had suddenly lost meaning leaving him to suffer with the aftermath. He wanted so much to pour everything out to the one person who had always been there for him but the words wouldn't come out and the strain that had invisibly taken root in their lives prevented him.
"You alright?" Shannon asked, breaking the silence that had fallen around them.
For a moment Jared didn't answer, not wanting to go into some pity party but he could hear the great concern, the worry, the overall fear that he wasn't alright so he looked to Shannon and nodded. He hoped that he wouldn't know he was lying.
Shannon eyed him, he could tell something was terribly wrong but how could he blame him for not wanting to open up? Here he was finding him going through his things. Obviously there would be a bit of a trust issue.
"You going to go downstairs?" Shannon asked, standing up as he did.
"In a minute...."
Shannon nodded and made his way to the door.
"What was all this about?" Jared asked.
Shannon felt struck by nervousness. He couldn't tell him the reason, couldn't let on that it was even about him. He turned around, a million things he could say on his mind but all of them not even acceptable. Harshly he swallowed, glanced around the room and then looked back to Jared.
"Just trying to find something."
Jared didn't believe him, anyone could see that but he only nodded and let Shannon slip out of the room.
Once Shannon was gone Jared rested back on the bed, his mind working too fast. His head began to fiercely ache and he began to slightly tremble. He squeezed his eyes shut, not wanting to experience it again and so soon too. He started to calm although the after effects stayed with him.
He reached his hand out and pulled open the nightstand table. He rummaged around blindly before his fingers caught hold of the edges of the photograph. He slipped it out of the drawer a picture and carefully he brought it before his eyes. He looked up at the image, trying to figure out who it was and what it meant. He traced his fingers over the womans face before letting the picture fall to his stomach. He either couldn't remember or it had nothing at all to do with him. But then why would that picture be in his drawer? Or why would he dream so much about her?
He didn't understand any of it and the fear was beginning to creep up again. He wasn't sure why he couldn't remember, why the pain was so excruciating. He couldn't simply accept it as his new way of life because this was certainly not living.
Shannon came downstairs, trying to shake the knowledge that Jared was going through something. He couldn't ask him about it in fear that it had something to do with the one thing he needed to keep away from him. No matter how much it pained him to see Jared go through anything like this he had made a promise to Emma and to himself that he would never know, never remember. It was for the best.
Once he came downstairs he saw Audrey standing by herself near the front door. She was out of place, looking around without knowing what to do. Shannon could have laughed knowing that when Jared didn't wnat to do something he took it out on almost anybody.
"You must be Audrey?" Shannon came to her, hoping that Jared's behavior didn't scare her away.
Audrey snapped out of her thoughts and gave him a warm smile. "And you're Shannon. People tell me you're more easier to deal with. I'm hoping that's true."
Shannon laughed at that and shook his head. "Guess that it is, but don't mind him. You'll either warm up to him or not like him at all. Honestly though, he's going through a lot right now."
"And he obviously doesn't want to do this." Shannon nodded. "Well neither do I. Anthony forced it on me."
"Anthony?" Shannon immediately thought of what Jared had said about her and one of the big guys at the label. He looked her over. She was young, too young to be sucked into the depravity of the business.
She looked down almost ashamed. "Yeah...the CEO."
Just by that Shannon knew that Jared's observation had been true. She was obviously willing but completely removed by the entire thing.
"Well let's look at it this way, if you work with Jared, or any of us, it'll be major exposure."
Audrey shrugged with agreement. "You're right. So where do we start?"
"How about you meet everybody? It's best to go in on your own, shows you're brave." He gave her a wink before laughing a little.
Audrey laughed, put on her best brave face and went on out into the backyard where Shannon had gestured her to.
Shannon watched her mingle with everybody before he heard footsteps come up behind him. He turned around and saw Emma standing there obvious disappointment on her face.
"That the girl?"
Shannon nodded, already knowing what it was she was going to say.
"She shouldn't be here. Not now."
"Everybody else is."
Emma looked up at him with disbelief. "With him like this? All he does is lock himself up all day and sleep. He's not himself."
"You think I don't know that? But we can't just hide him out from the world, you know. Maybe it's better if he gets back to living normally."
Emma ran a frustrated hand back through her hair. "Fine. If you think it's best."
"Don't be like that, come on. What can he do? The label wants this."
"Can't you take care of it?"
"They want him, Em. Not his brother."
She sighed, her disappointment heavy. "Just whatever. But if she messes things up then that's it."
"You have my word..."
Emma nodded and began to walk back into the room where she had come from.
"Emma?" Shannon called out, his eyes on Audrey through the glass doors. Something about her sharpened his worry. He knew where Emma was coming from but he also knew that his hands were tied. "You don't think she'll remind him, do you? Remind him of anything?"
"I hope not..." She whispered, turning into the room and closing the door behind her.
Shannon looked up at the staircase, knowing that Jared was up there. He wanted to check on him, make sure everything was alright but he knew that if he did that then Jared would know something was going on. There hadn't been many times that Shannon watched over his every movement like a hawk and he didn't want him to know that he was doing it now.
He went out into the backyard, putting on his best act just to assure everybody that, even though Jared wasn't present or was in no way acting like himself, everything was going to be alright.