He heard Shannon and Emma pull out of the driveway and almost everyone else had left as well. He was as much alone as he would be and he enjoyed that thought. The night was sharply whispering from the opened window, he could hear the wind from his room. He wanted to scream, wanted to cry out and let out the agonized pain that wrecked through his soul. He wanted to lie down on his bed, close his eyes, and let a sleep fall over him. He didn’t want those nightmares. He didn’t want dreamlessness. He was calm. He wanted rest. When the hell was he going to get it?
He turned to the start of the staircase when he heard a knock on the front door. His hope of being by himself fell apart. The thought of someone wanting to see him, wanting to talk about something terrified him. He had a calm to search for. He had answers to seek. He never had the time. He never had a moment away from anything except for the normalcy he used to live in. That was the only thing he had broken away from. The one thing that he had wanted to hold onto.
“Hey…” Someone had opened the door, a male voice he couldn’t quite discern answered.
Jared rushed back into his room, closing the door and resting back against it. He shut his eyes hoping that whoever it was wasn’t here to see him. But he heard the ascent of footsteps coming up the stairs and then stopping in front of his door followed by a small knock.
“Jared? Someone’s at the door for you…” His voice was unsure if he should be disturbing him with this. No one was around to tell him what he had to do and so he did the only thing that he could.
Jared bit his lip and then opened the door, facing the man waiting for his answer. “Who is it?” He could see how surprised he was at seeing how disheveled Jared looked, at how unlike himself he appeared to be.
“She said her name was Audrey.”
Jared could have cursed. After everything he didn’t want to deal with this right now. He wasn’t in the mood to come face to face with her about her mediocre demo. He hadn’t been enthused about it to begin with how much more did he not want it now?
“Should I tell her to leave?”
He thought about it for a moment. Knowing he was backed up against a wall. If he sent her away she could report it back to the label and who knew what sort of war would ensue?
Heavily he sighed and shook his head. “No, I’ll be right down.”
He nodded and left Jared there, going back downstairs to let Audrey in. Jared closed the door and pushed his hair back out of his face, the wetness making it easier to slick back. He shrugged on a sweater and then finally made his way down the stairs, trying to adjust his tired eyes to the light and trying to shake himself of the terrible thoughts clinging to him and that were slowly unraveling him.
“You didn’t return my calls.” Audrey said first, breaking the deafening silence that had suddenly become a ritual around the place.
“My phone is off.” He replied, realizing how odd that sounded coming from him but it was true. He hadn’t turned his phone on in a couple of days. His head ached just with the thought of how many missed calls he had.
“So I thought I’d stop by.” She said, stepping away from the closed front door and closer to the area he stood in by the staircase.
He really looked at her for the first time since he had come down to greet her- if that was even a greeting. Her blonde hair was softly windblown and pushed back with the sunglasses that were on the top of her head. She was wearing a genuinely warm smile and her eyes looked much more brilliant than they had been when she was here last, the alcohol affecting her. She was more than gorgeous, those long legs covered by leather leggings and that gray top that slid off one of her shoulders. He watched the way her lips moved, how they glistened in the dim light. Her brows were knitting together. She had said something.
“What was that?” He asked, snapping out of his thoughts with a slight laugh.
“I asked if you heard the demo.”
He simply nodded and then made his way through into the kitchen. She stood where she was for awhile before following after him. He took a bottle of water out of the refrigerator, gestured to offer something and shut the door when she shook her head.
“What’d you think?” Her anxiousness was evident and she seemed to be getting frustrated. He would have found that humorous and terribly appealing had he had less things on his mind.
“It was alright.” He stated, taking a drink and twisting the cap back on.
She waited a moment, expecting more than that before she wrung her hands a little. “That’s it?”
“It won’t sell. Simple as that.” He hung his head low. Perhaps he had preferences for the fairer sex but he found it harder to be brutally honest with a woman than he could with a man. It was the silent hurt that glazed in their eyes and than the cold distance they managed to shelter themselves with so that he would keep away.
She folded her arms across her chest and nodded. “I know. Little effort.” She shrugged her shoulders and pushed her hair back.
He stared at her then with a small smile itching to break through onto his lips. “You don’t want to do this, do you?”
“Not at all. Not my thing I guess.”
“Want me to just send it on in, my stamp of approval written all over it?”
She smiled brilliantly then. “I’d love that.”
He nodded and set his bottle down. “You sure?”
She leaned onto the counter suddenly looking deeply into his eyes and smiled. “If you did that I’d do anything for you.” She nearly purred it out as if it came laced through with an offer.
The words caught him off guard, they sharpened inside of him with a memory that he couldn’t quite grasp. He stepped back, a bit of confusion in his eyes. “What was that?”
She lightly shrugged and then moved off the counter. “You know what.” And with that she made her way out of the kitchen and the small clicking of the front door meant she had also left the house.
Jared stood there staring at the spot she had just vacated. Her scent wrapped around him, her voice filled him. He lifted the bottle to his lips, taking a small drink as a million incoherent thoughts began to race in his head. He made to set the bottle back down again but in his thought wrapped mind it slipped and went crashing to the floor. The glass spread everywhere, shards glinting in the overhead light. The water pooled near him and he had to squeeze his eyes shut to stop himself from thinking of all that blood.
He made to reach for a towel hanging nearby on the wall but instead quickly flicked off the light switch when the front door again opened. By the sound of the dangling keys it was obviously Shannon and Emma was no doubt close behind. He didn’t want to see them now. Instead he knelt down, picking up the bigger pieces of glass that he could see in the darkness he had left himself in.
“Em, whatever they want they want it now.” Shannon said, his voice dragged down by frustration.
“Well we don’t have what they want now do we? We got rid of it a long time ago, if you don’t remember.” She was frustrated too, upset.
“Don’t tell me I don’t remember because I remember everything.” He sharply said.
“I know, I know alright? It’s just that all this…well I wasn’t expecting it.”
“Who can? Who the hell would even know? Not even Jared remembers.”
Jared swallowed harshly, biting his lip so as not to hiss out at the pain of one of the glass pieces piercing through his skin. What the hell were they talking about?
“So you have no idea who it could be?” Emma asked, her voice defeated, her tone so unlike the woman she had been before. How many people were suffering through this with him?
“If I did I would tell you.”
Jared stood up, setting down the shards of glass onto the counter and cleared his throat. He was nothing but a shadowed outline to them as he stood there in the dark kitchen. “What the hell don’t I remember?”
Both Shannon and Emma turned to the sound of his voice with stunned looks on their faces.
“Jared?” Shannon called out walking towards the kitchen and turning on the light. He saw the blood on Jared’s hand that had smeared on the counter and then back up into his brothers eyes. “What happened?”
“Broke a bottle. What the hell’s going on?” Jared demanded, his eyes suddenly untrusting.
“Jared it was nothing.” Emma said, joining Shannon.
“Didn’t sound like nothing.”
“You’re right, it isn’t nothing.”
Emma’s eyes shot to Shannon with a nervousness Jared had never seen in them.
“I did something and somebody found out. It was a long time ago.” Shannon continued, hesitantly letting his words out. “I had an affair and now somebody wants to tell her husband and let me tell you that won’t be good news.”
Jared eyed him curiously. He wondered if him not believing a damn thing Shannon had just said was due in part to the haze he had been living in lately. Shannon was often around a lot of women and him having a married one wasn’t so much of a stretch. But would it really be so difficult to sweep it under the rug?
“What are you going to do?”
Shannon shrugged. “Whatever the bastard wants I guess.”
“What’d you get rid of?”
“A tape.” Emma immediately said earning a glare from Shannon.
“But I got rid of it…”
“Money might work.” Jared muttered before kneeling down again and going to work at cleaning his mess.
The only sound then was the clink of glass against glass as Jared dropped them into his palm.
“I’m going to go upstairs now.” Emma whispered, lightly touching Shannon’s arm. She waited for a response from Jared but when she got none she went on upstairs leaving them both alone.
“You need help with that?” Shannon asked, looking down as Jared dumped the glass into the trash.
“Nah, it’s good.” Jared replied with a sharp tone of finality in his voice.
Shannon knew that Jared was done talking for perhaps the rest of the night, who knew if he wouldn’t say anything else until the next week? He wanted to ask about what had happened in the studio, the thought of it still weighed inside of him. He wanted to talk about all those nightmares but he knew that Jared just wanted to be by himself. That was the hardest part, letting go of someone you love when the whole world of pain was destroying the man they used to be. What was worse was being the cause of all that agony.
Jared heard Shannon leave the kitchen and go upstairs as well. And once he was again alone he sat back against one of the cabinets and let out a heavy breath. Nothing felt right. He knew Shannon was lying, what Audrey had said was somehow unsettling and the night didn’t seem to be done with him yet.