The loud slap of her palm hitting Frank’s cheek rang out in the echoing hallway leading from the car park.
She closed her eyes and thought about all the work that had gone into this album, all the work from the boys, from the sound techs, from the big wigs at Reprise…from her. The long hours; the late nights; the phone calls at odd hours when things were going wrong; the awful two week period where Gerard slipped into a pit of despair, almost becoming the patient he sang so beautifully about. But they’d done it, they’d fucking done it.
Sighing she opened her eyes and swore loudly as they fell on the clock. She was sneaking out early that day, only a couple of hours but still guilt gnawed at her a little. It was just that it was the only time that JB and she could see each other before he had to fly to the Mid-West for a family wedding.
He had asked her to go but she declined as politely as she possibly could. She told him she couldn’t leave the bar. And that was true, to an extent. She couldn’t do the family thing though, not yet, not now, hopefully one day but…
He’d known, she was sure of that, his shrewd eyes had washed over her and she felt as though he could see into her, see her fear, her anxiety, her true feelings as Sarah called them. Sarah had taken to needling her about Frank, subtly of course but then, what Sarah considered subtle others would call a brick smashing through a window and shattering the quiet of the night.
She was convinced Escher was in love with him because of one moment of weakness. That was Sarah’s greatest downfall though, she was a hopeless romantic in every facet of life, until it came to her own lovelife of course. She was a love em’ leave ‘em kind of girl. She just wanted everyone else to have a fairy tale ending.
Escher thrust the files she’d need for the evening into her bag as she mused about she and JBs relationship. It was very mature and adult. He cooked her dinner and they drank expensive Bordeaux. If either of them had time on the weekends they would visit IKEA, just browsing, never buying (except for the funky skull and crossbone ice cube trays that Escher couldn’t resist) and then have brunch in one of the cafes near her apartment. If there was a problem with either of them they sat down and talked about it, like real adults, sometimes they even made mind maps. She frowned and then giggled.
Her other relationships had been at the other end of the spectrum to say the least. She and Johnny had been crazy and wild and young and immature. Sure there were things about them that made them older than their years. Johnny’s heroin addiction, her parents, their shared alcoholism and the whirlwind of drug fuelled parties of their first years together. If something was wrong with either of them they would lose their shit altogether and scream and fight until the neighbours called the police. One night Escher had dropped plate after plate on the floor while singing “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves” off key because he was hungover and being a whingeing bitch and she was drunk and thought it was funny. And then afterwards they would tumble into bed and either pass out or make love all night, bruising each other with passion.
Brad had been different as well, a time waster of sorts. If the truth was told, she was closer to being in love with him now than she ever was back then. He had been a dick and she had run around after him because…well…she didn’t really know, maybe she was a princess like Frank had thought. But Brad had always had redeeming qualities and he had been a good friend to her when Johnny…well…then anyway.
She sighed and swung her car keys around her finger as she left her office. She was just getting into her car when she heard her name being called. She swore and started trying to think of an excuse as to why she was leaving work three hours early but relaxed when she saw Frank walking towards her car.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
She blushed and smiled.
“JB and I are going out” She said conspiratorially, touching her finger to her nose, “Shhh, don’t tell anyone” She giggled.
“But we have a meeting”
“Shit” She exclaimed, “I forgot”
His frown deepened.
“Can we reschedule?” She asked, pleadingly.
“Can’t you?” he asked.
“Well he’s leaving for the weekend and…”
“And what? You can’t let him go without one more fuck?”
“What the fuck is your problem?”
“This is, JB is” Frank spat the name out from between pursed lips, “This is the third time I’ve busted you leaving early”
Escher felt herself blush, he was right about that.
“He’s taking up too much of your time” Frank continued, “You’re neglecting your work”
Escher squinted at him, trying to figure out if the happy-go-lucky Frank she had just gotten used to again was being serious.
“Neglecting my work?” She demanded, her voice twinged with hysteria, a by-product of her searing pride in her work.
“Yes” He replied obstinately, “here and at /The Canary/”
“Fuck you Frank, what’s the problem? Jealous?” she moved to get into the car and tried to close the door but it was being held open by Frank.
“If you don’t come to the meeting, I’ll tell Warren why”
Escher’s eyes widened and she stepped out of the car.
“How dare you!” She snapped, resisting the itching in the palm of her hand that was urging her to slap him. “How dare you spend months telling me how I haven’t changed when you’re still the same sniveling little tattle-tale you were in school” She drew herself up to her full height, which, while less than impressive was more formidable than she usually was.
She slammed the car door closed.
“Fine Frank, I’ll come to your little fucking pity party meeting” She pulled out her cell as she stormed back into Reprise, dialing JBs number.
“Hey Princess, where are you?”
“I don’t really want to fucking talk about it right now Jonathon, but I’m still at work, one of my /clients/,” She said, throwing a glare at Frank, “is being a total bitch and I have to stay”
“Ok” JB replied, mature as ever, “That’s fine, don’t work too hard and I’ll see you on Wednesday”
Escher stared at the phone in her hand in shock, he hadn’t even been the least bit upset. Frank smirked at her in triumph.
“He didn’t even care you couldn’t make it, did he?”
The loud slap of her palm hitting Frank’s cheek rang out in the echoing hallway leading from the car park. Afterwards, sitting at the desk in Warren’s office for the meeting, she would stare at her hand in shock. But at the time she just spun on her heel, leaving Frank there, his own hand cupped against his bright pink cheek.
And what she hated the most was that he was right. She had finally realized what was lacking in hers and JBs relationship…passion. He just plodded along, they just plodded along. He’d never show any real emotion, any raw emotion towards her. He’d never come flying down to her car and abuse her for not taking her job seriously. He’d never show up at her house to ask stupid, senseless questions in the middle of the night. Her cheeks burned with shame at herself. He would never be Frank…