The complete rockstar se.., p.14
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       The Complete Rockstar Series, p.14

           Heather C. Leigh
 

  “I hope you’re right. Gav.” A shudder ripples through me and I take another sip of my drink.

  We walk through the house, searching for any sign of Adam or our friends. Twenty minutes later, we find Dax and Kate in a hallway off of an enormous game room. Hawke appears a few minutes after us with a couple of beers that he hands to Kate and Dax.

  “We can’t find him anywhere,” Kate says frowning. She turns to face the men. “Are you sure he came here?”

  “Ellie?”

  I spin around and see the hot guy from the bar earlier. He looks lost and confused. His hands are raking anxiously through his thick, dark hair.

  “Drew, right?” Like I would forget his name. He’s anything but forgettable.

  “Right.” He gives me a quick smile and I practically melt he’s so gorgeous. I peek over and see Kate melting as well. Oh, and what do you know, so is Gavin.

  “Are you okay mate?” Dax asks Drew. “You don’t look well.”

  “No, I’m fine. I’m just can’t find my girlfriend.” Drew’s voice sounds somewhat shaky.

  “Weird, we can’t find our band mate either.” Gavin laughs.

  Drew doesn’t find Gavin’s comment funny at all. Judging by the way he cocks his head and the dark look on his face, I’d say he finds it quite disturbing. He turns and enters a nearby room and I watch through the open door to see him darting up the staircase in the back.

  “That was weird,” says Hawke.

  “No, that was one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever laid eyes on,” Kate announces.

  “Agreed,” Gavin says as he fist bumps her.

  “Okay, if you two are done ogling the American, can we concentrate on finding Adam?” Dax says in an annoyed voice, glaring at Kate as he makes his way into the room that Drew just ran through.

  It turns out we don’t have to look far, because Adam stumbles loudly down the nearby staircase and collides right into Hawke. He’s shirtless and isn’t wearing any shoes, and from the shouting I can hear coming from upstairs, I’d say it’s a good bet that Drew just found his girl.

  “You useless fucking bastard,” Dax hisses. He grabs Adam by the back of the neck and shoves him out of the room and down the hall towards the front door.

  I follow behind everyone else, not sure what to say or do. It’s clear that Adam is completely and totally legless. It’s also pretty clear that he was just caught getting off with Drew’s missing girl. If the lack of clothing or Drew’s shouting wasn’t enough to spell it out, then the cocky smile on Adam’s face certainly says it all.

  Dax maneuvers Adam out the front door and onto the driveway to wait while Hawke gets his car from the valet. I take a good look at Adam for the first time since he left London last year. Except for the fact that he’s rat arsed and half-dressed, he’s still just as stunning as I remember. Which makes it all the more painful to know he was with some other girl not five minutes ago.

  “You!”

  I startle and see Adam storming over to me, his face a twisted mask of rage. My throat closes up from fear, making it impossible to utter a single sound.

  “You fucking bitch,” he slurs, tripping over his own foot as he approaches me. “I was hoping I’d never have to see you again. What are you doing here?”

  My mouth drops open and I can feel the hot tears building up behind my eyes. He hates me. I knew it was possible, but I didn’t really believe he could ever feel this way. It hurts more than anything I’ve ever felt before, more than any pain I would wish on anyone.

  Hawke makes a grab for Adam’s arm, but Adam shakes him off and pushes his bare chest up against me. “I asked you a question. What. Are. You. Doing. Here?”

  His breath smells so strongly of whiskey that I have to turn my head away, even though what I really want to do is bury my nose in his neck and inhale my favorite scent in the world.

  Adam grabs my chin and yanks my head back to him, his fingers digging into my skin, holding me still as he stares into my eyes. I meet his drunken glare with tears streaming down my cheeks from the humiliation, from his harsh words, and from the excruciating loss of his love.

  When I look closer, I can see something there, behind the anger, deep in those familiar hazel eyes. He’s hurt and drunk and lashing out at me to protect himself, because I am the one person he trusted to never let him down when everyone else in his life did, and I failed him.

  “I’m sorry, Adam. So sorry,” I whisper. His eyes flick briefly to my lips and desire momentarily replaces his anger, then he seems to remember that he’s mad at me and he shoves me away brusquely. I stagger back, nearly falling down.

  The harsh sneer returns to his face and he leans back into me as if to hurt me again. Before he can inflict anymore verbal injuries on my sliced and tattered heart, Dax steps over, wraps his arms around Adam’s entire torso, and physically carries him to Hawke’s car. He throws him in the backseat and slams the door shut, ignoring Adam’s loud and vulgar protests.

  I raise my hand to my face to wipe away the tears only to notice that it’s shaking badly. I stare at my trembling hand, unable to comprehend the scene that just played out, hoping it was just a nightmare and I’ll wake up any second in Adam’s arms in my crap flat in Hackney.

  Gavin steps over and takes my hand, kissing my bruised chin before pulling me into a tight embrace as I sob into his chest. “I’m so sorry El. He’s been really upset since you guys broke up and he drank so much tonight that probably won’t even remember this tomorrow. That’s his usual thing these days.”

  I wiggle out of Gavin’s arms. “So he does this a lot? Get pissed and black out?”

  Gavin’s kind, beautiful face falls and I know I’ve hit the nail right on the head.

  “So he’s an alcoholic then?” I ask incredulously. “You do know my dad was killed by a man who drove after getting drunk and almost passing out behind the wheel? And you’re insinuating that because I broke up with him, it’s my fault he’s a drunk!”

  “I never said that,” Gavin says sternly. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Ellie.”

  “But he didn’t drink before! That’s what everyone is thinking, right?” I scan the four faces in front of me and not one can look me in the eyes.

  “His dad is an alcoholic, El,” Dax says quietly. “It’s inherited.”

  “This was a huge mistake.” I spin around and run down the long drive before I can fall apart, ignoring the calls from my so-called friends.

  I reach the street and flag down a cab. “LAX,” I tell the driver. Screw my clothes, I’ll get new ones. I have to get out of here as fast as possible, leave this chapter of my life behind, and forget that I ever met Adam Reynolds.

  23

  Adam

  Whoever is knocking on the door of my hotel room refuses to stop. I’ve ignored them for a full five minutes, yet they continue on persistently.

  “Bloody hell! Hold on a minute!” I tug on some sweats before making my way through the suite. “It’s only ten in the morning, so this better be fucking good!”

  I yank open the door and my best mate shoves past me, smiling wide.

  “What?” I’m exhausted and somewhat jet-lagged and definitely not in the mood for Dax’s cheerful bullshit. We only just landed at Heathrow yesterday for the Wembley show, and the partying I did last night hasn’t helped my weary arse one bit.

  “Get dressed, we’re going to visit my family.” Dax turns me towards the bathroom and crosses his arms.

  “Who’s we?” I ask petulantly. Getting in a moving vehicle with my head still spinning from too many tequila shots, doesn’t sound like a great time.

  “You and me.”

  “Dax, no, really. Go without me. I’m knackered.” I back up slowly, plotting to make a move for the bedroom so I can dive back under the covers and hide for the rest of the day.

  He scowls and gets up in my face, toe-to-toe, chest-to-chest, blocking me from making my exit. “You’re not sitting here all day having a pity party for yourself, and you’
re not going out drinking and whoring with our big show tonight. So don’t be a nancy and go get fucking dressed.” Dax can be downright menacing when he wants to be, and right now, that’s exactly what he’s doing.

  “Fuck. Fine. Give me twenty minutes and I’ll come to your room.”

  “I’ll give you five, and I’ll wait right here.” Dax turns and sits on the arm of the sofa, glaring at me as if daring me to challenge him.

  “Christ,” I huff. “Suit yourself. I’ll be right back.”

  I stomp off to take a quick shower and throw on some clean clothes. Shoving my wallet in my back pocket, I grab my sunglasses off of the chest of drawers. Today the sun is bright enough to make my headache worse, plus I have to at least make an attempt to disguise myself these days. The paparazzi love my drunken escapades. It’s better to go unnoticed than end up in the red tops wasted or hung over… again.

  Now that our band has made it big, going anywhere is a massive pain in the arse. We can’t just go and have a takeaway, or run to the supermarket to get food. Everything has to be planned ahead, disguises and drivers and assistants and security to worry about. It’s fucking exhausting.

  “Don’t forget your hat!” Dax calls out from the lounge area of my suite.

  “What are you, my keeper or something?” I shout back. I rummage through my luggage and find my ancient Arsenal hat, tugging it down low over my brow.

  “You definitely need a keeper these days,” Dax mutters as I come out into the lounge.

  “Belt up and let’s go. This was your idea, remember that when it goes to crap, Dax.”

  “Why would it go to crap?” he asks as we take the lift down to the lobby.

  I glare at him from behind my sunglasses. “Because everything I do goes to crap, especially when it comes to Hackney. You know I hate going back there, yet you always make me go when we’re in London.”

  Dax shrugs, “It wasn’t all bad there. You just have selective memory.”

  I don’t respond to him. He’s always trying to rewrite our days here, make them out to be better than they were, like we weren’t just two low class kids from the East End. We cross the posh lobby of the Warren Hotel and jump into the waiting car, ignoring the reporters who take dozens of pictures of us and yell out ridiculous questions that we never answer.

  “Homerton Road, in Hackney,” Dax says to the driver.

  “What? Why are we going there? That’s not your parents’ address.”

  “My brothers are there with my dad, dumbass. I want to see them. You always forget that I moved them out of the East End a couple of years ago. They don’t even live in Hackney anymore.”

  “Christ, Dax. You guys say I’m stupid, always getting plastered and photographed for the tabloids, yet you think it’s a good idea to go hang out at an illegal fight club? You’re fucking mental. Ross will kill us if we get caught by the press.”

  Dax laughs and punches my arm. “I would have to be mental to be your mate and put up with your crap, and I couldn’t care less about the press. Plus, he’s not going to catch us.”

  I can’t help but smile. We’ve been friends for so long, I can’t remember a time without him. “Yeah, you probably are mental,” I agree.

  I close my eyes for the forty-minute ride and think about the real reason I hate going home. It’s not because my childhood was rotten, it’s not because my family is nothing but criminals, both of which are true. I hate coming here because home reminds me of Ellie, and the horrible way I treated her the last time I saw her. I don’t remember what I said or did, but my band sure does, and they let me know what a giant screw-up I was at that ill-fated party five years ago.

  * * *

  The first thing I notice is the pain. It’s so intense that it seems as if my head is in a vice as someone cranks the handle tighter and tighter. The second thing I notice is the wave of nausea that crashes over me like one of the huge ones Gavin is always surfing down at the beach.

  I fly out of bed, snatch up the rubbish bin and heave my guts out into it. The pain in my head intensifies with the movement, which makes the vomiting even worse. It’s a horrific cycle that I’m stuck in for the next half hour. My stomach empties completely after the first ten minutes yet I continue to retch for twenty more. Penance for the sin of drinking too much last night, a transgression I’m all too familiar with these days.

  When I’m done heaving my guts out, I somehow manage to drag my aching body to the toilet and lay down on the cool tile floor. It eases the sharp pain in my head, but not by much. Maybe if I close my eyes, I’ll fall asleep here and no one will find me until after I’m dead. Death has got to be better than the agonizing throbbing those stabs at my brain.

  “Adam!”

  Bloody hell, it’s Kate. I shudder and pray that she doesn’t find me. Not only is Kate extremely loud, but she won’t give a shit that I’m extraordinarily hung over.

  “Adam!”

  I can hear her speaking with one of my roommates, her voice getting louder and louder the longer the conversation continues. Fuck, just let me die now. It’s preferable to Kate coming in here and screaming at me, and she sounds all wound up over something.

  “There you are,” she snarls from the doorway.

  Her tiny foot kicks me in the leg, hard. I grunt in pain as it sends shockwaves up and down my sore body. Crap! Fucking footy player and her accurate kicking skills!

  “You stupid fucking bastard!” she shouts, her voice echoing off the tiles in the tiny space, piercing my skull like a sniper’s bullets.

  “Ugghhhh! Fuck off Kate. Can’t you see I’m dying here?” I groan and squeeze my eyes shut even tighter.

  “Death would be too good for you,” she hisses.

  I make some unintelligible noises and shift to a cool spot on the floor.

  “Christ on a fucking bike, Adam. You’re useless. I’ll be back later, so you better be up and presentable.” I hear her turn and leave the room. Then I can hear her yelling at Dax some more before the door to the flat slams shut.

  This must be the third circle of hell, and I’m thinking I probably deserve to be here. I slowly turn my head to lay my other cheek on the cold floor. The room spins around before I pass out.

  A wet rag lands on my face with a splat, shocking me awake. “Jesus! What the hell?” I sit up and am momentarily dizzy, but not nearly as ill as I was.

  “Have you been lying here since I left?”

  Squinting, I look up and see Kate standing over me frowning.

  “What time is it?” I ask, rubbing the back of my stiff neck.

  “It’s five o’clock you thoughtless sod! Get up and meet me in the lounge. I have words to say to you,” she snaps.

  “Alright, alright! Keep your knickers on.”

  Her foot connects with my shin and I jolt, now fully awake. “Ow, Kate! I’m getting up!” She’s really cheesed off. Last night must have been something if I’m this ill and Kate is angry enough to come over not once but twice to yell at me.

  I manage to get to my feet without vomiting or collapsing, so I take that as a good sign. Leaning over the sink, I grab the washcloth Kate threw at me and use it to wipe off my face. While brushing my teeth, I look in the mirror and freeze.

  Bloody hell!

  No wonder I feel like crap. I have a giant, filthy scrape down one side of my face and onto that same shoulder, beneath the scrapes are massive amounts of dark bruising. What kind of fall would it take to do that? I’m probably lucky I didn’t bust a tooth since it looks like my face cushioned my fall. I’m guessing that whatever behavior caused these injuries is what Kate wants to talk about. I quickly swipe the rag over my torso, cleaning up a fair amount of blood and dirt before tossing it into the tub.

  I sigh before heading into the room I share with Dax to grab a shirt since it seems I passed out wearing only my jeans. Those have splatters of blood and a fair amount of dirt on them, so I change into a pair of athletic shorts as well.

  By the time I get to the lounge I can s
ee that the whole gang is here. Dax and Kate are sitting on the smaller sofa glaring at each other, Hawke and Gavin on the larger one with our manager, Hawke’s uncle, Ross Evans.

  “Wow, what’s with the serious faces?” I joke, trying to lighten the mood.

  Ross starts talking straight away, and he’s not amused. He’s a big, intimidating bloke dressed in a typical L.A. power suit and he has his elbows on his knees with his hands clasped between them. “Look Adam, I’m just gonna say my piece and take off. You want to make it big in the music industry. I think you guys have the talent to do it, but you have to stay focused. Appearance is everything in this town and no one’s gonna want to work with you if you can’t control yourself.”

  “What the hell are you…”

  Ross hold up a large hand and cuts me off. “I don’t really care what you do on your personal time, Adam. But unfortunately for you, Hollywood is all about appearances and who you know. You can’t get shitfaced at a big player’s house and make a scene. Word travels fast and the next thing you know, you’re out on your ass without a job or a future in the industry.” He gets up and straightens the cuffs of his fancy shirt. “I’ll see you guys later,” he says to everyone, then he’s gone, leaving me standing stunned and open mouthed.

  “Sit, Adam. Please.” Kate points at the hideous leather recliner that Gavin insisted on buying last year.

  I swallow nervously and have a seat, scanning everyone’s face to see if there’s anyone here who isn’t angry with me. Surprisingly, I don’t see any anger, only pity. I notice that Kate’s eyes are red-rimmed and swollen.

  “What is going on here?” I rasp, clearing my throat so it doesn’t sound like I’m getting emotional.

  “Do you remember anything from last night, Adam?” Kate asks.

  “Not really,” I admit. “Just the gig … well, parts of the gig anyways.” I definitely remember arriving at the club and singing. After that is pretty much a blank.

  Kate turns to Dax, Gavin, and Hawke. “Guys, can you leave us?”

  Without saying a word, my band mates get up and head out of the flat. When the door shuts gently behind them, it’s as if the axe that is hovering above me is about to come down on my very sore head.

 
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