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Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

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Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Summary

Riley Brooks appears to be leading a charmed life on the outside. On the inside, she's spiraling as a result of an abusive relationship. Once the relationship comes to a tumultuous end, she loses very nearly everything, her sanity included. As an effort to promote her career, she is forced to tour with an all-male rock band and is not looking forward to the experience.....that is, until she meets the cryptic, playful lead singer, Landon Stone.

Over time, she finds that he's everything she wants, but he has life-threatening demons and addictions that she's not sure he can overcome. She lets herself be sucked into the turbulent world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, picking up her own addictions along the way. Danger and loss is at every corner, and she isn't sure how much she can take. While she invests herself into this man in efforts to heal him, will she be able to heal herself before it's too late?


Note: This is potentially very triggering and contains instances of drug abuse, violence, sex scenes and sexual assault. Read at your own discretion.

Summary

Riley Brooks appears to be leading a charmed life on the outside. On the inside, she's spiraling as a result of an abusive relationship. Once the relationship comes to a tumultuous end, she loses very nearly everything, her sanity included. As an effort to promote her career, she is forced to tour with an all-male rock band and is not looking forward to the experience.....that is, until she meets the cryptic, playful lead singer, Landon Stone.

Over time, she finds that he's everything she wants, but he has life-threatening demons and addictions that she's not sure he can overcome. She lets herself be sucked into the turbulent world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, picking up her own addictions along the way. Danger and loss is at every corner, and she isn't sure how much she can take. While she invests herself into this man in efforts to heal him, will she be able to heal herself before it's too late?


Note: This is potentially very triggering and contains instances of drug abuse, violence, sex scenes and sexual assault. Read at your own discretion.

Chapter22 (v.1) - A Small Favor

Author Chapter Note

This ones a bit shorter. Surprised at how quickly (and sloppily) I've reeled this one out. I've also been calling out of work and been in bed all day due to my weird GI sickness so that helped. I'll find out soon what that is, hopefully. Anyway, here it is.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: August 01, 2020

Reads: 17

Comments: 2

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: August 01, 2020

A A A

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CHAPTER TWENTY TWO - A SMALL FAVOR

Liar (It Takes One To Know One) - Taking Back Sunday

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plXEZGqZr1Q

 

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“For the third time, I’m telling you, I don’t have to pee!”

From where I leaned up against the kitchen counter, I pursed my lips skeptically.

I watched as Meadow rocked back and forth on the couch, her shirt drenched in sweat and clinging to her body. She was withdrawing, that much was certain, but she was still stalling.

“Well, it’s been nine hours,” I said with a quick glance at the stove clock. “So you’re either lying or you’re really dehydrated.”

“Yeah, I’m dehydrated!!” Meadow exploded, her eyes wild. “I’m shitting and puking my guts out. FUCK! What do you want from me?!”

For you to just pee already, goddamnit.

I would normally feel sympathetic towards her, but she had been so agitated and snippy that it wasn’t difficult to keep my resolve. After all, I’d given her chance, after chance, after chance. I had shown her plenty of kindness.

I did not want to be here. I wanted to be with Landon. Coming back to Seattle from my parents' house was like finally waking up from a nightmare and being with him was like basking under a warm sun. In my darkness, he was the light.

God, I loved him. Finally, I could admit that without cringing. He soothed me in ways I could not summon myself. He made me laugh until it was painful, until I had to beg him to stop. He showed me there were more than two sides to everything. And for someone who could not see some colors, he seemed to show every one of them. He never let me get consumed by my sadness, by my darkness. At this point, he had a keen sense for it, no matter how well I thought I was hiding it. He’d see me starting to sink and yank me back out into the light.

Even though I could admit that I loved him now, I still wasn’t sure what to do about it other than agonize over it. This start of my weekly babysitting of Meadow sucked royally, but keeping my mind occupied with thoughts of Landon definitely helped.

Sometimes I felt Meadow glaring at my back and I knew it was because I was making her kick, but a small part of me worried she was somehow reading my mind.

“Well,” I said, heading to the fridge and pulling out a cold bottle of water. “Drink two of these so we can be done with this.”

I tossed one to her and she clumsily caught it in her shaking hands, almost dropping it in the process. She mumbled some colorful curse words under her breath as she uncapped it and hesitantly sipped it down.

After several more hours of Meadow vomiting, me giving her more water, sighing heavily, and constantly checking the time—it was getting dark out now—I noticed Meadow kept squeezing her legs together and ushered her into the restroom with me.

From there, I ordered her to get on the toilet as I pulled the cup from my purse. It had eleven panels on it, and I unfolded the instructions, reading them carefully. Then I flipped it over to read the key on the back. It told me the one red line in the control region was what I was looking for. I thought distantly that Meadow might try to sabotage the test and I made sure I would recognize the invalid result too; one red line at the bottom.

How could I look out for test sabotage though? A bag of pee taped to her leg?What else could she do? How can I ensure she doesn’t trick me without having to resort to watching her vagina? This is way too gross and personal.

From the toilet seat, Meadow flailed at the sight of the cup, her eyes nearly bulging out of her sockets. “Woah! Woah! Woah! What all are you testing me for?! You said heroin!”

“I know,” I said through gritted teeth. “I’m just trying to see what I’m dealing with here.”

She stood up with her flimsy underwear around her ankles and jabbed a finger at me. “YOU SAID HEROIN! THIS IS NOT PART OF THE DEAL!” A dribble of sweat dropped off her eyebrow and rolled down her cheek.

Hot anger shuddered up my back and I kept my tone low. “You owe me $35 grand. You will do whatever the fuck I say.”

 She froze, stuck out her bottom lip, and plopped back down on the toilet with defeat. “$34 grand,” she whimpered.

“Okay, $34 grand,” I said as I snapped a pair of gloves on. “Do it.” Then I thrust the cup to her, and she hesitated, so I opened her trembling hand, placed the cup in her palm and folded her fingers around it.

She turned it over in her hand, trying to read each panel and its odd acronyms only I could decipher from the key in my hands. Her chin began to tremble the longer she looked.

“Don’t worry about it. Just go,” I urged tersely, waving my hand forward like I was shooing her away.

“Why are you so obsessed with my pee? God damn.” She muttered and shoved it between her legs.

I barked out a harsh laugh and turned my back to her.

“Aren’t you supposed to watch to make sure I don’t do anything?”

Damn, I forgot already. It was instinctual to turn around. I colored slightly as I reluctantly turned back around and kept my eyes up on a framed, dehydrated rose on the wall right above her head.

“You’re supposed to look at me,” she sneered, intent on making this as uncomfortable for me as it was for her.

“Are you going?” I asked after a moment, having a hard time keeping my eyes on her as she was shooting daggers at me.

She squirmed on the seat. “It’s hard with you watching me. Just give me a second.”

I laughed again and crossed my arms. “Don’t sit here and try to tell me you’re pee shy.”

She smiled slightly. “Well, let’s just talk about something. It’ll distract me and I can go.”

My eyes narrowed at her. What is she up to?

I shifted my weight uneasily and she asked, “What are you in such a hurry for anyway? This is your home too, but you clearly want to leave. Wanting to get back to Landon?”

I sighed. “No, Meadow. Believe it or not, this isn’t exactly pleasant for me.”

She snorted and then stared at me hard. “So you and Landon, you’re really close now, huh?”

I took a small, hesitant breath, wondering how I should respond to this obvious bait. “Yes, we’re very good friends.”

“Good friends,” Meadow repeated, sucking in her cheeks like she’d just eaten something sour. “Landon doesn’t have girl friends. Well, friends that are girls.”

I shrugged casually. “I guess I’m like a guy to him then.”

She tilted her head innocently and tapped her chin. “Hmmm, one of his guy friends. So he talks about us then, to you?”

I blinked, taken aback. “Not really.”

She leaned forward, her bloodshot eyes intent on my face, watching every minute change in my expression. “Oh, so he didn’t tell you that we’ve talked about getting married, moving to the beach and having babies? He didn’t mention that at all?”

I tried hard not to flinch at the sudden burn those words set behind my eyes. I tried not to show the anvil of despair dropping deep in my chest reflected on my face.

That couldn’t have been recent. Could it? There was no way.

“No, he didn’t mention that,” I murmured, afraid to have my voice any louder for fear it would crack open like an egg, spilling out all my fervent emotions for him with no way to put it back.

She smiled slightly and tucked her greasy hair behind her ear. Then she tapped her bottom lip thoughtfully. “Hmmm, I guess guy friends don’t really talk about the lovey dovey stuff. Landon is a real mushball when he’s not around his friends. Super romantic.”

I swallowed hard, trying to force down the knives in my throat.

“I know!” She said brightly. “Did he tell you, as his ‘guy friend’” she airquoted. “That when we met at that party, he was so obsessed with me that I convinced him to eat me out after like five minutes of us meeting? Yeah, I just made him follow me to the bathroom, hiked my skirt up, shoved his face down there and he went to town. Then, get this, afterward I convinced him not to wash his face. So he walked around that party with my pussy all. Over. His. Face. That man worshipped me. Bet he didn’t tell you that, huh? No man-to-man sexcapade talks?”

I felt like I was going to throw up. “Jesus Meadow. What is wrong with you?”

“I’m sorry,” she sneered. “I know that makes you uncomfortable. I’m just really fucking irritable because I’m tired of being so fucking sick. And you won’t give me a goddamned break. Not even a few maintenance shots. Nothing—oh and here’s your pee you want so fucking bad.” She suddenly thrust her hand out from between her legs, the cup of dark yellow liquid was so full it almost spilled.

I was on the verge of crying as I took it from her. It was hot and the plastic was cloudy with condensation. Gross.

I hurriedly smashed the lid on and twisted it closed before placing it on the counter. Meadow stared at it with wide-eyed anxiety, so I stepped in front of it so it was out of her view.

“Don’t worry,” I assured. “I know it’s going to be bad this time. All I’ll be looking for is it to decrease, and then stop.”

“You’re killing me, you know,” Meadow whimpered and dropped her head in her hands.

“I’m trying to save you, Meadow,”

She looked up at me with her eyes watering, and her voice reemerged as a hoarse whisper. “Did you ever think, for one second, that maybe I don’t want you to?”

I blanched and clutched onto the cool edge of the countertop, suddenly unable to continue looking at her. The pain in her eyes was unbearable. It started a hard knot in my stomach to take hold and deep down, maybe I knew this was hopeless. That I just wanted to feel like I tried. The same question I’d asked myself before came to mind. Did I care about Meadow? Or did I want to?

I stood there for a minute, fixating on the shower curtain in front of me. Meadow had changed it to an astral themed, sun and moon pattern with a black backdrop.

It made me think of my mother again, and the things she told me. Sure, I could believe Landon loved me….like I was a sister or close friend. But was he in love with me, like I was with him? He didn’t want to make me his wife. He didn’t want to have babies with me. Not like he did with Meadow. Even if he did, we couldn’t make babies because there was something wrong with me. Every time Ryan and I had sex, it was horrible and painful. Even the “romantic” times. I had a strong, fearful aversion to it now, though somehow I still craved it with Landon. I just knew I couldn’t ever be his lover, even when given the slim chance of an opportunity. Meadow was everything I wasn’t. And that’s the way it is.

“It’s definitely been five minutes,” Meadow murmured from the toilet.

I spun around and bent forward, my eyes straining to read the container because of the small writing. Several red bands appeared on the thin lines, most of them with a singular red band in the control region. I snatched the key from the counter top, opened it all the way, looked up and down, up and down, again and again as I deciphered each result. The further I got, my jaw began to drop and sweat prickled at my hairline.

Meadow tested positive for: benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, cocaine, opioids, barbiturates and alcohol.

I checked the urine detection time frame for each substance and silently calculated. This meant that she had to have most of these in her system in the very last five to six days.

“What is it?” Meadow asked, biting her lip and wringing her hands. “What do you see?”

I didn’t understand why she was acting like she didn’t already know, like it was beyond her control. Mechanically, I repeated the results back to her, spinning the cup with my fingers so I could easily announce each one.

Once I finished, my eyes met hers with hesitation. Her face was completely gray and she looked like she was going to vomit again.

“Oh God,” she whispered, her hand rising to cover her mouth. Why is she acting surprised?

I leaned my hip against the countertop, as if it was holding me up. “Meadow, why do you feel the need to do all of this? You have a serious problem here. Maybe you should go back to rehab…”

She covered her face and violently shook her head back and forth. “No, no, no. I can do this myself.”

“I don’t know,” I mused, pursing my lips into a tight line. “I’m afraid the withdrawals will be too much on your body. I don’t think you can do this by yourself anymore…”

“Just,” she started, her eyes flitting around rapidly with her thoughts. “Just….keep me monitored okay? If I need help, I’ll tell you.”

I stared at her with uncertainty. What if her body truly can’t handle it? What if she….dies?

She looked up at me with wide, pleading eyes. “Can you stay with me?”

I bit my lip, wanting to say no and yes, but unable to form the words. I was afraid to trap myself anymore. I wasn’t sure I could take it.

She huffed and crossed her arms. “Oh, forget it. You clearly don’t want to be here.” Then she waved a hand at me dismissively. “Go ahead. Leave and shack it up with my ex.”

“I’m not going to Landon’s,” I lied, training my eyes on the flower above her head again.

“Do you think I’m stupid?” She shook her head. “Don’t answer that….but you clearly think I’m blind. You think I haven’t noticed the way you look at him?”

I turned from her, opened the medicine cabinet, and stashed the cup of urine inside. Then I realized that was pointless. The results would probably fade once it cooled off. What could I tell her? I don’t like you? I can’t stand being here with you?

I took a breath and said in an even tone, “I’ll be back here once a week to test you. And I expect you to get a job and start working on paying me back.”

She threw up her arms. “What am I supposed to do? You think anyone would hire me like this?”

“Shoot for a job that you can do over the phone or something. You’ll figure it out.”

She looked like she was going to cry again. “What if I got Landon to pay you?”

“You think he’s going to fork over 35k without a question? What would you tell him?” Though I knew she wouldn’t, a strike of fear hit me deep in my stomach at the thought of her revealing anything about our arrangement. I’m a liar by omission.

“34k,” she corrected softly.

I rolled my eyes. “Okay, yes, 34k. Look, I’ll go easy on you. Pay me back at your own pace. Just show me you're working on it.”

She snorted and repeated, “‘Easy on me.’”

“I haven’t kicked you out have I?”

“Well, you sure as hell want to.” She finally got off the toilet and pulled her underwear up.

“Then show me why I shouldn’t. Show me you’re getting better.”

“Fucking fine,” she snapped. “Just go. I don’t want you here anymore.”

Normally, I would balk at that and remind her that this was my home, but in truth, it really wasn’t. Landon was my home.

Without another word, I gathered my things and left before she could change her mind.

 

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When I got to Landon’s, he opened the door with a huge smile on his face that made my heartbeat stagger unevenly. How can he look at me like that? Like he’s the lucky one. Like my presence could bring him such joy.

He closed and locked the door behind me and as I stepped inside, I was greeted with the heady scent of weed and cigarettes poorly covered up with an oil candle flickering on the end table by the couch.

“Where did you go?” He asked and loped over to the kitchen.

I dropped my bag at the front door. “My apartment. To get some things. Remember?”

He blinked and shook his head. “Oh, right. You told me that.”

“Seems like all that weed is messing with your memory,” I teased and plopped down on the couch.

He smirked as he removed a can of soup from the cabinet and peeled it open with a noisy scraping sound. “Probably. You hungry?”

I shook my head and fixed my eyes on the television. I didn’t want to eat yet, my stomach was too knotted up with excitement. The Office was on.

“You never eat,” he chastised lightly as he grabbed a bowl and dumped the condensed soup inside.

“I’m just not a hungry person.”

“Weirdo,” he commented and placed the bowl in the microwave.

“You’re eating enough for the both of us,” I said with a smile and bent over to untie my shoes.

He laughed, pressed a few buttons on the microwave, and leaned against the counter as he waited for his food to heat up. “I’m like a bottomless pit these days.”

“You’ve got a hollow leg,” I said as I watched the “Threat Level Midnight” episode. One of my favorites.

Landon looked down at his leg and knocked a fist against it. “It’s this one.”

I giggled. “You’re dumb.”

After another minute or two, I asked him, “How are you not tired of me yet?”

He paused and the microwave beeped once it got to zero. “If I was tired of you, I wouldn’t spend so much time with you.”

As he opened the door, and pulled the bowl out with a paper towel wrapped around it, he added, “You overthink, Riley.”

I shrugged. He was probably right. It made me think of my mother’s observations again, and how I still felt guilty for how I snapped at her. I had apologized profusely, and she forgave me immediately, as she always did. Somehow, that made me feel even worse.

“You’re doing it again,” he reminded me as he took a seat beside me. He was too close. Always wanting to get close to me lately as he got more and more comfortable with me. I was getting more comfortable too, after all we had cuddled several times. It seemed I was okay, unless I psyched myself out. Shit. He’s right. Overthinking.

I wished I was like him. Riding life like a wave, taking things as it came.

“You’re right,” I said, and changed the subject again. “You like this show?”

“It’s pretty funny. Gets my mind off things,” he said as he lifted the full spoon to his lips. He was eating something with baked potato, and the smell made my stomach hurt with hunger pains. I still didn’t want to eat yet though, because I had just told him I didn’t want to.

He had music playing on his stereo in the background, and I hadn’t noticed until I heard his voice creeping in behind a dark, nail-grinding riff.

“Ugh,” Landon groaned, hurriedly groping for the remote between the cushions and almost spilling his soup in the process. Then with lightning speed, he switched it off.

“What’s that for?”

“Can’t get away from it,” he muttered.

“Your voice is amazing,” I said honestly. Even now, it never ceased to shock me. The contrast between the sheer power of his voice, the voice of a dying soul, with this mild-mannered man beside me, eating soup and watching The Office.

He grumbled some unintelligible, curmudgeonly words under his breath and got back to his soup.

I smiled slightly, watching the sudden darkness on his face “So, when are you going to start back up with your amazing music?”

“When you do,” he said between a spoonful of soup.

I sat back. “I’ve been working on my song. The guitar part I mean.”

He looked over at me, his face brightening slightly. “You’ll have to show me.”

I nodded. “I will.”

He ducked his head back to his soup. “Brent’s been bothering me. He says it’s time to get back in the studio. They’re auditioning bass players.”

“Oh. That seems a bit….soon.” I shifted in my chair as I sensed the sadness in his voice.

His sadness quickly phased to anger, the muscle in his jaw visibly throbbing. “That’s what I said. But it doesn’t matter what I say or think. It’s always about the fucking money. I’m tired of it.” He swirled his spoon around his bowl, as if he was suddenly unable to eat anymore.

I thought that over for a moment, feeling my own disgust at management’s lack of humanity. Though it wasn’t at all surprising. It was well-known. “Maybe you should do some solo work. After all, you’re the backbone of the band, anyway. You could do it. You’re a musical genius. No pressure though.”

He allowed a small smirk at the corner of his mouth and a fleeting upward glance at me.  “You’re giving me a big head.”

I grinned. “You deserve a big head.”

He snorted out a laugh and got up.

My smile dropped and I crossed my arms. “Get your mind out of the gutter.”

He headed over to the kitchen and dumped his half-empty bowl down the sink. “I wasn’t implying that. Who’s head’s in the gutter now?”

“Liar,” I muttered with an eye roll, but was feeling strangely insecure. 

Saying that reminded me of Meadow’s claims. She was lying. Probably. And even if she wasn’t that was almost three months ago. Unless….they kept contact.

“Sooo…” I started, gluing my eyes to the tv.

“Sooo…” he repeated playfully as he rinsed off his dish.

“Have you….heard from Meadow at all?” I scraped my thumbnail across the rough threads of the couch.

He punched the faucet off. “Yeah.”

“What did she say?” I felt like a jerk for pressing the matter. I knew he didn’t really like talking about his personal relationships with people. Myself included. “I mean….is she clean? I’m concerned about her.” Holy hell. When did I become such a manipulative, lying bitch?

His eyes lowered to the sink. “No. She’s not. She says she is, but she’s not.”

“I’m sorry,” I said softly and turned my eyes to the superfluously sized television when I noticed the part where “Michael Scarn” and the rest of the bar members joined in on “The Scarn” dance. Landon and I chuckled quietly at the awkwardness and I decided my pressing was over.

It seemed that part of Landon and Meadow’s relationship had ended. I kept telling myself that, but I couldn’t quell the anxious feeling in my stomach that maybe I was wrong.

My phone buzzed in my pocket, something I ignored often enough that it barely registered. This time, however, I had a strange feeling I should look. It came from an unfamiliar number:

 

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