I just smelled her.
Just for a second, a whiff of fragrance that tickled my nose as I sit here with my piano, tickling the ivories.
Instantly, it all came rushing back.
I had just started to be okay for the first time in months, more clear-headed and focused. My second album was just about finished, at long fucking last.
And now this shit.
I guess I should already fucking just say it, right? Everybody knows it, anyway. They just don’t mention her unless one of us slips up and then there’s an awkward silence for a moment ‘till someone picks up the conversation. Or God help me, when I brush past some piece of furniture and I see some little trinket that she put up to give the house a more homey appeal. She'd done a great job and while a part of me wanted everything she did destroyed, more of me wanted things to stay exactly as they were. In case she ever comes back.
Who the fuck am I trying to fool? It's been just under a year since she left. She wasn't coming back anymore. I fucking totally lost her trust and I knew after all that we'd been through she wouldn't ever give me the chance to break her heart again.
It's all my fucking fault, too. What did I do? How did screw up again?
Here's where it all began to unravel ...
I finally got Tara to move her shit in with me for good. Now we were truly living together. About fucking time, right? Anyway she was with me in good ol' City of Angels and we were fucking chilling. Everything was great -- my first CD had dropped months ago and I was just finishing rehearsing for the summer tour with Christina. I had a few days off, just laying around the house with my baby.
And Trace, of course, but he pretty much left us alone to do our thang. And we did every chance we got. I loved my house because Tara being there changed it. It wasn't just another place to crash anymore. It felt like we were playing house and I loved it. She took some classes and really learned how to cook and almost every night she would cook for me -- thick steaks, potatoes, and fried chicken -- whatever I wanted. A lot of times we would have other couples over and we'd drink lots and lots of wine and end up wasted and dragging our asses to the bedroom to fuck before we went to bed.
Our bedroom was my favorite place in the whole world. No one was ever allowed in there unless the doors were wide open and even then I told my boys to knock or something. It was the one room where T and me could do whatever we wanted without worrying about someone catching us.
But back to fucking. Yeah. We did that night, almost every night. Sometimes in the morning too. Nothing stopped us. Even though we'd been together for so long we never got tired of each other. We laughed at the same shit, watched the same DVD's and shit and basically liked the same people. Except for her girl, Sasha but you gotta take the good with the bad in relationships, right?
And when it was time for me to go on tour, she was right there with me carrying her laptop so she could work while I was busy. I mean she stayed with me the entire time and I loved it. We saw all kinds of neat shit together when I went overseas and we always had fun. On the second leg of my tour she had to miss some shows occasionally because she had some meetings and shit in New York for the company she works for. No big deal, I thought. She was never gone longer that, like, two days. I missed her but I knew she'd be back really soon so I didn't trip.
This is when things got hairy, though. You already know who Cameron is. I met her at the Nickelodeon Awards that year and she seemed interested in me but Tara shut that shit down ASAP in a nice way. So then later Cam went to my show in LA. And one night she popped up in Vegas when I was doing my club tour.
What the fuck, right?
Somehow she knew when T would be gone and those were the nights she would show up. And she was nice, really cool in a spastic sort of way. She hung around me all the time and was practically begging for some dick. She would wear next to nothing, trying to turn me on but that didn't really work because home girl ain't got no ass, no titties, nothing. So I wasn't interested. But I let her hang out and we would get drunk together and she would do some coke and then be climbing all over me.
There's only so much a man can take, okay? I knew I was doing wrong shit but she was there and T wasn't and I was so fucking horny one night ...
She came back to my dressing room after the show in some little dress thingy and we did some shots right there. After that it gets kinda blurry but the next thing I know, her ass is up on my dressing room table and I'm fucking the shit out of her. It wasn't soft and sweet. We didn't even kiss or anything. I just did my shit and went to clean off. When I came back she was sprawled across the couch looking starry-eyed. I just wanted her fucking gone but first I needed to take care of something.
She sighed happily. "Yeah?"
I tried to speak as firmly as possible. "You know you can't tell anyone about this, right? I mean ANYONE. I'll be in serious shit if people find out about this so ... I need you to swear that you won't say shit about this."
She stretched and smiled, looking satisfied. "I won't tell anyone ... if you promise me we'll do it again sometime. That was fantastic, Justin," she murmured.
I just kind of grunted and sent her on her fucking merry way and T came back and things went back to normal. But then T would have to leave for three days here, four days there. And whenever she was gone, Cam popped right up.
I know I was wrong even while in the midst of fucking her, but it was like my body was craving some rough, simple fucking. You know?
Don't get me wrong -- Tara and I have, or had, a great sex life. I don't know why I screwed around on her with a flat-ass cokehead. But I did and like any smart woman would, she eventually found out.
I didn't know at first. See after the tour me and my boys hit the LA club scene really hard. It was the first time in years that I had months and months off and we made good use of it, hitting everyplace we could find. Sometimes T went but most times she stayed at home, seeing as she was the only girl. This went on for a long time. When I would come stumbling in around seven a.m. or something. She’d be up, freshly showered and eating something like yogurt or an apple. I'd try to kiss her but she would always push me away with a disgusted look on her face.
That pissed me off. So suddenly I found myself answering Cam's phone calls. Then I started 'stopping by' her house around three or four in the morning for a piece of ass. I could barely get to T anymore; she was asleep while I was up all night, then she would be up and at 'em when I was just trying to go to sleep. We were so messed up all of a sudden. After a year of living together, we hardly communicated at all. I made an effort but shit, I was living foul and if she knew I didn't want to get into a screaming match or anything so I kept quiet.
In retrospect it all is so clear. T was lonely and bored and the man she'd left her home to come and live with was practically ignoring her. And he wasn't getting any better either.
That's what she told me anyway. But that comes later.
Tension was building between us and it was not cool. I knew she knew about Cam even though we didn’t discuss it. She just immersed herself in her work and her friends, basically living a life directly opposite from mine. At one point we’d gone a whole fucking month without me touching her, so I stayed in one night just to be with her. Fuck it, I missed her. I took a long hot shower and shaved, then put on some pajama pants I had lying around. She was shutting down her computer and about to get ready for bed. When she saw me lying across the bed, she looked surprised.
“You’re not going out?”
I shook my head. “No … I wanted to spend some time with you. C’mere baby … I miss you.” I opened my arms and she came to stand at the edge of the bed, looking at me skeptically.
“What brought about this change?” She got right to the point. Damn, can’t a guy just want to be with the woman he loves?
I shrugged. “It’s been too long since spent any real time together, so I’m taking tonight off to be with you. That’s all … is there anything wrong with that?” I sat up and let my arms encircle her waist while I laid my head on her stomach. Her fingers came down to stroke my hair and I knew she was happy that I was there.
“No, there’s nothing wrong with that. You just surprised me, that’s all.” She allowed me to pull her down next to me so I could start kissing her neck, something she loves. Peeking up I could see her eyes closed and her head thrown back. After that is was smooth sailing. Her clothes were off in a minute and I lavished attention on every part of her body, taking my time to make sure I didn’t miss a spot. When I finally entered her she was so wet that I almost came right away. But I didn’t, man. I hung in there to make she got hers at least twice before I exploded inside of her. Then, nestled together, we both fell fast asleep. I was feeling real good about how things were happening; maybe I didn’t need Cam or any of her shit. Maybe all I needed was right there next to me.
Those were my thoughts as I drifted asleep, and even when I woke up the next morning. I felt around the bed for T, but she was already up. Groaning, I curled up against her pillow and began to doze off again. She must be in the shower, I thought.
When I finally decided to join the land of the living, I didn’t see her anywhere, so I went to take a piss and there it was. Hanging on the mirror. A note for me.
I’m leaving. Please don’t try and follow me; I know everything
that you’ve been doing with Cameron and I’m tired of pretending
like I don’t know. You swore to me that when we got back together
you’d never cheat again. Did I tell that before this I couldn’t put two
and two together? Now I know that you’re nothing but a liar and I
want nothing to do with you anymore.
So please leave me alone.
I was floored. Sure, I thought she knew but it was just a phase. I didn’t love Cam at all. In fact, I barely knew anything about her. We fucked and that was it. No way did I mean to lose my girl. We’d been through so much together and now she was just leaving me?
I needed a drink. “TRACE!”
He came to the door and cautiously opened it. “What’s up, man?”
I got right to the point. “I need a drink,” I told him while scratching my head. “Matter of fact bring the whole bottle in here. Right now, dude.”
“Be right back.” He said, and in like seconds, he returned with a glass and a bottle of Jim Beam. Brushing aside the glass, I unscrewed the cap on the bottle and took a healthy swig.
Trace frowned at me. “Is everything okay with you & Tara?”
I frowned back at him. “I don’t know. Why?” How did he know something happened already?
“Because I saw her leaving in a taxi early this morning with a big ass duffle bag. Where’d she go?”
Taking another swig of the liquor, I answered, “Home, I guess. Right now I really don’t give a fuck.”
In my state, it was easy to forget that everything was my fault. All I could think of was that she’d left me again. Maybe she couldn’t handle the lifestyle. Whatever. If she wanted to go, I wasn’t gonna mourn her this time. This time I was gonna do whatever the fuck I wanted to do and not give a shit about her. Obviously she didn’t give a flying fuck about me.
And you know what? That’s exactly what I did for the next nine or ten months. Cam practically had moved in, and we had some fun, partying together and whatnot. She was a little flaky but she was devoted to me. I came first to her and that’s exactly what I needed. Someone who understood my needs and me and wasn’t gonna give up when a little obstacle got in the way. We drank together, did some coke together, partied together – everything was chill.
Sometimes, though, I wondered about T. Was she okay? Was she at home, like I’d guessed? Sometimes I really missed her. She kept my feet on the ground, kept me from acting like an idiot the way all those other young stars act. But I’d just shake it off. She was gone. No use reminiscing, right?
So all was right in my little world until I got the call from Sasha. I wouldn’t have answered it if I’d known it was her, but she called from JC’s house so I thought it was him.
“What’s up, man?” I said into the phone, only to hear her voice coming back at me.
She sighed. “It’s not JC, it’s Sasha.”
Shit. What the fuck did she want?
“Okay. What is it? I’m fucking busy,” I lied. I had been sitting on the couch channel surfing when the call came in.
“It’s about Tara,” she said, hating every word she spoke to me. I know because I felt the same way, too.
But she had me interested now. “What about her?”
“She wants to see you. Like tonight. It’s important.”
I was confused. “What … what’s so important? Can’t she tell me over the phone?”
Sasha made an irritated sound. “No, she can’t. So I booked two seats for us on the next plane leaving LA. Are you coming or not?”
This was some bullshit. But what else did I have to do? T wouldn’t lie and say it was important if it wasn’t. And it’s wasn’t like I had anything else to do. Looked like I was headed to DC – to see what the big ‘surprise’ was.
Shit. How did I get caught back up in the mess that is Justin and Tara? It seems like four fucking years ago or something, you know? When Jen and I were trying to play matchmaker, okay she was trying to play matchmaker and I was kinda hanging around watching. They’re apart again. What’s new, right?
Right now I’m dragging a bunch of Tara’s shit that I picked up from Justin’s house and taking it back to her in Maryland. I guess I should include him in the shit I’m taking, right? Well, he’s coming too, by popular fucking request. Only this time I can’t say no to her. Ain’t no way in the world I would be traveling with Timberfuck if it wasn’t for an enormous … favor, I guess you would call it? No. A reason. I’m doing this for a very good reason. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.
Timberfuck needs to keep his foot on his side of the aisle is all I’m saying, or somebody’s gonna get hurt.
I mean that shit too.
I’m getting a kick out of how confused he is. I didn’t think he’d come but as soon as I said Tara his eyes glazed over and he practically started drooling. Maybe Cameron isn’t treating him all that great? Because he didn’t even call her or anything to tell her he was leaving. That fool will run anywhere and do anything for Tara, even now. Even after she left him cold without a word, he still is in love with her.
I wish he’d stop bouncing his leg to the rhythm of his iPod … it’s driving me insane. I just want to lean over and smack him for no reason. I’ll give props where props are due; he isn’t doing anything really to bother me. Just his fucking presence is enough to make me sick.
Oh well. We’re over halfway to NYC, and then it’s just an hour’s flight home to DC. And I’m taking him to my place – well, technically it’s JC’s but we sort of share it. Sort of. He’s never in town anyway so the place is pretty much mine. And we stay together on the West Coast too, but we haven’t exactly put a label on our relationship yet. It works for us, you know? So we just go with the flow and let things happen.
Wait till he sees what she wanted him for.
This shit is taking forever! I guess it wouldn’t have taken as long if I hadn’t thrown a fit at the rental car place. No fucking way am I driving around in a Buick! They don’t even have a fucking Chrysler 300 … so I’m fucking riding with Sasha’s ass. She stood there the whole time I went from car rental place to car rental place and smirked while I refused all those cheesy ass cars they have. I hate Washington, D.C., I swear. If it weren’t for Tara I would’ve never set foot in the damn town except for a show. Anyway here I am, on some big secret mission that I have no idea what it is. Except I have to be here in person.
Tara knows this shit better be fucking important because I don’t mind coming to see her but coming to see her with Sasha is a whole fucking different story. I deserve a medal for this shit, I swear.
We drove and drove and when the car stopped it wasn’t at Tara’s house; it was at this phat ass apartment building just over the DC line into Maryland. I was confused.
“Who the fuck lives here?” I wondered out loud. Bitch didn’t even answer me; just parked her car in the underground garage, making me think that it was her place.
Eww. I didn’t want to be anywhere near her place of residence.
“Mine,” she answered shortly. “C’mon … grab your things and let’s go.”
Helpless to do anything else, I grabbed my carry-on bag that held a few items of clothing and followed her into the elevator. I noticed she lived on a private floor, which made me curious. How did she afford all of this on a dance studio owner’s salary? Then I remembered JC telling me that he was buying a condo in D.C. and it was easy to put two and two together after that.
JC and Sasha were living together. Yuck.
Finally we arrived at our destination and I followed her down a large, quiet hallway. It looked like there were only two doors on the floor so they only had one neighbor. Whipping out her keys, Sasha prepared to open the door. She stopped for a moment. “You need to be chill, okay? No fucking outbursts or anything … just relax. There’s not going to be any fucking fighting in my house. Understood?”
I groaned. Could we just get to the fucking surprise or whatever? Actually, I didn’t care so much about any surprise. I wanted to see Tara. It had been forever since I’d laid eyes on her, since that day that she just disappeared and I wanted answers to some questions of my own. Not that I really deserved any. I got what was coming to me, that’s for sure. She caught me cheating and on top of cheating, I didn’t bother to make an effort towards our relationship. I took her for granted. So I derived whatever was coming to me.
Anyway, it was finally time to see the girl I once thought I would spend the rest of my life with. I was dying to break down the door just get even a glimpse of her.
Man, you really don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s fucking gone, do you?
I sighed again and waited while Sasha a.k.a. Bitchface opened the door. We walked into a nicely decorated foyer where she told me to dump my things and to follow her. No argument there. She had me so curious that I would’ve done anything she said to get to T.
“Tara? Tara!” she called out as she walked into the living room. It was decorated in some art deco type furniture, the kind of thing that JC liked. Yep, this had to be his place. But why was Tara there? I could understand Sasha but Tara had a big ol’ house not too far from there, if I recalled correctly. Whatever. I’d get to the bottom of all of this as soon as I saw T.
“Shhh,” a voice came from across the room.
It was Tara. She was standing with her back to us; neck craning around to hush us up. She made a gesture with her head down towards her arms, which were holding something. The sunlight coming in from the window made it hard to see what she was holding; her body was just a silhouette.
I squinted, checking out that figure that I knew so well. Her chest was bigger and so were her hips. Not in a bad way, because Lord knows I love T with some meat on her bones and the last time I saw her she was almost whittled down to skin and bones from working out. Hmm.
‘Hi, Justin,” she whispered, slowly turning around to face me, almost shyly. “Thanks for coming … I know you must be wondering what’s going on here.”
I nodded slowly, still not comprehending what was going on. “Yeah, I am … what’s wrong? Are you okay?”
She nodded her head. “I … I’m fine. I just … things have …” Finally giving up on her attempt to have conversation, she walked closer toward me and sort of held her arms out to show me what she was carrying. I glanced down, squinting again until I figured out what she was trying to tell me.
She was holding a baby.
I shook my head, trying to clear it of confusion. “Wha … who is this?” I asked stupidly, of course already knowing the answer.
And she dropped the bomb on me. “This is Riley,” she replied. “Your daughter.”