Rock Bottom

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Rock Bottom Page 7

by Josephine Traynor

  The next time I visited the house, most of those people had been replaced, along with my brother and I. My father moved on quickly with another woman who was pregnant with my twin half-sisters. Even though we were all born into affluence, our upbringings couldn’t have been more different. My younger half-siblings ate that shit right up. They are happy to live off his coattails, perfectly content to just let a name be their purpose in life. Last I heard, Simone was having another stint in rehab while Caitlyn was trying to market her own line of handbags. Mind you, again, I get the odd update from the trash mags, but my sisters don’t ring me. Caitlyn rang me once when the shit hit the fan, but that was to apportion blame, and the conversation ended with me telling her to never speak to me again. I’m glad they don’t ring because that saves me from a really awkward conversation. I don’t know how to talk to them. Their sentences are filled with ‘like’ and ‘literally’ and how many handbags they have.

  I might sound like a snob, but those people are not people. They live in an alternate universe where morals and scruples do not exist. I just don’t understand it. I don’t judge them, I just know it’s not for me. Their enemies are their best friends, and everything is built on lies and betrayal. I want to be known for what I’ve been able to do for myself, by myself. That’s why I’ve dropped the Worthrington part of my name. I’m famous for being my father’s daughter, I’m infamous for what my ex-boyfriend did to me. Use my full name and everyone thinks they know all about me. All they know is some story someone told to malign me. To get revenge for breaking his heart allegedly. He wanted to hurt me in the most public of ways, and he succeeded.

  Heating my hands on the flames licking the sides of the pot as bubbles start to push their way to the surface. “Just another year of this,” I tell myself as I drop the noodles in. I try and make myself get excited that it’s only another year of living in this unit and of living from week to week. I stare into the pot as I stir the noodles, and my mind drifts back to Reece. I really do feel sorry for him. I know what it’s like to have the unwanted attention of the world media on your doorstep. I know all too well feeling like you have no one to back you, people saying that it’s all your fault. To feel like the world is actually caving in on you. To feel like you have no one in your corner because everyone is judging you.

  Plopping down at my mismatched table and chair with my bowl and open books, it’s not long 'til my thoughts drift back to him. He’s damn sexy and certainly can help play a role in my fantasies, but that’s it. Tonight was probably a one and only thing. Who knows how long he’s staying. I hope he comes back into the shop. Whoa, where did that come from? “He’s just another arrogant celebrity who thinks everyone will drop to their knees for him,” I tell myself, I just don’t believe it. He looked completely out of his element in the store. Can’t help but think how the mighty have fallen. Making a vow to myself that if he does come back into the shop, I’m going to treat him like I do every other customer. I might know his secret, but I’m not going to be the first to say something. I value the people who have kept my secret, it’s the least I can do in return.

  I do admit to myself, having the biggest celebrity in music pretty much on my doorstep has my anxiety piqued. If they come looking for him, they will find me. I might be yesterday’s news, but they never got the story they wanted so they might turn their attention to me.

  I say a silent prayer in hope that they can’t find him. The prayer is a selfish one. If they find him, please just be focused on him.

  Chapter Ten


  It’s day four here on the deserted island and the only thing keeping me sane is Pinterest. Well, it’s not an island, it may as fucking well be. I’m not used to being cooped up. No deadlines, no schedules, no commitments – all equal no life. I’m used to being inside of buildings, hotels, conference rooms, music studios, arenas, but this is just fucking boring. That app has been a saviour. I’ve created boards. It even helped me with the rice. The first go, I must have missed the right amount of water to put in because now that saucepan has been relegated to the bin. The second batch was still a bit hard when I ate it, but at that point, I was so hungry, I didn’t care. Smoothies are definitely something that I think I can manage so I even looked up how to make a shopping list. Pinterest is literally my lifesaver.

  I’ve pinned so much, my eyes are starting to cross, and I’m in need of an update on Sean. I pull my phone out and ring David who answers with a ‘What’s going on?’ Not even a hello.

  “You tell me? I knew you were sending me to a secluded place, I looked it up on Google Maps, and this ‘town’ you sent me to has about twelve streets! Surprised Google even knows about it. Send the Mars rover to find it. I’m in the middle of bum fuck nowhere, and I’m about to go fucking postal from fucking boredom.”

  David’s laughter pisses me off more. “Okay, first off, how do you even know what the Mars rover is? Secondly, there’s more than twelve streets. I honestly thought you’d have burned the house down by now. What’s it like having to fend for yourself?”

  “Fuck off, David.”

  My agitation continues to rise when he keeps laughing, and I’m getting sick of being the butt of the joke. It’s not sitting well with me. “So do some writing. Catch up on your sleep. Look at it as the new challenge you are facing. How is everything else? Settling in alright?”

  I pace into the kitchen and take hold of the sight before me. The bins are overflowing, old cut up food, long forgotten sitting on the cutting boards. The dishes are stacking up, and I know the pile of dirty clothes upstairs is higher than the pile of clean. The food supplies are getting low, and I’m waiting for night time to come so I can be outside, but by the cover of darkness. The last few nights, I’ve been going for a run. I need to do something to shake the willies off, or I’ll go mad.

  My hand clenches and unclenches as he talks. I’m not sure if he means to sound so patronizing. “Just peachy. I need to know what to do in this situation. I hate it. Hate being cooped up. Hate having nothing to distract my mind.”

  “Well, maybe you need to have some reflection time.”

  “I’m Reece-Goddamned-Ashton. I don’t need reflection time.” I throw my head back in frustration as I talk and jam my hand into my jeans looking for my pick. It’s a reflex until I realise it’s still bloody missing. “Reflection time is for tossers. I need to be out there. I don’t know anyone here. I need to be with my own kind. I need … I need …” I feel like I’m choking on my own rage because I don’t even know what I’m trying to say. I don’t know what I want. For the first time in my life, I don’t know what I want, but I know I don’t want this.

  David cuts in. “Look. Reece-Goddamned-Ashton.” And with that, I send a plate hurtling across the bench so hard it slams into the wall and smashes and for a second it feels good, but that quickly washes away for remorse. “Hey. Get a hold of yourself. Don’t be smashing my stuff up, man. I can’t even begin to think of what you are going through, this is how the other half live. You have been working so hard for so long, you don’t even know how to disconnect. Did you have anything you wanted to do, you couldn’t because you were working? If nothing is cropping up, then that’s why you need to stop and really need to sit and think this over. I don’t know. Do an online art class? Cooking? Keep up your fitness. How about you learn to clean up since I know you’re probably running out of dishes.”

  “How did you know I was running out of dishes?” My eyes start scanning the room looking for any surveillance while David continues to laugh in my ear.

  “Because I know you, man. You never even picked up your own clothes for the maid to come and wash, let alone pick up your dishes and actually wash them. It’s water. I assure you, you won’t melt. Buy some gloves if you want to protect those hands. Have you been working on any more music? If you don’t want to relax, then work.”

  Bristling again, he keeps pushing for my music, and I’m not ready to give it to him. Sure, I wrote the lyrics, but
Sean and I worked on the music together, and I just can’t bring myself to start yet on my own.

  “Has anyone been calling?” I actually fear the answer.

  David takes a breath. “After two days, the media dwindled. They know they aren’t going to get anything out of me so …”

  “So no one else has been calling?” Not even my so-called friends in the industry? I don’t know why that upsets me as much as it does. I let out a deep breath through my nose trying to get a hold on my disappointment. There’d be no bed warmers calling because I always took their number, never gave out mine. “Huh. Guess I’m old news now. They must all think I couldn’t be someone without Sean.” The hits just keep on coming. To know that no one out there was trying to contact me … it fucking stung. “Seriously? No one has been calling? What about Paula?”

  “You mean Grace? She’s been your employee for five fucking years, and you still can’t get her name right. She hasn’t been calling you because you no longer employ her. I’ve been able to shift her employment to another client,” he said. Grace is or now was, my housekeeper. She was the best. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to her. “Try not to think of it like that. Think of it as they are trying to give you space,” David said.

  David’s good. He’s good at trying to paint a prettier picture. I shake my head in frustration and run my hands through my hair. Goddamn, it’s greasy. “They’re all fucking over me when I’ve got platinum fucking records. All over me when I can get them front row tickets to get their fucking heads in the paper. Fucking parasites, it’s all for their gain. How quickly I’ve been forgotten. I can make it into the history books for fastest selling single, quickest selling shows, a record number of shows. A blip like this and I’m fucking no one’s business. If anyone does ring – tell them to fuck off.”

  I hang up on him. It’s not his fault, I’m just so pissed off. Blood is pounding in my ears. I hurl the phone across the room and watch it shatter against the wall.

  “Great. Put a fucking hole in the wall!” I shout. This is where the angst-filled rocker goes apeshit in a hotel room and tosses the TV out. I’m not that guy. This is someone’s home. It’s my home for the time being, and I tell myself to calm the fuck down. Raising my hands up and locking my fingers before putting them on my head, I take a deep breath in through my nose. I flinch at the sour smell coming from under my arms. I snatch the deodorant off the kitchen counter and raise both arms before pulling my pants away from my waist at the front. The mist dissipates when I let the band go, and it snaps back in place against my stomach. I glance over to the dishes lining the bench and sink haphazardly. I reach my arm forward and depress the button to send a fine misting of clean scent over the offending plates.

  My grumbling stomach reminds me there’s no food, and it’s close enough to dark that I feel comfortable with going out. I grab my backpack and sling it over my shoulder as I head for the front door.

  The doors to the store open as I approach and I see the little blonde haired girl that accosted me the first night, standing by the door. Just as I cross the threshold, she bites into a candy bar and shoots off past me. I’m about to call out to her when I hear that voice. She’s here. The girl that helped me with my groceries. She has her hair down, and it reaches past her shoulders. She’s still wearing casual clothes, and I can’t help but smile when she looks at me. Not once have I seen her get all crazy in front of me. I’m just a regular person. There’s another tick for her. I stand there watching her as she reaches into her pocket.

  “That kid is so much like you, stares at the sweets for a good ten minutes before finally diving into and committing to just one,” she says as she watches the little girl disappear around the corner before looking back to me. “You’re back. Run out of food already?”

  I push my hoodie off my head and give her a smile. “Just out of the fresh stuff.” I stand there and wait for her to approach. “No personalised shopper tonight?”

  She lets out a laugh and shakes her head. “Nope, you know the lay of the land. I want to see how you do. Do good and you will be rewarded … do poorly and you shall seal your fate.”

  I can’t help but laugh at the cryptic challenge and set off with my trolley. I wander the aisles taking everything in. It’s different without someone helping me, and my old friend Pinterest has helped me greatly with food ideas that suit my cooking skill level. Only problem is, my phone is in pieces. After a few minutes, I line up with my trolley and purposely turn my back to the magazine rack. I can’t help but notice that I haven’t seen anyone else in the place. It’s only then that I notice the closed signed is on display.

  “What time do you close?” I ask as I hand over the produce.

  “The time that you walked in,” she says with a smile. “But that’s okay, wanted to give you some space.”

  “If I’d known that, I would have shopped faster. I didn’t mean to keep you here longer than you need to be.” I glance down at her name tag, Madelyn. “I don’t think I even told you my name the other night and that was rude of me. I’m Reece.” Normally, this is where the girls scream, and they fall to their knees proclaiming they want to have my babies. She just simply nods and takes my hand in a firm grip.

  “Nice to meet you, Reece, you’re welcome. So how did you go? Find everything you wanted?”

  Wow, she completely dismissed me again, and this is a reaction I’m not used to. It’s like she’s immune. She must be a lesbian. Now that will be a good visual for the solo work where my mini Reece is in need.

  I’m still thinking about my dick when her grip slackens and I miss the touch of her soft skin. The first thing that pops into my head is my smashed phone. “I just need to get something first. Do you guys sell phones? Something that will let me use Pinterest?”

  Madelyn smiles as she walks over to another counter and brings back two choices. “Either of these will be fine for what you need. Anything else?”

  I grab the iPhone knowing that I’ve used it before and can manage it. “Nope, and I believe you promised me some kind of goodie, though.” Yeah, that came out completely wrong.

  “That I did. I ordered them in especially for you. I hope you like them.”

  She holds up a bag filled with something that is my kryptonite. I’m speechless. My hand moves towards her hand, and I gently take the bag of my kind of treasure from her. “No way.”

  Chapter Eleven


  I snicker when his eyes grow as big as saucers. Jackpot. I know they’re rumours, but after reading more about his heartbreak, I knew this would cheer him up. He knew them as Cobbers. Caramel cubes coated in chocolate. Little bricks to build your own heaven. Super hard to get, yet I knew my boss would be able to do it.

  Tonight he confirmed what I knew all along. From all reports, he’s on his own and the paparazzi are out for his blood. Well, his face is a more honest assessment. They want to know where he’s been and what he’s doing.

  “You going to share?” I ask as he looks at me like I’ve pulled a Rumpelstiltskin and asked for his firstborn. “Or not.”

  I go back to scanning his purchases, while watching him look into the bag before slowly moving the bag towards me. “I’ll share with you.” I return the smirk on his face as I grab one and pop it into my mouth, relishing the sensation of my teeth cutting through the chocolate and sticking to the caramel. “Not a smart move there Madelyn,” I say through my locked jaw.

  “You chew them? No way, you have to keep them in your mouth and let it all melt. That’s how you eat a Cobber.”

  Working my teeth further into the caramel, I shake my head. “No way, all chocolate needs to be hard and cold. Get them in the freezer.”

  Even as he tosses another in his mouth, his smile is not lost on me. “Wrong. Melted. Microwave.”

  I drop the last bag into his trolley and ring up the final tally. “Can I get you home again tonight?” He stops smiling and looks at me. Hmm, maybe I do need to work on my filter, and I feel bad for maki
ng him pull that face. “Or not.”

  I take him in as I wait for him to respond. He’s a full head taller than me and flawless to look at. The imperfections come out when he opens his mouth. “Are you always this helpful?”

  “Only to customers who I think need it.”

  He ponders my response before he hands me his credit card. “You think I need help?”

  I can’t tell if he’s pissed off or not. “Well, you did spend an awful amount of time fondling those tins of peas last time. I think you owe them a bunch of flowers. They were complaining when you didn’t call them.” I realise then my comments about him needing help have offended him as his smile fades. “I don’t mean any offense by it.”

  “And I didn’t mean any either,” he said in a small voice. “I’m not used to people wanting to do things for me just to do things for me. They always want something from me.”

  Shrugging my shoulders, I’m not offended by his comment as I know that feeling all too well. “I have my health, I have my job, and I have my studies. I don’t need anything from anyone, and I hope I’m never in a position where I do.” Thankfully the power came back on at seven the next morning so I was able to have a hot shower by lunchtime. “I have a roof over my head. I had enough savings to get my car fixed this morning. I have everything I need. It’s nice to do things for others. You should try it sometime.” I shut my eyes tight at my insensitivity. I let out a sigh and open my eyes to look at his. “Remember that filter you were asking about? Clearly, it’s not working today either.”


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