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BUUUMP

I write male and female characters
“You said you wanted the truth, Mr. Woodard,” a low, feminine tone sounded through a cloud of smoke. “And I delivered.”

The man, dressed in a navy blue, well tailored suit slouched in his chair and buried his face in his hands. “Fuck.” His eyes finally peered up at her for the first time since she played the DVD she burned. “Well, what do I do now?”

Penny scoffed and took another drag of her cigarette. “Therapy will cost you more.” The cigarette now rested on the lip of the ashtray, and she straightened her posture to look directly at the man. “Look, I did my job. I don’t care if you like what I find or how I found it, but the point is that it’s done. She has no idea I trailed her. No one does.” She stretched her arms out and groaned as a few bones cracked; she had been sitting in that chair for what felt like hours.

A fellow American, James Woodard. A wealthy, attractive businessman in his late thirties who, assumingly, would have any woman clawing at their chance to be his wife, but it seemed as though no matter what someone’s status would, they weren’t immune to the misfortune of being fucked over. Mr. Woodard began to question Hilda’s actions. She was staying out later and later with friends, started to seem uninterested in conversing with him, and of course, she stopped putting out.

Now, Penny had stopped taking low-profile cases like this long ago. She wanted to be taken seriously, to seem like a powerful threat that lurked in the shadows of the city, and she found that cases like this didn’t push her career along, but instead made her look like she was on an episode of “Cheaters.” But her and James had been introduced by mutual friends at a party a couple months ago, and when he approached her, she couldn’t decline. Penny could feel that his heart was pure and she pitied him for being in his position. That, and he paid well.

A week of trailing Mrs. Woodard and many nights sitting in the car with binoculars finally paid off.

His wife had told him she didn’t feel well enough to attend one of his work events, but in reality, she left the house ten minutes after James headed out for the night. With a shaky hand, Penny filmed an entire night between the woman and her lover, easily visible from his sliding glass door four floors above the street, and she couldn't help but shake her head in their stupidity. "Too easy."

“And you’re sure that everything you said actually happened? I mean - “

“Do you want me to play the footage again, Mr. Woodard?” she interrupted, leaning towards him from across her desk.

“God, no” he sighed, throwing his hands up. “I can’t watch that again.”

“Very well,” Penny smirked. “You’ve already provided half of my payment. I need the other half.”

James reached into his coat pocket to pull out a small black booklet. “You take check?”

“As long as it doesn’t bounce,” she smiled while taking a sip from the wine glass sitting next to her. “Then I suppose it’s fine.”

*****


Hours later, she was home: a dimly lit studio apartment that seemed to get smaller and smaller as the months past. Pieces of art and other memorabilia stretched across the brick walls, and a white lumpy couch sat dead in the center in front of a small TV, and her queen sized bed was tucked away in a corner on the ground. It was nothing special, but it became a haven for Penny that kept her shielding from the world around her, once she still couldn't quite understand.

This wasn't where she saw herself at 28 years old. If you had asked her as a girl where she would be by now, Penny would have sworn she'd be married with a large house and a nice car, working for a firm that took her investigative skills seriously. Instead, she sat stranded in a foreign country, working for people who could order her dead in a moment. The thrill was the only thing that kept her going at times.

“I told you, I’m working,” she spoke into her phone speaker.

“You sound drunk,” came from the other end. “And I hear your Pink Floyd record playing in the background.”

Penny couldn’t help but smile. “I’m researching. And I have 15 unread emails from potential clients.” She had been hunched over on her laptop for an hour by now.

“I could help you,” Connor responded, his tone changing from suspicious to concerned. “I….I miss you.”

“You know I can’t let you see this shit. It’s private. Plus it’s not as exciting as you’d think.”

“Whatever,” he sighed. “Have you thought any more about coming home?”

Penny scratched at her head as she hesitated. “Based on what I’ve heard, the heat hasn’t died down quite yet. Richards will give me the green light as soon as I can come back.”

“Well, I hope it’s soon. Don’t stay up too late, okay?”

“I won’t,” she sighed. “Good night, Connor.”

Penny tossed her phone to the other side of the couch and rubbed her face forcefully. The past eight months in China had been quite lonely, but her career had blossomed, so much so that it was difficult to imagine moving back to the States. It wasn’t as though it had been her choice, but now that she was here, it would be a waste not to take advantage of the recognition she was getting. Why move back and throw it all away?

*****


“The fuck?” Penny startled, nearly falling off the couch to the sound of her phone ringing. What time was it? When did she fall asleep?

“H-Hello?”

“Ah, Penny,” a thick accent greeted her. “I’m sorry to call you so late, but I have an acquaintance who needs your services. The more quickly, the better.”

“It’s fine, Liko,” she yawned and removed herself from the couch and relocating to the window that looked at the busy streets below. “What’s the situation?”

“A murder of a young woman. Her brother is the one who would like to hire you.” He paused for a few moments. “I don’t know much more than that, but there will be news coverage certainly.”
“Great,” she scoffed. “Text me where to meet him, I’ll be there.”

*****


The following day, Penny arrived by cab at the Cotton Club, a spot notorious for business men and criminals alike to do business while enjoying overpriced drinks and attractive waitresses prancing about. A bit corny if you asked her, but she would usually go out of her way to make her clients feel comfortable, and that usually included them picking where to meet. She found it made people more open to be in their own habitat, more willing to share more information that would help her.

Upon entering the club, Penny removed her large, round sunglasses, allowing her blue eyes to scan the restaurant for her potential client. Her dyed black hair sat tucked behind her ears and trailed down her back, still damp from her shower. The man seemed to have spotted her rather quickly, so she assumed Liko explained she was American. Most clients didn’t seem to mind, but there were instances in the past where they were caught off guard or decided not to hire her due to the fact that she would draw more attention to herself.

She always attempted to look professional for her first meeting, depending on social status of the client and the location she was told to go, but sometimes it was not so easy. She was used to being in the background, not center stage, so when it came time to put her best foot forward in regards to appearance, Penny struggled.

She wore a pair of high-waisted, fitted black pants with a black shirt tucked in that reached up to the collarbone, both articles of clothing hiding her tattoos; she had learned her lesson with more traditional clients looking down on her for them. A tan, trench coach hung to her sides which shielded her from the rain on her way in, and a pair of black, four-inch heels carried her to the bar where her client sat alone, obviously distressed.

She shook his hand firmly in return. “Of course. Penelope Goodman.” Observing the man in front of her, it was hard to sniff out exactly what he was. His clothes were expensive and his mannerisms seemed of someone old and wise, but, by her guess, he was younger than she was, and she couldn’t help but notice the tattoos that popped out of his shirt sleeve. It took her a moment, but her eyes widened slightly when she she noticed their familiarity, and it became quite clear why Jiao had chosen to go to her than to trust the police.

Rather than leading in with any sort of cliche introduction, Penny listened to him speak. He explained how he had found his sister and what she said before passing, causing her to cock her head to the side in curiosity.

Then, abruptly, he made it sound like things were coming to a close as he passed her his information on a piece of paper. “Wait,” she said lowly and turned her full body on the stool to him. “There are a few things we need to go over.”

The drink she ordered finally arrived, and she took a large sip then cleared her throat before continuing. Her voice remained low and unwavering. “This is just a formality, but I must explain this all to you, although something tells me this isn’t your first rodeo.” She smirked briefly, resuming her serious manner. “ 1. I need your trust. You may not like what I find or how I find it, but I do my job and never have issues delivering. I expect that I will have your full support.”

Another sip of her drink. “2. If you use any of the information I give to you seek revenge, you must not name me. Whether to police, to colleagues, whatever. I had no involvement as far as anyone is concerned. We do not know each other.”

“3 -” she mumbled through the cigarette she was lighting. “I expect you not to hide information from me. I understand some things may be uncomfortable to speak of, especially of your sister, but if you want me to do my work to the best of my ability, I need information. Good information. Some cases don’t require much contact between me and my clients, but due to the nature of the incident, I think it’d be best if we kept in touch.”

She took another drag of her cigarette and rested it on the lip of the ashtray they shared. “I have an office a few streets down from here.” Her hands dug through a small black purse until a business card was found and handed to Jiao. “Meet me tomorrow. 3 PM. Bring any information you can that will help me discover what happened to your sister.” Her eyes glanced down to the location where she had seen the tattoos a few moments prior. “It’s probably best to discuss details in a more private setting.”

Penny finished the contents of her drink and stood up, offering her hand to the man once again. “It was a pleasure, Jiao. I’ll see you tomorrow.” And without waiting for a response, she turned and walked through the club, exiting out onto the street and hailing a taxi.

Once in the back of a cab, she mulled over what Jiao had explained to her. “Murdered by the devil,” she whispered to herself, and the corners of her lips couldn’t help but turn upward slightly. “This should be fun.”
As Rob approached her, Jane stiffened in her chair, unsure of what was to come. Of course, he would never do anything that would warrant such a reaction, but the events that led up to this moment kept her on edge, almost close to pure panic. But as he removed the hair from her eyes, she could see the softness in his. Was he –

Then, he kissed her. Seconds felt like minutes in the best way possible, increasing Jane's craving to be held by him tenfold, but reality struck her again once he sat onto the edge of the bed to face her. She tried, but she couldn’t force herself to look at him, while inside, she was screaming: one, because it felt so wonderful to have Rob touch her again with no obligation to do so, and two, because of the confusion this caused. Was he redacting what he said previously? Was this a goodbye?

His hand reached for hers and engulfed it, and chills shot down her spine. ”I don’t have the right to ask for you back.”

Jane winced at the words as he said them. Her pride begged her to agree with him and keep the distance between them he created, but Jane knew that her heart would win this round. There would be no way that she could stay away from him – this long had already felt like torture – and she would succumb.

”But honestly, Jane, fuck it. I just want you.”

This statement gave her enough courage to look back up to him, and their eyes met simultaneously. This made her heart begin to race, causing the rest of his words to blur as they spoken. The urge to respond was strong, but nothing could come out of her mouth – the fight between her ego and her love for Rob had temporarily incapacitated her. Jane would have to stick to what she knew best.

With a tear or two streaming down her face, she stood up from the chair and approached him slowly before sitting on his lap and facing him, the edge of the bed creaking at she let her body weight lower on to him. It wasn’t long before her hands were gripping the sides of his face and pulling him into kiss her, tasting her own tears between their lips as she did. And in this moment, her old ways began to bubble up, and her hands reached down to lift his shirt up over his head. Over the past few months, she had grown tired of talking.

*****


“I don’t wanna be out here anymore,” Jane admitted quietly as she puffed on a joint in bed before holding it out for Rob to take. “All I want is to be back in Long Beach.” Her own hand rubbed her arm as she was lost in thought, hating the words that were coming out of her own mouth. “I thought this was what I wanted. I desperately craved the recognition and the lifestyle, but I can’t do it anymore, Rob.”

She held out her hand to retrieve the joint, and once it was back in her possession, she took a large hit and coughed slightly before turning her head to look directly at Rob. “Harold would kill me if I said I wanted to drop the rest of the tour though, yeah?” Jane smiled faintly as she gripped the sheet covering her nude body, but it was forced.

“It’s not like I wanna stop making music or anything,” she continued, sounding more like she was thinking out loud rather than trying to form a coherent sentence. “But, this tour broke me. I don’t like who I’ve become.”

After passing back the joint to Rob, she scooted closer to him and laid her head on his chest. “Sorry. I’m rambling,” she whispered before pressing a kiss into his shoulder. “How are you feeling?”

She knew that discussing what had happened to them leading up to this moment would probably give her a lot more closure over the situation, but Jane couldn't see the point in bringing it up now. They had both been hurt over the course of the tour, and trying to hash things out would probably only make it worse, or at least, that's the way Jane imagined it. If Rob would let it slide, she would be happy to not discuss the past anymore.
Light began flooding through Jane’s flickering eyes, and she groaned as she was hit with a nearly immediate hangover. She stretched – wait, where was she? Her body involuntarily shot up in panic, then her eyes settled onto the sleeping person next to her. Rob.

“Shit.”

How did she get inside the room? Inside the building? Had she talked to him at all the night before? Her fingers vigorously ran through her hair as she attempted to decide her next move, her heart thumping in her chest so loudly that the buzzing of the AC unit was barely audible.

A shower. A shower would help her calm down.

In a stealthy fashion, Jane lowered her legs over the bed and onto the floor, then tip-toed towards the bathroom, gently shutting the door behind her. Just get in the shower and chill the fuck out. You’ll be fine. It’s fine.

Unbearably hot water pounded her back as she stared at the white tiled wall in front of her in a fear-stricken daze. She was here now, and undoubtedly, Rob would want to know why. Of course, Jane could lie and make up an excuse, but what was the point anymore? It was over between them, and her love for him couldn’t change that. Her being possibly pregnant with his child wasn’t going to change anything, so she might as well be honest.

She should have never started seeing Andy, whatever the agreement between her and Rob was. Perhaps if she didn’t make things more complicated than they needed to be, he’d still want to be with her. But Jane was complicated. Her desperation for Rob’s affection mixed with a need for freedom was hard for even herself to get a firm grasp on. He couldn’t be blamed for not wanting a part in it any longer, but it still hurt just as badly nonetheless.

Minutes passed, and the water began to run cold, so Jane was forced out of the shower and back into reality. The mirror was fogged, but just as she reached out to wipe it, she stopped herself and smiled. It reminded her of the first hotel experiences with Rob when they left for their American leg of the tour. It seemed complicated back then, but it paled in comparison to where they were at now. The memories made her both depressed and hopeful, and a finger reached out to draw a smiley face on the mirror, just like she had before.

Jane eventually landed in the chair across from the bed, watching Rob as he slept, who seemed blissfully unaware of what was to come. It almost felt like a crime to interrupt it, but she couldn’t put it off any longer. All of her pride invested in the situation would have to be put aside now.

“Rob,” the first word of the morning croaked out. “Rob, wake up.”

Once he began to stir, Jane straightened her posture and adjusted the towel that wrapped around her.

“We have to talk.”

A deep breath and a quick rub of her temples later, Jane met his eyes and nodded. “I don’t really remember last night and I, uh, I don’t know if I said anything to you, but…” Her eyes squeezed shut. “I respect your decision to end things with me. As badly as I want you… and love you… I know you’re probably right, and I’ll just have to accept it.”

Okay, Jane. Move on.

Another deep breath. “Anyway, the reason I showed up here last night was to – “ Her voice began to waver, and her eyes welled up. “Damn it.”

She had to pause and focus on something else, so her eyes shot over to the window that was illuminated by the sun through the white curtains.

“I’m pregnant.” Her hands gripped the arms of the chair as if bracing for impact. “I don’t know if it’s yours or Andy’s. I’m, uh, I’m obviously not keeping it. After doing some research, it’s best I get an abortion back in the states than try to get one out here.”

Jane rubbed the tears from her eyes and gathered the courage to look at his. “I wasn’t gonna tell you at first. There was so much going on, and you were already so overwhelmed with me, you know? But, I don’t know. I talked to Lyla and did some thinking, and you deserve to know. You deserve a lot more than I’ve given you, honestly, but I wanted to be honest.”

Emotions were growing uncontrollable, so Jane’s hands went over her face to hide the tears that were now falling much more frequently. “I’m sorry,” she cried, “I’m so sorry for everything. I don’t know how I’m gonna make it through the rest of this tour without my best friend.”
It was all so pathetic in Jane’s eyes, but while she was telling the truth, she figuring telling all of it would maybe make things better.

“I love you so much, Rob. It’s almost pitiful. If I could take back all of the dumb shit I’ve done, I would instantly. But I can’t. A-And if you can’t be with me right now, that’s fine, whatever. But, I just need to know that you love me still. That’s all I want.”

She finally removed her hands from her face and slowly looked up to him. It felt as though she had just thrown up. Well, mentally, she did in a way. Her hands still trembled with anticipation of what Rob would have to say everything she had told him. Would he reject her again? Would he be angry? Hurt?

“I’m sorry,” was all she could whisper once more. It was her turn to deal with the consequences of her actions, whatever they may be.
Jane had awoken in a haze from the previous night’s emotions; her eyes were practically glued shut and her head already throbbing. Her hands held her phone over her face as she squinted to read the text she got back from Andy last night.

Andy, 11:43 PM:Of course… is everything okay?

A sigh escaped her before she yanked the curtain open and popped her head out to see Austin passing by her bunk, and once he made eye contact with her, he ran his fingers through her hair. “You alright?”

“Yeah,” Jane’s voice croaked out, barely audible. “Just a bad night.”

Austin nodded, his expression showing that he wasn’t convinced. “Looks like Rob didn’t have a good one either.”

It took a moment for Jane to register what he said, and she propped herself up on an elbow. “What do you mean? Where is he?”

He nodded his head to the side towards the front of the bus where, from her position, she could only see feet laying on the floor. “Jesus, Rob,” she whispered before hopping down out of bed and quietly approaching his unconscious self. Jane, momentarily, felt the overwhelming urge to kick him. He had left her in her most vulnerable state, seemingly more worried about their image rather than her feelings. But ultimately, she only rolled her eyes and walked back to her bunk.

“J?” Austin called out, following her. “Why don’t you come to breakfast with us? I think it’d be good if you got some fresh air.”

“Okay,” Jane nodded weakly. “I, uh, I have to make a phone call real quick, then we’ll go.”

Austin smiled. “Sounds good.”

*****


In the cool morning air, after stepping over Rob in the process of exiting the bus, Jane stood by the side of the bus with a cigarette in one hand and her phone in the over. Her thumb had been hovering over the green button to call Andy for what felt like minutes, but she reluctantly pressed it and put the phone in her ear, regretting making the call more and more each time it trilled in her ear.

“Jane?” His voice gave away that he had still been sleeping.

“Hey, did I wake you?”

“That’s okay. You don’t sound good, babe. What’s going on?”

Jane sighed and paused for a second before answering me. “This isn’t why I’m calling, but Rob ended things with me yesterday. I just had a really bad night.”

“Shit,” he whispered, “I’m so sorry I’m not there with you.”

“No, it’s okay. How’s the tour been?” Jane attempted to lighten the mood with her tone, but it was too hoarse.

“Lonely,” he laughed faintly. “But, no drama since we left. A bunch of fans keep asking about you guys though.”

“Yeah, it sucks you guys left. It’s definitely been quiet here, too.” Jane felt herself begin to choke up, so she took a deep breath and cleared her throat. “I have to tell you something, but please please please don’t freak out, okay?”

“Fuck, Jane, that's freaking me out.” He spoke quietly but sternly, probably trying to keep from waking the others in the bus.

“Just promise.”

“Okay, okay. Go ahead.”

“I’m,” another deep breath, “I’m pregnant. I took the test yesterday.”

There was a silence between them that lasted for about five seconds before Andy spoke up again. “Whose is it?”

“Either you or Rob’s. Has to be.” Her eyes began to water, and she quickly wiped them with her sleeve. “I wasn’t gonna tell anyone, but Lyla convinced me.”

“Are you feeling okay?” Andy asked, nearly cutting her off before she finished speaking.

“Yeah… well, no. I’ve been throwing up a lot. Crying a lot. I just want it out of me.”

“So you’re not keeping it?” Andy asked, sounding relieved.

“Of course not. You aren’t around. Rob dumped me. I’m a piece of shit. I’d be an idiot to keep it.”

“Jane,” Andy began, his voice raising in volume a bit, “don’t say shit like that. You’re great. Fuck, I wish I was there. Should I cancel tonight and see you?”

“No, no, it’s okay. I’m okay.” She sniffled. “It’s just all so overwhelming. Lyla and Austin have been great, though.”

“Okay,” he sighed. “Keep me updated, alright? Let me know how you’re doing?”

“Yeah, I will.”

“I miss you. A lot.” His voice grew even quieter when he said it.

“I miss you too, Andy. I’ll text you, yeah?” The tears were now flowing uncontrollably. She felt so alone.

“Sounds good, babe. Bye.”

*****


Everyone at the table talked amongst themselves about a multitude of things: what they would do when they arrived back at the states, various groupies that they remembered so far, the jobs they all worked before embarking on tour. Jane had remained, for the most part, silent, mindlessly stirring the black coffee in front of her with the elongated spoon until Lyla nudged her arm. “You gonna drink that?”

Jane startled, then straighten her posture and rubbed her eyes. “Y-yeah. I need it.” With both small hands, she brought the large mug up to her lips and sipped it slowly, and as she looked up, she could see she had earned everyone’s eyes at the table. “What?”

Austin cleared his throat and leaned in. “We were all just wondering if… well, you’d be able to continue the tour after what happened with Rob?”

After placing the mug back down onto the wooden table, she sighed. “Yes. I’m not gonna let him stop us from finishing this. And I’m sorry about last night, I’m just trying to take this all in and – “

“It’s okay,” Sam spoke up, one to usually avoid getting involved in Jane’s personal ordeals. “We were all kind of wondering if it would happen since you guys got together.” Austin shook his head as Sam said the last sentence, to which Sam only shrugged.

“Wait,” Jane replied, scratching her head. “What the fuck does that mean?”

Austin put a hand up. “I think he means – “

“No,” Jane said sternly, keeping her eyes on Sam. “I want to hear it from Sam.”

Sam’s eyes widened. “I, uh, I mean, come on, Jane. You both are complete opposites. You’re wild and he’s responsible. How did you think this was going to go?”

“Holy shit,” Jane whispered harshly as her fists clenched. Lyla’s hand had moved to her shoulder, both to comfort her and to keep her from launching out of her seat. “Well, Sam, maybe if you knew what was going to happen, you should have fucking told me before he broke my heart!” Her voice had reached a hoarse yell.

“Jane, calm down,” Lyla said in a whisper as she looked around to all the patrons.

“No, fuck this,” Jane mumbled as she moved from the seat and stood up. “I’m going back to the bus.” And without another word, Jane exited the café hastily and called herself a cab.

*****


A heavy slumber was induced by an hour of crying alone in Jane’s bunk. Rob was nowhere to be found by the time she had arrived, which both felt like a good and bad thing. Good, well, because she’d probably fall apart if she saw him awake in an enclosed space. Bad because it left her wondering where the hell he had gone. He had just been passed out on the floor an hour or two ago.

By the time she had awoken, it had seemed like hours had gone by, and the afternoon sun was shooting a beam straight through the front of the bus. “Austin,” she whispered out when she saw his curly hair in the back, who came trotting to her bed.

“What’s up?”

“Rob here?” Jane asked timidly as she moved some hair from her face.

“Uh, no, J, actually…” Austin sighed. “He checked into a hotel. I have the information if you want it.”

Jane snorted. “Do you really think that’s a good idea? Look at me.”

“Honestly, I think you guys need to talk. Not only for your sake, but for all of us.” Austin’s hand waved to the rest of the bus. “We’re heading down a bad path here, J.”

“Ugh, you’re right.” Jane swung her legs over the side of the bed, holding Austin’s hands to help her jump down. “Text me it. I’ll, uh, I’ll go see him.”

Austin smiled. “Thanks, Jane.” He ruffled her hair. “Need me to call you a cab?”

“Nah, I got it,” Jane did her best to return his smile, but it was definitely pained. If she had already told Andy that she was pregnant, it would only be fair to tell Rob as soon as possible, especially before he heard it from someone else. That would make things exponentially worse, if that was even possible.

Jane had changed her clothes, brushed her teeth, and wrapped her hair up into a knot before moving to the fridge and downing a beer or two. Her nerves were shot, and numbing them with substances was all she knew how to do by now. Even she was starting to find it pathetic now.

A flask was tucked into the breast pocket of her jean jacket, which its gray hood pulled up over her head, and she exited the bus to wait for her cab. The sun had begun to set, decreasing the temperature outside just enough to make her shiver sporadically as a cigarette hung loosely between her lips. With each passing moment, Jane wanted to run back inside and bury herself deep inside the covers on her bed, but she knew she had to go see him. By the time the cab had arrived, Jane had already empty half of the flask contents, and on the ride over to the hotel, the alcohol began to warm her body and calm her worried thoughts.

Jane’s headphones were playing Fruit by ABRA as the cab pulled up in front of the tall building, and after tipping the driver, she reluctantly stumbled out onto the street and looked around. A bar was located to its right, and Jane – being a procrastinator – decided to stop there first since her flask was now bone dry.

It was dark and loud in the establishment, and Jane had to shove her way through the crowd of patrons to get to the bar. “A whiskey double please,” she shouted as she shoved cash to the older man, and without a word, he took the wad of bills and nodded. She kept her head down and her eyes on the floor to avoid welcoming any sort of conversation, and once the bartender handed her the contents, she downed the brown liquid and quickly weaved through the bar and back out on to the street.

She was drunk. Shit. She only planned to get a little tipsy to make herself feel better, but this was bad. If it wasn’t for how cold it was outside, she probably would have stayed until she sobered up, but after a few minutes of her teeth chattering, she entered the hotel and took out her phone to get his room number. “Okay, you’re fine,” she whispered to herself as the elevator took her up, up, up to his floor, almost hoping that it would stop in its tracks and trap her in there. No such luck though, as soon enough, the bell rang and the doors rolled open. “Fuck.”

Jane squinted her eyes to read the door numbers as she crept down the carpeted hallway, and after a few wrong turns, she was staring at Rob’s door with tears in her eyes. 208.

No matter how much her mind tried to talk her into knocking, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. What if she was forcing herself into Rob’s room just to get rejected again? For him to tell her that he was still certain in his decision not to be with her anymore? Jane was much too inebriated to handle that right now, especially in her newly emotional state. Plus, what if he didn't even want to see her? What if coming here and attempting to talk to him was the exact opposite of what he needed?

Instead, Jane dropped down to her knees as she began to silently cry, then eventually curled up into a fetal position against the wall next to his door. She’d have to sleep it off here, just for a little, until she sobered up a bit. Yeah, that would be much better. Then, she’d go in and talk to him. Just a few minutes and…

A drunken sleep took over her, and Jane laid unconscious on the patterned carpet beneath her.
Howdy! So, I've been experiencing hella insomnia as a side effect from this medication and my brain is pretty much fried. Not sure when it'll subside but I'll keep you posted :-)
@HaleyTheRandom it's because @Megatrash is like the stupidest person.

If I was in a room with her and a gun with two bullets, I'd shoot the bullet into the ceiling then shoot the 2nd into my own brain so that she'd be left alone with a corpse and an unloaded gun, forced to spend the rest of her miserable life in a hypothetical room on her own. For eternity.

Which is, like, a long time.


If I had a gun with two bullets and I was in a room with Hitler, Bin Laden, and @Buddha, I would shoot Buddha twice.
@HaleyTheRandom lol it's all in good fun. @Buddha is my bruh bruh
“Jane?” a feminine voice came from the other side of the curtain. “Jane, you go on in thirty.”

Jane took a deep breath, rolled over, and slid the curtain open slowly to see Lyla’s face. “Thanks,” she whispered as she forced a smile, but smiling was the last thing Jane felt like doing. Well, next to performing tonight. The fact that they had worked so hard to get to this point – touring around the world – and now it was a chore to do it was a joke in itself. It was sad, really, that all Jane wanted to do now was to just go back to Long Beach and forget it all ever happened.

That would be too good to be true.

“Hey, Lyla?” Jane called out as her head popped out from the bunk. “Is Rob here?”

“No,” Lyla shook her head. “He’s already inside.”

Jane nodded then dropped down to the cold floor of the bus, quickly sliding jeans up under the large shirt she was wearing. She usually didn’t care much what she looked like, but tonight, that was especially true, so Jane opted to put on one of Rob’s large hoodies on instead of trying to be more presentable. After tying the laces to her boots, she walked to the fridge and grabbed a beer, then plopped down on the couch.

“You’re drinking?” Lyla asked with a concerned tone.

“What’s it matter?” Jane said, not meaning to sound as rude as it did.

Lyla shrugged then exited the bus, leaving Jane alone to gather what energy she could before she had to give it all away to the strangers in the audience. She unlocked her phone, and an unread text from Andy appeared at the top of the screen.

Andy, 8:32 PM: Hey babe. Been thinking about you all day, then I heard this song. It reminds me of you.

Jane debated on whether or not to click the link that he sent. She was already emotional. But, it was a nice sentiment, so her finger tapped the screen, and it redirected to Molly’s Chamber by Kings of Leon

She smiled. Jane knew the lyrics all too well.

”Free, that's all that she could bleed
That's why she'll never stay
White, bare naked in the night
And lookin' for some play
Just another girl that wants to rule the world
Any time or place
And when she gets into your head
You know she's there to stay”


Jane’s thumbs hovered over her phone until she decided what to send him back. Did she want to tell him everything through text message? No. But, her chances of seeing him ever again were growing slimmer and slimmer as the days passed.

Jane, 8:45 PM: Hey. I have to talk to you about something. Can I call you in the morning?

After hitting ‘send,’ she walked back to her bunk and threw the phone up before heading over to the venue. Constantly checking her phone to see if he replied would not do anyone any good, so it was best to just forget about it for now.

Jane walked by the table where Rob had left the merch to sign, and she quickly scribbled a sloppy ‘Jane Molloy’ onto all the items before heading towards the craft table for another drink and to have a cigarette before the show. Austin approached her from behind and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“What’s going on with you, J?” he asked quietly with furrowed brows. “You’ve been off lately.”

Jane squeezed her eyes shut. She didn’t want to lie to Austin, especially when he had been such ag ood friend to her, so she grabbed his arm and pulled him further away from the group. “Uh, Rob ended things with me after the meeting today.”

Austin’s eyes widened. “Are you serious? Jesus, I’m gonna talk to – “

“No,” Jane whispered sharply. “Don’t say anything. Please. I’ll deal with it later. Has, uh, has he been acting weird?”

“I don’t know, man,” Austin scratched his head. “I haven’t really seen much of him.”

Jane nodded before he kissed her forehead, and she mouthed a ‘thanks’ as he walked away. Her heart had been breaking since earlier than day, and even the kindness Austin showed her was not making her feel any better. She lit her cigarette and stood alone as far away from everyone as she could untilt hey got word that it was time to get on stage. Jane took a deep breath and walked up the stairs to be greeted by the crowd hollering at her. She waved sheepishly and walked up to the mic stand, adjusting its height much lower so that it was a comfortable distance from her mouth.

“How’s everyone doing tonight, huh?” she asked weakly.

The crowd, of course, “woo-ed” in response.

“Alright, let’s get this shit started.”

*****


Jane had powered through nearly the entire set, although much less energetic than normal. She had said something to the crowd about feeling ill as an excuse, to which they all seemed to be satisfied with. The intro to the single began, and Jane took the microphone off the stand and announced: “This is gonna be our last one for the night. Thanks for being awesome.”

Her voice came in, raspy from the five other songs performed, but as she sang, she began to feel tears come to her eyes. No, no, no. Not now. Not now. Her eyes shut to keep them from flooding, but that caused a single tear to roll down her face, and the sleeve of Rob’s hoodie quickly went to wipe it. Her throat began to tighten, but she continued to sing the lines to the best of her ability as more tears began to stream down her cheeks. It was now uncontrollable at this point, but she couldn’t work up the courage to look back at Rob, or even to Austin or Sam. It was embarrassing.

As Sam played a riff during a break in lyrics, Jane spoke on the microphone as she sat down at the front of the stage. “I need your help for this last verse okay, guys?”

The crowd gathered closely to her as Jane held the mic out, and on cue, all of them began to sing the song word for word. It gave Jane the chills to hear people singing her own, personal thoughts, and it was a helpful distraction from the pain she was feeling. But soon enough, the song ended, and Jane thanked them before dashing off the stage and exiting the venue. As soon as she hit the cool air, she began to sob, sinking down to her knees on the wet pavement and covering her face with shaking hands.

It almost felt as if someone had died; the emotions she was feeling was similar to when her mother passed. She was grieving the loss of her best friend and her love of her life. It all seemed so dramatic – and hopefully being pregnant was a large contributor – but Jane couldn’t help but feel completely torn to shreds over everything.

Soon, Lyla and Austin exited the venue to find Jane, and they both lifted her off the ground and quickly escorted her back to the bus and helped her up to her bunk. She didn’t bother undressing, but instead just pulled the blanket over herself after whispering a weak “thank you.”

Austin and Lyla looked to each other, nodded, then went their separate ways on the bus. The only noise Jane could hear was her own sniffling, which she tried to cover up by putting the comforter over her face. She was so mentally and physically exhausted, and all she wanted was to lay on Rob’s chest and fall asleep there peacefully. Now, she couldn’t even do that. Would Jane even be able to continue the tour with him so close to her, but without being able to be with him? Eventually, Jane succumbed to her exhaustion and fell asleep, still tightly wrapped under the blanket, with the hopefully thought that tomorrow couldn’t be any worse.
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