Five fucking weeks. Five god damn long fucking weeks.
Ryann was gone by the time I got back to the hotel. So was fucking Andrew. That god damn prick drove her to the airport. I ended up sitting at the bar down in the hotel lobby for hours, just staring at the whiskey neat sitting in front of me. Each time I picked the glass up, I sat it back down. Only to repeat the motion several times. I tried calling Ryann, and each time I was immediately sent to voicemail.
For every day for five fucking weeks, I’ve called Ryann hoping that she’d answer. And each time she doesn’t answer, I leave a voicemail. Begging her to call me back. Asking her to tell me where she went, that I’ll come out to her.
Babydoll, please call me back. I’m begging you. Can we please talk this out?
Ryann, I know that you’re listening to my voicemails. I know that you’re screening my calls, but please call me back. This is driving me insane. I have no idea where you are. I don’t know where Val is, and I know she’s with you. Just....please just call me back. You don’t have to talk. Just let me know that you’re alright.
The last one is a big fucking joke. Of course, she’s not okay. Why would she be alright? I’ve put her through hell. Over and over, I put her through hell. And for some reason, the party in Georgia was the straw that broke her. I don’t know what it was. If it was because I got into a fight with Ralph. The whole Xayla thing and her being a bitch. Or maybe because I froze when Xayla attacked her and didn’t defend Ryann when I should have. Even for me, that was a douche move.
I’ve lied to Pearl and told her that an emergency came up in Georgia and Ryann needed to go back home for an extended period of time. She’s skeptical. Highly skeptical. Especially when Val put in an extended vacation request. A request that was denied while Val was on a plane heading to wherever she met Ryann. I ended up vouching for Val when Pearl confronted me on the issue. I had no clue that Val left too. Not until I got back home, but I told Pearl she went to help Ryann out and not call either one of them.
That conversation went over wonderfully. Pearl was pissed that I essentially cut her off from her assistant and from harassing Ryann. I’m starting to see the issue here and really reconsidering her employment with me. The only reason why she’s still on is she was a dear family friend. If that is what we’re calling it. She’s been my publicist since the beginning. Even after the crash, she stayed somewhat close to the family. But these last few years, she’s been up to something. Sending Jazz on a mission hunt for something she’ll never find. I know she thinks I’m a drunken idiot who can’t tell right from his left. I’m also not blind or dumb. I know an enabler when I see one.
Pearl is very much an enabler. I just didn’t care. I got what I wanted when I wanted it. She handed me the world and then some.
Until Ryann came along.
Ryann is someone truly unique. She wasn’t afraid to call me out on my bullshit. She held me responsible when no one else would. She forced me to see the truth when I didn’t want to see the truth. And now, I see the light at the end of a dark and dangerous tunnel that I’d been trapped in for far too long. She brings out the best of me. And she stayed when she saw the worst of me. Until I pushed her too far, and now, she’s gone. I drove her away.
“Anything?” Xayla asks
Staring down at my phone, “From who? Val or Ryann?”
“Val is still on vacation?” She asks, sounding surprised.
“She’s not on fuckin’ vacation. She’s with Ryann. Wherever the hell they are. Val didn’t even tell Pearl where the hell she went. And she keeps extending her damn stay.” The only uptake is that Val will return my calls. Hours later, but she will return them.
“Has she told you anything?”
“What the fuck do you think?” I grate.
“That you need to go to her if you want her back.”
Thanks for stating the god damn obvious. But I have no idea where the hell she is. She’s turned off the tracking on her phone. I’m not even sure if her phone is on half the time.
“Wouldn’t have to if you could keep your shit in check.” I bark. It’s not fair to place all the blame on Xayla but considering Xayla hasn’t taken any sort of responsibility for her actions still pisses me the fuck off.
Xayla’s eyes gloss over with disdain, “I told you, I didn’t know that shit. How am I supposed to know that? She’s not exactly an open book.”
“You suspected,” I yell. “After the party, you told me that you wondered if she could be a survivor. Well, she is. Then you went and called her selfish for saving your damn life. You are a friend to her. What the hell?”
“I called her. I left messages apologizing.” She says, looking down at her hands.
Rolling my eyes, “Congratulation, you’re in the voicemail club.”
She shakes her head softly, her long black hair falling over her shoulders. “She called me back a few days ago.” She says softly as she looks up. Her eyes shining with the threat of tears.
Sighing, because now I’m feeling like an ass. Xayla doesn’t cry. She’s dramatic, but she doesn’t cry, “How did it go?”
“Not good at first. I told her about you being a mess, and she went off. She was yelling at me. Telling me that I will not make her feel guilty for doing what she felt was right. And that she’s not apologizing.” She pauses for a moment, wiping the tears from her eyes. “I apologized to her and thanked her for making me go to the hospital. I also apologized for what I said and that I didn’t mean anything by it.” Xayla looks back up, “I really didn’t mean anything I said, Thomas. I’m sorry that I caused her to run away.”
Frowning, because I know that none of this is Xayla’s fault. It’s mine. I’ve gathered that Ryann runs away when she’s forced to face a truth she doesn’t want or if it could deal with her past. But she’s never run away where I couldn’t find her.
“As much as I want to blame you, it’s not your fault. Ryann has a knack for running. Just never thought it’d be someplace I couldn’t find her.” I say, looking back at my phone. Hoping by some sort of miracle that she’s called or text me. “Did she...” I trail off as Xayla starts shaking her no.
“No. She wouldn’t tell me. She told me I’m shit with secrets. But that she’s someplace, you’ll find her.”
I twist my mouth with annoyance. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Xayla just shrugs her shoulders as an answer.
“That’s fucking helpful.”
Pointing a suddenly angry finger at me, “I’m trying here. Don’t snap at me. You’re the one who didn’t defend her. For someone you claim you’re in love with. You sure have a shit way of showing it.”
Not this fucking shit again.
Running a hand through my hair and glaring, “Screw you.”
Xayla’s expression suddenly softens. “Thomas, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean. I’m just...”
“Forget it, Xayla. I shouldn’t have even told you.”
She looks insulted by my statement, “And why not?”
“Because I was pissed. It just came out. I wanted you to feel guilty.”
“It’s not the first....” Her tone is joking, nonchalant, and pissing me off all over again. I know how she acts when she’s being held responsible for her actions. She gets defensive. She says the first thing that comes to her mind, and that includes mean and venomous words.
Cutting her off, “Damn’t Xayla, I was fucking furious with you. I still am. Ryann is gone. And you’re just sitting here acting like a fucking spoiled brat. Grow the fuck up.”
She flips me the bird as she gets to her feet, “Maybe grab a drink, Copeland, instead of seeking sobriety. You’re a real dick sober.”
“I’m a dick, regardless.”
Xayla slams my office door shut as I hear her stomping her heels down the hall before they become a distant echo. I hear the sound of the solid front door slamming shut. Leaving me in a large home alone. A place that is less of a home without Ryann. Each day I walk past her room, I stop and stare at the closed door. With each passing day, I stand at the door, ready to knock, hoping that she’ll answer. I’ve even found myself standing outside her apartment door.
The contractors finished the repairs while we were in Georgia. When I flew back alone, I went back to her apartment and sat in the living room. I’m not sure what I was expecting to happen while sitting there. That Ryann would come walking through the front door with her bright smile. Making me feel whole, that I’m worthy of someone like her.
And I fucking screwed that all up.
Getting to my feet, I find myself standing outside her bedroom door again. My hand at the doorknob, and with one final breath, I finally open the door. The room smells of her. The floral scent washing over me, making me feel warm inside like I’ve been out in the sun all day. Walking into the room, I sit on the edge of the bed, my eyes scanning the room and taking everything in. I notice a corner of the comforter folded up. A little trait that I noticed after the first night she stayed in this room. A photo of her and her mom and Max sit in a silver photo frame on the nightstand. One of her cardigans is draped over the arm of the armchair in the corner of the room.
I can tell by the open closet door and partially closed dresser drawers that Val must have come to the house to pack a bag for Ryann. When she fled Georgia, Ryann left with only her wallet. I knew before Andrew told me. After leaving the bar, completely sober and just staring at my whiskey. I found myself in her room. I saw the key card sitting on her nightstand, and all her clothes were still in her room. I could tell by the way her dress was discarded on the floor that she hurried out when Andrew called her. She was always rushing to places, especially if I called or if I needed her. Ryann would always show.
But she’s not showing now.
Collapsing my head into my hands, my fingers tugging on my roots, I groan out in frustration.
Where the fuck did she go?
I know it’s not back home. She told me that she wouldn’t return to Indiana. Not to live at least, and I know that she wouldn’t seek refuge from her family right now. Not with her dad and sister attacking her every chance they get. I know with the current entertainment buzz, they’ll be relentless. Photos are circulating of all four of us. But somehow, someone was able to nab a photo of Ryann and me by the car. The camera zoomed in and showing our hands. Our fingers intertwined as one. Pearl was pissed when she saw the photos. She’s done some PR, but I’ve refused to have her do anymore. The only PR that I’ve asked her to do is where it concerns Ryann. I want her to be protected, not dragged through the public eyes. I could care less about my image.
God, I wish Ryann would have waited at the hotel. Turning my head to the side, I see the nightstand drawer slightly open. Making me wonder what’s missing from there that Val would need to grab. Opening the drawer. I find a postcard that Ryann bought from a street vendor on the streets of New York. The postcard says, I love NY.
Smiling to myself, I call the only person I know who will know the answer, Val. I’m fully expecting my call to go to voicemail, but when she answers, I’m slightly surprised.
“Thomas Copeland, calling for your daily Ryann check-in?” She muses.
Ah, Ryann must be out, “Where is she?”
“Eh, sightseeing. Walking. Finding peace. I don’t know.”
“How is she doing?”
Val sighs, on the other end, “Honestly?” Yes, honestly. “I think she’s starting to wonder if this is a good idea. I’ll catch her crying after listening to your voicemails. She talked to Xayla the other day.”
“Xayla told me before I pissed her off.”
Val lets out a soft laugh, “Of course she did. She’s shit at keeping secrets.”
“She told me that Ryann yelled at her and wouldn’t tell her where she was.”
I can imagine Val shrugging her shoulders with an annoyed look on her face that says she deserved it. “I don’t know what was exactly said. Something about her needing to come back and that you’re a mess: it pissed her off because she felt like she was being made out into the bad guy or something. It’s really the first time I’ve seen her defend herself.”
“Urgh, you have to know I didn’t ask her to call.”
“I know.” Val says, reassuring me, “But everything has been smoothed out. She’s fine, and so is Xayla. How are you doing? Still seeing Andrew?”
“How long, Thomas?” Val asks.
Looking up at the ceiling, “Five weeks.”
I’ve been sober for five weeks, and Andrew is my recovery coach. After Georgia, he came to the house to talk. Wanting to explain himself without the threat of me throwing a punch. I couldn’t promise anything because I still wanted to deck him. He tried to explain himself at the hotel, but I didn’t want to hear a word he had to say. Andrew didn’t care. He managed to corner me in my hotel room. Offering words of wisdom and calling me out with my drinking problem. Of course, I yelled until I was blue in the face. I didn’t like the fact someone other than Ryann was calling me out on my bullshit and my issues. I didn’t like the fact that Andrew knew I had a problem when I knew everyone knew.
He offered helped. I denied it at first.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there are still times when we are talking that I just want to hit that smug face. A smug face who is helping me. And I can’t risk doing something that will hinder my sobriety. Not when I’m trying to be a better me. Not only for me but for Ryann too. I need to do better for her. She deserves better if I can ever get her back.
“She’s going to be so proud,” Val says cheerfully. “Are you sure you don’t want me to tell her? She may come back sooner.”
“No. I want to tell her. Listen, that’s one of the reasons why I called. I need you to be honest if I guess correctly.”
“Ugh, Thomas. Not this game again.” Val groans out. I may have also been playing a guessing game. Trying to get Val to leak where they are. I’ve guessed a range of places starting in Vancouver and ending all the way in England. It’s possible. Ryann carries her passport whenever she travels. “But I agreed to the rules, so shoot. I’m ready for your wrong guess.”
I don’t think my guess is wrong. Ryann gave me the answer, “New York.” I say, “Manhattan. I’m guessing, near Time Square.” I can practically feel Val smile across the phone, “Say I’m wrong, and I’ll hang up. Say I’m right, and I’m on the next flight out.”
“Goodbye, Thomas,” My heart sinks at how easily she dismissed me when I thought for sure I had it figured out, “I’ll have your flight information sent to you.”