“Dude, I’m still in complete and total fucking shock that you proposed.”
Ya, me too. It hasn’t fully hit me that Ryann is now my fiancé. I mean, is it normal for relationships to move this fast? Hell, nothing about our relationship is normal.
Xayla flew back with me to California for the carpet event we’re attending together and insisted on staying at the house to keep me company. Especially with Pearl on her way over. A meeting that was called into play by Val. AKA, Travis.
“The time felt right.” It felt so fucking right, and I’m not sure when another moment would present itself like that. It was natural and flowed with ease, and I wasn’t going to wait another minute. Not when life can change in the blink of an eye.
“So, did you ask permission?”
I arch a brow because Xayla is the most untraditional person I know. But she’s also close with her parents. So, maybe for her, getting her father’s blessing is the respectable thing to do. But I didn’t ask Betty, Jen, or anyone from Ryann’s family for their blessing. They just found out we were dating. Imagine how they would take the news of me asking for their daughter’s hand in marriage. But I did talk with Travis. I know he considers Ryann like a daughter, and I kind of asked him for his blessing in a backward roundabout way. A blessing I got with the threat of an ass-kicking if I screw anything up.
“As in her family?”
Xayla nods her head before suddenly frowning. “Well, I guess it doesn’t really make sense to ask her family. Not with twat-face still in town. I mean, you’re not really on her mom’s good side with the new security measures now.”
“Gee, thanks for the reminder.”
She shrugs a shoulder as she starts to flip through her phone, “Ehh, your mind can be shit.”
“Again, gee, thanks. And I talked with Travis.” I admit, though, I’m not sure why I need to clarify anything with her.
“Oh, that’s sweet. He’s kinda adopted Ryann as his own. Did he give you his famous, don’t fuck anything up or an ass-whooping speech?” I’m kind of impressed with how deep Xayla got her voice trying to mimic Travis.
“Good,” Xayla says as she points her now painted red fingernails in my direction. “Because I’m in that line too.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to be in my line? All I have to do is tell Travis about Georgia.”
Xayla’s face goes pale, and I can’t help but laugh. “Not funny. I apologized for my awfulness. Plus, I’m thinking of going to rehab.”
Wait! Is she serious? I sit back on the couch, studying Xayla. I’m not sure if she’s saying this to say it or if she’s serious. But by the nervousness in her brown eyes, she’s serious.
She nods her head, “Ya, I’ve been talking with Andrew. And Ryann gave me the number for her coach here, Carl. I’m actually meeting with him tomorrow to talk with him. I mean, I love seeing you get sober and the person you’ve become. I want that too. But every time I think I have a handle, three pills magically pop into my mouth.” She pauses a moment as she flips her phone around in her hand. “How does Ryann make it look so easy?”
Because she has the tools to make it look easy when it’s far from easy.
“Xayla, it’s not easy for her either. She still struggles. These few weeks have been hard on her, and her nightmares have returned.” Xayla gasps out, and I watch her browns turn nearly black with rage. I don’t need to tell her what Ryann’s dream was about. She already knows. “She went to a meeting the other day, and I went with her.”
“What?” Xayla smiles. “You, Thomas Copeland, Mr. I don’t do meetings. Went to one?”
Rolling my eyes, “I was supporting Ryann. She asked me to go, and I went with her.”
Feeling slightly impatient and annoyed, “And what?”
“How was it?”
“Not what I expected. I mean, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I saw wasn’t it. I thought we would all be sitting in a circle and singing Kumbaya or some shit.”
Xayla scrunches her face together, “It’s not summer camp. Do you think you’ll go? Like to a meeting?”
Is the sky blue?
I don’t have a fucking answer to that question. Yes. No. I don’t know. Watching Ryann speak, I saw a side of her I’ve never seen before. I mean....I’ve seen her vulnerable, but her speaking, it was a new type of vulnerability. It’s a strength I can only dream of having. But I also saw the weight dissipating from her shoulders and the control that she felt like she lost, she somehow regained.
I want that. I want to feel in control of my addiction. Maybe meetings would help.
“I don’t know,” I finally answer.
“Ohhh,” she smiles, “That’s not a no!”
Rolling my eyes, “Change the subject. I’m done talking about this.” Xayla frowns slightly before shrugging her shoulders and starts to type into her phone angrily. “Your turn,” I say, pointing at her phone. “Spill.”
“Spill what?” She grinds out.
Well, if she’s attempting to hide her frustrations, she’s failing. Hardcore.
“Is Fredrick going to miss his quick rendezvous?”
Xayla mocks me before delivering me the bird. Fredrick is her little plaything with no attachments. She calls, and he comes running for whatever her needs may be. In most cases, it’s for pleasure. I’ve met him once. I caught him leaving her house as I was coming in. He wasn’t supposed to be there, and I wasn’t supposed to find out. For good reasons, too, because I can’t seem to stop poking fun either, and I love that it pisses her off.
“If you must know. My parents want me to come home for a week. They’re getting the family together. Which means I’m locked in the middle of bum fuck Canada with my sister and brother. Judging me as I pop as many pills as I fucking can to tolerate them.” Xayla and her siblings don’t get along at all. It stems from Xayla’s successful career, her ability to buy their parents a new home, and a new car with no strings attached. Also, it may not help that Xayla takes her and her parents on lavish vacations, leaving her brother and sister behind. But if my siblings were acting like dickheads, I would do the same. “All they’re going to do is bitch and moan about how I bought Mom and Dad tickets to Sweden this year. Well, fuck you very much, Brad and Cindy. You only call me when you want money. Selfish pricks”
Geesh, I can see not much has changed in the Masterson household.
“How long has it been since you’ve seen your siblings?”
“Two years?” She pauses, “Maybe three. Does it matter? They’ll just judge and whine and complain about how I buy mom and dad XYZ.” She whines.
Maybe they will, perhaps they won’t. She won’t know until she goes. But Xayla’s probably right. Her siblings will bitch and complain about how she can buy their parents the things they can’t. So maybe it’s all a jealousy thing.
Sliding forward on the couch, “Listen, Xayla. The one thing I’ve learned from Ryann in this whole sobriety journey, sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.”
She points her phone towards me, “Let me get back to you on that after I left rehab.”
“Speaking of doing things you don’t want to do,” Xayla muses.
Rolling my eyes, I ignore the sound of the doorbell when I know I should get up and answer the damn door. If I don’t.....ding-dong, ding-dong.....she’s going to keep ringing the damn thing until she drives me nuts. But scratch that, just the thought of her standing on my damn stoop is causing me to grind my teeth.
“I’ll get it!” Xayla sings as I watch her skip her way to the front door. I have to mentally keep myself from groaning out and pray that Xayla doesn’t make this meeting worse than what I’m already predicting. Because I need the shit show to go down tomorrow. “Pearl!” Xayla greets as she throws the front door open. And I quickly busy myself with my phone. “I didn’t know you were stopping by.”
I hear the sharp clicks of Pearl’s heels followed by the front door closing shut, “Miss. Masterson. I wasn’t aware you’d be here.”
Pulling up a text to Travis,
She’s here. You have ten minutes. Go.
God, I hope Travis is right and can obtain the information he wants and needs. Travis had this crazy hair-brain idea on the plan. One that had to involve Pearl being on the property and logged into my WIFI, and I know for a fact her phone automatically syncs to my WIFI. I just hope Travis can get the documents and emails we need before tomorrow.
“Thomas and I flew back together, and we decided to get ready together. Nails and all.”
Oh, for the love of God.
Looking from my phone, Pearl is arching her finely maintained brows as she follows alongside Xayla, “And why would you fly back with Thomas?”
Now it’s Xayla’s turn to look as if the words leaving Pearl’s mouth are foreign before locking her eyes with me. “I think your publicist has lost touch,” Xayla says dryly and returning her attention back to Pearl. “Ryann, she was involved in a car crash. Both her, Thomas, and Travis were involved. So I flew out to New York to check on my friends.”
Pearl’s face falls into a fake softness of concern, “Oh, of course. How is Miss. Anderson doing? How are you doing, Thomas.”
“Just PG, Pearl. Back for this carpet event and to pack up some things before heading back to New York.” I watch Pearl close the distance between us before taking a seat on the opposite side of the couch. “And what do I owe the pleasure. I don’t remember you texting and asking to stop by.”
Pearl frowns as she jabs her finger into the screen of her phone, “Oh, well, Valerie told me to stop by. Said she had something for me.”
Xayla flops down next to me as a giggle escapes her lips, “Are you sure it was the right Valerie texting you?”
I swear, if Xayla blows this operation, I will throw one of her damn high heels at her.
“Of course,” Pearl says with disdain. “I only have one Valerie in my phone.”
Ha, you sure about that?
“Well, someone is playing with you then. That or Valerie forgot. I mean, she does seem a little distracted here lately.” Xayla says as if she’s talking to me. I manage to shrug my shoulders like I haven’t noticed anything. “Anyway, she’s with Alice picking up our outfits for the evening.”
Pearl arches a disbelieving brow, “And why aren’t you getting it? You normally like to make sure your suits fit before leaving the store.”
Crossing my arms, “Because I don’t feel like standing in a damn store. I’m tired. I’m still sore, and I don’t want to deal with the press. So, I had Val do it for me. Is there a problem with that? The last I checked, she is my employee.”
Pearl shakes her head, “No, no, not at all. When will Miss. Anderson be returning to work? Do I need to put in for a temporary?” God damn, she’s really laying on the fake ass sweetness thick. With Ryann not here, Pearl is trying to get a toe back in the fucking door. I can see it, and so can Xayla. Thus, the tension slowly growing in the room between Pearl and me. She’s losing grip on what control she has left. And by tomorrow, our relationship will be permanently severed.
“And why would I need a temporary assistant?” I ask evenly. “If I remember correctly, I told you the only job you had to worry about is yours.”
Pearl smiles sweetly, holding her dainty hands up. “I remembered. I’m just offering my services.”
“They’re not needed. Ryann will return when she’s well enough. In the meantime, Val is taking over her responsibilities.”
“Plus,” Xayla chimes in when she sees Pearl is about to speak again. “I’ve offered my team to help out. So, I think he’s covered until Ryann returns.”
Glaring at Xayla, I think she could have left that little lie out. But like the talented actress, Xayla is, Pearl is buying the massive bullshit of a lie.
“And if Miss. Anderson doesn’t return?”
Eyeing Pearl, “Like I’ve said before, your job is solely as my publicist.” For now.
If Pearl’s forehead could develop any more scowling wrinkles, she’d look like a pissed-off bulldog. “Clearly, my services weren’t needed in New York. It seems like Miss. Knox released an amateur statement.”
Sitting forward on the couch, I clap my hands together and rest my arms against my legs. “And the last I checked, you’ve expressed no interest in releasing a statement when it comes to Ryann. You’ve made that crystal clear when she was attacked.”
“You what?” Xayla snaps. “God, Thomas, I told you she’s nothing but a giant bitch.”
Again, Xayla shut the hell up. You are not helping right now. Nor are you helping me keep my blood at a low simmer because I’m finding it very hard to sit on this couch opposite Pearl and not tell her what I know. I’m ready to explode. This has been years in the making.
Pearl glares at Xayla, “And I wasn’t aware you and Miss. Anderson were close friends.”
Ha, that’s a bullshit lie if I’ve ever heard of one. Pearl knows who Ryann has befriended since she arrived in California. She knows because she’s keeping tabs on everyone.
“Besties!” Xayla cheers with a determined smile. “Gotta problem with that? Because I may not be wearing heels, but I’ve heard that shoes hurt just the same.”
Threaten Pearl and she’ll raise the threat level. “And how would an assault charge sound? I’m sure your team would love explaining that to the public with your growing reputation.”
“And I’m sure....”
Rolling my eyes at the continual bickering between these two because I’m not sure how much more I can handle. Xayla can handle herself against Pearl, but for my sanity, she needs to stop railing her up. Because if this fighting continues, Pearl will say something that will piss me the fuck off, and I know I won’t be able to bite my tongue for long.
But I don’t have to wait long for a welcoming distraction. My attention is drawn to the sound of the front door opening, and closing as Travis makes his way into the living room. Telling me he’s done.
“Sir,” Travis states evenly. The arguing between Pearl and Xayla suddenly stops. “I have the files that you wanted to review.”
Thank you, Jesus.
Pearl suddenly snaps her head in Travis’s direction. I can see the questions looming in her eyes. “Files? Files for what?”
Smiling, “Oh, didn’t you hear Pearl?” She frowns as she looks at me with confusion. Twisting my lips off to the side, I fringe confused. “Oh, I thought Val sent you an email.” Then, looking to Xayla, “I guess you’re right. I guess she has been a little distracted here lately. I’m sure the car crash is weighing heavily on her mind. But I’m retiring from acting. Tucker sent some files over for me to review before announcing my decision to the media.”
Pearl’s mouth drops open before suddenly snapping shut. “I’m....I’m sorry. I don’t think I heard you correctly. You’re retiring from acting?”
Getting to my feet, I walk over towards Pearl. Ushering her to her feet and towards the front door. “Well, I’ve done a lot of thinking, and I’ve talked with Ryann, Val, and my grandparents. I think it’s best for my health to retire. I have some ideas that I’m working on that I would like to execute. But to do that, I need to focus on them and my health and not my acting career. Plus, I never enjoyed this line of work anyways.”
Stopping at the door, “Whoa, whoa, now wait a minute, Thomas. You’re so young. Let’s not jump to any decisions that you’ll regret. Once you step out of Hollywood, you won’t be able to get back in. Your status will go from A-list to D-list.”
Oh, it will—such a shame. And I seriously doubt that too.
Smiling as I open the door, “Well, I guess it’s a risk I’m going to have to take. Now, if you don’t mind, I do have files to review and need to contact my lawyer. I will let Val know you stopped by.”
Pearl gives me her famous ever-so-fake smile. “Of course. Well, at least promise me that you’ll sit down with Dax and me before you make an official decision. At least, we’ll be able to guide you in the right direction. I’ve been with you from the beginning, and I’ve never steered you wrong before.”
What a load of bullshit. “Thanks, Pearl. I’ll keep that in mind.” Oh, those words are like vomit in my mouth.
Pearl smiles before patting my arm in an unknown affection. “I’m glad that you’re alright, Thomas. Call me before you leave, and we can talk in private before you make any rash decisions.”
I nod my head only because I have something better planned for her tomorrow. Pearl smiles before walking down the front stoop, the clicking of her heels growing further and further away until I closed the front door. Shutting Pearl out of my life altogether.
“Well, that went well,” Xayla says with a devious smile. “You were ready to kill her.”
Walking back to the couch, I flop down as I grab my phone. My home screen lighting up with a picture of Ryann and me. It was the first day out of the hospital. We were laying on the couch, watching a movie, and I snapped this photo of us. I’m looking down at her as she giggles out. Man, looking at this photo, I took it early this week, but it feels like eons ago.
“And you two bickering back and forth helped tremendously.”
“Well, she pissed me off. I don’t like it when she insults Ryann.” Xayla says on a hard huff of air.
My jaw ticks, “And you think I do?” Xayla shrugs her shoulders. She can’t be serious, can she? “I’m going to throw my damn shoe at you.”
Xayla’s brown eyes go wide before she bursts into a fit of laughter. Without warning, she’s down on the floor, holding her sides with uncontrollable laughter.
“Oh, oh, that was great. And a first.” She laughs between her words.
Groaning out, I roll my eyes before turning my attention to Travis, “Did you get what you needed?”
Travis steps over a still laughing Xayla and hands me his phone. Looking at the screen, I see an email from my lovely publicist to Jamie Maddox. Swiping to the next file, I see another email with Dax CC in, and again it’s to Jamie Maddox. Swiping to the text file, there are text messages between Pearl, Dax, and Shelia with detailed information on how to get onto my property and avoid setting off the security alarms. Everything is detailed out like a damn blueprint. They wanted Ryann gone, and they paid the one person who knew what to do.
“I’ve already forwarded all of these to Tucker.”
Perfect, I grind out. “What about the security system. Did you figure out why it didn’t alert you to anyone on the property?”
Travis nods his head with annoyance. I catch Xayla rolling herself into a sitting position, her eyes wide as she listens in. “Pearl’s texts and emails to Shelia details how to bypass the security system and cameras. But Shelia got her wires crossed. All she managed to do was to disable the alarm system. Not the cameras. I’ve sent the footage to Tucker. She’ll be facing trespassing charges, and a restraining order will be issued.”
“No need,” Xayla bits out. “Shelia will be toast before a restraining order ever reaches her.”
“And what are you going to do to her? Throw your shoe?” By the glare I’m getting from Xayla, she didn’t appreciate the sarcasm in my voice.
“No, in case you forgot. I’m going to get the bitch back from selling me bad pills. I know she knew what the hell she was doing. She’s been avoiding me ever since that night. So, I have something epic planned. Wanna know?”
Shaking my head, “Nope. Sure don’t. Because if she ends up missing, I don’t want to be implicated in your murder plot gone wrong or some shit.”
“Your lost. Travis? You in?” She asks, pointing a red manicure finger his way.
Travis arches a brow, “Thanks for the offer, but I think I’m going to have to pass. But we are set for tomorrow. Are you ready?”
I’m beyond ready. I’m ready to get Pearl and Dax out of our fucking lives.
Goodbye, Pearl and Dax.
I hope the door hits you on your fucking way out