Chapter Two - Scarlett
Relaxing was easier said than done because when I got home I could only think of Vax.
I neglected the shower I’d promised myself and walked down the hallway to my room. I opened the closet and pulled down an old shoe box with stuff I’d kept from college.
I tipped the contents on to my bed and rifled through it all. Movie stubs, Polaroid’s, little memento’s I’d thought were precious and priceless.
Then I saw it. The thing I was looking for.
A folded up poster. It had been on my wall for my last two years of college, just when the band’s fame was really just taking off. I carefully unfolded it and lay it on my bed.
Vax held his guitar, his hair was covering most of his face. But I could see one of his hypnotizing hazel eyes, and that same smirk he’d given me at dinner. But, it wasn’t Vax, I couldn’t see Vax anymore, I could only see Xavier. Irresistible hot Xavier....
Maybe my virginity was causing me to act like a thirsty person in a desert. I was seeing shit that just wasn’t real.
I looked down at the ground, away from the poster. My cat Asteroid circled my feet, weaving in and out. Begging for food. I bent down and picked him up.
“At least I can trust my feelings for you Aster” I whispered nuzzling him.
He purred in response and pushed his head against my cheek.
I placed Asteroid back down then walked down the hallway in to the kitchen and set out dinner for the cats. I stood there watching as they ate, both amused and distressed at my burgeoning cat lady status.
I walked back through to the lounge and flicked on the music channel. Like fate a ‘Going Nowhere’ song was playing. It was one of my favorites too.
I lay back on the couch and tried to forget for a moment who was singing it, because the words had always connected with me. I’d always felt like it was my song.
She’s afraid of her own skin
Sweet lips, but won’t try to use them
So beautiful it’s almost a sin
She looks at me, with her crystal blue gems.
And she says,
Tell me, I’m worth it
Tell me, I’m not alone
Cos I’ve been holding on, for too long
My mind is aching, my heart it breaking
And I, don’t know if I can go on.
I opened my eyes and stopped singing. How could Xavier of all people, have written something so poetic. I knew Vax was the sole writer I’d seen the writing credits, and if Vax was Xavier, then he’d written it. Mr. ‘I’m so moody and I don’t have romantic feelings’ had written the one song that touched me so deep on a personal level.
Angrily I snatched the remote up from beside me and changed the channel. Screw music. Screw it all, it was full of drama anyway. I didn’t need it.
Then, like the true spinster I was, I fell asleep, watching crap on television.
I woke up the next morning, still fully dressed, with all four cats resting their heads on me in one way or another.
Watch it, you’re living a wild life Scarlett Jackson.
I stood up, flicked the TV off and walked from the living room.
Thank god for work. When I was there I could forget everything, the kids became my focus. Being there reminded me of a simpler time in my life. A time when I didn’t really know what fame was. I was just a kid and it was just my life. Until high school happened and everything changed.
It had started with Ryan, we had been dating for 6 months. I was 17 and had begun to consider losing my virginity to him, He was kind enough, considerate and had good grades. Dad didn’t like him much, but I thought that it was normal for a dad to dislike his daughter’s potential suitors. In hindsight, I think he could probably see something I couldn’t.
On the night that I’d chosen to tell Ryan I was ready, that I ‘wanted’ to have sex with him. I went to the party of year, it was an annual event run by my best friends. We had arranged to meet out the front at 9pm. He had work, and couldn’t get there before then. When I arrived, one of my other friends told me he was inside waiting for me in a bedroom.
My heart was pounding, and I remember feeling nervous and excited. Finally excited I would drop the stupid V card my friends had been teasing me about.
I pushed open that bedroom door, and well... Let’s just say, what I saw was straight out of a dirty movie. Until that point of my life I’d never seen anything sexual. A grope during a make-out session was as hot as it got for me. But Ryan had one of my so called best friends, spread eagle, legs in the air on the bed. They didn’t even stop once they realized I was there. Ryan, who was drunk even asked me to join them.
Faced with the risqué scene I was surprised to find I wasn’t brokenhearted. Ryan had never lit that spark in me. He’d never made me feel like I was the only one for him, and I guess I was the same toward him.
I was hurt though, my friends had used me, and laughed at me, and had done things far crueler than even Xavier had ever done. I withdrew myself from their group, and from life in general. A few months later a video surfaced. A sex tape. The one make out session Ryan and I had started it. Unbeknownst to me, he’d filmed it. The rest of the tape was my friend, but the video didn’t show her face. The media decided it was me. I was the girl in the video.
My father was angry at first, with me for being so dumb. For giving myself to someone I clearly didn’t love. I explained the truth, and for the first time in my life I realized just how much a person can fuck you over when they think they can make something from you.
After Ryan and the whole best friend, spread eagle, legs in the air visual extravaganza in high school and the resulting “daughter of rock star caught up in high school sex tape.” stories, I’d learned not to be so trusting of peoples motives. I’d learned to hide in the shadows.
I’d learned to lie to my parents and deny I liked music, or that I was even any good at it. Because I was scared of getting hurt.
I shook the memory from my mind and headed to the bathroom. I had a shower and changed into a pair of blue jeans and a faded blue t-shirt. It had a picture of something on it, but it was so old that I couldn’t make out what it had originally been. I’d learned fairly early that working with young children meant mess, stains, and even the occasional bodily excrement would find its way on to my clothes.
Once I was dressed I left the bedroom and walked back down the hall to the kitchen.
Asteroid and Vax circled my legs. Fuck it. My poor cat. I’d named him after Vax, the musician. Now my poor beautiful black Persian cat’s name was tainted, now he was named after Xavier. Vax just meowed in my direction and sauntered away from me.
“I guess your attitude kind of matches Xavier’s you moody thing.” I mused as I walked to the fridge.
I topped up the cat food bowls and then left the house, time was slipping away on me, and if I didn’t leave now I was going to be late.
The kids distracted me as I’d known they would and for the first three hours of my 6 hour shift I forgot everything that had happened in the past 24 hours. Then half way through my shift I heard the front door open, and that’s when my day took a serious dive.
“Oh my god.” I heard Karen, one of the other teachers, gasp from beside me. I looked up and tilted my head at her.
Her eyes were wide and fixed on the door. She put down the orange crayon she was holding and began to fan her face with a piece of ridged cardboard from the craft table. “You’ll never guess who just walk in the door.”
My stomach dropped, I’d probably have thrown up then and there if I’d eaten at all, Thankfully I hadn’t yet. Because I knew exactly who stood there. I just didn’t know why.
“I’m not here.” I groaned. “This isn’t happening.”
Karen grabbed my elbow and pulled me in closer. The kids around us shook their heads like we were crazy. I didn’t blame them.
“He’s walking toward you.” She mumbled.
I rolled my eyes and placed my own crayon down. “You guys keep up the good work. I’m just going to chat with a..... Friend.” I smiled at the children, and stood up.
The word ‘friend’ stung my tongue like a poison. We’d never been friends, so why was he here, how had he even known where I worked in the first place.
“Go for your lunch break, you skipped your morning break.” Karen suggested raising her eyebrows. I shook my head, I didn’t need a lunch break, and I didn’t need to speak to Xavier more than to tell him to leave.
I spun around on my feet, and almost double backed into the table. Xavier stood there, inches away from me, I could feel the warmth of his body radiating toward me. The proximity was more than inappropriate for this setting, but I could hardly slap him in front of all the children, so instead I walked around him.
He followed behind me, out the side door and along the playground. We walked up a small bank away from the building and sat on the grass. Neither one of us spoke for some time. I still wasn’t even sure why he was here, or why I wasn’t telling him to leave.
I’d let him say what he came to say, but I wouldn’t look at him, not after how my body had rebelled against me the night before.
“I’m sorry.” He said finally, His words were loaded, but I still couldn’t tell what he was apologizing for. He wasn’t going to get away with it that easy. I needed clarification.
“What for? Last night, or high school.” I said, trying to keep my voice steady, calm, collected, but I wasn’t sure I was succeeding. Something about this man had me confounded.
Xavier took a long slow breath and ran his hand over his tied back locks before he finally said “Both, I guess.”
“Why were you such a jerk?” I mumbled, my voice was less steady now, and I knew that if we continued to talk about high school I’d crack. High school was more than a painful topic for me, especially when a large part of it was to do with him.
“Last night? Or in High school?” He questioned, mirroring my earlier question.
I laughed, but it was uneasy. He had me unarmed, I had nothing when faced with him, and my usual sass was depleted. “Both.” I said, our eyes locked for a moment before I looked down at the grass.
“I was an idiot in high school. I thought I knew everything and I thought knowing everything gave me the right to pull people up when I thought they were wrong.” Xavier spoke clearly, and it surprised me, but he sounded genuine, like he’d actually thought about it. “You hung around with fake idiots who used you. I hated it.”
I guess I had been a little naive, too naive to see that I was so different to them. I was just happy to be fitting in, even if I was a star shaped block trying to fit in to a square shaped hole.
“So you humiliated me, why didn’t you just tell me?”
“Like I said, I was an idiot.” he groaned. “I am sorry about that. I did come here today to apologize about last night though. I crossed the line. I guess I’m used to being able to get what I want.”
Want? Who the hell was talking about want? Did he want me? Is that why he’d....
“I’m confused.” I replied, I turned to look at him, allowing myself another glance, but a glance was all I needed to whisk me back to that moment in the bathroom. My breathing hitched in my throat and I had to look away. Goddammit. Even knowing that Xavier and Vax were one in the same person hadn’t done anything to dampen my irrational feelings.
“I wasn’t thinking with my head Scarlett.” He murmured, his voice was low, seductive. I was suddenly very glad that the cool air had the kids inside, because this was not a conversation for a preschool. Xavier was teetering on the edge of acceptable behavior. An edge I figured he’d balanced on for years.
“I’m hardly your type.” I said with a shrug. I’d seen his pictures in magazines with girls hanging off him, and I’d heard the stories. Girls who’d run to the media and sold their. “My one crazy night with a rock star.” stories. He was a serial one-night-stand only kind of a guy. I’d always fantasized that I’d meet Vax and cure him of his wicked ways, but that wasn’t possible. We were, now more than ever complete opposites.
“I have a type?” He laughed.
“No you’re right, I have a pulse that seems to be your only prerequisite.” I shot back at him, my voice was callous. I smiled, proud I had grown a backbone in the 11th hour, proud I had said something.
Xavier sucked in a short breath and stood up, he brushed his black jeans off and took a step away from me. “Well guess I’ve overstayed my welcome.” his voice was ice cold.
“You weren’t welcome to begin with.” I retorted as I stood up.
Xavier began to walk down the bank, then he stopped and turned back toward me. His face was inches from mine, I could feel his hot heavy breath against my face. He looked angry, but it did nothing to kill how much I wanted to grab him by the back of the head and kiss him.
“You of all people should realize the media doesn’t get the whole story. But whatever, believe what you like.” He stalked off, leaving me standing alone cold and suddenly sad. A minute ago I’d felt alive with want, but now I felt empty and guilty.
Once I was sure he was gone I went back inside. But it was impossible to forget his visit and for the rest of my shift all the teachers were talking about was Vax.
My sanctuary had been invaded by him, and now it was forever changed.
Thank god for the weekend, When my shift ended I couldn’t get away from the place fast enough. I was already dialing Isla’s number before I got to my car.
“Hey doll, you feeling better today?” Isla’s voice sang down the phone line. She sounded happy, like she always did. She was the light to my bitter darkness.
“I was.... until he showed up at work.” I complained, I was aware I sounded like a brat, but after the last 24 hours, I was beyond caring. He’d invaded my space and was confusing me with each minute I had to be in his presence.
“Wait, What?” She replied.
“It doesn’t matter. Let’s go out.” I said, I tried to sound excited, even though it was the last thing I really wanted to do.
“Wait, What?” She repeated, except this time she sounded even more shocked.
“Out, drinking, dancing... out.” My worst nightmare.
“I thought that was what you meant, you don’t do night clubs.”
I smiled, she knew well. Alcohol, dance music and crowds of people just weren’t my thing. Staying in, eating Cheetos and listening to Going Nowhere was. I frowned, annoyed my favorite band was tainted by Xavier Smith. Being completely unlike myself for once sounded like the just the thing I needed.
“Trust me, I need to tonight.” I pleaded. “Please.”
“Hey I’m in, I could use a break too. Meet me at mine and we’ll catch a cab to that new club?”
Though I didn’t know what she meant by ‘new’, because they were all new to me, I wasn’t about to question her. Tonight I would let loose, new club, old club or no club.
“Sure.” I replied. I felt like I was a high school kid about to sneak out of the house. It was like I was breaking a rule, and sooner or later I’d be caught and grounded. It was stupid considering I was 23, but my age didn’t make the feeling go away.
I drove home in silence. Afraid that if I turned the radio on, it would be just my luck that a ‘Going Nowhere’ song would play, it had been that kind of day.