Strung

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Chapter 47. - Gone

*Lukas*

“I have to go,” I said, moving to pass Erika when her hand reached out and grabbed onto my arm.

“Running after her? I wouldn’t advise.” She said, her eyes narrowing into slits. I never realized how calculating she looked when she did this before. But then again, I’ve never been on her bad side before. “We had a deal, Lukas. If you go after her, I’ll have to reconsider.”

I glanced over her head at Ash, who nodded. “One drink, man. Then I’ll take you home.”

“Who knew you would be the reasonable one!” Erika chuckled, handing each of us a glass. “To Hazmat!”

The alcohol tasted sour in my mouth, but I welcomed the familiar numbness that followed. After the first three glasses, my pulse slowed, and the world didn’t seem like such an unfair place anymore.

I was far from drunk, but I clung to the effects of dehydration from the concert, followed by the drinks. “Let’s go!” Ash rose to his feet, taking a few steps toward the door before he paused. Turning to where Erika was sitting, he leaned down, leveling his stare with hers. “I have no choice but to put up with you.” He sneered, his black gaze focusing on her light one. “But you should watch your back!”

Erika’s perfectly manicured brows lifted in amusement. “Are you threatening me?”

“I’m advising you.”

Erika’s laughter followed us out to the hallway, where Ash clasped my shoulder as we rushed down, side by side. “This has all gone terribly wrong.” I summed it up, shaking my head. “I can’t believe this whole fucking mess, just because I wanted the girl.”

Ash chuckled ironically. “Sometimes shit goes wrong. But it does so everything can fall into its rightful place.” He let go of me as we walked through the door, using the shield of the buses to keep from the fans spotting us. “It’s no one’s fault things have gotten this far. Not even my brother’s.”

“I know that.” And I did. Jesse was just looking out for London - something I have been thankful for over the last few weeks. “It’s just hard to not have anyone to blame. I just lost the one girl I could see it all with, and I can’t fault anyone for it, really. At the end of the day, even Erika is just looking out for herself.”

“Trust me, I know what it’s like to lose your head!” Ash laughed. “You two can talk it out once you had a chance to see your girl.”

I lifted a brow at him as he unlocked his car, motioning for me to get in. “I thought you didn’t want me to see her. You agreed with Erika in there.”

My best friend rolled his dark eyes. “I fucking lied, man!” He got in and rolled down the passenger window. “Am I going to have to win your sweetheart back myself, or will you fucking snap out of it?!”

Chuckling, I threw the door open and joined him. “Let’s check her parents’ place first.”


It took us nearly half an hour to get out of the arena and make it onto the freeway, then another twenty minutes before we pulled into London’s parents’ neighborhood. The gated community had a guard, who recognized me from last night, and waved us through. Ash’s tires screeched as we rolled into the long driveway, parking just in front of the garage and out of the view of the street.

Adelaide, London’s mother was already waiting for us outside.

“I figured you would come.” She said, her elegant features transforming into a sympathetic smile. “But London isn’t here.”

“Where is she then?” I questioned approaching her. I felt Ash’s presence behind me, but he lingered close to the car. When Adelaide remained silent, I added. “Look, there’s been a misunderstanding.”

“Your label didn’t threaten your contract in exchange for her relationship with you?” She lifted a brow, already knowing the answer to that.

“They did. But we have a plan. London didn’t have to-”

I was cut off by the front door opening, her father walking through. “My daughter loves you,” Adelaide said in a soft voice, turning my attention back to her. “She has for a very long time - although, I admit I’ve had my doubts. But she’s a strong girl. She made up her mind about you at sixteen, and never looked back. Richard and I have tried to talk sense into her - we’ve taken away her posters and forced her to socialize with kids from her school. We thought she was daydreaming and living in a world that would never become a reality.”

Her husband stood next to her, his arm around her waist in silent support. Adelaide continued.

“But London never gave up on you. You and the rest of the band, and her two friends were her lifelines through those awkward teenage and early adult years. And she got what she wanted.” She smiled softly, but it never reached her brown eyes. “She got you.”

“Nothing has changed. I know this isn’t ideal, but if we could just-”

“London is a strong girl,” Adelaide repeated. “And once she makes up her mind about something, there’s no changing it. She has made your choice easy for you.”

“She took away my choice!” I snapped, shaking my head. “That’s not the same!”

If she was surprised by my outburst, she didn’t show it. And neither did London’s father. They both looked at me with calm, sympathetic eyes. “This was the right choice, Lukas.” Richard said finally, breaking the silence. “She has made a sacrifice for you - for the good of the band, and the fandom.” I opened my mouth to respond, but he held up his hand. “And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy that the bullying and harassment she has been putting up with will now come to an end.”

“I love her!” I said quickly, saying it out loud for the second time in my life.

Richard’s eyes widened, but Adelaide’s only gotten cloudier.

“You’re not surprised.” It wasn’t a question and confirmed it when she shook her head.

“I’ve known for a while - even if she hasn’t. Romance is my brand, after all. I can spot it when it’s staring right into my only daughter’s eyes.” Her voice was even softer than before, and for the first time since getting here, I realized that this was hurting her just as much as it was hurting her daughter. “I’m sorry, Lukas. I can’t help you.”

“Will you just tell me where she is, then? I need to talk to her. If London could just hear me out… She would see that she didn’t have to do this.” I was pleading with them, just about ready to drop to my knees. But I could see it in their faces that there was no point.

There would be no changing their minds.

“I can’t tell you where she is, Lukas. But I can tell you that it’s over. You need to move on and let her go. You have to focus on the band and yourself.” The corner of Adelaide’s lip quirked into a small, hopeful smile. “After all, you wouldn’t want her sacrifice to be for nothing.”

I felt Ash walk up behind me before his hand grabbed onto my shoulder and pulled me back. “Let’s go, Lukas. She’s not here. There are still plenty of places we can check!”

“If she comes back, please tell her I came. She needs to know that I was looking for her and I want to talk to her!” I pleaded with them, and they nodded, lying right into my face.

They were never going to tell her, I realized. After all, this was the best decision for all.

All excluding London and me.


Ginger’s apartment was further into town, and we called Jesse while in traffic. He went to check out Callie’s apartment, but London wasn’t there either.

“Callie seemed pretty shaken up,” Jesse explained. “She said London texted her that she was leaving the concert and that you two were done. Then, Callie tried looking for her - which is why she never showed up at the venue. But London doesn’t want to be found.”

“Why the fuck wouldn’t she tell her friend where she was?!” Ash snorted, voicing my thoughts.

“Callie believes it’s because London knew we would look for her there. I have a pretty solid influence over the girl, maybe London was worried I could persuade her to talk.”

“And did you?”

“Yeah!” Jesse chuckled. “But she really doesn’t know where London is.”

“What if she’s just lying to you?” I wondered out loud.

On the other end of the line, Jesse stopped laughing, his voice going serious. “She wouldn’t. Not about this. Callie is on your side.”

“Fine,” I replied curtly. “This leaves us with exactly one option left.”

“Are you driving to Ginger’s?”

“Yes, we are.” Ash grinned, his black eyes shining with something wicked. I knew this expression well, and it only meant trouble.

“Asher!” Jesse raised his voice on the other end of the line, clearly reading the same thing that I was - although he could only sense his brother’s reaction. “She is my friend. Be civil with her!”

“Oh, I will be a fucking gentleman with the redhead.”

“Lukas!” Jesse protested, not buying what his brother was selling us.

I nodded, then added. “I’m on it.”

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