Josh was lost. The My Woman spread he’d known about. He didn’t know about the Gossip Today article. How could he be so careless? He was usually so careful to stay out of the press. That’s why this article was getting so much coverage. He hadn’t been seen with the woman for a long time, so this was big news. The pictures of them kissing had created much speculation and he was now being followed by several photographers hoping for a follow up story. But that wasn’t what had him worried.
Belinda wasn’t answering his texts or his calls. In desperation he’d started to call her just to hear her voice. He needed to know if she was alright. He just needed her. But no matter what he did she wasn’t answering him.
It was like she’d vanished from his life. He felt her absence like a hole in his chest. He was unable to do anything. Even the simplest tasks were too hard.
He’d danced Thursday night with still some hope that this could be sorted out. She was in court and wouldn’t be answering her phone. At that stage he thought he could apologise to her and smooth it over. She would have read the letter and would have known about the other pictures, so it was just the gossip magazine spread he needed to talk to her about. But when she didn’t answer his calls he started to panic.
It was Friday morning when he got Sam to ring her office. She had given him a phone number that went directly to her office. Sam had spoken to a woman called Amanda, who was her assistant, and she had told him about Boston. Josh couldn’t hear the words spoken but he saw Sam’s face fall. He sat down and looked at the floor.
Once off the phone Sam had given them an abbreviated version of what had happened. Josh knew that he wasn’t telling them everything. Even so it was worse than anything he could have guessed. Belinda must hate him.
“What the hell are we going to do?” Drew was asking Sam, “Is she still in Boston? Should we drive to Boston to get her?”
“It sounds like she’s not in Boston anymore,” Sam said softly, “We can’t go running off anyway, we have a show to do tonight.”
“Yeah, that’s going to work out well,” Mark scoffed, “Look at him. How’s he going to dance?”
“We can’t do the show without him,” Sam whispered.
“Maybe she lost her phone?” Drew said.
“Yeah, that’s probably it,” Mark scoffed.
“If she’s not in Boston,” Drew looked thoughtful, “If she’d back, lets just go see her. He can wave his hands at her and we’ll translate. It’s just a misunderstanding. They can fix this.”
“I don’t know,” Sam said warily.
“What’s not to know,” Drew smiled, “Belinda’s a smart girl. She’s going to know that he wouldn’t have done this on purpose. She won’t blame him. It was a circumstantial thing. And who knows, maybe she’s miserable down there, in Trenton, needing him to reassure her that everything is alright. She might be waiting for him to come rescue her.”
“I don’t know,” Sam said but Josh was already up grabbing the keys.
“I’m with Sam on this,” Mark said with a worried expression, “Women need time to process. If she’s not answering she might not be ready to talk.”
“Come on,” Drew was putting on his coat, “She’s got the wrong end of the stick. We just need to go and explain that to her. She’ll take one look at Mr Miserable over there and Kaboom, problem sorted.”
“What if,” Sam started to say.
“What if, what if,” Drew shrugged, “The longer he leaves it the worse it’s going to get. Now, who’s driving?”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Sam said as he pulled on his coat.
“Yeah, the fact that we are taking relationship advice from Drew should be a red flag to everyone,” Mark frowned but followed Josh, Drew and Sam out the door.
“For the final time,” Mark said as they got out of the car.
“We know!” Drew stopped him from saying what he’d been saying for the entire trip.
“It’s not going to help if we all turn up on her doorstep,” Sam glanced nervously at the little house, “I don’t think her flat is very big and it might be a little intimating. Mark and I will stay here and guard the car.”
“Yeah,” Mark looked at the graffiti on the wall near where they’d parked nervously, “That’s a good idea.”
Drew and Josh where on the doorstep when he started to panic. They were stand on the small landing, Drew knocked on the door. Josh stood back. His nerves were screaming at him. He couldn’t look at the door. He glanced down the street. It had been a good idea at the time but now that he was here, maybe Mark was right. Maybe he didn’t want to do this yet. What if she hated him? What if she didn’t feel this way about him? What if she was repulsed by him now that she knew the truth?
A hundred ‘what if’s’ flew through his head and each one hurt just a little bit more than the previous one. He should go. He should leave. He shouldn’t be here.
The door opened and standing there was a tiny woman. She wasn’t much over five-foot-tall, her hair was a sandy blonde colour and cut very short to her head, she had the brightest blue eyes which she narrowed at them.
“Sorry,” she sneered as she started to close the door, “We gave at the office.”
“We are here to see Belinda,” Drew caught the door, “Please.”
“Bee,” she called back over her shoulder, “There are some dickheads on the doorstep. Do you want me to tell them to go to hell?”
“Let them in, Jen,” the voice was soft and sounded sad.
“I’m watching,” She glared at Josh as she held the door mostly closed, “I’ve seen what you have down there, if I kick you there’s no chance I’m going to miss, so watch yourself.”
“Thanks Jen, thanks for the warning,” Drew dropped his hands to his midsection. Even though the threat wasn’t directed at him he wasn’t taking chances, “Nice steel capped boots, by the way.”
Jen was dressed in some old jeans and a flannel shirt which made her look boyish and was wearing a pair of pull on work boots. She glared at them as they walked by her and into the living area. Sam was right. The place was tiny. The living room had a TV on one wall, coffee table underneath pushed against the wall, on the opposite wall was a two-person sofa. The kitchen, if you could call it that, was in the same room. If he stretched his arms out he’d probably come close to touching all four walls. Just having Drew with him in that small room made it feel like a cupboard. Jen fell onto the sofa and put her feet up making it impossible for anyone else to sit.
Josh wasn’t that interested in what Jen was doing though. Belinda stood leaning against the kitchenette. Her face was puffy from crying and her hair was a mess. She was wearing some sort of soft pyjamas pants and shirt and had a big dressing gown hanging off her shoulders. She was beautiful but the fact she looked so sad and tired worried him.
Why aren’t you answering my calls, Josh signed.
“That would be because you’re a lying cheating bastard,” Jen mumbled after Drew spoke the words.
“Jen, please,” Belinda slumped. “Why are you here Josh? What do you want?”
You, I want you, his hands pushed out the gestures with fast hard movements.
“Ha,” Jen laughed without humour.
Look I know that I should have told you right from the start, but I didn’t expect Gossip Today to do that.
Belinda didn’t look at him.
I shouldn’t have taken you to the park. I wanted to do normal romantic things with you and I didn’t think anyone was watching me. I should have known better. I’m sorry.
Belinda listened to Drew’s translation of his heated sign language, but still didn’t say anything.
Why aren’t you saying anything? Why aren’t you talk to me?
“Do you really have to ask that?” Belinda mumbled.
Yes, tell me, tell me what to do?
Belinda picked up something and dropped it onto the coffee table with a loud bang. It was the My Woman magazine and its pages were opened onto the large spread which had Dasharvoo balancing over him while she kissed his neck. Their bodies were close but not touching as they hovered together. His naked body was oiled to show his muscles and his manhood was strategically placed. He was looking at the camera with lust in his eyes as the whole scene was displayed in graphic detail over two pages.
It felt like a slap in the face. He swung his eyes to her, but her expression was blank. He looked at the page again and knew he was in trouble. The spread was pure Goliath. There was no Josh McClean in that picture. The man who looked out of the page was arrogant, egotistical and was confident in his sexual attraction. The man was looking out of the page as if to say, ‘I’m having sex with her and then you’re next’. Goliath was a sexual beast.
I’m not that man, he tried.
“Strange, it looks like you,” Jen scoffed.
That’s Goliath, that’s not the man I am. That’s the character I play when I’m on stage.
“Was there anything we did that was special to you?” Belinda asked tears budding in her eyes.
“Why Josh?” she said before Drew could translate, “Why did you play around with me when you had her? Why did you bother?”
Had her? What are you talking about?
“Dashar?” Drew translated and added, “They aren’t going out, not anymore.”
Didn’t you read the letter? Please tell me you read the letter?
She shook her head.
It was all in the letter, that’s why I gave it to you, he grimaced. You need to read the letter.
“It’s too late now,” she wiped away a tear
Too late? No! No! It’s not too late! Listen to me Belinda. Josh’s signs became frantic.
Drew wasn’t translating anymore as there wasn’t an opportunity for him to speak.
“I have to concentrate on rebuilding my career,” she wasn’t listening as she looked out the small window, “It took me years to get there. I got distracted. I need to focus on getting it back on track.”
Distracted? Is that what you think this was? I was not a distraction! I love you.
“We aren’t right for each other,” she continued without looking at him, “It would have ended sooner or later. I’m just an accountant. I’m not that sort of woman.”
We are perfect for each other! I don’t want that sort of woman! I want you!
“We had fun. But it now its time to go back to the real world. I have to find a new job and rebuild my reputation.”
No! No! You have to be with me. You have to love me!
“Thanks for coming all the way down here,” Belinda smiled sadly, “It’s better to do this face to face.”
No! No! No! Don’t do this!
“It was great meeting you,” her forehead creased, and he could see that she was close to tears again, “I would appreciate it if you didn’t contact me again. I need to, I’ve got to, I just need some space.”
“No,” he growled his voice barely there, “Love you.”
“Don’t,” her face crumpled, “Please don’t. Just leave Josh. I can’t do this. I need to focus on my career now. I can’t do this.”
“Love you,” his voice whispered as he tried to force the words out.
“Just go,” she whispered through the tears, “Please, just leave.”
“Love you,” his voice was just a slur. He stepped forward to wrap his arms around her and hold her until she gave in and let him love her. If he could hold her, she would know that he wasn’t ever going to let her go. She would stop talking like this and she would give him one more chance to prove himself. One more chance to gain her trust. He needed one more chance.
She shied away from him as he reached out. He stood there confused, arms outstretched. She looked scared. She was afraid of him?
“That’s it,” Jen was looking up at him. “Time’s up. Get out. You and your pretty boy are out of here. I’ll give you to the count of five or me and my work-boots are going to do a stompy dance that you might not enjoy, got it?”
“Come on Jay,” Drew was pulling him, dragging him out of the house.
Josh stubbled after him. He couldn’t see where he was going, Belinda’s scared face was burnt onto his vision. She was afraid of him. His heart was imploding. He could feel it getting smaller, colder and collapsing in on itself. He couldn’t breathe. His throat was dry, he couldn’t swallow, even though it felt like he was desperately sucking down short breaths. The liquid in his eyes had turned to acid. He blinked rapidly but the burning only got worse.
He fell into the car and dropped his head into his hands. He felt his eyes budding. He didn’t cry. He was a grown man. He hadn’t shed tears since he was a boy. Even when they told him about his voice. He didn’t cry. He blinked rapidly.
What was he going to do? His shoulders heaved with the effort it took to breathe and something warm and wet escaped his eyes. He could feel the despair fighting to get out. The emotions inside him were thrashing around, stabbing his heart and shredding his lungs. It hurt. It hurt so much.
The burning fluid was still escaping from his eyes when his throat began screaming at him. His mouth was twisted in pain as it opened and closed silently screeching with its utter anguish. He dug his head deeper into his hands as a strangled cry escaped him.
What was he going to do without her?
Sam drove, Mark sat silently in the front seat, as Drew balanced his hand on Josh’s back. The car was silent, except for the inhuman cries which were coming from his chest. Josh ceased caring. He just wanted to get all the pain out. He’d never felt so much pain. His chest was fractured, and his body was aching. He couldn’t do this.
He couldn’t do this without her.