Slaying Goliath (Complete)

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Chapter 6

He kicked himself when he saw her eyes go wide on reading the last note on the pad. Tonight, had been going so well, he couldn’t believe how stupid he’d been. Way to mess things up!

It wasn’t the only mistake he’d made. He’d given her the McClean name. He’d just written it down without thinking. It had been a long time since he’d used that name. He was known by so many names these days that he thought that he’d left his birthname behind. His agent, when he started acting, had decided that McClean was too ‘clean’ and had renamed him Josh McMasters. Then, later, when Goliath started dancing, Cogan had renamed him again JJ Masters. This was sexier, according to Cogan. He didn’t really know who Joshua McClean was anymore.

He stood up and was offering to help her with her coat when he felt his phone. He’d put it on silent but now it was vibrating in his pocket. He didn’t want to be disturbed but this was his personal line and he couldn’t really ignore it. It would probably be alright to check it.

He pulled it out of his pocket and as he did he noticed that she was checking her phone too. He looked at the screen, 18 missed calls. Damn. Who was ringing him? He rang the voicemail number and listened.

“Jay, it’s Sam,” Sam’s voice was on the message, “We have a problem. It’s Drew, that bitch has dumped him again. Where are you?”

“Jay, shit man,” Mark’s voice, “I can’t get there. I’m stuck. Text.”

“Sam again,” the voice sounded desperate, “Ring when you get this.”

Josh didn’t bother listening or reading the rest of the messages. He rang Sam’s number. It rang once then Sam answered.

“Shit man,” Sam’s voice was strained, “Sorry, I’d forgotten that you had a date with Belinda. I’m on my way back but I can’t get a flight for another hour.”

Sam had gone to Miami to see about a gig. He’d been planning on returning tomorrow.

“Here,” Josh’s voice growled, “Going. Where?”

Sam gave him the name of the Bar.

“What’s wrong?” Belinda was looking at him.

“Problem,” he grunted the words then he took her hand. “Friend trouble.”

“Do you want me to go? I can catch a train. It’s no problem.”

“No,” he growled shaking his head, “Need you. Stay. Please.”

He should put her on a train and let her go. But he couldn’t do that. He wasn’t letting Belinda catch a train at this time of the night, if anything happened to her he’d never forgive himself. And, he couldn’t let her go yet. He should put her in a taxi and make the driver go all the way to Trenton. But he couldn’t. He didn’t want to let her go. She was going to away from him for three days this week and he really didn’t like that. He just wanted to hold onto her for a little while longer before he had to say goodnight. Even if that meant dragging her through this.

Drew was the life of the party, until something when wrong. That something was Veronica. She had a habit of building him up and then pulling the legs out from under him. This wasn’t the first time. The first time he’d drank himself half dead. The second time he’d tried to drink himself all the way dead. So, when he started seeing her again, they had decided that they would be there for him this time. They would stop him before he ended up in a coffin.

Tonight, of all nights, she had to go and hurt him. Sam was too far away, and he knew where Mark was, and he knew he wasn’t going to be able to help. It was up to him.

They took a taxi to the bar. His car was at the apartment. You didn’t bother trying to park in New York, so he’d taken a taxi and was planning on having the car brought over when they were ready to go. Plans were changed. He hoped that Belinda was going to be alright with this. He didn’t have time to stop and explain. The bar was close to his apartment.

It wasn’t hard to find Drew, he was the drunk one dancing half naked, in his underwear, on the table.

“Jay, mate!” Drew slurred, “You’re here! Have a drink! This stuff is great, what’s it called?”

Josh didn’t even bother to try to talk, he’d never be heard over the bar noise. He gathered up Drew’s clothing and encouraged him off the table. He fell into a chair and didn’t argue when Josh helped him with putting his jeans back on. Then he half-carried, half-dragged, Drew out of the place.

“Where are we going?” Drew’s breath stank of Bourbon, “The alcohol’s that way. Why are we going the wrong way?”

Josh didn’t let him go and they were out of the bar and away from all those people watching before anyone recognized him or said anything.

“Hey, Jay, there’s a pretty lady following me,” Drew said, “Let me go so that I can talk to her.”

“Hi,” Belinda didn’t sound angry, “I’m Belinda.”

“Belinda?” Drew looked at Josh, “The Belinda? That Belinda? Hey! Jay-man, Belinda’s here!”

“He knows me?” Belinda looked amused and slightly embarrassed.

“Yes,” Josh cringed then he snarled at Drew, “Shut up Drew.”

“She’s pretty. You did good, mate,” he slurred as he tried to hold his hand out to her as Josh dragged him and his clothing along, “Nice to meet you, I’m Drew.”

“Hi Drew,” Belinda waved, “Nice to meet you.”

“Shut up Drew,” Josh tried again.

“Keep ya pants on,” Drew laughed at him, “Hey Belinda, do you want to have sex with me?”

“Drew,” Josh growled.

“See!” Drew threw up his arms, “She doesn’t want me. Nobody wants me.”

Drew became a lot heavier as he lapsed into silence.

“Nobody wants me,” he said again in a defeated voice.

“That can’t be true,” Belinda’s voice was gentle but encouraging, “You seem really nice. And you’re friends with Josh.”

“Josh?” Drew twisted, “Hey Jay, she knows your name.”

Luckily, they were at the apartment building. He ignored that and dragged Drew up inside the building. The doorman, Harold, was quick to help and between the two of them, they carried Drew downstairs to Josh’s door. Josh’s apartment was in the basement. It suited him. It didn’t have any views, but it also didn’t have any visibility inside. There was no one to overlook, to be able to see him. The windows all opened onto walled courtyard or were high and frosted. There were no angles that would allow anyone to see inside.

The doorman left them there as Josh opened the door and took Drew to the sofa. He put him down and went for a bucket. When he came back Belinda was sitting in one of the chairs looking around the large open plan room.

“This is beautiful,” she smiled.

“Nope,” Drew piped up, “You’re beautiful. This is where the Jay-man lives.”

Josh cringed. Drew was right. He just wished that he’d been able to say it, from his own sober lips, instead of having her hear Drew slurring it. She might have believed it if he’d said it.

“Hey Jay?” Drew continued, “Did you tell her? You know, about the ‘thing’?”

Josh was starting to wish that he’d found Drew unconscious. It wasn’t what he should be wishing for, but Drew was waving his forearm between his legs as he did an impression of Josh’s private parts.

“Drew!” Belinda giggled, “That’s rude!”

“But true,” Drew’s eyes were getting heavy, “He’s the beast, you know.”

“Enough,” Josh growled. “Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she got out of the chair and kissed him on the cheek, “Can I use the bathroom?”

He pointed her in the right direction for the bathroom and then dragged up the coffee table and sat on it in front of Drew. He waited. Drew looked at him and was about to say something when his whole face morphed into a mask of pain. His body crumpled as he broke. Josh didn’t hesitate. He pulled him into a man-hug and made soothing sounds as his friend cried.

Belinda returned and stopped in the doorway. She just stood there watching him. He didn’t know what she was thinking. Here he was cradling a man in his arms, trying to comfort him. He hoped that this didn’t look weak, but he didn’t care if it did. Drew was his friend and he would lie down on a wire for the man. If Belinda was the woman he thought she was, she would understand. If she didn’t then it would be better to know that now.

She didn’t say anything. Instead she moved into the kitchen and found the coffee maker.

He couldn’t help but love her just a little more.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

She prepared the coffee and contemplated what she should do. She should go. She could grab her bag and sneak out without disturbing the friends. But that felt rude.

Josh’s eyes turned to her. He looked at her while Drew spoke in quiet whispers. His eyes were intense, and she had the feeling that he needed her here. But that might have been wishful thinking. There was something beautiful about the bond these two men had. Drew trusted Josh, that much was clear from the way he had opened-up to him. It was a deep friendship that made her feel a little lost.

Belinda didn’t have friends like that. Even when she was at school she was too focused on her results to place that much effort into maintaining a friend. She had acquaintances, work friends and a flatmate, but she didn’t know these people the way that Drew and Josh clearly knew each other. It wasn’t that she’d closed herself off purposely, she’d never had any bad experiences that made her reject other people, her emphasis had been on her career. Everything else hadn’t been important.

The coffee was brewing when she saw the photo. It was just a small picture on the one bookcase in the room. There were four men in the picture. She recognized Josh and Drew, but she didn’t know the blonde man or the Hispanic man. They were all laughing and not looking at the camera. It was a stunning picture. They stood together and although they weren’t touching she could see the love between them.

She poured the coffee and silently took it to where Josh was sitting. Drew looked up surprised, like he’d forgotten she was there. He quickly wiped his eyes and his face changed. His mouth formed a smile as he sat back and tried to look confident. Josh sighed and cringed slightly.

“I should go,” she saw the change in Drew as a reaction to having an outsider in his midst.

“No, it’s me who’s intruding,” Drew forced a laugh, “You guys had a date, right? I’m the one who’s the third wheel.”

“How long have you been friends?” she felt the pain in his words and knew that she couldn’t let him do that.

“Five, six years? Something like that,” Drew smiled a genuine grin, “Yeah, I’ve put up with him for a while now.”

“And the others?” she helped herself to a coffee and picked up the photo.

“Sam,” he pointed to the blonde guy, “And Mark? Yeah, we are The Four Horsemen.”

“It must be great to have such amazing friends,” she looked at the picture. “You know, friends that would do anything for you. You don’t get that often.”

She looked the photo over and sat down next to Josh on the sturdy pine coffee table.

“Drew, I don’t know what you are going through, but I’m envious of you,” she leaned into Josh, “You have everything going for you and you have people you can trust. Not many of us can claim that.”

“You have him,” he grimaced.

“Maybe,” she looked at Josh, “But I don’t have friends like you have. I’m on my own in this world. I have my career and an empty life. People come and go but no one stays. You will always have your friends. No one can take them away from you. That’s something I have no experience of.”

Drew’s face contorted a little and she saw the mask slipping off.

“I should really go,” she smiled as Josh’s arm slipped around her.

“Please stay,” Drew didn’t look at her as he said the words, “I like her Jay-man. You should keep this one.”

“This one?” she laughed as she turned on Josh with overemphasized questioning eyes.

“Thanks mate,” Josh’s rough voice growled at Drew.

Drew sniggered as he relaxed into the sofa. His eyes sparkled at her as he smiled a genuine grin. His eyelids were heavy and he was starting to look like the alcohol was catching up with him.

Josh took his arm back from holding her and did some fast sign language at Drew. Then when Drew nodded he helped him up and took him in the direction of the bathroom. She collected the coffee cups and picked up her coat and bag. She would sleep at the office tonight. It was now past midnight. This was the right time for her to leave.

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