BEHIND THE LIGHTS

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Chapter 14

October 23rdth, 2016
Munich, Germany
Ghost myself - DIAMANTE

Leah had kissed him. She had kissed Søren Fucking Wolff.

How on earth did that happen?

She was walking to the closest train station, feeling as if all that had been a dream. But it hadn’t. She could still feel his hands on her, probing her, tongue soft and demanding, swirling around hers.

She liked it. No. She loved it. The way he caressed her and taunted her lips, the way his woodsy scent blended with the strong aroma of coffee and that slight tone of mint and smoke... Her heart hammered in her chest furiously, anticipation killing her. She wanted it. She wanted him.

After close to two months without getting laid, her sexual appetite had decreased. She had gotten used to it, so much she didn’t even care. However, the gravitational pull towards that man was like opening Pandora’s box. An explosion of deprived desires took over her, waking something in her she hadn’t experienced in a while. Excitement. Euphoria. Arousal. All in one, igniting every cell in her body.

And when his fingers dug into the flesh of her hips, she couldn’t hold it in anymore and a languid moan escaped her throat. Heat radiated from her center to her ribcage, wrapping around every bone, every organ, squeezing tight.

Then, as fast as that urge had climbed up, it crashed down when she came back to the real world. He was a musician.

Leah was okay with casual relationships, no commitment, no drama, just fun and sex. That was something she could handle, but letting him get so close would be like a second round in the Russian roulette of despair.

Since she was part of a band, she had gotten to know many artists, but getting involved with them was a different thing. Some had tried to hit on her, yeah, but after actually sleeping with a couple of musicians, all of them got the same answer, a resounding no.

She wasn’t ready to hook up with a metalhead, rock star, or whatever again. Just the thought brought too many memories into her fragile, stitched up mind.

Not able to control the turmoil of thoughts swirling in her head, she had to stop him. He was a hot, wonderful musician, a walking fantasy, but he made her feel defenseless and she didn’t like that.

Søren was confused at first but, when she told him she wasn’t one of his groupies, he shut down. She couldn’t blame him though. If someone teased her like that and left her all horny, she would want to punch them in the face.

But what else could she have done? Fuck him and regret it later? Tell him about all the shit in her past so he could understand? They didn’t know each other!

Walking to the station, she couldn’t stop the train of thought, but no matter how many times she replayed that moment in her head, the outcome was always the same—her feeling like a huge, dramatic cry baby.

Couldn’t you just get carried away for once?

“Ugh!” She let out a frustrated grunt, people’s heads turning to her in the street.

With the guys at home, Leah decided to call Julia and see what she was up to. She didn’t want to deal with their jokes at that moment—she needed an adult.

“Hey, Girl!” Julia’s sweet voice said at the other end of the phone.

“Hey... Are you busy?”

“Nope. I was getting ready to jump into the bathtub.”

“I see...”

“What is it?” she asked; her tone playful.

“Nothing, I was just wondering if you’d like some girls’ time... I could bring some beers...”

“Of course, Hon! We have so much to talk about...”

Leah was suspicious and, although her friend couldn’t see her face, she narrowed her eyes. “What do you know?”

“Nothing!”

“Yeah... Right.”

Julia laughed. “Just come over so we can have some time for ourselves. I love the guys, but they can be so annoying.”

“Uh-huh... Except for one.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Sure.” This time Leah was the one laughing. “I’ll be there in... Thirty minutes?”

“Great. Don’t bring any beers, wine will be waiting for you here.”

“Okay,” Leah chuckled. “See you.”


“What?! You rejected him?!” Julia hit the coffee table with her cup, choking.

That was everything she had gotten from the conversation they had been having for an hour. She didn’t even gasp when Leah told her about Søren inviting her out for lunch, stating he was obviously interested in her when he gave her those VIP tickets for the concert.

“What’s wrong with you?!”

“He’s a musician!”

“So?”

“Ryker was a musician too! It’s just... I just can’t do it.”

“Chris, Marc, and Erik are also musicians.”

“That’s completely different. Chris’s been my friend since we were in diapers and I trust him and his judgment, and that leads me to trust Marc and Erik. Also, I’d never sleep with them,” she declared, scrunching her nose in disgust.

“And what about the other men you’ve been with?”

Leah knew what she was trying to do. She was trying to make her reason, to make her see the situation from a different perspective. That was the same Dr. Schneider did when she told her she didn’t feel comfortable around men after a year into her therapy.

“They have nothing to do with music.”

“So... Let me get this right.” Julia turned to her side, leaning against the back of the couch. “A man that likes music as much as you do and wants to make a life out of it, undoubtedly and definitely, and I’m following your logic, is an abusive jerk. Is that it?”

She knew it didn’t make sense, that it was an irrational fear, an aversion her brain had developed to protect herself, but it was real for her. The anxiety she had felt after the only two times she had slept with a fellow musician was factual.

“Not exactly like that but... Yeah.”

“You know you’re just scared, right? They don’t even look alike.” Julia let out a short snicker. “Ryker-ass was a bassist, Søren’s a singer and a guitarist. Douchebag was blond and Søren has dark hair. The idiot played in a trashy, noisy extreme grindcore band whose sound seemed recorded in their living room and Søren plays in an alternative, progressive one with a clear influence of death metal. The only thing they have in common is that they’re both blue-eyed?” The fucking annoying reporter that knew too much concluded. “Want me to continue?” She raised an eyebrow, a smug smile on her face.

“I don’t need to sleep with him. Besides, we’re in the same business and I’d like to keep things professional.”

Save for her father, Chris, and his mother, nobody knew about the real effect that abusive relationship had on her. Nobody knew about the nights when she would wake up covered in sweat and screaming. The constant alertness, or how a simple loud sound or sudden movement would make her jump. And for sure, Julia didn’t know about that one attempt to end her own life five months after she left Ryker.

Crawling from that hole and being able to walk again, to look people in the eye, to sleep with men and, the most important, to love herself again had been hard enough. Even though she still had a long way ahead of her, she could finally say she was happy and she didn’t want to step out of that comfort zone. She felt safer that way.

“I don’t think anyone would care about who you sleep with... But anyway, hiding and running away isn’t going to solve anything. If you like him, why won’t you give it a try? And I’m not talking about anything serious, Hon. Just some sexy, steamy fluid exchange.” She wiggled her eyebrows as her green eyes shone with mischief. “Almost every woman on this planet would have killed to be in your position.”

“Ugh!” Leah groaned, leaning back on the armrest, head hanging, hair brushing the floor. She knew her friend was right, and it wasn’t as if she felt precisely proud of running away like a scaredy-cat. “This is so frustrating!”

Julia giggled. “He was good, huh?”

She raised her head and looked at her friend, nodding with a stupid grin plastered on her face, pulse pounding in her temples. “Yeah...” She sat like a normal person again. “No man has ever kissed me like that, EVER. Fuck! And that tongue... I don’t even want to think about what he can do down there,” she sighed, rubbing her face, confused as fuck.

“I knew it! You wanted it sooo bad!”

“Of course I did! I’m not stone-made and I haven’t been that turned on in a long time.”

“What made you stop then and not take it to the next level?”

“A moan.”

“A moan?”

“Yeah... My brain had collapsed and I couldn’t think straight... My body just reacted to his touch.” Leah huffed, grabbing her glass of wine and bringing it to her lips.

Julia threw her head back and burst into laughter. “Oh my God! Are you serious?”

“Yeah...”

“He made you moan, and you kicked him out?”

“I didn’t kick him!” She threw a cushion at her friend, trying to hold the grin because, as annoyed as she was, from her perspective it probably seemed hilarious.

“Whatever, you know what I meant!” She kept laughing. “Look, Hon,” Julia said, trying to catch her breath. “It’s fine if you don’t want to sleep with him, just make sure it’s for the right reasons.”

“Meaning...?”

“If you don’t like him, then don’t screw him, but if you do... you should let loose. I mean, men in his position don’t need to be nice with women to get them in his bed.”

“Yeah, I know.” Leah rolled her eyes.

“What I’m trying to say is that, if he invited you for lunch, sex probably wasn’t the only thing he had in mind.”

Leah stared at her friend, analyzing her words. She had a point.

He was kinda nice the night I argued with James... And he’s made me laugh a lot during lunch. Shit.

“Well... you might be right, but there’s nothing I can do now. I hurt his ego, flushing down my chances with that.”

“Søren’s a nice guy. I don’t know him on a personal level, but when I interviewed them the other day, he seemed pretty cool and down to earth...”

“I know... we actually had a good time together...”

“You should text him, try to talk to him.”

“Yeah, right... Hey, Søren! You remember me? The cock-teaser? Well, I’ve changed my mind and I want to have sex with you,” Leah said in a mocking tone. “Makes a lot of sense.”

“You could tell him you’re sorry, that you just were shocked or something like that, I don’t know.” Julia shrugged.

“Nah. I’d rather leave things the way they are. It’s not like I’ll see him ever again.”

“It’s your call, but I think you should at least try. If it’s not for a personal relationship, as you said before, you’re in the same business, and he has lots of good contacts.”

“I’ll think about it... Anyway, enough of me. Tell me about your night.” She crossed her legs, smirking when she looked at her friend.

Julia bit her bottom lip and then flashed her with a cheeky smile. “Well... I knew he had a thing for me, but you know... sex and friends don’t go together, it always complicates things and I don’t know if I’m ready to lose him if things don’t work out, but...”

“But...?” Leah wiggled her eyebrows.

“Erik’s so sweet and handsome... He’s always been one of my best friends and he was there when I needed him the most... He said that he was tired of holding back, that he had noticed the way I’ve been looking at him lately and wanted to give it a try.”

Julia and Erik had a similar past, and she hadn’t felt like dating since then. And well, who could blame her? Catching your first boyfriend, your fiancé, with one of your best friends a month before getting married was probably an image hard to erase. Trusting men after that, after someone crashed twelve years of relationship like that, couldn’t be easy.

“His voice was so sexy when he was telling me this...” Julia continued. “The way he was looking at me... I couldn’t resist anymore.”

Leah burst out laughing, glass of wine high in the air. “Well done, Erik!”

“And I’m glad I accepted, he’s so freaking hot, like I knew he had a nice body, but God! He’s a beast! We were at it the whole night and he made me cum five amazing times! He does this thing with his tongue—”

“Ew! Stop!” Leah coughed. “If it was any other man, I wouldn’t care if you got into all the juicy and cringy details, but if you tell me anything else, I won’t be able to look him in the eye anymore. I see him almost every day!”

Julia laughed. “I’m telling you, he’s the best lover I’ve ever had.”

“Good to know.” She smiled.

Leah loved her male friends. She felt comfortable around them. They respected her, protected her, and treated her as if she was another guy. They had never looked at her with hungry eyes or lust, and that was what made her trust them as she did.

However, spending time with Julia always felt nice. She helped her connect with that feminine part of herself she tended to forget about. The girl talks with her about hot guys, good wines, weird but amazing sex positions, or they simply having small talk about TV shows or books, it was always fun. That woman truly balanced her life.


Later that night,
near Oslo, Norway

The week had started as a black hole, absorbing all traces of light. However, as days passed, his mood shifted. Getting his new guitar, meeting Leah, seeing the possibility of a change in their lives… That trip sure had been like a breath of fresh air.

After months of feeling like they were drowning in the mud, he finally began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was small and weak, but it still looked like an escape.

Then, in the blink of an eye, he was back to the same shithole.

Fucking fuck.

Having a meeting so they got the schedule for the upcoming interviews and events during their next tour, the fight still going on between Alex and Astrid because after she called him out for drinking too much when he shouldn’t have had a drop of alcohol, he accused her of being as stupid at him for going back to her ex—the biggest, cheating jerk walking the earth—and the blue balls had put him in a cranky, don’t-fuck-with-me mood.

When Søren made it home, he let his luggage fall beside the door and went straight to the living room, but before he could make it, one of his fur baby balls came out to greet him.

“Hey, Girl…” he whispered as he crouched down. “You missed me?” The calico cat rubbed against his hand, purring like crazy.

“You’re the only girl for me too.” He chuckled when she somersaulted, exposing her white belly, asking for rubs.

A few minutes later his chunky, red tabby came out too—Garfield would be jealous of that paunch. “Hey, Boy. Hope you behaved while I was away.”

After spending some time with them sitting on the kitchen floor while he ate a sandwich—because the airline companies had become cheap bitches that didn’t offer food anymore unless you paid a ridiculous price—he walked up to his room.

Feeling the fluffy, warm comforter against his face when he let himself fall on the bed, he grumbled, letting out a long breath. “So fucking tired…”

He rolled his body over and looked at the ceiling for several minutes. Annoyed for being annoyed with Leah, he sighed. He loved the way she tasted and felt under his palms, the way the humming between them as they kissed muted his demons, letting him for once be free. Whatever it was that she had, he wanted it, he wanted that silence in his head to come back.

Huffing, he took the phone out of the front pocket of his jeans to check if he had any messages as he hadn’t turned it on yet. After typing his password, the screen lit up. A bunch of messages and missed calls popped up in it, but just one number caught his eye. The hospital again.

Fuck my life.

They had called ten days before to let him know his father was there after a breakdown he had in the middle of the street. The congenital heart defect had worsened over the years—his hobby of drinking hadn’t made it any better—and his liver was also failing now.

They said he had asked for him, that he wanted to talk to him. What the fuck would he have to tell him after so many years? He probably wouldn’t recognize his own son if he saw him walking on the street.

Astrid had suggested he might want to apologize, but whatever it was, Søren didn’t care. Not anymore. That man had never been a real father to him. He was just an absent, alcoholic bastard that forced his mother to run away with him, making them live through hell.

Seeing his mother working two different jobs, slowly losing herself inside her head, the kid he once was, died. And with him, any trace of love or affection he could have ever had for that person he used to call dad vanished.

Søren dropped the phone on the bed and went to the bathroom, putting his hair up in a bun. A shower would help him relax. The burden of his past coming back to bite him in the ass, the problems with the record label and his hurt ego were taking over everything.

He let his clothes fall to the ground, bending his neck to the sides to make it crack. He needed to ease some of the tension already building up. It was one in the morning, and thinking about all that shit would take him nowhere, so he tried to empty his mind. Maybe he just needed to get away from everything for a few days.

In the quiet of the room, as it filled with steam, Søren sighed and walked into the shower, throwing his head back. The hot water falling over his torso felt quite nice. It was as if the synthetic weave wrapping around his lungs, squeezing them, melted. The sadness in his mother’s eyes, the bruises covering her arms, his brother’s apathy blurring as the shadows faded in the dark. He wished that lucid state would remain forever.

And as all that peace was sinking in, slowly soothing his fractured hyperactive mind, a thud coming from his room startled him. He knew it was probably the cats playing around like crazy, but with the piled up stress he had, it was as if someone activated a panic button, setting all the alarms on, dragging him back to the past.

Incoherent images he didn’t want to remember crept out of the hole he had buried them in. Lurking and distant memories of horror and pain, colorful and vivid inside his head, making everything else look small and meaningless. It was a strike to his torso, making him feel heavy and hopeless, taking away the last remaining oxygen, the last drop of blood in his veins, weakening him.

“Shit!” he muttered, punching the tile lining in front of him when that familiar urge hit the back of his head. That fucking need to poison himself he sadly missed, sometimes.

Some people would say he was a coward, but he didn’t give a fuck. He felt like standing in the eye of a storm, waiting for the worst to come and the only thing he wanted was to stop living in the real world.

Like in the past, Søren began to feel out of control, growing desperate as his sight blackened and his heart violently hammered in his chest. Clenching his teeth, he leaned forward, both hands resting against the wall. He tried to concentrate on the tension of his jaw and on the pulsating sensation that wrapped around his knuckles.

Would that anguish ever go away?

Although that wasn’t the first time that happened, he hadn’t had to face that irrational fear and apprehensive emotions since he went out of rehab. With just the possibility of his past stepping into his present, his brain had detonated a dirty bomb without hesitation… Was he really that weak?

After some time—once he had calmed down—he grabbed a towel and, putting it around his waist, he stepped out of the shower.

The room was swamped with hot steam and it made the atmosphere heavy, but it could be his awful mood. As he stared at the tarnished mirror, his blurry figure reminded him of those sinister entities looming over him. Exasperated, then ran his hand over it.

Staring at his reflection, he sighed, eyes lost on the waves of his Japanese full-sleeve tattoo, moving up to the sentence tattooed in elder futhark runes on his ribs, storms make trees grow deeper roots. It was something his mother used to tell him. It never made sense when he was a kid, but as he grew older, he understood and it somehow helped him through the worst moments of his life.

“… I really need to get my shit together.” He huffed, untying his hair, letting it fall over his shoulders, knowing that no matter what he did, it would be another sleepless night.

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