BEHIND THE LIGHTS

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Chapter 42

February 11th, 2017
Oslo, Norway
Let him burn - The relentless

After being abandoned by her father and then her mother when she was too young to understand, after her grandmother passed away when she was fourteen and being sent to the orphanage, after her only female friend died of an overdose when she was twenty, Astrid had gone through too much. Broken into thousands of pieces; the only constant in her life had been loneliness and heartbreak.

Her two best friends, once they started touring with their band, didn’t have as much time for her either, so she fell into the jaws of her fucktard of a boyfriend. They had been on and off with that toxic relationship for over five or eight years, Søren had stopped paying attention a while before. It was exhausting.

And with that, he had also overlooked her trust and possessiveness issues, trying to convince himself that with time she would grow up and see that everything wasn’t as dark as she thought. He had even suggested going to a psychologist, but she refused, claiming she didn’t need help.

What else could he do?

As he drove, the only thing Søren could hear were his thoughts swirling inside his head like a tidal wave and his heart thumping hard in his ears. He didn’t want to add anymore to the already messed up situation and Astrid was drunk as fuck, that’s why he decided to take her back to her house, but he had to talk to Leah, apologize for all that shit.

He got it. Astrid was scared of being left behind, always had been; her abandonment trauma rooting deep. She even had that tattooed on her wrist—everybody leaves. But she had gone too far.

Not only had she messed with Alex and Søren’s personal lives, sticking her nose in and giving the fucking third degree to any woman with whom they had something slightly serious, but she had actually insulted and threatened Leah—she had never done that before.

It was so fucking ironic.

Even though she was always crying and complaining about how Henrik was an ass to her—as if that was new—nobody could tell her anything about him, but she still felt the right to do it with them.

Clenching his teeth, with his hands gripping tight around the steering wheel, he pulled over in front of the building where Astrid lived.

“Astrid, we’re here.” Søren didn’t even try to be nice.

As much as he understood her situation, he couldn’t allow her to get away with it. She had attacked Leah; then called him a bunch of expletives in their mother tongue, accusing him of not being able to keep it in his pants. She even reminded him of things from a decade before when his first girlfriend broke up with him because she couldn’t stand the number of fans he had when they started gaining some fame.

“Where are we?” she mumbled, squinting at the light coming from the streetlamps. After throwing a tantrum like a five-year-old that didn’t get the candy she wanted, she drifted off inside the car.

“Your house.”

“I thought we were going to yours...”

“Astrid, you’ve gone too far tonight and—”

“Is this because of that little slut?” she barked. The alcohol running through her veins before had probably vaporized when adrenaline flooded her body, fleeing through her pores while she slept during the thirty-minute car ride, but she still kept talking shit.

“Stop calling her that.” Søren turned to face her, eyebrows creased together.

“But that’s what she is!” She raised her voice. “She’s the singer of a band, but she’s just a fucking princess acting like a badass and a tormented soul with those lyrics she writes,” she scoffed. “As if she knows what hell feels like!”

“What the fuck are you talking about? You don’t even know her! Jesus, are you listening to yourself?”

“You’re just fucking blind because you’re screwing her, but she’s just like the others, a pretty package with rotten content inside.”

“Listen, Astrid...“Søren closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but you better stop acting like a brat—”

“Or what? Are you gonna throw me out of your life?”

“Don’t think you can emotionally blackmail me with that.”

“I’m not—”

“Yes, you are! You’re trying to manipulate me, and it may work with other people, but you know that shit doesn’t work on me.”

“Whatever. But eventually you’ll realize she’s just another fucking pussy.”

“I don’t give a fuck what you think, I’m enjoying her company right now and that’s all I care about.”

“That’s your problem, you live too much in the present and never think about future consequences. What if she tries to get pregnant to get you hooked so she can have all the money and fame she wants?”

Søren bitterly laughed, pressing his head to the back of his seat as he tightened the grip on the wheel again, his patience reaching the limit. “That won’t happen.”

“How are you so sure? It happened before.” She reminded him.

“Holy fuck! You’re talking about something that happened even before Nadia!”

“So? When it comes to beautiful women, you can only think with your dick.”

“Wow!” Søren looked at her. “Good to know what you think of me.”

“I didn’t mean—”

“Yeah, right.” He cut her. “Look, Astrid, I don’t have to give you any explanation about who I fuck, but let me tell you one thing. Leah didn’t want people thinking she was using me. She’s been pushing me away for weeks because of this exact reason, and I’m not backing out now, so you better get used to her being around.”

“I don’t fucking want to!”

“That’s up to you.” He shrugged.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Astrid looked concerned for the first time.

“I like her and I don’t know how long this is gonna last, but I don’t want you attacking her again.”

“See? That’s what I was talking about, she’s fucking brainwashed you! You hardly have time for me anymore, and now that she’s around, I barely get to see you.”

“What the fuck are you talking about? I haven’t seen her since we played in Germany three weeks ago.” Søren huffed, tired of her nonsense.

“She’s haunted you and the only thing you see anymore is her, and it’ll get worse if whatever you have becomes something serious. You’ll distance yourself from me more and more every day until I only get to see you on Christmas and maybe on birthdays. You’re gonna fucking abandon me, just like everyone else!”

“Stop that shit! You have a boyfriend and I don’t think you love Alex or myself any less. Why would it be different the other way around?”

“I just know!”

“You’re not making any sense. The only thing that will push me or anyone away is your fucking attitude.”

“Don’t try to make this about me now!” she yelled, her voice thundering inside the car.

“It’s always been about you! Don’t you fucking get it?” he said, exasperated.

“Whatever! I don’t trust her and I don’t want her around.”

“You’re digging your own grave with this.”

“Are you threatening me now?”

“No, I’m just saying, do whatever the fuck you want, but I’m not gonna stop seeing her because you don’t like her. I never gave a fuck when you became all irrational with other women because I never really cared, but she makes me feel good about myself and my fucking messed up life.”

Astrid laughed, hysterically. “Oh, my God... This is worse than I thought, she has you by your balls!”

Søren glared at her. “Think whatever the hell you want, but you either accept that she and her friends are gonna be around now, or you can forget about me.”

“And now you’re giving me an ultimatum! I can’t believe how deep she’s gotten under your skin! She’s fucking reached your bones and you’re too blind to even see it! She’s gonna play you, she acts all innocent and nice, but there’s only one thing she wants from you.”

“Yeah, right, ’cause I’m just a piece of meat covered in gold.” He snorted, giving her one of his nastiest smirks. That was exactly the way most people saw him, and he hated it.

“Whatever, you know what I meant.”

“Yeah.”

...

“So now what?”

“I told you, accept it or leave,” he stated.

“Are you for real? You’re choosing her over me?”

“I’m not choosing, the ball is in your fucking court, but I’m not putting up with your shit anymore. You have to stop meddling with my life,” Søren said, looking ahead of him.

“Fine! Then fuck you!” She growled as she got out of the car, slamming the door and storming towards the building across the road.

They had fought several times over the years, but it had never been so bad, Astrid’s fear of losing him being bigger than her stubbornness. But not this time.

She had let her jealousy and all her paranoia control her. For some reason, she was afraid of Leah’s presence and Søren couldn’t understand why. Out of all the hookups, one-nights, and fuck buddies he had ever had, she was by far the kindest of them all. Leah was fun, honest, and selfless, and never judged him.

“Fuck!” Søren growled, hitting the steering wheel, frustration and pain taking over him.

He had never wanted to put Astrid between a rock and a hard place, but she hadn’t given him another option. Søren had always cared and looked after her, always putting her first, but he was tired of forgetting about himself.

He still didn’t know what he felt for her, or if he would ever be able to feel something again. After his first girlfriend broke up with him when he was nineteen, he shut down. Even his relationship with Nadia had been nothing but a facade, a convenience for both of them at that moment.

Søren didn’t know what to expect of this new high he was experiencing with Leah, and maybe, just like addiction to drugs, it was bad, but he didn’t want to lose her. The sex was mind-blowing, for sure, but the sedative effect she had over his demons was something he had never seen before and he liked that calm inside his head.

It was time to move on. It was time for Astrid to live her own life, to stop clinging onto him and Alex as she did. It wasn’t healthy. Protecting her like they had done their whole lives had only made her issues worse.

Exhausted from the rollercoaster of emotions he had gone through in just a few hours, he went straight to bed, wishing that the next day shone with a brighter light.

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