Changing Beats (Book 1)

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Chapter Seventeen

Cortney

Asher was supposed to be alone in the recovery room. Understandably, since this was a failed suicide attempt, but I couldn't allow my boyfriend's loved one to wake alone and shattered in the condition he had been in. This couldn't be ignored anymore. It would just get worse until he succeeded, if they let it go.

I was fortunately able to pull some strings and, although the guys had to wait outside, I was able to sit with him, as his “on call” nurse.

The guys were clinging to the chairs in the waiting room, with their manager. No one was leaving until they knew he was okay.

Chris had called their parents, who were going to fly in from Florida as soon as possible. They were all hoping to hear news from me soon.

It was really just a waiting game at this point.

I had been able to make Asher vomit before the paramedics arrived. Although, the bastard bit me.

The EMT's pumped his stomach on the way to the hospital, and when he arrived, the doctors took over.

I had no idea what was going through everyone’s minds, as they found out about his attempt yesterday, but I personally was worried about what had gone through Asher’s mind as he’d taken all of those pills.

I knew that everyone worried about him and what he would do next, but my biggest concern at this point was his mental stability. Had he attempted to kill himself and it wasn't something that was going to smooth itself over. It was something that would take time and work.

I hadn't seen Jason since I left with the paramedics. I had texted him a few times, with stability reassurances, but was all I could give him.

When the paramedics had arrived, Jason and I stood together as they strapped him to a gurney, looking back to the television, for any type of distraction.

The video showed the view from the top of a mountain, as Asher turned the camera around to film him and the purple haired girl together. They were kissing and laughing together, before he tilted the camera to laugh and joke with the rest of the guys again. They were all going back and forth, joking and laughing as he moved the camera around to get everyone on film.

I noticed, as we watched, that Asher had been the one who brought them all together, and the girl, Bree, had kept them bound. It was as though they were the ones making the decisions and the guys just followed suit.

The times I’d seen them all together had never been remotely close to what I saw in that brief moment on the video, but I didn’t fully grasp it all. Not until Jason leaned into my ear and said tearfully, “That’s why we’re still here...”

The vision that froze in my mind wasn’t of the guys or the mystery girl... Bree... No. It was of the smile on Asher’s face...

Would he get the help needed, not just for his friends, but for himself? He owed it to himself to move on from the past. He owed it to his friends and his family too... Didn’t he?

I sat there in the hospital room, watching the monitors as they beeped steadily, thinking about how it wasn’t just Asher who would need help moving on, it was all of the guys.

For some time now, the monitors showed that he was out of danger and was physically stable.

The whole night, by his side, I’d been thinking about how my life had come so far and how I could have easily ended up in Asher’s place two years ago. I found myself wondering what had stopped me from this. Why had it never got to this point?

The only answer I could find was that I hadn’t loved that guy. Not like Asher had loved that girl.

I hadn't written about him, I hadn't talked to my family about him, and I truly hadn't cared, like I thought I had.

“Where the fuck am I?” Asher’s voice, dry and raspy, pulled me out of my internal reflection.

“The hospital, Asshole,” I sniffled. That’s when I realized I had been crying.

“Fuck.” His lips drew a flat line, “Henry shitting himself yet?”

“You mean your manager?” I snidely said, “Yeah, he is. Your friends, cousin and brother are too. You almost died, Dickface.”

“You’ve been spending too much time with Jason.” He lifted a finger off the bed, in the attempt to wag it at me, but was too weak to really move it, “He’s wearing off on you.”

“Why’d you take all those pills, Asher?” I crossed my arms, pretending to be angry through my relief that he was okay.

“Seriously?” His head bobbed away from me, “I just fuckin’ woke up.”

“Yes. Seriously,” I snapped, “You know the doctors will ask, but more importantly, your friends out there are worried about you.”

“They’re just worried about their meal ticket." He attempted to stretch, but couldn't move well, "I will apparently be absolutely fucking fine.”

“You are such a fucking idiot, Asher McGhee!” My jaw dropped, “They love you! They are out there pacing, crying, yelling at all of the nurses and making everyone in the waiting area uneasy. Despite all the crap you put them through, they want to make sure you’re okay, because they LOVE you, you stupid ass!”

He rolled his head toward me and examined me for a moment. I was now barefoot, but still in my dress from the dinner party the night before, with Jason’s jacket draped over me as a blanket.

“You look tired,” he said.

“I’ve been here all night,” I gave him a brassy smile as I held up my bandaged hand, “I may also have rabies, from when you bit me.”

“Why?” His brow knitted.

"Because I had my hand down your throat and you didn't like it." I scoffed.

"No," He cleared his throat, "Why the fuck are you here?"

“Only nurses, and doctors are allowed in," I looked down at Jason's jacket, "Jason asked me if I could stay with you and they’re doing me a favor since I work in the ER.”

“You are his Bree,” He now stared into my eyes, pain in his own, “I see it in your eyes.”

“See what?” I stared back.

“Understanding. Acceptance,” he continued to watch me, “Anger. Love. Everything. You wear your emotions in your eyes.”

He turned his head back to the ceiling. Tears immediately started to stream down the sides of his face.

“Bree,” It looked like it hurt him to even say her name, “She... She had a way of loving people even when she hated them. She could tame the monster in anyone. Even me. She understood me. You don’t even know me, but you’re here because Jason asked you to be here. Bree would have been here if it was someone I cared about.”

“I’m nothing like her,” I scolded him, “You want to know why Asher McGhee?”

“Why?”

“Because she must be a saint to have put up with your stupid, fucking shit.” I pointed a finger at him.

“She was.” More tears rolled down his cheeks.

“Well, that’s where she and I are totally different then,” I gave a huff, “I can’t even stand you. I’m actually picturing myself strangling you right now.”

“Bree would have bitched me out too, put me in my place. She would have told me that I was an idiot and she hated me.” He smiled sadly and I couldn’t help but return it, “Then she would have told me she loved me for my stupidity.”

We were both silent for a moment. When he spoke again it was thoughtful and sad.

“June third... The day I graduated... That night I asked her to marry me,” He told me, staring at the ceiling. “I was eighteen and she would have been seventeen in two weeks, so we had to wait a year, but I saved forever for that ring.” Another tear streamed down his temple.

“It was before we hit the stage that night,” There was a long pause before he went on, “She said yes. The look on her face was so beautiful... I could never forget it... Like a little angel.”

“We stayed up all night, after the show, talking about what we would do after she graduated. We talked about our wedding, where we would travel, where we’d live. Kids, our future, everything.”

“It was all normal. Everything was normal. She seemed happy when I left that morning, but when she didn’t show for practice and I hadn’t heard from her, I knew something was up. I went to her house. Her dad said that he thought she was with us and we freaked... The cops didn’t do shit until she’d been gone for three days, but by then, there was no trace... Nothing...”

“If she wanted space from me or the band, she wouldn’t have agreed to come with us, she wouldn’t have agreed to marry me.”

“Is that why you hold on?” I asked. This explained a lot. He hadn’t had the closure he needed.

“I’m not holding on. I’ve moved on. It just doesn’t make sense, you know?” He shook his head, “She was happy. We were happy. We felt like we were untouchable.”

“I saw the video you were watching,” I told him, “Jason once told me that things were different before she left, but I didn’t believe him. After seeing just a minute of what you were all like together, I see why the guys are holding out for the old you.”

“She’s dead, Cortney.” His voice broke as he began to sob. This was Asher McGhee... Crying...

The tough guy that fought with bloody fists until the very end, the man that screamed his lyrics of hate and anger in his music, the man who claimed women were nothing to him but sex.

This was him losing it. This was his rock bottom; his breaking point.

I had a feeling that this could be first time, ever, that he had cried over the loss of the woman he loved.

“You don’t know that.” I told him, although I had a feeling, after seeing that little bit of that video, she would be here if she could.

“I hired a PI,” He fumbled with his words, his voice breaking before he went on, “He came back with nothing but a seven-year-old address and her father’s death certificate. I think the guys were right. If she were still- if she were still alive... She would have seen all of this shit and put a stop to it. If you knew her, like we did...”

“I pretend and carry on like she left us, but she didn’t... I know she didn’t...” He let his words hang. He was still crying. Really crying.

“She wouldn’t have left...” He cried.

It had taken him eight years to get to the point that he could actually cry and mourn her loss.

This man had grown a hard shell for a reason. He’d lost his love. His inspiration, as Jason had said, and I had gotten just a glimpse of everything he’d lost in that video clip.

Asher was opening to me, like he never had with anyone before. He needed this... He needed someone to talk to and I was it. He had trusted me in his most vulnerable moment.

I felt like I should even things with him, so he would never fear speaking to me... Maybe if we both had something on the other, we could turn this unstable acquaintance between us around...

“Asher?” I spoke again when his sobbing slowed, “Did Jason ever get the opportunity tell you that my parents have money?”

“I heard him tell Nick they’re his neighbors,” He sniffled, “I put two and two together.”

“Do you know why I’m a nurse and not living off my parents’ money?” When he shook his head I continued.

“I have always hated the thought of what money did to people. I watched people, while growing up around it. I’ve watched the jealousy and people trying to one up each other, my entire life. I wasn’t about it. I called it a “socialite society.“” I told him.

“Anyway, I was in college a couple years ago, to get a medical degree and I met this guy who was studying for a degree in business. I didn’t tell him anything about my background. I even gave him a phony last name. We were in a relationship for almost a year and I was over the moon in love. On our first Christmas, he said that he was going skiing in Colorado with his family. He told me his parents were too stuffy and wouldn’t understand our relationship. I was fine with it, since I hadn’t told him about my family. I even figured that I could head home for the holiday and kill two birds with one stone.” I smiled to myself, recalling those days.

“See, my sister was planning her wedding, and I went home to help her. She had asked me to be her maid-of-honor and I agreed, so I went about the duties of party planning for the bride to be. To make a long story short, can you imagine my surprise when her fiancé walks through the door during one of my parent’s fancy dinner parties and it’s my boyfriend?”

“No shit...” He asked and I gave a slow nod in return. “Did you ever tell her?”

“Hell no!” I shook my head, “My sister is a socialite. She made my life a living hell as a child, by putting on heirs for everyone around her. Now she’s ‘happily married.’ He cheats, she spends her days wondering who he’s screwing and I ignore it all. I see it as her getting her just deserves.”

“So, the princess has a dark side.” He smiled wickedly.

“Eh, everyone has a dark side. You just have to attempt to be put together,” I smiled with a genuine chuckle, “I have people to talk to about it. Servants of my parents, who I consider my real family. That’s why you need people to talk to about your so called ‘dark side.’ I know it’s hard and I know that you have this tough outer exterior, but you can’t give into this depression, Asher McGhee. It will hurt everyone who loves and cares for you.”

“I’ve moved on. It’s in the past.” He brought a lazy hand up and ran it down his face.

“You obviously haven't, or you wouldn't be here now," I scoffed,
"You can sleep around and do whatever drugs, but they won’t help you forget. It all adds up and weighs on you, leading to what happened yesterday.”

“You can’t forget her Asher," I whispered, "You need to stop trying. She was ingrained too deeply into your life, all you can do is move forward. She wouldn’t have wanted you to give up.”

“Just think,” I huffed dryly now, “You could always be the maid-of-honor in the house fools and have to relive your stupidity at family dinners once a week.”

“No shit!” He huffed then turned to face me quizzically, “But you know, that could be an awesome song title.”

“Start writing then.” I told him, standing from my seat.

“Does Jason know about all this?” He asked, his brow furrowing.

“No,” I shook my head, “But I don’t think he needs to.”

“What did that guy say when he found out who you were?” he asked, “Your brother-in-law?”

“Oh, he’s never confronted the issue. He still makes advances every chance he gets,” I rolled my eyes, “Like I said, my sister knows he’s cheating. Everyone does, but I will never be the other woman.”

“No, you got it too good with my man, Jason,” He was smiling now.

It was the first time I had ever seen that man with any kind of smile, aside from the video tape. He was handsome when he did, but this one wasn’t the same. It was still way off.

“Oh, so am I allowed to date Jason now?” I gaped at him sarcastically.

He didn’t say anything and I rolled my eyes.

“If you’ll excuse me, I have to go let the guys know that you’re awake.” I stood and began to walk out of the room.

“Hey, Cortney?” He called after me before I could open the door.

“Yeah?” I turned to see him attempting to sit up and failing miserably.

“We can keep this here, right? No one else needs to know what I told you.”

“I won’t tell if you don’t.” I smiled sadly at him.

“You’ll be around a lot, right?” He asked, “In case I need someone to talk to again?”

“If you guys allow it,” I sighed, “I really like Jason, Asher. I know it’s really soon, but I love him.”

“That’s good,” he huffed, “I think he loves your ass too, he’s gotten all fucking weird.”

“Hey,” I perked up, “Thank you, by the way.”

“For what?” his brow knitted.

“For helping me figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up.”

“What’s that?” His brow furrowed.

“Oh, Asher, I don’t kiss and tell.” I shook my head.


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