David sat inside of his bright red Lamborghini Mercado, the sun coming through his windshield and reflecting off his golden mirror shades. The aerodynamic, elegant piece of machinery was sure to catch the eye of anybody passing by the apartments. The Chateau De Pobre apartments were tucked away off the main street in town. The complex wasn’t in the best shape, paint was peeling off the exterior walls from years of abuse from the harsh LA sunlight, and the cement in the parking lot was cracking and creating small divots everywhere. Olivia walked out of her apartment, on the first floor near the corner of the parking lot. She walked up to the car and David opened the doors upward as he stepped out. Olivia was wearing a plain white tee-shirt with just the logo of the band The Smith’s in blue offsetting the wall of white. She was holding a tie in her hand.
David smiled at her and she beamed back at him.
“Jeez, you didn’t tell me you lived in the bloody projects.” David derided, looking around with an air of slight paranoia.
“Do you know what the projects look like David, because I really don’t think you do.” Olivia sighed
“Well, you can surely do better than a place that can’t decide if it wants to pretend to be French or Spanish.” He replied with a cocky smirk crawling across his face as he looked Olivia in the eyes. She smiled and laughed with him.
“Anyway, here’s the tie you left at Spike’s house the other night.” She responded, handing him a silken maroon tie.
“Thanks for keeping it for me love.” He said as he took it and put it gently down on the passenger’s side seat of the car.
“Would you like to come in for some tea?” she asked “I was just about to put a kettle on.”
“Oh, sure. I’m free for a while.” David replied, sneaking a peek at his expensive wrist watch and locking the door to his car. He then followed her towards her apartment. As the two were walking across the parking lot, David’s phone rang. He looked at the number calling and then answered it.
“Hi David. Uhhhh… This is John I don’t know if you remember me.” The voice said from the phone speaker.
“Oh yeah, Johnny from Crimson Funeral, of course I remember. I haven’t talked to you in a while.” David replied cheerfully.
“Yeah, it’s been a minute.” Johnny replied
“So how are yah?” David asked charismatically
Johnny heaved a sigh “I’ve been better honestly Dave.” He said “I’m sorry to spring this on you at the last minute after having not talked to each other for years, but we’re supposed to play a show at the Palace tonight and our guitarist is really sick. We don’t want to have to cancel the show, we’re opening up for Chris Turner and the Dark Eyes. Do you think you can fill in on guitar for us?”
David thought for a moment and then exhaled “Johnny, I would love to play with you guys and help you out. I really would, but you know me and Maddison can’t be around each other.” He answered, the sanguine tone in his voice all but disappearing.
“I get it dude, I do. I know you two have a history, but I really do not want to miss this show, and I don’t know anybody else who can play these songs on guitar on such short notice. I mean, you still remember them, right?”
“Uh, I wrote them, so of course I do.” David said with a very apparent undertone of bitterness.
“I’ll be the mediator between you two. All you have to do is play the show and then you never have to talk to her. You don’t even have to stick around for Chris’s set, just put on a smile for the cameras. Please man, I’m just asking this one favor.”
David remained silent for a while pondering the offer then conceded “Fine man, I’m in. Just know that I’m doing it for you and Dan, not for her.”
“I totally understand where you’re coming from but thank you so fucking much. You’re a life saver. Soundcheck is at 5, if you want, we can get there a bit early and practice. Without her of course.”
“Yeah, that sounds good. See you there.” David hung up the phone.
“Change of plans Liv, you want backstage passes to a concert tonight?” he said, turning to his friend.
The gang was at the currently empty venue in East LA called the Palace. It was a fairly big and state of the art venue, seating around 2,000 people. The stage was still being set up to the proper specifications while David and the rest of the band were working out the set list. The arena was very wide and open and Olivia, Gibson, Spike and Rose were sitting among the empty seats that in a few hours would be filled to capacity.
“You know, I would not take you for such a big Crimson Funeral fan.” Spike said to Rose.
“Crimson Funeral is amazing. Their debut album was like the sound track to my entire senior year in high school, and alt rock music is still my jam. Plus, Aria Winter is hot as fuck so this is like the best day of my life.”
Gibson looked over at her from the seat next to her with a concerned expression.
“Ugh, obviously I meant besides the day we met and the day we got married. God, don’t be so petty.” Rose said to her husband as the two embraced each other, chuckling to themselves.
David was wrapping up the sound check with the other members of the band and he put his guitar in the rack just off the side of the stage. He wiped the moisture off his hands with a white towel and then threw it aside.
“So, what do you think, is that JCM 800 going to work for you?” Johnny asked, pointing to the amp that David was borrowing for the night.
“Oh yeah, it sounds sick man. Hey, do you think I can go talk to Aria real quick?”
“Um… Yeah, she’s in the green room. Do you want me to go with you?” he offered
“No, I think I’m going to talk to her myself. See you in a bit.” David wandered off to the backstage area, past some security and stage hands helping get the venue prepared for the concert. David approached the door of the green room and rapt on the heavy wood using his knuckle.
“Come in” a dark and disinterested voice called from the other side. David cautiously opened the door and saw Aria Winter sitting in front of the mirror finishing applying her makeup. She had long, flowing raven hair that stopped right at the middle of her back. She had a thin, fit figure and was wearing a tight black leather dress. Her skin was a pale, milky white and the makeup around her dark hazel eyes was accentuated by dark purple eyeshadow that was blended to fade flawlessly to pink and then a light gold color around the top of her nose bridge. She had two tattoos, one across the top of her chest that was an open locket with a beach scene inside of it, the other a thin Celtic band that spanned the circumference of her small forearm. Her lips were covered in striking black lipstick.
“Oh, it’s you.” She added once she saw David had entered, her voice becoming even more dour than it already was.
“Can we just be civil?” David pleaded “I’m not asking you to be friends again, just, you know, at least pretend to like me while the lights are on.”
“I think the time for civility ended when you threatened to sue me for songs that I wrote.” She replied bitterly, still not looking in his direction.
“I already told you I was sorry about that. And for what it’s worth, I didn’t actually do it and only ever made what the studio paid me to play on the tracks. I never asked for anything more. Can it just be water under the bridge for one night?”
Aria didn’t reply, just continued to brush makeup onto her face.
“I’ll see you when the show starts.” She stated finally.
“Alright, I’ll see you later.” David responded, exiting the room. He peeked back in before the door shut and added “Good luck tonight, Maddison. It’s going to be a fun show.”
Aria scoffed and finally looked back at David.
“Did you seriously just call me Maddison?”
“Last time I checked, that was still your name, right?” David replied, closing the door decisively behind him, leaving Aria shaking her head to herself.
The venue had finally started to fill and now was close to being a sellout crowd. Rose, Gibson and Olivia were standing by the stage watching as the band took their places behind the curtain. Olivia was standing next to David as he waited, guitar in hand to be introduced. Aria Winter took her place on the steps leading up to the stage. Around her shoulders was a candy apple red Fender P-Bass. Her hands around the fretboard were quivering ever so slightly with nerves, but she knew as soon as she got under the lights, the butterflies in her stomach would dissipate. Finally, her name was called and she could take the stage with Johnny, the group’s drummer.
“I love you Aria!” Rose blurted out. Aria turned around and gave Rose a sly wink in response.
“Oh my god.” Rose said, putting a palm to her forehead like she was about to faint. “I didn’t think I could get any gayer but lo and behold I absolutely have.” She continued, fanning herself with her hand.
Aria took her place in front of the mic, but the stage was still dark. She began strumming the lowest string on her bass, the thumping of the rhythm with the driving kick drum behind it had built up a glorious tension among the audience.
“Unfortunately, Dan is really sick tonight, so he couldn’t be here with us, but I have a very special guest taking his place.” She paused for dramatic effect. “Please welcome one of my good friends, David White!”
The audience erupted in applause and was reaching a fever pitch as David grabbed his trusty white Les Paul and put his foot up on the edge of the stage.
“David!” Olivia shouted over the audience calling his name. He turned to face her.
“Loosen up your tie a bit, it’s more punk rock that way.”
David nodded and uncharacteristically moved his tie so the knot was low and worn in a very improper fashion. He finally took the first steps out on the stage as the spotlight illuminated the band. He started chugging a low note on his guitar along to the rhythm of the song. Aria moved up to the mic. The silver mic stand held two separate microphones. One was a standard, oblong condenser mic, the other had a filter over it which distorted the vocals as they entered the device.
“He could have been my cosmic Casanova. I could have been his rocket queen.” She sang in a low voice that was equal parts seductive, mysterious and exciting. The perfect female voice for punkish alternative rock.
“He’s got a perfect face and he dresses like the cover of a magazine.”
Aria started jumping which got the crowd jumping as well as the song finally kicked off into the iconic riff of one of their biggest hits off the debut record, a song called “What Are we Fighting For.” The exciting, power chord driven punk guitar riff frenzied the standing crowd into motion in front of the stage.
“I can’t deny that his touch is nice. He’s got a warm smile but a heart of ice. He really thought that he won when he knocked me down, but now the gloves are off and I’m ready for another round.”
Aria and David looked at each other as the que to launch into the chorus of the song. They hadn’t practiced or played together in a very long time but musically, they had a connection that would probably never go away having played these songs together hundreds of times.
“Sing it with me Los Angeles!” Aria shouted and the entire crowd began singing in unison with the band.
“Ohhhh, what are we fighting for? I used to know but now I’m not really sure. I thought you were the one, but now all I see is zeroes when I look at the score.”
The song continued as the others watched from back stage. Gibson and Spike were so used to sharing the stage with David that they never truly got to appreciate what kind of performer he really was and they both looked on in awe of how exciting his presence was on stage as he stood on top of the monitor playing the song’s guitar solo. He was moving around the stage like a mad man, running from the front of the stage back to his microphone to provide backing vocals.
The show continued for the next 45 minutes. As the crescendo to the final song started, David placed his guitar on the ground and then jumped off the stage onto the adoring fans standing just out front of them. He rode a wave of hands and arms in a horseshoe around the audience and then back onto the stage where Aria handed him his guitar for the big finish where he ran the strings of his axe along the microphone stand to create as much feedback as he could before the final note blared from his amplifier.
“Thank you, Los Angeles! You guys fucking rock!” Aria declared over the mic, addressing the crowd. She put her arm around David as they bowed to the audience.
“I’m taking a 3-hour long shower on the hottest setting as soon as I get back to the hotel room.” Aria shouted just loud enough for David to hear but for it to not be audible for anybody else in reference to his hand on the small of her back.
“I wouldn’t wash off the feeling of the only hand that’s going to be on you tonight besides your own, love.” David snapped back all the while keeping his brightest smile on.
“I see your ego is still so big it makes the Gallagher brothers look well adjusted.” She snarked back.
Finally, the three members of the band walked off the stage. David’s friends were gathered near the edge of the stage. As Aria walked off, she handed Rose the pick she had been using for the last song and gave her a firm slap on the shoulder. She made a beeline to the greenroom and shut the door behind her.
David grabbed a towel and wiped the sweat off his hands and his brow and then put his guitar back on the rack. The others came over to congratulate him.
“Awesome show Dave.” Spike congratulated his friend.
“Thanks, but was it really that good?” David responded
“David, I say this with zero dishonesty, that was electric.” Gibson chimed in. “Like seriously, you two are amazing on stage together.”
“Thanks man, I’m glad you enjoyed the show” David said with a slight amount of lament in his tone. “I’ve gotta do some signings and stuff so I’ll be back in a bit.”
He strolled to the green room door and knocked on it again. Aria opened the entrance to the room and immediately shut it again in David’s face.
“Maddison, just give me a second please.” David begged. The door opened a crack. His voice had to be raised to make it audible over the murmur of the crowd that was growing increasingly impatient with the long intermission. Aria slowly opened up the door completely again.
“What do you want David, you know I like to decompress after the show.”
“I just have to say something and get it off my chest while I have the chance ok. Please just let me say it.”
“Fine. You want a glass?” Aria offered
“Sure.” David entered the room and Aria shut it behind them. She got a second high ball glass and poured it half full for him. David stared at the dark brown liquid for a few seconds, swirling it around until it coated the sides of the glass, then he drank it in one long sip. He placed the glass down carefully and then turned his attention back to Aria.
“Spit it out.” Aria prodded him.
“You mean the drink? You’re not that broke still, are you?” David joked
Aria let out a little snicker and then slowly faded to the somber expression she previously had. “Just say what you need to say so I can enjoy the rest of my night.”
David paused to really mull over the words he was about to say, then he finally forced them out of his mouth.
“I just wanted to apologize for what I did to you. I’ve been shouldering a lot of guilt for that the last 5 years. I’m sorry I got you…”
“David, I know what you’re going to say and don’t.” Aria interrupted him. “My choices were my own. Nobody tied me down and forced me to start doing smack.”
“Yeah, but you never touched hard drugs until you started dating me.” David countered.
“David, it’s fine. I’ve been clean 3 years; I don’t even think about it anymore. I don’t blame you for anything, it’s in the past. Let’s move on.”
“Ok, well that makes me feel better I guess.” David said under his breath.
“Did you come here to apologize to me or absolve yourself of guilt?” Aria asked
“Can’t it be both?”
There was a long, awkward pause between the pair. Aria poured herself another glass and downed it.
“I’m sorry things have to be the way they are between us, ok. It really hurts so badly that I have to harbor all these negative emotions… I fucking loved you, David.” He could hear the pain and emotion in her voice, like it was being drawn from the deepest part of her soul.
“And I fucking loved you too Maddison.” David replied somberly.
“Maddison…” she sneered “Why do you keep calling me that?”
“Because it’s your name. You’ll never be Aria to me because I knew you before all this.” David replied honestly.
There was another awkward silence, this time much shorter though.
“I’m sorry. It’s just weird hearing it… Nobody really calls me that anymore.” She sighed
“Well, they should. Aria Winter is not your real name. They should separate your stage persona from the real you.”
“You and I both know that’s not how it works Dave.” Aria replied soberly. She pushed past him and grabbed the large bottle of Jack Daniels off the green room table. She quickly threw on a black pea coat and went to leave the room hastily.
“Where are you going? You’re not going to watch the other band?” David asked
“Fuck no.” Aria replied rudely “I’m not sticking around for this hipster bullshit they claim is alternative rock. I’m going back to the hotel and getting hammered.”
“Can I come with you” David asked “…Well obviously not to your hotel room, but with you in the car. I assume you have a limo?”
“Great, I’ll pay the driver to drop me off at my house afterward if that’s ok with you?”
“As long as you sit on the other side of the car, that’s fine.” Aria replied with a smirk.
David and Aria exited the room and turned left. Rose was still standing by the stage holding the triangular plastic pick in her hand. It was as if she hadn’t moved an inch.
“Are you going to be ok honey?” Gibson asked
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.” Rose responded “Just google ‘how to avoid washing your shoulder in the shower for the rest of your life’ for me please.”
David and Aria stood by the exit of the backstage area. People were hustling around near the stage and around the VIP section still trying to get things set up for the main event.
“So, you probably should go out first in case there’s paparazzi. Have the driver circle around the block then I’ll come out and get in.” David explained
Aria opened the exit door a crack and saw a few people with cameras waiting outside. She looked up at David and flashed a wicked grin at him.
“You really wanna fuck with these assholes?” She questioned cunningly
“I don’t like where this is going… What do you have in mind?” David responded cautiously. The crowd began to roar into life as The Dark Eyes were taking the stage.
“I think we should walk out arm in arm, no sunglasses or hoods or anything. That would definitely fuck with some heads.” She laughed
“Screw it, let’s go. I’m totally down.” David replied, much to Aria’s surprise. David stuck out his arm and Aria latched hers onto it loosely. The stage behind them had sprung into life and as the door opened, a purple flood light illuminated their backs as they stepped onto the pavement of the back parking lot. The long black limo was parked about 30 feet away and the pair walked towards it, doing their best to ignore the cameras flashing and the voices shouting in their peripheral vision as they slipped into the car and slammed the door behind them.
As soon as the vehicle was closed, David looked over at Aria and they both burst out laughing.
“I can’t wait to read that in the tabloids tomorrow.” Aria said “I’m honestly shocked you agreed to do that.” She added
“What? Are you saying I’m not fun?” David replied
“No, it’s just that I’m used to you being so protective of your image. You certainly used to be.”
“Eh, I’d rather make a new positive memory with you. We could certainly use more of those between us.”
Aria smiled genuinely at him. Her arm had moved off of his and onto the top of his knee. She looked down and then quickly removed it.
“I’m sorry.” She said
“I’m not complaining.” David replied, mirroring her smile. The two sat in the car, the light of the moon being stifled by the dark tint of the windows. Aria pulled the bottle of whiskey which had been wrapped securely in her jacket out and unscrewed the lid. She took a hearty swig of the just past half full bottle and then handed it to David. He looked at the lip of the container and back at Aria with a raised eyebrow.
“David, we’ve shared needles before and you’re seriously afraid of drinking from the same bottle?” Aria asked with a hint of dark sarcasm in her voice. David sighed and tilted his head back, drinking quite a bit from the bottle. He wiped the moisture from his lip and handed the bottle back to Aria who put the lid back on and stashed it away in the seat next to her. The inside of the limousine was lined with maroon velvet and the seats were upholstered with rich burgundy leather that was soft and cool to the touch. There was a pause in the conversation and Aria decided to grab her phone. She pulled an electrical cord from in between the seats and connected it to her cell phone.
“Do you mind if I play some music?” she asked
She flipped through her phone and found a song to put on. The familiar start of Abba’s “Dancing Queen” came on over the sound system in the back of the limousine.
“You seriously like this cheesy stuff? I thought you were all into the rebellious alt rock.” David inquired
“I mean, yeah, it’s a little goofy, but I like it. My mom used to play it all the time when I was younger. You don’t have those songs that remind you of good times when you were a child?” she answered
David sat and pondered for a moment. He thought back to when he was younger, and he remembered one song being burned into his head from his youth; “Waltz in C Sharp Minor (Op. 64 No. 2)” by Chopin.
“Yeah, I try not to relive my youth too much.” David finally said gravely.
“I guess I wouldn’t understand what it was like to be a star as a teenager.” Aria sympathized with him.
The limo had hit a block of LA’s signature traffic and the commute had come to a dead stop as the driver tried to switch lanes on the freeway and get off.
“You seem different David.” Aria mused “In a good way. You seem more emotionally mature and open to introspection than when we were dating.”
“I’m trying to mend some of the bridges I’ve burned, I guess. If I’m being honest with you Maddison, I’ve felt incredibly lonely and isolated for a while now.” David said, bearing his soul a bit.
“That girl isn’t your girlfriend? The blonde one?” Aria asked
“No, God no. I mean, I like her but she’s… It’s complicated.” David answered, mostly dodging the question.
“I’m just sick of feeling like I’m trapped in my own bubble, y’know? I want to connect with people, but how do you do that? I’m not like them.”
“The truth is Dave, you can’t. Sorry to say it.” Aria countered bluntly “To most people, you’re just a rich asshole. And for the people that like you, they like you because you’ve created things that entertain them, but without that, there’s really nothing connecting you to the person that makes less than you do in an hour in 5 years.” Aria unscrewed the cap of the whiskey bottle with lightning speed and precision to down another healthy swig.
“You think I like putting on this makeup every single night? No, of course not. But I’m the alt rock goddess Aria Winter, I have to. In show bizz, you aren’t a human being to most of the world, you’re just a face that makes stuff they enjoy. Without that, what do we have? The cult of personality is all there is.”
The car began to slow down and the two could see the lights of the hotel parking lot through the deep tint of the window.
Aria got out and David followed her.
“What floor are you on?” David questioned
“I always try to get a room on the ground floor if I can.” Aria answered back “It’s easy to get in and out of and you don’t have to worry about being harassed in the elevator.”
“Makes sense.” David agreed “Do you mind if I walk you to your room?” David asked
“Uh, no.” Aria said decisively
“Why, are you seeing somebody?” David reasoned
“No. No. It’s just… Do you want to risk being seen going to a hotel room with me?”
“Why not? Maybe I can show these bellends what chivalry looks like.” David replied smoothly. Aria smiled and chuckled. David and her walked across the parking lot and into the back entrance of the hotel. They cautiously walked through the hallway, shirts and jackets covering their faces as best as possible until they got to room 117 where Aria was staying.
“You might as well come in to say goodbye so we don’t have to hide ourselves in the hallway like we’re in witness protection.” Aria stated. She swiped her keycard and the pair entered the room. The room was exactly what you’d expect out of a nice but not exotic hotel, with a spacious living area, a kitchen and a large bedroom. Aria removed her jacket and placed the whiskey bottle on the counter. She threw the coat precariously onto the back of the couch.
“Well Maddison, it was really nice to see you again. And it was nice to clear the air between us a bit.” David said
“It was nice to see you too David. And I never said this before but… It was amazing having you back playing guitar with me. I love Dan, but he’s not the same level of performer you are. I haven’t heard a crowd that hyped to hear my music in years.” Aria complimented him.
“Awww shucks. Old me would have said you were riding my coattails since you weren’t big until you started dating me, but the truth is, you’re an amazing musician in your own right Madds” David replied, complimenting her back.
Aria smiled brightly and looked up at David.
“What?” David asked with a half grin.
“Nothing, I just always thought it was cute when you would call me that.”
Aria almost intuitively rested her head on David’s chest as he embraced her. His left hand reached up and lightly cradled the back of her head. He could feel the warmth of her body, the weight of her frame pressing against him made his pulse quicken. He moved his left hand to her cheek and gently grazed it with his thumb.
“I know what you’re thinking in that stupid, pretty fucking head of yours and just stop.” Aria whispered into his broad chest. “We’ve both been drinking, let’s not do something we’ll regret.”
“I’m not that drunk and I know you aren’t either.” David replied breathily
“I know… I’m just trying to make excuses for the fact I can never control myself around you.” Aria conceded as David grabbed her gently by the chin and tipped her head up so their lips met in a very passionate kiss.
“Welcome to Fat Burger, home of the Fat Burger, would you like to try our world-famous fried mayo?” The cashier asked at a fast-food restaurant where Rose, Gibson and Olivia had decided to stop on their way home from the concert. He wore a brightly colored uniform shirt with red and blue spots on it like he was some sort of clown.
“Erm, do you have any fruit?” Olivia asked
“No.” replied the cashier succinctly.
“Well do you have any salad?”
“You can buy a burger and like, eat just the lettuce.” The young man behind the register explained with no emotion in the tone of his voice.
Rose and Gibson had already found a seat, Gibson was eating his burger with an unrestrained sense of vigor as Olivia slowly picked through the soggy lettuce on top of her greasy burger with a plastic fork. Suddenly, a manager appeared from out of the back of the restaurant and approached the table.
“Hey, sorry to bother you guys, but uh… You’re Derrick Gibson from the Crystal Orchids, right?” He asked
“Oh, yeah. That’s me.” Gibson replied as he finished his bite of food.
“Do you mind if I get your autograph? I’ve seen you guys live like 3 times; I love your music.” He said excitedly.
“Oh yeah, I don’t have a pen on me, if you can find me one, I’d be glad to sign whatever you want.” Gibson said happily.
The young man left and quickly returned with a piece of blank paper and a pen. Gibson took the pen in his left hand and started to draw something. Gibson was a pretty good artist, and he had even drawn some sketches of potential future cover art for the band. He sketched out a cartoonish rat holding a martini glass as quick as he could and then scrawled his signature across the bottom of the stark white paper with looping cursive handwriting.
“There you go, I even drew you a little something.” Gibson said with a smile, returning the paper to the manager.
“Wow, this is amazing. I’m going to frame it. Thank you so much.” The man said, his voice clearly shaking with excitement. “I’ll leave you guys to your meal.”
Gibson turned back to the table where his wife was beaming at him.
“What?” he said with a chuckle.
“That’s like the 4th time this week somebody asked you for an autograph, it’s cute how nice you are to your fans.” Rose answered, resting her head on her husband’s shoulder.
“I’m still not used to being semi-famous. It’s weird honestly.” Gibson pondered aloud.
“Well, you better get there quick because you’re kind of a big deal now.” Olivia chimed in. “By the way, do either of you know where David went? He’s not answering his phone.”
“He probably ran off with a girl. Or maybe Aria and him left to catch up or something. He’ll be fine, I’m sure.” Gibson replied “What are you smiling about?” he added, commenting on his wife’s expression.
“Nothing. I’m not going to dog him for leaving with Aria Winter. If she wanted me to leave with her, I’d go.” She explained. Gibson gave her a stern glance.
“Relax honey. I’m joking.” She replied reassuringly grabbing his arm and jostling it playfully. “But for real, if Aria asked me to leave with her, I’d probably break Usain Bolt’s sprinting record.”
David laid in the hotel room bed, the comforter down around his waist. The ceiling fan was on and Aria was laying with her head against his chest. He reached over and grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey which had nothing but a few scant drops left at the bottom, trying his best not to disturb his partner or ruin their comfortable position in bed. He drank what little remained and then turned his attention back to his friend. Aria sighed contently and looked up at him.
“What are you thinking about?” she said with a mischievous smile.
“You know, I just was running the logistics of us getting back toget…”
“David, no.” Aria interrupted him firmly.
“Why not?” David countered “We’d make a hell of a power couple and besides… You’re the only person I’ve felt I can actually connect with romantically on any level recently. We just buried the hatchet, let’s do it.” He replied passionately
“David, it’s hard to completely bury the hatchet when the wounds from it are still so fresh.” Aria answered somberly. There was a stillness and quiet between the two. David’s hand was lazily sliding over Aria’s back which was slick with sweat. Aria decided to break the tension by changing the subject.
“Do you want to order room service? I’m fucking starving.” She said
“Sure, if you’re paying.” David responded
“If I’m paying?” Aria exclaimed indignantly
“You have money too.”
“I have comfortable standard of living money, you have fuck earth, I’m terraforming Mars money.” She laughed “You’re buying dinner moneybags.”
“Ugh, fine. And by the way, I don’t have like Jeff Bezos money, ok. 2.6 billion is not that much in the grand scheme of things.”
“Oh, what the fuck ever, maybe for a country. You are so spoiled it’s unreal.” Aria joked with him.
“What do you want?” he finally accepted with a defeated chuckle, “Go find the menu for us please darling.”
Aria begrudgingly lifted herself off of the comfort of David’s strong chest, feeling the tact of their skin separating from each other as she rose. She quickly slipped her dress back on and went to grab the menu from the other room as David himself also got up off the sheets and started to put his pants back on. They ordered their meal over the phone, David bought salmon and Aria some grilled chicken. They sat and waited for the food to arrive. David tried once again to prod at Aria with relationship questions.
“Maddison, I’m serious. We should just go for it.”
“David. Just stop, ok? Don’t ruin a good night.” Aria commanded
“It’s just… You and I relate to each other in way I don’t think anybody else can. I know you feel it too.”
“David…” Aria sighed “I understand how you’re feeling and how hard it is when you’re forced to be in your own world because you can’t relate to normal people. I get it, I feel the same exact way a lot of the time too, and I so wish that things could have worked out different. But you need to listen to my words. We are never getting back together.”
The word never stung like a dagger into his chest, but deep down, he knew it was just a pipe dream and it was best for both if they stayed apart. David nodded in agreement and then dropped the subject. Their food arrived and the duo ate together, mostly in silence, but occasionally piping up to make small talk about details of their lives. Eventually, the meal had run its course and David stood up.
“Can I stay with you, at least for the night?” he questioned, gently putting his arm on hers.
“I’m going back to Seattle tomorrow. My flight is early. It’s probably best if you don’t stay.” Aria answered
David nodded and grabbed his suit jacket off the back of a chair and slung it around his shoulders. He moved towards the door before turning back around.
“I left my number in your phone. If you’re ever in Los Angeles again, call me, ok? We can go out to dinner or something as friends. Just don’t be a stranger, alright Madds?”
“I’ll be sure to keep in touch.”
David nodded his head quickly and opened the door to the hotel room.
“I’ll see you when the Doomsday Clock hits midnight.” He called over his shoulder with a simper. His goodbye was in reference to one of the songs they had written together for her second album. Maddison smiled back at him, or maybe it was more to herself, she wasn’t sure as the door closed loudly behind him.
David walked across the parking lot and back to the limousine where he slid into the leather seat. He tapped the partition between him and the driver to signal he was ready to leave. The man drove him to his home where he paid him handsomely for waiting an extra few hours. David then collapsed on his bed where he struggled to fall asleep for a few hours due to the number of feelings and thoughts rushing through his head. It nearly drove him to tears trying to process his emotions. So much so that even though he had seen the missed calls from Olivia, he didn’t have the emotional capacity to call or text her in response. Finally, he drifted off to sleep in his comfortable silk sheets.
When he awoke, the sun was peeking through his bedroom window curtains. He got up and grabbed his tablet for reading the news and went to the kitchen to make himself coffee. He opened the website of the LA tabloid The Daily Bungle and saw the headlines of him and Aria walking arm in arm. The article title read “A reunion for David White and Aria Winter? We give you all the spicy details.” Beneath was a fairly awful quality picture of the two of them.
David chuckled to himself and took a sip of his coffee. He knew Maddison was probably doing the same and getting the same sick sense of enjoyment out of it he was. He finally got up and placed his coffee cup on the back of his grand piano he had in the room besides his kitchen. He sat on the bench and looked out of the window where the sun was gleaming off the perfectly white sand of the beachfront his mansion resided on. He wriggled his fingers to loosen them up and then started to play Waltz in C Sharp Minor (Op. 64 No. 2) by Chopin on the piano.