Dead Serious(2)

By: C.M. Stunich

Suddenly, I'm scrambling to my feet and racing across the carpet, bare skin sliding across the rough fibers as I skid to a stop next to my duffel bag. My fingers tear open the zipper and dig through the clothing inside like they're possessed. By the time my hand closes around my iPod, there are tears streaming down my cheeks.

“Naomi?” Turner asks, moving up behind me. I can feel his fingers hovering over my skin, but he doesn't touch. Even self-assured, self-possessed Turner Dakota Campbell can't figure this one out. I yank my headphones up to my ear and push play on one of our songs, listening as Hayden's voice cuts through the fog in my brain and drops me to my knees.

I wanted her dead, but now that she's gone? I'm not so sure anymore. I'm not sure about fucking anything. Or maybe I'm just selfish, maybe what I'm really freaking out about is this: with Hayden gone, Amatory Riot fully and truly belongs to me.

I'm sitting on the end of America's bed with the rest of the band. Brayden Ryker stands nearby, obviously not nearly as much of a badass as he pretended to be, as America made him out to be. If he's so fucking amazing, then why is Hayden dead? Why?

“I … don't understand,” Kash whispers, touching his fingers to his forehead.

“No big surprise there,” I snap, feeling irritated with him, with all of them. I want to go drown myself in drugs and alcohol. That's it. I feel so fucking numb inside, and that's scaring me. I don't want to block this pain out; I want to get rid of it.

“Hey, screw you, Naomi!” Kash growls, whirling on me. “You probably Goddamn drove her to it!” I spit in his face and then things get fierce. He lunges at me and I knock him back on his ass, all while America screams at us to knock this shit off. Kash comes up swinging, but before I can get a nice hit in on his balls, Brayden is there pulling him back.

“Infighting is not the best use of our current resources,” he says in his magical Irish lilt, setting our bass player back on his feet. Kash pulls away with a snarl, running his hand through his blonde hair and starting to pace.

“So says the man who assured us not to worry,” I say caustically. My voice could burn it's so friggin' acidic. I run my hands down my face and put on a tight smile that I don't feel. I hate to admit it, but I actually wish Turner was in here with me. His presence is … comforting. I shiver at that thought, wrapping my arms across my chest and grasping hard onto my biceps. Son of a bitch. “The man who wasn't there when Hayden killed this … this Tara girl. When she fucking killed herself.” All of a sudden, my mind is just freaking filled with Hayden's voice, all of my words spilled from her lips. I can't stop thinking of every cruel little thing I did to her and vice versa. We were so toxic together. I should've just walked away from all of this.

“I'm not superhuman, Naomi,” Brayden says, sounding tired. God, one freaking week on our crazy train and he's exhausted. I guess even the best of the best isn't good enough to shovel our shit. “And Hayden had access to more resources than I could've imagined.” I pinch the bridge of my nose and try to breathe.

“The point here is, we have damage control to take care of before the concert. This is going to take a concentrated group effort.” I look up at America like she's lost her fucking mind. I'm not the only one.

“The concert?” Blair asks, like she doesn't even really understand what that word means anymore. Concert. Concert. What fucking concert? There's not going to be a concert – not after this.

“Of course. We're not giving up now, not after all we've been through.” America brushes her hand over her blonde hair, touching her bun to make sure it's still perfectly in place. She's super polished today, more than usual even. Her suit seems crisper, her makeup streamlined, her jewelry just so. Frankly, it only draws attention to the crease in her brow and the slight shake of her hands. She's acting calm, but she's anything but.

“We?” I echo, my voice dry as the Mojave. “We? How the fuck is there a 'we' at this point, America? You have fucked us. Do you hear me? FUCKED US.” I stand up, but I don't make a move towards her. I doubt Brayden Ryker's so out of his game that he'd let me land one on my manager's face. “This is all your fucking fault, you self-absorbed bitch. You brought this crap to our Goddamn doorstep and lit it on fire. So YOU deal with it. YOU fix it. I am done. This tour is over.” I start towards the door, pushing Wren out of my way as I go.

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