Chapter Thirty

Erin could see him, she could feel him, the sensation instinctive and suffocating within the crowded club.

He was doing an incredible imitation of any other normal guy at the bar. He sat there nonchalantly, neither looking her way or showing any sign of knowing she was there. Like he expected her to think this whole thing were a coincidence.

Erin glared at him through narrowed eyes, wishing that looks truly could kill.

The waiter returned and set down two square glasses on the table; Erin barely noticed.

Jon returned a few moments later to find her sitting stone-still at the booth, her mouth set in a thin line.

“Whoa baby, that gin too strong for you now?” he smiled.

“Not strong enough,” she mumbled.

“What?” Jon sat down, the edges of concern creeping around his eyes.

Erin jerked her head toward Max. “He’s here.”

Jon followed her signal and Erin watched as his eyes went from bright blue to dark cobalt within seconds. His jaw tightened and clicked, his hand clenched into a fist.

It was hard to see his face clearly from across the club, but Erin swore she saw Max’s lips form an amused smile. As if he knew they were watching him. She suddenly felt sick to her stomach, anxious…but suddenly livid at the same time.

Enough is enough.

Before she even knew what she was doing, Erin was striding toward him at a hasty pace. Max seemed to schedule his timing: as she got closer, he suddenly turned and saw her, smiling as if surprised to see her there.

“Erin,” he said good-naturedly. “Fancy meeting you here. How have you been?”

“What are you doing here, Max?”

He shrugged. “You know, just relaxing at the end of a long week.”


Max raised an eyebrow and feigned confusion. “Sorry?”

“Stop the innocent act, you know exactly what I’m talking about,” Erin spat, loud enough for other nearby to turn.

“No, I don’t…”

“You followed us here!”

Max’s eyes widened in surprise. “I what?” he laughed slightly. “What do you mean? I didn’t even see you come in.”

Erin felt Jon’s strong hand on her shoulder as he came up behind her.

“I saw you the other night, Max. Outside my house?”

Max’s gaze seemed to slip ever so slightly; Erin stared him down. “You think you can just keep stalking me like a maniac and I won’t notice? Hiding around every corner, watching my every move. I’m not an idiot, you know!” her voice rose louder.

Max held up his hands. “Erin …I have no idea what you’re talking about. I haven’t even seen you since the night we broke up. Since you broke up with me…”

“I could have you thrown in jail, you know,” Erin ignored his claim. “Sabotage, vandalism, stalking…if you keep this up, I will file a restraining order against you, I swear to God I will. I’ll have you locked up!!” Erin was screaming by now, her emotions raging.

Max looked around nervously, shrugging as if he was innocently oblivious to her accusations.

“Erin,” he said in a voice dripping with condescension. “Are you feeling all right? Have you been drinking too much?”

“ME?!” Erin spat, dumbfounded. She could not believe his act. Treating her like a crazy person attacking him out of the blue. She wouldn’t let him win. She might be looking a little crazed to the people around them, but she could not let him get away unscathed.

“It’s over,” she growled, recomposing herself. “Now leave me – and Jon – alone!”

Jon had been quiet until now, seeming to understand that this was something Erin needed to handle on her own. Despite his instinctive urge to say a few well-chosen words himself, he merely stood by as guard.

“Jon, huh?” Max glanced over at Jon, seeming to notice him for the first time. “Well, I don't know what's going on here, but I think I should probably leave.”

As he got up and made to pass them, his eyes met Jon’s briefly. They held his gaze for perhaps half a second, but that was enough for Jon to see the smug look of defiance. The unspoken challenge to do something about this.

And that was all it took.

The emotions, the hurt, the pain, the fury that had been raging inside him exploded, and before Max could wipe that silly smirk off his face, Jon’s fist did it for him. “You son of a bitch,” he snarled, as Max stumbled backward in surprise.

Gasps were heard from the gathering crowd, and it seemed to back up collectively. Jon was fuming, and as Max recomposed himself, he lunged at him again. He grabbed Max’s collar and cocked his arm, connecting with his cheek again. Max crashed backward into the bar and held onto it to keep from falling. He lifted his head to look up and revealed a gash beneath his eye; blood trickled out of a corner of his mouth.

Erin grabbed Jon’s arm as he prepared to strike again, and shoving their way through the astonished crowd, pulled him outside.

The crisp air was inviting after the stifling tension of the club, but people stared as they burst down the sidewalk to the valet lane.

“Oh my God,” she gasped as they shoved the valet slip to the attendant and told him to hurry. “Jon, what…?”

Jon massaged his knuckles and shook his head vehemently. Behind them, people began emerging from the club in groups, staring at him and Erin, then hurrying off.

The attendant pulled the car up and Jon ushered Erin inside quickly. He thrust a $20 bill in the attendant’s hand, jumped into the driver’s seat, slammed the door, and gunned the accelerator.

His grip on the steering wheel was deadly, and Erin knew better than to say anything. They drove to her house in silence, the only sound the roar of the engine as they sped down the street.

As they pulled up to her house, Jon finally spoke. “I’ll have to smooth things over with Bear,” he muttered angrily.

Erin looked over at him in surprise. His features were sharp, framing his profile severely in the shadows. “What happened back there?” she asked. She was still trying to process what had transpired so quickly, but she was finding herself looking at Jon in awe.

“I don’t know,” he growled. “That fucking look he gave me…God, I wanted to kill him.”

“What look?”

Jon ran a hand through his blonde locks. “That arrogant look, like he was challenging me. Bastard.”

Erin’s watched him with concern.

He looked at her sternly. “Is he always like that?”

“Like what?”

“Haughty. So goddamn condescending. The way he acted like he had no idea…”

Erin nodded. “That’s Max. He’s always been superior to everyone, especially me.” She turned and stared out the windshield, aware of Jon looking at her.

“What did you ever see in him?” he asked bluntly.

Erin smiled sadly. “I have no idea,” she confessed, feeling stupid. “He was charming at first. I was new here. I knew no one. It was like, why not?”

Jon rubbed his face and stared out the windshield. “I’ll have to do some damage control tomorrow. The guys at Rocket aren’t gonna like that Jon Bon Jovi just picked a fight in their VIP lounge. Shit. Just imagine the press…”

Erin took his hand. “Can you call them and tell them not to speak to the press? No one has to know about it unless the bartender at Elmo’s says something…or any of the people there…”

Jon smiled meekly. “I didn’t think. That’s the problem. I should have waited one fucking second before I reacted. He just pissed me off...”

“That’s a side of you I haven’t seen before,” Erin said gently. “And I thought there were no more surprises between us,” she laughed.

Jon smiled. “Well, I guess he finally got our message.”

Erin didn’t say anything for a moment, the scene playing out in her head again. “He said he hasn’t been following me,” she said quietly, Max’s words coming back to her.

“Did you really expect him to admit it?”

“I guess not...” Erin trailed off. Suddenly, the reality of the situation sank in. Jon was right, of course. What were the odds that Max would be in the same VIP lounge of the same club at the same time they were?

He was there because he’d seen them go in. He’d known they would be at Club Rocket tonight because he’d been following them. And of course he would lie about it.

A chilling fear took root in her stomach, and her eyes filled with tears. “I’m scared,” she whispered, staring at the dashboard.

Jon reached over and wrapped his hand around hers protectively. “Baby, don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay. Guys like him are just cowards – all talk and no action. He’s just a jealous creep right now. He’ll back off soon…probably sooner now that he’s seen we know what he’s up to.”

Erin nodded. “Will you still stay here with me tonight?”

“I have a better idea,” Jon said, starting up the car again. “My house is further away. He doesn’t know where it is. And if he does, my alarm system will have the cops on his ass before he can even get a window latch open.”

Erin nodded. “You’re right. I’d feel a lot better at your place.”

Jon nodded, and before either of them could say anything else, he turned the car around and headed back down the street. A cold rain began to fall, and behind them the beginnings of thunder rumbled in the distance.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Erin felt as though she’d grown wings. Feeling lighter and freer than she had in months, she bopped around her house and office with joy swelling in her heart.

She felt as though she’d emerged from a dark tunnel, a cage she’d built herself, and felt the warm, bright sunshine for the first time. It was the feeling of lighthearted, in-the-moment euphoria that comes when everything in life is going right at that moment.

Jon loved her. And she loved him back. For the first time in a long time, she had given her heart up completely to someone else, trusting him with its well-being and safety, as though it were a fragile child (which it had felt like for years.)

They weren’t perfect – they were far from it – and she knew the damage she’d done with her lies wouldn’t be erased too quickly. But all that mattered anymore was that there were no more lies. No more secrets, no more pretending. She was finally in a place of total honesty with Jon, and though the path to that place had been rocky, it was good now. She knew she didn’t deserve him to be so understanding and forgiving, and for that she was deeply grateful.

The two of them had both been busy all week, and had only seen each other once since the weekend. But Jon had called her that morning to ask if she wanted to go to the club on Saturday, and she’d happily agreed.

Conveniently – or perhaps by subconscious design – Erin had forgotten for the time being that Max had turned out to be a stalker. She’d been so wrapped up in her worries about hurting Jon and fixing what she’d broken that she’d forgotten the reason she’d told him the damaging truth in the first place.

The future seemed bright and promising.

But as with all illusions, reality was waiting just outside the reach of her imagined sunshine. And darkness was waiting to swoop down once more.


Max sat in his kitchen, focusing intently as he ran his thumb along the blade of a butcher knife. He kept the pressure just light enough so the blade didn’t slice into his skin, and the challenge was exciting. It was flirting with danger, a thrill that grabbed him and sucked him in, daring him to succumb to failure.

But he wouldn’t succumb. Failure wasn’t an option for Max; it never had been. He’d decided that long ago.

His mother had been a failure. She’d been unable to hold onto her first marriage; she faltered when she found herself trying to raise a child alone. She’d turned to alcohol and frittered away what little money they had on that.

Then she’d married a second time for money, she’d brought some egotistical moron into their home and made herself disgustingly subservient to him to make him happy. So he wouldn’t leave them.

Max smiled. But he had left them, hadn’t he?

His mother hadn’t lasted long after Lewis died. She wallowed in self-pity and drowned her sorrows until they drowned her. Max awoke one morning to the sound of the bath running – a sound never heard after 7am, when his mother left for work. She was lying face-down in the tub, red-tinged water filled to the brim.

Max dialed 911, informed them that a woman was lying dead in the tub, and left for school.

Now, he set aside the knife and stared at it, lost in thought. His mother had been weak, and she’d gotten what was coming to her. She deserved it. Life is for the living – those who are strong enough to fight for it.

Erin had seemed like a fighter when Max had first met her – someone who took her job seriously, who had her head on straight, who knew where she was going in life with devotion and purpose. She didn’t seem the type to get sidetracked and blinded; she was focused.

Until she met a rockstar whose very name made women wet themselves.

That was where she failed. She’d been tested with a challenge to see if she could remain on the steady path to success, and she’d failed miserably. She was such a disappointment to Max. It almost made him sad – she had such potential, he hated to see it wasted.

But the world didn’t have room for wasted potential - it only took up space. Just like Lewis, just like his mother, Erin had chosen her own fate the second she slipped up.

Max stood up, filled with a steadying resolve for what he knew he had to do soon. He wasn’t nervous, he showed no sign of emotion. It was a matter that simply had to be taken care of, but the trick was executing it just right.

Just like the night Lewis drank his final cup of coffee.


Jon arrived at Erin’s house at precisely 7:00 PM, just as he’d promised. Feeling confident in her short black dress and knee-length leather heels, she opened the door and smiled as the obvious signs of approval crossed Jon’s face.

“You look stunning, as always,” he shook his head. “It should be a sin to look as good as you do, woman.”

Erin winked and shimmied past him. “Thank you, sir. You’re not so hard on the eyes yourself, you know.”

They climbed into the car and headed off for Club Rocket again; both had agreed to spend an evening free of drama and complications, to just enjoy themselves in the company of other people and let loose the unspoken burdens of the weekend before.

Once inside Elmo’s VIP lounge, they headed over to the private booths on the far end. Erin was taken with a sense of déjà vu, and she smirked as they passed the darkened doorway in the back, remembering what had happened there the last time they’d been here.

They arrived at a secluded booth and slid onto the leather seat as a uniformed server appeared almost out of nowhere to take their drink orders. Erin swapped her usual martini for a gin and tonic, and popped a peanut from the dish sitting on the table into her mouth. Jon watched her amusedly.

“So you going to dance tonight?” he asked.

Erin shrugged. “Eh, not if you aren’t.” Somehow she felt that abandoning him to have fun on her own was the exact opposite of what they should be doing tonight. She furrowed her brow; she was also suddenly feeling slightly uneasy, as though something weren’t right. She glanced around the club, trying to shake the nagging feeling that they were being watched.

The server returned with their drinks, and as he bustled off toward the bar Erin followed him with her eyes, somehow strangely pulled toward the area as if she was supposed to be looking for something.

Jon stood up. “I’ll be right back, baby, I gotta take care of business,” he gestured toward the men’s room and Erin nodded.

An odd feeling took hold in the pit of her stomach as she glanced back at the bar, feeling suddenly apprehensive.

When she saw the curly-haired man sitting atop the end stool, her heart stopped cold.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lie To Me - Wordpress Themes is proudly powered by WordPress and themed by Mukkamu Templates Novo Blogger