Never Enough: A Rockstar Romance
Valerie holds her finger on a button, her body perfectly motionless as the blinds lower slowly, cutting the sunlight down by about half, though it’s still too bloody bright in here. Hell, everything in Los Angeles is too bloody bright.
Wake up in the morning: sun. Go for three-mile run, one of my new, healthy, replacement habits, and there’s sun. Lunch, dinner, when I go into the studio: fucking sun, sun, sun. The only respite is at night, though the whole city is lit with screaming neon then, so it’s not too terribly different.
It’ll make a man miss his rainy gray motherland, that’s for sure.
“There we are,” Valerie says, and walks to sit at the head of the conference table, facing away from the window. Larry and I sit as well, him in his five-thousand-dollar suit and me in my nicest black t-shirt and least-ripped jeans.
Can’t say I haven’t made an effort. I rejected two other pairs of trousers as I was getting dressed. Across the table, our manager Nigel is wearing a short-sleeved button-down shirt and a windbreaker, so at least I’m dressed better than someone.
“Is Miss Fields running late?” Larry asks, checking his Rolex. He couldn’t be less subtle about it.
Valerie’s face doesn’t move. I’m not sure it can move.
“A few minutes, yes,” she says, her voice perfectly placid and calm. Her dark hair is parted neatly in the middle, both sides waving gently away from her perfectly smooth, even face.
She makes me think of a porcelain doll come to life, if porcelain dolls were particularly crafty, manipulative, and bossy — and since she’s the band’s new Public Relations manager, I consider those things compliments.
“Tonight is Gavin’s first show since the tour ended,” Larry says, lacing his sausage-like fingers together on the table. “We can’t wait forever, you know, and he should be arriving early at the venue, making sure everything is—”
“I’m fine, Larry,” I interject before he can really get going. “It’s been three minutes, surely we can give her three more.”
“I’m just saying, your time is valuable, and if—”
“I’m known to be late on occasion as well,” I say, starting to get impatient with my lawyer. He’s good at his job, but he’s set on having the advantage in every situation, even one like this.
“She’ll be here very soon, I’m sure,” Valerie says, her tone still neutral and pleasant.
I hate this.
I hate this sterile, shiny, bright conference room and I hate that now I’ve got to listen to people who tell me things about my image and my brand. Once upon a time I played guitar too loud in tiny clubs and howled at the top of my lungs and didn’t give a shit what anyone thought, but now I’m here. With these wankers.
My old self would make fun of me now, that’s for sure. At least until he saw the house I live in. That might shut him up.
Larry sighs dramatically, checking his watch again, but just as he does the door swings open and four people enter: a man, two women, and a girl.
My heart plummets when I see the girl, like a ball of lead straight into my gut. If I had doubts about this already, now they’re doubled. Tripled.
She’s blonde and blue-eyed, practically cherubic. I don’t think she’s old enough to drink legally, but she’s got that calm, blank affectation that people who grew up in front of the camera tend to have. As if she only comes alive when someone’s recording.
One of the women leans over the table, and I stand to shake her hand.
“Margaret Sorenson,” she says, all business. “I’m Daisy’s PR person. This is her lawyer, Michael Warren, and this is Karen Fields.”
“Lovely to meet you,” I say automatically, though she’s already moved on to Larry.
I look at Daisy Fields, then at Karen Fields, who must be her mother, and I realize two things.
One, she brought her mother to a meeting; and two, Daisy Fields is her given name. I’d assumed she changed it when she went on television, but I guess her parents actually named her Daisy Fields.
They must have really wanted their little girl to go into showbiz, as they say out here.
Then Daisy herself is across the table from me, leaning forward, holding out her hand. It’s small and soft, and she barely grips me at all. It’s like shaking hands with a mitten.
“It’s so nice to meet you!” she bubbles.
“You as well,” I say.
“I love Half-Asleep!” she goes on. “It’s just such a beautiful love song.”
It’s Half-Awake, not Half-Asleep, and it’s not a love song, but I let it slide.
“Thank you,” is all I say.
We all sit, and Valerie starts talking, but I’m hardly listening, my mind swirling.
I can’t do this. There’s no way I can do this, not with her. I’m sure Daisy Fields is nice, but she’s a child. She brought her mother to this meeting, and even now, she’s watching Valerie intently, as if she needs to hang onto every word that comes out of the other woman’s mouth or she might lose the thread of conversation.
“And that’s all amenable to you?” Valerie asks Daisy’s side of the table.
Wide-eyed, Daisy looks at her mother. Karen nods, then Daisy nods too.
That’s it. I’ve had it.
I no longer give a single fuck about rehabbing my brand or making over my image or any of that.
I’m not doing this. I’m not pretending to date a former child star who might not even know where Britain is so that the music-buying public will think I’ve turned over a new leaf and discarded my old, sordid ways.
I have. They’re gone. It’s been months since I so much as had a drink, but I’m not hauling this girl around town on my arm to prove it.
I stand, shoving my expensive leather executive chair back, all eyes on me now.
“Larry, Nigel,” I say, my tone clipped. “A word?”
I don’t wait for them to answer, just walk out of the conference room and into the hall. Both men follow, and they shut the door behind them.
“I’m not doing this,” I say, gesturing at the door. The wall dividing the hall from the room is frosted glass, so I know they can see me, but I don’t care.
“Come on, Gavin,” Nigel says, holding his hands out like he’s trying to console me. “We talked about this, and you know the record label isn’t—”
“Was I unclear?” I ask, my voice rising a little. “I’m not pretending to shag that sweet moronic poppet so that housewives on Long Island will buy my records, and fuck the label.”
Nigel’s face drops, his mouth sagging at the corners. Next to him, Larry’s face is perfectly, carefully neutral.
“Gavin, this is what we—”
“How can I get you to yes?” Larry interrupts, a phrase I’m certain he learned from some negotiation seminar.
I didn’t think I could hate this moment more, but now I do.
I just shake my head and push one hand through my hair, the thin leather straps around my left wrist sliding down. There’s seventeen of them, one for each week I’ve been clean.
“You can’t,” I say, turn, and leave the building.