Sam left the studio and instead of going to Levon’s trailer, she called Dax from her car. She almost cheated on him big time. Thank goodness Dax was home or she might’ve got out of her car and gone to Levon. She literally had no one else. Her mother and Ragner just didn’t understand – she knew they meant well, but it was hard. Relieved, she drove straight to Dax’s apartment.
The door opened and Dax caught her as she threw herself into his arms. “It was awful,” she cried.
“Hey, hey,” he said softly as he stroked her hair, “it’s okay. It’s over now and you did it.”
“But there will probably be more,” she wailed.
“Sam. If there are, you’re ready for it now,” he said. “Come, sit down. I have news too.”
Sam suddenly felt terrible. She was whining about a job she had, and Dax was trying to get one. “I’m sorry. I’m okay. I just needed to see you.”
She sat on the couch as he instructed, but instead of sitting with her, he walked over to his bar and pulled out a bottle of champagne.
“Why the champagne?” she asked.
Dax smiled. “For you and for me. We both met major milestones today.” He walked over and handed her a glass before sitting next to her.
“This is for my sweet Sam. Today you let go of your nude scene virginity. You’re beautiful Sam and it will no doubt sky rocket your career.”
“Thanks,” she said and took a long drink to calm her nerves. “It sucked though.” She swallowed hard to hold back more tears. “I hope you’re right and it’s worth it. Levon said something similar, so did Ragnar.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there to support you,” he said softly.
She huffed out an unamused laugh. “I’m glad you weren’t. I couldn’t have done it with you watching. But, you didn’t buy champagne to celebrate me getting naked in front of a camera. Tell me, did you get news?”
“I did! Sam I got the fucking part!”
He was so excited. She wanted to be excited for him too, but her heart sank a little. She needed him here, to help her through the tough spots, like he’d always done for her. She she pasted a smile on her face and held up her glass in a toast. “To the next headliner. Daxton Matherson. Handsome, sexy, leading man. And he’s all mine!” Or was he? she wondered and took another long drink to hide her emotions.
Thankfully Dax didn’t seem to notice and drained his glass. “This calls for a celebration. Go home, get your sexiest dress on, and we’ll party all night long at the hottest club!”
Her mood tanked. She couldn’t go home. She’d have to face her mother and Ragnar. “I can’t,” she whispered as her smile faded.
“Of course you can. You only had one drink.”
“No, it’s not that. After we shot the scene, I was upset. Mom came to congratulate me and I yelled ‘Fuck you’ and left.” Sam felt like the most ungrateful daughter of all time.
Dax started laughing. “Oh my God. I would give anything to have been a fly on the wall and seen her face! That’s sweet! Put that bitch in her place.”
Sam was shocked. She never heard him talk about her mother like that. She felt bad, and yet he thought it was okay? “Dax. She’s my mother! Ragnar is practically my step father. I – I need to apologize. Just like you said, I would’ve eventually had to do it at some point. She was just congratulating me, and I was rude because I was weak and upset.”
He stopped laughing and got serious. “Don’t underestimate her baby. She’s out for herself.” His words sounded eerily dark.
“Dax! Everything she’s ever done has been for me and my career. She moved away from my dad and brother for my career. They probably divorced because of it.”
“And who else benefits babe?”
“You’re wrong,” she spat back at him, angry now.
“Hey, hey. I’m sorry,” he said, holding his hands out in surrender. “She’s your mom. I get it. At least you have a mom that gives half a shit about you, even if it’s mostly self serving.”
Sam didn’t want to talk about her mother anymore. “Dax, tell me about your role. I’m sure it’s amazing.”
His whole demeanor changed on a dime. His smile was brighter than it had been in a very long time. “I got the call from the director right before you called. He said it was a formality with the other guy and apologized to me! He fucking apologized Sam! Filming starts in two weeks. He emailed the contract already and is overnighting the script so I can start reading. My agent is reviewing the contract. Sam, we’re filming on location … in fucking Sulani! That’s so damn cool. When you have some time off, you can fly up and visit me on the set. We can hang out on the beach. It’ll be perfect.”
Sam was trying hard to be happy for Dax. This was the big break that would catapult him into instant stardom, especially if the movie was a hit. It was a big deal. Huge. “That’s amazing Dax. You deserve it.”
He filled her glass again. “Here, drink up. I’ll change, then we’ll go shopping. I’ll buy you a dress and we can go out to celebrate. You can stay here tonight and we can continue the celebration. Tomorrow, you can deal with mommy dearest.”
Sam took a deep breath. The wine was helping and she was relaxing. “Tomorrow then. Tonight we celebrate.” She took a long drink of her champagne.
Dax took the glass from her hand and sat it on the table. He pulled her into his lap and kissed her long and hard. All her worries went out the window as she melted into his familiar loving touch. It was exactly what she needed to forget about today.
Meanwhile in San Myshuno ….
Tyler was nervous as fuck when he knocked on Dark’s door. He felt like he might be sick. He heard rustling in the apartment. Finally the door opened only a crack, with the chain still engaged. “Who’s there?” asked the person in a hushed whisper.
He could just see a shadow of someone, who he assumed was Dark, looking at him through the crack. “Dark? It’s me, DragonSlayer.” He kept his voice low as well, worried that he’d attract unwanted attention. He couldn’t keep his leg from bouncing. The door closed and he heard muffled voices, then the chain being disengaged. He let out the breath he’d been holding since he got off the bus. He was finally here, ready to leave his old life behind.
The door opened and a woman was standing there. Tyler’s heart rate sped up. He was in the wrong place. “Oh, I’m sorry. I must have the wrong apartment. I’m looking for Blake.”
The woman, who had tattoo sleeves on both arms, looked him up and down before she smirked at him. “Honey, or should I say Slayer? You’re in the right place. Come on in.”
Tyler looked at her. This couldn’t be Dark. Could it? “I’m Tyler Mu – uh Johnson. Tyler Johnson. You’re Dark?”
She frowned at him. “Quick, get in here, before the riffraff try to sneak in. Hurry, come on. I won’t bite.”
Tyler had no choice but to enter the apartment. She knew he was Slayer. Now what? “I’m sorry,” he stammered as his eyes drifted to her chest, “I thought you were a guy … but you’re a girl … “
She started to laugh. “Eyes up here Slayer. I’m not Dark. I’m BlackDiamond, but you can call me Barb. And yes, as you noticed, I’m very much a female.”
“You’re Diamond?” asked Tyler in awe. Diamond was one of the best players. He had no idea Diamond was a she. And she knew Dark.
“In the flesh. I told Dark I wanted to be here to meet the mysterious DragonSlayer.”
Tyler heard water running and a minute later, a man walked around the corner of the small apartment. “Ahhhh! You must be Tyler Johnson, aka DragonSlayer.” He stuck his hand out to shake Tyler’s hand. “Welcome to my humble abode. I see you’ve met Barb,” he said and put his arm around possessively around her. “Don’t get any ideas man, she’s all mine.”
Tyler couldn’t help but stare. He didn’t know what to expect, but he didn’t expect them to be so much older. He knew Dark was older, but they were really old, like 26 or something. And Dark was anything but dark. He hadn’t known what to expect, but he decided he liked him already. Barb, however, was just scary.
“I think he’s cute,” said Barb still checking him out. I bet we could find someone to hook him up with. What do you prefer Slayer? Male or female? I don’t judge.”
Hook up? He never even kissed a girl. “Uh … girls … I like girls,” stuttered Tyler.
Barb laughed at him and Tyler wanted to die. “Perfect. We should have a party to welcome him, don’t you think Blake?”
“Sure. But right now, it’s late and I have to work in the morning. Tyler, there’s the couch. Sorry kid, that’s all I got. Barb, you’re staying, I don’t want you walking home this late.” He gave her a little squeeze and waggled his eyebrows.
Barb studied Tyler for a minute, like she was trying to figure him out. “That works,” she finally said, “I call dibs on the bathroom. There’s only one, sorry guys. We’ll have to take turns showering or there won’t be hot water. Slayer, I’ll go now and you can use it after, okay?” Without waiting for him to answer she looked at Blake. “I like Slayer so much better than Tyler. It fit’s him better.”
“Um, I’ll just wait until the morning,” said Tyler. She winked at him before she turned around and took off to the bathroom. A chill ran down his spine. She totally freaked him out. He gratefully followed Dark to the living area and put his suitcase and backpack on the floor.
Blake sat down on the couch, so Tyler sat in the chair next to him. “Sorry about Barb,” said Blake. “She can be a little much at first, but she’ll grow on you. So tell me about yourself. You look younger than I thought. How old are you anyway?”
“Eighteen,” lied Tyler. “I just graduated last month.”
Blake chuckled. “And couldn’t wait to get out? Parents assholes huh? Don’t like you spending time playing games online? Pushing you to be productive?”
“Um. More or less. Yeah.”
“I can relate. Same thing here. Moved out right away. I’m a programmer now, so things are a little easier. I get to work here at the apartment. Sometimes I have a little down time during the day to get in a game or two. You brought your tower, right?”
Tyler brightened up. “Uh yes! I did. It’s in my suitcase. Uh, Dark, er Blake, thanks for letting me crash here until I can get my own place.”
Blake smiled. “No worries kid. We’ll work on setting your rig up tomorrow. I don’t have any room to store your stuff. Damn efficiency. So, you’ll have to live outta your suitcase. Maybe we can find you someone that needs a roommate with a two bedroom. I’m sure Barb probably knows someone. She might even be able to get you on bussing tables at the restaurant where she’s a hostess. You can work up to waiter. That should bring in enough to help pay rent.”
“Wow, thanks. I appreciate it.”
“Okay Slayer!” came Barb’s voice making Tyler jump. She was scary as fuck. “Your turn.”
She was wearing what looked like was one of Dark’s t-shirts and she didn’t have on a bra. He tried not to notice. She already caught him looking once. Instead he looked around the room. He saw one bed in an alcove. “Is there another bedroom?”
Dark laughed. “That’s it dude. I told you. Efficiency.”
Tyler got up to get his pajamas. At least the bed was a sorta blocked off with a screen. He pulled his toothbrush and pajamas out of the suitcase and made his way to the bathroom. He looked at himself in the mirror. He was glad he’d let his facial hair grow to create a little stubble, it did make him look older. Hopefully Blake and Barb believed he was 18. He was pretty sure they did.
He walked out and the lights were out. Barb and Blake were already cuddled up in the bed. “Night Slayer,” came Barb’s husky voice making him jump.
“Night,” he replied quietly.
They’d left a blanket on the couch for him. He sat down on his temporary bed and thought about where he was. This was so different from what he was used to. Occasionally, he could hear noises coming from the apartment above them. Footsteps or someone running, a baby crying, a raised voice or a door slam. Outside he could hear intermittent sirens and traffic noises. He could also hear Blake and Barb whispering. He wondered if they were discussing him.
He sighed, grabbed the blanket and laid down. He did his best to get comfortable on the lumpy sofa. He closed his eyes and tried to tune out the noises so he could sleep. Just as he was finally drifting off he heard Barb moan softly. “Shhh, Barb, you’ll wake up our guest.” It was Blake’s deeper voice.
Were they really doing what he thought? The telltale noises said yes. Crap.They were practically in the same room. Tyler wanted to put his fingers in his ears but if he moved they’d know he heard them and wasn’t asleep yet. He tried not to listen but couldn’t help it.
After what seemed like forever, they must’ve finished because one of them got up and went to the bathroom. When the came back, there was a little more rustling around before they got quiet. Finally, Tyler drifted off as well.
The next morning, Tyler woke to the smell of coffee. For a minute he didn’t know where he was, then it all rushed back. He was in Dark’s apartment. He sat up, stretched and looked around. He hoped Barb was already gone. “Good morning sleepy head!” sang out Barb, “We’ve got coffee.”
Tyler almost groaned as the sounds of her and Blake came rushing back. He had to pretend he didn’t know. And coffee? He didn’t see the draw, but since he was supposed to be 18 he figured there was no time like the present to learn what the appeal was. It did smell good.
“Cream and sugar hun?” asked Barb when he didn’t say anything.
“Huh? Oh sure, yeah.” he replied. “I just need to get dressed first.”
“Mornin’ kid,” mumbled Dark around a drink of coffee. “Try not to use all the hot water. I gotta get in next.”
“I’ll be quick,” promised Tyler as he grabbed his clothes and rushed into the bathroom.
As he brushed his teeth, showered and got dressed, Tyler began to stress over his situation. He came here without a real plan, other than to start over. And he knew he couldn’t stay with Blake for long. Especially if he and Barb would be banging while he slept in practically the same room. That was just messed up. But where could he go? He figured he had maybe a couple of weeks before Blake kicked him out. One thing he knew was he had to get a job and fast.
He steeled himself to face his new friends and walked back into the kitchen. Barb and Blake were kissing. Gross. Plus, he was petty sure Blake had his hand up her shirt. Tyler tried to make noise so they’d know he was there and maybe stop.
He was relieved when they separated. “Ah, that was fast,” said Blake, “I’m gonna jump in the shower now. You should head to work with Barb. She’s gonna hook you up with a job at the restaurant.”
Tyler felt some of the tension leave his body. This was going to be easier than he thought. “Okay, thanks.”
When Blake walked off, Barb motioned to the cup of coffee on the bar. “Slayer, your coffee’s cold. I’ll stick it in the microwave for you. There’s cereal or toast if you want something to eat.”
Tyler got a bowl of cereal and sat down. Barb handed him the re-heated coffee. “When you’re done, we can head over to my apartment,” she said. “I need to change for work. We can walk, I only live a few blocks away. I’ve already called the manager at Chez Zee and she said she’d hook you up. Ever bussed tables before?”
“No, but how hard can it be?” asked Tyler as he picked up the coffee and attempted to drink it. Fleetingly, he wondered what Tay made for breakfast and whether or not they had figured out he was gone. He quickly pushed those thoughts out of his head. This was his life now.
“Exactly.” Barb crossed her arms and pinned him with one of those looks, like she knew exactly what he was thinking. After what felt like 10 minutes, but was probably on a few seconds, she dropped her arms. “I’m gonna get dressed now while you eat.”
Thank you to Hillary for Dark and Diamond. 💖