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The wheels of her car spun as Chloe sped out of the car park, heading for the coastal road. The storm raging around her, making it harder to see through her own tears. The reopened gash on her head stung with her own sweat as a reminder of what she had to do.
The waves crashed against the side of the jagged cliffs, spraying their foamy mist onto the car as she slammed on the brakes, the drop below looming inches away in the darkness. Her hand hovered over the parking brake as her foot pushed against the gas, the sound of the engine drowning out the roar of the waves. Shaking, she killed the engine. Then resting her head on the steering wheel, she sighed heavily and sniffed, as she tried to pull her racing thoughts together.
Clambering out of the car she fell to her knees and peered down at the brutal ocean below. She swallowed the lump in her throat and buried her head in her hands, arguing with herself not to do it, not to jump. Her body shook with unfettered emotion. Throwing her arms wide open, she screamed into the ebony sky, her body calming with release as the seconds passed.
The tears eventually slowed and she sniffled again, wiping her nose on her sleeve and rubbing a hand over her eyes. She pushed her damp, blonde hair back from her face as she stood then took a step back from the cliff. “If you wanna disappear Chlo, you gotta do it.” she mumbled to herself with a heavy sigh.
Leaning into the car and pulling the gearshift into neutral she pushed the car toward the sharp edge of the cliff. As it went over, she watched it tumble and crash onto the jagged rocks below before being engulfed by the black, angry waves.
The bass beat swam through Chloe’s bloodstream as the smoky, melodic voice of the man on stage drifted across the room. Her body swayed with the crowd, her green eyes hiding, lost in the world of song. The words drifting through her seemingly lifting her higher into the air.
Her eyes fluttered open as the song ended, the stage lights temporarily blinding her. Turning her back to the stage, she made her way to the bar at the back of the room.
“What I can I get for ya?” the bartender asked as she slumped against the bar.
“Jack straight up.” she slid her money towards the bartender and smiled before downing her drink in two long gulps. The dark, bitter liquid burned its way down into her stomach. As the band started up again she felt a hand on her shoulder. Jumping at the sudden connection, Chloe’s head snapped to glare at the intruder. Her face softened seeing the man before her.
“Christ you look like shit!”
“Why, thank you Jay, I shall always come to you for compliments from now on.” she giggled, and pulled him down into a hug.
“And so you should.” Jason smiled beneath his beard “What you doing here? I thought you were with Nathan tonight?”
“I was. We had an argument and I left.”
“Wanna talk about it?”
“Nah, it’s nothing new, it’ll all be roses again by tomorrow.”
“Hmmm, why don’t I believe you this time?”
“Believe it Sasquatch, everything’s fine. Always has been, always will be.” she said giving him the biggest smile she could force.
“You wanna come sit backstage and keep me company?”
“No thanks, I’m cool out here, I’ll come back when Ry’s finished.”
“All right, your choice, I‘ll just go be bored.” he sighed.
“Stay! Come on, like old times.”
“Best not, I think I’ve already been spotted.” he said nodding in the direction of a group of whispering girls.
“Fine. Go be boring. I’ll catch you later.” She hugged him again, making sure the group of girls saw and kissed him lightly on the lips. Jason laughed and ruffled her hair as he left. She felt tears prickling in her eyes and searched for the nearest exit from the bar.
The night air was warm and fresh as the rain began to die down. Leaning against the wall, Chloe lit her cigarette as the sounds of the rushing traffic and the soulful bass danced around her in the breeze.
She froze at the sound of her cell phone in her pocket, its sharp chirping blaring loudly over the other sounds but she ignored it, not wanting to speak to Nathan. It was only him who could be calling. Dropping her half smoked cigarette on the floor, she pushed her way back into the bar. Her heart was thumping in her ears, her stomached knotted suddenly and painfully as she opened the door to the back of the stage.
“Sorry, no fans allowed.” a stern looking security guard boomed over the music.
“Do I look like an overweight thirty something wannabe teeny bopper?” Chloe snarled.
“I can’t let you in I’m afraid.”
“Where’s Jay? Christ I’ve known Ryan my whole life. And who are you? Why isn’t Marcus on the door?”
“Curtis, it’s fine. Let her in, she’s with me.” Jason chuckled from a door way in the corridor. Curtis stepped aside as Chloe barged past.
“Where the hell did he come from? And where is Marcus?”
“He quit a couple of weeks ago.” he explained handing her a beer as she dropped onto the couch, wrinkling her nose at the sight of the peeling paint and faded band posters on the wall.
“And you’re only just telling me this now?”
“Wow down little lady, someone’s PMSing tonight.”
“I do not have PMS, I’m just pissed at Nate.”
“Chlo, tell me honestly, why are you still with him? All you ever do is fight.”
“Because I love the jackass. Besides if we didn’t fight there’d be no passion.” Chloe smirked as she picked at the label on her beer bottle.
“What happened to your face?”
“Had a fight with wall rack.”
“You seriously need to learn about spatial awareness you’re more accident prone than a toddler.”
“Again with the compliments. Can we talk about something else? Like how‘s things going with -”
“Yo, yo, yo bitches.” Ryan grinned as he threw the door open.
“Ry you ain’t no gangster.”
“Oh and you so are Miss Chloe, with all your bitchin‘ war wounds?”
“Shut up asshole. You‘re a white boy from Hawaii who wears cowboy boots and sings love songs for a living. You couldn’t be any further away from the hood.”
“Come here and give me some love then.” Chloe rolled her eyes as she rose from the couch. She felt her body melt against Ryan’s solid form as he wrapped his arms around her, resting his head on hers. Taking a deep breath she bit back the tears that threatened again, and clung to the back of his shirt. “What’s wrong?” Ryan’s voice was soft and warm as he spoke.
“Nathan and I had another stupid fight and he just hit a few nerves.” she muttered into his chest.
“I think he hit a more than a few.” Ryan said pushing her away from him, Chloe dipped her head, not wanting him to see her upset. “So ya argue with Nate and make out with my man in the middle of my gig, to feel better?” She let out a small laugh and blushed, looking over her shoulder at Jason. “She tell you anythin’ cheater?”
“Nope, just that they had a fight, nothing out of the blue, and baby, you know there’s no one but you.” Jason said absently, burying his head in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.
“Come on, sit, tell Uncle Ryan all about what the jerk’s done now.” Chloe curled into the corner of the couch, wiping away the lines of mascara from her cheeks. She breathed out slowly.
“We got into another dumbass fight, about how we never see each other, how I’m not Donna Reed, the usual.” she drew her knees up and buried her face in her knees. “I ended up throwing a lamp at his head and walked out. He told me never to come back, if I left.”
“Babe, he didn’t mean it. He never does. He’ll be over it by morning.” Ryan smiled and squeezed her hand.
“I know, I just don’t know if I can live like this any longer. Yeah we’ve always argued but lately it’s all the time. And there’s no joking tone in his voice anymore, he constantly sounds frustrated and angry. Why can’t I be the perfect girlfriend? It‘s all my fault.”
“None of this is your fault. Chlo look, you and Nathan have always had the same stupid fights since you were teenagers. You both have faults. Your temper and his general stupidity. Everyone knows you guys are forever. We all have bad times.”
“Even you and Jay?”
“Even me and Jay, sometimes I just wanna shoot him in the head.” Ryan said, biting his lip and pointing his fingers at Jason’s hand. “Bang!”
“You’re just saying that.” Chloe huffed, raising her head.
“Come on Jay man, back me up here. Tell her about the last fight we had.”
“You’re on your own Ry. You know she never listens to me.” Jason said raising his hands.
“That’s not true. I listened to you when it came to my prom dress.” Chloe smiled through watery eyes.
“Oh yeah how could I forget? Once in the last eight years I’ve known you.”
“That prom dress was the worst fashion mistake you ever made.” Ryan laughed “For a gay guy your fashion taste stinks, dude.”
“Oh, because yours is so much better with your floral shirt, flares, and tan boots.”
“Shut up bitch,” Ryan snarled throwing an empty plastic cup at him, “I just had girls jumpin’ over each other to get closer to me.”
“If only they knew they went home with the fashion police over there.” Chloe smirked.
“Leave my homie alone bitch, just ‘cause he dresses like a European tramp don’t mean he needs dissin‘.”
“Ok, that’s it. I’m going for a smoke.” Jason stood up and headed for the door.
“Laters.” Ryan said with a dismissive hand. “So what are you gonna do about Nathan?”
“I can’t go back, not this time. I can’t do it anymore.”
“Do you love the guy?”
“Of course I do, but it’s not the same anymore. Love just doesn’t seem to be enough. I know our relationship has always been volatile but it’s not what I want any more. All the arguing, it‘s just not what I want. He can‘t accept me for me and I can‘t accept him for who he is either, no matter how much I want to. I‘ve tried to change, tried to be what he wants but it‘s just not me. I‘m not housewife material. I want to be looked after not criticized for being independent.”
“You wanna come stay with me and Jay for a bit? Clear your head?”
“No I think I’m gonna head down to Texas, go see Steve and Aimee. I think I need a break. If Nathan gets in touch, you haven’t seen me, ok?”
“Anythin’ you say sweet cheeks.”
“Thank you for everything Ry. I love you, don’t ever forget that.” Chloe mumbled, hugging him tightly.
“Why are you makin’ this sound like I ain’t gonna see you again?”
“I’ll text you when I land in the Lone Star State.” She said brushing off Ryan’s question. Kissing him on the cheek she grabbed her bag and left without another look.