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Black Lily Petals

 

 

Black Lily Petals

 

By

Max Jolene

 

 

 

Text copyright 2016 by Max Jolene

All rights reserved. Expert as permitted under the U.S Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the author.

 

Shakespir Edition

There is no paperback version of this book as of 2016.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Black Lily Petals: a novel / Max Jolene

Summary: A young actress who is submissive towards her mother suspects her new love has a devious plan to murder her. She is conflicted with her own mental demons as she tries to figure out his intentions.

 

Contents

 

1. The White Lily

2. Anxious

3. Trouble

4. Cry Baby

5. Timid

6. Guilty

7. Eighteen

8. Infidelity

9. Liars

10. Durling

11. Schizophrenia

12. Courage

13. Sedation

14. Redemption

15. Abused

16. Redo

17. Acid

18. Glitter

19. Truce

20. The Black Lily

Prologue

 

***

 

We looked identical but she was covered in blood.

My mother had tears in her eyes and she said, “this is the fifth time, doctor.”

She would not look me in the eyes nor hold my hands.

I’m so fragile.”

But, I was not.

I hurt her.

I heard the voices tell me so.”

I loved my sister.

I think my mom holds a grudge being stuck with me.

I just cannot remember.

I couldn’t remember putting the knife to her skin.

 

 

 

***

Chapter 1 | The White Lily

 

“Ah!”

The scream of my mother startled me awake from my repetitious dream. She screamed again and I put my hands over my ears.

She had the same tantrum over one-hundred times a week. The rage inside me began to build up as her screams grew louder and echoed off the walls.

I searched my pocket for my Tylenol and swallowed it without water. With my hands still over my ears, I began to hum to block out her screams for attention.

My eyes closed and I pretended to sleep as I heard her loud feet skipping down the stairs. She walked over to me and threw her handbag onto my lap. I jumped up and grabbed her by her frail shoulders.

“What is it now?” I screamed. “You’re driving me insane!”

With the little power I had, I shoved her back. I watched her tall slender frame collapse to the floor. She would enjoy that I had said slender instead of curvy. She thanked her past modeling career for the figure she had.

She twirled her bony fingers through her loose brown hair that flowed with perfection down her back. She searched the room, and her demonic brown eyes made eye contact with me. She had eyes so immense no one held eye contact with her for long. However, I did—I always did.

“Lily, I’m going to call the police on you,” she whispered as she tried to stand to her feet. “You hit me!”

“I did not hit you!”

“Yes you did,” she cried and rubbed her red cheeks. “You hurt me; just like you hurt your sister!”

“I wish I could just leave you.”

She rubbed her cold hands over my cheek. “Oh, Lily, you’re stuck with me forever. Every time you try to leave me—you always come back!”

I shoved her back again, “I’m leaving you soon.”

“But you have to take care of me.”

I could not believe a bat like her, thought I would help a mother as evil as she. The presence of her made me regurgitate. Everyday we argued over nonsense and I was becoming psychically ill.

Things had gotten beyond words with her. When I was thirteen, her anger had the best of her. All I remembered was a big punch in the face and falling down our fancy stairs. My sister said the reason our mother got red carpet on our stairs was so my blood could blend in if it ever happened again. Maybe she was right, because it happened a year later. That time I ended up in the emergency room. Word was I fell down the stairs from being clumsy.

She did not even deserve the title mother. She had never been anywhere close to a mother. Her name was Kathy; a name which stayed with her until the hearse was outside her door.

“Fine then!” Kathy jumped to her feet and dusted off her evening gown. She ran back up the stairs and waited for me to start some drama. Ha, as if I had not been through that. Puh-lease. She had done much better than that.

At my sixteenth-birthday party, I was doing this television special for MTV—cameras were everywhere! Kathy was so jealous of me that night. One: because I was the one getting the attention she ached for and two: because it was my party. It wasn’t my fault she was a washed up model. So, later that night when we were about to cut the cake, Kathy stood next to me. I read her face—she was up to no good. She was ready to make a scene. She stood there while smiling from ear to ear as I began to cut my cake.

“Oops!” She slipped and spilled red wine all over my birthday dress in front of everyone.

She laughed. They laughed. The whole world laughed at me. Ha, but that fiasco was not the last thing. Then, she said something immature. “Oh baby, you looked like a pregnant cow in that dress anyway; I did you a favor.” Then, she walked away and acted as if nothing had happened. The next thing I knew, she was in a room giving an interview of the whole event to earn some nippy cash. That night I packed all my bags and left her. Unfortunately, I couldn’t survive in the outside world without her and I came back home in tears. She sheltered me in ways that were wrong, but I liked to believe she did it for my sanity. I needed her and somehow she favored it.

I came back to reality and walked into the kitchen. “Paul!” I shouted for my personal assistant, who was two feet away from me. “Kathy is at it again! I swear I’m going to end up killing her.”

“Okay, I’ll get her pills,” he said in a low but hearing voice. He headed toward the stainless steel refrigerator to get her pills. She was on medication for the “not too sane” for ten years and she still did not know it. She thought the medications were for my sister, Leslie, because she had some issues of her own. However, she moved out when we were sixteen and we hadn’t seen her since. I guess Kathy thought Paul was mailing her the medication.

“So, what drink should I slip the pills into this time?” Paul said while trying to make eye contact with me.

Paul looked as if he just left an audition to be on either Sesame Street or a dance show. He had gulps of sweat sliding down his forehead, which made the zits on his skin vivid. I had no idea for what reason he was sweating because it was only forty degrees. He had a big furry sweater on that any sane person would think he was dressed as Elmo. His cheetah print jeans put a smile on my face; it reminded me of when my sister and I bought them for him two years ago.

Unpredictable was his middle name and I loved him more than an assistant. I loved him so much that he had ten million in his name from me. He had been one of my best friends since I was five years old, so he knew Kathy before she went insane.

“Put them in wine. Kathy loves her wine!” I leaned across the island reaching for the pack of cigarettes and the newspaper. I pulled one cigarette out and stuck it in my mouth. I did not light it; I just let it sit there on the edge of my tongue—kind of chewing it. “They still haven’t found the Marlon hit-n-run guy yet?” I sighed, happy that I was not on the entertainment page in the newspaper.

“What makes you think it’s a guy?” Paul said.

“Well, I’m just saying.”

The Marlon hit-n-run case had been all over the media for the past few months. Marlon was a new child actor who had a future ahead of him. However, his life ended short when some idiot crashed into him and left him to die. If his story wasn’t making headlines, I was.

Paul snatched the newspaper, changing the subject. “Hey no cigarettes, Lily, remember,” he fussed while stirring the pills in the wine. “Give them!” While trying to snatch the cigarettes from me, he nearly spilled all the wine on the island.

“I know!” I said. “It’s not even lit.” I rolled my eyes and spun my chair like how I would do when I was six.

“Hmm…well…” he gave me a stiff look as if he were going to slap me. His serious faces always made me want to laugh. He knew it too—but, I held in my laugh.

“Oh go on; you know you want to,” he grinned. “I’ll keep the seriousness for other people I work with.”

“You do that,” I laughed and thought about something else to discuss. “You didn’t tell me how your two months of art camp went.”

“It’s not art camp…that sounds so amateur.”

“You seem awfully happy these days…I assume it went well.”

“It did.”

“Are you gonna give me details?”

“Little did I know that the entire time was dedicated to Andy Warhol. So, I had too…”

I blanked out as Paul blabbered about stuff I could care less about. I did not care much about his art stories; I was just hoping he would not leave me without an assistant for another two months. I was flabbergasted when he just up and left me one day for art camp. He did not give me a reason and he knew it was unprofessional to do something like that. I didn’t care how close we were; my work came first.

“So, did you meet someone special?” I said, coming back to reality.

Paul smiled like a little girl who just met her match. “Maybe.”

“You did? Who…”

“Let’s just say, we are still in touch.”

“So, I’ll meet this special person soon?”

“Sooner than later.”

I winked and clapped my hands for him. “Why do you look all sweaty and red?” I put the cigarette into a napkin—it begun to taste rotten.

He touched his face. “Aw my face is red?”

“No, your shirt; you look like an overgrown Elmo.” I laughed and spun around in my chair again; this time almost falling onto the tile floor.

“Dammit, Lily, stop it!” Kathy came downstairs into the kitchen with her hand on her head—over exaggerating a headache. “I swear you get on my nerves! I can’t—”

Paul cut her off by putting the glass of wine in her face. The scent of the engaging red wine calmed her down and if you had x-ray vision you could see the ecstasy swim through her veins. There was a moment of silence when she took her first sip. I smiled at Paul for achieving another Kathy moment. She took the cup and slurped it down in one swallow.

“The both of you should leave!” She pushed me off the chair as if she were telling a dog to get off the sofa. “And remember Paul, about today? You didn’t forget did you?”

“Uh yeah,” Paul said as he glanced at me. “I remembered.”

“Remember what?” I said.

“Oh nothing, Lily,” Kathy smiled. “Now, leave! All you guys do is sit here and talk! You said you want to leave me? Then, learn how to live in the outside world! People don’t bite…well, unless they’re on bath salts!” She picked up a cigarette and stuck it in her mouth. She did not light it; she let it hang there like a tooth pick.

I must have gotten that from her.

Chapter 2 | Anxious

 

I picked up a tabloid from Paul’s cluttered car and it stated ‘Lily Blair Evans brags to Australian reporter about her millions and how she doesn’t compare to any other actresses.’ First off, that was a lie. Second, I would never do that. I was humble. I am humble. I did not go around talking about the millions I made or how many magazine covers I had been on. Kathy made me look like I was a devious star that thought the world revolved around me. She would sell false stories about me and then lie to me about them. She was repulsed of the fact that she would never be as famous as or rich as I was.

Yeah, she was an appalling mother, but if it weren’t for her, I would not have been the most known celebrity in the world. She made me, but she treated me as if I had to take care of her—she deserved nothing. The only reason I dealt with her crap was because I was a minor—and getting emancipated was too much of a hassle. The day I turn eighteen, I never want to see her face again.

It was Saturday and Paul took me to a burger place called, In & Out. He knew I hated that place—not because it was a cheap fast food place—I just preferred Jack in the Box ten times more. I did not buy anything, but Paul forced salty fries into my mouth saying I had a long day today with crappy business people and they weren’t going to feed me.

I did not know who Paul was gossiping about but all I noticed was his mouth full of fries with ketchup on his lips—it turned me off. I just dazed off while staring at him—he probably thought that I was listening to his crap. I just nodded and smiled as I always did.

I caught myself drifting away again—thinking about who I was. Who am I? I thought about why I was on Earth all the time. I also thought about why I was born such a wimp. I had a reoccurring dream about a man telling me to stand up for myself because one day someone would take advantage of me. He would say if I don’t do it now, one day he will curse me with black lily petals. He said that I allowed too many people, including Kathy, walk over me as if I were worthless. “You’re a pushover,” he said. I knew how to stand up for myself; I was just too afraid of the consequences.

As I came back to reality, I realized there were fifty paparazzi and fans zooming on me from outside—spotting my flaws. Seeing that I had no makeup on, seeing that I might have snot hanging out my nose, or seeing that I hadn’t changed my hair extensions since last month.

I touched my nose and nothing was there. Good. So, then why are they looking at me? Look at Paul, his mouth is full of fries and he’s overweight.

I began to breathe heavy as I heard deafening screams within my ears—but no one was there. I glanced at Paul—good he is still talking; he doesn’t notice I’m about to faint. My heart felt heavy as if it were about to drop out onto my lap. I was hyperventilating again and soon the room began to spin as if I were on that annoying teacup ride that all the little children love. I looked at Paul again and his voice began to get so loud. I wondered why it seemed as if he were yelling at me. I took my eyes off him and stared at the wallpaper on the wall, which seemed as if it were falling off little by little. I grasped the corners of the table with my sweaty hands as I felt the chair shaking from side to side.

“Uh!” I jumped in place, startling Paul—fries fell out his mouth and he jumped up out of his seat. I pushed him back down; we didn’t need to cause a scene while people were staring at us. “AHH!” I did not realize I screamed aloud again. People were really staring in my direction now. Eyes squinted and they weren’t just staring at me because I was a celebrity, but because all those magazine articles were right… she is an attention whore.

“Babe, what’s wrong?” he said as if he did not know. He knew exactly what was wrong. It was only the ten-hundredth time that happened that month. Paul knew me inside and out. He was the only one, besides my family that knew what happened at home behind closed doors. Everyone else saw me as the overrated celebrity who made too many films and won too many awards. As well as, that Lily Blair is a happy teen star, but Paul knew I was far from happy—I was in war within my inner self.

“Nothing,” I gasped, as I didn’t realize that I was hyperventilating heavier now. Paul grabbed my cell phone off the table with his messy fingers and pulled me to get up, but my legs would not move. They felt robotic—like from a horror film.

“Don’t look at anyone,” he whispered in my ear. He knew all the judgmental eyes on me, would frightened me to death.

Although I had been famous since I was six, I never got used to all the attention. All those people staring at me, what were they thinking about?

“Ugh,” I shouted again as I remembered the anxiety. Why did I glance out the window? I shut my eyes and tried to move my feet.

Now, all I could hear were whispering voices. Paul began pulling me to go to the restroom. My legs obeyed and began to walk this time—I kept my eyes shut and hummed. He punched the bathroom door open—well, that was what it sounded like and he sat me on the sink. I opened my eyes to Paul’s worried stare.

“Sorry,” I whispered and turned to see around the tiny bathroom—which was surprisingly clean.

“Oh my gosh! I knew we should have gone to the drive-through. I forgot how you get when—” I put my finger on his mouth, shutting him up. The one thing that annoyed me about Paul was that he talked too much.

I went into my purse and took a XANAX. It never really relaxed me, if anything it made me feel lifeless at times. “I can see the headlines! Lily Blair Evans is a psycho! But, it’s just anxiety; I promise.”

Paul always said I overreacted to those things, which was true, but how could I ignore the fact that I was judged with every action I took. I had plenty of that at home with Kathy. With her calling me demented every second and telling me I was a failure—everyone judged me.

“Thanks, Paul. You’re the best,” I said while I messed his sandy brown hair up as if I were petting a puppy.

He looked at the wall behind me and snatched a paper off it.

“What is that?” I said.

“Oh, nothing,” he said.

I grabbed the paper out his shaky hands. “Marlon?”

“I wanted to call…I mean keep the number in case…”

My eyes narrowed and I jumped off the sink. “Oh, I see.”

Paul twisted his warm fingers into mine. “We should go.”

Calmer, we walked out the bathroom. I just used my twin sister Leslie’s advice. She said, “When you feel like you’re going to have a panic attack or feel like someone is watching you, look at your toes and sing the alphabets…backwards.” Therefore, I did, but I did not realize I was saying them aloud. I am such a mess.

It took seven horrendous minutes to get to Paul’s car because of fifty people screeching at me and asking dim-witted questions. Paul knew how much I hated passing up fans who wanted autographs, but he pulled my wrist so I was not tempted to stop. I felt so dreadful—their eager faces were joyful to see someone famous and have my attention. I just whispered a low “sorry,” like they could hear me, but they read my lips and gave me a kind smile back. Their smiles made me feel a little better inside. They probably went back to their self-centered lives and blogged hateful things about me later—bastards.

When we got back to my home, an unfamiliar vehicle was on our lawn. My eyes panicked as I searched the expensive Mercedes Benz and I knew right away what was going on.

“What’s wrong now, Lily?” Paul rolled his eyes as he waited for me to get out the car. “Come on!”

“I don’t want to go in. I know what Kathy is up to. She invited some media people over…didn’t she?”

“I highly doubt it—”

“Why? She has done it before! She did it last week! She always sells my stories.”

“I promise, baby, Kathy didn’t bring a media person over,” Paul said as he pulled me out his car.

We walked at a snail’s pace to the front steps of my faultless home and I couldn’t help but realize Paul was smiling as if he had won the lottery. I knew something was up so I walked quicker to the door. Before I could unlock the front door, Kathy slammed it open in delight.

“Lily, baby! Come on! Come on!” she said as she spun in her Gucci gown. “This is Dr. Summings. He would love to talk to you.”

“Uh, hi,” I said confused. “Is there something wrong?”

“No, of course not!” Dr. Summings said while laughing. He ran his hands through his white hair and guided me to my living room. “We just have some stuff to go over.”

“Like what?” I snapped as I searched the room for Paul who had disappeared.

“Well, like those test results you took a few weeks ago. You remember how you talked about seeing hallucinations and you hear things? I have the results from your tests. And the survey you gave as well.”

“Hmm, I don’t remember? I don’t know what you’re talking about?” I said confused as I eyed Kathy’s suspicious movements.

“Ooh doctor! See her memory is getting bad too. Didn’t we tell you?” Kathy said.

“We?” I looked at Paul who was standing in the kitchen and I knew he knew what was going on. “Paul?”

“Doctor, can we please hurry with this? Lily really has to get going to a meeting soon,” Paul said as he avoided my eye contact from the kitchen.

“Oh yeah, of course,” he nodded for them to leave the room. “I’ll go quickly so you can get going. I know how it is for you celebrities…work, work, work!”

“Yeah…what is it?” I said. “And I do remember that day,” I reassured him. “I was just…um kidding.”

Dr. Summings paused and bit his lip in uncertainty. I watched him play with his white beard as he searched through file papers. “Well, you were diagnosed with schizophrenia, Lily. And it’s okay, a lot of people like you have it. I don’t want you to worry,” he said as he pushed his body away from mine as if I were going to attack him.

“Me? Schizo? No, you are mistaken! I’m not crazy! Schizophrenia is worse than bipolar. Kathy is bipolar and there is no way in hell that I am crazier than her!”

“No, no…let me explain this to you. You’re not crazy. You’re just different. Lily, are you listening?” he said as I began to walk away.

I loosened my ponytail and tried to control my breathing. “I don’t believe you,” I rolled my eyes as I stared into space. “I’ve just had an anxiety attack a few times that’s it.”

“Ookkaayy, Lily,” he said, mocking me as if I were an idiot. “Whatever you say.”

“Do not talk to me like that! You’re not funny!”

“I’m not going to argue with you. I have no idea why you’re so shocked. I mean, you were diagnosed when you were a child but it’s gotten worse as you have aged since you haven’t been getting help.”

“No I wasn’t! I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“I’m just going by the papers I have. It just makes complete sense. Especially, considering what happened to your twin sister—”

“THAT WAS AN ACCIDENT!”

“Trying to cut your sister’s wrist five times is no accident!” he snapped. “You’re lucky your mother didn’t send you away!”

“I wish she would have! I would rather live with my father than be stuck here in this hell called home! She only kept me here because I’m famous. She doesn’t care about me.”

“Lily, you have been going through various screenings for the last three years and the only explanation is your mental disorder is getting worse!”

I laughed. “So, what now, DOCTOR? Are you gonna medicate me like every other druggie celebrity? I don’t approve.”

“You don’t need to worry about medication if you do not want to get better,” he said as he packed his things to leave. “But, here is your prescriptions in these boxes if you do care.”

“Seriously?” I read the label on the medication bottle. It was a high dosage anti-psychotic medication.

“You don’t need to take those pills that you had for your anxiety anymore. These should help you.” With rickety hands, Dr. Summings handed me some pamphlets and my diagnosis paper. “You have a good day now and I pray you don’t become a bigger problem.”

Paul and Kathy came down, so I assumed they were listening the whole time.

“Bye Paul and Kathy!” Dr. Summings winked as he walked out the house.

I slammed the door shut and walked over to Paul. “How does he know you, Paul?”

“We met a few times,” Paul said.

I threw the medical papers on the couch and pushed him in the chest. “A few times?” I knew what that meant. Paul was my undercover “friend” who was supposed to act as if I were normal and in secrecy he would treat me like Kathy!

“Enough questions! We have to go to your meeting!” Paul grabbed my handbag and pulled me out the house.

I stumbled into his car and crossed my arms like an irascible child. “So, was that a joke? Seriously…you don’t think I’m crazy?”

“I don’t think you’re crazy,” he smiled as he put his seat-belt on. “You’re not crazy.”

“I thought you believed me when I said I didn’t mean to hurt Leslie. I was sleepwalking or something. You know that! I don’t even remember those times!”

“I know.”

“All I remember was waking up to her screaming and blood everywhere. I never wanted to hurt my sister. I think Kathy framed me so she could separate us. She hated our bond.”

“I know you love your sister, Lily.”

“Okay, so then what was that about? Did he tell you to hide my meds and give them to me in my foods?”

“Ha, no. I would never do that to you. It’s just a silly diagnosis that Kathy probably wanted so she can seem like the normal one in the media. End of story…let’s talk about something else,” Paul insisted, as he buckled me in like a child.

It was obvious that Paul was hiding something. I could have asked a million questions and nothing would have been answered. I trusted Paul, so what he said I believed. It made sense too—Kathy would hire a doctor to make me out to be the crazier one. She would probably sell my story to the media too. Ha, I knew all her tricks—Paul was so right. I just couldn’t believe Kathy would stoop so low for a few bucks from the media.

Paul began driving like a maniac on the run. He had to be going at least eighty miles per hour on the city’s busiest street. I just put my head between my knees and then put a cigarette in my mouth—not lighting it of course.

“Lily,” Paul whined, the tone I hated most. He always used that tone when he was worried about something.

“I know. I need to see a therapist for my anxiety too—” I answered him before he could finish his thought.

“No…well yes, but why do you do that?” Paul’s tone changed to the better-off tone I loved.

“Do what? My head between my knees?” I took a fast glance up at him, but I noticed he was still speeding down the highway and I put my head back between my knees.

“No baby, I know why you do that,” he said. ”The cigarette in your mouth—why do you do that? Why not just light it and smoke it already?” Paul’s tone changed; this time he sounded angry, as if my issues annoyed him.

“Um…I don’t know; it’s just a habit I guess,” I said as I glanced at him and realized we were in the parking lot already. I put my legs on the floor and faced Paul’s curious eyes.

“Hmm…weird habit, eh? Funny your mom does the same thing.” Paul got out the car and walked toward me. He was still talking as he came over to me, as if I could hear everything he just said.

“I guess?” It sounded more like a question rather than an answer. I got out the car, slicking back the hairs that stood up.

When we entered the Black Building, it was so quiet that it was unbearable—I could only hear the secretary, Barbara, chewing her gum. I felt like belching out a scream, but people already thought I was outlandish, so I did not.

“Hey, gorgeous,” Barbara said, with her thick New Jersey accent.

“Hi,” I said as my nostrils flared up at her hooker attire.

She winked and I swear I saw traces of glitter fall to her top lip. She tugged on her short brown curly hair with a red rose on the side and pushed up her breasts in her tight shirt. “Check this out.” She leaned over her desk flashing us her huge engagement ring.

“Oh my,” Paul and I both said as we ran to her desk. Paul shoved me to be the first to see the huge diamond.

“Yup, he finally proposed after seven years,” she whispered so low I could barely understand her.

“Wow, that’s so crazy! I don’t deal with guys anymore. They’re too much drama,” I said as I did not realize I was loud—the security guard cleared his throat.

“Well, you’re still young, and I’m…thirty,” she hesitated on the thirty. Both Paul and I knew what she meant—around here, thirty meant forty. We all laughed after that.

“Well, baby if you stop being such a workaholic, you would find someone and move far from Kathy and—” I cut Paul off because he was speaking about my business. I looked over at the security guard—he was getting nosy—I could see him leaning into our conversation.

“Yeah, five films a year, that’s a lot. Oscars will be here forever. You should take a break from Hollywood,” Barbara grinned and sat back down in her chair.

“Hmm…break? But what would I do on a break?” I leaned in closer to Barbara, waiting for a response.

She paused for a second, thinking of what to say. “Hmm…how about focus on school—” she continued typing and chewing her gum.

“School? I’m not in school anymore.”

“Go to Paris or something…you have millions to spend!” Paul exaggerated. I elbowed him in the gut because he was talking loud again—even though no one was in the building but the security guard. “I wish I was like you. All I need is my big break as a photographer. And I could travel the world!”

“Ha, yeah right. You always cut the heads off my pictures. You will never be a famous photographer,” I teased.

“Well, damn, can a boy dream?” Paul snapped. “Not everyone has it like you, Lily. You should leave to Paris and do us all a favor.”

“Yup, that sounds exquisite,” Barbara, said as she continued typing. “Wish I were you, Lily.”

I didn’t know if I should have taken that as a gesture to leave because I made her and Paul angry or if they just didn’t care anymore.

“Well, I have a meeting. So, send Paul and I an invite to your wedding,” I smiled trying to ease the awkwardness.

“But it’s early, Lily. Let’s stay here and gossip with Barbara,” Paul said.

“No,” I snapped, getting annoyed with him. I did not want to be late to my meeting—I was never late. I always came off professional. I wondered who taught me that—Kathy sure did not. “Well…I’ll go upstairs then,” I pouted as Paul ignored me and was already behind the desk, talking to Barbara.

I headed to the elevator alone. Time alone was good for me; I never had time alone these days. I always had someone in my face giving me crap. In disgust, I stared at my short figure in the reflection as the elevator went up. My legs looked odd in tight leggings and my vintage Madonna t-shirt barely covered up half my butt. I bent down and repositioned my Android cell phone that was in my boots. Since I didn’t have a huge rack like everyone else in Hollywood, the only place I could hide my phone and money was in my shoe—I know, how lame.

No one was there when I entered the quiet meeting room. I sat at the oversized oval gray table with at least sixty chairs, grabbed a script, and began to scan over it. But, I got sidetracked. I began thinking about who I was…again.

I walked to the window, which took up an entire wall—I just stood there, for who knows how long and glanced down at the busy city—I must have been on the fifteenth floor. My mind began to go haywire with unpleasant thoughts. I began to feel dizzy and it felt as if the ground was moving a bit.

I stepped back and then Dr. Summings came into my head—I knew he was probably some phony doctor, so I tried to change the subject. I dug into my purse and stared at my XANAX bottle that I took for my anxiety. I popped another pill like candy. Maybe I’m addicted to these pills. It doesn’t do anything for me. The word addiction scared me. Especially in a business where everyone was addicted to pills; I put my XANAX bottle in the trash can. I covered the bottle with some tissue paper and took a deep breath.

I stared at the building across the street and I watched a mouse climb the wall. I began to get anxious as more and more began to appear out of nowhere. I shook my head in disbelief and they were gone. I took a deep breath and tried to convince myself that what I had just seen was real. Of course it was real—the mice must have just left really quick.

I felt at peace being alone—just to think and feel normal (I think the pills were kicking in—relaxing me). School was the only place I always felt ordinary because everyone knew me. I had to drop out in the spring because it did not fit my eccentric schedules. Around people in school, I was no Hollywood princess. I was just that girl with long dark hair, gray eyes, pasty looking skin, and the same height since sixth grade.

I remembered one of my oldest friends Cassie telling me, “You’re so lucky Lily, you have it made. You don’t have to worry about your future like the rest of us; you’re in your future.” I just said, “No I’m not, I would trade anything to be like the rest of you sometimes.”

I sighed coming back to reality. I really am considering Paris.

My phone vibrated; tickling my ankle—I checked to see whom the text was from—it was Paul.

PAUL: OMG! UR LIKE ALL OVER TMZ! UR SO RITE! KATHY DID SELL UR STORY. THEY R TALKING ABOUT HOW YOU WERE JUST DIAGNOSED WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA!!! EVERY1 KNOWS NOW! NO WORRIES THOUGH…WE KNOW THE TRUTH ;)

I didn’t bother to text him back. I felt relieved when I got the text. Relief that I was right—that I was sane, but also hate—hate that Kathy would stoop so low.

There was a knock at the door. A slender tall handsome man, about six foot three, interrupted my thoughts by bursting through the big red door.

“Huh!” He stared at me for a quick second, and then quickly brought his eyes to his feet. He had about twelve books in his right hand with Starbucks coffee sitting on top of them and a messenger bag in the other hand. The coffee and the books looked like they would fall at any moment. He took a quick glance at me with troubled eyes. He slicked his long dark hair back with his left hand, still struggling to get through the door.

Should I help him? I ran from the window and over to him. Without one word, I tiptoed to grab the coffee off the books and placed it on the table. His eyes narrowed at me. Hmm, did I have snot on my nose? I rubbed my nose. Nothing was there—I sighed.

He chuckled, “Aren’t you a bit early?” He threw the twelve books on the table and placed his messenger bag on the chair next to them. “You’re like really early.” He stretched his long arms and took a deep breath.

“Well…hmm…” I stared at him as he looked out the window. I observed that he most likely loved protein. His healthy black hair was greased back and shiny with no split ends. He had a nice suit that I thought looked pricey, paired with a black coat over it. He threw his thick black framed glasses on the table. He is well put together, maybe an actor or director.

“No assistant, I’m an assistant,” he said, as he turned from the window—his hazel eyes caught my attention.

“Oh,” I said puzzled by how he answered my thought—it caught me off guard—did I say that aloud? All the assistants I knew were sweaty and wore big red furry sweaters—I laughed to myself, thinking about Paul.

I got quiet, realizing I was laughing aloud; I wondered if he noticed I laughed to myself—he’s going to think I’m weird.

“Yeah, I expected you of all people to come like two hours later,” he said uninterested as he pulled a chair out and sat down. “I mean, Ana isn’t coming until five,” he made a disgusted face.

“Oh, Ana?” I asked trying to seem happy. When he said Ana, I knew right away, whom he was talking about—Ana Billson—I did not fancy her. She made all Hollywood people look unappealing. Back when we worked together on some suspense film as children, she was the biggest diva on set. The only reason she was not fired was that her name alone sold big bucks. It was amusing because everyone expected me to be like her, but I was far from that.

“She’s in this film too?” I sat down a chair away from him.

“Hmm…sadly,” he sighed as he turned toward me, shuffling through the books.

We both laughed at his sarcasm. However, I did not mean to laugh aloud, but it would have been rude not to laugh.

He was not making eye contact anymore, but I could read his facial description—he looked vexed. As he looked up, his intimidating hazel eyes met mine. I looked away toward the window acting as if I didn’t notice him. Truth is I did notice him—and I wanted to know more.

“So, who are you? Well, what’s your name?” I turned my head a bit to him, not making eye contact.

“Well, I’m Jason. You are Lily right. Lily Blair Evans?” I could hear him stacking the books.

“Yup…well…yeah,” I changed my thought and began to shake as I felt him staring at me. I felt a warm drip of sweat fall off my nose. Gross—I thought of Paul again.

There was silence in the room. I took a quick glance back and he looked up at me and began laughing. Why was he laughing? This time I know there is something on my face. I touched my face but nothing was there.

“What?” I didn’t realize I had walked over to him. “What’s so funny? Something on my face?” I said in a spiteful tone.

“No. It’s just your facial expression,” he laughed. “It was so funny. You look so paranoid. I mean, I thought a ghost or something was behind me; I was about to run,” he began to laugh harder. “Nervous or something? I mean you already got the movie part, so chill out.” He pushed the books, which he put in alphabetical order to the side. I stood there in shock, not understanding him. Did my face really give away my fears? Wait, what fear…my fear of people? I laughed to myself again.

Paul busted through the doors with a box full of donuts, breaking the awkward silence. “Hey, the people are coming up,” Paul said with his mouth full of donuts. He hurried and sat down in the corner of the room. I saw him glance at Jason, and then he smiled at me. He gave me his I-am-up-to-no-good smile. I hated that smile.

Within minutes, the long table filled with actors, directors, writers, and assistants. Of course, an empty chair was there for Ana, but she never showed. When everyone filled in the table, Paul pulled his chair next to mine and began writing for me like usual—he knew me well and knew I could never concentrate right.

The meeting was nothing but a blur and all I could think about was Jason. I looked over at him; he was standing by the window writing everything the people were saying. I looked around the table and gave everyone a gentle smile but all I got were stiff actors who looked very unwelcoming, staring back at me. They were not well known but they had sure confidence—almost intimidating to look at. I had not realized I had a stupid fake Kool-Aid smile on my face until I looked at Jason and he chuckled at me—I frowned.

No wonder people always thought I was strange. I was always smiling like a fool. However, my happiness was forged. It could not compare to Jason’s—how he always had the time to laugh. He seemed so blithe, and so open-minded. Great, I’m thinking about him again.

“So, we’ll see each other in two weeks on set!” That was all I heard during the meeting. I glanced at the clock and it was already five. Everyone was shaking hands as they left the crowded room.

“Too bad Ana didn’t show,” one of the writers said.

“Oh, yeah, she ran into traffic,” Jason smirked at me.

Within four minutes, everyone left. I looked down at Paul and he was still struggling to write, so I sat back down next to him—it was the least I could do.

“Drifted off again, didn’t you?” he said.

“Sorry,” I said. I really was sorry.

“It’s cool! I’m used to it by now. Those pills make you a zombie at times,” he chuckled.

“I’m giving them up,” I said with my eyes half open. “I threw them away. I don’t want to be the next dead celebrity because I overdosed on XANAX.”

“Why would you die from them?”

“I was taking them like candy and it barely made a change in me. Plus, they’re highly addictive.”

“Did you read that on Google?” Paul laughed.

“Paul, let’s be serious for once.”

“Well, are you sure you’re okay without them? I think they were making you feel better.”

“Like you just said, I was basically a zombie on those pills. I would rather have a panic attack than barely keep my eyes open!”

“Good for you, Lily!” Paul kissed me. “Oh yeah, your daddy called about ten times today. Can you please do me a huge favor and call him back? For some reason he keeps thinking you’re dead.”

“He called me?” I never talked about my dad much. I mean, I loved him, but he was never there for me since the accident with Leslie. He was too busy with his “music career” in the United Kingdom.

“Sure I’ll call him,” I lied.

I looked up and saw Jason waiting by the window. “Um…you need something?”

“No…just…” he turned and looked at his shoes. Was he saying the alphabets backwards?

“Oh?”

“Well, yeah I was—” Nervous, Jason walked toward Paul and me and put his hands in his pockets. “I was wondering if—” Paul cut him off by adding his words.

“Lily was available tonight? She is!” Paul didn’t look me in the eyes as he answered for me. I am sure he knew how I would look—pissed and scared.

“Huh?” I looked at him in disbelief. I couldn’t believe he just said that.

“Well, that too,” Jason said as he moved from toe to toe and ran his fingers through his hair.

“Well, she is,” Paul gave a big smile as if he helped me out.

“Huff,” I couldn’t get my words out. It was as if I wasn’t even in the room.

“Well…it’s a date. Your house at seven?” Jason glared at me.

“Oh—” Paul butted in…again. “Oh no, how about eight?” He looked at me with a smile and then when he saw my face it dropped to a frown.

“Okay bye Lily, see you later!” Jason walked out the room.

My brain could not function right. A part of me was so joyful but another part was pissed. I smacked Paul on the arm. “You’re a loser!”

“A cool loser,” he winked and flexed his flabby arms.

“He doesn’t even know where I live!”

“He can ask someone. Everyone knows where you live,” he rolled his eyes. “This is California…everyone knows where celebrities live.”

I growled at him as he ran out the room laughing like a fool.

“What is the worst that could happen, Lily?” Paul said as he ran back to me. “It’s just a date.”

“But what if he’s a crazy stalker?” I said.

“I highly doubt it.”

Chapter 3 | Trouble

 

While trying to call my father, the show TMZ was talking about me. I couldn’t believe how Kathy’s plan spread like word got out for free iPods. I had to give her props on what she did. She was a pro at setting up and selling counterfeit stories.

The doorbell rung and Paul hurried to answer the door—Jason had come early. I gave up on calling my father and spied down at Jason from the staircase. He was very casual compared to me. He was wearing a blue band tee, black jeans, and an old pair of converse tennis shoes. And his tattoos on his arm caught me off guard.

Jason was unlike anyone I ever dated. All the men I have dated were cocky and always wore suits. However, Jason was kind of a rebel—someone Leslie would date in a heartbeat. I rushed to my closet to find something better to wear. Before I could close my door, Paul came in.

“Jeans…he has tattoos?” Paul whined. “I’m glad your mom isn’t here!”

“Well…you put me up to this,” I said. “Blame yourself.” I glanced at my closet—nothing but colorful dresses and no jeans. Kathy hated jeans. She said they were a crime to fashion and only Paul could wear them because he had ugly legs. I put on a purple strapless sundress and a denim vest. I ran down the stairs, nearly falling from nervousness.

“Hey, Jason!” I sounded like a kid who just went into a candy store.

“Hey, Lily!” he shouted and opened his arms waiting for a hug. When I hugged him, he was so warm. I usually disliked new people, but Jason was different. He felt right…

“This is a nice house you have,” he said as he stared around my home.

“Yeah, it’s okay,” I smiled. “Well, let’s go!”

“I’m surprised you don’t have a huge bag with your entire makeup collection and ten phones like Ana does,” he said as he opened the front door.

“Well, I’m not Ana, plus I tend to misplace purses,” I laughed to ease the tension.

“Of course you’re not,” he winked as he opened the car door for me.

I took a deep breath as Jason walked over to the driver’s seat. I had no reason as to why I was so nervous but I had an awful feeling in my gut, telling me to turn around and stay at home.

“Are you ready?” he asked as he started the engine.

I paused and thought if I should pretend to be sick and go back inside. “Um, yeah?”

“Alright.”

The ride to our date was intense because he was too quiet—something was wrong. He laughed to himself a few times but that was it. He was a drifter too.

“Do you like your life?” he said out of nowhere as he turned the corner. “Do you?” he asked again as he pulled into the parking lot at a posh restaurant on the beach.

“Um…” I was shocked of how extreme the question was. I didn’t want to answer his question—not because I didn’t want to but because I didn’t know the answer. “Well—”

“Oh,” he said exasperated as he threw his seat-belt off and jumped out the car. Like a gentlemen, he walked over to my side to open my door. I couldn’t move because I was still in shock of why he asked me that question.

“Do…do you? Like your life?” I did not realize I was beginning to hyperventilate again.

“Of course,” he answered as if it was so casual and simple.

There was something about Jason that I couldn’t put my finger on; which was something I would hate about him. He frightened me in a way that I didn’t know existed—but yet I still sat there with him.

“Do you love your mother?” his eyes narrowed as if I would tell a lie.

“Um…eh…” Yet again, I couldn’t answer him. Was he going to snap this time? I began to breathe heavy at the thought.

“Are you okay?” he asked as his hazel eyes turned curious, waiting for my response. “It’s okay; you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

“But I do love her,” I finally spoke.

“Oh,” he said irritated. “Really?”

“Yes!” I snapped.

“Oh okay,” he turned to his plate and continued eating. “Do you like the attention you’re getting today on the news?”

“Excuse me?” I said. “What attention?” I knew what he was talking about but I didn’t want to talk about that. I nervously dug into my bra where I used to store my anxiety medication. I forgot I gave them up and began to shake. “Um, um, what were we talking about?”

“All the headlines—never mind,” he changed his thought and continued eating. He probably noticed how I began to shake a little.

“Don’t…believe everything you see.”

“I don’t know how Paul deals with you,” he said.

“He loves me that much.”

“I’m an assistant so I know how he feels. I never want to be one forever though.”

“Of course he doesn’t. He wants to be a famous photographer. That’s never going to happen,” I laughed.

“But, his work in dedication to Andy Warhol was amazing!”

“Ha, it’s called editing,” I laughed, “wait, how do you—”

“Do you like the sushi?” Jason stuffed a California roll in my mouth.

I laughed, nearly choking on the sauce. “Yeah, it’s amazing!”

Later during the date, it wasn’t as intense as it had started. We walked along the beach and laughed about everything anyone could laugh about. His sense of humor was a bit off, but who was I to judge. I wasn’t a funny person at all.

Jason grabbed my hand and pulled me close to him. “You’re not so bad, eh?”

“No, I’m pretty cool, I just—”

“No, I mean you don’t get into trouble a lot. You’re like America’s sweetheart…unlike Ana,” he said once again, comparing me to her.

Again, with Ana. I did not let my resentment show that I was disappointed over him comparing me to her.

“I never see you on the news arrested for your fifth DUI.”

“Nope…well that’s what you see,” I mumbled and looked down at my toes in the sand.

“So, you do get into trouble?”

I just stayed silent ignoring his question.

“Okay, you know what, sorry…I ask a little too much on a first date, huh? At this rate I won’t be getting a second, I assume.”

I looked up at him and he gave me an uncomplicated smile. “No it’s okay. I just come with baggage.”

His eyes turned large with curiosity again. “I like baggage!” he said. “Like what?”

“Well, Kathy for one,” I said not realizing I called my mom Kathy aloud to him.

“Kathy is…”

“Well, yeah my mom.”

“Well, that’s no problem. Come on, I deal with Ana. Your mom couldn’t be half as bad.”

“Well…um, I think she has Ana beat. Enough about me, what about you?”

“What about me, I’m an assistant, and probably will be forever!”

“Really? So, do you have siblings?”

“Do you?” he said, ignoring my question.

“Well, I asked you first.”

“Well, look at the time, Lily. I should get you back home.”

“But you didn’t answer me.”

“Everyone likes a little mystery,” he winked as he pulled me to his car.

The date was bizarre and I couldn’t help but wonder if I made it bizarre. Without my permission, Paul had given Jason my number already and we planned another date for the next week. Besides all the excessive questions he asked me, he was a nice breath of fresh air. However, it was just that one thing—that one thing about him I still couldn’t figure out. A part of me didn’t want to find out and I kept thinking about it the whole ride home.

When I got back to the house, I could hear Kathy talking on the phone to her private investigator, Mike Durling. Those night calls usually lasted about three hours—which was a relief because I wouldn’t have to deal with her.

I ran into my kitchen pantry where I stored all my XANAX pills for the month. However, when I looked in there, they were gone and replaced with the new pills that Dr. Summings had prescribed. “What the—”

“Hey!” Paul came running downstairs before I could gather my thoughts. “How was it?”

“Good,” I said.

“Well?”

“Well…”

“I assume it went well?”

“Paul, where are my pills for this month?” I snapped.

“I threw them out—”

“WHAT THE FUCK? Why would you do that?” I unexpectedly cried.

“Wow, um, I thought you said you quit them so that’s why I threw them out and Kathy put those there for you.”

“You set me up. I really need some because I’m about to lose my mind in 2 seconds!”

Paul came over to me and hugged me. “This is called withdrawal. It’s the first step in becoming a better you. Those pills were holding you back! You are so much more stronger than the devil in that orange bottle!”

“You’re right, Paul.” I wiped my tears as he hugged me.

“I made some pasta on the stove. See you tomorrow!”

“Okay, bye Paul. Oh yeah, do you mind buying me some fiber medication tomorrow. I’m a little backed up and that sushi didn’t help much.”

“Only if you tell me about your date!”

“It was…interesting.”

Paul rolled his eyes and walked out the house. He knew from many years of being with me, that the conversation was going nowhere. I did not talk much about dates like that with him, or anyone if that. That’s just the kind of girl I was.

I ran to my room, opened my journal, and began to write about my date. I caught myself already planning for next week’s date as I ate my pasta. I ended up dosing off but not completely falling asleep. I felt restless but drowsy. It frustrated me that I couldn’t fall asleep quickly like I normally would so I tried writing some more—but the words on the paper were making me dizzy and looked as if they were sliding off the paper. I got up about three times to get water from the kitchen because my mouth was dry. Then, I found myself sitting in front of my window trying to fall asleep because I was so hot on a rare cold night. When I walked back to my bed, I nearly collapsed; it felt like my room was spinning violently. I rested on my bed for an hour then realized I must have had food poisoning from the sushi on the date.

***

When I awoke the next day, there were beautiful white lilies in front of my door. I blushed and knew Jason had bought them for me. I can get use to this, but how’d he get them in here? Paul must have something to do with this.

I opened my bedroom door and I could smell Paul making my usual morning coffee. I inhaled the fresh scent and peaked over the staircase. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him stirring the coffee to perfection. Quiet as I could be, I tiptoed down the stairs thinking of how to scare Paul, but I saw Jason standing behind him.

“What are you putting in my cup?” I said as I saw Paul pouring some white powder into my coffee.

He jumped in fright when he saw me up so early and then rolled his eyes. I glanced at Jason and he didn’t move. He just stood there with startled eyes and an open mouth.

“It’s just fiber,” Paul whispered with his raspy morning voice.

“Fiber?” I said.

“Yes, fiber!” he snapped and pushed me aside so he could go into the refrigerator. “You told me you were constipated yesterday!”

I blushed and looked at Jason. “Well, not anymore…I got sick last night.”

Paul rolled his eyes and threw a bottle of Mira-lax at me. “It’s not harsh on the tummy. I promise. Just save it for next time.”

“You’re the best.” I walked over to Jason and he pulled me into his arms. “Hey, handsome.”

“I have a lot of things planned today,” Jason said.

“For us?” I said.

“For you.”

I beamed.

***

October

 

November

 

December

 

January

 

February

 

It was now Valentine’s Day and we were going to France for the movie premiere of “Untitled.” It took two elongated months of fights, court days, and anything else Ana could get into, to make it to set everyday but it was finally over. After those months, I promised myself I would never make a film involving Ana Billson again.

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” Jason held out a box of See’s Candy for me with an abnormal smile.

It had been five months already, and every day with him was like the very first. It sounds cheesy but I had never felt that way about anyone. He was perfect in my eyes and he could do no wrong. I hated the days I didn’t get to look into his beautiful hazel eyes.

“Hey!” I ran over to him and gave him a soft kiss on the lips.

“Oh please!” Kathy said as she grabbed the chocolates from Jason and walked out the room.

Believe it or not, that was being polite to him. It took her four months to like him but it was worth it. He could come over without her swearing at him or her fussing at us. By that time, he knew about her being bipolar and held nothing against her, which I thought was crap. I remember him saying, “Lily, it’s not her fault she is ill. She was born that way.” Jason was too nice to her.

He gave me another kiss on the forehead. “Are your bags packed?”

“Um…yeah,” I muttered. “It was hard packing without Paul.”

Paul had been gone for two months again, which felt like an eternity. I let him take some time off to be with his parents after he kept on complaining that he felt ill all the time. His family, who lived in Texas, always said I overworked him. They never liked me much and I never liked them.

“Good. We’re going to have so much fun in France!” Jason dragged my heavy suitcase out the door.

“Did you bring your Mira-lax?” I asked like a little old wife.

“Yes,” he murmured in embarrassment as he helped me down the porch.

“Just wondering, I know how you get in different countries.”

“Did you say goodbye to your mom?”

“Of course!” I slammed the house door, which was my goodbye to Kathy.

When Jason opened the taxi door for me, I spotted another box of chocolates on the seat. As I climbed in, I grabbed the box and held it to my chest. “For me?”

“Don’t eat too much, Lily…you’ll get fat.”

“Um…” I pushed the candy to his lap. It was the first time he had ever said anything rude to me. He was always so polite, that his words caught me off guard. I expected that from Kathy’s mouth…but Jason…no way.

I stiffened up, as he didn’t apologize to me. Maybe I was taking that whole saying out of proportion. Maybe he was being sarcastic again. We always joked like that, right? I laughed minutes too late as the taxi began to move, realizing he had to be joking.

Jason rolled his eyes. “What is so funny?”

“Ooh…you’re so funny! That whole getting fat thing,” I laughed even harder, losing my breath to just the thought of him being serious.

“I wasn’t joking,” his smile dropped—mine did too. “I mean you are getting on the plus side. In two months, you are not going to be able to get a job if you keep eating the way you do. You were skinnier the day I met you. I don’t care how famous you are; no one wants a girl with rolls on her hips.”

I could feel a lump forming in my throat the size of an apple. All seriousness, I thought I was about to burst into tears. I held my emotions in and stared out the window in panic. Any other woman may have demanded to be let out or even kick the man out the car for saying something like that. But, I wasn’t any other woman; deep down I was a timid and naïve girl who ached for love and would do anything for it—so I stayed there.

“You should say sorry,” Jason spoke.

“Why? Sorry for what?” I said.

“For eating the way you do. You’ll be sorry if I broke up with you when you become an elephant!”

“What?” I was astounded—I must have blanked out—I must have gone to hell. “But I’m not fat! Plus, you got me the candy!”

“So!”

I could see the taxi driver looking at us in the rear-view mirror; wondering if he should butt in. He rolled his eyes and began chewing his gum louder while keeping his eyes on Jason.

“No one said for you to eat them, gosh! Lily you’re so damn difficult!” He slammed his fist into the seat between us, causing a slight rip in the cushion.

This time I stared right into Jason’s eyes. I could not believe this was happening—our first fight.

The taxi stopped and Jason got out, grabbed his things, and disappeared into the hectic crowds. He didn’t open my door like he used to or take my bags out the cab for me. As tears began to build up in the back of my eyes (or that was what it felt like), I jumped out the taxi, looking for Jason.

“Here you go.” The taxi driver helped me with my bags.

“Thanks,” I whispered to him while trying not to make complete eye contact.

“You take care,” he waved goodbye.

I stood there lost and bemused as the taxi drove off. I felt deserted as I went through the busy check-in line by myself, not really knowing what to do. After the security check-in, I felt everyone staring at me as I paced around looking for Jason. They were probably whispering about my running mascara or the real snot hanging out my nose. I got irritated, as I couldn’t find any proverbial faces. My mind was so sidetracked, that I did not panic off the fact that people were looking at me this time. But, I really wished I had my XANAX.

I could see Ana across the room texting on her Blackberry. She had about ten other people with her—I hurried over to her side. As much as I loathed her, I knew we were going to the same place.

“Ana!” I screamed, relieved to see her.

She paused and stared at me, as she put her pink MAC lip-gloss on. “What?”

“Is the plane here yet?”

“Does it look like the plane is here,” she rolled her eyes and turned her back to me. The tips of her long curly golden hair whacked me in the eyes.

I tapped her on her scrawny shoulder. “Um, do you know when it will be here?”

“Oh my gosh you’re still here?” She twirled around and looked down at me. She had at least a foot over me with her eight-inch heel boots. “No, I don’t…so be gone.” She pushed me away as if I were a stray dog.

I didn’t seem to care much that Ana was belittling me. My mind focused on where Jason could be. I walked to a seat nearby Ana and her entourage, trying to hold my tears in.

I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I thought it would be Ana, but it was Jason. He grabbed my face before I could respond and said a subdued, “I’m sorry.” I smiled because I believed him. Somewhere in me, I knew that would never happen again. “I love you, Lily.” It was the first time he had ever said that to me.

“I love you too,” I said.

“Let’s go, the plane is here,” he said as he grabbed my hand.

I ended up dosing off during the flight as expected. Jason didn’t want to talk about the incident today and neither did I. I wanted to forget the whole event and go on with our lives as I assumed he did too…

It was summer and I was on a boat. A man, who I did not recognize, approached me and handed me a wooden box. I walked over to the box and he said, “Lily, open it!” With wide eyes, I opened the box and black lilies flew out causing me to scream in misery—

I jumped up, breathing heavy and with wide eyes. Jason put his arms around me and wiped the sweat off my forehead.

“Are you okay?” he said.

“I just had a bad dream,” I said.

“Just go back to sleep. The plane ride will go quicker if you just relax.”

“But, I don’t want to.”

“Lily, don’t be difficult,” Jason snapped. “Just think happy thoughts.”

I just closed my eyes and drifted away. This time thinking about whom I was without Jason.

Chapter 4 | Cry Baby

 

Jason came into the bathroom furious. “God dammit, Lily!” He grabbed my eyeliner out my hand and threw it across the hotel room. “Look!” He shouted as he grasped my shoulders, heaved me to the middle of the hotel room, and pushed me to the floor. “This room is a mess!”

Everything happened so quick that I couldn’t believe what was happening. I just thought if Paul were here, he would have shot Jason. I bit my tongue hard to see if I was dreaming—I was not.

“I was here all day, waiting, waiting, and waiting for you to come back and clean this mess, but no—you come back and what do you do? You put on makeup!” he hollered down upon me—I flinched every time a word came out. “Why put makeup on? You will still be fat and hideous! Now, clean up this room!” He stormed out the room and went to the bathroom as if nothing happened.

I stayed on the floor with my jaw dropped. I was so petrified that I could not cry tears. I just sat there in the middle of the room quivering and wondering what I should do. Am I an abuse victim now? Should I call security before he hurts me?

“But, it’s your stuff,” I murmured too late.

He stomped back into the room—his face ugly with anger. “Clean it up, please.” He leaned down to me on the floor and kissed my forehead. Then, he walked out the hotel room, slamming the door with all his power.

After four minutes, I finally found the courage to get up. Courage was not an appropriate word for a person like me, since I was such a wimp.

I picked up all his things and put them on the bed. I folded them in faultless piles and put them in his suitcase. I figured he would be gone for a while so I decided to go through his bags. Maybe he has some meds he forgot to take. However, I didn’t find anything. A part of me wanted to find secret meds, which would explain his sudden fits.

What is this? I found a bag full of white powder. “This could be drugs,” I whispered to myself. “This explains a lot.” I hurried and stuffed the drugs back into his luggage. I hurried to my cell phone and dialed Ana’s number. I knew how much we despised each other, but I needed someone to talk to, even if it was queen-witch.

“Hello?” she answered while chewing her gum into the phone.

“Ana! It’s me Lily!”

“I know.”

“Oh well, can I come over to your room? I need to talk to you,” my voice cracked as tears began to slide down my face.

“Um, can’t you just talk over the phone?” she said, aggravated by me.

“No it’s urgent…please!”

“Fine.”

I ran out the hotel room, hoping not to see Jason and ran to Ana’s room—she unlocked the door for me.

I paused in the doorway looking for Jason; then, I heard a sound and I locked the door behind me. “Ana?”

“Yeah?” she said.

“I have to talk to you.” I jumped on the bed—she didn’t seem to care much. She just rolled her eyes, but maybe that was just a habit.

“Well, then talk,” she ordered as she filed her nails.

“Okay, you can’t tell anyone! I swear Ana—” She held her hand up to cut me off.

“I know just go; I don’t have all day, I need beauty sleep.”

“Okay, so me and Jason, you know have been going out for like what, five months now, and it’s been good. But—” I took a deep breath before saying more—Ana’s face turned inquisitive. “Well, he yelled at me today and yesterday as well.”

Shocked, Ana dropped her nail file and stared deep into my eyes. “So…yell back at him.”

“I can’t…I’m too afraid of him.”

“You’re such a loser,” she laughed.

“I know I am.”

“You want me to yell at him for you?” she laughed. “I do that all the time!”

“It’s not just yelling…it’s like he wants to punch me yelling.”

“But he never yells. He has been working for me for the last three years.”

“But he did and he pushed me down too.”

“Oh well, I have no idea what to say. I don’t believe you,” her words tested me. “Not that you’re a liar, but I know Jason better than you. He would never hurt anyone. Not even me and I’m a bitch.”

“Well, that’s the thing, it just started to happen.”

Ana handed me some tissue—being a kind person for once.

“I went through his stuff and I found something…um, I think.”

“Like what?” Her eyes grew curious as she moved closer in to me.

“Drugs.”

“Drugs? No not Jason!”

“Yes I did. I’m no drug expert but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t candy.”

“Are you sure?” This time she sounded as if she believed me. “Well, me and him been through a lot and I don’t know if drugs…are you sure?”

“Positive —”

Jason’s screaming cut me off. “LILY! Lily!”

I could hear him in the hallway so I jumped up and grabbed Ana’s arm. “Ana, please make him stop!”

“Go!” she shoved me to go to the door.

“No don’t!” I pulled her arm back to me.

“Hey, honey, he won’t do anything to you; I think it was a misunderstanding,” Ana reassured me.

“No he will. He sounds mad. Ana please let me stay.”

“He won’t do anything if I’m here!” Ana got up and opened the door. “Jas—”

He slammed the door right in her face and pushed her out the doorway, knocking her down to her butt.

“Lily, Come on! Let’s go!” His eyes were so intimidating I could not look at him. “NOW!”

I put my head between my knees and cried. I tried to think about the happier times with him and me—like our first date.

“Lily!” I could feel him getting closer. He grabbed my shirt’s collar, nearly choking me and dragged me off the bed. I looked over at Ana as he walked away with me; she just stood in the doorway in fright. I tried to pull my body back so he couldn’t have full control. “Stop it Lily!” He grabbed my hair and yanked it so hard that I could feel the hairs coming out its roots.

“Jason, stop it!” Ana stood in the doorway trying to block Jason from leaving with me—her attempt failed.

“Move Ana!” he said in a firm voice. “This is none of your business!” He shoved her out the way with one push. He pulled me by my hair across the hallway to our room. No one was there to witness this—only Ana. I tried to scream so people would come running out their room, but no sound would come out my mouth.

Jason kicked open the hotel room door. “You went through my stuff!” He pointed to his bags.

How did he know? Everything was how I found it. “No, no, I,” was all I could get out as my heart began to thump at an irregular beat. I wondered if Ana was calling the cops by now or if Jason traumatized her to move. I hoped she had sense to call the police.

“Yes you did. Dammit Lily, you always lie!” He let go of my hair and walked over to the window. I didn’t dare move an inch—afraid he might snap if I did. “You’re now just a fat ugly liar! What more do you want?”

“Stop talking to me like that,” I said in a wimpy child voice.

He laughed as he began to walk over to me. “Lily, Lily, Lily!”

“Please, Jason don’t hurt me,” I begged. “Please.” My heart felt like it was about to jump through my mouth and make a run for it as he got closer—

In less than a second I could see Jason’s large fist charging toward my eyes. I couldn’t move and froze as his hard hand snapped my head back and knocked me out cold—my world went blank.

***

When I woke up, I was not in the hotel room where I had last remembered—I was at home in my bed. No words could explain how much pain I was feeling. I did not even know where the pain was coming from; all I knew is that a bottle of Vicodin was going to be my best friend.

“Woof!” It sounded like I barked.

“Lily? Do you need something to drink?” Paul handed me a cup.

“What are you?” I took a deep breath as I still tried to open my eyes fully. “Doing here?” I tried to sit up but failed at the attempt.

“Just relax, Lily.” He put a moist towel over my head. “Jason found you.”

My eyes grew large and he sat me up by fluffing a pillow. “Jason?”

“Yup, he found you out of it. We have no idea what happened,” Paul said as he patted my head.

“Are you serious?” I tried to remember the last night I was with Jason. Was I in France? Maybe I was dreaming I was with him in France. I had to be dreaming.

“A few days ago you were out cold,” Paul grabbed a brush and brushed my hair out of my face.

“Okay,” I said trying to get his words through my head. “So, what is today?”

“Today is February twentieth…yeah,” he looked at his phone to confirm.

“Twentieth? But—”

“Yeah, your eye was huge!” Paul pushed me back down—I sat back up.

“Really?” I asked confused on what he was talking about.

“Yup, I was like whoa.”

“Seriously?”

“Uh huh,” he nodded his head.

I rested down and pulled the blanket over my mouth. “So, he found me?” I sat back up, mystified by Paul’s story. I didn’t sound right to me.

“Yes Lily,” he said annoyed as he prepared another cloth.

“Where?”

“At the hotel room.” Paul walked over to my bedside. “In France.”

“France!” My eyes narrowed. I guess I didn’t dream that whole event.

“Yeah, you remember going there, right?”

“Yes, I remember everything—”

Kathy walked into the room chewing so loud on some fried chicken that I lost my thought. “Move you sloppy butterball!” she shoved Paul out the way. “You feel ailing? Hungry?”

“No,” I rolled my eyes.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes!” I said, annoyed by her phoniness. I hated when she acted as if she cared about me. She deserved an Oscar for as many times as she acted as if she cared for me.

“Fine,” she snapped as she walked out the room—Paul followed her.

I bit my lip thinking about that night in France. I remembered Ana there and Jason too. It was around Valentine’s Day.

“Baby!” It didn’t sound like Paul’s usual “baby” saying, it sounded like Jason. He walked into my room with a bouquet of white lilies. “Lily,” he kissed my forehead. “How do you feel?”

“Fine,” I said with a panicked smile and narrowed eyes.

“I love you—”

“So, you found me? Where? When?” I watched his movements as he walked toward my window grabbing a vase to put the lilies in.

“Yeah,” he took a deep breath. “I found you in the hotel, in the hallway; you look beaten and bruised,” he said in a soft tone.

“Um really?” I grew skeptical. In the hotel room, in France—I remember Paul’s exact words. “In the hallway?”

“Yes, Lily, in the hallway.”

“Really?” Maybe Paul misheard the story…just maybe.

“YES!” he snapped and walked over to me and fluffed my pillow just as Paul did. “Did Paul give you some of that juice?”

“I didn’t want any.”

“You’ll get dehydrated again. Get some rest and drink this, babe.” He handed me a cold cup of juice and kissed my cheek. “Sweet dreams.” He then put his fingers on my eyelids, closing them.

***

Two weeks later

I was in Europe, back on the promotional tour. I was not going to let one hospital visit keep me from working. Every interview I gave soon annoyed me—my hospital incident, was more popular than the film I was promoting.

“So, tell us why you were in the hospital, Lily?” asked a European interviewer.

“Hum…”

“So, police say drugs were a result, is this true?”

“Um,” I bit my lip puzzled on what to say. I knew nothing about the whole hospital or police event.

“Well…” When I looked out to the crowd of screaming fans, my heart began to feel heavy—heavier than usual. I never felt that pain before. It was like a stone pushing down—kind of like guilt—but what for. “Well,” was all I could say.

“Okay then, Carl, back to you.” The cameras shut off and the European interviewer rolled her eyes at me and stormed off into the warm building. “Thanks for saying nothing, Lily.”

“You did well, baby,” Paul pulled me to go inside.

“Are you being sarcastic?” I said.

“No seriously. It’s no one’s business, right?”

“Right…maybe I should just go home.”

“No, Lily. Don’t do that.”

“Fine, I’ll stay here, as long as you stay with me.”

“Of course,” Paul whispered as he kissed my forehead.

The rest of the evening, I felt awkward. I did four interviews that day and the same question about my hospital stay came up six times. In addition, the stone in my heart did not go away. I just went to my hotel room and tried to get some sleep. I did not remember any dreams I had, which was good; I just kept on feeling that stone thumping and moving in my heart.

“What’s wrong?” Paul said when he entered my hotel room.

“I’m just really under the weather. I’m going to sleep some more,” I said, as my eyes got heavier.

“Well, I’m going out to eat then. You want something?” he asked as he handed me his leftover coffee.

“Nah, I’m not hungry.”

Paul handed me my cell phone and locked the hotel room shut. I listened to him shout for someone down the hall as he left. His words soon became a blur as I went into a deep sleep…

***

I was running down the hotel hallway and I did not know why. The last thing I remembered doing was falling asleep and having a nightmare about lilies again. “Huff!”

I could see a man across the hallway—he looked like a blob as his arms reached out for me.

“Lily, it’s me!” Jason shouted.

“Jason?” I cried.

I could not cooperate; I felt so distant from myself. I wasn’t in control; it felt like someone was controlling me like a puppet or how I imagined a robot would feel like. I just kept running toward him. I was afraid that if I would stop running, I would collapse into shock.

“What is wrong with me?” I ran into his arms and stared into his big hazel eyes.

“What are you doing?” Jason said as he bit into an apple.

“I can’t breathe, Jason.”

“Um…” He pulled me into the hotel room, before people could come out to stare at the scene.

“Huff,” I barked and began to cry.

Jason walked me to sit on the bed and wrapped me in a blanket. He stared down upon me as he chewed his apple as if it was the best damn apple in the world. I couldn’t read his expression or his intentions. However, he seemed amused, almost pleased that I was losing all control.

I did not know what was wrong with me—I felt uncontrollable. My palms and scalp were all sweaty. I felt like my heart was in my stomach, that my hands were on my feet, and my teeth felt like they were going to fall out.

“Woof!” I barked again like a dog. “What is wrong with me?” I asked as I looked over at Jason, who was on the bed chuckling.

“Why are you laughing at me?”

“Ooh nothing.” He walked to the mini refrigerator. “Babe, you are freaking out. I think the media is getting to your head. I told Paul it’s not good to make you go through all this after all that has happened! Or it could be that you stopped taking your XANAX pills cold turkey after four years.” He walked over to me still laughing and wiped my tears with his sleeve.

“How do you know that?” I snapped.

“I didn’t know it was a secret!”

“Who told you?”

“Paul told me!”

“Well, this has nothing to do with that. That was like 4 or 5 months ago when I stopped.”

“Your body is probably still reacting to the stuff.”

“Oh, now you’re a doctor,” I mocked.

“Here drink this before you pass out.”

“Um, what is this?” I asked because the juice was bubbling.

He shoved the juice in my face. “Orange juice…”

“Why does it look like that?”

“I shook it up! Just get some rest Lily, before you go all crazy on me. That’s the last thing I want!”

“Hmm…crazy, eh?” my eyes narrowed in distrust.

“Yup, crazy,” he smiled. “Just drink, Lily. Do not be difficult.”

I obeyed and drank it in one sip.

Sizzled.

 

Chapter 5 | Timid

 

I caught myself this time.

“No put it down.” I said to myself in the mirror as I pulled the scissors toward my hair. “But you’re fat! No, but you’re ugly…Jason even said it!” I touched the desiccated tears on my face and slammed the scissors into the sink. I went into my purse and stared at the pills Dr. Summings had prescribed to me a while back. I had brought them with me after the last hospital visit. I knew I would just be going backwards by taking new pills, but I needed something. I needed something to make me feel sane. Plus, Jason and Paul supported me taking these new pills. Kathy was even begging me to.

I took a pill and then took a deep breath.

It was silent.

“Baby!” Paul called out for me as he came running into the hotel room with a hotdog in his mouth. “Lily, what are you doing?”

I ignored him and continued to stare at myself in the dirty mirror. I didn’t look like myself anymore. I was already petite sized, but it looked like I had lost about ten pounds. If I continued to lose weight, I would be like Nicole Richie that time she got so skinny. I did not have puffy bags under my eyes like all the other celebrities. I had red eyes from lack of sleep. I had not slept a full night in a long time.

“I’m so ugly, Paul,” I whispered.

He sighed. “No you’re not!” He grabbed my hand, pulled me into the room, and sat me on the bed before I could do anything regrettable. He grabbed the prescription bottle out my hand. “Lily, Dr. Summings is a real doctor. I know I’m telling you this a little too late and I shouldn’t have lied to you. But, I think—”

“I took the pills,” I whispered. “I just want to sleep again and feel normal. I don’t even care if these new pills make me feel like a zombie. I just want my life back.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“How do you deal with a mess like me?” I cried. “I’m so ugly now.”

“You’re not ugly,” he snapped.

“Jason thinks so.”

Paul stayed silent at a time when he should throw a massive fit and defend me. He turned his head so he wouldn’t make eye contact with me. “What’s wrong with you? You have been acting so bizarre lately. Like today, I said ‘oh it’s Ellen’ and you usually always laugh when I compare everyday people to celebrities,” Paul said as he poured me something to drink.

“Honestly, Paul, I don’t know. I am just as baffled as you are. I feel like I have lost self-control. I think I am at the stage where child stars fade. It’s my time to fade and get hooked on drugs.”

“Okay, you’re creepy,” he muttered. “Please don’t get hooked on drugs. I’m just happy you didn’t get overly addicted to XANAX.” He sat next to me on the bed and stayed quiet—maybe thinking the same as me. “So, what really happened that day in France?”

“You’re asking me?” I said.

“Yes, no one else is here,” he said.

“Well, I don’t remember.”

“You do. I can tell you remember!”

“No I don’t!” I jumped up and walked to the bathroom angry with Paul. “I really don’t!”

“Okay fine,” he said in a disbelieving tone. “I just wanted to know how you ended up the way you did.”

***

I called my sister, hoping she would answer. Sometimes I felt as though she ignored my calls. I didn’t blame her though—I would ignore my calls if I were her. Even as children, she never defended me. She even made fun of me with the other kids on the block because my imagination was more powerful than theirs was.

I let the phone ring four more times until I finally hung up. I didn’t have anything important to tell her, just that I was a nutcase. She would enjoy hearing that she was the sane one in the family.

Jason entered the hotel room, blasting his iPod and I wondered where he had been all day. Sometimes I forgot he was Ana’s assistant and he had a job. I kept my eyes on him as he went through the mini refrigerator looking for something to snack on. I noted that in my head, druggies like to eat food. He has a symptom. Then, I looked at myself and I had a plate full of fried foods and fresh cookies.

Jason stuffed a doughnut in his mouth and walked over to me. “Are you okay today?”

I looked around the room, realizing I did not feel weird, I didn’t hear voices, or see things. I felt…normal. The new medication worked like a charm. “I think so,” I smiled as I wrapped my arms around him.

“Good, ‘cause I want to take you out on Friday.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, so I want Ana and you to go out to buy you a dress.”

“With Ana?”

“Don’t worry, I already told Ana, and she is up for it. You guys need to start getting along.”

“Uh…okay?” I kissed him, confused on why Ana would hang out with me. She had been avoiding me for the rest of the promotional tour ever since we were in France.

***

Later that day, Ana and I were at an expensive European store, looking for a dress that she had seen in a magazine advertisement. I didn’t feel comfortable there—I felt odd with her…as enemies.

“So, a date I heard.” Ana gave me a forged smile.

I looked up at her, expecting her eyes but she was scanning through the dresses already. “It should be nice.”

“Oh…hmm,” she said annoyed—as if she didn’t want to be there with me.

“Yeah, why?”

“Why what?”

“The attitude?”

“No, no attitude here,” she pouted her lips.

“Sure, whatever.”

“No, I like you Lily. Odd to say or even hear, but it’s just…”

“Just what?”

“I don’t like him…for you.”

“Really? Why? Isn’t he your assistant?”

“Yeah I know, just ever since that whole France situation, I kind of look at him differently.”

“Oh typical, you would have loved to see me die in the hallway. You are such a—”

“What are you talking about?”

“In France, Jason is the one who found me. I was passed out cold.”

“No he didn’t!”

“Yeah, he did. In the hallway, he found me,” I said. “Someone beat me up.”

“Because he beat you.”

“No he—”

“Yes he did, Lily. I called the cops when he dragged you to your hotel room by your hair!”

Paul’s words came back to me—in the hotel room, in France.

“Then, why does the police reports say I was found in the hallway? Everyone is saying I was found in the hallway.”

“He beat you to unconsciousness in the hotel room. When I went in there, he was gone. So, I ran back to my hotel room to call my security and then, when I went back out Jason was screaming and I guess he dragged you to the hallway,” she said.

“But, why would he tell police that he found me in the hallway?” I said.

“A cover up, duh!”

“How would Paul know then?”

“Know what?”

“He told me I was in the hotel room—”

“You must have heard him wrong, because there is no way he would know. For my safety and my sanity, I didn’t say anything because no one would have believed me,” she whispered. “You should know that Jason has this charm that would make anyone believe him!”

I turned my head from her and I began to cry. Nothing made sense anymore.

“I’m sorry, Lily,” Ana said.

“No! He didn’t!” I cried. “I think you’re lying.”

“Okay stop it! You’re causing a scene.” She grabbed my arm to leave out the store but I punched her away.

“Aw! You are such—”

“Sorry.” I began to hyperventilate, not wanting to believe it. “But…what if it’s not the past? What if it happens again?”

“Well, if it does, I’m here. Really I am. I’ve known Jason for a while now and I know he has gone through some hard times, but he loves you.”

“Hard times? What hard times?”

“Ooh nothing important. Trust me nothing will happen again. You and I will act like that never happened and you will stay with Jason. No one will ever know. I promise.”

“But, shouldn’t I just leave him?” I said. “Strong women don’t stay with abusive men.”

“No, he just has some anger issues, but he loves you a lot. He needs a girlfriend, Lily. Just please don’t dump him. If you do, I will have to deal with him and you don’t want that.”

“But Ana…”

“If it happens again, you can take it to the media and they’ll be all over him.” Ana gave me a hug and she grabbed a dress for me to wear. She twisted my fingers into hers and we walked to the cashier…as friends.

***

I modeled Paul the dress I had bought for tonight in the hotel room. I had thought about asking Paul about that night in France but I did not dare tell Paul the truth about Jason’s anger—it was none of his business. Plus, I didn’t want to know his reaction.

“Oh, it’s nice!” Paul said.

“Really? It’s just a random dress I found,” I said.

“You found it?”

“Well, no…”

“Lily!” Jason called me from outside the hotel door. His voice gave me chills; it reminded me of that night in France.

“Jason?” I opened the door and ran into his arms—I knew he wasn’t going to harm me today. He held up white lilies for me.

“Well, I’ll see you later!” Paul hugged me and left out the room.

“Bye, Paul!” we both said.

Jason shut the door. “So, are you ready?”

“Yeah. Do you like my dress?”

“Pretty.”

“Thank you.”

“We should go now. I made a reservation.”

“Okay, let me just get my handbag.”

As I went to get my bag, I popped my new best friend. I didn’t want my night to be ruined with an unexpected schizo episode. I smiled at myself in the mirror. I felt beautiful again.

Jason took me to a very exclusive dinner away from town. The table had white lily petals placed perfectly on it and the scent added to the beauty. The sound of a band played a soothing sound that was familiar but I couldn’t quite put my finger on where it was from. And everyone around us was in their own world—ignoring someone famous like me. I loved it.

“How do you know Europe so well?” I said as I loosened the curls in my hair that flowed down my right shoulder.

“I’ve been everywhere, Lily,” he said. “The question is why don’t you know Europe so well?”

“I’m just not that cool,” I laughed and sipped my water.

The dinner continued with on and off silent moments. I would have called them awkward moments but Jason would call them more of peaceful moments. He liked silence for the most part, because he said his mind was always busy—just like mine. I appreciated the silence as well. I hadn’t had silence in my head for years.

“Ooh this is nice, Jason,” I said, easing the awkward moment.

“Because I love you.” He began to dig around in his pocket. “I really do.” He pulled out a small red box and opened it to expose a huge pink diamond. “Marry me, Lily.”

The stone in my heart suddenly came back. “Woof.” Did I just bark again? “Oh my…”

“Will you?” he said as sweat slid down his face.

“But, we’re so young,” I said as my lips quivered.

“You’ll be eighteen in July,” he reminded me.

“I know but I’m still so young—”

He closed the little ring box. “I mean, you’re mom got married at eighteen.”

“Yeah, but that was back in the day and look at the marriage now, it’s over.”

Jason stiffened up and rolled his eyes. “There’s no rush, Lily, really.”

I could feel the stone in my heart getting heavier and moving up my throat. “But—” I grabbed the box out his hand. “There is no rule to being engaged for a while.” I grabbed the ring and put it on my finger. “Plus, people stay engaged for about a year maybe ten—”

“I’m not staying engaged for ten years, Lily. That is just damn stupid,” he snapped.

“Okay, I was just kidding.”

“You either want to or you don’t. I don’t want to pressure you. However, if you don’t take the ring, we cannot be together anymore. It’s too much of an embarrassment.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, because obviously you don’t love me.”

“But, it’s just a ring.”

“No, it’s not…it’s a commitment. And if you refuse, obviously you’re in this relationship for the wrong reason. And I don’t have time for games—”

“Look, the ring is on my finger. I’ll marry you, dammit!”

Jason smiled. “Perfect.”

Chapter 6 | Guilty

 

I gulped down some orange juice that Jason had left for me and searched under the bed for my heels. I tried to stay calm as I put my shoes on, but I could hear Paul shouting outside the room.

“Hurry, Lily!” Paul said.

“Okay, okay!” I threw the cup into the sink and ran out to the elevator. When in a rush, things seem to take forever—like today. We waited in the hotel elevator for three minutes until it reached the bottom floor.

Paul ran out first, and I didn’t think a chunky boy like him could run that fast. “Hurry!” he said.

“I’m coming, Paul!” I ran out the elevator and hurried to the taxi outside the hotel.

“Hurry Lily!” Paul shoved me into the taxi like a rag doll. “Gosh, I told you 11:50 and it’s…11:55. We’re going to miss our plane!”

Paul had the hideous furry red shirt on again. I laughed to myself, thinking of the last time he had it on. He was breathing fast, as he tried to catch his breath.

“It’s not funny that we will miss our plane! Barbara’s wedding is today. We have to be there!” He pulled my seat belt to buckle me in as if I were three years old.

“No, it’s that shirt,” I said and rolled my eyes. “Barbara doesn’t even like me, so why should I go to her wedding—”

“Well, Lily, the world doesn’t revolve around you! I really wanted to go to this wedding.”

“She won’t even notice you’re not there—”

“Oh my gosh!”

“What?” The taxi driver said in the rear-view mirror as he drove off. “Did you forget something?”

Paul pointed at my pink diamond that sat on my finger. I had forgotten about it and wanted to tell Paul before he found out on his own. Apparently, that was too late.

“HE PROPOSED?” Paul’s eyes narrowed. “When?”

“Oh…yeah…” I kept my eyes on the ring, not knowing what to say.

“No way…when? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Um yesterday? I was going to tell you, but I forgot.”

His eyes began to turn glossy and his lips dried. “Wow,” he gasped and began fidgeting. “I guess I’m happy for you,” he mumbled.

“Hmm, yup.” I felt the stone in my heart coming back as Paul’s words came back to me. In the hotel room, in France.

“You okay, baby?” Paul said.

“I should be asking you. Are you okay?”

“I’m perfect,” he muttered and it seemed as if he were holding back tears.

“Me too,” I lied and closed my eyes to rest.

I knew I was fully asleep when I did not hear Paul’s voice again, asking if I were okay. I couldn’t believe it as much as he did. I was going to be getting married.

Was Jason really a generous person, or maybe Ana was lying…because she was jealous of me. But, if she were lying how was it like my dream and how did Paul know?

“Lily!” Paul shook me awake. “Hurry! The plane is here!” He dragged me out the car and ran to the terminal. “Oh my gosh…no!” Paul ran to the window as our plane took off. “11:50, Lily!”

“Sorry, Paul,” I said.

“Oh no…11:55! Damn you!” He threw his body to a chair and put his hands on his face.

My heart dropped as the memory of Jason’s voice played in my head as Paul shouted at me. It wasn’t the first time Paul had yelled at me though, but I always knew when it was all over he would be in high spirits again. But this time, he seemed far from that.

I dropped to Paul’s lap and held his waist. “I’m so sorry, Paul. I really am!” I cried. “I know how much you wanted to go to Barbara’s wedding.”

“It’s okay. Now get up,” Paul whispered.

“Everyone is against me these days. I don’t know why? Why does everyone hate me?” I cried.

“Okay, Lily get up, people are starting to stare at us. We’ll talk about this later!”

“Paul, you don’t understand…”

“Lily, just stop yelling. You’re embarrassing yourself and me.”

I began crying hysterically and I couldn’t control myself. Stop. Stop! Lily, Stop it. You are making a fool of yourself. But, I couldn’t stop. I just kept screaming and crying like a child. I assumed the people standing over me never saw anything like that before…honestly, I hadn’t either.

Paul moved away from me, as if I had some disease. “Help! HELP!” Paul shouted for security and they came running over in seconds. “She won’t stop it!”

“What the hell?” one of the security men said as he stared with cautious eyes. “Why is she crying?”

“Make her stop!” Paul said. “This is so embarrassing.”

There were now about fifty people staring down at me—wondering if I was Lily Blair Evans and if I had lost my marbles. One security guard tried to grab me, but I snapped at him like a vicious dog.

“She might be a terrorist.” The security guard dug in his belt, grabbed his stun gun, and shocked me.

***

I couldn’t fully open my eyes but I knew right away that I was in a hospital room again. The hospitals I’ve always stayed at had an odd smell; active visitors might know what I mean. And their pillows had an odd feel to it. It was a cotton ball away from being super soft or being super hard.

“We found a hazardous amount of drugs in her system,” I overheard a doctor say.

“I knew it! That explains everything,” I heard Kathy say.

“She needs help,” Paul said.

“Major help! You are supposed to help her, Paul, and look at her now! It’s her second time in the hospital in just some weeks,” Jason said.

It hurt to open my eyes, but I tried to anyway. I looked around the room with my eyes squinted. I didn’t see them, I could only hear them arguing.

“Hey! Well I’m not the one who—”

Kathy cut Paul off. “Okay ladies, where’d she get the drugs from?”

“Why don’t you ask her, you crazy old woman!” Paul said.

“Bring it on, tubs!” I heard a slap sound and assumed Kathy slapped Paul. She had done it before, so it didn’t startle me.

“All I know is that she has been taking her anti-psychotic medication that Dr. Summings prescribed her. And she’s been acting normal since then, besides this incident,” Paul said.

“Bullshit!” Kathy said.

“Okay! It doesn’t matter, we’re all in this together,” Paul’s voice cracked.

“No, we’re not. When she is eighteen in four months, she is out of here. We are leaving the hell you call home. My wife, my property!” Jason said.

His words gave me chills down my back. With my thumb, I slid the engagement ring off my finger a bit.

“Oh shut up!” I heard Kathy come into my hospital room. I assumed she saw the ring already, so I slid it back on.

“Mum?” I said as if I had a British accent.

“Yes honey?” I could feel her breath over my face. “What is it?” Her voice didn’t sound so familiar anymore—she sounded like a serene deep smoker.

“Where am I?” I said with such a low voice I didn’t think she could hear me.

“In California; in the hospital.”

“Huh? What’s today?”

“The…March the sixteenth.”

“The sixteenth? It’s been two days?”

She leaned over me and the scent of her perfume burned my nose. “Yeah, you remember?”

“Yeah, I remember everything. Time goes by fast.”

“It does,” she muttered as she brushed my hair out my face. I could feel her pause, maybe looking at my ring. It felt like heat was coming out my ring finger as the silence went on.

“Are you sure you want to?”

“To what?” I opened my eyes wider to read her face.

“Marry? At eighteen?”

“Yes I am sure…now I am.”

“But, we barely know him!”

“I know him.”

“Well, I don’t. And I know what it’s like to marry at a young age, like when I married your daddy, Frank.”

“Me and Jason are different.”

“I want you to research him when you get the chance.”

“Research him? Why would I do that?”

“Just so you can know who you are marrying. I have Mike Durling’s number if you need it.”

“I don’t need that.”

“I love you, Lily.” She kissed my hand and then walked out the room and slammed the door before I could reply.

Paul walked in next as he ate a bag of chips. “Baby?”

“Yeah?”

“Oh Lily! You scared me so,” he ran to hug me and gave me kisses with his onion breath.

“Really?”

“Yes! I didn’t think you were going to wake up.”

“Why would you think that?” I said as I pushed him off me.

“Why do you do it, baby?”

“What do I do?”

“The drugs, why do it? Don’t be like all those other Hollywood chicks. We talked about this. Where you lying to me when you had told me you quit taking the XANAX?”

“I do not do drugs, Paul.”

“That’s what they all say,” he mumbled.

“You’re with me every day! When would I ever have time to do drugs?”

“Druggies have their ways.”

“Well, I’m not a druggie.”

“Okay, I’ll see you later.”

I closed my eyes expecting Jason to come in next, but he did not. I waited but ended up falling asleep. A part of me was happy he didn’t come in, I didn’t want to see him anyway.

The next day when I returned home, I was almost certain I was dreaming because Kathy was being beyond polite to me.

“Let me fluff your pillow for you,” she said as she yanked my pillow from under my head.

“Stop it!” I pulled it out her hands. “You’re really annoying me; can’t you go throw crap in your room around—”

It hit me that I did the same things Kathy always did. Not the pillow fluffing, but the fits she threw at least once a day. The mood swings, the tantrums, everything. I was she in the making. “Nothing,” I whispered to her, changing my thought.

She left the room in confusion, talking to herself.

“Knock! Knock!” Ana came into my room with a huge box—probably full of junk food.

“Ana?” I said.

“Hey,” she closed the door behind her. “So, how do you feel?” She closed my drapes in secrecy.

“Um…annoyed.”

“Yeah…so you’re still getting married to him?” She threw me a stack of tabloid magazines with me as their headlines.

“I guess,” I sighed. “I am.”

She jumped on my bed as if I invited her. “Really? After all that?”

“Yeah, I mean it was one time.”

“No, you shouldn’t though. He could have killed you. I wouldn’t, but then again no one has ever proposed to me.” She opened a bag of chips and shoved them in my face to eat some.

“But, you said not to dump him!”

“I changed my mind. It’s a really bad idea.”

“Yeah but it’s the past, so let’s get over it!” I felt the stone in my heart return for the millionth time. “He wouldn’t do it again, plus I think it was just a dream.”

“It was no dream, how would I know your dream?” she said with a mouth full of chips. “Believe what you want, I know what I saw.”

“Well, forget what you saw. I don’t want you to ever talk about it again…to me or anyone else. If you’re my friend, you wouldn’t talk about it.”

“Fine, I won’t ever speak of that night again,” she said.

“You promise?”

“Promise what?”

“To not talk about that night!”

“What night? What are you talking about?” she winked.

“Oh, Ana.”

Kathy came back into the room with a plate full of hot fresh cookies and sat them on the bed. “So, will you be going to school next week? Or shall I call a tutor?”

“Um…mom, I’m not in school anymore. Plus, if so that would be Paul’s job,” I laughed at how she tried to act as if she cared about me.

“Really? You’re not in school?” She walked out the room mumbling to herself again.

“Funny,” Ana began to choke on the chips.

“What?”

“You claim how you hate your mom and how crazy she is. Ha, but so far, like no offense, everything you said about her, describes you. Or just the things I’ve seen you do in the past weeks.”

“No, she must be tamed; she usually isn’t this nice. I mean, six weeks ago if I told her I was getting married, she would have bit my head off…literally.”

“Ha, still funny though.”

Ana and I talked for about half an hour—mainly about Jason and me. She had many theories on him—I mean tons.

“But he loves you right?” she asked for the millionth time.

“Yeah of course, duh,” I flashed my ring.

“But don’t you ever think outside the box, like, I don’t know, Lily. It’s just something about him that worries me,” Ana complained. “Well, I’ve known him for a while and there are some things about him that are questionable.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know.”

“Like he’s going to try to murder me and steal all my money or something. I mean come on now, Ana. Too many Lifetime movies for you.”

“I know right, but just imagine,” she laughed. “It’s just you two have been together for no more than six months and he proposes?”

“Big deal, Ana! A lot of people do that!”

“Okay, I don’t know. Maybe I’m a bit of a drama queen.”

“No maybe you’re just jealous,” I said. “Admit it, you want Jason all for yourself,” I said with kissing sounds.

“No,” she laughed nearly choking. “Okay we’ll see.”

“See what?” I snorted.

“If you have love with no endings,” her voice got serious.

“What does that mean?”

“Love with no endings…it’s like love that will never end. No matter what you do or say, you will always love each other no matter what. You would kill for that person if you had to.”

***

April

 

May

 

June

 

July

Chapter 7 | Eighteen

 

Nothing was close to normal these days. I was now best friends with the last person on earth I would think to be friends with. Kathy didn’t seem to exist anymore. In addition, I was getting married in less than two weeks.

The past three months went on like the weeks in March. Every other day I was in and out the hospital for some kind of drug problem or another tantrum.

In April, I spent most of my time in the hospital bed where they pumped my stomach of unknown substances. I had to have a psychologist talk to me every night, and Kathy had people searching my room for drugs every other night. They found nothing, which was even more frustrating. The ending result would be me on the cover of a magazine and the doctors giving Kathy a panel for a rehab clinic, which I never went to.

In May, another doctor diagnosed me with an attention disorder. He said that because of my lack of attention—I would take drugs to get it. He said tons of Hollywood teens did it. That was false in my case, because I hated attention. Of course, everyone blamed me for being an addict—which was crap. I had never taken drugs for no reason and would never do it for attention. As that continued into June, I mostly just planned my wedding and birthday bash with Ana. I had less hospital stays, and no tantrums—everything seemed normal again.

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!” Ana came screaming up the stairs singing in a high-pitch voice. She looked different than she had four months ago. Her once long golden hair was now a short bob. And her once slender body now had curves from all the food she was eating.

“Are you serious,” I laughed as Ana brought up a Tinkerbell shaped cake with eighteen candles on it.

“Make a wish,” she sang in a high-pitched voice. “Make a wish, make a wish, make a wish!” She sang happy birthday to me while I blew out all eighteen candles.

“What’d you wish for?”

“Um…a good wedding,” I lied.

“Uh, good,” she laughed, as I am sure she knew I had lied. “But you should wish for more than that.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Oh, I don’t know…maybe a good marriage.”

“What is that suppose to mean—”

“Hey,” Paul interrupted when he came into the room. “I got the birthday dresses.” He held up two party dresses. One was a skimpy blue dress covered in sparkles and one was a plain red strapless dress. “Ugh, it took forever to get these.”

“Ooh, I love the blue one,” Ana grabbed the dress from Paul. “It’s so cute.”

“Ew, I’m turning eighteen not twelve,” I pushed the blue dress away. “I really like the red one.”

“It’s so plain though,” Ana mumbled. “It’s very blah, you have like, ten dresses like that in your closet right now.”

“Well…it’s nice.”

“I see you’re turning into a boring mom,” Ana growled. “Or a grandma.”

“Am not!”

“Wear the blue one,” Ana said.

I snatched the blue dress from her and stared at it. “Fine.”

“Damn, you’re such a diva.”

“I have that power,” I winked.

“Well, get ready!” Paul said as he ran out the room to the doorbell.

“Wait, what exactly did you mean by a good marriage, Ana?” I said as I got out of bed.

“Oh nothing…” she said as she skipped out the room ignoring my question.

As they left the room, I took my medication so that my day would be drama free. I instantly felt good about myself.

***

Kathy tried to control her shaky hands as she took a group photo before my birthday bash. “Okay, get closer in, Paul.”

I noticed she didn’t yell at him, or call him a slob, as she normally would have. Her monstrous temper was now very mellow and calm. Her once loud yelling voice was now more of a raspy whisper. Her already thin frame was now ten times smaller. In addition, her hair was now thin and broke off with a simple touch. Most of the time, she turned to wigs. Ana said she looked like a cancer patient, but I insisted nothing was wrong with her. She was probably starving herself to get attention or all of her bad deeds had just caught up with her. Either way it was working; she was on every other tabloid cover.

“Okay um…I got the picture. Jason is not going?” she said as if she didn’t care. In all honesty, she didn’t seem to care about anything. She didn’t even seem to care much that I was getting married in a few weeks. To think of it, she never spoke of it.

“Oh, he will meet me there,” I said while shoving everyone out the door. “Bye Kat—,” I caught myself again. “Bye uh, mom.”

My birthday party was like nothing I had ever seen before. When I entered the hotel, there was piercing music playing, over sixty cameras flashing, and there had to be at least four hundred people there dancing.

“Do I even know all these people?” I said to Ana over the loud techno music.

“What?” She grabbed a drink off a tray and handed it to me. “Go party, girl. I know I will!” Ana bumped me with her hip and then ran off to a group of friends that just entered the building.

I felt overwhelmed by all the people; therefore, I headed upstairs before anyone spotted me. And to think, people thought I liked the attention. Yeah, right—that was the last thing I ever wanted. Ever since I could remember, I always tried to avoid the limelight, but Kathy always forced me to the center stage or it would be a beat to the skull if I thought about backing down.

Coming out of my dreadful daydreams, I searched for an elevator or a stairway. Whoever constructed the hotel had to be drunk, because the whole place was just an architect’s disaster. Ten minutes went by and I finally found a stairway to get to the second floor. As I got closer to the hotel rooms, the music tamed down. I could actually hear my thoughts again.

“Happy birthday, Lily!” A group of people shouted at me from down the hall.

“Thanks!” I said as I blew kisses and continued to walk searching for room fifty.

I gave up and waited by room sixty, thinking on where the room could be. I leaned against the wall and picked at the pink nail polish Ana insisted on me getting. Bored, I nodded my head to one of my favorite dance songs—

“Lily!” I knew that voice right away.

I skipped toward the stairway and peaked down. “Jason! Come here!”

He ran up the stairs to greet me. “Hey, sweetheart,” he whispered softly as he lifted me up and spun me around. With a smile, he handed me eighteen white lilies.

“Ooh!” I beamed.

“You like them?”

“Duh, I love it.”

“So why aren’t you partying it up? And why are we up here bored?” He put his arm around me and continued walking me to wherever I was going.

“Firstly, I’m very overwhelmed. Ana and Paul did way too much. And secondly, you can go party if you want, little diva, I’m fine. Also, I can’t find room fifty; that’s where all my stuff is.”

“Well, first stop being boring and second…yes we are divas,” he joked. “And room fifty is right here, silly.”

“Oh my god,” I jumped as I opened the room door where Paul said all my gifts would be. I couldn’t even see half the floor, which was covered in presents. I didn’t realize I was still holding the drink Ana had given me until it fell to the carpet. My eyes narrowed as the drink buzzed on the ground, not like soda but like something else…

“Dammit Lily!” Jason said. “Why’d you do that?”

“Sorry, I’ll clean it up real quick!” I tried to run to the bathroom but he grabbed my wrist. His strong hand nearly twisted mine backwards.

“No!” he said.

I had remembered the same face in France—chills ran down my spine of the thought. “Why?” I gasped.

“I’ll do it.”

“Uh…okay,” I shuddered and he released my wrist from his strong grip.

“I’ll get you something else, Lily. It’s your birthday,” he said as he ran to the bathroom. “Just go sit down.”

I sat on the bed for a minute and stared at the drink on the floor. It looks like something is in it. Maybe it’s alcohol or something. Why’d he want to clean it? Maybe he—

“Lily! Go downstairs and have fun. I’ll get you something, no worries,” he said from the bathroom.

“Uh, it’s okay. I’m not thirsty anymore!” I said as I opened the hotel door to leave. “I’m going to find Ana.” I rushed out the hotel room and ran downstairs as quick as I could in six-inch heels. I stood at the bottom of the stairs, straining my eyes searching for Ana over the crowd of dancing people. I spotted Ana and just as I was about to call out for her, someone pulled me back.

“Happy birthday!” shouted an unfamiliar voice behind me.

I turned around to see who was pulling me by the arm. “Oh my…Madison!”

Madison was an old friend of mine from early in my career, when we were barely doing commercials. Our parents used to be close friends, until typical Kathy stole her husband—but that’s another story.

She pulled me back up the stairs. “Gosh, come on, let’s talk.”

“I really need to go talk to someone,” I said. “I’m not trying to be rude—”

Ignoring me, Madison pulled me for a hug. “It’s been so long!”

“Um, I know, but—”

Ana was passing by and I grabbed her arm, pulling her back. “Ana, I need to talk to you,” I said still locked in Madison’s hug.

“Now?” she said as she sipped her drink.

“Yes, it’s about Jason.”

“Lily, I have to pee really bad. Can this wait?” Before I could reply, Ana went running up the stairs along with three other girls to the restroom.

Madison finally let me go and locked her arm in mine. “So, I heard you’re getting married soon?”

I sighed and continued walking up the stairs. “Yup, on the twenty-sixth.”

“You’re so young, though,” she said as I unlocked the hotel room door.

I slammed open the door, where Jason was stirring a drink—he jumped at us and we jumped at him.

“Oh,” Madison pouted at me. Either Jason being in the room caught her off guard or all the presents had frightened her. “Oh, hello!”

“Hey, Madison,” Jason said.

“You know each other?” I said.

“Uh, shockingly yes,” she said.

“Long story, Lily,” he said.

“You never told me you knew, Madison?” I said.

“You never told me you knew her either,” Jason smiled. “I’ll leave you two alone, then.” He handed me the drink and kissed my forehead. “I’ll see you downstairs.”

“I didn’t know you were marrying him,” Madison said as Jason left the room.

I nodded my head and sipped some of the drink that made my throat tingle.

“You okay?” she said as she took the drink away from me.

“Um…yeah,” I reassured her. “This drink is just really strong.”

“Are you sure you should be drinking that?” her eyes narrowed.

“Why do you say that?” I said.

A strident knock on the door scared us. “Oh my god, we’re going to cut the cake!” shouted Paul through the door.

“Already?” I checked the clock—it said 2:30am. I realized I spent my whole party doing nothing, but walking back and forth to the hotel room.

“I guess,” Madison shrugged as she pulled me to the door to go downstairs.

I began to blush when I heard everyone singing ‘Happy Birthday’ already. When I got to the middle of the stairs, all the voices got low and all I could hear was one familiar voice.

“Daddy!” I ran down the stairs into his arms.

“Happy birthday dear my Munchkin, happy birthday to you,” he sang and kissed me. “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.”

I only saw my dad, Frank, once every two years and people considered me “lucky” if he ever called me. He was a “busy musician” on the road. He still looked the same. His hair was still long and dark with spots of gray. His face had no facial hair and his green eyes were like diamonds that made all the girls blush.

All the makeup Ana spent two hours on was all gone once I started to cry.

“Aw,” the entire crowd said.

The crowd didn’t seem to bother me, as long as I didn’t look up. I didn’t hyperventilate but I did begin to breathe a bit heavy from the crying.

“Where is Leslie?” I whispered.

He ignored my question. “You need to cut the cake.” Frank picked me up like a baby and walked me over to the cake.

“Is this why Kathy didn’t come?” I said.

“Ha, maybe,” he chuckled as he stood me next to the cake. “Cut the cake Munchkin, we don’t have all day!”

Ana handed me a blue knife that matched my dress and cake. I smirked at her realizing why she wanted me to wear the blue dress. Then, I mesmerized the cake. It was like a wedding cake that only idiots like my family would waste money on for an eighteenth birthday. It was probably bigger than I was, and icing was melting onto the floor.

As I tried to cut the cake, my hands began to tremble. However, this time it was not because of me being nervous—I could not control it. I felt like how you feel when you drink too much caffeine or consume too much alcohol. I swallowed hard realizing something was going to happen in front of all these people. I lifted my head up to look at Ana, but all I saw was a blob of people gawking and laughing at me.

“Why are they laughing?” I whispered. Am I thinking this? I tilted my head like a baffled puppy, trying to read their faces. It was still a blur as if I needed glasses for impaired vision.

“Honey?” Frank waved his hands in front of my face, trying to gain my attention. “You okay?”

My respiration count began to speed up as the seconds went on. “What’s wrong with me?” I cried and then collapsed to the floor in pain.

I could hear people yelling for help around me and running around like there was a fire. I put my head between my knees and it felt like my body was floating on a cloud.

***

I was not fully awake but I could feel my bed shift as everyone yelled back and forth over me. I wouldn’t say I was fully out of it either. I felt like how you feel ten minutes before the alarm goes off for work, when you are aware of the environment but you could care less.

“This is your fault, Frank!” Kathy shouted over my bedside.

“Go to hell Kathy! This is your fault. Horrible, horrible mother, just horrible!” Frank yelled back.

“Hey! Stop you’ll wake her!” Jason said.

“Oh shut up!” Kathy said.

“Stop it,” I whispered.

“Look, Lily is up,” Paul said.

“Honey?” Frank patted my shoulder. “Are you okay?”

“HONEY!” Kathy yelled as if she had to be the loudest. “Lily, tell me right now where you’re getting the drugs from!” She shook me and pointed at Paul. “Is this fat cookie boy giving you them?”

“No, I don’t…do drugs,” I said.

“Dammit Lily,” Frank said. “Then, what are they pumping out of your stomach, gummy bear juice? I DON’T THINK SO!”

“You’re an addict, honey.” Jason put his hand on mine. “You need help.”

Am I really an addict? Was I really doing drugs and didn’t remember? It’s possible! No that’s impossible! I would remember! I would have a drug dealer and everything.

“I told you, Kathy—not to put my baby in showbiz but you did anyway.” Frank slammed his hand on the bed. “Ooh Frank, it will be cute! She will be a star like me,” he imitated Kathy’s voice. “Dammit, now look at her…all intoxicated with Kathy-syndrome.”

I chuckled at Frank—he said the darndest things—gummy bear juice, Kathy-syndrome.

Frank pointed at me. “She’s a nut! She’s laughing and nothing is even happening.”

“I told you,” Kathy said. “She is ill, Frank. Honestly.”

“Then, why isn’t she getting help?” Frank snapped.

“It’s under control,” Paul said.

“Are you serious? Look at her!”

I narrowed my eyes and I could now see everyone’s curious faces. I noticed that Ana was also in the room behind Paul. She stayed quiet, probably wishing she were somewhere else.

“He’s not going to marry you because you’re a lunatic, Lily,” Frank said.

“What?” I said.

“No Sir, that’s not true. She is just ill,” Jason reassured him.

“Ill,” Frank smirked. “Druggie, that’s what I call them.”

“Dad!” I snapped.

“What?” he said.

“I’m not on drugs.”

With an ugly expression, Frank eyed the machine that pumped my stomach. “Really?”

“You come back in two years and all of a sudden you care?” I said.

“Exactly,” Kathy butted in.

“And Kat—mom, same for you. You act like you care, but you don’t either.”

“I do too care,” she said.

“No, you’re just here for good press. I know you’re going to go outside and tell the journalist I’m throwing a fit and going crazy, which I’m not.”

“No, I’m not,” she flipped her hair. “It’s been done for me. The whole fit you had at your party was all over the news.”

My eyes began to water at the fact—that was the last thing I had wanted—for the world to see me out of control. “And you’re happy?”

“Whatever, you’re eighteen now. The day you get married…goodbye—you won’t be missed.” Kathy walked out the hospital room and Frank followed her, yelling.

“Ignore her, honey,” Ana said.

“No, no, she’s right,” I kissed Jason’s hand. “I’ve been dreaming for my wedding day to come.”

“Remember, Ana…love with no endings,” I said as I stroked Jason’s hand.

“Hmm…I guess,” she said.

“Yeah,” I smiled and kissed Jason’s hand again. “Of all people you should be happy for me! I’m getting married soon!” I clapped my hands. “I mean, my maid of honor has to be at her best.”

“Really? I’ve never been a maid of honor before,” Ana said.

“Of course, you’re my maid of honor!”

Ana began to dance around the room. “We’re getting married! We’re getting married,” she sang in her annoying high-pitched voice again.

I closed my eyes while Ana and Paul danced around the hospital room. I couldn’t get the fact off my chest that something was wrong with me. I knew there was no way I could be a drug addict. I’ve watched many shows on the Discovery Channel about addicts and they all remember doing the drugs. So, that was out the question.

Then, I thought about Jason. I thought if I would end up like every other Hollywood couple.

Divorced and pissed.

Chapter 8 | Infidelity

 

I was finally on my own with Jason. For once, I had less Kathy breathing down my back and cursing me out. Better than that, I had not had one of those outrageous fits in a while. Everything seemed back to normal—whatever normal was in my life.

It was chaos in the house. About twenty men were throwing boxes all over the place; they were helping us unload our things into our new home. Most of the boxes were mine and Jason didn’t seem to mind all my things—which was a good start to our marriage.

Jason handed me some paper work. “Sign this, this, and no…wait…not that—”

A worker bumped me and I dropped all the papers on the floor. “Ugh! Hey you made me drop the papers all over the floor!” As I bent down to get the papers, a worker whistled at me.

“HEY! Watch it!” Jason snapped at the men. “Give me the papers,” he snatched the papers from my hand. “I hear Ana coming.”

I heard her too—she was singing again. “Well, I can still sign the papers…it’s just Ana.”

“No, she is too nosy.”

“Ana!” I shouted, ignoring Jason’s rude comment.

“Wedding dress time!” she sang in her high-pitched voice.

“I’m so excited!” I grabbed my handbag and ran out the large glass door with Ana.

“This is some place, Lily,” she looked up at the house nearly tripping on the steps. “It’s all glass and mysterious. I didn’t even know that colored carpet existed in your living room! It’s so beautiful,” she rambled.

“Yeah, I saw that color in paint and I was like I have to have it as my carpet color!”

“What color is it? Like honey brown?” she asked as she snapped pictures of my house on Paul’s camera.

“No it’s golden-brown and why do you have Paul’s camera?” I said.

“Oh, he told me to take photos of the house so he could see it,” Ana mumbled. “Who paid for this house?”

“You don’t ask that stuff.” Jason was right—Ana was nosy.

“Well, I shouldn’t have asked that.”

“Yes, you shouldn’t have—”

“Cause I already know you did, of course.”

***

Ana drove to the home of my French wedding dress designer, Charlotte Suzanna. She lived hidden in the hills in the richer part of town. Charlotte’s trademark was her big curly red hair and her oversized glasses.

“Wow,” Charlotte Suzanna said as I modeled the gown.

“It’s nice,” Ana said while chewing her gum.

I looked in the mirror at the long strapless white gown, which was too long on my short frame. I looked like a little girl in mommy’s clothes. “It’s simple,” I said. “Too simple.”

“Oh no, it’s what you wanted,” Charlotte said in her deep French accent. “It’s what Paul told me.” She snatched off her big black framed glasses and put her cigar in the ashtray.

“Oh, Charlotte,” I said.

“You will wear it, right?” Nervous, she pulled the clip out her hair and her red curls fell down to her waist. “Please.” She really wanted me to wear her dress. She and I knew the media would go crazy for her after my wedding.

“Hmm…” I stared at Ana.

“It took me weeks to design,” Charlotte said.

“Tell me Ana, how would a Charlotte Suzanna dress look on me?” I said.

“Let’s just say, we will need the fire department, because you look hot!” Ana said.

Cheesy, but I’ll take it.

“Oh it does!” Charlotte agreed. “I can hem it up a bit.”

I paused for a minute staring at the dress in the full-length mirrors that surrounded the room. “Fine, but also make it a little looser…it’s sort of tight in the waist,” I said.

“Ooh! Yes, yes, yes! Oh and don’t forget to come back for the brides maid dresses in one hour,” Charlotte hugged me and walked us downstairs.

I gave Charlotte a kiss and skipped out to Ana’s car. “Okay, thank you, Charlotte. See you later!”

“Honestly, where were you going to get a dress in four days?” Ana said as she unlocked her car.

“I didn’t think of that.” I really didn’t.

“Diva,” Ana mumbled as she threw her gum wrapper at me.

“If I’m a diva then what would that make you—”

“Shut up.”

“You would have demanded a new dress and would have wanted it for free!”

Ana smirked. “You know me too well.”

While in Ana’s Porsche, I remembered how fast Paul drove and how it would scare me. It was opposite for Ana, she drove too slow—slower than an elder person did, who was years too old to drive.

“So, is your sister coming to the wedding?”Ana said.

“Well, Leslie, yeah she is. She’s leaving her home today.”

“Funny, I didn’t even know you were a twin.”

“Yeah, it’s been years since I’ve seen her,” I smiled. “We were sixteen when I last saw her.”

“Why has it been so long?”

I paused and all I could see was blood in my head. “I hurt her a lot.”

“You hurt her feelings…that’s what girls do.”

“I think I’m worse,” I mumbled and popped my daily medication. “I have issues Ana. And these issues started way before Jason came into my life.”

“Like what?”

“I have a mental disorder. That’s why I take these.” I showed her my prescription bottle as she stopped at a red light. “I was in denial at first. But, I accept it.”

“Is that why you are always passing out and acting outlandish?”

“Yeah.”

“Why are you barely telling me this?”

“I’m embarrassed.”

“Don’t be embarrassed.”

“This is why I love Jason. Because he can deal with me.”

Ana opened the bottle. “Eh, ew, why are they different colors? Are they supposed to look like that?”

I looked into the bottle. “I’ve never noticed that. I usually just pop it into my mouth. Maybe this bottle is expired. I’ve had the same box for a while now.” I stared at the discolored pills that were off green. I didn’t think too hard about it. I was still focused on seeing my sister.

“I miss Leslie’s face.”

“Ha, funny, just look in the mirror.”

“We aren’t identical twins.”

“Interesting,” she murmured as she pulled into a parking lot for a café. “Look at the paparazzi.” She pointed at a paparazzi truck in the rear-view mirror.

“Grrr,” I growled.

“Who knows, maybe they’re here for me,” Ana said.

“Yeah right…as mean as you are to them.”

Ana put her lip-gloss and oversized shades on before getting out the car and put on her I’m-a-diva persona for the cameras. “Let’s go, girl!”

We walked into a simple sixties diner I had never been to before. There were only two couples in the restaurant that paid no mind toward Ana or me—so there was no need for me to freak out. The waitress gave us a seat in the inner part of the diner, away from any windows.

“That’s a very nice ring you got, darling,” the waitress said in a deep southern accent.

“Thanks,” I said.

“Yup, she is getting married in a few days,” Ana said.

I slapped her arm. “Ana!”

“That’s lovely. I’ll be back so you two can order.” The waitress smiled and went back to the kitchen.

“Geez, you don’t have to tell the whole world I’m getting married,” I said.

“I know, I know. It is just all so exciting. My former assistant and my best friend—”

“Former?”

“Didn’t he tell you he quit?”

“No? When did this happen?”

“Like um two weeks ago. Around your birthday.”

“Hmm…really?”

Ana’s eyes narrowed. “Yeah, I thought you knew.”

“So, what are his plans? He expects me to support him, doesn’t he? He expects me to feed him out a silver spoon!” I snapped.

“One word, honey…” she picked up a menu. “Prenup.”

“What’s that?”

“Basically, an agreement or something. Like you get it stating that if you divorce you keep all your stuff…hints, your money.”

“Hmm…what if we don’t divorce?”

“But, what if you do?”

I leaned in closer to Ana. “What are you trying to say?”

“Protect your money,” she said in an awkward tone.

“Do you think Jason is cheating on me?”

“Uh, of course not, why would you think that?”

“Well, I hardly see him and he never takes me out anymore.”

“Lily, he’s not!”

The waitress came back and gave us some biscuits and water. I guess she assumed we weren’t ready to order and walked away without saying anything.

“I mean don’t listen to me like you ever do but, I mean…” Ana began to ramble off.

Why wouldn’t he tell me he quit his job? Maybe he did, and I wasn’t listening. No, I would have noticed that…

I cut Ana off and said, “I’ll be back.” I got up from my chair and headed to the restroom. I paced around, thinking what I should do. Then, I had an idea. I took a deep breath and dialed Paul’s cell phone number.

“Hello?” Paul sounded as if he were asleep.

“Hey Paul, it’s me,” I said.

“I know. Why are you whispering?”

“No time. Hey call Mike Durling.”

“Who is Mike?”

“I need to dig some dirt on someone.” I kicked open all the stall doors to make sure no one was listening.

“Who? Why? When?”

“I need background info on…um, Jason…” I thought of lying, but I didn’t.

“Why?”

“I just realized I never really knew about his past. Just the fact he grew up here and lived in Brazil for a while or if that’s true—”

“Isn’t it kind of late for this? You’re getting married in four days!”

“No, it doesn’t matter, please just do it. His name is Mike Durling. He is a private investigator. Kathy has his number on her iPhone…so go to—”

“Baby, I think you’re working yourself up over nothing, seriously—”

“Okay—” It felt like my heart stopped—Paul’s words came to me again—in the hotel room, in France. Then, I remembered Madison’s reaction about marrying Jason. I then thought about when Ana questioned our relationship. Now, Jason quitting his job without telling me, added to the mix.

“Do it,” I demanded.

“Okay, okay, okay! I’ll talk to you later.”

Ana entered the restroom as I hung up the phone. “Lily, what is wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong,” I said.

“Your food will get cold. I ordered you a hamburger.”

“Let’s just get back to Charlotte’s mansion in the wonderful hills, because her life is perfect and get the stupid bridesmaid’s gowns.”

“Um, are you okay, Lily?”

“I feel perfect!”

***

Paul was calling my cell phone.

“Oh my god, it’s midnight, Paul. I’m sleeping,” I whispered, trying to gain consciousness.

“Well, I called him.” He sounded like he was driving in the car. I got chills over the fact—I didn’t like that he of all people talked on the phone while driving.

“So….” My hands began to shake so I put the phone on speaker. “So, you called Mike?”

“Well, I have good and bad news,” he said while chewing. Great, he was driving, talking on the phone, and eating—he was an accident waiting to happen.

“What is it?”

“Okay, well the good news is he can help you. The bad news is he will have the results in two weeks.”

“Two weeks?”

“Yup, but if you think it’s bad you should delay the wedding…well that’s what Mike thinks. I’m still baffled on why you are looking Jason up.”

“I can’t do that. Frank is leaving right after the wedding, Leslie will be here soon, and…that’s just out the picture…I mean, what’s the worst that will come up?”

“I know,” he snorted. “I’m pretty sure he never beat his girlfriends…ha,” he laughed harder as I got silent. “Right, Lily?”

“Yeah?”

“Right?”

“Um, right,” I did a fake laugh. “Well, I need to sleep. I have a big day tomorrow. Remember I have that whole big family dinner crap.”

“Oh yeah. Oh do you mind if my aunt Cherrie-Anne comes?”

“No, I don’t mind.”

“Oh, yeah cool. She was going to come anyway,” Paul laughed. “So, how is your first night at home with Jason?”

I paused…

My stopped breathing…

I began to breath again…

“Shit!”

I turned to my left side and realized Jason was sleeping there next to me across the California King mattress. It was our first night at the home and I forgot he was in bed with me.

“Oh my god!” I bit my lip and turned the phone off speaker. My gut feeling knew he heard our conversation—how couldn’t he! I was also afraid because I knew that he knew who Mike was. Kathy would always talk about him.

“I got to go, Paul,” I hung the phone up and turned on my side, trying not to shake the bed. He didn’t move much. Maybe he didn’t hear me. I poked his arm and he did not move.

I sighed.

Yeah that’s right, he didn’t hear me.

Chapter 9 | Liars

 

“…And I love her, my baby,” Kathy finally finished her long speech that I knew someone else wrote for her at the last minute—she did not care about me the way she said in her speech.

“Blah, blah, blah, blah,” I could see Leslie’s face across the room. She looked beautiful with her puffy curly hair blocking everyone around her. I kept trying not be intimidated by her big eyes staring at me—they were almost haunting me.

“My baby…..” now it was Frank’s turn to act as if he cared so much about me.

Charlotte let my family use her mansion to hold our formal dinner and the wedding. Of course it seemed like she was a great friend, but I knew she just wanted publicity—I didn’t blame her. That was the business we were in.

I was uneasy the entire dinner—nothing felt right. First off, Jason had no family come to the formal dinner. Second off, I wanted to confront Jason right then and there about quitting his job but I didn’t want to seem unstable. How ironic, this was a great start to our marriage.

I looked up at him next to me. He seemed really into Frank’s speech. I looked across the room at Paul; he and his Aunt Cherrie were talking to each other—probably gossiping about me. Leslie was probably just as bored as I was. Probably thinking she wanted to punch Kathy in the face for all those hard years. My eyes went back to Jason—his smile could do no wrong.

“I love you baby, and I hope unlike someone,” Frank looked at Kathy, “you stay true to yourself.”

Kathy rolled her eyes at his comment and went over to Paul’s table. And everyone went on with their conversations that they left off with.

I didn’t eat the stuffed chicken nor drink the champagne I was given. My stomach was uneasy, and that was the last thing I needed—to be sick on my wedding day.

“Cold feet?” Leslie whispered from behind me, nearly startling me.

“Oh my gosh,” I said as I grabbed her face and gave her a huge kiss. “I missed you so much! No matter the reasons that separated us,” I whispered. I put her in a headlock like old times and kissed her again.

“I believe you. I cannot believe you’re getting married!” She tapped Jason on the shoulder and he turned around with chicken hanging out of his mouth. “So, you’re the lucky fellow?”

“Yup, I’ve heard so much about you,” he grabbed Leslie’s hand and kissed it.

“Gentleman,” she winked. “You’ve trained him well.”

“Yeah, she will be playing at the wedding,” I said.

“Really?” Jason said. “I thought your dad wanted to sing at the wedding?”

“I’m in a band too,” Leslie said.

“Well, that’s neat. I’ll let you two talk,” Jason said as he walked away from us.

“I don’t like him,” Leslie snapped as she took his seat and pushed his well-abused plate away.

“Why?” I pouted.

“I don’t know; I just don’t.”

“Maybe you’re just jealous,” I snapped.

Leslie began to laugh. “Jealous…of you? You’ve got to be kidding me. Daddy told me you can’t stay out the hospital because you’re addicted to crack!”

I gasped and shoved Leslie in the chest. “I am not on crack!”

“Well, he said you’re addicted to something,” she mumbled. “I’m not surprised though. You’ve always had an addictive personality.”

“I’ve never taken drugs! The only thing I’ve been on is XANAX. And if I last recall you were prescribed it too!”

“That’s only because you’ve tried to kill me five times!”

We got silent staring into space. I really wanted to cry but I held my tears in. “Leslie, I have schizophrenia,” I whispered in her ear. “That’s why I hurt you those times. I’m sorry.”

Leslie rolled her eyes. “Who did mom pay to diagnose you with that?”

I laughed. “I am. I even take medication for it. That’s why I am normal right now.”

Leslie sighed—Paul came over with Aunt Cherrie breaking the awkward silence.

“Hey party people,” Paul said with over happiness.

“Hey!” Leslie gave Paul a big hug. “It’s been a while!”

“Come on, I want to see the wedding dress,” Paul pulled all three of us upstairs to the guest room. He searched for the light to turn on, but ended up knocking down a mannequin. “Where is the light?”

“Here it is,” Leslie said as she turned the switch on.

“Oh my, it’s gorgeous,” Aunt Cherrie said as she pulled out her throwaway camera and snapped a picture of the dress.

I stared at her with a funny smile. Who would take a picture of a wedding gown that wasn’t theirs?

It was my first time ever meeting Aunt Cherrie. She was opposite of what I expected. She was so little, that it made me smile. Her hair was flaming red with big curls that looked like cherries, which sat at the top of her head. I assumed that was why they called her Cherrie.

“It’s so simple though; I like spice.” Aunt Cherrie shook her hips from side to side.

“Of course you do.” Paul rolled his eyes at her and pointed at her mix-matched clothes.

“Well, that’s what I said, but it was too late to get a new one,” I said.

“I know, just two more days,” Paul said.

“Can you fit it?” Leslie pointed at my stomach that was sticking out.

“Yes!” I said as I sucked in my belly. “I just ate a lot today.”

“You didn’t even touch your food,” Leslie rolled her eyes at me. “You just look bigger….”

“Screw—”

Paul cut me off. “Okay, you guys haven’t seen each other in years! Get along…please.”

“Fine,” we both said.

Paul pulled me aside while the others looked through all the wedding stuff. He put his hands around my shoulders and stared into my eyes.

“Okay, I gave Mike your number. He will be calling you in two weeks. So, answer all your private calls,” Paul whispered, his lips nearly touching my nose.

“Good, but please don’t tell anyone about this.”

“I won’t,” Paul held out his pinkie. “Promise.”

“Okay, well we should go back downstairs so I can get some beer,” Leslie interrupted our pinkie promise.

“You haven’t changed a bit have you? But I hate to burst your bubble, but this is a classy event, there is no beer…only wine and champagne,” I said.

“Trust me, I can find beer here.”

“You guys go; I have to show Paul something,” I said.

Aunt Cherrie and Leslie went downstairs—I locked the door behind them. Afraid to turn around to Paul, I kept my eyes on my feet.

“Okay, what’s the deal? Why are you so paranoid now?” Paul said.

“Okay well…” I took a deep breath and decided I was going to tell Paul everything. “Okay, so you remember that night in France, you know, everyone thinks Jason saved me—”

A loud scream from downstairs cut me off.

“What the hell? Who was that?” Paul said.

“I don’t know.”

Nearly tripping over each other’s feet, we both ran out the room to the staircase to see what was going on. Our jaws dropped as Leslie was on top of a table and Kathy’s face was bloody and scratched.

“Botox can’t fix that you old hag!” Leslie screamed as Paul and I ran downstairs in shock.

“Leslie!” Frank yelled as he was pulling on her thin purple dress to get off the table, but she kicked him away.

“Oh my gosh, what happened?” I asked Jason.

“Leslie threw a crystal glass in your mom’s face!” he said in amusement.

Leslie threw a bottle at her again. This time it hit her in the temple—Kathy fell to the floor. My two huge uncles snatched Leslie off the table and carried her into the kitchen.

I began to cry when I heard my grandma call 911. Everyone sat back down in their seats confused and ready to leave.

“Everyone, just stay seated,” Paul said as he chased me up the stairs.

“Arrrgh!” I threw a mannequin to the floor. “Typical! She always does this. Leslie is worse than Kathy! She can’t stand when all the attention is on me.”

“Calm down, baby,” Paul said, “before the ambulance takes you away too.”

“And Kathy! Grrr…she acts like she is so innocent!”

The sound of the ambulance began to fill the entire house. As I walked downstairs, all the guests were leaving. Some of them snapped pictures of Kathy leaving on a stretcher.

“Look at you!” I said to Kathy. “I hate you! And you can’t come to my wedding, Kathy!”

“Stop it!” Frank tried to pull me away.

“But why? I love you. What did I do wrong?” Kathy said.

“I hate you!” I slammed my fist on my leg—it hurt a bit but I did not mind. “You love that you’re being taken away to the hospital. You’ve been praying for a moment like this—to ruin my wedding.” I lifted my hand, ready to slap her.

“That’s enough!” Frank pulled me across the room.

Kathy’s eyes began to water up—I never saw that before. I felt the unwelcoming stone come back again.

It wasn’t a good feeling.

***

When I got home, I felt overwhelmed and began typing a ‘Thank You’ letter to Charlotte. Although Leslie had ruined her expensive carpet with wine, broke a crystal, and I broke her mannequin, it was the least I could do.

“Do you want some water?” Paul asked with his eyes half-opened. He had stayed up the whole night catering to my needs. I felt needy, but at the moment I didn’t care.

“Yes please, with ice,” I said.

“Man, your family is a mess,” Jason laughed as he wrapped his arms around me. “It was too funny!”

I shoved him away and stood up over him. “Not funny! What was so funny?”

“Um, I was just kidding, Lily.”

“You weren’t kidding.” I said and stormed off to the bathroom.

“Bridezilla alert! Bridezilla alert!” I overheard Paul sing and Jason laughed along with him.

“They are such jerks! I can’t stand them sometimes!” I told myself in the mirror as I threw cold water on my face. I stared at myself in the mirror as I noticed what looked like two pimples on each side of my forehead. Great, acne before my wedding. I took a deep breath and went back into the living room.

“You guys are so inconsiderate! My mom just—”

I paused and searched for my computer. My laptop was gone. I remembered leaving it on the couch next to Jason.

“What’s wrong?” Jason said.

“My computer? Where is it?” I said.

“What are you talking about, Lily?” Paul said.

“I was typing Charlotte’s letter.”

“No you weren’t, honey,” Jason said.

“Yes I was.”

“Okay, so you’re saying the computer got up and walked away? It’s where it’s always been, on the desk next to mine,” Jason said.

“I was just typing on it. Right, Paul?”

“I can’t remember,” he said.

“What do you mean you can’t remember? It was just a minute ago.”

Jason got up and went upstairs into our room. “See.” He held up my laptop that was on the desk next to his.

“I think you’re tired, baby,” Paul said. “I know I am.” He handed me my cup of water.

“But, I know what I was typing…”

“Ugh,” Jason drifted off.

“I should go,” Paul said. “You should go to sleep too.”

“Yeah, it’s been a long day,” Jason said.

“Very long,” I mumbled. “I’ll walk you to your car, Paul.”

“Alright.” Paul grabbed his things and we walked to his car. “Are you okay?” he asked as he opened the front door.

“Yes, I am. I’m just tired,” I whispered as the cool summer breeze astounded me.

“We can always cancel the wedding.”

“No, I won’t do that. Why would I do that?”

“I don’t know. You seem overwhelmed and all.”

“Like I told you, I’ve been sleep deprived. Plus, Ana will be over here extra early tomorrow.”

Paul got into his car and I bent down to kiss him goodbye. “Love you, little Lily!”

“I love you too.”

Paul drove off—and a feeling of loneliness took over me. When I turned around toward the house, I could see Jason peaking outside from the upstairs bedroom window.

As I entered the home, all the lights were off like in a scary movie that I once played in. I tiptoed up to the bedroom. While in the hallway, I stubbed my toe on the wall and muttered a swear word. When I finally made it to the room I noticed Jason was in the bed asleep.

“I know you’re not asleep. I saw you peaking through the window,” I said.

He ignored me.

“Jason?”

“What?” he said.

“I said I saw you peaking through the window.”

“What are you talking about, Lily? I wasn’t in the window.”

“Then, who was it?”

“Your imagination,” he mumbled.

“Excuse me? My imagination? Are you trying to say I’m mad?”

“Yes, yes I am. Get a reality check.” He threw his pillow over his head, trying to ignore me.

“I’m not crazy!” I punched the bed. “I don’t need a reality check.”

Jason threw his pillow at the wall. “Okay, Lily, you’re not crazy! Just shut the hell up and go to bed!”

I rested down and stared at the ceiling for an hour—I let my mind drift away as I usually would. Then, I thought about the computer incident. I knew I was not a lunatic…I knew I was using the computer that night.

I peaked over at Jason and he was asleep this time. I knew because his mouth was open and his left eye twitches when he sleeps. I got up slowly so I would not shake the bed and went over to my laptop. I knew it would make a loud noise when I was to start it, so I took it down to the living room.

I put my small hands over the laptop speakers to illuminate the sound. My hands began to shake as I waited for my account to load.

“Finally,” I whispered as the screen loaded and I began to click through my hundred-something files. I had many ‘Thank You’ files for people I would never remember. Then, I came to the last file: ‘Thank You Miss. Suzanna.’ I right-clicked the file and went to properties.

“Date created…” I read. “July twenty-third at 11:41pm.”

I looked at the clock and it was 12:20am. I knew I was not crazy. I knew I was using the computer when I said.

Maybe, I put the computer in the room and did not rememberyeah that is what happened—that’s the only thing I could think of—that’s the only thing I wanted to think of.

***

Ana and I were stuffing our mouths with greasy pizza that I could have passed up. Usually women starve themselves to fit into their wedding gown—I was the opposite. I could eat a whale. And if I had the option at the time, I would have.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t go last night,” Ana said as she licked her fingers.

“It’s okay, you didn’t miss much,” I said as I poured ranch on top of my pizza.

“Really? Paul told me your mom and sister went at it. I tried watching the news about it, but I fell asleep,” she chuckled.

“Ana, it’s not really funny.”

“I always miss the best stuff. You remember that time…” Ana began rambling off again—I didn’t pay much mind—my head was somewhere else.

“Ana, do you remember that night in France?” I cut her off.

“Uh no, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said as she stuffed her mouth with pizza.

“Ana! I’m being serious. No one else is here,” I said. “Do you remember?”

“No, Lily I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“If you don’t tell me, you can’t come to my wedding,” I said, knowing she would answer me.

“Well, I guess I won’t be at your wedding then, cause I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

We got quiet and continued to eat our lunch. I knew Ana knew what I was talking about. She had to remember…

She was saying she didn’t remember because I told her not to remember it, right? Yeah, that’s right…she was just being a good friend…because I didn’t imagine that…it was all real. I’m sure she thought I was testing her.

“One last time, Ana…do you remember?”

“Nope, I still have no idea what you’re talking about.”

***

Paul twisted my curl that was above my eye with his index finger, trying to perfect a hairstyle he saw in Elle magazine. He tugged on my dress at the waist, trying to add air for me to breathe.

“Breathe in, breathe out,” Paul said as he fixed his tie.

“I would breathe, if I had room,” I snapped. “This dress is too tight. It’s gonna pop.”

“Well, no one told you to go on a calorie binge.”

“Paul, what if my dress pops out there?”

“Don’t worry about it. The worst that could happen is if you fall.”

“Oh, thanks for reminding me. Now, I have two things to worry about.”

I could hear the piano playing. I could also here the crowd preparing to stand up for me. I peeked through the door and everyone was standing already.

“Where’s Ana? Did she get ready alone or something?” I said, as I did not see her. “Why isn’t she up there?”

“Uh…she didn’t come. She said something about cramps or something girly,” Paul said as he twisted my hair again.

“What do you mean she didn’t come? Are you joking? She was my maid of honor!”

“Okay don’t cry now. Your makeup will mess up. Forget about Ana, this is your day. It’s typical her anyway,” Paul said. “It just shows her true colors. Remember we didn’t even like her back in the day.”

I sighed. “I guess so.”

“Ready, Munchkins?” Frank grabbed my hand and took a deep breath.

“Just flaunt those fake eyelashes,” Paul whispered, making me laugh.

“Okay daddy, I’m ready.”

“Are you sure?” he said.

“Yes dad! I’m ready! The question is are you ready?”

“No I’m not ready,” he held back tears.

“Daddy, stop it, now.”

“Okay, fine…let’s get this over with.”

“I second that.”

The crowd stood as Frank walked me down the aisle. I kept my mind on my heels and trying to walk straight. My dress had a trail that was three feet too long. I could smell the white lily petals that the flower girl threw across the aisle. The camera flashes made my eyes water or maybe I was just nervous. When my eyes met Jason’s, I felt like turning around to make a run for it. Frank tried to let go of my hand but I squeezed it harder—I didn’t want to let go.

“Lily, let go of my hand.” He yanked his hand from mine and nearly tripped going to his seat.

“You look beautiful,” Jason said.

“Thank you.” I tried to smile, but my lips quivered which made me look as if I were frowning. “You look beautiful too; I mean handsome,” I said in an awkward tone.

Jason laughed.

Everyone sat back down into his or her seats. I spotted Leslie in the crowd—she rolled her eyes at me. Then, I spotted my grandma and she was taking hundreds of pictures. I could spot Aunt Cherrie in a second with her red hair. She was waving and shaking her hips next to Paul as if she were at a party. My eyes went back to Leslie—she looked aggravated. I should have banned her too.

Then, I searched for Ana—she was not there. She really believed me when I said she couldn’t come. I knew something was wrong when she didn’t arrive at the hotel at seven, but I didn’t think she would not come to my wedding.

I got bored standing up there, listening to bloody nonsense I would probably soon regret. I wondered if my face showed my boredom, since Jason said my face was like an open book. The Pastor asked if anyone objected. No one did, which would have been strange if someone had. Paul had said he was tempted to do it, but I guess he was joking.

It seemed like it took forever for us to say, “I do.” I wondered if Jason was as bored. He seemed like he could not stand straight. His body was wobbling back and forth as if he were going to fall.

“You may kiss the bride.”

The statement caught me off guard since I did not pay any attention. Jason leaned in to kiss me. His soft full lips met mine and I couldn’t kiss him right because my lips were quivering.

And it was over.

“Good luck,” the Pastor said.

I smiled wondering why he told me good luck.

***

August

 

I called Ana for the eightieth time. She was avoiding me for no reason. I hated being ignored like I was nobody to her. She was treating me as if I had done something wrong.

“Ana! I can’t believe you didn’t come to my wedding! Do you like upsetting me? Because I’m crying like a baby now!” I said as I left a message.

“Hello?” Ana answered, just as I was about to hang up.

“Ana?”

“Hey! What’s up?” she said as if nothing had happened between us.

“Ana? Where have you been? I’m married now!”

“I know I saw it on TV. You looked hot like I said you would.”

I felt like arguing with her then slamming the phone down, but that would have gotten me nowhere. I knew she was going to act as if nothing happened between us. I didn’t feel like shouting again and losing my voice over something so simple.

“Do you want me to come over?” she asked.

“Yes I do.”

“Okay, I’ll be over in no time!”

When Ana came over, she looked different from the last time I had seen her. She looked…overweight. It was as if she was the size of two women. For someone who cared about their body so much, she was letting herself go and I was wondering why. But I didn’t speak about it, knowing it would hurt her feelings.

“You didn’t do it?” Ana said, as she folded some towels.

“No,” I said.

“So, when you divorce, he will take all your life earnings.”

“We won’t divorce,” I said and placed the folded towels on the kitchen table.

“Being honest, young marriage never lasts.”

“Well, we’re different; we don’t need a prenup.”

“Did you even talk to him about it? I don’t think you understand, Lily.”

“Well, we never talked about it.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Lily.”

“Warn me? Is that like a threat? What are you trying to say, Ana?”

“Oh nothing…”

I was unpacking a box of photos and came across a photo of Kathy and I. “I feel bad about not letting Kathy came to my wedding. I think I overreacted.” I tossed the photo back into the box.

“Yeah, you did. Leslie was the one who hit her, is what Paul said. You should of uninvited her.”

“Hmm…” I stared at Ana’s expression. She had worry-lines in her brows as if she had something to tell me.

“Uh, Lily, I have something to tell you about—”

“Hey, Jerry will be here in two hours, so Ana you need to leave…” Jason came into the room cutting Ana off.

“Who’s Jerry?” Ana said.

“Oh, he’s this, I don’t know…some marriage guy,” I said.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. Jason said it’s something all couples should do. So, if one of us dies, which I forbid, we will have wills and stuff.”

“Like life insurance…”

“Uh, I guess so,” I said. “What were you going to say before Jason came in?”

“Oh just bloody-nothings…you know me, always talking.” Ana grabbed her wallet. “I guess I’ll leave then.” She kissed my cheek. “Have fun with Jerry!”

“Ugh,” Jason rolled his eyes and slammed the door behind her. “I can’t stand her.” He changed his sweatshirt to a white t-shirt. “I don’t want you around her so much. She’s bad for your health.”

“She’s my best friend.”

“And I’m her assistant and I don’t like her.”

This was the perfect time to call him out—he dug his own grave. The reason why I never brought up him quitting his job was because I had forgot about it. A part of me wanted to believe that it wasn’t true because he was leaving the home randomly throughout the day.

“Assistant? She said you quit over a month ago.”

“Is she drinking? I have been working for her. She lied to you.”

“Or you are lying to me.”

“And?”

“Well, are you lying then? Do you have a girlfriend I don’t know about?”

Jason turned around and grabbed my shoulders. “Listen, I don’t want you talking to Ana anymore.” He snapped and pushed me hard to the floor, resulting in me falling on my behind—that didn’t feel too good afterward.

When Jerry came, I felt relieved because I was afraid of Jason’s temper—I did not talk much though. Mainly, because I did not know much what he was talking about. I just sat there and signed papers.

Jerry was a lot younger than I thought. I imagined him with gray hair and a long beard, but he was about forty with dark brown hair. He was one big man though—about six feet—around Jason’s height.

Jason seemed very uneasy while signing papers. He would look at me and those worry lines that Ana had, were on his face.

“Thank you so much,” Jerry said while leaving.

“What exactly did I just do?” I said as Jerry left.

“Just papers. Business stuff,” Jason replied.

“But it seems like everything was in your name?” I said. “Seriously, Jason…”

“Basically, I will handle your money.”

“My money?”

“Yeah, it’s no big deal.”

“Wait, I thought this whole thing was for life insurance?”

He ran his hands through my hair. “Baby, it was that too; I just helped with your money a bit.”

“But I’m an adult! I can handle my own damn money, Jason.”

“Well, you should have never signed the papers then! If you’re an adult, grow up and stop being so damn naïve!”

“What?” I cried. “You scammed me, didn’t you?”

“No, I did not scam you!”

“Then, what did you do with my money?”

“I put it in a shared savings account! So, stop bitching!” Jason took his large hand and slapped me across my face—the impact made me crash to the floor. “So, don’t bring it up again!”

I was too frightened to get up, that I just watched Jason walk up to the stairs until he was out of sight. I closed my eyes and balled up on the floor as I heard Jason running the shower.

“Lily?” he said.

I opened my eyes and froze in place. I noticed something was different—the carpet. I looked around the entire living room and the carpet was pure white. I got up and walked into our second bedroom downstairs and the carpet was white too.

“Lily?” Jason said again.

I ran up the stairs to Jason’s screams. “What?” I said.

“Where are all the towels?”

“Oh, Ana and I were folding them. They’re on the table.”

“Well, I need—”

“Um, Jason when did you change the carpet?”

“What carpet?” He looked down at the wooden floor.

“The downstairs carpet? It’s white; it used to be golden-brown.” I pulled Jason to the staircase for him to see.

Annoyed, he rolled his eyes and covered his naked body with his robe. “Yeah, I know. It’s always been white. What are you talking about?”

“No it hasn’t. I know—”

“I don’t have time for this, Lily. Get me a towel so I can take a shower and take a nap.”

As I went downstairs to look for the towels that I had folded, I stared at the carpet. I bent down and patted the furry carpet and it felt the same as I last remembered.

“Where’d they go?” I paused and scanned around the room—the towels were gone.

“Lily?” Jason came downstairs with an ugly expression. “Did you find them?”

“Uh, someone moved them. I don’t know where—”

“Here they are!” He pulled the unfolded towels out a box.

“Why are they in there?”

Jason went back upstairs. “Maybe, because you didn’t fold them.”

“But I did,” I murmured. “I know I did.”

***

Later that day, I took Paul shopping to ease the stress I had built. For some people eating is their comfort, for me it was shopping. Also, eating—I didn’t deny food.

“That’s a lot of money for some shoes,” Paul said.

“I know, but I just got paid. Remember my movie went number one, plus I need to blow off some steam,” I said.

“Hmm, I guess. Oh yeah, I went by to get your stuff back home and I saw Kathy. She doesn’t look so good. She looks, looks…ill. She is completely bald without wigs.”

“So?” I said with an attitude as I strapped some heels on.

“So, she’s your mom. If I were you, I would spend as much time with her as possible. Unlike some people, you actually have a mom. She may be a little wacky, but I don’t think she is well.”

“I don’t care.”

“Really?”

“Yup, I could care less about her—dead or alive.”

“If she hates you or not, she was always the first one at your hospital bed—”

“Yeah, to see if I were dead, so she can go talk to some bloggers,” I snapped. “I don’t care. You heard me and everyone else heard me. I hate her.”

“You don’t hate her.”

“Drop it, Paul!”

“Whatever.”

I walked to the cashier. “I would like these two pairs.” I looked out the window and a blur of paparazzi stared at me. I tried to block them out my mind but my head kept turning in their direction.

“Okay,” the cashier woman said. “Cash or credit?”

“Debit.” I dug into my wallet for my card and handed it to her. I smiled at Paul and he gently smiled back.

“Here,” Paul handed me my coffee while we waited for the cashier.

“Oh miss, there’s no money on this card.”

“What?” my eyes narrowed as she spun the computer around to me.

“I thought you just got paid?” Paul stared at me as if I were lying.

“I did. Here try this one.” I handed her a different card and waited.

“No, this one is maxed out,” she said as she handed me back my card and rolled her eyes.

“What?” I felt my heart pound harder—it felt like it was going to burst out my chest. “Here this one has to work.”

“Um…no it doesn’t.” She handed it to me—I snatched it away from her.

“Oh my gosh!” I screamed. Then, I remembered Jason’s words; basically I will handle your money.

“What is wrong?” he said.

“Jason took my money.”

“Are you serious?”

“Let’s go.”

Paul pulled me out the store while shoving useless paparazzi cameras out the way and drove me home. His usual fast driving did not bother me this time. I was on a high!

“Are you okay?” he said.

“No, drive faster!” I said.

We arrived to the house sooner than I wanted to be there. I was determined to talk to Jason but at the same time I was scared to pieces. Afraid, because he was king temper and he had already hit me a few times. I was queen wimp, so I tried to think up ways to talk calmly to Jason.

“Do you want me to stay?” Paul bit his lip probably hoping I would say yes.

“No, I can handle this myself.” I got out the car, thinking of changing my mind to bring Paul along too. “I’ll be okay.”

“Okay, baby. Call me later,” Paul said and drove off.

I sat in the living room waiting to confront Jason. Knowing him, he would use his strength against me—I would need protection. I searched the kitchen for a butcher knife. I doubted I would use it; however, I grabbed it and went back to the couch.

I went through my purse and grabbed my anti-psychotic medication. I opened the bottle and a nasty smell came out of it. I looked at the pills again and they were all discolored. They looked like tiny melted blue M&Ms. I walked over to the kitchen and dumped all the pills into the sink. It didn’t feel right taking those pills anymore—a part of me felt like I was being set up. Dr. Summings was probably giving me placebos all those months. And I was falling for it. Little did anyone know, I had stopped taking the pills since before my wedding day—the last time I had taken a pill was when I was in the car with Ana—and since then I felt almost fine.

Within an hour, Jason came home smiling—probably happy he took my money—that bastard.

Before he could even close the door, I began shouting. “My money, Jason! Where the hell is my money?”

“What are you doing?” he jumped when he saw me sitting on the couch with the knife.

“You heard me! My debit cards have no damn money on it,” I said as I got up off the couch. “My money!”

“No big deal, Lily. I just switched it to a shared account.”

“That is my money! My money I made from when I was six,” I said and began jabbing the knife in the air, closer to his face.

“You’re a nut! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” he ran out the door and slammed it hard behind him. I heard his car engine start and he drove off down the street.

“Gosh, I’m stupid.” I took my anger out on a vase, which I slammed on the door. “I hate him! I hate him! I hate HIM!” I sat there next to the shattered glass—crying, thinking about the first day I met him. How perfect those first few months with him were like. Now, I looked at these past few days. Hell.

Chapter 10 | Durling

 

I awoke to the sound of my phone vibrating. I sat up and stretched my arms. “Ouch!” I pressed my hands on the shattered glass around me.

The ID on my cell phone said private—it was probably some stupid pranksters. However, I answered it.

“Hello?”

“Lily Blair Evans?” A deep mysterious voice said.

“Uh, yeah.”

“It’s Mike Durling.”

My heart skipped a beat. “Oh my, Mike!” A part of me was happy to hear his voice, and another part of me wanted to hang up the phone as quick as possible.

“Yeah, can we meet at 100 and 5th street tomorrow morning? We have a lot to talk about,” he said.

“Of course…yes. I’ve been waiting for you to call.”

“Okay, have a nice day, Lily,” he said and hung up.

He did not sound as if he had something dreadful to tell me. If it were terrible, he would have told me already, right?

Jason did not come home that night. That was good, because I probably would have not known what to do. I was such a timid chicken at times; I wanted to beat myself up. I tried not thinking about Jason too much—but I always did—he always seemed to rule my mind.

***

The next morning, I was in a horrible mood and did not bother putting makeup on or doing my hair to visit Mike. I just slicked all my hair back into a high ponytail and washed my face. To be taken more seriously, I grabbed my black glasses, which I hadn’t worn in years, and put them on.

I rushed out the door early just in case Jason returned home—I did not want to hurt him—or want him to hurt me. My stomach growling would have been embarrassing, so I grabbed a bagel from a nearby café on my way there.

A little behind schedule, I rushed into the chaotic police station.

“Hi, I’m Lily. I’m here for Mike Durling,” I whispered as if anyone were listening.

“Okay, we’ll call you back in fifteen minutes,” said the woman at the front desk.

Those fifteen minutes lasted a lifetime. I was shaking as my mind wondered about what Mike had to tell me. I knew it could not have been good but it could not have been too bad.

I looked out the window to ease my mind. Then, I found myself searching to see if any annoying paparazzi had followed me. None did because no one seemed to recognize me.

“Lily!” Mike searched for me in the busy station. “Lily?”

I pulled my hat off my head. “Hello, Michael,” I said.

“It’s Mike,” he said and shook my hand.

“Oh, I thought that was a nickname and—” I stopped myself from rambling on.

Mike was very tall, tanned, and had a thick mustache. He was wearing a long coat and high boots that seemed outdated—a typical detective.

He led me to his messy office and another man, dark in complexion with smooth skin, sat on his desk. They both had the same badges on so I assumed they were partners—in crime.

“So, you’re Kathy Evan’s daughter, right?” the man on the desk asked.

“Yes, Sir,” I whispered as my hands began to shake visibly now. Mike pulled me to sit and gave me some mint gum—maybe my breath was foul. I had forgot to brush my teeth.

“It’s Calvin,” the man on the desk said.

Mike pulled out a huge folder that had a mug shot of Jason on it. I began to wonder how they got that picture of him. Then, I got chills thinking of how they could possibly get that photo—I shook my head, not wanting my thoughts to go haywire.

“So, your assistant Paul called and told us to investigate on your boyfriend Jason Lawson,” Mike said while shuffling through the files.

“Is that right?” Calvin got up and shut the door to block out the loud chaos outside the room.

“Well, yeah, but Jason is my husband,” I corrected him.

“Husband?” Calvin shook his head in disbelief.

“Yeah, we got married July twenty-sixth; two weeks after my eighteenth birthday.”

“Wow, darling,” Calvin said as he opened up the file and pulled out a photo of Jason. “Paul said that most likely you would hold the wedding.”

“But I couldn’t. Tons of people were coming.”

“Well, you’re going to wish you did hold the wedding when you leave,” Mike said.

“Is this him?” Calvin held a photo up to my face.

“Yes,” I sounded as if I asked a question.

“How old is he?” Mike said.

“Um, twenty-three. He’s twenty-three, right?” I said.

“Oh man,” Calvin, scratched his forehead. “Well, Lily we do not want to overwhelm you, but there is a lot you need to know about Mr. Lawson. We wished Paul would have told us you were going to marry him still,” Calvin said. “Lawson isn’t twenty-three; he is thirty years old.”

My heart dropped to my lap. Then, I remembered what Ana had told me a while back—he’s been working for me, for the last three years. Did she know his real age? But, why would he hide that from me? “Thirty? Are you sure? He’s been working for Ana, Ana Billson, the actress, for three years…”

“Yeah we know. Apparently he lied since you didn’t know,” Mike said. “Let’s tell you the whole story.”

“Jason Lawson was born Philip Jenkins. He married back when he was eighteen to a woman named Crystal Bell. Bell died a year later from unknown substances,” Calvin paused so I could collect all the info. “So, a year later, he was twenty; he was arrested for DUI charges. Six months later police said he was highly depressed from his wife’s death so they dropped the DUI case against him and just gave him some kind of community service, which was odd to do. Did you know he was previously married, Lily?”

“Oh my gosh, no! I didn’t even know he changed his name.”

“Okay, there is more,” he paused, “seven months later he was now twenty-one, he remarried. He married Bell’s best friend, Samantha Johnson, who was born to a very wealthy family. They soon had a son together, who now lives in Arizona. A little over two years later, when he was twenty-three, Sam died from a heart attack on a trip to New York. Police grew suspicious of her death but no charges were filed. It was over looked. He almost took in over ten million dollars after her death but it went to their son.”

“I can’t believe he has a son,” I said.

“Yes, he lives with his aunt,” Calvin said. “May we continue?”

I took a deep breath, realizing the worst was not over. “Yes.”

Mike continued the story. “At twenty-four, he was arrested for drug trafficking in Mexico. He spent only seven months in prison. He bailed out apparently.”

Calvin continued the story, “About two years later—”

“He was twenty-six.” It was obvious Mike didn’t think I could do basic math.

Calvin rolled his eyes. “Well, yes, at twenty-six he remarried again. This was one of his most interesting marriages because he married Daisy Lively. You may have never heard of her but she was very famous in her country—a gorgeous model from Brazil,” he showed me a picture of her and she looked very familiar to me. “By this time he was a personal assistant for a Brazilian clothing designer. That was how he met Daisy. Well, back to Daisy; she was a good girl. She had a good relationship with her family, but suddenly over time, she began to act strange. She said she began to see things, she would throw tantrums, even felt like she would pass out for no reason—”

“Oh my god! Wait, the same thing happened to me—the exact same thing. I would end up in the hospital with my stomach pumped saying I overdosed on unknown drugs, but I was convinced that I was an addict. I told the doctors all that stuff and they just said I needed rest because I was ill. And everyone is accusing me of doing drugs, which I know is impossible. Could Jason have had something to do with it?”

“Hmm, Daisy died too soon to investigate. The autopsy said she died from an accidental drug overdose but she was model and lots of models take drugs,” he paused, “when did these events happen or better when did they begin? Were you with Jason?”

“Um, well, I can’t remember when they started. No wait…” I paused as both Mike and Calvin stared at me with narrowed eyes. “Okay, back in France I remember I found some white powder in his suitcase, but…” I paused again trying to remember—this didn’t help the feeling of them not believing me. “Oh yeah, I remember I was at the hotel in Europe. I freaked out! It was the worst feeling ever. Almost like death came to visit me.”

“Death?” Calvin said.

“Yes death,” I nodded.

“Was Jason with you?”

“Yeah, he calmed me down though…I think.”

“How?” Mike said.

“Hmm…I don’t remember. I just know I was running and like barking,” I chuckled.

“This is no laughing matter, Lily. You have to remember. If you say the same things has happened to you as Daisy then—”

“Yeah, it happened again where I ended up in the hospital. Oh no, the time I was in the hotel with Paul and with the scissors. I had no control, and then at my eighteenth birthday I freaked out.” I put my head between my knees. It sounded as if I were making the story up as I went along. I could tell they did not believe me and not remembering much, did not help.

“Hmm…” Mike said as he waited for me to speak.

“Amazing, are you sure you don’t remember. You have to think what he had given you before all those fits. Anything at all? Something was causing you to have no self-control,” Calvin paused, “it’s something that when they do an autopsy, it comes up like a drug overdose to some unknown drugs.”

“Well, I’ve been in and out of the hospital! It’s hard to remember,” I sighed. “Exactly how many times did he marry?” I said, with my head still between my knees.

“Three—four including you.”

“And they all died,” I muttered. “Am I the next victim? What does he want from me?”

“Hmm…”

“Well, there’s more to my story…” I sat up straight and they both nodded for me to continue. “Well, he got a bit aggressive a few times with me. In France, he claimed that he saved me when the truth is he was the one who beat me. Ana knows, she was there and she saw everything. He also makes me feel like I’m insane all the time when I know I’m not—like he plays tricks with my mind. I think he switched our carpet in our home and he moves my things. Also, he had this guy named Jerry do something with all my money. All of it is gone out my account. I asked him what happened, but he just choked me and left.”

“Jerry?” Mike began flipping through papers in Jason’s file.

“Yeah Jerry.”

“This Jerry doesn’t happen to be Jerry Jenkins?”

I thought about it—he was right. I remembered seeing a paper with his name on it the other night. “Yeah I guess.”

“Damn.”

“What?”

“Jerry is one of the best scam artists. He is good at defrauding ones like you. He just got out of jail a few weeks ago,” Mike said.

“How do you guys know all this stuff?” I said.

“It’s our job. Jason’s been investigated a few times in his life.”

“Hmm, I suppose—a few.”

“Listen, sweetheart, you should stay with someone. We don’t want you alone with him anymore, just until things get settled,” Calvin said. “And a little less confusing.”

“Hmm, okay,” I sighed.

The room grew quiet as they began to write. I closed my eyes—crying within. I tried to focus on the past months with Jason. It hit me!

“The juice! Orange juice! Juice! Fluids!” I said. “He drugged me with juice or something. It has to be. Every time I drank that, I was nuts. He hasn’t given me any recently though. But, he only gave it to me on certain days. He had some in the refrigerator.”

“If you can get that and bring it in—”

“No, too risky. We’ll get a warrant to search the home,” Mike said, cutting Calvin off. “We’ll stick to the plan. Lily is going to stay with someone where we can contact her. We’ll handle this.”

“Thank you! Thanks so much,” I paused, “do you believe me? You believe me right?”

“Uh, yeah of course we do,” Mike nodded. “This man is dangerous and we’re so happy you came before it was too late.”

“Too late…you guys think he wants to kill me?”

“Anything is possible,” Calvin said. “But, we don’t want to scare you.”

“Too late.”

“You can leave now. Everything will be handled,” Mike said.

“Thanks again,” I said as I walked out their office. “Thank you.”

Throughout the day, I thought if I should have been calmer—less shaky and more business. However, it was too late to think about what I should have done. Then, I thought about what they were thinking about my quote on quote illness and the fact that Kathy “the crazy woman” was my mother. Everyone knew she was foolish and it would be no surprise that her daughter was mad too. I remembered those deep stares they gave me that read “she’s crazy! Run!” On the other hand, how could I convince them to believe me if I didn’t even believe myself.

Chapter 11 | Schizophrenia

 

I could not sleep that night or the night after. For two days, I stayed at a hotel room staring at my cell phone. It was driving me nuts that Mike had not called me yet. All my calls were to Paul; reassuring him I was fine—that he didn’t have to come and find me.

As my cell phone rang, I stared at the caller ID—Mike.

“Hello?” I said.

“Uh, Lily? Is this Lily?” Mike said with a non-welcoming tone.

“Did you arrest him yet?” I cheered. “Oh, thank you—”

“Um, not…exactly.”

“Why not?”

“Lily, we need you to come back today around noon.”

“Okay,” I said. “Why—”

“Okay, bye!”

I looked at the clock—it was eight thirty. I rushed to the bathroom and began to get ready. As I washed my face, my phone rang again. I rushed to go see who it was. The caller ID said Paul. It was the fifth time he had called me that day. I answered it so he would not worry.

“Hello!”

“Lily!” Paul shouted into my ear.

“What?” I tried to sound as if I was annoyed with him; which I was.

“Okay, tell me what is going on? I turned on the TV and your house was the headline. Why were the police in your house and why was Jason being arrested? What did you do?”

“Really?” I ran to the TV and flipped through the channels to find the local news. He was right; my home looked like Paris Hilton’s house the day she went to jail.

“Lily?” Paul shouted again into the phone.

“Paul, I’ll tell you later, but I have to go—”

“But, I have to tell you something important—”

“Paul, I’m busy!” I hung up the phone before he could say anymore.

***

I walked into the station at a slow pace. I was trying to control my anxiety. I do not know why I’m so nervous. His butt will be in jail. Everything will be fine, I tried to convince myself.

“Mike!” I yelled for him as I caught him walking back to his office.

Mike’s face had wrinkles in places he didn’t have before. His brow line curved down in rage as he walked me in. “Lily?”

“What is it? Why do you look so mad at me?”

“Come on.” Mike pulled me into a room where I could see Jason in the interrogation room.

“She’s a nut just like her mom!” Jason said. “Look at her medical history! Her mom is bipolar; her dad is a lousy drunk! Her sister has anger problems! Her half-brother is suicidal! They all have issues!”

“So, she claims you hit her a few times,” Calvin said.

“CLAIM?” I yelled at Calvin through the glass. He couldn’t hear me and continued talking.

Mike rolled his eyes; I was not sure if he did it toward Calvin or me. I hoped that it was because of Calvin.

“Yeah, okay I did but because she is nuts! She tried to stab me—”

My scream cut him off. I think they heard me because they were quiet for a second. Jason looked toward me as if he could see me through the glass. “I never tried to stab him! Never,” I told Mike. “You believe me, Mike? Right?”

Mike’s eyes grew curious. “Honestly, Lily, I don’t know who to believe.” He pushed me to sit in a chair. I would have fought back but that wouldn’t have made the situaion better. “Right now, we are dealing with a ‘he said, she said’ situation.”

“I HATE HIM!” I slammed my shoes on the window, not knowing what I was trying to do.

“Calm down, Lily! You’re not helping us much!” Mike pulled my feet off the glass.

“Do you not understand English? I said he beat me!”

“Lily, just stay calm—”

“What are they doing here?” I said as Ana and Paul walked into the room where Jason had just left. “Paul didn’t tell me he was coming in today.”

“We’re bringing them in to ask them a few questions,” Mike said.

“Questions about what? I said everything you need to know.”

“Just be quiet.”

“So, Ana, Lily claims you were there the night Jason apparently beat her. Is that true? Were you there?” Calvin said as he stood over Ana.

Oh…damn.

“Um, well I was there because we were doing a film together. Just at the time, she and I were not friends. I never spoke to her at the time, nor was she with me. I saw nothing,” Ana sad in a soft voice. “We aren’t even really good friends; I didn’t even go to her wedding. Check the wedding album—I was not there. I wasn’t invited—as expected.”

“She’s lying,” I said.

“Jason and she always seem fine to me. Like the perfect Hollywood couple,” Ana said.

I began slamming my fist on my knees—I couldn’t believe Ana was lying.

“And you Paul? You’re good with Lily, right? How was their relationship to you?” Calvin now stood over Paul.

“Ugh, well I love Jason…as a friend of course. And Lily loves him too, and Ana. I would never think he would do anything to her. Lily is ill so I don’t think she is in the right state of mind. I mean I know something she doesn’t. I know a lot,” Paul said.

“What is he talking about? He’s lying too,” I hyperventilated as I bit my nail off.

“And what do you know, Paul…about Lily,” Calvin said.

“A lot. I’m her assistant,” Paul whispered and began to yell, “I’m more than an assistant! I should know things!”

“Then, what do you know?” Calvin said.

“Nothing.”

“Tell me now!”

“It’s personal.”

“Paul!”

“Okay, okay, okay…well I do know that she is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and has been for a while…I mean a while, but she barely found out recently,” Paul said. “She found out like when she was seventeen—a few months ago.”

“What do you mean by a while?”

“A while!”

“What? Don’t try to use my “disorder” as an excuse,” I snapped. “I don’t get this, why is he lying too?”

“I think she needs help,” Paul said.

“Hmm…really,” Calvin laughed as he shuffled through files. “This all makes sense now.” He started laughing harder as he walked to the window where we were. “Mike, I think we’re done here.”

“Done? We didn’t do anything. Nothing was proven. Didn’t you check the house? The juice? I mean, what about the night in France? Ana lied about that night! She was there!”

Before Mike could respond, I talked over him. “And Paul he lied too. They are all against me! Everyone! I’m not paranoid…okay maybe I am…who knows! But, I think I would know when someone is after me. Forget what I said about everyone is out to get me. I’m not paranoid—”

“Okay, breathe,” Mike sat me down. “If Ana, your main witness says she wasn’t there. We can’t do much—”

“Oh, yes she was there! I remember it clearly!”

“But, you said you didn’t remember much,” Mike’s eyes narrowed.

“Now, I do.”

“We searched the home and found nothing. Nothing odd found. Some weird birthday photos were the only things we found—no juice either. All liquids were tested,” Mike said. “And we found some white powder—”

“I told you!”

“But it was fiber for constipation—Mira-lax.”

“This is like a joke,” I cried. “A mean sick joke!”

“We looked at your family history. You’re an only child, right?”

“What does this have to do with anything?”

“Just answer, Lily. Don’t be difficult.”

“No, I have a twin sister and a half-brother that I haven’t seen in years.”

“Okay? Are you sure?” he snapped as he shuffled through papers.

“YES!”

“Okay, okay, okay.”

“Well, jeez, I think I would know. I wouldn’t make crap up.”

“So, your mom, she suffers from bipolar and cancer, right?”

“NO, Kathy does not have cancer. Bipolar: yes. Cancer: no. What is that you’re reading?”

“Um, yeah she does.”

“Nope. Not my Kathy. No way, I would know.” Then, Paul’s words came back to me…I saw Kathy, she doesn’t look so good. She looks, looks…ill. “Oh well, I’m not sure…I haven’t seen her since before my wedding. She didn’t look so good.”

“Yeah, it’s true. She is in the hospital—”

“Hospital?” I mumbled to myself but tried not to act as if I cared—then, I pictured her in a hospital bed—vulnerable and alone. “Why?”

“She’s ill.”

“So, you say—”

Calvin came into the room with a huge smile on his face. He placed his glasses on his head and stared deep into my eyes. “Hello, Lily,” he said with his deep voice.

“Are you going to arrest him?” I said.

“Um, no. There’s no reason too.”

“Why not? He drugged me, beat me, and all his past info you have on him and then there’s Jerry!”

“Well, there is no proof he did anything wrong. Only that he may have lied about his age and was still heartbroken over his past. All we know is that you had your stomach pumped a few times and that you were diagnosed with schizophrenia. We heard all the stories of that night in France. You’re lucky to have a guy like Jason.”

I began to laugh. “I’m being Punk’d, right?”

“Ha, nope.”

“This is the most dumbest thing ever. We have all the proof we need. I can press charges, right?”

“It’ll be a waste of time.”

“But he is horrible,” I cried. “He…you don’t believe me? You think I’m crazy like Kathy. You think I’m ill like her, but I’m not. How can I convince you that I’m not insane?”

“Well….” Mike hesitated, “we’re going to help you with your disorder. Plus, we found some stuff about you.”

“But, I’m not crazy! Of all people, I thought you guys would understand. You say my history this and past that, but look at his. All those arrest and wives murdered.”

“Well, there is no proof Jason did anything to harm his wives. He’s been investigated many times,” Calvin said.

“And that Jerry guy—”

“Jason couldn’t believe Jerry took your money. You know, Jerry is his older brother. Jason said before you came he knew he was bad news—”

“Are you serious? Just…just shut up.” I put my hand over my heart; it felt as if it were going to pop out my chest. “You guys are pathetic. My life is at risk and you’re so calm. When I come up murdered, I will blame you two.”

“But if you’re dead, how could you blame us?”

“You think my life is a joke?” I sobbed.

“No,” Mike laughed.

“So, I guess I have to be my own police watch, my own detective, and my own protection,” I cried. “I feel like you guys are taking advantage of me, a naïve girl.”

“Lily, do what you want—”

“But I won’t allow it. If you don’t help me, I’ll help myself,” I cried.

“And what does that mean?”

“I will have to handle this all by myself…” My heart began to hurt, not like heartburn or from a bad break up, but like a heart attack.

“Lily? Lily, are you okay—” Calvin’s words went into a blur.

And my eyes went blank…again.

***

“Lily?” An unfamiliar voice knocked on an unfamiliar door. My eyes were half-open but I could tell I wasn’t at home. I stared confused at a big white door with a woman smiling at me through a little window. “Lily?”

“Yes,” I answered this time, with a raspy voice.

“I have your pills.” The woman came into the room with a plate with two tiny pills.

“Pills?” My eyes squinted from pain. “What pills?”

“Doctor says you haven’t taken your pills in a long time.” The woman walked over to me but she stayed a few feet away.

“Doctor? Pills?” I was confused as I tried to open my eyes all the way, but they hurt too much.

“Yes, Lily, I have your medication.”

“I don’t want those pills!”

“Why did you stop taking them?”

But I’m not crazy. I ignored the pain of my eyes and opened them wide. I wasn’t at home, I wasn’t in a hospital. I was in a nut house! The pillow-like walls were bright white as the sun shined through a tiny window and the reflection of it burned my eyes. There was a tiny television covered in pillows in the corner of the room—that probably didn’t even work.

My eyes grew immense in fright. Mike Durling! I remembered him saying he was going to get me help. I screamed at the thought. “AHHH! No, no! What the hell am I doing here! Help! No!”

The woman dropped the pills to the floor and ran out the room. “Doctor! Doctor! Come quick! She’s at it again! Hurry!”

Two huge men came running in the room with juicy needles. They held me tight in their arms. One of the men put me in a headlock and I bit his sweaty arm.

“AHH!” he yelled as he shook me and threw me to the floor. “Hey calm down!” The other man tried to pick me up off the ground but I kept on kicking. Then, another man emerged from nowhere and stabbed me with the needle in my arm.

I could not control the lids of my eyes from closing and before I knew it, I was dreaming again.

When I awoke, the room was dark compared to how I last remembered it. As I opened my eyes halfway, they hurt even worse than before. I touched the swollen place on my arm where the man stabbed me with a needle.

“…You have to take her. We can’t handle it anymore. Every hour she wants to fight…” I remembered her voice—the same woman from earlier that tried to give me pills. “You have to take her.” I wondered whom she was talking about.

“Well, I guess I can take her back home. She is just going through a lot right now,” Paul said. Now, I knew that the woman was talking to Paul obviously about me. What did I do now? I heard someone come into the room—probably Paul.

I heard the woman whisper “be careful,” as Paul approached me.

“Paul?” I said.

“Hey, Lily, we need to talk,” Paul said with a soft voice.

“Don’t be afraid of me,” I cried.

“I have to tell you a story.”

“Did I do something wrong?”

“It’s about when you were younger,” he sighed. “When you were six years old, you would pull me into the backyard and tell me to meet your half-horse half-monkey friend. You would say, ‘look at Timmy! Timmy come here!’ and you would run around in the backyard and “chase” him. I would play along and “chase” him too. However, things just seemed to get worse. You would have odd emotions. You said you could hear voices and those voices would tell you bad things. Like the time you cut off all your hair. But that was baby stuff compared to the years to come. The first time you tried to kill Leslie was when we knew something was beyond damaged in your head. You had tied her to her bed while she was sleeping. If it wasn’t for her screams Kathy wouldn’t have caught you trying to strangle her. Then, you passed out for ten minutes and acted as if nothing happened. But it would just happen again. Therefore, Kathy said we should take you to the doctor because something wasn’t right. That’s when you, Lily, were diagnosed with schizophrenia after tens of testing. It’s been under control for the most part, but it seems it has gotten worse throughout the years.”

“And why didn’t you guys tell me when I was younger? Why now?” I laughed. “So, you mean Kathy didn’t hire that doctor Summings dude? I really am—”

“Kathy thought it was better if we didn’t tell you until you were older; when you wouldn’t be so harsh on yourself. We covered it up by saying you only had an anxiety problem. The truth was that your doctor was changing your medication dosage every few months to see which one worked. One month he tried some anxiety medication, then schizo meds, and then more anxiety medication. Some were even placebos, but the last time that was given to you was when you attacked Leslie the last time. He had finally found a safe dosage for you on XANAX, but it began to not work anymore. Although, your anxiety would subside, the hallucinations and mood swings did not. That’s when Kathy decided we should tell you the truth so that you could go to a different hospital for advance testings so that you could get started on medication for schizophrenia. When I told him you were popping those anxiety pills like candy, he figured you had a tolerance or maybe even an addiction to them. ”

“I wouldn’t have been harsh on myself. It’s something I couldn’t control.” I paused and thought back when I was a child. I always knew something was wrong with me. I just didn’t think it was this dreadful. I felt as if my whole life had been a lie. I was embarrassed that everyone knew except me. And all those times I called Kathy insane, Paul knew in his heart that I was too.

“So, what now?” my eyes narrowed. “Paul, I haven’t been taking my medication in a while. I think that is why I’m acting this way. I stopped because they weren’t working.”

“You cannot just stop taking your medication without telling anyone,” Paul snapped. “Did Jason know?”

“Why would I tell him anything!”

“It was Jason’s job to monitor your pill intake.”

“You told Jason the truth?”

“Well, you didn’t! Did you even talk to him about your so-called anxiety problem? Did you tell him about how you tried to kill your own sister several times? Did you tell him about how you popped XANAX like candy because you were most likely addicted to them!”

“I quit those pills months ago before I met Jason!” I snapped.

“Well, I had to tell him the truth after your second or fifth hospital visit. Shit begins to look fishy!” he snapped.

“What’s fishy?”

“Um…well, maybe the fact that you were in and out of the hospital for an overdose on illegal drugs! You were having withdrawal issues from not taking your XANAX so you started taking some other stuff!”

“That is not true! I quit the XANAX just fine. I’m not taking street drugs!”

“You’re a pill popper. Just admit it! The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.”

“No! I would remember doing street pills.”

Paul began to cry. “Please, Lily just admit it.”

“NO!

“It’s so simple; you do the drugs, but don’t remember you do them.”

“And where would I be getting the drugs from?”

“I don’t know, Lily! Ask yourself that!”

I bit my lip in confusion and we stayed silent for five minutes. Although, Paul’s story explained a lot of my life, it left even bigger questions. I understood my disorder but I still wasn’t convinced one-hundred percent that I was a drug addict.

“Did I have a heart attack, Paul?”

“Ha-ha, no,” he chuckled in confusion.

“Knock! Knock!” Dr. Summings came into the room. “Lily?”

“Hello,” I said in shame.

“I was listening and I see you understand your disorder now and I want you to promise that you will take these pills every day by yourself. I don’t want anyone to handle your pills,” he said as he handed me the pills. “If you do take them, your life will be a lot easier; I promise.”

“I guess I have no choice,” I sighed as I grabbed the box of medication. I opened one bottle and my eyes narrowed. The pills looked like the ones before but they were purple. “Dr. Summings, these are a different color.”

“These are not XANAX—”

“No, I know that. Is this a different brand of anti-psychotic medication than before?”

“Nope, they are the exact ones you recently stopped.”

“Do they change colors over time?”

“NO. What is wrong?”

I smiled with nervousness. “I just feel foggy and stupid.”

“No, don’t feel stupid. This was your mother’s fear—that you would blame yourself. She would know, because she went through the same thing. She knew how much she blamed herself.”

“But, Dr. Summings, my life is completely changed. How can I live—”

“Lily, it’s okay. Many people have this disorder and live a normal life. I promise, if you take your medication as instructed you will be perfect.”

“You promise?”

“Promise.” Dr. Summings shook my hand and left the room.

I bit my nail, staring at Paul. “I’m sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry. I agree, I should have told you before. I just always have a need to protect you, Lily.”

“No, I think I learned about it at a perfect time. I just feel stupid because I had no idea.”

“That means the meds work,” he said.

“Maybe…”

“Now, get up, we have to go,” he whispered. “You need an award for being one of the only people to be too nutty that you get kicked out a mental institution. Congrats. But, I’m kidding—you’re not crazy.”

“Why am I here?” I sat up and he put a shirt on me.

“Well, you passed out at the police station. The ambulance was called and Dr. Summings decided to run some test on you and learned you hadn’t been taking your medication. So, they brought you here.”

“Oh, I thought I had a heart attack,” I laughed.

“Nope.”

“Why are you mad?” I asked because of Paul’s bitter face.

“I’m not mad, just frustrated—”

“Why?”

“Uh…about…um…Jason. On how he wasn’t giving you your medication. That could have saved us a lot of time.”

“Oh.”

Paul drove home slower than usual. I assumed he did not want to freak me out on my first day back home. He did not answer any of my questions I had asked him. He just stayed silent and rolled his eyes the whole way home.

“Do you really think I’m crazy?” I asked for the millionth time.

“No, Lily. I really don’t know.” Paul parked his car in my driveway.

“You do know, Paul. Why’d you tell Calvin that?” I saw Jason’s car and realized I re-entered my nightmare.

“Because Lily, it’s true,” he rolled his eyes and got out the car. “Just think about it.”

I followed behind him out the car. “Think about what?”

“Bye, Lily!” Paul ignored me and walked back to his car.

I ignored him and walked into the house angry. I expected to see Jason on the couch, but he was nowhere. I searched the home for him but I still couldn’t find him.

“I should take a bath,” I sang to myself.

I ran the hot water and through some bubbles in the tub. While the water ran, I thought about what Paul had just told me about my mental stability.

I went over to Jason’s desk and pulled out his laptop—since mine was gone. I typed in the search engine ‘schizophrenia’. Millions of pages came up but I clicked on the first one.

“Symptoms are…hallucinations, delusions…” I read, “…laughing for no reason, bizarre or disorganized behavior, lack of emotion, sometimes misdiagnosed with bipolar or substance abuse…hmm.”

I had come to terms that I was a schizophrenic and the only way to be normal, were to take my meds. Case solved. However, I still did not understand how I was getting drugs in me. Obviously, someone was giving them to me and obviously, the drugs were making me feel worse. Therefore, I went into the big walk-in closet and tore open boxes. It had to be somewhere easy to find since I was doing them—but I couldn’t find anything. I sat on the floor thinking where I could possibly be getting them.

Nowhere! I didn’t have friends and I didn’t go to parties. The only way I could have got drugs in my system was if someone I knew was the one drugging me. But why would someone give me drugs?

To kill me.

“Why is the water over pouring, Lily?” Jason walked into the room, interrupting my thoughts.

I jumped in fear when I saw him and slammed his laptop down. I stared him deep in his eyes and knew he was the one—he looked too innocent and told too many lies.

“What are you doing?” He walked into the bathroom and turned off the water.

“Uh…I was about to take a bath,” I said as I threw a towel around my bare body.

“Oh yeah, I want to thank you for inviting the police to search the house. Thanks baby, thanks so much!” He kicked the shower door and walked over to me. “And thanks for calling Jerry out! I’m so happy you did that. But, guess what now, Lily? They just think you’re even crazier!”

“Ah! Don’t touch me!” I pushed him in the chest. “Stop it!”

“Damn Lily, I’m not trying to hurt you,” he cried as he hugged me. “I’m trying to kiss you!”

“Back off!” I screamed as I pushed his wet lips away from me.

“You get on my nerves!” He shook me so rough I could feel my eardrums move. “Do you know what you did? Now, I have people down my throat because of you!”

“Stop! Let me go!”

He pushed me to the bed and he grabbed a vase. I watched his movements wondering if he would throw it at me. I jumped up before he could think about throwing the massive vase and ran to the side of the bed. I grabbed one of my stiletto shoes and held it up as if it were a knife. My towel dropped from around me and Jason began to chuckle.

What do I do now? I thought as he walked over to me on the other side of the bed. I felt trapped and every thought in my head went haywire. Jason ran toward me and tried to wrap his arms around me again. I jumped up on the bed before he could grab me and ran out the room—I panicked on which way to run. I should run downstairs and call 911, I thought.

Without thinking, I threw the shoe back at his face. His face turned ugly and red as I stumbled to go downstairs.

“Lily, what are you doing?”

“Just leave me alone, Jason!”

“Come back here! I’m sorry!”

“I’m going to call 911!”

“No you’re not! I said I’m sorry!” With one hand, he threw the vase at the back of my head. My toe jammed into the side of the stair and I went tumbling down the stairs—I fell onto tiny pieces of glass.

“Oh, Lily? Are you okay?” Jason cried as he ran down to me. “I’ll help you up. Don’t move.”

“Leave me alone!” I cried as I held my head. “You bastard!”

“I’ll help you.” He pulled glass from my hair.

I shoved him away. “Get away from me, you murderer!”

“I’m not a MURDERER! Lily, let me help you!” he cried as he picked me up.

“I’m on to you, Jason. And if you think you are going to get away with murder, think again.”

***

I was almost sure I was dreaming, but you cannot feel pain in dreams so I knew I was awake. I felt a crack in my neck and I let out a big sigh of agony.

“Oh we’re just so happy the baby is okay and we ran the test…” said a nurse.

Baby?

“Thank God,” Jason said. “I got worried when I saw her bleeding like that.”

As hard as I tried, I could not open my eyes. I just stayed silent and listened in on the conversation. And with any movement, I felt like I would fall apart.

“We ran the test you asked for. The results were positive,” whispered a nurse. “Here’s the prescription Dr. Summings had for Lily.”

“…And the baby is okay?”

What baby?

“Yes, it is one hundred percent okay.”

“Okay, well, thanks,” Jason said in monotone.

“Okay, I’ll leave you alone. She should be up at anytime now.”

I felt a warm hand brush my forehead and the touch of it was like fire to my skin. I opened my eyes a little bit to see who it was.

“Baby?” Paul said. “Are you okay?”

“Huh,” was all I could get out.

“Just go to sleep,” Paul said as he closed my eyelids.

“Um okay,” I whispered and fell back to sleep.

 

Chapter 12 | Courage

 

My eyes burned from the sun beaming through the window. They were not open but I could see red through my eyelids and I could hear the TV on the entertainment station.

“…it’s been a long month for Lily Blair Evans. Her career seems to be coming to a halt when she was diagnosed with schizophrenia…” the TV broadcaster said.

Who is watching that?

“…Lily’s manager put out a statement today saying the actress is quote doing much better quote. Just a while ago she accused her husband of drugging….”

I tried to open my eyes but they felt like they were glued shut. I tried to lift my arm but my whole body felt stiff; I could not move one inch.

“…Lily has been put under close observation in this hospital behind me, so she isn’t an endangerment to her unborn baby…”

BABY! I tried to lift my arms up again but I could not. It felt as if it were stuck to the bed. I tried to move my feet but they also felt locked to the bed. I could only imagine my eyes puffy and purple because the pain they brought.

“Lily—”

The TV turned off and my heart raced—I tried to yell but nothing came out my mouth. I opened my right eye; then, the left—they began to tear up as they finally opened wide.

The room did not look familiar at all. I was not in the same hospital as I last remembered. I tried to pull my arm up, but, then I soon realized I was strapped to the bed; my feet were too. I shook the strap hard on my hand, trying to get loose. However, they wouldn’t come off.

“AHH!” I gained energy to scream a horror film scream.

“Lily?” Paul came running to my side. “Shhh, be quiet,” he whispered as he closed the door.

“AHH!” My mouth would not close—I couldn’t stop screaming. “Take me out!”

“Okay, okay, okay.” Paul ran to my bedside. “I’ll let you out if you promise not to freak out on me.”

Why would I freak out on Paul? Then, I realized I was still screaming—

“Calm down!” Paul snapped and slapped me in my arm.

I had never witnessed him so irritated by me, so I stopped screaming. He untied my straps from the bed with shaky hands as if he were about to pass out. I watched him as he struggled to remove my restraints without making too much noise.

“Paul?” I said.

“Yeah?” he said as if he were afraid.

“Where am I?”

“You’re at a new hospital,” he said in a tone that was more content.

“Ouch!” I screamed as he lifted me to sit up. I felt like I had been in bed for days—maybe even weeks. My body smelt like death, my breath smelt like the worst morning breath ever, and my legs ached. I touched my stomach; there was a hard bump. My eyes grew large in disbelief. Baby.

“Hmm…” Paul’s red eyes narrowed—it looked as if he had cried for days.

“What’s this?” I said.

“You’re pregnant.”

“What?”

“Yup, you’re like four or five months already! You act like you don’t know!”

“Because, Paul, I don’t know. I don’t even know what is wrong with me. One minute I am in perfect health planning the next day and then, I wake up in the hospital grasping for another day—”

“Is it Jason’s baby?” Paul said.

“I didn’t even know I was pregnant!”

“IS IT JASON’S BABY?”

“Duh…you think I’m some kind of slut?”

“I cannot believe it.”

“Believe what?”

“Oh my god, it’s true,” he mumbled.

“What is true?”

“Everything; one minute you are goo-goo gaga over the baby, the next you want to murder someone. You are driving everyone nuts. Look at me, I think I gained like ten pounds and I have wrinkles now,” he sobbed.

“And you’re blaming me?”

“Who else would I blame?”

“Maybe that box of doughnuts to your left?”

We stayed silent for two minutes as we both stared off into space. I watched his face crumble into pieces as the seconds went on. I grabbed his hand and he began to cry again.

“Hmm…what is today’s date?” I said, trying to change the subject.

“September sixteen.”

“September?”

“Are you okay?”

“Stop asking me that. Do I look okay?”

“Well, these last few weeks you have been acting, like, like…Kathy. If you don’t stop taking drugs you’re gonna end up killing the baby. We wouldn’t want that…would we?

I gathered my thoughts and realized I really did lose my marbles. I was officially off my wagon. Every line that represented a crazy person was for me. I remembered the last night I felt sane—at the police station, which was in August.

“Where is Jason?” I was hoping Paul would say jail.

Paul rolled his eyes. “He went to New York yesterday night.”

“New York?” I sighed.

“Yeah baby, I know everything.”

“What exactly do you mean by everything?” I said.

“I really don’t know.”

“Do you believe me or do you believe Jason?”

“Yes, I do believe you,” he paused, “it’s just you scared me, baby!” He gave me a hug and began to cry again. “I have never seen you so insane. You’re on all these meds that I think is nonsense because you’re pregnant. We have all these nurses coming in and out, afraid that you will kill the baby by taking some drugs. Jason keeps doing stupid interviews saying you tried to stab him, which I know is not true. We have all these men coming to pray for you. Baby, I thought you were going to die…seriously. It’s like you’re possessed!”

“I remember nothing.” I took a deep breath and stared at the pills that were on a tray. “I take all these?”

“Yeah, they put you on some sleeping pills,” he began to whisper as if I should not know.

“Why were they giving me those?”

“It was Jason’s idea,” Paul said as he kept his head down. “Based on the fact that you keep taking drugs—”

“But, I’m not taking drugs, Paul. You know that.”

“Hmm.”

“You said you believed me.”

He sighed and stood up over me. “Lily, I have to tell you something. Don’t interrupt me!”

“Okay—”

“Jason scares me. I think he is the one drugging you. Every since he left, you haven’t thrown any fits and you finally woke up,” he said so fast, I had to pause to gather his words.

“I knew it!”

“But, that is just my hypothesis.”

“So, you know about the whole France thing and my juice theory?”

“Well, I know what the detectives told me about your claims. Everything adds up in my book though,” he said as he wiped his tears. “I’ve been doing some research on your theories.” He got up, brought his messenger bag to my bed, and took out a pile of papers. “Okay so you remember that night, when I called you about Mike and I was all like, ‘where’s Jason’?”

“Yeah, yes I do.” I really did—I remembered how panicky I was when I thought he heard the conversation.

“Okay, I discovered he was listening and he heard the whole conversation. Don’t ask how I know this; I just do.” He handed me the same mug shot of Jason that Mike had. “Okay, you told Mike that the juice had some kind of drugs he was giving you to result in your death.”

The word “death” gave me chills down my spine. I did not want to believe Jason really wanted me dead. I never really considered it much. The only reason I had subconsciously thought about it, was that his ex-wives died mysteriously. That was a atrocious thought. “Wait, you think Jason is trying to kill me?”

“Well, yeah, he is trying to kill you. Why else would he be giving you drugs?” he snapped. “Isn’t that what you told Mike and Calvin?”

“How do I even know it’s Jason the one doing it? What if it is someone else?”

“Who else would it be?” he said. “And it wasn’t until you met Jason that you were going to the hospital for drug overdoses.”

“Okay your right,” I sighed as I remembered my hospital stays. “I always had a feeling. I just didn’t have anything to prove it.”

“Back to what I was saying…that day, they issued a warrant and Jason had found out. I’m pretty sure he knows someone who told him. So, he cleared the house and all the drugs he had. That is when he began saying that you were paranoid and all this crap. He told them about your past and all this other nonsense. Of course, detectives are going to believe a sane person over…well…you,” he explained. “I researched some drugs on the black market. Some pills they had make people feel like they’re crazy or out of control if given in a large amount. Eventually, the body crashes and the person dies. I know you Lily and I know you would never do drugs. And even if you were, where would you be hiding them? I cannot imagine you, going out to meet a drug dealer. You’re too much of a wimp and a coward.”

“Ooh thankswimp is such a nice word,” I said sarcastically.

“And, your whole money thing, he knew exactly what he was doing. I mean come on, look at his past. This isn’t the first time he has done something like this. I think he planned this—from the whole coming to that meeting. He knew Ana wasn’t going to come. He knew he would end up taking you on a date that day. He researched you; he knew your weakness and strengths; if you have any strengths besides telling on people.”

“So, I am a loser is what you’re trying to say?”

“Were you not listening?”

“I don’t think I’m that much of a wimp.”

Paul laughed. “Lily, if I were to punch you right now, you wouldn’t do anything. That is why people like Jason choose girls like you.”

“Why?”

“Because you don’t know how to stand up for yourself.”

I stayed quiet as I thought about how he insulted me. It also reminded me of my reoccurring dreams. However, I was a coward and a wimp. Ever since I could remember, people always had control over me—even Kathy. Mothers are supposed to control their children, but Kathy insulted me since I was a child. And I never did anything about her or the many other people who did the same thing.

“We just have to deal with it,” Paul said, breaking the silence.

“Why would I deal with it?” I laughed. “I can be dead in a few days.”

“I’ve been watching him this past month; all his moves. I know them. He hasn’t given you anything strange. I’m pretty sure he knows he will get caught if he tried too since you were restrained. Plus, the baby—he doesn’t want to harm it. I believe the baby was part of his plan too.”

“I’m done with dealing with bad people.”

“Why the change now?” he teased. “Are you upset because I called you a wimp? It’s true though.”

“So, that should change.”

“What does that mean?”

I winked and smiled at him. “My question is what does he want from me?”

“Money is the root to all evil,” he said. “He came at the right time.”

“What do you mean, right time?”

“Yeah, at your most vulnerable state,” Paul snapped as if I should know.

“Vulnerable state?”

“Yeah, the headlines about your mental disorder—”

“But how would he have known if it happened the same day we met?” I said.

“Um, I don’t know…maybe he’s smart,” Paul snapped.

“I need to do something about him. But what can I do if I’m taking all these pills? They’re not helping obviously—I was strapped to a bed.”

“It’s okay; I switched them to sugar pills. Jason and his nurse, who probably is not even a certified nurse, insisted you take them. They said the ones from the hospital weren’t good enough or something crazy—I don’t even think that’s legal.”

“You think a murderer cares about legal situations?”

Paul ignored me and pulled out a Ziploc bag with white powder in it. “Do you know what this is?”

“What is that?”

“The answer,” he smirked.

“You mean, this is the stuff he was giving me?”

“Yes.”

“How’d you find it? Why didn’t you give it to the cops?” I asked. “I should call Mike again and tell him—”

“We don’t need Mike,” Paul smirked. “Well, I found it a few days ago under a bump in the carpet at your home. I would have given it to the cops but there is no proof that Jason had this stuff.”

“Well, thanks for nothing. You got my hopes all high.”

“But this is good…you know why?”

I stayed silent thinking about what he meant. “To test it on him?”

“Whoa, I didn’t think of that. I was thinking of taking it to a lab here in the hospital. However, your idea is way better!” he giggled. “But, you wouldn’t do it.”

“What do you mean, I wouldn’t do it,” I snapped.

“Lily, let’s be honest. You’re miss goody-goody. You would never have the balls to drug Jason. I remember when you were sixteen, you beat yourself up for flushing your fish down the toilet.”

“Well, it’s time I grow some balls and handle things myself. If no one else believes me, I guess I have to handle him myself.”

Paul grinned and handed me the bag. “I have to see you do it, to believe you.”

“Fine, it’s a date.”

[_ Chapter 13| Sedation _]

 

Sometimes I forgot my age. I was only eighteen but felt like an old woman. I had rollers in my hair, which I had in for days and hot flashes every hour. If you would have told me two years ago, “Lily, you are going to marry a sociopath who wants your money and have his baby.” I would have laughed at you and walked away.

Two days after Paul and my conversation, I was able to leave the hospital. However, it was only under one condition. I would have to leave in the arms of the man who despised me most—Jason. He arrived back from New York as if nothing had happened between us. As if we were a perfect happily married couple. And me, I had to act as if everything was okay to avoid another hospital visit.

Jason yanked my hand to walk me downstairs as if he were a gentleman. “I will help you, Lily.”

“I can get around fine by myself!” I yelled and shoved him back. “Why would you want to help me?”

“Do you have to be so rude all the time?” Jason rolled his eyes. “I was just trying to help you down the stairs. I wouldn’t want you to fall,” he smirked.

I laughed; not wanting to believe his evil smile. “You wouldn’t, right?”

He dropped his smile and narrowed his eyes. “Want me to cook dinner? I have a killer new recipe I have been working on?”

“Actually nope, I’m doing something special tonight for us,” I grinned.

“And what is that?”

“Paul and I are going to cook tonight.”

“You shouldn’t be on your feet. The doctor said you shouldn’t be walking around. I insist; let me cook tonight.”

“It’s okay. I want to be useful…I’m tired of being in bed all day. I don’t want to get bed sores.”

“Fine, Lily, have it your way.” Jason went back into the room and ran the water in the shower.

I hurried downstairs, where Paul was stirring soup in the kitchen. “We better do it quick, Lily,” he said as he watched me run over to him.

“What should we put it in?” I said as I held the Ziploc of drugs. “We need to hurry before he gets out the shower.”

“Maybe wine?” he said as he stirred the soup. “And a little in the soup too.”

I poured nearly half the bag into the wine. “Yeah that seems good,” I paused. “I’m so excited I could just poop out glitter—”

“That’s so not strange at all,” Paul laughed.

“It’ll be—”

Paul cut me off by pushing me back because Jason was coming into the kitchen. “Hi, Jason,” he said.

“Smells good!” Jason said.

“That was a quick shower,” I said.

“A little too quick,” Paul said.

“I’m hungry,” Jason said.

“Why don’t you try this new wine Paul bought,” I snapped as I handed him a glass. “It’s very expensive.”

“Oh no, not now,” he said while pushing the cup away.

I shoved the glass in his face. “No, I insist, Jason. It’s so yummy! Drink some for me babe, since I’m pregnant with your baby.”

“Fine just a bit,” he smirked and drank down the whole glass in less than a second. “Whoa, that was good!”

“Yup, I told you and you said you didn’t want any,” I said. “Go wash your hands; dinner will be done in twenty minutes.”

“But I just showered—”

“Just go!”

“Okay,” Jason said and went back upstairs.

I waited for him to get to the room and whispered, “That was too easy. He probably thought the same thing when he did that to me. No wonder he was always happy—the feeling of accomplishment is powerful.”

“Yeah, but we have to wait a few hours—”

The sound of Jason collapsing to the floor cut Paul off. It sounded as if he had fallen off the bed or off something high. Paul stared at me in mystification and we both ran out the kitchen to upstairs.

“Was that Jason?” I said.

“I assume so,” Paul snapped as he went into the bedroom. “Oh my god!” he laughed and pointed at Jason lying across the bathroom floor.

“That stupid, stupid—” I kicked Jason in the ribs. “You were right, Paul. He was drugging me the whole time.”

“How much did you give him?” Paul asked.

“Like half the bag.”

“Whoa, that was way too much! You’re never supposed to give—”

“How would you know that—”

“Look!” Paul pointed at Jason as he began shaking on the floor as if he were having a seizure.

I ran to his side and put my hand over his forehead. “How do I stop him?”

“Just leave him,” Paul said.

“No, what if I killed him?”

“Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“No way! I don’t want to be a murderer.”

“Coward,” he muttered.

“I am not a coward,” I snapped. “Just because I don’t want to murder someone, I’m a coward?”

“Okay, I’m just kidding,” Paul laughed. “Calm down.”

“This is not a time to joke around!” I cried.

Jason stopped shaking and I turned him on his side so he wouldn’t choke. As he opened one eye, I jumped up in fear that he would attack me. I held my belly tight as he stared into space.

“What are you going to do,” Paul said. “You’re going to be in trouble.”

“This was your idea,” I said.

“Lily, don’t blame me. You’re the one who wanted to test it on him.”

“But, you planted the idea in my head.”

“What, no I didn’t,” he laughed. “Do I look like Leonardo Dicaprio in Inception?”

I sighed. “Let’s just go.”

Paul snatched his arm from my grip. “Where are we going?”

“Just downstairs…calm down.” I pulled Paul again, but this time he shoved me back.

“You don’t have to tug on me!” he snapped. “I can walk downstairs by myself.”

“Okay, Paul.” I ran downstairs and sat at the table, waiting for Paul, who was still in the room with Jason.

“Lily, we should call 911,” Paul said as he finally walked downstairs. “He looks pale.”

“Are you crazy? I cannot go to jail.”

“Prison, Lily. You would go to prison,” he said in a calm tone.

“It seems like you don’t really care about me anymore,” I snapped. “What’s your fucking deal?”

“Okay, let’s stop arguing.”

“What do we do, now that we know he’s been drugging me? We can’t let him get away with this.”

Paul sat next to me and ate some bread. “Like I said, Lily…we deal with it…for now,” he paused, “if this is the same stuff he was giving you, he should be out for a few days.”

“We have enough time to look through his things,” I smiled.

“For what?” Paul snapped as he choked on his bread.

“Anything suspicious and we can give it to Mike—”

“Mike wants nothing to do with you. Do you not get it?” he snapped.

I ran back upstairs, gesturing for Paul to follow. “We should start now,” I yelled.

“But…” Paul tiptoed back upstairs, eating some chips. “But, I bet we won’t find anything.”

“Don’t be so negative.”

Jason was out on the floor while Paul and I looked through his things for any information. We could not find anything. His computer was locked and no matter how many different passwords we tried, it didn’t unlock. Then, I checked his closet and there was nothing. He didn’t have much room for his stuff, so I couldn’t imagine where it would be.

“I give up—”

“Come here,” Paul said from the closet. “Is this your money?” Paul pulled out a plastic bag full of dollar bills from Jason’s dresser.

“Where else would he get that money from? Not even a stripper can make this much cash in a lifetime!” I grabbed the bag of dollar bills. “He cashed all my money. He lied and told me he put it in a shared account,” I said.

“Not only is he a murderer but a theft too,” Paul said.

“I’m so happy you found this.”

“It just adds more drama.”

“No, I’m so happy. This means I was right.”

“About what?”

“Everything,” I beamed as I hugged the bag of money. “I’m so happy. Paul, you have no idea how happy I am.”

Paul went back downstairs and sat on the couch. I grabbed the bag of money and skipped downstairs in joy. No words could explain how satisfied I was at that moment. I spread the cash across the coffee table. With a smile, Paul sniffed the cash.

“There is more to him than we know,” Paul said as he rubbed the money on his face. “I don’t know what, but there is.”

“Of course there is.”

“Any ideas?” he said quickly.

“Not yet—” Light bulb! “Hey, do you have your camera with you?” I said as I put the money down.

“I should have it with me.” Paul dug in his empty pocket.

“Do they still have all the photos on them from when I first bought this home—that Ana took?”

“Um…yeah, I should have them on there. Why?” Paul grabbed his messenger bag and held it close to him.

I tugged on his bag in his firm grip and he wouldn’t let go. “Can I see the camera?” I dug into Paul’s bag and pulled out the camera myself.

“What is it you need to see at a time like this?”

I flipped through the photos, searching for the pictures Ana had taken the day I moved in. The photo of a worker modeling on the front steps was the first one. Next, a photo of Ana in my window, then…

“Busted!”

“What is it?” Paul said as sweat slid down his cheek.

“The carpet…it’s golden-brown on the photo,” I smiled. “Golden-brown, Paul!”

“It’s always been golden—what the heck?” Paul touched the carpet. “Why is your carpet white now?”

“Jason changed it. He tried to make me seem like I was crazy.”

“Why would he do that?” he said as he snatched the camera from me.

“Cause he wants something from me.”

I got up, walked to the corner of the living room, and dug up the side of the carpet. I pulled the white carpet up and under it was the golden-brown I remembered. “Busted again.”

“What are you doing now?” Paul said.

“He’s been playing games with my mind. He is a genius in his own right.”

“Maybe you—”

“Maybe what? I changed the carpet? Is that what you’re trying to say?” I said.

“No,” Paul snapped.

“Then, maybe what? Are you accusing me of really being insane?”

“Lily, no! I was just going to say, maybe—”

“If you’re turning on me now, Paul, you can just leave. You are really confusing me today.”

Paul ignored me and pushed aside the piano that was in the dining room. “Wow, look at this!” With no effort, he removed a gigantic picture on the wall of Audrey Hepburn and exposed a door. Behind the picture was a key—he unlocked the door with it. “Just follow me.”

“What the heck is that place?” I said.

Paul shoved open the smaller than normal door and walked in. “Come on.”

“Is this a panic room?” I said. “What is this room for?”

“I don’t know,” he said as he turned on the flickering lights. “Look at this!”

I grabbed the box Paul held up. “What is this stuff?”

“Looks like old medication boxes,” Paul said as he shuffled through five boxes.

“What the hell?” I opened one of the boxes and it looked like the melted M&Ms.

“What is wrong?”

“These are the drugs,” I snapped.

“What about the powder?” Paul said.

“No, these are the ones he was replacing my prescription with.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m positive. They look exactly like the ones I was taking. But, these aren’t the same as the ones I’m supposed to take. He hides them here.”

Paul sighed.

“I didn’t even know this room existed. How did you know about this room?” I said.

“I just noticed it right before…”

“Let’s look for more of the white powder.”

“So, not only had he been drugging you but he hadn’t been giving you your medication; which, made you a total nut ball. And to add to that he would mess with your mind too.”

“So, what are you trying to say? He was trying to make me kill myself?”

“Yeah, exactly…he was trying to make you to the point that if you were to die today, it wouldn’t be a shock since you have been in and out of nut homes and hospital stays. Think like the movie Heathers, how the couple set up all those fake suicides.”

I paused and thought of a new theory. “So, I am crazy, but he used that to his advantage so I would commit suicide to make his hands look clean?”

“Well, sort of…but stop calling yourself ‘crazy’. You are not crazy. That is the reason we didn’t want to tell you about your mental disorder.”

“Okay, so I have a mental disorder, which he used to his advantage?”

“Exactly.”

“I can’t believe it—to have someone take advantage of me because of my disorder.”

“Man, he is too good. He knew exactly what he was doing from beginning to end. Something like this would make you want to kill yourself. I know I would have by now.”

“End? I’m not dead yet, Paul.”

“You know what I mean.”

“You think Ana knows what Jason is up too?” I said.

“She would never let Jason get away with a crime like this.”

“So, you think she doesn’t know?”

“Of course not.”

“Did you know?” I said.

“Me? No way!”

“You know my friend Madison knew him. I wondered how, but I didn’t ask much.”

“How did you know?”

“Well, at my party, he knew her. Well, at the time I wasn’t too worried about Jason.”

“What do you mean you weren’t worried? You had me call Mike, remember?”

“Well, I was just worried a little. However, I didn’t think he was trying to kill me! He had quit his job with Ana and didn’t tell me so I wanted to know about his past.”

Paul grabbed my hand to walk outside the “panic room.” He shut the door exactly how it was before we entered. Our eyes grew large as Jason tumbled down the stairs. Paul tugged on my hand to leave but I let go of his grip.

“Jason?” we both said in fear.

“So, what’s for dinner? Drug soup?” Jason snapped as he threw a spoon across the kitchen at us.

“I’m sorry, Paul, for bringing you into this,” I said.

Paul didn’t answer he just stared at Jason with his jaw to the floor—probably just as shocked as I was that he was up. “How’d he wake up? That was such a large dose.”

“Yes, Lily I have a son. His name is Brandon…he lives in Arizona with other family. And yeah I’m thirty, but age is just a number. And if I remember correctly, you never asked my age…you just assumed. I’ve been to jail a few times…big deal…that’s all you Hollywood starlets do these days. If you wanted to know more about me, you should have asked me,” Jason said.

“You’re a liar!” I said.

“I haven’t done a thing to you.”

“Yes! You hit me, drug me, and stole my money!”

“Prove it,” he smirked. “What, is Paul going to help you?” he laughed.

“No, I don’t need Paul’s help. You won’t walk the streets if it’s the last thing I do!”

“I don’t know what is going on, but I am not trying to kill you. Okay, yes I’m sorry I attacked you a few times, but I have never drugged you or stole your money. I told you what happened.”

“What happened to it then?”

“Jerry—”

“Your brother you never told me about—”

“Yes, he scammed me. He called me and told me he worked with the bank. He had all the papers to prove it. He said he could fix our accounts but he lied to me.”

“Then, why was my money found in the room in a bag?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“All the money that was missing was in the room.”

“Well, I don’t know how it got there. It’s not your money.”

“I’m on to you.”

“And what are you going to do?” he laughed. “Drug me again?”

“No, I won’t drug you if you promise not to drug me.”

Jason laughed. “Lily, the only person drugging you is yourself.”

“That’s not true.”

“Yes, you are drugging yourself with insanity.”

I looked at Paul, waiting for him to say something. He just stood there. And then it came…he threw up all over the kitchen floor.

***

October

 

November

 

December

Chapter 14 | Redemption

 

Jason’s plan: drive Lily nuts.

My Plan: to win.

 

“…Mental breakdowns…we all have them. Mine just got documented in the media.”

Paul and I were watching my first interview since my “breakdown” that I had done the day before. I had stuck to Paul’s plan. Deal with Jason until the birth of our baby. There was no secret to what Jason wanted to happen neither to me—nor to him. I was not afraid of Jason anymore because I knew he wouldn’t hurt me as long as I was pregnant. The fact that a therapist was watching our every move did not help his plans either. If the police were not going to put Jason away, then I was going to have to.

Paul and I had all the facts against him: the beatings, the drugs, and my money. We just had to wait it out. We knew he would be in prison soon—or maybe better—gone.

In November, Jason finally admitted he stole my money and told me he took it because he needed to pay for his taxes and that he was in major debt. He had said, “Lily, I had no choice! I know you wouldn’t give me the money so I had to take it. And Jerry, he is just my misunderstood brother. He’s no harm. But, I will pay you back…and I have no idea how that money got in my room. I promise…but we can spend that money.”

I wanted to murder him, but it was exactly what he wanted me to do—it was his plan—to go mad on him, so police would lock me up. However, I was smarter than he thought. I was always one-step ahead of him.

After his confession, Jason thought everything was back to normal again—that we were this big happy family. He even joined an anger management group and took up a business course at a local college. I still wasn’t impressed.

On the other hand, I knew he was up to no good. I knew his plan, so I stayed under control. And thanks to me being in control of my medication, I was sane again—well to an extent.

“And what about your mother?” asked the news anchor.

“What, mother? I have no mother,” I said.

Paul paused the TV. “Ouch that was harsh don’t you think?”

“Nah, I doubt it.”

“Have you even spoken to Kathy?” Paul replayed the interview again on mute.

“Nope, I’m pretty sure she is living life up being a bitch.”

Honestly, I had not thought of Kathy since that time in the police station and the time Paul told me I really was schizophrenic. Her presence never came up to me. I could have cared less about her.

“Harsh,” he murmured.

“Uh, when is this baby going to come out, so I can take an axe and kill Jason,” I laughed.

“Really, huh,” Paul laughed louder.

“It’s even funnier because you think I’m joking, but I’m not,” I said as my face turned serious. “At first I wanted to put Jason in prison for life for what he done to me, but now I want to see his body in a grave.”

“You’re so funny!”

“No, I’m serious. I want to see him suffer; like I have been for the past year.”

I paused and realized how my life had changed in less than one year. How I went from an American sweetheart to an American psycho.

“Yeah, I want him to suffer,” I sang as I imagined standing over Jason’s grave; it brought a huge smile to my face.

Paul’s face got stiff and he got off the couch and went to the kitchen. “You know one symptom of schizophrenia is lack of emotion. Are you sure you have been taking your meds every day?”

“Lack of emotion? Don’t you see me smiling right now?”

“Because of evil.”

“Anyway, yes, I have been taking my pills. You know what Jason wants to do to me; I just have to do it to him first.”

Paul walked over to me and rubbed my shoulders. “Do what first?”

I smiled and Paul turned in the opposite direction. “You know what.”

“Lily, please stop; you’re scaring me now.”

“It’s all part of the plan.”

He sighed. “I really have to discuss some stuff with you—”

Jason came into the house, shutting Paul up—only if he knew my plans. Just two more months, honey.

“Lily?” Jason said.

“Jason,” I said.

“Look at what the nurse from the hospital got you.” Jason handed me a baby bag.

“That’s lovely.” I threw it on the floor in disgust. “Why don’t you be useful and get Paul and I some ice cream? I’m having a fat day, and want something sweet.”

“Um, okay,” he rolled his eyes and headed toward the door.

I threw him some money. “Or were you intending on stealing my money out my wallet?”

“Funny,” he gave me the middle finger and left out the door.

“You’re pushing his buttons, Lily,” Paul whined and sat next to me.

I rolled my eyes. “So? He’s pushing mine too. You don’t think I have buttons that are being pushed?”

“He’s going to snap and hurt you. You have no idea what he is thinking. Do you know what he is capable of?” he patted my stomach. “We already know what he is capable of. He could kill you.”

“Do you know what I’m capable of?” I said as I pushed him away.

“No…what?”

“Murder.”

Paul’s shoulders stiffened. “You’re…not…not…not serious…are you?”

I winked.

“You’re no better than him if you are seriously considering that! I swear, Lily, you’re getting more crazier as the days go by. Are you sure you’re taking your medication?”

“Boo-who, Paul! I’m just doing what you said; giving him some of his own medicine. But, he’s not going to suffer if you don’t want him too. I promise,” I smiled. “Although I would prefer for him to suffer as I have been.”

“You’re mad! I’m starting to believe you really are nuts…wait a minute, you are nuts…there are doctor papers to prove it,” Paul snapped. “Take your medication, NOW!”

“How dare you!” I grabbed Paul’s love handles and twisted it.

“Ouch!” Paul pushed me in the chest and jumped off the couch. “Lily, you’re pregnant…don’t act stupid!”

“Bring it, fat ass!”

“You’re acting just like your mother! Or even worse, you’re acting like a lunatic. The old Lily I knew would never dare say they would kill someone.”

“The old Lily was weak. You even said I was a coward.”

“Well, killing someone won’t make you less of one.”

“At least I have balls now. The old Lily would never think like me.”

“I don’t know what’s more pathetic—the fact that I helped you put facts together about Jason or the fact that I was going to help you put him in prison. I would have never considered murdering Jason.”

I laughed, mocking him. “Just leave then.”

“You guys are meant to be with each other—Mr. Crazy and Mrs. Crazier!” Paul stomped to the door, rubbing his fat I squeezed.

“Just leave!” I threw my keys at his back.

“Burn in hell, Lily!” He slammed the door so hard it knocked a picture frame off the wall.

I smiled.

***

“The counselor will be here in a few minutes. Go put something decent on,” Jason instructed as he cooked dinner.

“No,” I snapped. “So, you can poison my food when I leave.”

“Trust me, if I wanted to put poison in your food, I did it already,” he grinned.

“Clever.” I pushed my chair back and went to the bedroom. It seemed as if Jason went shopping for me, because there was a new silk sleeveless dress in the closet. I squeezed into the dress, stared at myself in the mirror, and did not recognize myself. I had long dirty hair that had a permanent part on the side. I had red bags under my eyes as if I cried for weeks. My whole body was skinny and frail; just a huge baby bump made my body look awkward—almost alien like.

I leaned in closer to the mirror, mesmerizing my terrible skin. My skin always looked its best, but these days it was horrible. No makeup could cover up the dullness in my skin tone. I traced my fingers over a bump shaped like a scar that was over my right arched eyebrows.

“Can’t be,” I whispered as I pushed on it. I combed back the hair that flowed down the left side of my face and there was another bump. I pushed on both of them, trying to see what they were. I did not remember falling and how odd would bumps in that place be—like formed horns.

“Lily!” Jason shouted.

“I’m coming.” As I walked to the dining room, I could hear Jason talking to Kristen, our marriage counselor.

“She is acting difficult again. The meds aren’t working,” I overheard Jason say. “She needs a higher dose or something. Honestly, I don’t even think she’s taking them.”

“Really?” I walked into the dining room and sat at the table with them. “I have been taking my medication accurately. I think I am strong enough to live without them though. I won’t let a disorder control my life.”

“But, it had been controlling your life since you were a child,” Jason snapped. “What makes you think you will be capable of controlling your disorder now?”

“Well, it doesn’t matter. I’m taking them now. No hospital visits, no voices in my head…nothing unusual,” I smiled. “But, I wouldn’t need the pills. I can control my own life.”

“Well, I disagree. I have known people with schizophrenia and without their meds they are on the crazy side—as you had been a few months ago.”

“Well, like I said Mr. Lawson, I didn’t know much about my disorder then, so it had full control of me. I won’t let something take that part of me again. If anything it’s encouraging me to do something more,” I said.

“To do what, Mrs. Lawson?” Jason said.

“Hmm, oh nothing.”

“I would love to see what that is. But, you will stay on your meds right? I wouldn’t want you to do something you’ll regret.”

“Oh trust me, I wouldn’t risk my life. I’ll be on meds forever, if it means my safety.”

Kristen cleared her throat. “I’m glad to see you up and awake, Lily.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“See,” Jason pointed at me, “just difficult.”

“Rude, not difficult,” Kristen said.

“Listen Kristen, you’re in my house and you’re not welcomed here,” I said.

“No Kris, you’re very welcomed here.” Jason smiled and handed her a plate of food.

“She’s not helping our relationship,” I said. “What is the point of her?”

“Well, it takes time, Lily,” Kristen said.

“You should just leave,” I said.

“I think you should take more of your meds because you’re acting like a bitch! And you can’t blame your pregnancy hormones,” Jason rolled his eyes. “You need bitch meds!”

“Excuse me?” I said. “That was very rude of you.”

Kristen began to breathe heavy as she dug around her handbag. “I don’t feel welcomed here,” she muttered. “I should leave.”

“I’m sorry if Lily is being terrible—”

“No, it’s something else. I feel an evil vibe in this house. And it’s not just coming from Lily, it’s coming from you too.”

“Evil?” Jason laughed. “What does that mean?”

She began to hyperventilate and stood up over the table. “I don’t mean to turn holy on you but I will pray for you, Jason, and your foolish wife. She needs God! You both need God!” Kristen ran to the front door.

I touched the hard bumps on my forehead as her eyes narrowed. “You should just leave, Kristen.”

“Bye,” Kristen said and ran outside to her car.

Jason closed the front door. “Why can’t you just be normal?” Jason said as he looked out the window. “Kristen was our only hope.”

“It doesn’t really matter what happens, right?”

“What are you talking about now?”

“Sure you don’t know what I’m talking about.”

“You know what? You were better when you were on drugs! You talked less! You play these stupid mind games…it drives me crazy!” he snapped.

“That’s good then,” I said. My plan is working.

I was gaining control now. No one had seen this side of me before—not even me. There was no more hyperventilating because I wasn’t afraid of anyone anymore. There were no more stones in my heart because I had no guilt. I had no more Jason pushing me around like a child. I knew all his tricks and ideas; he may have written the book but I wrote the sequel and I was not going to give up until it was done.

Chapter 15 | Abused

 

Jason’s plan: to make Lily look crazier in front of people.

My Plan: keep my sanity.

 

While soaking in the tub, I closed my eyes and let my mind wonder away from reality. Sometimes I wished my life were a movie that I—

My phone rang breaking my thoughts—it was Ana again. She was annoying me by always being around me. If it was not at my house begging for forgiveness, she was calling my phone every hour. She said she was trying to help, but geez I needed breathing room.

“What?” I answered, fearing I would drop the phone in the tub.

“So, do you know what it is going to be?” she said.

“Yeah, a boy.”

“Cool, any names in mind?”

“Not yet. I’m not focused on that now.”

“Why not? You should be.”

“I have bigger things to handle at this moment.”

“Like what? What’s so important these days beside your new son? Ooh, can I plan the baby shower?”

“Gag, I’m not having a baby shower.”

“Why not?”

“Well—” My heart jumped when Jason walked into the bathroom—he caught me off guard—I thought I was home alone. I hadn’t had that feeling of fear in a while—I didn’t like that feeling—I felt sick. “Um, I got to go, bye,” I hung up the phone before Ana could say anymore.

Jason stared at my every move in bewilderment. My lip quivered a bit because I felt out of control. I was not going to let him be in control again—no way!

“What?” I said.

“Nothing,” he whispered with a raspy voice and the smell of hard liquor filled the bathroom. He walked over to my blow dryer and imitated me in the mirror. Months ago, I would have found that hilarious, but these days nothing was humorous. I kept my eyes on his every move—trying not to lose control. I thought about getting out the tub but I decided not to.

He looked over at me and walked over with the dryer. He stood over the tub and turned the blow dryer on. My body tensed up—I had lost complete control—it was over.

“You know what would suck, Lily,” he paused, “if I accidentally dropped this dryer in the tub. Yeah, that would end everything. I would not have to worry about anything. Yup, I wouldn’t worry how to take care of baby Simon when you’re gone or worry that you’ll come after me with that tortured mind of yours. Yeah, that would basically suck,” he yawned as if he were bored.

“But you don’t have the guts to do it, you stupid drunk; because you would go to prison,” I said.

“Really? I never thought of that. But, what makes you think that if you kill me you wouldn’t go to prison?” he said.

“Well, it wouldn’t matter, as long as I’m alive, right?”

“Not true. You wouldn’t last in prison. You’ll be someones bitch.”

“It would be self-defense for me. You can’t say that though. A little lady with a soft voice like me can’t possibly harm you, right? I mean, look at me…I’m so petite and feminine.”

“True,” Jason began to laugh. “Very true.”

“You know it’s tempting to drop the dryer in the tub,” he said.

“But you’re right—”

“I knew it—”

“No, I would never have the guts to do it. I actually have a conscious unlike you, Lily. But don’t worry, baby, I’m going to get you help if it’s the last thing I do.”

“I don’t need help! You’re the one who needs help. You started this first.”

“Whatever, I’m not even going to argue with you.” He stepped back and put the blow dryer on the sink. “I’m just saying that it would suck if I accidentally did that,” he laughed as he walked out the bathroom, humming a Micheal Jackson song.

Why did he not do it? He could have killed me. Is he trying to make me go crazier than what I already am? Does he really want to battle with me? Am I capable of murder or am I just overly confident?

Yeah, he was a lot stronger than I was, and bigger, but was he smarter? The only way I could get even with him was if he was sick or something, maybe even disabled…

I hurried to get out the tub before he could come back after me. I hid the blow dryer in the back closet and hurried to dry off. As I wiped my face dry, I noticed the bumps above my eyebrows, which were more vivid now. I slammed my fist into them, trying to crush them down—it didn’t work. Then, I tried to pop them as if they were pimples. I gave up after a minute and noticed the sclera of my right eye was red. None of my abnormalities seemed to hurt—they were just odd.

The next day, the only thing on my mind was Jason. I looked outside the window from the kitchen and Jason was talking to my “nurse.” More like flirting with his nurse. She had nothing special going on, just an average blonde with long legs. That nurse was always around these days and I began to get suspicious every time they were alone. She always wanted to cook lunch for me, or clean my room. I knew what she was up to—she was part of Jason’s plan. She would probably poison me if I allowed her to cook or clean for me. Even worse, she would probably suffocate me with a pillow. Or, she was probably his alibi or something. She would be his proof that I was insane.

“Jason!” I yelled from the window.

He grunted and took a few steps closer to the window. “What?”

“The baby is kicking.”

“So?” he rolled his eyes. “What do you want me to do?”

“To come here.”

“Lily, you have to wait. Don’t you see I’m busy?” Him and the nurse went across the long street and knocked on our only neighbor’s door.

I walked into the living room and sat on the couch—I flipped through the channels. There was a biography about me on. I turned up the volume loud blocking out my own voice in my head.

The biography was raw. It showed all the crap I never wanted to remember. When Kathy’s face showed up on the screen, I had appalling thoughts. The biography showed how in the beginning of my career she supported me throughout everything good and bad. Maybe her illness really made her a horrible mom. Or maybe not, I changed my thought realizing I was ill like her too.

“Kathy,” I muttered. “What happened to us?” I realized I was crying when a tear fell on my belly. But, I hate that old bat! I slammed my fist on my head, trying to block out the image of Kathy’s face—it did not work.

While holding my breath, I walked to the mirror in the hallway—both eyes were now a staggering red. Who am I? I did not see me in the mirror, I saw someone else—someone more evil—someone with more power than me. Jason does want to kill me, right? Why do I doubt myself…of course he does. As I cried, I stumbled over to the telephone to dial Paul’s number. He did not answer, so I left a message.

“Paul do you believe in the devil? I don’t know much about him or her but I heard he or her comes in all forms—what if he’s in me? I think I am—”

“Lily?” Paul answered. “What the hell are you talking about? You’re not the devil. That’s worst than someone saying they’re God.”

“You should see me, Paul. I look horrible. I look like I’m turning fifty and my eyes are so red and I have these bumps that are getting bigger every day. They are like horns or something,” I cried.

Paul stayed silent.

“Paul, are you listening to me?” I said.

“You’re nuts,” he whispered.

“Huh?”

“Lily, get help,” he said and hung up on me.

I slammed the phone down and began to cry again. I screamed at the top of my lungs and took my anger out on the couch. My toenail snapped off as I kicked the couch leg and I fell to the floor in agony. The baby began to kick and I smashed my fist into my side ribcage—making him stop.

I listened as Jason and the nurse ran inside the house. I could hear them searching for me, and when I looked up they stood over me.

“Lily, is everything alright?” the nurse said. “I’m Kelly, and I will help you—”

“Don’t I look horrible?” I cried as sweat poured down my face. “I look evil!”

Jason grabbed my arms to pull me to stand up. “You look fine.”

“Just leave me alone,” I said as a shock of pain hit me again. “It’s so hot!”

“Come on, we need to go to the doctor,” Kelly said as she grabbed my hands.

“Okay, I’ll get her stuff,” Jason said as he ran to the room.

“I don’t need to go to the doctor,” I said.

“Have you been harming yourself?” Kelly ran her warm fingers over my forehead. “What have you been doing to yourself? Have you gotten stitches in the last month?”

“I’m not hurting myself. Those are horns growing out my skull!”

Kelly’s eyes narrowed as she pushed on the bumps. “Lily, it looks more like you were banging your head or a deep soft cut. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

“I have not been harming myself. I would remember.”

“Then, what the hell is wrong with you?” Jason said as he headed out the door. “It looks like you had stitches.”

“I haven’t had stitches.”

Kelly and Jason forced me to go to the doctor. I felt out of control again as she held me down in the backseat. I felt like a kidnapped child. I was useless—vulnerable and alone. As I waited in the doctor’s office, I overheard Jason and Kelly talking to someone about me trying to harm myself. I think Jason had a new plan—to put me away for good, but what would that get him?

“Hmm, I don’t see anything strange,” said the doctor as he touched my forehead. “Her head looks fine. Are you sure you had bumps there?”

“I swear, doctor, they were huge!” I said. “And my eyes…look at my eyes. They are so red. And my skin is so ugly.”

“Everything looks normal to me. You just have some cuts on your forehead as if you were scratching too hard,” Dr. Summings said. “But, they are healing.”

I stood up and looked into the mirror. I looked how I looked before my birthday—I looked beautiful. “That’s odd. I’m glowing.”

Dr. Summings laughed. “You have that pregnancy glow!”

“But, something is wrong,” I said.

“Don’t mind her, doc, she is just ill,” Jason said.

“I’m not ill, so stop telling people that, you dumb—”

“You have been taking your medication, right? You’re probably having some hallucinations,” Dr. Summings said.

“I’m fine,” I said.

“Is our baby okay?” Jason said.

“He’s fine; I’m just worried about Lily as of now. The baby will be out in no time.”

“Are we done?” I snapped. “I really want to leave.”

“Yes, we really have to go,” Jason said as he sensed my anger. “She needs rest.”

“Of course!” the doctor said. “Well, I’ll see you guys in a matter of days when that baby is born.”

As we walked out the doctor’s office, Jason tried to grab my hand but I began to speed walk. “Lily you’re gonna fall,” he said.

“And you would love to see that,” I said.

“No, why would I?”

“I know your new plan, Jason. I’m so on to you.”

Jason rolled his eyes, not bothering to reply. His eyes narrowed as he searched for his car. “Lily, just calm down, okay.” He started the car and waited for me to get in. “Hurry up, Lily.”

“I can take my time,” I said as I got into the car. I stared at him as his eyebrows curved over his eyes. “Jason, can I ask you something?”

“What?” he snapped as he turned the car on.

“Before we came to the doctor’s office, how did I look? Were my eyes red and did I have bumps on my forehead?”

“I don’t know,” he muttered.

“Please tell me!”

“I really don’t know.”

“Do you think what Kristen said is real?”

“About what?”

“About the evil around us.”

“Honestly, I think some people are more attracted to evil than others.”

***

February

 

The remaining weeks leading up to my due date was like a rock on the edge of a cliff—tension. Jason can say I was the reason his hair was thinning or maybe him always pulling at it when he got mad. My life was like the rock and his anger was the wind waiting to let out the best blow. Love/hate was an understatement when it came to our relationship. It’s funny how someone can go from love to hate so fast. The love has to remain somewhere, right? But, where does it go if you cannot pull it away from anywhere?

“Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out,” Kelly said.

“SHUT UP!” I shouted so loud I am sure the entire medical staff heard me. “Just take the damn baby out of me!”

“Okay, Mrs. Lawson, we will as soon as possible. We will call your husband for you.”

“Forget my husband! If he’s not here the better. I don’t need him here.”

“Okay, okay, okay.”

“Hurry up, I’m in pain!” I cried. “Just HURRY!”

“Doctor?” Kelly screamed. “We need a doctor!”

The baby was coming sooner than expected. It caught me off guard when I was on the couch watching TV and I had felt warm water go down my legs. I read that some people like to labor at home, so that’s what I did for seven hours. No one was home so I drove myself to the ER.

A part of me really wished Kathy were there with me, holding my hand. She would have been so proud. Probably crying—tears of joy. A part of me wished someone were there—even Jason.

“Where are the meds? I need meds!” I cried. “Where is it?”

“No, no Miss. It’s too late for those,” the doctor said. “It will be a breeze.”

“Too late? Is that even possible?” I cried.

“Sorry, but this baby wants out, now!”

I think I blanked out after he told me that. I do not even remember half the labor. I could not handle the pain. I could just remember the doctors asking for Jason ever two seconds. He never showed—not that I expected him to show up. He was probably at home planning my deathbed—I would if I were him.

“It’s a boy!” Kelly said over the baby crying.

“A boy? A boy!” Jason’s scream awoke me from my black out.

What is he doing here? He was not here a second ago. I came back to reality as I watched Jason take over fifty photos of the baby. He looked content. Happier than any fake dad on a TV sitcom could be. That Jason could do no wrong. He would not hurt me, not even a fly. I felt like smiling…it felt like love.

“He’s healthy,” Kelly whispered in my ear.

“Get me water,” I hyperventilated.

“Simon. His name is Simon,” Jason said. “What do you think?”

I did not respond to him. I just nodded and closed my eyes, waiting for my water.

***

I thought of Kathy when looking at Simon. He had her eyes, her smile, and her hair—everything. When he frowned, he had wrinkle marks—just as Kathy—however, she tried her hardest to remove them.

“He looks like my…mom,” I said. “My mom, Kathy.”

“Nah, I think he looks like you,” Kelly said. “He’s such a beauty.”

Jason walked into the room with water bottles in his hands—back to his old ways. His eyes narrowed as he saw me up and alert. “Glad to see you up again.”

“Hmm,” I said.

“Here,” he handed me the water I had asked for hours ago.

“You think I’m a fool don’t you. No thanks!” I tossed the water into the trashcan.

“I’ll leave you guys alone,” Kelly said as she left the room.

“No, you’re no fool, just naïve, but that’s okay,” he said. “It will get you far.”

“What do you want from me?” I said. “Just leave me alone.”

“Not this again,” he sighed. “You just had a baby, can’t you just relax?”

“Relax? So, you can chop my head off.”

“Seriously, Lily? I’m not trying to do anything. I’m just giving water to my wife.”

“You’re just angry that I know your plans,” I said.

“What plans? I would like to know my plans. You’re just paranoid,” he said.

“You should be warned that I am now, two steps ahead of you.”

Jason snatched Simon away from me. “You’re woozy in the head. I should take him.”

I smiled. “I got my eye on you.”

Two days later, the hospital released baby Simon and I. I amazed them by the energy I had just after the birth that they thought I was back on drugs—which was impossible because I was never on drugs in the first place. Of course, I was drug tested and they did not want me to breastfeed because apparently I was some drug addict waiting to relapse.

“Ew gross, what is that on your arm?” I pointed to a caterpillar object on Jason, who was sitting on the couch.

“Where?” Jason gasped as he held Simon.

“I don’t know; it’s gone now,” I cleared my eyes. “There it is again!” I got up and slapped the caterpillar on Jason’s arm.

“Hey! What are you doing? There is nothing there! You just want a reason to hit me!”

“No, it was there!” I searched the floor. “It’s on Simon’s forehead!” I lifted my hand to smack it.

“I swear if you hit this baby—” Jason grabbed my hand before I did something stupid.

“But, I saw something!” I sat back down on the couch and closed my eyes.

“You’re having weird hallucinations. Go to sleep or something.” Jason left to the downstairs room with Simon.

Baffled, I followed Jason into the room.

“You are so annoying me now! Why don’t you go get a job or go hang out with friends!” he snapped. “Just stop following me around the damn house all the time!”

“I don’t want to work. There is no point to work…and I have no friends.”

“Well, go do something!” He shut me out the door. “Why don’t you go organize your medication? And while you’re at it, why don’t you take some more.”

“No, I have to watch your every move in case you harm Simon!” I slammed my fist on the door. “I don’t want to leave!” I kicked the door and Simon began to cry in the room.

Jason opened the door. “Stop it! What the hell is your problem?” he grabbed my shoulders and walked me to the den. “Just stay down here! I have to treat you like a child to get you to act right.”

I clawed Jason’s arm. “I hate you so much, Jason.”

Irritated, Jason shoved me back in the chest. “Just stop it, Lily!”

“Stop hitting me!”

“If you hate me so much, why don’t you divorce me?” Jason ran to Simon’s cries. “Just do me a favor, okay?”

My face flooded with tears and snot, until my vision was blurred. I rubbed my chest where Jason had shoved me and thought about calling the police. This was considered domestic abuse, right? I held the telephone in my hand, ready to dial. What was the use—no one would believe me. I was crazy Lily. It was unfair how people like me were not considered reliable sources.

It drove me nuts not to go into the room to see what Jason was doing. It felt like it was my duty to watch Jason’s every move. He was a psycho and who knew what he was thinking. I was just afraid he was going to upset baby Simon.

***

March

 

April

 

May

 

June

 

I called Kathy’s house phone. She had caller ID, so I could imagine her pushing ignore every time my number would show. She used to do that to her mother, until she regretted it when her mother died.

“Hello?’ an unfamiliar female voice answered.

“Hello, is Kathy there?” I said.

“Yes.”

“Well, put her on!” I snapped as I fixed my hair in the mirror.

“No!”

“Listen, lady, I’m her daughter, Lily. She has a grandson now and it would be nice if she, the evil beast, called sometime.”

“Well, Lily, you didn’t seem to care about her all those other months. You never returned her calls.”

“Because…um…I was working,” I lied. “But, I’m not working anymore.”

“I really don’t care,” she paused, “well, if you want to see her come visit her then.”

I sighed, “No, put her on the phone now.”

“She can’t come to the phone.” The woman hung up on me.

“Fine,” I said to myself. “I’ll come see the old bat.” I grabbed my keys and went to get Simon from his crib.

I decided to go see Kathy—I had not seen her since before the wedding. I honestly wanted to go to her house, just to slap that rude woman who was on the phone. I sped the car to seventy miles per hour—which was unusual for me—I was a slow driver.

I did not recognize Kathy’s house from outside. I had to recheck the street address to see if I were at the right house. The grass was a dirty yellow. The once large colorful garden was now brown, and from the outside, the home looked vacant.

As if I was in a bad neighborhood, I got out the car with busy eyes. I wrapped Simon in his favorite blue blanket and snuggled him in my arms tight. I looked down the unfamiliar street, and the unwelcoming wind froze my face. I pushed the doorbell two times. The once loud ding-dong now had no sound, so I banged the double doors as the police once did when I was younger. I could hear someone’s feet running against the wooden floors toward the door.

A tall slender woman with a calming smile in scrubs answered the door. Her black hair was in a short bob cut, that went in uneasy directions. She wore thick black framed glasses that covered her whole face—but I knew that she was the lovely scumbag who had attitude with me over the phone.

“So, you’re that lady?” I said.

“Lily?”

“Where is Kathy?” I shoved the door open, letting myself in.

She was intending on slamming the door on me until she noticed I was holding Simon in my arms. As I paced around the house, I noticed the home was empty. Boxes filled the once glamorous living room. The flat screen television that used to be on the wall was now broken on the floor into pieces. The once red carpet on the stairs was lonely in a corner.

“What’s all this?” I pointed at the boxes. “Is she planning on moving?” I ran around the home looking to confront Kathy.

“It’s just things, Lily…”

“Where is Kathy? Kathy! Kathy! Is the witch hiding from me?” I ran through the rooms downstairs. “Where are you—” I slammed open the last bedroom door to witness Kathy’s unrecognizable lifeless body. She was in a hospice bed hooked up to tens of machines. As I approached her, she did not move an inch—she did not speak. “Why is she laying there? What is wrong with her?”

“She’s ill.”

“Ill? She is not ill. Crazy maybe, but ill…no she isn’t.”

“She is.”

I walked closer to her bedside and I felt the heavy stone in my heart. She looked as if she weighed no more than ninety pounds. I could see her cheekbones through her skin and her hair was completely gone. Her eyes twitched a bit as I brushed my hands across her cheeks. I thought they were going to open but they did not.

“Kathy…mommy?”

“Lily…” the woman touched my shoulder. “Um, how do I say this calmly?” she paused, “Kathy is dying.”

“No she is not!” I fell to her bedside, almost dropping Simon out my arms. “She is stronger than this!”

The women grabbed Simon from me so I would not drop him. “I’ll leave you alone with Kathy.”

“You are much better than this,” I whined. Without moving any of the medical machines, I kissed her hand; then, her face, then her forehead. She did not move at all—I lost her. I stared at the machines and realized those were the only things keeping her alive.

She was gone. Kathy was really gone and I never got to say goodbye.

I believed I talked to her for about two hours. Of course, I got no response from her. Bought time I left her room, my eyes were red again—they hurt to touch. My nose felt as if it was about to fall off and the stone in my heart stayed—I deserved it.

“Are you okay, Lily?”

“Yes, I will be.” I wiped the tears off my face. “How long has she been like this…you know, ill?”

“A while,” she sighed. “I’ve been taking care of her. When she could speak, she would always talk about you a lot. She really loved you. She would always say how when you became a teenager you did not want her going to award shows with you. She would laugh so hard. She loved you. I’m Camilla by the way.”

“What’s wrong with her?”

“Cancer…lung cancer.”

“She used to smoke a lot when I was younger, but then quit and would only suck on cigarettes.”

“She told me about that.”

“This is sad for her to die alone without her family.”

“It is.”

Camilla squeezed Simon’s cheeks. “You look too young to be a mother.”

“I am young,” I laughed. “I’m eighteen and I’ll be nineteen next month.”

“Whoa, that—”

“Sucks?”

“Nope, you’re lucky. I can’t have children…why am I telling you this?” she laughed. “I sometimes just tell people my business. It’s a bad habit.”

“Um, yeah and I’m sorry.”

“He looks like you. I can imagine you as a baby looking just like him.”

“No, he looks like my mom.”

“Yeah, he does look like her too.”

I tried to catch my breath as I watched Camilla play with Simon. “When did Kathy go on life support?” I finally spoke.

“Months ago, but Frank doesn’t want her to go.”

“My dad?”

“Yeah, he visits a lot.”

“That’s odd, considering he hated her.”

Camilla rolled her eyes, “Oh yeah? He would visit her a lot with Leslie. Kathy would tell him to visit you, but I’m assuming he never did.”

“That’s the oddest thought. He didn’t even visit me when I had my baby.”

“How is Jason? Kathy would always talk about him too.”

Jason? I thought about a lie I could say. I had not seen him in three miserable months. He up and left one morning when I was sleeping because he said he was sick of me. He told me how afraid he was to be in the same house as me—afraid I would try to harm him. No one knew that though. Of course, no one knew, I blocked everyone out my life. I did not have anyone to care. That was just like my mother—to always block people out her life.

However, Jason would send me text messages of how he loved me and would come back to Simon and me eventually—he never called though. I had missed having him around the house, but I felt safer too. I did not have to worry about him coming after me when I was sleeping. On the other hand, he being gone made me feel ailing. He was probably scheduling my murder with Jerry—a gruesome dirty murder.

“He’s good,” I lied and grabbed Simon from her arms. “Jason is fine.”

“Really? Kathy always said she had a bad feeling about him.”

“Like what?”

“She just would say, I wish I could warn her,” Camilla said.

“Warn me about what?”

“I’m not sure, but mother knows best, right?” she giggled. “I wouldn’t know, though.”

“Hmm interesting,” I sighed as I walked to leave. “I guess I should leave now.”

“Oh yeah, I will call you with updates.”

“Yeah, I love updates,” I said sarcastically knowing what the next update would be.

I cried on the way home. My eyes were so blurry; I thought I was going to crash at any moment. That might be a reason any normal person would pull over to a restaurant; but then again, I wasn’t normal and kept driving. Simon’s screaming in the back seat didn’t help much either—it just made me angrier.

“SHUT UP SIMON!” I shoved a pacifier in his mouth, which made him scream even louder.

When I got home, I dialed Jason’s number for the nine hundredth time—it really was. Like usual he did not answer his cell phone. I called him again from a private number.

“Hello?” he answered.

“Jason?”

“Lily? What do you want now?” he said over the loud cheers and music. “I’m sort of busy.”

“I’m tired of this! I am tired of acting as if we are still together! I want to divorce,” I cried. “You said if I hate you, then I should divorce you. So, I want to.”

“No, no, no. I’ll come home,” he pleaded. What was he up to now?

“No, I don’t care about you! I don’t want you.”

“Okay, listen, I’m sorry. Seriously, how is everything? How’s baby Simon?”

“Horrible.”

“Okay, I know it’s been what a few weeks—”

“Three months!”

“Okay, it’s been about three months, but I’ve been busy. I’m doing this thing in China and my brother is going through this family stuff—it’s intense.”

I laughed in the phone. “You’re in China? What the hell are you doing there?”

“I’ll be home. I love you, bye!” He hung up before I could reply.

“Wait, don’t hang up!” I redialed his number, but of course, all I got was the dial tone.

I knew Jason was up to no good. I thought of how he could have been planning my death these past few months. And me? I had not made any plans for when he would come back. Honestly, I never thought he was coming back.

To be honest, I did not want him.

Chapter 16 | Redo

 

Today was Kathy’s funeral. I could not believe how time had gone by. I stared at myself for twenty minutes in the mirror—not to see if I looked fine but of how ugly my soul had become.

“…She was a strange woman. We didn’t bond much at times but she is everything I’ve become…” I spoke at the funeral. “…Simon is her grandson. He will never meet his grandma. He will only have stories and photos, but I insist she will watch him grow, laugh, and cry. I regret not seeing my mother and not bonding with her as much as I should have. And I regret not being with her. She will truly be missed.”

After the funeral, I was no better. I could not hold my emotions together. When people laughed about the good and bad times with her, I could not help but feel guilty because all I had were dreadful times with her.

I walked around the room looking for a place to sit. I spotted Frank sitting alone at a table—I did not join him—he had an aura of misery that I would rather not be around. Instead, I went outside to get some fresh air.

I closed my eyes and let the wind astound me. I thought about calling Ana, but she probably would not pick up. I had got in a fight with her because I kept ignoring her calls. Then, I thought about calling Jason—I laughed—that was beyond desperate.

“Hey, Lily!” Paul approached me.

I thought about snapping at him and walking away, but I made my body stay calm. I did not have friends, so I had to hold on to anyone I could get. “Hey, Paul.” I wiped my tears from my cheeks.

He sat down next to me on the steps. “You look skinnier since I’ve last seen you,” he joked.

We sat there in silence staring across the street, probably thinking about the same thing. Well, I was thinking about Kathy; I assumed he was too. As I looked over at him, Paul stood up and stretched his arms breaking the awkward tension.

“Where are you going?” I said.

“I guess home. It is late. I don’t like driving in the dark,” he said. “Plus, the weather is looking very strange.”

“Oh,” I said as I looked at the clouds and they were gray. “Yeah, I should go home to Simon. He is probably grouchy.”

“Yeah, how is your baby?”

“Um, he’s good.”

“Well, bye,” he whispered and walked toward his car.

“We should talk sometime…or hang out,” I said as he opened his car door.

“Um, yeah…that sounds good,” he said.

I did not bother going back into the building to say goodbye to everyone. I just gathered my last thoughts of Kathy and drove back home.

As I was driving home, my cell phone rang—it was Jason calling me.

“Hello?” I answered immediately. “Jason?”

“Lily?” Jason said.

“This is illegal for me to drive and talk…I’ll call you back—”

“Where are you?” he said over a noisy background—I could barely hear him. “Why is Simon all alone?”

“What?” I could hear Simon crying in the background mixed with the other noises. “What are you doing in my house, Jason?”

“My house! My baby and you are my wife!”

“What—”

Jason hung up the phone and I stared at the red light in shock. I thought about making an illegal run through the red light, but I did not. I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel as I waited for the light to turn green. As soon as it did, I sped down the street, not caring about anyone but Jason.

When I got to my street, I spotted Jason standing outside on the lawn, holding Simon. My eyes searched the area as I saw a little girl about five years old standing next to him.

“Jason?” I said.

“Lily, where were you?” he said as he walked over to me. He looked heavier than the last time I had seen him and he had a full beard and long hair to his shoulders—he looked like a hippie.

“Who is that?” I said, pointing at the little girl.

“She’s my niece,” he said as if I would know. “I told you about her before.”

“What are you doing back home?”

“I live here,” he laughed.

“Not anymore. You left us, remember?”

“I never left you, Lily. Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m good,” I said. “I just got home from a funeral.”

“Who died?”

“My mother.”

Jason gasped and walked over to hug me. “I’m so sorry.”

“Get away from me!”

I pushed Jason away from me and grabbed Simon from his arms. As anger built up inside me, I went inside the house. I could hear Jason behind me, following my every move. I sat on the couch and Jason pulled his suitcase into the living room with his eyes on me.

“Why did you come back?” I snapped. “We didn’t need you here.”

“Then, why were you calling me every day?” he laughed. “Of course you need me; I’m the man of this house.”

“Ha!” I laughed. “You’re nothing. You’re not a man.”

“I didn’t come back to argue with you. You should be happy—we’re a family again.”

“So, what were you doing in China?”

Jason smiled wickedly and ignored me by going upstairs. I listened as I heard him turn the shower on. I didn’t know what to do next, so I sat there, staring into space.

I did not know what Jason’s intentions were, but I had a feeling he knew exactly what he was going to do next. He claimed the little girl was his niece, Savanna, which he had custody of for the next six months. However, his story did not add up since he was supposed to be in China the past few months. Also, he could not explain which sibling she belonged to. For all I knew, she could have been a kidnapped child. But, he had all the legal documents to prove he was her primary caregiver for the last two months.

He was too sketchy. I had to get rid of him—now.

Later that night, tension built between us, as we were both on edge. He would not give me complete responses and my lies annoyed him—we were at our breaking point.

“Can you please tell me the truth?” I snapped.

“Who is she?”

“My niece!”

“Tell me who she belongs to?”

“Okay, she’s Jerry’s lovechild. Her mother died 3 months ago and he got sent back to jail for some type of fraud.”

“Surprise, surprise.”

“He asked me to care for her until he gets out.”

“And by you, he meant for me to take care of her.”

Jason sighed. “We didn’t want her going to a foster home. Do you know what happens to foster kids?”

“Since when do you care about the well being of others?”

“I know you have a heart somewhere in you. And plus don’t you miss me?”

“I hope you coming home means we can finally get this divorce over with,” I said as I chopped up my steak.

“Don’t start, Lily. Not in front of the kids,” he laughed. “Can we just eat dinner like a normal family?”

“We are no normal family.”

“You want me to say you made this last year torture for me don’t you? Okay, well you did. I hope you are happy,” he said. “And I know you haven’t been taking your medication like you claim.”

“I have too,” I lied.

“Don’t lie to me, Lily. I know everything. I was in the bathroom and there is about four-months worth of unused medication.”

“And?”

“And why aren’t you taking them? Are you insane? Do you want me to tell Dr. Summings?”

“Tell him all you want. But, I have been taking them. Those are extra.”

“But, Lily—”

I laughed. “You should be happy I gave you a life.”

“I could have been so much more without you,” he said.

“Really? Like what, another assistant? I made you. No one would know your name if it weren’t for me.”

“Okay, you made me a little famous. Now, I know the price of fame.”

“And what is that to you?”

“It’s not worth it.”

“My stubbornness is just the beginning of your torture,” I snapped. “All the crap you’ve done to me. I haven’t forgotten.”

“Lily, I haven’t done anything to you. I really haven’t, so I don’t know what the hell you are talking about.”

“Sure you don’t. I am not afraid of you anymore. Remember I’m crazy.”

“Really? I thought you weren’t crazy? What are you going to do, run to another cop? No one will believe you—just like they didn’t before.”

“No I’m not going to run to a little cop like a baby,” I smiled. “I’m going to handle you myself.”

“Ha, what are you going to do?”

“Get rid of you.”

“You’re not funny.”

“Who said I was being funny? I am serious. I know what you are planning. You tried to make me forget what happened. And you’re right, I haven’t been taking my medication. What use is it anyway? It just sedates me so I can’t realize what your plans are.”

“You need help.”

Boiling point—like acid rain.

Chapter 17 | Acid

 

Whatever hit me, I liked it. A rush took over me that I could not control nor understand. The thought of seeing Jason in misery made my heart race of enjoyment. My teeth would clatter of intense shaking from excitement. I felt like a child at Disneyland for the first time. It was a pleasure, like watching the waves on a beach. Or like drinking a cold drink on a Caribbean island. It was something that when I was seventeen; I would not dare feel, because I would have been too afraid—I was such a child then.

“So, if someone were to drink this, would they instantly die?” I asked my only neighbor Tracy about a cup of hydrochloric acid I had.

“Yes most likely,” her eyes narrowed. “Why?”

“Well, I don’t want my baby to get it. I have a seven month old and I’m caring for a five-year old. You know children are so curious.”

“Oh yeah,” she laughed and patted down her floral gown. “I understand.”

“Come on, Savanna,” I grabbed her hand and ran across the street with the acid. “Thanks Tracy!” I waved goodbye as I spotted Jason pulling into the garage. My plan was now in action.

“Okay, remember what I told you to say,” I whispered to Savanna.

“I remember,” she said in her angel-like voice.

I was not planning to feed Jason the acid. I was not that much of a lunatic. However, I wanted him to suffer. And suffering was what he was going to do.

He rushed into the house turning on a basketball game. I watched him kick off his shoes and run his hands through his hair…so clueless. I watched his every movement from the kitchen; waiting for the perfect moment to start my devious plan. Lily, are you crazy? Do not do it! You’ll go to prison, I thought. Girl, you better do it, before he does it first to you. I sighed and handed Savanna a cup. Are you crazy? What if she pills it on herself? You’re a terrible mother! Do it! Do it! Don’t do it! Throw it on his face! Murder the bastard! Give him kisses! Do it! Do it!

“Go, go, go,” I whispered so low that Savanna could barely hear me. “Don’t spill any on you.”

She nodded and held the cup with her small hands. At a fast pace, she began walking toward Jason.

“Uncle! Uncle! Look what I found!” With little effort, the cup tilted onto Jason’s thigh.

“AHH!” he jumped up screaming like a baby and ran over to me. “Call 911! Call 911!”

I ran over to the phone and pretended to dial 911. “Okay Jason, I will.”

Jason fell to the ground as his pants and skin burned through. Good job, Lilly. I’m proud of you. What you did was very good. I smiled in happiness as Jason pouted in pain as he splashed water on his thigh.

“Put the cup down, Savanna!” I acted as if I were on the phone with the operator. I smiled every time he cried out for help. That rush went through me like…like…like acid. I smiled again, this time nearly laughing aloud.

Five minutes later, Jason ended up calling the paramedics himself, realizing I never called. They came in no time and rushed him off to the emergency room.

An hour later, I walked into the kitchen where a few cops observed the home. I could feel them breathing down my spine. I acted as if I were dusting picture frames, until Mike approached me.

“Lilly…” his thought changed, “…Jason will be fine. Good thing she only spilled a little on his leg.”

“Thank you, Mike,” I said. “When he gets home, I will take good care of him.”

“Yeah, I just don’t understand where your niece got the acid from?” Mike’s eyes narrowed. “It’s not like you guys are doing chemistry here.”

“Well, children find things everywhere. I wonder where she found it as well.”

“I’m going to be frank with you, I know what you’re up to,” he said. “And I won’t let you get away with it.”

“What are you talking about?” I laughed. “I’m not doing anything.”

“Lily, don’t play dumb with me.”

“I’m not acting dumb.”

“Is Kristen still coming over twice a week for counseling?” Mike said.

“Uh, nope. I haven’t seen her since I was pregnant,” I said.

“Um…did she quit?”

“I have no idea, Mike.”

“How are you and Jason getting along?”

“As good as they come,” I lied.

“Really?”

“Our love is real.”

“Well, I guess we’ll be going now. Jason should be home in no time,” Mike sighed and walked away.

I winked and turned to face the mirror on the wall. It was me there, but darker. And I don’t mean darker in complexion—just everything seemed darker, my eyes, my hair, my lips, everything. I rubbed my forehead on my right side where what it looked like loose skin was hanging. With the little nails I had, I scratched up the skin and it continued to peel off. I held the fresh oval shaped skin in my palm in eerie. My eyes narrowed as I looked closer into the mirror and it did not leave a mark on my forehead—it did not even hurt to peel it off. I pulled on another piece of skin, this time the left side of my forehead. The skin was smooth and black on the opposite side—

“Lily?” Mike interrupted me.

“What?” I snapped.

“Are you okay?”

“Um, yeah of course.”

***

A few days later, Jason came home in a wheelchair. He was acting as if he were the victim. His attitude had changed and it frustrated me. I cannot explain how he changed, but it was the way he spoke to me.

“Get me some food, woman,” Jason said.

“Don’t talk to me that way,” I snapped as I got up from the sofa and stood over him. I did not want to do anything foolish in front of the kids so I changed my thought of snatching him up. Lily, you should have snapped his neck. Why didn’t you do it? You’re such a baby!

“I’m not a baby!” I snapped at my thoughts.

“Who are you talking to?” Jason said.

I stood in front of him, “You didn’t hear it?”

“I don’t care. You’re blocking my view! I can’t see the TV with that big butt of yours!” Jason pushed me aside.

That was the last time he would push my buttons. I had visions of smacking him right then and there but I had a better idea…

I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a clear glass gravy bowl. I poured some steaming hot soup into it and put it into the microwave to make it hotter. When it finished warming up, I had to use cooking mitts because it was too hot to touch.

“Hurry up!” he shouted from the couch.

My heart began to rush. I loved that feeling of excitement. This time the rush was unbearable. My eyes began to water and my tongue began to dry. I tried to hold myself together. I began to get warm, and wet, and sweat was making my makeup melt. My palms began to sweat as well. I rubbed them on my white spring dress and began to stir the soup. Lily, just do it already! End everything!

“Is it done, yet?” he asked while not taking his eyes off the TV.

“Almost.” I called back as I grabbed the hot soup with the cooking mitts. “Just one second.” I walked with the soup to the living room but I stopped and put the bowl back down.

“Um, Savanna, Simon? Can you come here? Help me with his food.”

Savanna pushed Simon in his stroller to the kitchen. I did not want them near to what was about to happen. “Okay, sit here and stir the dough.” I handed them two wooden spoons. “No first go to the garage and find the plastic spoons. And take Simon with you.”

Savanna took Simon and went to the garage and they were soon out of sight. Jason scratched the back of his head, in anger. He turned his head around halfway toward me. I gave him a nervous smile. “I’ll bring it now.”

He turned around to the television and got lost in the show. I picked the soup back up and continued to walk toward Jason. As I got closer, my heart began to beat so hard I could hear it. Just do it, Lily. Do it now! I paused and watched him, as he did not notice that I was standing behind him. I put the bowl over his head. I thought about pouring the steaming hot soup over his head, but that would be very immature…

Instead, I slammed the glass bowel with the soup over his head as hard as I possibly could. The bowl scattered into tiny glass pieces around the couch. And the steaming hot soup dripped over his head. His head limped over, leaving him unconscious.

You did it, Lily. Good job. I shook my head trying to get the voices in my head to calm down.

Pieces of glass stuck out his head like a Halloween costume. Lily, you probably broke his skull. I smiled, picking up the glasses off the floor. Should I call 911? No Lily, that would be no fun. Don’t call 911.

Savanna came running into the house. I jumped up from the floor, blocking Jason from her view.

“I can’t find it,” she whined. “I looked everywhere!”

“Go look for it,” I snapped.

She went running back down to the basement. I pushed his wheelchair into the downstairs bedroom and I wrapped a towel around his bloody head. He flinched a bit but was unconscious. With all my strength, I put him in the bed and turned off the lights. Nervous, I peeked out the door to see if the kids had come back. I closed the door, went back to the glassy scene, and cleaned it up. I hurried to grab the mini vacuum and vacuumed up the remaining glass. My heart thumped at its wildest…it felt good—Lilly, did something well.

“There were no spoons,” Savanna said.

“Okay it doesn’t matter. Uncle Jason went to sleep,” I lied.

“Can we watch a movie, then?”

“Yes, we can watch a movie.”

The kids and I sat on the couch and watched an old VHS. I loved watching their happy faces light up when Jason was not around. Everything seemed perfect when he wasn’t around. He never saw that side of them. I’m sure they hated him too.

“Um, I’m going to check on Jason. I’ll be back,” I said as I lifted Simon off my lap and got up.

I expected to see Jason up and joking that he felt like a monster truck hit him. However, he wasn’t up and he wasn’t joking. The rag I put on his head was now dripping blood onto the pillow.

“Oh my…” I panicked and ran to his bedside. I was helpless on what to do. “Look what I did,” I whispered to myself as I turned the light on. I held my breath as I removed the towel and his entire head was enormous—like something from a sci-fi movie—about the size of a medium watermelon. He had white and red pus oozing from his roots. My stomach bubbled and goosebumps aroused from my arms at the sight. I cannot call 911. They will arrest me! I began to pace around the room. I ran to the bathroom and stared at myself in the mirror, trying to pull myself together. I looked at my hands and Jason’s blood dripped into the sink. What can I do? Dammit, Lily you’re so stupid!

I looked around the bathroom and I had another plan…

I took a deep breath and slammed my head as hard as I could into the bathroom mirror. I blinked continuously as I saw tons of black material mixed with glass fall into the sink. I thought it was stuff from the mirror so I ignored it and slammed my head again and the same stuff fell into the sink. My eyes narrowed as I touched the black stuff. I could barely see, so I gathered the material and held it close to my eyes. It looked like ripped flowers. I flushed my eyes with water and sat on the toilet as I stared at the material in my palms. “What is this?” I cried. I rubbed my forehead hard and more and more fell onto my lap. I began to scream and ran throughout the home, as they would not stop accumulating.

***

Five hours later

“They look like dead black lily petals,” I overheard Calvin said. “There are about five bags full of them. They were found throughout the home.”

“It seemed like she stuffed them there a while ago,” Dr. Summings said. “Is that even possible?”

“I don’t know, you’re the doctor,” Calvin snapped.

“But, why would someone do that?” Mike said. “Why would someone stuff lily petals into their skin?”

“Someone not in the right state of mind,” Dr. Summings said. “Maybe for attention.”

I swallowed hard as I heard the hospital room door open. Mike peeked his head in with a big fake smile. Calvin and Dr. Summings walked in behind him.

“Hello, Lily,” Dr. Summings said in a fearful tone.

“We want to know what happened tonight with Jason,” Calvin said.

“I told you guys already that we got into a fight,” I snapped. “He slammed my head into the mirror and that’s when I fought him back,” I lied.

“When did this happen?” he questioned.

“About six hours ago,” I said.

“Ok, so what about the lilies?” Mike said.

“I don’t know,” I sighed.

“Did you intentionally put them there?”

“Put them where?”

“Inside your skin?”

“No way!” I cried. “I swear.”

“Do not lie!” Calvin yelled.

“I would never do something so sick. That is so disgusting. Look how I am shaking right now. I was so terrified. I have no idea how they got there. That’s not even humanly possible!”

“It’s been a long night,” Dr. Summings butted in. “We should just let Lily go home.”

Mike and Calvin rolled their eyes as I stood up.

“Should I release her then?” Mike asked Calvin.

Calvin nodded. “I suppose. We’ve had enough of her for today.”

“So, what about Jason?” I gave a nervous smile. “Any damages to him?”

“Many, if it weren’t for you calling 911 he could have died. His brain had swelled up to the size of a watermelon!” Calvin exaggerated as he walked out the room.

I ran out the room after them. “Wait! What about arresting him?”

Mike’s eyes narrowed and he stopped for me. “Do you want to press charges—”

“Well…would I have to go to court?” I said.

“Possibly and you can possibly be charged too.”

“Well, then never mind.”

“I’m gonna say this upfront, Lily. I’m on to you,” Mike snapped. “I know what you’re trying to do. I know you put those lilies in your skin.”

I laughed and rolled my eyes.

“You’re a sick woman,” he said.

“I would never do something like that. How would I do that?” I cried. “I don’t even know where to buy lilies at.”

Mike pulled out a notepad from his jacket and handed it to me. “Around your pregnancy, Dr. Summings said you came here with scars that looked like stitches around your temples—”

“What?” I gasped. “He thinks I put them there. That would mean I would have had to cut open my skin and sew myself back up. I would remember doing that!”

“Yes, that would also mean that you may have a form of Munchausen syndrome, just like your mother.”

“You’re accusing me of wanting attention? I hate having attention.”

He sighed. “I’m not going to argue with you, but if I have any proof that you are deliberately harming yourself and/or harming Jason, I will take your children away from you and lock you away in an institution.”

“You cannot be serious,” I chided.

“If this was any other couple, I would have filed something…but it’s you. And I know your history.”

“So, you’re saying you don’t believe me?” I said. “About me and Jason’s fight.”

“Of course not,” Mike snapped.

“I’m flabbergasted.”

“Why should I believe you?”

“You think I’m a liar. Why would I lie?”

“I know liars when I see them. And I know you are trying to get attention because you feel like no one loves you.”

“I swear, Mike, I never would do anything for attention,” I sighed. “But you have to believe me; I think Jason wants me dead,” I whispered.

Mike laughed. “I think you should leave me alone.”

“But, you’re my only hope.”

***

The next day, I found myself drifting off again. I had just gotten away with a really bad deed. I could have gotten away with murder too if I had not called 911. As I rested on the couch, I touched my forehead that Dr. Summings had stitched up. I could not understand why they all thought I would intentionally put flower petals inside my skin. I would not even know how to properly cut open a layer of skin. And why would I let petals die inside me—wouldn’t I get sick or something.

Then, I thought about my dream. I had not had my dream of the man saying he would curse me with black lilies if I did not stand up for myself. That had to be a coincidence because dreams don’t come true. I picked up my hand-held mirror and examined my skin again—everything looked normal.

Someone at my door interrupted my thoughts. I ran to answer it and wondered why someone was knocking on the door and did not just ring the doorbell.

I looked through the peephole and it was Paul at the door holding balloons. He looked like he had lost about twenty pounds since I last saw him—that was at Kathy’s funeral.

“Paul?” I said.

“Happy birthday!” he hugged me. “I missed you! I’m so glad you’re okay. I heard what happened.”

“Oh, I’m fine—just a few stitches,” I said. “Come in, come in! So, why the surprise visit?”

“Oh, it’s your birthday!” he cheered as he walked inside.

I grabbed his tiny waist to hug him. “There isn’t much to celebrate.”

“Well, I just thought you needed a friend to talk to, maybe even an assistant?”

“Oh yeah,” I whispered and gave him a nervous smile. “Who have you been working for?” I handed him a bowl of chips, which he pushed away.

“Ana,” he sat down on the stool. “You know your best friend.”

My nervous smile dropped. “I miss her,” I whispered, as I could not remember the last time her and I had talked.

“Yeah, she misses you too. She was going to come, but she was nervous.”

“Nervous about what?” I said.

“I don’t know.”

“Hmm, that’s odd.”

Paul kissed me. “Lily, I missed you!”

It was like old times with Paul. He kicked off his shoes and we danced to the radio while baking sugar free cookies. I told him everything I dreaded to tell him. Everything from the last day I saw him. I did not bend the truth or twist up lies. I told him everything from the acid to the glass bowl that put Jason in the hospital. Paul did not give me his shocked face that he had given me the last time—he believed me—he believed everything—and he wanted to be a friend.

“I hate him,” Paul snapped as he passed me the cookies.

“You have no idea how much I hate him!” I said. “Ugh!”

Paul rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe I was so naïve to like him.”

“All that time I should have gone with my gut in the beginning.”

“What do you mean in the beginning?”

“Well, I remembered there was something about him that I didn’t like,” I said.

“That’s interesting; do you want to talk about it?” he said.

“There isn’t much to discuss about it,” I said.

“Well, is he okay?”

“He survived, I believed. All I know is he went through a surgery yesterday and will be back in a few weeks…maybe even days. I do not know what is going to happen though, since Mike is suspicious of me. Jason might not come back here.”

“I hope he’s okay—”

“Why would you hope that?” I snapped.

“I mean, I wouldn’t want you to go to prison.”

“The cops say I saved his life—how ironic. I should not have called 911, but then again, my head was bloody too and lilies were everywhere. I did not want my head to get as massive as his. You should have seen it. It was so disgusting—ew!”

“What exactly do you mean about lilies?” Paul said with an ugly expression.

“Black lilies fell out my forehead—”

“You’re joking right?” he giggled. “Lilies don’t grow in skin.”

“Are you trying to say I put them there?”

“No, I’m not. I’m just wondering if you’re joking…”

“I’m not joking…”

“Then, that’s really gross. That makes my skin crawl!”

I rolled my eyes.

Chapter 18 | Glitter

 

I held my composure as everyone stared at me as I tried on new clothes at the mall. Word was already out about what had happened between Jason and I. I did not expect the media to make a big deal out of it. Then again, the media would do anything to torture a young soul.

I held my gut in as I squeezed into a size two jeans.

“At least someone else has gained some weight—”

“Ana?” I ran and jumped into Ana’s arms as she entered the dressing room. “What are you doing here?”

“I live at the mall and when I saw paparazzi outside and they weren’t for me, I had to see who was here,” Ana said, who was surprisingly twice as heavier than I had last seen her.

“Can we just start over and be friends again. I hate being alone,” I cried. “It will be like old times, just you me and Paul.”

“Paul?” she gasped.

“Yeah.”

“I thought you guys weren’t on speaking terms anymore. Why the sudden change?”

“He came to visit me a few days ago for my birthday—”

Ana kissed me, “I forgot it was your birthday. What kind of friend am I?”

“It’s no big deal. I didn’t even do anything special.”

“So, Paul visited you, eh?” Ana rolled her eyes.

“Yup, he told me how he’s working for you and needs a job.”

“He’s not working for me,” she snapped. “Are you joking?”

“But, he said that.”

“Why would he be working for me and then say he needs a job. He is obviously lying. Me and him haven’t talked in months.”

“Really? He made it seem like you two have been talking every day,” I said.

“Well, Lily, there is a lot you don’t know.”

“Like what?”

“Did Jason really hurt you last week?” Ana said, changing the subject. “Because I know some things and I’m afraid if I tell them to you, something will happen to me.”

My eyes narrowed. “What is it?”

“Whatever you do, Lily, promise to avoid Paul.”

“Ana, what are you trying to say?” I gasped.

“I don’t know; it’s just my crazy imagination!” she cried.

“No, what’s wrong, Ana? Something is wrong…”

“Did Jason ever tell you about his anger issues? His depression? His past? His mother?” she said.

“Anger issues? Depression? No he never told me anything.”

“Well, I don’t know why he didn’t. It would have saved you a lot of trouble.”

“Like what?”

“Oh, nothing. There I go again, being nosy. Jason used to say how nosy I was.”

“Ana? What are you trying to tell me? Do you know something I don’t know?”

“Can you promise me you won’t hurt Jason?”

“I don’t know…at my rate…”

“Okay make this other promise with me, but you can’t tell Paul…” she said.

“What is it?”

“When I was at Paul’s house I found things…”

“Like what?”

“Just promise the next time you’re at his house, look for a plastic Target bag.”

“Ana, if there is something you’re trying to tell me…tell me NOW!” I snapped.

“The thing is I don’t know what it is I’m trying to tell you. I don’t know what I saw,” she cried.

“What did you see? Do I know what it is?”

“You’ve talked about it.”

“Talked about what?”

She sighed. “Let’s just say, I don’t think you’re as crazy as people are telling you.”

“Ana, what the hell do you know?”

“I can’t explain it, but just go to his apartment today and look for the plastic bag! And please stay away from Jason!” she cried.

“You told me to avoid Paul; now you want me to go to his apartment?”

“Just do it!” she cried and ran out the dressing room.

I ran after her, but she was too quick and was out of sight. For a newly fat girl, she was pretty fast.

Later that day, I let myself into Paul’s apartment as he rested. I found myself staring off into space pissed off because Ana would not tell me what she knew. I thought to myself and wondered if I would go to prison for a crime (i.e. attempt to kill Jason). It was not as if I did not have a wonderful life. I had done more things than people would do in a lifetime—from winning awards—to traveling the world. I felt proud of myself. I would probably get jail tattoos and dye my hair pink or dance around like a Lady Gaga video—it was not that bad, right?

I looked at my cell phone and there were over fifty missed calls and thirty text messages. Leslie and Frank called me for most of them. Jason’s name was on the missed called list—unfortunately, he was not dead.

I tried to focus my mind on a new plan—find a plastic bag. There were many plastic bags lying around the room.

“She had said something about a plastic bag,” I remembered. “And to promise to look in it the next time I was at his house.”

I looked around the messy apartment—no plastic bag. I hopped around the kitchen that I had paid for, looking for any bag. I opened a Forever 21 bag and bangles fell out onto the floor—nothing odd. I opened another bag and it was a card for my nineteenth birthday—I smiled, it was cute.

Paul’s sudden screams scared me, so I ran toward his room. I peeked into his room, but he was sleep. I forgot he sometimes screamed in his sleep. Without waking him, I shut his door halfway.

I ran out to the dining area, nearly falling with my slippery socks. I ran to the table and slipped on a bag that was on the floor, making a loud banging noise.

“Dammit,” I said as I realized I ripped the bag open with my feet.

Old receipts, papers, and notebooks flew out the bag and I hurried to pick them up before Paul awoke.

“Carpet-Man. Change your carpet today,” I read a receipt. “Pure white carpet, $10,000?”

I paused. Why would Paul have receipts to white carpet? I looked around his home and he had no carpet—just wooden floors.

“…Jason Lawson has a son…three wives…” I read off a paper. What is this? “Jason went to the store today; he bought three hundred-dollar shoes. Jason goes to China. Jason just signed a contract with MTV for a reality show…”

Then, I realized what Ana must have seen—this is the plastic bag! I tore open the plastic bag with my sharp teeth and a diary and orange prescription bottles fell out onto my lap.

“Lilly Blair Evans,” I read on the prescriptions bottles, which were full of the same M&M-like pills. “What the hell is this?” I paused, “Rat poison…arsenic, $51.89…”

I stood up and peeked to see if Paul had woken up yet—he had not.

“The carpet!” I shouted, finally realizing it was the receipt for the carpet in my house. “These files on Jason? My medication?” I hyperventilated. “What is going on?”

Then, I noticed a glitter journal on the floor. I tore open the lock on it with my teeth and began to read:

 

Entry 12:

Today, I just got the best news anyone would ever have. In Lily’s new will she put ten million dollars in my name! But, god forbid if she dies—but it wouldn’t hurt—if I’m a millionaire!

I flipped through the pages with a confused frown—hoping that what I was thinking was not true. It could not be true.

Entry 556:

I just got the wonderful news that Lilly is pregnant—NOT! I’m hoping with all my heart that it’s not Jason’s. She doesn’t deserve him.

I stopped reading and listened for Paul—he was still sleep. I knew Paul had suspicions about Jason too—I wondered why he did not tell me before. I opened the journal and continued where I left off…

I wish she would just leave. I had him first. But, I blame myself—I shouldn’t have listened to my heart.

I shut the journal afraid to read anymore. I would be fuming if anyone went through my journals. I scanned through the notebook and there were over one thousand pages of entries. Some had photos on pages. One was a picture of me with devil horns drawn on it. I paused and stared at a photo of him and Jason—at a water park—holding hands. And another image of them in topless selfies. My eyes narrowed as more photos of Jason were in the journal—hundreds and hundreds of photos of Jason fell out. Some I had never seen in my life. One page caught my attention—because it said ‘Dear Lily…’ as if he were going to send it to me.

 

Dear Lily,

If you are reading this, something wrong has happened. Either I’m in prison or I’m dead. I’m sorry that anyone would have to read this…and it’s really stupid for me to write this—but yet I’m still writing—I tend to write everything.

I am a man, who is the slave to a rich beautiful woman—who has the life I so long for. You have everything I want and everything I could only dream about. And when I get something I truly love, you take it away from me.

You are so ungrateful. You have a mother who tried her hardest to be there for you and yet you pushed her away. You have a dad who sends you letters and writes songs about you. You have a sister who would do anything for you but yet you tried to kill her. Now, you have a man who is in love with you named, Jason. However, Jason is playing us both. He is using you! I don’t know if I should tell you because I would be in trouble too.

I met Jason at art camp. We instantly had a connection—so I thought. Let’s just say I got drunk/high and told him things I shouldn’t have.

I told him about the will and your mental disorder. I joked and said how if you died my life would be complete with millions. But, he was serious. He used me. He had me thinking he loved me—I was a fool. I didn’t believe he was gay, but he claimed he was. He would call me “Paul boo” and all these cute names—I fell in love. He had this unbelievable control over me. I never knew a strong-minded person like me could be easily brainwashed. He had me so wrapped around his finger; he convinced me that we would kill you and run away together—rich. Every day he told me about how good our life would be. We would work together to get you out of here. He broke the plan into three parts. Part 1: marry you. Part 2: get your money account information. Part 3: kill you and make it look like a suicide.

But, I had no idea, you would end up getting pregnant and him just ignoring me! When I found out you were pregnant with his baby I went mad. He began to ignore me. Every time I tried to tell him about the pregnancy, he would say, I’m glad she’s pregnant. I like women not men! I was so jealous and upset! While you were in and out of consciousness, I dug dirt on him. I learned that Jason had been scamming and using people for years. People like us—brainwashes them and kills them. He did it before to his ex-wife, Daisy.

But, I’m such a wimp—I couldn’t hurt you. You’re my best friend—

With my pinkie, I soaked in the tears and tried to hold my breath in. I had an ugly expression and I jumped to my feet and stormed into Paul’s room in rage. I stared at him as he peacefully slept.

With all my strength, I yanked him up to sitting position, waking him up. “What is this?” I threw the journal on his bed and all the glitter scattered over his face. “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”

He narrowed his eyes and let out a breath of air. “I can explain!” He threw his face in his palms and began to cry.

I smacked his arm as hard as I could. “Don’t, I read it.”

“Lily, please, let me speak!”

“How could you? For a guy? You would betray me for a guy?” I cried.

“Let me explain.”

I began to punch Paul all over his body. “If you were my true best friend, you would have explained yourself a long time ago. You have me going insane and you knew what was going on this whole damn time! Unbelievable!”

Paul began to cry harder as he pulled me in closer. “I know I’m so stupid. I didn’t want you to find out like this. I love you, baby. I wrote the letter and was going to mail it to you—”

“Mail it to me when? On my deathbed?”

“I’m so sorry,” he screamed in shame.

I stared into Paul’s big brown eyes and I knew he would never do anything to harm me. To get him to his boiling point, someone would have to have something huge on him. “What does Jason have against you that would make you do this to me?”

“If I tell you, then I have one more person who can blackmail me.”

“Paul, I would never blackmail you.”

He began to cry harder and I patted his back in comfort. He began to cry uncontrollably as he rested his head on my lap.

I smacked him on his head, causing him to cry harder. “Paul, tell me…I know you wouldn’t hurt me,” I said at ease as I continued to smack him. “If you don’t tell me…”

“Okay, I’ll tell you, Lily!”

“What is it?”

He sighed and began to whisper. “I was involved in the Marlon hit and run.”

“Huh?”

“I hit kid Marlon and killed him. I drove off because I was so scared.”

“How does Jason know that—”

“He saw me do it—he videotaped it—videotaped me panicking and trying to hide his body.”

I pushed Paul away in disgust. “Explain yourself…”

“After the music award show, I went to the after party. I was drunk and I hit him with my car. Little did I know, Jason was outside the club taking a smoke break and saw me that night. He videotaped me trying to hide his body on his Blackberry. That’s why I wanted to get away from town, so I went to the art camp for two months to ease my mind.”

“Why didn’t you tell the police you did it right away?” I said.

“I would go to prison!” he shouted.

“But you would rather team up with Jason to kill me for money?”

“I know it doesn’t make sense.”

I shook my head in confusion. “It really doesn’t.”

Paul blew his nose and tried to hug me but I pushed him away again.

“So, what did he do?” I said, breaking the awkward silence.

“Who?”

“Jason.”

“He was like the lover I always wanted.”

“So…he’s gay?” I said.

“No,” Paul said.

“Huh?”

“He lied to me.”

“He pretended to be gay?” I said.

“Yeah.”

“So, Jason is a criminal?”

“Yes.”

“He isn’t gay?”

“Yes.”

“And he used you to get to me.”

“Yes.”

“So, since he had info against you, he used you to get to me. But, truth is he was gonna get away with all the money and use someone else for more loot?”

While frowning, Paul scratched his head in confusion. “I think so. He killed his ex-wife Daisy. He told me,” Paul said. “It scares me because I have no idea how he was gonna get away from me. Was he going to kill me too?”

“Most likely, or probably use your identity.”

“Whoa.”

“Then, explain who was drugging me? Jason, right?”

Paul walked over to the window and broke down in tears again. “I don’t want to talk about this.”

“But, you have to. I need to know. This has been driving me insane for the last year!”

“Okay, okay…”

“Well…”

“Well, I found some sedatives on the black market that come as powder and pills,” he said.

“And you gave them to me in my drinks,” I said.

“Yeah, the first time was when you first went on a date with him—”

“He put them—”

“No, I had put it in your pasta and it made you sick.”

I thought back to that night. I remember I thought I was food poisoned by the sushi.

“Jason told me, if I didn’t put them in there, he would tell the police about the hit and run. So, I did it only in fear of my future. I knew it wouldn’t kill you, because I gave you a low dose. It would only upset your stomach.”

“But, it made me sick.”

“But, it didn’t kill you. Jason didn’t believe I did it, so he forced me to put it in your coffee the next morning in front of him, and that’s when—”

“When I came downstairs…and you said it was fiber.”

“Yeah, and we did it numerous times. Every week it got worse. He convinced me to give you larger doses.”

“And you did it?” I said.

“And he would get mad at me because he said I was giving you such low doses, but I didn’t want to hurt you. However, he would double it up and that’s when you began to go to the hospital for a ‘drug-related issue’.”

I smiled at an unusually pissed off moment. “All this while he was acting like he was your lover? Did you guys kiss behind my back?”

“Gosh no…he hated me. And when I would ask him about us, he would just ignore the fact we were ever together. He punched me once.”

“So, he wasn’t your lover then?”

“He told me straight up the week we found out you were pregnant that me and him were over. He said if I ever talked about us to anyone, he would hurt me.”

I smiled. “He controlled you like a puppy.”

“I hated him after that. That’s the day I convinced you Jason was trying to murder you—it worked because you believed me.”

“But, before that when I was at that nut home, you could have told me the truth.”

“I had to cover my butt.”

“True.”

“And he would laugh so hard when you would end up in the hospital.”

“You could have killed unborn Simon.”

“That’s the thing; he didn’t sedate you when you were pregnant. That was all you. The only thing we did was mess with your mind.”

I held up the receipt. “Like changing the carpet and moving my stuff?”

“Exactly.”

“So, nothing happened between you guys?” I asked.

“Nothing…after he got into your account—”

“Which was part two, right?” I said.

“Yeah. He told me to leave him alone or he would post the video on YouTube and hurt Ana and me too.”

“He threaten your life?”

Paul crossed his arms in anger. “He said he only used me to get to you.”

I laughed, “Karma.”

“Huh?”

“That’s karma!”

“What do you mean?” he snapped.

“You drove drunk and took a life, so when you wanted happiness with a person, it turned around and bit you in the ass. You deserved what you got.”

“And what about you? This isn’t about me…you’ve done things in the past—”

“I’ve done nothing to hurt others. So, don’t even say it’s karma to me,” I snapped.

“What about Kathy? You never treated her like a queen. That woman cared for you all your life.”

“Maybe, because she wasn’t a queen.”

“And what about trying to kill your sister?”

“Don’t bring that up,” I snapped again.

We both shut up as thoughts formed in the air. I tried to think of other questions to ask. I had so many.

“What about that cash we found?” I said.

“Well, Jason didn’t completely take all your money. He took less than a million for taxes as he said and Kathy needed some for her medical bills. She didn’t want you to know really how sick she was all these years.”

“Did Kathy know about Jason?” I asked.

“A part of me believes she did,” Paul said.

“Wait…a criminal pays taxes? Why would Jason care to pay taxes?”

“Well, since he is Jason Lawson, he would—”

“I really don’t know what to say, except I hate you,” I said.

“Me?” he whined.

“Yes,” I cried.

“Why?”

“This is clearly your fault.”

“Well, what the hell do you want me to do?”

“Take it back,” I cried. “Everything.”

“Well, I can’t. I’m sorry if I ruined your life. I ruined my life too, you know. I had to live knowing I killed a child and that I would be an accessory to murder of my best friend.”

“I may be the mental patient here, but even I know that I would never hurt a best friend because of a threat. And not only that, but Ana is involved now because she apparently knows everything.”

“I was in love!”

“Love? You were not in love. Jason didn’t love you for obvious reasons. One, being he wasn’t even gay. Two, he was using you for me.”

“We still don’t know for sure…”

“Of course we do!”

Paul rolled his eyes. “You have no idea what it’s like for me to never have a loved one.”

“Your parents?”

“My parents hate me.”

“But you visited them—”

“I lied…I haven’t spoken to them in years. They disowned me years ago. That’s why they hate you too.”

I bit my nail. “I didn’t know.”

“So, of course a fat guy like me, when he gets attention from the new cute guy, is going to fall in love and get butterflies. Of course I would do anything to be his one and only.”

“You’re deranged!” I laughed. “You are so insane that you would do anything for love.”

“Love makes you do crazy things.”

I began to sob. “Paul…I love you. Does that count? Ana loves you, does she count?”

“Hmm.”

“You would kill for his love but not mine.”

“I would do anything for your love, Lily.”

“Prove it…do anything for my love, not his.”

“I will.”

“It’s too late, Paul.”

“It’s not.”

I sighed, “Do you think Jason really loved you?”

“He said he did, Lily.”

“But do you believe it?”

“He knows I loved him.”

“But does he love you?” I said.

“His actions never showed it,” Paul said.

I smiled. “Now, you got me all thinking about love and what it is.”

“Some people would do anything for love. Even if it’s wrong—I know I have.”

“You wouldn’t kill for a love but you would kill to be loved. And that is something you will have to learn about. You will never find a person to care for you, when you turn against them. I truly loved you, Paul, and would do anything for you. And you stab me in the back for him?”

Paul stopped crying and smiled. “You thought Jason loved you. You’re an idiot.”

“If calling me an idiot makes you feel better…okay whatever. I’m not an idiot. I know Jason never loved me. I can get that through my schizophrenic head.”

“At one point you did.”

“Yeah, before I knew what he was after. Thinking that he loved me has made me even more insane.”

“His love brought you insanity.”

“Exactly.”

“Why are we talking about love?”

“Because that’s one word that drove us nuts. It was a word that I didn’t abuse enough.”

“What do you mean abuse?”

“I never told Kathy to her face that I loved her. I never really tell anyone I love them—”

“Love is just a word. Your actions show it,” he said.

“I never really showed it toward her,” I said.

“You did…trust me…she knew before she passed that you loved her.”

“How do you know that?”

“Actions speak louder than words.”

We grew silent for a few minutes. I began to think about Kathy and Paul was right. Although she drove me insane sometimes, she knew I cared for her. I knew she cared for me too. I grabbed my things and walked toward the door.

Paul jumped up and followed behind me. “Where are you going?”

“I have a plan,” I winked.

“If you go outside you’ll get hurt. Um, Jason is probably looking for you!” Paul snapped.

“I’m a big girl. I can handle this.”

“Lilly, are you going to tell on me?”

I paused, “Maybe.”

“Will you forgive me?”

“Don’t count on it.”

“Huh?”

“You ruined my life. And that’s something I can’t forgive.”

“What about forgive and forget?”

“I only forgive when I can forget. And I will never forget the crap I went through because of you.”

“Lily, I love you though.”

“If you really love me, you will turn yourself in for the Marlon hit-n-run. Then, I’ll believe what you said is true.”

“You don’t believe me?” he snapped.

“I don’t know what to believe.”

“So, you will believe me if I turn myself in?” Paul sobbed. “What if I don’t turn myself in?”

“Then, I won’t believe you,” I snapped and continued to walk out the room. “And that means you really don’t love me.”

“Wait, where are you going?”

“I’m going to go find Jason.”

“Why?” he cried.

“This whole situation needs to end now.”

Chapter 19 | Truce

 

Apparently, Jason was in a town outside of Los Angeles at a nightclub. Six weeks had gone by since his hospital stay and he had not contacted me. Police told me Jason did not want anything to do with me and they wouldn’t tell me where I could talk to him. And there was a lot that me and him needed to discuss. Like any other celebrity, I used Twitter to locate Jason.

The nightclub felt like a maze as I tried to find my way out. I hated social gatherings, so after two hours of waiting for him to arrive, I decided I would go home. The room was dark and blurry with tiny disco balls going across the ceiling. Some crazy man was throwing champagne all over the room, screaming at the top of his lungs. Some skinny model, which I recognized was dancing on a bar stool. A drunken woman grabbed my hand to dance with her. I pushed her away and she fell to the floor—probably high on drugs too. People kept on bumping me with their wild booty dancing. I felt trapped in a circle of lunatic dancers and crazy colored lights.

I held my breath as a woman with the size of ten Kim Kardashian butts came toward me. She bent down and bumped me with her butt to the floor. “Hey!” Like a small doll, I crashed down onto a man’s shiny shoes.

The man lent his hand out to help me. I looked up to see who it was, but all I saw was black.

“Thanks,” I put my hand in his and he pulled me to my feet—

“Lily?” The man snatched my shades off my face.

“Jason?” I pushed him into an open room behind us. “Jason, what are you doing here?”

“Me? What are you doing here?” he gasped. “You saw my Twitter post, didn’t you? Oh, I knew I shouldn’t have said I would be here.”

“Shut up! Shut it!” I closed the door and the loud chaos was gone. “We need to talk!”

Jason walked closer to me. “I wasn’t intending on running into you, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

I pulled out a pencil from my bra. “If you come any closer I will stab you!”

“Why?”

“I know everything.”

“Huh?”

“Paul told me everything.”

“He did?”

“Yup.”

“Everything.?”

“So, be a man and do it.”

“Do what?”

“Admit to hatching a plan against me. Admit you wanted to kill me for my money and run away with it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. You should start taking your medication. You’re losing it.”

“Don’t play dumb, Jason. I know everything.”

“Did it ever cross your mind that maybe Paul was lying because he is like obsessed with me? He blows up my phone all the time.”

I thought about the journal, with the hundreds of pictures of Jason. “I’ve seen pictures of you and him holding hands.”

“Ever heard of Photoshop? The dude is obsessed with me. When did you ever see me and him hang out together? We didn’t even talk.”

“You’re trying to say Paul is lying?”

“Yes!”

“Why would he lie?”

“To be with me. He probably thinks if you were dead, he would be with me.”

“So, this has nothing to do with money?”

“What money? You mean the cash I used for my taxes? I gave it back.”

“No, don’t you want my money?”

“No, I don’t want your money.”

I pinched my arm to make sure I was not dreaming. “I don’t know what to believe because Paul is in love with you.”

“See.”

“But, he wouldn’t lie. If he were to lie, he wouldn’t be part of the plan. He would make a better lie.”

“Psychos have their way. I swear, Lily I’m not trying to kill you. Whatever Paul told you is a lie,” Jason said as he walked out the room and back into the party.

As I tried to follow him through the crowds of people, Paul was calling my phone. I answered on the third ring—thinking of hanging up.

“Hello?” I said.

“Lilly, avoid Jason,” Paul said.

“Why?”

“Lilly, don’t be stupid. He texted me about how he will get you alone and just finish it.”

“I just spoke to him and he said you were lying.”

“Are you seriously going to believe him? You’ve known me longer.”

“I’ve lost your trust.”

“How would I know that Jason wants to end it?”

“What would he get out of that—nothing.”

“All your money! He has all your account info and can securely get it before anyone finds your dead body. Just come back home to the city.”

“I’m going to talk to him right now and he will explain everything—”

“I cannot believe you left Los Angeles without telling anyone you were going to find Jason. That is a bad idea.”

“What would you know about bad ideas?”

“Lilly, please. I was thinking and I realized how much I love you. Please don’t leave me.”

“Paul, I just talked to Jason. His hazel eyes could do no harm. I actually trust him now.” I paused at a table as Paul continued to cry over the phone. I felt something moving around in my handbag, so I sat it on a table and opened it up. What the hell? Black lily petals fell onto the table. Not here, please. More and more began to fall out so, I grabbed my wallet out and ran away from the table, leaving the bag there. “Oh my god.”

“Hello? Lily, are you drunk now? What is wrong?” Paul said.

“No, what do you want me to do?” I panicked. “Weird things keep happening to me.”

“Just come home right now and we will find a new detective.”

“I cannot come home right now. I’ve come too far.”

“I don’t approve of murder, but if you have to…do it before he does it to you—”

“I don’t trust you, Paul!”

I hung up the phone as I approached Jason who was at the bar drinking some beer. As quick as I could, I scanned every part of his body. He looked healthy, as if he were never in the hospital. I traced his scar with my eyes and he looked back at me.

“Paul says you want me dead,” I whispered in his ear.

Jason rolled his eyes. “Can’t I just party in peace? I am so sick of this drama, Lilly. Why do you think I’ve been avoiding you for the last six weeks?”

“I know that you used him to get to me because of the Marlon hit-n-run. He told me about the video. I know that you want the over sixty million dollars I have.”

Jason stared at me with his mouth wide open and rolled his eyes

“Are you gonna say something?” I said as I snatched his drink from him. “Speak boy!”

He ignored me, with his eyes still on me.

“Say something!” I shouted.

“Wow, your feisty today,” he joked. “You finally grew a pair.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“Don’t believe him. If he really was involved with the hit-n-run, he would have rather turned himself in, instead of being blackmailed by me,” Jason whispered in my ear. “He’s lying to you, doll. He is trying to drag me down with his bad deeds. He was probably poisoning you this whole time by himself. Did you ever think of that?”

Jason stared into space probably thinking if he should leave. I am sure he did not want to be in my presence, as I did not want to be in my own. I looked at his bruised face—the damage I did to him. I was surprised he was able to walk after everything he went through. I felt like vomiting because of all the pain I inflicted on him. How could I treat him as if he didn’t have feelings? What kind of sick person would hurt someone like that?

“I only love you, Lilly.”

I scooted closer to Jason and gave him a very tight hug. I felt up on every inch of his leather jacket, memorizing every lump and stitch. It was the first time in a long time that we actually hugged. He did not push me away or wrap his arms around me, but I think he liked it—he thought he was in control.

Jason stood up. “I’m going to go to the restroom and then we can go home, okay?”

“Um, okay,” I said as I watched him walk away to the restroom.

I looked over to the table where my bag was sitting and it seemed as if the petals were gone. However, when I scratched my arm, I could feel the loose skin sliding up. I did not want it to happen again. I did not want to see the black lilies again. I began to hyperventilate and drank down the hard liquor that Jason was drinking. Stay calm, Lily. Please do not scream. My phone rang again and I answered it immediately.

“What do you want, Paul?” I said over the phone.

“Don’t go with Jason,” he said.

“He said you’re lying to me.”

“Lilly, I will do anything to gain your trust back. Remember our discussion on love—how to do anything for love. That is why I am telling you this.”

I laughed, but still in panic mode, “Whatever, Paul.”

“I have a copy of the video Jason had against me. If I turn myself in for the Marlon case, would you believe me?”

“I probably would.”

“It would also mean that I love you and I would do anything, even if it means prison for your love and trust.”

“But, I know you won’t do it. I do not know who to believe. When I was with you, I believed you and when I was with Jason, I believed him.”

“I will turn myself in for you. Just please do not go with him. He just texted me, ‘Plan in action’ and to prepare your deathbed.”

“Jason was right, you’re obsessed with him.”

“I’m not obsessed with him. He is doing what he did to me to you. He has you brainwashed.”

“Paul, I know what I am doing. Have you ever wondered if I have a plan?” I smirked.

“No, because you don’t,” he snapped.

“Well, I do have a plan.”

“What is it?”

“It all depends on what I find out, goodbye Paul.” I hung up the phone and stared into the crowd of people dancing. Those people had no care in the world. That was the feeling I missed most.

Jason put his arms around me and lifted me to kiss him—like when we first dated. I grasped onto his jacket and held him tight. “Let’s go home, Lilly.”

I smiled and grabbed his hand. A storm of people ran up to us and blinded us with their flashes. I was in a daze, as Jason tried to get a taxi to pull over. It took him a few minutes until one stopped for us.

“Where are you guys headed?” the taxi driver said.

“Just take us to the café down on Avenue Y.”

“That’s near the desert,” I said. “Why can’t we just eat when we get back home?”

“I love their food at this café. They don’t make food like that in the city.”

“Okay,” the driver said and began to hum. “Come on, get in!”

Jason held my hand tightly in a dominating way as the streets began to get emptier as we were closer to our destination. I assumed he was ready to end the situation. I know I was. I just wasn’t sure how he wanted to end it—in hugs or tears. However, I knew exactly how I was going to end it because I knew my plan the moment we hugged.

The taxi driver turned on his radio. “…Marlon hit-n-run case has come to an end when celebrity assistant Paul Sanchez turned himself in an hour ago in California…” said the radio interviewer.

My eyes grew immense as I looked at Jason. A smiled formed on my face as I watched his expression turn from relaxed to shame. He licked his lips and I could see his heart beating through his chest. I yanked my hand from his as he began to blink rapidly.

“What?” Jason snapped at me.

“Paul wasn’t lying,” I said. “I was right.”

Jason pulled my hand tighter for me to shut up. “We need to talk about this first. I don’t want to go to prison.”

“Let go of my hand.” I yanked my hand from his grip and grabbed the car handle.

“Lilly, just calm down,” Jason said. “Do not do anything stupid. I won’t hurt you, I promise.”

“Don’t talk to me.” While the taxi was still in motion, I began to tug on the door handle.

Jason tried to hold onto my tight dress. “There are lots of people named Paul Sanchez…”

As the taxi slowed down for a yellow light, I swung open the cab door and ran out without looking back. I could barely breath as my heart raced with all its power.

“Hey!” yelled the driver. “Get back here!”

I looked back and Jason jumped out after me. “Lilly, come here!”

I did not slow down and continued to run between the vehicles. Car tires squeaked at a sudden halt and people yelled at us in a different language. One woman threw a water bottle toward Jason’s head. As I touched dirt, off the road, I continued to run through the empty desert.

In one second, Jason tackled me down to the dirt. I felt something pop inside me has his elbow crushed down into my gut. I tried to claw him but he was too strong. He pulled me to my feet, with his hand wrapped around the back of my neck.

“Stop it!” I elbowed him in the crotch and tried to run again.

“Don’t run from me, let me explain!” Jason shouted. “Get back here!” With little strength, he yanked me by my hair and threw me to the ground.

I crashed down headfirst but I did not give up. “Let me go!” Jason loosened his grip and I ran to a gate and hopped over it.

“You win.” Jason fell to the ground while looking at me on the other side of the gate.

“I win what?” I cried as I rubbed my scalp and felt a tiny bald spot.

He walked to the fence and put his body against it as I collapsed to the ground. “Everything!”

“I wasn’t playing a game.”

“You won either way,” he laughed. “We really need to talk about this.”

I pulled my shoes off and my feet were bleeding with blisters. “I can’t breathe right. I think you broke my rib.” I stretched out in the dirt trying to get my breathing back to normal. “There really isn’t anything to talk about. What, do you have a gun? Shot me now! I’m in so much pain.”

“I don’t have anything.” Jason turned his pants pockets inside out. “I swear, I wasn’t getting you alone to kill you.”

“I cannot believe anything you say.”

“You’re stupid though for coming with me,” he smiled. “I could easily kill you now. All I have to do is get on the other side of this gate and snap your neck. I can leave you here and I can be gone by morning with all your money. It’s that easy.”

My eyes narrowed. “I’m not that stupid.”

“Ha, I think otherwise. Then, why did you come with me?”

“Like I said, I’m not that stupid.”

“What did you have a plan or something?” he teased. “You have the cops on speed dial.”

“Hmm, we’ll see.”

It was quiet now and we could not hear a thing. No birds, not even crickets. I sat up wondering what time it was. I looked up at the dark sky and counted the stars—something so simple made me feel normal.

“I feel safer on this side of the gate. Maybe we can actually talk now. No lies,” I said. “One-hundred percent honesty.”

He began laughing. “What can we talk about?”

“What is so funny?” I found nothing I said funny.

“Really? I do.”

“Jason, speak! You’re driving me nuts with all this mystery!”

“I knew Paul from being your assistant,” Jason finally said.

“Hmm.”

“I used him…a little.”

“He’s in love with you,” I mumbled as I rubbed my scalp.

“I know. He obsesses over me. I wasn’t lying about that part. He got all mad when I told him I wasn’t even gay.”

“That explains more. Go on.”

“I’m the one who had to live in fear that you were going to murder me!” he shouted.

“Yeah, right,” I laughed.

“Paul doesn’t seem like the type to murder though. He was too much of a wimp. So, don’t blame him,” Jason said. “Blame me.”

“Love can make some do crazy things.”

“Whatever.”

“Why?”

“I’ve done this before. It was never this hard though,” he snapped.

“I’m not like other women.”

“True.”

“Does Ana know about you?”

“Ana knew I had anger issues and she was afraid I would hurt you,” he muttered. “But, maybe Paul told her. But, she is so nosy, she probably found out herself.”

“I think she knows but doesn’t know how to put the pieces together.”

“Is she that stupid?”

“I guess so,” I laughed. “She is dumb, so why didn’t you go after Ana’s money instead?”

“I had nothing on her. With you, I had blackmail on Paul who could get me to you. He would do anything since I had him on film trying to cover his tracks on the hit-n-run.”

“I hope you feel good about yourself.”

“I don’t know why I do it. I’ve seen people get hurt in my life and you would think I would stop hurting others—I just can’t—I’m some kind of sociopath with no soul.”

“At least you admit it.”

“It’s odd. Sometimes I have feelings for people and sometimes I could care less. Like baby Simon…I care for him so much; and I love Savanna. I put our plan on halt so it wouldn’t harm Simon when you were pregnant.”

“Were you abused as a child or something?” I snapped. “Cause you’re insane.”

“Yeah, maybe sometimes but I saw a lot of it. It mainly happened to Jerry though.”

“Who abused him?”

“Uh, my dad.”

“You never talked about your dad,” I said, understanding it was a touchy subject for him. “I didn’t even know you had a dad.”

“Good, he is unworthy. He always told me that my brothers and I were worth nothing.”

“Honestly, how many brothers do you have?”

“Well, Jerry is my oldest biological brother. There were nine of us total.”

“Wow! So, your parents were family people?”

“Hell No! My dad didn’t give a damn about us. He just wanted the income from them. Four of them needed special care—he would take their money and buy meth with it and come home and beat on us.”

I did not know what to say. It was the first time he ever opened up to me in all honesty. I think it was the first time he ever opened up to anyone. I thought about ending the conversation there but I needed to know more.

“Yeah oh yeah, my mother, she had this college fund for Jerry and me. My jerk ass of a father goes into it and leaves only two dollars in there. By that time, Jerry was in his third year of college and I was a seventh grader. My mom freaked when she found out. It was the worst thing he had ever done. I remember that day clearly, as if it were yesterday. My mother worked her ass off to save that college fund money.”

“Continue, continue, please,” I said.

“Well, my mom walked in and began yelling at him. By then my dad was drunk on the couch. She couldn’t believe he took the money—”

“That sounds familiar,” I muttered and he glared at me. “Sorry, go on.”

He rolled his eyes and continued talking. “Yeah, so, she was like ‘Jerry has one more year until he graduates and you do something so stupid! And what about Jason?’ I remember her beautiful face was red and tears flooded her cheeks. I had never seen her cry like that. Not even when my grandma had passed; she never cried like that night. Jerry was trying to control her—to hold her back because she kept punching my dad. My dad, he was unresponsive the whole time. She threw some water at him. Then, he finally said ‘they’re unworthy. All they can do is live off a rich whore.’ He said that a lot, but that time I felt like he meant it. My mom leaned in to slap him but he grabbed her wrist and threw her to the floor. My youngest brother, Toby, was four and he began screaming and shouting. My dad would always beat on her—that was normal to us. But then, my dad began choking her. None of us didn’t know what to do—I stood there in shock. Seconds were going by and he was still choking her. Jerry tried to stop him but my dad was huge! Six foot five, over four-hundred pounds—he was hefty. Anyways, he had finally stopped and we all ran over to her. Her body was limp and lifeless—”

“He killed her?” I gasped.

“Yup. He did it in front of all nine of us. I felt bad for little Toby to see that. I remember holding him tight. I won’t ever forget Jerry’s eyes that night. They were big with no expression.”

I stared at him through the fence with my mouth wide open. “Go on!”

“Our dad made us lie to the cops and say a robber did all this to her and he was on the run. For some strange reason they believed the story—I did not even believe it. As weeks went on, Jerry had to drop out of school. It sucked because it was his dream to be independent. It sucked watching him go through that. Soon, our home turned into a drug spot. Our kitchen became a drug lab. My dad made Jerry become the maker for the meth and coke. Soon he created a business. I was the one who let the people in. I had to know who the real buyers were and who were not. During seventh grade, I missed weeks of school to the point where I had to dropout. I hated to see Jerry in the kitchen while my dad took all the cash. I hated seeing the little ones wondering what was going on in our home. Without my approval, I had to go back to school. Not to graduate, but to get kids who wanted drugs and find parents who needed them too.”

“Did you do it?”

“Of course or it was a beat to the skull. Soon teachers started to notice my uneasiness and fears. I remember going to a nurse every week from fainting in class—”

“Why were you fainting?”

“I had anxiety. I knew if I did not bring home some buyers every day, dad was going to beat me. There was this one buyer; she had a daughter named Crystal Bell. Every time her mom would come by, Bell would help me with my homework.”

“Oh yeah, I remember hearing about her. Didn’t you marry her?”

“Yeah, wait for that part,” he snapped. “Yeah, I remember her and me talking about all the stuff we wished for—a big home, to be married with children, a dog. Some days her best friend, Sam, would hang out with us. I loved those days—all my anxiety went away. I loved the days when my dad would get mad at us for laughing and would send us to Sam’s house—I always brought Toby with us because by this time all my brothers were moving out. Sam’s mom was a doctor so going to her house was like heaven. There were not people going in and out her home like mine. It didn’t smell like an armpit; her home smelt like cinnamon.”

“Did Sam’s mom know the crap you were going through?”

“Yeah, she did. She didn’t know everything, like that my home was a drug house, but she knew everything else,” he sighed. “When I was in ninth grade Sam’s mom died, which meant no more staying at her home with Toby. We had to go back to hell. I could not take it at home so I joined every after school program you can think of—Bell did the same. She hated going home to her meth-head mom. Bell and I became best friends, soon my girlfriend. When I turned seventeen, I proposed to Bell. My dad did not care as long as her mom was coming everyday for the drugs. We were married the next year and planned to move to Long Island. She said we‘d go if you get help—”

“Why did you need help?”

“I told you I had anxiety,” he snapped.

“Well, was it that bad?”

“Yeah, I had horrible mood swings with her and I would always be angry, worried, and nervous.”

“And what happened to Toby? Is he okay now?”

“He lives in Nevada now.”

“Oh I see, go on.”

“Anyways, I went to get help. We went to the doctor and they diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder.”

“So, you have BPD? It makes sense now—”

“Okay! Can you stop interrupting me if you want to know so badly! And no, I don’t have BPD, it was a mistake.”

“Okay sorry. I won’t say anything else.” I zipped my fingers over my lips.

“So, my real diagnosis was depression. Since we knew what was wrong with me, Bell got me counseling. She would go with me every—”

“Who exactly paid for the counseling? That stuff can be expensive.” I bit my lip afraid he would snap at me again for interrupting him.

“Her dad paid for it. He was nice to us. We lived with him until we could find jobs. My disorder seemed under control…to her anyway. Inside I felt unworthy and unsocial, but I did not let that show. I wanted her to be happy. We began working at a restaurant and soon earned money to buy a place on our own. Her dad helped mostly. Everything was turning out perfect, just like we once dreamed.”

“So, then what went wrong? Why did you kill her?”

“Ha, I didn’t kill her,” he laughed.

“So, who killed her then?”

“Well, we got a call that her mom needed some help; that she owed my dad some money. Therefore, we ended up driving back to my old place. The place was exactly like how it was when I left. I knocked on the door and Jerry had opened it. I did not recognize him—he had aged drastically. He told me I could not come in, just Bell. Therefore, I waited outside like an asshole and grew uneasy alone out there. When I heard Bell and my dad arguing I banged on the door. I was demanding for them to let me in, but they would not let me in! I could hear Bell and her mom screaming for help. I ran to the window—I could not see anything. Then, the door opened and I ran in. Bell was on the floor with a huge needle in her neck. I remember screaming so loud I had busted some vessels in my neck. My dad said ‘I was in physical danger. So, I had to kill her’ and he went on as if nothing happened. I called the cops—I didn’t care anymore about my dad. I did not care if he or Jerry was caught dealing drugs. Autopsy said she died of a drug overdose. It didn’t help that she was at a drug house either.”

“Why didn’t you tell that your dad did it?”

“I had no proof. He and Jerry were arrested anyway for distributing drugs and they went to prison. I got so much hate mail from them that my thoughts were everywhere. After Bell’s death, I became even more depressed and isolated. I could not support myself and soon moved in with Sam. She supported me with her mom’s money. A few years went by and we ended up getting married. Throughout those years, she developed a heart murmur—it did not bother her so we overlooked it. She almost died giving birth to our son though; years later, she went into cardiac arrest and died in New York. Police were suspicious of me, I mean, come on, you would be too. Her money was on halt until a will of hers was found. All the insurance money went to our son. I was broke again after her death. Actually, I was homeless and sent my son with Sam’s other family members. But, I did something I should regret.”

“What’d you do? Rob a bank?”

“I visited my dad and Jerry in prison. He told me about an easy way to make fast cash.”

“And what was that?”

“Drug trafficking.”

“Are you crazy? Why would you even agree to that?”

“It was the most money I ever had. I did it well for six months until I was caught. My ass ended up in a Mexican jail. By this time, my conscious was gone. I did not have that little voice in my head telling me what was wrong. The only thing I cared about was money and how I was going to get it. I got out of jail and decided I wanted to start fresh so I changed my name and moved to Brazil.”

“Did Brazil ease your depression?”

“I soon became moodier than ever. I felt lower than dirt. Every minute I would say to myself, ‘dad was right, I really am unworthy.’ I just felt like an outcast.”

“So, how did you start working for Ana?”

“Well, in Brazil I began working for some crazy designer. This woman was insane! She was from a different planet. She knew exactly how to push my buttons. When I would go back to the hotel, I would break things—”

“What the heck did she do to make you so aggressive?”

“What didn’t she do? She would talk down to me as if I were some animal. I thought about slipping some arsenic in her coffee a few times but I did not.”

“Huh!”

“At the time, I didn’t have the guts,” he snapped. “Anyways, the only nice thing she did for me was introduce me to her model, Daisy. Daisy was amazing at first until we got married. I thought she was bipolar—worse than that. She was nuttier than you were! She would yell at me for no reason and then kiss me the next minute. I could not understand her. She would beat on me with her stiletto heels, and spit on me. I did not do anything at first because I would never hit a woman but then she started throwing boots, vases, and picture frames at me! I fought her back. I didn’t want to, but it was the only thing that made her stop.”

I rolled my eyes. “So, why did you stay with her then?”

“Because, she supported me financially. I quit working for the crazy designer lady soon after.”

“Oh, I see. You would rather live with a crazy person than work for one. I so understand,” I mocked.

“Yes, yeah I did. Anyways, Daisy’s outburst turned from bad to horrible. It got to the point where I could not handle it. One day I stabbed her with a needle full of rat poison. Police thought it was a suicide. At the time, it did not hit me that she was dead. I was just happy that her bitching was gone. I felt peaceful again. Not only that, but she left a chest full of cash. But, stupid me, I spent it on crap and was also broke again. Crazy designer lady didn’t want to hire me again, so I had to move back to the states.”

“And that is when you ended up working for Ana, right?”

“Yeah,” he sighed and closed his eyes as if he finished telling the story.

“But why me? Okay your dad killed Bell, Sam died from cardiac arrest, and you poisoned Daisy, but you didn’t tell my part.”

“But you know your story already…”

“Not from your point of view. You want to hear my point of view—Jason tried to kill me blah blah blah!”

“Fine, I’ll tell you.”

“Okay,” I beamed.

“But promise not to judge me.”

“Um okay?”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

“I moved to California and got a job working for Ana. That same year Jerry and my dad got out of prison early for some odd reason. When I was out, my dad approached me. He pulled me into a motel and we talked. He told me how sorry he was and then out of nowhere he pulled a knife on me. He said I was better off dead for calling the cops. Then, the thought of Bell appeared in my head and I attacked him. I kicked him in his balls and spray his face. Then, I grabbed his knife and with no doubt about it, I began stabbing him multiple times.”

“Oh my god! So, you killed your dad?”

Jason stayed quiet and faced the opposite direction of me.

“I didn’t mean it like that—”

“Yeah, I guess I did. I never thought about it as murder. Police did not seem to investigate since he was just out of prison. After that day, I thought I could not live my life like this anymore. I could not be—”

“A murderer?”

“No! I could not be poor anymore! I hated working for Ana. I was like a slave. My dad was right. Someone always had to support me and I was unworthy. I could never get a normal job because I had no high school diploma. For that reason, I wanted to be independent and I wanted to have a better life.”

“So, what happened?”

“Well, Ana and I were not getting along. We would always argue like an old married couple. I was so depressed at times I would threaten to kill myself if she made me go to another press party with her.”

“Was it your disorder making you like that?”

“Yeah, I guess that would explain it.”

“Okay, go on,” I said.

“So, I was depressed, basically over the fact that I would be working for her until she wasn’t famous anymore. I actually attempted suicide when I thought about it too much.”

“Like how?”

“I don’t know, like cut myself or try to overdose on drugs.”

“Wow, that is so Hollywood. What did Ana do?”

“She would joke and say I was like the child she never wanted. She took me to multiple doctors and they told me stuff I already knew.”

“What did they tell you?”

“How I was depressed and that I needed counseling. Ana said she would pay for my counseling but I did not take the offer. I just faked as if I were okay. When I would get back to a hotel, I would punch a mirror or headboard. I felt so dumb and useless!”

“So, Ana knew your real age unlike me?”

“Yeah, my age was never a lie. However, she didn’t know much about my past. She was just desperate for a legit assistant. She knew as much as you and the fact that I had some issues and a little about my family.”

“But, why didn’t she tell me about your issues? You would think she would tell me that.”

“Honestly, I think she could have cared less. I doubt she knew what it was. The only thing she cared about was herself.”

“Well, she had to care a little, if she tried to get you counseling. If I were her, I would fire you and get a new assistant.”

“Oh yeah she cared…if I wasn’t too depressed to get her dry cleaning,” he laughed.

I laughed remembering the old Ana. “So, go on…get to my story already.”

“Well, you keep asking questions!”

“Okay well, I won’t ask anything until you’re done.”

He took a deep breath and turned to face me. “It all started in May. Ana was bitching like usual about how, you, Lily Blair Evans, was going to play in the same movie as her. It was insane how much she talked about you. So, one day Ana was online searching you. She found out you were worth over sixty million dollars! She said something like ‘whoa I hope no one finds that out or else.’ I thought about what she said ‘or else’. What would happen if someone found out? I did not understand her until now.”

“I get you.”

“She began to get this obsession about you. You were so interesting that I began to become interested in you. You were on the cover of every magazine and everyone wanted to be with you. And your past was horrible!”

“What’s so bad about my past?”

“Everything!”

“It’s not that bad.”

“Your past drug use, your alcohol addiction, trying to kill your twin, and your many suicide attempts…we had a lot in common.”

“I don’t really like talking about that…thanks for bringing it up.”

“Fine, I’ll stop talking.”

“No, go on with my story.”

He sighed, “I began looking up more facts about your past and the things you had gone through and I knew you were the right person. You were perfect because you were a vulnerable weak girl who would do anything to get away from your mother. I thought of ways to “run” into you, but nothing worked. You did not go to any press parties like normal celebrities, you were never at awards shows, and you never did daytime TV appearances. I began to think you were a made up person that you could only see on television. So, I remembered Paul was your assistant. I had overheard him talking to a model about an art camp he was going to at an after party. That same night as I was outside smoking, I witness him hit Marlon. I was so shocked that I pulled out my phone and videotaped him hiding the evidence. I had instant blackmail. I bought art camp tickets and was ready for action. Throughout those two months, I convinced Paul we were in love. I didn’t think it was going to be so easy.”

“You threatened him.”

“And?”

“That’s evil.”

“But it worked.”

“True.”

“Our plan started in September. Ana told me she would not be going to the meeting for the film you guys were in. I insisted that I would go for her. She approved and I lied and told everyone she was coming late.”

“Go on.”

“I ended up asking you out that day and you said ‘yeah.’ The rest is history.”

I stayed silent trying to recap everything we had been through—everything I had put him through—everything he put me through.

“Paul, turned against you when you denied him love.”

“I know.”

“Doesn’t that hurt you?” I asked.

“Not really, since I never loved him.”

“So, what was that stuff I had found in France then? The white powder?”

“Oh, that white stuff was just my medicine.”

“Oh really? What was it?”

“It’s for…constipation,” he murmured. “You know I get uneasy in different countries.”

“Oh,” I said remember seeing the bottle of the powder in our bathroom. “It was Mira-lax.”

“You had even asked me if I had my Mira-lax before we left!”

“I was just so confused because you turned so mean that day.”

“Paul was mainly in charge of the sedatives.” Jason laughed then cocked his head up with wide eyes. “Hey! You remember that morning back home when you came downstairs and saw Paul putting something in your drink? You said something like ‘what are you doing?’ And Paul was like ‘it’s just fiber.’”

My heart sped, remembering that moment and many other moments. “And that time when I was typing on my laptop and you guys sworn I wasn’t…but I was…but who’d moved it?”

Jason laughed. “Paul is a smooth criminal. I had him on whip.”

“I have so many questions…”

“What?” Jason laughed.

“It’s not funny!” I shouted.

“From my point of view, it was a very amusing year.”

“And the carpet? How’d you do that?” I said.

“Easy call a carpet man…”

“So, every time I would drink something, you guys were drugging me?” I said in uncertainty. “And you were switching my pills!”

“Basically, however, Paul always gave you such a low dosage. I swear, sometimes I don’t even think he was giving them to you.”

“So, how did you guys set up the lilies?”

“What lilies?” he asked in confusion.

“Um, all the black lilies I have been seeing everywhere! Like the ones that were in my skin and the ones from my handbag…”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I stayed silent, trying to gather all my thoughts.

“I told you everything I know,” Jason said.

Tears began to flood my eyes. “What were you going to do with the money? You would have gotten caught.”

“My plan was to travel the world. I could spend one million a year and still be rich.”

“Were you going to give Paul his share?”

“You think I’m an idiot?”

“So, what were you going to do to Paul?”

“Nothing, just threaten him if he told.”

“I don’t believe you.”

Jason rolled his eyes. “Paul hated that you didn’t like his future goals.”

“He had none.”

“His photography dreams.”

“I did care for him.”

“Not his photography career.”

“True…he was a horrible photographer.”

“Well, you can’t just say something like that if it’s his dream. How would you like it if I said your movies were a pile of crap?”

I rolled my eyes. “Hmm…who are you to tell me how to feel.”

“True,” he snapped. “But we had good times, right?”

“We had good times? Yeah right!”

“We did,” he smiled. “I must admit you are pretty hardcore.”

“What do you mean?” I said.

“Yeah, like when you spilled acid on me, hit me in the head with a plate! That’s hardcore.”

My eyes got big at the thought of me being so evil—it sounded more dreadful than I imagined. “How’d you know all that?”

“I’m not stupid.”

I began to laugh. “Ha! Oh my gosh! How ironic!”

“Why are you laughing?”

“Because we are both crazy! I’m this schizophrenic girl who thought her husband was trying to kill her and you’re this sociopath who wanted to kill his wife! What’s the likely of people like us meeting and this happens?” I laughed. “I just feel bad for our son. How is he going to be in twenty years?”

“Pretty messed up in the head.”

“And now we’re laughing about what isn’t funny!”

“To think of it I should have married someone like Ana,” he whispered.

“Oh my!” I stood up, changing the subject. “We should go home, it’s dawn.”

“Um, are you sure?”

I kicked the fence with all my strength. “I’m sick of this drama between us. Let’s call it a truce and move on with our lives.”

“I’m over it now. I just want to live a normal life. And with the right therapy I think we can pull through this,” he agreed.

I smiled. “I agree.”

“Do you feel safer now…with me?”

“A little, now that we talked. I think we can get along now,” I said.

“So, I can come over on that side of the fence.”

“Sure.”

I stared at Jason as he climbed over—I understood him now. I felt safe with him again. If he could get past me trying to brutally murder him, I could get past him trying to steal my money.

I felt an odd love again. Like old times—however, I was not the same timid coward.

Chapter 20 | The Black Lily

 

The sun beamed onto our faces as we walked to a nearby cafe in the middle of nowhere. I had never felt an odd heat before. Living in Los Angeles had me spoiled. I looked at Jason, who was taking his jacket off to go pee. He threw his jacket down to the ground and it was about to blow away. Without bothering him, I walked over to get it. When I lifted the jacket, as quickly as I could, I searched the pockets.

I smiled when I pulled out some paper; it was tissue—heavy tissue—it was wrapping something. I opened the tissue and a bunch of white powder fell to my lap and blew all around me. “Bingo!”

I held the baggy to my face and little particles blew around. I jumped when Jason’s phone began to ring. I put the baggy into my bra and walked over to him. “Who is that calling?”

“Just the media,” he lied.

“Oh, here’s your jacket.”

We began walking the opposite way we came running the night before. A small cafe surrounded by nothing was close by. It was Jason’s idea to go there in the first place.

“Hey, give me your phone,” I said.

“For what?” he snapped.

“I want to call Paul.”

“No way!”

“Why not?”

“Did you forget Paul turned himself in? He’s probably in prison already for murder.”

“Oh yeah, I guess I wanted to forget about that whole event.”

When we entered the cafe, it was empty. An old woman with a hunchback greeted us and gave us menus.

“Would you like pancakes?” the old woman said.

“Uh, yes—”

Jason cut me off, “Any type of fluids, first.”

“Smoothie?” she said.

“Perfect,” Jason said.

“But, I’m hungry!” I said.

“We will eat when we get home!” he snapped and threw his jacket on the table.

The old woman cleared her throat and walked over to our table. “We have a rule here…”

Jason frowned and began to shift in his seat. “What is it?”

“We have a jacket area. All jackets have to be hung up if not worn—”

“Why? It’s like one-hundred degrees outside,” Jason said. “The only idiot wearing a coat is her,” Jason pointed at me.

“It’s a rule or we won’t serve you,” she said.

“Fine.” Jason yanked his jacket off the table and handed it to the old woman.

“No need for attitude,” I said as I read the old woman’s tag—it said Lillie—like my name but spelled different. “Her name is Lillie like mine,” I whispered to Jason.

“I don’t care!” he slammed his fist on the table and looked out the window. “Just shut the hell up, okay?”

“What type of smoothies?” Lillie said.

“Watermelon and cherry watermelon,” Jason said. “Punch a hole in the cherry top.”

“Aright, it will be done in five minutes.”

I smiled at the old woman as she winked back at me. She seemed familiar as if I had seen her before. Her roots were gray as the tips of her hair were almost a dark brown. The wrinkles around her eyes were smooth and she seemed like she aged appropriately. She was small, but her hunchback made her even smaller.

“I guess we can go home after this,” I said.

“I won’t be able to go home now that I think about it,” he said. “I’m sure Paul told the police everything. I’m sure they’re after me.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of a waste that you didn’t finish your job,” I teased.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“You’ll be arrested for a crime you didn’t even finish. That sucks.”

He sighed, “What are you trying to say?”

“Oh nothing. It just sucks.”

“Fuck you,” he snapped.

No, fuck you.

He got up and walked over to the jacket stand. I watched him as he anxiously searched the pockets for his white magic. I felt a tingle in my belly as he began to sweat from guilt. He looked over at me and nodded. “I’m going to go to the bathroom.”

“Okay,” I said.

Lillie walked over to the table and sat the smoothies in front of me. She paused and winked at me again while she poked a hole in the top of the cherry watermelon. Her smile was big and her teeth were bright white. She did not speak; she just patted me on the back and walked back to the kitchen.

When she was out of sight, I pulled out the drugs from my bra. Without a conscious, I stirred it into his drink, making sure every white particle blended. Jason came back to the table with a bitter expression—I wonder why he is so mad?

“Those toilets are disgusting,” Jason said as he broke my thoughts. “So, what is the plan?”

“My plan?” I gasped in fear.

“Our plan to get back home…”

“I’m just going to go home.”

“Why are you just talking for you? I thought we were working together?” Jason said as he slurped his drink. “We have to work together if you don’t want me to go to prison.”

What’s the change? Can’t find the white magic so we have to stick together?

I shrugged and wiped off my mascara and dried up foundation from my face. I kept my eyes on Jason as he drank his entire smoothie in under two minutes. His pupils began to dilate, his lips began to dry, and then he began to breathe heavy.

He paused…

His lips formed into a pout…

His hazel eyes met mine…

I smiled and slurped down my smoothie. “What is wrong, Jason, boo?”

“Did you find something in my jacket earlier?” he said. “Something in a tissue?”

A wicked smiled took over my face and I nodded. “Maybe.”

Jason looked at me, as his lips turned white. I put my hand on his as he began to shake uncontrollably. I began to chuckle and realized that was what he felt like to watch me the past year.

“Jason, it was never over. You thought you could outsmart me. You thought I forgave you?”

Jason stood up. He froze in place as he shook from foot to foot. As if he were drunk, he tried to grip onto my shoulders for balance but he fell to the floor.

“Paul told me everything and when I said everything, I meant everything. I knew you would try to poison me here. You think I would take your word over a man I’ve known all my life? I knew since we were at the nightclub that you had poison in your pocket.”

“How’d…you…know?”

“I felt it on you when we hugged.”

His eyebrows turned downward and curved over his eyes as he climbed back into his seat. His mouth was wide open as he took in deep breaths. “Lilly, we need to call the damn emergency! That was a larger than normal amount! I could die any moment. It feels like my insides are burning. This is serious shit I made at home!”

“So?”

“Lily, I will do anything for you to get me help.”

Lillie walked over to our table, “Is he okay?”

“I’m not okay—”

“Yes, he’s fine. He just has stomach cramps from not eating. Can you make us some pancakes?” I said, cutting him off.

“Okay, I’ll be back,” Lillie said as she walked back to the kitchen.

I pulled out Jason’s cell phone and thought about not doing it—not calling 911. But, where would not calling 911 get me? I would not feel more powerful, I would not get tons of money, and I wouldn’t be a hero. I would just be Lily. So, I did—

“911, what’s your emergency?” said the phone operator.

“My husband ate poison that he made and he needs help,” I said.

“Miss, where are you?”

“I’m not sure.” I pulled the menu from under Jason’s arm and it said, “The White Lily Café.”

“We will be there shortly—”

I hung up the phone and realized I did not feel weird, hear voices, or was frightened of the future. There was no burden on my back and I felt weightless—like a flower in a spring garden. I could run a mile on the beach with sand up to my knees and I would still have a smile on my face. Life felt too much like a dream as my heart raced with excitement. I looked around me and everything seemed normal—normal to my extent.

“What…what…is that?” Jason whimpered as he pointed at my head.

“What is what?” I touched my messy hair for what he was pointing out. I tugged on what felt like a hair bow on the side of my head.

I pulled it out and held it in front of my eyes—it was a beautiful fresh lily—a white lily.

 

I finally know who I am—but it was not worth it.

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading my story. It would mean a lot if you emailed me at [email protected]

 

Thank you.


Black Lily Petals

  • ISBN: 9781311819550
  • Author: Max Jolene
  • Published: 2016-01-28 23:40:24
  • Words: 68017
Black Lily Petals Black Lily Petals