By early Thursday afternoon, nearly five weeks after I sent Sienna away, I’m satisfied enough with the song, and lyrics, that I know “Ten Days” will be the first single released on my solo project. It’ll replace “Your Best Disaster”—a song I wrote nearly a year ago after getting called that (along with a few other names) by some groupie after a show in North Carolina. It hadn’t been my finest moment—I’d treated her like shit—but then, outside of music, I’ve had very few fine moments over the last several years.
As soon as Kylie comes in with lunch from her favorite fast food place, In-N-Out, I follow her into my kitchen and task her with making some calls to my label about the future of the song I’ve written for Sienna. As soon as she’s acknowledges that she’ll make a few calls as soon as she’s done with lunch, I add, “It’s got to be the first song, first music video, first everything on that album. You understand?”
She glances up from the pack of fries she just placed on the center island. “This is a first, you know?” She opens her mouth to say something else but immediately shuts it, clacking her teeth together hard in the process. I lean my shoulder up against the fridge behind me and motion my hand for her to continue. She groans, but after downing a couple of ketchup-drenched fries, she lifts her shoulders dramatically and places her elbows on the black countertop. I roll my eyes, waiting for Kylie to start the theatrics. She’s good about that. “You usually like dealing with them yourself. Guess I’m used to just being your laundry bitch.”
“You underestimate yourself,” I say. “You do travel and other shit, too. And you hack my bank accounts—that’s got to count for something.”
She narrows her dark brown eyes at me and hurls a few French fries across the kitchen, none of which actually make contact, except for the one I reach out and grab. I fling it back in her direction where it catches in her short black and blue hair.
“Your aim is shit,” I say with a grin.
“You played baseball in school, I never claimed. I was an athlete.” She takes her elbows off the island and sits back on the bar stool behind her. “I won’t be here tomorrow afternoon, by the way.” When I lift an eyebrow, she runs her hand through her hair. “I’m bored with my hair color. Thinking about pink or green or something new.”
I’m not sure what I think about something new, but I nod anyway as I turn to leave the room. Pointing at the fries she threw at me a few minutes ago, I glance back over my shoulder. “Make sure you clean that shit up.” I nearly make it out of the kitchen and into the dining room, but of course my sister has something else to say. When the fuck doesn’t she?
“Are you leaving?”
I face her, all the while continuing to walk backwards in the direction of the front foyer. “I’ve got an appointment.”
“Let me guess, a financial appointment?” Kylie demands, and there’s no way in hell I can miss the sarcasm dripping from her voice. She would automatically assume this is Sam related, and just like always, she’s fucking right. My ex-wife had called me this morning wanting to talk again, and because it’s been weeks since the bullshit she pulled in Santa Monica—because I still want her to get the hell off of my back so I can move on—I agreed to what she asked of me.
“Well, is it Samantha?” Kylie asks.
The slight quirk of my lips is just as sardonic as my sisters forced grin. “Do your job.” I turn back around just as she takes a giant, angry bite of her burger. Being Kylie, she’s got to have the last word, and I’m just about to close the house door behind me when I hear her voice.
“I won’t have a job if you keep doing this crap,” she yells. I choose not to respond—what the fuck do I even say to that other than something that will hurt her feelings—and slam the door.
The trip to my bank takes surprisingly less time than usual, and as soon as I’ve sent the wire over to Sam, I call her.
Because it’s dealing with money, she picks up on the second ring. She breathes into the phone for a few seconds like a goddamn creeper, and then she says in a deflated voice, “It’s already showing up in my account.”
I tighten my grip on the steering wheel and sneer. “Nice to know you’re on top of shit.” I can almost picture it—Sam in her luxury apartment in Atlanta, sitting on that expensive ass white leather couch with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth as she continuously refreshes her bank account. The thought makes me a little sick to my stomach, but I ignore it. The amount I sent today seemed like pennies in comparison to what my ex usually demands.
When she’d told me the amount she expected this morning, I’d been shocked, but she quickly assured me how serious she was. “Two payments,” she said. “One now, one later this year. Then I’m done.”
“Done with what?” I had asked cautiously.
“Done with this. With you. We’ll finish it up, and I’ll just pretend like you don’t exist. Like nothing you’ve done exists.”
My stomach and chest was on fire from the guilt and humiliation and anger, but I still managed to respond. “But then who’ll pay for your rent and your bullshit?” My voice was far crueler than I intended, but I couldn’t help it. Hearing her say that she’d just pretend like the last several years didn’t exist after putting me through so much shit and blackmailing me drove me over the edge.
“I’ll pay it myself,” she’d finally said, and I resisted the urge to snort. We both knew that she’d blow that money an hour after it hit her account.
“Lucas,” her voice says hoarsely, dragging me back to the present and into my car. “I’ll call you when I’m ready for the rest.”
I swing my Audi into traffic and take a deep breath. “No doubt in my mind that you will.” I'm not sure if she heard half of that, because when I call her name a moment later, she's already hung up.
As disgusted as I am with Sam, and with myself for feeding her chaos over the last four and a half years, I’m a little grateful for her as I sit in traffic. The conversation I had with her this morning—the one that pushed me over the edge—it was exactly what I had needed to finish “Ten Days.”
PART 10 coming by late Thursday night!