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Never Enough

By:Roxie Noir

Never Enough
        Author: Roxie Noir


Marisol walks through the lobby door, and I hold my breath. I almost always do when she walks into a room, because I swear she lights it up.

Even when she looks unhappy, like she does right now. I can't blame her. I don't want to be here either, but according to my publicist we've got damage control to do, so here I am.

"You're early," she says as she walks up to me, people rushing by on either side.

"I've actually been here for ages," I say. "Valerie's already thrown the book at me. I came down so I could see you before the piranhas moved in."

Her gaze flicks away from me, to the elevator bank, and she nervously adjusts her briefcase on her shoulder. My chest tightens.

I know that last night was a complete catastrophe, and my manager and publicist are losing their minds over it, but it wasn't her fault. It's nothing we can't fix.

"Good," she says, her voice nervous. She's still not looking at me. "I wanted to talk to you."

"Don't worry about last night," I say. "It's my fault, I should have never-"

She shakes her head, cutting me off, and takes a deep breath.

"I think we should start discussing our breakup because I'm clearly not the right person to be playing your girlfriend," she says, the words spilling out of her in a rush.

I'm stunned.

It feels like an arrow through the heart. I know this is all pretend, that she's only my fake girlfriend, but I can't let this happen.

I can't let Marisol go. Not like this. I don't care what the people upstairs think or do or say.

"No," I finally say, shaking my head.

Marisol blinks.

"What do you mean, no?"

"I mean no," I say, and swallow hard. "No to you, no to this, no to all the bloody play-acting-"

This is going horribly, worse than when I asked her to be my fake girlfriend in the first place. I can't explain myself in here, convince her to stay while there are people in suits rushing around on their phones, so I take Marisol's hand and pull her toward the exit beyond the elevators.

There's a sign that says FIRE DOOR, DO NOT OPEN, but I don't give a fuck. I push through it and an alarm goes off in the building, then quiets as the door shuts behind us.

Marisol's already talking a mile a minute, still nervous, upset, and unhappy.

"You could find someone much better," she says, not looking me in the eye. "I'm terrible at this. I got high by accident and freaked out, I don't know anything about music, I'm awkward in front of cameras-" 

I lean down and take her face in both hands, feeling as if my nerves might burst through my skin.

"I don't care, and there's not anyone better," I say, my heart thundering.

I don't know what to do, what to say to make her stay. I only know that I absolutely have to.

She keeps talking, her voice almost a whisper.

"-I was almost too nervous to kiss you on the cheek, and then the lip-on-lip kiss was really awkward and bad-"

I kiss her.

It might be the last time. It might be the only time I get to kiss her without cameras, without others around, without being watched, but I have to do this.

I'm not letting Marisol go without a fight, without telling her that I'm no longer holding her hand in public or kissing her goodnight so that the cameras will see. I'm doing those things because I want to.

Because I've taken to pretending that this fake relationship is real.

I end the kiss and pull away from her, suddenly so nervous that it feels as if my body's made of live wires. She looks up at me, her brown eyes wide with surprise.

I take a deep breath.

"Marisol, I'm not pretending," I say.



One Month Earlier

Valerie holds her finger on a button, her body perfectly motionless as the blinds lower slowly. It cuts the sunlight down by about half, but it's still too bloody bright in here. Hell, everything in Los Angeles is too bloody bright.

Wake up in the morning: sun. Go for three-mile run, one of my new, healthy, replacement habits, and there's sun. Lunch, dinner, when I go into the studio: fucking sun, sun, sun. The only respite is at night, though then the whole city is lit with screaming neon, so it's not too terribly different.

It'll make a man miss his rainy gray motherland, that's for sure.

"There we are," Valerie says, and walks to sit at the head of the conference table, facing away from the window. Larry and I sit as well, him in his five-thousand-dollar suit and me in my nicest black t-shirt and least-ripped jeans.

Can't say I haven't made an effort. I rejected two other pairs of trousers as I was getting dressed. Across the table, our manager Nigel is wearing a short-sleeved button-down shirt and a windbreaker, so at least I'm dressed better than someone.

"Is Miss Fields running late?" Larry asks, checking his Rolex. He couldn't be less subtle about it.

Valerie's face doesn't move. I'm not sure it can move.

"A few minutes, yes," she says, her voice perfectly placid and calm. Her dark hair is parted neatly in the middle, both sides waving gently away from her perfectly smooth, even face.

She makes me think of a porcelain doll come to life, if porcelain dolls were particularly crafty, manipulative, and bossy - and since she's the band's new Public Relations manager, I consider those things compliments.

"Tonight is Gavin's first show since the tour ended," Larry says, lacing his sausage-like fingers together on the table. "We can't wait forever, you know, and he should be arriving early at the venue, making sure everything is-"

"I'm fine, Larry," I interject before he can really get going. "It's been three minutes, surely we can give her three more."

"I'm just saying, your time is valuable, and if-"

"I'm known to be late on occasion as well," I say, starting to get impatient with my lawyer. He's good at his job, but he's set on having the advantage in every situation, even one like this.

"She'll be here very soon, I'm sure," Valerie says, her tone still neutral and pleasant.

I hate this.

I hate this sterile, shiny, bright conference room and I hate that now I've got to listen to people who lecture me about my image and my brand. Once upon a time I played guitar too loud in tiny clubs and howled at the top of my lungs and didn't give a shit what anyone thought, but now I'm here. With these wankers.

My old self would make fun of me now, that's for sure. At least until he saw the house I live in. That might shut him up.

Larry sighs dramatically, checking his watch again, but just as he does the door swings open and four people enter: a man, two women, and a girl.

My heart plummets when I see the girl, like a ball of lead straight into my gut. If I had doubts about this already, now they're doubled. Tripled.

She's blonde and blue-eyed, practically cherubic. I don't think she's old enough to drink legally, but she's got that calm, blank affectation that people who grew up in front of the camera tend to have. As if she only comes alive when someone's recording.

One of the women leans over the table, and I stand to shake her hand.

"Margaret Sorenson," she says, all business. "I'm Daisy's PR person. This is her lawyer, Michael Warren, and this is Karen Fields."

"Lovely to meet you," I say automatically, though she's already moved on to Larry.

I look at Daisy Fields, then at Karen Fields, who must be her mother, and I realize two things.

One, she brought her mother to a business meeting; and two, Daisy Fields is her given name. I'd assumed she changed it when she went on television, but I guess her parents actually named her Daisy Fields.

They must have really wanted their little girl to go into showbiz, as they say out here.

Then Daisy herself is across the table from me, leaning forward, holding out her hand. It's small and soft, and she barely grips me at all. It's like shaking hands with a mitten.

"It's so nice to meet you!" she bubbles.

"You as well," I say.

"I love Half-Asleep!" she goes on. "It's such a beautiful love song."

It's Half-Awake, not Half-Asleep, and it's not a love song, but I let it slide.

"Thank you," is all I say.

We all sit, and Valerie starts talking, but I'm hardly listening, my mind swirling as I stare at the girl across from me.

I can't do this. There's no way I can do this, not with her. I'm sure Daisy Fields is nice, but she's a child. She brought her mother to this meeting, and even now, she's watching Valerie intently, as if she needs to hang onto every word that comes out of the other woman's mouth or she might lose the thread of conversation. 

"And that's all amenable to you?" Valerie asks Daisy's side of the table.

Wide-eyed, Daisy looks at her mother. Karen nods, then Daisy nods too.

That's it. I've had it.

I no longer give a single fuck about rehabbing my brand or making over my image or any of that.

I'm not doing this. I'm not pretending to date a former child star who might not even know where Britain is so that the music-buying public will think I've turned over a new leaf and discarded my old, sordid ways.

I have. They're gone. It's been months since I so much as had a drink, but I'm not hauling this girl around town on my arm to prove it.