“A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.”– Arnold H. Glasgow
San Myshuno Senator Suites Apartments, Penthouse
Vivien entered, her mouth already forming a perfect “O”.
“WHOA, nice Liam … I admit, I didn’t expect THIS! WOW!”
“Assuming that’s a compliment, if not, I’ll take it as one anyway. Vivien, where’s your luggage?”
“I got in early and had the driver make a stop, dropped it off, then to the studio for the rundown for my interview tomorrow morning, then I came straight here.”
“Why a hotel? You’re ass is staying with me. I have a guest room for exactly such things. I told you I had a guest room. Are you getting senile?”
“You did, but I didn’t want to impose. I know this was super-last minute. But since I am still a new artist without much of a name of my own and already had a sort of hiatus right after I started my career, when they called to offer me the spot when some big star got sick, I couldn’t say no. It literally happened that fast, I got up this morning, got the call, got on a plane, called you. Here I am.”
“Great story. We are still getting your bags and you are still staying with me.”
“Liam … I don’t know how long this will be. I have the interview with “Good Morning San Myshuno” first thing tomorrow morning, then a few other engagements the next day, and am booked for a whole week to perform at the Grand Hall. If there is enough interest, it could be extended for another week or even a month or more, and now that I can actually sort of function again on stage, I need all the practice and exposure I can get to get my name out there. In other words, I could become a long time visitor and I don’t want to do that to you.”
“You mean, unlike the time we lived together for 4 whole years? Pretty sure I can handle you staying here longer term too. Besides, if you take a gander out of any of these windows you will see the Grand Hall where you will be performing your shows at night is right there. You could jump off my patio and probably hit it with a good gust of wind.”
“Right … but that was college. This is different. This is your place. You need privacy sometimes. So do I.”
“Well, if it makes you feel better, I am barely ever home. Usually get up, have breakfast, work some before I go into the office, then I get home late. Sometimes there are dinners with partners or clients. So, you wouldn’t have to deal with me all day. And you would probably have your performances in the evening. Two ships passing in the night.”
“Okay, if you put it that way ….”
“You mean, the logical way?” he smirked victoriously.
“I’ll call a cab and get my bags.” she sighed defeated.
“You’re calling nothing. I am starving, I am taking you out to a nice dinner now, then we’ll check you out of the hotel and into Maison Liam. After a stopover at the hotel bar, that is. I need a drink. My day was about as predictable as yours. The one couple I was finalizing a divorce for made up, the other who was opening a restaurant together now wants a divorce.”
“All right. But I would need to change for the dinner, wouldn’t I?”
“Into what? Gala gown for a simple dinner? I wasn’t gonna wine and dine you at the finest restaurants, we’re going somewhere where they serve man-sized portions, cos I am famished. You look good. No need to impress me with layers of makeup and fancy clothing, I have seen you at your best and your worst and everything in between. This is totally adequate.”
“How … charming. I really don’t know how you are so successful with the ladies like that. Adequate, tssk.”
“Hey, if you were some random girl and I wanted to get laid, I’d lie the blue out of the sky until you put out. Afterwards you get the real me, assures they don’t get clingy. THAT is the secret of my success.”
“Ah, duly noted.”
He took her to a nice dinner, as usual they laughed a lot, talked a lot, then he drove her over to the hotel.
Vivien was told she missed the check-out time and would be charged for the night regardless whether she stayed or not, she was gonna agree, but Liam was relentless, the manager appeared, who finally gave up and in, so the charge was voided and Vivien checked out free of charge.
Once they arrived at Liam’s home, skipping the planned stopover at the bar, Vivien sighed.
“Was that really necessary? Not like I can’t afford it.”
“Matter of principle. Let one slide, you’ll lose your touch. I am not fully stocked here, but want some vodka? Or whiskey? I may have some wine left over.”
“Liam … hey. Let’s make a deal. I love how you came to my aid at the hotel, but you can turn off the attorney mode around me. I’ll pass on the booze for now, but would you mind showing me where I’ll be sleeping and the bathroom? I really would like to freshen up a little if you don’t mind.”
“Right, where are my manners? Sorry. Don’t mind at all. Come.”
He lead her up the stairs, carrying all of her bags to a small room with an amazing view.
“Wow, I really didn’t expect this! It’s cute! Very feminine. Not at all what I thought you would choose!”
“I didn’t. My youngest sister did. Or started to. She was heading down a too frou-frou route, so I stopped her half way through, after all, I may have male friends crash here at some point and they may get the wrong idea about me when the guest room looks like Liberace’s teenage girl rebirth styled it. We can get you some décor if you want.”
“Abby did this? She’s only what, 14? Wow.”
“Yeah. Wants to be an interior designer one day, so I let her go nuts with this room. If you ask me, I think she had some end game about moving in here herself, at least for the weekends. Well, she got another one coming, that lil brat, cos big brother is done living with her and her terrible K-Pop tunes all day long. Yikes. Until of course she does that thing, like Leonie does, the puppy dog eyes, the pout and all that, which causes me to melt and give in every single time anyway. Argh, little sisters. Play me like a violin, one bat of their eyes and there I go. My kryptonite.”
“You are such a good big brother.”
“Pushover is what that’s called. Well, this room is all yours, unpack, get settled, change stuff if you want. I’ll show you the bathroom. We have to share it, sorry, but there is a smaller one downstairs. Whom am I kidding? I’ll probably get stuck using the downstairs one while you’ll be hogging this one.” he chuckled, winking.
“Hey, we shared one small bathroom for four years and managed just fine, remember? We can handle this. WHOA!” Vivien made when he opened the door and she saw the sunken in tub in a very modern and decidedly masculine styled bathroom.
“Yeah, it’s pretty nice … you can see the stars at night, sunsets, while soaking in that tub. Or, if I am really lucky the chick in the apartment across forgets to draw the curtains before getting naked.”
After a few days of living together, Vivien realized he hadn’t been lying, he really worked hard, long hours and usually worked even once he was home, either because he brought stacks of papers home, got a call, a message or an email.
One morning, about a week after her arrival, they were having a morning coffee together, when Vivien smiled at him.
“Sooooo … your colleagues. Tell me about them. Anyone worth mentioning there at your fancy law firm? I mean, they can’t all be rancid old married men, right? There has to be at least one that is unattached, young and attractive, like in the movies …”
“When am I gonna meet him? An attorney lover would be perfect for an aspiring musician. I mean, that or a doctor, they know how to keep things confidential, right?”
“At a quarter to never, that’s when! Where is this coming from all of a sudden? You barely just shook off your stage fright and issues, you’re finally getting your life back together, I am not sure jumping into the dating pool isn’t a bit rash.”
“You yourself told me I should move on, so this is me moving on. Come on, Liam, hook a sister up.”
“Nope. Because they are all like me.”
“What? Smart, handsome, sweet, athletic, …”
“Dick-steered egomaniacs on power trips with nothing but work, money and fucking on the brain, who won’t remember your name the next morning.”
“Well, maybe that’s what I want. Or need. Don’t knock it till you try, right? Maybe no-strings-attached works for me. After all, the real deal I was going for backfired on me twice, so why not go in with eyes wide open.”
“More like eyes wide shut and brain powered off. What is REALLY going on here? You are still taking your meds, right? You sound like your depression is eating you alive again.”
“I am taking my meds and no, I am just boooooooored, Liam. And lonely. VERY lonely.”
“Well, I told you I work a lot. Now you know that even if I weren’t such an asshole a relationship would never work for me. Which girlfriend would put up with this long term? And at this point in my career I don’t have a choice. But if you are lonely and bored with cabin-fever, I can walk to work or take a bus and leave you the car. You could go visit family when I am not here.”
“I have overdosed on my grandparents – and yours … and all the others, while I was recovering. I love them all, but enough is enough. I want someone closer to my own age. Do you know ANY guys you could maybe introduce me too? Friends?”
“Why? If you have such an urgent itch to scratch, just go to the bar down the road and wait. Shouldn’t take long. Just take one of the bastards behind the dumpsters and get it out of your system. There are several packages of condoms in the bottom left drawer of the bathroom cabinet, take your pick!”
“I don’t want some smeary horny weirdo for a quick number in some dark alley, Liam! I want a decent affair, someone polished and accomplished, with goals, like you. Someone with aspirations, dreams, drive to attain them. Someone sex would be, you know … fun, passionate and spontaneous with, but without all the jealousy and drama of a real relationship. You have to know someone like that, at work or a friend.”
“Fun, passionate and spontaneous sex? How am I supposed to know how any of my colleagues or friends are in the sack?! And why would I play matchmaker? Once they don’t rebook you for more performances, you pack your shit and fly back home. Why would I do that to ANY of my buddies or co-workers?! Seriously, Viv!”
“No, it would be up-front and clean cut from the start, I would do what you do with your … ahem … conquests. I’d be up front and tell them it’s just temporary, for a night, maybe a few repeats. So it would be their choice. And I mean, not like they wouldn’t get something out of it too. Not to toot my own horn, but there are uglier girls out there than me, and I never had any complaints in the bedroom category before … “
“You are starting to sound too much like me. That’s concerning. I can’t wait till Blaine realizes I ruined you and shows up here to thank me with his foot up my ass. I need to quit being too honest with you. Didn’t see any of this coming.” Liam finished his coffee and rinsed out his mug.
“Oh, gimme a break, Liam. What about emancipation? Men have been doing this forever, but when a woman wants to be like this, everyone gets their panties in a bunch. Plus, we all know my dad wasn’t a choir boy before he married my mom, so I came already genetically tainted, plus, if you believe the rumors Malik spread all over the news then I am some sort of orgy-loving sex addict with the kinkiest preferences ever, might as well live up to that. I am single and … you know … a girl has desires and … needs.”
“Now here is an uncomfortable topic for me. What can I say, for such instances of need, let me introduce you to my permanent standby girlfriends Righty and Lefty. I am sure you can handle that yourself.” Liam raised each hand as he spoke, closing with a shake of his head.
“Argh, you are sooo unhelpful! I don’t want to … do that … I would like to feel a man’s touch again. Feel desired. If I were a guy you’d be giving me phone numbers from you little black book stash not telling me to … ya know!”
“Look Viv, I knew we were close and shit, but this whatever you are trying to drag me into now really tops it all. The answer is no. If you wanna hoe it up, be my guest, I don’t judge, but I am not gonna be the one pimping you out, Vivien. You are still too vulnerable, I don’t think you have recovered enough to do what you are wanting to do, you aren’t the type for some fast number anyway and I care way too much about you! If this is what you want to do to yourself, I cannot stop you, but I am not gonna help you! It this backfires, it could undo all the progress we made and you’re back in your bedroom, paralyzed with depression, anxiety and guilt. I don’t know much about the entertainment business, but I doubt they hand out second, third, fourth chances like candy to brand-new artists! This is fucking stupid, your plan!” Liam turned bright red for anger.
“Okay, hey … stop …let’s end this conversation here.” Vivien realized this was really upsetting him, so she stepped over to him, leaned up against him, which triggered him to calm down as he wrapped his arms around her, then spoke in a much softer voice.
“You are too good to play the cheap hoe, Viv. I live this way because I know how to turn off my feelings, accept that sex sometimes is just sex, but I doubt you can do that. You are too sweet, you’d get invested, whether you want to or not, and you’d only end up hurt. I don’t want you to get your heart broken again, but if you do this shit, I cannot protect you. I wouldn’t know how.” he said gently.
“Okay, maybe you’re right. I won’t. Promise. My mind was just jumping fences, all better now. Forget I said anything. Thanks for keeping me straight.”
“Always.” he relaxed more, then released her, she took a small step back and looked up at him.
“Liam, I never thanked you for helping me so much. It’s only because of you that I am able to perform again. That’s all I ever wanted, be up on that stage, share my music with everyone, and for a while it looked like that future as a musician was gone forever for me.”
“Ah, I didn’t do anything. Just kicked you in the ass swiftly, it’s what I do. You have to thank your parents and the expensive doctors, expensive therapists, expensive medications and all that. A big puzzle I was only one small piece of.”
“Liam, no. None of that helped me at all. You did. If this was the puzzle, you were half of the pieces. After you dragged me on stage for that awful karaoke and later the dance club, something clicked inside of me. I don’t even know what, I can’t even point out that one key moment, it just happened and once I flew back home after that weekend with you, I was ready. Just like that. Like … magic.”
“Well, alakazam. Magic Liam in the house, ha, I kinda like the sound of that. Look, we’re Camerons, you too, even if not in name. Our family has drama in the blood, whether we want to or not, it always finds us. But we are born with good survival skills. We brush this shit off, and find ways to move on. I am glad you are performing again, everyone is and you are doing great. Even though I have never been invited to see you live, but ya know, guess I am not that important after all. Hint, hint.” he grinned at her face turning into a shocked expression.
“Oh my god, Liam! You’re right! I am so sorry, I should totally have invited you. What was I thinking?! To me this is just so normal in a way, because of my dad and grandparents, it didn’t occur to me. I’ll get you tickets for this weekend, front row. Okay? Your family and friends too, if they want to come.”
“Relax, I was just messing with you. But I really do wanna see you. I mean, not everyone has a celebrity musician cousin, right?”
“Not quite at celebrity level yet, but working on it, thanks to you.”
“Viv, you were a superstar the moment you were born. Long before you ever wrote a single song.”
“LIAM – I know how to make it up to you! I was nominated for a Starlight Accolade award months ago for the duet with my dad. I need a date for the award ceremony. Come with me, be my date! It’s in two weeks, sorry for the lack of heads up, but please, go with me!”
“Wow, last minute much? But yeah, I’ll go with you, would be crazy to say no to that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! I do need to shuffle some stuff around at work, maybe take some vacation days to make sure they don’t blow up my phone all weekend. But, ya know, I mean, which man would turn down a chance to strut around on the red carpet rubbing elbows with the biggest stars. Count me in then.”
Vivien gave him a quick peck on the cheek, smiling, imagining the headlines when she would show up with a handsome stranger, and all media going nuts trying to figure out who Liam was. Malik would probably have a seizure, that jealous treacherous ass.
Knowing Liam, he would bask in the media attention and have them all eating out of his hand in not time. And if she really did win an award, he would be right there to share that huge moment with her, along with her family.