Author: Miss x Massacre
Universe/Pairing: Instant Star/Jommy
Author's Note: Excuse the long A/N, but this fic was started ten years ago. Ten years and we have finally come to a close. (It's also been five years since an update and I apologize from the bottom of my heart about that) There's nowhere near the amount of readers that I once had, but I am so proud of this story. It's my baby. I have lived with this story and these characters inside of me for so long, it makes me happy to see this finally coming together. I've already started on the sequel (two chapters), which probably is a bad idea because I have so many other fics that need finishing or updating, but this has always been on the forefront of my mind. This story has been cultivated, dreamed about, spoken about, and planned on. As crazy as it sounds, I hear the characters and the story/plot in my head.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything recognizable in this chapter. There's no music featured in this final chapter, though the title of the chapter does come from a Donell Jones song. I do not own any of the characters except for my originals: Lucas Michaels, the asshat, and Nicole Gregory, the best friend.
Author's Note (part deux): Please enjoy this final chapter of Gone. Let me know what you think, if there's things I should change, things you'd like to hear about in the sequel, which at the latest will be posted on May 1, 2018. Please drop me a review. They give me life. Read on!
Chapter 42: Right Where I Wanna Be
I'm deep in thought as Nicole and I walk through La Guardia airport, our many bags in tow. I'd spent the entire flight playing and replaying Tom's CD. My stomach did a little flip flop at the beginning of every song and by the third time the CD restarted, I resolved to forgive him. If I was being completely honest with myself, which I wasn't trying to be but was happening anyway, I forgave him a long time ago but held onto the bitterness of everything because the secret of my baby, our baby, was still eating me from the inside out.
The night I told him everything, the last night I really saw him face to face, it felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my chest. Everything that was so heavy, that weighed me down, vanished. We mourned for our child that night as we cried together on the floor of studio one.
It just…didn't seem right, though, to stay there. It feels natural to be with him, yes, but at the same time my heart hurts just being in his presence. Being there in Toronto was just a giant reminder of everything I'd run from, of everything I'd given up, of all that I had lost…all that I couldn't get back.
But just because I'd forgiven him didn't mean that it didn't make the hurt any less.
I needed time to really mend myself. To focus on everything that happened and work through it without worrying about keeping up the façade as I had been. I'm hoping that as time goes on, it gets easier and I can go home without the drowning feeling.
Some part of me knew though that it might not be. That Tommy would always be that reminder, that catalyst for me. It's something I'm slowly coming to accept…
Exhaustedly I fell onto the couch and closed my eyes. The past month since my birthday had been so trying. I was relieved to be home, in my own space, without the worrying eyes of my sister or anyone tip toeing around me. As I stretched out, there was a knock at my door. Of course, just as I am finally able to really relax, someone shows up.
"Coming!" I yell, slowly standing up and wrapping my kimono wrap around my body.
I don't bother to look through the peephole, though in hindsight I probably should have. I sent Tonto, the nickname for my multifunctional bodyguard that Darius forced me to take on, away to get food so I am here alone. As I pull the door open, Lucas' drawn down face is in front of me.
Inwardly I grimace. I don't have the capacity to deal with his shit today.
"What do you want, Lucas?" That came off rather less well that I'd hoped.
"I – I came to apologize, Jude." He said, putting his hands in his pockets and shifting his weight on his feet.
"Apologize?" Shouldn't I be the one doing that? Despite him showing his whole ass while in Toronto, I still feel horrible for lying to him and then cheating on him. I won't say that, though. Let him do the talking, that's the best thing to do.
"Jude, I'm sorry for what happened…for how I reacted every time something happened." He said, swallowing and looking down the hall before back at me. "And I'm really sorry I hit you. I never meant to hurt you. You were going through a lot."
Still am, thanks.
"I know you didn't." I say looking away from him. It doesn't make the fact that it happened any better. I never expected Lucas to behave that way. He reached to brush my cheek and I put my hand up to stop him. "Lucas…please."
"Look I was hoping we could be friends or something. I mean, you still do have a joint contract with G-Major and my label."
I bite my lip nervously. I guess the deal hadn't gone through yet. Might as well break the news now. "Actually, D is buying out your half of the contract. I won't be tied to TGS anymore."
"What?" He seemed mad now. Whoops.
"Darius thought it would be in the best interests of my album that I work solely with G-Major."
His jaw tightened, and I pray Tonto comes walking up the hall, but instead it remains empty. "Are you kidding me?"
"Luke, I'm sorry…really, I am, but after everything that happened in Toronto between us…it's probably best." I said, trying to not recall the straw that broke the camel's back though I can still feel the bass of Lucas and Tom both yelling at one another.
"Yeah, yeah." He said, shaking his head turning to walk away before stopping and turning back to face me. "I'm sorry, too. Sorry you were such a lying fucking whore. Thanks for wasting my year and leaving me with shit."
My eyes widened at his words and he stalked off before I had a chance to reply though really, what could I say? He was right. I was a lying whore. I ruined whatever relationship we could have had. But it's just two more lessons learned.
One? Honesty is the best policy. Mama was right.
Two: Check the Gee damn peep hole...
"Ew." Nicole said later, her face scrunched up as I tell her later about my encounter with Lucas. "Why would you even open the door for him?"
I flashed my eyes wide and shrugged. "I didn't check the peep hole. So, I'm pretty sure that's what I get."
Nicole laughed into her glass of wine, nodding. "Yeah, bitch. That is what you get." She tipped the glass back, finishing it off. "I'd forget it and him though. Pretty sure we'll be outta here in the next week."
"Oh yeah, that meeting with Annabelle is tomorrow afternoon." I made a face out of nervousness. "What could I be doing in London? I figured now since I've been ousted I wouldn't have my job at Vogue anymore."
"Why would you assume that?" She asked as she poured herself another glass and the remaining of the bottle into mine, though I still had half a glass to finish.
"I don't know…because I announced my fourth album?" I took a large gulp. "I mean she did offer London before that, but I feel like I might not have enough time to complete any assignments that I'll be given."
"Well, let's just go see what she suggests." Nicole said as she drew her knees up onto the couch, tucking her feet under her. "I personally would love to get the fuck away from this city."
I look out the window, the sunset leaving a beautiful array of colors in the sky, letting my thoughts pass like the clouds in the sky. "Yeah…I know what you mean." I say quietly...
The next afternoon Nicole and I sat waiting for Annabelle in her office. Behind her desk was a straight view of Manhattan and Times Square. Her office was, of course, the best because she was editor and I'd always coveted the little room. Looking around at the décor that adorned the room, I remember the first couple of months at Vogue. I was skittish, a lot of the girls were catty, and I was still swimming in the Bay of 'What ifs'. Darius has told Annabelle I was his niece and though she was careful of me, she put her trust in me because D had spoken of me so highly. I started out doing grunt work: sorting mail, editing small columns for the not-yet up and running website, getting coffee when Annabelle needed it, but within a month I was promoted and given my own column in the monthly issues.
"My favorite ladies!" Annabelle gushed as she strolled through the double glass doors that enclosed her office. I jumped up from my seat with Nicole standing as well. She came over to exchange chic cheek kisses, which was her signature. "Sam – I mean, Jude – I'm loving the red!"
Annabelle was every bit the awesome grandmother that everyone wanted. Her natural gray hair was cut into a short bob with a long fringe that fell at her eyes. Her makeup had been done to highlight her high cheekbones and bright hazel eyes. The clothes she wore were straight out of Vogue. Glam Gram, they affectionately referred to her as.
"Belle, it's so good to see you." I said as we all sat together.
"You too, Jude." She said as she took her sunglasses from the top of her head and placing them on her tidy desk. "I can't believe you and Darius Mills fooled me for so long! I've always loved your music, girlfriend."
"Thanks," I say, smiling softly and tucking a piece of hair behind my ear.
"So, what's the moves, B?" Nicole asked, sitting up straighter in her chair. Though Annabelle was, like, the coolest editor in the industry, she was a tad intimidating.
"Okay," She said as she leaned forward, holding her hands palms up and gesturing to us. "My ideas for you two in London only sprouted when you were ousted, Jude."
In typical Annabelle fashion, she continued without letting us interject. Caffeine was a big factor in that particular personality quirk of hers. "I want you to stay on as a writer. And before you go, 'Oh Annabelle, how am I gonna write for you and Darius?' let me finish. I want you to do a journal of sorts, but for our online column. I want you to write about the experience of releasing an album after being out of the spotlight for so long, inspiration for your songs, life experiences while you're in London. I want you to feel comfortable in letting people in your life because face it, dear, since all this broke in the tabloids – you've become one of the highest Googled celebrities and I want Vogue to be the one to capitalize on the fact that you work for us, as well."
I stared straight at her, almost through her.
A blog? Of my life? Anxiety clawed its way up my throat as she suggested all this. I've never been one for letting everyone else in as far as the press goes. Without even giving me a second glance, she looked at Nicole.
"Nic! You, I really just want you over there mainly as an anchor for Jude." She continued quickly. "But! I really want you on our online site, too. We're trying to draw a larger crowd and I want you to cover the music scene over there and the fashion trends going on right now. What is Adele wearing? What is Lily Allen not wearing?"
"But why London?" I figured she'd talked to Darius before springing this plan on us, but he never mentioned a word about London. He let me return to New York on the premise I would be recording at this branch of G-Major.
"Well, Darius and I have been in contact. You know he and I have been good friends for a very long time now. And he was planning on opening a new studio in Notting Hill. And I want American eyes and ears on London soil because I hear the editor from Vogue London is looking at my position here." She pursed her lips and sat back in her seat. "I cannot have that. I know I am getting old, some may call me a relic, but I have made this magazine into what it is today, and I'll be damned if I let this so-called woman take my job."
We both nod and side eye each other. Annabelle would be out for blood if they attempted to replace her before she was ready to leave. "Now, Darius wants you to be the first artist over there. You'll go over meet with the new guys that will be running the show in London, do some PR, and begin recording. It will be a great experience for you ladies."
This seemed too good to be true. And Darius must have known that shit would be shady with Lucas once he bought out his end of the contract, otherwise why not let me just fester here in NYC.
"If you two agree, you'll be flying out in three days. That should give you enough time to pack and box your most important things up, professional movers will come do the rest. We already have a flat ready and waiting for you two."
Everything had been planned to a T. That took some stress off because I was so worried about how it would all work out. I looked at Nicole who was already looking at me. We both barely nodded but knew what we were conveying to each other. We both smiled widely, and I turned to look at Annabelle, who sat waiting patiently with her manicured fingers interlocked and resting on her desk. "Alright, Belle…when's our flight leave?"
"Oh. My. God!" I exclaimed loudly as we settled into the cab, my hands on my head. "I can't believe we're going to London! For real!"
"I know!" Nicole replied, equally as enthusiastic as I was. "We're going to be flatmates!"
We squealed, shaking with excitement.
London. With my best friend. Who knows who I really am and accepts all the crazy, dramatic bullshit that comes with my territory. What a new chapter of life this was going to be!
Three days later….
Nicole and I stood in La Guardia, surrounded by our Vogue family. Tears and laughter were tandem as we said our good byes. Finally, just before we were ready to board, Annabelle pulled us both over.
"I'm not going to be overly sentimental because, as you know, that's not me. I will tell you girls this, though. Out of the 40 years that I have been working for this magazine, I have never found a set of real women who stand by each other like you do. You guys really are friend goals. Both of you are so talented!" She reached to hug me then Nicole. "Now, I didn't come to this agreement easily – because how could I say good bye to my favorites? But you all just give me a reason to come grace London with my presence more often. Do make me proud."
"Thank you, Belle!" Nicole cried as she held onto one of her hands. "You've been so great to me."
"Oh, now, stop that blubbering! I won't have it." Overhead, they announced our flight and I stooped to reach for my carryon bag. "Go on, they're calling your flight. Let me know when you've touched down."
We both nodded and hugged Annabelle one last time. "Thank you for everything." I whispered and smiled gently as we parted and Nicole and I started for the gate.
Good bye, New York. Good bye, old heartache. Good bye, hellish memories. I was walking towards a fresh start and who better to be with than Nicole Gregory?
"Good luck, ladies!" Annabelle just as we disappeared into the tunnel.