Author's Note: This is a sequel to A Life to Pursue. If you haven't read my first story, then I advise that you do. This story will make a lot more sense. For the returning readers: here is the continuation of Ryan and Zane's story. I do hope that you enjoy this first chapter as it was a great pleasure to write. -ilymtwces
Fact: I do not own anything that you may realize. However, everything else is from my imagination, and I'd appreciate it if you do not steal.
"It was the biggest mistake I ever made. Ever since then, I've been beating myself up about it. The past three days without you was hell. You have no idea what I went through to be standing here with you."
I laughed to myself at the memory. That wasn't the biggest mistake I ever made. Trusting her was the biggest mistake I ever made. Falling in love with her was the biggest mistake I ever made.
"Zane, are you ready?" A woman's voice returned me from the painful memories of summer.
I turned away from the window that oversaw busy New York City streets. The familiar taxis zoomed each way to their destination. Shopkeepers were beginning to open their stores. After all, it was seven in the morning.
"Yeah," I sighed. "I guess."
I walked toward my manager, Michelle. The twenty-something-year-old woman wore yet another black and white business suit freshly pressed from the cleaners. She was always business.
"We can't jeopardize Zane's name if word goes out that his stunt double is a girl. We can't trust some local to keep a secret."
I winced at the memory – the first day that I discovered that she was going to be my stunt double. Why didn't I push Michelle to do something before all of this started? It would have avoided all of this mess – all of the deception.
We walked toward the hotel's elevator, and I made sure that I kept my head low. I didn't want to draw any unnecessary attention. Two more people joined Michelle and me as we reached the elevator – security.
"Just a precaution," Michelle said lightly. "The media has been getting out of hand lately."
I nodded and ignored the bodies that surrounded either side of me. The elevator let out a light ding before opening to the main lobby. With my head down low, I focused my attention on the tap-tap of Michelle's heels. Honestly, why do woman wear high heels? They look so uncomfortable. If I ever saw her wearing heels, I think I would just fall down laughing. She wouldn't be caught wearing something like that.
I cursed underneath my breath. I really need to stop thinking about her. She betrayed me. She's going to ruin me.
The sudden cold air that reached my lungs brought me out of my reverie. That, and well, the flashing lights and people calling my name. Not calling – screaming. They were screaming my name.
"Look over here!"
"Are you excited about the release of your new movie?"
"How was the training? It must have been difficult to do all of your own stunts, right?"
Michelle instantly took over as she grabbed the side of my arm. "Sorry, everyone, we are really behind schedule. He will have to answer all of your questions another day."
I managed a small smile before being led into a black SUV. The door slammed, and it was like I could breathe again. Finally.
Michelle didn't miss a beat. "This morning you have an interview with…"
I tuned her out. More interviews. More fake smiling. More autographs. More lies. It was the same thing over and over again.
"Zane!" Michelle screamed.
I jumped in my seat. "Calm down!" I replied heatedly. "Why the hell are you yelling?"
"You didn't hear a word I said did you?" she huffed.
I waved my hand in a dismissive manner. "I'm confident that you will repeat yourself, and I will continue to ignore you. Regardless, you're in charge of getting me to where I need to go. That's what I'm paying you for. So I don't understand why I need to worry myself with all of this unnecessary information because that's why I have you, cupcake."
Michelle scowled. "Watch your attitude, Ryker. I worked too damn hard to keep your public image in tact after that mess in Pitman."
I rolled my eyes. "I'm not convinced. I think that McAllister is going to release all of the details right before the release of my movie. She's going to ruin me."
"Again, that's why I'm here," Michelle replied. She tapped impatiently on her black notebook. "That's what I get paid for."
"To tell me my schedule?" I asked sarcastically.
The SUV stopped in front of a building. I saw the flashes and heard the blurred voices of people calling my name once again.
Michelle narrowed her eyes at me. "No," she said in a low voice. "To make sure that you don't ruin your career."
Someone opened the door, and I was instantly hit with a thousand voices. She was right. All I wanted to be was an actor. To be successful. To be someone that my brother can look up to. I pulled whatever strength I could possibly muster to form a smile and exited the vehicle.
This was what I wanted.
"For some reason, I trust you. I love the fact that you don't like me for my money or my career. I love that you're independent and dependable. I love that you took the time to get to know the real me. I love that I can be me when I'm with you. More than anything, I love you," he said.
I started to reply. To tell him that I loved him too. Before I could even open my mouth the scene morphed. The skate park vanished before my eyes, and I was in a hospital bed. My arm was in the white plaster of cast. He stood by the door with one hand already on the handle. Looking into the blue eyes that were once filled with warmth and love made my stomach churn when I saw that they turned ice cold.
"I trusted you," he said.
Again, I wanted to say something. Anything. But like always, I couldn't. The scene transformed once more, and I was in an alleyway by a dumpster.
"I can't believe you acted like you loved me," he said.
I jolted awake. My heart was racing at the dream. No, not dream. It was more of a nightmare. Actually, it was worse. It was reality. They were memories that I couldn't shake off. I would give everything to forget. Forget him. Forget that summer. Forget everything.
I ran my hands through my thick brown hair in frustration. Why can't I stop thinking about him? I knew it wasn't going to work. I did this to myself.
Soft hums came from the kitchen, and the smell of fresh brewed coffee drifted into my room. I pushed the comforter away and headed to the kitchen that was outside my door. The sound of the door opening attracted the attention of the brunette standing by the sink.
"Morning sunshine," she greeted cheerfully. She dropped her spoon into the sink and brought her mug to her lips. "Why are you up so early?"
I smiled slightly and headed to the kitchen table, plopping myself down in the chair and brought my knees to my chest. "Couldn't sleep," I managed pathetically.
I turned away from her furrowing eyebrows and looked outside the apartment's window. Even though it was only seven in the morning, New York City was already in the hustle and bustle of things. I was already accustomed to the constant street noises that they were basically a mere whisper. It's been a year since I won the full scholarship to Waverly Art Academy. A year since I met Andy Robertson – the lead singer of Eight-Three-One.
I smiled slightly at the memory. Meeting Andy and the rest of the girls from Eight-Three-One almost filled the hole that Zane left me. I started to paint again. Andy taught me to use the emotion that I was experiencing into my artwork, and I did. I poured my soul into my sketches and artwork. I was receiving high marks in all of my art classes at Waverly, and even a few of my paintings were sold to art galleries in New York City – the masterpiece of the skate park that won the scholarship included.
"Are you still having the dreams?" Andy inquired. She came over to the table and took the empty chair next to me.
I turned away from the window to face her. "Yeah," I answered quietly. "It just doesn't stop."
Andy hummed again. It was more of a tune really – the beginning note of a melody.
"Are you sure you want us to release the single tomorrow?" Andy asked as she placed her steaming coffee mug down on the table gently. "We don't have to."
"Of course you have to!" I exclaimed. "I want you to."
"This is your story," Andy replied. "The whole world will hear it."
"I know," I said confidently. "That's why I want you to go through with it."
When Andy first confronted me a year ago, she told me that she wanted to write my story. At first, I was confused.
"What story?" I had asked her.
"The story of that painting," Andy said. "There's so much there."
"I don't know what you're talking about," I said quietly.
"There's a boy," she replied simply as if it was common knowledge. "There's always a boy."
"I don't see your point."
"I write my own music, and my music tells a story. I want to tell your story on my next album."
I stared at her, dumbfounded. "You're kidding."
"I'm not," she said with a small smile. "I know you don't me, and I know that it must be weird for someone to blatantly ask you to explain your whole life. But I know what I saw in that painting. You have secrets. You're hurt."
"You can tell all of that in my painting?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. This was all too much.
"I can tell all of that by looking at you," she said calmly. "You've changed. The person that did that painting and the person that I'm staring at right now are entirely two different people."
"You don't even know me," I replied curtly. I walked past her and headed toward the door. "I think you have the wrong person. I don't have a story."
"Ryan, wait," Andy called out to me. I heard the tap-tap of her heels as she came up behind me. I turned around to face the singer.
"What?" I asked a little too harshly. I winced at the tone of my voice, immediately regretting it.
"I'm sorry," she stated calmly. "You're right. I'm out of line." Andy paused as if she was waiting for me to respond. I hadn't.
Andy sighed and opened the exit door. Before she left, she turned around once more. "I think you'll find that sharing your story will help you get over this block that you're experiencing," she declared.
"How do you know?" I found myself whispering. I wasn't sure if she heard me.
"It helped me," Andy said gently. The open door cast shadows on Andy's face, and I couldn't tell if she was smiling or not. The tone of her voice suggested that she was.
"Why should I trust you?" I asked frankly.
Andy's head tilted slightly as if she was pondering my question. "I think talking to someone that won't judge you is the best incentive there is."
"What do you mean by 'won't judge' me?"
"I don't know you, Ryan," Andy said simply. "I don't know where you've come from, where you've been, or what you've been through. I don't know who you are, Ryan, but I'm willing to listen."
I looked at this simple girl that stood by the exit. A singer. She was part of his world. Why should I trust her? Why should I tell her anything?
"It was nice meeting you, Ryan," Andy stated and managed a small wave before leaving the room. The door clicked shut at her departure.
What I didn't expect the next second was me running out the door, shouting her name. Maybe what I needed was a gentle push in the right direction to prove to me that not everyone in that world is the same. Not everyone in that world is like him.
"Andy!" I shouted in the hallway. My shout attracted curious looks from nearby bystanders.
The singer was almost at the end of the hallway before she turned around. Her eyebrow arched in response. "Yes?"
"When can we start?" I asked as I approached her.
Andy smiled. I've never seen anyone like her before. She looked so edgy yet elegant at the same time. She seemed poised and confident. "Tomorrow," she had said. "I want you to meet a few people first."
Ever since that day one year ago Andy and I were attached at the hip. I met the fellow members of Eight-Three-One: Lauren, Rae, and Bailey. They were so down to earth that it shocked me. They were rising to fame, yet none of it seemed to affect them. I discovered that their first album told the story of both Andy and Bailey and their relationship with this boy named Dalton. He was Andy's best friend and Bailey's ex-boyfriend. Andy was right. There's always a boy.
I told Andy my story. Sure enough, she was right once again. She didn't judge, and the fact that she didn't know me before the whole incident during the summer made the story easier to tell. Sure, I could have told Luke or Derrick – two of my best friends in the whole world. In fact, Derrick knew that I loved Zane, and I could tell that he looked at me differently. They didn't understand. They both were so involved in my life at the time that I knew I would disappoint them if they found out what really happened that summer. Disappointment. I couldn't handle disappointment. I already disappointed my mother when I lied to her about being an extra. I couldn't handle any more disappointment and regret.
Andy listened, and she adapted the story of that one regrettable summer into lyrics. When I wasn't in class, I was in the studio with the rest of the band, listening to my story come to life. Once half of the album was completed, Andy offered me a room in her apartment. It was conveniently located a couple blocks away from Waverly, and I said yes. Even though I only knew Andy for a year, she became like a sister to me. I found out that that's the way things worked with her. Friendship was everything to Andy.
A shrill ringtone erupted into the room, causing both of us to jump out of her seats.
"Who is calling me at seven in the morning?" Andy muttered as she went to grab her cellphone from her room down the hallway.
"What?" I heard Andy say as she answered the phone. "I can't hear you. Lauren, you need to slow down."
I heard her footsteps on the hardwood floor get closer to the kitchen. I looked at Andy as she came into the kitchen again, her eyes wide.
I mouthed 'What's going on?' to her, but she held up a finger in the air to indicate to wait a moment.
"What channel?" Andy demanded. "Okay, thanks Lulu." Andy dropped her phone on the counter and started opening drawers, shuffling through its contents frantically.
"What are you looking for?" I asked, walking over to her.
"The remote!" she exclaimed. "Where's the remote?"
I opened a drawer to her left and handed her the remote. "What's going on?" I demanded.
Andy ignored me and turned the TV on in the living room that was across the kitchen, flipping through the channels at incredible speed.
"Andy," I said. "What's going on?"
Andy stopped on a channel that appeared to be a talk show and lowered the remote. "Your boy is on TV."
My heart instantly froze. Just barely I could see the outline of his body sitting down on a leather couch across the friendly host of the show. I haven't seen him in a year. I was always careful to avoid magazine stands and talk shows like this. He looked the same. His black hair was longer, maybe, but those piercing cobalt eyes were the same.
"Turn it off," I said, reaching for the remote in Andy's hand.
Andy moved the remote out of my reach. "No," she declared. "You need to listen to this."
"Listen to what?" I asked heatedly. "I don't care what he has to say."
"Ryan, shut up," she said. "Watch."
We moved closer to the TV to watch the rest of the interview.
"So, Zane, what was it like to do such an athletic movie? You must have had rigorous training," the woman said with such a cheery voice that it made my mouth hurt.
Zane shifted his legs and smiled. It was such a forced smile that I caught myself rolling my eyes. "It wasn't too bad," he answered with a fake laugh. "I only fell a couple of times."
"I heard a rumor that you did all of your own stunts. Is that true?" The talk show host asked.
Without skipping a beat Zane replied, "That rumor is actually true, yes. I did all of my own stunts."
"Wow!" the lady exclaimed. "That's really impressive! We all saw the trailer for your new movie that's coming out, and no one knew that you were such a talented skater!"
Zane nodded. "It's one of my secret talents," he replied coyly.
I felt blood rush to my face. "That asshole," I spat and turned the TV off. Andy didn't stop me this time. "Who does he think he is?"
"You did tell them to leave you out of the credits," Andy reasoned.
"I know! But I didn't think that he would take all the credit! That's such bullshit! He couldn't even do an Ollie before he met me!" I was so mad that I could hear the echo of my stomping feet as I returned to my room.
"He was an asshole, Ryan," Andy said as she followed me. "The fact that he's taking credit for something that you did shows that he's not even worth your time. He's shallow, pathetic, and a liar. At least we know the truth about him."
I began to calm down. She's right. Andy's always the voice of reason. I know the truth. We know the truth.
"I can't wait for you guys to release your single tomorrow," I declared suddenly.
"Why?" Andy asked, confused at the sudden topic change.
"Like you said, the whole world will hear it," I said obviously.
"That means he's going to have to hear it, too."
Good? Great? Awful? Review? Advice and constructive criticism is welcome. - ilymtwces