Silence filled the phone line as
Chris sat up and looked around. He thought he'd heard something, but he wasn't
sure if it was something or if he was being paranoid. His house had been so
quiet that had heard every little creak and crack.
"Are you still there?"
Chris made a shushing noise then sat still. "I think someone is at the door."
The sound of knocking on his front door startled him and he started to move to
go answer it, keeping his earpiece from his phone in his ear as he moved through
the room. It was strange to be walking through the house talking on the phone.
He'd gotten used to the whole cordless phone thing, but now having only an
earpiece in his ear and not holding the phone was strange.
"So you're really sorry?"
He'd broken down and called her that morning when he'd gone through the list of
people that he knew were in town and they all had told him they had plans.
Kelly invited him over to hang with Joey and Steve and some of Joey's cousins,
but Chris declined when Kelly said that the bridesmaids might end up coming
over. He didn't want to see Dani until he had to see her at the wedding.
"Are you going to rub this in forever?" he asked, "I'm sorry I was a dick.
There I said it. I'm a dick. Can you please forgive me now so I don't have to
kiss ass this whole conversation?"
"Kiss ass?" Laughter filled the line. "I never said you had to kiss my
ass...although it doesn't hurt any."
The sudden swear words escaped his gritted teeth and echoed against the four by
four set of framed comic book covers and the deep green walls of the room. His
toe had caught on the edge of his black DC skate shoe causing a chain reaction
that left him swearing and hurt.
Normally he didn't leave his shoes just lying around, but he'd been tired and
hadn't cared. It was something he was going to be regretting for a while. He
hadn't remembered to pick up that morning when the alarm had roused him from a
deep sleep after he'd accidentally hit some button the night before that had set
the alarm that usually woke him up for rehearsals.
In the past he had tried to curb his swearing habit, he'd even made it a new
years resolution the year before, but that day all he could remember was the
pain poking him just above his right eye, the ankle that hurt and the sound of
someone at his door. He'd hadn't taken into account that the dark color of the
shoes would blend into the carpet, causing him to trip, which then caused him to
twist the opposite ankle when he stepped down. He now limped towards the door
dropping a pill bottle that had been in his hand while he'd been sitting quietly
in the corner trying to rest.
He wasn't that clumsy, but he'd had the lights low in the already dark colored
room due to a headache that he'd woken up with, hence the glasses that were now
sliding down his nose. He'd gotten contacts early on in life, but the glasses
still were pulled out when he couldn't put in his contacts, which happened ever
so often, like now, due to the fact that he'd flown back to Orlando from LA at
three in the morning.
His glasses had been a part of his life for so long, but it was just recently
that he had started to wear them for their looks. It was yet another thing that
had changed since he and Dani had broken things off. His life had taken an
interesting turn. Some people would say for the better, some would say for the
worse, but either way her reasons for leaving were a real wake up call to him.
The sudden independance had left him with a lot of time to take a step back and
really look at his life.
One look he'd taken was to try and see himself with another woman, but that
hadn't worked out that well. He dated Michele for a few weeks, something he
said he'd never do. Mixing and business and work on that kind of level wasn't
something he'd ever do. Working with Dani on the business had happened for
other reasons, but he'd never dated someone that he worked directly with. It
hadn't taken a long time to figure out that it wouldn't work for them, causing
yet another change to his life in the last year.
It didn't take long to decide that he needed a change. He was over thirty now
and he knew that he needed to start to act like it. Of course there would be
the practical joke playing part of his personality that would never truly go
away, but the rest of him needed to start acting more mature, if not for his own
personal sake then for the sake of the business.
"Are you ok?"
"Sorry for the swearing, but I just tripped over my fu--" He sighed. "I
tripped over my freaking shoes," he said angrily taking off his glasses for a
moment to bend the wire frame a little so that they would stay on his face.
His tiny fat bellied dog almost smiled at him. It was amazing how in the old
days Busta and his side kick Korea could make him smile, but these days troubles
were a little bigger and the methods to get him to truly smile again, a little
more complicated. Today though he was feeling a little sympathetic for the dog,
since he'd been away the day before, only hours after promising both dogs that
he would spend time with them, not that they really cared either way.
"Are you sure you're ok over there?"
"I was trying to go answer the door, tripped and I think I sprained my ankle."
The knock on the door sounded again, then the sound of the doorbell filled the
mostly empty house. Early on in his career he'd thought that by this age he'd
be long retired and having an assistant opening the door to the world, but with
his schedule it wasn't worth getting an assistant to do his dirty work. He
wouldn't make anyone do what he had to do on a daily basis.
"Yeah, yeah," he yelled as he moved towards the door, pausing only a moment to
step carefully over Busta. He was angry at the dog for being so calm that
morning, but he'd never really hurt him. He'd once stepped on him when he was a
puppy and had rushed him to the local vet because Busta had made such a horrible
noise when he'd done it. "I'm freaking coming." He limped out of his office
towards the front of the house.
When he reached the doorway he could see a few people through the etched glass.
"I don't know what's going on," he said into the phone. "Can I talk to you
"Sure. Thanks for calling and apologizing to me."
"I didn't mean to be a dick yesterday."
"It's all good," Michele said, "I'll talk to you later on this week I'm sure
since I'll be over there practicing with Luis for his performance in two weeks."
"Ok," he said, "I'll call you later if I get a chance."
"Ian is taking me to dinner tonight and Chantal and I are going shopping for the
Luis show so call me tomorrow."
The doorbell rang again.
"I'll see ya."
After hanging up the phone, he pulled the earpiece out of his ear and stuck it
in his pocket. He looked at his watch then tried to think if he was expecting
anyone, but he couldn't think of anything that had been scheduled. In the old
days his watch reminded him of places that he had to be and now it was the only
way to remind himself how many hours until he didn't have to be someplace. That
morning though he wasn't sure what he should think of the people on the other
side of the door. He hadn't slept much the night before due to Dani haunting
his thoughts and could barely remember what day it was.
The door opened and Busta was now joined by Korea, who from the looks of her
sluggishness, had probably been asleep in the sunny part of the carpet in the
living room. The twins growled at the group of people on the doorstep. Finally
Chris pushed them both back with his injured foot and stepped out onto the porch
to talk to the people. It happened all so fast that it was a few moments before
he realized who was on his doorstep.
A camera crew.
A just out of college aged cameraman, an older director, a snotty looking
producer, and two other college production assistants. He didn't need
nametags. He'd seen their type before...they were here to film something, but
for the life of him, Chris couldn't remember what.
His chin dropped and he looked at himself. The sweatsocks, long skater style
cargo shorts, and baggy sweatshirt were sure to make an impression on them. He
wasn't normally one to worry about that stuff, but even he knew that he looked
like shit. He'd planned to take a shower just after his phone call came that
evening, just in time for his visitor. He'd put off any kind of shaving,
chosing only to brush his teeth due to the fact that that he didn't like that
taste in his mouth that was left over from the coke he'd had on the plane.
"Is that thing on?" he asked as he squinted at the bright light outside while
motioning to the camera on the man's shoulder. He hated to ignore the man
standing behind the camera, but it wasn't like the camera could be ignored. No
one just ran around with a hundred thousand dollars worth of camera equipment on
their shoulder unless it was a big deal.
"Yes," the producer said moving her microphone headset away from her mouth to
smile at him. "We're from MTV's Diary. We're going to spend the weekend with
you..." She paused and frowned at him, "And from the look on your face, your
manager didn't remind you of this."
"No," he said shortly, "Lemme make a call real quick..." He turned back to the
door to go inside and thought better of it. He needed to invite them in or all
hell would break lose with the story of how Chris Kirkpatrick was rude to a
camera crew. He turned back and put on a fake smile just in case the camera was
still on. He hadn't seen the director tell the camera to shut off. "I gotta
put the dogs out...hold on."
Chris entered the house, moving to scoop up the two tiny dogs as they tried to
get out, then pushed the door shut and limped towards the back french doors. He
opened one door that led to the backyard, set both dogs out then closed the door
on them, looking back only quickly to make sure that they were ok. Both dogs
pressed their noses up to the glass door like always so he swung by the kitchen
to grab the house phone before heading back to the front of the house.
He'd already dialed Johnny's number by the time he had headed back to the door.
Quickly seeing the orange and white pill bottle on the floor he grabbed it up
knowing that if he left it there it could cause trouble. Not only would the
dogs try to chew on it, but he didn't need any outsiders seeing the pill
bottle. It wasn't anything to be ashamed of really, but he knew information
about him taking medication wasn't something he wanted to read about on the
He opened up the front door again and shoved the pills back into his pocket. He
looked at the people there. "Come on in," he said moving the phone to be
perched on his shoulder as he half listened to the ringing, "But turn the camera
off for me...ok?"
The director nodded and the camera came down off the man's shoulder as the
production crew entered the front hallway of the house. They stood next to the
door, but he could already see them looking around. He hated to be paranoid
like that, but he'd never had a crew in the house before. Most of the
photoshoots that they'd done had taken place over at the compound. He was even
surprised that they knew his address and had the access codes to get up to the
house. He didn't have a gate at the driveway, but the community he lived in,
just outside of Orlando, was definitely not a place that just anyone drove
into...and that had been the reason he'd chosen to live there. There was a time
and a place for fans and once inside those gates he at least knew that the whole
world wasn't going to end up on his doorstep, although after today anything
"This is Johnny," the voice on the phone finally said.
"I've got an MTV crew in my entryway...what's going on?"
"Kirkpatrick you knew that they were coming. I sent you a page and left a
message last night."
He remembered that they had spoken briefly about this happening, but that had
been two weeks before and he couldn't remember if they had agreed on a date or
if it had still been up in the air. He decided to go with the idea that he
didn't remember and he was busy rather than telling his manager that he'd
forgotten completely about the arrangements.
"I turned off my phone when I got home," he said curbing his need to use a
string of profanity that his mother would have washed his mouth out for, "I
wasn't sleeping well last night and it kept ringing and I thought I'd at least
get part of my vacation to myself."
"Are they standing right there?" Johnny asked.
"Hey Monica," she said when the line was picked up.
"Hey girly girl," she said with a laugh, "What's up? How's Calvin?"
"I don't know," she said and looked out the window watching the familiar streets
roll by. "I only saw him for like two seconds yesterday. He was with Michele so
left things alone. I haven't been here in weeks, and it's spooky to be here ya
know? Everything is sooo different, but so the same though...does that make
sense? I think I need a nap...right now I wanna laugh and cry and swear and
Monica sighed. "Girl you said you'd give him another chance."
"No I said I wouldn't kill him while I was out here because I didn't want to
"You were the one that broke up with him."
"Maybe he's changed."
"Thats the thing Mon," she said, "I don't want him to change, but I don't think
that I can be with him." She put her hand to her forehead, "I just want it to
be not so complicated anymore. I just want to be home with him sitting on the
couch watching playstation games being played...This is going to be sooo
strange. I mean being back in Orlando again....I mean...Thank God Justin is
letting me stay in the guest bedroom. I know I'll have to put up with him and
Meredith being all lovey dovey in their new house, but it's better than being at
"I know what you mean Dani," Monica said, "Remember, I've been through all this
with you. I know that this is going to be strange. I just hope that things
turn out well."
"I just wish this was all over. I wish that my stupid head and stupid heart
would get together and have a meeting and make up their--" Dani took a deep
stressed breath, "I'm just frustrated with the fact that I can't just relax
about this and play along...I'm just praying that I don't break down in front of
him. I almost did yesterday and I barely said hi to him."
"Then do that Dani," she said, "Don't worry about what it's gonna look like and
what people are gonna say or whatever...just go and be with him. I think you
both know that you're lost without each other."
Tears came to her eyes. "I just don't know..." She took a breath, "Its hard to
"Dani I know you don't want to do this, but just pretend--just pretend that
you're friends. You keep complaining about how he's been looking bad
lately...and believe me...you need to get some rest--"
"The man has cartoon characters in his bedroom Monica. I need a man, not a
little boy." She sighed, "Remember Las Vegas? Remember how much I hated to
deal with him and covering up for him."
[ six months before... ]
Dani checked her watch again, pushing her sleeve back up her arm to her elbow.
When the time was clear to her she pulled her phone from her pocket and looked
back over at her stack of samples boxes. She dialed the phone from her memory
and then held the phone to her ear.
"Hemmo?" a gruff voice spoke back at him.
Dani curbed her urge to scream at him for a moment so that he could at least
give her an excuse on why he was late. "Chris please tell me you're asleep in
the limo on the way over here."
"What time is it?" he asked.
"Please Chris," she begged knowing full well that her thoughts about him just
being stuck in traffic were now being dashed.
"What time is it?" he asked.
"Dani stop saying my name," he sighed and she could hear noise in the room
behind him as if he was moving around in it knocking things over. "I don't have
my contacts in and I can't find my glasses."
"Chr--It's just about two in the afternoon."
"Awe FUCK Dani!" he said angrily. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry." She could hear him
get up and move around from where he'd originally been. "I'm still in Vegas.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I went to sleep last night then got up around two in the
morning and went out with the guys...I'm sorry...I came back here and I went to
get a shower so I could catch my flight, but I guess they thought I already left
because I didn't--I'm sorry."
"Save it Chris," she said, "You should have been here YOU should be here with me
for this. FuMan is YOUR company. It's YOUR responsibility."
"I know Dani," he said.
"Don't say I know Dani," she said with a sigh, "I quit. I'm going to go in
there and save your sorry butt once again, but I mean it Chris, I'm out of
here. I can't do this anymore."
"No butts," she said and moved herself across the walkway to see if the doorman
could get her some sort of cart to bring her clothes up to the conference room.
"It's over...and I don't just mean this way of doing business." She paused to
put her hand to her forhead. "Chris you need to grow up and until you do I'm
not going to take part in this. I don't just mean the business Chris. I mean
us too Chris."
"Who are you trying to convince?"
Dani took a deep breath as they got to the corner of the Cascade Shores housing
area. The huge sign and fountain out front welcomed her, but she also saw the
gates and wondered if she wanted to be locked in or locked out of the place.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You need love, who cares about the package."