Dissident: Chapter One
The sleek black limousine slowly inches toward the curb as a rowdy group of people challenge it's forward progress. It's back-seat occupant unfazed, stares intently at the screen of her Blackberry through over-sized dark sunglasses. Her perfectly manicured finger scrolls through her digitalized calendar to find the invite for her next meeting. The request that has brought her to this pricey loft that she calls home, yet feels to her, more like an upscale hotel.
Locating the invite, she presses the tiny ball beneath her finger to read the details of the meeting once again. An interview like any other interview. But a journalist like no other journalist. Spencer Carlin, SPIN magazine.
The slender brunette barely swallows, before locking her phone and slipping it in her purse. It's only at this time that her senses become aware of the commotion outside of the vehicle. She straightens her sunglasses and primps her curly brown hair, anticipating her driver's next move. Moments later, the door opens by the familiar chauffeur and she waits for her bodyguard to exit the vehicle first. The muscular man shouts "Back. Get Back!" and extends his hand backward for her to latch onto. This never gets old for the famous musician. As her her expensive cherry red, three inch heels hit the sidewalk, she hears the echos of shutters and is blinded by incessant flashes.
"Ashley!" Flash. "Ashley Davies!" Flash, Click. Flash, Flash, Click.
On a normal day, she would stop and chat with the paparazzi and fans. After all, they provide her with massive amounts of love and adoration. (And an occasional beautiful woman to get to know intimately.) But today is not a normal day. Today, is in fact, a very unusual day. It has been seven years since she last spoke with a certain blonde haired, blue eyed girl. And on this day, they were about to reunite.
As her body is tugged toward the building's entrance, she allows herself a fleeting moment to wonder why she accepted this interview request. Even though it had been a little over a month that she given her manager the "OK", she hadn't really gave it any amount of thought until now.
As she reaches the entrance, she turns around and removes her sunglasses in a skillfully practiced way. A thousand dollar smile and a million dollar nose wrinkle is gifted to the crowd before she latches her shades to the neck of her skin-tight black shirt. She waves as she walks backward into the building, knowing they will use that shot. She is good to them, and the paparazzi repays her with great photos in their magazines. It's all business.
Ashley turns around and meets the eyes of her handsome escort with a smirk. "If I'm lucky."
As she enters the foyer of her loft, she finds her usual people milling about on cell phones. Removing her jean jacket and placing it into her bodyguard's hands, she walks past them and into her living room. She instantly notices the large lights bathing her black leather couches in a manufactured glow. There are men fiddling with cameras and a woman emptying a box of makeup onto her glass coffee table. All so natural for the nine hundred and twenty five thousandth interview she has done. Only one thing is different.
Ashley confidently makes her way to the couch and gives the makeup artist a polite smile before sitting down. She leans back, folding her arms over her chest, and raises one leg to rest over it's pair. The first time she catches a glimpse of her past is as the woman in front of her tips her chin slightly upward to expertly brush powder to her jaw line. The musician sneeks a glance over her paid beautician's shoulder; curiosity getting the best of her. For two seconds, she sees her ex girlfriend's ducked head. Probably going over her questions, she guesses. The woman works the singer's eyeliner, pretending not to notice her subtle glances at the blonde behind her.
Ashley briefly wonders why she didn't say hello to the journalist before she sat down. That is what is generally customary for these interviews. Only then does she regret accepting this particular request, realizing the subconscious reason for it: This is awkward.
"Spencer? You look amazing! Come here."
Spencer isn't shocked to see Aiden. She had done her research, as any professional journalist would do. But the fact that he was Ashley's bodyguard wasn't discovered by investigating the details of her ex girlfriend's current life, however. No. She had known that for quite some time, as she had followed Ashley's career through various magazines and tabloids over the years. It was just a habit she couldn't break.
At first, she was excited for her then-girlfriend, making sure to buy every publication that even barely mentioned her rising star. It was completely dorky, she knew, but Spencer kept a scrap book with all the clippings and photos, knowing one day they would turn those filled pages together and reminisce about the beginning. But she was wrong about that. Ashley never found out about the book. And the likelihood of them turning any type of page together was only something Spencer could hope to come in another lifetime.
She stands, after placing her yellow college-ruled notebook on the coffee table, and allows herself to be enveloped into a hug. "It's good to see you", she mumbles half-heartedly into his chest.
Already, she is feeling the lack of professionalism she had hoped to maintain. She would never have initiated a meeting with her ex girlfriend out of her own free will. She internally curses herself for having too much to drink at that last company Christmas party. It was the six glasses of wine that had her arguing with co-workers about Ashley Davies. She was simply tired of the constant gushing and praise about the celebrity. After all, how wonderful can someone who breaks promises be? Spencer's inhibitions were in another country entirely as she recapped her relationship with the gorgeous heart breaker. The boss, who had overheard everything, immediately tasked her with getting an interview with the girl. She couldn't argue. It's all business.
Ashley diverts her attention back to the breasts of the woman making her beautiful. Or more beautiful, anyway. She had only briefly glanced over to watch the display of affection between her past and present.
For a moment, she tries to remember why her and Spencer broke up.
The makeup artist packs her supplies while Spencer and Aiden make small talk. Uninterested, Ashley leans forward, resting her elbows on her knees and plays with the jewelry on her fingers. She can't recall the reason they separated. It doesn't frustrate her, she just thinks it takes too much effort.
"So are we going to start anytime soon?" It doesn't come out with an attitude. Ashley Davies doesn't do attitude. Always the polite and amicable musician to appease the masses. Her question sounds so sweet that it makes Spencer have to conceal her eye roll before reclaiming her seat.
When the journalist looks up and locks eyes with the celebrity for the first time in seven years, she has to force a smile that she can only hope looks sincere. And when the musician looks up and locks eyes with her ex girlfriend; she notices.
Spencer clears her throat and unconsciously flips through her notepad. "Miss Davies-"
"Ashley", the brunette interrupts.
If she could get herself together, the blonde would thank the lord she no longer believed in. "Huh?"
Amused, Ashley relaxes back into the sofa. "Spence, you don't have to be so professional. We're all friends here."
Spencer would roll her eyes again, only she knows that there is no way to hide it with the beautiful woman staring at her the way she is now. Friends? Spence? She thinks it's sick how fake Ashley is and wonders what she ever saw in her to begin with. "Right. Friends." Spencer leans over and presses play on the small recorder she had set up on the table. "Thank you for agreeing to the interview, Ashley." She flips through her notepad again before laying it on the sofa next to her.
Ashley notices the immediate change from fidgety Spencer to work Spencer and shrugs. "Anytime."
Prior to the interview, Spencer had been prepped with acceptable topics to cover. Ashley's publicist was definitely interested in maintaining the musician's excellent reputation. So after thirty minutes of boring questions that had been asked and answered in every music magazine already, the brave journalist decided to throw caution to the wind. "So Ashley. Can you talk about what it was like for you in the beginning? Just starting your music career. Any influences? Muses? Anyone supporting you along the way?" OK, so Spencer was a little bit disappointed in herself. Her present line of questioning sounded as by-the-book as you could get. But at least she could feel good about the hidden meaning behind it all.
Ashley regards Spencer for several seconds before answering. "It was amazing." Flashing her thousand dollar smile, she continues. "My father's manager asked me to do a tribute album with my sister." She looks down for a moment, remembering how that didn't turn out so well when she found out during a live performance that Kyla couldn't actually sing. "But she wasn't interested in a singing career." She lied, even knowing the blonde interviewer could possibly call her out on it. "And that just presented me with the opportunity to work solo."
Spencer caught the lie. She wouldn't pressure her about it because she understood. She was there. She helped Ashley through that rough spell and convinced her to continue her dream of becoming a singer. "And support?"
The musician was not ignorant to Spencer's question. But this was her job. She has been doing it for years. Maybe if they were out in a bar having drinks and being social, she could admit that her only real support at the time came from the woman who sat on the couch in front of her. But in this setting, there was protocol. "Of course." She wonders only for a second if her response will hurt Spencer's feelings. "Aiden has been my best friend since we were in high school. He's always been there for me. He supported me then and supports me now." She pauses to smile sweetly at Aiden before she jokes. "As my super protective bodyguard." He really has always there for her.
Spencer can't contain the frown that forms in her features. She doesn't know what she had expected as an answer, but to have Ashley say that the one person who was a constant obstacle in their relationship, was the one who was always there for her... Well it just felt like she was being betrayed all over again. That she was choosing him over her. And to make matters worse, she didn't understand why she even cared anymore. She was over Ashley. Completely and entirely over her. "Thank you for your honesty, Ashley." She reaches over to stop the recorder. "And thanks again for meeting with me." She stands and walks out of the living room in a hurry.
Aiden look at Ashley with furrowed eyebrows after watching Spencer leave the room. They communicate silently before the petite brunette sighs heavily and jogs to her foyer. "Spence, wait."
"I've gotta go." Spencer removes her jacket from the silver hook by the door without looking back at her ex girlfriend. "Important... business to do." She struggles to find some excuse to get the hell out of there. From nicknames she hadn't let anyone call her for seven years. From a nickname she just let Ashley use twice in less than an hour.
"We should hang out sometime. You know... not business." Ashley jokes somewhat seductively. She can't help it. Spencer was always sexy as hell. And like fine wine, has only gotten better with age.
This time, Spencer turns to the brunette and purposely displays, what she is sure to be, the biggest eye roll of all time. Some things never change. Flirty Ashley always comes out to play at some point. "Is that a promise?"
And because Ashley doesn't really remember broken promises, she offers a single confident nod and says "Sure."
"Noooo. I don't want to go to San Francisco." Ashley whines into the Blackberry that rests between her face and her shoulder. "You can't make me."
She tosses the throw pillows off her bed and pulls back the covers. "Any excuse for lesbian jokes, right?" She can't keep the sarcasm at bay as she grabs her phone with one hand and settles into bed. "I have fans other places too. Lesbians are everywhere."
"Fine." She pulls the sheets over her body and turns on her side, burying her head into her pillow. "But what fun is it to be a superstar if I don't get to have control over where I go?"
She sighs. "You're whipped. And I'm going to get some beauty sleep." Looking at the alarm clock flashing 12:00 a.m., Ashley is not surprised that it isn't set. She travels so much and is rarely home. She guesses that there must have been a power outage at some point. "See you tomorrow."
The line goes silent and she places the phone on her nightstand. Going to San Francisco with Aiden for the billionth time in a three month span is not what she considers a good time. Even worse, is that she'll have to witness him suck face with her sister a gadzillion times. She reaches over and spends some time trying to set the clock before she gives up and pounds it hard. "Piece of shit! God.. Can my life get any worse?!"
Of course she didn't mean that. It's just what rich, whiny musicians say when they are tired, convinced to go cities they hate and can't make electronics work.
Twenty floors below, a woman lays on a bench, smiling up knowingly at Ashley's window. With a sparkly glint in her eye, she clutches a makeup bag close to her chest and whispers "Tomorrow."