Dissident: Chapter 16

The ceiling was beginning to swirl. That is how long Ashley had been staring at it. Lying on her back, she had been pondering how her $30,000 Hastens mattress, which had been dubbed the most comfortable one on the market, didn't feel half as restful as the bed she had been sleeping in for the last month. The luxury bedding that surrounded her couldn't compare to the warmth provided by her own personal furnace (I.e. Spencer Carlin). Waking up to the faint sound of traffic couldn't possibly compete with the beautiful giggles of a small child attempting to rouse you from sleep.

There had been no light peaking through windows when she had become aware of her surroundings. Now, her bedroom was masked in a light pink as the rays of sun penetrated through the red and white designer curtains. By this, she assumed that her eyes had been directed upward for several hours. She couldn't know for sure, though, because the alarm clock on her bedroom floor furiously blinked the numbers one two zero zero the the last time she was acquainted with it.

And there had been crying. Let's not fool ourselves here. For the first time in seven years, she had felt completely, utterly, wholly, and without exception... alone. She tried to think of all of the reasons to be happy. But everything, somehow, circled back around to Spencer. And how she was anything but happy without her. Her music? She didn't want it. Because it was painfully obvious how it damaged their relationship. Her career was the devil, she decided. An evil, nasty seductress, that lured her away with counterfeit dreams of fame and fortune. Money? What use was it to her now? Spencer had shown her that wealth only meant that you were truly loved. Fans? Just nameless faces who's false adoration, she convinced herself, amounted to want and affection. She had nothing. If she didn't have Spencer, she had absolutely nothing. Because Spencer was her dream. Spencer was her wealth. Spencer was her love. Spencer was everything.

"Ash, the car is..." Aiden's sentenced trailed off as his eyes fell upon the brunette. "You're not dressed?!"

Ashley, who had sat up quickly at the unexpected intrusion, looked down at her black eyelit-trim cami and matching boyshorts she recalled ordering from Victoria's Secret. She sighed morosely, never wishing more to have been wearing flannel pajama bottoms. She pulled the comforter up to conceal herself. "Huh?"

"San Francisco?" He reminded her.

It took her a moment to figure out what he was talking about. "Oh... right." Today was the day following the interview with Spencer. The day following the night she agreed to go to San Francisco with Aiden. She only had enough strength to rub at her eyes with her thumb and index finger as she processed this.

Aiden assumed, by her appearance, that Ashley must have partook in some extra curricular activities after they got off the phone with each other. "You need me to get you some Aleve? Redbull?" Without waiting for her response, he walked into the attached bathroom. The sound of water running filtered out the door and into the bedroom. "Really, though... you have to get up, Ash. Kyla is meeting us at the airport. We don't want to miss our flight." He rifled through the medicine cabinet before walking back into the room. "Man... Spencer. She is looking good, isn't she?"

Hearing Spencer's name, Ashley looked up and stared at the pills and glass of water being offered to her. She was in a daze. It was as if her brain didn't want to function. She could grasp the fact that Aiden was there and wanting her to go to San Francisco. But she couldn't figure out why it was important. Why anything was important, really.

"You look really messed up. You didn't do coke last night, did you?" Aiden set the items on her bedside table.

Ashley watched as her best friend and bodyguard leaned down and picked up the alarm clock. The bed dipped beside her and she was provided with a clear view of Aiden setting the time.

Sighing, Ashley rolled her eyes and dramatically laid backwards. "I had a weird dream."

"Tell me about it on the way." Aiden removed the pillow the sluggish girl had placed over her face. "I don't want to be late."

-----------------------------------

Ashley stared out the small window of her private jet, watching LA fade away beneath smog and clouds. She internally scolded herself for the persistent thought that she was flying away from Spencer. What could she possibly do? Even if she knew where Spencer lived, she couldn't just walk up to her door, ring the doorbell and profess that she never stopped loving her. And the fact was, she really had no clue where Spencer lived. Because at that moment, she really felt like parachuting out of the plane and exclaiming to the entire world that she was in love with Spencer Carlin. As ridiculous as that would be, she would at least be doing something. Not sitting on a plane, flying to a city she despises, with a best friend who was really more like someone she hated.

Yes. Ashley had been doing a lot of thinking. The dream had been so real. She could remember every single detail. When did she ever remember all of her dreams? She was convinced that it was a sign. Something she knew that she shouldn't dismiss. And she couldn't really, anyway. Not if she tried. Her heart was wide open now.

"So what was this dream you were talking about earlier?" Aiden asked from the seat across from her as he controlled a quarterback on his Playstation Portable.

Ashley focused on his manly uncoordinated hands as his fingers attacked buttons chaotically. She wondered how she let herself end up like this. How could she ever think a life like this was preferable to a life with her best friend, her support system... her girlfriend. "I fell in love."

"Yeah?" Aiden continued to play. "Who was the lucky girl?"

The musician was really feeling her stomach turn as she watched him. He was a grown man, playing a video game, on her private plane, after convincing her to fly with him to have a quick fling with her sister. For the first time in seven years, she realized that he was in this for himself. It may have only been a dream, but she was now convinced her subconscious was trying to tell her something. "What do you do?"

"Hmmm?"

Ashley leaned forward and took the game console out of Aiden's hands. "What do you do for me?"

His eyes furrowed in confusion. "Like as a job?" The musician continued to look expectantly at him so he continued. "I keep you safe... I keep you company... I give you expert advice."

"Advice." Ashley almost spat out indignantly. She was not pleased with the cocky that last part came out. "Only looking out for what's best for me, right?"

"Exactly. Can I have my game back?" Aiden reached forward to grab the console but Ashley's knee raised to block his pursuit.

"I'm miserable, Aiden." The guy was taken by surprise by her admission. He leaned back, sensing his friend had more to say. "I'm fucking miserable." She placed her elbow on the window pain and ran fingers through her hair in frustration. "I gave you everything. Money, a house, a car... a fake job. What have you done for me?"

Feeling somewhat affronted, Aiden responded coolly. "I helped you get to the place where you could give those things to me."

"Right. It was always about you." Ashley stood up, not exactly sure where she intended to go. She figured she'd head to the bathroom. Not because she actually needed to relieve herself. She just needed relief from this idiot friend or hers. For the rest of her life.

Aiden grabbed her wrist before she could leave. "Where is this coming from, Ash?"

In dramatic fashion, Ashley tore her arm away from his grasp and sent him a piercing glare. "Where are you coming from?!" If only looks could kill.

Clearly, his friend had partied a little too hard the night before. He wondered if she hadn't had enough time to sleep it off. "Calm down, OK?"

"Calm down?" Aiden nodded at her question, concerned with her instability. "OK, I'm calm." She took a deep breath and patted out wrinkles that didn't exist on her shirt. "You're fired."

Her friend laughed until he realized that she hadn't meant it as a joke. "What?"

"You made me believe that this was what I wanted, Aiden. When you knew that all I ever wanted was to be with Spencer."

"Ash, come on. You wanted t-"

"To be with Spencer." Ashley finished his sentence with emphasis.

"This is ridiculous. You have an interview with the girl and suddenly you are regretting your success?"

Ashley rolled her eyes and sat back down. "The only thing I regret is listening to you."

Aiden couldn't believe he was being blamed for his friend's inability to keep her girlfriend. "Oh whatever, Ashley. Do whatever the hell you want. But don't for a second put this entirely on me. Spencer loved you. She would have stayed with you forever. But you treated her like shit."

She knew he was right. And she would have to make up for that somehow. But right now, this wasn't about her mistakes. It was about his. "And I want you to stay the hell away from my sister."

------------------------------------------

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

Ashley was only sure about one thing. She couldn't live without Spencer. So the obvious answer had to be "Yes." She said robotically. She couldn't remember a time where she had been as nervous.

"Do they even still live here?"

The musician honestly didn't know. But she had a hunch. In her dream, Arthur and Paula lived in the same home as when she dated Spencer in high school. She knew it was probably silly to rely on facts from her dream, but since she rediscovered her love with Spencer in that same dream, she wasn't going to stress over it. "No idea."

Kyla was completely ecstatic that her sister had finally come to her senses. She hated seeing Ashley as a fake, pretentious rockstar. The girl had never been the same after Spencer left her. Kyla had been friends with Spencer back then and had done everything she could to talk her out of ending things. But she knew that Spencer was right. Ashley still had some growing up to do. They couldn't have ever been happy with the way things were. She just imagined that Ashley would have went crawling back to the love of her life. Eventually. Like she had done before. But Ashley completely shut down. It had surprised her at how her sister mechanically navigated her music career to super-stardom. Never looking back. Nothing phasing her. She was the perfectly constructed mainstream musician. "Do you want me to go with you?"

"Yeah."

Kyla got out of the car and walked around to open the door for Ashley. She took her hand and helped her out of the vehicle. It would have been so much easier if the people at the magazine would have just given them Spencer's contact information. Her sister was Ashley Davies for god's sake. She didn't know that there was anything her sister couldn't get with a snap of her finger. So this was plan B. Operation Spencer's parents. She hadn't seen them in years. Naturally, Spencer wasn't able to maintain a friendship with Kyla. There was no falling out. They just eventually drifted apart. Kyla assumed it was too difficult for her to keep a connection so close to her ex girlfriend.

Ashley's gaze was unmoving. The front door had probably never felt a stare as intense before. It was approaching too quickly. As if her life was operating on fast forward. She abruptly stopped and turned to her sister. "You don't think I'm controlling do you?"

Kyla gave her a strange look. "When haven't you been?"

"I meant about the Aiden thing." Ashley had to smile a little bit at her sister's ability to be so direct.

"Oh, please. You know me better than that." She tugged on her sisters shirt to continue their progress to the door. She knew Ashley was stalling. "He was just a fun hookup now and again."

They reached the door and Ashley turned to Kyla again. "I feel kind of bad. I mean, he is a total asshole. But it wasn't all his fault."

Knock, Knock, Knock.

Ashley was startled by her sister's knocking. She really was trying to stall.

"Stop defending him. We're better off." She whispered to her sister as they waited for whomever would appear at the door.

They heard a lock click before the door slowly creaked open.

"Ashley?"

It wasn't the blonde hair, blue eyed woman she was expecting. It was the blonde hair, blue eyed woman she was in love with.