Chapter 5: Remember When

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“Darren, hi” Lea greeted when she opened her hotel room door and found him standing on the other end. “Come in” she invited, perplexed by his sudden arrival. The way he and Mia had been all over one in another in the limo ride, she figured neither would resurface until late the next morning. “What’s up?” she asked while watching him pace back and forth, trying to work out the words he wanted to say. 

“Since Chord's party, I’ve been asking Mia what the deal between the two of you is” Darren finally answered and pinned Lea with a serious expression. “I know you’re hiding something, both of you are but what I can’t figure out is what it is. Now I want you to tell me what the mysterious secret is about.” The look he wore was one Lea rarely, if ever saw. Darren had always been the joking, go with the flow kind of guy who hated confrontations and awkward situations. Now standing before her, he looked more serious than she had seen him in years. 

“It isn’t really my place” Lea said, apologetically. “Mia has to be the one to tell you.” 

“Well Mia won’t tell me so now I’m asking you to” Darren argued and gave Lea a pleading stare. “We’ve known each other for seven years now, Lea. We’ve been to every state, every major venue and in every crappy bus together. We’re friends… so be a friend to me now. Tell me the truth.” 

Torn, Lea turned away from his curious eyes and flipped the switch on stereo system. She couldn’t take the silence and needed some form of a distraction in order to get her words out. Otherwise she would remain locked in the memories he was asking her to dredge up. 

“Do you remember the night I found out Sean had overdosed?” she began, finally meeting Darren gaze. He nodded once to show he remembered and waited for her to continue the story. “I was so angry when you all tried to talk me out of leaving the tour to see Cory. I thought you were all… selfish and mean and… and my emotions were running so high when I left that I ended up making a deal I regretted immediately after.” 

“Deal with who?” Darren questioned though Lea could see the hurt on his face from her admission. When she had returned to Seattle to finish up the tour, they had all been angry and accused her of always putting Cory ahead of the band. None had liked him, all believing that he was too old for Lea and was having too big an influence over her career.

Lea remembered how she yelled back at them though if asked, she wouldn’t be able to recall her words. It had all been said in anger and grief. That night she learned she lost a good friend and in the process, his death dredged up a lot of other bad memories she always worked so hard to bury away. They hadn’t understood that then, they couldn’t have because the only person who knew all the details had been Cory. Even after all those years, they still didn’t know parts of the story. 

“With Mia” she answered and hurried on while she could still get it all out. “She knew things… about Cory. Things that could make his life a living hell if anyone else found out” Lea finally confessed. “When we began dating and Mia found out, she began digging into his past, looking for any and everything she could use in case it fizzled. She wanted to make sure he wouldn’t ruin my career” she said, rolling her eyes heavenward. Even now, it sounded flimsy to her own ears. 

Mia had assumed Cory had never mentioned their very brief past with one another. It was the start of his career and Mia had jumped at the chance to manage him. Cory was new to the game and took a meeting with Mia to see what she had to offer. 

When she immediately rubbed him the wrong way with her stereotypes about the trailer park Mark and Eric had grown up in, Cory signed with someone else instead. 

Later, as Livien got more attention, Mia was bitter that she had been dismissed by them. 

“I was so screwed up then, Darren. I didn’t know what I wanted anymore or… what to do anymore so Mia threatened to release all that stuff about Cory if I tried to leave the band” Lea admitted, feeling a small sense of guilt that she had even considered walking away from them all. “She gave me thirty six hours to get to Cory and to do whatever I had to do. Afterwards, I was supposed to return to the tour and forget he ever existed.” 

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