Jesus, he needed a fix. He wasn’t supposed to want one. Had, in fact, just spent ten weeks he could ill afford and two hundred thousand dollars that he could, making sure that he wouldn’t want one.
Nice to know that rehab shit was working out just about as well as he’d expected. Which was to say, not fucking at all.
So much for third time being the charm.
After flipping off the bathroom light, he bent over the sink and splashed cold water on his face. Ran a wet hand over the back of his neck. Rolled his shoulders. Stretched out his back. Concentrated on anything and everything but the three-ton elephant sharing the tiny bathroom with him. It was pretty fucking hard to do when the damn thing felt like it was sitting on his chest.
Oh, yeah. That wasn’t an elephant. That was the fucking addiction. How could he forget?
“Hey, Wyatt? You okay in there?”
Shit. He hadn’t even been gone five minutes. What the fuck did they think he was doing? Shooting up with the liquid soap? Or just smoking the dried flowers in the arrangement hanging above the towel rack?
Then again, if he got desperate enough, it was nice to know he had options. Which was probably what his friends were afraid of…
Struggling to keep the resentment out of his voice—after all, it wasn’t Jamison’s fault he was such a fuck-up he couldn’t be trusted to go to the fucking bathroom by himself—he called to the woman who was half best friend, half little sister rolled into one, “Yeah. I’ll be out in a minute.”
“Okay, sweetie. Let me know if you need anything.”
He supposed asking for a couple of grams of heroin was out of the question. More was the fucking pity.
Then again, with the way he was feeling, he’d settle for just a few points. Maybe even one or two. It wouldn’t get him to the nodding-out stage—his tolerance was too high for that—but it’d take the edge off. Right now, that was all he wanted. Something to ease the razor-sharp need slicing through his veins, through his lungs, through his head. Something to make it a little easier to turn the light on and face himself in the fucking mirror.
It had been a long time since he’d faced the world stone-cold sober. And after being out of rehab for exactly six hours and twenty-seven minutes, he couldn’t say he recommended it.
Then again, there wasn’t a whole lot about his life that he would recommend right now. Even the music that had been playing in the back of his head since he walked out the front doors of the rehab center a free man seemed flat, the notes discordant and just plain off.
But that didn’t matter. It couldn’t matter. After all, it wasn’t like he could spend the rest of the night hiding in here like the total pussy he was rapidly becoming—they hadn’t snuck in the back door of this Fifth Street club for shits and giggles, after all. The guys had been auditioning bass players for the last few weeks, and it was time to test out one of their top picks at a surprise show.
Time to test him out, too, time to see if he still had what it took now that he was a sniveling, sober mess. Not that any of the guys would put it that way—or even so much as mention that this was a kind of audition for him, too.
But how could it not be? After the shit he’d put them through the last few years, it was a fucking miracle they hadn’t decided to replace him right along with Micah. God knew their management and label would probably have thrown a fucking parade if they had. But the remaining Shaken Dirty guys were nothing if not loyal—and since he had no plans to fuck either Ryder’s or Quinn’s fiancée, like Micah had Jared’s—it didn’t look like they planned on turning their backs on him any time soon.
He was grateful for that loyalty, even if he didn’t feel like he’d done anything to deserve it, especially in recent months…
The noise in his head was getting too loud—the recriminations and the sorrow too clear—so he turned the faucet back on and splashed water on his face again. And noticed, for the first time, just how badly his hands were shaking. If he didn’t know better he’d think the DT’s had gotten ahold of him again.
A second knock came at the door and…fuck it. Just fuck it. He was getting the hell out of this bathroom. Now. Before all of Shaken Dirty decided to take up residence in here with him.
“I’m coming,” he said, grabbing a paper towel from the dispenser and dried off. Then he took a deep breath, put on his fucking game face, and yanked the door open with way more force than was warranted.
There was a part of him that’d been expecting the whole band to be in the hallway waiting for him. Looking him over for new needle tracks or blown-out pupils. But in the end, it was just Jamison waiting, doing her level best to pretend she wasn’t checking up on him.
“Sorry to rush you!” she said with a grin. “But I really have to pee.”
“Oh, uh, right.” He stepped out of the doorway even as he held the bathroom door open for her. “Sorry I took so long, Jelly Bean.”
“No problem.” She glanced into the dark bathroom curiously. “Is the lightbulb out?”
“Oh.” This time her curious look was leveled at him. “Why didn’t you turn the light on? It’s pitch black in there.”
Since he couldn’t tell her the truth—that it was easier in the dark because he didn’t have to look himself in the mirror—he just shrugged.
She seemed to get it anyway, her face softening as she pulled him in for a warm, tight hug. Then again, he’d never had to tell Jamison anything, had he? Little sister of Jared, Shaken Dirty’s lead guitarist, and now fiancée to their lead singer, Ryder, she’d been around since they’d been in high school, rehearsing cover songs in her and Jared’s parents’ garage, dreaming of writing their own songs and maybe even hitting the big time.
Well, they’d hit the big time, all right. And everything had fallen to shit around them, including him. Maybe especially him.
“It’s going to be okay,” Jamison whispered as she held him close. “You’ve got this, Wyatt. I know you do.”
Well, that made one of them. Not that he could say that to her—she’d been there every step of the way through rehab and he didn’t want to disappoint her, didn’t want to let her down, not when he’d already done that so many other times through the years. It was why he was here, using every ounce of willpower he had not to walk into the front of the house and score some horse or molly or even some weed. Something, anything, to take the edge off. To make it easier to breathe in his own skin.