Read Rock Bottom (Bullet) Online

Authors: Jade C. Jamison

Rock Bottom (Bullet) (7 page)

BOOK: Rock Bottom (Bullet)
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Chapter Nine


DR. THOMAS WAS a nice enough guy, but Ethan was fuming as he left the man’s office after his second visit.  The guy had listened to Ethan on his first visit, and Ethan had thought the doctor would be someone he could talk to, that Ethan would be able to wrestle with his demons with the help of this knowledgeable man.  Instead, the doctor started their session out this time by telling Ethan that his last visit had been an intake visit.  The doctor needed to ascertain what sort of illnesses Ethan was grappling with so he’d know how to help him pharmacologically.

What the fuck ever.

So Thomas gave Ethan two prescriptions and asked him to come back in three weeks to discuss what the meds were doing for him.  He also encouraged Ethan to continue seeing Jenna—both individually and in her Soaring Free group—and he referred Ethan to a fellow doctor, a psychologist in the same office.  Ethan gathered that the psychologist was the talkie guy, the one who’d help him reason through his woes.

Well, that was fine.  He knew he needed to talk with someone, but he didn’t understand the medications.  He
was wanting to get
shit, not on stuff.  He was going to have to give it some thought.  He wasn’t even going to drop the prescriptions off at the pharmacy…not yet.

He really wanted to talk to Jenna, ask her what she thought about the medications and Dr. Thomas, but he decided against it.  It had felt at first like they’d been connecting, like she really cared, but then it was like she’d drawn a shade,
as though she’d been looking through a window and had gotten scared by what she’d seen.  He was sure he’d touched some nerve.

He wasn’t certain, but he was starting to wonder if she really
have some deep, dark secret, like she’d been a junkie just like he was.  It made sense.  Someone like that who’d overcome a huge problem would be a natural at that job, and it would make sense if she’d want to help others.

But that wasn’t the exact feeling he was getting from her.  No…it was something else, something he couldn’t put his finger on.

He walked through the door out into the hot parking lot and marveled at how much had changed in just the last few days.  He wasn’t exactly drooling over Jenna anymore (even though she was just as hot a number as she’d been the first day he’d met her), but he was looking past that now…something he hadn’t done with a woman in so long he couldn’t remember.  She was
and that made her more gorgeous to him than any makeup could have.

He knew now, though, that he couldn’t have her,
have her.  The last, the only woman he’d loved before was the one he’d hurt the most…his soon-to-be ex-wife Valerie.  She’d loved him unconditionally, but he just hadn’t been able to stop himself from hurting her.  And he was beginning to understand why.  Yeah, she’d stood by his side, had made him feel loved…but she hadn’t understood his addiction, his demons, and she’d never been able to help him with that.  The fact that maybe Jenna could was giving him more hope than he’d had in years…and he also realized that feeling was maybe doing to him exactly what she’d warned him about that first night he’d met her…when she’d told him she couldn’t be his savior.

But he couldn’t help how he was feeling and he didn’t care, because for the first time in years, he was feeling the most foreign emotion of all…and that was

* * *

Fuck.  Ethan rarely touched LSD because it jacked so hard with his brain.  It didn’t help that each trip was bound to be completely different from the last.  Yet here he was, putting a tab of acid on his tongue at the behest of the blonde hottie whose hand was achingly close to his cock.  What was her name anyway?  Something edible and sweet…yeah, Kandy.  But she didn’t look like Kandy.  She looked like she could eat his cock for breakfast…and that made him harder than a rock.

And there was Val, his sweet girlfriend, walking across the room.  There was a halo of some kind around her head.  He’d always thought of her as an innocent angel, so he almost laughed, seeing that rainbow-like ring around her head, but he knew it was just the acid talking.  Jesus…this was
gonna be a helluva trip.  He felt Kandy’s fingernails digging into his leg through his jeans, and it made his cock swell all the more.  Fuck…he wanted those red lips of hers around him so bad…

The closer Val got, the more pissed she looked, and it felt like it was taking minutes for her to make it across their tiny living room.  Sure, there were a few bodies here and there, but it shouldn’t be taking that long.  He knew that, too, was the acid. 
Then, suddenly, it was like she’d transported to the couch, and she sat right next to him.  God, she was hot, and he wanted to sink himself deep inside her, feel her around him, crying his name.  She was so sweet.  And then this girl next to them had him feeling so ready.  He smiled at his girlfriend and said, “Hey, babe.  Glad you could join us.”

She still looked pissed
.  Ethan knew how to wipe that look off her face.  He took her in his arms and kissed her, slow and seductive, exploring her mouth with his tongue, connecting with her on a deeper level.  She might have looked angry, but she was responding.  He knew she wasn’t comfortable with public displays, but he also knew she loved him enough to put up with it.  Her hand wound its way into his hair.  Yeah…he knew his girl.  He was getting her hot, so now he could relax a little.  “How you feelin’, babe?”

She still didn’t look satisfied, though, and Ethan couldn’t quite understand why.  He’d already had way too much to drink. 
“All right.”

Ethan had forgotten about the blonde on his other side until she removed her hand from his thigh, leaned over, and placed her hand on Val’s leg instead.  He blinked and said, as though it were an introduction, “Kandy really likes the band.”

Val raised her eyebrows but said nothing.  Ethan saw Kandy rubbing Val’s thigh, and it made him harder.  “Oh, I
loved you.  You are so sexy onstage.”

“Thanks.”  Val kept sipping her water, but she started looking like a rabbit facing a predator.  He wasn’t sure what she was thinking.

“You okay?”


Ethan felt Kandy’s other arm, still draped over his shoulders, reach behind him over to Val where she started rubbing his girlfriend’s shoulder, and then he was inspired.  He sat up and took command, wrapping
arms around both women and pulling them into a huddle not unlike football players.  He said, “You know…Val, you are my muse.  You are so special to me.  Kandy here sees how special you are too, and she wants to spend more time with us.”  Kandy started nibbling on his ear. 
  High or not, there was no way he could concentrate like that, and he knew he’d need some finesse with his girlfriend.  He turned his head and gave Kandy a
look and then he turned back to Val.  He kissed her again, trying to let her know how special she was and then he brought his lips to her ear and told her how much he’d love for the two of them to share the hot slutty number to his left…and he thought the front of his jeans were going to rip off his body when she agreed to it.


“That’s just one example of the kind of fucked up shit I’ve done in my past, doc.”

“So…relationships must be hard to maintain.”

“Uh, yeah.  My marriage is over.  And my working relationships, the ones with my friends?  Those are just as hard.  My friends are pretty much over me.  I don’t know if we can save the band.”

“Do you want to?”

That question set Ethan back a bit.  It was a question he hadn’t asked himself.  Lately, it seemed, people were questioning him down to the core…to his motivations, his base desires.  It didn’t bother him, but it was hard to get used to.  These people weren’t just assuming things about him.  They wanted to know where he was coming from.  Most interesting was the fact that Ethan had to dig deep because he wasn’t sure.

This question was no different.

Did he want to be in a band?  That wasn’t too hard a question to answer.  It was
, one hundred percent, but he had to be clean to do it.  He couldn’t return…not yet.  He didn’t feel strong enough to get up on that stage without something propping him up.  He associated the stage with drugs too closely.  It was like when he quit smoking—he had to stop drinking coffee for a few months too.  They went together.  So, until he felt strong, he couldn’t perform onstage, couldn’t tour.  He needed to learn to walk again before he could try to run.

The answer was y
es, though.  Yes, absolutely.  “I can’t see myself doing anything else.  Music is my life.  Sure, I could maybe find another band, but the guys in my band…they’re my friends too, my family.  I just know they’re pretty much over all my shit, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to prove myself to them.”  He rested his head in his hand, hiding his eyes from the psychologist.  “I started that damn band with my best friend.  I don’t want to walk away.  That band is a huge part of me.  I wrote half the music.  But…I also know that they might not want to take me back.”

“Have you had any contact with them?”

“Yeah, some.  I’ve mostly just talked to our manager.  I’ve been keeping him posted on my progress.  I’ve been in rehab before, so I know they’re not confident about my recovery.  But I guess the record label is sitting back.  Our next CD isn’t due for another nine months, and if I know Brad, he’s been writing like crazy.  He’s probably ready to head into the studio already but is just waiting to see what happens with me.”

“Would they record without you?”

Ethan hadn’t thought about that before, but he knew it was possible.  Even if they hadn’t given up on him, Brad could easily play two different guitar tracks.  He usually had Ethan do his own solo work, but a lot of times, Brad would compose an entire song on his own.  Hell, Ethan had done that too, but it had been a long time since he had.  “They

“Have you been writing music lately?”

He took in a deep breath and looked at the psychologist.  He couldn’t remember but thought the guy had said his name was Dr. Cole.  “No.  I can’t tell you the last time I wrote anything.”

“Yet you feel you can’t live without music.  I believe you said, ‘Music is my life.’  So where
is the drive and the passion to write, to perform?”

Ethan let out a breath.  Could he even explain it to this man?  “I…I’m finally starting to feel the desire to write, but it’s buried in there, you know?  It’s…uh…I feel like I’ve been in a cave
and my eyes are adjusting to the light but until they do…I can’t do shit.”  The psychologist nodded his head but said nothing for a long time.

At last, though, he spoke, and Ethan thought he’d been holding back so that Ethan would give it more thought.  “I think you need to try.  If it is as you say it is—that it is your life, your reason for living—then I want you to try.  Start small and don’t overwhelm yourself, but
.  Maybe write a few lines to a song or come up with a new riff to a song.  But force yourself, just a little.  See what it does for you.”

That had to be some of the most practical advice Ethan had heard in ages, and he planned to give it a fair shot as soon as he returned home.




Chapter Ten


ignore the beads of sweat clinging to her forehead as she continued to drive her legs up and down.  The elliptical machine in the past had helped her work through a lot of things that bothered her, but, for some reason, it wasn’t working this time.

She’d thought she’d worked through all her hang ups and problems
, but now she realized she’d merely buried them and ignored them.  She had enough training to know there was nothing healthy about pretending the past didn’t exist, but she hadn’t had the strength to deal with her feelings head on.  Now, though, trying to help Ethan find some sort of salvation had brought all those old memories and insecurities to the surface.  She couldn’t ignore the past any longer.

Why now, though?  Why, when she was at her most vulnerable, did her brain choose to make her deal with those issues?

She knew exactly why.  It was because Ethan wasn’t just another client.  Right or wrong, she was beginning to feel something for him.  They weren’t just feelings of friendship either.  It wasn’t like the way she felt about Jay or Olivia, for example.  She felt sympathy and human kindness toward them, towards most of the people she tried to help, and she really did care about what happened to them.  Ethan was different, though, and she wasn’t sure when her feelings had changed.  Attraction, yes.  She’d felt that from the beginning.  He was a good-looking, charismatic guy who knew how to use it, but there was more, and she thought maybe she could figure out when it had become even more serious for her.

It was when he’d seen right through her, had seen her for the fragile human being she really was.  Oh, she could act as tough as they came.  Most people thought that was the real her.  Somehow, though, Ethan could see who she was underneath.  Did she have any addictions?  Hell, yeah, and there was no way she was going to talk about them with Ethan, much as she had been
tempted to.

One of h
er addictions?  He was just her type.  She’d had a string of boyfriends, hot rocker types, tattooed and punctured, tortured and abusive.  She’d never been struck, not once (although the last time had involved physical mistreatment), which was part of why she’d found it hard to break away, because psychological abuse was harder to identify, especially when you yourself were the victim.

It was something she was ashamed of, particularly because she was an addictions counselor herself.  How could she claim legitimacy, have any kind of authority if she was suffering and unable to “cure” herself?  So instead she vowed to just stay away from men altogether and live her life that way.

And for the past year, she’d grown stronger and felt better.  She convinced herself that celibacy was the best way.  After all, the most important part of recovery for any addict was to give up the abused substance, and she had done that.  That fact alone made her feel like she was doing the right thing.

Her heart ached, though.  She was missing something, and she knew it, but she also felt it was for the best.  Now, though, with this broken man in her life, a man she had hope fo
r, a man she saw had a fighting chance, she could feel the emptiness in her life.

But no.
  Ethan was the exact kind of man she had to stay away from.  She couldn’t allow herself to get involved with another man with a past who chose to take it out on the women foolish enough to love him.  She refused to be a victim again.

So she put in another two miles on the elliptical, her auburn hair bouncing in its ponytail, but she didn’t notice the time.  She had a
lot of anxiety to work through, and that machine was going to take a beating.

When she was done, she stepped
down and toweled off and thought she’d be tired enough to sleep.  She was wrong.  Ethan haunted her dreams, and she wondered how long she’d be able to deny her feelings for him.

* * *

Ethan took a sip of the coffee. 
Goddamn, was it strong.
  It could probably walk by itself.  That was okay, though.  He was feeling more tired than usual today.  And, of course, he was feeling down too, which was probably related to the fatigue.  He could use a little caffeine.

started walking toward the chair in the circle next to the guy called Jay Bird again.  He could tell that Jay would be an ally if times got tough, but he could also tell he was the kind of guy who’d be an enabler.  He’d been around plenty of those.  He could hear it now. 
Come on, man.  One hit won’t hurt.
  Yeah.  Yeah, it would.  Ethan had learned that lesson the hard way.

He smiled at Jay just the same but then he looked across the room and saw Jenna.  She was in the doorway talking to someone who seemed reluctant about coming in.  She looked so sincere, that woman, like she wanted to save the whole world.  And Ethan thought maybe she could.

He was starting to feel differently about her too.  Yeah, he’d had a boner for her since he’d seen her.  She had a tight body and beautiful lips.  He’d love to grab a fistful of that red hair and fuck her from behind.  Yeah…but now he felt more than just that lust.  He was starting to wonder if she’d want to go to the park and sit on the grass under the shade of a tree just to talk.

thought made Ethan feel like a real pussy.  That’s not what metal was all about.  Fine if he cared about a woman, but he wasn’t about to engage in champagne and strawberries and poetry in the park.  Bullshit.

Still, he was feeling some strange things about this woman.  He wasn’t just thinking about fucking her.

He was thinking about the morning after.

And he didn’
t remember ever thinking that about any woman, not even his estranged wife.

That wasn’t an insult to Valerie.  No, Val was innocent and pure.  The only seediness she’d seen in life was the shit Ethan had put her through.

Jenna, though…Jenna seemed to know and understand more than she let on.  Maybe it was because of her experience.  True, she didn’t seem to be any older than he was, which would put her in her mid-twenties, but it didn’t matter.  There was a worldliness about her…she knew a lot and, if Ethan wasn’t mistaken, she’d experienced more than she let on.  She really seemed to understand what he was going through.

So when she stopped talking to the person in the hall, having failed at talking the guy into staying, Ethan couldn’t help but smile when her emerald eyes met his.

She smiled back.  That felt pretty good.

He took another sip and felt shocked again at the strength
of the liquid, then sat in the chair next to Jay.  Jay was engaged in conversation with the guy next to him.  Ethan was glad for that.  He didn’t know that he was ready to move from what he was feeling to talking about the weather.  He considered closing his eyes and just leaning over to rest his forearms on his thighs to keep any would-be talkers at bay, but he didn’t have to.  Jenna started walking into the room to start the group.  He didn’t miss that she kept smiling at him.

Ethan had missed the beginning of group last week.  It started out with Jenna asking if anyone had had any
, little or big.  A couple of people shared what they felt were milestones.  Ethan was thinking
big fucking deal
, but he kept his mouth shut.  He’d gotten out of bed that day…even though he hadn’t been able to write shit, in spite of what his psychologist had said.  Maybe the folks here would clap for him for admitting he’d been able to drag his ass out of bed this morning.

It really
a victory some days, but no way would he tell these people that.  No way could he risk looking weak.

* * *

He was glad when Jenna moved on and had people start talking about what she’d asked them to consider over the past week.  He’d forgotten about that bit of “homework.”  He tried to pay attention, but he was nowhere near feeling like the world was a shiny, happy place.  Not like some of these folks.  Maybe in a year or two.  And he’d even be happy never feeling that way as long as he could get rid of the fucking cloud.

The hour passed and it was time to take a break.  He got another cup of coffee and chatted some with Jay.  Jay turned out to not be intimidating at all.  He wanted to ask Ethan about the band and usual fan-type questions.  It helped Ethan to relax
, and he started to not mind the group so much.  So when it was time to sit back down in the circle, his guard was down.  He wasn’t ready for what happened next.

Jenna looked straight at him.  God, she was beautiful.  He could almost imagine the two of them alone.

But then she opened her mouth.

“Ethan, you’re kind of getting a feel for the group now, right?”

He nodded.  “Yeah.”

“We share a lot here.  It’s part of the healing process.  And…if you’re up for it, I’d love for you to share something that you think brought you here today.”

He felt his eyes narrow.  “What’s that mean exactly?”  The little minx, using his infatuation for her against him.

But she had a completely innocent look on her face.  She was sincere…and he believed her.  He wanted to try.  She said, “We are nothing more than a sum of our past.  We are our history.
  And until we can accept that and understand how our past drives our present behaviors, we are destined to be slaves to our habits.  So…if you start sharing, thinking about what’s got you here, you can begin to learn the how and why about your behavior.”  She raised her eyebrows as though encouraging him.

Ethan dug deep.  This was a pivotal moment.  He could just say
fuck it
and leave…but wasn’t that what he’d always done?  Maybe she was right.  Maybe that was why he could never get past it.  So he looked her in the eyes and nodded.  He trusted her…and he was going to try.


BOOK: Rock Bottom (Bullet)
4.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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