Trouble Rising(4)

By: Emme Rollins

Tyler swallowed, looking down at the headline, and then back up at me. I saw something flicker in his eyes, then he sighed.


“Yeah,” I agreed, sitting back and cinching the tie on my cream silk robe a little tighter before crossing my arms over my chest—which, I had to admit, was nowhere near as impressive as Alisha McKenna’s. “My phone’s been ringing off the hook. I haven’t answered it—I didn’t know what to say.”

“Fuck,” he said again, picking up the paper, his gaze scanning down as he read the article. “I told her not to say anything.”

“Did you?” I raised my eyebrows, feeling something tighten in my chest. “What else did you tell her not to say?”

Tyler looked up at me, cocking his head when he saw my expression, and then he grinned.

“Baby, you jealous?”

“Should I be?” I lifted an eyebrow at him, trying to make light of it.

“Never.” His gaze softened and he slid out of his seat and switched sides, snugging up next to me. His trunks were still wet, and cold seeped into the side of my robe, but I didn’t care when he put his arm around me and nuzzled my ear. “There’s no one but you, baby.”

“So you told her you were leaving the band?” I couldn’t quite let it go, even with his reassuring presence next to me.

“It wasn’t like that…” he said. “She was on the set last week, when I had that meeting with Arnie? She stopped me for just a few minutes. You know how she is…”

“Oh, I know.” My snarky tone elicited a chuckle from him.

“I just… I didn’t really say I was leaving the band. I was tired—and I said it was getting to be too much. The show, recording, and next summer, we’ll be going back on tour. How in the hell am I supposed to do it all…?”

“I know. It’s a lot.” This is just what we’d been talking about, round and round. I swallowed down the fact that he’d said all of this to Alisha McKenna. What I really wanted was to get to the center of the issue. “So… now what?”

“Fuck,” he said again, pulling me closer, tucking my head under his chin where it fit perfectly. “Rob. The band is gonna freak.”

“Arnie,” I reminded him and he groaned.

Their agent, Arnie, was going to take it the hardest. Even though Arnie been the one to get Tyler the audition for Album in the first place—and he was the only other person Tyler had told about his condition—Arnie’d gone ostrich about the fact that Tyler’s time in the band was physically limited. He definitely wouldn’t be happy about this leaking to the press.

“I guess it’s time to tell them,” Tyler said softly.

My heart got caught in my throat. I lifted my head to look at him, blinking in surprise. I’d suspected that Alisha-just-gimme-a-minute-of-your-time-McKenna had stretched the truth—at least, once I stopped seeing green and being jealous and I started thinking more rationally, that’s what I thought—but hearing Tyler say it out loud, making it real, really stunned me.

“For real?” I swallowed, searching his face.

He was tired—those dark circles under his eyes they covered up in make-up were the result of five a.m. shoots and late-night recording sessions. Never mind the nights he spent tossing and turning beside me in bed. He’d been pulled taut, like a guitar string tuned too tight, ready to snap. Something had to give.

“I guess so… yeah.” He squeezed me against him, tossing the paper on the table.

“You guess so?” I raised my eyebrows, putting my arms around his neck. “Ty, you need to be sure. This isn’t something to guess about.”

“I don’t know, maybe I knew what I was doing…” His gazed shifted away from mine, then back again. “When I said that—I was in a hurry, I was tired, it was off the cuff, but… maybe some part of me knew, if it came out in the press, then I’d have to…”

“To?” I prompted when his voice trailed off.

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