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Chapter 7: Lost in Translation
PG


Another feeling I’m not too fond of is confusion. I’m not inclined to describe myself as a control freak, but I cannot stand being in the dark. I spend lots of money to be well informed not to mention on top of my game financially and physically. I also expend a lot of energy not to be caught flat-footed emotionally. It’s very difficult to surprise me.

~

 “Honey, I’m home,” Madison called as she walked into the hotel room. She was greeted with silence.

She set her things down by the door before peeking into the bedroom. Madison found nothing but a lump in the middle of the bed. Pulling back the covers, underneath lie Spencer passed out and drooling still in her clothes and make-up. Madison cringed at the smell that wafted off of her girlfriend.

“Spence, honey, wake up,” she called gently.

Spencer groaned, and after much effort, peeled one eyelid open. “Maddy?”

“Yeah, sweetie. What happened to you?”

Spencer mumbled something incoherent before rolling over away from the light streaming in through the window.

Madison could only decipher one word, “Ashley.” She stared at Spencer’s back for a long moment before heading straight to Ashley’s room.

Knocking hard three times, she waited…and waited…and waited. Her knocking then became an incessant pounding.

“What?” Ashley screamed angrily as she ripped open the door.

“What did you do to Spencer?”

“You’re back early,” Ashley noted with annoyance. “And what the hell are you talking about?”

“She’s passed out and wreaks of alcohol.”

“So that’s automatically my fault?”

“Usually, yes.”

“Well guess what,” Ashley declared. “Your princess there drank of her own accord. She’s a grown woman and free to do as she pleases, especially around me. Now get me some breakfast.” She barked before slamming the door in Madison’s face.

It wasn’t until well into the afternoon that Spencer finally staggered out of bed and found Madison in the lounge watching TV.

“Madison? When did you get back? I thought you weren’t back until tomorrow.”

“I finished up early to get back to my hung over girlfriend who, might I add, I spoke to a few hours ago,” she groused.

“We spoke earlier?” Spencer flopped down next to Madison cradling her head in her hands.

Madison went on undaunted. “What did you do last night?”

“I had the pleasure of going out with Ashley, Aiden and the team. No big deal.”

Finally turning away from the television Madison yelled, “No big deal? No big deal? One minute you’re arguing with her then the next you’re hanging out?”

“We weren’t really hanging out, Mads. I was with Simon and Libby the whole time. Aiden too. Ashley seldom had a pleasant word to say, as usual,” Spencer defended.

“Fine, whatever. Are you even happy to see that I’m back?”

Spencer reached out and pulled her into a big hug. “Of course I am. Now stop yelling, my head hurts,” Spencer laughed.

“Good. I hate it when you drink, Spence.” Madison was genuinely sad.

Spencer knew Madison had an aversion to drinking after her father developed a habit during his indictment for fraud some years back. Their relationship still wasn’t the same.

“I know and I’m sorry. I promise it won’t happen again…except for a few more times.”

This won Spencer a smile and a playful push.

~

 Back in Ashley’s room she and Aiden were just now regaining consciousness.

“Oh God, my head,” Aiden groaned.

“I know,” Ashley agreed as she struggled to push herself upright. “What time is it?”

He looked over at the clock on the bedside table. “Little after one.”

“Ugh, we have to leave in a few hours.”

“Aw man.”

“I know, I’m going to miss you,” she said sliding closer to him so he could put his head in her lap. “Why don’t you come with us? Might be fun having your around.”

He laughed. “Yeah right. We’d be at each other’s throats after the first fifteen minutes.” They shared a laugh. “Besides, I have to see the team through the finals.”

Aiden was the assistant coach for a local college basketball team. This job would undoubtedly lead him to a head coaching position at a bigger school someday, so he took it very seriously.

“Yeah, I suppose you’re right.”

“I’ll definitely call at the end of the season though,” he soothed. “I’ll have a month off before basketball camp starts.”

“Sweet. You’re joining the tour whether you like it or not, Dennison.”

“Yes ma’am.” He fell silent for a few moments. “So what’s the deal with you and Spencer?”

“Deal? There’s no deal.”

“Uh huh. I saw you two last night, with the stripper.”

“I was just trying to help her loosen up. The suit has made her super uptight.”

“Maybe she was always like that,” Aiden pointed out. “You don’t know her, Ashley.”

“True I don’t, but anyone who spends time with Madison is bound to make a change for the worse.”

“Whatever, Ash,” he allowed. “What about the fighting?”

Ashley exhaled loudly. “She’s difficult, Aid, you’ve seen her. She picks fights with me and she’s a know it all.”

Aiden sat up to look his friend in the eye. “She is difficult, Ashley, and bull headed and stubborn. Just. Like. You. I think that’s why you’re so attracted to her.”

Ashley swung her feet to the floor. “I am not attracted to her. Yes, she’s hot, but that’s it. Her mouth keeps her in the undesirable category for me.”

“Well that’s good. I just want to warn you now to be careful with her. I’ve been right about these things before.”

Ashley stopped in her tracks staring at Aiden for a few seconds. She knew he was right. She also knew that she wasn’t interested in Spencer, so it didn’t matter. “I’m getting in the shower.”

~

 When Aiden said his goodbyes to the group later that day he purposely gave Spencer an extra squeeze just to piss off Madison.

By five it was time for them to board the bus and make their way toward Orlando where they would be for a few days. Orlando was going to be one of the big shows, four scenes and a full ninety minutes.

They stood on the curb waiting for Madison to finish the check out. Ashley stood staring off into nothingness sunglasses blocking out everything possible. Spencer stood not too far off stealing glances. She finally worked up the nerve to say something.

“Um, Ashley?”

“What?”

“I just wanted to say sorry for maybe being a bit presumptuous last night.”

“Presumptuous?” she laughed. “Think nothing of it, Carlin.”

“What’s funny?”

“Nothing. I just…don’t get you sometimes,” Ashley admitted.

“What’s to get?”

“One minute you’re going toe to toe with me and the next you’re apologizing. It’s a little confusing.”

“I can understand that. It’s just…you make me…I don’t know.”

Ashley faced Spencer, truly interested in what she had to say. “What is it? I can handle it.”

“Sometimes I feel like I get to see you, the real you. The sweet person underneath, but when I reach out to her she disappears. I get so frustrated and I guess I lashed out. You bait me into it every time and I fall for it, even though I know you’re just deflecting.”

Ashley stood and stared, her expression unreadable. Spencer tried not to fidget nervously as she stared at her own reflection through the shiny black lenses of Ashley’s sunglasses.

“Don’t worry about any real me. I’m fine. I was fine before you I’ll be fine long after you.”

“I didn’t say you wouldn’t…I just…”

“What?”

“I see you. Okay?” Spencer snapped. “You. That’s what.”

“Alright, we’re good to go.”

They both turned to face Madison as she hustled out of the hotel eager to get a move on.

“Come on, Spence, I’m beat. I need to catch some sleep.”

Spencer tuned to Ashley then back to Madison again. She looked to Ashley expecting her to say something, anything.

For her part Ashley just stood there unable to formulate a response. She didn’t know what Spencer meant and she was curious to find out. Madison, though, didn’t seem to notice the tension between them.

“Spencer, come on,” Madison called, one foot on the bus.

“Yeah Maddy…” she called over her shoulder before turning back to the still stunned brunette. She only waited a few moments more before getting on the bus.

Ashley stared at her back as she boarded. She would be left with her thoughts the entire six and a half hour ride from Atlanta to Orlando.

Shit.

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