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Chapter 18: A Change Gone Come
PG-13


The usual high I get when I perform is seriously lacking. I don’t know what happened. Even after what’s her name left I could still turn to my music for comfort. Now that’s not even working. I think I may have a serious problem. That problem comes in the form of a 5’ 6” blue eyed, blonde. Damn her!

 ~

When Spencer and Aiden got back to the hotel the show was over and Spencer had just enough time to do some minor touch ups to Ashley’s make-up before the press conference was to begin. Ashley was announcing the new tour dates and the official release date of the next album. The press and fans were abuzz with excitement so neither Ashley nor Madison noticed them slipping in together.

After all that was done they headed to the buses to go back to the hotel. They would be leaving for Detroit the following afternoon and had to get packed to go. Ashley and Aiden went to Ashley’s bus.

“You see the show?” Ashley asked Aiden as she poured herself a stiff drink.

“Most of it.”

 ~

 Spencer found herself enduring the same line of questioning.

 

“What’d you do during the show?” Madison asked.

“Nothing, hung out.”

 ~

 “Most of it?” Ashley frowned. “Where were you for the rest of it?”

“I was just hangin’ out.”

~

“Hung out where?” Madison asked as she pulled off her heels. She wondered after every single show why she insisted on wearing such uncomfortable shoes to work. That was until she saw her picture in magazines or television, then it all made sense.

“The arena, of course. Where else is there?” She laughed nervously.

 ~

 “Hung where nimrod?”

Aiden had to think quickly. “Here and there. I took the Segway out and got lost in those tunnels down below the arena.”

 ~

 “Oh,” Madison finally relented.

 ~

 “Cool,” Ashley agreed.

They had a few drinks on the bus during the ride back. Those added to the ones he had with Spencer were proving to be a bit much for Aiden, but he tried his best to keep his cool.

Since Madison handled the majority of Ashley’s packing, Ashley and Aiden were free. Madison would be busy with not only Ashley’s things but her own as well; she had a long night ahead of her.

Fate was on their side as both Ashley and Aiden and Spencer and Madison’s elevators arrived to their floor almost simultaneously. Ashley kept her head down and moved full steam ahead to her hotel room. The last thing she needed to see was Spencer with Madison.

Spencer made sure to get Aiden’s attention when she was sure no one was looking. He knew she needed to talk to Ashley, but he also knew that Ashley wanted to go out. Thinking quickly Spencer dropped down to tie her shoe as Madison carried on. Unaware of his level of inebriation, she reached for his leg causing him to stumble and fall.

“Shit!” he called out loudly as he went spilling across the plush hotel carpet.

Ashley pulled up short. “What’s with you tonight?”

“Nothing, nothing, I’m fine,” he said as he rose to his feet. “I just have to go ask um… Simon something.”

“Simon?” Ashley asked incredulously.

“Yeah, something about gel. You have to use the right product or what good is an expensive cut, right?”

“Whatever, you’re such a girl. Just hurry up. I want to get going soon,” she said as she disappeared into the room.

Madison too realized she was alone as she slid the key card into their hotel door.

“These darn laces,” Spencer said before Madison could get a word out. “Be there in a sec, Hun.” She was relieved when Madison disappeared without question.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Aiden asked in a loud whisper.

“Me? You’re the one stumbling around like a crazy person. I told you I needed to talk to Ashley.”

“I didn’t think you meant tonight.”

“Yeah, well…I can’t wait until we get to Detroit. I’ll die,” she stressed. “And what is with you?”

“Two drinks waiting for you, four drinks with you and three drinks on the bus gets you this.” Between Ashley and Spencer, Aiden was thoroughly frustrated.

“Oh, right. Geez. Well what are we going to do? They’re both waiting for us.”

“You should just go talk to Ash now.”

“What about Madison?”

“Oh, right.”

“Could you stall her for me?” Spencer asked desperately.

“Me?”

“Would you keep it down!” Spencer turned toward the door before turning back to Aiden. “Do you want her to come out here?”

He looked down sheepishly. “Sorry. But why me? How?”

“Um, I don’t know.” She thought for a moment. “Look give me your key card. I’ll go in Ashley’s room and talk to her and you can keep Madison occupied.”

“Great plan except Madison hates me and the feeling is sort of mutual.”

“Well you’re going to have to lay down that charm I’m sure you think you have because you’re giving me that card.” She snatched it out of his hand. “I’ll see you in thirty minutes exactly. Right back here. Okay?”

She started toward Ashley’s door before he could answer.

“Wait no! What am I going to tell her?”

“Tell her my mom called and I went downstairs to talk to her. That should buy me thirty easy.” With that she turned and keyed into the room.

Ashley came in out in her bra and jeans looking for Aiden. “Finally, Aid. Do you want to go to–” She stopped short she when she saw who it was.

~

Madison was just as shocked when she opened the door to find Aiden looming in the doorway.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Madison placed her hands on her hips.

“Um, well Spencer…her mom, so she’s downstairs.” Not the most coherent sentence, luckily she got it.

“Ugh, that woman. She can talk an ear off. Poor Spencer.” Madison turned back toward the bedroom with Aiden following behind.

“So what are you doing here again?”

“Well Spencer wanted me to tell you so you wouldn’t worry.”

“Well isn’t she the considerate one.” Madison’s tone was sarcastic, Aiden was too drunk to figure why.

“Isn’t she?” he asked genuinely interested.

“Yeah she is, I guess.”

He waited more out of discomfort than concern.

“But sometimes it just seems like her head is elsewhere.”

“Sometimes as in always, or just recently?”

“More recently I suppose.” She kneeled down opening a large suitcase on the floor and began putting things inside.

“Usually she’s attentive and considerate, I would think. Right?” He was fishing again, but he needed to know about the other side of Spencer and he needed to hear about it from someone who wasn’t Spencer or falling in love with Spencer.

“Yeah, overly so, I could say. Especially when…” She stopped when she realized the slip she was going to make. “She’s just changed I guess.”

“Have you changed?” he asked fully knowing the answer but wondering if Madison realized it herself.

She looked at him with startled eyes. “Maybe I have,” she admitted in just above a whisper. “Sometimes change is necessary. Right?”

Madison had no clue why she was asking Aiden’s opinion, but he was the first truly unbiased opinion she could tap since the death of Skyler.

“Yeah it is.” He knew that losing a child would change anyone and probably not for the better. Whether that change remains permanent, well that’s another story. But even if Madison and Spencer hadn’t changed at all as people, the state of their relationship would certainly shift in an effort to bare the weight of such loss.

Madison felt oddly comforted by his understanding. “So what’s your deal, Aiden? Why are you here?”

“In your room or on the tour?”

She smiled. “Both.”

“Um, that may be a long story.”

“Shall we discuss over a drink?”

Aiden had to suppress a groan. Who knew these women could drink so much. “Okay,” he relented as she headed for the mini bar.

 ~

“Spencer? What are you doing in here?”

Spencer had to make a conscious effort to purge her mind of the filthy thoughts that crowded her imagination the second she laid eyes on the topless brunette. Now certainly was not the time for that.  “I need to talk to you. I took Aiden’s key. I hope you don’t mind.”

Ashley turned toward the mini bar. “Well you’re here now. What did you ah…wanna talk about?”

Spencer grabbed a seat on the couch and jumped right in. Time was short. “I think we made a mistake. Or I made a mistake, I should say.”

“A mistake?”

“This whole we can’t be friend’s things. It’s a bit irrational and unfair to us both.”

Ashley sipped her drink in silence.

Spencer could see Ashley wasn’t interested in making this easy and frankly she couldn’t blame her. She continued saying, “Look, its clear we have a connection. And yes I’d love to explore the full extent of that, but I can’t.”

“Spencer we talked about this already.”

“I know, let me finish.” She waited for Ashley to relent before continuing. “I can’t deny what I feel for you, in spite of what I have with Madison. Out of all of those feelings the strongest is a sense of…kinship. We owe it to ourselves to at least be friends, Ash. I know how difficult it is for us to just be friends, but we’re going to have to deal with it because well…I can’t stand being away from you.”

“So you want to just be my friend?” Ashley asked for clarification.

“Still not finished.”

“Sorry.”

“And yes, I do want to be friends, but I’d also like to explore these other feelings, see where they take us. I’m not saying that I’ll leave Maddy or cheat on her, that’s not the type of person I am, but I’ll never know what I’d be missing out on if I don’t at least take the leap. Does that make sense?”

“Can I talk now?” Ashley asked with a smile.

“Yes.”

“Okay, so you’re staying with Madison but you want to see where your feelings for me take you? We’re going to start off as friends and if it evolves into something else then is it fair to say that you’ll entertain the idea of leaving her?” She held her breath and waited what seemed like forever for her reply.

“I can’t make any promises.”

“This doesn’t strike you as very, ‘having  your cake and eating it too?’”

Spencer blanched. “I suppose I can see how it could look that way. But I’m not asking for any commitments from you, Ash. You’re free to see or date anyone you please. I certainly don’t want to complicate your life any more than necessary. All I know is I want you in my life. I think I can be an adult and exercise enough constraint for us to at least be friends. I can’t speak about the future because I don’t know what’s to come. All I know is how I feel at this very moment.”

Spencer stood to her feet. She needed to take one final leap of father. “Friends?”

“Friends,” Ashley confirmed.

They came together with a heartfelt embrace.

“Buddy?” Spencer started.

“Yeah, pal?” Ashley asked from her position still wrapped in Spencer’s arms.

“Could you maybe, um, go put a shirt on? I’m finding it hard to focus.”

Ashley laughed. “Yeah, sorry.”

Spencer looked at her watch. “I have fifteen minutes to lay out some ground rules.”

Spencer and Ashley came up with a list of rules they both needed to follow when around each other. Some of the more important ones were; try to not be alone, no skimpy outfits or low cut tops, no touching, rubbing or kissing unless it’s in a friendly manner, and Ashley was not allowed to woo Spencer with extravagant outings or gifts.

They seemed to agree and Spencer finished in time to peek out into the hallway.

“I don’t see him. I need to give him back his key card.”

“Why don’t you just give it to me?”

“I need to talk to him first, see how it went with Madison. I can’t just walk in their blind. Let’s just wait a little bit longer.”

They stood in the doorway for fifteen more minutes and still no Aiden.

“This is ridiculous. Where is he?” Spencer asked.

“I don’t know. Want me to call his cell?”

“Yeah.”

It rang before going to voicemail.

“Not picking up.”

“Shit,” Spencer spat.

“Just go inside. Hopefully you two can work out your story quickly before Madison gets suspicious.”

“I’m going to kill your friend when I catch him for leaving me out in the lurch.”

“Yeah, I may slap him around a bit too.”

“Oh here,” Spencer reached in her pocket, “your key.”

“Thanks. I’d say keep it, but we’re leaving in like ten hours so no point.”

“I appreciate the thought,” Spencer smiled.

Ashley found herself getting lost in those baby blues and absently thought about her guitar.

Spencer watched Ashley’s nose scrunch adorably and remembered how that always made her want to grab her and kiss Ashley senseless. She was the first to break the trance and proceeded to open the door as Ashley headed toward her own. “See you later?”

“Definitely.”

As Spencer pushed the door open she gasped. Ashley heard it before her door clicked shut and she quickly came to Spencer’s aide.

“What the fuck?”

Ashley’s rage got Madison and Aiden’s attention as they finally pulled themselves out of a passionate lip lock.

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