“Kenji, my child...I didn’t think you would come.”
“Don’t call me that, you know I had no choice.”
JongHo smiled at his descendant, who remained human, and although centuries apart, they were still blood related; and therefore a sense of loyalty remained intact. The vampire reached across the table, clasping his slender, pale fingers over the small black box as he brought it closer to himself.
JongHo opened the box and sneered, “What is this? Twenty karats?” He pulled out the beautiful diamond engagement ring and eyed it closely. “Foolish humans don’t understand the proper worth of diamonds nowadays.”
“Why are you doing this JongHo? Those two have never done anything to your race, they just want to live happily together.”
JongHo’s eyes focused beyond the ring between his fingers, onto his descendant. “If you felt so strongly about the task, you could have denied it. We would have found an alternate way to interrupt their union, bloodshed is nothing to me.” He said, his voice airy as he placed the ring back into the small box. “And yet here you stand, betraying your friendship.”
Kenji’s fists clenched at his sides. “I don’t want any parts of this. Blood or not, you didn’t choose to be what you are, so why should I be forced into this?”
The vampire chuckled, “Oh Kenji, you’ve fallen far too deep to escape now.”
“Bruno, come on man, chill.” Eric tried to calm his younger brother down, but Bruno slapped his hand away.
“What do you MEAN the ring is gone?! What do you MEAN Kenji is gone?!” Bruno asked spastically. Without waiting to hear an explanation, he began vamping around the room in a panic, looking for the engagement ring. Turning over tables, chairs, everything. He had an entire elaborate scheme for tomorrow’s concert, where he was going to propose to Roxanne; but now he was short a guitarist, and a ring!
“You called Kenji?” He stopped vamping around and asked Phredley, who had become quiet after seeing his friend’s fit of rage.
“Y-Yeah we all tried calling him, he’s not answering.” Phredley replied.
“So, let me get this straight...Kenji is gone, and the ring is gone.” Bruno’s brain began to put the facts together to come up with a theory. Phredley nodded, and Bruno looked around to see the rest of his band nodding in agreement as well. He didn’t hear anyone’s pulse racing from lying, he was good at spotting liars now.
His eyes narrowed, “Alright.”
He vamped from the room, leaving everyone to exhale in relief.
“And it should start on four. Like the intro should go....one...two...three, and then boom I come up on four and the pyros.” I explained, walking across the stage during my soundcheck, my tiny microphone attached to my cheek.
“Got it, run the intro again.” The sound technician said over the loudspeakers. I went back down underneath the stage and listened to the introduction play and on the correct count, I came flying out, along with an explosion of fire on both sides of me. “How was that?”
I gave a thumbs up, “Perfect.”
“Alright, let’s run the first three and then we’ll set up for the second half.” The stage manager instructed, walking around with a clipboard. “We’re going to have to cut things short though, because Bruno Mars just lost a guitarist, we need to rework his set.”
“Whoa, what?” I asked, taking my mic off as I rushed over to Linda, the stage manger.
“He didn’t tell you? Kenji disappeared last night and nobody’s heard from him, we have no time to wait so we’ve hired the best out here in Tokyo to replace him for tonight’s show.” Linda explained. She turned her own mic back on, “Brian, I need the house lights off for the beginning...thanks.” She turned it back off to continue our conversation.
“Did anyone alert the authorities?” I asked in concern.
Linda shrugged, “I don’t know the details of it, unfortunately. You’ll have to ask Bruno.”
I fell asleep after Bruno left last night, so I suppose he didn’t want to wake me up; but Kenji’s disappearance was worth being woken up for, and now it was late afternoon so I knew he would be dead for a couple more hours.
It couldn’t rack my mind at the moment, so I let it go and continued my soundcheck, running through as much of my set as I could before I had to step aside to allow for Bruno and his crew to start up.
He came into my dressing room while his band began setting up. “Hey babe, how’d your soundcheck go?” He asked, sitting next to me on the couch.
“Is that really the first thing you’re gonna say to me?” I asked. I didn’t mean to sound rude, but I expected him to bombard into my dressing room with a little more of an explanation than ‘hey honey, what’s up?’.
He raised his eyebrows, “Damn girl, what’s wrong with you?”
“What happened last night Bruno? Where’s Kenji?” I asked, straight out, as I pulled my hair back into a ponytail. He sat back on the couch and pulled his fedora down over his forehead, staring up at the ceiling. I could tell he was frustrated.
“He’s gone Rox, I don’t know where or why. We’ve called the police, but that’s the best we could do for now. We still had to do the show tonight.” Bruno explained.
“Do you think this has anything to do with the Elitists?” I asked. Bruno lifted his fedora and looked over at me curiously.
“Why do you think that?”
“Because,” I smoothed out a wrinkle in his jeans, “Doesn’t it seem odd that right when they’re threatening our lives the most, your guitarist just up and disappears? A reliable guy at that?”
“So...what, are you saying they took him? How would that benefit them?”
I shrugged, “That’s where I’m lost, I didn’t have much time to think about this...you know. I’ve been thinking about other things...”
He stopped me from smoothing out the wrinkle, interlacing his fingers with my own and I looked up at him, a blush rising in my cheeks. “Like what?”
“Well, I’ve decided-” I began, when Bruno’s phone started ringing. He jumped and held his pocket, standing up as he answered it.
I looked at him curiously as he faced away from me, and I heard a female’s voice on the other line.
“Yeah, I got a second. Hold on.” He turned around and vamped over to me, kissing my lips. “I’ve got to take this and then do my set, I’ll meet you back at the hotel?”
“Sure...” I said, and he was gone within seconds. “I love you too.” I muttered under my breath as I set out my makeup for the show tonight. Who was he talking to that he had to leave so fast? Last time I checked, there wasn’t but one female on his team, and that voice didn’t sound like Dani Russin’s bright cheery voice.
Oh but here I go, turning into that girl.
That girl who gets crazy jealous over what her boyfriend is doing and who he’s talking to. I’m sure he isn’t up to anything unusual, I mean what other female could deal with his issues like me? Right. No other woman can be down with this supernatural shit, fighting off shapeshifters and Elitists and all that.
I looked at myself in the mirror, smoothing out my honey blonde bangs before putting on my giant sunglasses and leaving the arena.
As I rode in the van on the way back to the hotel, I looked at my phone, wondering whether or not I should call Robyn. I probably should see how she’s healing, both mentally and physically. Then again, I wondered if she even wanted to hear from me after our altercation.
Taking a chance, I pressed send, more-so by accident than out of intent, but I raised the phone to my ear and closed my eyes, exhaling any stress.
“Hello?” She answered on the third ring.
“Robyn, hey.” I said, probably sounding awkward. I didn’t know how to address her, or if she even wanted to be addressed by me at all.
“Roxy.” I could hear her smile in her voice, which was a good sign. “Where are you? Are you at the arena?”
“No, I’m leaving n-” I paused, “How did you know I was in Tokyo?”
“Oh...” She said, “Well you’re a popstar girl, it’s not difficult to Google your name.” She laughed, but it didn’t sound very genuine. “Hey, I’m on the other line on an important call, can I hit you back? I want to talk to you.”
“Of course Rih, I’ll be here.” I said, hanging up.
Well, at least she didn’t rip me a new one over the phone, and she sounded happy to hear from me.
I got back to the hotel and ordered room service, deciding to catch up on some more lost rest before tonight’s show...my first one in conjunction with the Hooligans. How that was going to go...I had no idea, but Bruno and I were both gifted with the ability to fly by the seat of our pants in times of crisis, so I’m sure there wouldn’t be anything that we couldn’t handle.
I laid on my bed and rolled over to the picture of us in the golden frame on my nightstand. When I think back on the way my life has changed in a matter of months, it seems completely surreal. I spiraled down into severe alcohol-powered depression after Bruno’s death, and then thought I was batshit crazy when he came back into my life. He came and I got tangled in a web of supernatural nonsense; but throughout it all, I’ve learned to love my friends even more, and to cherish the small things, and I’ve become sharper when it came to paying attention to detail.
My phone rang and I answered it, thinking it was Robyn, but instead I was met with a perky gay male voice.
“Hey girl hey!” Dave announced.
“Hey Davey love, what’s up?” I asked, turning onto my back.
“I’ve got you your first big cover of the year mamas! And a six page spread! But you’re sharing it with someone....” He explained.
“Oh God, what competition am I gonna be posing with? Katy Perry? Beyonce? Least they can do is throw me with Robyn, at least we like each other.” I joked.
“Nah uh boo, I got you the cover of Essence with Bruno.”
I rolled over onto my stomach. “With Bruno?” I asked in confusion.
“They want to do a whole black interracial couple theme, and you two are one of the big it-couples of this generation! Especially with the whole attention surrounding his death and coming back.”
“We’re doing a couple shoot? Oh that should be fun...wow, we’re an it-couple? Since when?”
Dave laughed, “I always thought you were an it couple from when you first started dating, but after your album dropped and you got as successful as him, now the whole world seems to think so! But boo, be gentle when tellin’ him...you know how his ego can get.”
I giggled, “I’ll just tell him we have a magazine shoot, I’ll leave out those details.”
“Good call, it’s the end of the month, the 27th. I’ll be reminding you, but I’m giving you a heads up.” Dave explained.
“Thanks, ‘preciate it.”
“So....?” Dave pondered aloud.
“So...what?” I asked.
“How have things been going? Everything working out for you? Since you’ve become a big star and all I haven’t talked to you like I used to.”
I rolled my eyes, “Yeah big star, whatever.” I chuckled, “Things have been great, I mean I really love all the fans, they’re amazing. They make me feel great, and-”
“Girl, I mean with Bruno. I could give a shit about yo fans.”
I laughed and so did he. “That’s not nice, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be in this nice hotel in Tokyo right now! Hell if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have been at that soundcheck to meet Bruno!”
My other line began ringing. “Oh, let me call you back...that’s Rih on my other line and we gotta have an important talk.”
I ended the call with Dave and picked up for Robyn.
“Hey.” I said.
“So basically...I’m sorry Rox. I am.” She immediately cut to the chase. “You know I love you to hell and back and to hell again, you’re my bitch. Jason explained everything to me and I thought you hated me...you should have.”
“Why though? You had no idea what you were, and we couldn’t tell you. I would have been upset if I were in your position too Rih, you didn’t get it.” I countered. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to accept her apology, but I wanted her to understand the circumstances of the situation.
“Yeah but I could have gone about it different.” She continued, “But Jason says I’m free of the demon now and I can be normal again, damn am I happy to hear that.” She chuckled, but I didn’t join in, and she heard that. “I’m sorry Rox.....”
“No, I’m happy for you. Get out while you can.” I tried to sound optimistic, but I felt like I was damning myself. I wish I could hear that kind of news...that I could be normal again...
“You won’t be stuck in this mess forever, you know that.”
“No, actually Rih, I don’t know. I’ve been under a lot of stress recently, because some other shit came up-”
“Oh, what now?”
“Let’s just say either I have to let Bruno make me a vampire, or I’m going to die...and they’re trying to take him because they want power for some unknown reason.”
“WHAT?!” Robyn exclaimed, “Are you serious!?”
“Fun shit, ain’t it? Oh, and I have to release my second album in the next few months.” I added.
Robyn’s groan was audible from the other line. “If anyone can do that, it’s you, Rox. You’re a superwoman.”
I burst out in laughter, “That was a good one, alright, keep believing that while my world crumbles around me. I think I’m having issues with Bruno too.”
Robyn paused for a moment, “Oh really?”
“Yeah, lately our conversations have been just stressful and full of anxiety. I’ve snapped on him more than usual in the past times we’ve spoken.” I explained, “And we haven’t been intimate since San Mateo.”
“That was over a month ago!”
“I know, and you know that with Bru and I...even when everything else is fucked up, as long as we’re having sex, we’re good. So when that’s out the picture, there’s some serious stuff going down.”
“But I think it’s because of this stress. That’s got to be it, because the love is still there, I can see it. Maybe you guys should talk about it?”
I countered, “That’s just it Rih, when? I don’t want to keep having these serious conversations with him all the time, that’s just not us, y’know? I don’t wanna look like I’m bitching all the time either.”
“Hah, maybe you’re pregnant.” Robyn joked.
I hit my fist on the mattress, “Why do people keep joking about that? I can’t have kids with him, and I most certainly can’t have kids right now.”
A knock on the door interrupted my call, so I went to answer it, only to find Kam’s giant sasquatch ass on the other side.
“Hey sexy.” He waggled his brow and I rolled my eyes and turned around.
“Why are you here? Not that I don’t love you sweetheart, but I wasn’t expecting company.”
“I didn’t wanna see you anyway.” He turned like he was going to walk away, but stopped and turned back around, “I’m kiddin, but hey I came up to tell you that Bruno said he can’t come back.”
I looked at him in dismay before sighing and rolling my eyes, “I gotta go Rih.” I said, hanging up the phone. “I’m sorry Kam, what?”
He could tell I was getting testy, so he held up his hands in surrender. “Don’t shoot the messenger, he said he has to go over Kenji’s parts with the guitarist and by the time they finish, it’ll be time for you to come back.”
I massaged my temples, “Ok.”
“You aren’t mad, are you?”
“Aw, come on Roxy, he’d be here if he could.” Kam tried to defend his friend, but I wasn’t having it after all these problems were beginning to surface.
“Ok. Just...just let me be alone for a couple hours. I’ll see you guys at showtime.” I started to close the door, but Kam stopped it.
“I’m not gonna let you stay here and do what every other female does, which is sit around and think up every reason why you should be mad when you shouldn’t be. So I’m taking you out.” Kam said, as though he had the most perfect plan in the world.
“I don’t feel like going out.”
“Well that’s too damn bad, you haven’t even gotten to see Tokyo yet, and this is my first time here too. So get your jacket and I’m taking you out. End of conversation...damn, Bruno doesn’t discipline you enough.” He snarked. I slapped him across the shoulder and he laughed while I pulled on my jacket.
I guess it would do me some good to get out and enjoy the new country I was in...I had kept myself pretty cooped up, he was right about that. So I pulled on my leather jacket and my shades and we left together.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this to me right now.” I mumbled.
Kam placed his arm around my shoulders and shook me vigorously, “Come on, when’s the last time you hung out with a human? I’m about to put the balance back in your life girl.”
“I’m heading out to get something to eat.” Eric Hernandez announced, but when his younger brother didn’t reply, he poked his head into the dressing room. “Bru?”
“I heard you.” Bruno replied softly, his elbows resting on his knees as he stared endlessly into the floor underneath him. Eric sighed and walked over to him, placing his hand on his shoulder as he kneeled down.
“You know you got the money to get another ring, we can still do the show.” Eric said.
Bruno didn’t look at his brother, he simply continued to find the floor more interesting. “It’s not about the ring, E.”
“You’re right, it’s not about the ring, it’s about Roxanne.” Eric replied, to which, Bruno lifted his head. “It’s about you wanting to take that step into real commitment, into solidifying to her that you want to spend the rest of your..” He gestured in the air, “...whatever, with her.”
Bruno sat back on the couch, pondering what his brother just told him. Of course he was right, but Bruno was far too occupied with anger and frustration over the loss of the ring and his guitarist to think remotely positively. “It just seems like the Universe doesn’t want us to be together. You know what I think? I think God hates me.”
“No, E, I’m serious. I’m not even human, God didn’t make us, Satan did. I’m a product of Satan now, so God could give a flying fuck about how much I love the--” Bruno kicked the nearby table, sending it flying back into a wall, and causing Eric to quickly move out of the way. He looked down at his younger sibling, who had tears of blood in his eyes, his fists curled as he looked up at his older brother.
“God could give a flying fuck about how much I love the fuck out of that woman. About how much I would give for her.” His voice faltered as he continued, “I would die for her, man. And since she’s still a child of God, why doesn’t that count for anything?”
Eric gave his brother a hard look before he sat down on the couch. “It counts for everything, and God doesn’t hate you. Mom would kill you if she heard you talking like that.”
“I’m already dead.”
“Not as dead as Mom can make you when she’s upset, you know that.” Eric retorted. Bruno couldn’t help but to break into a small smile at the memory of his mother’s temper when he would get into trouble. “Now come on baby bro, vampire or not you’re never like this...you know damn well you had it harder than this when you were trying to make it. You had setback after setback, but did you let it stop you then?”
Bruno couldn’t argue. Again, his brother was right.
“Okay, so you’ve had to way too easy for the past few years, you need to get back into your hustle mindset. Kenji is gone, that problem is fixed as much as it can be for now. The ring is gone, well you have enough money to get another one, so let’s go get one.” Eric proposed, standing up.
“Don’t expect to ever hear this again; but, I love you E.” Bruno joined his brother as they left together.
“I love you too Bruno, I always got your back.”
“I don’t care what you say, beans and cornflakes in ice cream is nasty as hell.” Kam pushed away my cup of Pat Bing Soo. I laughed and tried to shove a spoonful in his mouth, but he ducked and it fell onto the floor.
“You’re so wasteful!” I scolded, eating a spoonful myself and chewing the pineapple bits. I used a napkin to pick up the dropped ice cream and I tossed it in the nearby trash can.
Kam frowned in disgust, “That’s nasty Roxy, ew I can’t even watch you eat that shit.” He turned away. I took the chance to hold the spoon out, and when he turned around, he got a mouthful of cornflakes and red beans and ice cream!
“EGGGGHHHH!” He covered his mouth, unable to spit it out since we were in the ice cream parlour together. I slapped his arm.
“Be respectful!” I whispered, looking around and smiling at the confused Japanese employees. He forced himself to swallow the concoction and then wiped his mouth.
“You know what?”
“Ain’t half bad, is it!” I laughed.
“It’s not!” He agreed. “Let me try some more.”
“Here.” I handed him my cup while we left together and walked down the city streets of Tokyo. He ate a couple spoonfuls as we walked. “Well damn, you gonna save some for me?”
Kam shook his head. “Nah, there’s fruit in here too and some chewy shit, I like this! Wait!” He grabbed my arm and I looked to see him staring up at the big, neon sign for the Billionaire Boys Club store.
“Seriously?” I lifted a brow and looked at him, but he was already halfway in the store. I followed him, with an eyeroll, and he finally handed me my half finished Pat Bing Soo, only so he could browse the expensive shirts and sneakers. “I have like...one shirt from this company and it cost me $130.” I said, glancing at a few items.
“These are hot.” He picked up a pair of sneakers and checked them out. “Aren’t these hot?”
“Those are ugly, Kam.” I crinkled my nose.
“Look at you, you don’t have swag anyway...up here looking like a Cheetah Girl.”
“You want a face full of cornflake bean ice cream?” I stepped to him and he backed up.
“Quit playing!” He laughed. I stepped again and he tripped over the nearby stool and almost fell, so I burst into raucous laughter. It looked so funny how he waved his arms all around to keep himself from falling, I had to hold myself up not to fall over completely!
Out the side of my eye, I caught a crowd beginning to form outside. As I caught my breath, I grew curious. “What’s going on out there?” I asked, heading over to the door.
“Is it a flash mob? I’ve always wanted to try that!”
“What the hell is a flash mob?” I looked up at Kam.
“You know, those things where everyone stands together and dances but nobody knows about it but the people involved...so the whole world is left looking stupid...like us.” He chuckled at our cluelessness as we ventured outside into the mass. I grabbed Kam’s hand and led him through the crowd, who were screaming unidentifiable things in Japanese.
“ROXANNE! ROXANNE!” One of them noticed me, and the rest of the crowd began to look around frantically for where the shouting was coming from and the mass literally began to go into a frenzy, separating all over the place. Suddenly, Kam pulled me away from the madness as much as he could, by putting me onto his back.
“BACK UP!” He yelled.
“IT’S KAM!” Another one yelled. While I was hoisted up on his back, I noticed Bruno in the midsts of the other crowd, but with the assistance of Dre to calm things down.
My heart dropped.
I thought he was supposed to be going over something with their new guitarist? All I saw was him, Eric and Dre; and he was carrying shopping bags, all smiles while people flashed pictures.
I wasn’t sure how...but we got to safety by way of the Billionaire Boys Club store. The employees rushed to lock the doors, which filled with flashing cameras and phones. Kam set me down gently.
I looked up at him, “Bruno’s not helping his guitarist, didn’t you see him out there?”
Kam’s face went blank. “What do you mean?” He sounded suspicious, like he had just been caught. Figures.
“You knew he wasn’t, didn’t you?!” I narrowed my eyes, “You were covering for him! Here I was, thinking you wanted to show me a good time and you were just helping him to get away from me!” I began to yell.
“No! Rox I had no idea he was out! He’s probably just getting something to eat!”
Tears welled up in my eyes, I rushed to the back of the store, away from the cameras and people. I couldn’t take this anymore, I was done. For real, I was done this time.