His cell rang but, although he could hear it, the screen was too far gone, and he pressed the power button until the call vanished. Soon it would be out of power and he could push it away in the back of a drawer.
Which was when his second cell rang.
He reached for it on the sofa table and looked at the screen. The battery was low—he never remembered to charge the damn thing—but it was probably enough to answer. He pressed to connect and braced himself for more bad news.
“What?” he asked. No point in niceties, his agent was one of those people who didn’t put much store on the polite side of conversations. To the point, like a knife to the heart, Zee Childs was a hurricane in a tiny handset.
“Jesus, CJ, answer your fricking phone,” she snapped heatedly. “I left ten messages.”
“My primary cell broke,” Cody explained, but didn’t add where he’d been for the last two days since said break. Zee was a good agent, a friend even, for she’d stayed by his side, but if she had one tiny inkling he’d been hurt she’d be at his front door. Not to mention that she’d probably bring a news crew with her to capitalize on the drama of it all. Never let it be said that Zee Childs didn’t know how to make a drama out of nothing to sell records.
“Get it fixed,” she snapped, “’cause, dammit, I have news.”
Cody sighed. More news. More hate mail, more threats, more lawsuits? What could top the bad news of a few days back, the news that had had him swallowing a tumbler of vodka like it would make everything better?
“What the fuck now?” he snapped.
Zee tutted loudly. “Stow the bad-boy attitude; this is good news for once. I have two stations in a bidding war to get you on their sofas and talk.”
Cody could imagine Zee, wild blond hair in a frizzy mess around her head, her expression permanently enthusiastic, like a perky poodle, holding out a hand in a placating gesture. But imagining her didn’t make the idea she was spouting any better.
“Cody, my name is Cody. CJ is long gone.”
“Jesus fricking… CJ, Cody, whatever the frickin’ hell you’re calling yourself, it’s a hundred thousand just to come in and talk.”
“Okay, I could get them to one twenty-five.”
“What is it you don’t understand about no, Zee? The show would want me to tell them everything, they’d want their money’s worth, and they’re not paying that much money for me to sit and look pretty. I’m sorry, but everyone’s had their pound of flesh, and I’m done. I told you that.”
“People want your side of the story.”
My side of the story? People weren’t ready for his side of the story. She was still talking and he tried to catch up with what she was saying.
“…and then it all went to hell, and the money followed. Cody, look babe, Danny wants to talk to you.”
Cody highly doubted his ex-best friend wanted anything to do with him, not after Cody’s breakdown and the fact he’d left the band. Last time they’d actually met, in the middle of a restaurant, had ended up with Cody on the floor staring at the ceiling, his lip split and Danny cursing at him before turning and leaving.
Every time they met after that was with lawyers between them, hashing out how little of the band Cody was entitled to after he decided to leave. He’d wanted nothing but Zee fought for him, told him he should get something.
And all that time his bandmates, Danny, Sam, Zach, and Tyler, they’d looked at him with emotions ranging from pity to anger.
Hell, what did they want? He’d let them use the lyrics he’d written.
The pressure of being in the band, of working twenty-hour days for something he didn’t enjoy, for having to live a life in the public eye, was all too much.
But Danny, he missed Danny like a lost limb.
Now he was numb to it all. For the longest time after they’d fought, he’d turn to tell Danny something, or pick up his phone to contact him, but after one attempt at reconciliation at one of the lawyer meetings, he’d backed off. Danny’s anger and dismissal was the worst one of all.
Leah had died, and then the public falling out between him and Danny had served to intensify the pressure. It had been his fault. All his fault.
Fuck. I can’t do this again.