Out of sight, out of mind. Out of sight, out of mind.
She repeated it in her head like a mantra.
She booted up her laptop and stared blankly at the bright screen. She felt a sudden rush of paralysis and uncertainty.
What should I do? Keep trying to make a story about Mjolnir? Find another lead to chase? Look for more jobs?
Her eyes drifted to her recycling bin where yesterday’s mail sat, ready to discard. Including that cheque.
No, you can’t use that even if he didn’t attach any strings to it.
Helena dropped her elbows on the counter and placed her head into her hands. She didn't want to go anywhere near Torsten again. Really, she did, but knew it would go near the top of the Stupid-Decisions-Helena-has-Made list. Besides, Torsten would never talk to her again after running out like that, much less make her feel that good again.
That settles that, then
, she thought dejectedly as she opened her resume file.
A few hours later, the first light of sunrise peaked through the sky. Helena was so immersed in tailoring her resume and writing cover letters, that she didn't register the rumble of a motorcycle outside her apartment. Lots of kids in the neighborhood owned mopeds which she learned to tune out.
A loud, insistent knock on her door, shattering her silent bubble, made her jump a foot in the air.
BANG BANG BANG BANG! The knock came again like it was trying to go through the door.
Helena froze,her heart beating wildly in her chest, wondering if she should call the police. It was still early and she wasn't expecting anyone. There was no reason for someone to attempt breaking her door down.
Against her better judgment, she tiptoed to the door and leaned her ear against it. "What the fuck do you want?" she shouted, trying to sound assertive.
A low laugh penetrated through the heavy wood of the door. And then a disembodied voice said, "You."
Helena froze with fear. Her eyes darted around, trying to see in the dark foyer if she put her cell phone down somewhere near the door.
The low voice spoke again. "Helena, it's me, Torsten. I want to talk to you."
Helena's mouth dropped in an O of surprise, her heart continuing to thunder wildly, but no longer out of fear.
What the fuck? What's he doing here? He wants to come into my house? What the fuck, what the fuck?
"Talk about what?" she asked through the door.
"I'd rather not yell it outside your door for all your neighbors to hear, but if you insist. The way you moan my name is really-"
In a flash, Helena turned the lock on the door and opened it to his smug, grinning face.
Fuck, he looked good.
A black beanie pulled over his head against the early morning chill. It came to right above his eyebrows, making his blue eyes pop like icicles. His hands shoved into the pockets of a black leather jacket. She recognized it as the one from his locker. It made him look even bigger and more intimidating than normal. His typical ripped jeans and Doc Martens completed the bad boy rocker look. A sleek, black Harley motorcycle sat parked right outside her front stoop.
"... really hot." He completed his sentence in a much quieter voice. His grin got wider at her glare.
"I couldn't sleep, so I went for a ride. It's calming," he went on as if that explained what led him to her front door. "Are you going to let me in?"
Wordlessly, Helena stepped aside and pulled the door all the open. With one long stride, he was inside her house. She closed the door numbly behind him with a soft click.
Torsten looked more out of place in her home than a vegan at a butcher shop. His tall, commanding presence and aura of pure masculinity did not fit with her delicate, feminine decor. He eyed a glass vase of tiger lilies on her end table, and the flowers seemed to cower under his presence.
As if remembering his manners, he pulled the beanie off his head. His tousled hair did nothing to decrease his raw, masculine sex appeal. Rather, it increased it. He ran a hand through his hair to heighten the effect.
"So talk." Helena crossed her arms in front of her. No matter what he wanted, or what she wanted for that matter, she wouldn't allow herself to be seduced again.
A smile played on Torsten's lips again as he cocked his head at her.
"Why are you so hostile?" he asked inquisitively. "You ran away from me."
“I already told you,” she replied. “I’m not going to be that girl who’s fucked half of Mjolnir.”
Torsten shrugged his massive shoulders. “You can’t undo what’s already done, Helena.”
“No, but I can get far away and disassociate myself from you as best I can.”
Torsten gazed at her, saying nothing for a moment, his face expressionless. He smelled like fresh soap and rich leather. Despite his respectful distance from her, his scent invaded Helena’s senses as if he were right on top of her. She prayed he didn’t notice her nipples pebbling and her face growing hot.
“One thing I learned early in my career was to not give a fuck what anyone said or wrote about me,” he said matter-of-factly. “I suggest you do the same.”
“It’s not that easy. Actions have consequences,” she retorted.
“Yes, clearly. You could be sitting in a jail cell right now if I chose to report you for trespassing twice.”
Helena pressed her lips together in a tight line. He was right.
“So why didn’t you?”
One corner of his mouth lifted into a smirk. “I understand why you did it. If I were in your position, I might have done the same.”
“How the fuck could you possibly understand?” Helena felt her anger rising like a wave. She itched to slap that smug grin off his face. How could he have any idea of the hell she went through as her marriage spiraled downward?
“Because you’re not the only one he lied to.” His smile disappeared as he strode closer, closing the distance between them. “You’re not the only one he manipulated like a puppet.” He moved closer still until she felt the heat from his body igniting the heat between her legs, melting her core.
“Your heart isn’t the only one he shattered.” His breath from those words touched her lips, so close she could taste them. So close to a kiss.
“What do you mean?” she asked, barely above a whisper. She knew the truth deep inside, but she had to hear it from someone else.
“Where do I begin,” Torsten said with a dry laugh. “Lars was… very good at leading double lives. I knew him from a young age too, since we were thirteen.”
Helena looked at him in surprise. She knew they were close friends, but Lars never mentioned Torsten to her until they started Mjolnir.
“Circumstances led me to living with him and his family at that age. We were like brothers. His parents adopted me and treated me like their own. They were good people.”
Torsten looked away and cleared his throat before continuing. Helena kept her eyes glued to him. Talking about this was clearly difficult for him.
“Lars started off small, of course. He stole small amounts of money from his mother’s purse. He put on such a convincing act when she asked him about it. Then he moved on to stealing his dad’s watches and selling them for dope.” Torsten shook his head disapprovingly. “No one knows why he was such a bad seed. No one knew he was using hard drugs for years. I found his heroin stash in his room when we were sixteen.”
Helena swallowed a dry lump in her throat and closed her eyes. She’d been dating Lars for a year at that point.
“He said he just wanted to try it for the experience. The first time he overdosed at home, he was beyond apologetic. He seemed so scared of nearly dying, we were sure he’d never do it again.” Torsten rubbed his eyes. He suddenly seemed exhausted.
“It was like he had two personalities,” he continued. “He kept them so compartmentalized at first but slowly, they overlapped as time went on. As his addictions grew worse, he didn’t care as much about saving face anymore.”
“That was exactly what our relationship was like,” Helena breathed. “He was always so sweet but he never wanted me over, never wanted me to meet his family. He said it was because they were strict about him dating. After we got married, his drug use became more blatant until…” She waved her hand as if to say
the rest is history.
“Sometimes I wonder if anything he told me was truthful.”
“Now you know why I don’t have dead hookers and bricks of cocaine in my hotel suites.” Torsten’s smirk returned and Helena hated how much she liked it.
“Everything he said about you was a lie.” There. The words were out, no longer rattling around inside her head. She spent the past two days chasing blatant lies.
Torsten nodded. “You knew it all along.” A statement, not a question.
She sighed, feeling tired and yet lighter. The conversation knocked a heavy weight from her shoulders. “Deep down I knew, but I loved him so much. I wanted to believe there was a shred of good in him. Just a tiny part that cared about someone besides himself.”
“Me too,” Torsten said gravely. "I gave him too many chances."
"So did I," she replied softly. “I guess this is a form of closure.”
“The truth shall set you free.”
“Are you always so ominous?”
“I’m a songwriter, I have to be.”
A long silence passed between them. He remained standing so close to her, she could stand on tiptoe to reach his lips with hers.
Why are you thinking about that? This conversation we just had doesn’t change anything. Does it?
“Why did you come out here to tell me this?”
“For some reason,” he began in a low voice, pausing to glide icy cold fingers across her cheek. Every hair on her body stood on end but not from the cold. His skin on hers awoke every needing, hungering instinct in her body.
“I care about what you think of me. The whole world and the tabloids can fuck off but since I first saw you at my show, how hurt and angry you were, I wanted to do right by you.”
His hand slid across her cheek to wrap around the sensitive nape of her neck, just as he did in his hotel room, and drew her ever so slightly closer. Her vulva pulsed with the demand for those fingers inside her again.
“I always hated that Lars’ selfishness hurt innocent people. If I set the record straight with you, help you see him for what he really was, maybe I could take your pain away.”
Helena stood dumbfounded.
Does this heavy metal rock star really have a heart?
Torsten’s mouth suddenly pressed against her ear. Her mouth brushed his cheek and the stubble of his beard tickled her neck.
“I didn’t expect you to be so persistent and crafty,” he whispered hotly directly into her brain. “Nor did I expect you to taste so fucking good and talk so fucking dirty. Now that I’ve had you, Helena, I can’t get enough.”
Helena quivered like jello under his touch, helpless to his words. She couldn’t get enough of him either. The hours since leaving him last night crawled by torturously while he haunted her thoughts. But something still held her back.
I don’t know him at all.
He was a rich, famous musician who grew up with her ex and was good, no, amazing, at sex. Aside from that, she knew nothing about him.
“Why me?” she asked with a soft tremor in her voice. “You can have sex with literally anyone you want.”
Torsten pulled away from her ear to look in her eyes solemnly. "I don't want just sex.” His arrogant smirk returned at her surprised expression. "There’s another reason I’m here. I want to offer you a job."
"I’m sure you know our European tour starts next week. I'd like you to join us as our tour journalist and blogger. Since you're too proud to accept money when it falls in your lap."
Helena stared at him, not believing her ears.
"You'll be paid an excellent wage," Torsten went on. "I make sure all of our staff is generously compensated."
"So you'd be my boss?" Helena asked incredulously. An image of herself bent over an office desk with Torsten thrusting into her from behind popped into her head. She felt herself growing hot again. Such an inappropriate scenario only existed in porn films, not reality.
But Torsten just shrugged.
"Legally, technically, yes. But I leave everyone to their own devices, even the band. My policy is just show up and do your fucking job.” His face hardened. Helena could guess who he was referring to. “I don't care how you do it, or what you do outside of it, as long as it doesn't interfere with the job. As soon as it does, you're gone." Torsten cleared his throat. "There's another thing."
Helena arched an eyebrow suspiciously.
"Nothing to do with sex! I mean, not really," Torsten grinned. "While you're touring with us and documenting, you could... get to know us better. Get to know
"So that's what they're calling it these days," she scoffed.
"Not what I meant, dirty girl." Torsten touched his forehead to Helena’s and chuckled. She felt the vibration of his laugh from his chest, deep and sensual.
"Whatever, not going there," Helena muttered, embarrassed.
Tenderly, he wrapped his other hand around the nape of her neck. His fingers massaged her neck gently as his thumbs brushed the apples of her cheekbones and she nearly melted. How could he have this effect on her with such small, simple touches?
"I meant you could get to know us as people. You can get to know the real me," he told her softly. "Not this rock star bullshit. I know you don't care about that. That's why I'm... drawn to you."
Before Helena could respond, his mouth fell upon hers.
Kissing him was like a drink of water after a long trek in the desert. All her doubts faded away as his mouth caressed hers, his hands still supporting her neck while her palms pressed against his chest. Through his shirt, her fingers outlined the topography of his muscles, taut and sculpted under his skin. His heart pounded with a furious beat under her hand as he let out a small moan into her mouth.
His kisses filled her with warmth, comfort, and passion. They urged her to trust him, to give in to his offer and have the adventure of a lifetime traveling across the European continent. She’d even be employed! What did she have to lose?