It was little more than ten minutes after Jaxxon and Connor’s session of morning sex – their last ever morning sex, she couldn’t help but note – was over that she heard her phone ringing. Once upright in bed she answered, “Hello.” She swatted the hand that reached around from behind her and cupped her breast.
“I’ve checked your flight details,” said Ollie, “and everything’s on schedule, no delays.”
“The boys still with you?”
Was she being paranoid or did he not sound his usual self? “Yeah, they’ve managed to get themselves on the same flight as us.”
“If Anna wants Warren to take her home from the airport that’s fine but I’ll be picking you up.” It was completely non-negotiable, his tone told her.
“Hang on a minute, what’s with all this abruptness?”
He hesitated, as if debating how much to say. “It’s just important that I speak to you before you go back to your apartment.”
“What? Why?” She stood up sharply, bracing herself for whatever impact was to come.
“Just trust me, alright. It’s important I speak to you first.”
“Not good enough.”
“I’ll be waiting at the end of the terminal, don’t dawdle.”
“For Christ’s sake, Ollie, what aren’t you telling me?” But he was gone. Pacing the room, she dialed his number but his phone was now switched off. As was Richie’s. As was Tony’s. “The bastards.”
“What’s wrong?” It was the third time Connor had asked her yet still he got no response. Rising from the bed he approached her and seized her gaze. “Who are bastards and why are they bastards?”
She exhaled slowly, hoping to calm herself. “Basically Ollie doesn’t want me going back to my apartment until he’s seen me. He said he’s picking me up from the airport. Something’s wrong, I could tell by his voice, but he won’t tell me. Conveniently, his, Richie and Tony’s phones are currently unavailable.”
He wanted to tell her it was probably nothing but the fact that no one was willing to tell her anything until they were face-to-face with her didn’t sound good. Before he could say another word she was dragging out her suitcase and slinging her belongings inside. He tried to calm her down, as did Anna, but their efforts were futile. Connor wasn’t surprised. He suspected that Jaxx would be fine if she knew what had happened. Sure she’d be swearing and cursing all over the place but she would be alright. It was that she didn’t know what was wrong that had her like this; she couldn’t deal with it because she had no idea what she was supposed to have to deal with. The not knowing was cracking her up and leaving her the space to imagine all kinds of things.
As such, neither he nor Anna nor Warren had been able to offer her any words that would reassure her. Her uptight, nervous mood stayed with her which brought her problems while going through airport security. Connor was thankful that the guards were more amused than offended during the brief body search when she told them to get their grubby hands off her or they’d each lose a bollock. Her mood also earned her anxious looks from other passengers. If they hadn’t recognised her as a celebrity they might have mistaken her for a suicide bomber or something.
When they finally reached the end of the terminal at Heathrow airport Connor half-expected her to launch herself at Ollie and throttle him going by the murderous expression she was wearing. Clearly Ollie was just as worried because he immediately raised his hands in a placatory gesture. It didn’t help him.
“You bastard,” she hissed when she neared him.
“Shhhh, let’s go somewhere private,” urged Ollie.
“Oh not a sodding chance,” she whispered abrasively. “Either you tell me right now what’s been going on or we’ll be testing how well you can balance on one bloody leg because I’ll have snapped the other one.”
He sighed. “Someone broke into your place last night, trashed it and scrawled words all over the walls in corn syrup – obviously hoping it would look like blood, which it did.”
Anna gasped. Warren said ‘You’re joking’. Connor let loose a string of curses. Jaxxon just stared at Ollie.
Ollie saw the question in Jaxxon’s eyes. “Mostly ‘Die Bitch’.”
Why Anna and Ollie thought they could talk her out of this, Jaxxon had absolutely no idea. Connor hadn’t even tried; he knew that she was the type of person who didn’t shrink away from the bad stuff but faced it and then took it on the chin. That was how she got passed it.
Ollie made one last ditch effort to reach Jaxxon. “Luv, I promise I’ll tell you every single detail, I won’t leave anything out. You don’t need to do this.” He didn’t want her to; there was a big difference between knowing someone had invaded and wrecked your own personal space and seeing that defacement for yourself. Even though he had been prepared for the scene by Lily – who had let herself into Jaxxon’s apartment to leave her some milk and bread and other little bits for when she got back the next morning – the mess had knocked him for six. Hell, it had enraged him and it wasn’t even his apartment. She hadn’t yet spoken another word since he revealed what had happened. A swearing, pissed off Jaxxon he could deal with. But this hard, mute, unreachable version of her he didn’t know how to handle.
Her focus still on confronting this, Jaxxon held her hand out to Ollie for the key of the new lock he had fitted on the door. When he gave it to her with a sigh she unlocked it and gave it a hard shove, making it swing open. The smell hit her first. Cracked eggs and stale milk and other such crap – once contents of her fridge now decorating her carpet. She might have gagged if she hadn’t been prepared for it. Plenty of times she had got back to her old flat to be greeted by foul odours; sometimes it was the smell of the blood of whoever broke inside, cutting themselves on the door or window in the process. Sometimes the sick buggers would even leave her a present by using the middle of her living room carpet as a toilet. So the smells she could overlook. Being no stranger to damaged belongings, she could even overlook the smashed vases and lamps and kitchen ware, could overlook the strewn of clothes that seemed to cover the floor of every room. Could overlook the overturned couch and mattress and could shrug at the rolls of toilet paper that were scattered everywhere like garlands. It was the words smeared repeatedly all over her walls that snagged her attention:
‘Bitch’, ‘Slag’, ‘Slut’, ‘Die Bitch’.
“How do you know it’s not blood?” Warren asked Ollie as he put a gentle, comforting hand on Anna’s shoulder. Warren thought she was more unsettled than even Jaxxon who looked more curious than anything else. Oh she was enraged, there was no denying that. But there was no fear there to be seen on her face.
“Don’t forget I have plenty of scientists and lab technicians working for me. It was easy enough to get them to test it.”
“Why didn’t Lily phone the police?” asked Anna. “You said in the car that the police haven’t seen this yet and that’s why the papers haven’t got hold of it.”
Ollie sighed. “I asked her not to. I don’t think we should get the police involved.”
“What? How can you say that? Look around you. Whoever did this was sick.”
“And cowardly,” muttered Jaxxon.
Anna double-blinked. “Cowardly?”
Jaxxon turned to her. “Did they have the bottle to come and say any of this to my face? No. Did they leave a signature? No. There’s nothing big and bad about breaking into someone’s place, making a mess and then running off so it doesn’t exactly strike fear into my heart. Same as with the letter.”
“Letter?” said Connor, Anna and Ollie.
“Last Sunday someone stuck an envelope under my window-wiper. Inside was a piece of paper that said ‘Die Bitch’.” And in her opinion, it was too much of a confidence for it not to be the same person who did this to her apartment.
“What?” demanded Connor, Anna and Ollie.
“Will you all stop talking at the same time, it’s freaky.”
“You got a threatening letter and didn’t think to say anything?” Connor wanted to throttle her. “Where is it?”
“I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘threatening’. Besides, it was just a little note. I binned it straight away. Come on, celebs must get things like that happening all the time.”
“Indeed they do,” confirmed Ollie with a sigh. “So we can assume they also did this.”
Warren nodded. “And that she has a stalker.”
Connor frowned, skeptical. “A stalker who doesn’t make themselves known until she buggers off on holiday?”
“Maybe he missed her.”
“I know stalkers are, normally, stealthy but they do like for their existence to be acknowledged by who they’re stalking. I’m pretty sure Jaxx would have picked up on someone following her around.” The twist of her lips and the way she dropped her eyes bothered him. “Jaxx?”
She scratched her head. “A couple of times I did get this feeling like I was being watched.”
“Could have just been the paparazzi,” said Warren.
“I know. But this was different…it didn’t feel right.”
Connor resisted the urge to growl. “Jaxx, when did this happen?”
“Sometimes I’d feel it just as I was going into or leaving my apartment building. Other times it’s been when I was out shopping or walking Bronty.”
“And it didn’t occur to you to tell me?”
“Exactly what could you have done? Besides, it doesn’t have to mean anything. Being glared at and being stalked are two different things. I’m not even saying that if someone was watching me that they had anything to do with this or the stupid note.”
Anna ran a hand through her hair in a movement that screamed ‘stressed out’. “We have to phone the police, they can look for fingerprints and stuff.”
Ollie sighed. “There are plenty of nutcases out there, Anna, and plenty of them fixate on someone, often a celebrity, and do crap like this. What they want is to scare, distress and unsettle that person, to get themselves some attention. It makes them feel good, clever, and powerful. A reaction of any kind only encourages them to continue. The way I like to handle things is to clean up the mess discretely and quickly and then keep quiet about it. The trick is not to give the nutcase what they want.”
“I’m sorry but I don’t see the logic in annoying a nutcase.”
“When they realise they haven’t got themselves a reaction or any attention they’ll get bored and stop.”
“I’ve seen it happen. Look, it’s uncommon for stalkers of celebs to be violent toward them. Having said that, I still think Jaxxon should stay elsewhere for a while.”
“No one’s scaring me out of my apartment,” Jaxxon insisted sharply.
Ollie appealed to her with his eyes. “Be smart, not stubborn.”
“This isn’t about being stubborn, it’s the principle of -”
“Luv, you’ll be leaving for the tour in a week, your lease ends then. Will it really make that much difference to you to leave the apartment a week early? Besides, the cleaning job will take at least two days.”
“He’s right.” Connor stood in front of her. “I’m not saying you need to run and hide. I’m saying you don’t give this person the satisfaction of getting near you. Make it hard for them.”
Jaxxon could see where Connor’s thoughts had led him. “It wasn’t Anita.”
“You think it’s a coincidence that while me and you are away together this happens?”
Ollie frowned. “Who’s Anita?”
“Oscar Award Winning Actress Anita Donovan,” elaborated Anna. “I agree with Connor, Jaxxon, it’s not looking good for Anita that while the tabloids are printing photos of you and him looking all cozy -”
“Hold on a minute,” interrupted Ollie. “What reason would she have to do this?”
“She didn’t take it well when I ended things with her,” said Connor.
“I’ll bet she didn’t, you’re not known for your sensitivity.”
“It’s hard to be sensitive to someone who was planning to get pregnant with your kid to try to trap you into marrying them.”
“Still, why mess up Jaxxon’s apartment, why not yours?”
“Anita came to see Jaxx a few days ago and fed her some crap about being pregnant, hoping it would make her back off. Instead Jaxx slammed the door in her face. I don’t think Anita did this in a rage, I think she did it as part of a game; wanting to scare her.”
“That makes sense,” said Warren. “That’s the type of thing she’d get a kick out of. Phone Dane and ask if she was out last night.”
Ollie waved his hand. “We’ll look more into who’s responsible once we’ve sorted out what we’re doing next. I still say we don’t involve the police -”
“I say we do,” Anna spat.
“- or we’d be giving this nutcase what they want.”
“That’s better than winding up said nutcase.”
“Ollie’s right,” sighed Jaxxon. “Phoning the police will show that all this got to me and give this arsehole all the satisfaction they’re hoping for. And seen as I can’t do what I really want which is to pound their face into the ground, I’ll have to settle for cheesing them off.”