“Jada, honey, can we please just—”
Reese Matheson had been arguing with his girl and banging on the front door of his condo for twenty minutes, and it seemed she’d finally gone ahead with her threats.
Reese flew down the steps and around their unit to the pool in time to see his photo album plummet over the railing of their balcony and into the deep end to join his surfboard.
Reese focused on his family pictures, quickly sinking to the bottom. He climbed over the iron fence that surrounded the pool, dove in fully clothed, and swam frantically to collect his precious photos. As he surfaced he could practically see the fire in Jada’s eyes as she hurled a stack of his songbooks over the rail.
“You love those books more than anything! Now you can swim with them.”
On and on it went. She continued to clear the bookshelves of his irreplaceable music collection. He halfheartedly begged her to stop. She tossed them over into the pool. He rescued them. A crowd formed. Paparazzi snapped pictures…. Suddenly Reese knew exactly why this was happening.
The London photos.
“Jada, please. Can we—”
“We most certainly cannot! We’re through! You can pick up your shit and get out! You want to go traipsing around the world, having fun without me, hanging all over people? I’m too young to be sitting here cooped up!”
Reese snorted. The drama was too much. “Oh, please. You’re older than me.”
That did it. She squealed and disappeared from his sight only long enough to run back in and grab the pièce de résistance—his Tony.
“No, Jada. Please!”
The hunk of matter of which he was the most proud sailed effortlessly through the air. It landed in the water a foot out of Reese’s long reach. He dove after the heavy statue and surfaced in time to see his ex-girlfriend’s sorrow-filled gaze. She slammed the sliding door shut so hard that he was shocked the sound of breaking glass didn’t echo through the complex.
“Señor Matheson. Oh, I’ll help you.”
The little old man who tended the grounds took the statue from Reese and held out a hand to help him out of the water. A pile of soggy books lay at his feet—books that chronicled his brief but unbelievably successful music career. He’d gone from jam-band singer, to songwriter for a pop princess, to her tour mate, to singing a pair of smash-hit singles, to landing a movie soundtrack, and finally, co-writing a Broadway musical with his longtime friend and collaborator, Toby Griffiths. It was that last endeavor that earned them the coveted award.
Reese should be celebrating the end of their London run, not rescuing his memories from a saltwater pool. But if he stopped to really think about it, all the warning signs of impending disaster were there—no cute selfie texts recently and complete radio silence over the past week. Apparently she’d been building up to a blowout for seven whole days, during which every television, tabloid, and internet service had plastered his face and that of the lead in his show, Ethan Bradley, all over the planet. He couldn’t totally blame her. She was concerned with appearances, and appearing to be someone’s beard didn’t appeal to her, even if she knew it wasn’t true.
Reese slowly gathered up his belongings and, with the help of Enrique, loaded them all into his Tesla Model X. He tried to give the man soggy money from his wallet to say thank you, but the sweet guy refused it.
So now what? The condo was leased in his name, and he’d been paying all of their bills for the last two years, but he didn’t have it in him to fight anymore. He’d rushed home to drop off his stuff as soon as his flight landed and then planned to go directly to see his beloved grandfather, with or without Jada. Now he needed a new plan, one that involved dry clothes. He turned on the car and pointed it in the direction of the cottage he’d bought for Grandpa on the beach in the gorgeous Southern California town of Malibu. The little two-bedroom house had beach access and was perfect for Reese’s passion for surfing. The thought of working off his frustrations by riding some choice waves appealed to him. The whole setup appealed to him.
That was it. Since Jada had made the decision for him, he would move in with Grandpa. He’d already taken an indefinite hiatus to spend time with the old man. Now he’d be right across the hall.
The catch was that the place had only two bedrooms, and the other room was currently occupied by the caregiver Reese had hired for Grandpa, Jude De La Torre. The old man had suffered a series of minor strokes and then was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just over two years prior. He was sure Jude would understand. Reese was determined to have quality time with his grandfather before he’d have to make some difficult decisions. No time like the present. His heart felt considerably lighter as he drove toward his next adventure.