CHAPTER THIRTY THREE
“Right. We’re all aware of why we’re here,” the manager said as he tidied the files upon his desk and cleared a space in front of him.
“Yeah, some twisted fucker won’t leave Brian alone!” Nick snapped. “And if I ever get my hands on the shi - ”
“Nick,” Kevin said. “We’re all upset about this, but we need to keep our heads.”
Nick glared at Kevin sulkily and then sunk back into his seat. “I’m just worried about Brian, that’s all.”
“I’m okay,” Brian said softly, causing everybody to stare at him. He had hardly spoke a word since he had arrived at the office for the meeting with their management.
“Brian, what you found in your house was sick!” Nick said. “How can you be so calm about all of this?”
“What else am I supposed to do, lose my mind?” Brian shot back angrily. He didn’t need Nick to tell him it was sick, he knew what it was and he didn’t need the reminder. It had taken hours for him to even stop shaking and even now he could still smell the nauseating stench of the dead body.
“Brian.” Kevin placed a hand on his cousin’s arm. “He’s worried and angry about what happened. We all are.”
“You don’t deserve this,” AJ added.
‘Yes I do. I’m a murderer.’
Nick ran a hand through his blond locks and wiped his face with the back of his hand. “I’m sorry Brian. I don’t mean to get at you. You’ve been through so much already. I’m just worried…”
Brian sighed and held his face in both hands for a second as if he could wipe away the feelings inside of him and the thoughts and unnatural images that swirled about his mind. Blood. He could almost swear he could see the blood upon the reflection of the table…
“It’s okay Nick.”
Nick nodded and weakly smiled at him. He was suffering almost as much as Brian having been as shaken up as he by the appearance of a body. None of them felt comfortable. Brian’s stalker now turned out to have a set of house keys, no doubt copies from the ones he had posted to Kevin.
Brian was sure as hell going to change the locks before anymore grisly gifts could be left for him.
“What do you guys want to do about your tour? You’re due back on stage in three days. Do you want to go ahead? Just bear in mind that it will cost you if you decide to cancel,” their manager said, his hands clasped upon the surface of the table.
“Money isn’t a worry for us, but our safety is, especially Brian’s,” Kevin replied.
“Would cancelling solve any problems? Surely it’s safer for Brian to eb on tour and moving about the country with security than it is for him to be stuck in one place,” Nick said.
“Yeah, but security didn’t stop AJ from being stabbed,” Howie pointed out. “And we have no idea who is doing all of this.”
“But one thing we know is that Brian seems to be the main target and from the threat he received, we can assume that he is in danger,” Kevin said.
Brian was not sure how he could stay looking so calm while the conversation went on ahead about him and the danger he was in. The only way he could prevent himself from releasing the screaming that was inside of him was if he pretended that they were not talking about him. He sat with his chair a little further back than everybody else’s and acted as if they were discussing someone he did not even know…
If only all of this had happened to someone else. Bad things always happen to other people and you never expect them to come crashing down upon your own normal life…
“How do we know security will be able to take care of us all?” AJ said, leaning forward. “If we go back on tour, everything has to be perfect.”
“We’re not going AJ,” Kevin said. “It’s too dangerous for Brian.”
“Kev, it’s gonna be even more dangerous if he stays put somewhere because he’ll be easier to find!”
“Why don’t we ask Brian’s opinion on this matter,” their manager said, putting up a hand before an argument could begin.
All eyes swivelled around to Brian who still sat quietly apart from the entire discussion. They all seemed to have completely forgotten that he was there. He gulped slightly and felt irrationally nervous at all of the attention. He hated it when people stared at him nowadays, it made him think of the mysterious person who always seemed to know what he was going to do next. If only he knew them as well as they knew him…
He was missing something. It had to be somebody he knew… How else could they so successfully elude the police and all their searches?
He cleared his throat slightly. “I think we should go back on tour,” he said, feeling a sticky bead of sweat forming on his brow at the intense stares.
He had become a complete mess now and it made him want to cry as he realised how unstable he had become. He hated anybody who looked at him, he couldn’t walk into a room feeling safe unless somebody was with him… and he couldn’t even sleep at night without awakening from horrific nightmares full of death and blood that brought him screaming back into consciousness. He was like a child now. A child frightened of the monsters… but these monsters were real and no part of the imagination.
He watched Kevin’s mouth almost fall to the ground. “What?”
“Brian, are you sure?” Howie asked.
“Yes,” Brian replied firmly. He did not dare try to make the sentence any longer in case his voice began to tremble and betray the deep nervousness and paranoia that now seemed to be melded in with his soul.
“You’re not well,” Kevin said, finally finding the rest of his voice. “You don’t need concerts and shows!”
“I – I want something to take my mind off of this.” Damn, he was stuttering his sentences. He cleared his throat and his hands clasped about each other in his lap. “I don’t want my stalker to win by ruining everything. We’ve worked hard for this tour.”
Kevin stared at him in disbelief. “But - ”
“I don’t want to stay at home.” He doubted if he could ever cope with returning to his own home now that so many bad memories haunted its rooms. “And AJ’s right. It will be safer on tour.” How could somebody find him? Security at shows would be tighter and by the time they discovered what hotel he was staying it, they would have moved on to the next town.
“You really believe that?” Kevin asked.
“Security will be exceedingly tight,” their managed said reassuringly. He ran a hand through his dark hair, his face still looking a little concerned despite his words. “I’ll hire more guards for the bigger arenas and everyone will be back ground checked. All of the crew so far have been checked with no problems and we’ll check anybody else who is hired.”
Nick’s eyes stared into Brian’s face for a second and then he leant over the table to press his hand against his shoulder. “Brian, are you sure about this? Don’t just do what you think is best for the fans or anybody like that. Do what’s best for you.”
Brian forced himself to smile even though his imagination was conjuring up a dead body to lie on the table like it had lain upon his bed. He didn’t want to be a head case anymore, but he could feel his mind jellifying more with fear every day. He needed something to prevent him from sitting around and waiting for his stalker to complete his promise.
He nodded slowly and prayed that it wouldn’t be a mistake. He glanced back up at their manager. “Extra security though. I - I don’t want anything to go wrong.” The stutter was back and his trembling lip only served to show his fear. Was this such a good idea, or would there be dangerous effects for his friends?
“Nothing will happen again,” Nick said gently. “I’ll take care you.”
“Yeah, what you gonna do if someone pulls a gun out?” Kevin asked sarcastically. “Brian, this is too dangerous. We don’t know who this person is or what they’re planning.”
“The police are going to be present at every venue,” the manager said. “I’ve spoken with Peters, I believe you’re familiar with him Brian, and he’s going to have a heavy police present at the shows so that should deter any unwelcome guests.”
“I’m still not sure about this,” Howie said carefully. “I know you want everything to go ahead, Brian, but is this sensible?”
“Either this or I sit at home and wait for my stalker to find me,” Brian replied. “I don’t want whoever it is to win.”
And he would find him if he stayed at home. He would be watching and waiting until Brian was all alone before he moved in for the kill.
“How about this,” the manager said. “I’ll reschedule the dates and I’ll change the order of the venues we’d planned for. If this freak has a list of the old dates, then he’ll be confused. Personally, I don’t think they’ll bother traipsing about the country after you.”
“They went to Kentucky after him,” Kevin pointed out.
Was he determined to freak Brian out completely? It did not help him that his cousin was obsessed with finding flaws in everything. Brian wanted his life back and he would only get it by taking a risk and going back on tour.
“Because they knew he would be staying there for at least a week,” Nick replied. “Kev, it will be okay.”
“What are you, psychic all of a sudden?”
Nick’s eyes narrowed at the tone of Kevin’s voice but he bit his lip to prevent himself from retaliating and leaned back against his seat.
“Kevin, I want to go,” Brian said. ‘I want my life.’
Touring and doing his job was the only thing that could keep his mind away from the horrifying images of the dead body. It plagued him every second of every day.
He was a killer. A murderer.
He was surprised that the police had not arrested him over it all. If it wasn’t for the drug stand up, the notes and the threats then Brian was certain that he would be in prison.
The forensics had found a small knife wound to Liam’s heart and Brian knew that he was the culprit. What Brian knew he had not caused was the dozens of other stab wounds which had been inflicted by the same knife used to pin down the threat to the table. They’d taken finger prints from the weapon and from all over Brian’s house, but the confusing thing was that they all seemed to come from Liam. It was a mystery and it made Brian panic even more. His person knew how to hide themselves.
Peter struck it off as self-defense and there wouldn’t even be a trial. Brian was grateful of course, but he couldn’t help feeling ashamed and sick with guilt. It didn’t matter how evil Liam had been or how much misery he had caused, did he really deserve death himself? Right now, there was probably somebody crying for the loss of their relative or friend. Had Liam even had a family? Maybe he had become so bad because he’d had no one as loving as Brian’s own parents and brother.
He shuddered slightly and his heart ached inside of him as he thought of his brother. He had called home last night to check up on him and had almost cried with relief when his mother told him that Harry would be home soon.
He should never have left them, but he was frightened for their safety. At least on tour the boys would have countless security guards that were not really convenient for family life.
“You’re sure about this?” Kevin said.
Brian nodded and took a deep breath. “When do we start?”
There was no turning back now.