Chapter 4

The King

He lazily motioned for her to come close. She obeyed. After several times of him having to repeat himself, Nora got the message. He was not in the mood to negotiate nor was he ever going to let that Irish mongrel get away with destroying his life. Robbie concluded that Nora and her dog could go fuck themselves.

Nora chewed on her nail and searched out the window and back through the room. Robbie was but a bump underneath the thin bed covers. His left arm, fractured in four places, lay listlessly wrapped in a cast. The whites of his eyes swelled to a deep crimson. Resembling a teenager sentenced to years of wearing headgear, Robbie tried to catch his breath. According to the police, his busted up lungs and larynx, were most likely stomped out by some heavy-duty work boots. He wheezed and glared at Nora. She tossed a curl out of her lightly bruised eye and faced him.

She asked, “What do you want, Robbie?”

“Him dead,” he managed.

Robbie, with his good hand, picked at the sutures in his face and slowly closed his red eyes. Standing over him watching the life saving machines beep and click reminded her how far he had gone. Though Ian had many faults, she thought, lying was not one of them. His rage was never a secret. She had watched him attack her fiancé one minute then in the next slide his hand up her dress. She had watched his large calloused hands bring her face down to the stone cold tiles. Her pleading for him to let go of the hair being ripped from her head became quite normal.

Avoiding Robbie’s stare, she searched the end table for a distraction. Her distraction was a small notepad. Its tattered pages dangled nervously from their metal coil. She carefully tried to reattach the broken paper hooks around the metal coil. This futile effort was finally resolved by wrapping a rubber band about the notepad. Nora set it down on the hospital end table. Robbie tried speaking again but growing tired, his shattered jaw prevented him from doing so. He grabbed the notepad and ripped the rubber band from it. Nora handed him a Bic pen. Snatching it from her, he quickly scribbled something and then threw the pen and pad back at her.

She ignored his tantrum and read it, “Why are you still here?”

Nora bent over to retrieve the Bic pen. With his good arm, Robbie pounded his fist on the end table.

She stammered, “You don’t want him dead. I beg you, I’ll do whatever you want.”

Unable to turn his head to face her, he waved at her. She sat on the bed and faced the tiny bump. The machines continued to beep and click over him. He had diminished in size, she thought to herself. If she could turn back time, she would have never let Sara talk her into going to see his sold out show at Madison Square Garden. Although Nora was only slightly familiar with the notorious Robbie Johns, it was hard to turn down the free tickets and back stage access. With backstage access she thought she could convince the young pop star that in her clothing designs he would become the style maven of the pop world. Since coming to New York, two years ago, she enjoyed moderate success selling her designs to the Eva St. Clair fashion house and H&M. Dressing the stars, as Sara referred to it, was Nora’s dream.

She accepted his invitation to meet him at his hotel. Nora called a cab at one in the morning and directed it to the Four Seasons. He met her in the lobby. He was casually dressed, a little haggard and cute. Robbie, at 27, was either blessed or cursed with a baby face, which he used to acquire a multi-million dollar empire. Out of Sheffield, England, the young lad fronted the world’s biggest band, Dirty Herberts. Their loud mix of British pop, punk, and rock and roll had conquered England and the continent while most of the band members were still in their teens. What gained them fame and fortune in the States however, was Robbie’s powerful vocals, clever songwriting and tabloid exploits.

“I’ve been touring since I was 17,” he explained to Nora in the Four Season’s bar, “So my penchant for reality is fucked.”

Nora laughed and waited patiently for the conversation to turn to her. It never did.

“I don’t know why I called you, I mean, I can have any slag I wish. Shit, I could probably fuck the Duchess of Cambridge! But I wanted you.” His fingers stroked her cheek then meandered around her neck.

“You’re stunning,” he confessed, “Let’s go.”

He stood, finished his drink and put out his hand for her. She accepted it and walked up to his room.

He climbed off of her panting. Nora sat up and fixed her hair then climbed out of bed.

“Are you leaving?” he asked.

“It’s late,” she said searching for her Jimmy Choo shoes.

Robbie found her shoes and held them above his head.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“You go when I say you go,” he stated.

“Robbie, I’ll leave without my shoes, I get samples all the time.”

She turned from him threw her wrap on and headed towards the door. Behind her, she heard her heels hit the ground and Robbie’s bare feet running at her.

“Don’t!” he ordered, “I don’t want you to go.”

“I have to get out of here while it’s still dark,” she offered cryptically.

Grabbing her by her waist, he pulled her to him.

“Fuck your fiancé, and stay with me, just for tonight,” he practically begged.

“But you could have anyone you want, huh? Kate Middleton?” Nora teased him.

“Nah, you got better tits,” he recovered himself and pinched her breast.

He continued, “You know the media has waged a war between me and your future husband.”

She laughed, “Yes, it’s all very silly. Although, it is a close race between you two, Jackson’s show at the Garden was sold out as well.”

“Merchandise,” he interrupted, “We’ll sell more and that will cinch it for us.”

“You really take this seriously,” she said.

“I take my money very seriously,” he replied.

Nora kissed his cheek then attempted to leave. Robbie still holding onto her wrapped his mouth around hers and started removing her clothes.

“Robbie please don’t, I have a presentation this morning,” she lied.

She made it up as she went along.  She was meeting with Eva St. Clair to go over fresh ideas for a new clothing line for men. Nora fabricated that she wanted to reinvent a suit that men would want to wear, men from all walks of life. Microsoft boardrooms would want to don casual and comfortable suits over their typical uniform, blue jeans and blue jean shirts.

“But I’m coming up short for a guinea pig,” she glanced at his large brown eyes.

“What about me?” He suggested.

Nora stepped back from him and pretended to size him up. She circled him, arms crossed while holding her finger to her chin as if deep in thought.

“You’re small, that might deter the larger boys – I don’t know, maybe. My friend Paulie really wants in,” she lied again.

“Paulie is a nobody. If you want your fashion to be known put it on me,” he said.

Robbie quickly ran to his suitcase and pulled out a brown casual jacket. He held it up.

“This fucking jacket, I wore throughout my tour last year. Next thing I know, Italian Vogue is chattin’ me up about what I have in my closet and where did I get that jacket. It was ridiculous. I came home for a few weeks and was staying with my parents and I shit you not, my dad was wearing the knock-off.”

Nora slipped on her shoes and opened the door.

“I’ll think about it Robbie. It was nice to meet you,” she shut the door behind her and quickly ran down the hall.

Nora touched Robbie’s good hand and felt him squeeze her back. She tried to get up from the bed but Robbie held onto her hand. She sat down on the bed, looked into his blood shot eyes and tried to plead.

Robbie, surprisingly, spoke clearly but very slowly, “You know what I want.”

He held her hand tightly not allowing her to leave.