Fiction

Worlds Apart 

By: Sheila Henry

I believe I may have found the man, who can change my life in many ways. I look forward to experiencing him, Apple thought as she sat on the vanity gazing longingly at her image in the mirror.  It’s been a long time since I was in a relationship. I feel ready now. It’s time. It’s been ten years.

She was thinking of her meeting with the handsome Peter Kingston, the romance writer, who she met the night before. She had almost forgotten what it felt like to be wrapped up in the arms of someone you love. She missed what being in love felt like. As she sat looking at herself, reminiscing, she felt a chill run through her body. Oh, Stephan, my darling! She thought. Please forgive me.

Coming back to the present, she smiled as she anxiously awaited a call or visit from Peter. She hoped to get his response to her offer they discussed last evening. She offered him a generous position to be on her team as a travel companion and collaborating songwriter. But she also hoped for more.

Jaden Lisbeth Goldstein was Apple’s birth name. She never liked the name. Her parents named all five of their children names starting with the letter “J”. All through primary school, the kids teased her. They said she had a boy’s name, so she must be a boy. At an early age, she vowed she would change her name as soon as she became famous. 

Jaden knew she wanted to be a singer/performer since she was about age three. For as long as she could remember, she sang front and center at every family gathering. She was a precocious little girl, and she was not shy. When she turned fifteen, she felt it was time to let the family know her intentions. She took the opportunity one Sunday as they ate lunch in the formal dining room.  “Excuse me please, mom and dad, I have something to say. May I?” She announced. 

“What is it, Jaden? Her mom asked. “I have decided to make singing my career. And when I do, I will change my name to Apple,” was Jaden’s response. “Dad, you’ve always told me, I am the apple of your eyes. So, I like the name Apple. I think it fits me,” she said, turning to her dad.

Her family was surprised. They sat watching her in awe. All eyes were on Jaden. For a minute, it felt like they were at temple, until her brother, Jesse, snickered. “Come on guys, don’t act like you did not expect this news.” 

Jaden said, flabbergasted. “Everyone knows singing is all I ever wanted to do.”

“But have you considered the business, Jaden?” Her mom asked. “And what about college? We would like for you to take an active part in the jewelry business when you’ve finished up with school. We were hoping you would take over the Madrid store someday.” 

“No mom, I don’t want an active part in the business, and I could attend the university anytime. As far as the business goes, I’ll join meetings when it’s absolutely necessary. And besides, you’ve got James, Jude, Jesse and Jordan who can handle the business. You won’t need me,” she added. 

Jaden was spoiled growing up, being the only girl in the family. She was the middle child of five children. On the morning of her seventeenth birthday, her dad woke her from a sound sleep. She looked at the clock on her nightstand. “Dad it’s 8:00 a.m., what are you doing? Why are you waking me so early?” She stared at her dad in disbelief. 

“Wake up, my sleeping beauty, today is the best day of your life,” her dad said, kissing her forehead as he handed her a set of car keys. “Happy Birthday, Apple.” 

“Oh my God, you got me the car of my dreams!”  She looked at the keys. “It’s a G-wagon,” she squealed. Hopping out of bed, she hugged and squeezed her dad. “Thank you, daddy, I love you to the moon and back. You are the best dad a girl can have, and I am so lucky. By the way,” she laughed, “do you realize you just called me Apple?”

“Well, didn’t you not too long ago boldly announced you were going to have a singing career and change your name to Apple?” he asked. “Well, today is the day you are going to start that career, baby girl. Get yourself dressed and have some breakfast. I can smell a whiff of something scrumptious coming from the kitchen.” He grinned. “Get to it! We have an appointment to meet with Ken Rogan this morning.” 

Apple knew of Ken Rogan. He is one of the biggest producers in the music industry, the owner of Westside Records. Ken and her dad went way back. They met when her dad was in his early twenties and had dreams of becoming a guitarist. He loved to hang around musicians and people in the industry. He bought himself a C. F. Martin acoustic guitar that he kept stored in the trunk of his car, hoping to be a stand in guitarist whenever his friends needed him. His musical dreams came to an abrupt end when his dad at age 69 suffered a stroke. Her dad, being the eldest of her grandfather’s two sons, was called home to run the family business. It was an experience that made him think that if any of his children showed a strong interest in the entertainment field, he would definitely assist them with their start and back them one hundred percent. So, he was just as excited as his baby girl that she wanted to be a singer.

Apple was bubbling on the inside. She felt like she would bust from the bottled-up excitement, and for the opportunity to follow her dreams. She loved her father even more now. He was giving her his full support. She knew she could depend on him. As she got ready, her thoughts were filled with what to expect the rest of the day. I’ll bring a few of my best songs, she thought to herself. She had been writing songs for as long as she could remember—preparing for this exact moment. 

She drove the G-wagon to the city with her dad at her side. She was still a learner, so she needed to have a provisional license and L-plates on the car. She had permission to drive as long as an adult was with her to supervise. She had a few driving lessons through a professional driving school, but most of her practice was with her dad. 

When they arrived at Ken’s office, he greeted them as they entered. The two friends hugged.

“It’s been a while, Buddy. How have you been?” Her dad addressed Ken. 

“Alright, alright! I’ve been working non-stop lately. Business is good,” was Ken’s response. 

“Jaden has decided she wants to be a pop star. she has been practicing since she was about age three,” her dad said, grinning. 

“I think it’s time she tries it out. She has also been writing her own songs. Can you get her started? Oh, and by the way, you should call her Apple from now on,” he smiled at his daughter. 

“Sure thing old boy. I’ll be happy to do so. I believe I owe you a favor, anyway.” Ken said. They both laughed.

During the initial exchange between her dad and Ken, Jaden was distracted by the young man standing at a desk in the corner of the office. She saw him as soon she walked in. He was a little over six-feet tall, his long dreadlocks were resting neatly on his back. He wore tight designer jeans that hugged his bottom just right, and a tan colored armless vest which showed off his muscled arms. There was something about the way he stood that got her attention. From behind, his body looked strong, masculine and sexy. She could not draw her eyes away. Something happened between them when he turned around. She locked eyes with him as Ken made the introduction.

“Apple, this is one of my assistants, Stephan, he will be working with you to produce the music for your songs. You can count on him. He’s very good. You may get started whenever you are ready.” 

Apple was distracted as she looked at Stephan. She was staring at the very first crush she ever had. She thought he was beautiful with his model like looks. His face was well-chiseled with a square jaw. His complexion a beautiful, chocolate brown. But his hazel eyes drew her to him like a magnet. He had the most beautiful pair of eyes.

Stephan stepped forward and took Apple’s outstretched hand. “Hi Apple,” he said with a break in his voice. “It’s nice to meet you.” 

Apple smiled taking his hand. They both felt an immediate attraction. Apple wondered if her father could tell what just transpired between them. She was certain that Stephan felt the same way she had.

She turned to her dad. “I am ready to do this. Can I get started today?”  

Stephan interjected. “I have an idea. Why don’t you set up an appointment for tomorrow”? He smiled at her. “Let’s check out the studio before you leave.”

The two young people walked away. Stephan took Apple into the studio to show her around and they set a time to meet the next day. 

Apple awoke the next morning overflowing with excitement. “I am going to be famous!”  she shouted while dancing around her room. “I am Apple and I am a star. I am Apple.” She repeated, sounding out the name. It felt good to hear herself say the words. My name will soon be familiar to everyone, she thought to herself, feeling confident.

She found it hard to be calm, and she could feel butterflies within her. It was going to be her first day at the studio. She was excited to be working with Stephan and to spend time with him. Since she met him, she hadn’t stopped thinking about his striking good looks, his beautiful smile and the way he walked. He was the most beautiful human being she had ever seen. 

They spent the first week editing a couple of songs as Stephan produced the music. He had an idea for the song titled “Dance For Me Baby.” He really loved the lyrics and decided to add an upbeat reggae tempo to give it a bit of a dance hall flavor. When he added Apple’s voice to the track, they instantly knew it would be a hit. Apple suggested that Stephan also collaborate on the song. When it was done, it was perfect. 

“We did it, Stephan. This is it!” Apple shouted. 

She jumped into his arms, hugging him so tight there was no air between them. Something happened in that moment, and it wasn’t just the music they felt. 

“I think we got a hit with this, Apple. Let’s release it to the Web to see what happens. Then we can start work on the other songs,” Stephan said. 

He was as equally excited as Apple and nervous at the same time. He hadn’t missed that there was something else going on. His head was filled with whatever it was that just happened between him and Apple. He took no action, but wondered what to do about his feelings. 

During the weeks that followed, Apple and Stephan began spending a lot more time together in the studio preparing the album and practicing. They collaborated on a few songs. Their voices gelled well together. They both shared the same excitement to see each other every day. They kept a strict work schedule to get the work done. Apple wanted to oversee every aspect of how her songs were being produced. That meant she spent longer periods working alongside Stephan. In the meantime, it was becoming harder and harder for them to be around each other while they tried to control their own feelings.

Stephan refrained from making a move for Apple’s attention, because he thought they were from different worlds. He assumed it was not possible for them to be together. Apple’s family owned several jewelry stores in different cities of the world. Their flagship store being in London. He is from a middle class Jamaican family from Peckman, SE London. His mother is a nurse and his father a musician. He also did not want to abuse boundaries as they were in a professional work relationship. He could lose his apprenticeship at Westside Records if he did something stupid and got caught. He kept in mind, too, that his boss and Apple’s father were friends. 

Stephan knew from an early age he would have a career in music. He inherited his love for music from his dad. When he turned sixteen a couple years ago, he received his dad’s permission to do his apprenticeship at Westside Records. He was an ambitious lad. His dad allowed him two years to prove himself in the business. The deal was if he didn’t do well in the two-year period, he would have to quit it and enroll in college. 

Stephan did not know his dad already planned to get him a studio once he finished his apprenticeship. He knew his son was passionate about the business. He learned as much as he could about every aspect of producing music. In his spare time, he played the piano and guitar, usually singing his own songs. But he believed he was more interested in producing music than in a singing career, though he was quite good at singing as well. He made up his mind to be a music producer. He was just a laid-back teen with a dream. He had just turned eighteen a couple of weeks before meeting Apple.

Apple released the song on the Web, and it blew up overnight with millions of views on YouTube. The next day she received a call from Sharon Hoax, the manager of Club Amnesia in Ibiza. Miss Hoax said she was interested in what she heard, and would love to come to London to listen in on some more of her work. She was interested to hear both Apple and Stephan. 

Apple called a family meeting to share the good news. There were big smiles on everyone’s faces as each hugged and congratulated her. Her dad had the widest grin, and she was sure she had seen a sparkle in his eyes when she was sharing the exciting news. 

“When is your appointment with Miss Hoax? Her dad asked “I would need to sit in on that meeting. Let’s see what she proposes,”  

In the meantime, “Dance For Me Baby”, Apple’s first single, continued to be a huge success. Her dream of a career in music was beginning. She proposed to Stephan they should name their duo Apple and Stephan since they collaborated on a few songs on her album, and he agreed to take some time out from producing to tour their song. 

So began their musical partnership. Apple set up the meeting with Miss Hoax, her dad and Stephan. The meeting went well with everyone being in agreement to the terms. They were scheduled to perform at Club Amnesia for a couple of months and would start in two weeks.

Apple’s dad and her brothers attended a few of her practice sessions with Stephan. Her dad knew Apple was more than ready for this opportunity, and he was a proud papa. With everything set, he made reservations for the family to spend a week’s vacation in Ibiza to be at Apple’s first performances, and they were not disappointed. Club Amnesia had packed audiences every night. The crowd went wild every time Apple and Stephan got on stage for their performance. They were a hit.

When the first week was over, Apple’s family left to return to London. Her dad left her two security detail, a male and a female to look after her, and for the first time, she felt a little scared. But then she thought, I’m not alone, I’ve got Stephan

Stephan took her out to dinner after her family left. He could see the sadness in her eyes. After dinner, he took her dancing. There, on the dance floor, wrapped in each other’s arms, he kissed her for the first time, and she returned the kiss. He knew in that moment, there was no turning back for them. He loved this girl and he felt his love was reciprocated. Their first kiss was warm and seductive. Stephan had never felt this way before. She is mine, he thought. 

He no longer cared about their differences or the consequences of them being together. He just knew he wanted this girl more than anything he’d ever wanted. It was their one night off from Club Amnesia. After that first kiss, he suggested they go for a walk. They were both a little shy at first, but they could not stop kissing. When feelings started getting too hot to handle, he took her back to her suite and kissed her goodnight. “I’ll see you bright and early in the morning, sleep well.”

As he was about to leave, Apple asked him to come in. “Are you sure you’re okay with this, Apple? I want you with every fiber of my being, I want to be with you, but if it’s not something you want, I’ll see you in the morning”

“No Stephan, I don’t want you to leave, please stay with me. I feel the same way for you. I want you here with me. Would you stay with me tonight?”

Like Stephan, she did not care of the consequences that might result from what she was about to do. I am doing this for love. I love Stephan more than myself. I want him to have me.

She led him into the bedroom knowing what to expect. This time when he held her in his arms, nothing else existed. The scent of her hair as it draped over his face drove him wild. He was swimming in her aura. He felt like the happiest man alive. He knew of Apple’s innocence. He felt honored that she was entrusting him with it, and he knew it was a night he would always remember. He wanted the night to be one she would always remember as well. She will always be mine, he thought. 

They ordered a huge breakfast through room service when they woke up at noon the next day.

Their performances for the rest of the commitment at Club Amnesia was fun and energetic. The crowd showed love every night; dancing, screaming, waving. And Apple and Stephan were a young couple in love. When the assignment was over, they returned to London to continue working on her album, even though they were being offered other opportunities. Her single continued to climb charts. Behind the scene, they were stealing time for love. If anyone noticed their closeness since they returned, no one mentioned a word about it. But for now, they had no intentions of sharing the news. They were going to keep their relationship a secret and deny it if asked. 

Apple’s career exploded as she gained popularity. She and Stephan dropped new music that continued to move up the charts. Their followers grew larger. They began touring throughout England and the Mediterranean to sellout crowds. 

A couple of weeks after Apple’s 18th birthday, Stephan asked her to marry him. Instead of an engagement ring, he gifted her a diamond necklace so as not to arouse suspicion. They planned on eloping in six months and would tell their parents after the fact. They found a flat in London that they both liked. Stephan would occupy the flat by himself until their wedding, which they planned to keep simple.

The wedding day was set for June 5th. Apple had her dress made by the family seamstress. It was an A line mini dress with short sleeves. It was white with violet undertones—simple, yet when she tried it on, she looked elegant and graceful. She was pleased with her selection. She would look beautiful for her man.

The morning of her wedding, she got up very excited. She told her mom she was meeting a friend for lunch. Her wedding outfit was at the studio. She was going to dress from there and meet Stephan at the registry’s office. They invited a couple of trusted friends to be witnesses. They would meet up at 11:00 a.m. for the 11:30 nuptials.

Apple felt so beautiful in her wedding dress. She chose to wear a pale violet fascinator with darker color violet flowers placed to the left side of it instead of wearing a veil. 

She was just leaving the studio, when her phone rang. She picked up quickly. “What?”

The voice on the other end was her friend, Lacey one of her witnesses. Her voice was frantic.
“Apple, OMG, turn on the telly right now, Stephan has been in a wreck. Don’t drive, I’m coming to get you.” Lacey commanded.

Apple remembered screaming so loud that her head hurt, and that was the last thing she remembered. When her friend reached the studio, she was passed out on the floor. 

Stephan’s accident happened ten years ago, but it is always fresh in Apple’s mind. 

Stephan is alive today, but after the accident, he turned away from Apple because he could never be the man for her he wanted to be. Not as a paraplegic. He couldn’t live with her pity. Instead of the love that used to be in her eyes, he knew he would only see pity. That’s what he thought, anyway, and he preferred to live without her, to give her the chance to find someone who could love her the way he would have loved her. Deep down, though, he would always love her and consider her his own

***

The front desk rang Apple’s room to announce that Peter Kingston was in the lobby for her. The announcement broke her out of her reverie. It was bittersweet that she was meeting Peter today given how she felt about him, because it meant she was finally trying to move on from her old love. 

She knows she can never replace what she had with Stephan, but she just wants a chance at love again even if it is half of what she once knew. Hopefully, she can find it with Peter. She definitely was attracted to him, and she is ready to be open to the possibility.

She met Peter in the lobby and suggested they talk over dinner. She anxiously wanted to know his decision— if he decided to take her up on her offer to be her travel companion.

###

Sheila’s writing style can best be categorized as Visual Poetry, blending emotion and vision into a poem or story of color. Her poems and short stories are featured at Spillwords Publications, Literary Yard,  Sweety Cat  Press Anthology, I, The Writer, and Youtube Poetica2 series, cafelitmagazine.uk , Imspired Magazine and Clarendon House Publications  Anthology Poetica 2 and 3.

Categories: Fiction

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