Chapter 7, Reputation

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Staring blankly into space. What now? She thinks to herself. He's gone, he's gone and he's never coming back. She's royally screwed this up. She sits down on the piano stool, she drags it in, softly stroking the white keys. She musters all her strength and presses down on her key. The melody echoes around the room. "I walked through the door with you, the air was cold," her voice cracks with every word, holding it all in. Her beautiful voice filling her Rhode Island home. "But something 'bout it felt like home somehow," she continues. She closes her eyes, thoughts of him come to mind, as she plays her old song. "And I know it's long gone. And that magic's not here no more. And I might be okay. But I'm not fine at all," she cries. It's funny how these lyrics reflect what's happening now, so well. It's like she knew what was going to happen before it even happened. "Wind in my hair, I was there, I remember it..." Taylor pauses, imagining his eyes, him standing before her, leaning against the piano. He would be smiling at her and singing along. She thinks of him walking behind her, playing with her hair. Just the warm feeling he gives her. "Well, maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much," she soldiers on through her song, "But maybe this thing was a masterpiece 'til you tore it all up," the tears streaming down her cheek at this point, "Running scared, I was there, I remember it all too well... really remember it too well," she sobs. "'Cause there we are again when I loved you so," her voice breaking, "Back before you lost the one real thing you've ever known, It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well..." she stops before the last verse. Crumbling, in tears. Her head rests against the piano. "What's the point?" she wails. She slams the piano down, her head invaded by his smile, the smile she'll never see again. She stares at photos of them, looking at how happy she was, whenever she was set next to him, on the beach, in Rome, Australia, sat on the sofa watching Netflix. What about how lovely his mum was? What about how her dad took to him? What about the plans they had about the future? What's happened to those plans now? It's like her life has sunk into nothingness, without him.

You'd think three months is enough to get over a relationship? She sits there, hiding away from the public eye. There's no music ringing around her mansion, there's no laughter and little smiles. Her phone hides away where she can never hear it. Her reputation a shambles, her hope shattered. What happened? Her doorbell rings faintly in the background. Taylor groans as she hauls her body up off the floor. She catches her reflection in the corner of her eye, puffy eyes, ruined mascara, she's a mess. She pulls the handle back, the sunlight hits her face. "You've really let yourself go," a familiar voice says. She opens her eyes, Cara, Lorde, Lily and Martha wave at Taylor, eager smiles and tickets in hand. "I really hope you like live music, because you have no option but to leave to cave and come with," Lorde states. Cara gives Taylor a judging look, "but before that, we have a lot of cleaning up to do,"

Hustled into her room, clothes flying from end to end. Makeup spilt everywhere. Martha pulls at her wet hair, wrestling with the knots and tangles to make a somewhat acceptable appearance. Lord dabs powder on her forehead talking away frivolously. Cara rearranges her entire wardrobe, apparently into the rest of her room. A sleek black dress appears in front of her. "You're kidding right?" Taylor laughs. Cara shakes her head and drops the hanger onto her lap. 

Zips done up, lipstick applied. Engine running and laughter everywhere. This has the making of one disastrous evening. Their heals clack against the new floor. Taylor brushes through her fringe with her fingers and walks in. The music is bursting through the walls and there are celebrities dancing everywhere. Panic fills Taylor, she tries to push her way through the crowd; her friends are not far behind. Taylor freezes, stook in the centre of the room. "Are you okay?" Lorde asks. Taylor can only nod, she needs a drink. "I'll just be a sec," Taylor says. She heads left and around the corner. She drops herself in a bar stool and rests her head on the wood. "You are far too pretty to look that sad," somebody says. She sits bolt upright and looks around. Right behind her, she sees this face, their gazes meet. Blonde hair, blue eyes, she knows him from somewhere. "It's nice to meet you," the gentleman extends his hand, Taylor takes it, captivated by him. "Taylor Swift," she breathes, "Joe Alwyn, it's a pleasure," he replies. His voice is so calm, soothing, she finds herself forgetting where she is. She nods. He walks to the bar, but his eyes stay fixed on her. "What will it be today sir?" the barmaid asks, "I'll have an 'old fashion' and for the lady?", "Uhhh Manhattan please but-" Taylor tries to pull out her credit card, "put it on my tab please," Joe adds. Her glass is placed in front of her, she stares at it blankly. He laughs, "Don't tell me, this is your first time having a proper drink," he jokes. For the first time, Taylor smiles, she picks up the glass in her hand, "First time a stranger has bought me a drink and I don't chuck it in a plant," she responds, "I'm not a stranger," he claimed, "You're not? I'm sorry, where do I know you from?" she asks, "I watched you dance at the Met Gala, you were with Hiddleston at the time," he answers. Taylor thinks about that night, she remembers being in Tom's arms and laughing, but she remembers seeing a face in the corner of her eye. The person who stared at her all night. "You're the creep who didn't take his eyes off me!" she exclaims, "I couldn't help it, I'm sorry," he laughs. They face each other,  he holds up his glass. "To Taylor Swift, the only girl to call me out," he chuckled. She holds up her glass and takes a sip. The colours from the concert flash into the bar, Joe looks at her and stands. "Would you care for a dance m'lady?" he jokes, "It would be my pleasure, kind sir,".

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