“So the night of the second-to-last show, me and Andrew went first and did our performances. Best ones ever, we rocked it. Ben was scheduled last. I came off stage and heard him telling the producer that Andrew wanted them to have a gay pride thing on there, in support of him and his coming out. He’d told his family and was coming out. Of course, that wasn’t true. Andrew never told anyone. I flipped out. I beat him up. I went black. I don’t even remember it. But he never performed and ended up being ‘the poor guy that psycho Lochlan beat up’. He won the show and I took the rap, to stop anyone from knowing about Andrew.”
I kissed him, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
He shook his head, “It’s not my secret to tell but I’m more scared of losing you, than I am of protecting him.”
I grabbed his face hard, “You will never lose me. I’m done with it all. I don’t want to be like my parents. I don’t want to run away, every time I’m scared or hurt. I want to find a way to be with you and not lose me. I want to be part of both Lochlans. I want to come with you and be with you.”
He frowned, “What about law school? I don’t want you to give up your dream. That is you.”
I shrugged, “I’m twenty-three years old, I have loads of time. Who knows how long this is going to be happening for you? Stardom is fleeting, law school is permanent.”
“What about your plan?”
I laughed, “You’ve been fucking with my plans from the minute I met you. I was supposed to unpack my apartment, go for a run, come back and make dinner in my new kitchen. I wanted to set up my Netflix account, eat, and watch TV alone. My plan only ever involved me. It was a selfish plan for a selfish person. Now I want to support you. I want you to relax, and not worry about us, and not worry about losing me. Make it about the music. I want to finish this semester and then I’ll take a leave.”
He smiled and kissed me, “I want you to come with me. I hate being away from you.” I closed my eyes and laid my head in the crook of his arm.
When I woke up, he was passed out. It was light out. It felt like I was in the movie Groundhog Day, and I was waking up with my second chance at everything. I pulled on clothes and stumbled down the hall. Danny grinned at me, “You always have been such a beautiful morning person.”
I flipped him the bird and poured a cup of coffee. Al was setting the table and Gerry was flipping bacon. Al looked at me, “Go wake his ass up. He’s going to be upset if he misses breakfast.”
I laughed, “Okay.” I poured him a coffee and glanced at Al, “How does he like his coffee?”
A grin crept across his lips, “One cream.”
I nodded and added it to the coffee. I carried it down the hall. I put it on the bedside table and bent forward, kissing him good morning. He smiled against my lips, “It feels early still.”
I took a deep breath, “Smell anything you might be upset about missing?”
He inhaled, sniffing the air, and nodded, “You.”
I shoved, “You’re going to have to do better than that.”
He opened his bright-blue eyes, giving me the look, “You want me to start trying?”
I laughed, “No. I don’t think we’ll leave the room if you start trying. I want you to get up because Al said you have to.”
He glanced at the mug of steaming coffee, “Did you make my coffee?” He sounded skeptical.
Crossing my arms and looking hurt, “Don’t act like I never do things for you.”
He wrapped his arms around me, “I know you do, just not things like that.” He sat up, dragging me with him. He sipped the coffee and nodded, “You know how to make my coffee?”
I winked at him and shot him my cheesy grin, “I’m full of all kinds of surprises.” I got up and walked out of the room with swagger, “Hurry up.”
My heart melted. No one on earth could say yes ma’am, the way a boy from Tennessee could.
We stayed for two more days. I lost my job and got my first warning email about missing classes. But I laughed harder than I ever had. I smiled bigger than I could imagine doing, especially considering the circumstances. And I relaxed into the crook of his arm, like I belonged there. Me, Danny, and Gerry stayed with Judith, so Alex, Lissie, and Loch could all go out for dinner with their dad. When they got home, Loch never looked freer.
We got back to Boston mid-afternoon the next day. I went for a run and he, Gerry, and Danny went to deal with band stuff. When he got back, I was working like a slave to catch up on the papers I needed to finish, and definitions I needed to memorize. He kissed the side of my face; I waved him away. He laughed, “Nice. I come to tell you we have been invited to replace another band and perform live at the MTV music awards in the Netherlands, and you swat me.”
My jaw dropped, “What?”
He nodded, “There was a series of terrible storms, so it got switched from November to December. It’s next week and we got invited. One of the other bands had to back out. Lead singer had to have vocal surgery.”
I looked at Danny who was eating yogurt from the big container in the fridge, “Shut the front door!”
Danny nodded, “I’m going to get laid so much.”
I grimaced, “Not if you eat like that.”
I jumped up, grabbing Lochlan. He wrapped around me, “Can you come?”
My stomach sank, I shook my head, “All my finals are next week and the week after. It’s from the 6th to the 13th of December. There is no way I can miss them, I’ll blow the entire semester.”
He looked like he might… but he didn’t flip out, he stayed calm and nodded, “I’ll get the guys to record my every move.”
I shook my head, feeling like I was the old ball and chain. “Baby, have fun. When the fuck does this happen to anyone? I’ll see the performance live and enjoy every second of it. If you kiss a celebrity or let girls maul you, I’ll make my drink extra strong and try to take it like a man. When you get home you’ll be given a few minutes to explain. If your explanation is oh man, I was so drunk—I mace you.”
He looked amused, “Funny.”
I shook my head, “Not funny, deal or no deal.” I put my hand out.
He gave me a hesitant look, “You ever been sprayed by that shit?”
I tilted my head. He sighed and took my hand in his, “You’re sort of mean, you know that right?”
I nodded, “And yet, I won’t lose any sleep over it.”
Danny shook his head, “I wouldn’t agree to shit with her, not shit like that. Her brain works in evil ways.”
Lochlan gave me the smile, making my heart race, “I’d agree to anything.”
Danny flopped into a chair, “That is because you are a sucker, my friend.”
I gave him a look, but Lochlan just shook his head, “You wait. I was like you until August 12th.”
I poked him, “You picked a chick up on the way home from the restaurant that day.”
He winked, “That was the last one. I swear. I thought about you the entire…”
My hand shot up, covering his mouth, “Oh my God, do not finish that sentence. And you forget about the girl at Costco.”
He laughed, “Okay, that was the last one, I swear. Besides she doesn’t count, Gerry went all mean-ass ho on her. Mocked that lovely tattoo on her back that looked like a bullseye.” He winked at Danny who was howling and leaning against the counter for support.
I shuddered, “What the heck? I need a bath and a whiskey. Gross.” I stopped and looked at him, “Why the hell all the bets and the bravado if you weren’t sleeping with other people?”
He blushed, “I never worked so hard to get laid in all my life. You had me thinking constantly of new ways to impress you, or how I would be able to spend time with you. I just knew I had to make you mine.”
I nodded and slumped back down on the couch. He was killing me. I forced myself to pick my book back up. He sat beside me and turned the TV on and passed me his iPod and Beats. I pulled them on and turned on the playlist he’d made for me. They watched something about people who lived in a swamp or girls with gators.
Somehow, I got lost in the books and the music and when I surfaced, he and Danny were passed out. I stole the remote and turned on my favorite movie on Netflix, The Jane Austen Book club.
When Loch woke, it was the scene where the teacher was standing at the intersection, looking at the boy across the sidewalk. I shuddered with a sob.
“Are you crying?”
I shook my head, “No.”
He wiped my tears, “What’s wrong?”
I shook my head, “Nothing. I love this movie.”
He looked horrified, “That is something I will never understand about girls.”
He pulled me in, passing me some tissues. When the movie was over, he was out cold again. I climbed off the couch and crept to bed. I lay there for a minute, thinking and feeling the things I had pretended to be okay with. Things like I was settling with the belief that his magic was bigger than my own. God blessed his purpose, whereas mine was run of the mill. There was a terrible whisper in the back of my mind that taunted me. It told me I would tire of being second fiddle and less important. I would tire of his love when I didn’t see myself in his eyes anymore.
I pulled up my girl panties and scolded my low self-esteem. I knew none of that would ever happen. Well… I hoped. When I fell asleep, I was certain we would be together forever.
I finished the last exam and knew I’d fucked myself. Law school took a serious commitment, and I had barely given fifty percent. If I passed it would be some kind of miracle. My phone vibrated as I left the exam. I looked, at yet another picture of a massive beer, and Danny smoking a huge joint. I laughed and shook my head. The MTV music awards had been mind blowing. The show was insane, and they rocked it like they’d been doing it for a hundred years, like the Rolling Stones. They were staying in Europe for a few extra days to do some last-minute shows. I spent the entire week he’d been gone, watching the live performance over and over like a freakshow.