Lick, p.42
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       Lick, p.42
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         Part #1 of Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott
Page 42

  Author: Kylie Scott

  Off the drugs, the similarities between him and David were more pronounced. But his blue eyes and his smile didn’t do to me the things David’s did. No one else’s ever could. Not in five years, not in fifty. For the first time in a long time, I could accept that. I was good with it, even. The epiphanies seemed to be coming thick and fast today.

  Jimmy waited patiently for me to come back from wherever I was and say something. When I didn’t, he continued on. “I’ve never had a sister-in-law before. ”

  “I’ve never had a brother-in-law. ”

  “No? We’re useful for all sorts of shit. Just you wait and see. ”

  I smiled and he smiled back at me, far more relaxed this time.

  Ben sat on the corner of a black leather lounge, talking with Mal. Mal tipped his chin at me and I did the same back. All Ben gave me was a worried look. He was still every bit as big and imposing, but he seemed more afraid of me than I was of him today. I nodded hello to him and he returned it, with a tight smile. After talking to Martha, I could understand a little better where he’d been coming from that night. We’d never be besties, but there would be peace for David’s sake.

  The guitar solo cut off. I turned back to see David watching me, pulling off his headphones. Then he lifted his guitar strap off over his head and headed for the connecting door.

  “Hey,” he said, coming toward me. “Everything okay?”

  “Yes. Can we talk?”

  “Sure. ” He ushered me back into the booth. “Won’t be long, Jack. ”

  The man at the board nodded and fiddled with some buttons, turning off the microphones, I assume. He didn’t seem overly irritated with the interruption. Instruments and microphones were everywhere. The place was organized chaos. We stood in the corner, out of view of the rest.

  “Martha came to see me,” I said once he’d closed the door. He stood tall in front of me, blocking out everything else. I rested my back against the wall and looked up at him, still trying to catch my breath. My heart had been calming down after the sprint. Had been. But now he was here and he was so damn close. I put my hands behind my back before they started grabbing at him.

  David did the wrinkly brow thing. “Martha?”

  “It’s okay,” I rushed on. “Well, you know, she was her usual self. But we talked. ”

  “About what?”

  “You two, mostly. She gave me some things to think about. Are you busy tonight?”

  His eyes widened slightly. “No. Would you like to do something?”

  “Yeah. ” I nodded. “I missed you this morning when I woke up, when I realized you’d gone. I’ve missed you a lot, the last month. I don’t think I ever told you that. ”

  He exhaled hard. “No … no, you haven’t. I missed you too. I’m sorry I couldn’t stay this morning. ”

  “Another time. ”

  “Definitely. ” He took a step closer ’til the toes of his boots touched mine. No one had ever been more welcome in my personal space. “I’d promised we’d start here early or I would have been there when you woke. ”

  “You didn’t tell me about the band recording here. ”

  “We’ve had other things to deal with. I thought it could wait. ”

  “Right. That makes sense. ” I stared at the wall beside me, trying to get my thoughts in order. After a whole lot of slow and painful, everything seemed to be happening at once.

  “… About tonight, Ev?”

  “Oh, I’m going to dinner at my parents’. ”

  “Am I invited?”

  “Yes,” I said. “Yes, you are. ”

  “Okay. Great. ”

  “Did you actually buy a house here?”

  “A three-bedroom condo a couple of blocks up. I figured it was close to your work and not too far from your school … you know, just in case. ” He studied my face. “Would you like to see it?”

  “Wow. ” I changed the subject to buy some time. “Uh, Jimmy’s looking well. ”

  He smiled and put his hands either side of my head, closing the distance between us. “Yeah. He’s doing good. Relocating up here is working out well for pretty much everyone. Seems I wasn’t the only one ready for a break from all the fuckwittery in LA. Our playing’s sharper than it’s been in years. We’re focusing on the important stuff again. ”

  “That’s great. ”

  “Now, what did Martha say to you, baby?”

  The endearment came accompanied by the warm old familiar feeling. I almost swayed, I was so grateful. “Well, we talked about you. ”

  “I get that. ”

  “I guess I’m still making sense of everything. ”

  He nodded slowly, leaning in until our noses almost brushed. The perfect intimacy of it, the faint feel of his breath against my face. My need to get close to him had never disappeared. No matter how I’d tried to shut it down. Love and heartbreak made you breathtakingly stupid, desperate even. The things you’d try to tell yourself to make it through, hoping one day you’d believe it.

  “Alright,” he said. “Anything I can help you with?”

  “No. I just wanted to check you were really here, I think. ”

  “I’m here. ”

  “Yes. ”

  “That’s not changing, Evelyn. ”

  “No. I think I get that now. I guess I can be a little slow sometimes picking up on these things. I just wasn’t sure, you know, with everything’s that happened. But I still love you. ” Apparently I was back to blurting crap out whenever it occurred to me. With David though, it was okay. I was safe. “I do. ”

  “I know, baby. The question is, when are you going to come back to me?”

  “It’s really big, you know? It hurt so much when it fell apart last time. ”

  He nodded sadly. “You left me. I think that’s about the worst fucking thing I’ve ever experienced. ”

  “I had to go, but also … part of it was me wanting to hurt you like you’d hurt me, I think. ” I needed to hold his hand again, but I didn’t feel like I could. “I don’t want to be vindictive like that, not with you, not ever again. ”

  “I said some horrible shit to you that night. Both of us were hurting. We’re just going to have to forgive each other and let it go. ”

  “You didn’t write a song about it, did you?”

  He looked away.

  “No! David,” I said, aghast. “You can’t. That was such a terrible night. ”

  “On a scale of one to ten how pissed would you be exactly?”

  “Where one is divorce?”

  He moved his lower body closer, placing his feet between mine. There was no more than a hair’s breadth between us. I’d never catch my breath at this rate. Never.

  “No,” he said, his voice soft. “You don’t even remember us getting married, so divorce or annulment or what the fuck ever is not on. It never was. I just told the lawyers to keep looking busy for the last month while I figured things out. Did I forget to mention that?”

  “Yeah, you did. ” I couldn’t help but smile at that. “So what’s one?”

  “One is now. It’s this, us living apart and being fucking miserable without each other. ”

  “That is pretty horrible. ”

  “It is,” he agreed.

  “Is the song a headliner or are you just going to shove it in somewhere and hope no one notices? It’s just a B-side or something, right? Unlisted and hidden at the end?”

  “Let’s pretend we’d been talking about making one of the songs the name of the album. ”

  “One of them? How much of this brilliant album I’ve been hearing about is going to be about us?”

  “I love you. ”

  “David. ” I tried to maintain the mock angry but it didn’t work. I didn’t have the strength for it.

  “Can you trust me?” He asked, his face suddenly serious. “I need you to trust me again. About more than just the song
s. Seeing that worry in your eyes all the time is fucking killing me. ”

  “I know. ” I frowned, knitting my fingers together behind my back. “I’m getting there. And I’ll learn to deal with the songs. Really. Music is a big part of who you are and it’s a huge compliment that you feel that strongly for me. I was mostly just teasing. ”

  “I know. And they’re not all about us splitting up. ”

  “No?”

  “No. ”

  “That’s good. I’m glad. ”

  “Mm. ”

  I licked my lips and his eyes tracked the movement. I waited for him to close the distance between us and kiss me. But he didn’t and I didn’t either. For some reason, it wasn’t right to rush this. It should be perfect. Everything between us settled. No people waiting in the next room. Us being this close together, however, hearing the low rumble of his voice, I could have stayed there all day. But Ruby would be wondering what the hell had happened to me. I also had a small errand to run before I returned.

  “I’d better get back to work,” I said.

  “Right. ” He drew back, slowly. “What time would you like me to pick you up tonight?”

  “Ah, seven?”

  “Sounds good. ” A shadow passed over his face. “Do you think your parents will like me?”

  I took a deep breath and let it go. “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I like you. ”

  “You do?”

  I nodded.

  The light in his eyes was like the sun rising. My knees trembled and my heart quaked. It was powerful and beautiful and perfect.

  “That’s all that matters, then,” he said.

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  My parents hadn’t liked him. For the better part of the meal they’d ignored David’s presence. Every time they blatantly passed him over, I’d opened my mouth to object and David’s foot would nudge mine beneath the table. He’d given me a small shake of the head. I’d sat and steamed, my anger growing by the moment. Things had long since moved beyond awkward, though Lauren had done her best to cover the silences.
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