Road To Eden
chapter four

Two hours, four cups of coffee, and one new friend later I finally made my way home. I was kind of sorry that I had to leave; I was enjoying myself with her. We talked a lot about books we’ve read, about literature in general. I know that she’s majoring in English Literature, which entails both American Literature and British Literature, and minoring in Journalism. It seems like it would suit her well. She was really… nice. There was a little bit of mystery about her, but maybe that was just because we had just met. We planned on meeting the next day, same place, and same time. I was really looking forward to it.

When I walked in the front door I was just waiting for Natalie to ask me a thousand questions about where I was. I don’t know why, she was never really like that. I was home for ten minutes before I even saw her, and even then she only asked a few simple questions.

“Hi Honey,” she said to me, coming out of the laundry room. She kissed my lips softly, and continued towards the stairs with the laundry basket.

“Here,” I caught up with her again quickly, and took the basket from her. “I got it.”

“What took you so long?” She asked. I gave her a confused look. You have to remember, I’m a natural blond. “Coming home?”

“Oh,” I replied. I knew right at that moment I was going to lie about meeting anyone. Well, maybe it wasn’t a lie. I just chose to leave DeLorean out of it. “I grabbed a book and some coffee at Barnes and Noble.” I told her. At least it was part of the truth. She smiled a little.

“You sat still for two hours?”

“Yeah. I can sit still for two hours.” I grinned a little at myself. The truth was: I couldn’t sit still for two hours. And I hadn’t.

“So what book did you buy?”

The Stand. Stephen King.” I answered. I saw her nod her head in approval. She had only read a few Stephen King novels in her life, but she thought he was okay.

“Any good?” She asked. I nodded.

“It seems that way. I guess it’s supposed to be about the ultimate war between Good and Evil; a last stand.”

“Hmm. Sounds good. Can I read it when you’re done with it?” I nodded.

“Sure. Just don’t scare yourself too bad. Don’t forget, your adrenaline level’s probably going to affect the Little One.” We were both quiet for a moment. I don’t know where that comment came from. I’ve heard of maternal instinct, so maybe that was paternal instinct?

“You hungry?” She asked me. I was. Coffee isn’t the best meal supplement in the world.

“Yeah. You made something?”

“No. But I can.”

“You mean you haven’t eaten yet?”

“No, but – “

“Natalie.” I looked at her pointedly as I set the laundry basket down on the bed. “Just because I’m not home, doesn’t mean you can’t eat dinner without me. You, and you should know this by now, have to eat.” She actually laughed at me. I didn’t find it funny, and I didn’t know why she seemed to.

“Oh my God, Taylor. If you heard yourself…” she laughed again. “You sounded like your father!” She was laughing at me because I sounded exactly like my father.

“God help me,” I kidded.

“Come on,” she linked her arm through mine, and started to pull me away from the bed. “Let’s get something to eat.”

My Dad was at the studio with us the next day. He was helping with some of the mixing, but mostly keeping people in line and keeping us company. Now if I’ve ever known anyone to be a real family man, my father is one of the best models I can think of. If had any questions that I didn’t want to ask my Mom, I’d just ask him. That’s what I planned on doing.

“Hey Dad,” I said, sitting beside him in the studio. My brothers were currently wolfing down pizza. He looked at me from his seat beside mine. “When you’re married, is it ok to have… other female friends?” He laughed a little.

“It’s marriage, Taylor, not prison. Of course you can still have female friends. So long as that’s all they are.” That was good. I wanted to continue to be DeLorean’s friend. As a matter of fact, I was rather anxious for the day to end so I could go see her.

“I just don’t want Natalie to think anything, you know?” I ran a hand through my hair to get it out of my face.

“Yeah, I understand. And if she loves you, she trusts you. I’ve had other female friends, and your mother has other male friends. We aren’t suspicious of each other. We trust each other.” I nodded.

“Thanks, Dad.” I said, getting up.

“No problem, Tay.” I smiled, and headed over to the pizza. If I didn’t get some now I’d never get any, because my brothers are pigs.

“Try breathing.” I said, as Zac shoved another piece of pizza in his mouth.

“I am,” he said, mouth full of food. “And I’m hungry.”

“You’re disgusting.” I said, scrunching up my nose as food nearly fell out of his mouth. Isaac just laughed. At least he was neat when he ate.

“I saw you reading this morning. What book?” Isaac asked me.

“A Stephen King novel. I stopped at Barnes and Noble last night.” I said, not wanting to go into too much detail.

“How is it there? Did you get mobbed?”

“This is home. No, I didn’t get mobbed.” I answered.

“Oh,” our father chimed in. “I forgot to tell you guys, sorry. We have to go to LA for a week. They need to mix some stuff there.”

“Aw come on,” I said, more like whined. “I hate it in LA.”

“I know, but you guys have to go. It’s just a week.” He said regretfully. I suddenly lost my appetite. I really hated LA. People were so snobby there, and a lot of the celebrities had that attitude like oh, you’re Hanson? Who cares? We’re better than you anyway. I don’t want them to praise the ground we walk on, but they didn’t have to be such assholes.

“Have fun telling Nat.” Zac said. I had completely forgotten about Natalie. She was four months pregnant, almost five – she shouldn’t travel on airplanes anymore.

“Great. I’m gonna have to leave her by herself.”

“She’s a big girl, Tay. She can take care of herself.” Isaac said. He was right. But I felt guilty leaving her there in case anything happened.

“You think Mom would check up on her now and again?” I asked, looking at my father. He nodded.

“Of course. She’ll probably spend most of her time at our house anyway.” He said it with a smile, so it wasn’t meant to be an insulting comment; although, it set me thinking. It was almost as if she spent all of her time with my family so that they would never accept anyone but her. I’m not saying there would be anyone else that way, but I’m not saying there couldn’t be.

Knowing I was going to spend a week in LA ruined my mood for the day. I was so happy to get out of the studio. I couldn’t wait to get to Barnes and Noble to forget about all that. Or was it that I couldn’t wait to see and talk to DeLorean…? I pulled in the parking lot, grabbed my book and headed inside. I bought some coffee, and sat down in the same armchair that I sat in the day before. My friend wasn’t there yet, so, I started to read.

A good amount of time passed, and I was beginning to think that she wasn’t coming at all. But she did show up. She saw me, and I waved casually to her. She came over to me and sat in the chair next to mine.

“Sorry,” she smiled. “I stayed in my last class a little longer than expected. I have an assignment due for journalism, so I was just getting some details from my professor.”

“It’s ok.”

“How long have you been here?”

“An hour or so.” I replied. I had gotten a good deal of reading done though, so now I had more to talk about with her. “This book is really, really good.”

“I know. Isn’t it great?” She said with a wide smile. She was beautiful. She really was, and there were things about her that I couldn’t explain. I knew something was happening here, but I pretended like it was a normal friendship.

“Yeah it is. And I needed to unwind after the day I had.”

“Oh, why?” She asked. Oops. I wasn’t going to say anything about my profession. She hadn’t seemed to recognize me as a musical artist, which was a good thing, and now I had just blown it.

“Hard day in the studio.” I answered.

“I should have figured,” she said, shaking her head at herself, with a slight grin. I looked at her, my head cocked to the side, and my eyebrows furrowed in question. “Well, you make music for a lot of people. It has to be stressful, right?” So she did know who I was.

“You know who I am?”

“Um, yeah.” She said a little shyly. “I didn’t say anything though. I didn’t want you to think that I was only talking to you because you’re Taylor Hanson.” I liked her even more now.

“Do you live around here?”

“I moved here about three years ago.” She answered. I nodded. “So, tell me about why your day was so hard.” I was a little surprised. Most people don’t want to hear about days at the studio; it was usually a pretty boring story unless you understood the inside jokes between my brothers and I.

“Well, my Dad decided to spring on us that we have to go to LA for a week. I hate it there.”

“Really? I thought all the stars loved LA.” I shook my head.

“The movie stars maybe. But people are so rude to us there. I’d like to just deck them all.” She laughed a little. “What?”

“It’s hard to picture you decking anybody.”

“Hey,” I smiled. “I’ve beefed up a little in the past few years.” I laughed too.

“Yeah, I’ve seen pictures. But you seem like such a pacifist.” She had me down.

“I am, actually. I hate fighting – physical, anyway. Are you a fan?”

“Of Hanson? Not really. I mean, I don’t hate your music, but I don’t have any of your CDs. I’ve heard you guys on the radio and stuff – you’re really good – but I’ve never really paid too much attention.” I appreciated her honesty.

“Thanks for being honest.” She nodded.

“So what do you plan to do in LA?”

“Miss home.” I answered. We both laughed lightly.

“Well, I’ll tell you what. I have a cell phone, and when you feel like talking – about anything – you can give me a call. Sound good?”

“Sounds great.” I smiled at her. She wrote her number down on a piece of paper from her bag and gave it to me. She noticed something then, and I almost wish she hadn’t.

“You’re married?” She nodded to my wedding band. I looked at it, and forced a small smiled.

“Yeah.”

“I thought I heard something about that on MTV, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. How long?”

“A month.” I decided not to say anything about Natalie’s pregnancy, not that it did any good.

“I heard rumors about your wife being pregnant. Is that true?” She was just curious. I didn’t have any objections, other than the fact if I told her these things I didn’t want to scare her away.

“Yeah. We got married in June; in April she told me and my family that she was pregnant.”

“Oh.” It was an ‘oh’ of realization. This girl was bright; she knew the story without me even having to tell her. “How are things going?” I shrugged.

“Ok.” I replied. “To tell you the truth, DeLorean, sometimes I have serious doubts.”

“It’s normal.” She said.

“You’re married?” She smiled, and looked at the floor. She shook her head.

“No. But I got married when I was twenty. It lasted for four months.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“Don’t be. I’m not.” She replied. Obviously whatever had happened was behind her, and she’d let it go, so I wasn’t going to keep the subject keep going.

We spent a good while talking, laughing, and generally having a good time. I promised to call while I was in LA, and she told me she was going to hold me to it. I told her I had to go when I realized it was much later than I intended to let it get. I had to go home and tell Natalie about going to California for a week.

chapter five
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