It’s the beginning of August, I’m in California, I’m in a bad mood, and I want to go home. Did I get my point across? In August it’s hot, and I sweated my ass off. We spent an entire twenty-four hours straight mixing in the studio. I wasn’t surprised that the usual decent people weren’t there, and they were replaced by some rude bunch of assholes. Of course, as if having nearly one hundred degree weather and wearing pants wasn’t bad enough, the air conditioning system in the hotel we were at didn’t work. I was down to just my boxers and I still had sweat dripping off of me like you wouldn’t believe. It’s un-fucking-believable. I called Natalie once I got to my room, let her know things were fine, and asked her how she was, told her to take care, and hung up. I went and took a cold shower, which felt better than any shower I could ever remember taking, and then I called DeLorean. She wasn’t too busy – she was writing some scales for her music theory class; she had an English paper due at the end of the week that she was working on, and she still hadn’t done her journalism assignment. Oh, did I mention we were on the phone for three hours? I know what you’re thinking, What in the hell could they talk about for THREE hours? Well, a lot. She wanted me to do most of the talking – I was just venting, and basically being a whine-ass. Don’t even comment on the last part. She talked too; it wasn’t just me running my mouth. She had some things to tell me about her college life, and man, what I wouldn’t give to be in college. It sounds like so much hard work, but it sounds like I’m missing out on a lot of stuff normal people my age do, like not being married, but I think I’ve stated my point on that issue enough. I’m going to just leave it alone right now. I only have six days left in the Godforsaken hellhole, and then I can go back home.
Six days do not pass quickly when you’re wishing they were over before they began. I swear to God, those six days seemed like six years. I thought I’d be stuck there forever. My brothers and I got a lot accomplished, though. The album is almost done. A little bit more mixing, and tweaking a few songs here and there, and we’ll be set to start choosing which tracks go on the album and which get bumped off. That’s the hardest part – besides recording each new song. You know, the whole time I was in California, I wished I was back home, and now that I’m pulling into my driveway, I feel like I want to be somewhere else…
I opened the front door quietly; it was late, and I didn’t want to wake Natalie if she was sleeping. Waking up your wife who’s pregnant definitely wouldn’t be number one on any husband’s list. I made my way upstairs to our bedroom. I found her sitting on the bed with the lamp on, reading the book I’d forgotten to take with me. She was so engrossed that she didn’t even notice I was there, and I was sort of amused by it. I set my suitcase down by the door, and just leaned against the doorframe and watched her. She wore a light pink, cotton nightgown, her legs tucked up underneath her. Her hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail at the back of her head, and she was gently biting down on her bottom lip. I could feel my lips curl into an amused smile. I just stood there and watched her, knowing sooner or later she’d sense my presence. When she did she almost dropped the book. I just smiled, looked at the carpet, and back at her. She got up, and I moved closer to her. She threw her arms around my neck, and I held her gently, my arm around the small of her back.
“I missed you so much,” she whispered. She pulled back far enough to kiss my lips, which I have to say, I didn’t mind at all.
“Yeah, I’ll bet you did,” I grinned. I kissed her, and she laced her fingers with mine.
“I really did, Tay,” she said quietly. I didn’t miss the sound of tears in her voice; I slid my fingers beneath her chin and gently lifted her head to look up at me.
“Hey… why the tears?” I asked quietly.
“I don’t know; I guess I just really missed you.” She answered in a hushed voice, swiping at two tears that had escaped. It was probably hormones. I tilted her head up again and kissed her softly.
“I love you,” I whispered, resting my forehead against hers. She smiled a little.
“I love you too.” She replied. I got down on my knees in front of her, and kissed her belly softly.
“I love you, too,” I said to her stomach. She laughed softly, and threaded her fingers through my hair as I put my ear to her stomach. “I love you, Baby,” I said softly. I really meant it, as much as anyone could mean it. Who wouldn’t love their child? And if there’s someone out there who wouldn’t, it sure as hell isn’t me.
“Come on,” she said softly. “Let’s go to bed.” I didn’t argue. I stood up, stripped off my clothes down to my boxers, and I climbed into bed next to her, curling my body around hers. I was glad to feel someone else’s body heat; I hated to sleep alone.
I sat in the easy chair reading my book; glad to have some time to relax. I had read how Nadine was meant to be with Randall Flagg, and even though she really was in love with Larry, she was going to be with her destined partner, even if he was the King of Darkness; Stephen King sure knows how to write a good novel. I was just getting to how cold it felt to Nadine to be having sex with Randall when a welcome, familiar voice interrupted.
“Miss me?” I looked up to see DeLorean smiling at me.
“Did I ever,” I grinned back, and stood up, wrapping my arms around her. I was glad to realize she was hugging me back – now I know what it feels like when you hug a friend you haven’t seen in a while, and this… well, this felt like I was hugging more than my friend.
“Did you have a good trip?” She asked me, as she sat down in the chair beside mine, and I sat down again.
“Eh,” I shrugged. “California never changes. It was too hot, and the air-conditioning in the hotel was busted. I hated every minute.”
“Aw, poor baby.” She teased. “Did you and your brothers get any work done?”
“Yeah, actually, we did. We got a decent amount done. We’ll be done mixing soon, and then we can start choosing which tracks we want to go on the album, and which ones were going to toss out.”
“Good. And, how’s your wife?”
“Natalie’s good.” I said. I didn’t really want to talk about my wife with her. “And how are you?”
“I’m… I’ve had better days.” She smiled, but her green eyes said exactly what she had: she’s had better days.
“Wanna tell me about it?”
“My ex-husband decided to pay me a visit.”
“Ooh. Well, what’d he want?” I didn’t know if I was prying, but I really did want to know.
“The same thing he’s wanted for last four years.” She could see that I wanted to know. “He wants to get back together, start things over, give us another chance.” I wished that I could make things better for her, take away whatever pain she was trying to bury, or rebury at that moment.
“I wish I could help,” I said honestly, softly.
“You just did,” she replied quietly.
“Anytime.” I replied. She reached out then, and put her hand over mine. I looked down at our hands, and had a sudden feeling that her hand was the hand that was supposed to be there always. I looked at her, and her eyes told me that whatever I was feeling, she felt it too.
Things took a little bit of a different route about a week after that. I spent a lot of spare time with DeLorean, which also meant I spent less time at home than I should have been. We were sitting in Barnes and Noble one day, and in walks this guy who’s about five-foot-nine, about 150 pounds. He had dark hair, and a goatee. He looked around for a bit, and then she spotted him.
“Oh my God,” she said quietly, turning her back to him. She looked right at me. “That’s my ex-husband. Taylor, what am I gonna do?”
“DeLorean.” She made eye contact with me again. “He won’t bother you. If he comes over here, ask him to leave, and if he won’t, I’ll ask him, and if he still won’t, security will ask him. Okay?” She nodded once, and he spotted us. He made his way over to us, and immediately asked me who I was.
“I should ask you the same.” I replied, even though I already knew.
“I’m her husband.” He answered.
“You’re not my husband, Steven. We got divorced four years ago; let it go.”
“Lorrie, just come with me for a little while. We can talk – it’s been a while.”
“No, and stop calling me Lorrie.” she shook her head, looking him straight in the eyes. He had deep brown eyes that held this intimidating air, as did he. “I’m here with someone.”
“Who? This guy?” He jerked a thumb towards me. “Who cares about him; leave pretty boy, and just – “
“Hey,” I interjected. “First of all, I don’t like being called names. Second, she said she doesn’t want to go with you.”
“Steven, just leave.”
“Lorrie – “
“She asked you to please leave.” I said. He glared at me.
“What are you gonna do about it, fight me?” He took a step closer to me.
“No; I’m not into physical violence. But I believe security wouldn’t appreciate you harassing her, or me.” I took her hand and pulled her closer to me; I put my arm around her shoulders protectively, keeping her close as if he were going to pull her away. When he realized I wasn’t kidding about security he looked back to her.
“Call me, please?” When she refused to look at him or answer, he left defeated but angry. I looked at her, still staring at the carpet. I gently tilted her head up to look into her eyes, and I could see that all she wanted to do was run, get far away from him, and never have to look back again. Instead she spoke quietly.
“I’m sorry, Taylor. I need some air.” She was up before I could stop her. So I followed her out of the bookstore and right into the alley beside the brick building.
“DeLorean,” I caught her by the arm gently. “What happened in there? What was that all about?”
“Our marriage didn’t exactly end on happy terms, Taylor. I was young, I thought I was in love, and all I was in was trouble. I wish I never met him…” I could see the tears in her eyes, and I could hear them in her voice.
“Hey, hey,” I said softly, pulling her to my chest, and wrapping my arms around her. I could feel her body heat, and I never wanted to let her go again. I held her close for a long while, almost afraid to let my arms slip from the protective and comforting embrace I had wrapped her in. I felt her hands slide to my hips as I pulled back a little, my hands on either side of her face. I’m not sure what made me decide to do what I did next. We simply gazed into one another’s eyes for a few moments or so, then I moved my face closer to hers; I leaned down and our eyes closed as I gently touched my lips to hers. That first kiss was so chaste, so light, and when I pulled back to look at her, I didn’t find regret there, or protest. So I leaned down and pressed my lips to hers again, more firmly this time; this time, it was deeper, and I just barely felt the tip of her tongue touch my own. I pulled back slowly, not wanting to open my eyes and find it was only a dream, but when I opened them she was really there.
“This is wrong,” she said quietly. “You’re married…” She started to back away from me slowly.
“DeLorean… don’t go, please,” I replied. I really didn’t want her to go; I’m not sure what I did want, but I know I didn’t want her to leave. She continued to back up.
“I have to go,” she said, her voice hushed, as if she were telling herself and not me. “I’ll call you tomorrow.” She looked at me then, and I saw confusion in her green eyes. She was feeling the same thing I was, and that feeling was that those kisses weren’t wrong, in fact, they were very right. I watched her turn and walk out of the alley, turning right to the parking lot where she always parked her car. I realized something then: I would be devastated if I never heard from her again. Truth be told, at that very moment, I knew I was doing something that just couldn’t be possible, but was: I was falling in love with DeLorean Bennett.