The Real Thing

The Real Thing

I waited until I got into my car to check my phone. My boss was a stickler about using them at work but I also preferred to read my messages alone. I knew I smiled like a lovesick fool when I read his messages and I didn’t like dodging the ‘what are you smiling at’ questions. None of my co-workers knew about Nick and I wanted to keep it that way since I had no desire to be the subject of their gossip.

As it was, there was already division over Nick’s band Lustful Gaze, apparently you either loved them or hated them. Many of us had seen them live more than once as they had played the bars in our area for the last year or so before they were discovered. I hadn’t been one of those people who followed the band around but if they were playing it made me more likely to go out. As far as I could recall, they’d had a pretty strong following, a lot of the same people turning up at their shows. A lot of them female of course.

No surprise there, the band was h-o-t hot. Nick with his blonde surfer boy look. Jase the drummer had the bad boy look with his tattoos and skulltrim. Bass guitarist Matt was a punk/goth blend with his piercings and eye liner. Lead guitarist Denver had dark and broody down pat with his intense eyes and close trimmed beard. Something for everyone really.

I’m really not sure how I ended up sitting in my car reading text messages from Nick. A casual comment while we were both waiting to be served at a bar had led to a conversation that ended with him asking for my number. I honestly hadn’t expected to hear from him, I was nothing like the women who stood at the front of the crowd and tried to make meaningful eye contact with him every night. Nothing like the women who waited for the band after the shows.

But somehow, I was the woman reading texts like the one he’d sent me earlier in the day. While I was teaching my kids how to spell, he was sending me sweet messages.

Morning baby, how are the kids? Hope they learn everything soon so you can come be with me. Got promo stuff all day then the show but will call you in between. Be good (save the bad for me) xxoo

I fired back a quick response knowing he wouldn’t be able to answer.

Kids are good but so much to learn yet! Hope you had fun with your promo stuff (is that code for drinking and relaxing?). I’m always good, I’ll be extra good when I get home and relax in the tub for a while … talk soon xxx

The trip home was short and I had a nice long bath before putting together a light dinner. Then I settled on my couch with some school work and my phone close by, waiting for Nick to call. It had been two weeks since I had left him on tour and for the first week we had spoken every day. Since then, we had traded texts and left messages, our timing constantly off.

After I’d read the same page three times, I put my work aside and picked up my phone to check the time and make sure my battery was charged. I was smiling, anticipating our conversation, what I’d say to tease him, how he’d swear and growl in return.

I checked the time again, knowing it was getting close to the time their concert would start.  Looks like we’d be having a quick chat so no teasing. Twenty minutes later I was still waiting and my good mood was long gone. In its place was concern that something had happened, partnered with anger that he’d forgotten about me.

My phone rang as I was picturing Nick in an accident, thinking I would never see him again. Seeing his name on the screen sent relief cascading through me, my voice was shaky when I answered.

“Nick, are you okay?”

“Hey baby,” he said cheerfully. “How was your bath.”

I pulled the phone away from my ear to stare at it incredulously for a moment. I was sitting her thinking he was dead and he was asking about my bath?

“You’re late calling, I thought something must have happened?”

“No, just had dinner with the boys and getting ready for the show,” he said, still cheerfully.

“Oh, okay.” I blinked back tears as his words sunk in. We hadn’t spoken for a week and the first chance we had he was too busy having dinner to call. “How is everyone?” I asked with artificial cheer.

“We’re all good, pumped for the show.”

“That’s great. I’m sure you’ll be great.” I smiled and laughed as he told me a funny story about an interview they’d done that day.

I wondered if it made me a bad person that I missed the Nick I had met all those months ago. The one that was a little bit insecure and had a touch of stage fright. The Nick that had liked for me to be there for him before and after a show.

“Anyway baby, I have to run, can you hear the crowd?”

He must have held his phone out because I heard the cheering and screaming for a moment then he was back.

“I wish you were here baby,” he said, his voice low and husky and for a minute I had my Nick back. “Miss you so much Sienna,” he whispered so softly I barely heard him.

“Miss you more Nick,” I whispered back.

“Baby I -”

“Nico, time to get on stage!”

Whatever he’d been about to say was cut off. I recognised the voice of their publicist easily thanks to the time we’d been forced to spend together while I’d travelled with the band. We had a mutual dislike for each other for various reasons, the main one being that I was bad for publicity. Not that Nick and I flaunted our relationship, if questioned he just confirmed that he had a girlfriend but gave no details. I guess we were lucky that as much success as they were having, they weren’t the targets of paparazzi as yet.

“Be right there Lib.” I heard Nick say then I heard footsteps and a door closing. “I have to go Sienna,” he told me, his voice solemn.

“Are you okay?” I asked, remembering the early days when he’d be stressed out about going on stage. Smaller venues didn’t phase him but larger ones had brought out his stage fright. “Nick?” I prompted when the only reply I got was a heavy sigh.

“Yeah baby,” he said then sighed again. “I just really fucking miss you. I think … sometimes it’s easier not to talk to you then I can pretend I don’t miss you so much.”

I understood what he meant but it still hurt to hear. “If it’s easier for us not to talk,” I said past the lump in my throat. “We can just text if you like?”

“Hell no!” His rejection made me slump in relief. “I need this, I need you.”

In the background there was banging and Libby’s voice yelling for him again.

“You better go,” I told him and laughed. “Before Libby breaks the door down.”

“Yeah I better. Can I call you later? After the show?”

“Any time you want to,” I promised.

“I’ll wake you up though.” His voice dropped and he put on a little growl. “You’ll be all grumpy but I know how to fix that.”

There was a reason he was the singer of a band called Lustful Gaze, his voice was a weapon, I was putty in his hands when he spoke to me like that.

“I guess we’ll see if you do later,” I managed to say.

“Get some rest baby, you’re gonna need it.”

He hung up before I could reply but he left me with a smile.

I finished up my work after that then watched television for a while before I headed for bed. Only a little earlier than usual but I wanted the chance to get some sleep before he called. My alarm woke me at the usual time and it was only as I was making breakfast that I remembered Nick had been going to call. Had I slept through my phone ringing? I grabbed it to check but there was nothing. No missed call, no text, nothing.

Later that day I sat in my car and looked down at my phone. No message waiting, no missed calls, nothing. I wondered if this was my future, waiting for calls that never came and messages that were never sent. I wondered what excuse Nick would have this time, remembered his voice as he’d said, “… sometimes it’s easier not to talk to you …”, and I thought maybe there wouldn’t be an excuse. Maybe he just decided to go with the easy.

 

continues here

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