Fake Boyfriend Breakaways: A Short Story Collection, page 21
Marty sighs. “I guess this is why they say you shouldn’t meet people you admire.”
I purse my lips. “I hate to say it because I know it’s not what you want to hear, but I think no matter how that meeting went, you were probably going to be disappointed in some way. And he was a bit grumpy, yeah, but he’s allowed to be. The label has been screwing that band over since the beginning. They deserve better. And I’m sure once I make them super famous, Jay will be super nice to you. Because I will make him.”
Marty’s lips twitch. “You’d do that for me?”
“Yup.” I pull into the parking lot of a trendy café. “But before I do all that, I need food.”
I love how animated Luce is getting over Radioactive. I love that he wants to help them make it big, and that he’s in an actual position to do something about it. If I could make people listen, I’d tell the entire world about their music.
But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t facing as big of an identity crisis as Luce claims Radioactive is going through.
Yesterday, I was delusional about meeting Jay, and while I knew my delusions were far-fetched, I guess I never thought I’d walk away from him less interested than I was before.
The funny thing about that is, I don’t know if it has anything to do with him. Yeah, he’s messier than I imagined, but I held him at an impossibly high regard. I thought he’d be too good for cheap tricks with managers and a typical rock star life.
Maybe I wanted him to wake up spouting philosophical shit. I was expecting kind of a pretentious douche. Not a guy who seemed lost.
But again, I don’t think that’s what’s gnawing at me.
I think the whole exchange isn’t sitting right because while I was there, I was keenly aware of everything Luce did. Of his every move. Admiring the way he commanded attention and controlled the room.
If someone had told me yesterday that I’d choose to be having brunch—eager for it, even—rather than talking to Jay from Radioactive, I would’ve told that person to fuck off and get off drugs.
Yet, as we sit here in the crowded café, and I watch Luce scarf down eggs Benedict and pastries, there’s a bittersweet feeling that I might’ve just met the man of my dreams and he’s about to chase a different dream. One of representing a band halfway around the world.
Luce smiles at me. “What’re ya thinking about?”
I smile, but I know it’s weak. “That you’re gonna kick ass at managing Radioactive.”
“Then why are you looking at me like I’ve set fire to a litter of puppies?”
“Because that probably means that our first and second dates might be our only ones?”
Luce’s hand pauses halfway to his mouth with a forkful of food.
“I mean … I’m not, like, obsessed with you or anything after one night. But I am having fun.”
Luce puts his fork back down and reaches across the table for my hand. “Me too. However, the good news is, if this is going to happen, it might take a while. Hell, it might not even happen at all. I have to get the label to sign off on it, and then work visas and all that paperwork crap. It’ll be a slow process.”
I squeeze his hand. “It’ll happen. The label will see how passionate you are about them, and your idea to make them mainstream to get exposure will work.”
Luce’s brow furrows. “What are you saying? That you want this to be our last date?”
“No. Just because I’m sure it’ll happen, doesn’t mean it will. Like, I’m sure one day I’ll succeed in using a molecular structure to create a composite plastic harder than steel, but until that day, I’m not going to disown all my friends before I’m a famous scientist. Like, that’s just stupid.”
He laughs. “Right. You’re going to wait until after you’re famous to ditch everyone.”
“Duh. I’ll have the money to buy new friends then.”
“Do scientists really make that much? Even famous ones?”
“Don’t spoil my fantasy!”
Luce throws his hands up. “Okay. Sorry. One day you’re going to be so famous you won’t even remember my name.”
I shake my head. “Sorry, Lucifer, there’s no way I’m forgetting your name.”
Luce grits his teeth. “I shouldn’t have told you.”
“Ah. Then you shouldn’t have had sex with me. It’s like the gateway to people’s secrets. A man is never more honest than after he blows his load.”
There’s a woman next to us who chokes on her coffee. Serves her right for eavesdropping. I mean, really—she’s the one being rude here. Not me talking about coming.
Luce smirks at her. “Well, I propose that if our time is limited, we spend as much time together as possible.”
“Better eat up, because unless you have plans later today, I think we’re going to have plenty of time to …” He looks at the woman beside us and then back to me. “Be honest with each other.”
I wipe my mouth with a napkin and stand. “I’m done eating.”
Luce’s definition of plenty of time? A full thirty-six hours where we don’t leave the bed except to eat, go to the bathroom, and hydrate.
When we’re not having sex, we’re chilling in each other’s arms or watching TV on the big screen he has in his bedroom. He said at one point he wanted to check in with the festival that’s still going on, but then apparently I got up to take a piss and distracted him with my retreating ass.
In his defence, I do have a good ass.
It’s been the best weekend of my entire life, which is quite sad but not really if I think about it. I’ve spent most of my life since my early teens with my head in a book. I’ve dated, I’ve met guys off hook-up apps. I’ve never experienced the kind of connection I have with Luce.
Not even through music. Not even with Radioactive. Though, meeting them this weekend helps lift the last few days to best-weekend-ever status.
Come Monday morning, we’re woken by Luce’s phone going off.
I need to get home to shower and go to the lab at uni to get some work done, and Luce needs to get to the label. We knew this morning we’d have to say goodbye, and as much as Luce keeps telling me he wants to see me again, I can’t help thinking this is all fleeting.
Perhaps it’s because I know what he’s planning to do, and I have all the faith in the world he’ll achieve it.
“Luce Riley.” He throws his legs over the side of the bed and stands, pulling his boxers up his legs as he tucks his phone in between his head and shoulder. “I’m so glad you called.” He looks over his shoulder at me and mouths, “It’s Jay.”
Yeah, don’t think I’ll ever get used to that. Not that I think I’ll have the chance to though anyway. Because this is it. This phone call is the thing that’s going to make this weekend come crashing down.
“I actually have some ideas,” Luce says. “Some of them you may not like according to Marty—” He chuckles. “Yeah, the mouthy boyfriend who loves your band.”
My stomach flips. I’ve never had a proper boyfriend before, and I don’t think after spending two days with someone I can call him that. I mean, I’ve dated guys for months and never called them my boyfriend before. But the description falling from Luce’s mouth makes me want it.
“I’m going to try to get something set up at the Joystar offices here in the city today when I head in for work. When do you go back to the States?” Luce bites his bottom lip. “Two more days? That doesn’t give us a lot of time. Do you have any plans? I’m wondering if we could meet up to discuss my ideas before pitching it to the big guys. You coming with me to headquarters will help gain some urgency too.” He nods. “Great. I’ll see you in …” He looks around the room, his eyes landing on his watch beside the bed. “An hour good? I’ll send you the location so you can Uber or cab it. Oh, and bring Benji and Freya but not Wayne.”
He ends the call and stares at his phone in shock.
“He actually called,” I say.
“It’s a lot sooner than I thought—”
“Me too, but this … this has been my dream forever. It got lost somewhere along the way.” He climbs onto his bed and crawls towards me. “And you brought it all back for me. You made this happen. I … I don’t think there are enough words to ever thank you.”
I smile mischievously. “Then maybe you should thank me by not talking.”
Luce groans. “As much as I would love to thank you all day again, I need to get a move on if I’m meeting the band.”
Just like that, the fleeting sensation is back.
“Can you come back tonight, or can I call you?” Luce asks.
I nod. “Call me when you’re done. I’ll come over. I’ll also bring over some clothes and a toothbrush so I don’t have to keep using your stuff.”
He leans down and brushes his lips against mine. “I’ll see you tonight.”
From the couch in our living room, my mum gives me a look as soon as I walk through the door of our small townhouse in Pascoe Vale. “Have a fun weekend, did we? Thanks for the two-word text letting me know you weren’t dead.”
“You’re getting better at hiding your mocking tone.”
She smiles. “Darn. I wasn’t trying to be subtle at all.”
I approach her and kiss her cheek. “I’m going to go shower and then get to the lab.”
“Can I expect you home for dinner at least?”
I freeze. My immediate response is to say no, but that niggly feeling that he’s not going to call still gnaws at me. “Don’t bet on it, but that doesn’t mean I definitely won’t be.”
“So will I cook something for you or not?”
“Not. If I do come home, I’ll fend for myself.”
She scoffs. “Well, then, good luck.”
“I haven’t given myself food poisoning since I was a teenager, and I thought chicken came in medium and well-done like steak.” Will never make that mistake ever, ever again.
Mum laughs at me.
I start to head for my bathroom, but she stops me again.
“Was he worth it?”
I grin at her over my shoulder. “He’s amazing.”
“Who is he?” Her eyes shine in a knowing way.
“Gray told you, didn’t he?” My brother’s friend from the bar. God, he’s worse than my brother with this stuff. “I swear he and Adam are like two little gossiping queens.” The funny thing being they’re the straight ones.
“Gray said he’s older.”
“Luce is not that much older. He’s an exec for Joystar Records, and he got me a meet and greet with Radioactive because he knows how much I love Jay. He’s a good guy.”
“Wow, what? That I’m dating someone older or that he’s a good guy?”
Mum blinks. “That you met that band you won’t shut up about, but you’re telling me about the guy instead. Jay not fall head over heels for you?”
“Okay, there was no attempt to hide that form of mockery. And no, he didn’t. He was … kinda a mess. Not like, high or drunk kind of messy you’d expect of a rock star, but … I dunno. I felt sorry for him.”
“Aww, hon, I’m sorry.”
I find a smile because I’m not as distraught about it as I thought I would be. “It’s all good. I met someone who understands and even calls me on my bullshit.”
Now I just have to wait for him to call me, period.
“I like him already,” Mum says.
Yeah, that’s my problem too.
And I wish I could say I’m being cool about it and have the attitude that if I hear from him again, great, if not, oh well. But I don’t.
After I shower, I check my phone. Which is stupid, because he’s probably still with the band and talking to the label.
I get to uni late, I can’t concentrate all day, and I keep incessantly looking at my stupid screen, willing a message or his name to pop up as it rings. Well, technically, Tom Ellis’s name—the guy who plays Lucifer on TV. I couldn’t resist.
Instead of going home at five, I figure I need to do something productive seeing as I failed all day. He still hasn’t called, so going to the library to check out a dissertation I wanted to read seems like the responsible thing to do.
The second my feet step across the threshold, my phone chimes. I can’t get it out fast enough.
Tom Ellis: We’re going out to celebrate. Meet us at Mecca Bar?
The amount of excitement in the pit of my stomach hits all new levels of pathetic. I do wonder who he means by “us”—if he means him and the band or if he talks like my uneducated brother and says “us” for “me” in sentences. Because, you know, that’s good English.
Me: What time?
Tom Ellis: We’re heading there now. Race you?
Play it cool, you doofus.
Me: I’ll meet you guys there. I’ve just got some work to finish up first.
Tom Ellis: Good luck with all the molecules and atoms and shit.
Me: Yes, the ‘and shit’ part is the technical term for what I do.
Tom Ellis: I would use the proper terminology, but it’d be so technical that even you’d have trouble understanding me. Duh. Can’t wait to see you. Will it be lame if I say I missed you today?
No. Not lame at all.
Me: Yup. But I’ll let it slide because you’re so hot.
Tom Ellis: How gracious of you.
Me: I’m a gracious kind of guy. I’ll see you soon.
On the way to my car, I have to tell my legs to slow down.
When I hit a yellow light, I tell myself to stop and do the safe thing.
And when I get to Smith Street, I tell myself to find free street parking farther away from the bar than the parking garage that costs more than I can afford. Which isn’t hard.
I enter the bar, and it’s easy to spot who I’m looking for. He stands tall above the crowd. The shouting and woo-hooing around him helps. I also have my answer for what he meant by us. We’re celebrating. Jay, Benji, and Freya are here too.
They all down shots at the bar, and there are smiles all round.
Luce’s face lights up even more when he sees me coming, and I can’t stop my own reaction.
“Babe! You’re here.” He pulls me in, but with Mecca not being a gay bar, the kiss he gives me is brief. “I don’t think you officially met Benji and Freya the other day, but I know you know who they are. Guys, this is Marty. He’s the entire reason I’m here with you at all.”
Freya—the Freya from fucking Radioactive—hugs me. Benji high-fives me.
Jay gives me a nod and a smile. “Apparently, I need to apologise for being an emo dick the other morning, but in my defence, it was before caffeine. I can’t be held responsible for anything that happens before that.”
“It’s true,” Freya says. “We know not to try to rationalise with him.”
I smile. “It’s all good. I’ve been told my bluntness could be considered rude.”
Luce pulls me close. “Now who would ever tell you that? Your bluntness is adorable.”
“Wow, he must really like you,” Jay says. “How are you two gonna be with Luce coming back to the States with us?”
Just like that, my heart sinks to my stomach. I turn to him and fake a smile. “You’re … you did it.”
“Almost. They want to take it to the guys in L.A. and we’ll see what happens after that. I might be home in a week.”
“Oh,” Jay says. “Okay, now I am an asshole. Sorry, I didn’t realise you hadn’t told him yet.”
Luce shrugs it off. “There’s nothing really to tell yet.”
I nudge him. “Yes, there is. This is an amazing opportunity, and I know you’re gonna rock it.”
“If it was up to us, it’d be a done deal,” Benji says. “Wayne has to go.”
“I’ll admit I’m a little surprised you guys are okay with Luce’s crazy idea.”
Jay shrugs. “It’s not that craz
Luce leans in. “I’m going to make ‘Hat Trick Heartbreak’ their first single on their next album.”
“It’s a great song.”
Which only reiterates Luce is gonna be offered the job and he’ll take it.
“More drinks?” Jay asks. “My treat.” He holds up some money. “Australian money is pride coloured. It’s weird.”
I laugh. Guess that’s one way of looking at it.
While he and the band order more drinks, Luce pulls me close, wrapping his arms around me from behind. “Can we pretend I’m not leaving in a few days and don’t know when I’ll be back?”
No! “Let’s just celebrate tonight.”
“You still coming home with me?”
“Of course. I’m nowhere near done with you yet.” Even if this can’t go any further.
“Good. Because neither am I.”
Jay passes drinks all round, and after we toast to the band and drink them down, Benji wraps his arm around Freya. “Wanna play wingwoman and dance with me?”
She nods, but I frown and turn to Jay.
“Wingwoman? Aren’t they—”
Jay sighs. “They’re in major denial. Too much drama for me to keep up with.”
They’re on the dance floor for only a few minutes before they’re each dancing with other people. I can’t help wondering if they do it to torture themselves or each other or what. I’ve never understood that type of craving for angst and heartbreak.
Then I look at Luce and wonder if I’m not doing my own version of the same thing. I want to spend as much time with him as possible before he leaves, knowing that once he gets on that plane, the chance of him coming home is slim to none.
And if I can feel this strongly after only a few days, what will another few days do?
“They’re going to be doing this to each other all night and eventually go home together,” Jay says. “It’s actually getting quite boring to watch. Are there any gay bars around here?”
I grin. “There is, but if we go, I need you to do me a favour.”