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Complete incomplete, p.1

Complete (Incomplete), page 1

 

Complete (Incomplete)
 


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Complete (Incomplete)


  Complete

  Published by Lindy Zart

  Copyright 2014* by Lindy Zart

  All rights reserved

  Cover Design by Lindy Zart

  Edited by Wendi Stitzer

  Formatting by Inkstain Interior Book Designing

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

  The following people won or purchased a character role in Complete: Megan Stietz, Angela Pratt, Cathy Heard, Judith Frazee (Eddie and the Platypires). Thank you for being your cool selves.

  Thanks to Tonya Nichols & Katz for the scene suggestion of a road trip for Grayson and Lily. Shenanigans ensued at your behest.

  As always, thank you to my beta readers! I appreciate you taking the time to read my unpolished work, and you know, pointing out everything you don't like—and everything you do!

  This is me figuratively raising my wine glass to Wendi Stitzer; the person I pay to tell me all the spelling and grammatical errors in my work.

  I used a reference to KB Builders in the novel—this is an actual construction business run by my husband Kevin Zart and his brother-in-law Brent Drake. As you know, only awesome things are put in my books.

  And lastly, thanks to Mars, Incorporated for their Dove Promise chocolates with the special sayings—I hold no rights to them, which is a shame.

  This book is dedicated to my mother.

  She is one of my dearest and most loved fans.

  [THIS IS ARIEL RODGERS AND we’re here today with Grayson Lee, lead singer of Thrush, one of the newest and smoking hot alternative rock bands to pop up in recent years. The song that got Thrush on the charts was their first single, Incomplete, and it is my personal favorite. Maybe you've heard it? If not, you need to listen to it STAT.

  It is an honor for US Daily to be allowed the first one-on-one interview with soulful rocker Grayson who manages to mix slow and fast into his songs in a previously uncharted way. Our location is a quaint coffee shop in Los Angeles, California. It’s hot in here, out here—frankly anywhere Grayson Lee is. With his shaggy blond locks, black retro glasses, sinfully dreamy blue eyes that never lose that glint of sadness, and lanky tattooed frame—Girls, I know you agree—he holds a place in all our hearts (and fantasies). But he is not just a pretty face with a decent voice; there is depth to Mr. Lee, there is pain in him. He feels things. He is real.

  Please give me a moment to fan myself before the interview commences.

  AR: Grayson, thank you so much for joining me today. Originally a Wisconsin native, how would you say California is treating you?

  GL: My pleasure, Ariel. This is what I have to say about California: it is a completely different world from Wisconsin. There are some things I love, and miss, that can only be found in Wisconsin, but I do know the sun shines most of the time here and that is something I won't ever complain about.

  AR: When you say there are some things you love and miss that can only be found in Wisconsin, would you be referring to the mystery woman most of your songs are about?

  GL: How do you know there is a mystery woman most of my songs are about?

  AR: I’m a woman. I know. Come on, Grayson, spill. You have to give me some juicy gossip to impart on the world that is dying to know more about the quiet singer who keeps to himself, yet comes alive when performing. Just a tidbit.

  GL: Okay. I’ll tell you. What I love and miss the most about Wisconsin are the flowers.

  AR: Flowers?

  GL: Yes.

  AR: Any particular kind of flower?

  GL: Lilies.

  AR: You do know, Grayson; that lilies can be found in California?

  GL: Not this kind.

  AR: Would you care to elaborate?

  GL: No. Sorry.

  AR: Thrush has only been on the map for around two years, but already they are making headlines and fast on their way to international stardom. What are your thoughts on this?

  GL: It doesn’t seem real and I wonder if it ever really will. Most days I feel like this is all a dream and my reality is somewhere else.

  AR: How are you adapting to it all? Are you overwhelmed, loving it, can’t get enough of it?

  GL: I never wanted to be famous, and I’m not saying I am, not at all. I just wanted to write and sing music and be financially stable, so yes, at times, this is all a little overwhelming. But when I perform, it’s surreal—in a good way. It is a moment of pure positive emotion that I wish I could bottle up and take with me everywhere and open it up whenever I’m feeling down.

  AR: So it’s your drug of choice?

  GL: I guess you could say that.

  AR: Speaking of drugs; you don’t drink. You don’t smoke. Is there a reason you’re so careful to stay in control?

  GL: You said it right there: control. The thought of being out of control scares me. And I’ve seen what drugs can do to people and I don’t want anything, other than me, to have that kind of power over my life.

  AR: You seem to have a lot of wisdom for one so young. How old are you now?

  GL: Just turned twenty-one last week.

  AR: Well, congratulations and Happy Birthday.

  GL: Thank you.

  AR: I know you’re busy, so I won’t keep you much longer. Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans before we wrap the interview up?

  GL: I have fans?

  AR: Loads of them, Grayson.

  GL: Well then, supposing I have fans, and I’m not too sure that I really do, I’ll tell them what someone told me once. Be free. Be happy. Be you.

  AR: Thank you for meeting with me, Grayson. I’ve enjoyed talking with you.

  GL: Same here. Thanks, Ariel.

  That was about thirty minutes of paradise and it was much too short. If you’re reading this, then you most likely have seen and heard Thrush perform, or you just saw the hot guy on the cover of this magazine and decided to learn more about him. Whatever got you here, I know you won’t regret it. There is something about Grayson Lee that makes you love him. I think, for me, it's his honesty. He makes no excuses and there is a humbleness to him that you don't see in many performers. He also writes and sings beautiful music.

  His voice is like unpolished euphoria and his face is one you dream of kissing. And I’m not ashamed to admit this—he is my celebrity crush. I should be ashamed. He is more than five years younger than me, but less than ten, and we’ll just leave it at that.

  This is Ariel Rodgers leaving you with this: If you haven’t checked out Thrush yet, you are clearly, and sadly, Incomplete.

  My fingers are trembling as I unsuccessfully try to close the magazine. After the third attempt with uncooperative hands, I make a sound of frustration and my fingers clench to crumple it up, but then I see his eyes. Those eyes seem to look back at me, soulful and sad. Shoulders slumping, I smooth the pages against the wooden table top and stare. In the interview picture he is wearing a black v-neck shirt, but the front of it is torn so that part of a dark blue lily tattoo on his toned chest is peaking out. His long-fingered hands rest on the ripped fabric, pulling it down more.

  He hasn’t changed much. Grayson’s blue eyes are still so expressive, and his hair is the same shade and length I remember. With bangs in his eyes and locks of it waving over the tops of his ears and up the nape of his neck, his style is now artful instead of just messy. His glasses are new, slightly smaller than I remember, but square and black like his old ones. And his full lips are quirking on one side like they used to when he was teasing me.<
br />
  There is maturity to his face that wasn’t there two years ago and more definition to his features. Grayson is a man now instead of a teenager on the brink of manhood. The swooping in my stomach happens every time I see his image—like butterflies vomiting—and I should probably be used to it since his face is everywhere these days, but I am not. I look at this man I used to know and it is painful.

  “Mooning over ex-lover boy again, are you?” Scott opens a bottle of juice and begins to chug.

  I elbow him in the gut and apple juice spews from his mouth, coating me and the table in a layer of sticky wetness. “Shut up, Scott.”

  “Seriously, Lily!” He swipes an arm across his mouth.

  Yanking the bottle from his fingers, I recap it and put it away. “You know, other people drink out of that. Why are you getting your gross germs all over it?”

  “It’s not like it’s your juice. You don’t even live here anymore.” Scott wets a dishrag and scrubs himself down.

  “Neither do you.”

  He pauses with the rag on his neck, brown eyes narrowed on me. “Why are you here?”

  “Why are you here?”

  “I asked you first.”

  “And I care this much.” I hold two fingers together in front of his face.

  Scott tosses the rag at me, leaving a wet splat where it lands on the chest of my red scrub top.

  “Thanks a lot. Jerk,” I mutter. I chuck the rag at the sink and it makes a thwacking sound as contact is made.

  “I don’t understand you,” he says, ignoring me. His finger taps Grayson’s head and I want to snatch the magazine away. “It’s been two years. You dated for a summer. That’s like a minute of time in a life span. Why do you care about him at all anymore?”

  “I never said I did.”

  Scott’s head lifts and an eyebrow follows. “You don’t have to say it. I mean, look at you; drooling over a magazine article. The guy’s a jerk. It’s not like he calls or visits or appears to care about you in any way. He doesn’t even send a postcard. Not once has he come to visit you since he went away to California. Also, he’s a dick.”

  “As opposed to just being a jerk,” I interject dryly.%

  His mouth opens and he scowls at me. “The guy punched me in the face and I never did anything to him, other than try to protect you from being hurt by him. And you got hurt anyway. What’s your deal?”

  “I'm glad our breakup and the ensuing heartache was all about you and your pretty face getting messed up.”

  “That isn't what I meant. I'm just trying to help.”

  “I'd rather you didn't.”

  Scott scowls. “I don't understand why you still care so much about someone who has given you no reason to.”

  “I broke up with him,” I state, feeling the need, even now, to defend Grayson. He would have stayed for me. We might still be together had I not pushed him away—only I did.

  “What?”

  “I broke up with him. I hurt him first.”

  Scott rolls his eyes. “Whatever. Still doesn’t make sense. Why not get over it and move on?”

  I cross my arms so I don’t grab the magazine and run. I have moved on, but I am not over him. I don’t have a good answer as to why I cannot do so. I could say it’s because I still love Grayson. I could say it’s because I miss him, long for him, compare every guy I date to him and none of them measure up. But it isn't any of that.

  It is because every song he writes is for me. It is because, yes, there is sorrow in his eyes, all the time. It is because I am the Lily he loves and misses the most; I am the Lily tattooed above his heart in the perfect shade of my eyes. It is because we are tethered to one another, no matter the time, the distance, the pain or regrets or mistakes, or even the silence, between us. I don’t understand it, especially when we have both moved on, at least in the ways most noticeable, and live our separate lives, but I know we are not right for any other human being and we never will be. So we hurt—because the only person that can make us happy is not with us.

  That sadness in Grayson’s eyes—it is a reflection of the sorrow staring back at me each time I look in the mirror.

  “We were best friends once,” is all I say to Scott.

  “Whatever. I’m here because Cindy and I are getting married and I wanted to tell Mom and Dad. You know, important things.”

  “Really?” I whisper.

  Scott grins, nodding. “Yeah. Really. Pretty awesome, huh?”

  I grab his hands. “So this means…you won’t be at Mom and Dad’s mooching all the time?”

  Scott pulls his hands away. “Like you aren’t doing the same.”

  “Hey, I just steal the mail.”

  “Where are Mom and Dad anyway?”

  “I think they're grocery shopping.”

  “They took vacation days from work to grocery shop together?”

  “It's the little things. I have to get back to work. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. I'll send Cindy a sympathy card. And you missed some juice.” I point to the table and floor, my shoes squeaking as I walk through unseen spots of liquid, magazine tucked carefully to my side.

  The August sun forces me to squint as I head to the white Ford Taurus, its fiery presence heating up the red scrub top and black pants I wear for my work uniform. I am not required to wear scrubs every day, but seeing as how I never really know what I will be doing as the workday goes, it is easier to have them on should I need them.

  As I open the car door, my eyes unconsciously fall to the white house with green trim across the street. Chin on hand; I watch it for a moment as a collage of memories seep through me: sunshine, chocolate, warmth, completeness, desire, loss, devastation, and most importantly, love. A smile, small but undeniable, tugs at my mouth. The years with Grayson as my friend were truly the best, no matter the current situation. I am sad about the way things ended between us, but I can also look back at our friendship and smile too.

  Aidan’s long-limbed frame ambles from the house and he catches me daydreaming. Black hair short, previously pale skin now lightly tanned, and a grin on his face, he is a totally different kid from the one Grayson left that summer two years ago. He waves, dribbling a basketball with his free hand. Showing off, he tosses the ball up and spins it on his index finger. It is hard to accept that he will be fourteen in less than three months. Even with the street between us, I see him wink.

  I laugh, shaking my head, and get into the car. “Stay out of trouble, Aidan!” I call out the open window.

  “I will! Catch ya later, Lily.” His attention is grabbed by a slender blonde walking up the driveway to his house and I smile as I drive away. He is fast turning into a heart breaker.

  Aidan’s had a rough childhood, but the last few years have been heading in a positive direction. He is into sports now and he's good. All that gawkiness disintegrated with hard work and lots of practice. His dad spends a lot of time with him camping, fishing, and going to ball games. Though his parents are divorced now, his mother has been dry for over a year, being more a part of his life in the last few years than she was in the first eleven. They go to family counseling once a week and I don’t foresee that stopping anytime soon.

  I pull the car into the parking lot of Mueller Dental and shut it off. Closing my eyes, I force myself to take long, deep breaths. Relax, stay calm. It is not a secret that Grayson and I dated, or that we were best friends for years before that. Each time a new magazine has his face on the cover, or a new song is on the radio, or anything involving Grayson, I am the one everyone gushes over him to. Like it doesn’t kill me hearing about him, like it doesn’t make me want to cry being without him.

  I straighten my shoulders and get out of the car, feeling like a soldier marching toward a firing squad the closer I get to the brown building.

  It begins in the reception area.

  “Lily! Did you see what we got in the mail today? It’s over there, on the end table,” Elizabeth Morgan squeals, jumping up from the chair behind t
he front desk. Her green eyes are bright, cheeks flushed, and a stray wisp of chestnut hair has fallen out of her up-do in her excitement. She is literally bouncing up and down with her hands clasped together over her mouth.

  “I just got here,” I tell her, though that should be obvious. She doesn’t need to know I already stared obsessively at my ex-boyfriend’s image and interview for an unhealthy amount of time.

  It continues in the lab.

  “Did you see it? He is, like, so hot.” Regina Struthers sighs. She is the sole full-time dental assistant for Dr. Lance Mueller, and though my main job duties are at the front desk, I help fill in when we are overbooked. I am helping assist this afternoon.

  “I can’t believe you dated him. You are so lucky.”

  “That’s me. Lucky.” The sick feeling in my stomach grows and I try to smile around it, checking on the operatory to make sure everything needed for the next appointment is set up. The medicinal smell that never truly fades from the air is evident as I step into the room.

  Regina follows me, her brown eyes intent on me. “How could you let him go? I would be, like, devastated. I would never want to leave my house.” She notices I am still, silently watching her, and her face reddens. “Sorry. That was insensitive of me. You must still care for him. Right? I mean, you were friends. It has to be hard.”

  I take in a sharp breath, checking the clock on the cream-colored wall. Ten minutes until the next patient is due. That is forever while in a Grayson Lee takeover.

  “Of course I still care for him. We used to be friends. And people bringing it up all the time doesn’t make it easier,” I point out, because I guess not everyone is observant enough to realize that.

  Twisting a lock of short, wispy blonde hair around her finger, Regina grimaces. “You’re right. I’m just a little star-struck. I so wish I would have moved here a year earlier than I did. I mean, he lived here, and you knew him. Intimately. I’m jealous. That must have been...wow.”

  My lungs expand on a deep sigh and I turn away so I don’t do or say something I will later regret. Stuff like this happens on a weekly basis. Everyone’s infatuated with Grayson, and by association, I receive the recoil of it. I am used for people to feel closer to the superstar, though everyone knows I haven’t spoken to him since he moved away. I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m good enough, but not good enough for my feelings to matter.

 
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