I laughed, pulling back, “No. God damned, Loch. You’re good at this.”
His eyes were filled with something not good, “You said yes to Mike?”
“I said yes to him as a friend, firstly and secondly, I knew you’d say no to him and get me out of dinner. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I let you do it. I’m sorry for that.”
He lowered his face over me, forming himself around me almost, “I got mad, because there’s something here that I can’t shake. I need to see if it’s what I think it is.”
I closed my eyes and forced the images of the other girls, and the signing of the breasts, and the flocks of women. I swallowed, “You’re not what I want.”
He lifted my face sharply. I opened my eyes to see a look I’d never seen before, “Bullshit.” He was vibrating and holding my face. I looked around at the small store, and the old saying bull in a china shop started to become a possibility.
I panicked as he gripped harder, like he was stuck that way, or just barely holding himself together. I lifted my hands up to stroke his, “Hey, calm down.” I looked into his eyes, “It isn’t you. It’s what you do. You, I want more than anything. I want you to steal my food, and snuggle me on the couch, or window shop for dresses like we did last week. Lead singer with girls crawling all over him and totally famous, I don’t want that. I don’t want people watching me or thinking bad things about me, because they want you.”
His vibrating hand stayed on my jaw, still gripping too tight.
I tapped his fingers, “Loch, you’re scaring me a little bit—talk. Say something,” I whispered calmly. I trusted him. I didn’t trust the look in his eyes. I had pushed him too far.
He took a couple deep breaths and planted his lips on mine again, “You have to give me a chance. You’re assuming I’m going to be that bad rock star boyfriend and I swear, I won’t.” The dark look was gone when he stood back up.
I took my first real breath, still whispering and searching his eyes for the thing I’d seen, “You’re face gets so dark sometimes.”
He tried to smile but it was like it was broken, “I’m sorry.”
I gripped his fingers, “Lochlan, you were like frozen.”
His eyes pinched, “I know. I’m sorry. I had to go to anger management after the show. They told me to slow everything down and take breaths.”
I swallowed, changing the subject, “If I say yes and you break my heart, we can’t live together anymore. We won’t see each other anymore. We’ll lose the thing we have.”
He nodded, “I know.”
I maintained my stare into his eyes, “What do you want more, to be near me always, or with me and gamble it all away? ”
Without any hesitation or thought on the subject he spoke, “With you, anyway I can have you. You know me, baby, I’m always going to say yes to the incredible.”
I nodded, “Okay. We can go out for dinner.”
A slow smile crossed his face, “I’ll make you dinner at the house.”
My smile matched his, “Danny?”
“I’ll ask Gerry to take him to do something.” He bent his face close to mine again, “I’m sorry I got mad when Mike asked you for dinner.”
I shook my head, “No. I shouldn’t have even entertained the thought of dinner with Mike. It was mean. I was mad at you for the whole kiss last night.”
He leaned his forehead against mine, “Promise me, you’ll use your words next time.”
I laughed, “Pot calling the kettle black. You’re an asshole.”
He nodded his face against mine, “I know.” He took my hand and pulled me to the door. We walked down the road, holding hands. He glanced over at me, “Why a magic store?”
I looked back at it, “I wanted to ask for a spell to get over you.”
He gave me a sly smile, “You that hooked on me?”
Refusing to answer, I bit my lip. He wrapped his arm around me, “You know you are.”
I looked up at him, “Every girl in Boston is.”
His eyes sparkled, even under the dull, gray sky, “You need to look into my eyes and see the person I’m looking at. There won’t ever be anyone but you in there. When you see me at the show or signing autographs, that’s not me. This right now, with you, is me.” He stopped, pulling me into his embrace, “It’s always been me with you.”
He was right. When I looked into his blue eyes, I could see myself.
I pulled him down, pressing my lips against his.
We left Salem, both holding onto the intense feelings of the possibilities of what was coming. Gerry left us at the apartment and he and Danny took the car. Lochlan walked to the small store near us to get groceries, and I went upstairs to get cleaned up for dinner. Technically not for dinner.
I pulled on the only pretty outfit in my closet and looked at myself. White eyelet skirt and pale-pink tank top. My hair was a curly mess but he liked it. Weirdo.
He liked me the way I was naturally, even if I didn’t.
My stomach was in knots. I fidgeted and walked around my room, pacing and playing out how the evening was going to go. He would come back and make me dinner. We would have a glass of wine and laugh.
I had to shake my head and rearrange a few things.
He was going to make me hot dogs or Kraft Mac and Cheese and we’d drink beer.
We’d eat and have a drink. Maybe we’d kiss, and then somehow, end up in his bed. The images of the other girl in there killed that, “My bed,” I muttered, tapping my fingers against my lips.
I heard the door to the apartment, making my head snap towards my door. I didn’t move. I didn’t know how to be cool about having sex with him. He was experienced in a way I wasn’t, not to mention, we were roommates. If we didn’t work, we would have to contend with it. Mostly, it was his sexuality that scared me. I’d had sex but it was only with the three guys I’d dated, and they were all nineteen or younger. They weren’t amazing. They all were fairly average and new to sex, like me. I’d dated guys like me. Nerdy, book guys who hung in coffeehouses. Guys like Gerry.
This was uncharted territory. He had tattoos in places I hadn’t even touched on other people. I’d had sex in the dark with my eyes closed.
He’d already made me feel like I was burning up from the inside out, which was more than any of the other three had ever done. I chewed my lip.
I had a horrid feeling, we were making a mistake. The idea of losing him hurt more than not having him. I reached for the door and turned the lock. I dropped to my knees and leaned my forehead against the door.
He called me. I didn’t answer. I felt sick.
I heard his footsteps on the hardwood floors and closed my eyes. He turned the locked handle on the door.
I stopped breathing.
I shook my head, “I don’t feel good.”
He turned the lock harder, aggressively, “Let me in.”
I placed my hands on the door, “Can we reschedule? My stomach is hurting.”
“No. I know why it’s hurting.” There was a thump on the floor, and suddenly his voice was next to mine through the hollow door, “Mine’s hurting too.”
I whispered, “What if we fuck this up?”
He was quiet for a second, “I don’t know, I can’t think that far ahead. I just want you. I’ll always want you.”
“What if that’s all it is?”
“Princess, remember when I told you, I could have any girl I wanted?”
I wrinkled my nose.
“Don’t make that face, you know you remember that night.”
I laughed. He couldn’t see me but he knew. I whispered, “I remember.”
He sighed, “I wasn’t joking. Being Lochlan Barlow is awesome, but it’s not who I am. With you, I’m just Loch. I like that part of me. I like who you make me.”
My eyes watered, “I’m normal and plain, and you’re the light that could brighten the whole sky. You’re too big, and I know we’re going to fuck it up, and I can’t take not being with you, even as friends.” I was grateful for the door. I could never say any of that to his face.
“Princess, you’re extraordinary to me. You’re the amazing and the fantastic. I look at you and I think home. It’s bigger than anything in the world. No record deal, mountain climbed, no creation made, can compare to the feeling I have when I’m with you. Nothing I ever accomplish, will be as great as getting you to be my girl.”
I reached up and clicked the lock. He pushed the door and me back. He swept me into his arms, holding me to his chest, “I’m as scared of you as you are of me.”
I shook my head against his scruffy face, “No.”
He looked at me, “Yeah.” He put me down slowly, sliding me down his body.
I ran my hands up his torso, dragging his tee shirt with it, running my hands along his taut, warm skin. He pulled the shirt up over his head, dropping it on the floor between us. I traced his tattoos with the tips of my nails, appreciating each one. His left shoulder had a huge triangle that covered the whole round of shoulder and went up his neck a tiny bit. His chest had two sentences I didn’t recognize. His arms had daggers and skulls and weird artwork. He looked savage without a shirt on. His body was ripped and inked and he had a nipple piercing, I never noticed before. It blended into the ink over his chest. I pointed, “Is that new?”
It was a small black barbell through the nipple. I grimaced, “It must have hurt.” I flicked it with my fingertip. He sucked in, “Not any more.”
I smiled and looked up at him, my hands went to his leather belt with metal studs all over it. I undid it, maintaining his stare.
He looked like he was ready to pounce but I shook my head. I wanted to see him.
I pulled the belt from his pants, struggling with the studs. I dropped it to the floor and dipped my fingers into the front of his pants. He jerked, like he wasn’t ready for it. Taking his button in my fingers, I grinned as I undid it and pulled the zipper down.