Photo by Tom Rogerson on Unsplash

Boys in the Band

I didn’t even like the band, but my friends were dragging me along. Who am I to turn down a free show? The band’s name was Love Split Mystery. They were part of the post-punk revival; you might even call them emo with their shitty lyrics and bass lines that sounded exactly the same. It was payday, and my best friend Natalie called me before I left work. I had bills out my ass, and this paycheck was going to keep them at bay for a little bit longer.

“Ingrid, guess what?” Natalie said cheerfully over the phone.

“Wha?” I replied, trying to balance holding my lunchbox and purse whilst unearthing my iPod and keys from my purse.

“I got tickets to a show, and I want you to go with me.”

“I – I can’t,” I replied, for no particular reason.

“Why?”

“I dunno. I felt like saying no.”

“You always say no!”

“Well, who’s playing?”

“Love Split Mystery, that local band that got on MTV. They’re doing a hometown show at Calamity Jane’s.”

“MTV is a corporate shill, and so is that band.”

“C’mon Ingie,” she whined. “Donna and Becky are going too. Go with us, please??”

“Fine. Whatever.”

“Yay! I’ll pick you up at 7.”

* * *

We listened to the band’s album as Natalie drove Donna, Becky, and me to the venue.

“I’m sorry, but this shit song sounds exactly the same as the one before it,” I complained.

“What? How can you say that?” Donna said, looking at her overly made-up reflection in the passenger side visor mirror.

“Ingrid, you’re such a bitch. ‘Apoplectic Photoelectric’ does not sound like ‘I Saw the Fireworks at your Bedside Table and Plucked Your Heartstrings!”

“And what the hell is up with long-ass song titles anyway? Those pretentious sacks of shit.” I picked up an imaginary phone. “Hello, Love Split Mystery? Moz called; he wants his titles back.”

“Ingrid!” Natalie yelled over the noise.

I lagged behind the noise clique leading the way as we came towards the venue. They were dressed like a bunch of emo chicks, too: thick eyeliner, pink lipgloss, black nail polish, and your standard emo wear. God, my friends, were total groupies. We saw Weezer in high school at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and they dressed up as nerds. I didn’t go backstage with them, but I knew they got some. Sometimes I wonder why I even go to gigs with them. As much as I love them ’cause they’re my girls, they’re an embarrassment to music lovers like me, who actually go because it’s about the music.

Or because you’re getting in free, so you don’t give a shit about the music either way. Hahahaha.

* * *

Donna, Becky, and Natalie pushed their way to the front, me being dragged along. The opening act was decent, another local band trying to get on the map. Nothing notable, though, but I’d buy their CD at the merch table later if I saw it.

Then, Love Split (as their fans called them) came out and put on a show. I say “a” show because they looked tired and bored up there. They were definitely wet behind the ears. They played three covers, for God’s sake. Then again, they only had one album of material to promote. That’s what happens when you’re a buzz band. You get some, and your label tries to capitalize on your good looks rather than the music. Rather than putting on a well-thought-out live show, you get a shitty one.

During a short break in the middle of the show, Natalie – in a post-screamy hoarse voice – said, “Derek was looking at you.”

“Who’s that again?” I said as I blindly watched the crew set up for the next part of the gig.

“The lead singer! Hello! The hotness!”

“For real, girl,” Becky said, a little more than tipsy, her plastic cup swaying in her hand. “He was mentally undressing you.”

“Shut up, you pervs. He was not.”

“Yes hell, he was,” Donna said. “I think he only looked at you the whole night. Did you see those girls next to us? They kept elbowing you.”

“Stupid emo bitches,” I said. Luckily, they had gone to get drinks or something because they weren’t around to hear me diss them. “They can have him!”

“You watch. When they come back, Derek will be looking for you,” Becky said.

* * *

And true to their words, that Derek fool was looking for me. He eyeballed the front row where we were standing last and blushed when he saw me. His bandmates even looked at me, trying to be casual, but they weren’t. Before they even started the second half, they looked at me and nodded at Derek in such a way that made me think they were talking about me.

The scene bitches next to us found their way back and spent the rest of the gig trying to draw Derek’s attention away from me.

But what the hell? I didn’t like this band, so why did I give a shit if they were talking about me? Because that is the power of femininity. A switch of the hips, a shy smile, a subtle tuck of hair behind the ears is all it takes for a man to fall at your knees. At least that’s how it’s worked for me.

I decided to play a game. For the rest of the ever-so-forgettable gig, I spent flirting with Derek from the front row. I have never seen a man blush as much as he did. Dammit, I love being a woman.

* * *

After the show, Donna made the decision to follow the emo bitches backstage. My girls were my ride home, but there was no way in hell I was going back there with them. I dropped back and watched as security gave the emo bitches and my friends the once-over before allowing them through.

“Hey,” one said in a deep voice. “You wanna come back too?”

“No thanks,” I said, shaking my head.

I leaned against the cinderblock wall and dug into my pockets for a cigarette. I lit it and took a deep breath. My body – even my hair – hurt from being exposed to that shit for two and a half hours. I hoped my friends would do what they needed to do and get out. I wanted to go home, take a shower, one very large sleeping pill, and forget this night ever happened.

“Hey!” said another guard. “You got another one?”

“Yeah,” I replied, digging for the box and my lighter.

“Thanks,” he said after I lit his. “I’m Logan.”

“Ingrid,” I offered. We both took drags from our cigarettes.”You want one too?” I said to the other guard, holding the box out.

“Thanks, sweetheart,” he said. “Paul.” I nodded at him.

“So, how come you didn’t want to go?” Logan asked.

“Please,” I said, holding my hand up, “I’m not a groupie.” They laughed heartily. “My friends are groupies, and they’re my ride home.”

“So you’re stuck here, huh?” Paul asked.

“Yeppers,” I said, taking another long one. “Are you guys their security or the venue’s?”

“The venue’s,” Logan replied.

The door opened a crack, and Becky’s head peeked out before we could say any more. “Ingie! Come backstage! Derek Monroe wants to meet you!”

“Tell him I said to piss off,” I replied, blowing smoke up in the air. “I’ve got better things to do.”

Her eyes bugged out of her head, and she opened the door all the way. Derek was standing there, sweaty and tired-looking. He blushed when he saw me again.

It was okay to put the bravado on when the fourth wall was still there, but I’m not the kind of girl to diss a boy to his face. I immediately felt bad. Paul and Logan choked, trying not to laugh at my mistake. I gave them a Look.

“It’s okay,” Derek stammered, trying to make a quick exit.

I stubbed my cigarette out on the ground. “I feel like a dork now. Hi Derek,” I said politely, “I’m Ingrid.” I stuck my hand out, and he took it through the doorway. He had a weak handshake. Logan giggled from behind me, pushed me all the way in so he could shut the door behind us. Becky started walking back to their green room.

“That’s a really pretty name,” Derek offered.

“My mom named me after Ingrid Bergman, one of her favorite actresses.”

“Ah, that’s cool. I don’t know why my parents named me Derek,” he blabbered.

I gave Becky a Look from beside me. She shrugged and started to talk to me. I hate it when she does that.

“Ingrid moved back here from Washington D.C. last year. I was telling Derek and the guys that we’re locals too.”

“Really? What else did you tell them, Becks? That I hate rainbows and perform ritual sacrifices to a wolf?”

“No, nothing like that,” Derek said.

I burst out laughing. “Chill, kid. I was jokin’.”

Becky pushed the door to the green room open, and everyone was draped around the green room. I should say my friends and the emo bitches were draped around the guys in the room.

“Hey! You must be the famous Ingrid!” the bassist said. “I’m Landon.”

“Hi,” I said politely.

“Want a drink?” said the drummer, who had a nice smile. “My peeps call me C-Dawg. But my mom christened me Christopher, so feel free to call me Chris.”

“My peeps call me Ingie, but if you called me that, I’d have to kick you in the balls,” I explained. He burst out laughing. “It’s just Ingrid, and I’m good.”

“Ingrid, I’m Randy – in name and in spirit,” the lead guitarist said with a wink. “This is Hannah,” he said to the girl who was hanging onto him. It was the leader emo bee. I know because she seemed bent on elbowing me the whole time and was totally shooting daggers the moment I stepped into the room. I gave her a Look, and she did the same.

I took a seat on the couch’s armrest and surveyed the scene in front of me. Derek stumbled over and brought me a bottle of water.

“This better be closed,” I said.

“Yeah, of course,” he said.

I cracked it open and took a sip. It gave me a chance to look at him closer. “How old are you?” I asked.

“I just turned 19,” he said. “Why? How old are you?”

“Never ask a woman her age,” I said. “But for statistical purposes, 23.” Maybe because I naturally looked young, I always attracted the younger guys. It was both a blessing and a curse. In thirty years, I would barely age a day and would probably land a younger guy when my life partner dumped me for an upgraded model.

A few minutes of awkward silence, filled with laughter, passed before someone came in. “Sorry to cut this gatheration short, but the band has to leave,” their tour manager said. “So anyone who is going should go.”

I stood up and shook Derek’s sweaty hand again. “Thanks for the water. I’ll see you around, kid.”

I walked over to Natalie. “Nat, I have to work early tomorrow. Are you staying or going?”

“I’m – staying,” she said, burping into Chris’ ear. They’d be having a burping contest for the last few minutes.

“Give me your keys. Call me when you’re ready,” I said. This is the same conversation we had every time she wanted to stay. I had the same convo with Donna and Becky, and they were both staying as well. I made my way back out and said goodbye to Logan and Paul, getting both their numbers for good measure. I breathed the muggy Mountain Valley July air in and walked out of Calamity Jane’s in one piece.

* * *

I got a call three hours later, just as I was about to fall asleep.

“Hey babe,” Natalie slurred. “Come get us!”

“Where are you?” I said, blinking at the clock.

“Um, I dunno,” she said. “Someplace off Carpenter. It’s got pink flamingoes in the front yard.”

“Carpenter? Jesus, that’s on the other side of town!” I whined.

“Please?”

“Do I have a choice? Be there in 30.”

* * *

I nearly got a contact high from the smells emanating from my friends as they got into the car.

“Did you see that bitch Hannah’s face when Derek shut the door behind him?” Becky said.

“What happened?” I asked, navigating the car back onto the interstate, only mildly interested.

“Derek refused to talk to those bitches that came back with us to C-Dawg’s house. Hannah swooped in and tried to take your man, but he didn’t have it!” Donna said.

I had hooked up my iPod to my car and blared En Vogue for us to listen to on the way home. “Oh really?”

“Dude, he has it BAD for you!” Natalie said, bouncing in the passenger seat. I guided the car into the fast lane, but a Mercedes SUV was not letting me in. I kept looking at him or her in the mirror, and he kept driving just close enough to stay in my blind spot—the bastard.

“Which is why we gave him your number!” Donna yelled.

“My WHAT?” I screamed, nearly losing my concentration.

“Your celly,” Becky offered.

“Why the fuck would you do that?” I said, pressing the gas harder and getting in front of the Mercedes Bastard.

“Why deny him a chance to get with you?”

“Kenny is older than him.” Kenny was my kid brother. “I never date guys younger than Ken. You guys know that.”

“That’s a stupid rule, and you know it,” Natalie said. “He’s a famous rock star, and he wants you. Get with it!”

“I don’t care if he’s the prince of a foreign country. I. DO. NOT. LIKE. HIM.”

“Says you,” Donna said from the backseat.

* * *

The next day, I went to work really happy for some reason, even though I got maybe five hours’ sleep after dropping them off at their houses. My favorite co-workers were in the house, and in between helping customers, we had a good time.

I called Natalie on my lunch break.

“Hey, babe,” I said. “How bad is your hangover?”

“Pretty big,” she admitted. “But it was worth it!”

“Natalie, those guys just graduated from high school. That’s sick.”

“No, it’s perfect! They’re still young enough to not know a lot.”

“Jesus, I can’t believe you’re rationalizing it. That’s sick.”

“No, it’s not. They went to Mountain Valley High.”

“Oh? So that makes it okay?”

“Whatever. I got laid, and that’s all that matters!”

I sighed. “You’re hopeless.”

“Did Derek call you?” she asked, switching gears.

“I nearly forgot he has my number. No, he hasn’t called, thank God.”

“Did we also tell you we told you where you work too?”

“What the hell Nat? Why get the kid’s hopes up like that?”

“Because he was so cute and totally worth a lay. He kept asking about you the whole time too.” Her voice dropped into a masculine register. “‘Uh, what was your friend’s name?'”

“Lame, you’re fuckin’ lame.”

“You know you love me!”

“I gotta go. The microwave’s beeping at me, and I’m starving.”

* * *

Later that day, my co-worker Dylan and I were standing around talking. It had quieted down some. We were just killing time before our supervisor would find us and either give us something to do or scream bloody murder for doing nothing.

“It was an okay concert,” I said. “I wasn’t too impressed with the band, to begin with, and the gig kinda solidified my opinion of them.”

“I’ll have to download some of their music,” Dylan said, smiling at a female customer as she walked by with her kids.

“I have your email, right? I’ll send you some.”

“Um, Ingrid? Hi,” said an unfamiliar voice behind me.

I turned around and smiled. Derek, his face scrubbed clean and wearing jeans and a rumpled Smiths t-shirt, smiled shyly at me.

“Derek,” I said, “how’s it going? You need some help?”

“Um, no. I came to see you, actually.”

I turned around. “Dyl, this is Derek Monroe. He’s the singer in the band that I was telling you about.”

“Oh, cool. Nice to meet you,” Dylan said, sticking his hand out.

“Hi,” Derek said. “So, uh, are you busy?”

“No, as you can see, nobody needs me right now. What’s going on?”

“I just wanted to see what you were doing later, actually.”

“Oh,” I said. “I’m busy, actually.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Yeah, thanks, though.” I paused. “Did my friends really give you my number?”

“Yeah, I was going to call you, but I thought it would be weird. I wasn’t even sure if they gave me the right number.”

“702-555-5998,” I offered, wondering why I was confirming my number with him when I didn’t like him like that.

He took his phone out and checked the phone book. Oh my God, he had my number programmed into his phone! “Yeah, that’s the one. I thought they were playin’ with me.”

“Um, give me a call in a few days,” I said. “I don’t think I have plans.”

“Oh, we’re going back on the road tomorrow,” he said, deflated. “We have to go overseas.”

“That’s cool,” I said easily. “Just give me a call when you’re back in town then.”

* * *

I didn’t keep my hopes up, so my life went on. I have to admit; I looked him up online. I checked his official site out and then his Wiki page. Then I couldn’t stop researching him. I looked up his band’s videos on YouTube and joined his official MySpace too.

I knew it before I could stop myself; I was going into fangirl mode, and when the others found out, they wouldn’t let me hear the end of it.

“I knew it! I called it, didn’t I Becks?” Donna said over lunch at Atlanta Bread Company.

“You’re so full of it,” I said, frowning at her.

“No, you’re full of it. Full of love,” Natalie said. I threw my used napkin at her.

“I don’t know why you’re such a prude when it comes to guys,” Becky said.

“Prude? More like playing smart. I don’t want to a broken heart, and how many guys have we seen come and go?”

“Getting your heart broken is like falling off a horse. You just have to get back up and try again,” Natalie said.

“Just because Cole did you as he did doesn’t mean you have to be an ice queen to the rest of the male population,” Donna said, invoking the cursed word. “Not all of them are bad guys.”

“Yes, they are,” I argued, my mouth full of Caesar salad. “They’re all the same, especially in this town.” I swallowed and punctuated my speech with my plastic fork. “In fact, show me one guy who doesn’t want you just to fuck, and I’ll buy you and your mothers Louboutins.”

* * *

Three months after the gig, my phone tinkled “All These Things That I’ve Done” by the Killers, my default ringtone. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t pick up the phone. It kicked back to voicemail, and I waited for it to beep and tell me.

A few minutes later, I picked up my phone to check the voicemail.

“Uh, hello, Ingrid? It’s me, Derek. We’re back in town for a couple of weeks’ vacation. I thought maybe we could get together as you said. Before I left, um, call me back. My number is 555-5258. Hope to hear from you. Bye.”

I shook my head in amusement. I toyed with the idea of calling him. He was still a guy and still a musician. I didn’t trust them farther than I could throw a truck.

Cole was a singer too. He had such a beautiful voice. People compared him to John Mayer all the time. When he started making plans to move to New York to pursue his music, I thought – but never asked – he would take me with him. He didn’t. And it turned out he was cheating on me for three months before he left with another girl.

I hated musicians as a whole. I still obsessed over their music like a dutiful fan, but I knew their intentions (whether they knew it or not). Their careers left it open enough, so even if they were married or had girlfriends back home, they would fuck a groupie with no strings attached. There would always be girls that would be willing for a quick blowjob in the back of the tour bus, and be happy with those memories and never want more.

But not me. I wanted the raw, spiritual feelings that I felt after I listened to their music to be real. I believed that sleeping with them would taint the music, so that’s why I never let myself get into a position that I would regret the next morning. I always stuck to my guns when it came to ideological differences. Ask anybody.

But applying that logic, I could still fuck him if I wanted to. I didn’t like the music he made so I wouldn’t get hurt, would I?

I called him back a few hours later and made plans to meet him on Telly Square – the local nickname for Mountain Valley’s downtown area – later that night.

* * *

“Hi, Ingrid!” Derek said warmly from behind me.

“Hey, kid,” I said. I leaned over to hug him. I don’t know why.

A trio of musicians was busking nearby. We listened to their song, mashed up with “Planet Earth” by Duran Duran, appreciatively until they finished. I tossed a couple of dollars into the open guitar case they had set up. They thanked me with a smile and kept on playing.

“Want to get something to drink?” I asked, eyeing one of the nearby restaurant’s sidewalk bars.

“I can’t,” he said.

“Oh, that’s right,” I replied stupidly. “You don’t mind if I get something, do you?”

“No, go ahead,” he said.

I quickly got my screwdriver, and we started walking around. We didn’t say much for a while. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence either. There was enough in and around Telly Square to assault our senses and not be uncomfortable.

“How long you been in Mountain Valley?” he began.

“I was born here, but I moved around a lot when I was a kid. My mom and dad divorced when I was 8, so I split my time between here and Washington D.C. My dad got me a job with his design company in D.C. for a few years, but it panned out. So I moved back here to help my ma,” I replied. “You?”

“Born and raised,” he said. “I went to Mountain Valley High.”

“Yeah, Natalie told me.”

We walked around a little bit longer.

“What kind of music do you listen to?” I asked.

“That’s a dangerous question to ask,” he replied. I raised an eyebrow at him. “I could talk about music all day.”

“Me too,” I said. “I listen to everything.”

“Everything? Even country?”

“Even country. It’s sad how people are quick to pigeonhole and label each other when it comes to good music. If the music’s good, then shut the fuck up, you know?”

He laughed. He had a cute laugh. “Yeah, I know.”

“Heyyyy!” said a loud, familiar voice behind me. I cringed and whipped around. Dressed to the nines and quickly ending the space between us were Natalie, Becky, and Donna.

Derek smiled at my friends as they greeted me. He hung back for a moment, a shy look coming over him.

“We decided to crash your date. Is that okay?” Natalie trilled.

I wanted to kill her with my bare hands. “Why?”

“We thought you might need help,” Becky said, tucking one of her curls behind her ear.

“More like embarrass me, right?” I said. “Just because I told you where we were going doesn’t mean you can just show up!”

“Sure it does,” said Donna easily. She peeked up at a neon billboard flashing nearby. “Oh my god, yay! Burt’s brought back fried Twinkies. Who wants one?”

“I’m sorry about this,” I said, gesturing to my friends in front of us. Ten minutes later, they were eating their fried Twinkies and drinking. I had lost my appetite and thrown out my unfinished screwdriver. In fact, I lost all sense of taste when they showed up. I dropped back to keep pace with Derek, who looked out of place and uncomfortable amongst my loudmouth friends.

“It’s okay. They’re probably sizing me up. I know how girls can be.”

I giggled. “You could write a song about us, I bet.”

He thought for a moment. “You know, I could.” We laughed together.

“You know, Derek,” Becky began, “Ingrid’s ex was a musician too.”

I looked at her as the tips of my ears went hot with embarrassment. “I don’t think that’s a relevant topic of discussion, Becks,” I spluttered.

“Really? What happened?” asked Derek.

“He cheated on her and dumped her. Cold-hearted bastard,” Natalie said, dropping back and throwing her arm around his shoulders.

I pushed her off of him. “Nat, lay off, okay?”

“Okay,” she said, holding her hands up obligingly and speeding up to keep pace with Donna and Becky.

“I’m sorry,” Derek apologized. “We’re not all like that.”

“It’s okay,” I found myself saying. “That was a long time ago, and I’d rather forget it.”

Two hours later, I begged off the rest of the night. I had a headache that a 500 MG Tylenol in my medicine cabinet was going to fix; Heaven help me.

“Do you need someone to drive you home?” he asked politely. I looked at him to see if there were any ulterior motives in his query. But there wasn’t. None that I could tell anyway.

“No, but you can walk me back to my car,” I said.

“All right, where are you parked?”

I led the way to my car in the movie theater’s parking lot. “This is me,” I said, taking my keys out of my purse.

“Thanks for the walk,” he said, holding his hand out.

I stared at him. “You goober. Come here,” I said, opening my arms up. I held him briefly and pulled away.

“Good night,” he said. “I’ll call you or something.”

“Good night,” I replied. “Okay, sounds good.”

* * *

He called me the next day whilst I was at work, so I let the call go to voicemail. On my break, I checked it.

“Hi Ingrid, it’s Derek. Do you know how you said I could write a song about you and your friends? Well, I did.”

The rest of the voicemail was him singing a song about how he loved my friends for being so protective of me and that if I gave him a chance, he would prove that spending time with him was worth it.

I blushed in my seat in our break room, and my co-worker Lee caught me.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing. One of my friends just wrote a song about me and left it on my voicemail.”

“Awww, how sweet,” Lee said, taking a seat beside me. “Can I hear it?”

“Sure,” I said, replaying the voicemail.

“I know that voice; that’s the kid from Love Split, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, how did you know?”

“I went to school with his brother.”

“Did you go to their show the other night?” I asked.

“Yeah, did you?”

“Yeah!”

“You must’ve done something to that boy to get him to write a song about you like that,” Lee said. “Are you going to call him back?”

“I’m obligated to, aren’t I?” I replied.

“Yeah, just a little bit,” joked Lee. I laughed with him and scrolled to Derek’s number on my phone. I know; isn’t it sad? A while ago, I was embarrassed that he had my number on his phone, and here I am, doing the same.

“Hi, Ingrid?” came the breathless voice on the other end.

“Derek, hi. I just got your voicemail.”

“Oh,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to send it to you, but… yeah.”

“Thank you,” I said, a shyness coming over me. “I really liked it.”

“It’s rough, but I’m going to work on it with the band, see where it goes.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yeah, really.” He paused. “When can I see you again? We’re going back on the road tomorrow morning.”

“I get off work at 7,” I offered. I felt deflated all of a sudden.

“Okay. I’ll meet you at Charlie’s at 7:30.”

“It’s a date!”

* * *

“Are you hungry?” he asked. Charlie’s was a restaurant/pub that was frequented by all the cool people, located just off Telly Square.

“Not really,” I said, which was partially true. I was starving, but I didn’t want to eat. I just wanted to be with him.

“Let’s take a walk,” he said, leading the way towards the main thoroughfare for Telly Square.

We walked side by side in silence again. When a burly-looking man made a move to walk between us, Derek instinctively took my hand and pulled me towards him. I didn’t shrink away, even though I could have.

“Can I be honest?” I said suddenly. We were standing on a street corner, getting ready for the light to change.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t want you to be anything but,” he replied.

“I like you. At least I think I do. But I don’t trust myself around musicians.”

He sighed. “So that’s the only thing that’s keeping this wall between us?”

“Yeah,” I said.

He squeezed my hand and led me across the street. “I don’t know how to change your opinion, other than being me. We’re not all assholes, you know.”

“I know,” I said, “I’m beginning to realize that.”

“So what do you want to do?” he said, stopping us in front of the Plaza’s lighted fountain. A bunch of kids was hanging around, skating, and playing in the water.

“Take it slow; see where it goes.”

“I can do that,” he said.

I was a bit out of it, trying to make sense of my feelings. But when he leaned over to kiss me, I didn’t resist. I was about to kiss him back when the kids nearby started hooting and hollering at us. Derek pulled away from me, and we started giggling. He took my hand again and led us down farther where the kids couldn’t see us.

He kissed me, and I hadn’t been kissed like that in ages. I relished in his touch for as long as I could and tried to commit to memory the taste of his kiss because I knew it would probably be a good long time before I would kiss him like that again. He was a good kisser for someone so young, which wasn’t a fair assessment – I suppose. But how many other 19-year-olds are that good? Trust me when I say he was good.

“I was thinking,” he said, my lips rosy from his kisses. “Do you want to come to visit me one weekend or something? I’ll send you a ticket.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yeah, really.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

laurel