“What the hell is going on here?” As soon as the door closed, Brandt pounced on me. I didn’t want to talk to him, I only wanted to run after her and stop her from leaving. I wanted to make her understand there was something so right between us but the way she left gave me an uneasy feeling. She didn’t even acknowledge our usual Tuesday meetings. It hit me like a punch to the stomach and I feared for the worst.
When I didn’t answer Brandt, his questions got more personal, “Since when have you been dicking Chelsea’s best friend?” He brought his duffle bag over to the couch, throwing it down and sitting beside it all the while giving me a perturbed look. It didn’t seem as if he would let this alone. I have never been open about my love life, or lack of one, and I didn’t want to talk to him now although maybe I should. It would do wonders to not bury everything inside for once.
Not wanting to admit we were just ‘dicking’ each other I choose my words carefully, “We’ve been enjoying each other’s company since May.” His eyes went wide and I couldn’t help being a little amused even though my emotions were all bungled up with her leaving the way she did.
“Since May?” He shook his head letting this information digest. “Holy shit. I’ve never known you to keep more than a one-day streak with anyone since High School and to think you’ve been bumping uglies with Chelsea’s best friend for the last four months.”
“To be correct, we had hooked up once before on your wedding night.”
Another shocked look appeared on his face. “My wedding night!” He leaned back on the couch and ran his hand through his hair. “Didn’t Chelsea warn you that night to stay away from her friend?”
I did a low chuckle, “Yeah, but you know how much I like a challenge. Besides, did Chelsea really think I would corrupt Ami?”
“Corrupt Ami? Not a chance, but she is protective over her friend. She always thought Ami should settle down and get married. After she met that French guy Chelsea left her alone hoping she found her happiness. But when their marriage collapsed, Chelsea started in again bugging her about finding someone to spend her life with, although Ami always had been somewhat of a loner. ” Chelsea had hoped Ami found her happiness but neither of them understood how marrying Marius slowly killed part of her.
Ami never clued them into the marriage being a sham and I hated how he mentioned her being a loner. Was it true? Could she ever see herself with one man? Ami had been burned before. First with a man who blamed her for a medical problem that wasn’t her fault and another man who she loved but couldn’t love her back. She had been hurt before but how do I convince her I was a better gamble?
What had happened between us went beyond the friends with benefits route, and if we were to go further, she would need to understand what it could mean to her safety. I put her at risk and I wanted her so bad I was getting complacent.
But I know what to do now to convince her.
If I were to get Ami to commit to me, I would give up my extra business. The illegal one. It would be the only way to protect her. Maybe Connor would take it on? He and the rest of my men were just as devoted to the cause so there would be a continued effort on their part. I would give it up for her. I would do it to keep her safe.
But if she were to commit to me I would insist on full monogamy. It bothered me she still had Mael, not to mention Russell and Chuck. I don’t know what type of relationship she had with those guys. Chelsea called them all boyfriends and it bothered me to think of her with any other man besides me.
Brandt leaned forward, “Chelsea wouldn’t like the two of you together knowing your history with women.” He peered into my eyes as if he could look into my thoughts. Slowly he gauged my reaction and the hardness of his eyes softened. Blowing out a breath, he exclaimed, “You fucking love her, don’t you?”
The finality of the word ‘love’ didn’t startle me like it did in my past. Ana was the last woman I loved now so long ago, and time had already healed those wounds, although I had been the last to figure it out. The emptiness in my satisfaction with my revenge should have tipped me off. I was glad those deviant fuckers were removed from this earth so they could never harm anyone again, but it wasn’t until two nights ago I realized it didn’t sting as much anymore. The pain of Ana’s loss would always be there but it felt right to move on.
“Yeah, I am pretty sure I love her but I can’t say the feeling is mutual.”
He sighed, “Did you ask her?”
Did I talk to her? We talked about everything. Her business, my business, travel, all the things we had in common. We talked like we knew each other forever, and we certainly fucked like a couple, but we avoided any discussion about our relationship.
“She told me she didn’t want anything lasting when we started this...” I left it up in the air, not sure what exactly we called it.
“Maybe I am not the best person to comment on this with my own marriage crumbling, but I think you should hold off. Give her some space. At least from my dealings with Chelsea, I’ve learned it is always good to let some of the dust settle before demanding answers.”
“You can’t tell me you haven’t been pushing things with Chelsea.” Since the beginning, he refused to see their marriage as ending. He wasn’t able to just sit back and let things be.
I hiked up my eyes at him challenging him. “No, you’re right. I’ve been in her face too much. I can’t take my own advice but I was forced to look at things a little differently since she left me.”
He did appear more put together lately. When Chelsea left him he became a shell of a man, but looking at him now, it was almost as if I had my best friend back. He had his same spark again. The one that took our band from shitty little dive bars to the top of the world and I couldn’t hold back my smile at his good fortune.
“Yeah, okay. It all kind of hit me at once. I’ve been an asshole and now I need to dig myself out. Chelsea and I are finally talking civilly. It’s a start. I had hoped at first Chelsea would overlook all the shit I pulled on her but once I found out how serious she was, I have been trying to show her I can change. I fucked up and it cost me everything. Maybe I can convince her in time, or maybe I will never get her back, but I know I will regret it if I push her too hard and she decides I’m not worth it. My hands are tied so I have no other option than to wait patiently and try to give her the time she needs.”
His words struck a response in me. Maybe pushing Ami wouldn’t help my cause. It wouldn’t hurt to give her some time. Her company officially began next week and I didn’t want to add any more to the pressure. I might not be able to give up just yet, but I could try to be patient for her benefit.
“Well...” Brandt’s look turned scheming, “If we are both out in left field for a while we might as well get our rock on.” He stood up and clapped me on the back. “When hasn’t a jam session helped? Did you keep up with banging on the drums or have your calluses worn off with all the pencil-pushing you do now?”
It made me chuckle, “I can still bang the drums better than anyone. The question is, are you ready for this weekend?” He picked up his bag and I walked him to the guest suite.
Brandt interrupting us was poor timing. Had he not come we might have worked things out but it was my fault. I forgot about our gig I scheduled when I heard he made amends with JJ. I had hoped it would knock him out of his doldrums but now I thought it would be beneficial for the both of us.
The ironic part of this whole situation was that JJ, of all people, pulled Brandt out of the hell he suffered in over the past year. JJ found him drunk one night and forced him to look at himself with his eyes wide open. They mended their differences and I couldn’t think of a better reason to get us all together for one last jam session.
Brandt needed music like he needed air and water. Playing in front of a live audience and entertaining thousands of fans at a time embodied his true passion. He flourished out on the road. As the ultimate showman, he needed to understand that although the rest of the band had other roads we could travel, he had options too.