Strung

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Chapter 15. - Flowered

“London, love, will you help me clear the dishes?” My mom’s voice sounded from the kitchen. I didn’t know a single person who enjoyed washing dirty plates, but at that moment, everything was preferable from the awkward silence between me, my dad and my brother.

The chair squeaked on the hard tiled floor as I pushed it back. “Coming!”

I could’ve sworn I heard my father exhale audibly as I left the room.

My mom was waiting for me in the kitchen, with the sink already cleaned out, and the machine running. I grinned. “More coffee?” She offered, and I nodded excitedly.

“Do you want to get your notepad?” I volunteered, after a few sips of the delicious drink my parents’ fancy machine could produce.

Mom frowned. “Would you mind terribly?”

Chuckling, I shook my head. “Just grab it.”

She scurried out of the kitchen, only to return a minute later, with a notebook and pen in hand. I sat up on one of the counters, crossing my legs in front of me as I patiently waited for her questions. She flipped it to a blank page, scribbled something on top, then looked up at me over the rim of her glasses. “You know, sweetheart, I’ve been crunched by my publisher to do a modern romance story. And it has occured to me and I’ve been married to your father for nearly three decades.. I have no idea how people date today.”

I smiled. “Just ask, mom.”

“Were you nervous before you first met him? Excited? Scared? What was going through your head?”

I took a sip of my drink, remembering back to the day Lukas LaBelle walked onto stage - young, blonde, and ridiculously cute. But I knew that wasn’t what mom wanted to know about. “I didn’t know he was going to be there. Arielle said it was a very important client, but she didn’t say any names. And then, the next thing I knew, Hazmat walks through the door!”

Mom nodded, and scribbled something down. “Then?”

I shrugged. “He was...so handsome, mom. I couldn’t breathe!” We giggled. “I mean, I knew that he was hot - I’ve obviously seen all the music videos, saw them live in concert, watched interviews and all. But having him stand in front of me in real life-” I trailed off. “-it was just something else.”

Mom didn’t interrupt, she just continued writing, and occasionally looking at me in between, waiting for me to go on. From previous notes of hers, I knew that the order of how a person recalled things, as well as what they thought was notable to mention was equally as important to her as the story itself.

So I felt very conscious about every little thing that was coming out of my mouth.

“It’s like-” I sighed. “-I could watch a thousand videos of him, and know that he has these golden brown eyes, but I never noticed how long his blonde lashes were. I didn’t know how he smells, or what makes him laugh, or how he is with his friends, when no one is around. And just experiencing that in real life, and learning all that about a man I idolized for a decade makes him more real.”

Mom’s pen paused, her dark brown gaze looking up at me.

“I made him into this character in my head - I put together what I knew about him, and filled in the blanks with my own imagination. And about some things, I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

“Do you love him?”

I choked on my own saliva. “What?!” My mouth hung open. I couldn’t believe that after all the little, personal details I’ve shared with her, she would ask me this - of all things! “Mom, are you for real?”

She nodded. “Do you?”

My lips kept parting, then closing again. I was searching for the right words, rummaging my brain for the right answer. Did I?! I mean, I’ve said that I loved Lukas LaBelle, or that I was in love with him a million times over the last eight years.

But that was before I actually got to know him!

Now, if I said I loved him, I would admit to really love a person, not an image. Not an idea… But someone I actually knew! And, would you say you loved a random guy you’ve hung out like three times in your life?! Who barely remembered to call you by your actual name, and may or may not be fucking other girls on the side?

No, you’d be insane.

“I can’t love him, mom. I barely know the guy!” I shook my head. “I mean know know him, in person.”

Mom shrugged. “Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot, London dear.”

“No, mom!” I frowned. “I don’t love him!”

Sure, I loved Lukas LaBelle, the hot rock star - the famous guitarist, the artist, the man who wrote half of my favorite songs. I absolutely idolized him! But Lukas LaBelle, the man who came to my studio and painted around for a whole morning, just so he could hang out with me? The actual person who liked to call me every other city in the world but the right one? The guy who showed up unannounced, whenever he felt like it, and normal social concepts baffled him?

No, I thought. I didn’t love him.

I dabbed at my lower lash line with my index finger, wiping away the moisture. It turned out all the blinking made my eyes water.


I left my parents’ house an hour later, too exhausted to head to my studio. It turned out that brainstorming and stressing over your imagined love life was tiring, and I wanted nothing more than to draw myself a hot bath, put on my some great music, candles, and destress.

Although, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that, when the main stressor was the guy playing the strings in said great music…

I walked into the apartment I shared with Callie, and found her perched on the high stool, right by our kitchen counter. “There you are!” She said, getting to her feet. “I’ve been waiting for you!”

I frowned. I’ve spend every Saturday morning with my parents, as long as I could remember, and she knew that. “What’s going on?”

“There’s something waiting for you in your room.” Callie’s smile was sly and knowing, and the instant the words left her mouth, my hand begun to sweat. “Don’t look like you just smelled something weird!” She shook her head. “You’ll love it, trust me.”

I started walking towards my room, noting the sound of someone following me. So she wasn’t going to just let me have this one. Her footsteps echoed behind me as we entered my room. I instantly spotted the gigantic floral arrangement on my desk. “Holy…” I trailed off. It was a colorful work of art – made up of roses, lilies, orchids, and like ten other kind of flowers I couldn’t name from the top of my head.

“There’s a card with it too!” Callie chimed in, as I stepped closer.

I took a deep breath, inhaling the sweet scent of fresh flowers. It really was beautiful – the smells already filling up my whole room.

“Read it, Londie!” Callie interrupted again, as she walked up and handed me the little white card from the table. “I want to witness your expression.”

I frowned, glancing up at my best friend. “What does it say?” I asked, knowing damn well she has already read it.

She smiled sheepishly. “Um… I don’t know!”

I rolled my eyes. “And they tell me I’m a shit liar.” I groaned, as my fingers tightened around the tiny envelope. I slid the card out, carefully opening it. I recognized the handwriting immediately – not because I’ve received so many letters from him in the past, but because I used to stalk the entire hell out of this guy. “Lukas LaBelle…” I whispered, recognizing the signature in the bottom.

My eyes scanned over the carefully written lines above.

’For a beauty who is artsy-

To adventures we’ve yet to see,

Places where there’s no guarantee

-Will you go on a date with me?’

I read and re-read the message a few times, just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating his words.

He was asking me on a date. Lukas LaBelle was asking me, London Grey, on an actual date!

I twisted the card around in my fingers, committing every single part to memory. I already knew I was going to save this, along with the rest of my Hazmat memorabilia I’ve collected over the years. I was tempted to even lift it to my nose, to see if maybe I could smell him on it – but I realized how ridiculous that would’ve been.

It was going to have to wait until Callie left the room. Speaking of-

I turned to my best friend. “Thank you for looking out for me.”

Her features softened. “Aw, Londie! Who knew you were such a-“

I lifted my hand and pointed at the door. “I need to be alone now.” I said, sternly, since she didn’t take the hint. There was no such thing as privacy as far as my life was concerned!

She rolled her eyes, but complied, shutting the door carefully behind her. Although, I would’ve have put it by her to actually stand on the other side, and try to listen in.

I picked up my phone, and dialed the first number stored under my starred contacts.

He picked up on the second ring. “Hey, Toronto! One second-“ I heard some shuffling from the other end of the line, before the noises quieted completely. A door slammed shut.

“Out of curiosity-“ I started, my heartbeat picking up at the knowledge that he was on the other end of the line, listening. “-do you google cities before you talk to me? I bet you secretly have a list you keep on you at all times.”

Lukas chuckled. “I go by cities we’ve performed at before, baby. I don’t need a list.” His voice softened. “Did you get my flowers?”

I grinned. “Oh, so you were the one who sent them? I couldn’t make a name out of the chicken scratch you call a signature.” I teased him, hoping to get a reaction. Because he certainly got a reaction out of me.

He huffed. “Do you have a lot of admirers sending you gifts?” His tone was light, but I almost sensed that there was a serious question behind it. Like he really did wonder if I got a beautiful bouquet delivered to my doorstep on a daily basis.

“No.”

“Well, we ought to change that then!” Quickly, he added. “Not the number of men - but the number of surprises you get.”

My lips pulled into a wide smile, my heart skipping a beat at his words. Lukas LaBelle wanted to send me more surprises!

“But you still haven’t answered my question.”

I blinked. “What question?” I asked, confused.

Lukas groaned. “You’ll make me say it out loud, won’t you?” He took an audible, deep breath. “Will you go on a date with me, London?”

If it was possible to faint from excitement, I was about to find out. I couldn’t contain the giant grin on my face, any more than I could control the way my stomach fluttered at his words. “Yes.” I whispered, then louder, I added. “Yes, Lukas LaBelle. I will go on a date with you.”

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