Nostalgia is a Liar

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Chapter Four

Summer, 2007

Luna and Cooper had moved into their new apartment in Back Bay. Cooper had just started his first writing gig at Baller – a sports & men’s magazine.

Luna started an internship at an art gallery in Bay Village.

They are all settled in and relaxing on the couch.

Cooper is messing around on the guitar, Luna cradled behind him on the couch.

Cariño, we’re in our own home mi amor…” she grins from ear to ear.

“Well, it’s an apartment… our home will be tiered with a yard and a white picket fence”

“Excuse me, take your rain away from my parade”

He chuckles, strumming away.

“We’re adulting Coop… we’ve got jobs and deadlines… and bills…”

“You are the most adorable human I know” he kisses her cheek.

She snuggles further behind his back, lacing her fingers through his growing hair.

Cooper plays a few haphazard chords, singing “One day someone will find you in the middle of all this mess…”

She presses a kiss to the side of his forehead, her free arm draped loosely around his neck.

“… so, let it be me, I want it to be me… I must confess” he bats his eyelashes. She giggles.

Cooper smiles, starting chord progression G, C, G, C…

You’re a song written by the hands of God. Don’t get me wrong cause this might sound to you a bit odd… but you own the place where all my thoughts go hiding and right under your clothes, is where I find them…

He peeks up at her, tears shimmer in her eyes.

“What are you looking at?” she pokes her tongue out. “You know that’s our song… always gets me in my feelings.”

Cooper’s mobile buzzes on the table. Luna leans over to grab the phone. She looks at the screen, perplexed.

“Who’s Hannah Marketing Chick?”

He sits up, putting the guitar aside. “Oh, it’s Hannah from marketing… from work”

Luna narrows her eyes, pursed lips “Thanks for today Coop… I owe you another coffee… xoxo…”

He laughs nervously, “Funny story…” gulps “She had some issues with her e-mail, which I tried to fix and then one thing compounded onto the next… and coffee split everywhere… and yeah… it’s one those ‘had to be there’ moments”

“Clearly”

“Lu, what is this?” a corner of his mouth lifts “Are you jealous?”

“Should I be?”

“Of Hannah… from marketing?”

Luna leans forward, carefully placing the mobile on the table. Her face is marred with frustration and annoyance.

“If I weren’t here when the text came through… would you tell me?”

“About Hannah…”

“I swear to God Cooper if you say, ‘from marketing’ like it’s supposed to make a goddamn difference in my life, I will toss this phone out the window!”

He holds up his hands in defense, “Babe… it’s an innocent text, no sub-text… no meaning behind it… no nothing. She is a work colleague…”

“Okay…” her lower lip quivered.

Cooper reaches out for her hand, she pulls away.

“Babe…” he inches closer, gently tips her face toward his, pinching her chin between his index finger and thumb; reluctantly she looks in his eyes. “Are we good?”

She closes her eyes and exhales, then looks up to meet his gaze again. “Yeah, I’m being stupid and temperamental. She’s a colleague, you were helpful and clumsy… It’s all good.”

He presses a kiss to her mouth, but he could feel her stiffen underneath his touch.

“Speaking of…” she shoots up from the couch “Coffee?”

“Sure…”

Cooper goes to reply to the text. Luna stops at the kitchen doorway and looks back.

There was hurt and disappointment in her eyes, but more underlying… mistrust.

She knew she never had reason to question Cooper’s fidelity but couldn’t help her jealous streak and mistrusting core from going there in her head.

She shakes her head and turns back around.

Cooper looks up to find her gone from the doorway. He clears the text he was about to send and heads to the kitchen.

He walks up behind her, as she takes out the mugs from the cupboard.

He wraps his arms around her waist, as he hugs her back and presses a kiss to her shoulder blade.

“Hey, you…” he whispers

“I’m sorry Lu”

“Don’t be sorry, I was being stupid” she clears her throat

He spins her around, pulling her hips closer to his. “No, you were not. I will talk to Hannah, no texts after hours… whatever she wants to tell me, she can say at the office. We’re not friends, we’re work colleagues.”

Luna looks to the ceiling, “Coop, I don’t want you to do that. You should be able to talk to whomever whenever… I mean, I wouldn’t be bothered if it was Jimmy or Stan…”

“Well, they’re off limits too”

She laughs, “Stop making fun of me! You know I have issues”

“No…” he presses a kiss to her lips “You had a warranted concern, and I’m fixing it”

“Aren’t you tired of fixing things up for me yet?”

“Never.” He steals another kiss “I will fix this whole goddamn world up for you Luna.”

“How about you just love me instead?”

“Done!”

“I’m sorry for being crazy”

He shakes his head, “If you’re crazy I’m crazy”

“Okay Noah Calhoun”

“I have an idea…”

“I’m all ears” she hugs his neck

“There’s a basketball court just a block away…”

“You want to play basketball at 10pm?”

“I want to play strip horse…” he winks

Luna lets out an animated laugh, “Strip horse? At night?”

“It’s summer”

“It’s Boston”

He puckers his bottom lip, “Come on Lu… I know we’re adulting now, but we can still have a little fun”

“Stop with that face” she presses her palm across his nose and mouth.

He kisses the palm of her hand and gently nips at the skin.

“Okay! Okay!”

“Yeah!” he lifts her up into his arms and twirls her around.

The court is empty, so are the streets surrounding.

“Quiet night… perfect” Cooper was giddy

He dribbles the basketball.

“You know adding layers when you knew we’re playing Strip Horse has to be against the rules or something” he complains

“It’s one hoodie” she throws up her hands.

“So, are we doing 3s? Or one on one”

“3s”

His smile widens.

“I wouldn’t be so cocky if I were you Thindrel”

He laughs, passing her the ball “Ladies first”

Luna lands the first basket, no effort.

He nods, as he gathers the basketball.

“You been practicing?”

“Just shoot your shot” she retorts

Cooper misses his first attempt. Luna curls with laughter.

“Really? Where’s the sportsmanship I ask…” he chuckles, pulling his hoodie over his head. He chucks it aside.

Cooper fails shot after shoot; t-shirt gone, sneakers gone, socks gone, jeans gone – wearing nothing but his white boxer-briefs.

Luna only missed two shots, down to her camisole and shorts.

He walks over to her, dribbling the ball “Ready for that one on one?”

“Are you not the one in their underwear right now?”

“I’m not scared…” he’s close enough that their noses touch “Are you?”

“I mean, I know what you’re working underneath those tighty whities…”

“Tighty whities… these are Calvin Klein” he sasses

She stands on her tiptoes and leans in to kiss him. Just as he lingers, she grabs the ball from behind his back and shoots the 3, landing the basket.

“No one likes a showoff Lu…” he grins “but goddamn that was sexy!”

He grabs her waist and pulls her closer.

He dips his index finger beneath the strap of her camisole, biting down on his bottom lip.

“What are you doing?” flush crept up her face.

He drops the strap off her shoulder, presses a kiss where the fabric had been seconds before.

He traces kisses up her shoulder and neck, nibbling on her ear.

“Hey, you…” he whispers against her ear.

She giggles, “You are impossible. Was Strip Horse some version of foreplay?”

He dramatically drops his jaw, lips parted, his tongue playfully moving between his bottom lip and his teeth.

She lowers her gaze to his mischievous mouth.

“Aye, que guapo

“So, take me home and show me just how much”

She tosses her head back laughing.

Luna smiles, staring at him for a beat. He kisses the dimple on her right cheek and then the one on the left.

“How’d I get so lucky?”

She bunches her fists against his bare chest, as he pulls her even closer.

“I’m the lucky one” he whispers against her lips.

He steps back, “Okay, we gotta head home. Someone’s gotta be the adult around here…”

“Ha! Says the half-naked frat boy”

“Frat boy? That hurt my feelings Lu” he grins.

Cooper pulls on his jeans, tugging up the zipper.

Luna stands near the hoop, spinning the basketball around with her fingers mindlessly.

He pulls his shirt over his head, feeding his arms through the sleeves as he walks over to where she was standing. Picking up his socks and sneakers on the way.

“Penny for your thoughts?” he asks as he slips on his socks one by one.

“Just trying to soak it in, so I can have this memory…” she shakes her head “You ever feel like…”

She exhales out frustration.

He reaches out to touch her elbow, “Feel what?”

Her eyes lock with his, “You ever forget to remember someone… like out of sight out of mind?”

“I mean when Nana Elora passed away, yeah… I guess... I kept looking at photo albums with her in it, so I don’t forget what she looks like… but I remember vividly times we spent together.”

“Do you?”

He tilts his head, curious to the question and where it was leading. Where it was coming from.

“Do you really vividly remember her? What she sounded like? What she smelled like? What she felt like?”

Cooper smiles, remembering how his nana always smelled of cinnamon and pine trees. He’d always tease that she smelled like Christmas. And she’d tell him that she was Christmas. He liked that. Because she really was. She was happiness and joy; family and giving. She was home.

“I actually do…”

Luna lowers her gaze, as the corner of her mouth turn up into a half-smile “… she smelled like Christmas, I remember…”

She bounces the ball once, “I’m just being extra… of course you remember Nana vividly. You loved her and she loved you. You were her favorite, no matter how Jase spins it”

“I would remember you vividly…” he starts “Your raven black curly hair…”

He reaches out and tugs at a stray curl.

“Your green eyes… like Chartreuse liquor… your beautiful, full lips and that magenta or plum lipstick that you love…”

“It’s Forbidden Fuchsia” she corrects him

“Yeah… that” he runs a hand through his damp hair, “… and that freckled nose, that turns up when you’re annoyed at me for getting things wrong…”

He reaches out, his thumb catching on her bottom lip.

“You’re imprinted on my heart… so even if my mind starts to forget those things of you, I could never forget how I feel for you or how I feel when I’m with you…”

“So, memories…”

“Memories can fade yes… but love… yeah you could love someone less or more… but I don’t think you can un-love someone Lu.”

“I just thought, if we create enough memories…” her eyes glisten “… then you won’t ever be able to forget me… even if you leave”

He pulls her closer, wraps his arms around her tightly.

“One day Lu… I will undo all the damage of all those who have left you, abandoned you… those stupid assholes. I will love you and be with you until my body gives out, if you’ll still have me”

She presses her nose against his chest, breathing in his scent.

“I just want to remember us this way…”

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