#45 The answer is blowin’ in the wind
“Should be we be getting ready to play the wedding march?” I ask Shaughna when she walks out of the house with a frown on her face.
“Nah,” she shakes her head. “Turns out Annabel isn’t really into the idea of a surprise wedding. She and Aston went upstairs just now, to…” She wiggles her eyebrows with a grin. “I think we both know what they’re doing. Knowing Aston, it’ll only take fifteen minutes or something.”
I laugh. “Fifteen minutes? He could go three rounds in fifteen minutes, maybe even four.”
She smiles at that. “It’s so good to hear you making jokes about that. You’re really over him, aren’t you?” Her eyes find James on the other side of the garden, and she gestures in his direction. “Is that James’ doing?”
I shrug, not in the mood to talk about my relationship. “He helped, yeah.”
“Franny, when are you going to tell me what’s wrong?” She puts a hand on my arms and gives me a searching look. “I feel like you’re drowning and won’t let anyone throw you a life jacket.”
“I’ll be fine,” I assure her. “I just need… I don’t know, some time I guess. James and I are okay, we’re just going through some stuff.”
“Stuff that has something to do with your hot neighbor Thomas showing up tonight?”
We both look at Thomas, who is chatting to Joshua like they’ve been friends for years, both of them laughing. It’s so weird how well those two get along, while James doesn’t seem interested in getting to know either of them. He only puts up with them because he knows I don’t want to cut them out of my life.
“Let’s just say that I went from having no one interested in me to getting a little too much intense attention,” I say vaguely. “I’m gonna go talk to Yord about our next set, okay?” I walk off before she can ask me more about what’s going on with me. I just want to get through the night and hopefully have some fun.
Our third set is the one we’ve been pumping ourselves up for. Joshua and I have rehearsed so many times that I feel like I could do this in my sleep. Yord and Marcia have practiced too, obviously, but not the way Joshua and I have been doing since we met. This is not about hitting the right notes. This is about me not bawling my eyes out on stage.
I can do this. I’ve got this.
Joshua starts playing on his guitar, sitting down on the stool I got for him so he doesn’t have to hurt his ankle even more. His eyes find mine while I adjust the mic, and we both smile. Last time I sang this song, I wasn’t ready. I was heartbroken, 15 years old, and all alone up on that stage in the auditorium at my high school.
Now, I’m not alone. Not even close. I’ve got Joshua accompanying me on his guitar, Yord on the harmonica, and Marcia… well, she’s not needed for this song, but she’s sure good to have around for moral support. In the audience are Shaughna, Dshawn, Aston, Annabel, James, Thomas, Brittany, Jaxon, Caroline, Theodore, Lesly, Nathan… So many people I know, and some of them I even love. And there are a whole bunch of people I’ve never met before. Neighbors, Annabel’s family, Dshawn’s siblings… They don’t matter. All that matters is that I’ve got people who care about me, who get me, who know what this song means to me.
This time, I will make it all the way through. I can cry if I want to, but I will get to the end, and it will be fucking beautiful.
“How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man? How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?” I keep on singing, closing my eyes and allowing myself to see my dad in front of me. His sweet smile, the way he always seemed to understand me, how he taught me to love music, to feel music.
When I get to the last lines, I open my eyes and look at Joshua, who has tears in his eyes. “Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry? Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take ’til he knows that too many people have died? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”
Everyone claps and cheers, and I bow, feeling like I just conquered the world. I sang my father’s favorite song in the whole world, and I didn’t cry. Well, okay, maybe two or three tears, but that’s it. I made it through the whole thing, and I sounded good. I know I did.
“Ready?” Yord asks, counting down for our next song. We agreed that we should move to something peppy next so I wouldn’t get stuck in a funk, but we shouldn’t have worried about that. I feel amazing. This was a great idea. It really was.
We move on to I’m a believer from The Monkees, going all out. Aston and Dshawn dance like their lives depend on it, and the kids all jump around, trying to mimic their movements. I catch Thomas’ eye and he winks at me. I move on to James next who gives me a weak smile, his gaze moving from me to Thomas, and then to Joshua.
I’m not going to let my guilt and doubts ruin this night, though, so I make it through the whole set without trouble, and then we’re back mingling with the others. James wraps me in a tight hug, telling me how proud he is of me and how happy he is that he’s able to be here to see it. We kiss, and for the first time since that weird night with Lizzy, I feel that spark ignite in me again, making me pull him closer to me, moaning into the kiss.
He gives me one last lingering kiss before turning away to talk to someone, his arm still around me. I give him a peck on the cheek and tell him I’ll be right back. I need to thank Joshua for helping me reach this victory. If I hadn’t met him three months ago, if I hadn’t ended up calling him to check up on him after the fight, I never would have been where I am now.
I see him standing in a dark corner of the garden on his own, his back to me. I recognize him by his blonde curls, gleaming in the dim light that manages to reach him, even though he’s deep in the shadows of the night, his shoulders slumped down.
I ruffle his hair with my hands and hug him from the back. “Hey you,” I say, happy to feel normal around him again. At least for these few seconds, I just want to share my happiness with one of my best friends. “Why are you out here all on your own?”
Then Joshua turns around, and it turns out he’s not Joshua at all. It’s a guy in his forties who doesn’t look like Joshua at all, aside from his curly blonde hair.
And fuck me, he’s hot.
“Oh my God,” I say, my cheeks heating up. “I thought you were someone else.”
He smiles and pulls a hand over his hair, pushing it back the way it was before I messed it all up. Not that you can really tell the difference, since his hair is an adorable mess just like Joshua’s. “Don’t worry,” he says, his voice deeper than I expected. “I’m Christopher.”
We shake hands, both a little embarrassed about the whole thing.
“How do you know Aston and Annabel?” I ask Christopher, trying to make small talk.
He grimaces. “I used to date Anna. And I guess I’m sort of dating her sister Chloe now, as of…” He looks down at his watch. “…forty-five minutes ago.”
Okay, that’s a weirdly specific answer.
“How do you know them?”
“I used to fuck Aston,” I say, cursing myself for being so crude to this man I don’t even know. “He’s still one of my best friends now.” His name finally registers with me: Christopher. He’s the almost-baby-daddy to the kid that turned out to be Aston’s after all. Oh wow. And he’s dating Annabel’s sister? Interesting.
“Then I guess we’re the exes,” Christopher says with a little smile. “Kinda weird being here, isn’t it?”
“Not really,” I say honestly. There are many things weird about to night, but Aston and Annabel being together isn’t one of them. “They make a lot of sense together.”
Christopher looks behind me, his eyes focusing on something. “Yes, they do,” he says softly.
I turn and see that he’s looking at the couple in question, kissing tenderly, Aston’s hand on Annabel’s small baby bump. They’re perfect together, there’s no question about it.
“So… anyway, nice to meet you,” I say, extending my hand again, not knowing what else to do.
“Yeah,” he agrees. “Thanks for ruffling my hair, I guess.”
I laugh. “Like I said, I thought you were someone else.”
“Who did you think I was?”
I point Joshua out to him, who is talking to Yord and Dshawn on the other end of the backyard.
“That guy is half my age,” Christopher says, grinning. “Thank you, I guess?”
“You don’t look like a 40-something-year-old from the back,” I explain, gesturing at his hair. “Your hair is the same as Joshua’s.”
“Are you saying I do look like a 40-something-year-old from the front?” he teases, an easy smile on his face.
“Yeah, but I didn’t say that was a bad thing.”
I snuggle up with James in bed, still a little high on tonight. He kisses me softly, his hands moving over my body, settling on my boobs and ass.
“You were amazing,” he whispers, kissing my neck. “I think I fell a little more in love with you watching and hearing you sing.”
I moan when one of his hands goes into my panties, teasing my lips. “I’m glad you came,” I tell him between moans.
“Oh, I will surely come later,” he grunts. “Let’s take of you first though.”
“I like the sound of that,” I breathe, lifting my hips so he can tug off my panties.
He slips a finger inside of me and his thumb circles my clit while he sucks a nipple into his mouth, making me gasp. He changes pace and pressure a few times, watching my reaction and smirking when I get closer and closer to reaching my peak. When I feel like I can’t take it anymore, he moves down to kiss my thighs, then diving in with his tongue, attacking me with both his fingers and his tongue. I cry out when I come, grabbing his hair to push him against me harder.
“Hmm,” he murmurs when he lazily kisses his way back up my body, pausing to nip at my nipples, causing my whole body to shudder. “I love the sounds you make when you come.”
“Fuck me,” I beg, tugging at his boxer shorts. I haven’t been this hot for him since before everything almost crashed down on us, and I’m more than ready to be reminded how well we fit together in every single way.
He frees his huge cock and I move my hand over it while he kicks off his shorts. The feelings of that gorgeous pierced cock in my hand makes me moan at the thought of having him inside of me. I want to pleasure him before we get to that part, make him feel as good as he made me feel, so I go down on him, making him grunt and grab my hair while I bob my head up and down, trying to push him as far in as he will go.
“You’re too big,” I tell him when I take a moment to catch my breath.
“No such thing, baby,” he says, yanking at my hear to get my lips back on him.
I lick his shaft and suck one of his balls into my mouth before turning my attention to the tip of his cock while I use my hands on the rest of him. Fuck, I love this huge, throbbing cock with that silver piercing that never fails to make me feel like I’m dreaming. A fucking good wet dream, that is.
I straddle him when I feel like I can’t spend another minute without him inside of me, sinking down on him with a moan. He grabs my hips to guide me down on him again and again, looking up into my eyes while he does.
“So fucking sexy,” he groans, moving one hand to my boob to pinch my nipple.
“I love you,” I pant right before I spiral into an orgasm that has me seeing stars.
He’s too far gone to reply, crying out my name while he comes. I collapse on top of him, kissing every part I can get to. Shoulders, neck, stubble on his cheek, his nose, his lips, his closed eyelids…
“I’m so happy you’re with me,” James says, rolling me to my side and pulling out so he can cuddle me, kiss me, hold me. “So goddamn happy.”
“Hmm,” I mumble, my eyes already fluttering close. “Me too.”
Right when the seductive darkness of sleep tries to pull me into its comforting embrace, the doorbell sounds. James grunts and rolls away from me, sitting up to rub his eyes.
“Who’s that?” I ask him.
“I don’t know, but it’s late, so I’m not going to open. Probably some drunk guy who forgot his keys or something, trying to get into the building.” He lets himself back down, his arms pulling me against his chest. He brushes my neck with his lips and starts to whisper that he loves me when we both gasp at the sound of someone pounding on the front door.
“What the fuck?” James mumbles, getting out of our comfortable warm bed to pull on some boxershorts and a pair of sweatpants. “Stay here,” he tells me, giving me a worried look. “It’s probably just Dean after a fight with Lizzy or something, that happens every few months. He usually calls before coming over though…”
I watch him walk out of the room, body tense and muscles bulging. I pull on some panties and grab the bathrobe I keep at James’ place from its hook, wrapping it around myself. I know he said to stay in here, but I need to know what’s going on, especially since James’ phone is still in here so he won’t be able to call the police or anything.
Oh wait – he is the police.
What if it’s someone who he arrested, who has always been holding a grudge, and who followed him home after work to find out where he lives? Oh God. Probably not, I’ve just been watching these true crime stories lately, but the thought alone scares me.
“What the hell are you doing here?” James asks in the hallway, voice tight.
“I’m here to beat your ass!” a familiar voice shouts. “You slept with my wife!”