The next morning, I feel blissful as I wake up wrapped in Conrad. His arms are around me tight, and his leg is swung over mine, and his bare skin is warm and soft against mine. I can hear him snoring softly in my ear, making me smile. I run my hand along his arm, loving the feel of his arm hair under my fingertips.
“Good morning, my sexy little bookworm,” he croaks, his voice sleepy.
He squeezes me tighter against him.
“Good morning, Rock Star,” I reply teasingly.
“I am but a simple musician now.”
“No, you are so much more than that,” I retort, turning around in his arms to face him.
“We’ll see what time will bring,” he says.
“Great things I hope,” I whisper and kiss him softly, “however, today might not be an easy one.”
“Why is that?” he asks, raising an eyebrow.
“You have to meet my parents today, and not as my teacher but as my boyfriend.”
“Yes. I’m sure the news is going to reach my father today, and we need to do this before he hears all the different versions of the story from somebody else.”
“You’re probably right. So how do we do this?”
“Well, I’ll have to go back to Desiree’s first, get changed and ready for the day. Then I have to go home and face the music with both of my parents before I bring you into the mix. Once I feel like I’ve got it under control, I’ll call you,” I explain.
“Do you really think your father is going to accept this? I have a feeling it’s not going to be easy.”
“Nothing has been easy for us thus far, but we’ve done okay I think.”
“You’re right. I think we have. Last night was a disaster, but it could have been so much worse,” Conrad agrees.
“Now we just need to get through this, and we’re free.”
Conrad sighs deeply.
“That’s the hope anyway,” I say as I gaze into his deep, dark eyes.
Conrad is silent for a few moments, and I see some emotion flash in his eyes that I’ve never seen before. He turns his gaze away and up to the ceiling.
“What is it?” I ask.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Elaborate,” I push.
Conrad sucks in a deep breath and lets it out slowly, saying nothing. For some reason, his hesitation makes my stomach tighten uneasily. I try to push that feeling down.
“After everything that’s happened, I’ve just been thinking about the future,” Conrad finally says, “Our future.”
“Our future, or your future and mine?”
Conrad frowns at me.
“That’s a funny way to phrase the question,” he says.
“Am I wrong to ask it that way?”
Conrad sits up, and I do the same.
“Sydney, I want to be with you, so don’t think otherwise.”
“Okay, so why are you being weird?” I ask.
“I’m being weird?”
“Something feels weird,” I clarify, “and you haven’t answered my question.”
Conrad purses his lips and reaches for my hands.
“I’m thinking of our future, together and otherwise.”
My heart drops.
“Otherwise?” I gasp, as all my fears are confirmed to be valid.
“Don’t do that,” he scolds.
“Do what?” I mutter, pulling my hands from his.
“You’re in your head, doubting everything already. Don’t do that. I’m not breaking up with you Sydney, Christ!”
I flinch as his voice rises.
“What am I supposed to think when you say that?”
“All I’m saying is, I’m thinking about the direction our lives are heading in and wondering how it’s all going to play out, with you going off to college, and my band going on tour. You’re so young Sydney, and you haven’t had a lot of experience in life yet, and I don’t want you ever to feel like you’re missing out on anything.”
“You don’t know that. What I’m saying is, what if you get to college and realize there is so much more out there for you than me? I’m not going to be around a lot and…”
I cut him off with my fingers to his lips then. I can’t help my smile as I realize what this is.
“You’re the one worrying now? So it’s not just me?” I guess.
Conrad’s lips turn up slightly, and he moves my hand and nods.
“Conrad, trust me when I tell you, in my eyes, nobody will compare to you, ever. Nobody will ever excite me, challenge me, or love me the way you do. I wouldn’t go through all of this with you if I thought otherwise. I love you.”
Conrad’s shoulders relax, and he falls back onto the bed again, pulling me down with him.
“I excite you, huh?” he murmurs, and I giggle.
“More than you know,” I say.
“You excite me too, Syd. My feelings for you run deeper than I thought possible. Do you know that I hadn’t written a song since High School? Then I met you and all of a sudden, the floodgates opened. The guys are all excited about the new wave of inspiration, but I don’t know if I want to share that part of me with everyone.”
“You’re so talented though, Conrad. You should share your gift. I love your music, and I truly believe that everyone else would too.”
“I still don’t think I want to be the one to sing my songs, though. I’ve never had the desire to be a frontman, that’s completely Harrison’s thing.”
“You could always try.”
“As I said, I’ll think about it, but I wouldn’t count your chickens.”
“Count my chickens?” I laugh out loud, then clamp my mouth shut.
Conrad shifts and suddenly he’s on top of me, smiling broadly. Looking up at him with his body hovering over mine is the most delectable thing I’ve ever seen. My hand reaches up, and I run my fingers from his chest, down his firm stomach.
“I’d like an encore performance of last night,” I say, my hand moving lower still. Conrad’s eyes follow my hand and back up to my face.
“I have a feeling you’re not talking about my singing now?” he smirks.
I shake my head and bite my lip.
“Well my love, I think that could be arranged. Would you like the same long performance of last night or just a few songs seeing as we have a big day today?”
“I’d love the long performance, but I suppose we do have some things to attend to today,” I pout.
Conrad chuckles and lowers his body down on me so I can feel his weight. His hands find their way into my hair, and he kisses me softly.
“I don’t know what to do, Sydney, how am I ever going to leave you?”
“I was wondering the same thing. How do I go off to college and watch you leave for a year or more?”
“Well, for now, let’s say we just enjoy the time we have, and we’ll figure it out when we get there, okay?”
“I just feel like it’s a dark cloud looming on the horizon, it’s hard not to think about it.”
“Fuck that dark cloud, we’ll just have to get a massive umbrella,” he says with a reassuring smile.
I nod in response and reach up and kiss him again, pulling him as close as we can get.
Several hours later, I’m still wholly blissed out when I leave Desiree’s house to go home. As I get closer to my house, my bliss quickly turns into anxiety as I think about the oncoming conversation with my parents. My mom, I’m not so worried about, it’s my father that will be the tough one. We’re in uncharted territory here. I’ve never brought a guy home to meet him before, and when I finally do, it’s my now former English Teacher. I have a feeling he will be anything but pleased with this information.
When I step inside my house, I can hear my parent’s voices in the kitchen. I contemplate going upstairs to my room first but decide I better just bite the bullet before I lose all of my courage. I drop my bag by the door and make my way down the hallway towards the most difficult conversation that I’ve ever had.
Except when I reach the kitchen, my plans are shattered, and my stomach drops to the floor. Sitting at the kitchen table in front of my furious looking father, and my mother, who looks more worried than anything, is Dane. They all stop talking when they notice me standing in the doorway.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I spit at Dane, but he doesn’t say anything.
“Sydney, come in here right now,” my father orders, pointing to a chair across from him and next to Dane. I walk towards the table and choose a seat next to my mother, as far from Dane as I can get.
“Dad, I don’t know what Dane has told you but…” I start, shooting daggers at Dane.
My father is on his feet then.
“You are sleeping with your English teacher!” He shrieks. I jump in my seat; I’ve never heard my father shout quite like that before.
“It’s not like that,” I squeak.
“Well please explain, and do it quickly Sydney before I hunt that man down and kill him!”
“Calm down, Troy,” my Mother, says softly, touching his arm.
“Calm down? How am I supposed to react to this, Dana? Did you know about this? Am I the last to know?”
“No, but please let Sydney explain her side of the story. I’m sure there’s a good explanation,” my mom’s eyes flit to mine, and I try to let her know with my eyes how grateful I am that she’s trying to help. I stand and turn to Dane then.
“So now that you’ve succeeded in destroying everything, can you please get the fuck out of my house?” I shout at him.
Pissing me off further, he has the gall to look guilty and sad.
“I’m sorry, Syd. It’s not right, and they needed to know what was going on.”
“I was going to tell them today, Dane. This has nothing to do with you, so you should have just minded your own damn business! Why do you think it was your duty to tell them? What, you haven’t tortured me enough yet?”
Dane stands then and steps towards me.
“I can’t believe that somebody as smart as you can’t see how wrong it is that you are with him. He took advantage of you,” he shouts back.
“He did not take advantage of me, Dane. I love him, and he loves me, and nobody, not you or anybody else is going to stop us from being together. I’m old enough to decide who I want to be with, and it’s nobody else’s business.”
“He’s too old for you,” he mutters weakly.
“He’s perfect for me, Dane, unlike you. I don’t even like you as a friend anymore, let alone anything else. By the way, I know about the weird shrine you have in your room.”
Dane’s eyes go wide, and he takes a step back.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he shakes his head, and I think I see tears forming in his eyes.
“Hailey told me she saw it in your closet. What the hell is that all about? So is it a: ‘you can’t have me so nobody else can’ kind of situation with you? No, I don’t think so, buddy. I think it’s time you put that dream to rest because it’s never going to happen in this lifetime.”
“Sydney, that’s enough,” my mother cuts in.
I’m shaking with anger, and now I see the tears have escaped Dane. A sudden overwhelming feeling of guilt washes over me as I look into his eyes.
“Is it so terrible that I loved you so much?” he croaks, “I’m sorry that I got so weird about it, but you don’t have to treat me like our years of friendship mean nothing to you now. I’ve only been trying to look out for you. It’s because I’ve only wanted to be with you since we were kids.”
I feel like a complete asshole now.
“Dane,” I reach out for him, but he takes a step back.
“I’ll leave you alone now,” he says before turning and quickly leaving the room. I hear the front door open and slam shut a second later.
“Okay, can somebody please explain to me what the hell has been going on around here lately? After witnessing that little episode, my mind is in shambles,” my dad asks, his tone more even now.
I had almost forgotten that my parents were still here in my anger. Oh, what my dad must be thinking right now.
“Can we sit and talk about this like adults now please?” I ask, and my dad nods and takes a seat.
I sit down across from him and take a deep breath, ready to delve into the whole story with my parents.
“I’ll make tea,” my mom offers, “We’re going to need it.”
“I think we’re going to need something a bit stronger than tea over here,” my dad says with a weak chuckle. He rubs his forehead and looks at me, ready to hear my story.