"Are you excited?" Maggie looked over at me. The early morning sun streamed in through the sheer curtains that covered our bedroom window, casting a heavenly glow across the bare skin of her naked body.
The grin on my face must've given me away as I go to lift the blanket off her ass for a peek of what's underneath but she slapped my hand away playfully.
"Don't even start, I have to start getting ready for work soon."
Her words caused a groan to fall free as my lips contorted into a pathetic pout.
"No." I said childishly before flinging my arms over her body and pulled her in close.
She giggled and struggled to break free, only to give up and nuzzle her face against the crook of my neck.
"This is my favorite place." The sweet words fell from her lips and I looked down at her quizzically, waiting for her to elaborate.
"Next to you. Preferably cuddled up, naked in bed— but anywhere with you is my favorite place."
The biggest smile humanly possible broke free and I pulled her in as close as I physically could before repeatedly kissing all over her face; her giggles ringing out around us.
"I love you." I spoke softly, pausing my kisses only for a moment to say the words.
She finally managed to push me away but I sneak one more kiss before settling down with her wrapped in my arms.
"You never answered my question, are you excited for tonight?"
Tonight is one of the biggest nights of my life.
Not only my life, but the bands' life.
Five years ago, my best friend Garrett and I took our passion for music to the next level and formed a band. It was a slow start in the beginning and we all had a lot of learning and maturing to do, but Regretfully Yours has been my best accomplishment to date.
Tonight is our first big show.
The event coordinator told us that talent scouts usually frequented the club on nights that live bands played and a few small town artists even got their big start at this venue.
Tonight could be our big break.
"Of course. More nervous, but definitely excited." I finally replied.
Maggie looked up at me, searching my eyes before she leaned up and placed a gentle kiss on my cheek.
"You'll do great. I've been listening to you perform for the last five years; you guys are going to kill it." Her grin spread from ear to ear as she folded her hands on top of my chest before resting her chin on her hands and looked up at me.
"I hope so." I smiled down at her and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.
Time moved too fast and our morning in bed came to an end with Maggie leaving for work.
Maggie was training to be an ER nurse at the local hospital and watching her go in day after day, pulling longer shifts than I could ever manage— and seeing her do it all with a smile on her face will always be one of my greatest inspirations.
After Maggie left for work, I ended up falling back asleep for a few hours, waking up to a huge crash somewhere down the hall. I sat up straight out of a dead sleep and sprung to my feet before rushing out of my bedroom to find one of my best friends and bandmates, Luca, sprawled out, butt ass naked on the hallway floor.
"What the hell?"
An audible groan escaped Luca before both Garrett and our other best friend and bandmate Shane joined us in the hallway. As soon as their eyes zeroed in on the very naked body of Luca they both bursted into a fit of laughter, nearly doubling over.
Luca finally picked up his dignity, and his body off the floor before he wrapped his towel back around his waist.
"Who thought it was a brilliant idea to leave all of the equipment laying in the middle of the god damn hallway?" Luca fired at the group of us.
I held my hands up in surrender, as if to say not me and looked to my left at the two others.
Garrett's face dropped and the look of guilt was written all over it.
"Sorry, man." He scratched the back of his head nervously and gave Luca a shy smile.
The next few hours flew by as the lot of us started getting ready, fighting over the one working shower before getting dressed and starting the task of loading all of the gear into Garrett's 2014 Chevy Tahoe.
All that was left to load were Garrett and Luca's guitars.
Garrett walked out of the front door, both guitar cases held in his meaty fists as he walked toward the truck with a goofy grin stretched across his face.
"Two hours fellas. Are you guys ready?" He finished his sentence in a guttural growl of a tone before tossing both cases into the trunk of the Tahoe.
"Watch it jackass. We can't afford new ones if you break them." I roll my eyes and climb into the passenger seat of the truck as Garrett took his sweet time moseying over to the driver's side.
I honked the horn, catching his attention as he looked up from his phone screen.
"Hurry up or we're leaving your ass here."
"Chill, I was just replying to Amy."
So that's where the cheesy smile came from. Amy.
Garrett wouldn't admit it, but he was in love. Usually he didn't talk to a girl for more than a few weeks, but Amy had been around for almost a full year.
"Is she coming to the show tonight?" I asked as he climbed into the driver's seat and started the engine.
He nodded his head and his cheeks flamed to life with a dark blush. "Yeah."
I could tell he was nervous. Normally Garrett wouldn't shut the fuck up. His response was probably the shortest I've heard from him in years.
"Someone is in love" Shane sang from the backseat, leaning up against the driver's seat and ruffling a hand through Garrett's hair, causing his waves to stand on end.
"Shut up." Garrett growled before backing out of the driveway and pulling out onto the road.
The venue wasn't far from the house, only about forty five minutes, but the trip took almost an hour due to how many times we had to stop so someone could pee or get a drink. To say our nerves were getting to us would be a vast understatement.
We were about twenty minutes away when Garrett pulled out a perfectly rolled joint, placing it between his lips as he lit it, inhaling the skunky smoke into his lungs before slowly releasing it and passing it off to me.
Part of me was hesitant to take it, not wanting to be too stoned before our big show, but the other part of me— the part where my nerves were wreaking havoc—that part of me had me taking the joint from his fingers and placing it between my lips, sucking in as much of the potent smoke as I could. My lungs tightened as I try to fight off a cough, but the cough won. I started choking out the smoke before passing off the joint.
"Easy there, greedy." Luca called from the back seat as he placed the joint between his lips and sucked in an equally greedy amount of smoke before passing the joint off to Shane, and the circle commenced.
By the end of the joint, all of our eyes were glassy and slanted and the group of us couldn't contain our laughter.
"That definitely helped to loosen me up a little. I felt like I was going to puke." Garrett laughed.
"Same." I ran my sweaty hands down the front of my black ripped jeans and sucked in a deep breath.
"I hope Maggie gets out in time so she can at least catch the tail end of the show."
Luca reached up from the back seat and pat my shoulder reassuringly. "Don't worry. She wouldn't miss this for the world." All three guys offered me a smile which did little to make me feel better.
Not long after, we arrived at the venue and grabbed all of our gear out of the Tahoe and began lugging it inside.
No one was at the club yet, besides the staff, so when we walked in, it looked like a completely different place than it did at night.
The stale smell of smoke permeated around us making me crave a cigarette in the worst way. I haven't smoked since senior year of high school, but damn did it smell enticing.
"You guys are Regretfully Yours, right?" A meathead of a man asked the group of us.
All of our heads turned towards the voice and I swear I saw Garrett jump back about a foot, in fear.
I nodded my head and held my hand out for the man. "Yes. I'm Riggs Anton."
The man shook my hand before I gestured at the three others. "This is Garrett Becket, lead guitar, Luca Knight, bassist and Shane Oliver, drums."
I offered the man a smile but he just grunted in response.
"Sound check is in ten minutes. Don't be late." And just as fast as he showed up, he was gone.
"Well he was...inviting" Luca scowled.
"That's an understatement." Shane added, shrugging his shoulders before pointing towards the bar.
"Gonna grab some drinks. You guys want something?" All of us nodded in unison and rambled off our orders to Shane before lugging the rest of the equipment onto the stage to get ready for soundcheck.
Soundcheck flew by and as went as good as possible. Each of us had at least two drinks in us by then and we were definitely feeling looser than we had been before— ready to take the night by storm.
All of a sudden a loud squeal came from the side of the stage, causing all of us to look up.
"What the fuck." I muttered to myself, my head whipping in the direction of the noise, when I spotted Amy.
Garrett's eyes lit up as he took off his guitar, setting it against an amp before he ran over to meet her. He picked her up in his arms and spun her around before placing a big kiss on her lips.
"Not in love, eh?" Luca whispered over to me with a roll of his eyes.
I couldn't help but to smile. It's not often that I got to see Garrett smile like that, people who grew up like we did, rarely ever got that kind of happiness.
Garrett came into my life when I was fourteen years old— just going into high school— and my foster family brought in one more kid— Garrett. At first, I couldn't stand the kid. He was overly goofy, and in my thirteen year old mind, stupid. But one day I happened to walk by as a much older kid tried starting shit with Garrett. At that age, Garrett was way smaller than normal thirteen year olds— he didn't reach his big growth spurt until at least sophomore year of high school.
The kid couldn't have been younger than a senior and he knew that he was picking on someone way smaller than him, and I could see that he was getting off on it. Scumbag.
I walked up to them, pulling Garrett behind me and puffing out my chest to the older guy whom I came to realize was the quarterback for the football team.
"Fuck off, Brent."
He just laughed at me, then a meaty fist came swinging my way. I ducked and instincts kicked in. I swung my fist back, clocking him right in the center of the face. He staggered back, clutching his nose as he let out a string of curses.
"Fuck you, Anton. You'll pay for this." Brent turned on his heels and practically ran out of there with his tail between his legs.
Ever since that day, I vowed to myself to take care of Garrett and protect him— for no reason other than my own pride, but over time he became a brother to me— the only family that I really had or needed.
I shook the memories from my head and pulled my phone out of my pocket, finding myself missing Maggie.
When my phone lights up, I'm met with my favorite picture of her. It's one that I took of her sleeping in my arms.
She's passed out with not a care in the world, her hair is fanned out around her and she's cuddled into my chest, mouth hanging open just slightly— and if I remember correctly, she drooled on me that night.
I couldn't help but to grin at the memory before opening up our text message thread.
There were no new messages, but I knew that she was busy.
I miss you. We'll be going on soon and I'm nervous as fuck. I love you. I hope work is going well, and hope you can catch the end of the show. Xoxo
I send the message before tucking my phone into my back pocket.
"Ten minutes, fellas." Tim, the same burly man from before peeked his head through the door.
Since our first meeting, he's opened up a little bit- and he may be super intimidating but deep down, I think he's a big teddy bear.
I give him a nod of acknowledgement before the nerves start to ramp up. I sucked in a deep breath and count to ten before I slowly released it.
I tried imagining Maggie telling me that she's proud of me, and that I can do this— all things she's said to me before.
Instantly, I started to calm down and feel better.
"I can do this." I whispered to myself, just as I feel a firm hand fall on my shoulder.
"What's up, buddy? You ready for tonight?" Shane joined me.
I nodded my head. "As ready as I'll ever be, I guess."
He nodded back in understanding. "Maggie gonna be here tonight?"
I grinned. I swear the man didn't know how to speak in full sentences.
"Hopefully. She said she would try to get out as early as possible, but you know how the hospital is."
Maggie's job was very demanding. She was perfect at it, but with how good she was, came downfalls. Maggie worked herself to the bone, she'd give everything for that hospital and her patients— something I both look up to and abhor.
Despite my frustrations with her devotion to her job— a completely baseless frustration, at that— I'm prouder of Maggie than I could ever put into words. I've watched her grow up from a young woman into the determined and beautiful woman I know today. She is not the same Maggie I met my freshman year of high school— this version is the one I always knew she had the capability to be.
"Okay guys, we're in the last few minutes before show time. The place is packed and ready. Start getting into position. Final countdown is 3 minutes away." Tim came back in to announce.
We all nodded our heads, too nervous to form words as we grabbed our gear and got into position.
I took the lead in front of the rest of the guys, standing in front of a mic stand and adjusting it to my liking before rubbing my hands down the front of my jeans, they were soaked and I knew they'd just keep sweating with how nervous I was right now.
"Ten, nine, eight"
The nerves spiked even higher as the sound of Tim's voice dimmed around me and I hyper focused on the sound of the cheers and voices in the crowd behind the heavy velvet curtain.
"Three, two, one."
The curtain pulls up around us, revealing us to the crowd which caused them to go insane.
I leaned away from the mic to clear my throat before leaning back in. "We're Regretfully Yours. Thank you all for coming out and we hope you enjoy the show."
The first half of the show went by so fast that when it was time for us to take a quick break, almost a full hour had passed.
We all rushed into the back room behind the stage, racing to either a water bottle or a glass full of beer.
I downed half of my water bottle before switching over to my glass of Guinness, I always preferred the darker beers.
I tilted the glass to my lips and took a large swig before downing half of the glass and setting it down on the condensation stained table.
"Two more minutes, fellas" Tim's voice boomed over the background music.
I nodded my head in response before muttering a thank you. I picked up my glass of beer and downed the rest before trying to take a few breaths to settle the adrenaline in my system.
I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and my heart nearly bursted out of my chest.
I pulled my phone from my jeans and saw Maggie's name light up my screen, instantly causing a smile to grow across my lips.
On my way, baby. Can't wait to watch you guys perform! Love you!
I love you too, sweetheart. See you soon. Drive safe
My heart instantly swelled with the love that I had for her.
"Show time." Garrett came up behind me, slapping his hands down on my shoulders, and making me jump.
"Coming, asshole." I muttered breathlessly as my heart thundered beneath my rib cage.
The group of us walked back out onto the stage, being met with the screams of the audience. The sound instantly quelled all of my anxieties as the energy helped get my head back in the game.
The band started up the music to our song Relentless as I grabbed my mic, waiting for my que.
The song went by without a hitch, and honestly it's probably one of the best times I've performed this specific song and I couldn't have been prouder; but my eyes kept scanning the crowd the entire time, waiting to see Maggie's emerald green eyes staring up at me.
Still no Maggie, but there's still time.
We started and finished the next song, and again my eyes scanned the crowd, looking for my special lady, but still nothing.
That's when I started to worry.
I saved my favorite song for last. The song I had written for Maggie a few years ago.
I'll never forget the day I played it for her. She had tears in her eyes and afterwards she grabbed onto me so tight, I swear I almost passed out from lack of oxygen. It will forever be one of my favorite memories.
The music picked up, and I knew my start was coming but my eyes incessantly scanned the crowd for her, still nothing.
My heart ratcheted behind my rib cage and I almost missed my mark but caught on before it was too late.
My voice came out raspy and scratchy but no one picked up on the difference except Garrett who shot me a look as if to ask what was up.
I tried relaying with my eyes, my worries but there was not much that could be said with a look.
The song ended and still, no Maggie. Panic was starting to set in quick.
I thanked the crowd for their support before racing back behind the stage. I ripped my phone from my jeans pocket and instantly woke it up.
There was a slew of missed calls from unknown numbers and immediately I knew something was wrong.
I called back the first two numbers and nothing, and when I called the last one— the sinking feeling in my gut was cemented into reality when the women on the line answered with,
"Thank you for calling Hill Point Medical Center, how can I direct your call."
"Hi, um, I got a few calls from you guys." I tried to keep my voice steady but I could hear it jumping all over the place as I was trying my hardest to suppress my anxiety.
"What's your name?"
"Ahh.. Mr. Anton. There's been an accident. Your girlfriend Maggie was in a car accident."
"Is she okay?" The lady on the other end didn't even get the chance to finish speaking before I interjected.
"There's really not much I can say over the phone. I would just come down immediately."
She sounded so matter of fact. I didn't know if Maggie was dead or alive and she sounded like it was just another work phone call.
I shoved my phone into my back pocket and started gathering my belongings as the others started filtering into the room.
"Bro, what the fuck is going on? You ran out of there like a bat out of hell." Garrett looked pissed but I didn't even care.
"Maggie's been in an accident, I have to go." I had my jacket halfway on and was practically running out of there when Garrett grabbed me by the shoulders.
"Riggs, man. Relax. You're not going alone. Let's get our shit and get out of here."
Garrett and the rest of us gathered our belongings before Luca went to find Tim to relay the information and let him know that we'd be back later to grab our equipment.
And to say that Tim was understanding about everything was the understatement of the god damn century.
He told Luca to keep him updated and to let him know if we need anything, which was a weird yet extremely nice thing for him to say. He wasn't as rough and rugged as we all initially took him for.
All four of us piled in the Tahoe. Garrett and I argued for a solid two minutes over who was driving until I eventually won. Garrett has never been able to win in a fight against me, physical or verbal.
My hands gripped the steering wheel so tight that my knuckles have been completely drained of any blood.
"Man, slow down." Garrett spoke cautiously, death gripping the "oh shit" handle in the truck like his life depended on it, while both Shane and Luca sat quietly in the back seat, both looking forlorn and lost.
"I can't" I finally replied.
"Yes you can. Killing yourself and all of us won't fucking help Maggie right now, so slow the fuck down."
I've never heard Garrett raise his voice like that at me before. It completely took me by surprise and my foot instantly eased up off of the gas pedal before I nodded my head.
"Sorry." Is all I said before the car went quiet again for the next ten minutes or so until we arrived at the hospital.
As soon as the car was in park, I swung the truck door open and raced towards the front entrance without a care in the world.
When I got to the front desk, I instantly rambled off Maggie's name to the lady, asking if she was okay and about a thousand other questions all in a single breath.
"Calm down. Breathe, and try that again, just slower this time." The lady behind the counter was probably in her mid forties and sweet as pie, but in a moment like this, I didn't care how sweet she was- I was just getting more irritated by the minute.
"My girlfriend. I got a call from you guys and all they said was that she was in an accident and I should get here as soon as possible."
The lady nodded her head as she typed away on her keyboard.
"Maggie Pierce, correct?" Her face turned downward for a moment but she caught herself.
"Sir. Just take a seat and someone will be over shortly to speak with you."
I knew what that meant, and it wasn't anything good.
The room started spinning around me and if it weren't for my best friends behind me, I would've fell straight to the floor.
It's not possible.
I knew exactly what they were going to tell me. They were going to tell me that she didn't make it. I've seen enough television, movies, and lived around Maggie for long enough to know that it's never good when they can't tell you any information up front.
Garrett's voice broke through the sound of blood rushing behind my ears, "Let's sit down, man."
It wasn't a suggestion either. He grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the seating area, sitting down next to me.
No one said anything, which probably meant that they were thinking the same thing I was. All four of our legs were bouncing, almost in sync with the anxiety of the situation, and when I reached up to rub a hand across my face, it came back soaked in tears- I hadn't even realized I was crying.
What felt like an eternity later, a doctor in his late fifties or so walks up to the group of us, pulling up a chair to sit down in front of us.
His face was neutral, as if this is something he has to do every single day. "Mr. Anton, I'm sorry to have to tell you this- But your girlfriend, Ms. Pierce didn't make it. Her injuries were very severe and we did everything we could to bring her back, but she passed at the scene. If there's one thing that could give you peace, it would be that it most likely happened suddenly and without any suffering."
It's as if he thinks that his words would make me feel any god damn better, but to me his words just ruined my entire fucking life. His words did worse than ruin my life, they fucking obliterated me.
As soon as he was done speaking I stood up and stormed out of the automatic glass doors. I could feel a slew of feelings bubbling up inside of me and I didn't want to explode in the hospital, in front of all of those people.
As soon as the cool air hits my face my rage rears its ugly head first and as I'm about to slide down the brick wall housing the hospital, I wind my fist back and punch it as hard as I can. I heard a gnarly crack- that didn't sound too good- but I ignored the radiating pain and just sunk to the ground, letting the sadness and emotional pain take over and completely consume me.