Page 68

“Okay, Lu. Why don’t you let me have that?” I reach for her glass but she jerks it away and wine sloshes over the rim and down her arm.

“Are you kidding me?” she yells.

Heads turn. It’s the height of the post-show crowd, and there’s not an empty seat in the place, but Lulu’s obnoxious drinking voice has risen to a level that can be heard even above the noise. “Do not pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about. You knew his schedule. You gave him a fake name. You didn’t even need the subway but went to see him play!”

“Because he’s talented,” I hedge, my mind racing with a way to get out of this.

“You’re telling me you married him because he’s talented?” she asks, and then laughs, but it’s choked off by a hiccup. “You’re telling me you’re fucking him because he’s talented? You were obsessed. Why do you think Brian was so quick to suggest you marry him? It was a joke. Do you really think he was serious? I mean, that is insane.” She leans back in her chair, staring at me with unfocused eyes. “But look, it all worked out. Now he’s in your bed and—”

“That’s enough, Lulu,” Calvin says, pulling me back from the table. He’s barely touched the beer in front of him. “Enough.”

“What?” She raises her hands like she’s innocent. “I’m not making any of this up.”

I don’t know what’s happening, or why she’s doing this. I feel like I don’t even know her.

Standing, I reach for my purse and pull out my wallet. There are three twenties inside and I toss them down on the table. “I think we should go.”


Calvin is quiet the entire walk home, hands in pockets, shoulders tucked up to his ears. We went from the terror of the chase, to the intimacy of escaping it together, to the disaster of Lulu and her big mouth. I don’t even know how to reel this night back in.

There’s nothing I can say. I did everything she said: I took subway trips I didn’t need to take, and I watched him over and over, I sent her a video of him playing once and even took a picture of him at the Hole in the Hall. I essentially told him all of this during our interview, but then let him believe it was just a story I made up to cover for my stumble with Dougherty.

I’m nauseated. I felt so powerful and necessary as we were walking into the bar, and then Lulu made me sound so creepy. If I were Calvin I would definitely be silent on the walk home, too. It’s just . . . what she said, and the way she said it, didn’t feel true to me. I feel slandered.

As soon as we arrive at the apartment, I sense it like a storm rolling in; I know it’s coming. Calvin isn’t a complicated man, but he doesn’t let things go unsaid, either.

He places his keys and wallet on the counter carefully, like he doesn’t want them to make any noise, shake anything else loose. He toes off his shoes near the door, and whispers a quiet “Excuse me” when he steps past me to use the bathroom.

I want to vomit.

I take the time to put on pajamas, selecting my favorite frog tank top and pink polka dot shorts for courage. And then I sit on the bed, waiting.

We’ve spent nearly three dozen nights together in this room—what if, after this, he returns to the couch? Am I super weird? How would I feel if I found out he was essentially going out of his way to watch me for six months? How would I feel if he had video of me on his phone, and then offered to marry me to “help” me?

A throat clears, and I look up to see him standing in the doorway, shirtless. He unfastens his pants, pushing them down his hips and kicking them into the laundry basket. “Do I need to ask, or are you going to talk to me?”

“Ask what?”

His eyes turn up, meeting mine, and I can tell he’s disappointed that I’m evading.

“Yeah,” I say, chewing at my lip. “I know what you’re talking about.”

“Of course you do.”

“Before I start, can I just say that Lulu was being terrible tonight? She made it sound different than it actually was.”

He leans against the doorway, pulling off one sock. “What part did she have wrong?”

“She made it sound a little more Fatal Attraction than it actually was. I wasn’t obsessed,” I say lamely. “I just . . . had a thing for you.”

“Had a thing for a stranger you called Jack? Videotaped him in public? Followed him to a bar where he—”

“I had no idea you were playing with that cover band,” I interrupt, face hot. “That was a total coincidence.”

“Holland, imagine if the roles were reversed.” He’s half-naked as usual, and for once I want to ask him to put on some goddamn clothes so I can concentrate. “Imagine if you found out that I had gone to where you worked, taken pictures of you, taken video of you and sent it to a friend. And then we coincidentally end up in a marriage of convenience?”

I shake my head and look at my hands in my lap. “Look, I know what you’re saying, but I also know me and what my intentions were. I never intended to try to talk to you, or even make this into more.”

When I look up at him, I find him studying me dubiously. He moves his hair out of his eyes with a quick shake of his head. “Yeah, but I didn’t know you or your intentions. It washes things differently in hindsight.”

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