Calvin retreats a little, moving his hand back up and returning his mouth to the back of my neck, and although I worried this distraction would chase away my muse, the words seem stronger, if anything. I remember this feeling—the thrill of being so full of something and having it come out with such clarity. My fingers fly over the keyboard and I ignore the typos for now, ignore the way I see him following my thoughts on the screen, ignore everything.
The creativity is back, and the knowledge that it’s back because I’m happy propels me forward in this positive feedback loop that just keeps sending more and more words from my brain to my fingers.
My phone buzzes again, and Calvin reaches for it, turning off the vibration.
And then it lights up again, and again, ringing. I catch the name Lulu on the screen, and my writing mojo is still flimsy enough that the anxiety over dealing with her punctures a tiny hole in it.
“She’s called ten times already today,” he says. “She called a million times yesterday, too.”
I growl at the sight of the phone lighting up with another voicemail.
“I bet she’s violently hungover even two days later.” He rests his chin on my shoulder. “Do you want me to put your phone in the other room?”
I want to say yes. I want to return to what I was doing, and have him return to peppering kisses along my neck and shoulders, but in truth, the core of the idea is laid out on this page in front of me, and I know that the niggling awareness of Lulu’s panic is going to spread if I don’t call her back.
I’m angry, yes, but I’m not punitive.
I drop my hand onto my phone and pick it up, sighing. “Let me just get this over with.”
The call doesn’t even seem to ring through before she’s answering. “Holllllls. I am an asshole.”
“Dude. I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry.”
The thing is, I know she’s genuinely mortified about her behavior the other night. Lulu is her own worst enemy. Drunk Lulu is a brutal alter ego and a burden she has to carry as long as she lets herself get wasted like that.
“I don’t even know what to say,” I tell her, rubbing my eyes. I feel gross all over again just thinking about it, and part of me wishes I hadn’t called.
“Are you guys okay?”
“We are now. We talked it out this morning.”
“This morning?” She groans.
“I stayed at Jeff and Robert’s last night.”
She makes a little squeaking sound of terror. “Holls. Was Calvin pissed?”
“What do you think?”
I bark out an irritated laugh. “Lulu, be serious. You made me sound like a total freak.”
Calvin leans forward when I say this, resting his lips on the side of my neck. I reach back with my free hand, sliding my fingers into his hair.
“What can I do?” she whines.
The simple fact is that something was damaged that night—things have been chipped away for a few weeks now—and I’m not sure we can go back to the way things were. I know Calvin can hear her, too, and so I look over my shoulder at him. He shrugs.
“Anything,” she says. “I want to make it up to you.”
“Don’t be rude and obnoxious with us anymore.”
She lets out a hoarse laugh; I can practically hear the hangover in it. “I know. I think I’m just thrown by this marriage thing. You used to be my person.”
It’s true. I was there whenever she needed someone to go to a show with, a bar, a concert. But I was also her fallback when she didn’t have a steady plus-one for her Groupon adventures, and it’s been our dynamic ever since I can remember: I’ve always been there for Lulu.
“Things with Calvin are good,” I say quietly. “I get why it would be weird for you that I’m not totally, one hundred percent available anymore, but I’m really happy, and I feel like you’re not happy for me.”
He pulls me back to the couch with a warm arm wrapped around my chest, palm to my breast.
“I totally get what you’re saying,” she says. It’s painful to hear her grovel; I’ve never made her do it before. “I want you to see me being supportive! I swear I can.”
“Well . . .” I say, and laugh. I can feel Calvin’s smile against my neck.
“Maybe I can book you a romantic dinner at Blue Hill?”
This trips an idea in me, and I lean forward, thinking. Calvin’s birthday is in a few weeks, and I’ve already planned for his mom and sister to fly out and surprise him, but Blue Hill is a great restaurant, and Lulu could get us a great table, for sure. Something a little more private to celebrate his birthday wouldn’t hurt, would it?
I stand in front of a table at Blue Hill, Lulu at my side. After hugging me for a solid five minutes and promising to never be such a jerk again, she took me to the back of the restaurant and showed me the site she had in mind for my plan—my crazy, crazy plan.
The booth is in the deepest corner; it’s a table big enough to seat at least four, but she’s promised to keep it free just for us. Tilting my head, I check to see how much floor is visible. The top cloth comes down only about a foot from the table, but the lower one nearly sweeps the floor.
“You’re sure it would work?” I press my fist to my diaphragm, willing my nerves to chill. The dinner in question is still two weeks away, but I feel like Calvin is about to walk in here any second.