Lucy was at the stove when Rob got home. "I'm making bacon and eggs for breakfast," she called over her shoulder.
He walked past her and set the paper bag with a brand-new bottle of Jack Daniels on the kitchen counter. "You cook a lot," he commented, tossing the contracts and CD onto the kitchen table.
He pulled the bottle of Jack from the paper bag and cracked open the cap. Grabbing a glass from the cupboard, he added ice and took a can of Coke from the fridge. He kicked the fridge door shut
with his foot then poured a hefty shot of the whiskey over the ice, adding a small amount of Coke.
"I don't eat a lot," he added. Saluting her with the glass, he tipped it up and drank thirstily.
"What's all this?" Lucy turned the stove off and approached the table, one hand sifting through the paperwork. "And this?" she picked up the CD. There was no label on it.
"Contracts," Rob said as she picked them up. "And the CD is my demo I did the other day. I just signed with Capitol Records. Want to celebrate?"
He nodded his head. "Yea, really great, huh?"
"If it's so great, then why are you acting this way?" she asked.
"What way am I acting, Luce?" he asked as he left the kitchen and plopped down on the sofa with a heavy sigh. He was starting to get a headache. His brain felt overloaded with all of the
information from this morning. He knew he was being shitty, but he didn't care. He should have been in a good mood, but he wasn't. The rock in his stomach rumbled, and he felt like he would
suffocate. "Just give me a minute, okay, Lucy? I'm beat."
"What about the bar?"
She always had to beat the dead horse.
"Can we talk about this later?"
"What about us singing together? I thought we did great last night, Rob. You were in such a good mood, and we had so much fun."
Rob had to admit he had been in a good mood the day before. Too good of a mood for a reason he didn't understand. He had felt up, elated, his energy level way too high, unable to unwind. Even with
the anxiety attack, once it passed, the extreme happiness stayed. It just wasn't normal to feel that exhilarated for no reason, and he knew it.
Today the extreme high was gone. Rob felt like he was running on empty. His headache was getting worse. A dark cloud of depression hung over him. All he wanted to do was go back to bed, bury his
head in the blankets, and cry.
Instead, he rose from the sofa and poured himself another drink. "Sure you don't want one?" he asked, lifting his glass.
She shook her head. "Too early for me."
He shrugged, leaned against the counter, and sipped his drink. His eyes were studying her.
Lucy returned to the stove. The bacon was cold, and the grease gelled. The eggs were hard. She tipped the entire contents of the skillet into the garbage and tossed the skillet into the sink.
"What's the matter with you?" he asked her, obviously annoyed.
"What's the matter with me? What the hell is the matter with you, Rob? Why are you acting this way?"
Rob took another swig of his drink, finishing it off. "Nothing is wrong with me, Lucy. I'm just tired."
"You're always tired," she shot back at him. "Maybe you need to drink less. Maybe you need to go back to the doctors." Then her eyes widened. "Did you ever find out about your labs?"
"Jesus Christ!" he exploded. "Would you get off my back?"
She stared at him in silence, her eyes wide. For a split second, Rob thought she was going to cry. But suddenly, she stiffened her composure. Grabbing her small purse, she walked out of the
apartment, slamming the door so hard a picture fell from the wall, the glass splintering into tiny pieces on the floor.
"Shit," Rob swore to himself. Now he'd gone and done it. She had to explain the contracts to him. Now he didn't know how he was going to get her to come back.
He poured another drink and left the kitchen, grabbing his guitar on his way to the couch. He sat down, placed his drink on the coffee table, and fit the guitar into his lap. He sat quietly for a
moment, listening to the music inside his head.
He strummed a few chords. Something was coming. He could feel it.
He strummed a few more chords, humming to himself. Gradually the song started taking shape.
He tried to let the song block out the way he had treated Lucy. He had no idea why he had been so nasty. He hadn't meant to. For some reason, he had felt upset and confused all the way home from
Brown's office. He carried the "waiting for the other shoe to drop" feeling in his guts. After enduring that uneasiness all the way home, he started to feel angry. Angry enough to take it out on
the only person standing in his way.
The song started to slip away with his thoughts. He tried desperately to hang onto it, but it was no use. It was fading, and thoughts of Lucy were taking over.
"Fuck!" he shouted angrily to the empty room. Rising from the couch, he grabbed his glass, intent on making another drink. He headed to the kitchen when his anger turned to rage, and he grabbed the
small kitchen table, flipping it over. The contracts fluttered to the tile floor. The CD went flying and crashed into the wall, breaking in two. "Goddammit!" he swore again, throwing his glass
against the wall. It shattered, throwing shards and small pieces all over the kitchen.
He clenched his hands and punched the wall with both fists. The pain shot up from his hands to his elbows, forcing the rage to quell. His shoulders started to tremble.
His sobs were loud in the quiet apartment. He stood there for a long time, letting the river of emotions flow over him. When at last they slowed, he left the mess in the kitchen, grabbed his
jacket, and stormed out of the apartment. It was time to get blind running.
Rob heard nothing from Lucy over the next two days. He called her once, got her voicemail, and left a message. When she didn't call him back, he figured she was done with him. That was fine since
the days after that left him no time to socialize.
When he got back home the night of his temper tantrum, he cleaned up the glass, uprighted the table, tossed the CD into the trash, and signed the contracts without reading them. Larry already
explained everything. There was no reason to read them.
There was only one thing at the bottom of the pages in fine print that Rob didn't read. He should have. The contract wasn’t for Capitol Records. It read:
One Step Productions, LLCLawrence Brown, President
Capitol Records Bldg. 1750 North Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA
He was still seventeen, even though he felt like he had lived a lifetime in the last few months. And maybe he had. So much had happened in such a short time. He wondered when it would slow down so
that his head would stop spinning.
When he woke up the next day, there was a voicemail from Brown. "Rob, it's almost noon. I need you in the studio by one. Don't forget the contracts."
His head pounding, Rob rolled out of bed and made it to the shower, letting the icy cold water pelt his skin. He would have no time to let the water heat up. He would have no time to shave. He
would be lucky to make the first bus.
He was still pulling on his jeans when his phone rang. He grabbed it off the bed and answered it. It was Lucy.
"Are you calmed down now?" she asked smartly.
He was already out of breath and out of time. "Can we talk later, Lucy? I'm late."
"Late for what?"
"I have to be in the studio by one." He finally got his jeans pulled up. He placed the phone under his chin to zip them up.
"But it's already twelve-thirty."
"Hang on," he said, laying the phone down on the bed and pulling a shirt over his head. When he picked the phone back up, she was still talking. "I know, I know," he answered her even though he had
no idea what she was saying.
"What do you mean, 'I know, I know.' I just told you."
Fuck. What did he miss? "Sorry, Luce, but I'm trying to get dressed." He didn't want to take the chance of pissing her off again.
"I said," she responded. "That I will be there in five minutes. I'll be outside in the car. Just get your ass out there. I'm going to drive you.”
"Thanks, Lucy. I'll love you forever." But she had already hung up.
“Look, Luce,” he started to apologize as he got into the car and buckled the seat belt around his waist.
“Don’t, Rob,” she said without looking at him. She put the car in gear and, checking her mirrors, proceeded out into traffic before he had a chance to shut the car door.
He grabbed the car door handle and yanked it shut. He damn near fell out into the road. What the fuck? Instead, he kept quiet. She was still pissed. He couldn’t blame her. But he needed to tell her
he was sorry.
“I’m sorry, Luce,” he said. “I don’t know what's….”
“Didn’t I just say ‘don’t’?” Her voice was full of anger. “I don’t want to hear your apology. You’re only doing it to make yourself feel better. You don’t mean it, or you would stop being an
“Then why did you bother calling?”
She shrugged as she turned a corner without slowing down.
He gripped the handle tighter. “Can you at least slow down?”
“Can’t. You’re out of time.”
“I’d rather be late than dead,” he mumbled under his breath.
They arrived in one piece at the studio. Rob made no move to get out of the car.
“Well?” Lucy asked, “What are you waiting for?”
“I want you to go in with me.”
Her brow drew together as she scrutinized him. “I don’t know if they’ll let me.”
“They will. They’ll have to. You’re going to be my wife.”
She rubbed her forehead and chuckled. “Not that again.”
“Yes, that again. You’re good for me, Luce. I need you.”
“You need me. But you don’t love me.”
“You can’t say that!”
“But you’ve never said it.”
“I do love you, Luce,” he insisted. “I’m just not one to show it. I’ve been that way all my life.”
“That’s comforting to know.”
“Hey, you’re not so great at it either.”
She laughed. “Got me there.”
“Can we at least talk about it?”
“I think you need to get inside.”
“Come with me,” he said adamantly, turning to face her. “Please.” He drew in a long breath and held it for a moment.
She gave him half a smile. “If you insist.”
He released the breath he was holding. “I do,” he said, then he chuckled. “I guess I’ll need to practice that.”
She laughed. “You’re an idiot.”
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