"Have a seat, Rob." Brown motioned to the chair in front of his desk. Then he walked around to his chair and sat down. “There are a few things we need to discuss before they get out of control.”
Rob knew it. He wanted to talk about Lucy.
He remained quiet and let Brown talk.
“First of all, you don’t have a girlfriend, you don’t have a fiancé, and you’re not getting married.”
Rob sat up straight in the chair and started to object.
Brown held up a hand. “Let me finish.”
Rob leaned back in the chair and crossed his legs. The rock in his stomach rumbled.
Brown continued. “Did you know that John Lennon married Cynthia Powell in 1962, about the same time The Beatles were becoming famous because she was pregnant? Did you know that Brian Epstein hid
their marriage from the public because he thought it would alienate the fans?”
Rob nodded his head and let Brown talk.
“Well, you’re John Lennon, and I’m Brian Epstein.” Brown finished with a chuckle.
Rob laughed, relieved at the turn the conversation was taking. “I get it,” he said. “You could have told me this over the phone, you know.”
“I could have,” Brown agreed. “But sometimes artists don’t take this kind of information well. I wanted to see your face when I told you. That way, I know you do get it.’”
“Don’t worry about Lucy, either,” Rob added. “She’s very easy going about certain things. She won’t have a problem with it.”
“That’s good. You do realize that the two of you can’t be seen in public together once your name gets out there. Will she be okay with that, do you think?”
“I think so.”
“I hope you can do better than that.”
“Excuse me?” Rob didn’t know what that meant.
“Better than I think so.’" Brown clarified. “Please sit her down and talk to her. Make sure she understands what’s at stake here. It’s your future, and it’s my future. Along with everyone else
involved. Do you remember David Cassidy?”
Again, Rob nodded.
“As far as the public knows, David Cassidy never had a girlfriend or wife. As long as The Partridge Family was airing, his concerts were sold out, his albums making millions. It was all because of
those little girls that loved him and fantasized about him. Had a woman shown up in the picture, those little girls would find another teen idol to cream their panties over. As far as those little
girls were concerned, David Cassidy never had sex either.”
“Okay, okay,” Rob held up both hands. “Enough with the visuals.”
“Just trying to get my point across.”
“You did that,” Rob laughed, glad the rock in his stomach had settled down. “Don’t worry. I’ll talk to Lucy as soon as I get home.”
It was still early when Rob got home from Brown’s office. They had spent the morning going over last-minute changes to his songs that needed worked on. Brown wanted Rob to do a showcase. Rob didn’t
think he was ready. Brown felt that he was. Rob had ended the conversation saying he would think about it.
He was surprised to find the apartment still dark and quiet when he let himself in. All of the drapes were still closed in the living room. Rob opened them to let the sunlight in, then strolled to
the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. There had been no time for it this morning. He stood watching it drip for a moment, then left the kitchen and meandered toward the bedroom.
The lump in the bed told him that Lucy was still asleep. He took in the sight, a devious plan forming in his mind. Was a little getting even in the works? Why, yes, his mind told
him. Yes, it most certainly was.
He tiptoed out of the bedroom and returned to the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table. He crossed his arms over his chest and tilted backward on the legs of the chair.
A brief memory of his mother telling him to put the chair’s legs on the floor made him forget himself. He started to fall backward and threw his hands in the air, flapping his arms like a bird to
stop the motion. All four legs landed on the floor with a thud. Rob swung his head in the direction of the bedroom, sure that he had woken Lucy up with the noise.
The apartment remained quiet.
Rob let out a breath of relief. He slipped off his shoes and walked softly to the bedroom.
Lucy hadn’t moved a muscle.
Getting a tight grip on the blanket at the end of the bed, Rob silently counted to three, grinning to himself. He could not even imagine her reaction. Would she even remember? On three, he yanked
with all his might.
The blanket flew up in the air, hitting the ceiling fan. One of the paddles from the fan came loose and dashed against the window. The window shattered. Rob stared in horror.
“Jesus!” Lucy cried as she sat straight up in the bed, covering her nakedness with the sheet. Her eyes were wider than he had ever seen as she stared at him. “What in the hell?”
Rob dropped the blanket on the floor, his face flaming a bright red. “Hi, Luce,” he said sheepishly. “Wanna fuck?”
# # #
Lucy didn’t say a word. Her eyes were veiled.
He thought perhaps she didn’t hear him. Or maybe she wasn’t happy with his practical joke.
His jaw went slack. “You’re what?”
“I said, I’m pregnant.” The sheet covering her breasts fell to her waist. Her breasts were swollen, and prominent veins showed through the skin. She crawled naked from the bed and let the sheet
fall to the floor. Turning sideways, she caressed her belly that showed signs of a small bump.
He sagged onto the bed and buried his hands in his hair. “How?”
“How do you think, Rob?” she asked cattily. She turned and picked up the sheet, wrapping herself up again.
“I know how,” he defended himself. “I guess I mean; I thought you used birth control.”
“You never asked me if I did.”
“Of course, I did. I didn’t plan this, you know.” Lucy set her mouth in a hard line. Her face was burning a bright red with anger. “By the way, you’ve been hounding me to marry you.”
She was right. He had been. But for some reason, the idea had faded away. Now he was no longer interested. He wanted to tell her that; he was hoping to tell her that. Brown didn’t want her hanging
around. Rob never had the chance to bring the subject up to her. He was sure she would be okay with it. Now he knew she wouldn’t.
He plastered a smile on his face and looked up at her. “You’re right,” he said, rising from the bed and wrapping his arms around her waist. “I have been, and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
“You didn’t mean to ask me to marry you?”
Rob forced a laugh and kissed her gently on the mouth. “No,” he said. “I didn’t mean to hound you. But with a little bun in the oven, I guess you’re gonna have to marry me after all. But Luce,
there’s something we need to talk about first.”
“Okay,” she lowered herself on the bed. “I’m all ears.”
“Not like this,” he said. “Get dressed. I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”
Not waiting for her response, Rob left the room. He hurried to the kitchen. Now was the time for that drink. Grabbing a tall glass from the cupboard, he didn’t waste time with the ice. He filled it
halfway with Jack, then added a small dose of Coke. He drank half of it down before Lucy came into the kitchen.
The drink eased the tension. Rolling his head on his shoulders, he rubbed the back of his neck with his knuckles, digging the knucklebones deep into the muscle. He took another long drink, then
refilled his glass before joining Lucy at the table.
She sat down and looked expectantly at him. God, he hated when she did that. He held up his glass to her. “Want some?”
She shook her head. “Can’t drink now.”
Rob only nodded. He pulled out the chair and twirled it around, sitting backward in it. “How are you feeling?”
“Stop it.” A muscle in her jaw twitched. “You have something you want to say. Just say it and get it off your chest.”
Rob inhaled sharply, then let the breath out loudly. “I’m leaving.”
“Where are you going?”
She raised her chin. “I see.”
“I’m going on tour, Luce. I just found out. I’ll be leaving in a couple of days. The album is almost done. They’re loading the bus.”
Lucy’s hands remained folded on the tabletop. “How long does your tour last?”
“Do you want to get married before or after?”
“Before or after what?”
“Before or after we leave for your tour.”
Rob’s eyes wandered toward the ceiling. Up in the corner, a small house spider had started to spin a web. Rob watched, fascinated, as the spider worked unceasingly, weaving and spinning. The little
spider had work to do. Nothing was going to stop him from spinning his sticky web. He had bugs to catch. Bugs to trap. Bugs to devour.
“I’m sorry?” Rob brought his attention back to Lucy.
“I said,” she repeated. “Do we get married before or after we leave for your tour?”
Rising from the chair, Rob once again poured himself a stiff drink. It tasted better than the previous one. Maybe the next one would taste even better. He was starting to feel good. All of the
tension was leaving him. Suddenly, he came up with what he thought was a first-rate plan.
“Look, Luce,” he said. “I have an idea. Why don’t you just move in here while I’m gone? It will get you out of that one-room trap you’re living in now. You won’t have to share a bathroom or
kitchen. You’ll have all the privacy you need. When I get back, we can get married then, maybe find a bigger place. I’ll have more money, and I’ll be able to afford it. What do you think?”
She bowed her head and studied her hands. She had made a steeple out of her fingers and was clicking her nails. “What do I think?” she finally asked. “I think you're a motherfucking
son-of-a-bitching dirty scumbag bastard, that’s what I think!”
Rob threw his hands in the air. “What the fuck did I say to piss you off?”
"What did you say?" Lucy narrowed her Amber eyes at him. She rose from the chair so angry that her hands shook, and her tears were blinding her. "You don't know?" she asked as she grabbed up her
things to leave. "How fucking old are you, ten?"
Rob finished the last of his drink in one long swallow. Around the ice cube that was still in his mouth, he said, “I’m seventeen.”
Lucy remained motionless, barely breathing, her face a blank canvas. Light beads of perspiration dotted her brow. Her eyelids sagged. The color drained from her face. Slowly, her eyes rolled up in
her head, and she started to fall.
Rob caught her before she hit the floor, lifted her in his arms, and carried her to the couch. Placing her gently on the cushions, he left her and went to the kitchen, filling a glass with water.
By the time he returned to her, her eyelids had fluttered open.
“What happened?” she asked.
“Here, drink some water.” Lifting her shoulders, he placed the glass close to her lips. “This should help. You fainted.”
“I fainted,” she repeated, wonder in her voice. “I’ve never done that before.”
“First time for everything, I guess,” a smile tugged at Rob’s lips. “Feeling any better now?”
“My ears are buzzing, and I’m seeing spots, but other than that,” she shrugged her shoulders. “I guess I’m alright.”
“You scared me.”
“I’ll bet I did,” she agreed. She glanced around the room. “How did I get here?”
He offered her more water. “I caught you just in time and carried you here.”
“I see.” With one hand, she pushed the glass away. When she tried to sit up, Rob forced her to lay back down.
“Just rest,” he insisted.
“I’m not tired. What were we talking about?” A flush crept up her face as she suddenly remembered. She put her head back down and dropped a hand on her forehead. “Jesus Christ on a piece of toast,”
she moaned. “Was that for real, or did I dream it? Did you tell me you were seventeen?”
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
Rob shrugged his shoulders. “It never came up.”
“You’re underage, Rob. You’re jailbait. I could go to jail for the things we did together.”
Rob laughed. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”
Lucy struggled to sit up. Rob grabbed her by the hands and pulled her to a sitting position.
“Do you know how old I am?” she asked.
He shook his head. “That never came up either.”
“I’m twenty-seven years old, Rob. I’m ten years older than you. Oh my God,” she moaned again. “I can’t do this. You’re just a kid.”
“I’m not just a kid, Luce.” Rob insisted. “I’ve been on my own for quite a while now. I know how to support myself.”
“But you’re just a kid,” she said again.
“Look what I’ve accomplished,” he said. “I’ll bet you don’t know too many kids that are on a record label, destined to become a star, do you?”
“Nope,” she tilted her head. “I sure don’t.”
“But,” he continued. “I’ll bet you’ve met a few that are fathers.”
“That I have,” she agreed. “But I’ve never made a seventeen-year-old a father.”
Rob chuckled. “Good to know.” He leaned in closer to her, lifted her chin, and kissed her gently. “Everything will be okay, Luce. I promise.”
“I want to believe you, Rob. I want to keep this baby. We don’t have to get married.”
“But we will. My kid isn’t going to be illegitimate. My kid is going to be a Starre.”
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