“Does what bother me?”
“That she never sends books back anymore?”
Maggie hadn’t sent me a book since the year before when I told her I was seeing Sasha. Did it bother me? Every single day. Did I miss the pink Post-its? Every single day. Would I ever let on that it hurt? Never. “Nah. I’m not really expecting any kind of reply anymore.”
“You must’ve done something awful to make her stop.”
“What makes you think it was my fault?”
She smiled. “The penis in your pants.” She started walking off toward the door to leave. “I really hope whoever this book girl is has a huge Beauty and The Beast-style library, because she’ll need it with all the books you’ve sent her way lately. You’ve got twenty minutes to shower and wash up before we head over to Urban.” With that, she was gone.
I sat in front of my mirror and breathed in all my changes. I had bags under my eyes at the age of twenty-eight, not small bags, very noticeable bags that our makeup artist was so good at hiding. My arms were inked up from my younger days of drunken tattoos while doing concerts around the U.S., and my constantly growing beard was longer than it should’ve been, but my manager, Dave, told me beards were in and he therefore refused to let me shave.
I wondered what Maggie would’ve thought of my hairy face.
I wondered what Maggie would’ve thought about me.
I wondered if I ever crossed her mind the way she always seemed to cross mine.
“Hey, hairy monster,” a voice said, breaking me from my thoughts. The moment I swung around in my chair to see Sasha, I felt guilt. I hated when my mind wandered to Maggie May when Sasha was around. It didn’t seem fair to anyone.
Sasha walked over to me and sat in my lap. “Tonight was amazing. You’re amazing,” she whispered, kissing my nose. The guilt was fast to fade whenever Sasha came near me. She was beautiful, not only in her looks, but in her kindness. You didn’t find many people as gentle as her in the realm of fame.
“Thanks,” I replied, kissing her chin. “We have to make an appearance at Urban tonight.”
She groaned, hating clubs as much as I did. “Seriously? I was hoping we could go back to the hotel, turn on the whirlpool, and order room service.”
“Oh, don’t tempt me.”
Her lips glided against mine. She tasted like red wine, her favorite drink of choice backstage whenever she was able to fly out to catch one of our shows.
“I fly out in the morning. I have a photoshoot in Los Angeles, then a runway show in New York.”
“You just got here a few days ago,” I complained. Since the tour had started, Sasha and I had only seen each other a handful of times, but we always found a few minutes to FaceTime each night. She’d flown to Birmingham four days before, and even though we were in the same city, I still had to run around all the time. It wasn’t fair to our relationship, but Sasha knew what it was like. I’d flown out to see her during my breaks, but she’d been working on her career just as hard as I had been on mine.
“I know. I miss you. I miss you even when you’re right here.”
I pulled her closer in my lap and rested my head on her forehead. “How about this? How about we make a quick stop at Urban, for an hour or so, then go back to the hotel and pull an all-nighter eating room service in the whirlpool?”
Her body stiffened up and a pleasant smile formed on her lips. “Don’t you have a busy day tomorrow? When will you sleep?”
“I can sleep when I’m six feet under,” I joked, mocking Michelle. “But seriously. I’d rather be tired because I got to spend time with you than fully rested any day.”
Her hands fell against my cheeks, and she bent forward to kiss me. “I’m wild about you, Mr. Griffin. Now come on, you go shower and get ready for tonight.”
We made our way to Urban and stayed an hour and thirty minutes—longer than we thought we had planned to stay, but it was worth it. Calvin had the time of his life, and it was the best feeling in the world, seeing him happy. Stacey was right there on his arm, too, the same place she’d been since eighth grade.
There was something about Sasha and me when we went out together—people noticed us. We were the life of every event; we laughed, we drank, we danced. Our mouths were always moving nonstop, chatting it up with people, and we had a way of finishing each other’s sentences. Being social with Sasha Riggs was effortless. We gelled together so well it was impossible for anyone to doubt we had been destined to meet one another over a year ago.
The ‘it’ pair, magazines called us.
The next Brad and Angelina.
America’s next royal couple.
It was a lot to live up to, but we did it with our charm. There was no one else I knew who could keep up with my words—with my voice.
By the time Sasha and I headed back to the hotel, we were both pretty drunk. Whenever she was wasted, she got the hiccups, and it was the cutest fucking thing in the world. We kissed the whole way up to our room, and when we made it inside, she kicked off her high heels, hurried over to the whirlpool, and turned it on.
“Grab the room service menu and order anything you want plus French fries. Lots of French fries.”
I moved toward the telephone to order the food and paused when I saw The Kite Runner sitting on the end table.
My chest tightened as I started flipping through the book and reading Maggie’s tabs.
“I’m gonna put bubbles in it. I don’t know if I’m supposed to, but I’m gonna,” Sasha shouted.
I didn’t reply; I just kept flipping.
“Tonight was actually a lot of fun, wasn’t it? I loved the crowd. There was a lot of…”
She kept speaking, but I stopped listening. The guilt started coming back to me as I read Maggie’s notes. I shouldn’t have felt the way I did. I shouldn’t have missed her. I shouldn’t have been pulled back to her every time I opened one of the old novels she sent.
“Did you order?” Sasha asked, walking my way. I opened the drawer on the nightstand and shoved the book in, closing it fast.
“Did you order the food?”
“Oh, yeah, not yet.”
She raised a questioning eyebrow. “What’s going on? Is everything okay?”
No. “Come here,” I said, sitting on the king-sized bed. She sat down on the bed, facing me. I took her hands into mine. “Can we try something?”