Page 20 of RoomHate

My phone vibrated.

Justin: How’s it going?

I didn’t want to be rude and answer him. So, I ignored the text until Will excused himself to use the restroom.

Amelia: Aren’t you supposed to be singing?

Justin: It’s my ten minute break.

Amelia: Everything is fine.

Justin: Just checking to make sure you’re still alive.

Amelia: I have not had to use the knife, no.

Justin: Did you order the lobster like I told you to?

Amelia: No. Swordfish.

He didn’t respond, so I assumed that he was done texting me, which was good, since Will was headed back to the table.

Our food arrived, and the waitress brought me a second glass of wine. We ate in comfortable silence when I could feel my phone buzz on my lap. Figuring it was Justin, I was curious to look down but didn’t want to seem rude. After I was halfway through my meal, I decided to excuse myself to go to the bathroom so that I could check my phone.

In the restroom, I leaned against the sink as I took my phone out.

Justin: You were right.

What did that mean?

Amelia: Right about what?

After waiting for five full minutes, I decided to head back to the table.

“Everything alright?”

“Yes. Everything is fine.”

“I was thinking we could drive back to Newport, maybe take an evening walk down Main Street and stop for coffee or ice cream, whichever you prefer.”

Truthfully, I wanted to go home, take off my heels, and soak in a nice hot bath.

“That sounds great,” I lied.

My phone vibrated again. This time, I looked down on my lap to sneak a peek at Justin’s response.

Justin: I didn’t stay because of the gig at Sandy’s.

Justin: I could have gone back to New York.

Justin: I wanted to stay.

Those words ensured that I was a complete goner for the remainder of our time at The Boathouse. I didn’t respond to the text, but that was mostly because I didn’t know what to say. He may not have necessarily expected a response. My heart just felt inexplicably heavy.

Back in the car, we’d just gotten back to Newport when Will said he needed to run into a convenience store for a minute. Out of nowhere, my nose started running. I badly needed a tissue, so I opened the center console in the hopes of finding something to wipe my nose with. While I didn’t find a tissue, my hand did stumble upon something: a men’s gold wedding band.

What the fuck?

My heart started to pound furiously.

Are you kidding me right now?

The asshole was probably buying condoms for a tryst with me. Without thinking it through, I got out of the car and slammed the door. I wasn’t in any mood for a confrontation and honestly didn’t care enough to ream him out. All I cared about was going to see Justin. Looking down at my phone, I realized he would still be playing the last set at Sandy’s, which was about a half-mile walk from my current location. Running in my heels, I panted as I made my way across downtown Newport.

I stopped to catch my breath before entering the restaurant. Because it was cooler tonight, Justin was performing on the inside stage. I snuck inside and hid in a corner where he couldn’t see me but where I could still watch him. This had to be close to the end.

His voice suddenly vibrated through the mic. “This last song goes out to all the people who’ve ever had a certain kind of friend who drives you crazy—the kind that gets under your skin and stays there even when they’re not physically present. The kind with dimples you’ve been dreaming about since you were a kid. The kind with seafoam green eyes you get lost in. The kind that’s confusing as all hell. That kind. If you can relate, this song is for you.”

Oh my God.

Justin began to play a cover of a song I recognized. It was Realize by Colbie Caillat. Attempting to listen to the words, I couldn’t decipher it all because I was too transfixed on the way he was singing it. The lyrics were mostly about realizing true feelings and how sometimes they could be one-sided. During most of the song, his eyes were closed, even though he was playing the guitar. He didn’t know I was here, and I was pretty sure he was thinking of me. I didn’t know whether I should leave. It felt like I was invading his privacy somewhat. It was doubtful that he would have chosen to sing this song to my face.

When Justin finished the song, he thanked the audience and immediately got up. Ignoring the bevvy of women trying to approach him for an autographed CD, he instead just took off to the back of the restaurant. I needed to decide whether I was going to make my presence known.

Still in the corner of the room, I felt my phone vibrate.

Justin: Done for the night. Heading home. Everything kosher?

Amelia: Not exactly.

Justin: ???

I opted to pretend that I hadn’t heard the song or what came before it. None of it was meant for my ears. Making my way back outside, I typed.

Amelia: I’m fine. I just got to Sandy’s. I’m outside.

Within ten seconds, the door opened, and Justin was outside carrying his guitar.

The anger was written all over his face. “What the fuck?”

“Hi to you, too.”

“What happened?”

“Your suspicions about his character were correct.”

“Did he try to touch you?”

“No. He didn’t lay a hand on me.”

“What did he do then?”

“He neglected to mention that he’s married.”

“What? How did you figure that out?”

“I found a men’s wedding ring in the center console of his car.”

“Fucker.”

“Thank you for looking out for me.”

“I guess old habits die hard.” He stared up at the starry sky. “Anyway, I’m sorry you wasted your night.”

“The only thing I’m sorry about is missing your performance. I left him at the Cumberland Farms convenience store and ran here as fast as I could but didn’t make it in time.”

“You didn’t miss much.”

“Why is that?”

“I felt a little off tonight.”

“I bet that’s just your perception.”

“No. I was distracted.”

A group of girls came outside and lingered around him. One of them approached him with a CD. “Would you mind signing this, Justin?”

“Not at all.” He was very gracious about it.

She squealed before scurrying away with her friends.

I chuckled. “So, you think I could bum a ride off a local celebrity?”

“I don’t know. Your house might be too far out of my way.” He nudged his head. “Come on. I’m parked in the lot across the street.”

I loved riding in Justin’s Range Rover because his intoxicating smell was tenfold inside of it. Leaning my head against the seat, I closed my eyes, so incredibly happy to be with him. It hit me that there were really only a matter of days left before he’d be gone back to New York. I’d be closing up the house, and I wouldn’t see him every day anymore.

When I opened my eyes, I realized that we were going over the Mount Hope Bridge. He was driving off the island.

“Where are we going?”

“We’re taking a little detour. That okay with you?”

Excitement filled me. “Yeah.”

Forty minutes later, we arrived in Providence, the city where I lived and where we grew up.

“I haven’t been back here in ages,” he said.

“You’re not missing much.”

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