Nevertheless, I had gotten myself dressed up anyway, continuing to hold out hope. Donning a short and tight satin blue dress with black lace accents, I looked more like a lingerie model than a stay-at-home mom. In the event that I got to see him tonight, I wanted to knock his socks off. I was, after all, competing with an entire world of models and groupies vying for his attention. That thought made my stomach turn as I curled my hair into long, loose tendrils and put on my matte plum lipstick. Something told me all of this effort was in vain, but I needed to be prepared to fly out the door if Susan ever made it back here. When the clock struck eight, it became clear I was going to miss his performance no matter what happened.
At eight-forty-five, Justin called right before he had to report to the stage.
“No luck?” he asked.
“I’m so sorry. I wanted to make it work so badly, but she’s not here yet. There’s no way I’ll get there in time tonight.” My voice was shaky, but I refused to cry or else my mascara would have run down my face.
“Fuck, Amelia. I’m not gonna lie. This is a major disappointment. I was looking forward to seeing you so much. It was what got me through this week. Of course, I understand though. Bea comes first. Always. Kiss her for me. I hope she feels better.”
We stayed on the line, the disappointment heard loud through our silence and the long sigh of frustration that escaped him.
I heard a man’s voice before Justin said, “Shit. They’re calling me.”
“Okay. Have a good show.”
“I’ll be thinking of you the whole time.”
Before I could respond, the line went dead.
Fifteen minutes later, there was a frantic knock at the door. When I opened it, Susan was panting. “Go. Go, Amelia!”
“It might be too late. The show will be over when I get there.”
“Yes. But you’ll get to see him before they take off, right?”
“I think so. I’m not sure exactly when the bus leaves for the next city.”
“Don’t waste time talking to me. Just tell me where Bea is.”
“She’s sleeping. I left a long note with instructions on the counter.”
“I’ve got it.” She waved me off. “Go get your man, Amelia.”
Blowing her a kiss, I said, “I owe you big time. Thank you for this.”
It had been a while since I last drove on the highway at night. The beginnings of a panic attack started to creep in as I sped up I-95. Trying to focus on seeing Justin and not the cars whizzing past me, I was able to keep the panic from escalating into a full-blown attack. The GPS served as my co-pilot because I had no idea where I was going. This part of Massachusetts was completely foreign to me.
Sweat permeated my body as I got closer. Even though it was cold out, I turned on the air conditioner for circulation to calm myself. What was I doing? The show was over. I hadn’t texted him. I told myself it was because I wanted to surprise him, but a part of me wanted to see what things were like when he wasn’t expecting me.
Parking in the large lot outside of the venue, I wrapped my arms around myself. I’d rushed out of the house so fast, I’d forgotten a coat. Running in my high-heeled boots—the same ones I’d worn with my Catwoman costume—I made my way to a tall chain-link fence which separated the VIP area from the parking lot.
Two black tour buses with tinted windows sat just inside the gate. A guard wearing a headset stood at the entrance. Groups of women gathered nearby, probably hoping for a glimpse of the artists.
My breath was visible in the night air as I flashed my special badge and spoke to the guard. “Is the show over?”
“Almost. Calvin is in the middle of the last set.”
“Where can I find Justin Banks? He gave me this access card.”
“Justin is in Bus Two. That’s the one on the right.”
My heart was hammering against my chest as I made my way through the gravelly lot to the bus.
I opened the door. To my surprise, no one seemed to be inside. That was what I assumed until noises coming from the back bedroom proved otherwise. There were several coffin-like beds on the sides, but Justin had mentioned that each bus had one master suite in the back. The crew and he alternated who got to sleep in it each night.
A lump formed in my throat as I approached the closed wooden door. The sound of a woman moaning could be heard from behind it.
The guard had said Justin was in here.
I had to know.
I had to open it. I had to see it with my own eyes.
My faith might have been blind, but it was about to get an eyeful.
Slowly turning the knob, I inched the door open a crack. All I saw was a mane of dark hair. A woman was riding him as he lay flat. It looked like Olivia, but I didn’t know for sure. It could have been any woman. It didn’t matter who it was. They didn’t notice me. My stomach started to turn and bile was rising. I couldn’t look anymore. I just couldn’t.
Exiting the bus, my legs felt wobbly. Too shocked to cry, I walked in a daze as numbness consumed me. My vision was blurry. My heart felt like it was cracking slowly with each step out of the bus. Was I an idiot for thinking he would wait? That he could withstand the enormous temptation being thrown in his face every day? He never made any promises, and that was for good reason.
You’re a fool, Amelia.
I would have expected to be crying, but for some reason, the shock seemed to freeze my tear ducts. My eyes felt raw, cold, devoid of any ability to produce moisture.
My phone chimed from an incoming text.
I missed you tonight so fucking much.
How could he be texting me while he’s fucking someone else?
Adrenaline rushed through me, taking my nerves on a roller coaster ride of emotions.
Amelia: Are you on the bus?
Justin: No. At Dave and Buster’s down the road from the venue getting a drink. How’s Bea feeling?
It wasn’t him.
It wasn’t him fucking that girl on the bus!
Clutching my chest, I let out the breath that seemed to have been trapped inside, suffocating me a moment earlier. It felt like I’d been shot with a tranquilizer gun full of euphoria.
Amelia: Still has a cold. She’s with my friend Susan because I’m here. Right outside your bus.
Justin: Holy fuck! Don’t move. I’m heading back.
Rubbing my hands over my arms, I stood waiting in the cold for at least ten minutes. The two people who’d been screwing inside of the bus suddenly exited. The man was good-looking, but he was no Justin. I also confirmed that the female participant definitely wasn’t Olivia.
A crowd of women suddenly gathered toward the entrance. The guard could be heard saying, “Back. Back! Let him by!”
It was then that I saw Justin break through the swarm of people. He passed through the chain-link fence and was looking around frantically before his gaze locked in on me.
The commotion around us seemed to dissipate as he walked toward me and enveloped me in his arms. I practically melted into him. He smelled like a mixture of cologne, smoke and beer. It was intoxicating and made me want to bathe in it. I wanted him all over me.
“You’re cold as ice,” he whispered into my ear.
“Just hold me. Keep me warm.”
“I really need to do more than hold you right now.” He pulled back to take me in, giving my outfit a once over. “Fuck,” he growled. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but why do you look like a whore?”