Page 60 of RoomHate

“I hope you don’t mind my coming here,” she said. “When I heard you were playing in town, I just had to see you. I contacted Steve, and he gave me a backstage pass.”

“Of course, I don’t mind. It’s really good to see you, Jade.”

Even though a little bit of jealousy was creeping in, it wasn’t anything like what it used to be. My confidence in his feelings toward me now overrode that insecurity. Still, it was always going to be uncomfortable for me to think about Justin and Jade, given all of my memories of them together.

“I just need to talk to you, Justin. Steve told me you were with Amelia now, and I just…to be honest, I’m shocked. And then the song you sang…”

“I’m sorry, Jade. I should’ve been the one to tell you the news. I didn’t want to hurt you any more than I already had.”

“So, apparently…you did want children. Just not mine?”

“I didn’t expect to fall in love with that baby girl.”

“But you did see falling in love with her mother coming a mile away. When we lived together, you made it seem like you hated her. It wasn’t hate at all, was it? I should have known. No one acts like that toward someone unless they care too much.”

“There was no way you could have known, because I kept it inside. It was complicated then. During those early days, I fought my feelings for her. I really did. I wanted things to work between you and me. I didn’t think I’d end up with Amelia. But yes, the animosity toward her was a result of other deep-rooted feelings I couldn’t control. It was very complicated.”

There was a bit of awkward silence before I heard her ask, “Were you with her at any point when we were together?”

“No. Nothing happened until after we broke up. I didn’t want to hurt you, but apparently, I managed to anyway. For that, I’m so sorry. You’re a beautiful person, inside and out. I will always look back happily at our time together. I hope you find someone who deserves you.”

When I heard Jade start to cry, it made me uncomfortable, so I decided to leave and give them privacy to finish their conversation. My heart really did break for her, and I suppose the last person she wanted to see standing there when she left his dressing room was me.

Returning to the lobby, I texted him to let us know when we should come backstage. They were kindly holding Bea’s stroller for me behind the ticket counter, so I retrieved it while we were waiting. From my corner spot, I saw Jade running across the lobby and out of the revolving doors.

Almost immediately after, my phone chimed with a text from Justin.

Come backstage.

He didn’t notice us at first. His back was facing us. I took a moment to admire his round, muscular ass. When Bea squealed in excitement, he turned around.

I took her out of the stroller and held onto her hands while she walked with wobbly legs toward him.

He knelt down to receive her with open arms. “Bumblebee! Oh my God, you’re walking.” He looked amused to see her in her noise reducing headphones. I’d neglected to take them off. “Those things are bigger than your head!” He planted a messy kiss on her cheek before standing up to kiss me. I could tell from the desperate moan he let into my mouth that he was super horny. It made me a little wet thinking about what might happen later tonight after Bea fell asleep. I’d ordered a crib to be sent up to our room so that Justin and I could have the bed. I hoped it worked out.

“You were so amazing. That song—”

“You liked it?”

“I loved it.” Examining his face, I asked, “Are you okay?”

“Jade was here. She saw the show, heard the song. Steve gave her a pass, and she caught me in here, confronted me about us.” It pleased me that he felt the need to be honest with me.

“I know.”

“You know?”

“Yeah. We were outside the door. I heard a little of the conversation, but then I left to give you some privacy.”

“Wow.”

“You don’t need to explain anything. It is what it is. And I understand what she’s going through. I know what it’s like to love you and lose you. I’m just so thankful that I have you now.” I hesitated. There was so much I needed to tell him. Proud could not describe how seeing him perform tonight had made me feel. “Now that I’ve seen you on the big stage, it solidified more than ever how much you were meant to do this with your life. Not only are you so extremely talented, but people are naturally drawn to you. I don’t ever want you to give up on this because you feel guilty. You’ll never have to choose. We’ll always be here for you.”

He lifted Bea up and planted another kiss on my lips. “You’re amazing for saying that, because I know how hard my being away has been. I used to think it was the fame that I wanted, but this experience has taught me that—for me—it’s about the music. I don’t think I really want the rest of it long-term. I would never trade this experience, and if an opportunity falls at my feet, I’ll consider it. But being away from my family week after week is not okay. It’s not what I want.” He paused then cupped my face in his hands. “There is no music without you. Music is an expression of all of those things you live for…a reflection of the passion within your soul. I live for you. You’re my passion. You’re my music…you and Bea.”

“I love you so much.”

He grabbed his jacket. “Let’s get out of here.”

“What? No wild after party? What kind of rockstar are you?”

“What do you mean? I’m wild.” He winked. “I’m taking two girls back to my hotel room.”

EPILOGUE

JUSTIN

Never in a million fucking years did I expect my life to turn out like this.

I swear, if you would have asked my pussy-whipped fifteen-year-old self where he wanted to be in a decade, he would have probably said, “On an island somewhere with Patch.”

I guess some things never change, because that would be my exact answer today. While it would have seemed like an unattainable dream then, it was my reality now.

Watching Amelia playing with Bea down at the shoreline, I thought about the evolution of the roles she’d played in my life.

The mysterious girl with the eye patch.

The best friend.

The teenage fantasy.

The girl who stole my heart then broke it and took it with her when she ran away.

The estranged friend.

The forbidden roommate.

The girlfriend.

The mother of my babies.

She’d never been sexier than now—with my baby inside of her. At four months along, Amelia was just starting to show, mostly in her tits and ass, which was just fine by me.

I had asked her to marry me a year ago on July twenty-sixth, a few months after I got home from the tour. I was going to wait but decided that I had to propose on that day and that we’d get married exactly a year later. That date meant everything because 0726 were the final numbers on my barcode tattoo and were supposed to represent the day she left me a decade earlier. I was determined to redefine the meaning of those numbers. Now, that date—today—would always be the day she became my wife.

We didn’t want a fancy wedding, just a private ceremony with the three of us at the beach. We were hanging out by the water in the morning, and then we’d have a wedding on the beach at sunset followed by a clam bake of Amelia’s favorite—dirty snatch crabs—and lobster.

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