Read My Unexpected Forever Online

Authors: Heidi McLaughlin

Tags: #Romance, #Music, #Contemporary, #Young Adult, #Adult

My Unexpected Forever (5 page)

BOOK: My Unexpected Forever
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I
've
never wanted to be a fly on the wall until tonight while watching Liam talk to Katelyn. I wanted to know what he was saying. I tried not to lean forward and listen, but I caught myself doing just that a few times. When Josie sat down and started talking about inconsequential things, I wanted to kindly ask her to be quiet so I could maybe hear what Liam was saying.

But I didn’t.

The bus is quiet. I hate quiet. I need noise to feel at ease. Everyone’s gone to bed except for me and JD, although being asleep in the chair is close enough. I pull out my phone and push the button for GPS. We are a still a few hours away from our hotel, but there’s not enough time for it to matter if I sleep now or later. The plan is to take an early morning nap at the hotel before we hit the theme parks in the afternoon.

I’m excited about going to Disney, mostly because I’m looking for any excuse I can get to be close to Katelyn. I know she’s struggling with Peyton. I’ve racked my brain trying to think of ways I can help, but short of finding a spell to raise the dead, I’m no use. Not that I’d actually do that. I thought that Quinn might be the answer, but he’s never known his mom, so it’s hard to say he’s been there.

A door shuts quietly behind me. I turn and see Katelyn coming down the aisle. She’s dressed in an oversize t-shirt and for my sake I hope she has shorts on underneath, because all I can see are her legs and they are very bare. I have to bite the inside of my cheek in order to keep my mouth closed.

I wish I knew how to talk to her in a way to get her to open up. Since moving to Beaumont, I haven’t given another woman a second glance. With Katelyn, I’m not only giving her a second one, but a third, fourth and fifth whenever she’s in the room. I could live a day without water if I was granted the permission to just stare at her.

I can’t look up and make eye contact with her, even though it’s probably the right thing to do. My eyes follow the steps she takes as she passes me. I wonder if she’s sleep walking or if I’m even awake. Maybe I’m dreaming and she’s not really here - standing in my general vicinity - half naked.

I swallow hard when she sits down and tucks her legs underneath her. Does she not see me sitting here? Of course she doesn’t, I’m invisible. I need to find a way for her to see me, the real me on the inside and not the graffiti’d man she sees when she looks at me. I see the way she looks at my arms. I have no doubt that the wheels are turning in her head wondering why someone would cover their arms with ink. All she has to do is ask and I’ll tell her. I’m an open book once you crack my cover.

I clear my throat, but that doesn’t get her attention. What the hell? “Hi,” I say loud enough to cause JD to adjust in the chair. I wish he’d wake up and leave now that she’s here. I want to bask in her presence without an audience.

“Hi.” Her reply is soft, quiet. Is she afraid to wake up the log-sawing machine?

I look over at JD and shake my head. “Sorry. He’s not usually like this.”

“It’s okay.”

At least she’s answering me. It means that she’s actually awake, although I’m not sure I am. I look back at her and see that she’s rubbing her arms. She’s cold. I get up and go to the closet and pull out a blanket. Sitting down, I unfold it and lay it on top of her.

“Thank you.”

I nod. “Why are you up?”

She looks up at me. Her eyes are sharp. “Do you want me to leave?”

I swallow hard, catching myself from squeaking out an answer. “No, not at all. It’s just that it’s late, or early depending on how you look at things. I thought I was the only one still functioning.”

“I couldn’t sleep. What’s your excuse?”

This is the most she’s spoken to me since I’ve met her. “I have a hard time unwinding after a show, especially when I know we’re stopping soon.”

Katelyn looks at me but doesn’t say anything. No acknowledgment or anything. The awkward silence follows. It shouldn’t because I have so many things I want to ask her. Actually that’s not true. I know what her favorite color is, her favorite food and how she takes her coffee. I’ve paid attention these past few months, learning how she functions and what makes her tick.

I don’t know what to do or say. This is where I fail. This is where I’ve had my status as a drummer work to my benefit. Most women I’ve gone home with don’t care about what’s on my mind or how I like my coffee. They aren’t looking for a meaningful conversation. They just want one thing.

I don’t want that with Katelyn. I don’t want her to be someone that I just bring home when the urge is there, because with her even breathing, the urge is there. I want to know her, inside and out. I want to learn how to fall in love with her as my partner.

I can’t keep staring at her or off in to space. I don’t know how to proceed. I don’t want to push her into talking to me. I pick up my book and flip to the page where I left off. The words blur in my mind. I’m not going to make heads or tails of these pages as long as she’s sitting one cushion away from me.

Katelyn adjusts and lets out a long sigh. I close the book, setting it back down on the floor.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

She shakes her head. “I don’t know how you do it.”

“Do what?”

“Raise Quinn by yourself.”

I turn and face her, but keep my eyes focused on the outside. “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t raising him by himself. I know there are things that only a mom can do, but I try to be both. I’ve read a lot of books on how to be an effective parent and provide him with the right tools, but it’s hard. I’m the only parent he knows. Our situations are different. He didn’t lose his mom the way you and the girls lost Mason.”

“Where’s his mom?”

I shrug. “I don’t know.”

“How can you not know? Doesn’t she call?”

I shake my head. My finger starts playing with my lip as I process her question. “His mom… she showed up one day and just left him on my living room floor. He was three days old.”

“Wow. Why didn’t you marry her before all of this happened?”

It’s not going to matter how I answer this question. She’s going to see me as the quintessential rocker who sleeps around. I couldn’t be farther from that image. I shake my head and let out a small growl in frustration. I cover my face with my hands, rubbing my hat back and forth.

“Quinn is a product of a one night stand –”

“So –“ she starts to interrupt me, but I hold up my hand asking her to stop. I need to have this all out so there’s no misunderstanding.

“His mom drugged me. After a show, we went to the bar and I’ve never been much of a drinker, but that night I got hammered. I remember waking up with her, but I don’t remember anything else. Few months later, she knocks on my door with a carseat carrier and kept calling him
it
. She clearly didn’t want him and honestly, neither did I.”

“What did you do?”

“Called my mom and told her I was in trouble.”

“Hi, honey.”

“Mom?” My voice breaks as I call out for her.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m in trouble.”

“Are you at home?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m on my way.” She hangs up, but I don’t move. My phone is glued to my ear listening to the silence on the other end. The baby… it whimpers. I look at the contraption it’s in and mentally tick off the seconds it takes my mom to get to my place. I’m afraid it’s going to start crying. I don’t like crying. I’ll have to leave the room if it does.

My front door swings open, banging against the table that my mom placed there. She said it was decorative and added character, but apparently now it’s a doorstopper.

“Harrison, what’s wrong?”

I love my mom. Along with my sister, she’s my best friend and my confidant. She’s standing in front of me, her eyes full of worry. I point and she looks behind her before looking back at me. Her eyes squint and I see the confusion written all over her face.

“Why are earth would you ever offer to babysit?”

I shake my head. “I didn’t.”

“Is there a baby in that carseat?”

I nod. “The mom just left it here.”

“It?”

“She didn’t say —”

“Oh, Harrison,” my mom gasps as she removes the blanket that has been covering the baby. She bends down and does something with her hands and before I know it, she’s holding the baby against her shoulder. She starts rocking back and forth, patting the baby’s back.

“What’s his name?”

His? I shrug. “Don’t know.”

“How can you not know?”

I stand and start pacing. “The mom… his mom just dropped him off. She left him here.”

“When will she be back?”

I shake my head pulling at the ring in my bottom lip. I look at my mom. My brows furrow. “She said…” I point to the baby. “Is mine.”

“Yours?”

I nod, biting my cheek.

“You have a son.”

“What did your mom do?”

I lean back and get comfortable. If Katelyn wants to know about my past, I’m going to tell her. I’ll say anything just to keep her talking. She mimics my position. The blanket slips, showing me more leg than she probably intends. Flashes of my hand caressing her leg play in my mind. My fingers itch to touch her. To feel her against my skin would be heaven. My hand clutches the back of the couch to keep myself seated. I don’t trust myself not to lunge across the open space and press my lips to hers.

“Harrison?” I snap out of my fantasy when she says my name, wishing it was more reality than anything. I just need a sign from her, anything to show me that she might be at least interested in getting to know the real me.

“Yeah?”

“What did your mom do?”

“She moved in and taught me how to care for a baby. She lived with us for about a year until I hired a full-time nanny.”

“Where’s Quinn’s nanny now?”

“I let her go when we moved to Beaumont.”

“Oh,” she says. She rests her head on the backside of the couch. She looks tired. I wish I could offer her a place to sleep… on my chest. I could hold her in my arms. Rub her back until she falls asleep. I’d never let go. I’d never let her nightmares haunt her. I can make things better for her. When her eyes close, that’s my cue. We’re done talking. I pick up my book and start reading again. I need something to keep my hands occupied or I might end up doing something I regret.

I see her shiver out of the corner of my eye. I grab another blanket and drape it over her. I can’t resist. I sit down next to her. Her legs are bent just enough to give me space. My fingers brush her hair away from her face, just like I did earlier. I’m not imagining it when she leans into my hand. I stay there and relish in how her cheek feels against my palm.

I drop my hand, feeling like a creeper. She doesn’t like me the way I like her. I shouldn’t be touching her while she sleeps. She’d hate me if she knew. With my elbows pushing into my thighs, I rest my head in my hands. I’m so screwed. There’s no way someone like Katelyn will give me the time of day. I need to find a way to get over her, and fast, before the pain is too much to take when she finally decides to start dating again.

I look down when I feel something brush against my thigh. It’s her hand. I look at her and deduce that she’s dreaming. She has to be. She’d never willingly touched me like this. I pick up her hand and gently lay it across her waist. My hand lingers longer than necessary, but I can’t help it. Her fingers link with mine. I know I stop breathing while I wait for her to wake and freak out. There’s no way I’m pulling my hand away, even though I know it’s wrong. She has to be dreaming about her husband, not me.

I slide my hand out from under hers, thankful that she doesn’t wake. I need to get away from her and fast. As much as I’d love to take advantage of this sleeping beauty, it’s not enough that I want to ruin any chance I have with her, if ever.

I
want to kill Josie. Okay, maybe not kill, but maim in the worst way. I don’t even think she means well. I think she’s evil and cold-hearted because all I want to do is sleep. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, but apparently my presence is required at dinner, which according to her will be followed by dancing. I don’t want to dance. I have no one to dance with. Does she really think I’m going to bump and grind with some stranger?

I drag my brush through my hair angrily. This is the last thing I want to do. A night of sleep in a hard hotel bed ranks higher than a night out. I balked at first, told her there isn’t anyone to watch the girls, but of course she had a babysitter all lined up. There is no getting out of going out, no matter how hard I try.

Slipping into the red cocktail dress she had sent up, I step into a pair of over-priced peep-toed shoes, also a gift from her. I want to wring her neck. She knows how I feel about gifts, especially when they are expensive. I really want to send them back to her with a giant ‘no thank you’, but I don’t want to look ungrateful. I know she does this because she loves me and Liam encourages her. Both of them together are going to cause me to go gray long before I’m due.

Today was supposed to be the beginning of an epic three-day adventure. When we pulled into the hotel, the kids were so worn out all they wanted to do was lay by the pool. Jimmy was all too happy to take them, only for me to find out that he used my girls as a single dad ruse to pick up chicks. In hindsight, I should’ve listened to Harrison when he told me not to let the girls go, but who is he to tell me such a thing? I sent the girls on their way to a smirking Harrison and a laughing Liam. Jerks.

Now my girls are lounging in the “kid” room, as Liam calls it, with a highly paid babysitter, all giddy about babysitting Liam Page’s son. I’m sure she’s telling the world on her many social networking apps instead of actually watching the kids.

I look in the mirror and touch up my make-up. I’m stalling. Maybe I’m dragging out my arrival so they’ll think I’ve ditched and spent a childless night holed up with a good book. Josie won’t let that happen though.

With a deep and reserved breath, I make my way up to the top floor. Who knew Disney would have an adult area in their kid-themed hotel? The décor is black and polished. I could probably see my reflection clearly if I wanted to stand there and stare. Music is thumping, but it’s not loud in the restaurant area. A hostess leads me to my dinner party. The party that I plan to poison before the night is over. I round a corner and my eyes are immediately drawn to him, sitting with his arm resting on the back of booth. His leg is half hanging off the bench. He’s wearing dark jeans and a dark hoodie and his head is covered, like always. Why does he do that? It makes me think that his head is scarred or deformed. He didn’t wear the hat during the concert. I only found this out after looking through some press pictures. I missed a perfectly good opportunity to see him without his hat on, and I won’t let that happen again.

My steps seem faster as I walk up to the table with a fake smile on my face. As much as I want to glare at Josie, my eyes fall onto Harrison. He sits up, slowly. His green eyes, looking more alive with the colors coming from the dance floor, never leave mine. What does he see when he looks at me? Does he see what I see? Does he see a single mom with two very young girls; a woman so broken and in pain because her husband was taken from her far too early? No, probably not. I’m guessing he sees his next conquest, and that is something I’ll never be. My body flushes under his gaze. I try to look away, but my eyes fail me. His lips twitch as he tries not to smile. Perspiration pebbles on my neck and my heart races as he watches me. I want to run out of here screaming, but I’m frozen to the floor. I reach out and hold the edge of the table to steady myself. I must be coming down with the flu.

“I thought you’d never show up,” Josie says. When I can finally look at her, she has a wicked smile on her face. Liam tries not to chuckle as he leans in and kisses her on the cheek. Harrison leans forward resting his mouth against his hands. I can’t tell if he knew about this or not. Either way, I’m not amused.

“I’m sure if I didn’t, you would’ve just come to my room and pulled me out kicking and screaming.”

“So dramatic, Katelyn. We’re going to have a nice, comfortable adult dinner,” Josie says with a wave of her hand. Am I being dramatic? I can’t help but think they’re trying to put us in these uncomfortable situations. Must we spend every waking minute together? We work together and now I’m on tour with the band and he’s everywhere I am and when he’s not, Liam and Josie are in my ear about him.

“Sure we are,” I say, as I take the only available seat next to Harrison. My intent is to sit on the edge, an easy escape, but that doesn’t happen. When I sit, my leg brushes against Harrison’s and as hard as I try, I can’t move it. If I were to move now, it would be rude. The booths are a bit on the small side, after all.

The waitress takes our order. For the first time since I lost Mason, I order an alcoholic drink. Maybe it will help me relax and enjoy the night. Now that I’m here, the idea of having an adult night is a somewhat appealing.

“We’re going to dance later,” Josie says when she catches me eyeing the dance floor. I shake my head.

“I haven’t danced in such a long time.”

“It’s like riding a bike,” Harrison says. I turn to find him gazing at me with such intent in his eyes. It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen a similar look. When Mason would look at me like that from across the room, I knew what to expect, but not so much when Harrison does it.

I look back at Liam and Josie, who are watching us like hawks. Liam shakes his head and whispers something into Josie’s ear. Whatever he says makes her beam with appreciation. I’ve never seen her happy like this, at least not with Nick. She was always content and just went with the flow, but now, she’s bouncing off the walls with excitement all the time. I want that.

“So the reason we are here tonight, besides having an adult night, is that Liam and I have a very important question to ask you.”

I pick up my Cosmopolitan and tip back the glass. I should probably sip the sweet liquor, but I need something to take the edge off. I’m so tired of feeling like I’m about to fall off the side of a building.

“What is it?” Harrison asks as he tips his beer back.

“Well, we’ve set a date!” Josie squeals. My mouth drops and Harrison starts laughing. He reaches over the table and high-fives Liam. I scramble to get out of the booth so I can hug Josie.

“I’m so happy for you,” I say into her ear as we hug. I wish Mason was here to see this. He wanted nothing more than for her to be happy, even if it meant she was marrying Nick. I’d like to think he’d be happy that she’s marrying Liam because they are meant to be together.

We sit back down and I wipe a few happy tears that have fallen. I can’t wait to see Noah in a tux. He’s going to look so handsome and dapper.

“When’s the big day?”

“We want to get married right after Christmas, but we’re keeping this among friends,” Liam answers without taking his eyes off of Josie.

“Well that doesn’t give us a lot of time to plan, doesn’t it?” I say as the waitress sets down our dinner. Liam and Harrison dig right in. I shake my head and pick up my fork, twirling a piece of pasta.

“Will you be my matron of honor?”

“Of course,” I say as I cover my mouth in that awkward you caught me with my mouth full moment.

“What about you man, can you stand up for me?” Liam asks Harrison.

“Yeah, man,” Harrison says with a nod. Why does everything have to be so simple for them? They didn’t even look at each other. It hits me like a ton of bricks that if I’m the matron of honor and Harrison’s the best man, that means we’ll be walking down the aisle together. We’ll have to share a dance. Is that why they brought us here tonight, to test our ability to dance together? I pick up my drink and finish it, signaling to the waitress that I need another. Liam catches my eye. I shrug. I don’t need any comments from the matchmaking duo that can’t take a hint.

As we eat, we talk about the wedding. Josie wants something outside and Liam wants a big party afterward. They both agree that 4225 West will not play at the reception. Liam says he wants to enjoy his bride and not worry about putting on a performance for anyone.

Harrison returns his arm to its previous position, resting comfortably on the back of the booth. I feel myself shifting. My body wants to sit in the nook he’s created, and for the life of me I don’t understand why. I’m not attracted to him. We are opposites and the tattoos… I can’t. I try to slide away from him without drawing too much attention to myself, but he notices. He shakes his head and removes his arm. My heart pounds and tension fills my body. I shouldn’t care.

“I’ll be back,” he says as he throws his napkin down on his half eaten plate of food.

“Where’s he going?” I ask. Liam turns his head as we both watch Harrison walk away from the table.

“I don’t know,” he says with a shrug. He picks up his beer and takes a sip, watching Josie the whole time. I try not to watch Harrison, but I’m curious. He stands at the bar and it doesn’t take a minute before a tall leggy blond is standing next him. Harrison turns and leans against bar. The woman moves closer. Too close if you ask me. Clearly they don’t know each other. She leans in and laughs at something he says. Her hand rubs along his chest and it doesn’t seem to bother him. He looks at our table briefly and catches me staring.

Harrison raises his eyebrow as he pulls her hand into his. He carries his beer in his other hand as he leads them to the dance floor. I look away. I don’t care that he’s going to dance with her. It’s none of my business. He’s single and free to do whatever he wants.

I signal the waitress again and order a round of shots for the table. When they arrive, only Josie does one with me. I don’t know why I ordered four. It’s clear that Harrison has left us to our vices for the rest of the night. I down my second as my eyes find him on the dance floor. The woman is draped all over him as they dance. His hand is on her ass. He’s pulling her to him and each time he does, her head falls back. Her hands rub up and down on his chest. My mouth drops when she slides his hoodie off and pushes her fingers into his dark locks that are cut short on the sides, but left longer on top. Not too long, just enough to grab a hold of. I’ve been waiting months and she’s known him for thirty-seconds and is already touching him. He says something to her causing her to nod as he takes her hand and leads them off the dance floor.

“Where’s he going?” I ask again.

Liam laughs. I turn and glare at him.

“What’s your problem, Westbury?”

“You, you’re my problem, Powell. That man likes you and you ignore him. Now you’re pissy that he’s found someone to give him attention. Either friend-zone him or let him in, but I’ve seen the teeter-totter you keep him on and it’s not fair.”

“I don’t like him.”

“Then don’t like him. No one is saying you have to, but don’t lead him on. Don’t get up in the middle of the night and talk to him like you want to get to know him.”

“He told you that?”

“Yeah, he did,” Liam throws down some money on the table. “I’m outta here. Are you coming?”

Josie nods as she links hands with Liam. “Night, sweetie.”

“Night,” I mumble as they walk off, leaving me at an empty table.

I get up slowly on shaky legs. I have to steady myself against the edge of the table. I’ve definitely drunk too much. I slip off my shoes and attempt to walk in a straight line back to the elevator. The car I get in is full. I step on and wait for my floor. I’m sure these families are wondering what kind of trash I am. Drunk and shoeless in a resort hotel, riding the elevator at god knows what time of the night. I can’t get the image of Harrison and that woman out of my mind. The way he was holding her to him, it was rough and sexy. And she touched his hair; hair that I’ve been dying to see. He just let her do whatever she wanted as I sat there and watched their foreplay unfold on the dance floor.

I step off and stare down the hall. My steps are slow as I pass his door. I stop and listen. Would he really bring a woman back to his room with Quinn in there? Of course he wouldn’t, but Quinn isn’t in there, he’s in Liam’s suite with the babysitter.

I startle when a door opens. Harrison stands there with his hoodie on, covering his hair again. It’s zipped half way down so I can see multiple tattoos on his chest. He’s changed his jeans for khaki shorts.

“What are you doing?”

I shrug. “Shouldn’t you be busy?” the words are out before I can stop them. I don’t know why on earth I’d ask such a brazen question. It’s none of my business what he does. He looks sad that I’ve asked him and I feel my body sigh in relief. Why is that?

“Who’s asking?”

I look at him questioningly.

“Are you my manager right now?”

I shake my head no.

“Want to come in?”

No. I don’t like you. “Yes.” I step forward, brushing by him. Maybe if I just ask, he’ll take his hoodie off.

BOOK: My Unexpected Forever
3.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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