"What are you doing?"
He has the gun sitting there. My heart is racing. Sean has completely lost it. I look at him and I can see him sweating. Beads of sweat come together at the top of his forehead and start raining down the sides of his face. His shirt is drenched. Sean's eyes are bloodshot red. I don't know what's going on with him but I do know that he needs some help here.
"You don't understand how much I love you," he tells me at that moment, "You don't understand how much I wanted to be the right person for you."
"Sean. I'm going to need you to put the gun away..."
He screams so loud that I shake a little bit. My heart is racing. Was this how I died? Was this how it all ended. My ex-husband sitting in this room ready to kill me and I have no idea how to stop him.
"Sean talk to me. Ok. I'm listening to you."
"Call him up here."
"Fine...I'll do it."
Sean picks up the phone at that moment.
A part of me thinks about running to the hotel room phone and unplugging it before he can call downstairs. I take a few steps towards him but Sean catches me. His eyes glare at me warning me to stay away from him. My stomach turns when I realize that there is nothing that I can do to stop him from doing this. I just look at him and I'm just confused.
"I won't let you hurt him."
"You love him that much don't you?" he asks me.
He dials a number.
"I need a message delivered to Reuben. Yes, the performer in the lobby tonight. It's urgent. I need you guys to tell him that Sean is with Garrison in room 708. Tell him to come alone. Yes. Thank you."
Sean hangs up the phone.
He looks at me. He's sweating so much.
"It's just a waiting game now."
"Why'd you do it?"
He's acting as though he doesn't even know what I'm talking about. It's honestly a little bit weird. What the fuck is wrong with Sean? Had he completely lost it?
"Why'd you kill Desean?"
Sean just shakes his head. "I don't care about any of that shit," he tells me, "I just care about you. That's all I care about."
He's so dismissive of his brother's death. I have to admit that I never knew that he was capable of actually going into a hospital room and killing his own brother. Sean was dangerous. I wasn't saying that but it was always during this crazy batch of emotion. He calmed down quickly. The fact that he killed his brother turned things over. It made things different. Now Sean was a murderer. He wasn't just a murderer.
And now the love of my life was headed up to the room.
I sit in silence in a chair across from the bed. My heart is beating. I can't let this happen. I know something is about to go down and I'm so fucking scared but I'm hopeless.
"Sean can we talk about this."
"No," he says, "There's nothing to talk about. I'm done talking. This gun. This is the only way out of this tonight."
"Sean please don't. Ok. Please don't do this," I am begging him, "If you ever cared about me...please don't go this route."
Sean doesn't look at me. He's avoiding my tears on purpose. He turns away. He clenches harder onto the gun. He was going to kill Reuben. He was going to kill him.
I couldn't let that happen.
The door opens in the next few minutes. It's Reuben. He slowly walks into the room. I look at Sean. I look at Reuben slowly walking into the room.
And then I react.
"RUN! HE HAS A FUCKING GUN!" I scream at Reuben.
Reuben doesn't move a fucking step.
"I'm not going anywhere," Reuben says, "I'm not leaving you with this fucking guy..."
Reuben looks at me. He looks at Sean. I'm shocked and confused, but I get it. If the tables were turned and Pace had pulled out a gun on him, I wouldn't have left Reuben. If Reuben was scared, he wasn't showing it. I knew when I looked at him that he wasn't going to leave me here. The love that he was showing me by standing in this room and deliberately walking into this trap for me was something that I didn't know anyone was capable of.
This was true love. Reuben meant every part of it.
"Sean. Please don't kill him. He has nothing to do with this. It's just me and you. OK. It's just me and you," I explain to him, "Take me instead."
"What the fuck are you doing?" Reuben asks me.
"I'm saving your life."
"Fuck that," Reuben says, "Sean. I seduced Garrison. I got in his head. You love Garrison. OK. You love him. Remember. Don't take this out on Garrison. This is all my fault. If you are going to hurt someone then hurt me. I'm the cause of this."
I hated Reuben at that moment. I hated him for trying to save my life and take his.
"I know...you got in his head," Sean agrees.
"YES!" Reuben screams out at that moment, "It's all my fault. I fell for him knowing he was married. I couldn't help myself. This was all my fault. So blame me. Put it all on me. Ok. It was all my fucking fault."
Sean is shaking. He has the gun in his hand. He lifts it.
"I'm sorry Garrison," Sean says.
This wasn't fucking happening right now. I wasn't going to lose the love of my life. Not now. Not ever.
Sean lifts the gun.
I RUN ACROSS THE ROOM.
"NO!" I scream out.
Just as Sean lifts the gun I run over to Reuben. I throw myself over Reuben covering him. I couldn't live without this boy. I knew that much.
"Take care of him," Sean says and then a loud BANG fills the room.
It's at that moment we realize that Sean hasn't shot at Reuben or I. Sean has actually shot himself.
"You want some coffee?"
"Sure. I'll take some."
I am back at Reuben's house. It's the morning after Sean killed himself. The demons that were haunting Sean finally got the better of him. I don't feel good. I didn't sleep with Reuben that night. I slept in the guest room. I don't know why. I guess I just didn't want to be comforted. I wanted to feel the pain of losing Sean. Something wasn't right with Sean. He was sick and there was nothing that I could do to help him. He was too far gone.
I wish I knew that he has brought us in that room to kill himself. I would have said something differently. My mind was just on saving Reuben though.
"I missed you last night," Reuben says putting some coffee in front of me.
"I just didn't feel like----"
I don't finish what I'm saying.
"Do you blame me?" Reuben asks, "For what happened with Sean?"
I look over at Reuben. He's as beautiful as ever. He looks honestly concerned that I'm mad at him. He doesn't have his shirt on as usual when he's around the house. He has bags underneath his eyes. I don't think he got a lot of sleep last night. Truthfully I didn't get a lot of sleep last night either. I had been questioned by the cops about what happened for what seemed like hours and by the time I got back to Reuben's place I just couldn't get the sound of the gunshot out of my head. It rung in my ears over and over.
"I could never blame you," I explained to him, "You came to that room because of me.
This was my fault."
"It wasn't your fault either," Reuben tells me, "I saw how you jumped in front of that gun for me. No one would have ever done that. You were ready to die for me."
I shrug, "I'd do it again."
"I know and that's why I love you. Real love like this doesn't exist all the time. You can't blame me for that. You can't blame yourself. This is destiny. This is something bigger than both of us. Nothing could keep us away from one another. You understand that Garrison. Nothing will ever keep us away from one another."
Reuben's words melt my defenses. He has a point. I kept blaming myself thinking that maybe Sean would be alive if Reuben and I hadn't fallen for each other so hard. I couldn't know that. Reuben saved me from Sean. And in the midst of him saving me from Sean we fell in a deep love.
There is a knock on the door at that moment. I'm a little surprised.
"Are you expecting someone?" I ask Reuben.
"Destiny," he answers.
Reuben walks over to me and gives me a deep wet kiss on my forehead. He grabs a shirt from off the counter and puts it on over his sexy muscles and then he goes to get the door.
When Reuben walks back I realize what he meant by Destiny was at the door. I look over and notice who Reuben has invited back to the house. It's the old man from South Carolina that we met at the Trampoline.
"Charles," the old man says.
He approaches me slowly and I take a step back.
Reuben walks over to me and grabs my hand to stop me, "It's OK, Garrison. I've been in contact with Mr. Vaughn since we saw him back at the Trampoline. He knows more about who we were before. I think it's important we know our story. I think it's important we know where we've been."
Vaughn looks me up and down.
"You look the same as you did the last time I saw you," Vaughn says smiling at me and putting a hand on the side of my face, "The very same face."
I feel nervous feeling him touch me but for some reason it feels OK. It feels familiar.
"You were my brother?" I ask.
He nods, "Your twin."
Reuben seems to find this funny, "So this is how you are going to look when you get old. Not bad I must say."
I give Reuben a shove in his abdomen.
The old man laughs, "Still the flirt aren't you Bobby?"
"Was that my name?" Reuben asks him.
Vaughn smiles, "Yes sir. Bobby McDaniels. You were the smoothest talking guy I'd ever met. You stumbled into our little town, laid eyes on my brother and fell in love almost immediately. You guys would spend hours a day locked together making music."
"Sounds like us."
Reuben is so comfortable with Vaughn. I feel so out of place.
I just look at Vaughn. Looking at this man and realizing that I was related to him in another lifetime was the weirdest thing that I could think of. All I knew was that he looked familiar. The sound of his voice. The deep dark drawl was comforting. It felt like home. I remember him. I remember sitting and talking to Vaughn for hours.
"I used to talk to you about Reuben. I mean Bobby..."
He nods, "All the time...for hours. I was the only one you felt comfortable talking to about it. Back then being gay was met with anger and violence, especially in the South. The trampoline club was the only place the two of you could go to be yourselves. A lot of guys came to the Trampoline club to get away from their wives and children at home. Bobby was one of them. His wife and kids moved back to the North but Bobby stayed in South Carolina to be near you. We all thought it was going to be a fairytale. Happily ever after. The purest state of love I'd ever seen."
Reuben's hand meet mine in that room as I listen to Vaughn's story. He holds my hand and looks over at me. Our eyes have this strong connection. Nothing would be able to keep me away from that warm touch that I loved so much.
"You said we fall in love before?" I ask.
"Over and over again," he says and smiles, "You said that you kept having memories of a past life."
"Why? How is that possible?"
Vaughn shrugs his shoulders, "Some things can't be defined. Some things don't make sense."
"It makes perfect sense," Reuben explains, "Nothing will keep me away from you Garrison. Ever. Not a jealous lover. Not time. Not death. I love you something crazy Garrison. I feel it from my core. And I wanted Vaughn to be here when I did this. I wanted this feeling of Destiny to be alive when I told you what I wanted to tell you."
"Tell me what?"
Reuben drops to his knees.
"Oh shit," I state.
"I know it's probably too soon after Sean died. I know that we haven't known each other for years on years but to me it doesn't matter. I've known you for a lifetime Garrison—-and then some. Last night I had a dream that I was holding you in the rain. And it felt so real. Our clothes were changing and time changed like the seasons but it was still me and you. Since the beginning of time. It's always been me and you. And this has always been our song. There's no one else I'd rather sing this song with then you Garrison. So will you do this duet with me? Will you help me remember the forgotten verse? Will you marry me, Garrison or Charles or whoever you are?"
My heart beats. Love is all I feel at that moment. Just pure love.
There's a special song I forgot to sing...
And this was his song. I just remembered. I remembered at that moment all the lifetimes we'd ever had.
"I remember..." I tell him, "I remember everything."
And it was so beautiful. Streams of memories fill my mind.
Wekesa and Zuberi.
Jelani and Talib.
Keyon and Isaac.
Wesley and Brock.
Adam and Mitchell.
Damien and Eric.
Charles and Bobby.
Garrison and Reuben.
This was an eternal love that wouldn't go away. This was an eternal love that didn't need an explanation. Reuben opens up his box and I am dazzled by the ring. The ring has diamonds and they are in the shape of an infinity sign.
I know what that means and so does Reuben.
It meant forever.
Vaughn is in tears and it's so weird seeing Reuben in tears as well. Reuben takes a step towards me. He puts the ring on my finger. I'm trying to stay tough. I'm trying to be strong but when the ring goes on my finger I just lose it. I grab Reuben around the neck. I'm holding him. I'm kissing him. I'm feeling him give me all this love and I know that there was never anyone that could compare with this. This love was something different from anything that I've ever known.
"And we're safe. Sean didn't stop us this time. This time we've survived," I state.
The happiness filled my soul. In the end love prevailed.
In the end, Sean wasn't able to stop us.
"Whose Sean?" Vaughn asks.
"My ex-husband," I state.
Vaughn nods and raises his eyebrow, "Oh."
"Oh? Didn't you say Charles's lover was the one who kept us apart for so long. The one who killed us?" Reuben asks Vaughn.
Vaughn has a weird look on his face. It's so weird that Reuben stops hugging me and we just stare at Vaughn. Vaughn seems to be really confused at that moment.
"Yeah. It's just kind of weird...that it's a guy," Vaughn explains.
"Charles's lover wasn't a guy."
Vaughn shakes his head, "No. Remember Charles was married to a woman. He left her. When he did she kind of started to lose it. She gathered the townspeople against Charles and Bobby. One day they just came for them. They lynched Charles and Bobby. Their bodies were dangling...dangling from trees but their hands were held fast onto one another. They never let each other go. Never..."
I almost want to cry. I can remember Charles and Bobby. I can remember the panic when they knew people were coming. Still they felt comforted knowing that they were with each other.
"You saved me from my own life," Reuben says.
"What?" Vaughn asks him.
"That's what I said to Garrison. I mean Charles. I told him back then before they came. I told him that he saved me from my own life," Reuben explains.
There is a knock on the door.
I look over to the door.
"You expecting someone else?" I ask Reuben.
Reuben shakes his head, "No. Hold on...I'll get it."
Reuben leaves at that moment to get the door. Vaughn walks over to me and looks at my ring while we are alone. He stares at it.
"I can't believe it's finally happening. Your eternity together," Vaughn smiles.
I look over at Vaughn, "I know I'm beyond happy. I'm still kind of confused though. Back at the bar, you said that my lover came in different forms. How do you know this time it wasn't a guy."
"That's not what I meant by different forms," Vaughn explains, "You told me when you were Charles that it was always the same woman. Always. The difference is the forms of love she came in. Sometimes she'd be your lover...other times she'd be someone who was just a little too invested in your relationship. Do you know anyone like that? You told me in one life time your lover was a girl who never was able to find love on her own so she lived through yours. Anyone who seems just a little bit...odd especially when it comes to her actions.
Just at that moment I hear a gun shot. It rings through the hallway. My heart stops. I find myself running to the front of the hallway. That's when I see him.
I see the love of my life covered in a puddle of his own blood. He clings to life. He just lays in that pool of blood not moving. His eyes are barely open and they are looking at me. Reuben reaches out his bloody hand and I can't help it.
I run towards him. I hold onto his hand. I'm crying so hard.
"Don't cry..." he tells me.
I can't help myself. What the fuck just happened? What the fuck just happened!
I turn at that moment I see Monica come out from behind the door. She has a gun in her hand. She is shaking. She is just looking at me.
"It's her..." Vaughn says, "The lover! It's her Charles!"
I'm stuck just looking at Monica. Someone who was far too invested in the success of my relationship. Someone who lived through me.
Yes. It was Monica. It was Monica all along.
But what's the point now?
"You two were supposed to be together," Monica explains, "You were supposed to be my brother in law. You were supposed to be with SEAN!"
"Sean didn't kill Desean, did he?" I ask.
Monica paces back and forth with a gun in her hand. I just look at her. I should have known this whole time her concern was so unnatural. She was so invested in Sean and I being together. She made every excuse for her brother as possible.
"You don't understand how much it meant to me. He was the only hope that we had."
"My family. He was the last hope the Carmichael's had. Desean was useless. He was a jealous little asshole who couldn't find love and then there was me. I could never experience it. The only time I came close to love was pretending to be Reuben's FUCKING beard! You and Sean, you two gave me hope. You gave me hope that real love existed out there. And then you go fall in love with Reuben? And Desean helped. So yeah. I killed him. I fucking killed him so that you and Sean would have a fighting chance still. Now it's too late. Now Sean is dead---"
This bitch was crazy. She was fucking crazy.
I don't even look at her. There was no point.
"I love you," I tell Reuben.
"No. This is wrong," Monica is screaming getting more upset that I am not giving her attention.
I ignore her.
"I love you," Reuben says to me, "You saved me from my own life. You know that right?"
I nod, "You saved me. You saved me from my own life," he tells me.
"You're safe with me. You're safe with me forever. Danger can't keep us apart."
I told him that before and I'd tell him that again. Monica is so gone that she's hearing these words that she snaps.
I know she is aiming the gun towards me. I don't care.
I don't mind.
I feel the bullet pierce my abdomen and I fall to the ground. Vaughn is screaming out at that moment and he fights Monica over the gun. Vaughn gets the better of her and he shoots Monica before she can manage to fend him off.
"Hold on. Hold on Charles! HOLD ON BOBBY!" Vaughn is screaming, "I'm calling an ambulance. Hold on! PLEASE!"
I'm lying on the ground. I am starting to fade away. I know I am.
"My hand..." Reuben tells me.
I look over at him. He is reaching out towards me across the floor. He is using all his energy at that moment to slide towards me. I'm in so much pain but I know that I want to hold his hand. I push as well. I can feel my insides collapsing. I can feel my vital organs shutting down. I know that I am dying.
I want to sleep. I just want to fall asleep so bad. I start to close my eyes. I start to give up. I start to die...
"Take my hand..." Reuben says again.
My eyes open and I lunge with all my strength across the floor leaving streaks of blood on the tiles. I grab onto Reuben's hand at that moment.
Reuben smiles as he holds my hand.
Our fingers connect and for that moment I feel happiness. I feel true happiness and I die.
"We aren't going to make it before they close the doors," my cousin Genie says.
"We'll make it."
"Howard. This is your fault. You had one job. Wake me up on time. The school isn't going to wait for you."
I roll my eyes. My cousin was being a bitch as usual. Truth was it is my fault. My name is Howard Cort. I'm headed to Livingston Music Academy for my entrance exam. Livingston was my dream. It's a college for musicians. It was one of the top schools in America and I should have been there. I should have been able to be on time but I overslept---like an idiot. You would think my cousin would have woken me up because well she knew I had to be here but she didn't. She literally decides to let me sleep so she can tell me that she told me so later.
My cousin drops me off in front of the school and I jet across the front steps. I was about 5 minutes after last calls. The auditions were closed but for some reason I just couldn't give up. I just had to find my way through. I had to be able to get there.
As I make it to the front steps I realize that the doors are shut. They are locked. The school is closed.
I turn at that moment and see this boy standing there.
"These fucking doors are locked."
"Well the schools closed."
"No shit Sherlock," I tell him, "FUCK."
"I kick the door."
"I can open them for you," he tells me, "I have a key. I'm on the auditions committee for incoming students."
Oh. Shit. I turn to him at that moment. Our eyes connect for the first time. He's young to have an impressive role in admissions in the school but it's not unheard of. He was probably some prodigy who was so amazing at music that they respected him enough to put him on the admissions board. It's then that I realize the guy that I'm talking to is fucking handsome. That is an understatement really. He is dark brown, a sweet chocolate complexion that seems so familiar. His eyes are shaped like small round almonds squinting at me on the other side of the elevator. His lips are soft looking and seemed to be punctuated by a perfectly outlined beard. His beard is thick, masculine and sexy. The warm dark complexion of his skin is like butter. He has a youthful face underneath the beard.
There is something so familiar about him. There is so something that makes me feel like home almost. He is squinting at me, examining my face. I wonder if he is thinking the same thing.
"Do I know you?" I ask him.
"I don't know actually. I thought I did but the more I think about it I don't know where I know you from. Do I look familiar to you?"
"No," I shake the thought away, "I'm sorry for being a dickhead though. I've just been under a lot of stress. I actually missed my admissions appointment?"
"Tough luck man," he explains, "The rules are strict with admissions."
"So did everyone leave?" I ask him.
"They are still in there but the appointments are over," he tells me.
"What's your name?"
"Don" he tells me.
"Listen Don," I literally start begging, "This is my dream. I know I fucked up...I mean messed up. Excuse me. I'm nervous. I just need a second chance. I'd do anything. Please. If I don't get into this school, I don't know what I'm going to do."
I don't realize how desperate I am until I reach over and grab his hand. Our hands connect. I'm shocked that I do it. We are holding hands for a quick awkward second and my dick jumps in my pants. For some reason it feels so fucking normal touching his hand like this. Our hands are touching for a little bit longer than we should.
He clears his throat after a few seconds and takes a step back.
"Sorry," he says, "It'd be choosing favorites."
Fuck. He was right. This was my fuck up.
"I understand," I state.
I start walking back down the steps. I can't believe this. I can hear Genie's voice right now saying how much of a fucking loser I was. Now I'd be stuck back home with her making nothing of my life. It'd probably make Genie happy as hell. That's what she wanted after all. There was a reason she didn't wake me up. She didn't want me to leave her.
She wanted me to be miserable...just like her.
"Wait," he says.
I turn to Don. His eyes are glaring at me, "Yes."
"Prove to me that you're worth it and I'll open the door."
"Right here? Right now?"
He doesn't seem very patient with me, "You have two seconds or I'm changing my mind."
I pull out my guitar almost immediately. I wasn't going to blow this. There was no way in hell. This would be the best song that I'd ever sung. I don't know what song to sing though. I think of doing a cover but no... I needed to be more personal.
There is this song that came to my head at that moment and I immediately start playing.
"There's a special song I forgot to sing..."
And as I sing my song he looks at me and I feel this connection I've never felt before but I've always felt. I see these eyes I've never seen before but that have looked at me forever. I sing my song and he hears it. He listens and he loves it.
I've never met this boy but I've known him forever. I see him smile.
And by the time he pulls out his keys to open the door I know this is the beginning of something amazing.
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