Verse 7

Pace hits me on the side of my stomach. I turn in anger, knocking him on the side of his head. I watch as he goes down but pulls me on top of him. Pace continues to bite into my arm like a little faggot! I can't help but start hitting him harder and harder in his head.

"Stop, you guys!" I hear Reuben screaming out.

Reuben is ignored by both of us. I am on top of Pace but he's struggling to keep me on the floor with him with all his strength. I'm attempting to push him down to the ground and use his body to stand up but he keeps pulling me down.

There is so much anger inside of me as Pace struggles to maintain some sort of control in this fight that he started. He bites down harder.

"FUCK!" I scream out.

I have no choice. I kneel him in his stomach as hard as I can and I watch as Pace opens his mouth to scream out in pain. He releases me and attempts to stand. As soon as he does I deliver a solid punch to the side of his face. I watch Pace's head jerk back.

He doesn't see it coming. His head jerks back so hard that he hits the side of the table.

He stops moving and he's bleeding from his mouth.

There is an instant panic!


Pace's tooth is knocked loose. He panics. Janelle is laughing at the side but I'm more than pissed off. I'm in another situation yet again. Pace is bleeding out of his mouth and I see Reuben walk over there to check on the fact that I just knocked his husband's tooth clean out his mouth.

"I'm out of here."

My arm is still bleeding it still hurts but I'm so mad that I don't even notice it. I pick up my phone at that moment and I call Monica.


I'm waiting for Monica outside for what seems like forever to show up and come get me. Unfortunately, the person that comes and checks on me is the last person I want to see.

Reuben walks over. He sits on the front steps of his mother's mansion with me. He's calm. He is completely timid.

"How long did you know?" he asks me.

I shrug, "The day of the party you told me. You were so high on drugs that you didn't even remember."

I'm pissed but he's coming at me in a calm respectable way so I'm trying my hardest not to scream at Reuben. We never had that type of relationship and I know that I don't want to get mad at him but I am emotional. Every part of me just wants to scream at Reuben. When I turn to him, for the first time, I really dislike him. He's beautiful and I want to kiss him even now but at the same time, I never disliked him so much. He looks over at me with that stare that strips every all of my defenses.

"I'm sorry," he explains.

That's it. That's all he had to say. He wasn't giving me some crazy explanation. He wasn't begging for forgiveness. Reuben just gives me a cool, calm apology as though he just ate my lunch by accident.

I shrug, "Whatever."

"What do you want me to say?" he asks, "I fucked up."

"Fucked up?" I ask him getting up at that moment, "Fucked up is damn...I got into a fender bender with your car. Fucked up is... 'oh shit, I butt dialed you by accident'. You didn't tell me you had a fucking husband. That's not a fuck up. You did that intentionally."

"Calm down."


I walk out away from the house down the long driveway of the mansion. I know he is following me. I'm not used to someone being so calm with me when I'm angry. I'm used to Sean getting just as aggressive and then going overboard. Reuben is calm. He's gentle. He seems to know that he's in the wrong and he's accepting it.

It's pissing me off even more...

"I'm sorry," Reuben says to me gently from behind giving me enough space and making sure he respected my space, "I should have told you. I was wrong. You're right. I did more than just fucked up."

I turn to him, "So you're really married to Pace?"

He doesn't answer right away.

"You're crying."

He isn't asking me He's telling me. I don't even notice. The realization causes a little bit of embarrassment as I wipe the tear away from my eye. Fuck. I am crying. I couldn't be possibly any more embarrassed than I was in this situation.

I turn away from him struggling to maintain myself.

I have to change the subject, "I asked you a question. Are you really married to Pace?"

"Yes," he tells me, "I should have told you. Like I said."

"So it was all bullshit."

"What was bullshit?"

"Us," I tell him.

"I didn't know there was an Us," he explains.

"Fuck you, Reuben," I tell him.

I start to walk away. Reuben follows me closely all the way down the end of the driveway. He just stands there for two or three minutes as though letting me calm down. I hate that he isn't screaming. I hate that he isn't giving me a reason to just run away from him. He's being so calm, patient and understanding. It's hard to argue with him when he's like this.

"There's always been me...caring about you," he explains, "If you ever doubted that...don't. But you're married too. Remember?"

"I never lied about mine."

"You're right. I was wrong. I'll say it a million times if you want me to," Reuben explains, "I'm not making an excuse for my actions. I should have told you. But don't doubt that I ever cared about you. Where am I right now? My husband is in the house with a missing tooth, but where am I?"

"Then why did you marry him?"

Reuben looks away.

"I don't know."

"Do you even love him?"

"I don't know."

Who says that about their husband? Reuben looks away. I had a feeling he knew the answer to those questions. I had the feeling he just wasn't comfortable admitting it to me. It seems to piss me off at that moment and luckily Monica is pulling up.

Reuben seems to all of a sudden want to get a little bit more desperate when he sees Monica pull up. He reaches out. He holds my hand. He just holds it for a minute. I turn to him. We connect eyes. There is this familiar intensity between us. I don't ever want to let go of his hand but my pride won't let me stand here any longer.

"You're pathetic," I tell Reuben.

"You don't mean that."

At that moment, I don't know what I mean. I'm so angry. Right now I just want Reuben to feel the anger and hatred that I feel for him. I want him to hate me as much as I hate him. I want to say anything to him to break this fucking intense connection that we have.

"You're pathetic," I repeat myself with more confidence this time, "You don't know what you want. You don't know who you are. You can't express yourself. You can't even write a fucking song to save your life. You're nothing but a blank vessel."

"I know that I was...until I met you. That's who I was until I met you..." Reuben says and takes a few slow, intentional steps towards me, "Please don't leave..."

Those eyes are hiding something. There is this need in his eyes for me. The only thing I can picture is the idea of someone drowning. His eyes search desperately for air in me. He's reaching struggling, kicking and reaching. He can't swim. He's drowning and right now I realize that I just don't have it in me to be his lifeguard.

Because I was drowning my damn self...

I shake my head, "There's nothing to you. I can't help you with that. I'm not your savior, Reuben. And you aren't mine.


Walking away from Reuben has to be the hardest thing I've ever done but I can't deal with Reuben's issues. I can't deal with his issues when I had my own. His life was a distraction. I was ignoring my own marriage and fighting over his. That wasn't a good look.

"Do you like it?" Monica asks.

Two days have passed. I've gotten my stuff and moved into a hotel but Monica finally comes and brings me to the place that the Carmichael's have rented out for me.

The apartment is downtown Miami. It's a little too close to Reuben's place for my liking but Monica said she got a good deal on the place. It's a one bedroom loft. It seems homely. There is a fireplace. It has been decorated with modern art with colorful designs. I have no doubt that Sean had a hand in the decoration of this place. He knew what I liked when it came to things like that. Even smelling the apartment, I can smell Sean. He's been here recently.

"It's alright," I say, dropping my bags.

Instead of looking at the apartment more I look at my phone. 54 missed calls from Reuben in two days. I silence my phone and shove it in my pocket. I should block him but for some reason, I don't have the heart to do it. Not yet at least.

Monica walks over to me, "Are you OK, Reuben?"

"I'll be fine."

Monica is smiling at me like a wounded bird. She feels sorry for me but there is still this patronizing look that she gives me. It's almost as though she has figured that she is going to be the one to fix me and make everything better. She figures that I'm going through some sort of necessary pain and in the end, everything will be good.

She puts her hand on her shoulder and gives me a soft acknowledgment, "You did the right thing."

I know she means I did the right thing by leaving Reuben. She was right to a point. If I stayed at Reuben's house there was no way in hell I would be able to fix my relationship with Sean. Sean was the person I was married to. Reuben needed to fix his marriage to Pace.

Clearly they had their own issues if Reuben was worried about me.

"It doesn't feel like the right thing," I admit to Monica.

In my mind, I know this is what I should be doing. My heart says a different story, though. My heart still wants to pull out my phone and call Reuben. I saw how heartbroken he was when I walked away. I saw how much he actually regretted not telling me about Pace. I'm not mad that he didn't tell me. I can understand his reluctance to tell me. I'm mad that he married Pace in the first place.

Why would he do something so stupid with a guy like Pace?

Monica's voice tries to change, "It will feel better. I promise you."

"When?" I ask in a sarcastic tone.

"How about Friday night?"

"What happens Friday night?"

"There is a ceremony taking place Friday night where Desean is the main winner at this year's Police Federation annual bravery awards. The mayor will be presenting Desean with a metal of bravery."

Sounded interesting.

"Let me guess. Sean is going to be there."

Monica smiles, "Yeah."

"How did I know me accepting this apartment came with a twist?" I ask Monica.

Monica shakes her head, "No twist. Nothing like that. Listen, your husband would like to see you. He is your husband remember? You don't feel comfortable seeing him in private and we all get that. This is a public event. He just wants you to be there. That's all. You don't even have to speak to him."

"He wants me to come and not speak to him?"

"It's up to you whether you will or not. Sean just wants to make sure you are OK."

"I'm not making any promises," I tell Monica.

I'm reluctant. Is it too soon to see Sean again?

Monica nods her head, "Listen. Sean wants to prove to you that he's changed. The least you can do is be there. You don't hate him do you?"

"Of course not Monica."

"Then come. This isn't your enemy . I promise you. Things will be fine. Unless you need more time to get over whatever you had with Reuben..."

Monica was being a smart ass. I never said I needed time to get over anything with Reuben. She was doing this on purpose. She was making me feel guilty...

... She was right. She was completely right. I didn't need to say anything. I was distraught over Reuben. I spent two days in the house not speaking to anyone about anything. I hadn't slept in two days. I'd just been up thinking about Reuben. I'd just been up staring at my phone watching him call me and fighting the urge not to answer.

I was driving myself crazy and Monica knew it.

That's why I have to get out of this funk.

I nod, "I'll go."

"You'll go."

"Tell him I'm not going home with him. Tell him I'm just going to support Desean. Tell your entire family that this is not a date."

Monica is happier than I've seen her since this situation started, "It'll be a night you won't forget."

Neither Monica nor I know how right she is when she says that.


It's Friday night. I fix my tuxedo. All week I've been to myself. I can't even make music. There is all this emotion that I just want to bottle up. I have no keyboard or no way to get to a studio. All these songs are in my head. I swear I can write a whole sad heartbreak album that would put Adele to shame right about now. I just fix my tuxedo though and fix my tie. My heart is racing at the idea of seeing Sean again.

The Carmichaels send a driver to come and get me to take me to the ceremony. It's a black tie event and I have to admit when I realize I get my own car service I'm slightly excited. I get in the car and my anxiousness is getting the best of me as we drive down the highway.

I look at my phone. There are 102 missed calls. 102 calls from Reuben. It's blowing my mind that he hasn't given up. It's sweet and it's stupid all at the same time. Still for some reason the more I realize he isn't going to give up the more my stomach turns out of fear that I'm making some sort of mistake here.

I find myself looking out of the window. From my view, I can see the busy streets. I can see the bright lights contrasting the dark sky.

I hear the radio.

"New music from Climax. This is a duet called...Doesn't seem like love..."

My heart stops. What the fuck?

"Excuse me?" I ask the driver.

"Yes sir?"

"Can you turn this up?" I ask, "This song."

"Sure absolutely. I love this," the driver says, "It premiered earlier this week. It's amazing. Climax singing with some other guy. Seemed a little gay at first...but I think they are singing about their girls. They don't say who the other guy is but it's a banger. Everyone's listening to it nowadays..."

Climax duet with some guy.

He couldn't have. He wouldn't have...

"You can propose to your disguise

You can exchange rings with your lies

You can marry in compromise

But regardless of how you unionize

---Doesn't seem like love to me

Doesn't seem like love.

Doesn't seem like love to me.

Doesn't seem like love.

Doesn't seem like love to me."

He did!

I can't believe this motherfucker. I whip out my phone and I am frantically dialing him.

"Hello?" Reuben says.

"You asshole. You put my vocals on the radio with yours?" he asks.

"Did you like it?"

"I never gave you permission to use that song! I never gave you permission to use my voice in that song. I never gave you permission to add your own vocals to THAT SONG! I can sue you. You do get that don't you? I can take you to court and fucking sue the shit out of you Reuben. This isn't a joke. You illegally stole my fucking song from me. You just ripped my shit off of me and put it on the radio without my consent. And this song is going everywhere now! What the FUCK Reuben?"

There's silence. I'm screaming so loud on the phone that I think the driver is about to have a heart attack.

Reuben stays silent for almost a whole minute after I'm done screaming at him.

Then his sexy, deep voice replies, "But did you like it though?"

I couldn't believe him. I couldn't FUCKING believe him. I open my car window and toss my phone out of the car. I'm that angry.


When I arrive at the ceremony I'm beyond upset. I'm trying to calm down but it's damn near impossible. When I see the Carmichaels it doesn't make things any better. Captain Carmichael walks up to me with his wife. Monica and Desean are close by.

"Son!" the Captain says.

Mind you the guy never called me son in his life. He seems to all of a sudden appreciate me more now that I haven't been around. I am shocked as he walks over and gives me this big bear hug. The other Carmichaels look on and take turns greeting me. They all seem happy and impressed with this whole situation.

"Everything OK?" Monica asks me, "I called your phone a few times to make sure you were on your way. You didn't answer."

"Sorry," I explain, "I actually...lost my phone."

"I'll get you another one," a voice says.

I turn when I hear the familiar voice. I turn and there is Sean Carmichael. He looks just as handsome as the first day I met him. He is clean cut wearing his sexy suit. He walks up to me and kisses me on the side of my cheek. He stares at me for a minute. For that minute, I almost forget all the issues we've had in the past. For that minute, I almost forget how pissed and emotional Reuben has made me by putting our song on the radio.

Sean is just perfect. He is standing there looking like that ideal man that every gay boy grew up wishing he could marry. This was the perfect man on the outside and that's why everything was so tough. Here he was, loyal, polished and incredibly in love with me. Anyone can see love from a mile away, by the way he looked at me.

No one knew the pain underneath it all, though.

"You look well," I state.

"I've missed you," he explains at that moment.

"This is big," Captain Carmichael interrupts at that moment, "That's what this night is going to be about. The story of Sean and Garrison getting back together."

Desean looks at his father and sighs, "Really? I could have sworn this night was about ME getting honored."

The Captain gives Desean a hard look, "Don't be silly, son. Of course, it is. We can have both. Why don't we all go in and enjoy the night. Sean, I'm sure you can escort Garrison inside."

Sean offers me his hand, "I'm sure I can manage that."

I look at his hand and I hesitate. This was my husband. It felt good knowing that he showed no fear. He wasn't in the closet. He was willing to hold my hand in public if need be. Knowing that feels good. It's different from Reuben. Maybe just that memory of how good it feels makes me accept his hand. I hold his hand and follow him into the ceremony.

There are a bunch of important people in the city of Miami in this place. I've been to many things like this. All these people were the socialites of Miami. The mayor and his family were there. Some senators had shown up. The District Attorney and his wife had come out.

Sean excels in a setting like this. I watch as he schmoozes his way through the crowd as though he was born in this scene. The whole time he has my hand in his. Sean is better looking than Desean. Sean is younger and much more charismatic. I'm not surprised when Sean completely and entirely takes all of the attention from his older brother.

He doesn't even seem to notice that the guest of honor has retired to the Carmichael round table and is sitting there by himself. No one comes to speak to Desean. No one even notices him especially with Sean getting all of the attention in the room.

"I'll go sit at the table," I tell Sean.

Sean looks over at me, "Ok baby. Hey, baby?"

It makes me uncomfortable Sean is back to calling me baby so quickly. I miss it to a point but I still think it's way too soon for that.

"Yes, Sean?"

"I've changed..." Sean tells me.

It's a random thing to say but he smiles at me and gives a kiss right on the lips. It's soft and sweet but it works.

I go to the table and sit with Desean. Desean's eyes are looking over at Sean. He's bothered by him and I could tell. He's always been bothered by Sean, though. I blame their relationship all on Captain Carmichael. He's played the two against each other since they were kids. The Captain was this serious right wing Republican who just felt like you had to work extremely hard to get what you wanted in life. He played his sons off one another so that they can compete.

"So the golden couple is back?" Desean asks me.

I shrug, "I wouldn't say that."

"Oh come on. Look at the guy. Everyone says he looks like Jesse, goddam, Williams. He's the golden child. He's taller than me. He's sexier than me. And he's gay. Everyone loves the token gay guy," Desean stresses tapping his foot louder and louder, "Perfect right?"

"You and I both know that isn't the case Desean, stop being so fuckin' sarcastic," I say.

"You and I both know," he replies, "But look at my family. You think they know?"

"What do you mean?"

"Look at them. They got their golden child back. You showing up to this thing almost is like everything is forgiven. You can move forward. You can start having your little family and give my parents the grandbabies they always wanted. That's what they think. Look at them. Here they come. Look at these fucking smiles..."

Desean looks more than annoyed. I'm not expecting it. He takes deep gulp of his wine. Sure enough, the other Carmichaels come to the table with nothing but smiles on their faces. At the table with us, I notice the District Attorney. He's sitting on the right-hand side of Sean. Sean puts his hand on my knee underneath the table as he continues to schmooze away.

"Your son's are so impressive. I must say," I hear the mayor tell Captain Carmichael.

"Absolutely. I'm really proud of both of them," the Captain is saying, "Sean is well on his way to taking my place one day."

"And he's a family man," the District Attorney's wife says, "Your whole family just seems so tight knit."

Desean rolls his eyes, "So perfect."

No one catches on to his eye roll. It's the District Attorney who smiles in agreement, "Yes. So perfect. What's the secret?"

"Family. Sean and his husband Garrison are about to adopt their first child very soon."

Sean's arm goes over me. He holds me close. For the first time in forever, I feel kind of claustrophobic when sitting next to him. I kind of swivel my way out of his grasp.

I force a smile, not trying to embarrass Sean. Luckily the mayor is up there and he's presenting the bravery awards finally.

When it comes to Desean the room erupts again. Desean seems a little tipsy as he walks up on the stage. He takes the microphone to accept his award.

"I wanted to thank everyone for coming tonight," Desean starts, "This award. Well. It means everything to me. Everyone came out to support. All my family who just love to bask in all of MY accomplishments."


Sean looks over at me, "He's drunk isn't he?"

I shrug.

I knew that he was but I wasn't going to get in the middle of this. This brother drama had been going on for years and I didn't see any resolution anytime soon.

"My brother's in the crowd. There he is. Hey Garrison," he says pointing to me, "Well...I haven't seen Garrison in a while. I just wanted to point him out. They have been dating since they were kids. My brother and Garrison. Can you believe it? Love at first sight. Marrying your childhood sweetheart does happen. Everyone give them a round of applause. My brother was able to get something that I never could. He never seems to let me forget it either."

There is some laughter in the crowd as everyone turns to Sean and I. Sean looks a little nervous but I think he is the only one who is picking up on it. The other Carmichaels don't seem to notice Desean's piss poor mood. They are giving him the old high society courtesy laugh that they gave everyone in their posh little circles that made a weak attempt at a joke.

I just have a feeling something is about to go left.

Desean smiles on the microphone, "I wanted to go ahead and surprise my brother and his husband. You see my brother has such an emphasis on love. So since I am sharing this amazing moment in my life with him already...I decided to bring out someone to pay a tribute to him and his perfect marriage."

The table erupts with applause.

They love the show of this brotherly love.

I'm a little surprised by it honestly. Everyone thought Desean and Sean were so close. They worked together for the same police office. They grew up together. Everyone assumed they just loved each other. Everyone was wrong.

"I'm going to fucking kill him," Sean says, "We're leaving..."

Sean grabs my wrist. I'm not sure why but he grabs it. He grabs it harder than I would like.

It fucking hurts.

"What're you doing? Let go of me..." I tell Sean.

He is grabbing my wrist so hard that he's threatening to twist it.

Sean's eyes pierce at me, "Let's go...Garrison."

"Release him," Captain Carmichael tells Sean, "What's gotten over you?"

Sean releases me. He seems to take a few deep breaths. Captain Carmichael looks pissed and, more importantly, he looks embarrassed. If we were any louder people would have really noticed Sean attempting to drag me out of the ceremony. I ignore Sean and go sit down. Sean doesn't sit back down. He seems uncomfortable.

"You don't understand," Sean is telling his father.

"Sit down."


"Now," Captain Carmichael says underneath tight lips.

Sean sits back down reluctantly. Just at that moment, I notice a piano being dragged out. This was odd. What the fuck was Desean planning here?

That's when I see him.

My mouth drops.

"Oh my god..."

REUBEN! REUBEN was there!

Reuben walks out onto the stage. He smiles at Desean. He takes a microphone from Desean. At this point, the other Carmichael's seem to start to freak out. The Captain immediately regrets telling his son to sit back down. All of a sudden the Captain looks like he wants to tell Sean to drag me out of here. It's too late, though.

I'm not going any fucking where.

"This song is for all the lovers out there tonight," Reuben tells the crowd, "Are there any lovers in the building tonight?"

The women in the crowd are cheering loudly. Some recognize Reuben. Others just seem to think that Reuben is incredibly hot compared to their stuck up rich right wing husbands. I just happened to be one of them who thought he was hot. Reuben had this swag that was incomparable as he walked onto the stage. He sits at the piano and sets up his microphone.

He looks out into the crowd, "This song is called Undressed. Sometimes you take off all your clothes and you still feel like you have all this baggage on. Sometimes being truly undressed means bearing your soul. That's what this song is about. I've never written a song bare with me OK? I had to dig deep inside. I had to find something that I didn't think was there. Someone pulled this song out of me. So listen. Here it goes:

"When I can't wear my sadness..

When I can't adorn my distress...

When I'm worn, confused and depressed.

Will you help me get undressed?

Taking off all my clothes-- I was trying to sell attractions

Forsaking all my woes---I was trying to bring distractions

Thinking taking off my shirt--- will cause the desired reaction

Hoping if I get naked first---I'll somehow be a man of action

If I'm naked to the eye---why does it feel like I'm wearing so much?

If I'm so naked to the touch---why does it feel like I'm wearing so much?

When I can't wear my sadness..

When I can't adorn my distress...

When I'm worn, confused and depressed.

Will you help me get undressed?

Yet even without any clothes---why do I feel such dissatisfaction?

And in the end, God only knows---why I feel no kind of traction

And why do I feel like I added---shouldn't this be subtraction?Mathematically, I think I've had it---with this pointless transaction..."

Reuben is in front of my face now. He's at my table. He's serenaded me. There is no mistaking it. He's walked up to my table. He's grabbed me out of my seat. He pulls me close to him.

I know we are making a scene but I don't think Reuben cares either way. Reuben is only thinking about me. He's not thinking about the Carmichaels or all of these important people in the city.

He's not thinking about his fans who surely will know he's gay.

He's not thinking about his career.

He's thinking about me.

And I'm thinking about him.

He leans into me. His breath pressed up against my face as he sings.


If I'm naked to the eye---why does it feel like I'm wearing so much?

If I'm so naked to the touch---why does it feel like I'm wearing so much?

I'm wearing too much---will you help me get undressed?

I'm wearing too much---will you help me get undressed?"

"Yes..." I answer him.

He smiles as he looks at me. He holds the microphone to his mouth, "I wanted to let everyone know that I am in love with this man."

A gasp fills the room. This is almost a weird repeat of what happened in Janelle's basement...especially when Sean gets up. I'm pretty sure Sean is ready to fight.

And I see it coming but I'm powerless to stop it.

Even if I did want to stop Sean approaching right now I am too shocked at what Reuben just said.

Reuben just said he was in love with me...

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