by Alexa Black
Come out tonight,
Come out with me baby,
We'll throw the careful into the crazy
Turn a sky black into a sky blue
Turn a close shave into a "woo-hoo!"
We're like Romeo and Juliet,
We're like 40 dogs and cigarettes,
We're like good times that haven’t happened yet but will.
And I can tell you where we're gonna be
When the whole world falls to the sea:
We’ll be livin’ ever after, happily.
~40 Dogs - Bob Schneider
Six days later Travis stood in Mac's apartment waiting for her to get ready. They had been six of the best days in his life. While she was in school or working, Travis had plenty of free time to do his own work, namely writing new riffs for their next album, but when she was free he had her undivided attention. Since she'd moved to LA at the beginning of school and had no money to really go see the tourist places, he'd decided their dates start there.
They'd gone all over the city to places Travis hadn't gone since he was a kid. From the La Brea Tar Pits, and Mueseum of contemporary art to The Hollywood sign and Chinese theater. Everywhere they went he had to buy her something. Not because she asked, or even wanted it, but because he could and it was wonderful to see her blush and stammer that she didn't need it and generally act like he couldn't afford the little trinkets. The best had been the Leica... He'd bought it for their zoo trip. He knew she preferred film to digital and had gone to three differant camera stores to price models and research which one was the best.
He'd switched it out in her camera bag while she was getting ready. When she'd pulled it out of the bag she'd been in hysterics-- convinced she'd picked up someone else's camera by mistake and terrified they were going to arrest her for stealing the expensive camera. Travis had laughed himself silly, watching her torn between idol worship for the thing and terror at what it's owner would do to her for even touching it. When he'd finally told her it was hers she'd been livid.
"Dammit Travis, you can't buy me things like this!!"
"Why not? I can afford it."
"That's not the point! What happens when we break up?! You'll have spent a ton of money and have nothing to show for it!"
That irked him. When they broke up? Who said they were going to break up at all? He had no plans to go anywhere. Was she telling him she wanted out? "I bought Maria a BMW" he tossed flippantly.
That brought her up short and Travis swore her eyes flashed a darker green for a split second, "Who's Maria?"
"Maria Giordano? The current face of Calvin Cline, Maria Giordano?!"
Travis grinned, "Yeah... Course she bugged be for weeks to buy her that damn car. Said she needed a sporty rock star car to match her rock star boyfriend..." He hugged her then, nuzzling her neck for good measure, "All the women I date want to spend my money. I'm used to it. But you don't ask me for anything... I feel like I'm useless in this relationship." Okay maybe he was laying on the guilt a little thick, but what the hey, "I buy you things because I want to, Mac, not because I have to."
That had mollified her a bit and after another moment of assuring her he'd limit his spending next time-- yeah, fat chance-- She'd calmed down and started using her new camera like she'd never used any other.
Today he was taking her with him to a photo shoot. It was technically work so he wasn't originally going to bring her, but when he'd told her about it, she'd been so excited by the prospect of seeing professional photographers at work and maybe getting a chance to take a few shots of her own, he'd decided to sneek her in. He'd hardly be the first rock star to bring his girl to work...
Her phone started ringing and Travis made a mental note to get her a cell phone. "Phone!" he called to the bathroom door.
"Let the machine get it!" came her muffled reply.
Travis smiled and rolled his eyes. If he got a cell phone for her she better be more apt to answer it when it was him calling. Curious, he glanced at the caller ID. 'Matthews' with a 440 area code came up on the display.
The Machine picked up and a woman's voice came on the speaker sounding at once hopeful and anxious. Years of training and his own talents allowed him to detect the desperation in the woman's speech.
"Mac, its your Mom. I'm just calling to see how you're doing. I know you said you can't afford to come home for Thanksgiving, but I want you to know your father and I would be happy to wire you a ticket... We really miss you sweetie." she paused as if waiting for Mac to answer, but when no one did, she went on, "Anyway, again I hope everything is okay with you. Please give me a call when you get this. Love you baby. Buh bye."
Mac came out of the bathroom, shaking her head and sighing, "I told her I had to work that week... She doesn't listen very well."
"Did you want to call her back? I can loan you my cell."
"Nah, I'll call her later. Conversations with my mum are hour and half affairs and I really don't have the time right now. How do I look?"
Travis gave her a twice over, a little startled. She was wearing black dress pants and a low heeled pump, White button up blouse with black underbust corset and the black rosary- like necklace he'd got for her on their second date. Her makeup was subtle, but emphasized her eyes and high cheek bones. She looked chic. Professional. "You look like you're going on an interview lunch."
She smiled, "Well I am going to a professional photo shoot... You never know..."
"I'll put in a good word for you if I can see you in just that waist corset and a pair of heels later."
Mac laughed and gave him a shove towards the door. But she didn't say 'no' Travis noted with a small amount of satisfaction. Small steps... he reminded himself.
He was trying to go slow and do this right, and three days was by no means enough time according to all those dating books he'd perused in Barnes and Noble... But damn how he wanted her back in his bed in the worst way. Or her bed. Or in his pool. Or her tiny shower... Anywhere! It was getting damn frustrating to let her go home alone every night. He'd never been this much of a gentleman in his entire life. But every time he would start to wonder why he was trying so hard, when there were far easier girls in the world, she'd smile, or laugh, or brush a kiss on his cheek and he dismissed any question. Mac was different. And she was worth any and everything.
He just hoped she felt the same because their fragile new relationship was about to be put to its first test... For as long as he could remember it had been the tradition of Cadaver Cult to welcome the ladies of their friends like rabid dogs. They'd tease, joke, pull pranks and otherwise be as obnoxious as could be the first time they met a band mate's girlfriend. It was one of the reasons Travis had never willingly had a girlfriend. He'd participated in the revelry in the past, to a point, but he knew Jim and Mike could get outrageous with it.
Locking up her apartment, Travis took a deep breath, "Now I'm serious when I say I have no excuse for my bandmates... They're okay guys, but please-"
She laughed, "Travis, I'm not going to judge you by your band mates."
"You say that now..." They stepped out of her building and Travis came to a dead stop.
Standing on top of the limo, Jim, Mike, and Kevin were all decked out in kilts. Screaming Drop-Kick Murphy's songs at the top of their lungs. "HEY!" Jim called out, in an outrageously bad Irish accent, "WELCOME TO THEE MACGIRLFRIEND!! THE MYSTERIOUS SIREN WHO'S STOLEN OUR BELOVED TRAVIS FROM THE LOVING ARMS OF HIS BROTHERS!!"
"And people wonder why I drink..." Travis muttered, but a quick glance at Mac showed her laughing. Chris, apparently his only true sane friend climbed out from the limo and walked over, politely shaking Mac's hand as Travis made the introductions.
Jim, Mike and Kevin jumped off the limo and also took turns saying hello like civilized individuals, before the three of them swept her away from Travis and bundled her into the limo firing off questions about her.
"They're worse than children." Chris remarked as he and Travis climbed into the limo. The entire ride to the studio Travis felt like a kindergarden teacher who's students had just found a new toy. Still Mac seemed to be having fun, as she took the teasing with good measure and dished out a goodly portion of her own. Travis was just thinking things would be alright when they pulled up to the studio.
"Holy Fuck," Mac gasped, her face a mask of shocked terror as she stared out the tinted windows at the mass of paparazzi who'd crowded around the door, their flash bulbs popping.
Travis cursed, and even Jim appeared concerned, "What are they doing here?"
"Dunno," Keven replied, "I mean it's not like this shoot is some kind of hush hush deal, but still..."
"They're never this interested in something so trivial as a photo shoot..."
Aaron put down the window, "It because of Miss Matthews." he explained and handed back a couple tabloids all sporting the same grainy picture of Travis and Mac walking out of the clothing store they'd gone to on their first date. It was obviously a cell phone photo, and Mac's face was obscured both by the poor quality and her hair which had been caught by the wind. Across the top the headlines read "O'HARE AND MYSTERY GIRL CAUGHT CUDDLY ON RODEO" "ARE TRAVIS AND JESSICA FINALLY OVER?! NEW RED HAIRED BEAUTY ON THE SCENE" "FANS WANNA KNOW!! WHO'S THE GIRL TRAVIS?!" "RODEO ON A FIRST DATE?! GOLD-DIGGERS AND THE FOOLS THAT FALL FOR THEM"
"Who's Jessica?" Jim asked.
"That chick who went on TV claiming she was carrying Travis's Baby. Story fell apart when she refused to get a paternity test done on the kid, but the tabloids still like to splice pictures of her and him together," Chris replied.
"Oh my god!" Mac wailed, looking over the rags, "Where did they get that picture?! And what are my parent's going to say!? They sell this in Ohio groceries too!"
"People will do anything for a buck..." Chris said with a sad shake of his head.
"These are just the old ones..." Aaron chimed in from the driver's seat, "They've got you at the L.A. Zoo, The La Brea Tarpits and museum of contemporary art..."
"None of the photos are this good tho, huh?" Mike asked.
"Not by a long shot. Too far away, I guess."
Mac looked horrified, "This has been going on all this time?! I never even saw them!!"
"You rarely do," Chris said with a sympathetic, lopsided grimace.
Travis hugged Mac to him, "It's okay Mac... Just calm down. You knew this was going to happen sooner or later..."
"But I was expecting it later!! My Parents are going to freak! They don't know I have regular boyfriend, let alone a rockstar!! Oh my god, what am I going to do?!"
"Well," Mike said with all seriousness, "Do you want America to see you as an adorable sweetheart, a mysterious vixen or a sassy bitch? Because how you respond to these vultures over the next few minutes is going to be headlines for the next few days."
She stared at him, momentarily distracted, "What's the difference?"
"If you're a sweetheart they'll say Travis is cheating on you, if you're a vixen they'll claim you're cheating on Travis, and if you're a bitch they'll call you things you don't want to consider."
Travis hugged her tighter, feeling his insides clench, "You can do this Mac, I know you can. Please?" He caught her chin and forced her eyes to meet his. He had so little to tie her to him... She could so easily say no, stay in the limo until they'd all gone and have Aaron take her home. But she'd be rejecting his whole world in that action and him as well... He couldn't hide from the media... it wasn't possible. He wouldn't be able to keep their relationship secret. So in the end they wouldn't have one, and dammit he couldn't let that happen. Not yet.
She stared at him a long moment as if she could see the desperation in his thoughts and then finally took a deep breath. "You're right. I knew this was a possibility... It was a reason for me to hesitate about this whole relationship..." Travis felt sick. She was backing out... No. Fuck no! He couldn't let her!
"Mac-" he began, but she held a finger to his lips, silencing him.
"Does someone have a pair of those big, ugly sunglasses?"
Aaron reached into his glove box up front and pulled out a pair of large black sunglasses which he handed back to Mac. She accepted them gratefully and motioned for the others to proceed them, "Well, lets do this gentlemen."
Travis nearly passed out in relief... She was willing to go through with it... Become tabloid fodder for him... The rest of his band slid out of the limo each of them pausing in such a way that as Travis stepped out, holding Mac's hand they provided a small barrier against her and the cameras.
She walk just a little ahead of him, forced almost single file by the crowding photographers, a huge smile on her face as she politely ignored the questions they screamed at her. Travis too, responded to none of the questions or provocations, keeping Mac close to him in a gesture of protective possessiveness. She was taking it all like a pro. Travis felt his pride and respect doubling as he watched her act out the roll of a sweetheart girlfriend to a rock star. He pulled her a little closer and leaned down to whisper in her ear.
"You're spectacular... They're eating it up." Brushing a kiss on her cheek and pressing another into her hair on top of her head-- knowing the media would eat it up-- he guided her through the last stretch of paparazzi and into the safety of the studio.
A long while later Travis sunk back into the limo with Mac at his side. They'd left the others off at a restaurant, Travis claiming a headache. He didn't really have a headache... He was just tired of sharing Mac with everyone on god's green earth. He'd told Aaron earlier in the day to take them to his place after all was said and done. He'd drive her home himself... Aaron didn't need wait around while he spent a good half hour necking at her door...
"Man, what a crazy day." she muttered after a yawn and stretched out on the long seat with her head in his lap. "I'm glad we had an excuse not to join them for dinner... I really don't need any more unaccounted photos of me turning up on tabloids."
"They'll get bored quickly and move on," Travis assured her.
"It was neat seeing the photo shoot. Thank you for letting me come along," she said with a soft smile.
The limo pulled up to his house and she sat up, looking around. "Where are we?"
"My place," he replied, "Wanna check it out?"
She bit her lip and smiled shyly, nodding, and Travis had to grit his teeth against the surge of lust that rose in his abdomen and plummeted lower. Damn she was cute... beautiful really!
"This place is huge!" Mac exclaimed as he ushered her in through the front door. He looked up at the two story cathedral ceilings in the foyer.
"It's alright I looked at a couple places that were bigger. Jim's place is bigger, but he's always been more ostentatious."
"What made you choose this house?"
"I dunno... I've always been a fan of contemporary architecture... And this place looked like it could've been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright." He shrugged trying to think of more he could say. He didn't want to talk about the damn house- he didn't want to talk at all. He wanted to kiss her, to touch her, to strip her cloths off and feel her hot skin against his... He needed a distraction. Now. "Wanna take a tour?"
She smiled, "Sure"
A tour, perfect. More talk about the house. This would be a great distraction... Just avoid the bedroom, he told himself. Which one? He had seven!
"Parlor" he announced, entering and turning on the lights in a spartan, chic, modern living room. It had huge windows that opened on the back yard and pool. "I basically use this for meetings if people come to talk business." And since the windows are tinted glass I could fuck you against them...
She looked around appreciatively before flowing him into the connecting dinning room laid out with a table for twelve.
"Again for meetings," he explained trying not to think about the two of them naked on the long table, "Usually luncheons." Damn he'd forgotten about the fresh fruit his housekeeper liked to decorate the table with.... that looked like a lot of strawberries...
"I'm assuming these are catered lunches, huh?"
"Yeah, all made in my own kitchen." he ushered her through the door into the huge stone, stainless steel and cedar eat in kitchen. "I don't keep a permanent chef, but if I'm doing a lunch, there's a company that rents them out to create meals for their clients. Otherwise If I'm fending for myself I eat here."
She ran her fingers along the granite counter, her eyes alight, "Holy shit... this kitchen is every amateur chef's dream!"
"You like to cook?" he asked, a little surprised.
"Only for other people..." she explained, "I'll make you dinner one night here..."
"I'd love that... Can't remember the last time I had a home cooked meal." And I will try not to fuck you on the counter tops while you're doing it.... Dammit, could he NOT think about sex for five bloody minutes?! Clearing his throat, he said: "Why don't we check out the den?" That was safe right? Electronics didn't really get women hot.
"Okay!" she agreed cheerfully and followed him across the hall to his entertainment room. Here was where all his friends ended up with him. The 46" plasma HDTV hung on the wall surrounded by the high end surround sound system, and cabinets holding his massive CD and DVD collections. Around it in a semi circle were the plush black leather sofa, love-seat and two recliners. All over-sized and made to be every couch potato's dream. She 'ooh-ed' and 'ah-ed' appreciatively over the electronics and Travis pointedly avoided looking at the sofa.
"What's in the CD player" she asked and Travis hastily stepped over to hit play, thankful for the excuse to get a little distance from her. The scent of apples was thick in his nostrils and it was driving him mad.
"Cage the Elephant" he replied as the clear notes began to fill the room. He looked up just in time to see Mac drop the half corset to the floor and go for the buttons on her shirt.
So much for being a gentleman.
"Mackenzie..." he whispered and she came to him, pulling the Chinese chopsticks from her hair and letting the fiery tresses fall to her shoulders.
"You've been waiting for some reason?" she asked her lips against his.
"Wanted to do this right..." he forced out as his hands went to her shoulders, sliding the blouse away. She undid the front clasp of her bra and it followed the shirt to the floor. He pants went next and she was standing before him in nothing but a pair of green lace underwear. Travis caught her by the arms, pulling her down on top of him as he fell back onto the couch.
Then her lips were on his, and her apple scented hair was surrounding them. She tasted sweet and feminine... she tasted like nothing else he could describe... $200 bourbons didn't go to his head like this... He hugged her close, savoring the warmth of her skin through his shirt. There was something erotic about having her almost naked on top of him while he was still fully clothed, but he'd enjoy that luxury later. He needed closer to her.
Sitting up, careful not to dislodge her from his lap, he pulled off his shirt. Her hands went immediately to his chest, tracing the contours of muscle down his abdomen. Travis shuddered, letting his own hands wander to her breasts. She moaned, her hands going for the zipper of his jeans and he could feel something dark and hungry in him stir... She responded to him like she was made for him... Like she knew before he did what he wanted...It was crazy what she did to him... A no-name scrap of a girl...
He slipped his fingers under the leg band of the panties and stroked her. Her response was immediate. She gasped dropped low to swirl her tongue over the sensitive spot along his neck, nipping lightly as she moved against his hand, hot and slick.
“Travis,” she moaned, “Oh god, yes, Travis”
He lifted his hips to shimmy out of his jeans and she pulled off her panties. Her fingers went immediately to his shaft and she brushed a kiss across his chest tattoo. Same as if he'd just gotten an electric shock, his heart skipped a beat. She murmured his name like a prayer when his hands sank into her hair, threading the silken tresses between his fingers.
The slow throbbing beat of Massive Attack's Mezzanine album set the perfect scene and watching her work her way down his abdomen, kissing a path that burned hot than cooled instantly as she passed, he vaguely wondered if this was what it was like to get high. The audio and visual sensation left him dizzy, but it was nothing to the physical aspect. Mac's mouth closed over him and Travis's eyes rolled back in his head. The chorus of 'Angel' faded in and out as he fought hard to remain in control, savoring the sweet torture. It echoed in his brain and hovered on the back of his tongue. Dangerous. Terrifying.
“To love you, love you, love you, love you, love you...”
There was no way... She was nothing. Nobody....
She raked her edge of her teeth ever so gently along the length of him at the same time her free hand went lower to cradle him.
“Enough!” he snarled, pulling her back up and immediately down on his shaft in one simultaneous movement. She gasped and he pulled her down to drink in the small cry. “Fuck me, Mackenzie,” he whispered into her mouth.
She reared up, smiling that mysterious shy smile, and began to move. Her cheeks flushed, eyes bright, panting slightly... she looked perfect... he wanted to frame her just like this. Keep her forever just like this. His hands went to her hips, more just to feel her move than to tutor. She grinded against him, raising and rolling her hips in a way that made his eyes cross.
“Oh god, Mackenzie...” he groaned, fighting desperately to hold himself in check while she rode him. Harder and faster until he felt his control fray. He wasn't going to make it... But just as he resigned himself to disgrace, the first tremors of her pending orgasm squeezed him from inside her and he almost choked on his own tongue, “God yes! Cum for me!”
“Travis!” she cried, her climax ripping through both of them, and he sank his fingers into the soft flesh of her ass, pulling her down hard on him and thrusting up.
He might have screamed her name. He didn't know- didn't care. The only thing that mattered at that moment was her and the sheer ecstasy she made him feel.
She collapsed onto his chest, her skin hot to the touch, her breathing ragged. Travis wrapped his arms around her, holding him to him. Eons could have passed in that time where they drifted together... Mankind could have become extinct and a new race evolved to take it's place in that time and he wouldn't have noticed.
“Why the sacred heart?” her voice seemed to float up from far away.
“Your tattoo. The sacred heart on your chest.”
He couldn't see it from his vantage but he knew what she was looking at. The red bottle-like glass heart, wrapped in thorns, dripping blood from cracks in the glass, a flame rising from the bottle's open mouth, and glowing halo that framed that fire.
“Women tell me I'm untouchable.” he murmured, feeling a little embarrassed for some reason he couldn't explain. He never talked about himself to anyone, even such minor details like the meanings of his tattoos were held like secrets. “They say my heart is cold and empty. I say I just haven't found anyone I wanted to give it to. So it's stays in my chest, until I find that someone.”
“Sarcred...” she murmured, smiling and propping her chin up on the palm of one hand while the other traced the ruby ink. “She'll be a very lucky woman then I guess...”
Again the words echoed in his head and he forced them back, seeking a safer subject. “What about you? Why the swallow?”
“For freedom,” she said quietly, and pulled him into a kiss. And that was the end of all tattoo talk.
You treat me like a vision in the night
Someone there to stand behind you
When your world ain't working right
I ain't no vision, I am the girl
who loves you inside and out
Backwards and forwards with my heart hanging out
I love no other way
What are we gonna do if we lose that fire?
~Inside and Out - Feist
Mac awoke to an empty bed. Huge and masculine with dark blue jersey sheets that were twisted around her. She stretched, and knew she was grinning like an idiot. If a one night stand with Travis was a dream, then she was in heaven... Last night had been the epitome of bliss, as far as she was concerned. Despite a few achy muscles, she felt better this morning than she had in a long, long time. It was like she'd been wandering lost for years and had finally found home. She felt content. At peace. Whole.
So this was what real love felt like...
Mac stopped cold. Where had that thought come from. Surely not... She wasn't in love with Travis. It was way too soon. She'd only known him little more than a week! But she'd watched him for the last four years... Had all his albums... went to every show she could afford...
Horror settled into her stomach like a virus making her curl into a ball. What was she going to do? She was setting her self up for a bigger heartache than when she'd found out about Tom. He'd get tired of her eventually... It happened all the time. That's why celebrity marriages always fell apart. Just look at Tiger Woods! He'd had the perfect family, beautiful wife, fame, fortune... and he'd still gone and slept around.
Travis was kind, loyal and she'd trust him with her life, but he was still a man. A rock star who spent the better part of his time touring the world where women threw themselves at him. And there were so many that would be far more beautiful than her... Could she trust him with her heart?
Forcefully, Mac shoved the traitorous thoughts away. She wouldn't think about any of this right now. Things were still too new. She'd been graced with the most unbelievable good fortune a girl could have and she'd enjoy it until the very last second... Wait until later to worry about the future.
Mind set, she sat up and looked around the bedroom. Travis hadn't bothered turning on the lights when they'd finally made their way upstairs. He'd just tumbled her into bed, kissing her like the world was about to end. Now she was getting a good look at the man behind the guitar.
Framed posters of bands hung on the pale blue gray walls. Pink Floyd shared space with Led Zepplin and Van Halen, as well as The Sex Pistols, Buzz Poets, Bleeding Through and more contemporary names like Coheed and Cambria, Tool, and Cold. Between each poster hung a boxed guitar displayed against back velvet. Each one, she noted with awe, was signed by the original owner. Otherwise the room seemed kind of sparse. The california king bed took up it's fair share of the space, as well as a small, low chaise lounge in blue- violet, a black dresser... The bed's headboard was it's own affair. Huge and compartmentalized, the black lacquered wood housed a fancy looking alarm clock, stainless steel model robot, a weird looking tiki mask and a few other nick-nacks, but otherwise there was nothing else of the owner in the room. No family photos. No awards from high school days past. Nothing that looked more than five years old.
Mac climbed out of the bed, and frowned at her nakedness. What to wear? While she doubted Travis would care if she went tromping around naked, Mac had more shame than that. Her clothes were downstairs someplace... Glancing around she headed for the closet, hoping to find a robe. No luck, but the dresser provided a pair of his boxers and a t-shirt. As decent as she was going to get before a shower, Mac stuck her head out the door, listening for Travis. The massive house was strangely quiet. She frowned and glanced back to the clock by the bed. It was after eleven.
She was just about to head downstairs when the faint tones of a piano drifted towards her from another of the bed rooms. Mac smiled and gently opened the door, peeking in.
Not a bedroom at all, Travis sat behind the desk of his office, staring at his computer, free hand idly stroking the keys of an electric keyboard. The melody was simple, played with just one hand, and haunting. He seemed to be doing it mindlessly, the way another person tapped their fingers in cadence on a table or clicked a pen repetitively. He looked up, ginning when she walked all the way into the room.
Mac smiled, "Man, your girlfriend must be a hell of a ball buster. Making you screw her mindless so she'll go to sleep and you can sneek off into you office at dawn to get work done? Did you sleep at all?"
"I know it's such a terrible life huh? Hours of sex and then having to play music? Criminal. But to answer your question, yeah I slept, I actually just got up about twenty minutes ago." He caught her by the hips when she walked over and pulled her down on his lap.
Mac looked around curiously. The room was tiny and dark. Holding nothing but a computer desk, a fortune in sound recording equipment and what looked to be extra or discarded amps. The only lighting was a halogen desk lamp and from a window that looked into another room, this one brightly lit with a ton of instruments and microphones..
"You have a recording studio in your house?" Mac asked in amazement.
"Yep. This is where the magic happens. I do a lot of the composition for our music so I need to be able to play everything and hear how it's going to sound digitally versus in real life. Plus it's more convenient and comfortable to do a lot of our recording here. We can basically binge for a few days and there's plenty of room, food and beds when we're not recording."
"Wow... you play all those intruments?"
"Bullshit." Mac called his bluff.
"No, it's true. I can play everything in that room. From guitar and drums to scimitar and flute."
She was staring at him, stunned. "How...?"
"Natural talent, perfect pitch, a shit-ton of practice and a masters in musical engineering," he explained with a shrug, "I play music they way artists paint. We just feel compelled to do it. It's not a job, it's just what I do. I like learning new mediums. Don't you like trying new things with film and processing?"
She smiled. When he put it like that... "Well then I'll let you play. I'm gonna get out of your way and go grab a shower."
He was standing in less than a second, pushing her towards the door, his hands sneeking up under her shirt and pulling it off. "A shower sounds great. I could use one too. "
Mac laughed, "Do you ever think of anything besides sex?"
"Only when I'm not eating or composing... And even then it's negotiable... "
How can I stand here with you
And not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this?
And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this?
Cause you're all I want, You're all I need
~Everything - Lifehouse
He wasn't sure what made him decide to do it. Maybe it was the way she never answered her phone when the number read 440... Maybe it was because that false smile from that first morning had never left his mind's eye.
While she was in the shower he scrolled through her caller ID que, looking for the most familiar number. He just barely had time to save it to his contacts list and exit the screen before she came out of the bathroom. He waited until after he dropped her off at school then headed home, his cell feeling heavy in his jacket pocket.
He wasn't sure anyone would answer so early in the day, but luck was with him. After the fourth ring a woman came on the line. He instantly recognized her mother's voice.
"Hello?" she asked politely.
"Hello, Mrs. Matthews?" Travis tried to keep his voice calm. He was suddenly feeling incredibly nervous. There was a very good possibility he was meddling in something he shouldn't... Still he'd come this far. "My name is Travis O'Hare, I'm dating your daughter Mac."
"Oh," she sounded surprised, "I didn't realize Mac was seeing anyone out there."
She hadn't mentioned him? At all?
"It's uh, kind of a new development." Travis winced, hoping that sounded right. What else did you say to your girlfriend's mom when she clearly didn't know you existed? "But listen, I know it's a little last minute, but I was thinking of surprising Mac and bringing her home for the Thanksgiving."
There was dead silence on the other end for so long Travis thought he might have gotten disconnected. Then, almost as if she was afraid to speak, "You're going to bring Mac home?"
Travis bit his lower lip. Crap. He'd messed up big time hadn't he? Frantically he sought to salvage the situation, "Only if it's okay with you. I know it's last minute, so if you'd rather we didn't-"
"OH MY GOD!" her mother cried on the other end startling Travis into silence as she started shouting at someone on her end of the line, "Edward! Edward, she's coming home this week! Mackenzie! He's bringing her home this week!" Then she was back, "What did you say your name was again? Travis! Oh thank you Travis! This is wonderful! We're so excited! Don't you worry about a hotel, there's plenty of room here at the house! We'll take care of everything! When will you be arriving? Which Airport? I think Cincinnati is the closest big airport but there's a small one outside of Urbana. We'll drive down and pick you up so You won't need to worry about a cab..."
She rattled on exuberantly for another twenty minutes, giving Travis barely enough time to answer the more important questions, before announcing she was going to get off the phone and go shopping. She thanked him for the tenth time and cut the connection.
Bemused Travis closed his cell and smiled slightly. He'd forgotten how bubbly mom's could be... Or maybe it was just Mrs. Matthews....
At noon he pulled up to her school and parked, dropping an hour worth of quarters into the meter. He never seemed to be able to escape with Mac in tow any quicker, although it had been getting better. Students and faculty were getting used to seeing him around.
He made his way through the now familiar halls towards the photography department on the sub-level floor. Mac had digital manipulation on Monday mornings and he could always find her finishing up her projects in the photography department's computer lab. As usual she was at her desk, Photoshop slowly ticking away a loading bar that informed the user it was saving. This time though, she wasn't alone.
A young man, was sitting at the desk next to her, his chair and focus turned on her as he leaned in so close he was almost touching her. His earnest face, seeming sympathetic and concerned. He was good looking in that rugged outdoorsie kind of way. With light brown hair, an Aeropostle tee and what looked like Faded Glory jeans. The guy looked completely ridiculous sitting next to Mac in the Affliction jeans and Salvage tunic Travis had bought her. "I just don't want to see you hurt Mac, I mean, the guy can't possibly care about you. He's got thousands of women falling over themselves for him. He's just playing with you."
"That's very sweet of you to be concerned, Fred, but I'm not, so save it for someone else. I'm afraid you just can't save me at this point." She glared at the loading bar as if willing it to move faster.
But Fred apparently wasn't about to be put off so easily, "I can't help but be concerned. I've noticed a lot of changes in you these last couple weeks... The new clothes, for one. You're not staying late after class anymore. And you never used to wear makeup every day." He put his hand on her knee, "The money can't be worth putting yourself through all this..."
"No but the sex definitely is," Travis tossed in lightly as if he'd been part of the conversation all along. Throwing himself down in the chair opposite Fred, he grabbed Mac around the middle hauling her away from the other guy so he couldn't touch her anymore.
Her eyes portrayed a mixture of laughing relief and cautious warning, but her face was politly in differant, "Hey you. When'd you get here?"
"Few minutes ago." Her hugged her close, his hand slipping just a little high to stop under the curve of her breast while he planted a kiss on the graceful line of her neck. "You ready to go?" he asked, his eyes never leaving her admirer.
Fred cleared his throat, clearly taking Travis's possessive body language for the claim it was, and with a stuffy, "Excuse me." grabbed his books and stormed out of the lab.
Travis waited until he was gone before turning back to Mac, "If he touches you again I'm going to break his jaw."
She giggled, "Jealsous much?"
"Damn straight. I don't share." He let her slip from his arms when the computer dinged, announcing it was done saving. Mac pulled out her flashdrive and dropped it in her purse.
"Well at least you can admit it. That's something. God, I'm so glad we get the next week and a half off... I'm going to need it to study for my finals..."
He took her bag in one hand and her hand in the other, "Come on, we're going to be late. I've already got your stuff in the car."
Mac frowned, "What? Late for what?"
"We've got a plane to catch."
"Yup. I thought we'd go away for Thanksgiving."
Mac stared at him, shocked, "You want us to go away together for a week?! But... but I have to work-"
"Nope! Already took care of it. Me and Mike went down there and asked Cammi to rearrange the schedule which she was more than happy to do for Mike."
Mac stared at him, "When did you go down to Prism?"
"About an hour ago, I think Mike's still there chatting with Cammi."
She started giggling as they climbed into his Vantage, "This is insane! Where are we going?"
"It's a surprise." He responded with a grin of his own.
The trip up to LAX was uneventful with Mac pressing for hints on where they were going and grilling him on what he packed for her, while he assured her that if he forgot anything they could always buy new. They arrived an hour early, checked in and made their way onto the tarmac where his plane was waiting.
"You have you're own jet?!" Mac exclaimed in awe her eyes locked on the glossy black RJ with Cadaver Cult's logo emblazoned in pale grey on the vertical stabilizer.
"It's the whole band's jet." he explained, "We, Cadaver Cult, as a corporate entity own it. Makes for easier touring. You and I are just borrowing it."
They climbed aboard, the flight attendant smiling politely as he ushered them to their seats. Mac 'ooh-ed' and 'ahh-ed' in appreciation over the plush leather furnishings all done in dual toned black and dove grey. Lacquered white pine accented the cup holders, tables and arm rests. They took their seats for takeoff, sitting directly across from one another around a small table. Mac said nothing as they sped down the runway to, her face all but plastered to the window as she watched the ground fall away from under them.
"You know I went to Europe in high school? It was for our senior trip."
"Really?" Travis asked. It was so rare that she talked about her life before moving to LA that he hung on every word, excited to learn even tiny bits about her.
"Uh huh. We flew coach because it was the best we could afford, but the flight attendant let me and Mich and two of our friends go up and look at the envoy class cabin. I thought that was as classy as it got for air travel, but apparently I was wrong."
He grinned and watched the fasten seat belt sign wink out. "It gets better. We have a couple beds in the back. Wanna check it out?"
She glared at him, "A bedroom? In a jet? For real?"
"All part of the rock star life," he assured her, "We're all required to be in the mile high club."