Say You Won't Let Go (Page 6)
Damn adult responsibilities.
“Is it crazy that I miss you and I haven’t even left?” I ask and instantly wish I hadn’t.
He’s been open and honest, though. He’s told me clearly how he feels, and as much as I hate being vulnerable, it’s just true. The fact that tomorrow I won’t see him makes me sad.
“I think it would be crazy if you didn’t miss me. I’ve been told that I’m a catch.”
I roll my eyes and grin. “Yes, I guess you’re lucky I’m so good at fishin’.”
Cooper looks down at his watch and groans. “You gotta go, darlin’.”
I’ve heard it my whole life. Daddy called Mama that, Zach called Presley it, and Lord knows, Southern boys love saying it when they’re trying to blow a girl’s skirt up. When Cooper says it like that, though, I could cry. Two syllables laced with so much emotion that it forces the word to take on a new meaning.
It’s a song and a prayer.
It’s a promise filled with hope.
It’s a sign of something more between two old friends.
If I don’t walk away now, I won’t go. My feet move back, and my fingers hold the fabric, letting it slip from their grasp. “I’ll call you.”
He smiles. “I’ll be here.”
I move backward. “Go learn about cows and shit.”
Cooper shakes his head. “I’ll do my best.”
“I’ll see you soon.”
“I’m countin’ on it.”
I turn my back and get in my car as he stands there with his hand up. I touch the window and smile. “Bye, Coop,” I say, and he winks.
My phone dings with a text from Vince, and I know I can’t wait any longer. I have to go. Putting the car in drive, I try not to look at him, and I move forward, leaving Cooper in the rearview mirror.
* * * *
The bus is parked in the new arena in Houston. We had an issue with Luke’s bus and ended up not leaving Dallas until two in the morning, but I slept restlessly the four hours it took us to get here, wishing I were with Cooper. If I don’t get more rest, I’m going to be a bear for the show. I toss and turn for another thirty minutes before there’s a knock on the door.
Ginny steps in without invitation, saying, “I saw your light on.”
“Yeah, I can’t sleep.”
She moves to the couch, and I rub my eyes. “I’m heading to Nashville in ten minutes. I wanted to check in and see what the plan is when you’re finished with the tour in a month?”
I’m not sure what to say. Before Cooper showing up here, the answer would have been easy—go back to Nashville and bust my ass. Now, I want to maybe visit Bell Buckle a bit. I haven’t seen Grace, Presley, or Angie for a while now. It would be good to catch up.
Sure, Em, that’s the reason.
I can’t even lie to myself.
I’ve learned a lot about Ginny, and the thing I know more than anything is that she likes honesty. That’s what I’ll give her. “I think I’m going to take a few weeks in Bell Buckle. Then I’ll head back to Nashville.”
Ginny doesn’t speak, she just nods slowly. Great. I’m now “that” artist. The one who says she wants it all and then falls for some guy and throws it away.
“So, two weeks there?” she asks.
I’m not sure I can endure more than that in Bell Buckle, and that should be enough time to figure out what I’m feeling. “Yes. No more than two weeks.”
She stands, sighs, and then hands me a stack of envelopes. “You got another batch of mail. I know you still refuse to allow my team to handle them for you.”
I smile. “Fan mail is something I’ve dreamed of,” I explain. “Not everyone is as fortunate as I am. I like to stay humble.”
Ginny rolls her eyes with a grin. “I’ll see you in Nashville in a few weeks.”
“Yes, you will.”
When she leaves, I grab the stack of notes and start going through them. My process with this is simple: I read them and then keep the addresses to send a custom fan club guitar pick. Sometimes, depending on the letters, I’ll write back. It’s cathartic for me on some level.
I open the next letter and smile. A little seven-year-old who saw the show in Phoenix and says I’m her new favorite singer. This is why I open them all. I write her back and make a note to include a few things.
The next letter has no return address. I hate when they do that.
As I pull the note out, a chill runs down my spine.
The letter is cut out newspaper letters that spell out: You should be mine.
What the fuck?
This is getting ridiculous. Nothing is threatening in this, but what is wrong with people? Do they have nothing better to do? Plus, I’m not even a little bit of a big deal. I’m a baby in this industry.
The last thing I want to do is cause waves on this tour, either. I need to be smart and not end up labeled as a problem child who cried over a few stupid letters. Luke told me yesterday about a fan who sends him a letter a day.
This is what being in the public eye means and I need to get used to it.
I huff out a breath and toss the letter aside.
No more fan mail for me right now.
My head is filled with so much emotion that maybe writing songs is what I should do.
I play a few melodies, and one starts to take hold. Words pour out as I start to arrange the notes.
Words about maybe finding something I didn’t know I wanted, worrying about if things don’t work out, and then learning to accept the fear.
I sing and strum my guitar, stopping randomly to jot things down.
Lost in the process, I almost don’t check my phone when it pings. Almost.
Grace: So, do I need to buy a ticket to talk to my best friend?
Me: I know someone who could hook you up.
Grace: I miss you.
Instead of texting back and forth, I dial her number.
“Hey!” She answers on the second ring, and I can almost hear her smile through the phone.
“I miss you more!”
“Not possible,” Grace disagrees. “How are you? How’s the tour?”
I fill her in on the fun stuff she loves hearing about. It’s a regular soap opera on tour. People hooking up, some married, and lots of crazy drinking. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to stay out of all of it. We laugh about some of the cool places I’ve gotten to see. Grace is a history nut and loves tourist stuff. I sent her a few photos when we played in Gettysburg and visited the battlefield.
Now I need to tell her what I’ve been slightly nervous to say. “There’s not really much to say, I’ve been getting weird letters, but that’s par for the course.” I brush that part off and release a shaky breath.
Grace clears her throat. “What do you mean par for the course?”
I should’ve kept my mouth shut. “It’s normal for artists to get weird fan mail. Luke was telling me about some of the stuff he’s gotten. That’s not what I’m nervous about, Grace.”
“Trent!” Grace calls, and I drop my head back. “Emily is getting letters that she said are weird.”
“Grace!” I yell in the receiver. “It’s really not a big deal!”
“You’re all freaked out.” She huffs. “I can hear it in your voice. Don’t lie to me, Emily.”
She’s sweet to care, but that isn’t what has me feeling this way. “I’m nervous because I need to tell you that I saw Cooper when we were in Dallas.”
“Really?” Her voice goes an octave higher and shifts to excitement. “I know he’s out of town, but I didn’t know he was near you.”
“Yeah, and…” I pause, trying to get my courage. “Well, we…we…we kind of hooked up or I don’t know.”
“Oh my God!” Grace screeches. “She’s fine, Trent. Go away.” She yells and then covers the phone.
I can hear her yelling at him and telling him to leave her be, which makes me giggle. They’re so funny together.
“Sorry, he thought something happened with these letters. So, how was it? Do you think there’s somethin’ there? Are you guys, like, together? Oh, Emmy! Spill it! I need details. Ahh, I’m so happy!”
She really is. There’s no weirdness, not that there really should be since all they’ve ever shared was one really bad kiss. Still, I don’t know… There’s something about dating your friend’s ex that feels like betrayal. Even though Grace knows how I’ve felt about him for a year now. One night when I was visiting Mama, I got shitfaced and spilled how I really felt about Cooper to Grace and Presley, who were overjoyed. Grace insisted that Coop felt the same but was too afraid I’d turn him down. Funny that we were both worried about the same thing.
When I saw him, it was like all the tension that I thought I had dissipated came roaring back.
Only it didn’t just bubble, it boiled over.
I flop back on the bed and blow a long breath out. “I don’t know what we are. But he was in Dallas and came to the show. He came back to the bus, and it just happened. Then we spent the whole day together again, and I can’t explain it.”
“Did you sleep with him?”
I wish. “No, we spent two nights talkin’ and makin’ out. And then we explored Dallas. It was crazy, Grace. It’s nuts that I spent all night thinking of him, wishin’ he was with me. It’s insane that I want to get a car and drive back to Dallas, right?”