If anyone had told me six years ago that I would instantly fall in love with the first girl that I laid eyes on when I stepped a foot on UNLV’s campus, I would have called bullshit.
Instalove was reserved for movies and songs. Not eighteen-year-old boys who'd been looking to pound their way through freshman year.
But everything changed the moment I saw a petite girl with skin the color of caramelized sugar sporting a big curly fro, dressed in jeans with holes in the knees and a man's tank top, lugging two guitars across campus. She should have looked plain next to the other coeds, in their designer labels and heavily made-up faces but I couldn't tear my eyes away from her.
At the risk of sounding pussyfied, the moment I saw Sin, she had me like gravity, where falling was inevitable. I fell truly, madly, and fucking deeply. And it was just... so good, until the day it wasn’t.
At this point hindsight is useless. And karma, well, me and that bitch have a sticky relationship. I'm making moves and doing things that I know are wrong. I’ve been flirting with fire for the last couple of months, I know with certainty it’s only a matter of time before it all catches up to me, and a relationship six years in the making burns to the ground.
I'm not an arsonist, and I don't particularly enjoy pain, giving or receiving, so why am I letting it all burn to the ground?
When I first meet Sinclair James, we were both freshmen, introduced to a crazy new world and in all that we found each other. And I got it. I finally understood the phenomena of chemistry. I couldn’t touch her fast enough or taste her deep enough. We spent more time in bed than we did out of it which made it easy to ignore all the things that didn’t fit like her relationship with her so-called best friend who looked like a male model from an Abercrombie commercial, and played guitar as well as Eric Clapton, and looked at my girl like she hung every star in the sky.
Anything that challenged my idea of how our relationship should work was nonexistent. I know, not the smartest approach, but at the time it worked or at least I thought it was working. I’m man enough now to admit that my eighteen-year-old self, was arrogant and full of piss and vinegar. Hell, my twenty-four-year-old self still carries a pretty significant chip on my shoulder.
Sinclair has this aura that lights her up from the inside out. To me, it seems like she’s standing under a spotlight with blinking arrows that say ‘here.’ After six years, my heart still beats faster when she kisses my lips, and I swear if it was possible I would spend every hour of every day listening to the husky sound of her voice, or just reveling in the feel of smooth skin.
And that, right there, is at the root of all my problems. Sin has been on tour for five months, one week, and two days. In that time, I have only seen her three times, which is complete and utter bullshit. I didn’t sign up for a long-distance relationship.
I don’t know if it was the arrogance of youth, but I was convinced that touching her body was the equivalent of touching her soul. If I were able to craft lovemaking that was hot, and full of intensity she'd be as good as putty in my hands, right?
The sweet and simple answer is no.
Sin had these crazy big dreams. She didn’t just want a band. She wants a label. She didn't just want a recording contract. She wants a tour and videos. And I want that for her too, I do, but not at the cost of losing her.
Her first tour was relatively easy. I had no idea of what went into it and in truth neither did she.
After we graduated from undergrad, she mostly sang at weddings, which sometimes took her out of town. But then the band entered a local competition, and everything changed. Sin was dropped into this world where there was no place for us.
When she first left, I treated it like a vacation. I hung out with my boys, hit up clubs, played a couple of rounds of golf, and anything else that caught my attention at the time. Sometimes I would even drive out to meet her where she was. Make a long weekend out of it.
But then one tour became two, and two became three, and I'm sure by now you get my drift. Her star was rocketing while I was stuck on the ground watching it twinkle from afar.
From day one my future looked like us and everything else since that day has been moving us toward that vision. Before Sin left for the last tour, we got a house, it was a small, single story home, but it gave us more privacy than an apartment. Moreover, it had an extra room for a makeshift studio, win-win in my mind. But our small corner of the world was nothing compared to the things she saw on the road or the people she met. And for a long time, things have felt off. I feel off.
Part of me wonders if this impending sense of doom is only in my head or if I’m following the breadcrumbs that Sin isn’t aware that she’s leaving. I’ve been on pins and needles waiting for her to wake up and realize that I’m not her choice anymore, that a life with me, regardless of infatuation or love, is nothing more than space filler. And when she does she’ll leave me. Hell, she’s already halfway out the door. She just doesn’t realize it yet.
Our world is turned on the wrong fucking axis and I have no idea of how to get it back on track. Once upon a time we were that couple, the one that people envied. The ones held up as an example of how to do it. We genuinely enjoyed each other. I’m not just talking sex with each other but the tiny nuances of each other’s personalities.
I got used to being the perfect couple. So image my surprise when shit started to turn sideways. I felt helpless, not that I would admit it. What self-respecting man goes to his girl and says, ‘Hey, Babe I feel like I’m trying to juggle multiple balls, and I’m dropping everything, and I have no idea of how to handle it or what to do?’
Not this one.
Sin won't be home for another three weeks and there is a lot that can happen in three weeks. Hell, the band can make an entirely new zigzag across the country. A couple of hundred miles can become a couple of thousand, and when you’re lonely, those miles add up quick.
It’s amazing how I lonely I feel when she’s gone. Even when I’m surrounded by other people there is this gnawing sense of isolation. Being in the presence of other people is like craving a steak and having to settle for beef jerky. Yeah, it staves off the hunger, but I’m left completely unsatisfied.
I never expected it to be like this, working my ass off to get two degrees in six years, tethered to my phone, waiting for calls and texts, which result in me getting pissed off because I don’t want a call, I want the girl. I’m grasping at the threads that hold us together but we’re unraveling fast, it’s slipping through my fingers.
One concept that my parents drilled when I was a kid was if something is important, you’ll make happen, and if you can’t make it happen, you’ll make an excuse why it didn’t happen. The last couple of months I’ve been full of excuses, anything to justify the black thoughts that are casting all kind of doubts about my relationship. As petty, as it sounds, I’m not ready to let Sin go even though I’m not sure that I want to stay.
I blow out a long breath and writhe in my car seat. It is time to shit or get off the pot. I’ve done enough contemplating and bargaining. I step out of the car tossing my keys to the valet attendant.
“Welcome back Mr. Johnson.”
I walk into the casino that my family has owned for the last three generations, the dated gold walls, and opulent chandeliers more familiar to me than my home. I easily slip into the role of the happy-go-lucky guy, speaking to people that have worked here since I was a kid visiting my father’s office. I push the uncertainty so deep that I no longer feel anything as I walk into the bar and Tina waves her hand to get my attention.
I glance at the blonde sitting across from me at the table and attempt to ignore the cell phone that is vibrating in my pocket for the umpteenth time in the last couple of hours. I don’t need to look at the screen to know who it is or how the other end of the conversation is going to turn out. No, I’m not a mind reader, but it’s always the same. It goes something like:
Sin: Hey babe how are you doing?
More often than not, her naturally raspy voice will be hoarse from trying to sing in noisy bars that are smoke filled and have jacked up sound systems.
Me: You know the same old shit different day.
She’ll pause after this, and if I close my eyes, I can picture her biting the inside of her lip in uncertainty or confusion. Between the two of us, she is the more reserved. I guess you could even describe her as shy, which is one hell of an oxymoron considering that she entertains for a living. Her response will be stilted, long pauses followed by short bursts of words.
Sin: It’s been super crazy out here, or I’m so tired, or I had a super good show, or this show sucked.
Insert any variation there but the conversation follows a specific outline and cadence, and I hate everything about it.
Me: Oh really? You should get some rest or Congrats, or I’m sorry.
My response is just as scripted, and I hate that too. There used to be a time where we would talk for hours about anything and everything. I’d get every detail of the road trip sprinkled with little anecdotes about the oddball characters that she'd met along the way. But somewhere in there, it devolved into this obligatory foreign exchange of words where nothing is said, and the distance between us is way more than miles.
“Jake, are you listening to me?” Tina, the blonde-haired woman across from me, asks.
I hear the statement, but in general, no, I am not listening to the bullshit pouring out of her mouth. Our families have been friends since before we were born, so if I wanted the gossip about who is sleeping with whom or the flip side which would be who is fighting whom I’d get that from my mother or my sister. As it stands, I have no interest in knowing the ins and outs of Vegas’ elite families. It’s the same stories played out again and again. The families and drama surprisingly remain the same, it’s like each generation receives a step-by-step handbook on how to engage in bullshit and nonsense.
“Absolutely.” I smile making sure to look her directly in the eyes.
I usually try to avoid in-depth looks because if she looks close enough, she won’t like what she sees. And maybe I'm afraid to see my own disgust reflected in her eyes. However, in this instance, her answering smile, which is stunning really, confirms that my façade is securely in place.
I objectively run my eyes down her body. She has the sophisticated blonde thing in spades if that’s your taste. Icy blue eyes with dark lashes, flawless pale skin, bright red lips, big tits, narrow waist, legs that go on for days. No man in his right mind would throw her out of bed. And I am a man losing his mind.
She slides a hand across my knuckles, and I have to resist the urge to snatch it away. Her touch is not the one that I crave. Her hand is soft, nails perfectly manicured, palm a little on the moist side, and when we’re talking hands, moist isn’t necessarily a good thing. The hands I'm used to have callouses on the fingertips from playing guitar, and the fingers are long and thin.
Sometimes the nails are obnoxiously long and broken at varying lengths because she’s snagged them on a string or hit the mic at the wrong angle and they are dry. Always dry. Like the wood from the instrument sucks all the moisture away.
Tina flips her hair with a toss of her head. The light catches on the blonde strands, and I swear it looks like gold shimmering over her shoulder. There is no mistaking that she is a beautiful woman.
She knows it.
I know it.
Every person in this room knows it, but there’s something superficial about her. Or maybe calculated would be a better word.
From the top of her head down to the bottom of her designer shoes, Tina has cultivated herself to be a living breathing fantasy. And right now I need the illusion. Reality is a thousand miles away slipping through my fingers, and I have no idea of how to rein it in. Reality is on a tour bus with four men one of whom I know has a thing for her despite what either one of them says. Reality is out in the world pursuing dreams that are taking her farther from home and me.
I swirl the drink in my glass and take a swig straining the brown liquid through my teeth. The more I drink, the easier it is to sink into the fantasy. The first time it happened I woke up and scrubbed my skin until it was raw. I still had the taste of lipstick on my mouth and the cloying smell of perfume mixing with the liquor evaporating from my pores. And the guilt made me physically ill.
But here’s the thing. The further away I got from reality the more comfortable it got to fantasize, to pretend that my world was narrowed down to the beautiful blonde staring at me with fuck me eyes and a body made for every kind of misdeed.
The rest of our night plays out agonizingly predictable. Lukewarm feelings on my part that become warmer the more drinks I have. Over the top flirtation on her part accentuated with more mindless conversation and uncomfortable not so subtle touches. We stumble into my house in the middle of the night leaving a trail of clothes on our way to the bed. Tina crawls across the mattress lying on her back, legs bent at the knee, hand traveling down her belly to dip between her folds. I’m still standing at the end of the bed watching her display with an almost crushing ambivalence. Why am I here? My dick might have twitched behind my zipper at the sight of a beautiful woman spread eagle in front of me like a buffet but shouldn’t it be beating down the damn door to get at this girl?
“Oh…oh Jake” Her eyes meet mine across the divide as her fingers move at furious pace working her clit over. I take the phone out of my pocket and set it on the bedside table. My pants drop to the floor as I stroke my length trying to accomplish what her carnal display could not, as soon as I approach my phone rings loud and shrill into the quiet house, the screen lighting up the room and my body stills.
There is only one person that would be calling me at this time of night. And as irrational as it may be resentment spurs me toward the woman in my bed. The person that should be here is elsewhere, on the road, pursuing her dreams. Well, I’m pursuing my dreams too.
After Tina rolls on her side to sleep, I slip out of her arms, grab my phone, go into the bathroom, and close the door behind me. Sin didn’t leave a message when she called, but I read a text
Sin: Hey babe. I tried to call, but u must be busy or asleep. How u doin? Miss u like crazy. See u sooner rather than later!! heart you <muah>
She attached a selfie where she’s throwing up devil horns sticking out her tongue, and for a moment I’m reminded how good reality can be and how big of an asshole I am. I have the perfect girl. She has soulful brown eyes that are so expressive catching her gaze is like reading volumes of poetry, with skin the color of silky cinnamon. Sinclair James and I shouldn’t work. We come from different places and speak different languages but, when stripped of those differences, we are the same in all the ways that count. She is the thing around which all others revolve. She does it for me on every level with one huge exception. She’s never here. Her stops at home are getting fewer and farther every time she goes out. We’ve been on a collision course for a year now, or at least I’ve been moving that way.
From the moment I saw Sin she was mine. It was seriously that simple. We never really dated or had one of those big, sit down, conversations about where we were going, or what titles we would bestow upon each other. It was like there was me then it just became us. I didn’t have to think about it. Being with Sin came as natural as breathing air until I started to drown.