Wow. That's all I can really say. This story has been an insane rollercoaster ride for me, and now that it's over, I don't really know what to say. This is the first story I have ever finished, and there's no one to thank but you guys. You are all very encouraging and you have inspired me to keep going and to push through the writer's blocks. You are all amazing. And to the people who are actually in my story, thank you for being an amazing part of my life, so much so that you be characters in a fictional story. These names may be fictional, but the way you have impacted me is very, very real. Thank you every one on FictionPress who supported me.
I am working on Blood Rush now, and I'm going to start writing The Black And White Affair again, as well as another story or two, maybe, if time and creativity permits. Just because this story is over, I hope you all won't stop reading and encouraging me! I couldn't get this far without you!
Thank you all so much!
Alex had promised.
But three years later, Keri still woke up alone. She still attended the same crappy community college two miles away from the same little Victorian house with the same crappy lawn beneath the same turquoise curtains. Everything was the same. The only thing that was different now was that Keri woke up alone. It was the most aching feeling. She felt like her gut was wrenching itself around a cactus. Even as she slept, she didn't dream, knowing that no one would be there for her when she opened her eyes. It was an empty, hollow feeling. Especially when Alex had promised.
Touring had been a tough lifestyle. He was gone for months or weeks at a time, back for a few, then gone again, being the successful musician he dreamed of being. Keri was still going to school and she couldn't always have been with him. She had been with him before on tour, though, but it'd been an infuriating experience, with all the fan girls that wanted to jump into Alex's pants. He was polite to them, fending them off as gently as he could, but it still ground Keri's bones. It was difficult keeping her cool all the time, seeing those Barbie girls all up in her boyfriend's personal bubble. Little Less Obvious was big now – as she had always said they would be – with one full length album and their second coming out tomorrow. Tomorrow was their debut show back in the Vanity Ballroom. It meant that Alex was here. But he wasn't here.
Keri's hand swept the empty space beside her, hoping to feel her boyfriend's familiar presence. But the sheets beside her were cold. Keri had honestly thought—
"Wrrraaaaah!" yelled a voice and Keri didn't have time to roll out of the way before an immense weight crashed down on top of her. Dark hair fell into her face, tickling her nose. She'd need to get used to that. "Hello, Ker-bear. It's morning time and time to wake up."
Keri laughed, attempting to lift her arms to push Alex off her, but to no avail. He was still a lot stronger than she was. Not to mention that his arms were pressed on top of hers, pinning her to the mattress. Alex's newly darkened hair – he had dyed it two days ago – shook with his laughter. "Get off me, fat ass," she breathed, struggling beneath him.
"I made you breakfast downstairs, BB," Alex said proudly, ignoring her.
Keri grinned. "Cheerios today?"
"Hey, fuck you," Alex said, pretending to sound hurt. "Cocoa Pebbles." Keri burst out laughing. Three years later, and Alex still couldn't cook. "And toast!" he added triumphantly, making a pouty face.
Keri sniffed the air and raised an eyebrow. "Smells burned."
"You shut up," Keri laughed, scrunching her nose up at him.
"We can both shut up," Alex suggested, and then captured her lips in a kiss. His mouth moved with hers in an unheard choreography, both rehearsed and performed for the past three years they had been together. He pulled back and kissed her nose. "You coming to my show tonight, right?"
Keri nodded. "I always go to your shows, don't I?"
She laughed. "What would make you think differently?"
Alex shrugged and looked uneasy. "I don't know. Just thought you wouldn't watch us since you've seen us so many times already. I don't know why you'd want to go. I don't know." There was a pang in Keri's chest like the sound of a wooden spoon crashing against a pot. She saw the lie in Alex's eyes. She knew him too well not to see it.
But she also knew him too well to act on what she saw. "Oh," she said, laughing slightly, hoping it didn't sound as empty as she suddenly felt. "Well, I'll be there. Unless you don't want me to."
Alex seemed to panic. "Oh, no, no, I want you there. Don't worry."
"Mm, okay," Keri said, shrugging slightly. She took a deep breath. "Alex, I just wanted to thank you for being here." He looked confused, but didn't say anything, so Keri kept talking. "You know, staying with me even though you're on tour and being faithful and honest with me. I know that I worry a lot about those girls on tour and I know I can get frustrating, but thank you for sticking with me and keeping to your promise. I really do hate it when you're away and I just wish we could spend more time together because it feels like we haven't been. I appreciate you, Alex, I really do and I would be devastated if anything ever happened to our relationship. You mean so much to me; I just wanted you to know that."
Alex paused for a moment, and then smiled slightly. "That was embarrassing for you, wasn't it?"
Keri laughed a little. "Sort of. You know I'm not really into mushy stuff."
"I know," he agreed. "That's my part."
"I love you."
Alex usually would have said it back, but this time, he just smiled, and rolled off her. "C'mon, BB, let's go eat breakfast, okay? Get dressed before your cereal gets soggy. I have to leave a little early today to rehearse one more time before the show tonight."
Keri sat up, holding the sheets around herself still. She felt emptier now than she did when she woke up alone. "Okay. I'll be down in a little while."
Alex smiled slightly and stepped out of the room, leaving Keri alone again.
"He's going to break up with me," Keri whispered to her brother before their show. Little Less Obvious was a little more popular; they had an opening band this time, lounging somewhere in the bar for their meet and greet, or backstage calming down before their set. Keri was perched a top one of the old speakers, her converses dangling above the ground.
"Alex?" Kevin asked incredulously, raising an eyebrow. "You've been with the guy for three years, Ker."
"I know, but he's acting weird," Keri said quietly, brushing her hair behind her ears. She felt heat come to her eyes with the thought of losing Alex. She wasn't the mushy type, but she did love Alex deeply. She was only twenty-one, sure, but she loved Alex. She couldn't see herself being complete without him. Even when he was on tour for three weeks, it was difficult. Keri had never gotten used to it. She had never told him, of course, for fear that he would think she was too clingy, or too worried that he would leave her. She couldn't get used to weeks; how could she do a lifetime? "He didn't tell me he loved me today."
Kevin scoffed, skeptical. "Just because he didn't say it, doesn't mean that he doesn't feel it. You of all people should know that, sis. Why the hell would Alex break up with you anyway? He fuckin' loves you to death. He worked for a whole year to get you to love him back. I doubt being together would make that feeling go away."
"I don't know," Keri said, still not believing her twin brother. "You and Rochelle were together for four years."
"Rochelle got sick," Kevin said, chuckling. "We both moved on."
"I don't want to move on."
"I didn't say you were going to. Just trust Alex, okay? He's not going to dump you. He's loved you too long for the thought to even cross my mind."
But Keri didn't seem to really be hearing him. "Has he ever said he wanted to break up with me? You know, on tour when we would get into fights?"
Kevin shook his head. "Nope. He's sworn a lot and attempted to punch things, and cried like a little baby, but he's never said he wanted to dump you, even when he was unbelievably pissed. That's just Alex. He loves you. When you two got into fights, he just punched pillows because he can't punch anything else without hurting himself."
Keri laughed. That did sound like the Alex she knew. "You really think he'll stay with me?"
Kevin scoffed again. "Yeah, I'm pretty fuckin' sure he'll stay with you. Maybe he was having an off day or something; nervous for our album performance or whatever. He'll probably talk to you about it later. That's what he always does, right? He waits a shit load of a long time and then he goes and talks when he has the right words. Alex isn't as impulsive as you think."
"Yeah," Keri agreed half-heartedly.
Kevin glanced out to the stage, seeing people starting to pile in. He grinned at his sister. "That's my cue. Meet and Greet time," he said, hopping off the speaker. He held out his arms, and Keri hugged him tightly. "It'll be all right, Ker. Alex isn't going to leave you."
"Okay," she said, still not really convinced. She would believe it when she saw it.
"Hey, you," said a familiar voice. "Three years later and going to Little Less Obvious shows, huh?"
"Speak for yourself, you slut," Keri shot back on reflex, her expression brightening as she saw Bella. Bella had dropped out of college to go on tour with the boys. She took online classes, but no longer attended the community college. She and Patrick had gone through some rough terrain on tour, breaking up multiple times due to the fact that Bella had become more involved with Brandon than Patrick would have liked. But they were together at the moment. Keri wondered how long this one would last before Patrick attempted to leave her again.
Bella and Keri hugged – they were still close friends, despite the fact that she was on tour with the boys often. Cody still designed the Little Less Obvious shirts, but she had gone off to RISD to further her art skills. A lot of things were the same, and yet, so very different.
"The first band should be coming on soon," Bella said, craning her neck to see the stage, where the band was setting up. She glanced back at her friend. "You okay, Ker? You look like you're going to shit yourself. And I mean that in a bad way."
"I'm okay," Keri assured her. "Just a little uneasy, I guess."
Bella's inhaled quietly, but sharply, and Keri heard it. It was performed in the same context one would do when one knows something one should not be knowing. It didn't set Keri's heart at ease. But then again, how could her heart settle when she knew it was about to be shattered? It couldn't be done. "What is it?" she asked.
"What is what?" Bella replied, raising both eyebrows in inquiry.
"Alex is your…boyfriend?" Bella said as though unsure about what her answer was supposed to be. But before Keri could press further, the first band introduced themselves, jumping into their first song. They were a good band, rousing the crowd and getting them moving together, the sea of bodies that Keri normally enjoyed being a part of. But Keri couldn't focus on that now, not with Alex's performance coming up, and the deafening sound of her heart racing. It couldn't be over. Forever hadn't even begun. And Alex had promised.
Forty minutes was over before Keri could even calm her mind down to count to forty. Alex was backstage, strapping on his turquoise Stratocaster that he started – and ended – all his shows with. It was his tradition, something to look forward to starting and ending with. "Album show tonight," he said, flashing Keri's favourite grin as he caught up with her backstage.
"Album show," she repeated, retreating from the auto-pilot responses she had pulled for the past forty minutes. "Good luck, Alex."
"BB, can you go in the crowd?" Alex asked, his big brown eyes boring into hers. He normally liked that she was backstage. He snuck glances at her and tossed her little winks and corners of his smirks when she was behind the curtains. Keri didn't want to go in the crowd; she would be another ghostly apparition that he couldn't put a face to.
But Keri couldn't say no. "Yeah, sure."
Alex grinned and kissed the corner of her lips. "Okay. I want you to vibe with this one, okay? To feel the music, like I know you do."
"Yeah," Keri said, hopping off the speakers. "I love you."
Alex smiled. "And I, you."
It wasn't enough. It didn't sound the same. Keri just nodded, and slipped out of the door that lead to the audience, who were already crowded against the stage, pushing and shoving as Nick plucked bass notes and Patrick slapped a beat on the cymbals for warm up.
"What up, homes?" Alex shouted as he appeared from behind the curtains. The crowd screamed. Alex loved it. It was how he started every show. He grinned at the sea of people. "You are all looking very beautiful tonight. Before we start, I'd like to thank Aeryn Javier, her daddy-kins, and the Vanity Ballroom for letting Little Less Obvious perform here tonight." The crowd reacted the way Alex was used to: with a ridiculous volume.
He chuckled as he set up in front of his microphone, Kevin playing a familiar melody on his guitar. Keri couldn't help but smile. "I spend my nights alone, and my days waiting," Alex sang eyes casting the crowd a cursory glance. Little Love was her second favourite song, right below BB.
So Keri moved with the crowd. She couldn't beat them, she couldn't fight them, so she might as well have joined them, swaying with the music. The bass and drum set throbbed in her chest, fusing with her heartbeat and becoming the essence of the organ that pumped blood and adrenaline through her veins. Kevin's guitar puppeteered her limbs and her jumps, Alex's voice the very air she breathed. Four people, four parts, one body: Keri's. She couldn't remember vibing like this for the longest time; she spent most shows backstage, giggling at Alex when he would sneak glances at her.
He played his normal array of songs, starting with Little Love and going into a cover or two that Keri loved – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, especially – and then going back into the band's first album songs, and their singles from their second album release. Keri moved with each one, singing at the top of her lungs. She ignored the fact that Alex couldn't see her through the blinding lights. He looked just as amazing up there now as he did three years ago.
"This last song is a song I wrote for someone very special to me," Alex breathed into the microphone. He took a swig of water, splashing the rest of the bottle onto the people in the audience, who screamed and laughed. He swept his sweaty hair out of his eyes. "Oh, wait, I forgot to mention that I dyed my fuckin' hair. I look all emo and shit like I cut myself in the dark and bleed black, but I like it. I feel like a fucking bad ass. Emo people are fuckin' great." The crowd erupted in laughter and applause. Even Keri couldn't help but giggle. She liked Alex's new hair, despite the fact that it was something new. It contrasted nicely with his light skin.
"So as I was saying, this last song is something I wrote for someone very, very special to me; I think you all know the title of it," he laughed.
"BB!" cried the crowd, followed by hoots and cheers.
"Fuck, yeah. She's in the crowd, somewhere. I want her to move with this. She deserves it. Don't hurt her, or I'll eat all your faces."
Keri giggled as Alex started singing her song. It still touched her heart, despite the fact that she had literally heard it almost a thousand times from the times she played it in her room when Alex was away, to when she saw videos of him playing it on tour. He always announced that he was playing BB the same way he always did: "This last song is a song I wrote for someone very special to me." It made Keri's heart shine. Except now, it was a little dimmer. It was the last time she was going to hear it like that. There was no use avoiding the inevitable.
"Can Keri come on stage?" Alex said into the microphone, sweeping his sweaty hair from his face again. "BB, can you come on stage?"
Keri shoved her way to the front of the crowd and held her hands up. Kevin and Alex grabbed an arm and hoisted her onto the platform. "I'm sorry," she mouthed. Alex couldn't hear her, so he handed her the microphone. She giggled slightly. "I'm sorry, I look like crap." She brushed her tangled locks from her face. The adrenaline rush was still pumping. She didn't know what to expect.
Alex stole Kevin's microphone. "Because you've been moshing like a beast," he laughed. He turned back to the audience. "I wanted to save this talk for after the show, but I would feel like a douche bag if I did," Alex said, his voice sounding solemn. As though one person, the crowd silenced to almost nothing. If a pin – a very, very, very large pin – were to drop, the entire room could probably hear it.
"I'm sorry, Ker," Alex mouthed. Swinging off his guitar and placing it on the stage, he turned back to the sea of people, like he couldn't look at her, and opened his mouth to speak. "I usually lie awake in the mornings, watching my girlfriend of three years, Keri D, sleep, thinking about how beautiful she looks when she sleeps. And then, I make her breakfast, and jump on the bed like a five-year-old, thinking about how equally beautiful my girlfriend looks when she's awake. But then I realized I don't want her to be my girlfriend anymore."
Keri's heart stopped. Why was he doing this here? He was dumping her in front of all his fans; he could have done this on the side. Keri shot a glance backstage at Bella, who looked just as surprised as she was. Keri swallowed the lump in her throat, feeling heat come from behind her eyes. She was seconds away from tears. If Alex wanted to humiliate her, he could have done so differently. He could have done so in the privacy of their own room, not in front of all his fans.
Keri searched Alex's face for some kind of hope, for a sign that he was joking. But she could find none. He looked grave, like a part of him was already soaked in formaldehyde, waiting to be taken away with the hearse. The part of him that belonged with Keri had died; he really didn't want to be with her. His eyes averted hers, his mouth was curved in a frown, his shoulders her slumped. This was happening. It was over. Three years, and it was over.
Keri spun around on her heels towards backstage. She couldn't hear this. She couldn't do this, not in front of all these people. It didn't make sense to stay on stage when the entire crowd already knew what was happening. She lifted a foot to run and never look back.
"I want her to be my wife."
Keri whipped around to face Alex, who was flashing the best looking of his crooked grins she had ever seen. She gasped, her hands flying to her mouth in surprise as she stood, frozen to the stage. Keri would have forgotten about the hundreds of people watching if she hadn't heard them screaming and cheering. She couldn't see much through her tears. She lifted her foot again, but this time to run towards Alex. He held up a finger, gesturing for her to wait. He grinned.
"I have a lot of free time in the morning, because Keri is the heaviest sleeper in the world. So over a long period of time, I've thought about ways to ask my girlfriend to not be my girlfriend and be my wife. I wanted to be original, so I thought, hey, I'm in a fuckin' band, I'll just write her a song and sing it to her. And then I realize that I already did that three years ago when I asked her to be my girlfriend. It'd be old and cliché and I hate cliché. That's pretty cliché in itself, huh?
"So, the song thing. I really wanted to do that. So I thought, and thought, and thought for a really long time, trying to find the right words to tell Keri how much I love her. That I live to wake up and watch her sleep, only for her to call me a creep for watching her, that these past three years have been the best of my life. I wanted a way to tell Keri how much I miss her when I'm on tour, and how I wish that she could be with me. How much I think about her everyday, and how completely insane I am about her, without even knowing why. I wanted to write a song for her, but I realized that million words will never be enough to explain the way I feel about her."
Alex turned to Keri now, smiling. She could see the water in his eyes, too, as he was about to cry. "I know I'm not the best boyfriend sometimes; I'm stubborn and annoying and loud and stupid, but I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you. And I know that I'm young, Keri, I mean, fuck, I'm only twenty-one. I also know that I really do love you, and that I want to spend the rest of my life with you; I can't imagine spending it with anyone else."
He dropped to one knee, pinching something from his pocket and holding it out in front of him. The silver band glimmered in the lights of the stage. "This really isn't as original as I would have hoped," he chuckled. "And I'm pretty sure it's patented, but that's okay, here it goes: Keri, will you marry me?"
Keri tackled him.
"Of course I will, you fucking douche bag!" she cried, sobbing and laughing at the same time as she kissed him. "Don't you ever scare me like that ever again! I almost had a heart attack!"
Alex laughed, lifting Keri off him to slide on the little silver ring. He kissed her lips briefly as the crowd screamed in front of them, a deafening sound as Kevin picked "Here Comes The Bride" laughing and cheering with the rest of the band, and Bella, all of them having known about Alex's proposal before hand.
Keri smiled through her tears, kissing Alex's chin. There was no one in the world that Keri DeGiovanni loved more than Alexander Vidal.