Loose Ends Ch. 01byTangledinYou©
Author's Note: For those of you new to my work: This is the sequel to my other submission 'Gabriel', so if you are a first time reader, and you want to know what inspired this story, check it out and enjoy! Also be sure to check my profile for details on my other published work, as well as any updates concerning them or this story.
To those of you familiar with me: What up! Lol. It's been a crazy bunch of months (check my profile), and life has been interesting. The writing, on the other hand, was going slower than I liked and with things being so busy, I had no idea when I was going to get this out to those of you that were anticipating it. As it stands now, my original plans to publish this are on hold for a bunch of different reasons. I may decide to publish it one day, in which case I would edit it and extend it to make it worth your while. But as of right now, my biggest ambition is for you to read and enjoy it while you wait for my other works to be published. I know that I left you hanging with the end of 'Gabriel'(evil laughter) and I promised you a sequel. So here it is! I'm getting busier by the day, so I can't promise that submissions for this story will be as speedy as they were for my other ones. But if there should be any long term delays due to life and its transitions, I will be sure to update my profile and keep you informed. Thanks and I hope you enjoy 'Loose Ends'!
It was around three o'clock in the morning when Nicole heard her phone ring. Of course, at the time she didn't know it was ringing. She'd been in the middle of a deep dreamless sleep and hadn't realized what that annoying, distant sound was. She figured it out soon enough though, because it wouldn't stop. Still in the incoherent stupor that sleep usually put her in, she tried to block out the noise by throwing her pillow over her head, ignoring that niggling voice of common sense that said a phone call this late could be about something important.
It kept ringing until finally, a gruff masculine voice next to her said, "Nicole, get the...Who the fuck could be calling..."
She heard a deep sigh, felt the bed shift and a warm body stretch across her back. Then the ringing stopped.
"Hello?" his rough gravelly voice said in greeting. There was silence for a long moment, then a huff and the words, "Yeah, hold on a minute. Nicole?" He shoved her shoulder twice. "Nicole, wake up. It's for you."
His next words brought her into full consciousness.
"Some..." a sneak attack yawn interrupted him, and then he said, "Some dude named Gabriel. Says it's important."
Nicole's head peeked out from underneath the pillow so fast that Travis blinked in sleepy surprise under his mused black hair. She wiped a hand over her face, pushing her hair out of her eyes, and sat up on her elbows to take the phone. She was embarrassed by how excited she must look, which was reflected in the look Travis gave her as he handed her the receiver, but she would have to worry about that later. What if something horrible had happened? Gabriel wasn't known for calling her in the middle of the night for something unimportant. That's what emails were for. So, she felt a certain amount of trepidation when she took the phone and said, "Gabe? Is everything okay?"
"Hey Nicole! I'm so sorry I'm calling this late!" he yelled. She immediately sat upright her heart beating in her chest. Gabriel's voice always had that effect on her.
About a year and a half had gone by since that incredible, sex-filled week when she visited her sister and he caught her masturbating on his bed. In that time she'd graduated college, moved closer to her sister Jackie, and gotten a job. But when it came to him, nothing had changed. She was still the girl that found herself getting wet at just the mere sound of his raspy voice, the girl that had yet to find a man that measured up to him. They'd managed to keep in touch, even after he moved out of her sister's place to start really pursuing a music career full time. When they could, when he and his band were playing a gig that she could make, or when he was in town for a while, they would get together and see just how much their bodies were still in sync. But the reality was that they were on two separate paths and a real relationship wasn't going to work. They'd never talked about it too in depth, since technically they were never a real couple. But, they both agreed it was the right decision to keep things from getting too heavy.
That didn't mean it hurt any less for her.
In the time since their strange quasi breakup, he'd set his sights on traveling and making music, which he and his band Fool The World had really started to do just a few months before she finished her last year of college. They'd mostly produced their own music, with the help of connections that he and the drummer, Davy Nuke, had made in college and beyond. A MySpace page, some successful touring, a few demos and mp3s later, and the band was well on its way to being recognized by people on the indie music circuit. And as biased as she was because she was carrying a torch for their lead guitarist, she'd be the first to admit that they were more than good enough to deserve the attention. All of that was good news, even if it took him away from her.
But, now she was up in the middle of the night listening to Gabriel's strained, excited voice and she was afraid something was wrong, despite her happiness at hearing his voice. It had been months since they'd been in the same city, let alone gotten to spend time with each other, so anytime she heard his voice on the phone she felt giddy.
There was commotion on the other line and she could hear him walking, could hear the sound of wind whooshing through the phone. Once again he apologized for waking her and she felt her heart thumping with anxiety.
"No, Gabriel, it's fine, but what's going on? Did something bad happen?" she asked.
"No, no! Nothing like that, sweetheart," he said in that deep, raspy voice, and the familiar term of endearment sent a rush of warmth over her skin. "It's all good news, but I couldn't wait to tell you till tomorrow."
The bedside lamp clicked on at the other side of the bed. She turned around quickly to find Travis, who was truly nothing more than a friend with benefits, staring at her with those dark blue eyes and giving her a look that clearly said, "Who the fuck is Gabriel? And why is he calling at..." he stared at the clock, "three o'clock in the morning?"
Nicole said, "Hold on a sec, Gabe, I gotta go in the other room." To Travis she said, "He's a really good friend, I'm sorry, it won't take long, so you can go back to sleep."
The look on Travis' face made her think his mind must be channeling Biz Markie. "But you say he's just a friend/And you say he's just a friend!"
She made sure he couldn't see or hear her then she sighed and rolled her eyes as she padded into the living room. Travis was sweet, but he wasn't her serious boyfriend. They had an understanding that had been similar to her and Gabriel's, thought not nearly as intense. In fact, this was only the fourth time they'd slept together, and though it was good, and Travis was a guy she enjoyed spending time with, it never once occurred to her that they could be anything but the occasional distraction. It was new territory for her. She'd always had a serious boyfriend, as shitty as some of them were, before she got caught in the strange whirlwind that was Gabriel Roberts. But after months apart and no sign of real progression in sight for them, she convinced herself that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to branch out to more available men.
Finding available men that didn't make her want to join a nunnery was another matter. Travis was the first guy to not push for her to be his girl, or make her feel like having sex with him would leave her feeling used and dirty. Which was why he was the only guy she'd slept with since Gabriel. He was up for whatever when she called and asked to hang out, and she returned the favor. It wasn't always a call to have sex, but when it was they were safe, and when it was over, they could still go out and get a beer. It was a comfortable arrangement, until he started looking at her recently like he was right now, or asking her cryptic questions about whether or not she was dating anyone else. It didn't matter that she wasn't; that wasn't what she was looking for after her long string of bad male decisions.
She knew that look, and she knew what it sounded like when someone was forcing themselves to sound casual; it was the way she looked when she looked at Gabriel, the way she sounded when she "casually" asked him who he was seeing now. She needed to get away from that look in Travis' eyes so she could concentrate on the person calling her, the person whose voice still sent pulses of heat all over her body, without feeling guilty.
"Hey, sorry about that," she said stifling a yawn and rubbing at her eyes.
"Did I interrupt...you know, you and the guy that picked up the phone?" he asked, his raspy voice more sedate now. She heard him clear his throat on the other end. One of his few nervous ticks.
She nibbled at her lip and spared a glance over her shoulder, as if she expected to see Travis standing there and watching her. The golden lamplight from her room was shining into the hallway, but that was the only indication she had that he was still awake and possibly listening to her.
"Um...yeah, I mean, no. We were asleep but...it's okay. What's going on?"
She heard silence for a moment, and then, "I'm sorry I... sorry I woke you guys up. I wasn't even thinking straight. Typical, right, but I wanted to – "
There was the sound of loud voices cheering in the background that muffled out part of his statement and made him laugh. The sound sent an involuntary shiver through her body, as if she had recorded his laugh into the very marrow of her bones.
"Are you celebrating something?" she said with a weary laugh. Then her sleep deprived brain froze, and she processed another alternative to his reasons for calling. It wasn't bad news. He was obviously calling after a show from the sound of all the commotion, and the voice of Jonny Beckett, the lead singer, was in the background along with some girls that were giggling like giggles were going out of style.
"Yeah, we are" he said, the excitement in his voice returning full force. "A music exec for Phantom Records saw us play tonight. He said he was feelin' our music and he wants to meet with us at the end of the week. Do you know what that means?!"
She couldn't speak, her brain was having trouble functioning. Phantom was an indie label a lot of their favorite bands were on. She used to lie against him in bed after he moved out of Jackie's, listening to the music of bands that Phantom execs had gone to see one night and plucked out of obscurity. Was he talking about a record contract, a chance to be one of those success stories?
"Are you saying...?"
"He wants to sign us, Nic! We meet him and the heads of the label this Thursday and if everything goes the way it supposed to with the contract – "
"Are you kidding me?" Even before she could speak her face was breaking into an exuberant smile. "Are you fucking kidding me!?
"Nah, sweetheart! Fool The World is gonna have a fucking record deal!"
"Oh my God! Oh my God!!" she screamed into the phone, jumping up and down, squealing and listening to the sound of his laughter on the other end, completely oblivious to anything else in the world.
"Look, I know it's late and all, and I'm sorry, but I couldn't wait to tell you. Just couldn't wait." The soft edge in his voice, made her heartbeat stutter in her chest. "You were the first person I thought of – well you and Jackie and Ian, but she'd of kicked my ass if I called her this late," he quipped with a chuckle.
She wished she could wrap her arms around him and show him just how happy she was for him. She wished could say something more eloquent than "Oh my God". She wished she could feel him pressed against her. She wished she could hear his voice because his lips were by her ear, and not because they were in the receiver of a phone. She wished she could taste his mouth, his neck, his chest, lick and nibble her way down those twin tribal tattoos on his sides...
She hated going down that line of thought. It was bad enough that she still fantasized about him, but to know that it wasn't meant to be and that she still felt as strongly as ever made it hard. She wished that she could just forget him sometimes, that Travis or someone else could be enough. But just when she started getting used to the idea that they weren't going to be together, he would call, he would come into town, or she would listen to one of his songs and think of him. She would find herself transported back to the times that they'd hooked up, and then back to that one glorious week where she'd had him all to herself, a secret tucked away. But it didn't do any good to think about that kind of thing now, so she forced herself to listen to him, to cheer him on as he talked about continuing to move on without her.
"I'm so ecstatic for you and the guys, Gabriel. You have no idea. I can't wait till you get it down in writing so I can start bragging about how I know a bunch of rock stars. I'm going to have to tell all my friends. They're gonna freak!"
He laughed, started to say something, and once again his words were blocked out by the background noise.
"Can't even fucking hear myself think!" he grumbled good-naturedly. "Listen, we're gonna be back in town in a couple days so we can get ready to meet with the label. If you're not busy we could meet up," he paused and again cleared his throat. "You can bring your boyfriend, unless you've got plans or some–"
"Oh, no Travis isn't my boyfriend." she said quickly, wincing at the excitement in her voice and how she must have been loud enough for Travis to hear it. "We're just...we're just friends." She wasn't exactly sure how to explain why a male friend was lying in bed with her when he called, so she decided to hop right over that awkward explanation. "I'm not busy this week. I can see you whenever you get back and you can tell me everything."
"Cool," he said, and once again she found her body thrumming. It was rare that she got to see him, but when she did, she knew there was a good chance that she would get to feel him inside of her again.
"I'll give you a call, we'll go out and eat or something, really celebrate and catch up. Just the two of us."
"Okay," she managed to whisper, swallowing hard. She almost groaned at the prospect of spending an entire evening with him for the first time in months. She hadn't realized how much she missed seeing him face to face until that very moment. "Congratulations, babe. I'm so, so proud of you."
He yelled his thanks over the ruckus around him, laughing. "I'll let you get some sleep. Night, Nicole."
She smiled softly and said, "Night, Gabriel."
She clicked the phone off, cradling it against the butterflies in her stomach and processing his voice, his great news, and the fact that in a few days she'd be able to show him just how happy she was for him. Then she heard a zipper and turned.
Travis was leaning against the doorjamb, zipping up his jacket and grabbing his motorcycle helmet off the floor. She was going to ask him why he was leaving, if he was upset, but the look in his eyes made her not even bother. It was obvious he'd been listening to her conversation. She didn't blame him for not wanting to play second fiddle and spend the night.
He was still sweet. He still gave her a kiss and told her to call him whenever. But when he left she couldn't help but feel that hollow sense of defeat. Travis was the kind of guy a girl was lucky to actually date, and here she was pining for a voice on the other end of the phone. A voice couldn't keep her warm at night. A voice on the phone couldn't hold her and make her feel safe and special, not in the way she wanted to feel.
But, it wasn't just anyone's voice. It was Gabriel's; that voice carried the memories of nights when he had kept her warm, when he'd made her feel like the sexiest and most beautiful woman in the world. That was too hard to let go of, even when holding on caused her to watch a good guy's back as he closed the door on what might have been.
Gabriel, was leaning against Nicole's apartment door, swiveling his phone in his hands before finally tucking it into his jacket pocket. He was waiting for Nicole, who was running late for their night of live music and good food at a nearby club. She'd called about a half hour ago to apologize for running late at work, but he hadn't been upset. Having worked in the thankless world of retail himself, he knew that sometimes customers decided to come in five minutes before closing and stay as long as they damn well pleased. A smile crossed his face at that thought, at how far he'd come from those days and how, if things went the way they were supposed to, the band wouldn't have to worry about that ever again.
He looked up, and turned his head to the left, seeing a couple come down the hallway towards him. He'd seen the guy a couple of times when he visited Nicole, and he gave him a nod and a smile. The guy nodded in return and then turned his attention back to his smiling girlfriend. He had his arm around her waist, pulling her in close while she wrapped her arm around him, too. He was in the middle of some joke that Gabriel hadn't caught the beginning of, and the girl laughed and told him he was so stupid. The sight hit him in his chest and a dull ache set in.
It had been a while since he'd had a girlfriend. In fact, he hadn't dated anyone exclusively since his strange sort-of break up with Nicole about a year ago. Too much time on the road, too many gigs, too many songs to write. It kept them apart, and it was for the best. They couldn't be anything stable to one another, no matter how good the sex was, or how much he loved being with her. But that didn't mean he didn't miss the feeling of wrapping his arms around her waist, kissing her, or hearing her laugh at his inside jokes.
He sighed, and titled his head back, staring at the ceiling. If he were honest, things hadn't worked out with Nicole because of a tragic case of bad timing. After that week of fucking non-stop, she went back to school and he decided he could not spend one more year helping people get jobs as an employment recruiter, while he hated his so much it hurt to get up in the morning. Fool The World got a manger soon after that and they started playing more gigs. They recorded a demo CD because their drummer, Davy Nuke, had a friend from college that was producing decent tracks out of the studio in his house.
Things fell into place while she was away at school. When she would finally be able to visit, he'd usually be touring again. A few times she met him on the road when they started playing shows farther away from home. But, when she finished school, he was already touring with the band non stop, practically living in motels or on a tour bus. That wasn't fair to her. She deserved to have someone that was there to hold her at night, not just fuck her good when he was in town. She deserved a guy that was going to take care of her, be there for her graduation from college and help her move into her new place when she moved closer to her sister. All of the things he wasn't there for, all the things that still made him feel like shit when he put his clothes on and left her sleeping to go back on the road.
Still, it didn't change the fact that when he was near her all he wanted to do was bury himself balls deep into the sweet, tight fissure between her thighs. It didn't stop him from wanting to touch his lips and tongue to any part of her he could reach, or wrap her up in his arms and hold her when he was done. It was why he was so apprehensive about seeing her again. She was actually seeing someone else. He knew what kind of "friend" picked up her phone that night. He'd been in such shock at hearing his voice that he almost hung up and tried dialing her number again to see if he had called the wrong place. They didn't keep secrets from each other. That's how Gabriel knew that she hadn't been seeing anyone since him. Or at least that's what he'd thought until the other night. As selfish as it was, especially since he'd hooked up with a few girls since he'd been away, he still couldn't help but be unhappy about that fact. It was stupid of him, obviously. As much as he wanted her, it didn't really do them any good to cling to each other and let opportunities with other people pass them by.