Rock the Beginning (Black Falcon Prequel to Rock the Heart)
So this is it? Freshman year. I stand in the pristine hallway of
next to my
best friend Cassandra Lutz as we survey the same faces we see year after year.
Nothing in this town ever changes. I was hoping that I would be wowed in high
school—dramatically swept off my feet on my first day by a dashing
upper-classmen—living the dream of going to the prom as a freshman. Well, at
least it’s a big dream of mine. Cedar Creek
But sadly, I’m disappointed yet again.
I sigh heavily and lean my back against the red locker and squeeze my books tighter against my chest. I can’t wait to get out of here and run off to a big city where I can make something of myself. I’ve always thought a job in advertising sounded fun. Maybe I’ll try that someday.
“Just once I’d love to have some fresh meat in this place,” Cassandra says pulling her brown hair into a loose bun on the top of her head. “I hate knowing everything about these guys. There’s no mystery. None of them do anything surprising.”
I nod in total agreement. “Where are all the guys I read about in books—the ones that know exactly what to say? The first day of school is practically over and nothing remotely exciting has happened yet.”
The moment the words leave my mouth, a crash against the lockers a few feet to my right draws my attention. I suddenly feel the urge to take back the last thing I said. This is not exactly the kind of excitement I was hoping for.
All the kids in the hallway stop dead in their tracks in unison and stare at the scene playing out before us like a bad teen sitcom. Roger Robertson, the guy we all know as the school bully, grips Wendell McFarland, a kid in my grade, by the collar of his shirt. Roger’s large arms twist as he repositions his wrists in order to get a better grip, while he wears a sickening smile on his red, pimple-covered face. Roger isn’t the kind of guy you want to mess with. His temper is about as red-hot as the flaming color of his hair and we all know he’s been held back to the freshman level three times now. If Roger walks down the hallway, you get out of his way or duck for cover. His reputation of assholism precedes him.
I instantly feel sorry for Wendell. His tiny, pencil-like frame is no match for the likes of Roger. “Give it up, you fucking pussy.” I flinch as Roger yanks Wendell forward and slams him back even harder. “Don’t make me tell you again. I know your parents are loaded. Cough up the dough.”
Wendell gasps for air as Roger shoves his knuckles into his throat. “I don’t have any money.”
Another slam and Wendell’s glasses slip down the bridge of his nose. “Cough it up you little shit stain.”
My mouth gapes open and my eyes grow wide. It’s painfully hard to watch. Someone has to stop this.
I glance around. Several of my classmates stand frozen. No one is making a move to stop this outright appalling display of human behavior. This makes me sick. What’s wrong with these people? A desperate need to make this stop fills me.
Before I even realize what I’m doing I take a couple quick steps and open my mouth. “Stop it! Leave him alone!”
It’s like a movie when a hush falls over the crowd. I know this isn’t the smartest move, but I just can’t stand by and do nothing to stop this. And, okay, I know the odds of me being able to stop Roger physically are about as good as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest, but I can’t idly sit by. I wasn’t raised that way.
Cassandra grabs my arm and whispers harshly, “Are you crazy, Lanine? What are you doing?”
I pull my arm from her grip and frown as I take in the fear from her brown eyes. I straighten my stance. I have to appear brave. “Someone has to stop this, Cass.”
Roger’s gaze darts from me to Wendell. His eyes are so brown they almost appear black and the pure venom in them causes my legs to shake. A deep laugh bursts out of his mouth and holds me in place. “What do we have here? Is this your little girlfriend, four-eyes? Is she here to save you?”
“N—no,” Wendell stutters.
No one should be able to get away with treating people like this. “Stop it, Roger!”
Roger flings his gaze at me. “Or what, Shirley Temple? You going to make me?”
I stare down at the pink sun-dress I’m wearing. While very cute for my first day of school, it doesn’t exactly scream badass, but this guy doesn’t know what I’m capable of, so I can’t let him rattle my nerves. “I might. Now, leave him alone.”
Roger sneers while opening his large hands and makes a show of letting Wendell go. As soon as Wendell is free, he takes off running without looking back to make sure I’m not the one getting pounded now.
Thanks for the back-up, Wendell.
The bully turns to me and taps his lip. “Happy now, Shirley? I let him go, but it seems we have a small problem now.”
I lift my chin as Roger stalks towards me with slow steps like a tiger stalking his prey. “What’s that?”
“Someone is going to have to pay me. You see, I need money for a new tire and since you chased my little buddy off who was about to pay for it, I guess that leaves you.” He grins at me in a way a serial killer would right before he murders his victim.
I grip my books tighter and my hands turn clammy. If he comes at me this Geometry book is going to make one hell of a weapon. “Fat chance. I’m not giving you any money.”
He shakes his head as he steps in front of me. “That’s where you’re wrong. Guy, girl…doesn’t matter to me. I’ll still beat you into submission in order to get what I need, and what I need from you is money. You’re going to get that for me. A nice girl like you seems good for it.”
I narrow my eyes. “No, I’m not.”
Roger slaps the books from my hands and leans into me like he’s about to attack, but a voice stops him. “Listen, bitch—”
“Pick those up.” My neighbor and childhood friend, Noel Falcon pushes his way through the crowd. Once he’s through, he narrows his eyes at Roger, daring him to cross him. “Pick those up, or I swear to God you’ll pay.”
The guy in front of me takes a step back and smirks as Noel steps between us, using his body to shield me from Roger. At first I’m scared for Noel’s safety, but I quickly notice he’s nearly an even match for the guy that’s much older than him.
When did he get so tall and buff?
I guess I never noticed Noel’s muscles before. The way they stretch his black t-shirt and how board his shoulders have actually gotten has somehow slipped past me all summer long. Granted, I haven’t seen him as much as I normally do over the summer. Noel magically became busy every time I asked him to come over and go fishing off the dock behind my house like we always did, which was…strange considering we use to spend all of our time together.
His hair grew too. The shaggy hair he sported last school year as he got into rock music would probably touch his shoulders now if he didn’t have it pulled back into a low-set ponytail. I admit, he’s looking pretty good.
Roger straightens his shoulders and rocks his neck like a trained fighter before he sets his eyes on Noel. “You’ll walk away if you know what’s good for you. This is between me and Shirley here.”
Noels fingers fold into fists at his side. “I think you got that backwards, fucker. It’s you that needs to beat it. No one messes with Lane. No one.”
“Brave words. You’re going to wish you’d walked away when I gave you the chance after I beat your face in,” Roger sneers.
“I’ll never walk away from Lane. You fuck with her. You fuck with me.” There’s a growl in Noel’s voice I’ve never heard before. It’s low and threatening. I never knew Noel could be so scary or bad-ass or…hot.
Oh my God. What am I thinking? Noel isn’t hot. Noel is…Noel, my friend—best friend since kindergarten.
I can’t ponder on that last thought too long because Roger’s laugh pulls me out of that bubble. Without warning Roger draws his arm back, launching it full force towards Noel’s face. Two things happen so quick the scream building in my throat doesn’t have time to come out. The first is Noel dodges the blow with ease and blasts Roger in the face first while simultaneously pushing me out of harms way.
I fall to the floor in all the commotion just as Roger tackles Noel and they crash to the ground. At first it appears that Roger has the upper-hand until Noel uses some quick UFC style movements and turns the tables. Noel flips Roger onto his back and straddles him before gripping a handful of Roger’s shirt in his hand and blasts a right hook into the monster red-head’s face.
My mouth gapes open as the boy I’ve known most of my life defends me like no one else ever has.
A hand grips my shoulder and pulls me up off the floor. “Jesus, Lanie. Are you all right?” Cass asks. “Thank God Noel showed up when he did.”
I’m about to agree with her just as the guys roll around in the hallway again and this time Roger’s in control. Hell. No.
This weird urge to protect Noel comes over me. I fling myself on Roger’s back without thinking ahead any further what I would do next. I wrap my arms around his neck and hold on tight. Not getting anywhere, I get desperate and grab a handful of red hair and yank as hard as I can. “Get off him!”
I ignore the distinct sound of tennis shoes scuffling on the tiled hallway as I tighten my grip on his hair. There’s no way I’m letting anyone hurt Noel.
I’m pulled back but I refuse to release my hold on Roger. “Young lady, let him go!”
My head snaps in the direction of lanky man with thinning brown hair I recognize as being my English teacher, Mr. Jones. Then it dawns on me. Oh crap! I’m in deep shit. Dad isn’t going to the let the fact that I’m involved in a fight on the first day of school go without some sort of punishment. There’s always the argument I was helping someone else that was getting bullied, even though that someone ran off and would probably be too scared to side with me against Roger. Surely one of these witnesses would attest to the fact this all began over Wendell and Roger isn’t the innocent victim here.
I loosen my white knuckles and Roger’s hair falls free from my hands. “Crazy bitch,” Roger mumbles under his breath. “Umph!”
I snicker as Noel brings his knee back down from Roger’s groin, shutting him up completely. Roger falls over cupping his crotch in the universal sign that a guy has been nailed in the balls.
Noel stands and kicks Roger in the stomach one time for good measure. “Don’t ever talk to her that way again.”
Mr. Jones sets me on my feet and turns to scolds the boys. “Knock it off and get to the principals office.” I turn to head in the opposite direction, thinking I’m in the clear because I’m a girl. “Not so fast. That means you too.”
I stop dead in my tracks and turn slowly on my heel.
Damn. Can’t blame me for trying.
Noel smoothes his hair back, tucking the loose strands of hair behind his ear. He touches his tongue to the corner of his mouth and I notice the small cut on his bottom lip.
I tilt my head as I examine the rest of his face. “Are you okay?”
He shakes his fingers like he’s trying to get rid of the pain from landing a couple punches to Roger’s thick skull. “I’ll be okay. What about you? I can’t believe you had that in you to attack a guy like that. I haven’t seen you go after someone since the third grade over a Barbie.”
I shrug. “I couldn’t let him hurt you.”
Noel’s eyes search my face and he swallows hard just as he takes a step towards me, nearly bumping his chest into mine. “I know exactly how you feel.”
“Y—you do?” Where is all this nervous energy coming from? I’ve been in a closer proximity many times with Noel. Why does this time feel different—like all the air around us is charged?
“I said get to the office,” Mr. Jones raises his voice causing me to jump and Noel wraps his arms around me. “You two need to get to the office while I finish helping Roger up. Don’t make me tell you again.”
Noel salutes the teacher and I giggle at his new found attitude of anti-authority. I pull away from Noel and turn towards the office. His steps fall in-line with mine and he reaches down, threading his fingers through mine.
He’s held my hand before, but never like this. This moment feels like the beginning of something beautiful.
One Week Later…
The air is cool for a September night in
but my entire body is warm and alive with excitement. Sure, I’ve snuck out of
the house many nights before to meet Noel on this dock for a late night swim
before, but this is different. Things have certainly changed quite a bit over
the last week.
Somehow over the summer we’ve gone from best friends to more. We’ve never really discussed this new territory of hand holding and hugging that we’ve worked our way into or what it means for us exactly. Maybe the subject will come up tonight.
People at school aren’t surprised, I guess. Everyone knows Noel and I are close, so our new bouts of P.D.A don’t raise too many eyebrows.
Doesn’t mean we’re ready to make our parents aware that our long-time friendship has blossomed into more. They’d never let us be along together again.
I tip-toe down the hill to the dock behind my house and allow my eyes to adjust in the moonlight. At the end of the dock Noel leans against the wood railing of the dock with his arms crossed against his chest, waiting for me. I’m not sure what tonight will hold for us, I just know I can’t wait to see what unfolds.
A wide grin stretches across his face the moment our eyes meet. The features on his face are well defined like the new physic he acquired over the summer. His blue eyes shimmer with excitement the moment my feet hit the wood on the dock and my breath catches. Every time I see him now it’s like my heart skips a beat.
I bite my lip and shove my hair behind my ear as Noel reaches his hand out to me. I slide mine into it without hesitation and my stomach flips.
He pulls me into his side. “I wasn’t sure if you were coming.”
I tilt my head. “Of course I was. Have I ever stood you up on this dock before?”
He swallows hard and pinches a lock of my long, brown hair before twirling it around his finger. “No, but things are a little different now, aren’t they?”
I nod and notice my breathing picks up a notch. “About that…what are we doing?”
Noel’s hand trembles a little as he releases my hair and touches my cheek with his fingertips. “I think it’s pretty clear.”
I know exactly what he’s getting at, but I want to hear him say it. “You think so?”
He stands a little straighter and cups my face in his hands while staring into my eyes. “We’re falling in love and finally giving into what fate has planned for us.”
My heart thuds against my ribs. “Are you saying you love me?”
The grin on his face lights up my entire world. “You know I do. I think I’ve loved you since we were five. I’m just the idiot who didn’t realize how much in love I was until this summer when I found myself getting jealous over any guy I caught looking at you. The feeling that you’re meant to be mine won’t leave me, and I don’t know what to do about it or if you even feel the same way.”
“Is that why you stayed away all summer?” I ask.
“Yeah. I was hoping it would go away and we could stay friends, but all that went to hell that first day of school when I saw you and you needed me to help you. I knew then I could never be just your friend. I’m always going to want more with you. I feel like you’re my forever or something.”
Emotions from within me take over and tears well-up in my eyes. “It might’ve taken me a little longer to come to the same conclusion, but I feel exactly the same way.”
Noel’s thumbs trace over my cheeks. “I love you, Lane.”
I smile as a tear falls free from my eye. “I love you too.”
He leans in and presses his lips to mine. My eyes drift shut and I fall into his kiss—fall into him. This is everything I never knew I always wanted. His lips part and mine move in sync with his until he finally slips his tongue in my mouth. This isn’t my first kiss, but it is the first time I’ve ever felt something kissing a boy. It’s like tasting my future and I can picture my entire life in my mind—a life with Noel.
With more skill than I knew we both possessed, we slide down to the floor of the dock without breaking our kiss. I grip hands full of his shirt and he teases the skin on my back just under the hem of my blouse. This is moving entirely too fast, but I can’t find a logical reason in my brain to stop the madness. Being so close to Noel feels incredible and I don’t want it to end.
Noel lies back, pulling me on top of him, allowing me to feel the bulge in his jeans against my thigh.
I’m scared as hell, but the way his lips move against the soft skin on my neck makes it a little less intimidating. “We don’t have to go any further than you’re ready for, Lane.” He says—his breath hot and tempting on my flesh.
I press a feather-light kiss on his cheek. “I love you and I’m ready. We aren’t strangers, and I can’t think of one other person I would rather experience all my firsts with.”
Noel tucks my hair behind my ear. “I want to be your only.”
There’s no fighting against that. That kind of magical romance is something all girls dream about. I’m just lucky I’ve found my prince so soon.
“I want you to be my forever,” I tell him before he crushes his mouth to mine and we head into our forever.
End of Junior Year…
The drums pound out the last few beats of the song and I grin as I look at my band mates. “Yeah! I think we finally nailed it!”
Sam, the drummer taps the high-hat with his drumstick. “Finally! It only took us fifteen tries. You have to stop being such a fucking perfectionist, Noel, or well never have enough of our own songs to make a demo. We can’t keep spending more than a month on one song.”
“We need to have our shit together because after graduation next year we need to get on the road and find paying gigs like we talked about,” I answer and then run my fingers down the thread of the guitar.
“We need to play more covers,”
says, scratching the back of his shaggy head. “That’s what people want to
I stare at the two other guys in the band dumfounded. Sam pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose and glances toward
as they wait on me to say something. Don’t they see that originality is
everything in the music business? Labels want bands that are different. We have
to stand out and be the best.
I shake my head and smooth my dark hair back into my pony tail. “We’re going to practice our own shit until our fingers bleed. We have to be on point if we want a record deal. Don’t you guys want that?”
I open my mouth to protest, but Sam cuts me off. “Leon and I have been talking.”
I narrow my eyes. “About what?”
Sam shoves his fingers through his bright-red hair. “We aren’t going with you after graduation.”
I shake my head. Unbelievable. These two jackasses are supposed to be my best friends—the guys who have the same goal as me. “We’ve talked about this!” I throw my head back and growl. “What the fuck, guys? I thought we were taking Thunder Dome on the road as soon as schools over?”
“Who gives a shit about college, man? We have a great thing going here with this band. We could really be something one day. Don’t you want that?” I argue. Why would anyone pass on the opportunity to become a rock star verses going to college. That’s so fucking lame.
“I know you don’t like it, Noel, but I’m applying to colleges as well. Music will always be there. You should think about going too, and once we get done with school, maybe we’ll try then.” I study the freckles on Sam’s face as he speaks and try not to completely lose my shit while he’s talking.
College will never be an option for me. Never. It takes me five times longer to read something than the rest of the kids in my L.D. class. Having Dyslexia hasn’t been a fucking picnic in high school. Things get so jumbled in my brain and I know there’s no way in hell I can make it through college courses.
I’m so glad Lane and I are on the same page about this.
“Whatever. You guys do whatever you feel like you have to do. I’m going on the road as planned as soon as we graduate next year. Lane will travel with me while I play solo shows until I find a band to hook up with.” Both guys look at each other with an expression on their face that almost looks like pity and it makes my blood boil. “You know what, fuck you guys!”
“Noel…” Sam tries to stop me as I unplug my guitar and flip it around to rest against my back. “Don’t be like that, man. We’re just trying to be honest with you. Do you know what the odds are of us actually making it in the music industry? Slim to none. I’m just trying to be realistic. We need to go to college. It’s the sensible thing to do.”
I throw my hands on my hips. “"You know what's sensible? Following your dream when you have the talent and the drive. I know I'm going to make it. It’s okay if you guys don’t believe in me. Lane does, and she’s the only person I need to believe in me.”
I turn to walk out of the Sam’s garage just as
says, “You don’t know Lanie as well as you think. Seems to me like you two have
different ideas about the future.”
I whirl around. “What’s that suppose to mean? I know my girlfriend—better than she knows herself.”
I shake my head and storm out the door. “Whatever.”
I rub the back of my neck as I walk towards my black Chevelle and pull the strap from around my neck and lay the guitar along the backseat. Surely Lane would tell me if she had doubts about the plan we’ve had in place since we became official our freshman year. She wouldn’t just leave me hanging. We’re forever and there’s no way I can spend years without her on the road.
I slam the door once I’m inside and fire up the engine. It roars to life and the only thing on my mind is finding out if
claim has legs.
A few minutes later I park in Lane’s driveway. This place has been like a second home to me since I was a little kid. I love her parents as if they are my own—another reason why we are perfect for each other.
The white cape code with a red roof, shutters and door fits perfectly into the scenery next to
It looks happy, like Lane. I love living on the water, and someday when I’m a
famous rock star I’m going to buy a place on a lake for Lane and I to live in
and start a family. She’ll love that. Cedar Creek Lake
I knock on the door and step back as Lane’s dad opens the door. He grins the moment he see’s me. “Hi, Noel. How are you, son?”
I shove my hands in the pockets of my jeans. “I’m fine, Jim. Is Lane here?”
Jim scratches his dark bearded jaw-line and nods. “She’s down at the dock, fishing, I think. You’re welcome to grab a pole from the garage if you like.”
“Thanks. I think I’ll do that.”
Jim steps out of the house, closing the door behind him, and pulls out a set of keys from his pocket. “Let me unlock the man-door for you.”
I follow Jim inside the garage. It’s funny as a kid I thought he was a huge man, but now at seventeen my height nearly matches his six foot frame. Time really does change everything.
He hands me a black rod. “She should have bait down there.”
After I thank Lane’s dad, I make my way down the hill to the dock. There’s always a certain level of comfort that falls over me when I come out here. Most of the major events in my life have taken place on this very dock—bonding with Lane, telling her I loved her, and even our first time together has all happened out here. This is most definitely our spot.
I lay my pole down and sneak down to where Lane sits on the edge, dangling her feet over the end. I place my hands over her eyes. “Guess who?”
She grins. “Um, Ryan Reynolds.”
I laugh and kiss her cheek. “Fuck Ryan Reynolds. You’ve got Noel Falcon, and I’m much better.
“I don’t know…” she trails off in a sing-song voice.
“That’s it,” I growl and tackle her down to the dock and straddle her.
Lane squeals as I tickle her ribs and kiss her neck. “Stop! You’re going to make me pee.”
I laugh. “Never. Not until you tell me I’m the best.”
She tries to catch her breath. “A little conceited, aren’t we?”
“Only when it comes to you—I know I’m the best man for you.”
She adjusts her back against the wood and I smooth her hair back from her face. “You’ll get no argument from me.”
I grin and lean in and kiss her lips. “That’s good to know.”
As much as I want to take this to the next level I know I can’t. Her parents could be watching us out their back window and wouldn’t that be awkward for all of us. I pull back and push myself up so I can sit next to her.
After helping her back up to a sitting position, I grab my pole and begin to poke around in the tackle box to find some plastic bait.
“How was band practice?” Lane asks.
I stiffen a bit, knowing the fact that this conversation will probably lead to an argument, and I hate when we fight. “Not good. The guys are both punking-out on going on the road after graduation. Looks like it’ll just be me and you.” I cast my line into the water and I notice Lane fidgets a bit. The best thing to do is get things in the open. “
has this crazy idea that you don’t want to go either. He’s not right, is he?”
She doesn’t look at me as she cranks her reel. “I want to go with you. You know that. But, I think maybe going to college first is a pretty good idea.”
I roll my eyes. “Not you too. Come on, Lane. We’ve talked about this a million times. Don’t you want freedom? The chance to go on the open road together before we have to face all that grown-up shit, like bills that people always bitch about.”
Lane sighs. “It’s not that easy, Noel.”
“Yes it is, Lane. Do you want to be with me or not?”
Her head snaps in my direction. “Of course I do. Why would you even say something like that?”
“Because if you want to be with me, then we have to be together.”
“Then why don’t you enroll in a college with me.”
I shake my head. “You of all people know I can’t do that.”
“I’ll help you.” She places her hand on my thigh. “We can get through school together just like we do everything else.”
“Not college. I’m not cut out for it and I can’t go. Not even for you.” The moment the words leave my mouth I instantly regret them.
Lane’s face twists. “You’re an asshole.”
She shoves herself up from the dock and takes off, sprinting towards her house.
“Fuck,” I curse myself as I break into a full run to chase her down. She makes it half-way up the hill before I grab her from behind and spin her around in my arms. Her breaths are ragged and her olive skin flushes. “I’m an idiot. I’m sorry. You know I didn’t mean it the way it sounded.”
A tear streams down her cheek. “I don’t get you, Noel. Is music so important to you that’d you’d throw everything we have away to get it?”
I shake my head, but I know it would be a difficult choice. “No. You’re all that matters to me.”
“Then show me,” she whispers.
I wipe away her tears with my thumbs before I press my lips to hers. “I will.”
One Year Later—Graduation Night…
There are at least ten parties going on tonight, and we’re going to make our rounds, but first, Lane wants me to meet her on the dock for a private celebration. I grin to myself knowing this will be the last night we have to hide in order to have sex. This time tomorrow Lane and I will be out on the open road, making our way with no solid plan, going in whatever direction the music takes us.
I know she has her doubts. She expresses them nearly everyday, but I know she doesn’t really mean them. Once I get her out on the road everything will be fine. I just have to prove it to her that I can make it as a musician. I want her to be proud of me.
She’s already waiting for me at the end of the dock. Her long brown hair falls in waves around her shoulders. The loose strands blow idly in the light breeze coming in off the lake. A tight jean skirt and cream color shirt accentuates the deep tan she’s already gotten even though it’s only the beginning of summer. My girl is so damn beautiful. I’m a very lucky guy.
Excitement overtakes me and I rush down and scoop her up in my arms, lifting her off the ground. “We did it, babe. Can you believe it?”
She laughs in my arms. “I’m so proud of you, Noel.”
I nuzzle my nose into her hair. “Not as proud as I am of you. You aced every single test they threw at you. You’re a fucking geniuses. When I become a famous rock star, I’ll pay for your tuition—anywhere you want to go.”
I cut her off, not allowing her a chance to argue with me. “Anywhere. I won’t take no for an answer.”
Lane frowns. “I can’t let you do that.”
I furrow my brow. “Of course you can. You’ll deserve it. It’ll make the little bit of struggle we have to go through at first totally worth it.”
“Noel—” I cut her off again while I go on about the fancy house and cars I’m going to buy her, and she pushes on my chest.
I frown and set her on her feet. “What’s wrong?”
Her delicate fingers rub her forehead before running through her hair. “I don’t know how to tell you this.”
I trail my hand up the bare skin on her arm and then stop when it reaches a strand of her hair. I wrap it around of my finger suddenly nervous about what she has to say. There’s a slight quiver in her voice, and that’s never a good sign. That only happens to her when she’s nervous, and there’s not one thing she should be nervous to tell me.
I lick my lips. “Whatever it is, just tell me. We’ll get through it together.”
Lane shakes her head. “This time we won’t.”
I take her face in my hands and force her to look into my eyes. “Lane, you’re not making any sense.”
She closes her eyes. “This is so hard.”
I feel her tense under my touch as a tear falls down her face and my heart falls to the pit of my stomach. Lane never cries and it’s something I can’t stand to see. “Please don’t cry. Baby, I’ll fix it. Whatever it is, I’ll fix it.”
She opens her green eyes and stares at me, her eyes searching my face for answers. “Don’t leave tomorrow.”
I flinch. “The way you just said that makes it sound like I’ll be leaving by my self.”
“You will be if you go,” she whispers.
I shake my head. “No. You promised you were going with me.”
“I can’t go with you, Noel.”
I drop my hands from her face. “What do you mean, you can’t? We talked about this since freshman year.”
“Exactly,” she cries. “We had no clue what we were talking about back then. Things change, Noel. I don’t know why this is such a huge shock to you. I’ve been telling you for the last year that I want to go to college.”
“I didn’t think you were serious. Damn, Lane. Why are you waiting until just now to tell me this? We had a plan.”
“You had a plan. Not me. Not one time have you asked me what I wanted!”
I close my eyes and pinch the bridge of my nose. “Yes I have.”
“No. No you haven’t. Have you heard anything I said about going to college and living in a dorm?”
“I heard you. I just didn’t think you were serious.” I sigh. “I can’t believe you’d pick going to college over being with me.”
“That’s the same way I feel every time you pick music over me.”
“I never pick music over you!”
“No? If I won’t go with you, are you going to go anyway?” she challenges.
“Yes! Because that’s been our plan,” I raise my voice, completely frustrated by this blindside. “Music is my fucking life. You know that. It’s all I have.”
“You had me.” Lane bites her plump, bottom lip as forces a cry back. “Then this is the end for us.”
My heart squeezes so hard in my chest that panic starts setting in. “Please, Lane. Don’t do this.”
She kisses my cheek. “Goodbye, Noel.”
My body turns completely numb as she turns and runs away from me. I should pull it together and go after her and force her to understand and try harder at convincing her to come with me, but I can’t move. The idea that Lanie Vance is no longer mine hits me hard and I drop to my knees, shaking uncontrollably. I grab my hair in my hands and allow myself to cry for the loss of the only girl I’ll ever really love.