“You can’t quit the band to be a WAG.” Crushed isn’t even the right word for the way I feel about the announcement that my best friend has casually made over lunch, like she’s saying she wants to get her nails done, not break up something that’s been both of our whole lives for as long as I can remember.
“Oh c’mon Kens, you and I both know that I’m not really that good a drummer and besides,” she tilts her head to one side and continues to look across the table at me with this elfin grin that hasn’t left her face for a week, “it’s been in the cards for a while now. It’s not just about Max. This is about you.”
“This is our band Daze. That’s why it’s called Thunder Daze. It would be like sawing apart Siamese twins,” I grumble, stabbing at one of the fries on the plate with my fork. I’d really wanted them, and they’re the kind I like, steak cut all hot and salty, but suddenly I have no appetite.
“Maybe for a while it will be babe but I realized something when we did that last video. You’re Gwen Stefani and we’re No Doubt now. No one gives a shit about those guys. I mean, can you name one of them? No, and that’s what Duncs and me and JT are for you now. We’re just background. It’s Gwen Stefani and No Doubt if they even mention the name of the band and that’s exactly what’s gonna happen to us and, well, we all kind of know it. You’re the only one who doesn’t see it.”
If I hadn’t already gone off my Turkey Bacon club, having had a few home truths delivered up cold had turned me off completely. I pushed my food around on the plate and tried to ignore the rising panic that was making my stomach churn and threatening to send the few bites I’d managed so far up the way they’d gone down.
“You’re my partner,” I said quietly, still staring at my plate.
“I’m your security blanket and you’ve got Jordy for that now,” she corrected me. “Hey, I don’t mind, honest. I like being in a band but you know I’ve never really liked all the glam shit anyway. I’ll probably be happier playing in a garage band in Pittsburgh and I guarantee the record company will be happier not having to include the rest of us. Besides,” she added, reaching across the table for my hand, “you’re the writer, the composer, the face of the band. You don’t need the rest of us.” I couldn’t imagine not being on the road with her. I couldn’t imagine not seeing her all the time.
“I don’t know how you can just make a huge decision like this in like...two days,” I sigh, knowing that I’ve got his little girl hopeful expression on my face. Daze smiles and holds my hand in both of hers’.
“I just married the most randy hockey player of all time didn’t I?” she grins and at the same time leaves my argument punched full of holes.
“Way to let the fucking side down mon ami!” Laughing, Flower throws his arms around me and then it’s a massive bromance group hug with half the team piling on. “If you’re going to go to the dark side, what do I tell V?”
“What can I say? I had to do it,” I explain, holding up my hand so everyone can see the gold band on my finger. “I finally met a woman like that who calls me on my shit and keeps me up all night with the most amazing fucking sex ever. I couldn’t let her get away. Fuck, one of you might have got to her,” I add with a quick glance towards Tanger who just grins back like I was right for thinking of it.
“I guess you’ll be next huh Gronk?” Sid turns to Jordan who had followed me into the room.
“Hey, I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid,” he laughs and turns to hang his jacket up in his locker.
“Oh c’mon, you’ve been in love with that girl for years. Are you seriously going to stand there and tell us you’re not going to try and tie her down as soon as you can?” Jordan just raises an eyebrow at Sid and then turns to glare at me.
“What? We’re happy for you!” I laugh but he just rolls his eyes and turns his back.
“I’m not insecure like Talbo. I don’t need to put a ring on it for Kens to be mine,” he replies smugly.
“Yeah, how does Kensey feel about that?” I ask and watch as he edits the smart ass comment he begins to make and then starts to wonder what, exactly, I might mean by that. “She wanted to marry your brother, remember that you big dork?” I watch as he blows out his big lips, making a sort of horse sounding noise and then scratches his head.
“Talbo has got a point Gronk,” Duper grins at him. “Come to the dark side Staalsy. I can’t wait until you have to get up to change diapers at three in the morning,” he adds with an evil sounding cackle. “Now we just have to work on Flower and Tanger.”
“Laissez moi sortir de cette!” Tanger cries and holds up his hands in front of his face.
“They all want to quit.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard her like this and it’s kind of pissing me off that she’s in Detroit and I’m in New York. This is when the whole long distance thing sucks. She sounds like she needs her boyfriend and I’m sitting in a restaurant waiting to see if my brother will show up.
“Just leave you on the road?” I ask, trying to picture either Duncan or Daze just leaving her high and dry and what kind of fight would have caused that, especially between her and Daisy. I can’t actually remember the two of them ever fighting though, so it’s kind f hard.
“No just...at the end of the tour,” she sniffs and I can easily picture her nose turning red and her sea blue eyes filled with tears. “This is all Max’s fault,” she adds with a sob. My free hand curls into a fist. I know how long she’s wanted this but I also know something about Kens that most people don’t. She has stage fright, big time and I can’t imagine her going on stage with a bunch of strangers.
“And they all want to quit?” I ask as I remind myself to hide Max’s cup when I get back to the rink.
“Do you ever just hate Sid for always being the poster boy?” she asks with a sigh and suddenly what she’s talking about becomes crystal clear.
“Well you are a fox babe,” I unclench my fist and reach for the ice water instead. “And yeah, sometimes we all get fed up being the backup singers to Prince Charming, but he gets pretty fed up with all the attention too.” I hear her heave another sigh but at least it sounds like she’s getting her tears under control. “I wish I was there with you,” I add, knowing that just a look, just a squeeze of her hand can go a long way to making me feel better when I’m feeling like a shit. Guess that should have clued me in that she was the one a long time ago.
“So is he there yet?” she asks quietly.
“No, not yet.” I glance towards the door, looking for his ginger hair. No sign yet.
“I’m glad he agreed to see you. I was worried that he would never speak to you...to either of us again.” I can hear the smile in her voice. I wish I was relieved. I haven’t ordered any food because I’m still pretty sure that Marc might just be coming to kill me. “Have you told Eric or Jared yet?”
“Jared’s fine with it. Whatever, he called it a long time ago. Eric...he says he’ll reserve judgement until Marc forgives me.” She makes a noise; not yes or no, it’s just a noise but it’s covering for something else, probably something she’d like to say about my stick in the mud brother but won’t. My Kens has always been careful like that, always careful about coming in between me and my brothers. “You know I choose you right? Whatever Marc or Eric say, I choose you.”
“I love you Jordan.” I grin and get that feeling in the pit of my gut again. I’m really not ever gonna get tired of hearing that. I open my mouth to tell her that I feel the same when a giant hand comes into hard contact with the back of my head.
“I uh...I gotta go babe. I’ll call you later.” Marc slides into the seat across from me and rolls his eyes.
“It’s babe already? Fuck.”
“He’s there, isn’t he?” she asks as I flip him the bird. “Well good luck. You’ve got i.d. on you right? In case he tosses you in the East River? I don’t want to have to come all that way to i.d. your body.”
“They’d probably call Eric, he’s closer anyway. Gotta go. Bye.” I end the call and then lay my iPhone on the table.
“That was Kens, I assume,” Marc begins. I nod, wondering if he’s going to pick up the glass of ice water in front of him and chuck it at me. The back of my head is throbbing just a bit. “How is she?” I start to say ‘fine’ but decide that she wouldn’t want me to do that.
“Actually she’s a little upset...sounds like the rest of the band ‘s a little sick of just being background,” I explain. Marc nods and looks thoughtful for a moment.
“She’ll hate losing Daze. Did she really marry your buddy Max?” he asks, raising his eyebrows.
“She did yeah. How fucked up is that?” We both grin and he shakes his head and then turns to call the waiter over before he turns back to me. “You gonna marry Kens?”
“I think so...yeah.”