I'm sick of being called Junior. Sure, I'm William Nicholas Martens, Jr., but I just want to go by Nick. I'm sick of my boyfriend mismatching his socks on purpose. And I'm sick of being in the closet.
All this changes when my band Taking Back Nick lands a record deal. My friends Casey, Kennedy, Levi, and I are about to make it big. In one night I come out to my parents and break up with my boyfriend. And then the hard part starts. Casey is my oldest friend, and I move in with him after my breakup. But things ... start to happen.
We skyrocket to fame, but Casey finds himself in the middle of some serious addiction issues. Combined with him showing me so much affection, I start to worry there's more going on than just the stress of success. Will Casey be able to overcome his addictions and find happiness? More importantly, will that happiness be with me?
I sighed and knocked on the door. The music stopped and moments later, Casey appeared, wearing his tank top and baggy lounge pants. He took in the suitcase and my expression and his face darkened.
"That son of a bitch. I'm gonna --"
"Don't. It was kind of mutual. I'm sad, but I'm not ... that sad. I think it wasn't supposed to last."
He stood aside and let me in. His place was cluttered with various piles of papers, some bags, and random boxes. He moved some unfolded laundry off the couch for me to sit.
"Need a drink? I've got some of that bitch beer you like."
I nodded. "Just one. I have to work in the morning."
I was only halfway through my beer when I finished telling him what happened. After that, we sat and discussed music.
"You know, those lyrics you came up with yesterday were good. We should turn that into a song for the album." I took a swig from the bottle as I looked at him to see what he thought. "Seriously, it was really good."
"Meh. I was just fucking around."
"You remember the tune? Play some and we'll see where it goes."
He began strumming on his guitar until he got the tune right.
"Tear me up inside, don't let me go ... You're the one I love, I don't want you to know ..."
I took over. "You're my full moon, you're my high tide ... you're all over me and on the inside. If the sun fades, if the worlds all die ... you're the one in my soul ... my porch light."
He grinned. "Nice. Porch light."
I grabbed my lyrics notebook out of my backpack and began writing them down. Casey continued singing.
"In the darkest reaches of my wretched heart ... Your presence exists like a held-in fart."
I burst out laughing. "I'm not writing that down. God, that's hilarious, though."
"It's a good metaphor, right? You can feel it pressing inside ... You don't want it to go ..."
"Yeah, it's still a no."
He laughed, his eyes crinkling in the corners. "How about ... is like a fresh start."
"Good!" I wrote it down as he continued strumming. "You're a new road, you're a ..."
He closed his eyes. "An eased load?"
"In solitude, you alone can make my tears dry."
"If all hope is lost, I can breathe a sigh ..."
Suddenly, I found myself saying the words. "I love you, Casey."
He looked up, continuing to play, and gave a soft smile. "I love you too, man."
"No, it was ... it was something Hec said. He said that I'd, like, put you on a pedestal compared to him. And, I kind of have. You're just such a good guy, and you're so good to me."
He stopped playing and blinked a few times. "Um, I mean, we're friends. But ... I mean, that's all. He's wrong."
I tried to hide the tears. Casey set down his guitar and moved to sit next to me on the couch. He nudged me. "Don't cry, Nicky. I hate to see you sad over some guy like that."
"It's not that." I wiped my nose and looked at him. "You and me ... we'll never be together, will we?"
He looked concerned, his mouth slightly open. "I ... no, Nick. I love you, but not like that."
And through all the horrible things that had been said between Hector and me, nothing hurt as much as knowing Casey really was off-limits. And yet, my words to Hector rang in my head.
"I'm not in love with Casey. He's just a friend."
If I said it enough, it was true ... right?