"Did we 'bang'? No! You know he has a girlfriend. Not that he would want to be with me like that anyway." It was hard to believe that the evening I'd just experienced was real. But I didn't believe for a second that Ashton thought that way about me. I walked past Traci and plopped down on the bed, which was a bad idea because the room began to spin immediately. I groaned and sat up.
"Shut the fuck up. You're perfectly bangable. Besides, Calum kind of has a girlfriend, too, but that didn't stop him."
I shook my head, not sure I'd heard correctly. "Wait. What? Calum has a girlfriend? Who?"
Traci shrugged and looked down, appearing a little remorseful. She sat down on the bed beside me. "Well, yeah. Natalie. But they're not exclusive or whatever. He said they're just kind of each other's 'constant' or some shit. Like, they sleep with other people, but they only have an emotional relationship with each other." She rolled her eyes at the absurdity.
I stared at Traci blankly as I took a minute to absorb what she'd just told me. Natalie was one of the members of the band that opened the shows for them. Go figure. I assumed a lot of musicians probably had this kind of arrangement, because there was obviously so much temptation presenting itself. But never did I imagine Calum, or any of the guys, would be one of them. I assumed they thought more about themselves than that. And how weird was it that Calum and Natalie saw each other every day, but had sex with other people? I knew it was a situation that I could never be happy in. Sharing someone I loved with whoever he felt the need to be with? No, thank you.
I didn't say anything as I tried to process this information. So Traci continued. "I know, it's kind of fucked up, really. I wouldn't have even known about it, but the topic somehow came up after the fact. It was too late for me to back out at that point, obvs." She shook her head and looked down again. "I kind of feel guilty, but if that's their arrangement, then so be it. Besides, it's not like it's ever gonna happen again anyway."
At that moment it was like everything hit me so hard. I started laughing uncontrollably, yet again. Traci looked at me like I was crazy, not sure whether or not to join in. When I regained my composure, I put my hands on her shoulders and looked right into her eyes. "You just had sex with fucking Calum Hood. You've won at life, bitch!"
"You don't think I'm a terrible person?" Traci asked timidly. She was genuinely concerned that I thought badly of her. I'd never seen her so unsure of herself.
"Traci! Hell no! How many times have we had the 'what if' discussion? Every time, I've told you that if you had the opportunity and didn't take it, I was going to disown your ass. I mean, who would have thought our ridiculous immature fantasy talk would become reality? But it somehow did. Well, for you anyway. But to be honest, I probably enjoyed myself more just casually hanging out with Ashton than I would have if Michael - ." My stomach clenched when I remembered what had happened with Michael. I closed my eyes and took a breath.
"If Michael what?" Traci urged me on.
I didn't answer her question. But, instead, I asked something I was curious about. "Was Calum like you expected him to be?"
She looked at me with one eyebrow cocked. "You mean, was he... big? You've seen it. Hell, we've all seen it, so..."
I laughed again because that wasn't at all what I meant. "No! Oh my God. Get your mind out of the gutter for a second, perv. I mean, was he as nice, or whatever, as you imagined he'd be? He seemed okay to me. But how was he when you were alone with him?"
"Oh." She giggled at herself for her previous statement. "Yeah, he was the same as he was in the restaurant. I guess he was maybe a little... forward, but not necessarily in a bad way. The boy just knows what he wants. And I didn't mind giving it to him." She said it so matter-of-factly, and I actually felt my face become warm with embarrassment. I did not want those images in my head of Calum and my best friend having sex. No, thank you. "Is there a reason you're asking?" she questioned.
Traci absolutely adored Michael. She always referred to him as an angel and her sweet kitten, as most of the fandom did. I hated to tarnish that image. But I told her the truth. All of it. Reliving it in my mind was almost like a dream. A dream where I woke up with a sense of sadness or loss.
What had happened wasn't that awful. But when you place someone on a pedestal and you finally get to meet them, and it doesn't go as you thought it would, it hurts. It's just that he came off as so damn arrogant, and that was a far cry from the humble person I thought he was.
Traci didn't seem to think it was that big of a deal other than the fact that I got to see the infamous "Cliffoconda." Yes, she even called it that.
"Oh my fuck! Why did you turn him down, Bree?!"
"Seriously? Because he was already in the process of screwing someone else! And besides, I was enjoying being with Ashton."
A look of understanding replaced the disbelief on her face. "Oh yeah." Then she asked facetiously, "But if he'd been alone and asked both you and Ashton to join him, would you have?"
"Damn right I would have." I could handle that kind of threesome. We had a good laugh at ourselves and then sat there quietly for a couple minutes, reflecting on the whole crazy situation.
Traci sighed. "We're going to be so dead on the way home. We better go back and try to sleep a couple hours." I agreed.
I was in the process of getting an Uber when we stepped outside. I was following behind Traci, focusing on my phone, when she suddenly stopped, causing me to run into her back.
"Shit! What are you -"
When I looked up I realized why she'd stopped. The tour bus was parked right in front of the door, and Ashton was taking pictures with about 20 girls who were lined up down the sidewalk.
Traci said, "Forget the Uber for now," and she pulled me to the end of the line.