The timing couldn't have been any worse. We had just checked into the hotel after finishing the third show of the tour. In a matter of seconds, I went from being on a natural high to having my heart ripped straight from my chest and stomped on till there was nothing left. I wanted to cry, and I wanted to hit something.
But then, in the midst of it all, I felt something else for a split second: Relief. It was a horrible thought, and I felt guilty about it right away. What kind of person was I? Someone who didn't deserve to be a father, that's who. That's probably why the opportunity had been taken from me. I'd officially lost the last thing in the world that gave me hope.
I'd grown so used to the idea of being responsible for a sweet tiny baby in a few months that I was beginning to look forward to it. But I'd never get the opportunity to meet him because he was gone.
Brandi didn't even tell me. She had Chrissie do it. She said that Brandi asked her to call me because she was too upset. She also used the excuse that she'd taken some sleeping pills that the doctor gave her, so she wasn't up to talking. Somehow I wasn't so sure about the "too upset" part, which was mean of me to think. But I couldn't help it, that's how I felt.
The story was that Brandi had gone for that ultrasound, and the doctor discovered that there was no heartbeat. She was given the option of going home and waiting it out, possibly for several days, until she miscarried naturally - which sounded terribly cruel to me - or be taken on to surgery for something called a D&C, where they remove the non-viable pregnancy surgically. She chose the surgery, which is what I would have chosen. But I wouldn't have waited all day to tell my significant other about it.
Chrissie said that Brandi didn't want to upset me before the show, so she made her wait until it was over. I did what any decent man would do and offered to fly home. But Chrissie said Brandi already told her that she didn't want me to do that, because there was nothing I could do. I had shows to perform and fans to please, and nothing was going to change, no matter where I was. I guess she was right.
I don't know how long I sat there without moving. My mind was racing, yet blank at the same time. I wasn't sure how I felt. I was sad, naturally. But there was more. My life had been changed because of a baby - a baby that would never be born now. Maybe I was an asshole to think about it at the time, but to be honest, I knew right then that I was going to leave Brandi. I no longer had anything to tie me to her. But I wasn't going to do anything about it for a while. Despite everything, she was my friend, most of the time, and if she needed me, I'd be there.
I'm not sure what the most appropriate word for it would be, but when I watched Chrissie's Snapchat story two days later, I was livid. There they were, the two of them hanging out side stage at some concert. I couldn't even tell whose show it was. But Chrissie was doing her usual "look at me trying and failing to look sexy" routine with her hair covering her face, and she turned the camera for a second to show Brandi dancing and sipping a drink. (Sorry, I never cared much for Chrissie, just like I never cared for Allegra. At least Allegra was finally out of the picture by then, though.)
"Fuck it," I said out loud to myself. "I'm not gonna sit around on my ass while she - the one who lost a baby - is out partying."
"What's that?" Luke asked as he walked past me.
We had all ended up in Calum's room, and the decision was made to go out. Except I decided I'd stay in. I didn't feel much like socializing, and they understood. Michael offered to stay with me, and I turned down his offer. But I had reconsidered after watching that video of a carefree Brandi.
I told Luke, "I'm going with you."
"You sure?" he asked, looking surprised.
I gave a haughty laugh. "Yeah, I'm sure."
Let me just say that I would have been better off not going. I'd never been so hungover in my life. I was so thankful to be able to lie in the bed the next day until we left that night for the next city. I was pretty sure I behaved at the club, but I couldn't be positive. The guys swore to me that I didn't do anything to get into trouble with Brandi, so I took their word for it. I really didn't care if I did or not, though.
That's pretty much how my days went for a while: Get up, do a show, and either move on to the next city, or get drunk and spend the next day recovering. The others were stoked to see me enjoying myself again. But little did they know that I wasn't enjoying myself at all. I was simply running away from my thoughts and feelings.
It was during one of those drunken nights that I had a little moment. That fucking Closer song came on and I instantly thought of Aubree. That was the only song we'd ever danced to, if you want to call it dancing. And it was the night that we were together for the first time. I remember instantly feeling sad, and it must have shown, because Michael asked if I was alright.
Despite our differences, Michael and I had grown closer recently. No one made me laugh like that asshole. And he seemed to be the one to either cut me off or make sure I didn't embarrass myself when I had too much to drink, while Luke and Calum were off scoring with the chicks. I'm not sure why he took that role upon himself. Maybe it was because he felt sorry for me. Or maybe he was trying to keep himself occupied and stay loyal to Chrissie. But whatever the reason, I appreciated it. It was weird, though, because it used to be me keeping everyone else out of trouble.
I told him, "This song. It makes me think of Aubree."
Michael looked up into the distance, at nothing in particular, to concentrate on the song. Then he laughed. "Because you want to fuck her like an animal? Makes sense, I guess."
I shoved him, nearly knocking him off of his chair. "No, you dick. I mean, yeah." Damn, the images in my head. "But... never mind."
He shook his head at me and took a drink of his beer. Then he said, "Dude. You look like you're about to cry."
Indeed, I was. Usually, drinking made me more lively, but that night not so much. I wiped the slight dampness from my eyelids. "I don't know how to not love her, man. Fuck. I haven't talked about her out loud for so long. But I can't get her out of my head."
Michael looked at me expressionless for a second before asking, "So are you and Brandi still together or what?"
I shrugged, not sure of the correct answer. "She hasn't made an effort to call me or anything since, you know, the baby. And when I try to talk to her, she's really short with me. I feel like she wants me to disappear, which I certainly don't have a problem with. I don't know. I mean, she just had a miscarriage a month ago, so I don't really want to add a breakup on top of that right now."
"But you are going to break up with her, right? Like for good?"
"Yeah, for good. She knows I'm not in love with her. I feel bad about that, really. But I can't help it. I was only with her because of the baby. Fuck, I just said that out loud, didn't I?" It was almost a relief to admit it to someone else other than my therapist, though, I'm pretty sure everyone knew.
Michael gave me a sympathetic smile. "Yeah, you did. But don't feel bad, mate." He patted my back. "I get it. No one compares to Bree."
I reacted without thinking and cocked my head and raised an eyebrow, wondering how I should take that. I was over my jealousy, seriously. But I wondered if he was admitting untold feelings about Aubree.
Realizing what he'd said, Michael held up his hands innocently and quickly clarified, "I mean, in your eyes, no one else will ever compare to Bree. And I get that. She was perfect for you." He started to take another drink and said quietly, but loud enough for me to hear, "And you fucked it up."
I meant to make him spill a little of his drink on himself for being a jerk, but he lost his grip on the bottle when I punched his shoulder (lightly, I may add). It landed in his lap, soaking his jeans. Thankfully, he knew I was trying to be playful, and after he got over the shock of the cold liquid, we had a good laugh over it.
"It's true, though," he said, once we settled down.
"You fucked it up."
"Really? Thanks for telling me, because all this time I had no fucking idea. Wow. I'm not perfect after all."
Michael rolled his eyes at my sarcasm. "I'm just saying. Damn. When was the last time you talked to her anyway? Have you asked her for another chance? Or is she with someone else, or what?"
I explained that we were going to try again, until Brandi told me she was pregnant. And I also told him that I hadn't spoken to Aubree since then, so I had no idea if she was seeing someone or not.
We drank in silence for a few minutes until Michael sat up straight up and got that excited little boy look on his face. "You should ask her, dude!"
"Ask who what?"
"Ask Aubree if she's still single. Duh."
"Yeah, okay, because I'm sure she'd be impressed with me hitting her up randomly after five months or whatever and asking, 'Yo, you fucking anyone or nah?' I don't think so."
"So you'd rather drown in your own misery wondering if you still have a chance or not." He said that as more of a fact than a question.
I shrugged and said, "Well, no. But I feel like if I did have a chance, doing something like that would ruin it."
But the more I thought about it, I knew asking her directly was the only way to find out. But I had a better idea, that wouldn't make me look so pathetic. "Why don't you ask her? I mean, don't just ask her right away. Strike up a conversation and stumble onto the topic. Come on, Mikey, you're a smooth talker."
Michael looked at me as though I had two heads. "What the actual fuck? You go all Mike Tyson on my ass because she had my number and now you want me to call her to ask about her love life?"
"Come, on. Are you ever going to let that go?"
"Nope," Michael answered defiantly.
"Okay, okay. I deserve to have it thrown in my face every chance you get. But seriously, do this for me, Mike. She always liked you."
"But I haven't talked to her since you broke up! Don't you think it would be a little weird? Besides, that's like asking your friend to talk to your crush in primary school because you don't have the balls to do it yourself."
He was right. I was completely ball-less. "You know what, never mind. You're right. It's a stupid idea. I'm sure it's too late anyway."
Cue Michael starting to sing a loud, terrible rendition of our old song Too Late.
I covered my face in embarrassment. "Fucking Christ, Michael. Can you not?"
He shut up, thankfully. "Fine. I'm ready to go anyway. How about you?"
Yes, please. It would be easier to feel sorry for myself alone than in a crowded bar.