They arrived back at the hotel a bit later than they intended. Calla was half asleep when the car came to a stop. She was laying her head on Gary’s shoulder. He brushed her cheek with his thumb and kissed the top of her forehead.
“We’re back at the hotel,” he told her, Jay and Joe Don climbing out of the car.
She slowly opened her eyes and blinked, looking up at Gary confused. When Calla realized she was snuggled up close to him, she cleared her throat and sat back. Her face flushed red as they stepped out of the car and headed inside of the hotel. A feel came over her as if she was being watched by unseen eyes, she looked around.
“Everything okay?” Joe Don asked her, noticing a look of concern on her tired face.
“After the encounter with my ex at the restaurant, I feel like he’s everywhere now. I don’t think he believed you guys about not seeing me,” Calla expressed her concern.
“We can leave first thing in the morning if you want,” Jay said, stepping out of the elevator.
Calla nodded and followed them to Gary’s room. She lingered in the doorway as the others entered. Gary turned to look at her and motioned for her to enter. She smiled shyly, glanced at the elevator before it dinged and walked into the room.
Joe Don was picking up his guitar when she closed the door. He plucked a familiar song and Calla smiled from ear to ear.
“This is my favorite song,” she said, taking a seat on Gary’s bed.
Gary was standing next to her and rubbed her back as Joe Don continued, Gary began to sing. Calla closed her eyes, a tear rolling down her cheek as memories flooded her mind. Memories of her listening to this song after her ex would hurt her and she would turn to their music for escape. She felt happy in this moment being with the very people who saved her life more times than she could count. They didn’t know this and she wanted to come up with a way of thanking them. Calla opened her eyes and looked up at Gary, who smiled at her.
“Thank you guys so much for everything you do,” she said, Gary stopped singing and Joe Don stopped strumming. All eyes were on her.
“What do you mean?” Jay asked.
“Ya’lls music,” Calla continued, grabbing Gary’s hand that was on her shoulder. “Your music helped me in ways I can’t explain. When I was at my lowest, mostly after my ex would beat me, I would lock myself in the bathroom and play your songs. The song you were just singing has been my favorite because it’s been the one that would always play whenever I turned on the radio. So thank you.”
She felt Gary squeeze her shoulder and Joe Don and Jay had a smile on their faces. Calla wiped a tear from her cheek and smiled brightly as they continued to play. Gary soon sat behind her and she slowly leaned back into his arms as he sang. Their playing was putting her to sleep and she felt safe and wanted.
Calla had woken in back in her bed and the room was quiet, the moon shining through her bedroom window, casting shadows on the walls. She sat up and looked at the door leading to Gary’s room and swung her feet over the edge of the bed and peaked through the partly closed door.
Gary was sitting at a desk in the room, his back to the door. Calla pushed the door open causing it to creak as it slowly opened. Gary turned around and smiled.
“Can’t sleep?” Calla asked, stepping into the room and leaning against the wall.
“I have a lot on my mind,” Gary admitted, turning around in his chair to face her.
Calla looked at her feet shyly. “Want to talk about it?”
“Only if you don’t mind hearing about it,” he said, rising from his seat to stand in front of her. “Let’s go in the other room so we don’t wake up the bear.”
Calla giggled and followed him into the other room, she closed the door enough to leave a small opening. Her anxiety started to spike as she turned to face Gary, who was sitting in a chair across from the bed. She relaxed a bit and sat in front of him on the edge of the bed.
“What’s on your mind at this time of night?” Calla asked, getting comfortable.
“A lot of things really. I don’t know where to start,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck and leaning back in his chair. “The up-coming show, meeting you, finding a way to keep your ex away.”
A strong silence fell over the room as Calla thought to herself. If they got hurt it would be because of her. They didn’t know her ex like she did. He would do whatever he could to find her.
Gary leaned forward and touched her leg. “We’ll leave first thing in the morning and head to the next town where we have our show. You can come with us.”
“I would like that… I just don’t want to get in the way of your practicing and shows,” she said.
“You won’t. It would be refreshing to have you around,” he smiled. “I know the guys would love to have you with us.”
She smiled and leaned back on the bed, bracing herself so she won’t fall backward. She just now noticed the way Gary would look at her. A kindness in his eyes.
“I just really hope my ex will stop looking for me when he gets the idea of me not coming back,” Calla said, staring at her feet.
“I’m sure he will. And if he shows up again, we’ll be ready,” Gary said. “I think we should try to get to sleep now. We have an early start tomorrow.”
Calla nodded and stood up at the same time Gary did, nearly colliding into each other. He grabbed her arms to steady her from falling into him.
“I’m sorry,” she said, gaining her balance and looking up at him.
“It’s… no problem,” he said slowly, staring into her honey brown eyes.
The room became awkwardly quiet as they just looked into each other’s eyes. His breath tickled her eyelashes as he inches closer to her face. Giving he was six feet and she was five feet and one inch. Calla held her breath as he drew closer to her blushing face. She waited for the moment when his lips would touch hers, but the just lingered there, his breath warm and his breathing noticeably shaky. She pulled away.
“I will see you tomorrow,” was all she said after crawling under the warm blankets and facing the wall away from him.
“Goodnight,” he said, his footsteps heard as he walked out of her room.
She blinked, a tear rolling down and dropping on her pillow. Oh how she wanted him to kiss her.