Page 77 of The Keeper

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“In a word? Conflicted.”

“Hmm. That’s not the response I expected. What’s going on?”

Being the good big brother he is, he listens to the day’s whole story and talks me through each step.

“You’re so talented, Billie. The band sounds so great. This is a dream. I cannot advise that you walk away from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If it craps out, you can go and beg for your job back, but for now? I’d go for it.”

“And what about Cal?” I ask pitifully. “We just…we just decided to get together. Like official. And I love him.”

“Look, if Cal loves you back, he’ll support you in pursuing your talents and passions. He plays hockey and you don’t tell him not to play because it’s dangerous or he has to travel too much, right?”

“Right?” It doesn’t sound like a solid answer.

Kit laughs. “Josh and I…he understands the parts of my job that are undesirable. He loves me in spite of all the studio bullshit. Cal will come around.”

I thank him and hang up, but I don’t feel any better. I know Calum. I know how hard change is for him. I know that our relationship is a steadying factor that has helped him to be more comfortable in Vegas. And he’s just getting back to play after his injury. He’ll already feel unsteady. I hate what this will do to him.

I know one thing, though.

I can’t go without talking to him first.


if you go…


When a knock sounds at my door, I know it will be Billie.

Steeling myself for the heartbreaker I know is coming, I get up from my spot on the couch and check the peephole to confirm it’s her.

Oh, it’s her…looking just as beautiful and confident as she always does.

I—I can’t do this—

I abruptly open the door but turn away, returning to the couch without greeting her or even inviting her inside. It’s shitty manners, yes, and she doesn’t deserve to be treated this way, but maybe it’ll be better for both of us to just rip the bandage off in one fell swoop. I had UNLV football on before she came, so I focus my attention back on the television. A few seconds later, I feel the weight of her body sit on the couch beside me.

We sit in silence for what feels like a long time.Time that will steal away the last moments we have together. Sucks.

I can smell the citrusy scent of the shampoo she uses in her hair. I know it now—a combination of lemon and orange with something darker, cloves maybe—I love smelling it when I’m close to her. But when she’s gone and in LA to do her album, I won’t have the intoxicating scent of her hair around to smell anymore. No Billie. No hair. No citrus-clove shampoo to smell when I’m kissing her neck or waking up to her hair tangled across the pillows.

And that all feels…fucking terrifying.

I love she’s here right now, but I also hate the conversation we’re about to have. She reaches out and puts her hand on my thigh. “Why are you shutting down on me?”

“You know why.” I wish I could say more, but my words won’t be right anyway.

“I need you to talk to me about this.” She sounds so sad.

“What is there to say, Billie?” When I turn to look at her, she’s so perfect, it takes my breath away. Her hair is in a messy bun, the purple ends flipping up in the back. She’s wearing a Crush hoodie and a pair of workout leggings. I see her this way when I imagine us being together, living together, making a life together. And I know I should tell her these things. I should let her know how much having her in my life means to me. That I’m in love with her.

But those words are buried and don’t come.

“Calum, I know you’re upset about me having to go to LA…”

“You know I have a hard time with change. I’ve told you before. I’m finally happy here. I was playing well until the injury. I like—I lovebeing with you. Things have been good. But if you go—”

“I worry that you just like having a person. Like, your person, you know? A person who makes you feel comfortable in an environment.” She starts to rub her hand slowly back and forth on my thigh.

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