April had just finished her last song for the night. Actually, she’d wanted to wait a couple more weeks before she took the stage, but Steve had persuaded her. One of the bands that had wanted to play there tonight, had called him that day and told him that they were sick. One of them had been taken to the hospital.
It was for the sake of the bar, after all. How could she say no? All the customers expected another band to perform there. Okay, so she was only a girl with a guitar, but with a good voice and the right songs for this occasion. Her last song had been Queen’s “We Are the Champions”. It hadn’t been that easy to perform this just with an acoustic guitar, but she’d managed.
After getting a drink, she went out to the backyard. Nobody was here and she could enjoy a few minutes of silence. It was freezing cold, but she didn’t care. She didn’t even really feel it. Her whole body and mind were still buzzing from her performance. And probably from the beer she’d been drinking. And the Jägermeister she’d had right before her first song. Four shots. Without them she probably wouldn’t have gotten on stage at all. Her knees had been week, her heart thundering in her chest.
“Your voice is incredible.” Jonathan’s words had sounded in her head again and calmed her down. Knowing that he really thought this about her, made her relax. Imagining him among the crowd had helped her as well. Being in his presence had made her calmer, happier, and yet she’d still run away from him. Why? Because he’d said that he was falling in love with her and it had scared the hell out of her. Being with him, having fun and enjoying this time together had been perfect, but hearing him say these words had made her bolt and run for her life. She knew that he deserved better, but she had to put herself first. If she had only learned one thing from the relationship with Dan, it was this. And in a way she was protecting Jonathan as well.
Cold night air filled her lungs as she leaned against the brick wall of the building. Slowly she looked up to the sky, where fireworks would light up the whole city in only a couple of minutes. This was one of the moments she’d love to spend with Jonathan, wrapped in his strong arms, warmed by his body and happy among the people he called his friends. But she couldn’t. She had to stay away from him, for her own sake. Every time she’d fallen in love, it had ended badly.
Still, she was wondering what he was doing right now…
“Jonathan, are you alright?” Abby stepped outside onto the porch. Jonathan had been out there for a good ten minutes staring at the sky. His hands were deep inside his coat pockets, a hat shielding his ears from the cold.
“I’m fine.” He was still staring at the sky when Abby talked to him.
“No, you’re not. You miss her and that’s okay.” Finally he looked at Abby, saw the worry in her eyes. Inside they could hear the first toasts. Everyone was hugging, and fireworks broke out outside. It was officially 2013.
“Happy new year, Abs.” Jonathan gave her a little smile before he hugged her. She was right, he missed April, but there wasn’t really that much he could do. Not legally anyway.
“Happy new year.” Jonathan was like a little brother to her. She wanted to see him happy, but there was nothing she could do. Then her phone rang. When she looked at the display, she was mildly shocked. “It’s April.”
“Is it okay, if I take this?”
Jonathan looked at her with so much longing and determination that she handed him the phone and nodded. Sure, she would have loved to talk to April, but Jonny needed this. He had to hear her voice himself to realize that she was okay. And maybe try to talk her into coming ack. Abby would be fine with that. She left him alone out there to join her husband and their friends inside, and wish them a happy new year as well.
Jonathan took a deep breath before he answered Abby’s phone. “Happy new year, April.” His voice was calm, when he spoke, even though his hands were shaking a bit. Whether from the cold or from that fact that he was talking to April, he couldn’t tell. There was silence on the other end of the line, but she didn’t hang up. He wanted to say more, but not before he was sure that it really was April on the phone.
“Happy new year, Jonny,” she said quietly, drawing in a breath. She hadn’t expected him to answer Abby’s phone, otherwise she wouldn’t have called. But it was good to hear his voice. That was probably the alcohol talking.
“How is Pittsburgh treating you?” He tried to lead a normal conversation. Accusing her, begging her to come back would only make her end the conversation, and he didn’t want this yet.
“Pittsburgh? What are talking a…” It took her a few seconds to process what he’d said. “Oh. Yeah, Pittsburgh is okay, I guess.”
What was that? Somehow Jonathan got the impression that she wasn’t really in Pittsburgh. But where else could she be? Practically all over America.
“Can I see you when I’m there? With Patrick of course.”
“What? No, that’s not a good idea.”
“Because it’s not a good idea.” Alcohol made her stubborn and irritated.
“Let me guess. Because you’re not in Pittsburgh.”
“That’s one reason.”
Okay, so he’d been right. “Where are you then?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Then at least tell me why you ran away! You have no idea what it’s like to come home and find a person you care about gone.”
“I’m sorry, Jonathan. I really am, but that was the only way.” Tears were brimming in her eyes. She would have to get back inside soon, and she didn’t want anybody asking her questions why she was crying.
“I deserve to know why you ran away, April. You owe me that much at least.”
She did. She knew she did. “I didn’t want to get hurt.”
“I would never hurt you.”
“I know. But it might not even be your fault.” She bit down on her bottom lip. Hard. Until she tasted blood. “I’m sorry, but I’ve got to go.” And with that she hung up.
Incredulously Jonathan stared at the phone. If it were his phone, he’d smash it on the ground, but it wasn’t and he had to return it to Abby. Seriously? She’d told him that he’d hurt her one way or the other sometime and then hung up on him?
At least he knew that she wasn’t in Pittsburgh. And he wouldn’t give up now. He’d find her and tell her, show her that he wouldn’t hurt her.