Florian lifted the large glass to his lips and threw back his head, bracing himself for the sharp burn of alcohol on his tongue once more.
But this time, it didn’t come. He chugged down nearly half of the drink easily, tasting nothing but the sweetness of the drink’s mixer. Good. Florian told himself. It’s finally kicking in.
It was hard to say what it was about that night that made him so eager for an escape. Most nights, he limited himself to just a few drinks. But not tonight… He’d already lost count of how many drinks he’d ordered, and how many shots he’d taken with Lucas and Hazel.
“Woah, maybe you should take it easy.” Hazel laughed as she glanced over at Florian’s half-empty glass. “The night’s still young, right?”
Beside her, Lucas nodded in agreement. “Don’t make yourself pass out before the real fun starts.” He told his friend with a smile. “We’re celebrating, remember?” Tonight had been their 40th gig of the tour, something Lucas had insisted was an important milestone.
It took a moment for his friend’s words to sink in. Everything was already getting a little fuzzy.
“You’re right.” He replied at last, returning Lucas’ smile. Before he even realized what he was doing, Florian had reached into his pocket and retrieved his cellphone. “Hey, what do you think Clara’s doing right now?” He asked as he lifted the phone with fumbling hands. “Do you think she wants to talk to me? ‘Cause I wanna talk to her. I miss her.” A soft sigh escaped his lips. “Do you think she’ll just ignore me again? I just really wanna talk to her.” He repeated. “What do you think she’s doing?”
Lucas and Hazel exchanged a glance. “I don’t know if a text is the best idea right now, dude.” Lucas smiled. “I bet she’s sleeping anyway. It’s kinda late, don’t you think?”
“I bet she’d love to hear from you tomorrow.” Hazel promised him.
Florian’s brow furrowed. “I just wanna say hi. It’s fine.”
“Oh, hey! You love this song, don’t you, Florian?” Hazel continued, ignoring his words. “Let’s dance! You don’t mind, do you?” She asked Lucas quickly.
He shook his head. “Nah, go show Florian some of your moves.” Lucas teased, reaching out and giving her bottom a playful slap.
Florian hesitated for just a moment. He still wanted to talk to Clara… But he really did love this song. “Okay, okay, once dance.” He said at last.
He quickly downed the rest of his drink, then followed Hazel out onto the dance floor.
It’s not fair. Florian thought bitterly as he watched his friends making eyes at each other over in the corner. With every drink, Lucas and Hazel became more and more focused on no one but each other. The sight of them together hit Florian like a punch to the gut.
He’d been surprised but happy when Lucas had invited Hazel to join them on tour a few weeks ago. Florian was certain he’d never seen his friend so happy before. They really were perfect for each other… like something out of a cheesy romance movie. It was almost sickening, at times. And Florian loved to tease them for it.
But honestly? He was jealous more than anything else. He knew he was.
And Florian felt that familiar feeling of envy return as he watched Hazel straddle Lucas and pull him into a deep kiss. Hazel was amazing – bright, happy, funny, kind, and absolutely gorgeous… just like Clara.
For a moment, he found himself imagining that it was his fiancée over in that dark corner, and not Hazel. Sexy, beautiful, perfect… But who was it with her? He leaned closer, staring at the vision as though it were real.
Not me. He realized, his heart sinking further as the fears he’d been fighting for weeks began rising up within him once more.
With a shake of his head, Florian rose to his feet. He had to get away.
He swayed slightly as he made his way across the nightclub. Florian wasn’t quite sure where he was headed… Just anywhere far away from Lucas and Hazel. That much he knew.
“Hey, Flor!” A familiar female voice called out across the dance floor.
The man whipped his head around, searching for a few moments until he spotted them – Mia and David, hanging out by the bar. They waved him over eagerly and Florian, desperate for someone to talk to, headed toward them without hesitation.
“What’s goin’ on?” Mia asked happily. “Finally sick and tired of Lucas and that new piece of ass he’s been toting along with him?”
Florian’s eyes narrowed. He was in no mood to deal with their usual shit. “Hey, watch your mouth!” He snapped. “Hazel’s way more than just some ‘piece of ass’, okay? So shut up.”
From further down the bar, David shrugged. “Well he’s definitely got the right idea… So much easier than having to go out chasing girls every night.” He glanced over at Mia. “Though we still do that from time to time, right babe?” He winked.
Florian was unamused. Maybe I should just go…
Mia looked Florian up and down for a few moments. “You could definitely use a drink.” She said at last, calling the bartender over. “It’s on me, Flor. Don’t worry.” She smiled sweetly.
“Thanks.” He replied softly, staring down at his shoes.
“Okay, seriously Florian.” David sighed. “What’s going on? Why are you like this, man?” For once, he actually seemed genuinely concerned.
“It’s just… It’s Clara.”
“Of course it is.” The man laughed.
“I just miss her.” Florian continued, the drunken words spilling from his mouth much too easily. “I wanna see her so bad. I wanna talk to her. But I don’t think she wants to talk to me. She’s still ignoring me and stuff… She’s never been like this before. It’s driving me so fucking crazy!” He shook his head. “But I just wanna talk to her. I miss her… Doesn’t she miss me? Do you think she misses me?” His voice was suddenly panicked. “She misses me, right? But why would she ignore me if she misses me? Oh God, I just wanna talk to her… I miss her.” He repeated, a small part of him recognizing just how ridiculous he sounded. Unfortunately Florian had always been a bit paranoid when he drank too much.
“Woah, woah, slow down!” David laughed heartily.
Mia shook her head in apparent amusement. “Maybe ordering you a drink wasn’t the best idea… How many have you had, Flor?”
“I dunno.” He shrugged. “Why do you care? It doesn’t matter how drunk I am, okay? I just miss her! And I can’t stop thinking about what she might be doing right now…”
“Or… who?” Mia suggested with a smirk.
Florian nodded. Mia and David exchanged a look of surprise.
“I remember what you said to Lucas a few weeks ago.” He went on, turning his glazed-over eyes toward David. “About Tobi and Colette… His parents… That was such a dick thing to say. You know that, right?” Florian paused. “Of course you do. Because you ARE a dick. But anyway… Even if you’re a dick, I guess you’re kind of a smart dick? Because it kinda makes sense and stuff.” His mumbled words strung together as he spoke.
“You don’t know his parents the way I do… They really do love each other like crazy. Seriously. Like, a lot. But Tobi still came really close to fucking everything up and stuff… And I guess that wasn’t the only thing he was close to fucking.” For a moment, he almost laughed. “But guess what? Lucas’ Mama forgave him. They had to go to all this therapy shit, but they worked it out and stuff. But I guess you already know that part, right?”
David just nodded, a small smirk of amusement on his lips.
“So if Tobi could fuck up like that… Why couldn’t Clara? She could still love me but do something bad right? But she still loves me? You think she loves me, right?” His eyes flicked between his two bandmates. “I shouldn’t have to ask you that. I know she loves me… Doesn’t she?”
Mia smiled sweetly at him. “Of course she does. She wouldn’t have kept you around for the past four years if she didn’t.” She assured him. “But… four months is a long time to be alone, isn’t it? Who knows what could happen…”
Oh God. She’s right. Why did I leave her alone for so long? My Clara… What am I doing?! I shouldn’t have come here. I should be back home with her. I bet she’s fucking some other guy right now, isn’t she? And it’s all my fault… Goddamn it. Florian held his head in his hands for a few moments.
But can I forgive her? It’s not really her fault, right? It’s mine…. But why should I give her a free pass? I’ve been waiting MONTHS for her. Shouldn’t she be able to wait for me too? If she really loved me, she’d wait. But… DOES she love me? She does, right?
Florian rose to his feet. It was no use. He had to call her. He had to hear her voice. He had to finally ask her what the hell was going on, and why she’d been avoiding him for so long. I need the truth. I deserve that much, don’t I?
Without another word, he stormed off toward the restroom, ready to make the call.
When he entered the restroom and pulled his phone from his pocket, Florian was shocked to find that he had a missed call – from Clara.
It was the first time she’d called him in literally weeks. He’d always been the one to initiate communication lately. What could it mean? Was he worrying over nothing? Maybe she really DID miss him… But then why was she still being so weird? Avoiding him so much? There’s only one way to find out…
It took him three tries before he managed to dial the number correctly.
She picked up on the second ring. “Hey, baby.”
Florian felt a flood of warmth rush through him at the sound of her voice. “Clara! I’m sorry I didn’t hear my phone… I didn’t mean to ignore you.” Not like how you’ve been ignoring me. He wanted to say. But he fought to control what he said… After all, he didn’t want her noticing how much he’d been drinking.
“It’s okay.” Her voice was soft. Quieter than normal. “How was the gig tonight?”
“Oh man, it was awesome!” He smiled. “This crowd was one of the best all tour. Seriously fucking awesome! And Lucas tried out this new riff he’s been working on and he KILLED it. So damn good. I wish you could have been here… The crowd was probably one of the best we’ve had.”
“You said that already.” She laughed softly. “I’m glad you’re having such a good time, babe. I’m really proud of you.” Clara said seriously. “I’m sorry to bother you so late… There was just something I really wanted to talk to you about… You’re not busy or anything, are you?”
Florian shook his head, forgetting that she could not see him. “It’s fine.” He assured her. “What’s up?”
For a moment, there was silence on the other end of the phone. “I just really needed to tell you something.” Clara said at last. “I know I’ve been acting kind of weird lately. And I’m so sorry for that. I haven’t been fair to you… at all. So I just wanted to let you know what’s going on…”
A sickening feeling rose up in Florian’s stomach… And he knew it had nothing to do with how much he’d drank earlier. Oh my God. “O-okay…” He managed to choke out.
“This is really hard for me, Florian. I should have told you sooner… And I’m sorry…”
Shit. Oh my God. She really did it. “You don’t have to say it.” Florian felt his eyes prickling with tears already. “I know what you’re going to say.”
“You do?!” Clara sounded genuinely stunned. “But… how?”
“I’ve suspected it for a while…” Florian shook his head slowly. “God, I can’t believe this, Clara! How long have you been keeping this from me?!”
“Um… About a month?” She replied, her voice shaking slightly. “Maybe a little less… Florian, I’m so sorry.”
“You’d better be fucking sorry!” Florian felt himself coming unhinged, but he didn’t even try to stop it. “What’s his name, huh?!”
“What’s his name?!” He demanded a second time. “Oh God… There’s more than one, isn’t there? How many guys have there been, then?!” Florian felt a few hot tears escape and fall softly down his cheeks. “Jesus fucking Christ, Clara, how could you do this?!”
“What the fuck are you talking about?!” Clara’s voice shrieked through the speaker.
“I’m talking about you turning into some kind of fucking SLUT!” His deep voice echoed throughout the empty bathroom. “Unless this isn’t the first time…” He shook his head. The thought of Clara sleeping around behind his back was like a knife through his heart. “I really didn’t wanna believe I was engaged to a goddamn whore… But I guess I was right.”
“How fucking DARE YOU?! How could you even… How can you call me a…” She spluttered breathlessly. Florian heard the choking of sobs on the other end of the line. “I would NEVER DREAM of… What the FUCK is wrong with… I can’t believe you!” She seemed to be struggling to form full sentences.
Florian was so lost. He was hurt, and angry… But confused too. One minute she was confessing, and the next she was denying it. Jesus, is SHE drunk too? What the fuck?
“Clara, what the hell?!” He cried at last, weeks of frustration finally reaching its boiling point. “First you avoid me for WEEKS, then you call and make this big confession, then you start SCREAMING at me!” Florian felt the sudden urge to punch someone – anyone. He couldn’t remember ever being so angry in his entire life. “We’re supposed to be getting MARRIED, Clara! But I don’t think I can marry someone who treats me the way you do! Who lies and keeps secrets and maybe even FUCKS OTHER GUYS when I’m not around! I don’t even know who the FUCK you are anymore! So just give me a straight fucking answer, okay?! WHAT IS GOING ON?!”
“I’M PREGNANT, FLORIAN!”
“Your ‘slut’ fiancée is pregnant! And YES, before you start throwing another fucking string of accusations at me, it’s yours… They BOTH are!”
Florian closed his eyes. Oh my God. The bathroom around him that had once echoed with his cries of anger was now so silent, you could almost hear a pin drop.
Clara’s voice was strangely calm and cold as she broke the silence at last. “You say you can’t marry someone who lies and keeps secrets? Well I can’t marry someone who thinks so little of me that they’d call me a SLUT and accuse me of CHEATING on them. You’re a real piece of shit, Florian. So FUCK YOU.”
But it was too late – she’d already hung up.
The entire world was spinning – and it had nothing to do with his drunkenness. She’s pregnant… Holy SHIT. I’m gonna be a dad?! The thought was absolutely terrifying.
But not nearly as terrifying as the thought of losing Clara. Oh my God… What the fuck did I do?!
He tried calling her back once, twice, and finally a third time. It went straight to voicemail every time.
Florian staggered out of the bathroom in a daze, descending the stairs and heading straight for the door… He didn’t even bother stopping at the bar to close out his tab.
“Florian!” Hazel cried out, rushing toward him with Lucas at her side. “Are you okay?”
Across the room, David and Mia slipped off their barstools and hurried over to him. “Did you talk to Clara?” Mia asked sweetly.
Lucas’ brow furrowed in concern. “Dude, what’s wrong?”
“I… I think Clara and I just broke up.” His voice was barely above a whisper. “And… she’s pregnant.” Florian felt his tears returning as he continued making his way toward the door.
“Well, shit… Who’s the father?” David’s burst of cruel laughter was interrupted by the sounds of a sharp intake of breath, a loud smack, a sickening crunch, and a deep moan of pain.
Florian didn’t even bother looking over his shoulder. He couldn’t waste another second on those assholes. He had to get away, sober up, and figure out what the hell he was going to do.
Maybe this is all some kind of fucked up dream… Florian thought. Maybe I’m about to wake up any second. But something told him things wouldn’t be that easy.
Wiping away a few of his tears, he stepped out into the cold night air, Lucas and Hazel following quickly along in his wake.