Grady Timmins may be the younger brother, but he was way more responsible than his rocker big brother Alastair, who just left town to tour with his band: Fintan’s Flood.
Grady finally scored a date with Gracie, his college crush, but on their first date (well sort of date, not quite) drama off the stage blew up in his face. Kelsey Cadence, his high school crush said she was pregnant and thinks Grady was the father. The only problem was, Alastair pretended to be Irish using a mighty convincing accent and used his brother’s name as an alias. In the dark, the bearded, pale, tall, lanky brothers could easily be mistaken for each other. But Grady sort of helped perpetuate the lie by letting Kelsey think they spent the night together the next morning… Yep, Alastair brought Kelsey home to the house he shares with his brother.
At least Grady had a chance to come clean that Alastair was likely to be the expecting father. Who knew if Gracie can get past the scheme he pulled on Kelsey with Alastair and give him another chance. Or maybe he finally had a chance at Kelsey’s heart, but would he want to be with her considering it may come with baggage.
That’s the thing… It’s like a 99.9% sure thing Kelsey was on the fast track for mommy-hood. Kelsey grew up in a religious conservative home and though she was no perfect angel, she went to church every Sunday and was very pro-life. She probably wouldn’t get an abortion.
Things left off with Kelsey asking how she could get a hold of Alastair and Grady couldn’t even get a hold of his brother because Alastair’s cell had an automated message it was shut off.
Kelsey doesn’t have her own car and due to the strong likely hood she’s the incubator for my future kin, I agree to take her home. And even though Gracie drove herself to the theatre, she insisted to ride with us to Kelsey’s. I chauffeured them across town as they sat in the back.
If silence could echo, it reverberates from front to back in my tiny car. Everything was just awkward… Was I going to have to track my brother down or do I press Kelsey for clarification. Was there a chance at all Felix could be the father?
I pull into the parking lot of a pay-by-the-hour or pay-weekly one story motel, on Miracle Mile, the prostitute and druggy district.
“Thanks…” Kelsey says as she opens her door.
“You don’t really live here?” Gracie asks.
“It’s all I can afford right now between school and my acting commitments.” She explains.
I look at her through the rearview mirror. She looks down, too ashamed to look at Gracie.
“Gray, she can’t stay here. Let’s help her get her things and you can take us to my place.”
I must have looked at Gracie like she was a lunatic via the rearview mirror because she was quick to defend herself. “She’s my sister Christ, I can’t let a pregnant woman live in this hell whole.”
“Shouldn’t you discuss adding a roommate with your roommates.” I remind her.
“It’s fine really. I paid for next week already.”
“Why are you here Kels?” Gracie prods for details.
Kelsey sighs and shut the door. Tearing up, she sniffles as she inhales. “My parents didn’t support my choice to major in Theatre… and they didn’t support my relationship with Felix… because he was Catholic.”
“Isn’t your family religious?” I ask.
“Gray, leave her alone…”
Kelsey chuckles faintly as she wipes her nose. “It’s alright…” She takes both her hands and tucks the sides of her wavy hair behind her ears. “They’re Pentecostal Holiness…”
“Damn… that’s rough…” Gracie ironically curses.
“What does that mean…? Isn’t religious just religious?”
“Clearly not, being Muslim isn’t the same as being Jewish and those are two religious affiliations.” Kelsey retorts.
“Actually, those are cultural dynamics too. And if all of us were born in the Middle East, we would most likely be Muslim… or Jewish…”
“You know what… I don’t feel like arguing… Now that you have my number, can you just call me when you get in touch with your brother… I need to know what he wants to do.” And angrily she gets out and slams the door. Gracie leans forward to stare me straight in the face. I can tell she wants me to go check on Kelsey without ordering me to do so.
Grudgingly, I go after Kelsey. I think that’s what attracts me to Gracie the most, she makes me painfully aware of my humanity and reminds me why it is worth it to be a good person. I suppose people who are good at being Christians are really good at caring about people and meaning… Sometimes kind tolerate people seem fake with their caring attitudes.
I watch her barge into a room with a missing number. A faint dusty, adhesive imprint leaves a barely visible 9. The potent aroma of skunky weed swirls in the air from the neighboring room. A cockroach crawls out, from the creak in the door, to the room Kelsey just entered. A high pitched scream curdles from behind the door. I try to rush in to check on her but the door is locked.
Pounding on the door I yell, “Are you okay?!”
“I’m fine…” She hollers back, her tone muffled by the door. “Can you just go? I’m tired.”
“Can I come in?”
“I don’t really want you to…”
“Well, um… I just thought…” And before I can say more, the door swings open and Kelsey steps back outside shutting the door behind her.
Sobbing she plants her face on my chest and folds me into her embrace. Mumbling she says…”I know… don’t. …no.. e… I just… ee… d… a ha..ug…”
To avoid getting lectured by Gracie later, I gently put my arms around Kelsey and I couldn’t feel more awkward. I don’t know why she is crying… Did she see a bug?
“Who knows how long my brother will be MIA but Gracie and I meant it earlier… You don’t have to go through this alone. You can come stay with me at the house.”
Kelsey backed up letting me go. She used her hands to wipe her eyes dry… “I can’t take your offer, I’m not going to be your charity case.”
“Whatever you pay here you can rent out a room.”
“I need to be by the bus line, I don’t have a car.”
“My brother left his truck behind, you can drive that, if you have a license.”
Biting her thumbnail, she ponders. “If we did hook up, and you were the father, would you be this nice?”
Smiling uncontrollably I blurt out, “I’d marry.”
She laughs so I laugh off what I said. I can’t believe I said that out loud… would I really do that?
“Aren’t you dating Gracie?”
“Wait, how do you know Gracie again?”
“Church… I’m not part of the holiness movement anymore. Non-denominational is my speed. That and Vera…”
“So…” And without letting me extend my offer to stay at my house again she speaks.
“I can’t be your charity case… thank you though.” She gives me another hug and then returns inside her scuzzy motel room.
When I get back in my car, Gracie smacks me upside the head. Then she climbs through the middle of the front seats, to settle into the passenger side.
“Whatever you said wasn’t compelling enough. She can’t stay here bae.”
“Since when was I your bae?”
Then on an atomic level the silence bomb drops again making things just weird between us. Apparently, tonight was a date anyways.
She breaks through the quiet drawing a breath before she speaks… “We could date if want to, but we need to have some ground rules…”
“No sex. Not unless we get married one day… And I mean no sex at all…of any kind…”
“How would we be any different than glorified platonic friends?”
“Huh…” she sighs. “Like my faith is important to me Grady, and I’m taking it more seriously now… but I can’t deny how I feel about you… We might not have much of chance of making it, but I’d like to give it shot.”
“I’m never going to believe in God.”
“You should never say never, but let’s never talk religion when we’re together either.”
“You act like I’m agreeing to this?”
“I’d like you to consider it. I have such strong feelings for you I don’t know if I can handle just being your friend anymore…”
For song long I wanted to call Gracie mine. To say that she’s my girl. Yet, I’m totally freaked out. When I dated Miranda it was great at first, but she dumped in the end because I wouldn’t convert to Christianity and she couldn’t do life with a non-believer. Someone she was “unevenly yoked” with…
Is love strong enough to go beyond such drastic differences? And Gracie’s friendship means so much… I can’t lose that.
Catching me off guard she kisses me stealing my breath. Then she rubs my cheek and looks into my eyes and says, “We can still do that… a lot…”
I haven’t had this much joy in so long. So long I’ve forgotten. There is a warmth she brings when she’s in the room. I may hate myself for doing this, but… “Okay, let’s date.”
She beams the brightest smile and kisses me again to seal the deal.
Then she settles into the front seat and buckles herself in. I start the car and joke, “Your place or mine?”
She hits me in the shoulder playfully.
“Ouch, no I’ll take you back to your car… Can I plan our next date?”
She rubs her fingers through my hair, and says, “I love surprises…” as I drive down Miracle Mile, where I miraculously started dating the girl of my dreams.