Gabriel brushed Lennon’s wavy hair behind her shoulders, tucking some locks behind her ears as her head nestled against his shoulder. He was flat on the grass again and she was on her side, hair covering her face. The sunlight brought out the red in her hair. Her forelocks were more reddish. Her hair was brown, he decided, and it flowed in unruly waves to the middle of her back.
“I know. I need a haircut,” she spoke.
“No, my brother needs a haircut. You’re fine. It’s pretty.”
She rolled her eyes, but her cheeks tinted pink.
“I wish I was one of those really girly girls—more like Stacey—who can actually do hair and makeup. I don’t have the knack for it.”
“I don’t exactly manscape, Lucy,” he joked.
“I’ll tell you something, though, Gabe. I’ve always struggled with my confidence. I don’t like being called out on it. It’s uncomfortable.” Her legs moved to bend at the knees, feet planted flat on the grass as she flipped on her back. His right side cooled, missed the feeling of her warm body.
“No one likes to their flaws to be enumerated,” Gabriel said. “It’s what you do with your flaws, isn’t it?”
She shrugged. He suppressed a smile and rolled to his side to look at her.
“Name one thing you like about yourself.”
“What are you, my therapist?” She sighed in thought. “I like my booty.”
He grinned. “I like it, too.” He wondered if that would get him slapped.
“Oh, been looking, huh?” She was grinning. “You have a cute butt.”
He smirked, but didn’t say anything in response. A soft pink blush came across her cheeks and she stayed silent. Then she bit her lip.
“Thanks, I appreciate it,” he said, trying to quell any embarrassment she felt. Len’s lips tipped into a closed-mouthed smile. Silently, they stared out at the theatre, at trees and fields and the water tower. What could anyone from such a vibrant place like New York find here? The actors in town merely went where the work was. In a few months to a year, they’d be gone. Or maybe that was it. Maybe she was looking for the nothingness of Landslide. Nothingness tended to inspire deep thought, in some places, like those people who went to remote ashrams in India to meditate. If there was nothing, there was nothing to stress a person out, except yourself. Maybe they both required something to slow their minds down before it got too far ahead of their comprehension.
“Would you believe, I always wanted to get out of here,” Gabriel said quietly. “I wonder if that’s natural after a while. You want to get out and see the world.”
“It probably is. I think it’s healthy to want to do that, but…New York was making me so angry. And I don’t know if that was me or something that comes with age.”
“Well, something has to drive you out of your comfort zone. Anger’s a decent motivator.”
“Were you angry at something in Chicago?” She asked quietly.
He almost told her the whole story, but didn’t. Instead, he brought it back to her. It was easier to talk about her issues, than to face his.
“So you’re just going to let your talent stagnate,” he said.
She accepted the change of topic. “I didn’t say that.”
“But if you can’t finish a story, then it’s tantamount to that, isn’t it?”
Her eyes narrowed and she answered, slowly, “Why do you care?”
That, in fact, was a good question. One he couldn’t answer directly because he didn’t quite understand it himself. Sure, he cared about her. He liked her. He could even say that she puzzled him, in a good way, but…
“I hate to see talent go to waste.”
“In that case, I’m glad you’re playing again,” she said. “Stacey wanted to know why you’re still playing bars in the middle of nowhere, Missouri.”
“Gotta start somewhere, right?” He threw her a closed-lipped smile.
“Mmm. So. You have new songs?” Gabriel nodded. “Can I hear them sometime?”
“Will I get to read something of yours sometime?” He asked.
“Yes,” she promised. “Yes. Hey Ricky?”
“Kiss me again?”
Leaning over her body, one hand cupping a cheek and bringing her face that much closer to his, Gabriel answered her by capturing her lips between his. She pulled away to breathe after a minute, but he spotted the way she eyed him.
So he wasn’t completely taken by surprise when Lennon dove for him and his lips, pushing him down to lay in the grass. He felt her body settle on his and cracked his eyes open to see her knees on either side of his belly, her jeans stained lightly by the grass. She straddled him. With a moan, Gabriel placed a hand in the small of her back and brought her flat against him. She didn’t seem surprised. His curious lips followed a vein down the side of her neck.
But when he put his hands on her behind, one hand per cheek, she yelped quietly, if that was possible, and jumped a little.
He smiled up at her. “Surprise.” Touching a finger to her cheek, he whispered, “You’re blushing.”
She buried her face in his neck, lips ghosting against his skin. He let his hands travel upwards to her waist, but Lennon bobbed her head up, a small frown marring her face.
Gabriel slid his hands down to cup her bottom again. She smirked. He rolled them over, felt her tiny fingers brush his back under his shirt, and began kissing her in earnest.
Car doors slammed below them in the parking lot and Gabriel remembered that they were in a public place and slowly, reluctantly, rose above her.
“We might have an audience,” he said quietly.
“Oh,” she said. “Oh!” Her eyes opened wide. She squirmed. “I should probably…”
He rolled to her side, letting her move away.