Through All the Dust
Chapter Nineteen: Imposter a New You
I startled awake, shooting straight up and gripping at my chest. My heart rate was rapid and I was sweating through my clothes. Brian was sleeping peacefully to my right, the room illuminated only by the moonlight creeping through the window and the clock beside the bed flashing 3:17 in red.
After deep breathing for several minutes in an attempt to calm my racing chest, I was absolutely parched. I climbed out of the bed, careful not to disturb Brian. He looked so sweet as he breathed subconsciously. I wondered for a quick second what he was dreaming about.
I made my way downstairs, tip-toeing down the stairs in an attempt to be ultra-quiet. It was tempting to flick on the light in an effort to guide my way, but I was reluctant to cause any disturbances at this ungodly hour.
The sound of the television made my hair stand on end. I considered running back upstairs and shaking Brian awake to alert him of the intruder. But I was a grown-ass woman and I could take care of myself.
My breathing stopped as I inched my way around the end of the bannister and into the doorway of the living room, creeping my head around the frame.
My heart stopped.
I knew that back of a head anywhere. My mouth dried itself out as I tip-toed into the living room, rounding the corner of the couch with my eyes permanently fixated on our uninvited guest. My hands were shaking, my knees were weak.
“Jimmy?” I croaked weakly.
His blue eyes snapped to focus on me, a playful grin on his face.
“Sorry, did I wake you up?” he asked so casually that I almost forgot I’d lost him. “I swear, I have it set at like 4. Brian slapped me last time I listened any louder passed midnight.”
I could do nothing but stare. My blood ran cold and my skin fell cocaine white.
“What?” he asked, pulling back a little. “What’s wrong with you?”
He shifted uncomfortably.
His eyes glanced from me to the television and back, “I can turn it off…”
I broke free of my chains and pounced onto his lanky frame. My arms squeezed around his neck tightly as I breathed into his neck. He placed his hands lightly on my back and chuckled softly into my messy hair.
“What’s with you?” he snickered, trying to pull away.
“No,” was all I could muster, pulling him in tighter and pursing my eyes shut.
He laughed, giving my body a tight squeeze and a little rub on my back. Finally I pulled away to look at him, sitting quite comfortably in his lap. My eyes were watery—his were confused.
“What—” I tried but stopped. “How—”
I just couldn’t stop staring.
His crystal blues were as playful as I’d remembered. He narrowed his brows at me, shaking his head a little.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked lightly. “Brian not giving you enough attention or what?”
I smiled a little, reaching out to touch his face. He let me but he looked genuinely confused.
“Stop touching me,” he finally laughed, swatting my hand away.
“I’m just…” I sighed in relief. “I’m really happy to see you.”
He scoffed at me, “Okay, Blair.”
He pushed me out of his lap, reminding me of that time he’d made the choice to kiss me—and how he imagined Brian would react if he came down and found his girlfriend in his best friend’s lap. I assured Jimmy that would be the least of Brian’s concerns but he strongly disagreed.
“You should go back to bed,” he instructed me after a minute.
I shook my head, “I’m not tired.”
“Don’t be weird,” he smiled. “You look like you haven’t slept in six years.”
“I just want to sit with you for a while,” I told him sleepily.
He was on the verge of objecting.
“Please,” I insisted softly.
He conceded, returning his attention to the television. It was a cooking show; something I never would have pegged Jimmy watching. But he seemed interested; I was interested only in him.
He looked just the same. His arms were inked as I remembered, his piercing bounced as he spoke like I knew, his hair was disheveled as always…He was completely unchanged. Except the weird looks he kept giving me.
“Come on,” he snickered once I’d started nodding off on the couch. “Let’s get you to bed.”
His hands took mine and it sent shivers through my entire body. I looked up at him helplessly—this time he looked sad.
“What?” he demanded.
I frowned, “How are you here?”
“What do you mean?” he asked with his eyes narrowed.
I bit at my lip, “You left us…”
“I haven’t gone anywhere,” he laughed. “How fucking sleep deprived are you?”
He led me off the couch and up the stairs, keeping my left hand in his as we walked. I leaned against him a little, tired and confused. He shushed me as we stepped into my bedroom and Jimmy nearly shoved me into my bed.
His eyes fell on Brian quickly and then back to me, “I’ll see you in the morning. I’ll try and keep it down.”
“Jimmy,” I said louder than I meant to.
“Sh!” he demanded, holding a finger to his lips. “You’ll wake up Brian.”
I winced at him. His eyes softened before he headed for the door.
“Jimmy?” I whispered to his back.
He stopped and turned, “Blair.”
I smiled fondly, “I really, really love you.”
“I know,” he nodded. “I really, really love you back.”
“I miss you,” I sighed.
He shook his head, “You’re so fucking weird today. Go to sleep.”
He shut the door behind him and I began to fall back to sleep listening to him rustling around downstairs in my kitchen. He must have been banging pots and pans around because the commotion was loud and distinct. I worried Brian might wake up as the sound grew louder and louder.
I jumped straight up, panting and grabbing at my chest. Brian was looking at me amusedly, grinning from ear to ear.
Our room was flooded in sunlight and the clock read 10:04. I was immediately disoriented, and began rubbing at my head as if that would remedy the situation and help me to make sense of it all.
“Are you okay?” Brian asked me with a tilt of his head. “You were talking in your sleep.”
I looked down to my lap, “What was I saying?”
“Nothing comprehendible,” he shrugged.
The sound of pans clattering onto the floor filled our house. Brian shook his head with a grin.
“Marge is making brunch,” he told me. “I shut the door earlier to try and save you from the ruckus; I guess it worked.”
I rubbed at my eyes. I could almost see Jimmy just behind my eyelids.
“I had the weirdest dream,” I told him sleepily.
He sat on the edge of the bed, “What was it?”
“Did I get up last night?” I asked him slowly.
He shrugged, “Not that I know about. I was up at, like, three…you were still zonked the fuck out.”
“At three?” I asked disappointedly.
“Yeah…” he eyed me suspiciously. “Why?”
“Nothing,” I forced a smile. “Just a weird dream. I should get up.”
I considered telling Brian about what had happened, but I was worried it would only upset him. I didn’t want him to think that Jimmy’s death had somehow become a novelty to me, or my subconscious mind. But I smiled a little at the fantastical memory.
“The guys are downstairs,” Brian told me. “Marge has been telling them all kinds of shit. So…prepare yourself for that.”
“What’s Caroline doing?” I yawned, stretching my arms above my head.
“She’s outside with Lauren,” he shrugged.
We’d invited our entire extended family over for brunch. I thought it would be nice since my family was in town—all we were missing was Tom. But it seemed like such a perfect opportunity to introduce everyone before the wedding. Marge had been ecstatic about the whole idea. Caroline was less easy to sway but she’d agreed under duress.
“I’ll be down in a minute,” I sighed, pushing myself out of the bed and over to my vanity.
“You sure you’re okay?” Brian asked me through the mirror.
He came up behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist and meeting my eyes in the mirror.
“Look at that,” he smirked at me. “Even rolling out of bed, you’re so god damn gorgeous.”
“Am not,” I objected happily.
The butterflies in my stomach were flying around, bumping into the walls over and over again.
I turned my head, planting a quick kiss on his cheek, “Let me get myself presentable.”
He slapped my butt before disappearing back into the chaos. I readied myself hurriedly, painfully aware of the fact that I’d majorly slept in. Once I was mostly put together, I made my way downstairs.
“Morning!” Zacky greeted me, sipping at a mug full of coffee.
I grumbled something of a hello as my front door swung open and Justin and Mona came marching in. Justin ran to me excitedly, grabbing me by the arms.
“I listened to your new songs last night,” he told me. “Fuck, they’re good. We’re going to make a killer album.”
I laughed, “It’s too early for shop talk, Justin.”
“It’s, like, eleven,” he stated firmly.
“We will get deep into it,” I assured him. “But first, coffee.”
Mona leaned against my friend, “Let Blair wake up. She obviously just rolled out of bed.”
“That’s nice,” I teased. “Thanks.”
I dismissed myself and headed straight for the coffee pot. Marge handed a steaming hot mug to me knowingly. I thanked her.
“Have a good sleep?” she smirked.
I shrugged, “It was…Yeah, it was fine. Sorry I slept so late. I guess I was tired.”
“Food will be ready in ten,” she dismissed me. “Go have your morning smoke now, because if you try and leave during brunch, I’ll hurt you.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I laughed, grabbing Brian’s smokes off the counter because I couldn’t find my own.
I sunk into a chair next to my aunt, who swatted the smoke away dramatically.
“Sorry,” I frowned, moving to a chair far away from her and further from Lauren.
“Welcome to the world, sunshine,” she teased.
I desperately wanted to tell Lauren about my dream. She was my best friend and she lived for weird, vivid shit like that. But she seemed to be in such a good place lately, and looked so happy on that particular morning, that I decided I couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t tell anyone. I’d just have to bury it.
“Sorry,” I laughed, taking a long drag of my smoke.
“Lauren and I were just discussing her pregnancy,” my aunt told me. “She told me that she’d chosen you to be her child’s godmother.”
I nodded, “That’s right.”
My aunt smiled, “That’s wonderful. I commend the choice.”
“Speaking of pregnancies and shit,” Lauren hummed. “As a future godmother, you have some responsibilities…duties, if you will. There will be times when you’ll be called upon—”
“Holy shit, Lo,” I groaned with a smirk. “What the fuck do you want?”
“There’s entirely too much cussing in this yard for my taste,” my aunt joked—I think. She may have been serious. “I’ll see you both inside.”
We waited for the door to close behind her.
“I have an appointment next week,” she told me. “I was wondering if you could come with me.”
I smiled, breathing the smoke out through my nose, “Of course.”
“I get to find out the sex of the baby,” she told me giddily. “You know…assuming he or she cooperates.”
I was excited. I guess it showed on my face because Lauren began to giggle.
“I hope it’s a girl,” she gushed. “No. A boy. A boy…But girls are so sweet in their frilly dresses…”
I snickered, “I’m pretty sure you’ll have one or the other.”
She shook her conflict away, “So you’ll come with me? I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have there with me for the occasion…you know, other than the obvious....”
I leaned over and reached out to cup her hand in my own, I smiled at her, “I wouldn’t miss it.”
What's Lauren having? Boy? Girl? Sheep?
Oh, sorry for tugging at your hearts. You know it's out of love.