The Fill-in Boyfriend

Chapter 30

I sat at the head of the table, the other members of the student council staring at me, waiting for me to say something. I usually enjoyed leading discussions, but so far I had been useless in this meeting.

“Gia,” Daniel, the vice president, said, “I think we’re ready to move on to item number two.”

“Right.” I looked down at the paper in front of me. Item number two was one I had fought for, an all-night graduation party on the beach. “Did everyone complete their assignments?”

“We’re good on permits,” Daniel said.

“I haven’t been able to get a band,” Ashley said. “Were there any bands that tried out for prom that would work for this?”

“No . . .” I paused, thinking about Nate’s band. “I don’t know, maybe.” The day we had auditioned bands had been a long one. Maybe we weren’t hearing clearly for the last ones. “I’ll find out and let you know. What about the food? Is that taken care of?”

Clarissa nodded. “That’s covered.”

“And the sign-up list online is looking pretty full. We might actually get a good turnout for this sober-grad-night thing,” Daniel said.

“Don’t sound so surprised. Other schools do this, you know.”

“I just figured everyone would want to party on graduation night.”

“We will be partying.” I crossed number two off the list and tapped my pen a couple of times on the page. “So does anyone want to speak at the rally next Friday? Give the motivational ‘we’re about to graduate’ speech?”

Daniel, who had just taken a sip from his bottle of water, coughed and tried to catch his breath. The others just stared at me.

“What?” I asked.

“We figured you’d want to speak for the last rally of the year.”

“Yeah . . . Well, I’m asking if anyone else wants to.”

Ashley shook her head no. As my eyes went around the table everyone else did the same. Daniel said, “Not really. You’re really good at it and this was your year. You’ve earned it.”

I wanted to feel proud about that but I wasn’t sure if I should anymore. If that meant I was selfish. I had worked hard this year, mostly for college but also because I liked leadership and enjoyed giving speeches and fighting for a cause. I tapped my pen on the page a few more times. “Okay. I will. Thanks. As for the rest of the items on the agenda, just look over them and email me or Daniel with any questions. I think we’ll let out early today.”

The room immediately filled with chatter as everyone stood and talked between themselves. Daniel was staring at me. I didn’t have to look to know.

“What?”

“You seem distracted today. Normally you’re so organized and put together.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t be. It made you more real.”

I finally looked his way. “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know.” He glanced toward the door, where the last person had just filed out. “I guess this whole year you’ve seemed a bit untouchable.”

“What do you mean? We dated. How is that untouchable?”

“You were . . .” He hesitated like maybe he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. “You weren’t real. It’s like you were the representation of what a girlfriend is supposed to be.” He pointed at my binder. “The representation of what a school president is supposed to be. Picture perfect. Never a misstep. You could write the handbook.”

I cringed.

He finally stood. “It’s not a bad thing. But this is better. . . . It’s nice. Makes me want to ask you out again.”

“You already did ask me out again, and I told you I don’t do repeats.” I threw my pen at him as he headed for the door.

He laughed. “You’re only proving my point.”

I sighed and looked around the now-empty table. I’d sat here all year and what had I really done? In my binder I flipped to the tab that read Prom. The sign-up sheet for band auditions was still there. Twenty acts. Some were soloists, a couple of duets. The show choir had even tried out. There were nine actual bands. I wasn’t sure which one was Nate’s but I’d figure it out. Maybe they had a garage practice I could crash.

I could hear the music when I stepped out of the car. The beat of the drums reverberated through my chest as I walked up the driveway. I pasted on a smile and stepped through the side door. No one saw me at first and the song kept going, its beat reaching all the way to my toes. The song seemed catchy. The lead singer had a good voice and was very charismatic. My eyes were drawn to him as he bounced around, singing into a microphone. I repeated his name several times in my head so I would remember it—Marcus.

I hadn’t stood there long when the drums stopped, Nate catching my eye with a questioning look. The other instruments kept playing but one by one each person stopped and eventually all eyes were on me.

“This is a closed rehearsal,” Marcus said. If he knew who I was—the girl who had indirectly insulted his band just a couple of months ago—he didn’t let on.

“I know. I was hoping to talk to you about possibly playing for sober grad.”

He laughed once. “Is this a joke?”

“No.” I held a clipboard as if that would make me look more professional, but I realized it probably also made it look like he was one of many bands I was considering. He was the only one. “You tried out for prom.”

“And you and your friends passed. I think we’ll pass this time.”

So he hadn’t forgotten.

The other members, even Nate, nodded in agreement and the bass player said, “The sound equipment you guys had set up that day and at prom sucked. Hard. Metallica would’ve sucked playing on your equipment.”

“Who’s Metallica?”

Marcus grunted. “You’re the person in charge of music? Seriously, what have we done to deserve this form of punishment? How are you qualified to pick a band?”

“I’m not. At all.”

He opened his mouth as if he were going to argue but then paused before saying, “Exactly.”

“But I liked what I heard tonight. Will you play for sober grad night? Please. I came here to personally extend an invite.”

He looked me up and down and I wished Nate would say something, stick up for me, but he seemed to be letting Marcus call the shots. I didn’t blame him. “I don’t know. I have to talk to the band. Maybe.”

“Will you text me and let me know?” I handed him a card with my number on it.

He stared at it then shoved it in his back pocket. “Gia Montgomery is giving me her phone number. Wow.”

“If you guys won’t play . . . maybe you can refer us to a band that will because, as you pointed out, I am so not qualified to pick one.”

“Sure.”

“Thanks.” I reached out to shake his hand and he gave me a fist bump. “How long have you all been playing together?”

“Two years.”

“Do you write your own music?”

“We do.”

“Well, I can tell you work hard. Thanks again.” I headed for the door.

“Bye, Gia,” Nate called. I smiled and left. When I was almost to my car, I heard someone call after me. I turned around to see Marcus stroll up.

“Hey, we’ll think about sober grad, okay?”

I smiled. “I know, you already said that.”

“But this time I mean it.”

“Oh.”

“See ya.” And with that he walked away.

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