Neon Red – Chapter 61

(DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. It’s important to remember this is all totally fabricated, embellished, and exaggerated for entertainment purposes.)


Look how far we’ve come, my baby…

Shania Twain | Still The One

June 2018

Madison Square Garden

New York, New York

“Ready?” he stuck his head into the car when I arrived at the rear entrance to the arena before the show. My stomach knotted uncontrollably, but I couldn’t have been more ready.

“As ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose.”

“Good, love to hear it!” he jutted a hand into the car, and despite wearing only part of his stage gear, which consisted of royal blue trousers with pink accents and a white tank top, every ring was precisely in place, including the large rose I’d given him last year. I marveled at the fact that he was still wearing it, putting it on every single day without fail, as devoutly as a wedding ring.

Uncaring of how we might’ve appeared to others, I took his hand and allowed him to help me out of the car. The sun was still out, promising the evening would be long and balmy. The sort of whether that was quintessential summer memories and summer lovemaking. He grabbed my backpack off the seat for me then shut the door. I stuck to my usual protocol for meetups like this: dark Ray Bans in place, along with my black hoodie, black beanie, and the black crew tee he’d lent me for the night. Now I stood there watching my surroundings, hair bristling like a caged cat, waiting on further instructions. Few people were around at the rear door, mostly crew members of the venue who were busy preparing for the show and couldn’t care less about who I was or why I was with the man of the hour. Haz stepped before me now, a strange smirk on his face.

“What?” I chuckled.

“Oh nothing…”

“Sure, likely story. It’s sumthin, alright. Why youh lookin’ at me like that, huh?”

Nothing, nothing…it’s just that…uh, mate, the idea was to look inconspicuous. You look like you’re ready to rob a freaking bank. Like the Hamburglar!” I cracked up at that.

True, true. Maybe I did goh a bit overboard with the black, but I wanted to make sure I blended into the shadows quite well. Hey, better to be safe than sorry, yeah?”

“I guess so.”

Things were awkward because we couldn’t kiss or hug. We simply watched one another through my glasses a while longer, before he finally led me inside to a massive freight elevator. The doors created a ruckus when they closed, and it smelled like a garage. Even inside this enclosed space, we were careful not to touch or converse. The narrative was that I was a close friend. Old mates. No lover action allowed. No conversation because we might slip up with the endearments and say something questionable. Still, as the elevator loudly made its way up to the top floor of the building, he inched closer to me until our knuckles were brushing. It was difficult not to be physical when we were near each other. It just was. Couldn’t explain it for the life of me. And my heart betrayed me completely, pounding out of my chest, desperate to be pulled into his arms.

“You’ve gotta behave, babe…” I uttered, eyes nearly fluttering shut as our fingers brushed back and forth so tenderly. So defiantly. All of my insides tingled perversely, and a fire pooled in my belly, spilling down into my groin. I could feel my heart rising into my throat with the inherent danger. Now his fingertips stroked up the inside of my palm and inner wrist and I swallowed thickly, mouth watering. God we couldn’t even go twenty minutes without pawing each other. Hands always wandering. Always discovering. It’s like we were still pubescent schoolboys looking to get off at the merest suggestion of bare skin. Unable to control the hormones that drove us to taste, touch, penetrate. Eight whole years now and still not bored of each other. This was a curse. Why wasn’t I disenchanted with him by now? With any of this? When would I ever be?

Finally, the door dinged and opened vertically, unlike a normal passenger elevator, creating just as much noise as when it had closed. Before leading the way out, he pulled yearningly at a few of my fingers, our hands parting with clear reluctance. Down an ill-lit hall and into a small crew breakroom we went, which housed a black sofa, a few recliners, a TV, and an old table and chairs. He flicked the light on and it chased away the shadows that had previously resided there. It was a white, piercing light and I imagined he could see my pores.

“I would’ve gotten you a really nice box, but we couldn’t risk anyone seeing you from the other boxes.”

“No worries, babe, after that penthouse suite in Prague, you’ll never hear me complainin’.”

“So what d’you think? Will it work?”

“Um…” I began, stepping about in a slow 360, eyeing the row of vending machines to the right, one for sodas and several for snakes. “I mean, it’ll do, yeah? Pretty comfortable, innit?”

“I thought so. And this way you’re close so I can come up and see you whenever I want.”

“I’d like that.”

“And when I move over to the B-Stage,” he stepped towards the balcony and opened the door, pointing over the railing at the empty arena. “You’ll be right here where I can see you the whole time. I want to be able to see you, please. It’s the only time we’ll be directly over one another all night.”

“I’ll be visible, I promise.”

“And don’t worry, I’ll order you dinner—”

“Don’t worry, babe, not necessary. I already ate earlier, plus me nerves won’t let me get anythin’ down right now. Save yourself the trouble. I’m super impressed though, babe. You’ve really thought of everythin'” I chuckled, approaching him. He bore down into my eyes, super serious.

“Of course. I don’t want you to regret coming here. I need you to know how much I appreciate you taking this risk for me. It’s huge, Zayn, and it says a lot. I’ll never forget it, alright?”

“Lighten’ up, babe. Can I have a kiss now?” I gazed up into his whirling eyes, the green whacky beneath such intense light. Absently stroking up and down his bare arms, I brought my lips inches from his and whispered, “Are we safe?”

He could only nod, barely able to maintain eye contact for staring at my mouth. I parted my lips, then slowly licked them. His lashes fluttered. He drew closer, entrancedly, clutching at my waist.

“I don’t know if there are any cameras….” His warm breath swept my face, teasing my open mouth. “But I saw someplace else along the way that could work…”

I nodded, staring at his lips in return.

“Just one kiss…” was his stern dictate, and I nodded again.

Setting my bag down, he took me by the hand and guided me back out of the room and down the hall to a storage closet. I watched his broad shoulders flex beneath the fitted white tank top and thanked God for Harry Lambert. Safely inside, there was nothing but countless shelves of cleaning supplies and an empty desk with an ancient landline phone. The door shut and he flicked the light on, telling me to help search for security cameras. Thankfully there were none. Now we went at it, colliding and kissing like there was no tomorrow. Moaning into each other’s mouths. Humping each other. Crotches grinding. I couldn’t stop. I wiggled my hips with abandon, brushing my cock against this and squeezing his ass. Sputtering into his mouth anytime he grinded back up into me, making our hips buck. We were pitiful.

Fuck, he wouldn’t stop kissing me; not that I wanted him to anyway. What ever happened to ‘Just one kiss’ though? I knew he couldn’t resist it either despite how stern he had been. Oh my God, we couldn’t stop. There was something about this place, something about this moment. My tongue felt more at home in his skull than it did in my own, and he welcomed it warmly, whimpering as he flicked it with his own. Everything about the way he handled me was so inviting. He grabbed either side of my face, forcing us to slow down, relishing the drunken brush of our lips. We couldn’t stop. As though there was no oxygen left and we had only to pilfer it from each other. He tongued me so hard I thought I sprained mine. I could barely keep up now. We couldn’t stop.

“Hungry, baby…” I muttered accusatorily against his mouth, sucking and biting his tongue and lips every free opportunity. He pushed my beanie off and caressed my purple head, his other hand snaking up the back of my shirt, and eventually down into my briefs.

Fuck, babe…” I gasped against his mouth, as he squeezed my bare ass, gut clenching in anticipation of things I was uncertain of. I pushed him back against the door with my hips, trying to keep my hands out of his hair so I wouldn’t ruin the styling. Trying to keep from undressing him. Oh my God he smelled amazing. A recognizable cologne I couldn’t quite pin down at the minute——

We broke to catch our breath, and I rested against his heaving chest, panting like some kind of animal. Then I traced faint kisses above the neckline of his tank top, over onto his tattooed shoulder, grateful he’d gone sleeveless for the night. I kissed the small black heart and he flinched like he’d touched hot iron. I did it again and he pet the back of my head, trying to pacify himself in the gesture.

“I gotta go…” he grumbled, assailed by my kisses all over now——his arms, his lips, his stubbled jaw. His gorgeous neck, so long and soft and sinewy. My man. His Adam’s apple rising and falling as he panted in frustration.

“Who do youh belong to?” I demanded. “Say it…”


“That’s right.”

“I’m yours…”

“I know youh are.”

“Choke me…” he spat. Right away I grabbed him by the neck with both hands, squeezing until he wheezed.

“Again…” he begged when I let go.

“That’s enough for now. Youh gotta sing, remember?” We laughed.

“Guess, I better get going…” he pecked my lips a few more times, then headed away.

Wait, wait, wait…” I pulled him back. “Don’t goh. Youh got a few more minutes? I want youh soh bad right now, babe. I can taste it. Please…please—”

“We can’t…not here—”

“Youh can if I say youh can…”


“Shuddup…” I shoved him over to the desk and sat him partially atop.

“Z…they’re looking for me, mate…seriously.” His phone wouldn’t stop ringing.

“Silence it. I don’t wanna hear it ring again.”

He did so without question, knowing he wanted it just as badly as I did. Our hankering was off the charts and perfectly aligned. He was just playing coy. I could taste it in his mouth, how badly he wanted me. Wanted me to take control. Wanted me to push him to the point of no return so he’d have no choice but to bust for me. Now I unzipped the bright blue pants, revealing his raging boner through his briefs.

“Youh can’t goh out there with this…” I stroked him, having found the perfect excuse to do whatever I wanted.

“It’s your fault…I was fine until you got here…”

“It’s always my fault.” I took my hoodie off and plopped it into a pillowy heap on the floor between his legs, then knelt there. “Soh let me make it right again…”

I fondled his massive bulge, lifting it through the material, gazing softly up at him before nuzzling my face into it. Breathing his hidden aroma. His heat.

“Wait…” he whimpered.

Too late. I shoved the pants all the way down to his ankles, running my palms up the back of his calves. Kissing the insides of his thighs which were scorching hot from his pants. Pants that were a little too snug in the crotch and left nothing to the imagination, particularly not for a someone who had seen him naked a thousand times. Someone who took pride in knowing every sublime inch of his body. Could identify every curve and crevice, even blindfolded. He’d definitely be running late tonight, and I didn’t feel sorry in the least.

“Let me take care of youh…” I kissed him through the briefs, mouthing his hard-on like I’d never seen it or had the privilege of holding it before.

“Mine?” I asked, gazing up to him again.

He nodded before panting, “Yours.”

Now I looped my hands into his waistband from behind, dragging the underwear off his hips. I could almost feel the cold metal touching his ass as he sat against the desktop again. I pulled the material down his legs, past his knees and flexing calves and left it there. His cock slowly sprang up to attention and it took all I was not to jam it down my throat in one gulp. I needed to savor this. Needed to take my time on him. I stroked my way up his thighs and his inky belly as he leaned back. He lifted the tank top to his chest, exposing as much of his exquisitely sculpted body as he could for me.

There was something wildly sensual and helpless in the way he looked just now. I grew mad on how illicit it all was. Him half naked and totally undone in this tiny dark room for me. Legs parted. Totally undressed. Gorgeous cock flopping about unrestrained. Breath shallow. Eyes nothing but lust-drunk slits. Here he was ready to play the biggest gig of his life, Harry Fucking Styles, the megastar of the century. Multiple nights at MSG sold out in a row. Tens of thousands of screaming souls lined up to earn but a distant glimpse of his silhouette for a couple of hours. Having spent their savings to be here. Yet here he sat, grinding into the air, a weak-willed, muttering mess for me. I was fucking savage and I possessed every part of him—mind body and soul—and no one could take him from me.

Kissing my way back up the tiger on his left thigh, tonguing the tiny Brazil inked above it, I shuddered between his legs, pulling my shirt off so we could be skin-to-skin. I worried I’d be left with my own erection long after he dipped, but couldn’t focus on that right now. It was go-time. I grabbed him, swirling my lead fingertip around the oozing head, relishing its shape with agonizingly slow strokes. His hips bucked and I snickered. Cupping his balls, I took him unhurriedly into my mouth, inch-by-inch, groaning down his shaft, letting my tongue become reacquainted with his textures. Allowing it to slide around his throbbing length. He shuddered and sighed for me to hurry. Not tonight. Can’t let you forget about me. Not with all those people out there. I feared he’d get lost among friends and elite acquaintances and never come back. What was I when stacked up against all that awaited him downstairs? The power? The glory? Nothing. Not even a speck.

There was nothing rushed or sleazy about this interaction despite our location. I wanted to simply exist in this exchange with him. Weakness for weakness. Extreme intimacy and mutual trust. Nothing like it on earth, and nothing on earth would deter me from seeing him finish. He was mine deeply, and this was one of the most powerful means of bonding between us. Every moment I knelt there with him in my mouth, I knew what it meant to exist only for another. As I withdrew and tugged on his towering cock, the girth out of this world, I thought back to Prague and grew irrationally possessive, recalling how that blindfolded broad had kissed and licked his dick right in front of me. Fuck her. At the mere thought I tried to swallow as much as him as possible, causing myself to gag. He stroked my lilac hair and tried to slow me down, but I wouldn’t be dissuaded. I crammed as much of him into my mouth as possible, gorging on his mass, his rigidity; jaws threatening to split.


It was over far too soon in my book, but who could blame him? I was a master at giving head these days, if I do say so myself. Plus, there was something about the inherent danger of being caught that heightened the experience. He helped me to my feet after nutting down my throat, following which we laughed the situation off. God we were stupid. The show was starting any minute now and here I was wiping my mouth, as he tucked his soft, drenched cock back into his underwear. Regaining his energy after I’d reduced him to a quivering bag of bones, he set his forehead to mine before leaving without another word. I put my shirt, hat, and hoodie back on, then left out the storage room to find a restroom. Inside I washed my face and rinsed my mouth out, gazing emptily at myself in the mirror. When I heard the music start, I headed back to the breakroom to setup shop.

“Olivia” was playing on the overhead speakers and reminded me of how dark and confusing things had been in 2015 before I left. Now the nerves had returned, transforming my legs to Jell-o. As bad off as I was, I hoped my being here and doing what I did to him wouldn’t prove to be bad luck or ruin the quality of the show. On trembling legs, I approached the door that led onto a tiny balcony above the entire arena, and when I opened it, my breath hitched.

It was a sight I hadn’t seen up close and personal since 2015. Thousands upon thousands of singing, dancing, and screaming souls stood before me. Seas of people. Every gender, every race, every age. All squeaking and shrieking and hopping up and down without end. The energy they emitted was infectious. My blood sped. Adrenaline rushed through my veins, leaving me so overcome with emotion I clutched the railing for support. This couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be. My Haz? Doing all this on his own? It was unfathomable how far he’d come from the dimply-cheeked sixteen-year-old who was a food-klepto and wouldn’t admit to his own farts to save his life. It was truly remarkable to watch him grow, and I was too fucking proud to have a front row seat. I choked up rather suddenly, and everything before me became a tearful haze.

Once the jitters overtook me, I went to sit down to catch my breath. Plopping onto the sofa which smelled musty because the room had been closed up for so long, I kicked the boots off and wiped my tears with my shirt sleeves. He’d sent this shirt ahead for me, meant to identify me as a member of his crew in case I got caught in any of the ‘staff only’ sections of the venue. It said: Harry Styles Live On Tour Crew 2018. I’d keep it forever as a memento of what we’d pulled off tonight if I was allowed.

A few deep, mindful breaths later, I regathered my composure and took out my phone, replying to a few friends via text and letting them know I wasn’t up for gaming tonight. Now I simply waited. After a while, the screaming started, and it was a thousand times louder than it had been before when the pre-show playlist had been playing. The arena gradually darkened and I ran out to see what was happening. Thousands of camera flashes peppered the audience and I had war flashbacks to the speeches I used to give at the beginning of “Little Things,” asking audiences far and wide to take out their phones and create an artificial night sky for me. Woah, I didn’t expect to become this emotional. The nostalgia was kicking into overdrive, and because this was Haz’s concert of all people, it was that much more exacting.

“C’mon baby…where are youh?” I whispered beneath my breath, biting my lip and wringing my fingers. I was itching to lay eyes on him and witness what they’d been witnessing nearly every night since September of last year. This was my time to take it all in, as I was unsure of whether I’d ever get the opportunity to view him in this light again.

A sick cylindrical screen had lowered onto the stage and was now displaying a few tour graphics. His hands appeared with all the familiar rings, unlocking a giant Rubik’s Cube. Now he let it go and the cube went off on its on, multiplying across the screen with the accompaniment of dramatic music. The crowd went nuts with every new phase of the wildly theatric intro. Then the video came to an abrupt halt and the screen went black. The speakers, radio silence. An inquisitive hush filtered throughout the crowd, but once the opening dialogue of “Only Angel” blared across the arena, the screaming intensified to a deafening degree. Holy shit, I forgot how pandemonic this could get.

The floors shook. My stomach knotted violently, frightened for what would happen next. The opening harmony of the first song on the washed over me like an angelic sigh. I knew it all too well. It’s what I imagined one would hear upon arriving at the Pearly Gates. “Only Angel.” This was by far the most exhilarating experience I’d had in a long time, and to know so many of these songs were inspired by our relationship left me giddy. The screen slowly ascended now and he was stood there in the shadows, bathed from behind by long rays from a few spotlights. I couldn’t help but laugh, totally overjoyed. He was un-fucking-believable.

He and the band cut into the song and I shuddered with second-hand embarrassment and tons vicarious nerves. Bile crept up my throat, ready to spew at the most inopportune moment. By now I would’ve had the overwhelming urge to run off stage and vomit my lungs out. But somehow he kept going. Just stood there and did the damn thing, and remarkably well at that. He was so bloody at home onstage and belting into the mic that I couldn’t fathom it. His movements were so gracious and well-rehearsed. How could he actually pull this off? How? What was the fucking secret?? I would be scared shitless. All the blood would’ve left my face by now. But he just owned it. Every second of it.

“I’m Harry Styles…hello.”

“Hi baby…” I whispered beneath my breath, smiling wistfully as he addressed the crowd for the first time that night. I could barely hear his voice over their incessant, ear-drum rupturing screams.

Second song down and I was still in awe. The crush I’d developed when I first laid eyes on his adorable little face back at the X-Factor bootcamp had returned with a vengeance, except this time he was a full-grown rockstar and my heart leapt at the briefest glimpse of him in the overhead screens. Look at that smile. Those dimples. That voice. So lazy and inebriated despite him being sober. I just hoped he’d never forget me. I was afraid all these big things would only take him further and further from my reach, and I’d be left alone on my farm in PA with no one but G and Dobby to keep me company. And sometimes he scared me at night.

Looking out across his vast following and support, I was too envious of all he had obtained, as well as everything I knew was coming down the pike for him soon. Only glory. But that sentiment was easily put into a chokehold by how proud I was of him. What did I have to be jealous of? This was my man and he was sick as fuck. His successes were my successes and vice versa. When he won, I won, and this was one hell of a win for us both. MSG. It would be forever ours. And the fact that he traveled so many amazing places, saw so many amazing faces, and had achieved so many amazing things, yet still somehow only had eyes for me was mind-numbingly satisfying.

As promised, he came to the opposite side of the arena to the B-Stage for a few songs. Those being “If I Could Fly” and “Sweet Creature,” which after “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart and “Meet Me In The Hallway” would leave us both pretty emo when it was all said and done. I couldn’t comprehend the array of emotions I’d experienced tonight, and soon began to deduce he’d done on purpose. It had been his plan all along, to get me here and tear me down song by song, leaving me regretful of the days we were forced to spend apart. This was his bid to be with me and only me for the rest of our lives, just like he’d broached in PA the other day. He wanted to do this for real, and something about that terrified the shit out of me.

No more G? No more New York? No more model girlfriend safety net and media smokescreens? No more running around with him like we were committing a heinous crime by simply being together? No more longing day in and day out until we met up because he would always be there, waking up with me day after day? Caring for me readily? Making love to me and imparting daily doses of unrivaled bliss? Always knowing where he was. Being accountable to him and he to me. Checking up throughout the day. No longer pretending we didn’t care or not wanting to it to appear like we cared more. No more stolen moments that ended too soon. No more watching the clocks when we were together. No more borrowed time. Finding a country and town to reside in permanently. Building a house together and ingraining the story of us down into its very foundation. Planning children. Planning family vacations. Pure and unmitigated contentment for as long as we both lived.

Yet…for some reason, it petrified me. Why was I so comfortable in the lies? In the stress of sneaking around? In the back and forth between two partners, never holding myself fully accountable to either? Running to one when the other disinterested me. It was the same song and dance from my time with Pez. Good God, was I really that shallow and selfish? That I had strung two people along for so long with zero intention of ever doing right by either? Even when they’d both been begging me to? Both had so much faith in me? Both put up with all of my shit for years on end? Both gave me my space when needed?

Now G was out of the equation yet still managing to get what she wanted ultimately. Clout. That’s all that had ever motivated her to stick around when things became tough in the past. But Haz, he gained nothing from me. He needed nothing material because he had what I had and then some. That was a relief to know he wasn’t here for the wrong reasons. He was in the middle of building a commercial empire from the ground up, covering music, fashion, film, and countless other things he had yet to reveal to me. He was now the face of Gucci, and I was too proud of his campaign and photoshoots released earlier in the year. It was the first of its kind for him, and to see him breathing life into such an iconic and timeless label only promised bright things for his future in fashion. We could work on it together. We shared so many of the same dreams and visions. And here he was offering me a place at his side. Why couldn’t I take that step forward to accept it, knowing that if he ever gave up on me or simply stopped caring I’d be doomed?

 Why couldn't I take that step forward to accept it, knowing that if he ever gave up on me or simply stopped caring I'd be doomed?

On the B-Stage, it appeared as though he was performing exclusively to me. Gazing up through the shadowed distance during certain lyrics, finding me in the deep remoteness of space and time, probably leaving the audience wondering who on earth he was serenading and why. I gazed down at him too, nothing but a speck in the distance, but the love, care, and reverence radiating from his person was enough to energize the entire room. He was an angel. A lost, lonely, vulnerable angel forever with his heart on his sleeve. I couldn’t take care of him the way he needed. I couldn’t take care of him.

He headed back to the mainstage for a few more songs, then took a brief break before the encore. I gazed out at his audience still abuzz, aware the ending had been phony and that he would reemerge for a few more songs after “Sign Of The Times.” They knew him too well. Arms suddenly grabbed me from behind, wrapping around my waist and squeezing me back into him. He rested his cheek against my head exhaled. All I could think of was him holding me like this in Paris when we had wandered in the rain. Those days felt ages away now.

“What’re youh doin’ here, babe? Don’t youh have a few more songs to goh?” I asked, shutting my eyes and absorbing his nearness.

“I just needed to see you. Knowing you’re here…I couldn’t not come the second I stepped off stage. Making sure you had’t fallen asleep.”

“‘Course not. The show’s too good.”


“Seriously, maan. It’s soh electric. I can’t believe how well you’re doin’ out there. It’s like you’re a different person. Well…I can believe it, because you’re clearly born for it…but still, I’m in awe. And I’m massively proud of youh, babe. I hope youh know that.”

“I appreciate that…”

“I honestly don’t even know how to describe the way I’m feelin’…or all the things I have in my heart right now——”

He spun me around and kissed me right there on the balcony in the open. I hoped to God there were no photographers present with high-powered lenses to capture what was happening. Thankfully we were above even the highest VIP boxes on a utility balcony, and so no one else resided on this level of the building with us. It was still a huge risk, but so worth it to exist in this electricity with him.

“I have a surprise for you, ok?” he stoked my face with his thumbs, getting lost in my eyes.

“Really? Okay thanks…cool, babe…” I laughed.

“Don’t go anywhere, alright? You stay right there.”

“I promise I will…I swear.”

After “Kiwi” I knew that signified the end of the show, so I packed up my things and shoved my boots back on, checking the room to make sure I wouldn’t leave any traces of us behind. I tossed what was left of my Pepsi into the trash along with the rest of the vending machine crisps I’d bought. Then he was back onstage and addressing the crowd, which was totally abnormal. I dropped my bag and headed over to the balcony, and there he was, starry guitar strapped on and introducing an extra song for the night, as well as his opening act who would assist him with this number, Kacey Musgraves.

 I dropped my bag and headed over to the balcony, and there he was, starry guitar strapped on and introducing an extra song for the night, as well as his opening act who would assist him with this number, Kacey Musgraves

The opening chords to Shania Twain’s “Still The One” began, and I was snatched all the way back to an eerie day in 2015. The day I left him in Hong Kong while he slept, with only a note that promised I’d be back in a week, despite knowing I never would. Fuck’s sakenot this song, please. Any song but this. It would hurt too badly. It housed so many memories of us from the difficult days. I also remembered he wouldn’t stop playing it when we broke up after the engagement as well. He wanted me to hear it too. Now here he was ready to perform it to me in front of thousands because…why exactly? To let me know he still felt that way, of course, but I didn’t think I could stomach it. Tonight was already too jarring and would leave me out of sorts for a while to come.

Kacey was his human shield in case he broke down or things didn’t go to well. I could tell that unlike when he’d performed his own songs earlier tonight, he was nervous about this one because I was watching and he would want this to go perfectly for me. For us. So he let her take the lead and joined her at the chorus. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the candor in his vocals and expression when he began singing the second verse. My earlier apprehensions came to fruition once I heard him say: “We beat the odds together.”

(Thanks for reading! ❤️)

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