Late the next morning and I was sitting in the hotel restaurant with Bianca and David, Chuck and Pierre, resting after gorging ourselves on the breakfast buffet. Yes, I did say Pierre was there. Come on, it’s not like I could avoid him, right? Though after the previous night it would’ve been some relief, but Bianca had insisted I come and eat breakfast with her. I still hadn’t managed to talk to Pat about any of this, either. For some reason he wasn’t up early today…or perhaps that was by design.
Anyway, we, that is David, Chuck and Bianca, were discussing the upcoming tour. Pierre sat in a sullen silence throughout, looking anywhere but at me. I could take that, as long as I did the same keeping my focus on the others.
“We weren’t actually going to start here,” Chuck said.
“Here?” I spoke up, frowning.
“In Perth. Wasn’t part of the original itinerary.”
“No? So, you had a different support act in mind?”
“No.” David lifted the coffee cup on the table in front of him before setting it back down again. “Management had suggested Fools Rush In from the get go.”
“We were going to meet the band in Melbourne,” Chuck added. “But figured it would work better if they came here first.”
That made sense. Maybe? Personally the original plan probably would’ve worked better for me. Given me time to get used to the fact that I was going to be in close proximity to my ex. To Pierre.
Bianca shifted on her seat, glancing at me before she said, “There won’t be any official gig here in Perth, though. Tour proper will start in Melbourne.”
“After Easter?” I looked to Chuck, who nodded in affirmation.
“So, what’s the plan for sleepy Perth then?” I asked.
“Sleepy Perth…” David giggled. “Thinking you could show us around. It’s school holidays, right? And you’re a teacher.”
“Great deduction there, David.” Pierre’s scathing remark didn’t faze the bassist at all. Though it did surprise me since I thought he wasn’t going to speak at all. He still hadn’t looked in our general direction, his words seemingly pointed at the plate in front of him.
“I thought so.” David grinned, fluttering his eyelashes in my direction, causing me to laugh. “Anyway, you can be our tour guide. What do you think, Pierre?”
Pierre’s lips twisted into a grimace, as he finally looked up at us. “What do I think? Who cares? Marly can show us around if she wants. No skin off my nose.” He still couldn’t, or wouldn’t, look right at me, though.
“I’m just asking…” David blinked, evidently thinking what we were all thinking. It bothered the hell out of Pierre. He was so transparent. Even I could see it. And I know I’ve said before that sometimes he’s hard to read. But, today it was difficult to miss that he wasn’t in a good place.
Pierre said, a slight growl to his voice, “Why the Hell are you asking me, David? Ask her.”
David kept blinking for a moment, then shook his head returning his gaze in my direction. “Can you, Marlz?”
“Sure.” I lifted my shoulders. “Bianca and I can do that.”
“Definitely, we gotta show you guys all the best places.”
“Yeah? Best place to get a drink?”
Bianca rolled her eyes. “I can do that. Think Marly would prefer to take you see some of the natural wonders of Perth.”
I nudged her shoulder, giving her a look. “Perth Zoo isn’t a natural wonder.”
“Ooooh, animals!” David smiled. “I love animals.”
“You are an animal,” Pierre muttered, not quite under his breath.
Chuck said, sharply, “Quit it, Pierre.”
Pierre scoffed, “Don’t see you denying it.”
“Pierre, just stop, okay. In fact. Maybe you should stay here if you’re going to be a dick.”
Pierre leaned back on his chair, crossing his arms over his chest, biceps bulging a little. “No. I think I’ll come along.” He smirked, a slight twitch of his lips. “Like Lachelle said, I’m an adult. I can do this.”
“Without being a douche?” David said.
“Oui.” At that, Pierre met my gaze for the first time that morning, his expression softening. “This should be a good time, for all of us.”
I couldn’t hold his gaze for long, looking away and busying myself with folding my napkin and checking my phone. It was too close…too intimate, that look he gave me. I’d almost forgotten how he could strip me bare, with his eyes. And that wasn’t fair. I didn’t think he had the right to look at me that way, not after what he’d said last night. But, perhaps I needed to exercise a little forgiveness. It wasn’t as if I’d made it easy for him…
“Marly, come on.” Bianca stood. “Let’s get the others and we can go.”
I nodded, getting up, but not before looking towards Pierre. He was actually smiling at me. But, I couldn’t read it this time, it was the impersonal expression that he reserved for the public. I turned and followed Bianca out of the restaurant, trying not to think too much on it.
* * * * *
“Tell me something, Marlz?”
Mark stood next to me in the foyer of the hotel as we waited for everyone else. I looked up at him.
“What did you see in him?”
“Pierre. You were together.”
I sighed, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. “He has a big heart. And he always made me feel like the most important person in his world.” I crossed my arms, shaking my head a little. “He was always interested in what I had to say.”
“So, in light of that…why did he get so upset that you decided to pursue your studies back at home?” Mark looked genuinely bemused.
I gave a choked laugh. “I don’t know, Mark. And…to be honest, it was pretty lame that I thought it was the right thing to do. I broke his heart. Does that make me a horrible person?” Wow…where did that even come from? I don’t think that thought had ever crossed my mind until this moment.
Mark placed a hand on my shoulder, squeezing gently. “No. It just makes you human.”
“Yeah, but he was right. We could’ve done the long distant thing.”
“What long distant thing?”
Patrick came up behind us at that moment and his question made me pause.
“Hi, Pat.” I turned to face him. “I need to talk to you.”
The fact that he knew was a relief. A big one. “Yes.”
“Seemed okay this morning between you two.”
I blinked. “You weren’t at breakfast.”
Pat shrugged. “Chuck might’ve mentioned something.”
I shook my head again, but then stopped when Pierre was the next to appear. I had to stop myself from staring at him. He’d changed into a simple white tee, and his black shorts were worn low on his hips. And as usual, he was totally aware of how his appearance affected the people around him. Or more to the point, how it affected me. His eyes met mine, and the corner of his lip lifted a little. I flushed, looking away and rubbing at my shoulders.
“Come on, the bus should be here in a minute.”
* * * * *
I stood by the tiger exhibit, watching as the big male prowled around the outside perimeter. We’d been here a couple of hours already, splitting up into small groups. Mark, Bianca, Pierre and David were with me most of the time but then David had insisted on getting Bianca to show him the numbats and Mark went with them, but not before giving Pierre a stern look of warning, which Pierre didn’t acknowledge… Though Pierre had managed not to say anything to me whilst we were on the bus and up to this point.
“Favourite animal?” He came to stand next to me, casual, his gaze fixed on the big cat.
I peeked at him; his features were expressionless, no point in ignoring him, though. “Yeah. He’s not usually awake when I’m here.”
Pierre tilted his chin down then met my eyes, brow furrowing. “I heard you earlier.”
I bit my bottom lip. “Pierre…”
He shook his head, returning his gaze through the barrier. “You admitted to being wrong.”
I laughed a little. “I admitted you were right.”
He turned to face me again. “Do you regret your decision?”
I sighed, dragging my fingers through my hair. “You going to rub it in?” I almost held my breath as I waited for his response. I couldn’t believe we were already having this discussion. But, I guess, better sooner than later…right? Especially as we were going to be touring together for some time.
He was silent for some time his own gaze seeming to search mine. Then he heaved a sigh, blowing out a rough breath.
“Part of me wants to. But, I’m trying not to be an asshole.”
I had to give him points for honesty. I smiled a little at him then looked away. “You’d have some right.”
Pierre chuckled. “Yeah, well. I won’t ask the more pertinent question, then.”
And I was thankful for that. I wasn’t ready to examine my feelings for him just yet.
At that moment, the tiger decided to stop in front of where we were standing, and do his business. Pierre laughed, unfettered and full of mirth. I couldn’t help but join in, feeling as if a heavy weight just lifted from my shoulders.