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I push Damian's number and, as usual, he answers right away.
"Keats, what's up?"
"A friend just showed me your video. The new song. It's really great. Catchy. She already has it memorized." I sing, "Be a rock star. Be a rock star."
"I've been wanting to call you. I'm sorry I haven't. You should've been the first one to hear it, since you inspired it with all your drama this summer."
"It's good to know my screwed up life is so inspirational," I say sarcastically.
"Hey, you're the one who told me people could probably relate. And you were right. We performed it one night just to gauge the crowd's reaction. It was nuts. They were singing it with us before it was over. And the label's not stupid. They knew we had a hit on our hands, got us some studio time, and we recorded it quickly. We released it a week ago and it's already hit number two in Japan."
"And there are over a million views on the concert video. Damian, I'm so proud of you. Where are you anyway?"
"Helsinki. We have a show here tomorrow night. That will round out the European tour. We'll be doing some promotional stuff, maybe get some studio time, then back at it in Japan. How's it going there?"
"I'm doing good. I'm dating a guy. He's really sweet . . ."
"Not to interrupt but I think I'm going to be in Miami soon. Special gig. I'll let you know. It'd be great to see you. I miss my Keats."
"I was your Keats before anyone else's."
He clears his voice. "You talk to him much?"
"I did something stupid, Damian. Vincent almost found me."
"What did you do?"
I tell him about the surf tournament.
"That's it. I'm kicking his ass."
"All that I just told you about Vincent and that's what you got out of the story? That you need to kick B's ass?"
"Yes. I'm definitely kicking his ass. And if I do Miami, it will be a very last minute surprise-the-audience thing. Not planned like Brook's tour. I really want to see you. What are you doing for the holidays?"
"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it yet."
"I think you should go to The Crab." The Crab is our secret name for their house in St. Croix.
"Could I? Will your dad be there?"
"No. Marissa is pregnant again."
"Yeah. It's a boy this time. She wants to name him Rain."
"Well, his sister is named Stormy. I guess that would fit."
"He'll get his ass kicked on the playground with a name like that. Why can't they name him Lightning or Thunderbolt or something tough?"
"Speaking of names. My sisters got a dog like Buoy. They named her Kiki."
He laughs out loud.
I miss making him laugh. I miss him.
"My dad told me about that. All I have to say is Kiki must be one patient dog. I heard the girls painted her with pink and purple paint, then poured glitter all over her. When Tommy got pissed, I took him aside and told him that Kiki was sad because she didn't have pretty tutus or glitter shoes and they wanted to her feel pretty. They're so funny. Everyone says they are going to have to call you Buoy when you come home." He stops laughing and is quiet for a minute. "I miss you, Keats. Everyone misses you."
"I miss everyone too. Garrett doesn't think I'll ever be able to go home. But I'm doing okay, Damian. I'm starting over."
"That's bullshit. If this goes on much longer, screw Garrett, you and me will figure out something together."
"Like old times, huh? You helping me write the scripts of my life?"
"Exactly. So hey, we have a morning radio interview in a few hours and I haven't even been to bed yet."
I hear a girl's voice in the background say, Baby, hurry up.
"Who's that? Damian! Do you have a girlfriend?"
He laughs loudly and then whispers to me. "More like groupies. Touring is awesome."
"Then I better let you get back to that."
"Actually, I was just getting ready to leave. I really do need to get a few hours of sleep. Are you sure you're doing okay, like really?"
"I think so."
"Any guys giving you shit?"
"I love you."
"You're avoiding that topic. Does that mean one already is?"
"No. It's more like the opposite."
"A guy is treating you too well?"
"Maybe you should marry him," he laughs. "No, wait, you can't. We're already married."
"It will be easy to annul. We married under false pretenses. You told me you were a prince."
"Only because you wrote the script and made me wear that girly crown."
"True, but I also cast you as a frog because hopping around like a maniac and singing songs was something you were actually good at."
"Are you saying I wasn't a believable Prince? You've just dashed my dreams of winning an Oscar."
"I'm saying you played a much better frog." I hear the girl whine again in the background. "Case in point," I say and hang up.