After Del left, things got quiet. Very quiet. Too quiet, Ginny decided, after a full day of rehearsal sessions where everyone seemed to be just going through the motions. Phillip especially seemed to be barely dragging himself through the day.
That hurt Ginny. Over the last few days, she’d grown accustomed to a new lilt in Phillip’s voice and sparkle in his eyes. They’d spent more time talking than ever before. It seemed like every time Ginny turned around, he was there. Bringing her business items to take care of, yes. But also instigating discussions on the assorted musical talents in their midst. And other music-related topics–bands they both liked, technical stuff he was teaching her… Just everything.
“Would it bother you?”
She’d half-convinced herself he’d only meant that in the professional sense. But there was a tiny little piece of her heart that believed he’d meant more than that. His new attentiveness had seemed to prove her right.
Now that Phillip was barely speaking at all, Ginny missed him. And his listlessness echoed through the rest of the remaining competitors.
Enough. I’m in charge. I need to do something.
“All right. House meeting.” Ginny glanced around the kitchen. No one was speaking, but everyone was there. Well, almost everyone. “Where’s Rima?”
“Upstairs, I think.” Patrice nodded toward the stairs.
Instinctively, Ginny glanced toward Phillip. Without waiting for her to ask, he headed off. “I got it.”
He was so dependable. Ginny didn’t know what she’d do without him.
The whole thing was like a car crash in slow motion, one of those moments that you see happening but are powerless to stop. Helpless to turn back from.
Phillip didn’t knock before he went into the room. He should have. But he could see Rima’s silhouette. She was awake. Sitting up. So he just shoved right inside without warning.
He should have knocked first. Maybe that would have changed things. But he was already through the door, and he couldn’t un-see what he’d already seen.
Shit. And he thought he had a bad habit.
The only reason you don’t have a drug habit instead of an alcohol one is because you can’t afford it.
“You can’t have that here.” Phillip sounded angrier than he’d intended to. Maybe he was talking to himself as much as to Rima. Because really, who was he to judge?
He recognized the raw, selfishness defensiveness in Rima’s face. He saw it in his own mirror, sometimes.
“What are you going to do about it?” Before Phillip could answer, she added. “If I go down, I’m taking you with me.”
Phillip’s mouth went dry. “Meaning what?”
“Meaning if Ginny finds out about my little habit, she finds out about yours.”
No one knew. How did Rima?
But she did. Phillip didn’t bother trying to deny it.
“Do we understand each other?”
Phillip’s jaw clenched. But when he answered, all he said was, “Ginny’s calling a meeting. Downstairs.”
Ginny better have one hell of a pep talk planned.