Chapter 22

I woke up with Heath's right arm laced under mine and his cheek placed like a gift on my pillow. My own eyes drooped from lack of sleep over our late-night antics. I turned my head and admired the contrast of that noble nose sprinkled with kiddy freckles. I loved the way he looked in the morning, all stubble and curls with dozy lids-- made me wonder how I got so damned lucky. Who gets dropped off by some old cab driver at this of all places? Me! I did! Just when did my luck turn for the better? Guess it was the moment the cab door opened to The Grande Ledger Bed and Breakfast. Yes, my luck was with me that day-- good luck being something I never had boatloads of like some other people. After all the stellar stuff the night before with Big Bangs and constellations and messages written in the stars, I got to thinking about lucky stars. It thanked mine: for once in my life, those stars were shining bright and high in the sky-- 

for me.

Yep, I was lucky. We could have been like Johann and Henry, separated. Or worse, that cab driver might never have let me out here. I might never had known... God, was he fun to gaze at, better than the stars above my head in the bed. I wondered what he'd think if he found me just gazing at him: Heath was a romantic sort in an unconventional fashion, which I appreciated. He'd blush and get all fidgety, but he'd done plenty of romantic things for and to me-- and, he was always thinking about what he could do. The mistletoe on the headboard was fun, and I know that saltwater taffy and Oreos aren't aphrodisiacs to some people, but it's amazing what an imaginative person can do with them in their mouth-- 

well, it was a bit messy but fun. 

I gazed at him and savored memories of  those two, incredible magic lips in gentle sleep, moving them as if he were testing tiny sips of wine-- aw-w, another romantic Heath-moment. Yeah, I was a lucky guy, and he was my big win, like I'd slammed the hammer down and rung the bell at the county fair. This winter wonderland was part of me now. And to think, a couple of months ago I was back in the real world, an unlucky guy who'd never won at anything, not at raffles or at cards or at Bingo. A couple of months ago I was back with Austin, listening to him bitch at me about socks and dirty laundry. I stayed stuck with what I knew: I never gambled, because why try? Austin took me once to this casino. Lost my shirt, of course. Those slot machines had "I hate Jake" as icons. Shit, I should have known-- as a kid, I never won at any of those board games like Candy Land or Sorry. I never even sank the battleship (unless I counted that other game of Battleship I used to play with that neighbor boy-- but he told me that had nothing to do with luck: it was all skill). 

I guess skill in one area upsets the balance. Writing was my skill. It saved my soul. I liked to think it saved Heath's, too. In a way I was lucky when it came to writing, or else I made my own luck-- I suppose there are many talented people who are never lucky enough to get a sitcom. Although it was my misfortune to have a greedy SOB partner the first time around, life gives us second chances. Now I had my second chance. My luck had turned: my soul was saved. But like any past, unlucky soul, I waited for the proverbial rabbit's foot to drop: thus far, Peter Rabbit was staying out of Mr. MacGregor's garden. I guess that coming here, I'd found my lucky charms-- the magic of this house had changed my luck like a talisman. I had the rings, the music box, the bed (special emphasis on the bed) and Heath. All inside this home. And it was home to me. Yes, I sure had a heap of  Lucky Charms. I was contemplating my new place in the universe along with the marshmallow cereal when I felt Heath's eyes on me. 

"Morning, handsome," he said, kissing me with those wine testing lips. 

 I groaned, "Morning." His lips skimmed along my chin. "Y-yellow m-moons...," I stuttered as he flicked his tongue across my lips. 

"What?" 

Those dreamy lips slipped lower, traced down my neck, then tickled the hairs on my chest. 

"Green clovers," I mumbled. "Pink hearts..."

"Huh?" He seemed very distracted. I don't think it mattered much what I said at that moment; his tongue was on a mission as it slithered into my belly button in an arc-- like it was following a rainbow. I lifted my head up a bit to get a better view. 

I think he found the pot-o-gold-- and golden nuggets. 

"Always after me lucky charms," I hissed. 

He rolled one of my balls in his month, then let it go with a pop. "They're magically delicious..." 

Then he winked.

I was trapped. A good trap. The kind you don't want to escape from. "Ah, fuck." 

I guess he was paying attention.

"Now," he continued, "let's see if I can get you to see those yellow stars you like so well."

Who was I to argue?

----------------------

"How much do you know about the Big Bang Theory?" I asked Jorge and Linden later at breakfast.

"It wasn't really a bang, more like an expansion. Well," Heath said, raising his eyebrow at me over his coffee mug, "I know something about it too."

Heath set down his coffee and crossed his arms. Oops, I guess I nicked his ego. Someone's been Googling... 

"Ok, handsome," I said, dousing my pancakes with maple syrup, "tell me what you know."

"Infinite density," he snapped back.

I'd heard that term before-- either on Star Trek or in reference to Darwin Awards, not sure which. 

"Our universe began as a singularity," he explained. He uncrossed his arms, then picked his coffee mug back up and took a sip. "At the center of a black hole, matter is compressed so tight that it becomes infinite. Somehow, it inflates: it goes from really small and hot to what we have now in our own universe-- there's really not a bang."

Big Bang always sounded like a sex act to me. Yeah, I came back from the club and he gave it to me, the old Big Bang.

I must have been in la la land or maybe la la bang-land, because Heath cleared his throat and everyone at the table was staring at me. It was one of those moments when you know someone was either talking to you or asked you a direct question, and you hadn't answered. All eyes were glued on me. 

"Forget it," Heath said, waving me off.

"What?" The only recourse a person has in a position like this is to re-navigate the conversation. Not circumnavigate, but try to start over and see if it's possible to find your way back to the stream of thought you missed. "Infinite density," I tried, then it came to me. "So if there's no bang-- isn't that an argument for Johann's work too? I mean, if it's really not a bang, but he used the term--"

"You really weren't listening," Heath said. "That's exactly what I said."

So much for re-navigation. Right up there with la la bang theory. 

"Ok, I admit it-- I was day dreaming. Guilty!" Maybe my blush gave me away, or maybe Heath could see Mr. Happy from where he sat. Thankfully, he left it alone-- I mean left the topic alone-- although Mr. Happy always likes attention, now was not the time to encourage Mr. Happy. I decided that to save face, I had to choose a new route. I turned to Jorge. "You really think this William Ding at Cornell can get this info out?" I asked. I had my doubts. With a name like Bill Ding, he had to have some issues. 

That's when the phone rang. Another kind of ding, or ring. Kate picked it up in the hall.

"It's for you," she called out.

I got up from my pancakes. I hated cold pancakes. I hoped this wouldn't take too long.

Kate handed me the phone, one of those old black wall phones that had the rotary dials with a two foot cord so you had to stand there and talk like a dog on a short leash, which sucked because I liked to pace when I talked on the phone.

"Hello?" I said. Kate waved to me, then left to give me some privacy.

"Hello, Mr. Gyllenhaal." It was my new agent, Hirum. That was odd-- I wasn't expecting a call from him.

"What's up?"

"Sit down."

"There's no place to sit. What's wrong?" 

Remember the rabbit's foot? Good luck? Time ticked back: Austin flinging the release papers at me, Heath telling me to read them, me skimming them far too hurriedly, then signing. Well, damn Beatrix Potter, Peter's tail was snared and mine was-- 

Did I say how much I hate cold pancakes?

I hung up the phone more pissed than I think I'd been since Thanksgiving day. Austin was at it again, only this time he was trying to get his hands our new sitcom. Hirum told me not to worry: the papers were legal and dissolved our past partnership. This snag would hold up production of the sitcom and possibly put the whole show on the back burner-- not something that a writer wanted to hear. Without a doubt this was Austin's new way to fuck with me. Hirum said that if we got Austin to drop it, we might have a chance to keep the pilot on schedule. That meant I'd have to talk to Austin-- something I didn't want to do. I wasn't even sure if anything I'd have to say would change a thing. Hirum promised he'd be there with me. I'm sure Heath would want to be there, too, but that would probably exacerbate the problem.

I sat back down to cold pancakes. I guess the thunderclouds looming above my head were evident: never could hide how I felt. I explained the mess to Heath-- he got that look on his face, the same look Captain James T. Kirk gets before he orders the Enterprise over the neutral zone.

Then something happened inside of me: I remembered this morning, Heath in bed all dreamy, the stars above him. Suddenly Austin, the sitcom, and everything else didn't matter. I had my own lucky charms. 

 They all thought I'd lost my senses-- I smiled like a crazy man as I shoveled a forkful after forkful of cold pancakes into my mouth. I played imaginary dot-to-dot with the hottest freckles that ever graced a face. At last I knew what to thank my lucky stars for. What was really important surrounded me: Heath, this kitchen, the sun pouring in, my friends around the table. 

The sitcom would happen. 

Austin? 

He wasn't worth worrying about.

TBC

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