Let me just say this right now: I am irrevocably and madly in love with Alfred Jones.
However, that's not always the case. Sometimes Alfred could really rile me up to the point I shooed him from the house or just walked home without him if we were out in downtown L.A. It wasn't always the brightest of ideas for me to be on my own given that I was a real celebrity in the city, but sometimes it was either deal with paparazzi or deal with Alfred. And when I came that close to belting him in the nose, it was the paparazzi every time.
Alfred and I met two years ago by sheer accident; literally. I was in a four car pile-up on the highway, and Alfred was my savior when he pulled me out of my car. Both of my legs had suffered minor fractures that required me to be in a wheelchair for almost four months. During that time, Alfred took the initiative to ask me out.
Here's the part where I say it's been smooth sailing ever since. Well, quite frankly, it hasn't. Not because of us, but rather, the outside forces that make every day a trial. Alfred is a firefighter, so his life is constantly on the line. That alone makes me fret with worry through-out the day, and sometimes well into the night if he's called in for a midnight emergency. Even two years later I dread that morning kiss or that evening hug will be our last.
The other factor being that I was thrust into the LGBT spotlight ever since my Hospital Flowers novella came out two years ago. I'm not much of a spokesperson, and yet the media loves to eat me up. Well, Alfred and I up. Whether it be bad (a fight in public) or good (dancing at a private event), the media loved to paste our pictures on the front of the newspaper. And I became a hero and inspiration to many young homosexual and questioning teenagers all over America.
To say I didn't have my fair share of hardships while growing up and hiding my sexuality for ten years would be a life, but after seeing and hearing of these troubled children enduring rejection, ostracization, and considering suicide, I feel I have nothing left to complain about. The fact I kept it all a secret played a large part, that and my family disowned me the moment they learned I was snogging a man in my bedroom with my clothes off and his hand around my cock. There really was no good lie that could salvage that mess.
I could have backed out, I could have stepped down from this man-made pedestal, but the fact of the matter is I would feel like a coward. And really, what would I go back to being, a hermit author? Dates with Alfred and the occasional trip to see the other firemen where the only times I left the flat. Now, I had purpose. Now, I was somebody and I was helping. Just like Alfred I was doing some good in this world.
There were just some days I wanted to complain about this position when it got to be too invasive and far too tiring. Along with helping people came the blame. The blame that I turned someone's daughter into a lesbian, somehow influenced a boy to date his best friend, and "brainwashed" the youth of America into thinking it's okay to be gay. Well, to me, it's quite fine to be gay, or straight, or nothing at all, but most people don't think I'm that way. Most parents would love to point all the blame on me and use me as a scapegoat to say that I was some "super gay" focused on bringing American society to its knees.
Some days, you couldn't pay me to get out of bed.
I had fallen asleep sideways on the bed with my legs dangling over the side and my face pressed into the duvet. His coming home had awoken me, but I hadn't felt enough energy to move. I felt the bed dip beside me, and then a heavy arm was draped across my waist, pulling me close to a warm and firm chest. I snuggled close and relapsed into sleep.
When I awoke it was an hour later from when I remembered having fallen asleep. I turned my head to the side to look at the digital clock on the nightstand when I found Alfred sleeping beside me. Now he is a beautiful sight indeed. His light gold hair, soft lips slightly parted, skewed glasses, and long lashes resting on tan cheeks. Lovely.
I tapped his nose. "Alfred. Love, wake up. We'll never sleep tonight if we don't get up."
Alfred stirred, snorted, and then opened his blue eyes. He smacked his lips until he melted into a yawn that turned into a loud and long stretch of his entire body. I just lie there and watched with an amused smirk.
"What were you doing sleeping?" I asked, running fingers through his hair.
Alfred finished his yawn and then turned to face me. He snuggled into the duvet, smiling all the while. I removed his glasses, placing them between us. "I came to sleep beside you right away."
"I don't like the idea of you sleeping alone."
Alfred grinned, like most Americans do, but Alfred's had a charm to his that made him stand out all the more. Of course I could just be biased.
"I got a phone call today," I started as I turned onto my side. I tried to sound casual, but I don't know how much Alfred thought I truly was or not. Alfred scooted closer and draped an arm over my waist. "It's for another interview."
"Oh yeah? For your new book?"
Alfred was always interested in my work, and read through each one with eager excitement. He was the first to receive a copy, always signed and dedicated to him, and would cry out in glee like a child. Sometimes he would come barging into the sitting room or where ever else I happened to be to ramble on about a particular part, declaring his love for one character and hatred for another, or come to me in shock and awe at a plot twist. He certainly was my number one fan.
I absently traced a finger along the lines of Alfred's palm, not meeting his eyes. "Mm… it's more about… that book…"
"You mean Hospital Flowers?" Alfred asked. I nodded. "Well, that's okay, isn't it?"
Almost an entire year ago I had written a novella about when Alfred and I had met and fallen in love, titling it Hospital Flowers as Alfred had enchanted me with that charm of his through flowers he brought me at the hospital. I had been involved in a four car pile-up that fractured both of my legs, putting me in a wheelchair for nearly four months. During that time, Alfred had wooed me with the fact he was the fireman that saved me, flowers, and, well let's face it, he's an amazing man.
One day he happened to save the life of my ex-boyfriend's daughter. The man is a senior journalist at the L.A. Times, and he had asked to do a cover story on Alfred's and my relationship. As it turned out, other newspapers saw this story and wanted to their cover interviews on us, and it spiraled out of control. I was asked to be on talk shows, in countless interviews, make appearances for LGBT meetings, and even agree for a made-for-TV movie to be created. In the end, I was asked to write a novella about my relationship, if only in hopes that it calmed everyone down.
It was nearly a year later and still I was getting asked to talk about it.
Thinking back to Alfred's question, I shrugged and sighed in irritation. "No matter what book I write, I will only be remembered for that book."
Alfred frowned. "Is that so bad? Most authors are never recognized their entire career."
"Yes, but… I wish…" I struggled with my words, as I almost always did. I was a writer, but I had problems putting my thoughts into speech that made sense to more than just me. "I wish I could be seen for something more…"
It was a difficult scenario for me. On one hand I was happy to be so famous for my work, while on the other hand I was sour because it was a romance story about my meeting Alfred. And I had been pressured by my editors into writing a few too intimate scenes that I had originally not wanted to include. It all seemed so invasive and open. I was not one for others to know my private life.
"I just wish it wasn't about us," I said finally.
"You don't like how we met?" Alfred pouted.
I patted his face with a smile. "Of course not. I just feel this is too personal and want it to quiet down."
"Everyone loves a good romance story," Alfred commented. He took my hands in his. "Look, a new story will come and it'll be bigger than your best seller. But don't think on it, and it might come to you. And this will all settle down after awhile. Beside…"
Alfred kissed my forehead and then kept his lips against my skin, mumbling, "All the royalties from your book and the movies and those interviews give us enough money to save up for our baby."
I dissolved into giggles not fit for manly men. Burying my face into Alfred's shoulder, I smiled unabashedly. "Our baby girl! Yes…"
Alfred moved his head back in order to look at me. "We still need a name."
"I'm partial to Elizabeth," I said casually.
Alfred caught on quickly and frowned. "No names of Queens. We agreed to this."
"Fine, then none from First Ladies either," I countered. Alfred stuck his tongue out in reply.
I lay on my back, staring at the ceiling and tracing abstract patterns on Alfred's skin. I didn't think of names then, just my life after our baby was here. Changing diapers, rocking her to sleep, feeding her, and watching as she grew before my very eyes. And all of that would be with my beloved Alfred.
"What about Grace?" Alfred said suddenly. I turned, lifting my eyes to meet his. "You know, like Amazing Grace?"
I looked thoughtful before I broke into a grin. "I quite like that… Our little amazing Grace."
Alfred hummed into my ear as he nestled close. "Yeah… My mom's name. I've always liked it."
We were silent for a time, just letting the name sink in. We hadn't been allowed to see our baby girl yet as she hadn't been born yet. Her expected day to arrive was Wednesday and we had both taken the day off from work to be at the hospital for her birth.
"Not looking forward to all those diaper changes and late night cry fests," Alfred grumbled beside me.
I chuckled. "It'll pass. She'll be worth it. You'll see."
"Yeah… Hey!" Alfred rolled over to hover over me. "You never told me who is interviewing you."
I blushed and averted my eyes again, toying with the duvet once more. "Oh… Well… I have to go to New York…"
Alfred gasped sharply, sucking in his lips, and anxiously waiting for me to go on. I glanced at him, and then said, "It's The Today Show."
Alfred hollered so loudly you'd think it was him going on television and not me. He hugged me and began rolling around the bed with me. I was laughing, and Alfred was rambling, and it all seemed perfect.
"Come with me," I said when Alfred had calmed down.
"Well of course!" Alfred exclaimed. He kissed my nose. "We'll make a weekend of it."
I sighed. He was absolutely perfect. I kissed him affectionately, and he returned it. My dear, sweet, and lovely American.
We hadn't made it back to the hotel before Alfred's mother called us. We were sitting in a taxi, waiting for traffic to ease up so we could get back to our room. I was exhausted and extremely irritable.
When Alfred answered his phone, he had to hold the ear piece away from his ear as a loud voice yelled, "You're going to adopt?!"
I glared at Alfred in a way that most certainly conveyed my frustration at the fact he didn't even tell his own bloody mother.
He grimaced. "W-well I thought I told ya mom. Sorry… Artie's been dragging me all around L.A. gettin' baby clothes and toys."
"So it's my fault?" I hissed. "You're the idiot that blabbed it on national television, but forgot to tell your mum!"
Alfred winced at me, scooting further away from me in the taxi.
When Alfred's presence had been found out while I was on the talk show, he had been invited on set to do the interview with me. He was so anxious and excited he just "let it slip" that "we're gonna adopt". As if it was as natural a statement as the weather for the day. My mobile had exploded all with people wanting to know answers immediately. Alfred's innocent intentions had made it stressful for me suddenly.
Once back to the hotel, Alfred tried to reason with me. "They'd find out anyways. You're so popular in L.A., so it was bound to happen when they see ya tottin' a baby down central L.A.
When angry, Alfred's Boston accent became all the more apparent. Normally I melted at his way of speaking, but right now I was immune to it. I flopped on our bed with an agitated sigh. "Alfred… that's more of an invasion into our life."
"Not my fault you wrote that story," Alfred grumbled from his spot in the chair by the window.
It was such a lovely view, and normally I'd be in the chair with him overlooking Manhattan. We could even see the Empire State Building off in the distance glittering like a crown for the city. We'd probably whisper sweet nothings in each other's ears, pop open a bottle of wine, and then stay in bed for the rest of the day. However, my nerves had just snapped from Alfred's thoughtless words.
"It was you who said it would be fine!" I argued.
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean I gave ya the full go ahead! It's your stupid book!"
I bolted up with fury in my eyes. "Stupid?! How dare you?!"
"How dare I?!" Alfred stood and pointed at me. It was mid-afternoon by now and the sun cast dark shadows across his face. "You invited me along! It's not my fault Katie asked me ta join ya on set!"
"But it is yours for blurting out about Grace!" I spat back.
"Well excuse me for bein' so God damn excited at havin' a baby with my fuckin' boyfriend!" Alfred roared.
That was a signal for us to stop yelling when our voices got so loud that we feared the neighbors could hear us. We were silent, and Alfred took his seat again with a loud moan, his face in his hands. I sat there and stared before my eyes shifted to the scenery outside.
For years I had wanted to be here for the very same reasons I was here now for. I was at the top of my game, renowned in the country for a bestselling author, and I was with the man I had vowed to spend the rest of my life with and would soon be raising a child with. There should never be a silly row that determined a relationship.
And that's all this was; silly. Neither of us ever hid the fact we're both quite stubborn. However, now this all just seemed so comical. We were arguing about something that seemed inconsequential now. Grace was only days away from being born, and even if the entire country knew of our plans, she was still coming into our lives. So why were we arguing?
I began to laugh, attracting Alfred's attention, and in a moment he too started laughing.
"Oh, we are right fools," I said after a time. I got up and finally joined Alfred in the chair beside him. "Let's stop this ridiculousness and go see the city."
Alfred broke into a smile and leaned over to kiss my cheek. "Yeah. We need some pizza."
As we got ready to head back out into the hustle and bustle of the city, Alfred caught my wrist. "Babe, I'm sorry."
I blinked before smiling and pecking his lips. "As am I, love."
I'll say it again: I'm irrevocably, madly in love Alfred F. Jones.
Hoshiko2's cents: Hello and welcome to my new series! That's right, this is the sequel to Hospital Flowers! This series will focus on an OC character of mine being Alfred and Arthur's adopted daughter, Grace. No, she isn't the personification of a country; just going to put that out there now.
As a side note: The Today Show is a very popular news show in America that also focuses on interviews and popular stories. "Katie" is one of the newscasters.
I hope you enjoy and continue to follow this series as you did the first. I will try to update every Sunday, as I did last year with the first story. If you'd like to follow my writing blog, it's over at tumblr under 2kokoro.