If I really think about it, the decision's easy to make.
“I love you huge, babe,” I tell Poppet, opening my eyes back up and staring into hers. They're blue, just like mine, like the sea of the Gold Coast on a bright day. I force my lips to keep smiling as I grip the revolver inside the bag and make myself think about our last vacation there, when we were still in secondary school, when we stayed in a room on the thirtieth floor and sat on the patio painting each other's nails. If I'm going to die on this tour like I always suspected I might, it's going to be with fucking happy memories spinnin' round my skull. I pull up Ronnie's face, smiling down at me, his hand brushing my hair back, the feeling of his body inside mine. Poppet gives me a strange look as the bag slides to the floor between us.
She sees the gun and starts to say something, but I'm not looking at her, I'm looking past her at Joel, Ice and Glass' guitarist, with his shaved head and rapturous gaze. He's next to Cohen, yelling something, screaming who the fuck knows what. Everything seems to be moving in slow motion around me. Maybe this is what happens when you find out you're gonna die? Time slows because you ain't got much of it left, giving you a split second to lay out all your regrets, say your prayers, realize that you'll never again kiss the lips of the man you love.
Joel is next to Cohen, and even though I'd love to put a bullet through my ex's skull, I think Joel is more dangerous. He loves Stephen like a God, and he's not as much of a coward as the big fat chode standing next to him. If anybody's going to follow orders and actually put bullets through brains, it's Joel.
I lift up my revolver, right over Poppet's shoulder and I fire.
The bullet hits Joel right in the chest, splatters blood across the wall behind him and drops him straight to his knees. I shift my aim and take another shot at Cohen, but I don't have the luxury of seeing it strike flesh.
Pain blooms down below and my gaze moves back to Poppet as my arms collapse at my sides, as the revolver hits the floor, as my knees finally do collapse. My sister mouths something at me, but I can't hear what she says. My left hand touches my belly and comes away with thick redness. Blood.
But that's okay.
I smile because I deserve this. Because I've done things that can't be forgiven. I killed a girl that didn't deserve to die, played my part in the deaths of Ronnie's children's mothers. I fell in love too late, fucked up too damn much, and managed to help give Indecency a fighting chance.
Guess this is as good a way to go as any.
Five minutes earlier …
The scream that tears from my throat is fucking epic.
No fucking way.
“Lola!” I rise to my feet and slam into Cohen Rose, knocking him to his ass while he flails around and gapes like a fish out of water. I should probably stop and take the gun from his fingers, knock his ass out, but I can't think of anything but Lola Saints.
The love of my life has just fallen to her knees with blood flowering across the front of her white tank top, the one that says You're Never Naked When You're Wearing Ink. The words are obscured by the sudden rush of red as Lola touches a hand to her belly and blinks her eyes several times in shocked surprise. The makeup running down her face might've started with the sweat she shed onstage, but now it's mixed with tears.
Lola's sister draws her weapon back and stumbles, like even she's having a hard time realizing what she's just done. The kid she dragged back here by the shirt looks heartbreakingly familiar. Travis. I would bet my balls that this boy is the son America told Turner and Naomi about, the son I learned only a few hours earlier actually existed. Turner told me that shit in a text on his way here. Not the kind of information you want rammed into your brain via electronics, but whatever. Who gives a shit about that, especially right now. I want to help the kid, I do, but I can't lose Lola. I can't. If I do, we both die. Everything falls apart. I was willing to sacrifice myself for her, but never in a million years did I think she'd sacrifice herself for me.
She loves me.
Wish I could be happy about that emotion. But if to learn about it, I have to say good bye, I'd rather not have known.
“Lola!” I collapse to the floor by her side and take her into my arms. There's so much going on around me, but as soon as my hands touch her skin, it all fades away. Chaos erupts around us like a volcano – spewing magma laden shit all over everything. One minute, I'm standing there with a water bottle in my hand, getting ready to take a peep out the curtains at Turner, the next there's a gun to my head. One pointed at Lola.
Poppet stumbles away, adjusting a wireless headset that she got from God only knows where. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I hold Lola in my trembling arms, digging my cell from my pocket while trying desperately not to jostle her. Shit is going down, and I'm torn between holding the girl I love and protecting my friends. FUCK!