In between tours, when he's back in Jersey -- she teases him gently about being the big star now, and she starts to feel bad about it until she gets there and sees the shit the other guys give him -- Bruce calls her and asks her if she wants to come out with "a few of us". He's done it a few times now, or they'll run into each other at the Pony, and she's managed to let go of the high-school anger and humiliation from being kept out of the band then. Mostly that's the effect of growing up, of course, but it sure doesn't hurt that now he's the one who's chasing her, doing his damnedest to get her to come out with him.
It's fun enough, but it gets more fun when she, Bruce, and Steve sneak out and run down to the beach with a blanket -- okay, a threadbare sheet, but it does the job -- and a handful of cookies that they've completely devoured by the time they get to the beach. When they get onto the sand, the sun's settled fat and red behind the buildings at their backs, a late summer evening finally giving way to night.
Bruce makes a show of sprawling out on the blanket and hiding behind a pair of sunglasses, which Patti snorts at, and when Steve starts asking him what kind of a big shot he thinks he is, she joins in. But Bruce had more of whatever shit Garry and Danny were hitting than Patti or Steve did, and he just mumbles something about them being assholes and is curled up and dozing in a corner of the blanket in minutes. The sky turns to indigo in front of them, then stretches out to blue and inky black, big and deep and only a little lighter than the Atlantic.
She's not sure which one of them starts it, but at a hazy, sandy point between her and Steve trading jokes about Bruce with all the mellow warmth of real affection, his hand ends up on her knee and her tongue ends up halfway down his throat.
Somewhere along the line, they both fall still, like some kind of invisible shock goes through them, and they both look over at Bruce. Who's sitting up now, and Patti thinks one of us is the mistress here but she realizes just as quickly that she isn't sure which one. Steve's hand -- the one that's not on her leg, obviously, because it's still there, the calluses she knows from her own fingers rough against her skin and the rest of his hand warm and a little bit damp -- is under her shirt by now. She's breathing like she's drowning, sucking air in between kisses.
"Hey," Bruce says, in a voice so low it almost gets carried out to the ocean, and he takes off the sunglasses finally, "don't stop on my account." His eyes are half-closed as he leans back, but neither of them is fooled anymore, and she grins as she settles down on the blanket next to him, doesn't bother with grace this time as she grabs Steve by the collar and pulls him down on top of her. His hand slides further up her thigh, fingertips brushing the cotton of her underwear.
The water gets louder at night, it always seems like. But louder than the roll of the waves, as Patti settles in, are the sounds of her heartbeat, and their breath, hot on each others' evening-cooling skin, and the music of their little hums of delight.