It’s not often that I get the casting vote these days. In fact, I don’t think I can remember the last time that it happened.
What that means, of course, is that because I have two options to think about before I start writing, I can procrastinate even longer on where I’m taking the story.
Enjoy this week’s chapter and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
Technically, what I’d been doing could have been described as “stalking” but I preferred to call it “research.”
And what a woman, Pet was to research!
The few available hours that I’d had of free time since the house party had been spent by me pouring over the internet gossip sites finding out as much as I could about the woman who now had me in her steely gaze.
“You’re a fascinating woman,” I said trying to recover some kind of composure, “why wouldn’t I want to find out as much about you as I could.”
Now it was Pet’s turn to blush. I watched the colour rise up her slim throat and bloom across her face. I had an almost uncontrollable urge to reach out with my hand and let my fingers trail across the blazing heat of her flesh.
But then I remembered who I was actually sitting in front of.
A Grammy winner.
A woman so far out of my league that I didn’t know if there was any chance I could ever hope to catch up.
I might have been sitting backstage with the equivalent of rock royalty, but the way that blush played out across Pet’s face made me feel as if I was sitting in the changing rooms back home in Milford at the surf club.
Two world's collide… the random thought ran through my head.
And to think that we were going to be the support band for Ace Revolution. I still couldn’t quite get my head around any of it.
“I’m actually flattered,” Pet said as the blush began to recede.
I wanted to laugh, but instead I took a drink of the beer I had in my hand.
Beer and relief flooded through me.
“That’s good to know,” I replied, wondering where this cool dude who could actually string a sentence together had appeared from.
“I mean, you know what it’s like, when people start sending you shit and pretending that they’ve known you all their lives just because they’ve read a few things about you on the internet.”
I didn’t, but I could run with this.
“At least you know I care,” I said. And I meant it. I’d barely gotten to know Pet, but there was something about her, a vulnerability that I was seeing now that I hadn’t seen in any of the kick arse videos or shows that I’d watched.
“You wouldn’t be back here if I didn’t think you were okay,” Pet said with an impish smile that made her look all of her nearly twenty-one years. “Tell me about your band,” she said as she pulled her legs up under herself and settled deep into the palm of her side of the two-handed couch.
She reminded me of a fledgling blackbird that we found out in the back garden one spring the way her body curled into the cupped leather palm of the couch.
Young and innocent—yet she carried an air of strength about her that must have been born of years of living her life on stage in front of her adoring public.
What the hell had Marty gotten me into?
Where did I even start, trying to tell Petunia Anders about our band?
I closed my eyes for a moment. Taking myself back to the day that Marty told me we were going to make it big.
I opened my eyes and Pet had leaned forward on all fours, her face not more than a couple of inches away from my own.
Something inside of me broke.
I stroked the back of my fingers against the soft skin of her cheek.
She leaned into me, like a cat, looking for more love.
The lids of her eyes half-closed, revealing the golden make-up that covered her eyelids.
“I’d like you to kiss me now,” she whispered.
I wasn’t going to need asking again.
As I leaned forward, Pet turned her head ever so slightly to one side. I could hear the sound of my own heartbeat pounding in my ears—it wasn’t dissimilar to the sound of Liam on his kit.
I cupped her face in my hands and slid my lips over hers.
An incredible sensation coursed through my body. It was like being attached to the national grid. A bolt of pure delight brought my senses into immediate relief.
A sigh of pleasure escaped my mouth as Pet slipped into my lap, slid her hands around my neck and made it entirely plain how she wanted to spend the rest of our time together.
We’d only been here just over an hour and a half and already it looked like Jesse had been on the piss for half the night.
Our intrepid waitress had made more than four visits back to the booth to refill his glass. On her fifth I’d had it.
“Enough,” I said eye-balling first her and then Jesse. “We’ll have three bottles of mineral water over here and something from the bar menu.”
“What would you like?” she asked, clearly unperturbed by Jesse’s objections coming from the other side of the booth.
“You got a burger and some fries?” Anything solid to mop up the alcohol content in his stomach would be welcome.
“Sure,” she replied, “for how many?”
“Four,” I said.
She looked at the booth as if I couldn’t count.
“We’ve a mate backstage,” I offered in explanation. Although why I felt I needed to make any kind of explanation to anyone was beyond me. I just wanted Jesse to settle down and food seemed the fastest solution at hand.
“Fine, I’ll be right back with your order,” she cooed as she took away Jesse’s empty glass.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Jesse growled.
“He’s a mate making sure you don’t fuck this up for all of us,” Dylan cut in, giving me an I-got-this-look and saving me from having to throttle Jesse.
Even I had to admit that Dylan was taking to this leader-of-the-band role better than could be expected. I guess the success of the house party and the subsequent booking to support Ace Revolution had forced him to up his game.
I settled back down in our booth and waited for things to calm down.
“Hey,” Marty arrived almost on cue. Ace were due on the stage any moment.
“You been booted from backstage for misbehaving?” Dylan asked him.
Did I see the hint of colour climbing up the side of Marty’s neck?
“Nah, Pet knew I’d have a better view from out front.”
“You two getting on alright?” I tried to keep the tone of my voice straight, but from the look on Marty’s face, I don’t think I managed it.
“We’re sweet,” Marty said as he waved at the waitress. “Can I get a beer over here?”
“Make it four,” I added. “We had food coming, a beer wasn’t going to knock Jesse over the edge, but any more of that top shelf shit and we were going to be in real trouble.
“Fuck your beer, I need a bourbon,” Jesse pointed out to anyone who was willing to listen.
An eruption from the crowd on the dance floor in front of us and a flash of orange light followed by a thrumming strobe light announced the arrival of the main act for the night.
Between a flurry of activity onstage and the arrival of beer and food, things began to calm down in the booth.
I couldn’t decide what was more entertaining, watching Pet and the band on stage, or watching Marty watch Pet on stage.
By the third song, after putting away half a burger and a plate of fries, Jesse could contain himself no longer.
“Looks like your chick’s got the hots for the muscled-dude down by the stage,” he said. Pointing a finger at a couple of obviously gay guys who were enjoying the show right down the front.
Marty ignored the bait.
Not one to give up, Jesse had another go.
“Mate,” he said across the table to Marty, “you’re a kid from Milford. You know you haven’t got a hope with the woman up there, right?”
“What do you know,” Marty said.
Jesse leaned over burgers and beer and started poking Marty in the shoulder. “If she fucks you it’ll just be a mercy fuck, you know that, right?”
Marty lunged across the table, beer and burgers in his wake.
“Just shut the fuck up, okay. You want to take this outside?”
“Kids, fucking calm down,” I said. I grabbed Jesse by the shoulders and Dylan managed to convince Marty to sit back down.
“Let’s just enjoy the show and keep it down, okay? Do I have to remind you what Calvin said before we left.”
“He’s just an arsehole,” Marty whined.
“Drop it, mate,” Dylan said eyeballing Marty. “Ignore him. He’s drunk. Just enjoy the show. He won’t even remember what he said tomorrow.”
“I fucking will,” Marty said.
I turned my attention to Jesse. “Another word out of you and I’m putting you in a cab and ringing Calvin.”
“Who made you boss?” Jesse rolled his eyes at me.
“I mean it.”
And I did.
One more outburst and I’d personally escort him out of here.
I didn’t need this shit.
I didn’t know what the hell had gotten into him, but I was certain of one thing. If he kept this up, he’d be on his way. I’d given Calvin my word and I wasn’t about to let him down, even if it meant throwing my best friend out of the Club.
There was too much at stake and Jesse was just being a complete dick.
* * *
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