AN: I'm throwing this story out there because I had an idea and I kind of ran away with it. I do plan on circling back to GMAS but I'm just not ready to write ZA. I've got a lot of this written already so it will not take long to post an update.
And a special thanks to Stacey for her help with this! Just a few comments from her and I knew where this was going.
And of course, I own nothing. If I did we obviously know that Beth would have lived. Just saying.
Hope you enjoy!
It's been two years since he had seen his home in Georgia. Two years since his brother was locked up for possession with intent to sell. Two years since he got word that his father died and he hit the road never to look back. Two years since he moved to the backwoods of Kentucky just outside of Corbin. Two years since he started his honest life over. Two years. Two long and unsatisfying years.
During the afternoon and evening hours he works in a tattoo parlor on the outskirts of town. Outsiders didn't know it was there but locals flocked to the place located in the back of the small but busy bar. At night, when he wasn't drawing on people, he retired to a small shack in the woods about twenty minutes from town. It was sturdy enough to support his needs. Others would surely snub their nose at such a lifestyle but to him it was all he knew. He wouldn't feel right living in anything else.
On his days off he took to hunting in the woods and tracking small game. The large freezer in the back of the house provided just enough space to keep his weekly meals cool. He didn't spend his small salary and sometimes generous tips on anything other than gas for his car, electricity for the freezer, and cigarettes. His simple way of living didn't require more than that. Not a lot to tell if anyone came around asking about him, something that never happened.
On one particular afternoon, as he made his way into the dingy bar and back to the immaculate parlor behind the heavy red curtain, the owner- Dave- stopped him.
"Daryl, come here." Daryl groaned and turned his attention over to the man behind the bar. Daryl kept quiet and waited for the man to continue. "I've got a favor to ask ya. A buddy of mine is manager to this folk singer broad. She's playing at some fancy bar in Lexington and on her way south he wants to stop in and spend the evening here."
"What ya need of me?" Daryl grunted.
"Well, here's the thing. Glenn's the kind of guy who likes to get a little crazy when he's around friends. I need someone to just make sure the diva doesn't run into any trouble." Dave looked a bit sheepish as he played with the rag on the counter.
"Forget it." Daryl growled as he made his way to the back. "I ain't no babysitter. Certainly ain't looking after some uptight princess so her manager can get shit faced with ya." He heard Dave calling after him as he slipped behind the curtain but he didn't turn around. Instead he went to look over his schedule for the evening only to find that all of his appointments had been moved or rescheduled. His calendar was blank.
"Dammit, Dave! I ain't babysitting! You better have someone get these appointments back in for tonight or you can find someone else to work for you!"
"You sure?" Dave asked with a raised eyebrow as he handed a pamphlet to him. He looked down and saw the name 'Beth Greene' on the top and a picture of a small blonde woman, early twenties maybe, with pale skin and piecing blue eyes staring back at him. "I know you ain't really into the cardinal pleasures like most men are but she could be fun."
"You're a sick bastard, ya know that?" Daryl pushed the pamphlet against the man's chest and started to walk away. "'Sides, what I do on my own time ain't your business!" He figured he was in a losing battle. At some point, Dave would play the boss card and Daryl would cave. Not for the money but for the job and his clients. He liked what he did for the first time in his life. He didn't want to give that up. Regardless, that didn't stop him from being stubborn and walking outside in a huff to prove a point. It wasn't long after he lit his cigarette and leaned against his truck that Dave's head poked out the door.
"You know how this is going to work, don't you?" Daryl remained silent. "You're going to bitch and moan and eventually I will make you do this and you won't have a choice in the matter. Just save us all the trouble now." Dave leaned up against the truck, his voice soft for such a gruff looking man, as he turned his head up to the sky.
"Why can't you get Emilia to do this? The girl'd probably enjoy it more than spending time with me."
"I'm not asking you to take her out on the town and show her a good time. I was only joking about that cardinal shit anyway. If she wants to spend time with Emilia, fine. But apparently this broad is famous enough to have stalkers and shit. She just needs someone to watch her back."
"Don't she have her own gang of people to protect her?" Daryl asked, looking for any way out of this. All he wanted to do today was come in and mark people for life with his tattoo gun but that seemed like a fleeting desire.
"Sent them on home to Atlanta."
"She's ok with her manager gettin' drunk with your sorry ass?" Dave laughed at Daryl's comment.
"It was her idea. He's her brother in law and she's apparently a sweet girl. This isn't the first time they've run through this way. Last time she didn't have a name to herself and was playing in holes like this one." He chuckled as his thumb thrust over his shoulder to point at the bar. "Come on. Drinks are on the house. I'm not even asking you to stay completely sober. Have a few beers, talk to the girl, and act like you're not the biggest asshole in the world for once. We all know it's a rouse anyway." Daryl snubbed out his cigarette and flicked the butt a few feet away. He thought about it for a minute and pushed himself off the car.
"I want a raise." Dave laughed and followed him into the bar, slapping him on the back as a showing of gratitude the entire way. "What time she gettin' here?"
"Round ten or so."
"Last appointment on the books was an eight o'clock." Daryl glared at him skeptically.
"Way I see it, I owe ya a day off for doing me this one. Now come on, I'll pour ya a few shots before they get here that way you can be relatively sober again by ten." As he knew he would, Daryl relented to his friends request and sat down at the bar.
"I'm gunna get ya back for this." He promised as he tossed back the first shot of whiskey presented to him. He looked at the clock above the bar and sighed. Seven hours of sitting here waiting on this girl only to play babysitter to the stars. Suddenly Georgia didn't seem so bad after all. But it was only one night. He could get through this, right?
Three hours and a few shots later he gave up on staying and told Dave he would be back around nine to wait for Ms. Hollywood to arrive. He decided to run into town and see what he could find out about this girl. He stopped at a rundown CD shop that had certainly seen better days and many more customers before the invention of iPods and all that digital shit. But he decided to see if Ms. Greene was popular enough to be found on local shelves.
He walked into the store feeling awkward and completely out of place. His fists clenched at the thought idiocy of it all. A bubbly blonde ran up to him, as he looked around lost, asking if she could help him find anything. Clearly it had been a while since anyone had stopped by.
"Where's your… eh- folk section?" He asked nervously. She beamed at him and pointed to a row of discs in the back corner. He nodded his thanks and headed towards them. It didn't take him long to find an unwrapped copy of one of her CDs sitting directly behind the "G" on the shelf. Her face smiled back at him from the cover art. She was sitting on an old tire swing in tank top and jeans. Her blonde hair was curled and seemed to be blowing behind her as she swung. He had to admit she was very attractive. Another reason to add this to the list of why this was a bad idea. Woman like her didn't deal with men like him. In fact, they usually ran the other direction which was usually fine with him. He sighed, opened the case, and pulled out the cover to read over the artist bio.
"Growing up in on a farm in Georgia, Beth Greene spent her time helping her father in a small veterinary practice while attending school. After graduation she attended the Atlanta Fine Arts and Music College and completed her first album by her sophomore year."
The bio went on to talk about her charitable works for underprivileged music students to help with grants and scholarships before her first US tour that began in 2012. This left him to assume she was at least 23 or 24 and probably a really sweet girl. Why in the world would Glenn and Dave subject her to him was beyond comprehension. Anyone else would be much better suited to keep her company. He was not an outgoing person. He only forced small talk with his clients and even that was short and to the point.
He put the cover slip back in its spot and closed the case and headed to the counter. The blonde smiled widely at him when she saw what he was intending to buy.
"Oh, I love her!" She rang up the purchase while Daryl muttered something about a non-existent niece's birthday and heard she wanted it. "That's so sweet of you!" She replied with a sigh. He chose not to respond and walked out of the door with the CD in hand. Once back in his truck he opened up the case and pushed the CD in and decided to listen while he drove back to the bar to try one last attempt at getting Dave to reconsider.
The soft folky music slipped into the air around him as a voice that sounded heavenly began to waft through him. He was taken aback by the sounds coming from the speakers. Her voice was strong and powerful for such a small looking thing. It wasn't his type of music but he was slightly impressed with her talent. Her voice seemed to draw him in and pull him into a world that didn't exist.
His hands gripped the steering wheel tightly as he contemplated his options. He could suck it up and deal with this tonight or he could say fuck it and tell Dave he was done. He'd be alright for a few months. He had enough money saved up that he could keep the freezer running until he found another job. Or he could run again like he used to. Was he really tied to this place so much that he would allow Dave to put him through this bullshit babysitting job? He tried to think of all the reasons he could just up and leave and he was coming up with nothing. The truth was, this place almost felt like home to him. This was the first time in his life that he had felt that way and he didn't know that he wanted to give that up. His palm smashed against the dash as he resigned himself to dealing with this. It was only one night. It was only one night.
Two songs later and he was back at the bar but his hand was heavy to turn off the truck. He listened to the rest of the third before resolving himself to tell Dave that yet again this was a bad idea he might have decided to do it but that didn't mean he was going to roll over and play dead. He opened the door before he turned off the ignition and he heard a voice laughing from across the parking lot.
"Hey B! You got a fan!" He heard someone shout though he didn't pay them much mind. He walked into the bar and up to his boss.
"Look Dave, give Emilia the night off to hang with this girl. I can keep an eye on her from behind the bar." Emilia passed behind Dave with a small chuckle and a mutter of 'yeah right.' Dave shook his head.
"It's too late. They're already here." Dave gestured behind Daryl to the two people standing in the doorway. A skinny Asian man and the young blond from the album cover and pamphlet. Shit.
Well, I hope you enjoyed chapter 1. Let me know what you think!