A/N - I wrote this piece for Lisa / nobodysgirl8 who was my 1000th reviewer on Twi'd. She has given me the okay to post and share with everyone else. I asked Lisa what she wanted me to write for her and we decided on a departure from what I usually write; so without further ado, here is a little one shot starring The Pretty.
Thanks so Gasaway Alley for the awesome beta work. Xoxo
June 2008, Nottingham, England.
I sat in front of 88 keys and exhaled. The spotlight was bright and blue on my profile, I squinted at the audience, and introduced myself. I could hear the squeak of the waitress's shoes across the floor so there were not very many people in the bar. Relief washed through me. Mostly just the people who were performing and a few of their friends were beyond the blue light. It was Open Mic night at The Lounge and I was about to take the stage for the first time.
My fingers glided over the ivory in the familiarity of procedural memory. I had played this piece to myself in the rehearsal hall of the university for years. It was a song by a Canadian singer songwriter named Chantal Kreviaziuk called Surrounded. My voice was soft and steady, alien at first coming at me from the speakers that fed the mic. Struggling not to let the sound of my own voice magnified startle me, I managed to stay in tune. I was not used to singing in a mic. I often went flat....but I was holding my own tonight! My confidence grew and I stomped across the piano keys a little harder, threw my voice a little louder, rocking back and forth on the bench as the music bled out of me.
I was there when you shone
as bright as Bethlehem from afar,
I was there when you were
Young and Strong and Perverted
and everything that makes
a young man a star, oh, you were a star...
It was an emotionally powerful piece, and I threw myself into the modulation of it whole heartedly. In that moment it wouldn't have mattered how many people listened, or even if they liked it. I felt free letting the music soar straight out of my soul. Before I knew it the song was coming to a close. I heard clapping and whistling to the left of me, beyond the light. I made out a tall man in a black beanie, a beer bottle in one hand and the cherry glow of his lit fag trailed from his mouth to his hand as he yelled boisterously in appreciation for my performance.
The prickling heat of humility colored my face as I stood, waved my hand awkwardly in thanks, then dashed off the stage. As the bouncers pushed the piano off to the side, I ducked into the bathroom to gather myself as I was a racket of nerves.
I went to the bar and ordered the special. As I sat down I noticed the man with the beanie was bent over his guitar case on stage. Cool, he's a performer. I hoped he was good. Maybe I could return the favor and whoop it up when he was done his set. Right. That's so not me. Why couldn't it be? There's no one here that knows me. I sipped my fancy schmancy sugar-laden drink and pretended to be someone else.
Beanie boy removed the ghastly tea cozy from his head revealing disheveled, auburn sex hair. Who cares if he could sing! This man was damn fine. He had one of those chiseled angular jaws that carved strength and beauty into his features. His eyebrows were thick, but they worked with the unruly hair, sparkling green eyes and long eyelashes. His lips were full and apple red. Probably from biting them, he pulled them between his teeth as he leaned in to listen to the strings as he tuned his guitar. Before he began, he dragged his hand through his crazy mane of hair and placed it back down on his bouncing knee. He seemed a bit nervous...or maybe just anxious?
"My name is Rob and this is a piece I wrote called Broken."
He closed his eyes and deftly strummed and picked the strings like a seasoned professional, at the very least classically trained for a time. His raw, pitch-perfect powerful voice rasped over the room in an anguished cadence .
I was lonely
I was tired
Now I'm bound,
My head is off the ground.
Long, tapered fingers wrapped around the frets, the knuckles whitened, his grip stroking up and down the neck of the guitar to make the heavy chord changes. He played his instrument like a well worn lover, throwing himself into the song heatedly, making me quiver.
In my times I melted into many forms
From the day that I was born, no
I know there's no place to hide.
He sang from the bottom of his soul. I could feel my mouth hanging open and my eyes were glued to him.
Stuck between the burning shade
and the fading light
I was broken
for a long time
But it's over now
He was magnificent. I didn't need any goading, nor did I harbor any shame when I stood, clapped madly and whistled. He grinned wide like a gorgeous magazine model but remained hunched over his guitar, as if he wished it would swallow him whole. He stole a glance my way and winked.
He loped off the stage awkwardly, emerging a few beats later with the guitar in it's case. The DJ started playing He walked purposefully towards my table with a lopsided grin on his face. I gulped and took another drink effectively stabbing myself in the upper lip with the toothpick umbrella, cursing loudly. I overestimated my jangly nerves due to his approach as I had sloshed my drink down my chin. He grabbed some napkins off the waitresses tray passing nearby and rushed over, almost tripping over his own large Doc Martin-clad feet to get to me. He was wearing a plaid flannel with the sleeves rolled up, a Stoli vodka T and skinny black jeans. And this gorgeous, talented piece of heaven was bringing me a napkin for my dribbly chin. Lovely.
"Thank you so much" I smiled awkwardly as I took the proffered napkins from him. He flashed me that pretty boy grin and I had to avert my eyes. Jesus he was beautiful. Otherfreakinworldy even.
"No problem, I wanted to buy you a drink anyway...so the more you spill of this one the quicker I can get you another." he grinned again and ran his hands through his hair. Self Conscious gesture? How could a being this drop dead gorgeous be self conscious?
"Your set was amazing, ...uh...I'm sorry, what was your name again?"
Ohmyfuckinggod. It's Cedric Diggory!
He was squinting at me now. The expression on his face held a flash of concern that I might be weird, 'cause he was famous.
Don't let him know you know it's him. You will seem like a silly fangirl. Be cool Lisa.
Dammit. Be COOL!
"I'm Lisa Serap." I held out my hand still holding my wet crumpled tissue. I smiled meekly and dropped it on the table and shook his hand. He had a warm firm grip. I licked my lips subconsciously as I took him in. He caught it, smiled shyly and looked down at the floor in humble embarrassment. The hands went through the hair again. Christ, he made hair rumpling adorable and hot all at the same time. He slid into the seat across from me as the waitress came back with our drinks. She took my almost empty glass away and put a fresh one in front of me.
"When did you have time to order this?"
"After your amazing set, I told the waitress to get you your preferred drink to have with me after I was done performing. I was really impressed! I know that song. I heard the original artist sing it in Vancouver, you have to have chops for that kind of ballad."
"Wow. Thanks. It was my first time performing actually." I took a long pull off the straw in my drink, thankful for the high alcohol content within to steady my nerves.
"I don't believe you!" he laughed heartily. "You've got to be kidding me...you handled it like a pro!"
"I guess I'm good at acting." I took a smaller sip of my new drink, settling back into my chair comfortably so I could enjoy the alcohol and man-candy buzz.
"I wish I was. I just finished my fourth job, and it's a big one if I screw it up, I'm done with acting and going back to music."
"Oh? I thought you were wonderful as Cedric Diggory." I winked at him.
He smiled at me, genuinely pleased by the compliment. He pulled his juicy bottom lip under his teeth, let it go and swiped his tongue quickly over them. Alarm bells sounded in my ovaries. This man was an oxymoron. Shy and humble, yet gorgeous and...knew it? He had confidence, but he wasn't cocky. It was a rare mix. Especially someone in "the industry". I know people with not even a sliver of this man's sex appeal and they are obnoxious and conceited. Shoving his gorgeous hands under his bum, he leaned towards me conspiratorially.
"Have you heard of the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer?"
"I've heard of it, but I haven't read it. Should I?"
Relief ghosted across his features and his eyes crinkled as he beamed at me.
"The books are pretty good. The characters are quite intense. I really enjoyed filming the movie anyway...the cast is amazing. We just wrapped a few weeks ago."
"I will have to check it out then." I smiled and then fiddled with my drink straw, stabbing at the melting ice cubes randomly. The liquor was long gone. He turned to order us another round and noticed his friends were leaving. I gulped thinking he would have to go now as well, but he waved them off! He didn't leave with them. I sucked on my straw and the piddly remnants of my drink made rude noises in it's travel upwards. I grinned sheepishly. I was terrible at small talk. Great at embarrassing myself though it would seem. He didn't appear the least bit uncomfortable with me, he was leaning across the table towards me, prattling on about one of his castmates, Kellen, and the practical jokes they played on each other. I leaned in closer and laughed along with him. If I didn't know any better, I swear he checked out my rack a few times. That's okay. If my boobs could talk they would be jumping out of my shirt if this man walked by, hollering; LOOK AT ME!!!
"What is that you are drinking anyway? He looked at the umbrellas and crazy coloring of the drink dubiously.
"Sex on the Beach."
"I don't recommend it...one can get sand in some rather uncomfortable places." he smirked. His spidery fingers combed through his wild hair again. His hands were constantly touching his face, rubbing his neck, it was a very endearing compulsion It made him appear extremely vulnerable. He must be a very tactile person. It drove me crazy watching him nervously fret this way. I was imagining those beautiful hands sliding over every inch of my skin.
"I'm sorry, perhaps that wasn't as funny as I thought it would be." he apologized, rubbing his index and pointer fingers roughly over his thick eyebrows.
"No, no, it was funny, I just spaced. I was thinking about sex for some reason." I attempted to be coy. I think I came across as nervous.
His eyes brightened and he flashed a devilish smile my way.
"Oh really? Are you performing again tonight?"
"No, I'm done, thankfully." He rolled his eyes at me.
"What?" I asked.
"You were amazing. Which is why I approached you to begin with. I'm not always hitting on beautiful brown eyed women contrary to popular belief." he quirked his eyebrow at me.
"I'm sorry. Thank you. I guess I should learn to take a compliment on my playing and singing."
"Yes. You definitely should." he agreed solemnly, reaching across the table to lay his warm hand over mine. I swear him touching me set off a buzzer in my nether regions.
"So, how about you? Are you done playing tonight?"
"I'm done." He smiled, nodding towards the stage where a forty-something, balding male was singing 'Feelings'. "I have a much better selection of music back at my flat. It's just around the block and I have some Coronas...would you like to come for a drink?"
Are you kidding me? YES!!!
"Shh..ure. I love Corona," I said shakily. I really do. I simply didn't expect the invitation. Back to his flat!
I stood up and bumped my knee on the table. The empty glasses fell over spilling ice across the table. Rob laughed and hailed the waitress, pressing some money to her palm, apologizing for our mess. She beamed at him in adoration assuring him it was no problem as she placed his money between her tits. He tried to suppress his disgust to remain polite to her since she had such a mess to clean up. Meanwhile, I was rubbing my knee and apologizing profusely.
Thanking the hopeful server once more, Rob grabbed my arm to lead me out of the bar. I certainly wasn't injured enough to need aid, however, I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to be sired about by this beautiful man.
The evening air had a delicious coolness to it and I inhaled the thick summer's-end scent of it. He pointed down the block to our right.
"I'm just this way."
He wrapped his fingers around mine on the walk to his place and it didn't feel odd or uncomfortable. It simply made me, tingly. Joyous even. We were simply two new, slightly inebriated friends in search of private libations and choice music.
Who am I kidding? I really and truly hoped this would lead to sex. Please, sweet Jesus, let it lead to sex.
Swinging his guitar case in his other hand we laughed and joked the whole way. His sense of humor was self-deprecating, and he was very sharp witted. I was so wrapped up in him that I didn't even take notice of where he had led me to when suddenly he stopped and we stood in front of a modest brownstone.
He hesitated before moving forward, turning to me with embarrassment ghosting across his face.
"You will have to excuse the mess...I'm a bit of a slob."
"No matter." I replied cheerily. "How bad can it be really?"
"Pretty bad." He grinned sheepishly at me, punching numbers into the security pad. "My sister hasn't come by in over a week, and I'm ashamed to say, she usually tidies up for me. I tend to be a little, uh, oblivious to the filth as it piles around me."
He opened the door to his bachelor apartment and I was immediately taken aback by the chaos within. His flat looked like a 13 year old boy had been living within unattended for way too long. There were candy bar wrappers, empty cans, beer bottles and dirty clothes littered everywhere. I suppressed a smile as I peeked into the kitchenette. Looks someone has a sweet tooth and a pension for frozen microwaveable foods. If he wasn't so gorgeous and sweet, I might be totally turned off right now. I picked up one of the boxes that once housed a pastry type product called a "Hot Pocket".
"Are these any good?" I turned the box over to read the ingredients. Some of them I couldn't pronounce. Blick. Who wants to eat something they can't pronounce?
Rob was scurrying around trying to make order of the hopeless mess, tugging at the sheets of his bed and throwing clothes into the emptied hamper at the end of his bed. He looked up, red faced and disheveled. I could have kissed the blush right off his cheeks just then.
"Oh yeah...like, two minutes in the microwave and they are done. The sausage and pepperoni are really great." He snapped open a large garbage bag and in one sweeping motion, cleared his coffee table which was covered in dead soldiers and overflowing ashtrays. He pointed to the couch, "I think it's safe to sit on now. I promise nothing will bite you. Except maybe for me." He waggled his eyebrows comically at me. I felt the heat flush across my cheeks and I looked down. His beauty was blinding enough, when he flirted, even casually, I became a hot mess.
"Do you take lime in your Corona?"
"It's the only way to drink it!" I replied. He zipped out to the kitchen to fetch our beers and I took in the furnishings and creature comforts about the room. He didn't have much, but what he had was certainly nice. The couch was black leather and very comfortable. He had posters on the wall for Van Morrison, Kings of Leon and various Dali prints. Up against the far wall was an amazing stereo system complete with a turntable. Next to the impressive speakers and gear, was a large black commercial record bin full of LP's. Tabs made and placed just as you would have seen in an 80's record store. I got up to go take a look.
He returned with my beer, the lime slice bobbing in the neck of the bottle. I licked my lips and took a swig of the light, zesty beer; his eyes on me the whole time. He took a modest drink from his own, but never did his gaze waver. I became self conscious and swiped at my mouth with my sleeve, my lipstick smearing across the arm of my blouse.
Rob sprung to action immediately. My god, this man has cleaned up after me all night. And it doesn't look like he is used to...cleaning up after himself, let alone me.
He returned with a warm facecloth,
"May I?" he nodded to my lips.
Stunned and then regaining some semblance of scrambled dignity, I whispered, "Sure."
Rob was suddenly...very close to me. I could see gold flecks carrying on in the green of his eyes, the unkempt beauty of his facial hair combined with crimson coloring of his lips and cheeks. I swooned and closed my eyes for a moment to get my bearings as the almost too warm cloth rubbed gently around the borders of my mouth.
"I think you look better without it," he said as he finished rubbing the remains of my gloss from my lips. He inched a hairsbreadth closer, my knees knocked, but I stood my ground. Come closer...
"Besides, it tastes terrible." Leaning in the rest of the distance, his lips latched onto mine; his arms wrapping around me, pulling me to him. He smelled like ivory soap and Head and Shoulders shampoo. Clean. Faint remnants of lime and beer clung to his lips and breath, yet I tasted nothing but heat when his tongue sought to dance and thread with mine. I couldn't believe this was happening so fast, but I didn't care. He made it too easy to think of reasons to keep going. Especially when those hands I had been fantasizing about all evening, slid down my back and under my rump to lift me up and perch me on the edge of the record bin. Thankfully the bin was quite sturdy. Sitting here enabled him to be even closer to me, nipping and sucking along the column of my neck as I arched back and enjoyed his love bites. His throaty rumble danced across my scapula , his ragged breath stealing under my blouse and warming my breasts,
"I've wanted to kiss you all night Lisa."
My answer was a squeak and a kick to the stereo as I wrapped my legs around his waist. My long summer skirt fell back around my hips, my lady bits lining up perfectly with the impressively straining bulge in his pants. Some lights on the stereo came on, a click and then Kings of Leon, Arizona, started playing.
All I ever needed
All I ever wanted
So hold on to surrender
Before I knew it, he picked me up and was carrying me over to his bed. Placing me on it, he stepped back to look at me.
Like I'm on a railway
Ch-ch-checking me out
Someone on a shoulder
"Is this okay? Because, if it isn't..." his eyes were sincere but his bottom lip was between his teeth again. Holding back.
He wanted me.
"It's more than okay," I said as I reached up, grabbed his shirt in my fist pulling him down to me.
The movie theater was pretty much empty, yet I still felt exposed as the butterflies in my stomach added to my paranoia. I sunk down into my seat and placed the popcorn precariously on my knee. I had not once hinted to any of my girlfriends, most of them Twi-hards, about my tryst with Rob that night, many months ago. During all of the Twilight hype, I hadn't batted an eyelash when confronted with his gorgeous image everywhere, bookstores, malls, magazines. I had waited until it's last showing to come and see his movie alone. It was overwhelming watching him on the screen, larger than life and more beautiful than ever. I held my breath as his character, Edward Cullen, strode across the cafeteria in his first appearance in the movie. A tear rolled down my cheek as I recalled the feel of him against me. It was like it was yesterday.
Four hours. For four hours that stunning god-like man, pleased me in ways I never thought possible.
I closed my eyes and recalled the cool softness of his duvet cover beneath me as he covered me in kisses and exploratory touches, the sound of his feral groan as he discovered how wet and wanting I was for him. The feel of his strong body wrapped around mine as we tumbled and twisted and teased each other amongst his wrinkled sheets smelling of him.
"What if I'm the bad guy?"
I knew he wasn't a bad guy. Which is why I gave him a break and slipped quietly out of his life after our amazing night of connection. I knew a relationship with him would never work, so I cut it off at the pass and saved myself the heartache. I did not leave my number for him to reconnect with me. I never returned to The Lounge. As summer gave up her fight, and fall loomed, Rob's notoriety and fame heated to the point of boiling over during the press junket for Twilight. I knew I had made the right decision.
I smiled as the credits rolled, leaving the theater happy for him and his success. Feeling emboldened, I walked the extra blocks to The Lounge for a Corona and nostalgic reminiscences of an open mic night 6 months ago. I strode over to the table to the left of the stage where I had first watched him play. I glanced around curiously and noticed there weren't very many people there tonight. There was a table of men who glanced my way then whispered amongst themselves. They must have thought I was somebody else.
The waitress came over and delivered my Corona, with lime...that I hadn't ordered. She pointed over to the table of men I had suspected of noticing me. Just then, I heard the feedback squawk of the microphone as someone took the stage to sing. The waitress blocked my view but when I heard the voice, my breath caught in my throat as my heart dropped into my stomach;
"I was hoping to see you here again."
The waitress moved to the side to reveal Rob, in torn jeans, a ratty T and full beard atop a stool on stage with his guitar in his lap. He was looking right at me. Tired and worn, his eyes crinkled with amusement to see me sitting at our table.
He smiled, looking down at his instrument before he began strumming the chords of a very popular Kings of Leon song, his friends whistling and cheering him on. My face flamed crimson while he fixed his intense eyes on me, his gorgeous gravelly voice bursting triumphantly across the room.
I've been roamin' around looking down at all I see
Painted faces fill the places I can't reach
You know that I could use somebody,
You know that I could use somebody,
Someone like you.