Oh God why do Friday nights have to be so unbelievably busy. I'm always sent to the store room to get more beer. Ever since I started working for my friend Jess at her bar Moon over 4 years ago I've been the one to make the trek to get more beer and spirits. Jess claims it's so it doesn't look like I get preferential treatment but I get free drinks, extra pay and a place to live above the bar. Nah no preferential treatment here Jess. I chuckled to myself thinking of my crazy but loveable best friend.
Jess and I met when I moved to New York at 18 for college; I literally blew her away during a horrible wind maker accident in central park. Jess was swept into a giant puddle while the actor I was supposed to be filming lost his wig in the gale force winds I couldn't seem to stop. One coffee, two donuts and a spare t shirt later we were fast friends and I've never looked back.
Jess is 27 and used her inheritance to buy an old diner which she converted into an amazing bar slash performance venue. Moon's open mic nights are unbelievably popular with recording execs often stopping by to listen to whomever Jess has talent spotted this week.
I grabbed the beer and some more vodka (May as well save myself a trip later) and hurried back to the bar. I emerged through the swinging door at the side of the long cherry wood bar Jess is so very proud of and stopped in my tracks. The bar had become absolutely packed within the 5 minutes I was gone and there was a weird buzz in the air that went above and beyond the usual Friday night chatter.
I put it down to the performer that would be taking the stage at 11:30pm tonight. Glancing at my watch I saw it was only 10:15pm and I wondered what all the people were doing out, it's still hella early. Just as I finished restocking the fridges I saw Jess bouncing my way, she looked flushed and happy, not her usual stressed out manager self, now I'm confused. Just as my train of thought ended Jess called out to me.
"Speeeeenceeeeerrrrr Caaaaaarrrrrrlin" She sang as she reached my side.
"Jess what on earth has gotten into you?" I asked still shocked at her mood.
"Spence my oldest most amazing friend what makes you so sure there's something going on."
Now I was suspicious this was just bordering on psychotic for Jess, she was usually focussed and stressed at work, Moon is her baby and she is the perfect pushy parent. I couldn't help the curious tone my voice held as I replied.
"Jess, seriously tell me, did you get laid or something?"
"Nope Spence but Moon just went up by a million cool points in New York's nightlife." She said with a grin.
Now I know New York is a competitive place and I couldn't figure out what would make Moon such a popular place in the 5 minutes I was in the damn store room.
"C'mon Jess tell me." I whined. "Did we get an awesome review or something?"
Jess beamed at me with the biggest smile I have ever seen on anyone ever and practically wet herself with excitement as I waited to hear the big news.
"Nope even better, come here." She said and pulled me forward so she could whisper in my ear.
"We have a celebrity in the house tonight Spence." She whispered so quietly I almost didn't hear her.
"Who Jess?" I asked wondering who could get Jess so worked up.
"hashladamas" She spoke so fast I didn't understand a word.
"Jess speak English, slowly" I was getting impatient now and the crowd at the bar was approaching 3 deep.
"Fine Spence I'll just say it, ok breeaaathe" She blew out a big breathe, such a drama queen.
"Jess" I warned.
"Spence, it's Ashley Davies, she's here." She practically screamed into my waiting ear.
Shit. Fuck. Damn. Mother. Of. All. Fucks. I froze faster than a banana in liquid nitrogen. My head swam and I thought I might faint. It wasn't that Ashley Davies was famous, it was more to do with the fact that Ashley Davies was my ex-girlfriend and my first love. We met in junior year of High School, formed what we thought was an unbreakable bond and once I admitted to flying the rainbow flag, she asked me out.
Long story very, very short we fell madly in love, grew apart then broke up painfully at the end of my senior year. She dumped me for her career and we went our separate ways, me to the Tisch School of the Arts in New York and her to a record label in LA.
"Big fan huh Spence." Jess said.
I broke out of my depressing train of thought to see Jess staring at me in the weirdest way. I'd made sure no one knew who my ex was and as far as I know my selfish ex has never admitted to ever having a long term relationship with anyone, let alone a commoner like myself.
"Yeah, not really, just excited for you Jess" I prayed she wouldn't see through me.
"Ok, you just look like you've seen a ghost that's all."
"No no, I'm fine Jess just saw the queue at the bar is all." I said trying to distract Jess from my pale face.
Jess turned and did a double take when she saw the thirsty crowd around the bar.
"OH MY FUCKING GOD," She screamed, "WHERE ARE ALL MY BARTENDERS?" She turned on me then.
"SPENCER, get to freakin' work I'm gonna go call Tom, Jamie and Alex we're gonna need all hands on deck for tonight."
She sprinted to the back room to phone for help and I stepped up to the bar and began to serve the hundreds of punters, some of whom were less than pleased at my lack of enthusiasm for life. I steadfastly refused to let my eyes wonder past the customer I was serving. Not for any reason, I just like to focus. "Yeah keep telling yourself that Spence." I thought as I served beer after beer all the while ignoring my heart pounding every time I saw a brunette in the crowd.
Finally after nearly an hour the crowd had thinned and I was able to leave the bar for my break. My friend Natalie was due to perform in only twenty minutes so I decided to visit the green room to give her some encouragement before her big moment. In reality I just wanted out of that bar area the thought of my ex was getting to me a lot more than I'd like.
As I approached the room behind the curtains I heard two girls talking ridiculously loudly.
"Oh my gawd can you believe how hot she is in real life Han?" Nasally voice numero uno squealed.
"I know, I think I'm in there hunny, I'm sure she winked at me when she was signing my bra." I hated numero dummy onsite, I got angrier as I got closer, their voices were so irritating.
Numero uno gasped, "What about me biatch maybe she'll like me I am brunette after all, everyone knows she hardly ever takes home a blonde." My chest became uncomfortably tight at the mention of Ashley's type. I knew all too well how much Ashley didn't like blondes.
As I got closer I saw they didn't have passes, I breathed a sigh of relief, I could make them go away.
"Excuse me ladies I don't think either of you have backstage passes could you please return to the main area before I have someone escort you out." I smirked at their shocked faces as they turned and retreated back the way they had come. I heard the door to the bar swing shut and I walked into the green room. I paused on the threshold not sure what I was seeing.
"H-h-hey Spence, how's it goin'?" Natalie said weakly from her position on the floor against the sofa opposite the makeup station. She looked more nervous than I'd ever seen her.
"Nat, what's the matter, you're not even dressed?" I said shocked, Nat was usually warming up right about now.
"I can't do it Spence, she's my hero, my idol, I have posters of her and concert tickets for her show next week."
I groaned internally, some prat told Nat about Ashley's presence tonight. I knelt down in front of my dear friend.
"Nat listen you are one of the best unsigned acts in the country everyone cannot wait to hear your soulful voice week after week, you cannot let one crush make you lose your world famous mojo."
"Spence its Ashley Davies," Why does everyone talk about her like she's some sort of deity? I was pulled back to reality by Nat sobbing into my shoulder. Wait, when did she start hugging me? I rubbed her back gently.
"Nat she is just another stuck up singer with too many hangers on and no real life." I tried not to sound too invested in what I was saying, but I could've said a lot worse. Nat just stared at me.
"Spencer Carlin how can you say that, her first album went quadruple platinum her second and third went double, she has won more awards than any other artist in years and she's a successful producer." She sounded incredulous at my lack of amazement so I decided to try a different tack.
"Producer eh, well maybe you should warm up, go out there and do what you do best because Nat, you could be spotted tonight." I waited to see whether it would work.
Nat's eyes glazed over and she tensed in my arms. She let go of my shoulders and backed out of my embrace and I finally saw the huge smile threatening to break through. I breathed a sigh of relief as my friend returned to normal or as near as she could get right now. Nat jumped up and went to grab her guitar before catching a glimpse of her tear stained, make up free face in the mirror.
"Oh shit Spence I'm not even dressed and I haven't warmed up at all, what the fuck am I gonna do I go on in," she glanced at the clock on the wall, "13 minutes?"
I realised just how desperate I would be if my dreams hung in the balance and I only had 13 minutes to get ready so I pulled myself together. I jumped up and pushed Natalie into the changing area.
"Ok Nat get dressed and fast into whatever you were already planning on wearing, then bring your jewellery out with you to makeup, you can warm up while I do your hair and makeup." I said quickly thanking god I work best under pressure, I always leave the hardest assignments until I only just have enough time to complete them and make my deadline.
Five minutes later Nat was nearly ready and hyperventilating into a paper bag while I straightened her long black hair. Nat's Hawaiian so she has the most amazing coffee coloured skin and sleek black hair; if she wasn't like a sister to me I would definitely ask her out, the girl is hot.
Tonight she was in a tiny black jean skirt paired with a black wife beater with the most amazing silver beading all over showing off her gorgeous body toned from hours of surfing. She'd also put almost twenty bracelets on one wrist and a black leather cuff on the other. She looked amazing, her makeup minimal but enough eye liner to make her eyes pop, they draw you into her seriously. I did a double take when I saw the clock, only 4 minutes till 11:30, Jess was going to kill me I'm supposed to be serving, my break is so over.
"Nat you look amazing now let's get you to the stage." I said actually feeling nervous for my friend; this was a big moment for her. I just wish my heart wasn't betraying me by skipping a beat every time I thought of the reason for my friends nerves.
She stood and crumpled the paper bag before lobbing it into the bin on the other side of the room, I couldn't help but be impressed, the girl's got skills. I handed her her guitar and we made our way quickly to the curtain at the side of the stage.
"Nat I love you but I have to get back to work, good luck I know you'll be amazing." I said as I hugged her goodbye.
Nat didn't say anything back but she has a zone for her performances so I wasn't overly concerned. She nodded and turned to the curtain, I forced myself to smile at her before hurriedly returning to work.
As I began serving the last minute drinks before Nat's set I had the sudden urge to look up, as soon as I did I regretted it because right opposite my place behind the bar was the one person on the planet I would do anything to avoid seeing.
There she was Ashley Davies, sitting calmly in one of the raised booths sipping a bright green cocktail and chatting with someone opposite her. I don't know how long I was staring for but the world faded away around me as old emotions came rushing up to greet me. Shock, sadness, jealously and finally anger. I held onto the last one as I remembered everything that girl put me through, our whole relationship played in perfect HD in front of me down to the final moments.
"Spencer please it's not as if there are no good colleges in LA you could do you degree or whatever here." Ashley said waving her hands around in frustration.
"Ashley Tisch is my dream school you know that." I shouted.
"Dreams change Spence, your dreams can come true in New York or LA mine can only be in LA why are you making this so hard?" She said in a strained voice.
"Ashley I love you and we can still have a relationship if I'm in New York." I tried to stay calm but I was getting angrier by the minute.
"NO we can't Spencer if you leave then I have no one to go anywhere or do anything with, how will I share this with you if you're on the other side of the country?"
"Ash you can take Kyla, Aiden or Madison to parties, you've had no problem not taking me for the last few months anyway."
"What's that supposed to mean Spencer?" Her eyes narrowed at me.
"What do think Ash, that you never invite me out, you signed a god damn record deal without even telling me you'd been offered one?" I was shouting now. "Then you have the audacity to ask, no, tell me I have to stay in LA so I can be your little pet girlfriend for the media, how can you be so selfish?"
"Oh I'm the selfish one Spence, you're the one leaving and giving up on us." She was nearly crying now.
"How can you say that Ash I'm not giving up I'm following my dreams, I love you why would I want to leave you I'm just following my dreams. Just. Like. You. I'm still yours I'll always be yours, distance doesn't matter." I said the last part so softly trying to get across to her how much she meant to me.
"If you are willing to abandon me just as my life starts to get better then YOU ARE NOT MINE Spencer."
"Oh right so your life was so bad before Ash, love just isn't enough for you IS IT?" I screamed.
"No Spencer your love isn't enough!"
My eyes went wide and I welled up as she said the words I knew were true. I took a step back towards her front door. As she just looked at her feet.
"Fine Ashley I understand perfectly now, you clearly don't want me in your life anymore and you know what. You're a useless, selfish piece of shit and if I never see you again it will be too soon. I can't believe I wasted two years of my life on someone who won't even let me live mine if it doesn't suit her. I hate you we're done." With that I turned and walked out of the still open front door slamming it behind me.
She never came after me, I thought I wanted her to but after a few weeks of no contact I saw her on E! News giving an interview for the release of her single. I thought she looked tired, she was smiling but it didn't touch her eyes, then I heard the reporter ask her if there was or had ever been someone special in her life that she loved. My ex then proceeded to tell the world she had never been in love and only her sister Kyla and her deceased father were her loved ones.
I cried for days before realising that if two years meant nothing to her then it meant nothing to me. I flew to NYC the next week and I haven't been back to LA or seen Ashley since. If her songs come on I turn them off, same goes for the TV and magazines.
"Fine," I thought, "I'll act like she does I can act like we never had anything." I vowed that if I was forced to interact with her tonight I would remain completely indifferent she never loved so she didn't deserve to know she's hurt me either.
Still while I had her in my sights I couldn't help but check out her toned legs, perfect arms. No, bad Spencer. Aw what the hell I'm only human, my ex is hot she's never going to know I checked her out anyway.
With that comforting thought I got back to work cleaning and restocking the bar as Jess introduced Nat who proceeded to wow the crowd with her beautiful voice. I met Nat only 6 months ago but she is already so special to me, she moved to NYC from Atlanta to try and get signed and Jess gave her a spot at Moon every Friday.
A few execs had talked to Jess about her but I don't know why Nat hadn't contacted any of them yet. I know there's something holding her back I just can't work out what it is, maybe tonight will help. I smile at the thought of Nat's crazy personality which showed in the best way on stage. As she sang an acoustic version of gives you hell I couldn't help but sneak another look at you know who across the bar.
"Kyla why did you make me come here there are so many better clubs and bars in New York we could be at, this place doesn't even have a VIP area for christsake." I love my sister but her taste just confuses me sometimes, if she wasn't such a good publicist I would not be here tonight, she has a reason for everything she makes me do.
"Ash please just chill there's a girl playing tonight, she's had offers from almost every major label but hasn't accepted any, apparently she's off the hook." My sister smirked at me; she knows how to push my buttons, I was intrigued.
"Off the hook huh, what's her name?"
"Natalie Freznie." She replied.
"Interesting name, when's she..." I stopped speaking when I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise and a shiver run down my spine, I hadn't felt that shiver since. Oh for god sake I really wish I could go one night without thinking of her. I shook my head and looked towards the bar.
Ok so just let me know what you think, thanks.