I'm only going to do the long disclaimer once. Here it is.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
In other words, S Meyer still owns Twilight. The rest of this is mine.
See you at the bottom.
"Fresh meat," Jasper says, nodding across the street at the tables in front of Rum Boogie Café.
It's St. Patrick's Day, and most of the bars on Beale are staffing for Memphis in May and the busy summer tourist season that will follow. There are a few new faces here at Silky's, and it makes sense, since the crowds are growing as the chill fades into sunny, warmer days.
"Give me the shirt." I ignore him, because hot girls are a dime a dozen in downtown Memphis. They come and go, tease and flirt for tips or free drinks, and fawn over ink, but most can't carry conversations to save their own lives.
"This one is your type, man." I'm not sure if he's talking about the new green Silky O'Sullivan's t-shirt or the new girl across the street.
"I don't have a type, but this is definitely better than the polyester shit you ordered last year."
"I meant the girl, Edward. She's fucking perfect."
"No chick is per-" The word dies on my lips, because I finally see what he means. Who he means.
She's short but stacked; muscular calves, a tight ass, and curvy little hips. The white sweater she's wearing hugs her tits and exposes a forearm covered in yellow, red, and various shades of black.
Her face is hidden behind long, black hair, but I manage a glimpse of a lip ring when she turns, peeling the cardigan away, revealing more of the delicious art on her body. It's irrational, but part of me wants to make her put the sweater back on. The green dress she's wearing is a fitted halter from the waist up and a short, green, net skirt. This leprechaun ballerina is making it abundantly clear that she's not to be pinched.
Ink curls from the top of her right shoulder all the way down to her wrist. It's the most beautiful sleeve I've ever seen. I can't make out the details from here, but I'm almost certain there are flames on the large tattoo on her other forearm.
If I did have a type, this woman would be it.
She glances over at us, smiles, and waves at Jasper before turning her eyes on me. Her nose wrinkles, and she grimaces. As beautiful as her shoulder is, it feels cold when she turns her back to us and disappears inside Rum Boogie.
I stub my cigarette and pull the green tee over my head.
Jasper sighs. "Nevermind. Lunch hour starts in ten, and then we have the parade at four. They're predicting record crowds this year." Big crowds mean big money, but they can also mean trouble.
"What? You think I can't handle it?"
"When was the last time you went home?"
Not this again.
"A few days," I shrug. "I've been sleeping at the station."
"You look like shit."
"Yeah, well, I'm off for the next 72, so I'll go home tonight and crash." The place is like a tomb, but it's better than listening to the probie snore and wake up all night at the firehouse. It usually takes new guys a while to acclimate to sleeping in a strange bed with others in the same room. "Is McCarty covering tomorrow?"
"Nah. Felix is covering. You want Monday, or you want me to offer it to Emmett?"
"He's on at the station Monday. I'll take it." He nods before turning to walk away.
The regulars start their trek from the office buildings downtown not long after he leaves me to go back inside and rally the troops. It seems like every law firm around has a Saturday staff, but today they're dressed casually in varying shades of denim and green. Looks like they're sticking around for the parade and festivities that follow. Tattoo Girl comes back outside with a notepad to greet her first customers after they've been seated.
She smiles and charms, keeping her clientele laughing and sated. More than once, jackasses in college garb try to touch her or corner her to talk. She shakes her head firmly, dismissing whatever offers or requests they're making.
There's a boyfriend. There must be.
Of course there is. She's walking art.
After the lunch rush, Tattoo Girl works with Benny, moving the wrought iron tables and chairs around the corner to the Third Street-side of the building. The parade crowd floods in at a quarter of three.
The balloon man is making the rounds, twisting and bending swords and flower hats for tips. Parents shell out to keep their kids happy during the wait. The line over at Wet Willie's Bar is wrapped around the building.
It's going to be a wild night.
The bands and floats come through. Beer gets spilled, and green beaded necklaces fly through the air and into the crowd. Around dusk, the families start to dwindle, and the blues spill out into the street from every bar on the block.
Tattoo Girl steps out of Rum Boogie shortly after eight, stopping still on the corner long enough to close her eyes and take a deep breath. A lazy half smile graces her lips, slow like her steps as she makes her way down Beale to Willie's.
She disappears into the sea of other would-be leprechauns. It's a good thing, because business is steady, and the mandatory curfew for the eighteen and under crowd kicks in at nine. I don't need any distractions.
Sam shows up to cover until close. I give up the stool and push through the crowd in the courtyard, making my way past our lucky Irish diving goats, Fintan and Kevin. Tanya meets me at the end of the bar with a Rajun Cajun Chicken Sandwich, a basket of fries, and a stein of green, frothy beer.
"How are things on the outside?" she asks, tossing a white towel over her shoulder.
She laughs and leaves me to eat, worrying more about the paying, tipping customers than my sorry ass. My corner isn't so private tonight, considering Silky's is the only real Irish pub downtown. Everyone wants to kiss and touch the certified Blarney Stone from Ireland, and a few of the more inebriated ladies want to kiss and touch the ribbons of black on my forearm. The giggles and blinking are annoying. So are the questions, like Did it hurt? What does this mean? and Who's your artist? One would think they've never seen sleeves before.
Some hottie named Irina attaches herself to my side when I'm three beers in. Each chug of number four makes her laugh less annoying and her tits a little perkier. She's tipsy but not wasted, and her hand on my thigh is good sign that the tomb won't be as cold tonight as it normally is.
She's asking my last name when Tattoo Girl walks through the gate and onto the patio. She's with a group, two other girls and Jake from Willie's. They follow her over to Jasper, and when she taps him on the shoulder, he turns, immediately snaking his arms around her waist and leaning in to catch whatever secrets she's whispering in his ear.
My type. Obviously, she's his type, too.
He keeps his hand on her waist, guiding her to a table a few feet away from the stage; best seats in the house.
The ladies sit and reach for menus, but Jake follows Jasper through the maze of tables and customers until they reach the open spots at my end of the bar.
"Give me a minute," I say to Irina, letting the pads of my fingers tickle the skin at the edge of her skirt.
She giggles and nods, returning to her friends' conversation and leaving me to have a round with the guys.
"I figured you'd come over when you saw Tanya line them up," Jasper says, nudging bourbon in front of me.
"Where've you been, man?" Jake asks. "You've missed poker two weeks in a row."
"Working. I picked up a couple of extra shifts at the station, and this fucker keeps me busy. No time for play."
They both glance at Irina.
"Yeah. No time for play," Jake laughs.
"What about you? Who are the girls?"
Jasper glances at their table. "The blonde is Rosalie. She's new at Coyote Ugly."
"The green wig is my girlfriend, Leah," Jake says, giving her a nod when she glances over and smiles.
"And the leprechaun ballerina?" The only one I'm interested in is Tattoo Girl.
"That's Bella." Jake stands, ready to get back to his girl. "Send over a couple of 'Divers,' Jasper."
"Sure thing, man."
They're looking to party. The "Diver" is a concoction of every beer and liquor behind bar mixed together in a yellow, one-gallon bucket.
Bella stands and leaves the table before they're delivered, making her way across the patio and through the crowd to the gate on Beale. She looks to the left, leaning forward to check the crowd.
She's waiting for someone.
Irina's friends convince her to hit the dance floor when the band starts playing. Jake and his girlfriend follow soon after. Bella stays at the gate until another girl with short, spiky black hair shows up. They lean in close, whispering to each other. Bella points to the bar, and her friend leads the way.
Neither of them makes eye contact when they pass me, but the soft sleeve of Bella's white sweater brushes my forearm for a fraction of a second as she takes the barstool next to mine.
Her friend steps between Jasper's legs and kisses him on the mouth.
I've known Jasper since college, and that was the last time I saw him kiss a girl on the mouth. He's not much on PDA.
"I'm glad you made it," he says. When he finally looks around, he remembers where we are and that they're not alone.
She turns in his arms to face me and Bella. "I'm Alice."
She shakes my hand. "Cullen?"
I nod, and Bella laughs beside me. "Figures."
"I'm sorry. Have we met before?" She looks stunned for a moment when I turn on my stool to face her. "You seem to have some sort of… problem with me."
"Don't flatter yourself." She rolls her eyes and her hips, turning in her seat to face to stage.
"Okay. Let's try this again." I hold out my hand as a peace offering. "I'm Edward Cullen."
After making me wait 27 seconds, she finally slides her palm against mine for a quick handshake. "Isabella Swan."
She stands. "Yes. I'm his daughter."
"Where are you going?" I catch her wrist to try to keep her from walking away.
"I like this song. I want to dance." She looks down at my fingers, and I loosen my grip. "You can come with me if you want to continue this conversation."
"I don't dance." I want to punch myself in the face the minute the words leave my mouth. While true, they're also habit and second nature. I moonlight as a bouncer at one of the most popular clubs on Beale. Women are always asking me to dance.
She smiles and nods to her left. "No big deal. Looks like your lap-warmer is back." Irina is a few feet away when Bella waves goodbye. "See you around, Edward."
I watch her walk away, ignoring the heat of Irina's body against mine until soft lips tickle my ear. "I'm ready to go home. Are you coming?"
Some college kid follows Bella onto the dance floor. He spins her and pulls her close, making her laugh and relax against him.
It's been weeks since I've held a warm body. The one next to me will have to do. For now.
A/N- Hi, pretties. If you're new to my stories, welcome. If you're a returning reader, I've missed you guys! My goal with this story is shorter chapters which will hopefully mean more frequent updates.
Thanks to my sis and Nic for pre-reading and to Iris for agreeing to beta.
Lovely, sweet evilnat made a gorgeous banner for this story. If you'd like to see it, there is a link on my profile. Yes, that's Beale Street.
Yes, there really are goats in the courtyard at Silky's. I have pictures of them, too.
It's Pearl Jam week on Fallon this week. Their new album, Lightning Bolt, came out last Tuesday. A few weeks ago, they released a song called "Sirens". I've lost count of how many times I've listened to it. I wrote bits and pieces of this story a long time ago, but the song brought it to life in my head, and now… Well, I'm two chapters in (with a character list that's going to end up giving me a headache). The last time I listened to Pearl Jam and wrote a story, it made people cry. That's the only warning I'm going to give. Lol.
If I still owe you a review reply for Down Home, don't give up on me. That story is on the poll for September completed fics over at TwiFanfictionRecs if you'd like to vote for it.
If you're the kind soul that nominated Down Home and The Give Away Girl for the TwiFic Fandom Awards, thank you. It's an honor to be included with so many of my favorite stories.
Thanks for reading! See you soon.