Monday, August 24, 2009

Somewhere in the middle…

With one finger pressed against her ear, her free hand flipped through the pages of the immense song book, looking for her next song as she silently prayed for all she was worth that the monotone and off key version of 'Cracklin' Rosie' would be over soon.

Jewel… Natalie Merchant… Natalie Imbruglia… Prince (why not?). All of these jumped to mind as she scanned the pages. She was always looking for something new to sing that she might be able to pull off with some tiny bit of success.

Then she heard it.

She still had her finger pressed tightly against her ear when she realized that the cracklin' crooner had finally finished his less than stellar performance, and had been replaced by a voice she hadn't heard before. Not at this place, anyway. Being a regular haunt of hers she knew by sight and sound all of the regulars and even some of the not-so regulars. He was new for certain. And there was something in his voice that made her look up from the book and turn to face him.

He wasn't singing a dark, angsty, throaty metal song, nor was he singing some saccharine, forlorn, heart-wrenching ballad. In fact, he was singing some crazy Adam Sandler song, an inappropriate one at that. So she did manage a little chuckle while everyone else was laughing hysterically, but that certain something, that hint, that tone in his voice that held her attention didn't allow for more than that.

As he stood there holding the microphone, belting out those comical and crude lines, really playing to the ever-increasing crowd, all she could do was stare at that dark haired man. A little disheveled (but in all the right ways), his gestures and his smooth voice seemed to flow from him almost effortlessly. He could have been relaxing on the couch watching TV, or sleeping, even, for all the effort he appeared to be putting into this performance. It just seemed second nature to him.

It wasn't until she heard the rip-roaring applause and shouts of approval that she realized he had finished his song, or that she had been staring so intensely at him that she had half crushed her poor little water cup. She shook her head and released the grip of her now cramping fingers and looked up to see the KJ giving her a strange, part creepy, part flirtatious look. Feeling a little embarrassed (he must have mistaken her stares as directed at him, the poor fella) she immediately stood up and turned away, grabbing the mangled cup and making a bee line for the trash can. Not the most glorious getaway, but she needed a breather.

She tossed the cup in the trash and started to make her way back to the booth she had taken up when she noticed that he was the one watching her now. Her eyes met his just long enough for her to see a little smile cross his lips, and to feel her face grow distinctly warm. She quickly looked straight ahead to her destination and quickly plopped herself down in her seat, more grateful than ever that the back of the booth rose well above her head, giving her just the cover she needed to bury her head in her hands in embarrassment.

The booth shook slightly under the weight of some presumptuous patron who clearly didn't see that she was sitting her and obviously not looking for company.

"Are you done with that?"

She clearly recognized his voice. What was he doing? Had he come to confront her about her inglorious episode of unabashed ogling? A dozen other unpleasant possibilities popped into her head and she steadfastly held her head-in-hands position, thinking that maybe if she didn't look up, he would just… you know, go away. But there was a playful hint in his tone, and his voice held that same mystical power that she couldn't resist. Okay, so maybe it wasn't mystical, but something about it practically forced her eyes to look upon him.

Not that it was an unpleasant thing in the least. His eyes were this amazingly deep, dark brown. Chocolaty, velvety, almost black, they sparkled full of life and laughter; a laughter that only moments later rang in her ears as she came to realize she was, once again, staring uncontrollably and unfailingly at this ruggedly handsome stranger.

"I-I'm sorry…" she stammered as she put one hand up in between them and used the other to shield her eyes, rubbing her temples as if she were trying to massage away the hold he had over her. "Here you go, I'm through with it." She pushed the book in his general direction without looking up from the table or out from beneath her shielding hand. Chuckling at her peculiar display of possible insanity, he reaches out for the book, but at precisely the right moment so that his hand brushes gently but purposely across the top of hers.

There was something electric in his touch, breaking her no eye contact resolve, and she almost instantly brought her face up to look at his. His face is turned up in this smile that could melt the polar ice caps, and his eyes were dancing in the dim light of the bar. She couldn't help but smile back. His expression was infectious. Before she knew it, she heard herself laughing out loud: at the whole situation, but mostly at herself. He joined in almost immediately, and the more he laughed, the more she laughed and pretty soon they had garnered more than their fair share of looks from the curious folks at some of the nearby tables.

A welcome break in their laughter gave her the chance to relax, take a few deep breaths and refocus her mind on acting a little less insane. Once she centered herself, she was able to look on him because she wanted to, not because she felt drawn to.

"I really am sorry. I have NO idea what my problem is tonight."

"Too much to drink?" he offered up with a wink and a smirk.

"No-o-o, I haven't, thank you!" she smiled back at him. "If I do drink, it's usually only one or two, and I am not that much of a lightweight." With that he gives a little laugh and looks down at the monstrous book in front of him, scanning the pages looking for his next crowd pleaser.

"So what's your next one gonna be?" Relaxing more and more into this situation, she leans forward and tries to guess at what song he might be planning to choose. But with one swift movement he brings a nicely toned forearm out in from of him, hiding the song list from her view, even scooting the book closer to his chest so that she really has no chance of reading what's written on the cramped pages.

"It's a surprise." With a sly little quirky smile he went back to his search.

She sat back in her spot and watched him for a moment or so, then crossed her arms. What is it about this guy, she thought to herself as she watched him search relentlessly through the endless catalog of songs. His skin was a nice, smooth shade of light brown (or was it just the dim lighting?) and his dark hair was pulled neatly back into a ponytail. It wasn't incredibly long, but when pulled up it did fall just past the nape of his neck. A few strands hung loosely out of place in front of his face, she noticed, as she watched him adeptly sweep them back behind his ear. He was wearing a gray t-shirt with the name of some band she had never heard of on it, and his arms, as she had noticed before, were very nicely toned. Quite muscular, actually. And the way the light in the bar hit them at that particular moment she made a mental note that they would be really interesting to draw. She smiled at that thought, and just as he happened to look up from his search.

"What's that for?" he asked as he slammed the book closed and leaned forward across the table, his lovely arms, all sinewy and strong bristling under the strain of his movement.

"Oh… nothing." He raised one eyebrow at her in her in disbelief. "Yeah, sure… nothing." He moved to get up from the booth, and she started to ask where he was going when he turned to her and said "It's a surprise, remember?"

She settled back down in her sit as, with a quick wink he assured her "I'll be right back" and made his way easily through the sea of partygoers to put in his next song. She smiled as she watched him, and thought about that old pick-up line 'I hate to see you go, but I love to watch you walk away.' Now I know exactly what means, she said aloud to herself. No one could hear her anyway.

It really was a fantastic view. He wore a faded pair of dark blue jeans that fit him oh-so well. That butt of his looked glorious, she thought, and laughed at herself and her crude observation. His thighs were strong and muscular, barely contained within the confines of his jeans (she had an eye for this sort of thing). The drape of his shirt revealed great potential for a nice pair of pecs lying just underneath, as well as a quite possibly perfect set of abs. With all this going for him, by her guesstimation anyway, she couldn't fathom why this attractive, interesting, and clearly talented creature had chosen her table to visit.

It's because you were staring at him like some lovelorn, horny or possibly insane crazy person was the thought that echoed through her head, and with that she laughed out loud again.

"You must have a lot of nothing going on in your head." Chills, the good kind, ran down the back of her neck and her arms got all goose pimpled at the simultaneous arrival of his silky words in her ear and the warmth of his breath so close to her neck that it practically fell moist on her skin. It really caught her off guard, and she replied "If you only knew" in a bit of a hurried and hopefully undetectably breathless response.

He cocked his head a little and crossed his arms as he looked at her with a amused grin, seeming to try and figure out what all her 'nothings' might consist of. That nonverbal exchange was all the confirmation she needed that she had him hooked, at least for the time being.

"So!" He burst out, almost as much to break his trance as hers, "when and what are YOU singing?" That same playful look came across his face and she smiled back "It's a secret." They both laughed and leaned in to each other, relaxing into their peculiar situation more and more as they voice across the speakers blurted out "And now, for the lovely vocal styling of Heather!"

"Oh! That's my cue!" She pushed herself up from her seat at the booth and headed toward the microphone.




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