The last notes ring through the club and I pull the mic away from my lips almost reluctantly. There’s a certain glow that suffuses me when I know a particular song has been executed perfectly.
“Okay guys, we’re gonna take five,” Elliot’s tone is low—he knows the look on my face after the perfect song—and try as he might to let me keep my buzz, his words break the spell. I smile at him and turn to get a drink at the bar, but my path is blocked by one of the most compelling men I’ve ever seen, appearing from the darkness no fewer than three feet away.
Tall, but not freakishly so because even on the three inch, raised platform that serves as a ‘stage’ we’re exactly at eye level. Oh, my, god…his eyes are swirling…
“Your eyes,” I whisper before I can stop myself, and the words shake me awake while my hand flies to cover my mouth as if I could stuff my impolite words back down my throat, if only I managed to catch them in time. “Oh, I’m sorry…”
“Don’t worry about it,” his voice is not an animal growl, but there’s no mistaking that he’s something more than a man. “Would you like me to buy you a drink, Lily?” I look around, but Elliot’s disappeared.
“I,” I try to find a way to politely brush him off—not that I want to brush him off, but because it’s not smart to encourage bar crawlers to approach me, or expect anything other than music from me—and he seems to read my mind.
“Sorry, wrong thing to ask,” his eyes never stop swirling, from silver to gunmetal grey to the color of rain clouds at dusk and I feel them tug at me, as I’ve been warned that vampires will. I look down, breaking the connection, and he speaks again. “My name’s Xenos, and that was the loveliest rendition of that song I’ve ever heard.”
“Oh,” I say, and my voice is far too breathy for my comfort. “Thank you,” I’m not exactly sure what else to say, I have no stored witticism for dealing with vampires, so I shut up instead of making some bumbling attempt at cleverness.
“Do you perform every Tuesday, Lily?” he asks, and I look up from the rounded toes of his brown shoes, up the lean length of his jean-clad legs, past the trim line of his waist and the muscular flair of his shoulders underneath his vibrant, blue oxford shirt and back into those impossible, swirling silver-grey-stormy eyes. What do I say? I think frantically, and my mouth just spits something out without consulting me first.
“For now,” I smile, forcing my eyes to study his artfully-messy, spiky blonde hair lest I be lost in those fascinating, mesmerizing eyes. “I’m hoping that I won’t be doing once a week gigs for the rest of my life,”
“You won’t,” he says and my eyes are pulled to his smile, watching dimples crinkle his eyes and the smooth planes of his face.
“Thank you for your vote of confidence,” I say politely, gesturing to the club’s bartender/owner, Brady, for a glass of water. My throat’s gone suddenly dry, I wonder why. Maybe it’s because I’ve never met a vampire before. Maybe it’s because I never expected one to be so polite. Maybe because—fact that he’s a vampire aside—he’s the most handsome man I’ve ever seen in real life.
“It’s not just my confidence,” Xenos’ smooth tone is belied by the smile widening across his face, “you have a genuine talent, Lily.”
“That’s,” I stop myself before I can blurt out not really my name. “That’s very kind of you,” I say instead. Elliot sidles back on to his bench and clears his throat purposefully.
“Have a nice night, Lily,” the vampire says, lingering over my name as if he’s tasting it.
“Please enjoy the music,” I say as graciously as I can manage while I try not to drool. I turn to Elliot as the vampire almost glides back to his seat, “Elliot, can we change the next set’s order?”
“Sure Cala,” he mumbles as I shuffle through his sheets. Elliot doesn’t need the sheet music to play—he’s an honest-to-god professional—but he keeps sheets handy because he says without them the songs would spontaneously fly out of his head or god would smite him for being arrogant or something. “Are you sure?” he queries as I rearrange the songs in a new order that I would never have considered before, and seems almost frightfully bold even to my unsubtle standards.
“I’m sure,” I reply and he waits until I’m no longer leaning over his shoulder before striking the first of the sparse chords.
My mouth opens by itself and the song flows from me. What am I doing? What am I calling? I wonder, but nothing disrupts the music that’s flowing from my lips even as I know I’m risking everything on nothing more than a feeling and a few kind words.
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