The Power of Sinatra
There was nothing Emily liked more than being alone, the time set aside to just let loose and not care about other people's opinions. It was something she had always taken for granted at home before she came to the city—those hours set aside every day for him to enjoy isolation back in the suburbs. She would sit alone and read without interruption, listen to his music without complaint or work on yet another potential novel, all in the solace of her own company. But all that came to an abrupt end when Emily decided to move to New York.
By the end of her first week she had learned about how sharing a tiny apartment with three other people eliminates any and all privacy. The closest she could come to solitude were the 15 minute increments when she locked herself inside the bathroom for a pee and a shower. Emily was able to accept the sexual freedom, the complete disregard for authority, the total allegiance to creativity, individuality and all that, as part of the Bohemian lifestyle. But she would never get used to the complete lack of privacy. She was lucky that the bathroom even had a door! All of the other rooms were separated by stained table cloths that someone happened to find in dumpsters behind restaurants.
Emily was clinging to her sanity, which had all but slipped through her desperate grasp. People were always there, hounding her, watching her, studying her. She could feel the six eyes following her any time she crossed the room. They were still evaluating her, determining whether she could hack it here in the winter when they all were freezing and starving. Emily wasn't used to the constant scrutiny.
Those few glorious, days when Allie was away, Ben was at work, and Drew was out spending all of his money were the only things that kept her from diving over the edge. They were incredibly precious and had to be taken advantage of because they came around less often than Christmas.
Nothing compared to being by herself, especially now that it was such a rare occurrence. When she was alone, Emily could just unwind and let go. No one was around to pass judgment. She could do whatever she wanted, and no one would be the wiser. If Emily wanted to walk around naked, then she would. If she wanted to play the Beatles with the volume cranked up as high as it would go, she could. Drew wasn't around to harass her for her taste in music while he plugged in his guitar to drown out the whining harmonies of Hey Jude. Solitude allowed her to experience the true freedom she came to the city for.
"Alone time," as Emily liked to call it, was so scarce largely in part due to Drew, who would never leave the loft unless he had a pocket or two full of cash, which was not often. Those pockets of bills were usually only enough to last him less than a few hours. Rich or poor, Drew was physically incapable of holding onto his money. He acted as if he would get a rash from holding onto it for too long and at the same time required it for everything he did that took place outside of the apartment. Even if he was just going to visit Ben at work or something, he needed at least twenty bucks. Why? Only he knows.
Emily was constantly debating whether or not it would be worth it to loan Drew some money to just get out.
Drew hadn't left the apartment in several weeks and had taken to constantly taunting Emily when they were alone together. He had attached himself to her hip and refused to even go into a separate room without her.
Emily was a ticking bomb of insanity and Drew was the spark that would ignite the fuse. She knew privacy was going to be an issue when she came to the city, but she hadn't expected a roommate with a complex about being left alone–the complete opposite of Emily.
"So what's going on today?" Drew asked, throwing himself onto the couch, causing a little puff of dust to rise up from the stained material.
"I'm going to work on this novel some more," Emily said looking up from her makeshift desk that was held together by rubber bands and duct tape. "You're on your own today,"
"You always say that,"
"Well you're 19, you should be able to occupy yourself by now," Emily replied, concentrating on her work.
"Christ Emily, you need to lighten up. You sound just like my Dad when you say shit like that,"
Emily sighed and turned back to her work, namely staring at the blank notebook, in hopes that the next great American novel would appear. She couldn't concentrate—she wasn't allowed to concentrate. Emily needed music to focus, a special kind of music, Frank Sinatra's music, not Drew's obnoxious random guitar plucking.
Of course, she could never publicly profess her love for Frank, Drew would laugh her right out onto the street. Theirs had to be a secret affair. Emily had an image, a pathetic image, but an image nonetheless. Everyone saw her as the "classic rock" type, a broad, meaningless genre that people identified with just to say they weren't really fans of big band or show tunes or something like that, which Emily really was.
For some reason, Frank got her to that special place in her mind where her creativity was waiting to be released. But Drew was sprawled out across the apartment for who knows how long and would make a huge deal about his choice of music. Drew was a musician, so of course he knew good music. Anything he didn't like was shit, and Emily couldn't picture him being a fan of Sinatra. If Drew found out about her music preference there wasn't a doubt in her mind that her life would become even more like purgatory.
So Emily had to wait until she was alone to unleash her flood of creativity, and that wouldn't happen unless Drew got the fuck out. The longer he sat there doing absolutely nothing, the more angry Emily became. She couldn't help it. Drew had been mind fucking her for the past month with his constant whiny, stalker attitude.
"Are you really just going to sit there and stare a blank sheet of paper all day?"
"Yes," Emily said through gritted teeth, her response angry enough to burn.
"What for? You're not getting anything done,"
"Maybe if you would just shut the fuck up I would be able to concentrate," Emily yelled, dropping her hand to the table hard enough to spill the plastic cup filled with pens various other writing utensils.
"I pay just as much rent as you do asshole so don't tell me to shut up in my own place,"
"You know what…" Emily hesitated, trying to think of some response that would put Drew in his place.
"What?" he stood up, rising to the challenge.
"Fuck you…" was all she could come up with.
Drew's gruff laugh was enough of a response. Emily was pathetic and they both knew it.
"I'm going out," Drew said throwing his arms through the sleeves of his crisp new leather jacket and stomping down the stairs. Emily listened to the fading footsteps wishing that she could enjoy her victory.
The guilt of chasing Drew out of the apartment disappeared as quickly as the musky scent of cigarettes and cheap beer while Emily dug out her Frank Sinatra cassettes from deep inside her nightstand. She was desperate to make some progress with this latest project.
She found their "stereo" in Allie's room and brought it out to the desk. Any music that didn't come from Drew had to come from a smiling tape-player Allie bought awhile ago, complete with big, colorful, plastic buttons and a toy microphone for singing along. It actually was perfect for their lifestyle. Cheap and battery powered.
Emily popped in the Sinatra cassette and let the silky smooth music fill the room. She closed her eyes and smiled, allowing her problems to be washed away by the melodies. There was something about Frank that she loved. The smooth, perfect voice, the suave, sophisticated attitude, the pure confidence; he was everything Emily wasn't. Everything was okay when Frank's music was playing.
The first few notes of Fly Me to the Moon began and she was pulled into the music. Emily had every intention of working on her novel but the smooth tones had taken control of her arm and lifted the toy microphone to her lips. Halfway through the first verse Emily began to sing along, attempting to mimic the sounds of Sinatra.
With her eyes held tightly shut, she lifted the plastic boom-box by its convenient handle and began to move through the apartment, navigating the maze of furniture and garbage as if it were a stage and she was entertaining an audience that didn't exist. All thoughts of progress on her novel were set aside for this temporary escape. It felt so fucking good to be alone.
Emily was being swept further and further into her strange little fantasy, almost believing that she actually was Sinatra, a person with self-esteem made of steel, perfection with a penis. She kept her eyes closed still, refusing to allow reality to destroy his false perceptions.
Love and Marriage had just begun to play when a soft snort from the other side of the room shattered her vision of adoring fans and dragged her back into reality. Emily's eyes shot open, wide with terror. Alone time was done.
Drew was leaning against the door-frame, his arms crossed and wearing an amused smirk that made his eyes crinkle. When he saw Emily's expression his smile spread further and his arm moved into a patronizing wave. Any offense he had taken earlier had disappeared, replaced by the amusement of catching Emily in such a compromising situation.
"So this is what you do when you're alone?"
"Um, I was just uh…" Emily stammered, Frank still wailing along, completely unaware of the disruption. "What are you doing here? You just left,"
"I forgot I had no money," the grin never left Drew's face.
"Yeah I was just working on my novel—"
"No you weren't,"
"Yeah I was," Emily tried to hide the crimson shame that was rising in her cheeks. "I'm thinking about writing something about a musician and was just seeing if—"
"A musician huh?"
"Yeah," she nodded, swallowing all of the excess spit that tended to gather in her mouth whenever she was nervous.
"Well you know, technically I'm a musician, you could have just asked me or, hell, even come to one of my gigs instead of dancing around here and making an asshole out of yourself,"
Emily shrugged, "I could've, I guess,"
"I know a lot of other guys in the business too you could talk to," Drew went on, knowing full well that Emily's story was complete bull shit. She was pretending to be Frank Sinatra, no one could explain that away.
Emily knew that keeping up the story was pointless and sighed, accepting defeat, it was pointless denying what was so blatantly obvious. "Fine, so I like Sinatra," she stopped the blaring music, which had lost most of its appeal and braced herself for the inevitable onslaught of harassment that was undoubtedly on its way.
"Aw, don't stop now," Drew whined when the music stopped. The awkward silence lying beneath it beat down heavily on both of them.
"Look Drew, I'm sorry I was a dick to you before and I know you're dying to be an asshole about this, but I would really appreciate it if you would just forget you saw anything-"
"No Emily, I'm not kidding. Put it back, I liked that song,"
"Come on… just drop it,"
Before the movement even registered, Drew had crossed the room and stolen the kiddie recorder from Emily's clammy palms. Seconds later the second verse from Love and Marriage was once again floating through the hollow spaces in the apartment.
"I love Frank,"
Emily stared at her roommate open mouthed as Drew stopped the music once again and rewound the tape back to the first song. When the familiar big band music started up for the second time, Drew began crooning into the toy microphone, mimicking Sinatra's angelic voice with his own gruff instrument.
It was kind of sexy in a way. Drew had captured the same confidence and charm that made Frank appealing. He was the bohemian Sinatra.
The longer she watched Drew sing, the more uncomfortable Emily became. He was moving with the music, swaying his plaid hips in hypnotizing circles, not once removing his gaze from Emily's confused expression. Their eye contact was broken only by the occasional blink. As much as Emily wanted to, she couldn't look away.
A few minutes later Drew set the microphone down and turned towards Emily, his hand outstretched.
"Dance with me," It wasn't a question.
"Come on Emily, dance with me," he whined. "You were doing it when you were by yourself,"
"Yeah, when I was alone," Emily emphasized the last word.
"So, what's the difference if you do it with me?"
Emily hesitated, concerned that she found herself actually wanting to dance with Drew. Until now, she had only thought of her roommate as a nuisance, a pest with a vendetta. Then he had to go and sing Sinatra…
Instead of waiting for a response, Drew just walked over to Emily and pulled her into his arms. There was an arm suddenly pressed against her lower back, which pinned them together while her right hand was caught in Drew's.
"Dance with me," he repeated, whispering in Emily's ear.
It took a few seconds for Emily to realize just how awkward this was. She was stiff against Drew, rocking from foot to foot, rigid as a board. Smells of cigarette smoke and leather mixed together, swirling inside her lungs each time she inhaled. Drew's breath was whispering across her cheek as Emily peered over his shoulder wishing that Frank would just finish the fucking song already.
"You need to relax," Drew said about a halfway through the My Kind of Town.
"Why?" Emily turned her head, attempting to make her evil glare more effective.
"Because you're not enjoying this,"
"And you are?" she retorted.
"Yeah actually," he smirked again.
Emily turned away when she felt her heart begin to race and her stomach lurch the instant Drew smiled.
"Relax," he repeated after Frank broke for the few seconds of silence between songs. Emily didn't know why she hadn't taken the opportunity to disentangle herself.
"You're still moving like a fucking robot,"
"No I'm not," she argued, her voice rising into an unintentionally flirtatious whine.
Drew just laughed. "Yeah Emily, you are. Here,"
He moved his hands down to Emily's hips and began swaying her body back and forth in time with the music, just like he had been doing by himself earlier. When Drew didn't move his hands, Emily's heart began to race and sweat started to leak from her pores. This wasn't helping her relax.
Yet, Emily's body quickly began to obey what Drew's hands were trying to teach her. She was guided through the entire song by Drew's steady pressure. Her mind was still trying to resist the uncomfortable allure of Drew's proximity. It felt good, but at the same time, also like she was making a mistake.
She could feel her face become splotchy with shades of crimson when a pair of green eyes locked onto it and wouldn't let go. Emily kept staring over Drew's shoulder, determined not to give in and reciprocate the eye contact.
When The Best Is Yet to Come started playing Emily found herself relaxing even more. She even caught herself smiling. Emily actually was enjoying dancing with Drew. The idea wasn't as shocking as it would have been a half hour ago when they were jumping down each other's throats.
Until now, the pair really hadn't moved much. "Dancing" pretty much meant turning in a slow circle in the middle of the room with their arms around each other. The music began to swell and, suddenly, Drew jerked his arm, catching Emily by surprise. She found himself twirling out of control, stopping only when she reached the end of Drew's hand. Another jerk and Emily was spinning in the other direction, back into Drew, only this time her back was pressed against his chest. Two leather-clad arms quickly descended around her, pinning her there. Before realizing it, Emily had already leaned into the embrace. She couldn't help thinking how much more enjoyable Frank's music was when you had someone to listen to it with.
Emily could feel Drew's heart pounding into her like a gentle jack-hammer. This time, her stomach lurched harder. They continued rocking in this position, Drew's lips dangerously close to her ear. Emily had to smile when she heard him humming along to the music. She laughed softly to herself, still slightly taken aback by Drew's unexpected fondness for Frank.
"Nothing," Emily replied. "I just think it's funny that you're a Sinatra fan,"
"Why is that so funny?" Drew sounded offended.
"I don't I know, I guess I didn't know you were into that kind of music,"
"Well there's a lot you don't know about me," he twirled him again.
"I guess so,"
The music played on and they both became a little more daring with their dancing. They were spinning, and swaying and dipping all over the apartment. Emily had completely fallen into the experience and allowed herself to have fun without fear of future regret. Depressing thoughts of lost alone time were replaced by happier memories of the previous song. She learned to love the little jumps his heart gave whenever Drew said her name, shifted his hands, or simply smiled in her direction.
"How long are we going to keep doing this?" Emily asked out of breath. They had stopped dancing long enough for Drew to flip the tape in the recorder giving birth to an entirely new set of Sinatra favorites.
"Do you want to stop?" Drew asked, his finger hovering over the bright green play button.
He grinned again, causing Emily's heart to melt a little more. "Good,"
Once the music started up again, they continued their shameless parade around the cluttered space, giggling each time one of them bumped into something. Emily's face was red now only from exertion. Frank's singing coupled with their shared dancing had dissipated all traces of shame and embarrassment. Neither of them really knew what they were doing at this point, it was just fun, and it felt good, so they didn't stop.
When New York, New York began to play both Emily and Drew were too exhausted to continue, so they settled for collapsing on the couch, panting heavily. Neither one of them said anything; they just let the lyrics immerse them with their melody.
A sheen of sweat glossed over Drew's skin, which created the illusion that he was glowing, Emily couldn't help but stare. He was sprawled out on the couch, his arms and legs splayed in every direction and he still looked absolutely perfect. The exercise had brought out a healthy flush in his cheeks and a more mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
Without thinking Emily dropped her hand onto Drew's thigh.
Drew's gaze fell onto the hand clutching his leg before lifting it towards Emily, his expression completely unreadable. "For what?"
She shrugged. "For not being an asshole,"
A warmth suddenly enveloped Emily's cold, sweaty fingers as she looked down, surprised to discover that Drew had covered them with his own.
Drew patted her hand and made as if he were about to stand up before quickly swinging his body back towards Emily's much like they did a few minutes ago when they were dancing, only this time he didn't stop until their lips had crashed together.
And suddenly Emily was drunk. The world was spinning around them with she and Drew being the only stationary objects.
She consciously had never felt any kind of attraction towards Drew before today. Jealousy maybe, a little fear and awe, but never any attraction. It was just something that hadn't occurred to her over the past few weeks. And here she was with Drew's mouth devouring her own and her mind screaming that it was nothing more than a big mistake. Emily kissed him back anyway.
If she hadn't been a participant, Emily could have sworn that literal sparks flew when they made contact. After a few seconds, she threw her arms around Drew's neck, pulling him deeper into the kiss.
The sensation of chapped, rough lips against her own managed to slow her palpitating heart, and an innate feeling of shared peace swept over both of them. Drew was hovering over Emily on the couch, bleached hair long enough to caress both of their faces, as their lips lazily mashed up against each other. It didn't take long for Emily to sink down into the lumpy cushions beneath the increasing pressure of Drew's lips.
When tongues got involved, Emily almost lost consciousness. She attacked Drew's mouth with a greedy hunger, as if she had been starving for this moment her entire life. Their lips and tongues continued the dance that their bodies had stopped, keeping time with the music that was still blaring in the background loud enough for the entire building to hear.
Everything about this felt right. There was no questioning, no hesitation, no regret. Emily wondered why she hadn't recognized this connection before now. What about Drew, had he sensed anything? Was that why he was so eager to dance?
And then she realized that it didn't matter.
Right now, the only thing he cared about was making sure Drew's mouth remained on hers forever. She would sacrifice every future "alone time" opportunity, if this kiss just would keep going. Emily was more than happy to give up her freedom, so long as she always could be chained to Drew.
When the song came to an end a few short minutes later, the magic of the moment began to slip and they finally broke apart, breathing much heavier than before, Emily's lips aching from the sheer force of the kiss and from the desire for more.
"So… do you really like Frank or was that all just bullshit?" she asked. As much as she wanted it, Emily wasn't ready for another kiss. Her head was still swimming from the confusion and the pleasure.
"Yeah," Emily pulled herself up, trying to regain at least some composure.
Drew raised his arms up into the air and pulled back into a powerful stretch. "No," he grunted. "I can't stand him," he returned to his original, sprawled position on the couch, that same smirk on his now swollen lips.
"Oh," Emily's face fell, she couldn't help feeling a little bit betrayed. "So what was that then… revenge for pissing you off or something?"
"No," his fingers were drumming the frame of the couch, matching the beat to Almost Like Being In Love. Emily sat waiting for the response that Drew wasn't going to give.
"Well then… what was it?"
"Does it even matter?"
"Yes it mat-"
"Did you have fun?"
"Do you still hate me?"
"Do you want to do it again?"
"Then shut up and forget about it," Drew leaned in once again. A smile lit up Emily's face as they immersed themselves in another kiss, each of them fighting for control this time.
Emily grabbed onto the lapels of Drew's jacket and tried to push him down on the cushions, while still trying to keep their mouths attached. She wanted more control. They both wanted more control. Long fingers framed Emily's face as Drew fought to maintain his dominance.
They struggled back and forth, breathing heavily, their mouths never breaking away from each other. Flames had replaced the blood in Emily's veins, she was on fire. Drew spread through her faster than anything she could have imagined. She had never wanted anything, or anyone, so badly before.
She could be safe and push Drew away, choosing solitude and isolation over the connection that had just been forged. Emily could walk away right now and force things to go back to the way they were an hour ago. But she didn't. She knew the pain that Drew one day inevitably would cause her, but still she rubbed their lips together with a big brass band playing in the background.