Hey everyone! I'VE BEEN EDITING! Mostly the same. Just better, IMO at least. Reading old reviews motivated me, so there you go! Enjoy, lovelies! xxxxx
WARNING: This story contains sexual references and mature themes. If this offends you, consider yourself warned before reading on. Strict don't like-don't read policy here!
Masala Mix (n): The various spices mixed and used to flavour food, esp. Indian
Chapter One – Honesty Is the Best Policy
~If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people. -Virginia Woolf
"DID YOU LISTEN TO IT?" a voice shrieks in my ear the second I answer the phone.
I wince, holding the phone away from my ear as I recover. "The Under the Eaves CD? Dusk?"
The man behind me in line shifts slightly, allowing one of the waitresses to pass by. Before I can turn to him, the person in line in front of me gets his order and moves to find a table. I catch a peripheral glance of blue-tipped hair as I shuffle forward a few steps, listening to Dana's voice yapping away in my ear.
"I take it you didn't like it?" I ask evenly, cutting her off in the middle of her spiel.
"You're telling me you liked it?" Dana gasps. I can almost see her clutching the arms of her chair as her eyes widen dramatically. She may be melodramatic, but she leaves an imprint on everyone she meets, which is more than I can say for myself.
"Yeah," I say with a shrug. "I liked it. Quite a lot, in fact. Especially the title song, Dusk. It was a little… mellower than the other songs. The guitar intro, the slow build-up to the second verse where the drums kick in… and the lyrics were beautiful. Oh, and Kian Tate's voice…" I trail off, unwilling to admit my attraction to the handsome rock star.
There is silence on the other end of the line.
I pull the phone away from my ear, confused. No, she hasn't disconnected. "Dana?" I ask tentatively, shuffling forward again as the queue moves up. There's an exaggerated silence from the other end of the line and I roll my eyes as I realise she's being overly dramatic. Again.
"Oh my GOD, NADINE, the songs were so abstract and didn't make any sense, and it just totally sucked, and - "
I tune her out of after that, pulling the phone from my ear and wincing in embarrassment. She's shouting so loudly into the receiver, her voice can be heard clearly from my phone's speaker. I shove the phone into my pocket, giving an exaggerated roll of the eyes for the benefit of the gawking masses.
"Order up!" the cashier shouts. I step up to the counter, and the girl behind it recognises me immediately. I eat here every day, after all. She quickly rings up my order, the order I make every time I come here: a spinach and mushroom quiche, a caffé mocha and a brownie. I hand over the money and take my food, moving to my usual table in the corner.
I crack open the lid on my disposable coffee cup, blowing gently at the steam rising from it. I've brought a sheaf of papers with me – documents finalising agreements with all the suppliers who provide us with food, electricity and anything else the stadium might need. The paperwork is boring – and so am I, I realise with a sigh. Depressing enough that I have a 'usual' order and a 'usual' table; more so that I'm spending my lunch break looking over invoices.
Someone strides past my table to the back of the cafe, bringing a scent of sandalwood and spices to my nose. Mmmh. Despite my self-pity and my stack of paperwork, I study the guy's back as he walks away from me. Tall and lean, with muscled forearms visible beneath the pushed-up sleeves of his hoodie.
He turns, flopping into his seat and his eyes meet mine squarely from across the room. With a jolt of shock, I recognise him. It's a face I've seen a hundred times, staring down from posters and billboards, album covers and phone wallpapers. Jet-black hair, dyed blue at the tips. A cocky half smile that most of my single friends are head over heels for. He's dressed casually, in a gray hoodie and black jeans. His sleeves have been pushed up, revealing a couple of cloth bracelets and the bottom of a sleeve tattoo.
It's Kian Tate, guitarist and lead singer of Under the Eaves.
Oh Lord. Please don't tell me that he heard me championing his band.
His lips curve up in a knowing half-smile. I'm screwed.
I hear a squeaking from my phone and realise that I never got to finish my conversation with Dana. Quickly, all thoughts of Kian Tate vanishing from my mind, I lift my phone to my ear.
"Nadine? Nadine!" she's shrieking into the phone. "Nadine!"
"Yes, yes, I'm back," I assure her, taking a gulp of coffee. "I was buying food."
"At that same café that you eat at every day?" Dana asks me, amused.
My silence is answer enough. "God, Nads. No wonder you're single. You don't do anything new anymore."
Dana's always been brutally honest, and I've learned to take it in stride, but her comment rings so closely to my earlier thoughts that I feel a little ashamed of myself.
"Yeah, I know," I reply glumly. "What were we discussing earlier, again?"
"Dusk," Dana says immediately.
"Oh. Yeah." I try to remember what I wanted to say about the music. "That's right. Before you started screeching," I begin pointedly, "I was going to say that I think they put too much emphasis on the music. I love the music, and it's beautifully intricate, but Kian Tate has a gorgeous voice. They could have taken the album a lot further if there were more of his singing in it."
As I say his name, my eyes flick up to meet his again. "Yeah, Dana, I'm going to call you back," I murmur, snapping my phone shut just as Kian rises to his feet and pockets his own phone. For one crazy second, I think he's going to walk towards me… but the moment passes. He snags a napkin from the counter and leaves the café, winking at me as he passes. Under The Eaves' popularity skyrocketed sometime last month with the release of their single, Stand, but this area of Huntleigh is frequented by busy working people, which I suppose accounts for his relative anonymity. Still, the band has no shortage of fans, and they'll be playing at the Ethnic Revelry tonight. Coincidentally enough, the concert is going to be held at Centro Stadium, the recording studio and concert hall where I work.
For a single twenty-something woman, working in close proximity with rock stars is kind of a high-stress lifestyle, even in Huntleigh, where we have no shortage of them. Especially when you're one among many whose job it is to lift heavy equipment, perform microphone checks and make sure guitars are plugged into the right amplifiers. It's pretty damn difficult to charm gorgeous men while heaving an amp into the back of a truck. Kian isn't the first guy to have made my heart beat faster, and he certainly won't be the last, not with the constant influx of pretty, talented musician-boys.
There's a tap on the window next to me; a sharp, staccato beat of knuckles. Automatically, I turn and raise my eyebrows, my lips forming a question - and wrench backwards in shock, almost falling off my seat. What the heck is Kian Tate doing tapping at the cafe window?
I unlatch and open it, leaning closer and staring defensively at him. He's about to rib me about the compliments I paid him, I know it.
"I've got a gorgeous voice, have I?" he asks, amusement lacing his tone.
I cough uneasily. "I never said that."
Chuckling, he stuffs his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. "Right," he says sarcastically. "What's your name, love?"
His attitude is getting to me. I've never had a particularly long fuse on my temper. "None of your business," I snap. His eyebrows lift almost imperceptibly. He's probably not used to being turned down, I scoff mentally.
"Well then," he says after a pause. "I'll have to keep my eyes open for you, won't I?"
"Yeah, you enjoy that," I scoff, turning back to my food and running my fingers through my hair.
I hear three more words before he leaves. "Oh, I will."
I can almost hear his wink, but I'm not fooled. I'm not impressed. And I have the upper hand because I know quite well that I'll be seeing him again - much sooner than he expects. He's definitely pretty, but I have something he doesn't: the element of surprise.