Rose's phone vibrated. She picked it up and saw a notification from the group text between her and several friends. It was Justin; inviting everyone to see his band play tonight. They had also played at a pub last week, and it had been fun to watch them as well as a few of the other bands. But as fun as it was, Rose wasn't sure she was looking forward to doing this again, or every weekend going forward. One of the people in the friend group was her ex, Austin.
Rose had moved out to Seattle, Washington with Austin after college, and they ended up dating for nine years total before he broke up with her for the fourth and final time. It was the same cycle every time – he'd become infatuated with a new female friend or coworker, and he'd break up with Rose to pursue them. When he failed to successfully date them, as was always the case, he would come back to her. They'd spent the past few years of their relationship arguing not only about his best female friend who he was in love with, but arguing about whether they were ever going to get engaged and married.
Although she and Austin were civil to each other in front of their friends, she didn't enjoy having to spend any time around him. Still, it would be good to get out and make sure she did something social this weekend. She spent most of her time running, hiking or reading, and those activities were usually done solo.
Rose sent a text that she'd be there, and then texted her best friend Alicia to ask if she was interested. Alicia had met Rose's friend group once before, and she disapproved of Rose continuing to go to events where her ex was present. However, Alicia agreed to come.
An hour later, Alicia and Rose arrived at the Post Alley Pub. They saw her friends James, Sophie, Carrie, Mark, Adam, and of course, Austin, sitting at two tables. Justin was backstage with the rest of his band. The Post Alley Pub was a restaurant during the day, but at night they removed the tables on a raised section of the floor in order to create a stage. After greeting her friends and reintroducing Alicia, Rose sat down, making sure to choose the table that Austin was not sitting at.
They watched Justin's band and two others perform before the final band of the night came on stage. The four men standing in front of the pub introduced themselves as Gravity. They looked to be around Rose's age – somewhere in their late 20s or early 30s. All of them were attractive, but the man who had introduced the band and said a little about them stood out. He was of average height with thick, dark brown hair and he had dimples that appeared with a smile. He was a good looking guy in general, but was absolutely adorable when he smiled, which he did often.
"The women are going to love this," Adam quipped, rolling his eyes. None of Rose's male friends seemed thrilled at the prospect of having to watch a bunch of pretty boys that looked like they were straight out of a boyband. However, by the end of the two songs that Gravity performed, even Adam had to admit they were talented. The band members played drums, keyboard and guitar, except for the lead singer, and they harmonized well and all had beautiful voices. The lead singer with the dimples was clearly the best singer and had plenty of charisma. He's definitely cute, Rose thought, remembering how dark hair was her weakness. He was also popular with all the women in the pub. It did not go unnoticed that he enjoyed the attention from his female audience. He had even looked straight at Rose a few times.
Once Gravity had left the stage and the show was wrapped up for the night, Justin came from backstage and began to chat with everyone, asking how he and his band did and if Rose and her friends noticed anything they could improve upon. While chatting with her friends, Rose saw the lead singer from Gravity standing near the stage with several women clustered around him. He was laughing and flirting with them, and she was sure that they were all telling him how talented he was and how much they enjoyed his and the band's performance. The other men in the band were speaking to some of the audience as well, but were not as friendly with the female audience members as their lead singer. Typical, Rose thought. Of course a guy who looks like that would be used to getting whichever woman he wants. Rose had always been drawn towards polite guys who were genuinely good people, and after her experience with Austin and his constant flirting with most of his female friends, she wanted nothing to do with an obnoxious, flirtatious man who clearly enjoyed meeting a lot of women.
Rose was paying attention to her friends' feedback for Justin, but out of the corner of her eye noticed the lead from Gravity say "excuse me" and gently push past the women surrounding him. He began heading towards their group, and thinking he wanted to speak with Justin, Rose tapped him on the shoulder. "Hey Justin," she said, "The lead from that last band is headed this way." Justin turned, but the lead singer stepped right past him, directly facing Rose.
He offered his hand. "I'm Tom."
Rose politely shook his hand. "Rose." Before she could begin to introduce him to her friends and to Justin in particular, Tom smiled at her and remarked, "You're one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. I love your hair." He reached forward and brushed one of her curls back from her face. "How about we go get drinks?"
Rose was taken aback at how forward he was and that he had no problem touching her within seconds of meeting her. She instantly disliked him.
"First of all, I don't drink," she informed him. "Second of all, you're not my type. Thank you, but no thanks."
The smile faded from his face and he looked stunned for a few seconds. "What do you mean I'm not your type?" he finally asked.
"You're overconfident to the point of being arrogant. And honestly, you seem like a bit of a flirt. I'm not interested in guys like you."
"But," he faltered. "But – I'm the lead in a band. Women love that. I write all of our songs. No one has ever turned me down before."
"Well, then let me be the first." Rose gestured to the group of women. "Go out for drinks with one of them. You've got plenty to choose from."
She turned away from him and back towards her friends.
"Rose!" Carried gasped. "That was -"
"- Rude?" Sophie finished.
Rose shrugged. "I don't go for that shit. And really? The best he could come up with is that he's the lead in a band and that since that apparently attracts all women, that means I should be attracted and willing to hook up with him? He's a tool. Trust me, he's already forgotten about it and moved on to someone else."
"I'm not so sure," Carrie murmured, glancing towards the stage. "He went back over to those women, but he's looking back at you and he does not look happy."
"He'll get over it." Rose rolled her eyes. "Let's go."
"He is really cute," her friend Alicia piped up. "I would have said yes."
"And if he was more down to earth like his three bandmates, I would have said yes too," Rose replied.
Tom saw Justin packing up the instruments for his band and approached him. "Hey man – great job tonight! Are you going to be back next Friday?"
"Yep," Justin replied. "The pub has asked us to come back on a regular basis. I'm assuming that's the case for you as well, given how much the women in the crowd enjoyed your songs."
"About that. You were standing with the redhead. Is she one of your friends?"
"Is she single?"
"Who? Rose? She's been single for over a year."
"Could you give me her number?"
Justin raised an eyebrow. "Buddy, that's not mine to give. If she wanted you to have it, she would have given it to you. Or she would have agreed to hang out with you after the show."
"Help me out here," Tom begged. "I'd do it for you."
"Listen man, I'm not giving out her information. She didn't seem interested."
"I know, but I'm interested. Give me something – at least her last name? Will she be coming back next week?"
Justin sighed. "Fine. As far as next week, I don't know. But her last name is Callahan."
"Thanks, dude! I owe you one!"
One of the women Tom had been speaking to earlier, a tall brunette, approached him as he walked away from Justin. "Hey Tom! How about you come and have a couple drinks with me and my friends?"
He smiled briefly. "Thanks, but I can't tonight. I've got somewhere I have to be."
He continued past her, and his bandmate Al appeared and walked to backstage alongside him. "Did I hear what I think I just heard? Tom McClendon isn't going out at all after our gig?"
"Not this time."
"Are you really bent out of shape because that redhead shut you down? That has to be a first."
Tom stopped and frowned, something Al and his bandmates didn't see very often. Tom was usually a chipper guy; smiling and joking around the majority of the time. "No one has ever turned me down," he replied quietly.
"How heartbreaking," Al said, sarcastically. "If only I had your bad luck."
Tom said nothing.
"I know you have a thing for redheads," Al admitted. "And she was cute. But you've got plenty of women to choose from."
Tom grabbed his bag and tossed it over his shoulder. "I'll catch up with you all tomorrow."
The entire bus ride home, Tom thought about the woman he had spotted almost immediately in the crowd. He had befriended, dated, hooked up with, and taken plenty of women out in his lifetime, especially after he and his friends had started Gravity. Mike had gotten married last year, Jason had a girlfriend he'd been with for a while now, and while Al was single, none of them had ever been interested in taking advantage of the perks of being in a band. That fell to Tom, who did garner large amounts of attention whenever they performed together. This woman, Rose, stood out to him. She was beautiful, but not in the typical way that many of the women he hung out with were. Rose looked like she came straight from another era. She had large blue eyes and deep copper red hair, with soft curls cascading down to the middle of her back. He had never seen anyone quite like her. It was one of the few times he had been distracted and had to remind himself to focus on the performance at hand. And then, she had shot him down instantly.
After he walked into his apartment and dropped his bag by the door, Tom found his laptop and typed Justin's name into Facebook. He had added him and the other members of his band shortly after they were finished performing. He clicked to show Justin's entire friend list and searched for Rose Callahan. It didn't take long to find her. Unfortunately, her profile was private and not much was visible. She did have a couple of her profile cover photos showing, which were mostly mountains and other nature scenes. Tom looked at her featured photos which were public on everyone's profile. It looked like she was a runner and enjoyed hiking. Her "about me" blurb confirmed that, and there was a link to a blog. Sweet, thought Tom. Now we're getting somewhere. He began reading through her blog, which seemed to be mostly recaps of races she had run in and hikes she had done. He reached the end of the blog and then typed her name into Google, where he found an Instagram and a Flickr account with more nature photography. Her profiles stated that she was a beginner, but she seemed to have a good eye for photos. Tom glanced at the clock. He had been sitting here for almost two hours poring over her blog and anything else he could find online.
Rose didn't seem like most girls he went out with. They usually liked going out to bars or other social events. Some of them were into sports; and occasionally one of them had music in common with him. Since they were in Washington, he had naturally met a few women who liked to hike or camp once in a while. Rose seemed like she put a lot of time into running and hiking, and from what he could tell, she had several goals she was focused on.
Tom was determined to get Rose to go out with him at least once. Part of it was the challenge of getting someone who had said no to change their mind, but part of it was because he genuinely found her interesting. And gorgeous. He had never spent this much time thinking about a woman he wasn't in a relationship with, and he also realized that Al was right – this was the first time he hadn't gone out after a show. He requested to add Rose as a friend on Facebook, and then he went to sleep.
A/N: Thank you for reading! :) The next chapter will be up soon. I'd appreciate any feedback!