Music roared just outside the scarred door.
“What’s going on?” He followed her frenetic pacing with his eyes.
“Nothing. Absolutely fucking nothing.” She kicked the sofa with her bare foot and winced.
“Nothing my white ass. Spill.”
She looked him up and down. He had no reason to spend his time in that shitty dressing room with her when friends and sycophants waited outside for a moment of his time.
“You got your bottle.Why you still here? ” She pointed to the bottle of top shelf bourbon nestled lovingly between his thighs. The club had gifted it to her after the gig, but she hated brown liquor. He didn’t hate any liquor.
“I’m here because you haven’t kicked me out yet. You can try though.” He stretched out on the sofa, daring her. She deflated.
“Please, I need a moment.” Uncried tears were making her hoarse.
“Um…nope.” He put the bottle aside and patted the seat beside him. “Come here and tell Uncle Barry what ails you.”
She couldn’t deny that he’d made her feel preternaturally at ease since she’d met him and his wife at one of her gigs a couple of months back, but it was still too soon to tell whether the feeling would last. People could be so unpredictable.
Especially people with penises.
Penises. She was going to fall to pieces right in front of him. He watched her face crumple and took her into his arms. She tried to push him away, but it was feeble attempt. She needed to be held, coddled, clucked at. Her hands were claws on his worn leather jacket. She made his neck shiny with her tears and snot, but he let her cry.
For a full ten minutes there was only the sound of her harsh sobs and of his hand rubbing her back up and down, side to side. His touch smoothed out the edges of her loneliness so easily. He was tougher than most, since she’d been honing for a very long time. Even his smell was comforting – leather, soap, and the inside of a new acoustic guitar.
She smiled at her own crazy thought.
“Finally, a smile.” He offered her a clean bandanna. She blew her nose gratefully. He pulled at the hairs that stuck to her tear-stained face and tucked them behind her ear. His doting gaze made her feel herself in a way she hadn’t in a while. She realized he was looking into her, not at her.
She disentangled herself from his arms and washed her face at the sink.
“You’re dangerous,” she said as she scrutinized herself in the mirror. She was glowing from her emotional purge. She powdered her flushed cheeks.
“I’m a pussy cat and you know it,” he said, smiling. He opened the bottle of bourbon with his teeth and took a healthy bite out of it. She watched his Adam’s apple go up and down three times before putting it down.
“Mmmhmm. You’re a stealthy fucker is what you are.” She leaned into the mirror as she smudged a brown-bronze eyeshadow at the outer edges of her eyes. A draft blew up under her short dress and made her nipples hard.
“Thass right. I’m a fucking ninja.” He karate-chopped the air to get a smile from her. “What are you mean, sneaky? I assure you, I got the wife’s permission… to come.”
She gave him a long look in the mirror, then got up on tiptoes to paint her eyeliner on. The arches of her small feet echoed the graceful curve of her calves, which melted into her smooth thighs and up up up. He wished he could will her skirt up higher because in her lines, he saw God.
“You’re sneaky….” She threw the eyeliner back into her makeup bag and picked up a tube of lipstick. She let him hang on her words as she carefully applied the crimson paint on her full, perfect pout. He unconsciously moved to the edge of his seat, the bottle of bourbon forgotten on the floor. “You’re sneaky because no man’s seen me shed a tear in years, and you actually saw me cry. Sob, even.” She blotted a trio of red O’s into a paper towel, crumpled it and dunked it in a trash bin across the room.
“I often have that effect on women.”
She ran a brush through her shoulder-length brown hair and walked around the room, looking for the high heels she’d abused the door with during the fateful conversation with her boyfriend.
Well, her ex-boyfriend.
“I don’t know how I feel about that,” she said.
“Better, presumably.” He always had something clever to say. It frustrated her, but for the wrong reason. She sat down across from him on a lumpy sofa to slip on her heels.
“You…I don’t know…make me soft when I need to be hard.”
“I can make you hard, baby,” he said jokingly, but his eyes were glued to her chest, where the front of her dress drooped loosely enough that he could see her breasts clearly. His frank perusal surprised her.
“Are you serious, dude? Being a veteran in this business, you’ve most probably seen more tits and ass than a Tijuana plastic surgeon.” She fluffed her hair and sprayed perfume between her breasts and up her skirt. He saw a flash of red lace panty and shook his head like a punch drunk fighter. “Wish me luck. I’m getting laid tonight. ”
“You don’t need luck,” he said. The small room filled with the scent of her perfume. He wanted to stay there until it faded, or was replaced by other smells. He took another healthy nip of the whiskey, but it didn’t help him swallow the lump in his throat. She smoothed lotion on her legs and arms.
“Pfft, yes I do. But just my luck I’ll end up being into the one dude in the joint with a mean case of whiskey dick.”
“That shit’s a real disease, you know. Show some sympathy.” He held the bottle out to her. “Take a shot. It’ll ward off the evil jap’s eye.”
She slapped him over the head and took the bottle. “Don’t say that. It’s offensive.”
“Says the woman who affectionately calls her fellow womenfolk ‘bitches.'”
She shrugged and swallowed. The burn gave her goosebumps, and it was fast-acting. When she handed the bottle back to him and their hands touched, she felt it in her pussy. She was tempted to stay locked in the room and finish the bottle with him, but she knew what would happen. She’d want to lick that scent of wood, leather, and soap off his skin and suck at his whiskey flavored mouth. He’d let him put his face where he’d put his eyes and they’d both be in a lot of trouble because it wouldn’t be the alcohol that made them do it.
That would only be the excuse she’d give if they were found out.
“Come here.” He patted the place beside him, and she sat down. “You’re new to this game, but I’m not. Don’t let it consume you. It’s just a game.” His eyes were serious. She didn’t know whether he was referring to music, or something else.
“Why the pop lecture? I’m a grown woman.” When she shifted her hips, her inner thighs were slippery.
“You’re a grown woman, but a woman nonetheless – fragile, emotional…lovely. ” His eyes flashed on lovely in a way that made her forget to breathe. He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her to him. He chased her gaze until he had it. “Don’t fight your fragility. True strength is the ability to break, but not fall apart.” His pale eyes took her into himself, where she felt more and more she wanted to be. He pressed her slim ribcage to his, holding her to him but keeping his face far enough to take her in completely. She put her hand on his chest.
“You’ve got room to spare in there, don’t you?” she said. He loved his wife, his friends…all with equal fervor. And, given the opportunity, he would love her. She felt it in her bones. She warmed so quickly in his arms she hurt.
“For love, you mean?” His gaze was clear, unsullied by guilt or shame. She blushed.
“There’s always room for more.”