He winked, “I know you’ll do the right thing. When the times comes, you’ll date him.”

I left the kitchen, abandoning my plate and turned on the TV. We watched a couple episodes of SVU.

He glared at me, “You shouldn’t watch this shit. You already have your paranoia.” I stuck my tongue out at him and flipped through Emma, by Jane Austen.

“How do you read and watch TV?”

I muttered, “It’s easier when no one talks.” He biffed a throw pillow at my head. I ducked.

It was only nine thirty when he nagged me to death, and I was forced to leave the apartment. He almost ran down the stairs. He was like a kid going to see Santa. I, on the other hand, was dreading it. Lochlan didn’t need to be a bigger star in my mind.

The bar was a different one than the one I’d been to. Danny showed the bouncer a card and we walked in. I looked at the lineup out the door and around the block.

“What’s that card?”

He flashed me a grin, “Loch gave it to me. He said we would need it to get in and get a table.”

I was stunned, “Loch?”

He ignored me and walked to an empty table in a circle booth. The bar was filling up as the lineup was slowly let in.

Gerry strolled up, grinning. I smiled, about to introduce them but Danny was up and out of his seat within seconds, “Oh man, Gerry Ronson?”

Gerry laughed, “You must be Danny?”

Danny shook his hand, “I’m a huge fan. You’re the best drummer.”

Gerry shook his head, “No way. The best will always be Rick Allen from Def Leopard.”

Danny put his hands out excitedly, “I know right. One arm and he still kicked the shit out those drums.”

Gerry winked at Danny and gave me a look, “How’s it going?”

A slow smile crossed my lips, it was forced, “Great.”

He laughed, “Some wine?”

My eyes narrowed, “He told you?”

He laughed and sat next to me as Danny went and attacked the bass player, Mike. We’d met briefly once.

Gerry sat down next to me, “He told me about the new deal.”

My stomach ached, “Yeah?” What else could I say? Lochlan had friend-zoned me, after I friend-zoned him first. Then we kissed and now we were pretending that didn’t happen.

We both watched as Danny mauled Lenny, the other band member. Gerry laughed, “Your brother is awesome.”

I glanced at him, “He’s annoying and completely smitten with Lochlan.”

“Everyone is. That’s why we asked him to join. He’s brilliant with business and an amazingly-talented singer. As long as he keeps his temper in check, he’ll take us to the top.”

I lifted my head, “He’s smart?”

Gerry laughed, “You’re an asshole. Yeah, he’s got his MBA in business from the University of Tennessee. He’s smart. He’s already got us an agent and a few tour dates for the winter months. We got a huge offer a couple days ago but he told us to turn it down. We’re just waiting to see if that move pays off.” His voice was filled with admiration.

“God, he’s perfect.” I mocked.

He laughed, “He’s got a horrid temper, and an even-worse roving eye; he’s not perfect. He has groupies like I’ve never seen. Those poor girls are all in love with him and he… well he’s not interested.”

That made me sick. He was a womanizer. The worst kind of not perfect. The foul temper didn’t even affect me. I could have cared less about that. He had never shown it to me. I’d seen the glimmer in his eyes and that was about it.

Lochlan strolled over with a cranberry lemonade, “I told them you can’t have more than three of these or you’ll be their problem.”

I gasped, “Ass.”

He took a sip and placed it in front of me, “Hey, it’s not my fault, you can’t hold your liquor.”

I scowled, “You’re mean.”

He shoved me over, sitting too close. I moved over, taking my drink. He grabbed it and took another drink. I snatched it back, “I don’t like it when you drink…”

He turned, cutting me off, “You wanna go to Salem tomorrow? Danny was saying he’d be interested in seeing where the Witch trails were.”

I gave him an exasperated look.

He shrugged, “We don’t have to go.”

Danny sat down, “Mike freaking Jones. Like… oh man, I am dying right now.”

Lochlan beamed at him, nudging me, “You can tell him you don’t want to go to Salem, break his poor heart.”

Danny’s lip popped out, pouting like when we were little. I looked at Lochlan, “I never said that.”

Lochlan cocked his head, “You never said yes.”

“Yes.” I challenged him with my stare.

He cocked an eyebrow, “Yes?”

My stomach dropped, but I kept my brave face on and nodded my head, taking a drink of my lemonade.

Danny looked at Gerry, “You wanna come too?”

Gerry shrugged, “Sure.”

Lochlan continued to stare at me. Even when the group of girls came over with things for him to sign.

I sighed. Danny smiled like a kid in a candy store and Gerry watched me with a smug look.

Mike came over, “Hey, Erin.”

I nodded, “Hi.”

He sat down next to Danny and started to drum with his fingers, “So, you liking it here?”

Mike seemed awkward. I shrugged, “Yeah. Are you from here?”

He shook his head, “No. Lenny is. I’m from Maryland. I answered an add, like these guys. Lenny and Vic are from Boston. They had a band before but it was a small-time gig, once a week at a small bar. The band broke up and they decided to try again.”

“How long have you guys been here?”

Gerry looked like he was thinking, “Me, four years.”

Mike nodded, “Yeah and I was just after you. So, almost four years.”

Lochlan finished signing and spoke softly, “We gotta go.”

Mike beamed at me, like he wanted to say something. Danny looked at him, “We’re going to Salem tomorrow, you wanna go too?”

Mike nodded, “Yeah.” He handed his phone to Danny, “Put your shit in here.”

Danny took the phone and added himself to it. Mike was the opposite of the rest of them. He looked like he should be in a rock band. He had shaggy, brown hair and a handsome face with brown eyes and a scruffy unclean look. He and Danny could be brothers. They both looked like scruffy surfers who suited the band look.

Gerry was in skinny jeans and a tight, graphic tee shirt. He had on thick, black glasses and his hair was perfectly coiffed. He looked like a pop star. Lochlan had on his tight denim shirt that I hated, with his sleeves rolled up so his tattoos stuck out the bottoms of the rolled cuffs. He had on tight, dark-blue jeans with big boots and his dark hair was a mess. He looked like he belonged in a mosh pit in Ireland or the unemployment line. The sexy side of the unemployment line.

He flashed his blue eyes at me, “See you after. Don’t leave, okay?”

I nodded.

They all climbed out, leaving me and Danny to watch. The bar was packed. The dance floor down front was filled with waiting fans.

The bar went black, except for a white-blue light shining down on where Lochlan stood, center stage.

I was holding my breath seeing him up there.

He started to sing softly. He held the microphone so close to his face his lips caressed it when he sang. Everyone’s hands went into the air, swaying with the soft lyrics coming from him. Danny jumped up, grabbing my hand and dragging me down front. I got shoved and squished, but we made it.

Lochlan held a long note, taking it higher and higher. The rest of the band exploded, as the lights lit the rest of the stage up. The song picked up and the crowd erupted. My heart burst with the shock of the dramatics.

Lochlan moved with the beat, bobbing and swaying. He moved like the song was his heartbeat. When the chorus hit again, he held the microphone out and let the crowd scream the lyrics with him. He bobbed to the song with his arm stretched out. As the chorus ended he kicked his boot with the beat of the drum and leaned back, taking the song slow again. The lights faded again as he took it all way down. He closed his eyes, caressing his lips against the microphone.

His arms flew into the air as the light came back on and the band kicked back in. The song was incredible. My arms were in the air, I was swaying with him. I was screaming like all the other fans.

The song ended with the lights going down again.

We stood in breathless silence, waiting for it to hit again. The lights came on in the back, showcasing Gerry lightly tapping on the cymbals. Lochlan started to sing from somewhere in the dark.

His voice made every hair on my body stand on end. I couldn’t even name the sounds I heard. The band exploded again with the lights. Flashes of lights matched the movements of the band.

The crowd frothed. Elbows hit my back, the crowd swallowed me up and I didn’t care. All I saw was him. He was so alive. He was everything I wanted to be.

The flow of their music was perfect, never letting us get comfortable. We were on edge, waiting for him to rock us, or woo us, or make us hold our breath.

I moved with the crowd, moving with him. He was the puppet master.

The show ended with the best song of the night; he let the savage crowd sing most of the song as he moved with the beat.

The lights went out; the crowd went insane. The lights came back on and they were gone. The stage was empty. Bouncers pushed us back a bit.

I made my way back to my table. It was roped off but as I approached, a server took the rope away. Danny slid into the booth, “That was fucking nuts. You see the dramatic pauses, that’s what he and I were talking about.”

I smiled, I was high from it. “That’s cool. They’re so good.” A server brought us a lemonade and a beer. He smiled at her, ”Thanks.”

She eye-fucked him. I didn’t even care. I searched the crowd for the band but they never came back. I finished my lemonade, feeling the high of them and the buzz of the booze.

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