An early first draft of something I've been playing around with this evening. I know that I have set it after the events of 'Lost Glory', but not decided whether it is going to be part of the sequel. Depends how well received it is, I suppose. Please bear in mind it is a very early draft, so miles to go with it yet. Anyway, let me know what you think...
The subtle glow from a candle on each circular table threw its bright shade over the darkness. Where the light flickered, small snatches of gold and sequins pinched at the air, before retreating into the shadows. An odd sense of anticipation seemed to hum in the air; strange for such a small venue, Faye thought.
Taking a sip of her tonic water, she reclined back in her seat, her eyes darting from face to face. Each one locked into an animated conversation. A cacophony of buzzing chatter, a seamless harmony of excitement and plans. Switchblade smiles were painted onto their edged faces.
At the front of the collection of tables stood a small platform, raised less than two feet off the sticky ground. A solitary stool was placed in the middle of a deflated black stage. Bedraggled maroon curtains hung limply at each side of the stage, remnants of the old theatre the space had once been. Faye had never been to ‘The Wreck’ before, though she had heard rave reviews, particularly of its monthly ‘Open Mic’ night. It had seemed like the perfect place to meet. Neutral. Non-threatening. Public.
And he was supposed to be here half an hour ago.
The fact that he was late didn’t surprise her. It was his default setting. To make her wait around for him. He made her impatient. Briefly, she glanced at her phone.
When the remaining lights around the stage dipped and a single cylindrical shimmer descended on the tiled noir floor, she had given up hope that he was going to show. A few months ago, this might have provoked an emotional response. A tightening of the gut. Tears. Despair. There was not a remote possibility of that now. It was over. She was over. He was dead to her…
Absent-mindedly, she twirled a chocolate brown strand of brown hair into a spiral around her finger. When the blonde peroxide had been stripped from her hair, it had felt like a cleansing. An exorcism of a part of her that clung on inside begging to be heard. It nagged at her still, haunted her even, but she was hardly going to allow it to plague her night. Just to satisfy a ghost of what had once been.
The thump of a drum and the upbeat jangle of an acoustic guitar lifted the air and provided a window of light in the darkness. Until that point, she hadn't even realised that the band had started to play. It made sense to stay, to hear them out, to escape the familiar barbs of home. It would be the same as every night now was. Her mother’s anxiety, her friends’ interrogation, the haunting voice of regret taunting her late into the cold night…
This was going to require something stronger than tonic water.
Turning her back on the appreciative crowd, she made her way to the empty bar, fumbling in her purse for what remained of her 24 hours. A flimsy, fake ID, matching her own flimsy, fake sense of self. Tapping her foot along to the infectious rhythm, she flashed the ID at the non-plussed bar man and downed the amber liquid in one mouthful. Placing the glass back on the bar’s edge, she ordered another one.
When the sound of polite applause resounded against the slick grey of the walls, signalling the end of the first act, Faye was five shots down and counting. Her blood felt ignited now, the liquor blazing through her veins. Instinctively she knew it, she wanted to dance. A hazy sweep of the room told her that there was little chance of her wish being granted here.
Faye reached the door and inhaled a sharp intake of iced air. The shiver that trembled down her spine took her completely by surprise, mostly because it wasn't prompted by the air. It was the melancholic chords of a guitar brushing and soothing the hushed atmosphere.
To call it velvet wouldn't do it justice. Velvet was smooth, unruffled, blameless. This sound was more like…she groped for the word…taffeta. Ruched, uneven, ridged. The words were emotions. The emotions were words. Inseparable.
When her feet moved back to their old seat, they almost seemed to be levitating above the ground. There was no reason. No choice. Like her body was on an intangible cord. Like that golden thread was being extracted all over again.
Sitting obediently in her chair, the wick of each candle was so low now it seemed only an ember remained. Just a spark, but enough to direct her submissive eyes to the stage. To illuminate the reason her skin was crawling with desire. He sat there, posture relaxed, his guitar cradled to him almost as if it was a natural extension of himself. His tousled brown hair hung low over his eyes, and they were directed downwards, focused only on the flex and coil of each string when his fingers plucked them. Faye felt her cheeks blush, as if she were intruding on something personal. Feeling that unnatural pull exerting its hold over her, she felt herself leaning forward, her elbows on the table, her eyes glazing over. When he briefly tore his eyes away from the sharp smoothness of the guitar strings, and the drenched blue pool of his irises met hers, she knew she was supposed to look away. That her heart was a traitor. But the melody erased the guilt. His seductive smile erased whatever was left of her soul.
As the song progressed, the lyrics ebbed and flowed from his honeyed lips like waves upon the shore. Each word caressed lovingly by his tongue. Each word meant for her.
A siren call. A hidden warning.
A fool’s promise. A new day dawning.
When the song came to a close, she watched the people around her clap nonchalantly, as if they were watching someone else. Detached. Disjointed. She wanted to shout, to scream, to shake them one by one until they felt an ounce of the flood of feelings she felt now. But they didn't see it, and a small tinny voice at the back of her mind didn’t see it either. An insignificant mumble that something wasn't right. That she should leave…
Pulling herself to her feet, she made her way back to the bar, desperate for a glass of water and some fresh air to clear her busy mind. The frosty burn of her skin where someone’s hand lingered on her wrist forced her body to turn to a slender frame. Fitted jeans and checkered shirt. A taffeta voice.
‘Come with me.’ A command, not a question. Her muscles moved on cue to follow him into the dim light ahead. Tonight she was his puppet, and he was pulling all her strings…