Gerry pointed at us, “You too are a ticking time bomb.”

I smiled, “You will tell me if he welches on this right?”

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Gerry put his hands up, “Keep me out of it.” He turned and left.

Lochlan scoffed, “Says the guy who told me we should hook up.”

I pushed back, getting him off of me, and spun around. I took my glass of red wine and leaned against the bar. I noticed it right away. The eyes were on me. The people were watching the girl with Lochlan Barlow. “You’re like Elvis to these people.”

He ignored my comment and put his hands on the bar on either side of me, “Who told you curly hair was my weakness?”

I laughed, “Oh my God, you have to do better than that.”

He bit his lip but kept my gaze, “You want me to start trying? I do owe you that, after the whole kitchen thing.”

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I shook my head, sipping the wine. It was surprisingly good.

His eyes turned funny again, “We could just live in the apartment… together.”

I knew he was messing with me, going for the low blow, commitment was girl bait for sure. I blinked up at him, “As fuck buddies?”

He coughed and took my wine. He took a big drink and passed it back, “That’s disgusting. How can you drink that?”

I looked down into the glass distastefully, “I can’t now.”

He gave me a deadly stare, “No, not as fuck buddies, and I told you, I don’t have Hep C. Jesus. I’m more careful than that. I have never gone bare back, I will have you know.”

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I laughed mostly to hide my disturbed expression, “All you famous types say that, and then all of a sudden, Pamela Anderson is like OMG I have it too. It can’t be from Tommy—no, he would never.”

He snorted, “You think you know so much about me.”

My gaze narrowed, “I know enough, man whore.”

He bent, kissing my cheek again, “You don’t know shit.” He pushed off the bar and walked away from me.

Every girl in the bar instantly hated me.

“Great.” I walked away and leaned against the wall in a dark corner. My glass wasn’t even empty, when a new glass was placed in my hand. I noticed a bouncer eyeballing me from the side of the wall where I was. I frowned at him but he maintained his stern look. His eyes darted around me. He looked like he might walk over to me, but stopped when a girl poked me in the arm. “You could have said you were dating him. We wouldn’t have cared.”

I looked up to see one of the girls I had walked there with. “Hey. I’m not dating him. He’s my roomie. It’s complicated.”

The pretty brunette put a hand out, “Lise. This is Jenny and this is Monica.”

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I gave a subtle wave, “Hi.”

The tall blonde, Monica, pointed to a table, “That’s our table. Wanna come sit?”

I nodded, “Sure,” and followed them over to sit.

Lise giggled, “Looked like you were dating.”

I put my wine to my lips and sighed, “No. It’s so much worse. He’s him, ya know? He’s the lead singer.”

Her eyes looked sad, “That sucks and you really like him?”

A frown crossed my lips and turned to a pout, before I could even negotiate my feelings. “No.”

Her light-brown eyes glistened, “You do. I can tell. If it makes you feel better, every girl likes him. He’s here with every girl.” She looked around.

I followed her gaze and saw it. He really was. Every girl was waiting for that moment the band took the stage. That made me feel dirty and my outfit didn’t help.

“What kind of music is it?” I asked.

The other girls laughed, “You don’t know? You never heard him sing before?”

I shook my head. How had I not even Googled him? It was because I thought it was a joke. I thought he was a joke.

The blonde raised her eyebrows, “You’re in for a show.”

We sat and waited. They talked and I people watched. I knew I was awkward with them. I didn’t care though. I was stunned by the fact he was someone, not just my annoying roommate.

The lights dimmed even more than they already were and the stage lights came on. The band walked out together. He searched the crowd until he came to my face at the table. He winked and gave me his one-sided grin. I didn’t even know the crowd had erupted into something equaling complete chaos. All I saw was him. He seemed uneasy until he positioned the guitar in his hands. He strummed at it a few soft notes before he opened his mouth.

Then something magnificent happened.

His voice was soft, not what I expected from him. He started to move his hips, my eyes followed. It started soft and then picked up. I came out of my Lochlan haze and noticed Gerry hitting the drums, and the other guys playing their hearts out. It was madness, but glorious. The song was exactly as he’d said, it was indie and fun. People were dancing and swaying to the song with him. His eyes were closed in the chorus as he swung the guitar onto his back and grabbed the microphone. He moved like he was against another person, with his hands sliding up and down her body.

The crowd was going nuts.

His eyes popped open. He eye-fucked every person in the crowd but me. It was like he avoided me on purpose.

I drank back my wine, watching him swinging. His voice was beautiful, raspy, and soft but able to hit the high notes. He was the whole package.

Tight tee shirt with tattoos sticking out the bottoms of his sleeves. Tight jeans with black boots and a cocky, southern swagger. He didn’t have the country sound though. He was a mix between pop and indie. He was amazing. They all were.

My glass was taken and another delivered. I barely registered it.

The song ended. I swallowed. His eyes caught mine and I was frozen.

He gave me a look. The other guys started up, sweat was cresting every brow, the band’s… the crowd’s… mine. His mouth moved and I could swear every word was for me.

It was the strangest feeling ever.

He ran his hands through his thick, dark hair and started to move faster in the buildup. When the chorus broke, he came alive. My heart had never pounded so hard in my chest. The server was back suddenly. She took my glass and passed me another. My head spun when I saw the glass on the tray was empty.

The next song was really upbeat, it was a dance song. His voice went high and everyone exploded on the dance floor.

He danced like I never would have imagined him capable of. I knew nothing. That was clear. Shit, he was right again.

I finished my glass, watching him use the entire stage, pointing out at the crowd, working each of us. He was every woman’s fantasy. He had it. He had the moves, the confidence, and the voice. The band was as devoted as he was. They pumped out the song with him.

Everyone in the crowd moved like a sea, rocking to the beat. He was the wind controlling the waves.

I truly felt like an idiot. I drank the last of my glass and knew, I was done.

He had won.

The lights dimmed, making a sickening fear in my stomach that they were done, but it was worse. A chair was brought out under the single remaining light, center stage.

He drank from a glass of beer and cleared his throat, as he sat on the stool with his guitar.

“Uh… I just want to thank you all for coming out. This has been an awesome couple weeks for us here. I’ve been a solo act for a long time and I just feel really welcomed into the band. So cheers to my new brothers.” The crowd cheered as he drank a gulp and then held the glass up to the crowd, “Cheers to y’all out there in the crowd, because Boston has made me feel welcomed too.” The crowd went wild again as he drank again.

He held his glass out a final time, “Cheers to my princess from North Dakota.”

The crowd erupted. They didn’t know why they were cheering. They just ate him up.

I, however, knew.

I couldn’t breathe.

I couldn’t feel anything but my pounding heart.

“Bastard,” I whispered to myself.

He’d upped the ante, hard.

The crowd died down and he started to play.

His fingers moved so fast my blurry vision couldn’t keep up. When his voice broke out over top of the guitar, everyone went nuts. The crowd started singing with him. They knew the song. I’d never heard it before. He started stomping his boot on the stage, as he played and sang.

It was like I’d never seen him. The song wasn’t fast, and yet, the crowd moved with him. His boot stomp and his odd shout here and there, moved them. Arms went into the air as they shouted the high notes with him. It sounded like a drinking song of sorts.

The band came in behind him at the halfway point. The boot stomping got loud and the shouts took over. Gerry played a weird-looking drum with his hands.

Each member was covered in sweat and passion. I could taste it in the air.

I got up and left the bar. The boot stomp and the shouts followed me the entire way from the bar and onto the street.

My eyes blurred. I’d drunk too much wine. I needed home.

I picked up my pace. I was near home when my phone rang. I pulled it out, seeing a weird number. I answered, wondering if it was Danny.

“Hello?”

“Where the hell are you?” It was Lochlan, screaming from the bar.

I walked faster, “I drank too much. I’m going home.”

“What the fuck, don’t leave.” It was the second time he’s said that to me.

I laughed, “I have to.”

“Why?”

“Oh, Lochlan, come on. I’m out of my league.” I rounded the corner to our house. I started to laugh harder at the thing I’d just confessed to. I was too drunk and I knew I should hang up, but I couldn’t stop the things I wanted to say from slipping out. I walked and shouted, “You want me to want you? Well you win. I want you. I want you right now. Maybe you should leave that show and come home and show me what I’m missing, by being the nice girl. I fold. I will give myself to you, freely, and then move out. Nothing I do is ever going to top you. Nothing is ever going to compare to you.” I stopped walking, realizing what I was saying. I ran my hands through my hair. I was hurt and I didn’t even know why, but my words turned to a whisper. “You’re the real thing. You let me believe you were some backwater-hillbilly bar singer. You’re a star. You are that incredible and amazing person you want to be. I am the normal, safe girl. You are fantastical greatness and I am not.” I whispered, leaning against the brick building. I caught a glimpse of a guy rounding the corner coming towards me.

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