Against all odds, p.4
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       Against All Odds, p.4
 

           Kira Adams
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  “Do you know ‘Hallelujah’?” she asks.

  “Leonard Cohen? Of course I know that song.” Dakota is already getting brownie points from me, ‘Hallelujah’ is one of my all-time favorite songs.

  “Well, I was thinking either that or ‘Mad World’.” She looks up at me through lowered lashes.

  This girl has got to be kidding. What are the possibilities that she just named off my two favorite songs in the entire world? I know those songs like the back of my hand. They were two of the first ones I ever learned to play on the guitar.

  “Are you sure we’ve never met before?” I joke, breaking out into a wide grin.

  “Pretty sure.” She returns a timid smile.

  “It’s up to you girl, I can play either of those…or if you want to do both, we can do that too.”

  Her eyes seem to light up at my suggestion. “I’ve never done this before.”

  “Well, there’s always a first time for everything.” I glance back at my guitar case and table, making sure everything is still the way I left it. “I’ll go sign us up and then you can decide what you want to do.”

  “Okay,” she says softly. I can tell the nerves are getting the best of her.

  “Look,” I say before walking off. “The first minutes will be the most nerve-wracking moments of your life…but if you can make it past that, you’ll be golden.”

  This seems to give her a bit of relief as she exhales loudly.

  “You still have time to back out if you don’t want to do this…” I figure she may change her mind, but I hope she doesn’t. I’m now very curious to see her in action.

  She shakes her head back and forth slowly. “No, I want to do it.”

  “Alright,” I reply, scooting my chair back and standing up. “What’s your last name?”

  “What?” she asks, somewhat flustered.

  “For the sign-up sheet…” I trail off.

  “Oh.” Her cheeks begin to get a pink tint to them. “Mason.”

  “Alright Dakota Mason…there’s no turning back now.” I flash her a quick smile then make my way toward the sign-up sheet.

  * * *

  There were ten people ahead of us when I jotted our names down. It’s nearing seven thirty when the host calls upon us. “Alright, next up is Dakota Mason accompanied by Avery Phillips.”

  I shoot her a quick glance, raising my eyebrows. “You ready for this?”

  She shakes her head. “No.” My stomach plummets but then I notice a small smile spread across her lips. “But like you said, no turning back.”

  I take my guitar out of its hard case and slip the strap over my hand, settling it into place in front of my chest as we both make our way up to the stage.

  We haven’t discussed which song she would like to go for, so I look to her to make the announcement.

  “Hi,” she says timidly into the microphone. “My name is Dakota and I’m going to be singing ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen.”

  I nod slightly to her and then begin tuning my guitar. I’m anxious to hear her voice. I’m curious to how she will sound. When I play the first note, I let all my cares fall to the wayside. I love this song so much. It flows through my entire body.

  I’m taken aback by her voice. It is like a mix of Lana Del Ray and Lorde. Although the first few notes out of her mouth are timid and shy, the minute she notices people are enjoying it, she begins attacking the lyrics with a new found confidence. I look at my arms as I continue to play and notice that she has given me goose bumps by how well she sings.

  We finish the song and the coffeehouse erupts with cheers. People are giving her a standing ovation. She grins from ear to ear as she holds out her arm to me and the crowd continues cheering.

  “Wow! That was really something. What did you say your name was again?” the host asks as he makes his way back to the stage.

  “Dakota Mason,” she says into the microphone.

  “Don’t forget that name people! Future star right here.” He motions toward her as we both begin to make our way back to our respective tables. I put my guitar away as people continue to stop her on her way back to her table to tell her how amazing she sounded. After locking my guitar away, I notice she is finally back at her own table. I make my way back to it.

  “Thank you so much!” she exclaims as I lean on the back of the same chair I had previously been seated at.

  “It’s no big deal, really,” I reply. “I had no idea you could sing like that…”

  She blushes, averting my gaze. “You didn’t ask…”

  I chuckle. “Look, I should probably get going…but would you be interested in jamming sometime?”

  She looks both surprised and excited. “Yeah.”

  We quickly swap phone numbers with the intent on meeting up later on in the week. I leave the coffee shop with an extra hop in my step. Being around someone who is so extremely talented has given me that extra boost of motivation I needed to get back into music. I can’t wait to make it home and begin songwriting.

  I can’t wait to tell Austyn all about this!

  * * *

  “Slow down guys!” I warn my bandmates. “You remember what happened at the Albatross.” The last time my band played, we partied just a bit too hard pre-show and ended up doing a sloppy job. It was the worst we’ve ever sounded since we began playing together.

  Remy glares at me. “Okay, Mother.”

  “I’m serious,” I warn him. “I’m not going to have another repeat of the last show.”

  The other two guys seem to accept my authority, but Remy has always had trouble with direction. “Chill out, Avery, Citizens Society bought us these shots…it would be rude not to drink them.” He tosses another shot down his throat.

  I shift my eyes to Hayden and West. “He’s your responsibility.” I push past the three and make my way to backstage and begin tuning my guitar. I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket and pull it out.

  On my way! The text reads.

  Hurry up. I miss you, I reply to my girlfriend of six months. I was excited when she said she could make the show tonight. She’s only seen my band play a handful of times and I like the idea of having her in the audience.

  There are three bands playing the show with us, Citizens Society, The Guardians Union, and Flaming Acid. We are scheduled to play second to last. I glance at the time. Flaming Acid is currently setting up and will begin any minute, which gives us around an hour before we have to be ready.

  I begin strumming my guitar, making sure everything sounds right for our opening song when I see Camryn, the drummer from Citizens Society enter the room. She is wearing a red corset, her signature piece of clothing with skin tight leather pants. Her long blond hair is pulled up half-way and she has red lipstick to match her outfit with dangly earrings that have matching red stones. “Hey Avery,” she greets me, giving me a quick smile. She makes a beeline for the corner where their equipment is stacked and pulls out her purse.

  “Hey,” I reply, shifting my eyes back to my guitar which I am still strumming.

  “How come you’re not out there having fun with us?” she asks, approaching me.

  “I don’t like drinking before a show,” I say firmly.

  She nods. “I get it. What about after the show?”

  I shoot her a tight smile. “I’m down.”

  “Good.” She returns my smile. “I’d like to see what you are like when you let loose.”

  I cock my head to the side and stop strumming. “Are you calling me uptight?”

  It’s fun to see her squirm as she becomes increasingly uncomfortable. “No, I didn’t say that…”

  I chuckle. “I’m just kidding, Camryn.”

  She begins giggling. “Okay, I’m headed back out there…but I’m holding you to later!”

  “Okay.” I shrug and return back to the task at hand.

  A couple of hours later and my band has just pulled off one of our best shows we’ve ever done. I’d like to take most of the credit, but I know i
t has to do with the fact that we were all sober…well, mostly.

  After placing our instruments backstage, we all meet at the bar. Austyn is not quite twenty one yet so she gets to wear an underage bracelet while we all get to enjoy the festivities.

  “To one of the sickest shows we’ve ever done!” Jefferson from Citizens Society raises his shot of tequila in the air as the rest of us follow before taking it.

  I look over at Austyn and she smiles back at me. “We don’t have to stay long,” I promise her, pulling her in tighter to my side. “I just want to hang out for a bit.”

  “Don’t worry about it.” She smiles, although it seems forced. “We can stay as long as you want.”

  I kiss her gently on the head. She is seriously the coolest girlfriend.

  “I’ll be right back,” she excuses herself as I watch her make her way toward the bathroom.

  I notice Camryn making a beeline for me from the bar. Her corset looks even tighter than before which is enhancing her boobs, making them more noticeable. I don’t remember it being that distracting when I saw her backstage…but I definitely take notice now. “Shot?” she asks, holding one out to me.

  “What is it?” I ask.

  “Rum,” she responds as she pushes it toward me again.

  I take it from her. “What should we cheer to?”

  She squints her eyes, seemingly lost in thought. “What about awesome friends?”

  I chuckle. “Okay then, to awesome friends.” I clink my glass with hers and shoot the liquid down my throat.

  “So what are you guys doing after?” she asks.

  I shrug. “Probably going home.”

  “Really?” Her eyes widen. “Wow, you really are a grandpa!”

  My jaw drops open. “Who called me a grandpa?”

  She begins giggling hysterically. “Remy and West.”

  I shoot a glare in their general direction and notice Remy raise his glass in the air toward me.

  Once Camryn calms down, she touches my arm lightly. “We’re all going back to my parents place after this. They’re outta town and they have an awesome hot tub.”

  Suddenly things have become awkward and uncomfortable. I switch my eyes in the direction of the bathroom and notice Austyn making her way toward us, but she does not look happy. “Maybe some other time.”

  Camryn’s face falls.

  Austyn slides up beside me, her eyes focused on Camryn.

  “Oh, who is this?” Camryn asks, a wide smile taking over her face.

  “Camryn, this is my girlfriend, Austyn.” I introduce the two girls.

  Camryn switches her eyes between Austyn and then to me. “Oh, I didn’t know you had a girlfriend!” she says in a high-pitched tone. One that holds a hint of jealousy. “Well, I’ll let you guys take off then.” She turns on her heel and makes her way back toward her bandmates.

  I lock my eyes with Austyn’s and I can tell she is uncomfortable. “You want to get out of here?”

  She nods, swallowing without saying a word.

  After helping load my equipment back up into Hayden’s van, Austyn and I begin making our way toward the BART station in silence.

  I know she is probably thinking the worst, but I don’t know what to say to break the tension. “Are you okay?” I finally ask after we are on the train.

  She shrugs, looking out the window.

  “She’s just a friend, Austyn,” I say, willing her to look me in the eyes. She doesn’t budge.

  “Mmmhmm,” she replies half-heartedly.

  I know a lot about Austyn’s past and the fact that she has been cheated on before and treated like garbage but it kind of hurts that she would even think I could go there. I have never given her any reason to worry. Plus, why would I want anyone else? I sneak a glance to my left taking in the way her short black bob hangs above her shoulders and how beautiful the lines of her jawbone are and the sexiness to her shoulder blades. I feel myself getting hard. Just looking at her turns me on. It confuses me that she can’t see how passionate I am about her.

  I take her hand in mine and begin rubbing my thumb back and forth delicately over her skin. She looks over at me and I can read the fear and insecurities from her stare.

  “I’m not your exes…” I whisper into her ear. “I would never hurt you intentionally. I wish you could see that.”

  She takes a deep inhale of breath. “I’m sorry for getting upset…I just saw the way she was touching you…and…” she trails off.

  “And?” I press.

  “Well…she seemed dangerous and sexy. I wouldn’t be surprised if you noticed.”

  I break into a small smile. “I’m a guy. She’s attractive. Of course I notice her…but it’s not the same way I notice you. It’s not the same way I crave you.”

  She smiles hugely, peeking around the train car to make sure no one is eavesdropping. “Avery,” she says softly.

  “What? It’s true. I’ve never given you a reason to doubt me, have I?” I ask.

  She shakes her head no. “Then I want you to promise me that you won’t jump to conclusions when you see me checking out another girl…because it’s going to happen. I’m a guy…it’s how I’m wired. But I will never do anything other than look. I would never want to jeopardize the good thing we have going. I moved here to be with you and I plan to be with you for a very long time.”

  She smiles biting her lip. “You want to spend the night at my place tonight?”

  I grin back on her. “I already planned on it.”

  Five – I Like Spending Time With You Even If We Don’t Speak

  Austyn

  “Okay, we are looking for your date from hell stories. The ones you wish you could forget. 888-537-9884 for a chance to win tickets to Taylor Swift’s sold out arena tour,” I speak into the microphone before DJ Trik fades into a song.

  Heath glances over at me. “I bet you have some pretty good ones, Austyn,” he says, giving me a condescending smile.

  I glare back at him. Surprisingly, he isn’t hung over today and he looks semi-put together; a rare occurrence for the guy. When we rode up together in the elevator this morning he even smelled decent. It’s gotten me wondering why the sudden change.

  “What, no comeback?” he continues to push.

  DJ Trik is stifling laughs back in his dj booth, and I simply can’t wait for the music to end so we can change the subject from me to our callers.

  The song comes to an end, and I breathe out a sigh of relief. “So, we have Jennifer on the line and it sounds like her story is going to be hard to beat. Jennifer, why don’t you tell our listeners what you told us?”

  A high-pitched female voice laughs and then she drops right into her story. “So, I was talking to this guy on a dating website…”

  “First mistake right there,” Heath butts in.

  Jennifer giggles, but continues. “Anyway, we had been talking for about a week when he asked me if I wanted to hang out. Naturally, I said yes, so he offered to pick me up. Well right after we leave my apartment he says he has an errand he needs to run and asks if I would like to go with him…I was already in the car so I said yes.” She pauses, exhaling deeply. “He took me to Goodwill. Of all places…and get this, he actually wants to shop there…for clothes! So he makes me wait while he uses their dressing room to try on a few different pair of shorts.”

 
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