As part of an author take over I decided to post the first part of the chapter from Crossroads. It was based on a song…let’s see if you can guess it.
I sat at the bar in this little hole-in-the-wall establishment on the outskirts of a town in North Carolina. I was decked out in my best “hide the rocker” disguise, and to be honest not many people even took a double look at me. I had a long sleeve, lightweight shirt on to cover the tattoos that wrapped my arms and my back. I had on my glasses and a hat drawn low on my forehead to try and hide my face. Hell, it was working. I hadn’t been screamed at, mauled over or even touched since sitting here.
I looked around the bar, as best I could while trying to keep my head low to keep any attention away. I just wanted a few hours to think. To be away from the damn chaos that came with being in the spotlight all the time, couldn’t I get that?
The scene I took in was one of relaxation and simplicity. The local town folk were in conversation with each other, yet occasionally looked in my direction, to make sure I was still not a threat, I suppose. It was fine. They protect their own and yet left me to my business.
“Want another one?” I glanced up at the red head that was behind the bar. I hadn’t seen her come in, but then again I was wallowing into my beer glass rather than paying attention.
“That’ll be great. Thanks.” I acknowledge and pushed my glass toward her. I watched her turn and walk half way down the length of the bar to where the taps were located to pour me another Guinness. She had a killer body on her. The jeans she wore stopped right below her hip bone and accentuated the curve of her full ass. She was wearing a black tank top that hugged her breasts nicely, allowing for a subtle view of her cleavage. Her hair was pulled into a ponytail and she had a tattoo at the base of her neck; a Celtic infinity knot.
“Here you go,” she said as she slid the Guinness back at me. “That’ll be $5.50.” She stood waiting for me to respond.
“I have a tab going. It’s under Anderson,” I answered dryly. Tyler Anderson was the fake ID that I used when I was trying to be an unknown. She nodded and leaned over the bar so that I was the only person that would hear her.
“You sure that it isn’t Cross?”
I let the question hang in the air for a moment before I looked up at her right into those big green eyes, “How did you know?”
“I recognized you the minute I came in. Your disguise is good, but I’d recognize the piercing anywhere. Don’t worry the older residents don’t listen to rock, so you’re good there.” She stood up and placed her hands on her hips, “don’t worry your secret is safe with me.” She slapped the bar in front of me before turning. The piercing she was referring to was the eyebrow ring I had, which boasted a very unique ring.
“Thank you,” I muttered, as I watched her walk away to take care of a local she called Ray. Why didn’t she freak out? Go postal like most women do? Hell, if anyone knew I was here I’d be mauled within an inch of my life.
I drank my beer slowly, trying to relax, taking in the peace and quiet that it had awarded me. I watched the locals’ chit-chat about sports, who was with who the night before and town politics. I was staring into my beer again when the little red-head came back.
“So what brings you here to Tad’s? I wouldn’t think this would be a place for someone like you to hang out at?” She wiped the bar down as I contemplated my answer.
“I guess I needed a place where I wouldn’t get recognized, but that didn’t work out that well huh?”
“For the most part it did. No one would bother you even if they did know you. Just not the way we run things around these parts, you should know that from growing up around here.”
Even after hitting it big a year ago, it still astonished me that so many people knew about my life, about where I grew up, what my favorite color was. Any privacy went out the window.
“I guess you’re right. I don’t know part of me just needed a break from the chaos of the tour, of the new album, the fans.”
“I wish I did. Not much around here for us town folk.” She squished her lips together and shrugged her shoulders.
“Well certainly there is something that you strive to do? Hope one day that you’ll accomplish, no?” I didn’t even know why I asked that, I normally don’t give a shit. Yet, something about this bartender had me intrigued. She couldn’t be that much older than I was, and in music industry I was old at 29.
She shrugged her shoulders again. “Isn’t there something everyone wishes to accomplish? I always thought that I would have moved out of here after college, but hey one thing lead to another and here I still am…working weekends at a bar and still attempting to be taken seriously in my day job.”
“What do you do?” I asked as I slid my empty glass toward her, signaling for a refill. I watched her reach for the glass and move toward the Guinness draft.
“Let’s say I work in public relations and leave it at that.” She diverted her eyes back to the glass. I watched her shift uncomfortably in her spot. I wonder what that is about.
“Why don’t you want to talk about what you do?”
“Why are you here hiding from your life?” Her snappy remark hit home of course. She wanted her privacy as did I.
She slid the pint glass in front of me.
“Here you go, Mr. Anderson.” She took a step back and then looked at me, “The Matrix, seriously?”
I broke out in a laugh, the first time in a while. “Yeah, but how…?” I was confused. I honestly didn’t know how she would have guessed that was where the last name came from. Hell my band mates didn’t even get it.
“Public relations remember? I’ve had a fair share of aliases that I needed to help combat, let alone think up. I used to work with a management company prior to this job.”
“Hey Kat…need a refill.” A voice from the other end of the bar beckoned. She nodded in acknowledgement to the man.
“I’ll be back.”
“I can’t wait.”
She smiled and headed to the other end of the bar to refill whatever order needed her attention. I watched as she worked her way around the bottles of liquor, putting on a show for the older men, regulars I assumed by the way she interacted with them, joked with them. It was relaxing to just watch life go on as it did. I couldn’t wait for her to return. She fascinated me, something I haven’t felt in a long time. I turned my attention back to my beer when my cell phone when off. I grabbed it from my pocket and looked at the caller ID, Gabe.
“Yeah?” I offered picking up the phone.
“Where the fuck are you?” His voice was distant, rushed. I could hear the commotion in the background.
“Far away from whatever shit is going on there.”
“Get your ass back here now. You are missing out brother. There are some hot ass blondes waiting for you.” I heard the muffled sound of him placing his hand over the phone, and the muted voices of whoever was with him.
“Yeah. That’s all yours bro. I’ll be back later. Night.” I ended the call before he could respond. I shoved my phone back into my pocket, sighing at the chaos that my life had become. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed partying, the girls, and the attention. Hell, I could have any of the groupies any night. Fuck I could have a few of them at the same time if I wanted to, but part of me didn’t.
“Penny for your thoughts?” the sweet angelic voice broke through my thoughts.
I smiled and took a sip of my beer. “You’d need more than a penny. Hey, can I ask you a question?”
She was wiping down the bar again and stopped to turn to me, “Sure. I guess.”
“Why didn’t you go all fan girl on me? Maul me?”
“Not my style. No offense, but the whole rock star thing doesn’t impress me.” She shrugged her shoulders again, in a matter of fact way.
“Ouch. Please don’t hide your disgust.” I held up my hands in surrender and laughed.
“See, you took it the wrong way. I just meant that I’ve dealt with numerous celebrities and let’s say the whole persona thing doesn’t impress me. I am content being who I am and I don’t have to throw myself at them.” She stopped cleaning the bar and turned to face me. “I spend so much time watching people clean up their messes, that I am more disgusted than impressed. I’m sorry. I mean no offense.”
“None taken. I am sitting in a bar on the outskirts of Raleigh drowning my sorrows in a few pints.” I offer her the glass in salute.
I watch as she turned to the rows of liquor behind her grabbing a bottle of Jose. She places two shot glasses on the bar pouring us each a shot, “Here’s to us.” She clinked the glasses together and downs her shot as I follow suit, feeling the burn of the tequila slide down my throat. Even after years of drinking the shit, I still wasn’t used to it.
“Here’s to us.” I said back, as she poured us another shot. “Now go easy. I still have to get back to the hotel.”
“You’ve had three pints since I’ve been here and according to your tab, three before that. I don’t think you should really drive, do you?”
“Unless you have another option, I have to return to the hotel.” I watched her mind churn as she debated that last sentence. Even though I could be fucking any one of the blondes that were backstage last night, I was here hoping that she would give in for one night. That she would let me break that shield, help me break mine. Damn it, this girl was something.
She leaned in toward me, over the bar, “not in your wildest dreams rock boy.”
I shook my head and laughed. Again it was so easy to have anyone, anyone but her. She bounced away again to the other end of the bar. I was surprised that at midnight the bar wasn’t busier. I finished my beer and threw a hundred dollar bill on the bar. That should cover the tab and leave her a big tip. I got up and headed toward the door.
“Mr. Anderson?” She called from the other side of the bar. I turned to look at her, my hand on the knob of the door. “Good night.”
“Good night,” I responded laughing to myself. Why the fuck didn’t I fight harder for her, seduce her more? I guess I had become a pussy.