One Night

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Chapter 23

The house was small, standing in a row of houses with similar design; large front yard, backyard balcony with an amazing view at the sea, and two floors with three bedrooms. Normally I wouldn’t need more than one, but since I adopted Andrew a few months ago, I needed an extra room for him and another guest room, so the arrangement was the best I could get.

It was the suburbs of a big city in the east coast. I moved across the country with Andrew the moment I became his official guardian, and so I moved us as far away as I could from the people of both our tragic past. Also, in the city we were now completely settled in, there was a high school with a good music program for talented kids like Drew. Since September, he enrolled into this school and the program, and his sax skills only improved. Soon enough he would be a better musician than me.

But school was expensive, especially with the music involved, and the house, while not so big, was in the cheapest nice neighborhood I could find – which wasn’t really that cheap – and so I needed to work my butt off. But work was good; I became a private piano teacher for some rich kids, and still played the piano here and there, performing wherever and whenever. It wasn’t a stellar job, but it was perfect for me. It brought me satisfaction when my students succeeded excelling piece after piece. I loved playing in some some coffee shop and restaurants, because it always brought me some sort of solace.

And my amazing Andrew. He became such an integral part of my life, so well interwoven, I couldn’t see my life without him now. We were amazingly good for each other. We were a team. I’d never had a team in my life, at least not a team where I trust the other party as much as I trusted Andrew.

Just thinking about my ward brought a smile to my lips, and I returned back to the staff paper in my hand. I was trying to use the calming sunset and the sea to inspire me to finish a piece I started composing. It was variation of the previous one I tried to compose, “Hold the Night” but now it was just called “One Night”. Because Holden Knight was no longer a part of my life.

No one but Andrew was my life at the moment, and I preferred it this way.

I was stuck, however, on how to finalize the piece. I couldn’t find the write notes and the correct harmony to bring the feeling I wanted to provide to the light. So I had to give up for today and closed the staff. Just as I did, I got a text from Drew. It read, Will be late tonight, going to Tara. x.

Smiling a little, I texted him a thumb-up emoji back and leaned against the chair on the balcony. Drew had had a crush on Tara since day one. It was November now, and my little wonder boy managed to ask the girl out. She agreed, of course, because no girl in her right mind would say no to someone who looked like Drew, and they were going on strong. Tara was also in the music program, playing the flute, and she came from a good home. What warmed my heart even farther was that Tara’s family took a liking to Andrew despite his past and accepted him with open arms.

Soon, I knew, I would lose Andrew. I would always be the one who saved him from a much worse future, but he was moving on. He had a relationship. He’d be in college fast enough. He’d build himself a life. And of course I was extremely pleased for him that he was going in this direction, that he could achieve his dreams. But I was still twenty-four years old, and what about me? What would become of me?

Since Andrew was going to be late, I decided to take a break tonight. I got dressed casually in jeans and sweater, and drove downtown to find myself a local pub to sit at. Once I found some place, I parked my car and entered the place quietly, sitting next to the bar. As I ordered some beer, someone turned on the volume of the screen and, surprise surprise, it was settled on E! News.

Out of mere curiosity, I watched the “reporter” exclaiming about Holden Knight being released from the hospital after a successful, renovated surgery saved his heart from failing. Good for him. There was also a rumor going on about Rosalyn Howard going out with him after sitting by his bedside the entire time that he was hospitalized. There was even a shot taken of them kissing. Good for me.

The reporter kept talking about other hot shots in the glamour world, including Liam and Avery, who hit it off well together, it seemed. There was also the well-known divorce of Raymond Sheridan and Scarlet Howard and the cancellation of the wedding between Emma Sheridan and Ford Davis. The Sheridans were not a lucky bunch. Thank God I wasn’t one anymore.

After Andrew and I left, I legally changed my surname. Instead of Sheridan it was now Dolan, to match Andrew’s surname. So I was Blair Dolan now, and I pretended I had nothing in common with the infamous Sheridans. Just as I wanted it.

Seeing the reports about the notorious members of my past life meant nothing to me. It was like seeing Angeline Jolie and Brad Pitt adopting another kid. So what? It was none of my business anymore.

Feeling joy, joy I’d never felt before I broke free of the mental chains that held me back with Holden and the others, I sipped my beer giddily. Just as I went for another sip, someone slid into the stool next to mine. That made me still, and I glanced sideways to see a good-looking man giving me a small, friendly smile. He had dark eyes, almost black, and a dark chestnut man-bun. He was also tall and lean. Good looking indeed.

“Hey there,” the stranger said, his smile still intact and his eyes still on mine.

I gave him a small, apologetic smile. “Not interested,” I said and turned away from him. I really wasn’t, though. I lost interest in anything regarding love, sex and relationship ever since what happened. Not because I didn’t believe in it, but just because I believed it wasn’t in the cards for me.

“That’s a shame,” the man next to me said, and when I glanced at him, he was still smiling, “because I’m not here to hit on you.”

Arching a skeptical eyebrow, I turned to him again. “So what are you talking to me for?”

His hand grabbed my wrist and he put a business card in my palm. “My name is Mase,” he said, drawing my eyes back up. “I’m a music producer and search for professionals to work for me in my company. It’s good money, and you’ll get to make music.”

I was a little shocked. “How do you know I play?”

“You probably haven’t seen me before, I saw you,” he shrugged, his smile turning crooked in a very handsome way. “My niece, Amber, is one of your students.”

Ah, that explained it. Amber loved listening to me play more than she loved to play. So whenever I go teach her, I always end up playing for her. “You must’ve overheard,” I said, feeling myself smiling a little.

“I did,” he chuckled. “I didn’t have the chance to talk to you, though, and when I saw you’re here, I knew I had to take the chance.” His smile disappeared and he turned serious. “You have some serious talent, Miss Dolan. You’re a good teacher, but you’re an even composer. Working with you would be exactly what I need in my company, and I think it might be what you need, too.”

I looked back at the business card in my hand. “I... honestly don’t know what to tell you,” I said, fighting a nervous laughter. That wasn’t me to laugh like that. “I don’t want to be part of the entertainment world, you see.”

“You won’t have to be if you don’t want to,” he smoothly responded, and when I raised my eyes again, he was smiling a softer kind of smile. Something in my stomach tightened at the sight. “You can work from behind the scenes, be the mastermind of everything. That’s what I do, as someone who doesn’t want to be part of the front lines, too.”

I wasn’t good about reading people, as was evident from my past, but when I looked into his eyes, they seemed truly sincere. And I found myself asking, “Do you have any dark secrets I need to know about?”

He cocked his head, smile spreading wider. “Like what?”

“Do you suffer from a heart disease no one knows about?” I blurted out and almost blushed. Me, blushing? What was wrong with me?

He laughed then. He had a good laugh. Low, masculine and smooth. He was probably a singer of sorts. “No, I’m a healthy young man in his late twenties,” he said easily.

Something in my chest lifted a bit, but not entirely. “Do you cheat on your fiance?” After what Darren had done, it was better be safe than sorry, even if he was just offering me a job.

Another laugh. “I’ve never been engaged in my life, and I never cheated on my girlfriends. I’m single now, though.” He studied me curiously, like he was trying to gauge me out. I was surprised I didn’t mind his scrutiny much.

Then I surprised myself even more when I said, “I’ll take the job.”

He chuckled deeply before nodding. “Good. I’m glad to hear that.” Then he rose and motioned for me to do the same. Once I was on my feet, he offered me his hand to shake. As I took it, his large hand engulfed mine and suddenly he was really close. Then he was leaning down so that he could say into my ear, “I also really wanted to hit on you, but I decided to mellow you out with the job offer first.”

Instead of getting enraged like I really wanted to, I found myself laughing. Then I turned my head to him with a smile on my face and said, “Just tell me the job is real.”

He chuckled in response. “It is. But also is the other thing.”

My smile didn’t falter when I asked, “So, what now? You’re going to take me to some abandoned beach you own and bang me on a worn-out sofa?”

His smile didn’t drop, but his eyes were serious when he suddenly put a rebellious bunch of golden hair behind my ear. “I don’t believe in being a creep and a bang-’em-and-leave-’em,” he said softly, “so I would rather ask you out on a date with me.”

Looking at him, my smiled disappeared and my throat dried up. It’d been so long since I was on a true date with a true man. And everything in me said this was a fine decent man before me. “If I said no, would it change the fact you want me to work for you?”

“No,” he said immediately, and then gave me a little wicked grin. “It would just mean I’ll have to wait patiently until you agree.”

I folded my arms. “How come you’re so sure I’ll agree?”

“I’m not,” he shrugged, and then leaned close so our noses were touching. “I’m just a very hopeful guy.”

Before I could respond, he straightened and stepped back. “Come to my office tomorrow,” he said, “the address is written on the card.”

With those words, he was gone.

I was stunned by the entire event. I looked down at the business card, and found myself smiling despite myself. He was a charming man, this Mase Jordan. He was also straightforward, in a sneaky way I would’ve never for the life of me thought I would find appealing.

But I understood now, better than ever, that honesty had a few sides. Holden had been supposedly honest with only himself. Liam, too. And I? I was simply blunt, saying what was on my mind. Yet while this Mase was talking and flirting at the same time, he wasn’t beating around the bushes. He went after what he wanted. I could see it in him.

Working for him would be good, I could easily tell. As for the other thing... Well, I guess he’d have to try his best. Because I was not going to be as easy as I’d been before. If I really went for it, if I really chose to have another go at relationships, then I’d make sure he’d show me he’s worth my while.

And, as with many things in life, only time would tell.

UPDATE 07/29/19

One Night will not get a sequel. However, written in the same world is Say You Love Me, in which Blair makes a cameo and you get to know what’s been with her ever since the events of ON.

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