December 20, 2019
San Francisco, California
Local Record Store
Everyday never changed. The same things over and over again. Wake up, go to work, do something, go home and go to bed. With minimal breaks in between to eat.
It was predictable.
Brinley never found herself as a fan of predictability. More like she could take the security blanket or leave it.
Her job took up so much time during the day, many nights turned into extended buisness hours. Until she forced herself to actually allocate time for fun. Whether it be with her friends, or a personal excursion.
Which was why Brinley found herself at her local record store directly after work on a Friday night. Drained from an elongated work week paired with one too many unruly, impossible to appease clients, Brinley needed some fun. Pronto.
Thumbing through records proved a much more tedious task than many might think. One after the next. Not always in alphabetical order. You never know what you might find. Could be limited edition Beatles or a no name artist from the block. Either one a good investment. No matter what one may dub the latter option.
Hidden gem artists were like Brinley's own person secret. Someone she shared with only a select few. Not a world renowned person who left and right turned up in the headlines for something they did twelve years ago. Do people not have anything better to do? Like, go out. Go get a job. Maybe even a life.
The world did not revolve around celebrities. Or anyone else for that matter.
"No, no, no," Brinley muttered to herself as she thumbed through an elongated display of lined up records. Someone obviously ransacked this fresh display long before she arrived. The plastic, antique container, most akin to school in her mind, typically hold a plethora of records. But, this one was maybe half capacity, the records sliding ever so closer to collapsing in a pile at the bottom of the plastic. Kind of how she felt at the end of the bizarre week, ending with her early morning flight back to her hometown of Florida the next day.
Oh, how did she love Christmas time. Holiday spirit soared through her. Even though she felt like taking a three day nap.
Christmas music rang out throughout the cramped store. Because of streaming sites, this store decreased in size around two years ago. The interest in records waning in most people's eyes. Not Brinley. Or the other regulars she caught site of during her various excursions down her. Close to her townhouse. And a quick walk in a good neighborhood. It was everything she dreamed about and more.
Bells jiggled. Both from the music and the opening and closing of the front door. Holidays brought in the most customers. Buisness always booming there. Once January hit, it fell back into a local ghost town once again. No one found a need for it. Except for the few. Brinley included.
"Picky much?" A teasing voice asked over her shoulder. It must have been to her left, because her right side held an earbud. Her trusty music holding her sanity despite the thread cracking with the passing seconds.
Brinley shrugged the nagging feeling to check the voice out. Instead, she abandoned the set of record for the DVD display over by the right wall. Held up by a flimsy plastic display man might see in smaller proportions holding up towels in a bathroom. One by one, she scanned each box set for a specific show. One to not only blare in the background while she packed. But one to play on her mini television while she dipped into a warm, soothing bubble bath to close out the most stressful day of them all.
Pre-travel days always proved to be Brinley's kryptonite time and time again.
"Ooh, not talking. Did I hit a nerve?" The voice joked once more. The end, however, held a hint of genuine confusion.
Do I take a look? Do I take a look at a potentially hot guy? I like a man with a sense of humor. Brinley internally groaned at herself. Despite being known for taking home some men on her fun days, today was not a day she could afford spending out with some guy, waking up in an unknown bed paired with a killer headache. She had to catch her flight back home or her mother and grandmother would kill her.
Two generations wiping out the third, not a headline Brinley desired to be a part of.
She glanced up from the DVD rack towards her left, hazelnut eyes catching the sight of a very very handsome man perched up against the neighboring wall by his left shoulder.
And by drop dead gorgeous. She meant her jae dropped 'cause he was that damn fine. His eyes daunting, teasing in every sense of the word. Quite like his teasing smirk. He knew he was fine, but also knew he wasn't going down without a hard won knockout fight.
Brinley liked a man who wasn't afraid to go after what he wanted.
A dusting of a five o'clock shadow adorned itself along his jawline, meet at his chin, and inching over his upper lip. Short cropped medium brown hair still found a way to appear styled without the obvious effort many men put into their hair. His upturned, short clumped locks could be considered bedhead or messy, but it was the latest fashion. It was part of Brinley's work to be up to date with the latest fashions. And sometimes led to her dating fashionable men. When a guy took longer to do their hair in the morning than her, it ended in a break up every single time. Some by her own accord, but many because of the man's inability to keep it in their pants.
Just because 'girlfriend' had the word 'friend' in it does not mean they can go sleep with anyone they deemed to be a friend.
The man grazed his teeth over his bottom lip. "DVD's more your style?" He peered over her shoulder towards the copy of One Tree Hill season one in her hands, a small frown morphing from his once teasing smirk. "Bad break-up?"
Brinley shook her head. A small smile grazed over her shiny, light pink lips, but she refused to allow him to catch her smiling. No need to inflate his ego when she wasn't even doing so because of his hot ass. "Nope. More the nostalgia factor."
"Hmm," his lips buzzed, eyes trailing over her pant suit bottoms and matching blazer plus her white bandeau top tucked underneath. None of the buttons on the blazer done. Plus her favorite black stiletto heels. A more casual business attire plus matched the trends. Just the way her boss wanted it. "Let me guess." He clicked his fingers together. "A trip back home. So, you're preparing by watching one of your favorite childhood shows."
Her eyes widened, trailing down to the crimson, burnt red case in her left hand, back up to his taunting, way too proud of himself features. Lips all knowing, slowly turning up in a pleased grin. Eyes bright, glistening under the dim light as they never left her. His teeth poked through, sparkly white like he recently visited the dentist. And boy did they only make his smile even more irresistible.
Brinley was lusting.
Her lips mouthed words, but no sound found itself formed. "How did you?" She stared back down at her future purchase. Predictable purchase. "Huh?"
He chuckled at her. Stuffing his right hand in his jean pocket. "I'm good like that, princess."
Brinley raised an eyebrow at him, nose scrunching at the nickname. "Okay, cheesy much?"
A teasing glint once again as he curled his lips, shrugging his shoulders. "You seem like someone who's used to getting what they want."
She crossed her arms over her chest, refusing to back down without a fight. Defiance was her middle name, it courses through her blood. Part of her DNA. And she did not like being called a princess. She was not, never had been, a spoiled brat. "I'm not a spoiled brat."
A sarcastic, fake frown overcasted his naturally kissable lips as he once again shrugged his shoulders towards her. "Never said you were. But I stand firm," his voice dropped to deep, uncharted levels, leaning in to whisper in her ear, "on the fact you seem like you get everything you want." His voice sent her trembling, sparks flashing throughout her body, spine chilling. Her knees felt weak. His minty breath tickled the little hairs on her ear.
And then he was gone.
Brinley spun on her heels, trying to catch a glimpse of him as he walked away. He spoke to the cashier, handed him some money, walking away empty handed.
Sighing, she smoothed out her blazer, checking in the reflective case to make sure nothing was caught in her teeth. No lipgloss smears. No hairs out of place.
Somehow, she escaped unscathed. Still on track to relax 'n pack before her pending flight the next morning.
"I've got to get out of here," she whispered to herself, unable to regain control over her rapidly beating her. "Before I scew myself over."
Snatching up the One Tree Hill disc set, she also retrieved a TLC record before heading to the checkout counter.
The owner of the shop, a vintage style thrifty guy in his thirties who held an impeccable taste of music. At least, in most of the customers' eyes. Brinley, not so much. His taste was a little too uptight for her. It didn't help he felt the need to impose his tastes on everyone who shopped there. But it was the best shop around. Actually, the only shop in town. Okay, she'll concur. It's the only reputable shop in town.
"Find everything you're looking for, Brinley?" He asked, the wicker hat atop his sandy blond hair bouncing as he scanned each item, setting it into a large, paper bag. Good for the environment, he claimed.
She nodded. "Just in the need of a little r'n'r, Brett."
He chuckled, placing the record into the bag. "And a little TLC." Brett pushed the bag towards Brinley, waving at her. A cheesy grin he reserved for his loyal customers plastered across his chapped lips. Winters weren't kind to the shop owner, despite them never truly reaching below freezing almost ever. "Have a nice day!"
She raised an eyebrow at him, tilting her head to the side. "Um, don't I need to pay? That's usually how these transactions work. I get the goods, and you get paid for them."
Brett shook his head, chuckling at the young woman once again. "No, no, honey. You don't have to worry about paying." He pointed towards the closed, oak doors. "That man paid for you." Jumping, he patted down his water's apron and fanny pack for something, retrieving a folded up posted note. The blond handed it to her. "He wanted me to give you this. Have a good day."
Still hesitant, Brinley used caution retrieving her purchase, and turned to walk towards the door. She braced herself for alarm bells. Waiting for the sirens to whistle. The doors opened. She flinched. And nothing. No alarms sounded.
It really happened.
After she walked down the street enough so Brett couldn't spot her through his large, glass display windows, Brinley unwrapped her posted note. Scrawled out in a rather neat handwritting, was a little note and a number.
Call me sometime. Tell me how the nostalgia trip played out for you. I heard it's quiet the tearjerker. I've got a shoulder if you ever need to cry on it.