Strung

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Chapter 31. - Nineteen

*Lukas*

*8 Years Ago*

We just wrapped up playing a classic AC/DC song, and the first two tables clapped appreciatively, while the rest of the coffee house blissfully ignored us. I played out the last couple complicated riffs without any mistakes or missing a single note, and at that moment, I felt blessed to be talented enough to do this legendary song justice.

My guitar teacher would’ve been proud of me – had I had to money to still afford one.

My best buddy, Asher Wolfhart walked up to me and slapped me in the back. “Showing off, are you?” He grinned, then nodded towards our little table. “Let’s take 10.” He said into the microphone, then added – just to me. “I’m dying to have a smoke.”

Me fucking too.

I jumped off the stage, bypassing Brian – our bassist – and his girlfriend, Nikki, who was currently blinking up at him with that lovesick expression that made my stomach turn. “Nik, will you grab us some water?” He asked her and she agreed.

Barf. “I got it!” I announced, thankful for the excuse not to have to endure those two any longer. I headed off to the counter not getting three steps in before someone grabbed my arm to tell me what great job I did up there. I glanced down at her big blue eyes and low cut blouse. Puberty hit her hard, and she was showing it all off tonight.

She looked too immature and too made up for my taste though, so I thanked her politely for coming out tonight – knowing full well that our band had nothing to do with it. She smiled, looking up at me from under her lashes in a way that she’s probably seen in the movies.

Yeah, she was more of a turn-off by the moment.

The crowd in this area was much thicker, and I was thankful for my height so I could at least see the general direction of the counter. All the angsty teens who didn’t have a fake ID enjoyed a night out, mixed with the young adults who were already over the clubbing scene. It worked out well for us, perhaps getting a few more MySpace followers, or a solid, reliable gig out of this.

Suddenly, this chick in front of me swirled around and dumped two handfuls of steaming hot coffee over my brand new shirt. “For fuck’s sake!” She exploded, her filthy mouth prompting me to take a second look at her.

She was cute enough – short, with long, dark brown hair, olive toned skin, and a pretty little figure that looked like it would be a killer in a few years. Which reminded me… “Aren’t you too young to talk like that?!” I asked, guessing her to be under eighteen. Fuck my luck with this teen crowd…

The chick would’ve looked too innocent to even know those words, but now I was second-guessing myself as her big, brown eyes traveled up and down my body.

She was checking me out!

And I let her. I waited patiently until her gaze made its way up to meet my own – and if it was even possible – her eyes widened further. “Oh fuck! I’m so sorry…” She mumbled, the words coming out of her mouth at an impressive speed.

And then it dawned on her.

I could practically see a lightbulb go off above her head as she glanced toward the stage, and then back at me. “You guys are so talented! And now I’ve completely ruined your outfit…”

And burned me too. The coffee must’ve been freshly brewed because my skin felt like it was on fucking fire – not to even mention that Ash’s mom got me this shirt just this morning. She was going to be furious when she would see that I’ve already stained it…

But strangely, the chick’s mortified reaction was amusing enough to make me not give a fuck about any of that. “It’s not a big deal,” I said, shrugging. It was just a top after all. I made a mental note to visit the bathroom and throw some cold water at my chest, but worst case, I’d just finish the set shirtless.

But that expression on her face… I was a bastard, but I couldn’t help myself. I decided to tease her more, just to see how riled up she would get.

I could tell that she honestly meant her compliment. She had those open expression that told me she would be a shit liar – a trait I hoped life wouldn’t beat out of her. When I asked her whether she meant it or if she felt bad because she threw her drink on me, all the color drained from her face.

Fuck me, this chick was going to pass out!

I was just about to tell her that I was just teasing, when she smiled, having realized that I wasn’t out to hurt her feelings. She complimented one of our original songs that I wrote, surprising me with the fact that she could recall the lyrics. I decided that I liked her. “And if you want to know what they really put in the coffee, you could just lick yourself.”

I laughed. She had a sense of humor under all that innocence. “Since we’re friends now – and you dumped your hipster drinks on me – I feel obligated to ask you to get our CD.”

She agreed and asked to have it signed which rubbed my ego just the right way. I threw her empty cups out and practically dragged her back to the band.

Jesse was puffing on a joint, his brown eyes zeroing in on the girl as soon as she appeared behind me. Unsurprisingly, he was the first to comment. “Lukas, did you piss someone off again?” He grinned at her sheepishly, and I could tell he thought she was cute. They were closest in age too, he might’ve had a shot if he just took the goofy act down a notch.

Ash looked up at her and frowned. “And you?” The dickhead asked, which reminded me that we needed to work on his attitude if we ever wanted to have real fans. We could’ve had him go around and talk shit to the first person who actually wanted our CD. Well, aside from Ash and Jesse’s mom, who has it in her car.

“I threw my drinks at him.” The chick explained but looked like she was going to pass out again.

Thankfully, Jesse saved the situation, putting her at ease immediately. If not for his drumming skills – which were getting sweeter by the minute, not that we would ever admit it to him – we should have thought about keeping him around just to help manage his brother.

I handed the girl our CD, but before she could grab it, Jesse ripped it out of my hand to sign it. “Don’t make fun of us, okay? We’re going to be superstars!” Then, he passed it to Ash, who actually scribbled his initials on without making another rude comment. Brian signed it too, and introduce himself and the Wolfharts.

The CD got passed back in my direction, while Jesse whined about something in the background. “I’m Lukas,” I told her, feeling bad that we’ve been talking for a solid ten minutes and I didn’t even tell her my name.

“What’s your last name?” The chick surprised me by asking, her big brown eyes blinking up at me expectantly. She didn’t ask the other guys, but she wanted to know mine.

I smiled. “LaBelle, coffee girl.” I took the case from her hand and gave her one of my first autographs. I also added a little personal message, closed the booklet and handed it back to her, noting the way she jumped every time our fingers touched. “Come see us play another time.”

Fuck. The way she was blinking up at me killed me. She looked at me as if I was the center of a universe, and I couldn’t tell if she admired me as a musician or as a guy. Either way, this was a gaze I could get used to.

She hurried away before I could ask her for age and I was stuck staring after her head as it disappeared in the crowd. Someone slapped my back too hard. “Jailbait, man. Not worth it.” Ash growled, before hopping back on stage.

I glanced down at his younger brother, who was all smiles. “I thought she was cute.”

It was my turn to groan. “I know you did…”

“Do you want me to chase after her and get her number?”

I shook my head, snapping out of it. It was just one random chick, who happened to enjoy our music. It didn’t mean shit – we were going to make it big, I just knew it. Soon enough, we would have hundreds of girls just like this one giving us those big, wonder-filled eyes. “Nah, dude. Let’s get back to it.”

“She really did throw her drink at you, didn’t see?” He laughed, eyeing my ruined shirt.

“Yeah, that she did.” I sighed and ran my hand through my hair.

“Don’t worry, mom will be able to get it out. She is a magician when it comes to laundry!” He noted, before following his brother on stage.

I didn’t have the heart to kill his buzz by letting him know that coffee stains are one of the worst things that could happen to a shirt. Especially since I didn’t blot it out right away. Now I had no choice but to play the rest of the set looking like I had vomit over my front. “Damn coffee girl…” I cursed under my nose, before hopping up to follow the rest of the guys and getting lost in the music we all loved so much.

But despite the uncomfortable feeling from the burn and the wet shirt and the fact that I looked ridiculous, I couldn’t help but hope that she really would come to see us play again.

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