“Conrad turns his back for one minute, and you’re already flirting with somebody else?” Violet sneers, narrowing her eyes at me.
Dane looks at the purple-haired girl in confusion and back at me in question.
“Artsy-types girlfriend,” I tell him, without acknowledging Violet’s accusation.
“Hello?” Violet steps forward, obviously and wonderfully annoyed that I’m ignoring her, or trying to anyway.
“Who are you?” Dane asks her, giving her a weird look.
“Who are you?” she replies, turning her glare to Dane.
“I asked you first, but I’m friends with Sydney, and I’m assuming by your behavior, that you are not?”
“I barely know her, actually.”
“Then what’s your problem?”
“I just don’t like seeing her go behind my friends back.”
Okay, that’s enough! I get off my chair and step towards Violet. She’s about three or four inches taller than me, but I don’t care.
“Violet, what’s your problem? Dane is my friend, I’ve known him almost my whole life, and so your assumption is wrong. Why do you have it out for me?”
“I don’t give a crap about you,” she says, trying to sound bored.
“Really? Because you’ve been a nasty bitch to me since the moment you met me.”
Her eyes go wide as in shock.
“I have not,” is all she comes up with.
“I, and everyone else, for that matter, care to disagree.”
“Oh? And who is everyone else? That slutty friend of yours?” she snips.
I have to clench my fists at my side to keep from slapping her.
“One, don’t you ever call Desiree a slut,” I say through my teeth.
Violet just smiles and pretends to examine her nails.
“And two,” I continue, “Everyone else includes Conrad and the rest of the band.”
Violet drops her hand and gives me a look like she doesn’t believe me.
“I doubt that. If the guys had a problem with me, they would say something. They know I’m just looking out for them.”
“Okay then, why don’t you ask them yourself? Until then, how about you just leave Conrad and me alone?”
“You and Conrad. You know I find this little thing between you two hilarious. You’re just a naïve little girl, and soon, he’ll realize this and be done with you.”
“You seem pretty concerned with what Conrad does, Violet,” I hint, trying to prod her a little.
“He’s my friend,” she replies, but something in her eyes tells me there’s something else behind them.
“Anyways, I’m bored with this conversation,” she quickly adds before I can say anything else, and then she just walks away.
“Okay, so that was weird,” Dane says, once she’s out of sight.
“I was expecting it at some point,” I tell him with a shrug.
“Care to elaborate?”
Dane gives me a questioning look but decides to leave it alone. Taking the opportunity, I change the subject.
“So, I wasn’t expecting to see you until Monday at school.”
“Yeah, I wasn’t supposed to get back until tomorrow, but I took an earlier flight and got back this morning instead. My brother decided to drag me out tonight, even though I’m exhausted.”
“How’d you get in? Do you have a fake ID?” I ask him curiously since he is only seventeen.
“Nah, they didn’t even card me. How about you?”
“Des got me a fake, but I didn’t need it tonight either since I came in the back way with the band.”
Dane just nods at that, and then he yawns and does an exaggerated stretch before standing up and coming over to me.
“Anyway, Syd, I'm beat. I think I’m going to go find Chris and have him take me home,” he says as he gives me a tight hug.
“Okay, Dane. I guess I’ll see you Monday then,” I reply as he releases me.
He pauses and looks over his shoulder at the guys on stage, then back at me with a shake of his head.
“I still think it’s strange that you’re dating that guy Syd. He’s too old for you, and I’m worried you’re going to get hurt or do something you’ll regret.”
I don’t like the suggestion behind what he means by something I’ll regret, and I want to tell him to mind his own damn business. However, I decide not to, because I don’t want to start another argument tonight.
“I appreciate your concern, Dane, but I’ll be fine, I promise.”
Dane nods, looking solemn, before walking away without another word.
The set is only an hour or so, and before I know it, the guys are wrapping up and heading off stage. I get up and head to the door that leads backstage. When I get there, though, a bouncer guarding the entrance halts me.
“I’m with the band,” I tell him.
He smirks at me.
“Oh yeah? Which one would that be?”
“The one that just played. Un-Classic Heroes.”
“Sure you are, sweetheart. I’ve heard that a lot tonight.”
He shakes his head and waves me away. I take a step back, unsure of what to do now. I pull out my phone and text Conrad. Less than a minute later, the door opens behind the bouncer, and Conrad comes out.
“She’s with us,” he tells the bouncer.
The bouncer just shrugs and waves me in.
“Sorry about that,” Conrad says as we head backstage, “I should have gotten you a pass or something.”
“It’s okay,” I assure him.
“No, I feel like a shit, so let me make it up to you. We’ve already lost most of our evening being here, so let’s not waste any more and get out of here.”
He smiles that sexy smile and takes my hand in his, just as Kevin approaches us.
“Hey you two,” he greets us, beer in hand, “we’ve been invited to stay for the after-party with all of the other bands. Probably be some good networking for the band.”
“No can do Kev,” Conrad says, shaking his head, “I promised this girl a night out, and that doesn’t include a drunken party.”
I can’t help but feel guilty about keeping him from his band obligations.
“It’s okay, we can stay,” I tell them.
“See? She’s up for it,” Kevin says, grinning at me.
Conrad looks at me, then back at Kevin.
“Nope, sorry. We’re taking off. I’m sure you guys will do fine without me.”
“All right, I can take a hint,” Kevin laughs, “Have a good night, you two.”
Kevin walks away, and Conrad starts heading towards the back door again, with my hand still firmly in his.
“I really don’t mind,” I say, but feeling relieved that we’re leaving.
“You’re just being nice, Syd. I don’t want to stay either,” he says knowingly.
When we’re outside, we head to the street, and Conrad manages to flag down a cab since we had come here in the van. After a quiet ride, we arrive back at his place fifteen minutes later. The house is dark and empty, and I start to feel nervous all of a sudden.
“If you want to, we can go for another ride on the bike somewhere, or since we have a rare occurrence in which the house is quiet, we can go inside and watch a movie or something,” Conrad suggests.
The butterflies begin to swarm at the prospect of being in an empty house with Conrad.
“A movie could be good,” I tell him, my voice coming out quiet.
Conrad nods and unlocks the door to the house. We step in, and he flicks on a light. Aside from a few beer cans and glasses on the coffee table, the house appears tidy. I make my way over to the couch and sit down after removing my coat. Conrad puts his jacket away and then comes over to me.
“Can I get you anything to drink? Or eat? I was thinking of making popcorn.”
“Popcorn sounds good.”
Conrad smiles at me and then goes into the kitchen. I don’t follow him. Instead, I try to get my nerves under control.
Okay, Sydney, yes, you are all alone with Conrad in his house, but so what? Nothing has to happen. I’m sure he doesn’t plan on trying anything anyway; he’s too much of a gentleman. But what if he does? What will I do? Will I mind? Of course, I won’t. I’ve been daydreaming and fantasizing about the possibility since last week. Maybe not going all the way or anything. No, not that, not yet, but other stuff?
“I brought you a Coke,” Conrad’s voice breaks into my inner monologue.
I look up at him, and he’s got two cans of Coke in one large hand, and a bowl of microwave popcorn in the other. He clears a space on the coffee table and sets them down before taking a seat next to me.
“Is it bright in here?” He then asks and stands up again.
He switches on the lamp next to the couch and turns off the overhead light.
“Yeah,” I say, swallowing hard.
Keep it together, Sydney!
Conrad turns on the TV and proceeds to go through the On-Demand movie options. We choose one, but I’m barely paying notice. We’ve leaned back comfortably, and now Conrad’s arm is around my shoulders. I peek over at him, but his eyes are glued to the TV. I lean against him and reach for a piece of popcorn in the bowl that now sits on his lap. I can’t resist another glance at him. His side profile is a thing of beauty. He’s got a chiseled, smooth jaw-line, a long straight nose, dark, deep-set eyes, and lips that I can’t stop thinking about.
“Sydney…” he murmurs, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly.
“If you keep staring at me like that…” he doesn’t finish his sentence.
“What?” My voice is a whisper.
I want to hear the end of that sentence. I dare him to. I want him to. Slowly, Conrad turns his head to face me. I smile at him, suddenly feeling braver. His eyes lock with mine, and his face is serious. Without a word, he reaches up and brushes a few stray strands of hair away from my face- causing me to shiver, but I’m not cold. I can’t help it, I lift my hand and reach forward and run my hand through his hair, tucking it behind his ear, it’s just as soft as it looks. Before I know what’s happening, his lips are on mine. My mind catches up, and I wrap my arms tightly around his neck and kiss him back fervently. I feel myself pulling on him and leaning backward at the same time, eager to feel his weight on top of me.
“Sydney…” he whispers against my lips.
“Maybe we should,” he pauses and kisses me again, “maybe we should cool down a little bit.”
He gently puts his hands on my shoulders and breaks the kiss. Disappointment floods my veins.
“Because as much as I want this, I think we should slow it down a little, get to know each other better.”
“I’m sorry,” I murmur, feeling embarrassed for what feels like the millionth time.
“Don’t be sorry. I started it- I’m sorry.”
“You shouldn’t feel sorry either. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy it,” I bravely admit.
He almost looks bashful then.
“It’s just that you are, in fact, only eighteen years old, and I’m older than you. I don’t want to rush things with you. We have plenty of time.”
As he says this, he runs his fingers along my bare arm, sending goosebumps along my skin. I nod my understanding. I feel a strange mix of relief and frustration. Relief because I don’t know how far I’m ready to go yet, frustration because I know that it’s him that I’m willing to test my limits with.