BEHIND THE LIGHTS

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Chapter 18

November 4th, 2016
Munich, Germany
Set me on fire - Flyleaf

“Fuck! You’re right! I saw it, but we were hanging out and thought about texting you later... Then, I forgot. Sorry,” he explained.

Knowing they were participating in the Battle of the Bands, she should have felt thrilled, but she had been grumpy for days. Frustrated with her own stupidity, no matter what she did, she couldn’t get him out of her head. And now, with just a few words, all that vanished.

“It’s fine, it’s not like my life depends on your answer,” she said, trying to shrug it off. She wanted to be mad at him, but he seemed honest and it wasn’t as if that hadn’t happened to her before.

“Of course.” He smirked. “But you still wanted to talk to me because you hated the idea of not having me around.”

His attitude suddenly changed from sarcastic, acid to the teasing one she had seen before. And there it was again, that insolent smile.

“You wished.” Leah rolled her eyes. Even if he was right, she would never confess to his face, he didn’t need any more ammunition to grow his ego.

“So, if I wasn’t a musician, you’d have taken me home that day, huh?”

Leah was drinking the last sip of her beer, but the moment he uttered those words, the foaming liquid went up her nose as she snorted. Choking and trying to keep the drink inside of her, she covered her nose and mouth with a hand. How could he be so arrogant and... right?

It wasn’t that she used to take men home the first day she met them but well, with the likes of him, she would, of course, make an exception.

“Here.” He chuckled as he handed her a Kleenex.

She took it and cleaned her nose—the fucking beer had actually gone out. Way to get your nostrils clean. “You’re a fucking idiot,” she told him when she could speak.

Søren burst out laughing. “Says the woman that looks like a beer tap right now.”

Leah bit the inside of her cheek to try to hold the grin, showing him the middle finger as she walked towards the bar to get another drink and to get away from him. “Fuck you.”

She heard him laugh again. How could something so simple be so sexy?

“Can I have another beer?”

“You sure?” the waiter asked. He wasn’t looking after her but his bar—it wouldn’t be the first time he had to clean a mess she made in the bathroom.

“Ben, I’m paying you, ain’t I?”

“You’ll be the one cleaning this time if you end up puking in the sink again.”

“Fair enough.” She grinned.

She didn’t used to do that kind of stuff, but when she got very drunk, she turned into a mess, the complete opposite of feminine and cute. But it was all Chris’s fault as he was always challenging her to do stupid things. The other monkeys didn’t help either. Her need to catch up with them might have something to do with it too.

As she waited for Ben to pour her pint, she turned around. The Viking that used to look like a scary beast on stage was cracking up, literally. He had his head thrown back, a hand on his chest. As imposing as he seemed with that gigantic height of his, his warm green eyes always made him look so kind and approachable.

Ian was laughing whole-heartedly too, brows slightly creased together, squinting as he patted Marc’s shoulder. Even Alex was all over the floor, soft wrinkles forming under his eyes, making his usually serious expression shine with a different light.

With a smile on her face, wondering what Marc could have said to make them guffaw like that, her gaze shifted to Søren, who was talking with Chris. He was relaxed, smiling, completely in his element. Looking at him, the world stopped, blurring as his presence absorbed all the light around.

Leah tilted her head and ogled him, top to bottom. It was weird seeing him in that kind of outfit, grey shirt tucked inside the black jeans, but he still looked like a rock star. Maybe it was the long hair, or the sleeves rolled up showing the blackout forest tattoo on his right forearm and the Japanese one on the left, or the piercings on his ears. Whatever it was, he still had that enigmatic aura around him, something that screamed dangerous, interesting, and exciting.

Before she could hide her brazen stare, his eyes found hers and trapped her in that burning ocean she was dying to explore. It was like the door to another dimension opening before her, tempting her with the most delicious pleasures she would ever experience.

His expression changed, darkening as his lips slightly curled up. He knew what she was thinking. He knew she had just undressed him, delighting herself with his touch in her imagination.

Maybe—No!
You can’t risk your sanity for a man.

“Here you go!” Ben said as he placed her beer on the counter.

“Thanks.”

“Didn’t know you were friends with them, you could have brought them here before, you know? That’d be such great publicity for my bar.”

“We just met a few weeks ago and bumped into them today.”

“You can bring them here whenever you want.” He laughed, gesturing towards the other side of the bar.

Leah turned around and realized that the bar was more crowded than it used to be those at that hour—someone had probably posted something on their social media accounts. People were drinking and enjoying time with friends, most of them blatantly staring at Dark Omen’s members.

Two women had approached Søren and her best friend, eating them alive with their eyes, licking their lips and all as they talked.

What are you, fucking she-wolves in heat?

Leah hated the way she felt just then, wishing that Chris took both of them with him even if that meant hurting someone else.

He had never confessed such a thing and he had a girlfriend—or something like that—but Leah knew it. She knew Marc had a thing for Chris, the way he looked at him with that sparkling love and silent pain shining in his eyes. It wasn’t a secret that he was bisexual but, would he ever admit out loud his feelings for the guitar player? How much of that could a person take before exploding?

She shook her head and took a deep breath before drinking a long sip from her beer. She had to stop thinking about all that stupid shit that would get her nowhere. Søren was single and could do whatever the fuck he wanted.

“Hey,” Erik said as he stopped beside her.

“Hey... Where were you?”

“Talking with Julia.”

“Hm...” Leah grinned. “You’re into that phase, huh?”

“Shut up! I was just asking her if she wanted to stop by because we were all here, but she said she had to wake up too early tomorrow...”

“So... You’re leaving.” She playfully elbowed him in the ribs.

“Yeah...” He chuckled. “Just came back to say goodbye.”

Since they had started seeing each other, Erik and Julia had been all lovey-dovey. They weren’t very obvious when they were all together, but they had been sleeping at each other’s house almost twice a week and Julia was more than happy with him and the way he used his soldier or other parts of his body on hers.

Leah had tried to ignore those details when she started talking about him, but two-thirds of what she said was to praise his skills so it was pretty hard to avoid. Apparently, the gentleman wasn’t such when they were in the bedroom.

“Did you two talk?” Erik asked her as they walked towards the rest.

“Kind of.” She shrugged.

“And...?”

“He said he saw the message but was busy and forgot to answer later.”

“Why are you so moody then?”

“I’m not moody!”

“Tell that to the wrinkle between your brows.” He laughed as they walked towards the guys still playing pool.

“Hey!” Chris exclaimed as he saw her, making her stop when he put an arm around her shoulders.

The chicks that were talking to them instantly glared at her, but she didn’t care, she was used to that look. Being the only girl in a group of men the lightest she got was bitch. It affected her at the beginning, but she was used to that shit now.

“Hey...” She gave them a faint smile, watching the brunette touching Søren’s arm, clinging on it like a fucking baby koala. The other one was looking at them with a drink in her hand.

“So, Chris was telling me about this band you had when you were in high school?” Søren asked out of the blue.

“Why did you tell him?” Her head jerked towards her friend.

“We were talking about music before and our bands and that kinda slipped out, I don’t know.” Chris shrugged, grinning like a kid.

“Yeah, he just told me how it was some kind of punk rock thing?” He smirked.

“Yeah, so what?” She narrowed her eyes at him.

“Nothing! I liked that high-waist, pleated black skirt, but my favorite thing was your copperish hair, no doubt!” He laughed as Leah’s eyes opened wide.

“Jesus, Chris! Did you show him that picture?”

It was a photo of their first band when they were sixteen and so much into the alternative, punk rock style. Her hair was shorter and she used to wear bangs similar to those of the eighties. Dark clothes, fishnets, heavy belts, and big combat boots. Chris didn’t look much better. He used to wear his hair in a crest—green.

She wasn’t ashamed of her past nor their looks, but letting Søren see something so personal and intimate for her was a different thing. That band they had and the shitty music they played—they were awful—was what helped her keep her shit together when her mother died. It was such a hard blow, it almost destroyed her family, and music made her feel connected to her since she was the one that taught her to sing.

“Don’t worry, you were still cute,” Søren said.

“Shut up!” Leah laughed nervously. “If we’re going to talk about the past we could talk about those years when your hair was growing, but you looked like an emo prince.”

“You’ve googled me, huh?”

“Busted...” Chris sang in a low voice.

“W—?” Everyone had googled their favorite bands at some point, done some research on them, drooled while looking at their pictures... It wasn’t that weird, right? “Like you haven’t done that too!” She poked her finger into Chris’s chest. “I’m sure you did it too with your favorite bands when you weren’t such a conceited, presumptuous, famous metalhead!” she added, pointing at Søren.

“Such big words!” he said and both men burst out laughing.

“What are you laughing at?” Erik asked as he approached them.

“Her.” Chris pointed at Leah.

“Erik!” She whined.

“I don’t want anything to do with this!” He chuckled. “I’m leaving, dude,” he told Chris.

“So early?”

“I gotta work tomorrow, you know?”

“Yeah, and fuck tonight,” Leah mumbled.

“Well, that too!” He laughed. “See you on Sunday?”

“Sure.” Chris nodded. “Night, man,” he said as he gave him one of those hugs with one arm as they shook hands.

“It’s been a pleasure to meet you,” Erik held his hand out to Søren. Definitely the more mature, collected of all of them.

“Same.” He nodded.

“Night!” Erik waved his hand as he walked away.

“It’s getting kinda late, we should get going too,” the brunette hanging from Søren’s arm said in a seductive tone of voice as she caressed his chest with her free hand.

“Yeah...” the blonde, who had been there standing like a mannequin the whole time, answered as she looked at her friend.

“You coming with us?” the baby koala with red, Botoxed lips asked the men, ignoring Leah as if she wasn’t there.

Am I fucking invisible?

“As fun as this has been, I have someone,” Chris lied.

“She doesn’t have to know...” the other one bit on her bottom lip.

Leah rolled her eyes, hand tight around her pint as she crossed her free arm over her chest. Siliconized barbies desperate for a fuck with two metalheads. Could those women be any more cliché? Okay, maybe they were hot and not that artificial. Whatever.

“Sorry, not that kind of guy...”

“Aw... That’s so sad.”

“What about you?” the other one asked Søren.

“Sorry to ruin your night, girls, but as much as I’d like to, I’m flying early in the morning.”

“Well... If you change your mind...” She opened her purse and took a pen out. “Give me a call,” she said as she wrote her telephone number on the back of his hand.

“Sure.” He nodded.

“Bye!” they walked away, hips swaying.

“Why did you reject them?” Leah asked as she turned around, watching them as they walked up the stairs.

“It’s friends’ night,” Chris declared. “And I didn’t want to leave you alone!” he added as he hugged her, squeezing her tight.

“Dude! I can’t breathe!” She slapped his arm.

“Besides, they’re not as interesting as you,” Søren commented, a stupid grin on his face. He was playing with her. Again.

“Okay... I think Marc was calling me before...” Chris said as he moved towards the others, leaving them alone.

“Can you be any more obvious?” Leah shouted.

“I could, but you’d kill me!” He grinned mischievously.

“Jesus... I hate him.”

“What? You wanted me to leave with them?” the netalhead taunted as he crossed his arms over his chest, muscles flexing and tightening under his shirt.

“It’s your life, do whatever you want.” Leah shrugged; she didn’t want to go there. “Ugh! This is disgusting.” She scrunched her nose up when she sipped from her beer, which had turned kind of tepid.

Søren chuckled and shook his head. “Let me get you another one.”

“You don’t need to.” She followed him to the bar.

“I want to.” He flashed her a smile, looking at her over his shoulder.

It was one of those panty-dropping smiles that made her heart race and her body throb with a desire she hadn’t felt in years.

Holy Jesus on a bike!

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