Persephone

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CHAPTER ONE

I am twenty eight years old.

I’m working at a bar in Toronto called Tantalize. Sounds like it would be a club, but it’s not. We don’t play Top 40 shit, we have live bands every night of the week.

I fucking love this place.

I’m working the door for this pretty decent metal band. I’m a bartender, but it’s a Thursday night and we’re a little overstaffed. Plus the incredibly cute lead singer very politely asked me if one of us could take care of the door. They’ve got a five dollar cover, and none of their friends want to sit back here for them.

I check out the instruments. Well, the guitars. I love guitars. Especially the loud distorted thrashy sounds they make when used properly in a metal band. My mom hates metal. Probably why I started listening to it in high school.

Oh, I can appreciate all music. But nothing gets the heart pumping like a crunchy shredding solo over ridiculously fast power chords.

The rhythm guitarist is picking away at a Dean V, a special made knockoff of the Gibson Flying V. It’s pretty badass, but not my style. The bassist next to him… well, I don’t really give a shit about the bass. A bass is a bass unless you’re Flea. Whatever.

The lead guitarist suddenly busts out into a solo and leaps to center stage, long curly Slash-esque hair whipping around. The notes are flawless and raw coming from a Les Paul Standard. My heart skips a beat. That simple black round shape, and the perfect melodic distortion coming from it.

And damn, can this guy ever shred. I’m digging the band more and more.

We get a lot of random bands in here; most I’ve never heard of. All of them local, from soft rock to metal to this one chick that thinks she can play the guitar but really just thrums the same three chords over and over.

“How’s it going, Seph?” Marie, one of the other bartenders, yells into my ear over the music.

Yeah, I guess I’d better get the embarrassment over with. Marie called me Seph. My first name is Persephone. Thanks, Ma.

“These guys are good!” I yell back at her, and she makes a so-so motion with her hand. Marie’s more into the classic stuff. I do love classic rock; that’s where some of my very favourite guitar players come from. But there’s just something about metal that makes me… wet? Yeah, probably. Thrash makes me horny. Guilty.

Since there is no possible way that Marie and I can carry on a conversation in all of this noise, she waves to me and then meanders back to the bar. I can’t help checking out her ass. She always wears those tight jeans without pockets. And she’s got to be wearing a thong or going commando under those buggers because her cheeks are just perfectly round.

For the record, I’m not a dyke. I don’t like to put labels on things. Well, on myself, anyway. I’m a people person. Gay, straight, bi, whatever you want to call me. I’ll look at anyone and make a call on whether I’d fuck them or not. It’s as simple as that. I don’t care if you have a cock or a pussy, if I find you attractive, I will have you.

Ha. That sounded pretty egotistical, didn’t it? It’s true, though. Straight girls never even turn me down. Seriously. I’m starting to think that there is no such thing as a straight girl anymore. ‘Oh, I’m not like that’ she’ll say, until she’s riding my face like her life depends on it.

I digress.

There’s a break in the music and I look back to the stage to see the band conversing. Short break, maybe? They’re all sweaty and breathing heavy, and chugging back beers. Why are musicians so sexy? That lead singer with the pretty eyes, so soft spoken and polite off stage. And then he gets up there and looks possessed as he screams bloody murder into the microphone.

“Hey, gorgeous, what’s up in here tonight?” An incredibly tall guy stands at the door. I lean forward and smile at him. That fake in-front-of-the-camera kind of smile. The one I’ve perfected over the years to make people do whatever I want.

“Well, we’ve got a kickass band for you to enjoy.” He’ll probably hate it. He’s the kind of white bread that wants to look like he just pulled off a drive by shooting. We don’t get a lot of ‘gangsta’ bitches in here, but every once in awhile one gets lost.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to weasel money out of him before he realizes what kind of band this is. Am I a bitch? Probably. Do I care? No, not really.

“I have to pay?” He raises an eyebrow at me. I resist the urge to roll my eyes.

“Yeah, but it’s only five bucks, and this band is awesome.” I turn my smile into a sly little smirk, as if I’m letting him in on a secret. “Honestly, they’re worth like forty bucks, you’re getting a good deal. Come on, it’s cheaper than a beer.” He still looks hesitant. Cheap fucker. “Look, you’re going to get me in trouble. I promised these guys I’d do a good job over here. I’ve got a quota to fill.”

How am I so good at lying?

“Alright sweetie, but just for you.” He grins widely and hands me a ten. “Can I put the other five towards a beer for you?”

“No thanks, I can’t drink on the job.” I shrug and look thankfully regretful. Years of acting classes make my life one big fucking performance.

“When are you done then, gorgeous?” He’s leaning right over the table now. Probably has a really nice view of my cleavage down the tight black v neck I’m wearing. But I’m too good at this game to adjust the way I’m sitting. Let him look. It’s not like he’s going to get it.

“Too late to be drinking.” I hand him back his change and he slips it into his pocket slowly. Take the hint, buddy.

“We don’t have to drink.” His voice is lower now. Who the hell does this bastard think he is? Assholes come in every colour, size and shape.

“Look, I’m really not interested.” I smile my best thanks-but-get-away-from-me smile and try to turn my attention back to the band. They’re still standing around taking their little break. Please, hurry up guys, once you start playing I guarantee this guy will high tail it out of here.

If not, I might have to smack the bitch. And my boss told me just yesterday that if I continue to hit the customers, he’s going to have to fire me. Which is understandable.

There are just way too many douchebags in this city.

“Come on, sweetie, I’ll show you the time of your life.” He licks his lips. Literally. What a sleaze.

Did you ever have to sing that song in elementary school on Remembrance Day, Where Have All The Flowers Gone? It was a pretty little song, about war of course, but the first verse has always stuck with me. Particularly one section. Where have all the flowers gone? The girls have picked them every one… when will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

See, my flowers have been gone for a long time. And every time a new one pokes up from the soil, I fucking pick it.

When will I ever learn?

Apparently, now isn’t the time.

“Listen, asshole.” I lean forward, eyes defiant. “You’d have to rape me to get close to this pussy. And even when you got there, you wouldn’t even know what to do with it.”

Somebody please, please remind me not to insult a wigger’s sexual abilities.

Ever.

Before I can even think, the strong fucker’s grabbed me by the hair and slammed my head so hard against the table I can see stars.

“We’ll see about that, bitch.” He grunts in my ear and drags me to my feet. My brain is telling me to kick him in the nuts, elbow him in the throat, knee him in the stomach, anything, before he gets me out the door.

But of course, my head is all fuzzy from its nice visit to tabletop city.

And then, I’m on the ground. There’s no fist entangled in my hair, and when my vision clears, I’m staring up into a pair of gorgeous golden eyes that are brimming with genuine concern.

“Are you okay?” It’s the lead guitarist, the one with the Slash hair. He’s got just enough dark stubble to give him that manly scruffy look, and I feel warm.

“Yeah.” I blink at him. “The only thing that hurts is my pride.” My voice sounds distant. There’s a buzzing sound, like guitar strings that were picked long ago, and I look to my right to see the Les Paul laying next to me, still vibrating.

Beside it, a very motionless man with a bloody, smashed in face. Marie starts shrieking something and tears into the back room, probably to call 911. I’m dazed, and simply turn back to my saviour.

“Jesus Christ, Dex.” The bassist is checking the guy’s pulse.

Scruffy Slash-hair ignores his friend. “Are you sure you’re okay?” He asks again. I just stare into him.

At least until we’re bathed in a blue and red glow, and the pigs grab him by the shoulders.

Then I snap into overdrive.

“Hey!” I cry, but there’s so many of them. “Hey, he just saved my ass, STOP!” They’re shoving him in the back of a cop car.

“Ma’am, relax, please, we’ll get to the bottom of this.” A female pig puts a hand on my shoulder.

When will I ever learn?

I break her nose.

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