Unstitched(4)

By: Jacquie Underdown



I narrowed my eyes. ‘What?’

‘She’s standing over near the exit. Looks like she’s waiting for you.’

Heart at presto staccato, I struggled to control my reactions. But this wasn’t the time to be screwing up my plans well before they’d even begun to be put in place. Semi-composed, I lifted my eyes, captured hers, and smiled wide. She smiled back.

Wow, she was more stunning than the dim lighting inside the bar could do her justice: long, chocolate hair falling in waves down her back, silky white skin. The street light was pouring over her, highlighting every curve of her body.

She walked towards me, her features tense with concentration, trying not to sway, and I had to bite back a laugh. She was simply adorable.

‘Hello,’ she said when barely a metre away and looked up at me, her eyes sparkling.

I had to force-feed my lungs breath. I rested a hand against the van behind me for balance. ‘Hi.’

She grinned and looked down at her feet, then those brown beauties met my eyes again and she said, holding out her hand, ‘I’m Anthea. Anthea Lewis.’

I took her hand in mine, shook it. Should it feel this good to touch her flesh? Skin on skin — electric. I squared my shoulders back, tried to hide my breathlessness. ‘Good to meet you, Anthea. I’m Lucas Ryan.’

‘You probably hear this a lot, and I apologise if you have, but I think you’re an amazing singer. Just brilliant. And your band, they’re amazing, too.’

I grinned wider, her drunken lisp was outrageously cute. ‘Thanks.’

She was silent for a while, rubbed the toe of her shoe across the bitumen ground and swayed a little too far to the left.

I caught her by the waist and swallowed a gasp as her warmth swamped my hands.

Anthea giggled, reinstating her balance. ‘Woh. Sorry. I’ve had a few drinks and I’m…’ She looked down at my hands on her hips with parted lips.

I breathed her in, sweet as honey, and dizzied. With all my energy, I dragged my palms from her hips and swallowed a sigh.

She stood taller. ‘I…ah…work in public relations, and we need bands all the time for functions. I think you’d be perfect for me. I mean…um.’ Anthea gently pressed her teeth into her bottom lip, her cheeks colouring. ‘I mean, you and your band would be perfect for me…my…the company I work for.’ She cleared her throat. ‘Do you have a business card or something so I can give you a call maybe?’

I hesitated.

‘Only if you want to. It’s totally up to you,’ she said quickly, turning her body slightly away and shoving her hands in her jean pockets.

‘No. I do. It’s just that, you see — I don’t have a business card.’

Anthea frowned. ‘Oh.’ She reached into her clutch bag, rummaged through it until she found a card, pulled it out and handed it to me. ‘Take this. It has my work details. You can drop in, or call your info through.’

I smiled, took the card from her fingertips and pushed it into my pocket. ‘Thank you.’

She grinned. ‘I really look forward to hearing from you.’

I nodded, smiled, but deep inside my cells were jittering, ignited.

Anthea turned to walk away, stopped and spun to face me again. ‘By the way, what’s the name of your band?’

‘Perennial.’

Her eyes narrowed. ‘Perennial? What? Like plants and flowers?’

I grinned. ‘No.’

She shrugged. ‘I don’t know of any other definitions.’

‘It’s more of a message than a name,’ I said.

‘A message? For who?’

‘A girl.’

She released a breathy sigh through those sumptuous lips. ‘It’s always about a girl.’

She was spot on and I laughed. ‘For me, yes. It’s always been and always will be about this girl.’

‘Why can’t you just tell this girl the message?’

‘If I told her now, she wouldn’t be able to see it. She’ll only understand it when she’s ready to understand it.’

‘And what will happen when she understands it?’ Anthea asked.

‘She’ll know that I know more than she assumes I do.’

She stared at me for a moment, half her mouth curled with a grin. ‘Well, good luck with that.’

‘Thanks.’

‘And, enjoy the rest of your evening.’

‘You, too. It really was a pleasure to meet you.’

She smiled and lowered her head. ‘Good night, Lucas.’

***

Anthea

I flopped back against the seat and closed my eyes to the darkened city sliding past the window. My head spun, my stomach a churning cocktail of acid, disillusionment and white liquor. Rachel placed a hand on my thigh.

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