Chapter 30

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Maude felt an acute sense of disappointment.

The restaurant, Ambrosia, was very nice, but the young girl felt she couldn’t breathe. The low square dining tables were covered with elegant, pale pink silk tablecloth. At the far right of the room, a stern-looking pianist was playing softly on a grand piano. The waiters were standing upright in their stern black-and-white uniforms, their bow-ties stuck perfectly under their pointy chins. To be sure, they never dropped their plates, Maude thought, smiling at the memory of Jonathan’s short, but tragic, waitressing career.

“What are you smiling about?” Thomas asked as he looked at the menu.

“Oh, I was just thinking of a friend of mine who also happens to be the worst waiter to ever set foot in a restaurant.”

She looked around. Couples were whispering over their lit candles and glasses of wine.  Maude’s mind wandered back to Las Fajitas where everything was lively and wonderfully noisy, and she sighed.

“I don’t really know what to choose off the menu. Any suggestions?”

“The shrimp is a very nice starter. You could try that.”

“Hum,’ Maude mused. “Are you telling me it’s good when actually it’s spicy, and you just want to take my picture while my mouth is in flames?”

Thomas looked at her blankly.

“No, I just meant it’s good. Ambrosia doesn’t serve any spicy dishes,” he added matter-of-factly. “Thank goodness for that.”

Maude’s face fell, but Thomas didn’t see it as he was busy waving towards the waiter.

Maude almost wished the shrimp were spicy, but, as Thomas had said, they were deliciously stale. At about halfway through their course, Maude saw a tall, blonde young man enter the restaurant alone. Maude held her breath as she looked at the man’s face. She could see only half of his face, but felt sure it was Matt.  Her pulse quickened as the young man talked to waiter who then directed him toward his table. He walked past Maude and Thomas.

He wasn’t Matt.

Maude couldn’t understand why she felt an immense wave of disappointment, but she didn’t have time to analyze the feeling because she felt her phone vibrate.

It was a text message from Jazmine which said:

Turn on Z100 now! Hurry.

“I just received the weirdest text from Jazmine. I’ve got to go outside for a couple of minutes. Do you mind?”

She hurried outside without waiting for an answer. She turned on the radio on her cell phone and went to Z100 as Jazmine had indicated.

She put the radio to her ear, but almost dropped it when she heard the song:

New York’s the place to see

 Paris the place to be

Paris beats New York any day

Just give up and walk away

 

Her song, “Paris Versus New York City,” was on the radio. But how was that even possible?  It wasn’t her voice! She hadn’t even recorded the single yet.

Suddenly Maude let out a small cry as she recognized the voice.

It was Lindsey’s voice, singing HER lyrics!

Maude’s head started to spin and felt her legs would give in under her. This couldn’t be happening. She must, she must be dreaming! How could Lindsey have known about this song? The song continued and the male part was sung. Once again, the voice sounded oddly familiar. However, it wasn’t Matt’s voice. As she saw Thomas walking towards her with her coat, her eyes widened in disbelief.

Thomas’s voice was on the radio, singing Matt’s part!

Thomas had almost reached her at this point and hurried anxiously toward her when he saw her face carved in a mask of utter shock.

“Oh my God,” she choked, stepping away from him as he reached out for her. “Don’t touch me.”

“What’s wrong?” he asked worriedly.

“What’s wrong? What’s wrong!” she shrieked. “You stole my song, Thomas!”

He started to say something, but she interrupted him.

“Don’t lie to me! It’s on the radio right now! Oh my God, is that why you wanted us to have dinner tonight? Because you knew it would be released today? Is this some sick joke?”

“No, Maude, listen,” he said, trying to reach out for her again, but not succeeding. “This isn’t a joke. I didn’t know they would release this song tonight. It was supposed to be released in a couple of weeks. I—”

“That’s your excuse?!” she cried in disbelief. “You didn’t know the song you stole from me was going to be airing tonight! Are you freaking kidding me? You stole my song, Thomas! I thought we were friends at the least! How could you?”

“Maude, please, calm down. Let me explain!”

“What the hell is there for you to explain? You betrayed my trust, Thomas. You lied to my face. I sang that song to you to get an honest opinion. And you used it and recorded it! With LINDSEY LINTON!”

Maude rushed back into the restaurant to grab her bag. Thomas followed her, calling her name.

“Maude, listen. I was supposed to sign a contract with Soulville Records. I was the one who was supposed to work with James Baldwin!” he cried.

“What?” Maude whirled around, not even caring that the other customers were starting to look at them.

“Before Mr. Baldwin found you in Paris, Soulville Records was ready to sign a contract with me. Then he found you, and he fought for you. They dropped me like I was nothing. It was supposed to be my big break, Maude.”

“Why didn’t you tell me who you were? Why didn’t you explain?” she shouted. “I wouldn’t have rubbed Soulville in your face! I wouldn’t have talked so much about my album! God, I feel so stupid!” Maude cried out. “Is that why you stole my song? Out of revenge!? Is that why you became my friend? What did I ever do to you, Thomas?”

“When I brought this song to Glitter through Lindsey, they knew it would be a hit. They offered me a contract. I’m with Glitter Records now.”

 Maude turned away disgustedly. She grabbed her bag and started to leave the table, but Thomas caught her arm and held on tight.

“Please, don’t go. Let me explain,” he pleaded.

She looked at his hand, feeling his fingers tighten around her arm.

“You repulse me,” she said coldly. “Take your hand off my arm right now or you’ll regret it,” she warned him, her eyes dark with pain.

Thomas slowly unlatched his fingers. She snatched her coat from his other arm and started for the exit, head held high.

“Matt knew,” he declared, nastily, not wanting to go down alone.

Maude stopped in her tracks, stunned.

“He knew who I was and deliberately kept it from you,” he snarled.

Maude remained silent. Then, she lifted her head a little higher and rushed outside in the cold night.

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