7-Georgiana's Jazz Bar (Edited)

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**Picture of Michael Thorne is now available ------------------------------------------------------>

It was an unseasonably warm spring afternoon when Crystal and I nervously walked into Georgiana’s Jazz Bar. We ambled past a girl clad completely in black reading a poem to the beat of a drum on the small stage on the far wall as we made our way to the table of businessmen sitting in the back corner.

Sarah, the Tinkerbell look-alike from Chris’ office, had called me the Friday afternoon following my Nate drama to schedule a lunch meeting with “the boss” for the following week. If I was a betting woman, I'd have been willing to bet Chris had decided he’d rather not speak to me after that night.

Part of me didn't understand why he had gotten as upset as he had since we hardly knew each other, but on the whole I understood that the reasons were irrelevant. What mattered the most was that his heart had been in the right place when he'd tried to defend me and I could never fault him for that. I also couldn't deny the little flutter I experienced when I thought of how I'd felt when he'd tried to defend me. It didn't didn't change the fact that I disliked it when guys fought over girls, but the protective glint I'd caught in his eyes made me realize how much I liked the idea of Chris being the one to defend me. It was weird. It was contradictory. It was confusing as heck.

I pushed all thoughts of him aside when we came to a stop in front of the table. There were three elderly gentlemen dressed in suits sitting in a crescent at the circular table with three placemats and silverware sitting across three unoccupied chairs.

They turned to look at us and a slightly weathered gentleman who looked to be about 50 spoke up, “Elizabeth Andrews and Crystal Nakamura? Michael Thorne, president and CEO of Oceanside Talent Agency.”

The two men sitting beside him introduced themselves as Gibson and Anthony respectively. They were the department heads for Public Relations and Marketing. I glanced down at the vacant seat next to me with the placemat and silverware, then turned my questioning gaze to Mr. Thorne. “Are we missing someone?”

“Afternoon Mr. Thorne. Gibson. Tony. Ladies.”  The voice that I had heard countless times over the years had me sitting up straighter as I turned slightly in my chair to face the latest arrival.

“Chris.” We replied in unison as he sat in the empty chair next to me.

As if he'd been waiting for Chris's arrival, a waiter approached our table and asked if we were ready to order. The four men all replied, “The usual,” which suggested that they were what the wait staff liked to call "frequent flyers." After Crys and I placed our orders the waiter was gone.

“Chris has told me a lot about you ladies. In fact he swears you sing like angels. I don’t usually make a habit of meeting the talent until after they’re signed on, because I have a staff for such things, but I found myself curious and unable to resist you.” Although he was addressing us both, every time he said the word “you,” he looked at me. I couldn’t help looking down in embarrassment; I never could take a compliment very well. From the corner of my eye, I could see Chris shifting in his chair uncomfortably.

Gibson spoke next. “We’d like to hear you sing a song before lunch gets here. We chose this particular venue so we could not only see you perform, but also to see how you handle the pressure of the unknown. It also helps that there is a live audience. True talent does not just lie in the actual ability; there a hundreds of singers that have made it famous living on stage presence alone. Sound is easy to alter and can be cleaned up in a studio.”

I shot Crystal an alarmed look, but there was something in her eyes that calmed me and renewed my determination. “Give us five minutes.” We replied in unison.

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