Chapter One

580 25 5

Swirling the ice lazily around her empty glass, Caroline hummed the previous act's catchy rhythms as she waited for Pete to be free. Toxic was busy tonight. It usually was on the show nights, when there could be gigs booked until five in the morning or only enough to last until ten o'clock. She glanced around the bar, looking at all the people Toxic had managed to wrangle inside its band poster-covered walls with the bracelet of records strung near the ceiling. Her gaze flickered from face to face, drinking in the features of the others, not one intriguing her. She sighed. It didn't look like she'd be meeting anyone interesting that night, at least for now.

Caroline suddenly switched hands, passing the handle of the spoon adeptly from one hand to the other. Her fingers quickly caught up and began to make the spoon dance around inside her glass once more while she drummed the other hand on the counter, trying to tap the cramp out of her fingers. She glanced up at the stage and frowned when she still didn't see anyone. It was nearly midnight and Pete had promised she would be listening to music through all hours of the night. She was just about to switch hands again when the glass was swiped off the counter, spoon and all.

"Having fun there, Ro?" Pete asked, holding her glass in front of him so it was inches from her nose. She smiled as she reached out and took her spoon back.

"Define fun, Pete," she replied, punctuating her request with a flourish of her spoon. "When's the next act?"

"Soon, I'd imagine." he replied. He glanced up at the stage and frowned upon seeing its state of emptiness.

"Bryan!" Pete yelled over his shoulder while he handed Caroline one of Toxic's famous non-alcoholic fruit juice drinks. She dipped her pinky finger into it and then licked the juice off of it before sticking her spoon inside it.

"Poison apple?" she asked as Pete turned back around, polishing a glass.

"You're getting better at identifying these," he said with a grin. "Where is that boy? I'm going to skin him alive if he's fooling around." he said, the grin dropping from his face like a plate falling off the table. He glanced around him, his brows furrowing in frustration and exasperation.

"Skin me? In front of all these wonderful people? I think you'd lose business pretty quickly," a tall boy said, walking over with a loping, confident gait. "Then again, Ro isn't 'wonderful' is she?"

"Hey!" Caroline said, punching the other boy in the chest as he stopped beside her chair.

"Be nice, kitten," Bryan told her, pushing her lightly as he leaned on the counter. "You required my valuable assistance?" he asked with an impish smile.

"Kitten?" Caroline asked peevishly, glaring at him.

"Look at the stage and listen. What is there a lack of?" Pete asked, waving his hands towards the stage. Bryan glanced over and then looked back at Pete.

"They're still setting up," Bryan said. "They said they'd be on in a few more minutes when I asked them."

"Then go announce that it will be a little bit before the performance starts, otherwise I may start losing people." Pete grumbled, shooing Bryan away with a soiled rag. Bryan quickly swiped Caroline's glass off the bar's polished surface and took a swig.

"Mmm, poison apple. You better enjoy that for me, kitten." he said putting her glass down before he made a mad dash towards the stage to escape Caroline's retaliation and Pete's wrath as both scowled at him.

"Why on earth is he calling me kitten?" Caroline asked, following him with her emerald green eyes as he wove his way through the crowds of people.