Chapter One

79.7K 695 101

As the rock band finished their set, the loud, clashing sonic storm gave way to equally loud pop music broadcasting over the club’s speakers. Brighton wove her way through the crowd, her drink sloshing and spilling as she bumped into hipsters in their snug faux-leather jackets, boy-rockers in their sister’s jeans, and girls hoping to score groupie status by the night’s end. It disgusted her.

But she’d led Kira, her cousin Ian’s sweetheart, along for a girls' night out while he attended a bachelor party for one of his best friends. She invited Baskia, her other cousin, because if nothing else, Baskia knew how to party.

Brighton would have preferred scaling a skyscraper and watching the tapestry of summer stars blink on and off all night. A black and white classics marathon or a foreign film would have been good too, along with a bottle of wine, or checking out a gallery and dreaming up gorilla art. Even the Modern Textiles exhibit at the Guggenheim and a night spent sober seemed more appealing than the rock club.

But her mother had free tickets and clucked at her missing one of the top, emerging British bands on their first major US tour—her mother’s, sentiments, not hers. She’d wanted to say an adamant no flippin’ way. It was her mother, Claire, who had a profound interest in British music. Claire was intent on subtly encouraging her daughter to relive her youth as the girlfriend, and then wife, of a famous musician. Brighton would rather run clear across the Brooklyn Bridge and dive into the water below than have any more reminders of her dad.

Arguing with Claire was never worth it; it left her feeling regretful, empty, and achy all over. Brighton had dealt with enough grief already.

For Kira and Ian’s brief visit, Brighton opted to play the good hostess—forcing her scowl into a smile.

Thankfully, they’d missed most of the opening band, and the club was big enough that she hung back by the bar and let Baskia lead Kira into the fray.

The pumping crowd was not conducive to kicking back with a cocktail. Brighton put the empty glass on the lacquered bar and waited for the bartender. A guy with greasy black hair tried to catch her eye. She looked away, not in any mood to deal with drunken dudes.

“Hey,” he hollered over the laughter, loud conversation, and auto-tuned pop garbage.

Brighton secured the bartender with laser-beam eyes, hoping for a quick escape.

“Another martini?” the bartender asked.

She smirked: thankful her fake-ID worked every time.

The lurker nudged her with his elbow. “I like a girl who isn’t afraid to get dirty,” he said, nodding at the single olive left on the skewer in her glass.

“I’ll take a Corona, please,” Brighton called to the bartender, not wanting to give the greasy-guy any ideas.

“Muy bueno,” greasy-guy said.

“No gracias,” she answered. She paid for her beer, eager to get away, but not interested in pushing through the group of people edging to get as close as possible to the stage while they waited for the headlining band to go on.

Greasy-guy followed. “Are those space pants? Because your ass is out of this world,” he called over the din.

Brighton whipped around, her flame of red hair almost lashing him. “If you don’t leave me alone, your ass is going to be out of this world.”

He sunk back into the crowd, leaving Brighton bristling with annoyance. She spotted a vacant spot halfway across the room, wanting to be alone. The circuitous route brought her past couples, couples-to-be, and obvious one-nighters. To make the moment tolerable, she thought about how in another week she’d be on the road, on her own, her car carrying her toward freedom. She’d nearly planned the entire route, with room for spontaneity, should the mood strike. If she knew anything about herself, once free from the fetters of the City, it often did.

In the DesertRead this story for FREE!