Leon gives me the look he knows I can't say no to. "Aww, don't go home Cain. Come to the bar. Have a drink. Have a few drinks. We haven't seen each other in ages."
"We've been recording together for the last two days."
"I mean for a proper catch-up. You need to tell me about that guy from yesterday, with the birds. Come on, love. I promised everyone champagne and it's rude to turn down champagne."
"OK, fine, since there's champagne involved and you're a very good bad influence."
He holds my coat for me to put on and it's jarring, but in a nice way, because most people don't have manners like that. I'm fine with him, but I don't want to sit at a table full of other people who are more talented than me, more interesting than me, and have to try to seem interesting to them. At least Leon already knows I'm not interesting.
He's closing up the studio so I tell him I'll meet him outside. He tells everyone else to go ahead and we'll meet them there. They look at each other like there's something going on, but there isn't. There never has been. It's not like that.
I'm still feeling twitchy from the pills I took earlier to help me focus, but it's alright because I have a cocktail in my make-up bag that'll fix it. I break everything in half so it's layered but without the full-strength hit. I still need to be able to talk to people and pretend to be interesting.
Leon's waiting for me when I get outside. I try to smile, but everything's kicking in and I'm not sure how good I am at smiling right now.
He lights a joint. "Smoke?"
We walk without talking, passing the joint back and forth. When we get to the bar, he holds the door open for me and follows with a hand on my back. "Come and order with me. Tell me how you've been."
"I'm fine, really." I'm not fine.
"You weren't fine on the phone last week."
"I know, but you got me at a bad time. I'm fine now. Seriously. Didn't I seem OK in the studio?"
"Sort of, but I know what you're like. You always seem OK until you don't, you know? You're good at pretending."
"Are you calling me a liar?"
"Not entirely. And if you say you're alright, I'll believe you, mostly. But I want you to look me in the eye and say it. OK?"
I'm about to do it, grudgingly, but the bartender breaks into our conversation to take our order. I'm saved again by a man who stops behind Leon, puts a hand on his shoulder and whispers something in his ear. Leon looks kind of embarrassed, which I've never seen before. I'm immediately intrigued.
He hugs the man, not in that back-slapping macho way people do, but for real, because he's not a back-slapping macho kind of person. "Stop that nonsense and behave yourself. I'd like you to meet Cain Jacobsen. Cain's an ex-student, a current friend, and a very talented musician who has survived being in a recording studio with me for the last two days. Cain, Dr Finn Harvey and I went to university together an embarrassingly long time ago and we now keep in touch sporadically and occasionally run into each other in bars."
God, he looks so good. His eyes are pure filth. I want him.
He steps around Leon and holds out a hand to me. "Lovely to meet you, Cain."
I shake his hand and there's more to it than that, but I can't explain it. "Lovely to meet you too, Dr Harvey."
"Please, call me Finn." He doesn't let go of my hand.
YOU ARE READING
Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...