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Authors: M. J. Grace

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BOOK: Inked Chaos
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I’m sitting opposite AJ
at a secluded table in the restaurant, and after glancing around the room as we
walked in, I’m glad he advised me to dress up.  The navy dress I wore for my
birthday, and silver sandals are perfect, and I’m holding my own in the fashion
stakes with the beautiful women I have noticed in the room.  

I’d been such a bag of nerves preparing for
dinner.  Not knowing where we were going, I didn’t want to let myself down
wearing something totally unsuitable.  So I’m happier now that I feel I’m not
standing out like a sore thumb.

I’d hovered in my room for a while when I
was dressed, my nerves getting the better of me; leaving my room, only after I
heard the bedroom door opposite open and close, and footsteps heading
downstairs.  Knowing that I couldn’t delay any longer, I’d inspected my make-up
one last time in the mirror, taken a deep breath to calm my nerves, put a smile
on my face, and made my way downstairs to the lounge.

When I had entered the room, AJ had been standing
over by the French doors looking out into the garden, but had immediately
turned towards me with a smile as I entered.

“Hi.  You look

“Thank you.” I’d smiled, feeling myself blush,
just as I knew I would.  Watching, as he’d slowly walked towards me, taken hold
of my hand and enquired.

“Ready to go?” At
my nod he’d pulled me after him towards the door.

“Then let’s go.  I hope you’re hungry.” He’d
smiled as he led me outside, held open the door to a Mercedes, and waited for
me to climb in.  

“I thought you’d find this easier to climb
in and out of in your heels.” He’d quipped with a smile as he saw me looking at
the car.

I’d lowered myself into the seat, and took
a minute to watch him as he’d walked around the front of the car.  Subconsciously,
I’d held my hands up in surrender.  Wearing a black suit that fits him to
perfection, with a white shirt and red tie, he looks sophisticated, and not at
all like the music man normally seen, jumping around on stage, rocking out.

Climbing into the drivers’ seat, he’d leant
closer to me as he closed his door, and I’d caught a hint of his aftershave,
and boy does he smell good.

“Buckle up.” He’d said as he started the
engine, and we’d slowly made our way down the driveway, heading towards the
bright lights of LA.

On arrival at the restaurant, AJ had jumped
out of the car and walked around to help me out, whilst tossing the car keys to
the parking attendant, who had greeted him by name.  With his hand on my elbow
to guide me, we had quickly been ushered into the building and led straight to
our table, bypassing people who were obviously waiting to be seated.

I heard voices murmuring as we passed by,
as AJ was obviously recognised.  So by the time we reached our seats, I was
feeling a little self-conscious, and grateful for the seclusion of our table.

“Are you alright?” He enquires, placing his
hand over mine, bringing my attention back to him.

“Sure, it’s just a little unsettling,
feeling as though everybody in the room was watching us.” I smile nervously.

I’m conscious of the fact that he is
holding my hand again, and I’m not sure which is making me more nervous, the
hand holding, or the knowledge that people have seen us together.

“Nobody can see us now.  I asked for this
table specifically for that reason.  Don’t worry, we have total privacy.  Now
what would you like to eat?” he asks passing me a menu.

I notice a bottle of white wine already on
the table, and raise an eyebrow inquiringly at AJ.

“I ordered it when I booked the table.” He
enlightens me smiling, whilst lifting the bottle and pouring me a glass.

Looking at the menu I’m grateful for the
distraction, even if momentarily, and bend my head to study it.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t last long, due
to the fact of being faced with such delicious sounding choices.  Unable to
make up my mind, I chance a glance at AJ, to see that his menu is resting on
the table and he’s just sitting there, watching me.  

“It all looks so
tempting.” I say with a tentative smile.

“It sure does.” He murmurs, looking into my
eyes, causing my skin to heat. “How about you let me choose for you? Is there
anything you really don’t like?” he questions.

“No, I have to admit I like all food.  Please
go ahead.” I respond, handing him my menu.

AJ presses a button on the side of the
table, and as if by magic a waiter arrives.  I listen as AJ places our order.  He
has obviously been here before, as he has no need to peruse the menu, ordering
Pan fried scallops for starters, Lamb chops with couscous salad, followed by
lemon sorbet with raspberries.  It all sounds so delicious.

I pick up my glass of wine and take a sip.  It’s
light and refreshing, and I’m conscious that I’ll have to watch what I’m
drinking.   I could easily forget and drink too much, and the last thing I want
to happen is for me to become drunk and out of control, and totally embarrass
myself.  I place my glass back onto the table as the waiter leaves.

As we are in a secluded corner so we aren’t
observed, this means I also cannot observe the other occupants of the
restaurant, making AJ the prime focus of my attention.  I wonder if he asked
for this table primarily with this in mind, or just because of the privacy

I look across the table at him, and to hide
my awkwardness I pick up my glass and raise it to him. “Cheers.” I toast and
take a sip.

“Cheers.” He retorts, and follows me in
taking a sip before replacing his glass on the table.

“So tell me how the books going.  I hear on
the grapevine that it’s already been accepted by a publisher.” He enquires.

Jen has evidently divulged this fact to
Razor, who has apparently passed on said information to AJ, and I wonder what
other titbits have made their way back to him.

“It has.” I answer brightly, the pleasure
and my excitement spilling over. “I’ve finally finished it.  I emailed it to
them this morning.  Now it’s a case of waiting to see if I have to do any more
rewrites, before it goes to print.”

“So, if there are no rewrites, it won’t be
long until we will see your name in print.  Congratulations.  That’s quite an
accomplishment, you should be proud of yourself.”

“Thank you.  It’s something I’ve always
wanted to do.  A pipedream that I thought would never happen.  It’s taken many
long months, and many a time I questioned my sanity in trying to write.  If I
hadn’t had the support network I have, I think I might have thrown in the towel
many months ago.” I suddenly become aware that I’m rambling on. “Sorry, I tend
to forget myself and babble on when discussing the subject of writing.  If I do
it again, please stop me or I’ll carry on until your ears start to bleed.” I

He throws his head back as he laughs, and
once again my eyes are drawn to his face as it lights up with his laughter.

“I think my ears will survive.” He retorts.
“Seriously though, I’m pleased it’s all coming together for you.  I remember
what it’s like trying to get a foot on the ladder of success.  All the knock
backs, the cynicism, the disappointment, but never give up on your dreams.  That’s
the only advice I can give.  Anyway, I’m sure it’s going to be a best-seller,
so you have nothing to worry about.”

“Thanks for the confidence boost, but I’m
not counting my chickens.  I’m going to take it one day at a time.  I don’t
want to become too excited, only to come crashing down.” I reply just as our
meal arrives.

The meal is delicious, and while we eat, AJ
tells me about the tour they have planned, starting in a couple of weeks’ time.
 It sounds like they will be visiting many states, as well as a few dates in
Europe, two of which being in London.  They have been rehearsing every day to
make sure they are on top form.  On top of that, before the tour starts, he has
a few television appearances that he has to attend.  One of which being in New

“Is that to replace the appearance they
cancelled the night of the party?” I enquire.

“Yeah, they rescheduled it for in a few
days’ time.  However, they didn’t cancel it, I did.” He replies staring at me.  It’s
like he’s trying to tell me something without voicing the words.  From what I
have experienced of this guy before, he’s not usually so mysterious.  He says
what’s on his mind, not beating about the bush.  So why does he seem reluctant
to offload his thoughts now? I decide I’ll give him that play.  He can tell me
if he wants to, but I’m not going to ask outright why he cancelled.

“Too busy eh?” I comment and take a sip of
my wine, then proceed to nearly choke, as it goes down the wrong way as he

“Nope.  I wanted to hook up with you, but
we both know that didn’t turn out as I’d hoped.”

Coughing and spluttering, I put my glass
down and reach for my napkin to cover my mouth.  The wine is burning its way
down and I can’t catch my breath.  AJ rapidly pours a glass of water, which
quickly materialises in my hand, and I gratefully take a few sips.

As I gather my wits and catch my breath, I
look at AJ, to find he’s looking at me with a concerned expression.

“You okay now Birdie?” he queries, placing
his hand on my arm.

I’m stunned, I can’t believe he cancelled
an appearance just to meet me.  Surely he has to be kidding, and what’s with
the Birdie?

“You’re kidding right?”
I say, my voice husky from the coughing. “That’s not truly why you cancelled?”
I splutter.

“No, I’m not kidding.  I’m also not stupid.
 I guessed Jen purposely organised the party for when I was going to be in New
York.  I rang the studio, made my excuses, asked them to reschedule, made my
apologies, assured them I’d make it up to them, and came to see you.  Although,
as we both know, the evening ended slightly unexpectedly.”

I don’t know what to say to him.  I don’t
want to draw attention to the argument we had that night, I just want to forget
it.  However, I can’t not acknowledge the fact, that he had changed his plans
in such a drastic manner.

“Didn’t that cause a few problems for
them? They would have to arrange a replacement at short notice wouldn’t they?
And what about your flight? You’d have lost the cost of that.”

“It wasn’t that short a notice, I knew
about the party in advance.  Raze told me as soon as Jen mentioned it to him.  I
just didn’t let on to anyone that I knew, and believe me the cost of the flight
is of no consequence.”

“Are you always so impulsive? To cancel
something important like that, just for a party?”

“Yes, I can be impulsive.  If I want to do
something I do it.  Why wait and ponder over the options or scenarios.  You
have to grab at life Birdie.  Grab it with both hands and run with it, but
you’re missing the point.  It wasn’t about the party.  It was about you.”  

My hearts pounding so hard, I’m surprised
he can’t hear it.  If he is to be believed, he went to all that trouble, just
because he wanted to meet me.  I find this an impossible idea, but after his
reaction at the party, when I questioned why he wanted to spend time with me, I
feel it best not to be forthcoming with my opinion.  Not yet anyway.  Instead,
I focus on something that my troubled mind can cope with.  Hopefully something
that won’t end in an argument.

“Why did you call me
Birdie?” I ask.  

“You’re my Humming bird, Birdie for short.  It’s
how I think of you.  Do you mind?”

Do I mind? I think my brain is going to
combust with the overload.  Every time he opens his mouth and speaks, he
astounds me.  First, he cancelled on his interview and flight, not because he
was busy, but to meet me.  Me! A notion I fail to comprehend! Then he calmly
informs me he has given me a nickname.  I don’t know what to say to him.  I’m
speechless.  I’m also starting to believe that for some reason, he really does
like me.  Dare I take this chance, and risk trusting what he is saying is the
truth.  I remember what Jen said, that I always push guys away.  Never willing
to take the gamble and give one hundred percent of myself; always keeping that
wall semi built to protect myself.  Maybe it’s time to do as AJ suggests.  Time
for me to grab this chance with both hands, and run with it.  I decide to trust
my instincts.  I’ll take what he has to offer day by day, and see where it

“No, I don’t mind at
all.” I answer, with a tentative smile.  

Smiling back at me, he once again takes
hold of my hand, gives it a little squeeze and says “Good.  Now we have that
clarified, would you like a coffee or are you ready to leave?”

“I’m good to go if you are.” I say and
watch as he presses the button for the waiter; who after a quick word, a few
moments later brings the bill.  He places it on the table, and bends to whisper
into AJs ear, causing him to frown slightly.

“Thanks, we’ll be out shortly.  Can you see
that my car is brought around to the front?” He asks the waiter.

“Of course Mr Lewis, and rest assured, we
will do what we can to contain the situation.” Replies the waiter and quickly
leaves the table.

“Something wrong?” I ask

“I don’t know how they found out, but the
Paparazzi are outside.  Sorry Birdie, but it appears you’re about to be
initiated into the crazy ways of my life sooner than I had hoped.”

Observing my worried expression, he stands,
and taking hold of my hand pulls me to my feet.

“There’s nothing to worry about.  Just
don’t let go of my hand, and stay as close to me as possible.  If you don’t
want them to photograph your face, keep your head down.  I don’t know how many
are out there, but the staff will hold them back as much as they can.  Okay?”  

It sounds like an army manoeuvre.  Unquestionably,
I’m apprehensive; my hands shaking with anxiety.  How bad can it be? I nod my
assent, and still holding my hand tightly, AJ moves us towards the exit of the
restaurant, and the waiter.

BOOK: Inked Chaos
8.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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