Authors: Heather C. Myers
Never stop asking questions. Never close your heart to love. And always, always, always dance in the rain.
Holly winced at the word ‘promise’. Goodness, it was such a strong word. Promise. It was almost as bad as the word commitment. There was no way she promised anything. It wasn’t as though Holly Dunn was afraid of commitment or relationships or anything like that. Quite the contrary. She always paid her student loans right on time, and she had never dropped one class—except a ridiculous math class she felt was wasting her time, of course. After taking the placement test once again, she was proven she was right.
And she always went out with her friends when she said she would. In fact, just last night, her roommate Tanya took her clubbing. So what if Holly left at ten thirty? She had gone, hadn’t she? And that was the point. The fact of the matter was, she never promised something unless, without a doubt, she would be able to see the promise through. There was no way Holly would promise to go out tonight, not when she had some very important finals to study for. She was hoping to attain her master’s degree in Family Counseling, and wanted to be a marriage counselor. So what if she had not yet personally experienced a long-term relationship with a guy?
“Don’t give me that look like you don’t remember,” Tanya said, crossing her arms over her chest and narrowing her warm brown eyes at her friend, who was currently sprawled out on the living room floor with three open textbooks and multiple sheets of paper lying about. The girl studied way too much. “My favorite band from the eighties is coming to the Hollywood House of Blues, and since I was too young to see them when they were in their heyday, I want to see them now. When I asked you, you promised …
you would come, so I bought the tickets. It’s tonight, and we need to leave right now.” She quickly glanced at her slender gold watch. “Actually, in fifteen minutes.”
Holly gave Tanya a long, level look. The thing about Tanya was whenever she’d been expecting something or was looking forward to something, she got more and more nervous as the days passed by until the actual date. She was quite the perfectionist, and when things weren’t going the way she planned, she sort of lost it. As Holly looked at her friend, she racked her brain for anything resembling Tanya’s reminder, and while she felt as though she
remember, she didn’t.
“Remind me of the name of the band,” Holly said, her face contorting into another wince, preparing for Tanya to start shrilling.
Oddly enough, Tanya didn’t immediately reply. Her body was shaky and there were beads of sweat on her brow, but she managed to control herself to breathe in and out deeply. “The Futurists,” Tanya said firmly. “The Futurists.”
The Futurists … The Futurists … No, it didn’t ring any—
Oh yes. The
. Now she remembered. It was nearly half a year ago when Tanya bought the tickets. In fact, she brought her laptop to class, despite the fact that she was taking a very important exam in order to buy the tickets. Holly had a feeling they weren’t going to sell out immediately, but she hadn’t said anything. She knew better. Instead, she pressed her lips together and ran her fingers through her hair. Could she possibly say that she couldn’t make it on the grounds of her finals? She needed to pass these before starting her one thousand hours, which she needed before she took her test to get a license and then finally be able to practice. These tests were more than just important.
But Tanya wouldn’t necessarily understand that.
Tanya was a philosophy major and wanted to become a professor at Berkley. She was nearly finished with everything, actually. In fact, Tanya’s last final was tomorrow, scheduled for eight in the morning. Everything for Tanya came easy for her: studying books, writing papers, and just plain knowing and remembering mindless facts. Holly was actually jealous of this trait, but she never mentioned it, and it never caused any fights between the two. She just had to work harder while Tanya barely cracked a book. It only got frustrating on nights like these, when Holly
to study for something. Tanya would try to talk her into going out with her, and while it didn’t work most of the time, there were times Holly actually agreed.
Holly opened her mouth, but Tanya quickly cut her off. “Listen,” she began, and Holly could see the stress she was causing herself by trying to remain calm, “I know you’re about to say no. I’ve known you since we were ten, so I know you pretty well. But it would
mean a lot to me.” Her brown eyes resembled a puppy’s, and Holly felt her heartstrings pulled. “Please?” she added meekly.
“Fine,” Holly said, sighing overdramatically. Tanya immediately began clapping. “Fine, I’ll go. But I’m bringing my books.”
“Of course!” Tanya exclaimed, and glanced at her watch again. “Okay, we have thirteen minutes to get ready! And thank you so much, Holl! Everybody studies at concerts.” Holly arched a quizzical brow. “Well, not everybody, but who cares? You’re going! I’ve got to get ready if I want Mitchell Sandburg to fall in love with me.” With that, Tanya disappeared down the hallway, still mumbling to herself.
“Who’s Mitchell Sandburg?” Holly whispered, before shaking her head. She didn’t quite believe she had agreed to come along. There was no way she would be able to study at a concert of all places. Although, the Hollywood House of Blues did provide a spacious venue. If they made it in early enough, she might be able to snag a second-story table that overlooked the concert instead of standing in front of the stage, being up close and personal. That way she could sit down and she wouldn’t have to continuously lug her books around.
Yes, she could do this. Holly could definitely do this.
do this. Her back was aching, and she was absolutely sure she was going to develop lopsided shoulders or some other disfigurement due to the heaviness of her books. Three thick textbooks, four notebooks, a stack of index cards, and an assortment of pens and pencils were all crammed into one of Holly’s bags. It was actually the biggest one she had, and yet, it was bulging rather uncomfortably into her skin. The two ate dinner at the House of Blues, because apparently, if a ticketholder ate there before the concert, they got to jump ahead of the line. Holly had picked at her Caesar salad as she studied, while Tanya was careful she didn’t order anything that would bloat her up. Currently, the two were third in line, waiting for the doors to open. Holly would have been studying actually, if it weren’t for the darkness. She shifted her bag to the other shoulder with a frown, and glanced at her friend.
Tanya looked absolutely ecstatic. Every other minute, she would open her compact and managed to find something else on her face that could be improved upon. She had, in her own terms, ‘sexed’ herself up. She was wearing low cut, tight leather pants with knee-high boots and a white halter top that was one size too small, but definitely showcased cleavage—brought on by the magic of Wonderbras. Her rich, layered chestnut brown hair was sort of messy, and her make-up was quite dramatic. However, all-in-all, Tanya looked hot. She always worked best under stressful situations.
Holly, on the other hand, merely brushed her hair and threw it up into a loose bun. She was wearing an old soccer hoodie she received when she played for AYSO, probably when she was ten, maybe twelve, an old pair of jeans, and worn Converse shoes. When Tanya had seen Holly’s choice in outfit, she tried to persuade her friend to at least put on some makeup, but Holly adamantly refused.
“I’m going,” she had told Tanya firmly, “but I’m studying … and I don’t plan on dressing up to study.”
Tanya nodded. She knew when to press Holly and when to leave her be.
There was Holly, shifting her bag from one shoulder to the other every few moments, and Tanya, shifting her weight anxiously from one foot to another.
“You really should have brought a jacket,” Holly said, looking at her friend. “It’s freezing.”
“It won’t be once we step inside,” Tanya told Holly. She threw her gaze over her shoulder and grinned. “Well, it’s a good thing we got here when we did.” Both Holly and Tanya held out their tickets as an employee came around and scanned the barcodes, verifying they were indeed authentic. “God, I cannot wait to see Mitch Sandburg. Drummers are so hot. I always told my mother I was going to marry a drummer.”
“And we’ll probably have three kids,” Tanya continued, as though she didn’t hear Holly. “You think he’d make a good dad, right? I mean,
think he would. Of course he would.”
!” Holly exclaimed with frustration.
“What?” she replied.
“Look,” Holly said, pointing ahead of them, “we’re going in.”
The first thing Holly did when she entered the House of Blues was find a table. It was off to the side of the auditorium, across from the bar. Immediately, she dropped her book bag and took a seat before sighing. She cradled her head in her hand, silently watching people enter through the doors. Tanya had already disappeared in the sea of people that were swarming the stage. A majority of the older concert-goers headed toward the bar while a few people went over to the souvenir stand. Random rock music was playing through the speakers set up on both sides of the stage. Already, Holly could feel the beginnings of a headache. Why was she here again? How could she have possibly assumed that she would be able to study in a crowded, noisy place like this? Why hadn’t Tanya stopped her?
, the rational side of her began.
You can do this. Just put your mind to it. Work through the distractions. You can do this.
Holly flipped to the first section of her Psychology textbook, and began rereading all of her highlighted passages. She was known for over-highlighting rather than under-highlighting, so she was rereading a lot of the actual books. Before she knew it, she was in her own zone, and barely noticed the people and the noise; her only focus was on the printed words in front of her. However, her first distraction came twenty minutes later by Tanya herself. Holly’s friend was holding a water bottle in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. She placed the water bottle on the table, and gave her friend a light smile.
“I don’t know how you can do it.” Tanya had to yell due to the noise level. Her eyes skimmed over the book, the notes, and the random sheets of paper that covered the desk. “But … if anyone can, it would be you!”
Holly let a tiny smile touch her lips and subconsciously glanced down at her papers. “Won’t you lose your place near the stage?” Holly asked, glancing at the accumulating crowd of people. The House of Blues was a decently sized venue with a small stage, and unless you managed to swipe a table, you were left standing. Many people preferred standing, however, because they were quite close to the actual stage.
Tanya shrugged nonchalantly. “I’m not worried about it,” she said. “But I’m going to go back anyway. The show should be starting,” she glanced at her watch quickly, “in another twenty minutes or so. Are you sure you’re going to be all right?”
Holly nodded, and grabbed the water bottle. “Yup,” she told her friend. “Go have fun.” She opened the bottle and took a long gulp of cool water as she watched her friend disappear through the thicket of people. Tanya was very petite, about five foot three, but had a very nice body. She had layered, chestnut brown hair that went just past her shoulders and always seemed to have the perfect amount of makeup on that showcased her nearly flawless facial features. It was quite common for Tanya to get asked out by the opposite sex, but for as long as Holly has known her, Tanya was only focused on one man: Mitch Sandburg.
The only thing Holly knew about
was Mitch Sandburg. Tanya had millions of posters up in her room, but it was rare for Holly to venture in there, so she really didn’t remember what he looked like. She just knew he was “hot, with a bunch of tattoos but no piercings ‘cause he doesn’t believe in that,” and that was from Tanya.
Anyway, it didn’t matter. Time for more studying …
She barely made it to the middle of the chapter when the rock ‘n’ roll music faded away and what little light had been on dimmed. A voice on the intercom announced the band and piercing cheers rang out, mostly from the females. Holly quickly placed her hands over her ears and tried to concentrate, despite the little light and the increased level of noise.
Oedipus complex … examples?
She couldn’t focus on the words as the band began to play.
. Her headache began to take a dramatic turn for the worst as the band began to play and the screams rang in time with them.
The singer had a clear, raw voice, very different from the guttural tones that usually accompanied rock and roll. It sounded much like Dave Matthews. However, despite his distinctive voice, Holly didn’t even glance up at him. She had to focus.
He can’t possibly be singing about …
Yes, he most certainly was. Taking a woman’s virginity. Classy. This fact shouldn’t have surprised her, but it did.
“Hold it, you guys.” For whatever reason, the main singer cut the music and stopped singing.
Doesn’t matter. FOCUS
. “This can’t be what I’m seeing.” A very long pause filled the auditorium as people began to murmur and glance around. “Is somebody actually
at my concert?”
Holly’s head snapped up, trying to find the person he called out. At least now she knew that other people studied … at … concerts. Why was everyone turning to look at her? It couldn’t be … He was calling
out? But she wasn’t
reading. She was studying, for goodness’ sake! Was that all of a sudden illegal?
“You.” Now he was addressing her. “Yes, you. Come up here for a moment. Have you ever been to a rock concert before? Don’t worry about your books and notes or whatever those papers are. No one’s going to steal them. Come up here!”
Holly slowly stood, unsure of what to do. To say her face was on fire an understatement. She had never been more embarrassed in her life. Swallowing, she remained unsure of whether or not to leave all of her hard work and effort out in the open where people could easily steal her things, spill on them, or cause them to get unorganized. However, through the crowd, she somehow managed to find Tanya’s face, smiling at her with such encouragement that she felt herself begin to head to the stage. A security guard helped her on to the flat surface, and she quickly dodged a guitarist who was smoking a cigarette before standing beside the singer.
He looked about forty, maybe a bit younger, but it was hard to tell in the dim light. He had long, straight dark hair hanging down his back underneath a black cowboy hat and pale green eyes. His face was a firm heart shape, and he had a five o’clock shadow decorating the lower half of it. He was wearing a very nice white collared shirt that was unbuttoned halfway, revealing a surprisingly toned chest. This was paired with leather—pleather? she couldn’t tell—pants and old, black combat boots. Holly could admit that he was definitely attractive in a rugged way, but smelled of alcohol and cigarettes. She quickly glanced away, her eyes resting on her precious books. The singer followed her gaze.
“Those books mean a lot to you, huh?” he asked her. His voice was quick and smooth. She was sure he was quite charming when he wanted to be. Instead of answering, she merely nodded, and glanced back at him. He wasn’t incredibly tall, she noticed; probably only a half a foot taller than she was, if she had to guess. “So, are they important? Well, they must be, since you brought them to a concert. What are you reading, anyway? What is so important that you couldn’t put the book down, and don’t say it’s
The DaVinci Code
because everyone knows
Angels & Demons
The DaVinci Code
better,” Holly retorted, before she could stop herself. The audience chuckled at this, and the singer flashed her a very charming smile, revealing straight, white teeth. “And I’m not reading, per se; I’m studying for a very important final.”
“Oh, of course,” the singer said. “A final. You know this concert is for those eighteen and older, right?”
“I’m twenty-six,” Holly told him, placing her hand on her hip.
“Obviously,” the singer amended, “I was trying to give you compliment.” Holly arched her brow at this, and he shook his head. “And it was a poor job of doing so. Forgive me. Here, let me make it up to you. If you’re really insistent on studying and missing a very kickass performance, you can use our private rooms. Are you here with anyone?”
“My friend,” Holly replied quietly, searching for Tanya and smiling when she finally found her.
“Ah,” he mumbled, cupping his chin with his hand. “Of course. Well, when the concert’s over, she can come backstage and get you. How’s that?”
Holly thought over it for a moment, and then finally nodded. “Thank you,” she told him softly.
“No problem,” the singer replied, and immediately signaled for the band to start up. Holly quickly disappeared off the stage and headed over to her table in order to collect her supplies.
His voice began to fade away as she was escorted to the private rooms.