Monday, July 7, 2008

Chapter 16

George wasn’t available to drive, so Molly and Keira took a cab to the bar, which was located in the Upper East Side. On the ride over, Molly told Keira, “Richie said they’re planning to play for just an hour, but if the crowd’s really into it and the band’s having fun, they can play as long as they want. It sounds like they’re looking forward to it. A nice change from playing huge venues."

Keira nodded but didn’t say anything. She was so full of mixed emotion that she felt like a ticking time bomb. She wasn’t nervous about seeing Jon like she had been on the night of the concert, but she was dealing with nearly every other possible emotion. Anxiety, sadness and guilt over her situation with Rob. Mild annoyance at Molly’s insistence that she go tonight, yet relief over the fact that she wasn’t just sitting at home wallowing instead. And there was something else, some other nagging feeling that she couldn’t -- or wouldn’t let herself -- identify.

Suddenly realizing that she was twisting her engagement ring around and around on her finger, Keira defiantly shoved both hands beneath her thighs. It was already becoming a habit.

She’d debated whether or not to wear the ring. She felt like a phony wearing it, because it symbolized a level of commitment that she wasn’t capable of with Rob. She had no right to wear it. Still, she felt wrong taking it off before she had a chance to explain things to Rob. In some strange way, she felt that taking the ring off first would be like adding insult to injury. She owed it to him to wear it, and suffer the guilt, rather than to take it off and shove it into a drawer so she wouldn’t have to think about it. Or him.

Also, she knew that if Jon saw it on her hand, it would add a few more nails in the boarded-up door. Maybe even some chains and a padlock for good measure.

Molly, as always, looked effortlessly beautiful. Her sun-streaked hair was pulled back into a messy bun at the nape of her neck. She wore a faded denim skirt with a layered red and white spaghetti-strap tank top. Silver hoop earrings, a Swarovski necklace with red and clear crystal beads and a small red crystal heart pendant, and six-inch red high heels completed the look.

Keira had found herself in girly-girl hell once more. She’d finally decided on a deep teal, sleeveless jersey knit sundress that ended just above the knee. It was empire-waisted and had a crossover V-neck which showed off just a hint of cleavage. She paired it with white high-heel sandals and wore a small emerald pendant around her neck -- a gift from Rob on her last birthday. She let her hair dry naturally, so it was long and wavy.

The bar was called the Firelight Lounge and Keira liked it from the minute she set foot inside. It was dark and intimate, with brick walls, a high ceiling, and tall, arched doorways. There were only a handful of tables in front of the small stage, and spanning the back wall was a plush, red, pillow-strewn banquette with several low tables lined up in front of it. True to its name, the place was lit mostly by flickering red candles, which were housed in glass votive holders on each table and sconces along the walls. The tables were all occupied and a few people were sitting on the banquette. Keira estimated there to be about 60 people in the bar, total. She and Molly settled down on the comfortable cushions of the banquette and ordered glasses of wine when the waitress came around.

The band was into their third song, and it was clear that they were having a good time. They looked well-rested and relaxed, and when the song ended and someone in the crowd shouted out, “Blood on Blood!” Jon grinned and nodded at the rest of the guys, and they immediately launched into the song.

Molly leaned over and shouted to be heard over the music, “I bet it’s been a long time since they’ve taken requests.” Keira smiled. It was true; they were certainly no longer a bar band, but they seemed to be enjoying it tonight. It was fun for Keira to watch, because this was how she remembered Jon the most.

As the show went on, they played some of their biggest hits and also did a few cover songs, like Bad Company's "Shooting Star" and The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun". Keira stole a glance at her cell phone to check the time. They'd been playing for well over an hour, so she knew they had to be almost done. From the start, her plan had been to leave before the show was over. There was no reason for her to stick around and make small talk with Jon, since she'd already made it clear to him that she had no interest in rekindling their friendship. She figured that she could take a cab home, and Richie could be responsible for getting Molly home. Or into his bed, Keira thought wryly. As she contemplated leaving, she was completely unsettled to realize that she didn’t want to go. She decided to escape to the restroom before the end of the song to buy some more time to make a decision whether to stay or go.

As the song began to wind down, Keira stood up to make her way to the ladies’ room. She lifted her purse and accidentally tipped it, spilling her cell phone, credit cards, change, and makeup all over the floor. Shit. She hurriedly tried to gather everything and stuff it back in her purse, but the song ended just as she finished and stood up. Her hair had fallen into her eyes and she nervously tucked a section of it behind her ear. That was when Jon saw her.

He had been just about to say goodnight to the crowd, and Richie had already set his guitar down on the stage. But when Jon saw her, he gestured to Richie. Without taking his eyes off of Keira, he said into the microphone, “I want to thank you all for coming out here tonight—this was a lot of fun for us. We have one more song we want to play. This one’s for an old friend of mine. It’s not one of ours, but I couldn’t have written it better myself. So, Kathryn – Keira – I hope you stay for this one.”

He stepped over to talk to the other guys for a minute. Tico, Dave and Hugh left the stage, and Richie slung his guitar strap back over his shoulder. He and Jon took their places on the stools at the front of the stage.

Keira sat back down on the banquette beside Molly, who was giggling with excitement. She could see that some of the other patrons were craning their necks, trying to figure out which woman Jon was dedicating the song to, so she did her best to look completely unaffected. The lights over the stage dimmed, and Richie and Jon began to play. Keira was captivated as Jon began to sing in a rich, soulful voice.

Sittin' on the edge
Looking for songs in a bottle
Talking with strangers who don't know my pain
Blurry eyed and burned out
Choking on more than I can swallow
Crack in a little voice called out my name
She said, “Whatever happened to you,
It's been two years, where have you been
And I guess all my fears were true
The words were all gone the time's been too long
But its not too late to say sorry to a friend
What happened to my friend

Keira could feel hot tears stinging her eyes and a lump forming in her throat. She tried, but was unable to take her eyes off of Jon. He kept his closed for almost the entire song.

Staring in her face
I see a past that still haunts me
The road where we split up
is paved with the things I didn't say
We had wonderful times, but terrible timing
Now just leave her alone,
I'll just be in her way

Keira wanted to leave but she couldn’t move. Mesmerized by the lyrics, she tried to keep a lid on her emotions. Wonderful times, terrible timing. The song said everything she’d ever longed to hear from him, and even if he hadn’t written it himself, he’d still recognized it as the perfect song for her. For them. For thirteen lost years.

Like a stone in a stream
Life smoothes all our edges
'Til we barely make a ripple any more
Those times in my life will live with me forever
But we're not the same people that we were before

Molly took Keira’s hand in hers and squeezed. She wasn't giggling anymore. Keira knew the song must almost be done, and she was determined to get through it without crying. But then Jon opened his eyes, looked right at her, and sang the last verse, and it was her undoing.

And I'm sorry for the smiles we missed
and the times that I blew it
I've got so much to tell you
I don't know where to start
Maybe I'll find a way,
maybe you'll help me do it
'Cause friends like us should not be apart
And I'm sorry to a friend
Well now I'm sorry, I’m sorry,
So sorry, sorry

Jon finished the song with his left hand reaching out to her, the microphone clenched in his right fist. The stage lights dimmed and the show was over. The crowd burst into noisy applause, and Tico, Dave, and Hugh returned to the stage to take their bows with Richie and Jon.

Keira jumped up and bolted for the ladies’ room.


Daydreamer- said...

Here's the YouTube video for the song in this chapter. It's Edwin McCain's "Sorry to a Friend." It's not Bon Jovi, but it holds special meaning for me, so I wanted to include it in the story. :)

allina_90 said...

That was awesome! What a great chapter =)

I have to admit I had to cry when I read the last sentences... How beautiful *dream* ;)

Sunstreaked said...

ROFL with the "girly-girl hell" comment and then reading the words to that song and well...don't we all have an old love? One that didn't work out? But who still holds a piece of our heart?

I see Keira and Jon that way...seems like you do too.

Anonymous said...

I had tears rolling down my face reading the song. You couldn't have used a better song to make the feelings visualized.

Great chapter.

Alice Faye

Opester said...

Such a mournful, sorrowful song. Jon truly is a minstrel and I hope it worked! I hope Keira gives him a chance to make up for mistakes of the past.