I seriously didn’t get Felicia sometimes.
She had this amazing voice, yet she chose to hide it.
She had a guy, obviously smitten for her, yet she chose to run from him.
And she said I was the crazy one. Where was the logic in that?
I skipped to the pit, standing to the side as Tony moved his double base through the door, I held it open for him.
“Thanks Tess” he said.
“You’re welcome” I said happily as I bounced through the door where my cello and Felicia’s violin sat.
I immediately packed up the violin as I knew Felicia would kill me if anything happen to it before I grabbed the neck of my cello and sat down on the floor, beginning to back it up.
“And this is the pit” said the all too familiar voice of Sophie as she entered the pit.
I kept my head down; she was probably showing off to another one of her boyfriends and I so wasn’t in the mood for her ‘Tour Guide Barbie’ routine.
“Where the magic happens” said the raspy voice of Mr Simon Peg, the conductor.
Since when was he in on Sophie’s flirting tactics?
“When we’re all here” said Sophie snidely.
I knew she had said that for my benefit but I bit back the retort aching on my tongue as I unwound my bow and placed it in the pocket on the side of my case.
“Excuse me for a moment” said Mr. Peg, I heard his feet shuffle out of the room.
“And here’s where I play, with the other flutes” said Sophie happily, “the best instruments” she bragged.
I snorted loudly in a knee jerk reaction at her claim as I wiped the rosin off my cello before placing it in its case.
“Oh you think your instruments better do you?” she demanded harshly, “care to say why?”
I smirked to myself as I zipped my cello case, “Because” I said as I folded the locks down, “The Cello is the only instrument that you put between your legs and stroke” I said pointedly as I stood and turned around.
What I saw was not what I expected.
Sophie was not standing in the pit with some Male Wanna-Be Model, but none other than Gerard Butler. The man that had brought Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom to the big screen.
He was staring at me with an amused expression, his black hair was longer than it was in the movie and curlier. He had a very prominent ‘five o’clock shadow’ of facial hair.
But all that was lost on me, I locked in on his piercing blue green eyes for a moment with my brown ones, utterly hypnotized.
“Uh, get a life” snapped Sophie.
I turned away from Gerard and began collecting my music, quickly regaining my cool, “Get a better spray tan” I said simply.
Someone coughed with laughter, I only just realized it was Gerard when Mr. Peg walked in.
“And where pray tell were you for the second half of the show today Miss Montenegro?” he asked pointedly.
“Personal crisis” I said flippantly as I tucked my music into the pocket on the back of my cello case.
“Which was?” he probed.
I sighed and turned to look him straight in the eye, “Aliens abducted me” I said simply, “It was ground-breaking” I said seriously.
Mr. Peg rolled his eyes before he turned away, “Sophie thank you for showing Mr. Butler around but can I speak to you for a moment?” he asked.
Oh it would be oh-so childish of me to wish she was in trouble?
Nah… it would be childish of me to poke my tongue out as she passed.
So that’s exactly what I did.
She glared before she and Mr. Peg left the room.
Smirking I collected the rest of Felicia’s stuff.
“So” said Gerard coming to stand over next to me, “How are you?” he asked.
Seriously? That was the best pick-up line he could come up with? Lame.
I didn’t even look up. I wasn’t entirely sure if I was playing hard to get… or if I just wasn’t interested.
I’d heard a lot of stuff about Gerard Butler being a man-whore. Sleeping with dozens of women just because he could. And while the thought of seeing him naked was totally appealing, the thought of becoming a notch on his belt was not.
“Covered in alien juice” I said pointedly.
“Oh, someone still has their panties in a twist” he said with obvious delight, his Scottish accent flowed easily.
I snorted as I zipped up Felicia’s bag, “Don’t think for one moment you have any effect on my ‘panties’” I said, accenting the last word in a Scottish accent just to mock him.
He leaned forward with an oddly seductive smile, “then what did I have an effect on?” he purred.
I blinked, momentarily dazed.
Oh he was good! Very good.
But I was better.
“Other than my gagging reflex, nothing” I said flippantly as I grabbed Felicia’s violin.
I watched with sick satisfaction as his eyes popped open widely in shock.
Smiling I swung Felicia’s bag over my shoulder and headed out the door, dragging my cello case after me with my head held high.
I walked down the hallway towards Ben’s dressing room, as I drew closer I saw Anna O’Bryne, Christine herself, heading towards the door.
I quickened my step, stopping her just as she raised her hand to knock, “I wouldn’t do that!” I said.
She turned to me, her brow creased in confusion. She truly was beautiful, like a porcelain doll, “why not?” she asked.
“Ah…” I began, how to phrase what I wanted to say? ‘well I think he and my best friend could possibly be having a Cinderella moment which may end with her not being fully clothed, or at least it would if I was in her slot, so you may not want to interrupt?’
“He’s got company” I said simply.
Her frown deepened as she looked at the door for a moment before realization dawned on her face and the lines smoothed out, “Oh” she said turning to me, “his Mystery Girl is in there?” she asked.
I grinned, “Mystery Girl” I mused, “that’s an interesting way of saying it, but yes, she’s in there” I said.
Anna smiled, “Good” she said, “I don’t think I could take much more of Ben’s obsessiveness” she said with a sigh, “I swear, he doesn’t talk about anything else”
I laughed, “Oh I feel your pain” I said as I placed Felicia’s things down by the door, setting my cello up in its case so it stood by itself.
We smiled at each other. In all my time playing at the Regent I had never once spoken to Anna and now I wondered why. She was so nice and, in a weird way, in the same position I was.
She seemed to realize the same thing, she extended her hand to me, “Anna” she said.
“Tessa” I smiled as I shook her hand, “best friend to the Mystery Girl” I added with a roll of my eyes.
She laughed as she released her hand, “well I don’t hear any talking” she said.
I snorted, “Singing is what I’m worried about”
Anna smiled, “I’m going to head in” she said nodding towards the door.
I smiled as I grabbed my cello, “Let me know if they’re clothed” I said as I began walking away.
“Will do!” she called.
Smiling I headed down the hallway, feeling an odd sense of ‘kindred spirit’ with Anna. Opening the door I headed out onto the street, listening as my cello bumped against the cobblestones on the ground.
Once I was on the street the wheels on the bottom of the case began to roll smoothly as I headed down the oddly deserted footpath.
I’d only been walking for a couple of minutes when I felt I was being watched, then a black limo pulled up just in front of me on the side of the road.
Frowning I slowed my pace as I watched the tinted window roll down to reveal the smiling face of Gerard Butler.
“Need a lift?” he asked smiling seductively.
I snorted, “Need a restraining order” I began walking again. I watched his head turn to watch me as I walked past.
I assumed that would be the end of it as I heard a rumble of an engine that told me the car had started up, but instead of pulling away and speeding on down the street it continued to follow me at an extremely slow pace.
He was still leaning against the window as he spoke, “That thing looks heavy”
“So does your ego” I said eying him for a moment, he smiled, seeming to enjoy my insulting him.
Rolling my eyes I continued walking, “Don’t you have something better to do than stalk young girls?”
“Nothing at all” he said happily, “except stalk beautiful young girls”
“Well go find one of them then” I said pointedly focusing on the footpath and not the limo still following me.
“I have” he said simply.
I rolled my eyes; I’d walked into that one. Coming to a stop I stood my cello up and turned to look at him. The limo pulled to a stop as he continued to look at me.
“What do you want with me?” I asked flatly.
His piercing eyes sparkled at me with amusement, “A name would be nice” he smiled, “then dinner” he added seriously.
I snorted, grabbing my cello I walked over to the car, placing a hand on the roof I leaned down to look at him. I decided right then and there that I would be honest- if I made the kind of girl I was known straight away, he would lose interest.
“Look I’m not interested ok?” I said pointedly leaning down into the car.
He leaned out the window, getting closer to me, his blue-green eyes locked on me, “Interested in what?” he asked.
“Becoming a notch on whatever bedpost or belt that you have” I said simply.
He smiled an oddly seductive smile, beaming under the dark lights of Melbourne, “Trust me, if I wanted to sleep with someone I would be stalking the perky little flute player right now” he said, his Scottish accent seemed to flow over my skin.
Hmm, that was interesting. Wait, was I interested?
There was no denying he was attractive. But if he wanted to get anywhere near me, he would have to prove all my assumptions wrong.
Smiling I leaned down, “Trust me” I purred taking my hand off my cello for a moment and stroked the underneath of his chin with one finger, his eyes darked considerably with lust, he seemed to unconsciously move his lips closer to mine as his eyes fluttered close. I prolonged the moment agonizingly long, that moment between the kiss he was so obviously anticipating… “you couldn’t handle me” I whispered.
As if cold ice had been thrown on him he snapped his eyes open to glare at me.
Smiling I straightened up, turning on my heel I grabbed my cello and began walking away, fully aware of the way my hips were swinging right now as my cello trailed after me.
And round one went to me.
“You know” he called out, “playing hard to get isn’t as hot as you think it is” he called pointedly.
I swung my long brown hair over my shoulder to look at him, his torso was now hanging out of the window of the limo, “and you’re not as hot as you think you are” I said pointedly.
The smile slipped off his face and he glared.
I smiled, flipping my hair back over my shoulder I headed up the path a little more before I came to the place I and a few of the other string players went every night after a Friday performance- Club S.
“Hey Tess” said Bobby, the bouncer. He had come to know me and a few of the other Orchestra players over the last couple of weeks.
“Hey Bobby” I smiled; he opened the door, letting the beat of the music flood out briefly before I walked down the narrow corridor to the coat room. Handing the attendant a twenty I walked in and placed my Cello up the back of the room with the Double Base, two Violas and three Violins.
I then continued down the narrow corridor, the music getting louder before it opened up into the dance floor.
‘Club Can’t Handle Me Right Now’ by Flo Rida was playing. Looking at the swirling bodies for a moment, I spotted my friends.
Weaving through the grinding bodies I found them, all still dressed in their Orchestra Black, dancing.
“Hey! She’s here!” said Allie, the first violin, she pulled me into a hug briefly before she pulled back to look at me, “where’s Felicia?” she asked.
I rolled my eyes, “She’s hooking up with the Easter Bunny” I said.
“Nice” she laughed.
“Tessa!” called Tony, he grabbed me and pulled me into the circle where the rest of the players were dancing. Pretty soon I was laughing and dancing with the rest of them. Taking my hair out I let the curls flick from side to side.
This was the perfect way to unwind after a long week of pressure of having to play to crowds of thousands, having to play right every time, and then getting totally under-appreciated for it all.
I wasn’t sure how long we danced for before I became parched; “I’m getting a drink” I called to the group, struggling to be heard of Jason Derulio’s ‘In My Head’
They waved their hands in my direction vaguely to say they understood.
Shaking my head I began weaving through the bumping and grinding bodies towards the bar. Most of them moved out of my way as I kept my head down.
Suddenly I bumped into a very solid form, looking up I was met with a hard chest, which had muscles that were straining against the black fabric. I let my eyes trail up slowly so as to fully appreciate it. Slowly, his chin, mouth, nose and blue-green eyes came into focus.
Gerard Butler was looking down at me with the upmost intensity. For some reason I felt instantly small. It was easy to be a smart-ass when I wasn’t this close to someone, when they weren’t looking at me with a contorted jaw and hard eyes.
I wasn’t sure what he was going to do, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do! I felt a gentle yet firm hand on my hip that slowly trailed itself up my body, memorizing every curve. The impulse to slap his hand was there, yet I was utterly frozen.
Slowly his hand slid along the underside of my arm before it came to my hand, then everything sped up. Gripping my hand he pulled me to him, bringing my hand up and placing his other hand around the small of my back at the same time.
Our faces were dangerously close. As he began to move his hips and feet and dance with me.
He was by no means the best dancer I had danced with- my Spanish inheritance meant dancing like this had been ingrained into my very being.
“Some dudes know all the right things to say”
But he had rhythm. And confidence.
That alone made him a good dancer as he twirled me around and pulled me to him, time and time again. His eyes seemed to smoulder in the dark as he looked at me with the same intense look; his hands traced the sides of my chest and hips while mine ran along his chest.
“When comes down to it’s all just game”
I was totally caught up in the song and the dance to care that I was breaking the every promise I made to myself. I was getting reeled in.
“Instead of talking let me demonstrate, yeah”
That was exactly what he was doing. His dancing was just so seductive and sexy!
I don’t think even a nun could say no!
“Just leave with me now say the word and we’ll go”
As he spun me out and pulled me back in, my back pressed to his chest.
“I’ll be your teacher I’ll show you the ropes”
His breath on my neck was overwhelming, as our hips moved together from side to side.
“You’ll see a side of love you’ve never known!”
He spun me out fully, and I turned to look at him, he had a smug smile on his face.
“I can see it going down, going down… in my head!”
He pulled me back to him, his hands resting on my lower back as mine wrapped around his neck.
We locked eyes, staring at each other for a moment before I broke away from his intense gaze, looking down I ran my hands down his collar before I placed them on his chest and very firmly pushed myself away, breaking all contact.
A look akin to hurt and disappointment crossed his face before he stared at me with that intense look.
I stared back for a moment before a smile pulled at my lips, “Ok one drink” I said, “But your buying”
And round two went to him.
Well, this definitely wasn’t the way I had planned to officially meet her.
I untied my cravat and began to unbutton my vest. I had run in on her singing, intruded while she was refreshing herself in the restroom and eaves dropped on a private conversation with her friend. All of that and I still didn’t even know her name.
Once I was back in clothes appropriate to the twenty-first century, I emerged from behind the dressing screen, only to be met by a sleeping body.
I stared at her for a moment, hypnotized at how beautiful she looked… so peaceful….
A knock at the door broke my meditation.
I jumped, startled, before composing myself and going to open it. Her friend was probably back, ready to take her home.
However, as I opened the door, I instead found a curious looking Anna facing me, dressed in street clothes. Her hair was down, but it was curled funny after being scrunched under her wig for so long.
“So,” she began with her hands on her hips, “Do I get to meet your ‘Mystery Girl’ now?” she demanded.
I was suddenly very thankful that said girl was asleep.
“As you wish” I said as I held the door open and made a sweeping motion with my arm as Anna strode into the room, only to freeze when she saw the body sprawled across my couch.
I closed the door and watched with amusement and fear at what was about to unfold.
“What did you do to her?” she asked, turning to me with wide eyes.
I laughed quietly, shaking my head, “Her friend dropped her off. Apparently, she’s drunk” I explained, turning to the sleeping form with a hand on my chin, staring at her in something akin to awe.
I couldn’t believe she was here.
“Oh” Anna said, blushing slightly while nodding, “Sorry, it’s just…”
I laughed again, “It’s, fine, Anna, I understand”
I stood next to her as we both examined the unconscious body.
“She’s very pretty” she said, turning her head to the left, trying to look at the face right side up.
For me, pretty seemed and understatement.
Anna turned to me with a playful smirk on her full lips; “Should I be afraid for my job?” she raised her eyebrows.
I chuckled, “I’d say yes, but I don’t know if she’s eligible. She needs to have some experience or something…” I turned my head as I tried to get a good look at her.
“She looks very young,” Anna said, pointedly, “She must be very good if she’s second violin in the orchestra” she mused.
I nodded, not entirely listening to what she was saying. A few silent moments passed as we were both lost in our thoughts, examining the young lady.
“She’s going to be terrified when she wakes up,” Anna said suddenly.
I turned to her, concerned, “Why?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes, “Ben, she’s already afraid of you, remember? What’s she going to think when she wakes up, remembering nothing because she was drunk, and finding herself on a couch in a man’s dressing room? Your dressing room?” she said pointedly.
That would be a horribly awkward moment, one I didn’t really want to be a part of, “Her friend will be here soon,” I pointed out.
“Well, for your sake I hope so, but she’s taking awhile” she yawned, “Well, I’m exhausted, so I’m gonna go home. Good luck with…” she looked to the sleeping form, “… well, finding her name out for one thing” She looked back at me.
I smirked, I was going to learn a lot more than her name. I would make sure of it.
“Goodnight,” said Anna as she leaned up and kissed my cheek in a friendly gesture.
“Goodnight,” I responded, as she quietly left my dressing room, leaving me alone with my Mystery Girl.
It felt strange but, all I could do was stare.
One drink with Gerard turned into two, which turned into a snack, which turned into dinner, which turned into one of the longest and easy flowing conversations of my life.
Talking to Gerard, or Gerry as I found out he liked to be called, was like talking with any one of my friends. I discovered we had very similar taste in music, and the debate we had over AC/DC versus Metallica was pretty epic. And entertaining.
After that we went into classical, I made fun of his Phantom singing (I actually thought it was quite attractive, but I wasn’t telling him that) and he made fun of my playing through the concert.
It was easy to tease one another, with a strange familiarity. There was no sexual implications, no flirting, we were just two people hanging out. And to me, that was all the more attractive and fun.
“So why are you in Australia?” I asked as leaning back in my chair to stare at him.
“Promoting a movie and in discussions to do another one over here” he said simply.
“Oh! What about?” I asked leaning forward and taking a sip of my drink. Unlike Felicia, I could actually hold my alcohol, so I was on my third drink and still in complete hold of my faculties.
“Second World War” he said, “Its based in Melbourne”
“Going to take it?”
He shrugged, “I haven’t decided yet” he said simply.
Looking at me he folded his arms on the table and stared at me intently, “but I’m thinking of reasons to stay” he smirked.
I rolled my eyes, “You know you really should stop trying, I’m saving myself for the Phantom of the Opera” I said pointedly.
It was kind of sad that I still remembered the pact Felicia and I made when we were teenagers, that we would both marry the Phantom of the Opera. Oddly enough, she was probably making out with one version of him in a dressing room, and I was sitting across from another.
Funny how life worked isn’t it?
“You know I kept one of those masks” he said casually.
“Oh!” I laughed, “I’m totally into role play” I giggled.
He laughed back, “Me too, its my job”
I laughed, “Well I always maintain men do what they love most for a job, hence the reason why most are porn stars” I said.
He laughed and I smiled, “So are you doing the whole Phantom thing and looking for your Christine?” I asked.
“What makes you think I haven’t found her?” he asked pointedly.
“Because I can’t sing without making dogs bark” I said flippantly.
We laughed together.
I hoped that wherever Felicia was, she was having as much fun as I was.