The crowd parted like a scene from a Berryworld movie. Gracefully she floated through them unaware of the stares and awe her passage drew. I couldn't move so drawn was I to her. She seemed to float more than walk and as she drew close to me I couldn't help but stare like the country bumpkin I am. I mean what was I supposed to do.
"Hey little lady you want to go for a ride on my surf board, it's big enough for two."
The thought made me shudder. And before I could even begin to open my mouth she was gone.
It was just as well. Recent experiences have shown me that girls like that don't go for guys like me. I should stop dreaming and come back to reality.
The city was vast. There was always something new to discover and better yet to get lost looking for. Most people hate getting lost and hurry from place to place as if in fear of what waits for them around the next corner. Not me, I would head off in whatever direction stuck my fancy getting lost and finding myself with every trip. It was perfect. Everyone here is faceless in this mass of humanity and I can disappear when I need to. But the city is crafty and she has ways of pulling you in.
"Come on then get dressed."
I looked at Peach then down at myself a bit confused. "Um, I kinda already am."
"No silly get dressed to go out. Pear and I are going to a house party and you're coming with us."
"I don't know." House parties, well parties in general, really weren't my thing. There was too much pressure to socialise and I still just wanted to be by myself.
She smiled and a twinkle lit her eyes. I knew that look, she was up to something. "No excuses," she said pulling harder on my arm. "You're coming."
I knew better than to argue with her so I let her drag me in to get ready for party hoping that once we got there I could hide somewhere in a coner.
When I saw what she had in mind for me to wear I wasn't so sure any more. "Um, Peach I'm not so sure about this."
"Don't be ridiculous. You look great. Now hold still while I do something with that hair of yours."
"Oh no you don't."
I managed to get away without having her 'style' my hair. I could understand the clothes she picked out for me were trendy based on what everyone else was wearing but they just weren't me.
The lights of the party spilled on to the street as we got closer and the music pulsed in the air.
Who ever lived here must be minted the place was amazing. And packed. I had become more used to the amount of people there were in Bridgeport but it seemed impossible to get so many of them into one house regardless of how big it was. Taking a deep breath I squeezed in the room trying to find a space that wasn't completely taken over. It was easier said than done and I must have bumped into half the party, literally, before I found a spot. I had lost Peach and Pear somewhere in the crush but I wasn't overly concerned about it. In fact considering the glint I had seen in Peach's eye before we left it was probably best I steered well clear of her tonight.
I didn't hear her approach over the near deafening sound coming from the nearby stereo.
Great Bondi, just great. Girls are always super impressed when you shoot your drink out of your nose. Coughing and spluttering I tried to regain some semblance of a casual attitude as I turned to face her.
"You ok?" She asked clearly trying hard not to laugh.
"I'm fine," I said voice cracking. Well so much for a semblance of casual. Giving up I sighed. "Sorry, I guess I was in my own world there, didn't hear you come up."
"As if you could hear anything over this," she said. It was true, we were having to practically shout to hear each other. "I didn't mean to startle you. I just saw you over here all by yourself and thought I'd come over and introduce myself. I'm Patina." I could hear the smile in her voice and my knees nearly turned to jelly with it. Even with the hole that seemed to threaten to smother my heart every time I looked away I couldn't deny Patina's beauty. She was breathtaking.
"I know. Pear told me she was going to bring you tonight."
"Yeah she's good friends with my roommate."
"She owns this place or at least her father does."
I could see her attention starting to waver as she looked around the room spotting people she knew. Desperately I grasped at the first thing I could think of to draw her back into the conversation. "So have you lived here long?"
"About a year. I met Citrine on set. I was looking for a place to live, she was tired of being in this place all by herself and the rest, as they say, is history."
On set, wow. Just when I thought I could start to talk to her like a normal girl she goes and causally drops that in to conversation. I stood there for a minute pretending to be very interested in my drink and the music while my brain worked frantically to try and figure out what to say next. Finally I decided just to open my mouth and pray that whatever came out didn't make me look like a complete idiot.
"Hey babe, I got you a drink."
But someone beat me too it.
"Thanks," she said with relief. "I was dreading trying to work my way over to that bar."
"So who's the new guy." He said nodding in my direction.
"Oh how rude of me. Clay this is Bondi. He's Peach and Pear's cousin. Bondi this is my boyfriend Clay"
Boyfriend, of course there was a boyfriend. I smiled and stretched out my hand to shake his. That was a mistake. His grip was like an iron vice. I had to bite my lip to stop myself from grimacing. If I didn't know better I would have thought that he was tightening his grip on purpose.
"Welcome to the city kid, try not to get hurt." He grunted as he finally let go of my hand.
"Ah, yeah I'll try." I said trying to shake some feeling back into my now numb fingers. And with that he moved off steering Patina in front of him.
I wandered through the party looking for a distraction for what seemed like hours. Somewhere in my wanderings I picked up a guitar and I found myself outside by the pool guitar in hand. The cool of the night caused a mist to rise from the surface of the pool distorting the light and giving it a soft quality. We were just far enough from the city that I could make out one or two stars in the night sky that weren't drown out by the city lights. As I stared at them my head began to fill with music. All around me the drunken shouts and laugher of the party guests filling the night with their own brand of noise but in that moment it didn't matter. I didn't notice anything else but the music and the world drifted away.
The words were elusive, dancing just out of reach, but the melody flowed through me. It was as if the guitar was an extension of arms and my fingers moved on their own strumming out the cords to bring the music to life.
The drunken shouting snapped me back to the present. I had gathered a small crowd around me and was slightly embarrassed to have them see me in what must have looked like a trance over a guitar.
"Bondi baby, thersh you are." I turned to see Citrine. She was completed hammered, staggering more than walking as she made her way over to me. "Peach shaid you were good with a guitar. I thinsk that's hot." She slurred the words and I was having a hard time making out what she was saying. "Ya know what else I thinsk hot..." I never did find that out because at that moment she was very promptly sick.
All over me.
I leaped back glad the guitar was out of harms way. Another voice, a voice I would always single out in a crowd, broke through the cries of disgust around me. "OMB Bondi I'm so sorry." Patina was running across the yard to Citrine's side.
"She's had way to much to drink tonight." As if I hadn't figured that one out. "Look do you mind helping me get her inside. We can get you into some clean clothes too."
I couldn't have said no to her if she asked me jump off a cliff. Sighing I grabbed one of Citrine's arms and helped carry her into the house.
After that night it seemed that Patina was everywhere. In a city this big you would think that running into someone else on pure chance would be nearly impossible but it seemed that everywhere I went there she was.
She was never alone, always surround by people and I could never bring myself to speak with her. Sometimes I might smile and wave, other time I slipped away not wanting to be seen.
The music of that night haunted me. When I could no longer resist it's call I asked mum to send my guitar to me, something I swore I would never pick up again. Despite my reluctance at being watched by complete strangers I found it easier to play while I was outside.
"Hey kid. She was right you're pretty good." I jumped at the voice. I turned to see a casual and yet still well dress man standing off to one side and chuckling. "She said you were a bit jumpy too."
"Sorry sir. Who said?" I asked quickly trying to pack up the guitar.
"Patina." Just the name stopped me cold. "I should introduce myself. I'm Jaffa, Citrine's dad. I stopped by the house to make sure it was still in one piece after Citrine's latest party and Patina mentioned she heard you playing on one of my old guitars."
I flushed. Not only had Patina heard me playing but I had been caught playing the guitar of what was obviously a very rich and powerful man. "I'm so sorry sir. I shouldn't have been using your guitar. If there is any damage to it at all I will pay for it."
He laughed and it boomed out of him echoing around the park. "No damage done and nothing to apologise about. I was glad to hear that my old guitar was getting some use. I always hoped that Citrine would take it up but, between you and me, she is more interested in musicians than in music. Listen I own a couple of clubs around town and I really think you should pop by on open mic night."
"I don't know sir. I really don't play in public."
"Enough with the sir, call me Jaffa. And what do you call this." He wave his hand around the park. He had a good point technically I was playing in public. It just seemed different. Here I was playing for myself, in a club I would be playing for everyone else. "Just think about it. We're having one tomorrow night at Eugi. Come by and check it out no pressure." With that he clapped me on the shoulder and walked off whistling my melody.
The next night came and to my surprise I found myself making my way to the club.
It was busy when I got there but not so packed that I couldn't handle it. I slipped into a quite corner where I could see without being seen. It was a good atmosphere. People chatting and laughing quietly while a woman played the piano on the small stage.
"Jaffa said you might come tonight." I turned trying to hide the fact that I had once again been startled to see Patina standing there drink in hand.
"I was curious, " I said as she sat down next to me. "I've never been to an open mic night before and I wanted to see what it was like."
"Jaffa's done great things with this place. He's really turned it into somewhere that new musicians can showcase their skills."
I nodded and we sat there in companionable silence listening to the woman finish her set on the piano. Every once and a while I would glance over at her. Her beauty still took my breath away but I could see past that now. I could see her warm smile and her kind heart. I knew I would regret it if I let her in, I knew it could only lead to me falling in love with her, but I reasoned it would be worth the occasional heart ache of seeing her with someone else to keep her in my life. I may not be able to be with her but for the chance to be near such an incredible woman I would take a simple friendship.
Relaxing and smiling I turned to her. "So I hear I have you to thank for the invitation to come down here." She smiled back and so began the first of many evenings we would spend together.