Therese felt small jolts of electricity dancing in the air. The Moonlight was packed, and the anticipation of the crowds could be felt even in the small backstage room. Their band, called in the posters as Therese Belivet Quartet, laid in one heap of limbs on a small couch. Therese tried to take deep breaths and focus on what was to come, but Dannie’s elbow was uncomfortably under her arm.
She jumped up, causing Dannie to mutter something unintelligent. Brothers Brandon and Chris looked at them with a smile. A small moment Therese wondered, how it was possible that they always stayed so cool. The brothers were good musicians, exceptional, but quiet and only talked when it was something important.
A thousand thoughts circled in her mind. She thought about those moments leading to this. That one evening, when Dannie had introduced her to the brothers, their first jam session – and countless more, just for the joy of playing together. Over the years they had found ease with one and another – space to express solos, ideas, and songs. What was odd, was that they had never performed together.
“You know, I never thought I would actually be here” Brandon started. “Playing in Moonlight. I didn’t think that your jam sessions would ever lead to this.”
“But it’s good, I have always thought Terry’s ideas were too brilliant to not to be shared with the world.” Added Chris.
“I think it is our music, not mine. I don’t know why I agreed with that terrible name. I should be thanking you, guys.” Therese tried to reason.
The stage was bright and the audience was in the dark. A sea of bodies, faces unrecognizable, was just waiting for them to play. A chatter set when Therese grabbed the microphone, glanced to everyone that had taken their places on the stage, giving her a reassuring smile. Without any additional introductions, Therese nodded to Brandon behind the drums, to start their first song and dive headfirst into their own world.
Therese Belivet Quartet was on stage. It was a moment Carol had been waiting for weeks, from the second Julie had whispered her the unpublished news. The thoughts of Therese hadn’t left her, however hard she tried. Working late, having random night guests from bars or date sites, listening to her favourite music… Everything she had enjoyed in her life had turned dull.
You go to my head
And you linger like a haunting refrain
And I find you spinning round in my brain
Like the bubbles in a glass of champagne
Carol felt unable to concentrate properly. It wasn’t that the music would be anything but brilliant – it was the words that had made her uncomfortable. The words that that woman had spoken minutes ago rang in her head. “… incredible. You are a role model for the young girls. You should embrace that more, stand up to be that model – to show that women can handle technology, business, and family.”
If you only knew how badly I messed up my family situation… Carol thought. I’m not sure I am a mother anymore, definitely not a role model.
A familiar sense of guilt flashed painfully through her body, and a sweet image of her daughter filled her memory. Rindy jumping around the Christmas tree, Rindy sitting on her lap with a storybook. It was two months since she had seen her precious daughter, and two more months until she would be able to see her again.
That woman had come to talk to her while she was waiting with Julie for the Quartet. She had introduced herself as Anne, and straightforwardly asked if she could interview her for one of the leading independent women’s magazines she worked for. Apparently, she had seen her talk at the Women in Tech Forum the previous year.
She had refused. Of course. But that had caused the words that now stung in her ears.
The song ended with a technically incredible double bass solo and the crowd erupted in a great applause and cheering. It pulled Carol out of her thoughts. She fixed her gaze on that unreal creature on the stage, to drink in every moment of her. Just to have something to remember in her dark, lonely apartment.
“This song” Therese spoke from the stage, tuning her electric guitar “Was modified from the original for someone, I thought was special. That someone made me feel special by only looking at me – made me feel worthy even if I didn’t myself. But it was just an illusion, and I came back being just that – a weirdo. “
Therese fought, Dannie in tow, her way through the crowd. Luckily Phil was tall and easy to spot. She attacked him hugging him from the back. He exclaimed and turned to greet Therese.
“Girl, you did great! I’m so proud of you!” Therese hold to his frame happily. It was long time she had met him last time. Phil was Dannie’s brother, older son of the McElroy’s family.
Therese turned to greet Anne, Phil’s wife, but was lost in tracks. Next to Anne stood a familiar blonde.
Therese didn’t hear what Anne said when she hugged her. She was filled with anger she felt towards that woman. Luckily Anne didn’t notice how distracted Therese was.
Therese, this is … Anne was rudely interrupted.
“Therese, it is so nice to meet you again. I really enjoyed your set. It is always a wonder to hear you perform.”
Liked a scared animal, Therese tried to find a way to escape. There was none. The only way seemed to play along.
“Thank you…. Doctor Aird.” She shot a fake smile.
“Please, call me Carol.”
The small talk was awkward. Julie joined them to congratulate and short moment Therese felt at ease discussing music and the choices they had made. She was surprised to learn how much Carol knew about music.
“Harge moved to New York three years ago. He took our daughter with him. We talked about divorcing then, but there was so much going on that it didn’t seem important. It’s also difficult because of the firm, Harge but a lot of his family money into it.”
Therese glanced at her side and saw Carol standing there, leaning on the wall of the narrow corridor, eyes cast at the tips of her oxford shoes. She played with a tip of that shoe with the loose strand lost from the carpet.
“And the firm’s PR said it’s looks better for the investors if we are married. So, we kept married on paper.” Carol continued in low voice. She rose her eyes from the floor and for a moment Therese met them. They seemed to ask for understanding.
Bathroom door slammed loudly as someone stepped out. That pulled Therese from her reverie and she hurried to get in. Carol’s word played in her head as she tried to make some sense into them.
It was time for the last performer of the night. The mood had changed from a sophisticated jazz scene more to a party place. Therese happily joined her friends. Phil and Anne were clearly enjoying their night out and were sufficiently drunk – not too much, but enough to them to see only each other and not caring about showing others their stolen kisses and caresses. Dannie was talking with Julie, clearly trying to give a good impression. Julie shook hands with him and give Therese a wave for goodbye, just before the next band claimed the stage.
Compared to the other bands, this one was already quite famous for they music. They combined electronic sounds and samples to the classical swing and organic sounds of their instruments. Not a typical party music, but something Therese thoroughly enjoyed. And tonight, she knew she would try to enjoy herself. Carol be damned. She bumped into Dannie to get his attention, and for some time, they were crazily jumping, grinning and making faces at each other. All anxiousness from the night gone.
Dannie tucked her with his elbow, and by raising his brows made These to look at something behind her. It was Carol, eyes closed, clearly lost in the beat and rhythms of the music. Therese would have laughed at the sight – a lonely woman in her 30’s dressed in a fitting wine-coloured suit moving to the beat – if it all wasn’t so genuine. So uninhibited. Therese was transfixed.
Carol opened her eyes; for a split second she looked fazed by the two pair of eyes that were fixed on her. In a next moment it was gone. In few confident strides and a wink sent at Therese she was joining their party. Dannie leaned to say something to her, and Carol answered, but Therese didn’t have any clue what it was about.
They danced for a while; Therese was surprised that she enjoyed it. She knew she would have fun with Dannie, but fooling on the impromptu dancefloor with Carol was unexpected. Flirting came easy and natural – a provocative move or wink was sent back with a challenge. It was not about the skills; it was more about letting go and enjoying the music. Dannie played along at first, but soon he left to see some friend he saw in the crowd. Or that he at least told Therese.
Carol grabbed Therese’s hand and spun her under their joined hands. And a second, third and fourth time. Therese felt light-headed from all the spinning and took an unplanned step to the side in try to keep her balance. Strong arms hold her upright and her senses were filled with Carol. She closed her eyes to stop the room from spinning and even her hurried breath – things caused more by the proximity of the woman than the previous movement.
They stood like that for a moment. Therese’s body was reacting to the warmth radiating from the body so close but her brain was screaming.
“Are you okay?
Therese nodded. She felt Carols hands wandering on her hips and her breath hitched. Hands untucked her shirt and draw small circles on her bare skin. Carol shifted so she was standing behind Therese and they were both facing the stage. Her touches continued.
“Is this too much? Do you want me to stop?”
Carol swayed slightly to the music, her front time to time jerking into Therese’s back. Therese suppressed a moan. It was too much, they were in public, in a club where anyone could see them. Somehow Therese was unable to tell her to stop. She was not ready to give up the sweet feel of the fingers brushing her hot skin. She pushed her back to Carol.
Carol hummed approvingly. Her front came even closer and Therese found herself nudging against Carol. Together they moved in their own peculiar dance. Carol made small advances; Therese responded. Carol praised in soft voice; Therese felt more aroused every time. People around didn’t seem to pay much attention on what was happening. Phil and Anne were happily lost in each other and Dannie had disappeared somewhere.
“Be good, you don’t want anyone to notice, do you?" Carol's fingers brushed lightly the skin under the waistband and her other hand followed the lines of her jeans' back pocket.
Therese had no idea how much time had passed. The last song drew to its melodramatic end. On the last few beats, Therese felt a soft kiss on the back of her neck, and with that, Carol was gone. All that was left was elevated heart rate, throbbing in her lower abdomen and a faint hint of a perfume Therese couldn’t describe. Later came the anger. Once again she had let herself been played by Carol Aird.
Thought I’m certain that this heart of mine
Hasn’t ghost of a chance in this crazy romance
You go to my head
You go to my head