I know, I know – I kinda suck. Why? Because I promised this chapter over the weekend, and I totally spaced on it. My excuse is, that I have a cold and I was busy doing a read through before Melody got sent off for editing – please forgive me! 😉
Anyway! Something else also happened over the weekend as well – I announced the prizes for my 3000 likes on Facebook Giveaway. One lucky person will get a $50 gift voucher to a store of their choice (as long as I can purchase it online of course) and a package from me with some signed book swag in it.
Five years ago…
“Where did you get that?” I ask Erica as she passes a bottle of Bacardi Rum to Stephanie.
“I swiped it from my Dad,” explains Amy as she takes it off Steph, takes a swig and hands it to me.
I tip the bottle back and almost choke as the clear liquid burns my throat and makes my eyes water.
“Holy shit!” I splutter. “That stuff is horrible.”
“Well it’s just a little liquid courage. We need to go in there and act like we belong,” Erica explains.
“Yeah, don’t you want to see Marcus playing in his band?” teases Stephanie, who knows I’ve had a crush on him since the first moment I saw him in high school. He was the year above us, and I followed him around like a lost puppy.
I wouldn’t say we were friends. I’d just say that he tolerated me. He used to call me his favourite groupie. Although, I think he actually liked the fact that while he played his guitar and sang, I would sometimes join in with my violin. He wouldn’t let anyone else do that – just me. So it made me feel a little special.
But I haven’t seen him since he finished year twelve and started at university. We’re crashing a Sydney university party tonight, having heard about it via Erica’s older cousin. It’ll be the last time I get to see Marcus before I go to Canberra for the Australian National University’s School of Music. Not that it will matter. I doubt he’ll even notice me.
“Of course I want to see him. But I don’t really know if he’ll want me there. I haven’t spoken to him in over a year,” I reply.
“You have a vagina right?” asks Amy, in her usual blunt and deadpan way. “Of course he’ll want you there. Just don’t expect him to be talking to you tomorrow.” She grabs the bottle back and throws her head back, chugging down the last of it.
The rest of us exchange wide eyed expressions as she tells us all to follow her. It’s as if she’s a general leading the charge, so we follow along. Nervous about getting caught out, but excited about crashing a party.
Once we get in, there are so many people that we needn’t have worried, no one would have noticed us.
“There he is,” Stephanie whispers in my ear, nudging me with her elbow.
I look across the courtyard, and see Marcus setting up with the band on a makeshift stage. My heart does great big thumps against my ribcage as I watch him, his long toned arms showing corded forearms underneath his rolled up sleeves.
His head tilts forward as he focuses on the guitar in his hands. That’s what I’ve always loved about him – how important he finds his music. There’s a whole room of people around him, drinking and having a great time. There’s even people trying to get his attention, but he’s so focused on getting ready that he pays them no mind at all.
“Amazing,” I say under my breath, feeling completely in awe.
“What is?” Stephanie asks, just as this guy comes to stand in front of us with a tub full of various vodka mixes.
“Lucky dip?” he asks, offering us a drink.
“Sure,” we both say together, looking in the tub for a flavour we might like.
“No, no. You have to close your eyes and pick. It’s not fair if you look.”
“Oh ok,” I laugh, closing my eyes and reaching in. I pull out this red cranberry mix and Stephanie manages to get passionfruit, which is my favourite.
The guy moves off, offering the drinks to others as he goes along.
“You wanna swap?” she asks me, holding out the unopened bottle.
I smile gratefully, and switch drinks with her, loving that she knows me so well. I twist off the cap and take a mouthful, grimacing a little. “It’s flat,” I complain.
“You want to switch back? Mine’s fine,” she asks.
“No, don’t worry about it. I’ll just drink it,” I shrug, throwing the bottle back and taking a long thirsty chug. Even though we’re outside, it’s January, and in typical Sydney summer fashion, it’s really humid with only a light breeze blowing to cool us all down.
“Naomi?” I hear from behind me. Turing around, I find myself face to face with an old friend.
“Aramis!” I squeal, jumping up to wrap my arms around his neck and hug him tightly. “Oh my goodness, I’ve missed you so much! Still rocking the Goth look I can see,” I grin. Holding onto his arm as I speak to him.
Aramis is another ex-Australian Performing Arts Grammar School student. He was a couple of years above me, but we played together a few times in school productions, and we used to have a great time, sneaking into the music auditorium so he could play on the old piano in there. He loved the sound of it, claiming that it was far superior to the electric keyboards they had in the music rooms.
I’m a bit of a prodigy, and pick up musical instruments really quickly, easily understanding how they work and how the right notes can be produced. It’s like I speak music – like it’s a natural language for me. Piano and guitar, were really easy for me, but the violin took a bit more practise to master, which is why I’m such a big fan of it.
But with Aramis, I used to sit with him and play the piano as well while we worked through different pieces of music. It was always a lot of fun, and I loved spending time with him. Truthfully, he was my secret crush. You know that one guy you really like, but you’re afraid to tell your friends because they’ll think you’re crazy? Yeah. That’s Aramis.
To the rest of the school, he was considered a bit of a freak with his dyed black hair and pale made up face. But I’ve always thought him beautiful, I always enjoyed how quiet and reserved he was, despite his obvious talents. He was such a contrast to Marcus who was always so boisterous and sure of himself.
“How have you been?” he asks, his dark eyes concentrated only on me, making me feel like the only girl in the world.
“Busy with school. I got into ANU,” I tell him smiling, my eyes raking over him from head to toe, drinking him in.
“I heard,” he nods. “It’s well deserved. Congratulations,” he smiles, producing perfect white teeth, and slight crinkle around his eyes.
“What are you doing here tonight? Are you at the Conservatorium of Music?” I ask.
“No. I didn’t apply for uni actually. I travelled for a year and then came back home. I’m playing with the band tonight. On keyboards,” he states. Nodding toward the stage. “I’d better go. Maybe we can hang after the show? Come and find me.”
“I’d love that,” I call after him, pleased when he takes a moment to turn back and smile at me.
“Oh wow. Aramis is looking mighty fine from this angle,” Stephanie points out as we watch him walk away.
“Mmmhmm,” I agree, tilting my head as if it will give me a better angle.
“What about Marcus?” Stephanie murmurs next to my ear. “I thought you were here for him.”
“Who?” I ask, looking at her but not hearing what she’s saying. I’m still too busy watching Aramis as he climbs up on the stage.
Seeing him again has reminded me how much I loved spending time with him. How much I liked him. While I do like Marcus, I know that he’s a player. Nothing will ever come of spending the night with Marcus. But with Aramis… well, he’s different.
I tip my drink back, draining its contents before look around for something to put my empty bottle in. It’s at that moment that the band starts up, playing a cover of Muse’s Uprising. Amy and Erica come rushing over to us, holding more vodka mixes above their heads as they howl out their excitement and sway to the music.
“Just look at him up there,” Amy groans, as she hands me a fresh bottle. “He’s like a god on stage.”
“Yeah he is,” I agree, but I’m not looking at the same band member she is. It’s like he’s faded into the ether.
I twist the cap off the new vodka mix and gulp a mouthful of its contents, feeling glad that this time the liquid is fizzy – even though it’s an orange flavoured one.
We do as girls do at parties and start to dance to the music. That’s the last thing I remember until I wake up the next morning and become a walking cliché.
Thank god I’m moving to Canberra.
A Beautiful Melody is releasing on November 30! Not long now!!! make sure you add it to your TBR list on Goodreads, or go to the iBookstore where it is available for pre-order. (All other ebook retailers will have the copy available on release day)