Chapter One: Pages 7-8

Travis felt his temperature rise. His body was reacting to the sound of her voice.

He shivered, as chills rushed through his arms.

He tried his best to appear uninterested in her talents, but with each word she sang, he fell deeper and deeper into her trance.

He took a sip of his Bourbon drink, and continued smoking his cigar .

“Is your mouth a little weak?” Cindy sang.

Travis looked up from the smoke and finally centered his focus on the songstress. By the look on his face, one would assume he was displeased, but he carefully considered the best way to approach her before the night was through.

Under normal circumstances, Travis put little to no thought behind the liking of a woman. He was very forward with the opposite sex, and it usually worked in his favor. He believed all women were easy. Not easy in the sense of promiscuity; he simply believed that his boyish looks and his unveiling charm could spark the interest of almost any woman he came across. He did not expect it to be any different with Cindy.

“Not if you care for me….”

Travis adjusted his shirt collar.

“Valentine stay.”

Before Cindy could bring the song to a close, he made a flirtatious attempt to sing along with her.

“Each day….is Valentine’s Day.”

Cindy was a bit rattled by his unexpected display of child’s play. She offered him a weak smile and tossed her hair behind her shoulder. She didn’t know whether she should entertain his chauvinistic ways or make it difficult for him to gain her approval.

She tried not to over think her next move, but it was too late. She had become overwhelmed by the thought of impressing him.

The music came to a close as the room stiffened in silence. Cindy was now anxious and uneasy. Something she rarely felt on stage.

As the pianist began playing the next selection, she looked to the man behind the curtain again. Then she frantically nodded her head and turned back to the crowd.

Suddenly, she realized she was having a panic attack.

“I apologize to you all, but unfortunately I’m going to have to cut my set a little short.”

The crowd began to wail.

“Oh, you gotta be kidding me!” someone yelled across the room.

“I’m very sorry,” she said.

“I will be back tomorrow night. Same time.”

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Chapter One: Pages 9-10

Her body begin to shake. Travis was the only person in the room that seemed to notice. He could tell by the subtle change in her voice that something was wrong.

“Thank you all,” she said.

“For coming out,” she finished.

The audience grew agitated by the piercing sound of the microphone, as Cindy fumbled to put it back on the stand.

Dumbfounded, the pianist continued to play as he watched her struggle in angst and walk away.

The crowd filled the bar with petty gossip the moment Cindy left the room, and Travis was determined to figure out what  happened.

The pianist finished the selection, and gradually exited the stage.

“Aye yo, Cindy! What the hell was that?!” he yelled down the hall.

Cindy ran into the manager’s office. She could tell he was only a few steps away.

“Please don’t start with me tonight, Jay.”

Jason mocked her.

“Please don’t start with me tonight,” he mimicked.

He stood in the doorway and saw Cindy leaning across the desk.

“All I know is I better get paid, or else…”

“Or else what?” Cindy snapped back.

Jason shook his head and proceeded to walk away, when suddenly he stopped and turned back around. Cindy looked him straight in the face and rolled her eyes.

He took a few steps toward her and reached behind her back.

“You know what…just forget it.”

He grabbed his keys off the manager’s desk and rushed out the room.

“You’re fuckin’ crazy!” he yelled, as he headed towards the back of the building.

Cindy braced herself for the door.

“Slam!”

“Asshole,” she whispered under her breath.

“Okay, what the hell was that?”

Cindy was startled by her manager as he walked into the room.

He held a glass of vodka in his right hand and a phone in his left hand. Cindy’s demeanor drastically changed.

“I uh….I umm…” as she moved out of his way.

The manager sat down on the edge of his desk as Cindy tripped over her words.

“Okay just stop right there.”

He looked down at his phone. Cindy noticed a nude woman on the screen.

“I really don’t care,” he said.

She let out a sigh of relief.

“But no pay tonight.”

Cindy reluctantly nodded to express her understanding, but he never looked up from his phone.

“Now go,” he said.

Cindy yanked her purse from the rusted coat rack and scurried out of the office. She was in desperate need of a smoke.