Reluctantly Charmed

Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill Read Free Book Online

Book: Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ellie O'Neill
microphone stand looking pained, his face creased with intensity, as if he was desperately trying to remember his pin number. “Yooooouuuuuu—alwaysyouuuuuuuuuu.” His hair was damp with sweat, and as he ran his hand through his flattened curls the mob took a sharp intake of breath. His top lip curled into a controlled smile; we were in the palm of his hand. He shook his shoulders free and started tapping his foot. We did likewise.
    I was still on the Red Horizon e-mail list. I never canceled it. I knew when they were touring, enjoying summer weather, or hopping on a Bus Éireann bus to Portlaoise. I didn’t read the e-mails most of the time—I knew that bus had left the garage. But this time it was different, because the generic e-mail had been followed by a personal e-mail from Jim. It felt like I’d been hit by a brick in the face when his name popped up. Why was he e-mailing?
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]; [email protected]
Subject: Tonight’s gig
Hi guys, really hope you can make the gig tonight, was hoping to grab you for a pint after??? J
    I immediately forwarded the e-mail on to my best friend, Lily and Fiona, for advice. What was going on?
    Lily came back first.
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]; [email protected]
Hmmmm, I dunno. What does he want? It’s been too long to try and spark anything up. Maybe he wants to be friends???????
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]; [email protected]
No guy wants to be friends with someone he’s slept with!!!! BUT Paul in here is friends with his friend Alan and he just e-mailed him and guess what . . . The Swede isn’t around anymore. Broke up a while back. You never know, K, he could be looking for a repeat offense? Good luck. X
    I’d worn a pair of killer heels, pinned my hair up high and let some loose curls fall around my face, and put on a puffball-style black dress that was too short for me and definitely too short for a backstreet gig.
    The crowd was clapping loudly. Relieved and happy, Jim threw his head back, smiling. “Here come two of my friends. Late.” He grinned into the mic. “Matthew, and Kate McDaid.”
    He said my name like you’d give directions to a Japanese tourist—loud and clear. There was a hush, a few seconds, a murmur. I heard a rumble. “Kate McDaid, Kate McDaid” bounced across the room. I felt my chest cave in and my shoulders bend. What?
    Matthew, seeing me flounder, pulled a barstool under me, and I sat crouched.
    “What was that all about?” he whispered in my ear.
    I shook my head. What was that?
    A few hours later, I was four beers in and feeling normal again. Red Horizon had packed up their equipment and there was only a sprinkling of golden-haired groupies left. Jim joined Matthew and me at the bar. He was glowing, high after performing. He hugged me again. Damn you and your hugs , I thought. If you didn’t hug so great I might have forgotten about you a long time ago . But I lost myself to it, and then crossed my legs and stretched my back out at the bar, trying hard to differentiate myself from the groupies in the room.
    “Good gig, man, good gig.” I had to stop myself from laughing out loud at Matthew’s Californian surfer-dude act.
    “Thanks, yeah. We were a bit off half an hour in, but I thinkwe recovered.” He nodded toward the barman and ordered a whiskey and lemonade.
    I sat on my hands, trying hard not to stare at his profile.
    He swirled the ice in his whiskey and turned his shoulders into me. “How are you, Kate?”
    “Good,” I squeaked.
    “Mad stuff going on, hey?” He fished into the pocket of his tight dark denim jeans and pulled out some printed pages, which he laid flat on the bar counter. It was the letter.
    “Yeah, sorry about that. I didn’t think anyone was on that site. Look, I can take it down, put it up somewhere else. It has to be published, but it doesn’t matter where.” I could feel an apologetic ramble taking over.
    He stopped me. “Don’t take it down.

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