Belongs to me, like Reese and Jason.
Subject to change.
“Just this once… let’s take sides.
Make you sure you get my good side… alright?
Don’t be scared to turn me sideways and get deeper… alright?
Ain’t nothing wrong with a good firm grip on my backside… alright?
I know it’s good, but stay focused, don’t get sidetracked… alright?
You want to turn it over, flip it over, that’s okay, cause I’m flexible like that.
I know it’s pretty, but stay focused … don’t get sidetracked.
Take me higher, take me higher, don’t let the pressure subside.
You getting tired?
Tap me in from the ringside, let me take you for a little…ride.
Come back inside.
I won’t let that pressure subside.
I stepped away from the mic at Urban Grind, and smiled at the crowd as they applauded my sharing of the random piece I’d jotted down in my journal between yoga sessions that morning. It hadn’t been written with any intention of sharing – it wasn’t polished, not by my standards, but getting up on stage had accomplished my goal of helping burn off some of the anxious energy that had been plaguing me all day without cause.
At least, not one I could see.
“Daaaamn.” I laughed as I heard Roman’s voice on the mic, and a moment later, he was up on the stage with me, wrapping an arm around my shoulder. “Really, Astrid? You say you want to get in on the open mic, and this is what you do? Get up here and get everybody hot and bothered?” he asked, and I covered my face with my hands.
It wasn’t that I was embarrassed – not exactly. I mean… getting up on stage to say it, having all eyes on me, hadn’t elicited any shyness at all, but somehow, having it pointed out made me feel the teensiest bit exposed.
“Did that have a name?” he asked, and I shrugged.
“Uh… I guess I would call it… “Take Sides?””
He nodded. “Aiight people, that concludes tonight’s open mic. Let’s give Astrid another hand for “Take Sides”.
I gave a little wave as I got another round of applause. Whistles from the crowd got my attention, and I grinned as I spotted my little crew in the back corner cheering for me like I’d just gotten a diploma. I shook my head at their antics, and as I turned away, a different familiar face in the crowd caught my eyes.
He was with his own group, people who I didn’t really know well, but recognized from his tattoo shop, and around town. He was sitting at the end of one of the high-backed, semi-circle benches with his legs wide open, one muscled arm spread across the back of the seat. His other hand was holding a glass of something dark in mid-air, like he couldn’t decide if he was drinking or putting it down. The deep, dark drown pools of his eyes were trained directly on me.
Drinking me in.
I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until Roman touched my shoulder to usher me off the stage. As the air rushed from my lungs, I glanced back to where Eddie was, only to find him with a smile on his face as he spoke animatedly with the man next to him about something, paying exactly zero attention to me.
Had I imagined it?
Quinn and Sydnee met me at the steps that led up to the stage, practically bubbling with excitement.
“That was hot,” Quinn gushed, and beside her, Sydnee nodded.
“When you first started, I was like… “oh dear, this… this isn’t…” but then you told him to make sure he gets your good side if he’s taking pictures, and I then I was like “Oh, okay, so she’s just gonna… okay, I can dig it”,” Sydnee explained, making me burst into giggles.
“Could y’all stop it,” I asked, laughing again when they really did. “No, fools, I’m playing. Keep going. Tell me what else.”
“Excuse me ladies.” We looked up as Roman approached, with an envelope in his hand. He held it in my direction, and I looked at him with a curious frown. “Drink tickets,” he explained. “Anybody who does the open mic gets two free drinks.”
Immediately, I accepted the envelope. “Oooh, unexpected perks!”
Laughing, Roman tossed his hand up in a wave. “Y’all have a good time.”
“Oh we plan to.” I turned back to Quinn and Syd with a smile on my face. “I’ll meet y’all back at the table. I am about to go cash in one of these drink tickets.”
I felt good as I weaved my way through the crowd. After a taxing day – hell, a taxing week – a night like tonight felt more necessary than I’d expected. The bar was crowded, but that was okay. I tossed up a little way at the bartender as I approached, getting her attention, and when she nodded, I squeezed my way into a tiny open space at the bar.
“Can I get a cranberry and vodka?” I yelled, over the noise of the crowd. “Lakewood cranberry if you have it. And Rain vodka.”
I narrowed my eyes, turning away from the bartender as she nodded to confirm my order. I hadn’t realized it, but I was standing right next to Eddie. “Predictable?”
He nodded. “Yeah. Natural hair, yoga, always talking about “vibes”. Of course you want organic drinks. You’re probably vegan too, huh?”
“Why does that sound like an insult?”
He winked at me. “Because it is.”
“And here I was, thinking you were being nice to me for a change,” I said, crossing my arms as I leaned onto the scuffed hardwood bar top. Just like in the studio that day, Eddie’s eyes flickered down to my breasts, lingering before they moved back to my face.
“Nobody asked you to think, did they?”