I take his hand and shake it. "I'm fine thanks... and I'm Caroline. Nice to meet you Bruno."
"I heard you came here to book me for a show?" He smirks.
I laugh at his confidence, tho it's nothing new for me. Many artists are like that, but most of them turn out to be either boring or arrogant. He seems to be different. The way he laughs at himself makes him kinda charming and definitely cute. "Hm if that's what you heard... we'll see... what kind of music do you play? Do you have a band?"
"Oh I play EVERYthing and yeah of course I'm a one-man-band!" He starts laughing moving his shoulders up and down. It looks funny, boyish...or is he drunk already? "I play guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and I sing, rap, beatbox, whatever you need..." I just nod. Such a brag. "UN-fortunately in a life gig I can't do it aaall by myself soooo I got me some good guys here..." He points to the rest of the men he came with. "That is my brother Eric he plays drums and Brody he plays the bass, Brian is on the keys, Jason is.. wait! where's Jason?" Everybody shrugs with their shoulders looking around. "Nevermind he's just our tech... and that's Phil, yeah Phil is here to entertain the crowd if I fail. But this never happens, so why are you even here Phil?" He claps on Phil's shoulder giggling a bit too much on his own comment. Beverly of course joins their laughter falling for any dumb joke. I just smile a bit, greet everyone and think: A bragging clown... GREAT! The evening started good with this Ryan but now seems to turn into a nightmare full of childish jokes and Beverly's laughter...urgh, hopefully the bands are good...
I sit down at the counter. "Can I get another glass of wine, please?" I ask Ryan and turn to Bruno once again. "So if you have nobody to play guitar I assume you play it yourself?"
"Yes lady you assume that right." He answers in a stupid accent which probably should be british and on top of that he even bends down a little. Great and now he jokes about me talking like an adult. Why in hell did I deserve to go through this shit???
"And how long do you play already?" I ask remaining seriously because I'm fucking here to get my work done and be professional 'cause I want to organise this MJ tribute so bad. And to do that I need a good band for this other show...
He seems to slowly understand that he might ruin a job if he keeps fooling around like that and calms down a little bit.
"Since I'm 15. So now for 8 years." He answers and sits down at the bar stool next to me.
"So you're 23 now... That's a good age... plus your looks..." I say nodding more to myself thinking of all the 16-year-olds who gonna be there. They will love him and his cute babyface. If he just can sing well a bit, maybe is a little crooner that would fit perfectly...
"What?" He jolts me out of my thoughts. "What do you mean with good age? my looks? For what company are you working for again?"
Now it's time for me to laugh at his kinda shocked, worried face. "It's good because it's exactly the age I search." I finish the sentence and realize that this might sound wrong. I stop smiling. "I mean... it's the age I need...erm I mean... for the show... next month..." Oh god why am I so nervous suddenly. Be professional, be professional! I sip at my wine. Maybe I shouldn't drink anymore and put it quickly down again gulping the sip I took.
He grins at me. "Do I make you nervous?"
"YOU? Not in a million times! Duh.." I laugh through my closed mouth. "Normally I don't consume so much alcohol especially when I didn't eat a proper meal throughout the day. So it might get straight to my head I assu... I think..." Why did I just change the word I wanted to use? 'Cause he made fun about it? Oh god Caroline all your good intentions to be self confident and flirty goes down at the first guy making you a bit uncomfortable... Great!
"Don't change the way you're talking! I like it! See I can be a fool sometimes but don't take anything serious what comes out of this mouth okay?" He points at his mouth. "Unless I tell you before, alright? And now we'll get you something to eat, because I want you to have fun and that's not possible if you don't drink some more tonight..." He doesn't wait for my answer just stands up and gets me a menu.
I decide to take that as a challenge for my plan waking up my flirty ego. I can't give up so easily...
I order a salad with turkey breast pieces 'cause this is healthy and I really have to get back in shape again. Bruno stays with me the whole time while the bar gets fuller and fuller. We talk mostly about his musical background. He's performing almost his whole life on some shows his father organised and he tells me that he came from Hawaii like Ryan but his origins are Puerto Rican and Filipino. As a proof he shows me his messed up Puerto Rican curls he hides under his hat because he's always too lazy to comb them. He makes me laugh a lot and it feels great. He's really a goofball but I start to like it. He isn't dumby he just loves to joke around and have fun. I really can't blame him for that. Honestly it's just the perfect accompany I need right now. He leaves out the part with Motown and I don't wanna expose him so I don't tell him that Ryan already told me. Luckily Beverly is most of the time around Ryan or another 'friend' of hers. It seems like she's not interested in Bruno and leaves us alone. She just joins us from time to time to make sure that 'eeeeverything's aaalriiiiight' but that totally don't annoy me. Soon it's 10 and the first band begins to play. There are 8 bands. Every gets around 30 minutes and 15 minutes breaks between them... This gonna be a long night but I don't mind anymore... talking to Bruno really got me into the right mood and I eased more and more throughout our conversation...
The first 3 bands are really not at all what we needed, they're not even good. They play some Reggae, an awkward punk style and hard rock but with an acoustic guitar... Do I need to say more? The 4th one is better. They play a mix of covers and own stuff in a poprock alternative style. I really get into it and even stand up and dance a little to it. After their first song Beverly comes to me and says that they are 'reeeeally gooooood' as if I didn't recognize that by myself... Bruno excuses himself after the second song. He has to join his band before they perform and left. It is their turn after this band and I'm really looking forward for seeing him on stage.
But back to this band. The next songs are even better and I smile and nod to Beverly signalising that they really are potential material for the show. She nods back in agreement. At least in those topics we concur... When they finished I go to the singer and tell him who I am and give him my business card. He doesn't have one so I save his number in my phone. He really is charming, smooth and his appearance is exactly my type. He's 31, tall, skinny but with defined muscles, has a little bit longer dark-blond hair and a 3-day-beard. Somehow he reminds me of Kurt Cobain and that's definitely no bad thing. We chat some more while he and his band takes down their equpiment.
"So how much more time do you guys need, before we get the stage?" Someone from behind suddenly interrupts our conversation. I turn around and see Bruno holding his guitar in one hand and a small amplifier in the other.
"Erm I think we're ready... are we guys?" Mike, the singer I was just talking to, says and turns back from me towards his band. They all nod and go off the stage.
"Caroline, you wanna join me for a drink and continue our convo?" Mike asks me while going backwards towards the counter.
"Erm..." I look at Bruno he didn't move from where he was standing before watching me and Mike with a serious look. I don't like him looking at me like that and somehow I feel dumb. I shrug this feeling off. "No I'm sorry I have to listen to the other bands too... you know... business..." I response with a regretful face holding up my card.
"Too bad. Maybe another time... you got my number and... about that show... it's not totally our thing but we'll do it when you pay enough..." He winks at me and turns around.
"How does it come that I don't have your card yet?" Bruno asks me standing suddenly beside me and putting down the things in his hands.
"Well you first have to show me how good you are and then I'll give it to you." I repeat that sentence in my mind and catch myself how wrong that sounds... again...
"What?" He smirks, turns his head a little bit down but doesn't take his eyes off of me, instead lifts his eyebrows so that there are small wrinkles on his forehead. This look is unbelievably extra cute.
I giggle and he does so too. "'I don't know somehow I constantly succeed in making ambivalent statements when you're around... sorry for that..."
"Don't have to apologize... I'm totally fine with that... and... I'm definitely willing to show you how good I am if you in return give it to me!" He winks at me and starts to make his guitar and mic ready for the performance.
"Well I'm curious about what you can do." I say, smile and leave the stage. Back at the counter I take a big sip from my wine. This night really gets better and better...
"Do you like him?" Beverly asks me out of nowhere.
"Gosh Caroliiiine... BRUNO!" She yells at me.
I just hope Bruno didn't hear it. I look at him but he is concentrated on fixing the cables, relieved I turn back to Beverly. Wait! Did she just say my name right? I shake my head. "NO! I mean yeah I like him but not in THAT way you may mean..." Why does she even ask? She never cared about my feelings... why suddenly now? And most of all I highly refuse talking with her about any of these things.
"Toooooo bad. He's such a cuuuutie and I can tell he definitely liiiiikes... yooouuuu!" She says pointing with her finger at me.
"Oh please Beverly..." I shake my head wondering about her naivity. "He's a struggling singer and I might give him a job...of course he's nice to me!"
"No, no, no it's more than that! The way he was looking at you the whoooole evening and while you were talking to this other singer... and when this guy gave you his number... I know what that means when a man looks like that... He was jealous! Jealous, jealous, jealous... like a fat kid of another kid with a huuuuuuge chocolate cake..."
I laugh at her comparison. This woman is just too funny. Do I start to like her? No! Properly it's just the wine in my system... "Maybe he was jealous because I liked the other band and he might NOT get the job?" I say back to her.
"Noooooo girl! Believe meeee this man theeeeere..." She points at Bruno on the stage. He sees it and points back to us. "Thiiiis man there waaaaaaants... YOU!" And she points with her finger to me. Now Bruno sees that and giggles. I push her arm down, worried that he might got that wrong. I turn away from her embarrassed and empty my glass of wine.
Luckily Ryan's there and asks me if he should pour me another glass. I agree thankfully. Then the host introduces Bruno: "The next band playin' for ya'll is Bruno Mars and his Hooligans... have much fun!" Mars? What kind of awkward name is that? And Hooligans? Childish Braggers would fit better... I think to myself but then recognize that the whole bar claps and screams much louder than for the bands before. He really must be already known that he's good or he brought all his friends...
"Hey guys we want to make you movin', make you shakin, make you dancin' and forget all your worries..." when he says the last part he looks straight to me. what the hell? "...so ya'll ready?... 1, 2, 3, 4... I feel higher than the ceiling, cause I'm floatin' on this feeling..."
I just stare at him. He's mesmerizing. The way he plays the guitar, his voice, his moves, his little hip shakes and thrusts, his faces, how he interacts with the audience... mainly like everything on him blowes my expectations away... he's... a star... I shake my head at my thoughts... god Caroline you've seen so many good bands it's just another one... maybe very good other one... but nothing you can't handle. Stay professional!
Beverly suddenly takes my hand and drags me towards the stage. Holy cow what the hell is she doing? I try to get off her grip but she doesn't let me go until we're right beside the stage, luckily not directly in front of Bruno. There were some other young-looking girls cheering on him. Maybe he even got his own cheerleaders?! It wouldn't surprise me... he's defintely a ladies' man with all his smooth skin, big brown eyes and cute dimples. I force me again not to stare at him. I start to dance a little bit, feeling the music, trying not to look at Bruno instead I'm analyzing the other guys. But they're also fantastic musicians and really rock the stage. Noone remains on his place the really do a great show, I have to admit, much more than I ever expected!
The second song is a cover of Police's 'Roxanne'. Again it's a very good arrangement and they keep that hyped flow going through all the next tracks. They cover a variety of songs from different genres, classics and modern stuff and mix them together. He even does 'No women, no cry' and mixes it with fucking Usher?! And damn it sounds amazing! They not only cover the songs but they somehow make their own unique version out of them. I nearly doubt my ears when I hear him mixing the tune from Teen Spirit with Billie Jean. He can't do that! It's Michael... but it's just epic! I dance the whole time and let all my bad feelings go. It feels so good. Before I realize it they play their last song. It's one of his own songs called 'Innocent' he tells the audience and he wrote it 'on top of a mountain'. I smirk he's really such a fool. But the surprising thing is, that when the song starts he immediately gets serious and switches into the right mood you expect him to be for that song. And the way he croons it with so much emotions... urrghh he's really good and perfect for the event... I start listening more to the lyrics. It's a song about misunderstandings and cheating, jealousy... all these shit relationship things. Of course it makes me think of Tony and my good mood turns down. I go back to the counter and sip on my wine again. Stop thinking about this asshole rather think about business, I tell myself. Beverly comes back shortly after and I tell her that we definitely found the best band for the show! She agrees and leaves for the restrooms.
When the song is finally over I clap and Bruno says his thanks and goodbyes to the audience. I watch the guys a little bit taking off their equipment when Ryan comes from behind putting his arm on my shoulders. "Soooo beautiful, I got a little 20 minutes break from my workshift. Do you wanna join me outside getting a bit fresh air?"
"Hm yeah. Why not? I danced all the time Bruno was on stage, so some fresh air definitely will be perfect right now." I smile at him and follow him outside. We go along the street a bit and I breath deeply in and out.
"I have to admit Ryan you didn't lie at all. Bruno is a really really good musician, singer and entertainer!"
He smiles. "And producer! He writes and records his own songs too. You just heard two of them today, the first and the last one, but there are a lot more."
"Really? He's talented. I loved the first song. It's a perfect starter, really got me dancing."
"I know." He takes my hand and stops me slowly pulling me closer to him. "I watched you from the counter. You're a good dancer! I wanted to join you so bad. But I had to work, ya know."
"Hm." I smile. I knew he wants me and well I really don't mind.
"And I thought maybe we can dance now here outside a little bit, if ya want."
"Hm I think that's fine with me." I look at him with a big grin. It feels so good to be treated like this, to feel coveted. I enjoy this situation fully and lay my head on his strong shoulder. He puts his hand around my waist pulling me closer to him. We're swaying from side to side to the music beats that you can hear clearly although we're outside and some feet away from the bar.
"I love your hair" He says and ruffles it a bit. Then he starts stroking my back slowly downwards which sends a chill down my spine. He grabs my ass a bit and I let him. After a while he moves back and looks deep into my eyes. I can tell we're about to kiss.
Suddenly Bruno stands beside us. "Hey Ryan I should tell you you need to go back to work, they need you." He bluntly says.
Ryan looks at him with this dude-you-can't-be-serious-look and loosens his grip around me. He looks at me and I see the disappointment in his eyes. "Sorry beautiful. Maybe we can continue this later. The night's not over yet." He says and jogs back to the bar.
"Yeah. See you later." I say also disappointed. Then I look at Bruno. Instead of following Ryan he just watches him triumphantly and waits til he's back inside. Then he turns to me. "Soooo Caroline... now that we're alone... how was I?" He smirks at me.
I watch him interrogative a while and finally ask. "Why did you do that?"
"What you mean?"
"Lying about that they need Ryan back at work?"