"Cassandra to you, Mister, since you won’t tell me your real name!” she snapped.
“Okay, I'm Simon Romanoff,” he replied, amused by her fiestiness.
“Romanoff? You related to Ronnie?” she asked pointing to the stage behind him.
“I am, but don’t hold it against me. I had no say in the matter,” he replied. “So, how do you know my brother?”
“Went to school with him...same class.” She leaned forward and peered into his face. “You don’t look anything like him. He’s cute, you know,” she said, leaning closer still.
“Hmm, so I’ve heard,” he said, a bit annoyed.
“But you…” she said in a whisper, getting so close she almost bumped noses with him. “You are... beautiful.”
His eyebrows shot up. “Am I, indeed?” he said, curiously. Why did girls say that to him? He remembered little Georgiana saying the same thing to him when they first met.
Cassandra nodded. “Like a Greek god…almost ethereal...such beautiful eyes…” she said, placing her hands on his shoulders then running them down his chest. “Wow…you’re built like a Greek god too…like to see you naked.”
Simon cleared his throat nervously, grasping her wandering hands. “I…I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he said, suddenly wishing her brother wasn’t a killing machine. “Listen, Cassie…”
“Cassandra!” she said.
“Cassandra!” she said.
“Cassandra,” he corrected. “Do you know where Antoine is? Have you seen him tonight?”
She scoffed. “Never more than ten feet away from Sophie. He’s a stalker, you know.”
“Among other unpleasant things, I’m sure,” he replied. “So, do you know where Sophie is then?”
This time she snorted with laughter and pointed at the stage. “You’re not too bright, are ya? You don’t see her right there with your brother?”
“My brother? Where?” he said turning around. He gaped, open mouthed. “Sonovabitch…what the hell is he doing up there? Oh, snap…he found her.”
“She found him, you mean. She saw him up there and she went right to him and he took one look at her and he pulled her up on stage with him…drops me like a hot potato, she does.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?”
“She always does that. Music is more important to her than anything, especially me….”
“No, not that. Why didn’t you tell us you knew where Sophie was?”
“I tried but then you and Frankie went on about me being drunk and I’m not drunk!”
He rolled his eyes and decided it was wiser not to go there. “How long have they been up there singing?” Simon asked.
“This is the second song. You missed the first one…it was really good! They sing so well together. Don’t you think?”
“Yes…unfortunately,” he muttered, irritably.
“Maybe now they’ll get together like Sophie always wanted. I think he’s a nice guy, isn’t he? She deserves someone nice,” she said, her head slumping onto Simon’s chest.
Great, just what he needed, Sophie as crazy for Ronnie as Ronnie was for her. How the hell was he going to keep two hormone-infused teenagers, hot for each other from ruining his father's last shot at love? Simon clenched his teeth so tightly it was a miracle he could speak.
“Yeah, Ron’s nice...sometimes, but…it can’t happen. They can’t be a couple,” he said, pushing her away from him before Frank saw and killed him along with Antoine.
“Why? You the anti-romance police?” she said staring up at him with those dark, languid eyes, and she giggled again, nearly falling off her seat.
“Hey, I gotcha,” he said holding onto to her. He couldn't help liking it when she rested her head on his chest again. “I have nothing against romance when it’s appropriate. But my father is marrying her mother, and everyone knows step-brothers and step-sisters should not get involved romantically.”
“Why not?” she whined, then she stiffened and stared at him, her eyes wide. “Wait…did you say Violet is getting married…to your dad?”
“Yes,” he said defiantly. “If I have anything to say about it.”
“Sophie didn’t tell me that!” she whined, actually pouting. “Some friend she is. First she runs away to Florida with that mean old shadow of hers and then…”
“She’s in denial,” Simon said. “She may not like the idea of her mother getting over her dad's death, but...”
“Just like Cleopatra,” she said, giggling at her own silly joke.
“I'm sorry, what?” he said, confused.
“Cleopatra...in denial...de-Nile...get it?” she said and she giggled again.
“Yes, I get it now, cute,” he said. “You’re a funny little drunk, aren’t you? I’d love to get to know you when you’re sober.”
She suddenly stopped laughing. “Do you think I’m pretty?”
He opened his mouth to answer, then shut it again. “I’d say you’re gorgeous if you promise not to tell your brother.”
“Why can't I tell Frankie?”
“I’m afraid your brother might kill me.”
She shook her head sadly. “He’s done enough killing in the war, he said so.”
She frowned. “I’ll never get a boyfriend then.”
“I’m sure you will. Like I said, you're gorgeous. You just need to find someone who’s brave enough to stand up to your brother,” he said.
“Are you brave enough?” she asked in a whisper.
He smiled. “For you I would be, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t make a very good boyfriend.”
“Why? You gay?”
He laughed and shook his head. “No, but I don’t live around here, so…”
“Neither do I. I go to school in Boston,” she said. “Where is Frankie? I wanna go home. Can you take me home?”
“Aside from the fact I don’t know where you live, I would but I think Frankie would be real pissed if I took you away without his expressed permission.”
“He’s not the king of me,” she whined, leaning her head on his chest again.
“I beg to differ,” Simon mumbled, stroking her luxurious hair. “Why didn’t I meet you in high school?”
He smiled sadly and shook his head. “Never mind.”
“In high school or college I’m the same person…geeky and weird.”
“Somehow I don’t believe that,” Simon said, intrigued. “Why do you think you’re weird?”
“Cuz I am. Cuz I'd rather stay all day with my nose in a book than partying... like Sophie,” she said.
“I don't wonder then that you drifted apart and went your separate ways,” he said.
“It was Antoine's fault...asshole, jerk-off moron,” she muttered angrily. “He got between us.”
Simon couldn't help laughing. Such a sweet girl cursing like that...it was just too funny!
Just then, Frank returned. “Well, you were right!”
“Duh, 'course I'm right,” Cassandra said. “He's a conniving, manipulative bast...”
Simon cut her off. “Did you find Antoine?”
“Oh, yeah and he had pills on him, just like you said he would., plus Sophie's phone.” Frank placed it on the bar. “Tried to pass them off as allergy medicine. Can you believe that idiot?”
Simon was reluctant to ask, and Frank seemed to know this so he went on.
“My guys are holding him for now until the cops come. Poor guy had a nasty fall...all banged up, he is,” Frank said, smirking devilishly.
“I woulda kicked him down a flight of stairs...then kicked him again,” Cassandra said, swaying on her perch.
“I need to get you home, Cassie,” Frank said, concern for his sister returning full force.
“Ronnie's brother can take me. He said so. He's brave enough to stand up to you, Frankie...so he can be my boyfriend...he said so,” she said throwing her arms around Simon's neck and kissing his cheek.
“What the fuck...” Frank said. “Have you been hitting on my sister...while she's in this state???”
“Shhh...Frankie, you're gonna bust my ear drums,” she whined, hugging Simon tighter still.
“We can just hang out...or jam some,” Vance said grinning at the two of them. “Don't gotta tell ya we loved you singing lead again, Ronnie, and you were awesome, Sophie. Totally awesome!”
She laughed and kissed his cheek, then bid them good night then took Ronnie by the hand as if they'd been doing it for years and led him off the stage.
Ronnie had the distinct impression Vance and the guys wanted him to rejoin the band, hang with them for the rest of the night, but now was not the time for that, not now that he had Sophie beside him safe and sound. His mission was to find her and take her home to Violet, and that was what he was going to do.
Of course, her soft warm hand tucked so pleasantly into his made his thoughts drift to places it ought not go. He had to remind himself that he was supposed to be royally pissed at her for coming between his father and his happiness...namely Violet.
He stopped abruptly and made her face him squarely.
“Something wrong?” Sophie asked, tilting her head up to look at him. It was a strange sensation to have to do that. Most boys she knew were shorter than herself--or at best just her height--and they had to look up at her, or stare straight ahead at her boobs. In truth, they all stared at her boobs regardless of their height.
“I have to take you home,” Ronnie began, “but first I gotta know why you...”
Sophie looked her confusion. “Why do you have to take me home?” she asked, although she didn't mind the idea at all. She had the unladylike yet appealing vision of taking him up to her bedroom and jumping his bones.
“Because Violet was worried and we told her we would,” he said.
“We?” she asked.
“Me and Simon, my brother.”
Sophie gaped at him, her mouth hanging open. “My mother told you to come get me? She actually called you up out of nowhere and asked you to...What in the world for?”
“Not out of nowhere and she didn't ask...we kinda... volunteered.”
She raised her eyebrows and made a gesture clearly saying without words, “You better explain that!”
He sighed. “Okay, my grandmother asked us to deliver a Christmas tree to your house and we found Violet very anxious about you. You weren't answering your phone or texts and...”
“That's cuz Antoine stole my phone and he wouldn't give it back,” she said.
“Then she was right to worry about you. I told your mom I wouldn't trust Antoine as far as I could throw him and that you might be in trouble so we told her we'd come get you.”
“You know Antoine?” she asked.
“Everybody knows him and what he's done... don't know how you could date him for over two years,” he said, grinding his back teeth.
“I have not!” she shouted. “And what are you talking about? What has he done?”
He shook his head, amazed and rather dubious that she could possibly not know. Everybody else from school knew!
“Whatever, point is Violet wants to know you're safe so...I better text her that we found you,” he said, pulling his phone out of his pocket.
Sophie stared at him as he texted his message to her mother wondering why he would do that for her. Did he really have such a close relationship to her mother? And why the heck hadn't Sophie been told about this? Though, a little annoyed—okay, very annoyed-- curiosity got the better of her and she surreptitiously watched him punch out the words: “Found Sophie. We'll be home soon. Love ya, Mom.”
Mom? Ronnie called her mother Mom?
“Come on, I see Simon by the bar,” Ronnie said, grabbing her hand, then he thought better of it and dropped it again as if he'd been burned by it. Last thing he needed was to have Simon see them holding hands and assume they were...whatever.
“What's that about?” she asked, now hurt on top of being annoyed.
“Nothing, we should go.”
“Doesn't seem like nothing,” she snapped. “We were fine on stage, great in fact, so what's changed?”
“I said it's nothing, now come on!” he said.
“I'm not going anywhere with you until you tell me what's up.”
They glared at each other, which was rather odd being they were practically making out on stage just moments before.
“All right,” he said. “What the hell you got against my father?”
Sophie made a funny face. “Nothing at all.”
“That's not what he said. He said you hate him and that you refuse to let Violet marry him.”
Seriously? That's what's up his ass?
Sophie swallowed heavily and slowly shook her head. “I'm sure your dad is awesome, but he's not right for my mother. Aside from that, my mother is still in love with my father.”
Ronnie wanted to strangle her. “You don't know jack shit about Violet or who she loves. She and my dad are perfect together, made for each other. They're in love, crazy in love with each other and you're killing them, keeping them apart like this. I never thought you were such a...I never thought you could be so selfish. Now let's get you home. Violet's waiting.”
This time he did grab her hand and yanked her all the way to the bar not caring who he bumped into. At the bar he found a strange sight. Simon with his arms around tiny Cassandra who seemed to be half asleep perched on a tall stool was being berated by the muscle-bound, one-armed barkeep.
“What's going on?” Ronnie asked.
“Sophie!” Frank said, jumping over the bar and hugging her so tightly she squeaked. “My God, you're safe. We were so worried.”
“Why does everyone think I wasn't?” Sophie asked, staring at his prosthetic arm. “Oh, Frankie, I'm so sorry about your arm. Cassie only just told me and...”
“It's nothing,” Frank said looking at Ronnie. “Who's this? Another of your many suitors? Won't you ever give me a chance to woe you?”
Sophie laughed and kissed his cheek. “Oh, Frankie, how many times do I have to tell you? You're too old for me.”
“Couple thousand more I'm guessing,” Frank said. “See what your boyfriend did to my sister?”
Sophie looked at Ronnie.
“Not him. Antoine!” Frank pointed at Cassandra. “He slipped something into your drink but Cassie drank it instead of you. Lord only knows what he had in mind for you.”
Sophie didn't understand. She went to Simon and pushed the hair out of Cassandra's face. “Cassie? Are you okay?”
“It's Sophie!” she said releasing Simon and nearly falling off the stool she threw her arms around Sophie.
Sophie stared at Simon. “She's been drugged...by Antoine?”
“Apparently,” Simon said. “He was caught with the drugs in his pocket and ...this.” He picked up her phone off the bar which had a custom cover on it with her name so there was no mistaking whose phone it was. “He was planning on getting you ...tipsy and then getting you alone so he could.... it's what we're thinking.”
Her eyes grew larger than the full moon and she shook her head slowly. “No...that can't be true. He would never do that... not to me.”
“Hmm, he's done it before so...I beg to differ,” Cassandra said, giggling. “He says that alla time, this guy.” She patted Simon on the chest then stared at him trying to focus. “What's your name again?” she asked.
“How soon we forget,” Simon said, smirking. “I'm Simon, remember? Ronnie's brother.”
Cassandra laughed and started singing way off key.
♪ ♫… Simple Simon met a pie man going to the fair,
said simple Simon to the pie man let me taste you wares,
said simple pie man to the Simon show me first your penny,
said Simple Simon to the pie man indeed I have not any…♩ ♬
She burst out laughing and when they got over the shock they all joined in, even Simple Simon.
©2014 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved