Sophie was royally pissed. Not only was Ronnie too busy with his legion of female fans to even notice she was there, but she couldn’t reach the guys who just a few days ago had been so eager to have her sing with their band and told her she could join them any time she wanted. Well, she wanted right now and where could they be? Why were they not at her beck and call?
Yes, these were the selfish thoughts running through her head, but they did not stop there. With a satisfied smirk she saw Ronnie repeatedly reach into his pocket presumably for his cell phone, no doubt to add a new number from a drooling, lusty girl.
“Thanks, Mom,” Sophie mumbled to herself, “For not giving the cell phone back to him.”
Now she didn't know what was she supposed to do. Sit around and mope? Not likely! Wait for Ronnie to stop flirting? That was equally unlikely, by the looks of it. She sighed and went to the bar, squeezing herself in between a small girl with short, spiky pink-tipped blond hair, vampire makeup and goth-like clothes better suited for a Halloween party and a guy, almost as small and with twice as much makeup, wearing strategically ripped blue jeans, a white t-shirt, an apricot ascot, Blue suede shoes and a raspberry beret —whaddaya kidding me???
Sophie rolled her eyes as she stood nearly a foot above either of them which was not unusual, but it was a bit annoying. She never could like being so much taller than everyone else. Although it had its uses; Ronnie finally noticed her. His broad smile sent an arrow straight to her chest...blast him!
He served a few more drinks and then came toward her. “So, Cassie brought you anyway, huh?” he said.
She shook her head. “Your brother.”
“Simon's here?” he said, looking around for him.
“He's probably gone now. Cassie had to stay home, so...” Sophie said. “Did you know her father has cancer?”
The startled look on his face answered for him. She motioned for him to serve the two people on either side of her so they could talk, but once they were served their sodas and gone others replaced them...this time by a strikingly good looking guy nearly Sophie's considerable height. He smiled at her before asking Ronnie for a micro-brew she had heard Bug and Rick mention as being an exceptional beer.
When he got the beer he handed Ronnie the money and while Ronnie turned away to make change at the cash register, the guy turned back to Sophie with a smile charming enough to knock your panties clear off.
Here it comes, she thought. He was surely going to ask her to dance. She braced herself and quickly prepared a gentle rejection....needlessly as it turned out.
“Hey, do ya think the bartender is gay?” he asked.
Sophie blinked stupidly for a second then had to fight to keep from bursting out laughing. She shook her head. “Ronnie...No way...sorry.”
“So am I, “ he sighed giving Ronnie a longing appraisal. “Too bad.” He then slipped away.
Ronnie came back with the change in his hand. “Where'd that guy go?”
“Sure he meant for you to keep the change,” Sophie replied.
“But he gave me a twenty for one beer!” Ronnie said. He shrugged and tossed the money into the tip jar under the bar. “I'll just give him his next drink for free.”
“Then he might think you're hitting on him,” she said, grinning.
“What?” he said.
“Nothing, never mind,” she said.
Ronnie served a couple more beers and returned to Sophie. “Why didn't Cassie tell me about her father? Thought we were friends!” he said. “Is he... bad?”
Sophie nodded gravely. “Real bad. Not gonna last much longer he says.”
Horrified Ronnie shook his head. “No wonder she didn't want to go home. She wanted to stay with us to get away from all that... misery...poor kid!”
He served another half dozen beers before returning to Sophie. “Can I get ya something?”
“Sprite?” she said.
He scooped ice into a glass before filling it with the soda. He had just been about to hand it to her when he sternly said, “Don't let this outta sight for even a minute and don't let anybody put anything in this, got me?”
She rolled her eyes and grabbed it out of his hand. “Yes, master!” she snapped, and proceeded to drink it all down in just a few gulps. “How's that?”
He laughed when she burped, but he soon turned serious again. “We should do something for Cassie,” he said.
“I'll think about it. Anyway, gotta get back to work,” Ronnie said.
“Wait! Can't you take a break for a while? Maybe we can do a song or something together?” she said, her expression one of desperation.
“Sophie, what are ya thinking? I'm working here!”
“Yeah, but it's not anything that Frankie can't handle by himself for ten or fifteen minutes...please?”
He sighed. “Sophie, even if I could I wouldn't. Frankie wants me here behind the bar cuz that's what he's paying me for. Besides, not like I have a guitar or anything with me. I mean...you can't just jump up on stage and sing without practice or anything!”
“Dude, that's exactly what you did last time and I did, too!”
“That was different,” he said scowling at her. “I was... I was looking for you for Violet and desperate to find you before something awful happened to you!”
“Come on, Ronnie...” she started to say until she was pushed aside by a large group of college guys shouting drink orders quicker than Ronnie could get them. Frankie jumped in to help him and Sophie was forgotten.
Sophie knew when she was beat. All her plans of singing-- and more importantly spending time with Ronnie--were dashed so she may as well go home. Only thing was she had no ride home save for either Ronnie or Frankie and they were going nowhere until the place shut down for the evening.
Just as she was about to call her mother to come pick her up, her friends from high school rescued her from a boring evening by inviting her to hang with them and so she did.
“You got this?” Frankie said, once things quieted down at the bar.
“Yup,” Ronnie said, adding, “Frank, I just heard about your dad. I'm real sorry he's so sick. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Frankie stared at him, frowning. “When did you find out?” Frankie asked.
“Just now. Sophie told me,” Ronnie said. “I overheard you and Cassie talking last night about your father, but I just thought you meant he had the flu or something...nothing too serious.”
“You mean Cassie didn't tell you...before this?”
Ronnie shook his head. “She probably didn't want...you know...people to feel sorry for her, cuz people start acting weird when stuff like this happens. I figure that's why she's been so happy to hang with us lately. We kinda take her mind off things. So...uh...I know you have a lot of family over now...”
“And more coming,” Frankie added.
“Yeah, so...do you think it would be all right if we take her shopping with us tomorrow? We all have last minute shopping to do.”
“Who is us you're talking about?” Frankie asked suspiciously.
“Just Sophie, me and my brother. We all get along pretty good,” Ronnie said.
“Too good if you ask me,” Frankie grimly said. “I'll let ya know in a minute. Be right back.”
Ronnie stared after him wondering what that was about, but only for a minute. People needed their drinks, after all.
Frankie first listened at the office door and hearing nothing, knew his instincts had be spot on. He burst through the door ready to rip Simon's head off...both of them if need be. But what he saw was not at all what he expected to find. Yes, Simon was a tad too close to his little sister, his arm was around the back of her chair, but they were NOT in a compromising position, by any stretch of the imagination.
Their heads were bent close together both looking earnestly down at the expense ledger. Their chins snapped up upon his entering, but they quickly turned their eyes down to the papers in front of them.
“What is it, Frankie? Do you need me?” Cassandra asked, running a pencil down a column and then the next one.
“Uh....yeah...what are ya doing?” Frankie asked.
“Simon found a two cent discrepancy on this page and we've been looking for the cause of it for the past ten minutes with no luck. It's driving me batty!”
“Two cents?” Frankie said, rolling his eyes. “You take this way too seriously, Cassandra. What difference will two cents make?”
“The difference between being left alone and getting audited by the IRS, that's the difference, Frankie!” Cassandra said. “The IRS can waste millions of taxpayer dollars on fancy office furniture, on pay raises for their idiot henchmen and for making videos of the fun times they have in Las Vegas conventions with nobody batting an eye about it and nobody getting in trouble for it all, but you or any small business neglects to pay two cents due them and you get screwed so far up your butt that they reach gray matter. Know what I'm saying?”
“Besides, what's the use of doing this if you don't try to get it right?” Simon said, distractedly. “Here it is! Look, Cassandra, you wrote down $286.76 in this column and $286.74 in the total column.”
“Oh! Thank God you found that...woulda driven me crazy forever!” she said, quickly grabbing an eraser and writing in the correct amount. “Awesome! We're done with this page.”
“Only one more to go. Oh, but did you say you need Cassandra to help out front?” Simon said looking up at Frankie's astonished face. “I could total this last one up while you're gone, Cassandra.”
“You've helped enough, Simon. Thanks so much. This would have taken me twice as long if I did it by myself,” she said.
Simon stood to help Cassandra out of the overlarge office chair just as Frankie waved them off. “Never mind. You two stay here and finish. We'll be fine,” Frankie said.
“Are you sure, Frankie?” Cassandra said. “It's no problem.”
“No, it's okay,” he said. “Don't wanna get ya outta your math grove...especially since you're almost done.”
Simon and Cassandra watched him close the door and exchanged puzzled looks. Then they shrugged, grabbed their calculators and attacked the last page of the expense ledger.
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