“Hey!” I tutted.
“He’s still looking at you.”
And he was. I registered his nervousness and the way he held on to the guitar with a tight grip. My lips couldn’t help but curl into a sincere grin when I gauged the adorable expression on Jasper’s clean-shaven face. But my smile had little to do with his performance and everything to do with him.
From across the crowded room, I could sense he found comfort in my acknowledgment. We locked eyes for a few moments longer before he stood from the sofa to retrieve a different guitar.
“Wow,” Milo stated.
“What?” I swiveled to face him.
“He’s totally feeling you.”
“Milo, he is not. He’s just a nice guy, in a new town, looking to make friends. Why does everything with you have to be about hooking up?”
Milo shook his head and simultaneously rested his right foot on his left knee. “You are so thickheaded sometimes.”
“Me? Speaking of thickheaded . . . Where’s this date you were supposed to maybe bring around tonight? You’ve been awfully secretive lately and I know you . . . It means you’re feeling someone new.”
Milo remained silent, his lips pressed together and his jaw tensed. I was on to something and with a bit more of the little sister nagging I’d become so good at I’d get him to confess. Luckily for him, before I could start in again, Jasper was strumming a few chords to another song. And it was . . . mesmerizing.
The stage lights dimmed and the audience started to sway as the jazzy, bluesy tune permeated the bar. I, too, was entranced by the song Jasper chose as a follow up to the tune about fried chicken.
This one didn’t sound like country at all. He replaced the rapid plucks of his guitar with slow, sultry glides across the strings. His voice was raspy and soulful, telling a story in and of itself. And the lyrics—they were jaw-droppingly beautiful, about smooth Tennessee whiskey and salvation in the form of his woman.
“This is not country,” I whispered to Milo, unable to tear my eyes off of Jasper.
“Is so. Chris Stapleton. Insane talent. Jasper’s doing him proud.”
Still confused, but starting to care a lot less whether it was country, polka, or reggae, I watched on and then something clicked. “Didn’t Justin Timberlake sing this, too?”
Milo dismissed me by closing his eyes, clearly enjoying the way the song had lulled him into a trance. “Shh, just listen. You’re ruining my music high.”
Musicians. So weird. Not Jasper, though. Sure, when he walked into the tattoo shop I immediately thought he was . . . different. But the meek, awkward country boy was a smooth, confident artist up on that stage. He owned it like a boss because he wasn’t even aware of the swagger he exuded while holding that guitar. He sang his heart out to the point I had goose bumps from the storminess in his voice. Each note, every lyric clung to the air and lingered long enough to douse me in their melody.
Jasper was winning me over, one song at a time—one country song at a time—and I wasn’t so sure I was okay with that.
Taken aback by my emotions, I inhaled, garnering Milo’s reaction. “What now?”
I clutched my chest and it was then I could feel the rapid beating of my heart beneath my palm. I stared into Milo’s widened eyes unable to form a coherent sentence suitable to explain what I felt.
It was a high similar to the one Milo probably felt when playing an instrument. It was a euphoria I’d experienced the first time my artwork was displayed proudly on someone’s body. The thrill of a first kiss, the urgency of an unexpected crush, and a wave of unbridled desire all rolled into one.
“Wow.” I was dumbfounded.
Milo grunted and then leaned down to whisper in my ear. “Well, yeehaw! Looks like you’ll be singing “Sweet Home Alabama” all summer long.”
“Would you grow up?”
He stuck out his tongue and laughed at his own joke. So much for growing up.
“Seriously, Marls. What’s the big deal? Give the hick a chance.” He meant no harm in his comment, but I found myself suddenly defensive.
“He’s not a hick! He’s actually . . . not what I expected at all.” My fingers splayed over my throat, my eyes homing in on Jasper who was finishing up his set on stage.
I blamed my brother for getting into my head. Or maybe this wacky music was doing funny things to me. Whatever it was, there was definitely something about Jasper that had my wheels turning. It had been a while since I’d crushed on a guy. Everyone around here was so cookie cutter, so . . . Urban Outfitters. And then this dude strolled into my life with a dingy baseball cap and absolutely no beardage in sight, singing about whiskey and fried chicken, and got me all . . . DTF. What was up with that? Where the hell did he come from?
Alabama, Marley. That’s where.
It had to be the allure of being with someone off the beaten path. The thrill of trying something new, jumping out of my comfort zone, grinding against the grain. Either way, as I watched Jasper croon the final lyrics into the mic and then open his eyes to meet mine, the idea of hooking up with a country boy was all consuming.
“You’ll be all right if I bail?” I turned to ask Milo.
“Nope.” I stood from the loveseat and slung my purse across my body. “We’re leaving.”
Milo’s eyes widened, as did his devilish grin. “Stand by your man, Marls,” he hooted loud enough for a bunch of people to turn toward us.
Paying him no mind, I flipped him the bird and made my way to the front of the room so I could be the first to greet Jasper when he came off stage.
Four unlikely couples, one fascinating neighborhood.
There must be something in the whiskey here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn because love is in the air, and the New York City summer heat isn’t the only thing making these sexy hipsters sizzle.
A barista, a tattoo artist, a musician, and a baker. Lumbersexual beards, steampunk ink, acoustic guitars, and lip-smacking sweet treats. Unbutton your cardigan, pull up your suspenders and prepare to experience the trendy world of these eclectic characters as they stumble into love, one culture-infused tale at a time.
And just when you think all’s kosher under the bright city lights, hold on to your aviators while these close-knit, quirky twosomes reveal a few surprises you won’t soon forget at an end of summer rooftop shindig.
NOW ONLY $0.99 & FREE on Kindle Unlimited!
Follow Faith on Amazon HERE