When Keith Met Tamsen
In Beside the Music, there's the part where Brenda calls Keith an asshole. He explains that Tamsen called her an asshole the first time they met. Here is the scene, from my new book, still in progress, Before the Music.
Then I see her. She’s taller than the other girls standing next to her. She throws back her blonde hair and laughs at something the gypsy-esque woman with the Cher straight black hair next to her has said. She claps and jumps up and down when Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” starts to play. I secretly like this song too, and I bob my head to the rhythm as I watch her.
She drags her girlfriends out onto the dance floor, where they strike poses and laugh at each other. So, she’s model quality gorgeous and a bit of a goofball—my favorite combination. She sucks in her cheeks and fans her hands on either side of her face and crosses her eyes at her friends. I have to meet this girl. I cannot let her out of my sight.
The song ends, she and her girlfriends head back to the bar, she gets a beer. The man beside her places his hand on her wrist and flashes his credit card. She shakes her head and turns away from him. The gypsy looking girl raises her eyebrows and nods toward the man, my girl shrugs. The man inserts himself between my girl and her gypsy friend. My girl backs up and holds her hands up in front of her. She’s clearly not interested in what this guy is offering, but this guy doesn’t get it. He runs his fingertips up her bare arm; she flinches and backs away. He leans in closer to speak more intimately with her, my girl shakes her head no and moves to walk away.
I seize my opportunity when he blocks her path. I insert myself between my girl and the obnoxious fellow. “Darling, sorry I’m late,” I smile at her. “I see you’ve gotten yourself a drink already. Did you get me one too?”
Without missing a beat, she picks up on the scene I am setting. “Well, I didn’t know when you’d get here so, no, I didn’t. What took you so long?”
“Traffic,” I smile. I turn to the obnoxious man. “Hi, I don’t believe we met. I’m Keith.” I extend my hand to shake it. He looks down at my hand, turns on his heel and storms off—presumably to go bother another woman.
“Thank you,” my girl smiles at me.
“You’re welcome,” I smile at her. “He looked like he was bothering you. I’ll be getting back to my friends now.” This is a strategy I’ve worked out over the years. Most of the time it works. If I walk away now, she’ll wonder why I didn’t take advantage of the moment and try to pick her up. She’ll watch me from across the club and try to figure out what I am about. And before she knows what’s happening, she’ll make her way over to me. This way I don’t look like the pushy jerk, and I leave the ball in her court.
I turn on my heel and make my way back to the table where the guys are sitting. Ben has women lined up around him three deep. I used to joke that I needed to mop up their drool before someone slips on it. In terms of band stereotypes, Ben has the looks. I’m the enigma. Jeff is all spastic energy with his flailing elbows and hair whipping about behind the drum kit. And Gill is soulful on the guitar. He’s the one that can reach deep into the soul of every teenage girl in the audience, and they will all think that every note is for her. Once we start with the videos he’ll be the one to stare deep into the camera, and thus their souls. If only they knew the real story of Jeff’s object of affection.
“Did you just play your disappearing act?” Ben nods toward my girl.
“Yes, I did. Rescued her from a complete arsehole, too. I think she’ll be properly grateful later on tonight,” I flash him my wicked grin. In my peripheral vision I see my girl trying to look my way without getting caught at it.
“She just looked this way,” Ben smirks. “How do you do it? You play it so cool.”
“You’re kidding right?” I gesture at the women crowded around him. “You don’t even have to move and they flock to you. You know my secrets, what are yours?” I ask.
“When you’re as handsome as our Ben here,” Gill interjects, “you don’t have to make any effort.” I see him momentarily place his hand on Jeff’s thigh, and then remember himself and remove it.
“Let’s dance!” Ben calls to his harem of admirers. They follow him to the dance floor and he makes his way from woman to woman, trying to give them an equal share. I shake my head at Jeff and Gill.
Erik gestures to the waiter and a few minutes later they bring a large bottle of champagne and extra glasses for the girls. Ben returns just after the champagne arrives and Ben toasts us. “Blokes, you’ve made me so proud. Here’s to thousands of screaming girls night after night for the rest of our lives!” He raises his glass, we all shout “Hear hear!” we all shout in response. We clink our glasses and down the bubbly. He refills them and tells the waiter to keep the bottles coming.
My girl has seized her opportunity. She appears at my side, “Hi, Keith was it?” She knows my name, but she’s playing it cool. I like that. She’s not going to lap at my every breath like the girls surrounding Ben. She tosses her blonde shoulder length hair back over her shoulder revealing her long creamy neck.
“Yes, I’m Keith,” I hold out my hand to shake hers.
She takes my hand, “I’m Tamsen,” she smiles. Oh man, I love that name. I squeeze her hand just a little tighter before releasing it. “So, what’s the champagne all about?” she nods to the table, where Erik is refilling the glasses. He holds one out to Tamsen, and she nods in response.
“We’re celebrating tonight. Today was amazing.”
“Yeah?” she asks and takes a sip. “What exactly was so amazing about today, Keith?”
“Have you heard of the band Hydra?” I ask her. She shakes her head. “Well, that’ll change soon, we hope. I am the bassist from the band Hydra, and today we just signed with Sony Records.”
“Sony Fucking Records,” Jeff shouts from his side of the table, the rest of the guys raise their glasses and yell “SONY FUCKING RECORDS!” at the top of their voices.
“Congratulations,” she raises her glass to me. I clink mine to hers. She takes another sip, a small graceful sip, not like the gulps I’m sucking down. After a few more sips her glass is empty, Erik gestures to refill it, and she shakes her head no. “This stuff goes right to my head, I need to be careful.”
“It’s OK, you’re with me. I’ll take care of you,” I smile at her.
“Oh, you will? You’ve just met me. What makes you think I need taking care of?”
“Well, I’ve rescued you once from the world’s biggest arsehole just moments ago, love.”
“And you think I need rescuing and taking care of?” She smiles at me. “I was minutes away from belting that guy.”
“Well, I saved your beautiful hands from that,” I take her hand in mine. She sets down her champagne glass.
“Ugh, men at the club are all the same,” she smirks. I can’t help but notice that she hasn’t withdrawn her hand from mine yet.
“Not all of us,” I raise my glass to her. “Let’s not generalize, shall we?”
She smiles at me. Her eyes sparkle as I stare deep into them. They’re green, with flecks of gold in them. Unlike any I’ve ever seen when she interrupts the moment. “And there’s the part where you comment on my eyes. Are they like emeralds? Are they like a green field? I’ve heard them all before, at every club in this city.” She raises her eyebrows. She’s waiting for me to say something that will set me apart from the others.
“I’m picturing what they’ll look like when I make them roll back into your head later on at my place.” Her eyes go wide. She was not expecting me to be so forward. The next moment will be the deciding factor. She can decide I’m a pig and walk away right now, or she can remain intrigued and keep talking to me.
“You’re an arsehole,” she says and withdraws her hand. So, it’s the former. She’s going to walk away, isn’t she? She sets down her champagne glass. No! No no no no! She can’t leave. I do not think I could survive it if she walked away.
“Thank you for the drink,” she smirks at me. “And congratulations on your record deal. That’s wonderful news, Keith.” She turns on her heel and strides back out onto the dance floor where she joins her friends.
I cannot take my eyes off of her for the rest of the night. I know I am completely blowing my cool exterior by so blatantly watching her. But I cannot help myself. She laughs with her friends; dances with a few men, but doesn’t accept any drinks from any of them either. She only accepted a drink from me. That’s got to say something, right? She knows I am watching her. She’s letting me deduce whatever I want by her actions. She doesn’t dance with a single guy for more than one song.
Then the most extraordinary thing happens. She stops dancing and faces me. She is still on the dance floor, her eyes boring into mine. I feel stripped naked under her stare. I can’t help but think that would make an amazing line in a song. But I don’t want to break this connection to write it down. I have to remember it. I am stripped naked in her stare. I stand from my seat, my eyes do not leave hers. I step down the two steps onto the dance floor, all the while my eyes are locked in on hers. Not bright enough to be emeralds, and too spectacular to be compared to a green field.
“They are fireworks,” I whisper in her ear when I reach her.
“What are?” she asks.
“Your eyes. They are fireworks. And to me the ones in the sky will never compare.” I caress her cheek and tuck her hair behind her ear. I raise her face to mine and stare deeply into her eyes. The gold explodes against the green as her eyes sparkle at me. I circle her in my arms and we dance for the rest of the night.
added on 05.14.17