1.9

He was a gentleman too!

Ashley exited the bar and turned right, heading towards the side of the building. She could feel the presence of his large frame behind her the whole time. She was overwhelmed with a feeling of safety from his nearness. Leaning up against the brick wall, she pulled a lighter out of her jean pocket and lit the cigarette that she had tucked behind her ear. Inhaling deeply she studied Aerik, who was now standing about six feet in front of her. He was much taller than Ashley’s five-foot-seven. He was also rather broad and fit. Neither of which Ashley could claim for herself. She was rather thin, almost appearing malnourished to those who didn’t know better. The stress of being a single mother, working two jobs, and copious amounts of nicotine kept her that way.

While Ashley was busy looking him up and down, Aerik almost forgot he was hungry. He had been happy that the band he was touring with had brought him to this city. It was easier for him to feed here. The abundance of poverty and homelessness made feeding almost like an all-you-can-eat buffet with no one noticing any difference if his victims had fallen ill or died because of it. Of course, it wasn’t the best blood in the world but only slightly worse than the groupies he would feed on in city after city. Being a sessions musician for some of the more popular touring music acts in the country had it’s perks. One could have a selection of women at every stop and didn’t have to worry about jeopardizing the supply or leaving a trail.

“Did you happen to catch our set?” Aerik asked.

“No, actually. I just got here right after you guys finished I guess.”

“Well, if you’re interested, we’re doing another show tomorrow downtown.”

Ashley frowned. “I’ll try and see if I can make it out.” She wasn’t sure if she would be able to find a babysitter on such short notice. Her social life was next to nil for the 26-year-old but she wasn’t ready to disclose why to a man she had just met. Maybe she would come off a little mysterious herself in the presence of the mysterious stranger. “You must really love your job.”

“It puts food on the table, so to speak.” Aerik was being humble. He did love his job. He mastered playing all kinds of instruments over the years. The electric guitar was only a recent invention in the music scene by his timeline. He had vacation homes all over the world. A permanent residence was unbearable to him because life in and of itself was permanent for him. He needed the constant movement, touring, traveling, and change of people and scenery. There was no need to overwhelm or attempt to impress this simple American girl with stories of his lavish lifestyle, at least not yet. Maybe he would see her tomorrow night, maybe not. He hoped he would.

After some additional awkward small talk and Ashley finished her cigarette, the two exchanged phone numbers. A reluctant Ashley called it a night, having to be back at the office early in the morning. The pull she felt towards Aerik, otherwise barely discernible beneath the beer buzz, would have been enough to make her feel physically ill had she been sober. There was a tremendous sense of inertia towards him that was drawing her in, more than just attraction to his looks alone. She was confused. She didn’t want to leave him then but welcomed relief from the frenzy she felt in the core her being upon driving home from the club, the distance growing between them.

Ashley didn’t have time in her busy schedule to entertain such feelings with her quota of responsibilities. She would decide whether or not she wanted to see Aerik again after a good nights sleep. A night’s sleep that wouldn’t amount to much more than tossing and turning.

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