Her eyes opened slowly, smothering her vision with the late morning’s sun light. It streamed in from behind the curtains and through their cracks. Ivy could hear cars rolling down the street as everyone carried on with their ritualistic lives.
Pain swam around her temples. It hurt just to see. She blinked her eyes hard in an attempt to kill the pain, but of course, it remained.
It seemed only seconds after she awoke that she recalled the night’s excitement. It seemed clouded, though. Like a dream. The question of whether or not it was vanished when Ivy caught sight of the candles on the coffee table along with the George Michaels CD case.
“Holy shit, Stone.” Ivy spoke to herself out loud. “What the hell is going on?” Her mind raced and ached at the effort. Ivy realized her natural dose of paranoia was completely acceptable today. Her eyes darted around the room.
Eventually, Ivy managed to get to the bathroom and shower. It felt great to have the hot water running over her skin. Ivy lifted her face into the water and let it rain down over her.
It wasn’t the most glamorous bathroom in town, but she did what she could to make it livable. The tub was a fairly modern, cheap fixture. It was one of those tub/shower combo’s, the kind that attached to the wall. It was all white and had a glass, sliding door instead of a shower curtain. The fixtures in the bathroom were all silver. Even the tiny porcelain sink was white. Ivy always thought that the color white was the most boring color in the world. So she added some brightly colored towels and candles and things to give it a pop. Her towels had multicolored stripes. Yellow, magenta, green, and lavender filled the room. They seemed to be an endless rainbow of colors. At least she had a nice wooden cupboard under the sink, because other than that, there was nowhere to store anything. There wasn’t even a counter. She just figured that was as good as it gets for a studio apartment.
Once Ivy shut off the faucet and stepped out of the tub onto the white checkered linoleum floor, the cloudy mirror above the sink seemed to silently summon her attention. Her eyes fell over her own naked reflection. But as she stood there looking into the mirror, suddenly, the reflection changed. Ivy saw herself, but with a man standing behind her. In the mirror, Ivy was splashing water on her face, and the man was at her back, looming over her. His eyes were fixed on Ivy’s neck and his hands… his hands were slowly climbing up her back.
The entire vision only lasted a fraction of a second, but its power seemed endless. Ivy’s breath stuck in her throat. She shook her head and put a palm to her closed eye.
“Get a hold of yourself, Stone.” Ivy grumbled to herself. There was no way someone actually got into her apartment and fed her hallucinogens and then left. The whole idea was ridiculous. Maybe she lit the candles and put in the CD in her sleep or something. Hey, it could happen. Ivy rolled her eyes and sighed.
“I don’t have time for this. I’ve got things to do.” she said to herself. In about fifteen minutes Ivy was dressed, painted and ready to go.
The bulk of her money came from singing in nightclubs. It paid well. The only problem was that they didn’t like too many repeat performances. The customers got bored easily, so Ivy was constantly trying to come up with new music so that she wouldn’t have to move once a month. Though, frequent moves were, unfortunately, inevitable.
Today Ivy was going down to ‘The Bottom Feeder’ to see about getting a gig or two. ‘The Bottom Feeder’ was supposed to be the big dog of underground metal clubs in the area. Her goal wasn’t just to get a gig and pay a few bills, but it was mostly to find a band that thought she was worthy enough to lay claim to. It was a goal that had been lingering for too long.
The chill in the air seemed to remain still inside her GTO. It was old and the body of the timeless muscle car was worn and a little dented in several places, but Ivy loved her big black beast. It reminded her of herself. Old, beaten and battered, all before it’s time, yet it’s still going and still strong. The interior was worn out pretty good. The upholstery was original leather, or ‘pleather’, as Ivy liked to call it. You know, it wasn’t really leather, but some kind of plastic leather mixture that the company threw together to save some money. Anyway, it was tired and torn right down the middle of the passenger side seat in the back. Duct tape covered the guts of the seat that would have been spilling out, looking terrible. The duct tape wasn’t exactly factory direct, but it was good enough for Ivy. The shifter had that long silver bar that seemed endless compared to modern day vehicles. The shifter head was a black cue ball that Ivy had replaced the original with as it had gotten pretty worn out and eventually developed some kind of sticky dirt residue on it that she wasn’t fond of.
The engine started with a groan, and with a wiggle and pull of the shifter, she was on her way. About twenty minutes later Ivy was parked outside of ‘The Bottom Feeder’. The front door was actually on the side of the building, which was lined with an alley instead of a street. The words, ‘The Bottom Feeder’ glowed red in smaller print than expected for a club, just on top of a single rusted steel door. A couple of miscellaneous posters hung on the brick walls on each side of the door. Promotions for local bands, Ivy figured.
Ivy knocked on the cold door a couple times then opened it and peeked in. She’d never been there before so Ivy wasn’t sure what to expect. Especially at 12:45 in the afternoon. It was kind of dark inside but a string of small dull bulbs lit a stairwell leading almost straight down, like some kind of dungeon beyond the door.
Ivy followed them down to another long narrow hallway lit by the same string of small dull light bulbs. It was a little creepy, but creepy had always been right up her alley. What seemed like the longest, darkest hallway in the world finally came to another rusted steel door that was slightly ajar. Once again, Ivy knocked and then pushed it open. She walked into a huge, well, dungeon. The walls and floor were made of cobblestone. There was purple Christmas lights lining the ceiling beams and more scattered haphazardly along the walls. The bar kept an entire wall off to the right side. There were only a few tables outside of the bar that looked like they’d been through a tornado. A few too many bar room brawls, Ivy supposed.
A stage took the back wall. It stood about three feet off the main floor and was caged in chicken wire. An inner alarm went off in her head, but at the same time Ivy was a little wet with excitement.
“We’re closed!” A strong baritone voice boomed.
Ivy spun on her heels to see a very large man hovering in the doorway next to the bar’s end. The word ‘Office’ was written in what looked like permanent marker over the door.
“Hours are 5:00pm to 2:00am.” he said as he wiped his hands on a dirty hand towel, not paying her much attention.
“Are you the one to talk to about a gig?” Ivy asked with her own strong voice.
The big man’s tired face lifted. He looked Ivy up and down blatantly, huffed then mocked, “What, you?”
Ivy felt her stomach tighten a bit with the thought of being somewhere she didn’t belong. Ivy ignored it and allowed her nature of intimidation to hold her strength out on her skin. “Is that a problem for you?” She asked holding her ground firmly.
The big man chuckled a bit causing his gut to bounce. “Have a seat.” he said after a moment, motioning to a bar stool. “You got a band?”
“I have a guitar.”
He chuckled again, shaking his head. “Lady, you’d have to be real fucking good to stand on that stage with no more than a microphone and a guitar in front of the kind of crowds we get.” he said antagonistically. “I don’t take real kindly to having to sweep up a lady’s eye balls at the end of the night.”
“I appreciate your concern, sir, but I don’t need it.” Ivy retorted with her own note of sarcasm. As Ivy spoke the sentence, he stood across from her on the other side of the bar with his hands palm down on top of it. He looked her straight in the face with his mouth slightly gaped open.
“Lady, either you’re the ballsiest woman I ever did see, or you’re that damn good.” He croaked.
“I’m that damn good.” Ivy replied. There was a silent moment.
“What’s your name?” the big man asked.
“Ivy Stone.” she answered.
A smile crept over the man’s aged face. His widow’s peak slunk back a bit. “Ivy Stone, huh? Come up with that yourself?” he laughed.
“As a matter of fact I did.” She answered proudly.
“What, Ivy because you’re no delicate flower and Stone, because that’s what the world made of ya?” His vicious grin didn’t fade for a second. “I’m Hef. Short for Hefty. I think that’s pretty self explanatory.” he said holding out a hand to shake hers. Ivy took it and shook. “We’ve got a spot tonight at 11:45. If you live through it, there will be $200 waiting for you.” he said.
“Thank you.” Ivy turned and departed. That took care of the easy part.
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Genre - Paranormal Romance
Rating – R