Disclaimer: Characters and situations are all from my imagination. In fact, a couple of them might be familiar from other stories I've written. One line of dialogue given to Dash was actually said by Warren Zevon in concert, but I liked it so much I decided to appropriate it. *G* The lyrics from "Figurine" are copyrighted by Warren Zevon and Zevon Music/BMI. I think the lyrics to "The Big Strong Man" are public domain, but I could be wrong. All other lyrics are mine. You can tell by how mediocre they are. *G*
Warnings: Sex and love between women.
Feedback: Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at email@example.com
"Thank you for coming in to talk with us."
"My pleasure, Nadine."
Nadine Butler, afternoon disc-jockey for KELF 1220 AM, said, "I'd like to thank my guest, Dash Warren, for being here this afternoon and to thank everyone who called in with questions for her. Dash's concert is tomorrow night in the city park. Admission is twenty bucks; trust me when I say they're going fast. Dash, it's always a pleasure."
"It's great to be back on the island," Dash said. "Thanks for having me."
"That'll do it for me this afternoon. Stay tuned for Hoagie. Right now, we're going to leave you with a little Dash." She clicked a button and Dash's first hit, 'Mutt,' began to play. They took off their headphones and Nadine stood, extending a hand over the console to the musician. "Really nice to see you again."
"You, too. Still seeing Kate?"
"Yeah," Nadine said quietly. She gestured at the window and made a shushing move with her hand. Dash nodded as she opened the door to the broadcasting booth and led Nadine out. Gillian, Dash's manager, was leaning against the wall just outside. She fell into step next to Dash and said, "All right. The interview is over, now... we should get to the record store downtown and sign some autographs..."
"Whoa, Gillian. Just give me a second to breathe, all right? Go downstairs and wait in the car."
Gillian sighed, pinched off a smile to Nadine and headed for the stairs. Dash watched her go and then turned to Nadine. "Sorry about that."
"No problem," Nadine said. Over Dash's shoulder, she saw Joe "Hoagie" Hogan rising from his desk and moving towards them. "Oh, God. And allow me to preemptively apologize for this."
Dash turned and smiled at Hoagie. "Hey, Joe."
"Hey, Candace," Hoagie said. He hooked his thumbs in his belt and smiled at Nadine. "So, uh... concert tomorrow. You got any plans for tonight?"
Dash put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Hoagie, I'm going to tell you the same thing I tell you every time I'm in town; you're just too much man for me."
Hoagie chuckled and said, "Well, if you ever decide you want to trade up, you got my number."
"Right," Dash laughed. She followed Nadine down the stairs as Hoagie headed to the booth. "Nice guy."
"You could just tell him you're not interested."
"Hey, if he doesn't get the picture from all those National Enquirer guys who are desperate to officially out me, why should I ruin his fun?"
Nadine stopped at the station's front door and leaned against the glass. The receptionist was nearby, but occupied with the phone so she wouldn't overhear. "So, do you have plans tonight?"
"I did, but you told me you were still with Kate."
Nadine laughed. "Oh, God, now I see where Hoagie gets it."
"Did you get your backstage passes?"
"I did. Kate will go ballistic."
"I can't wait to meet her. But, in all honesty, I should probably head out."
Nadine leaned in and embraced Dash. "Well, next time you're on the island, maybe we could do something other than an interview. Like an in-studio unplugged sort of thing."
"That'd be great," Dash said. "I'll talk it over with Gillian... who is probably cursing out our driver at the moment. So I should go."
"Yeah. I'll see you at the concert."
"You'd better," Dash said. She waved good-bye to the receptionist, who had gotten two of her CDs autographed when Dash arrived, and pushed through the front doors. Sure enough, Gillian had the car idling at the curb. Through the back window, she could see the blonde angrily checking her watch. Dash opened the passenger side door and climbed in.
"Fuck me for having friends," Dash growled.
"Where to?" the driver said, ignoring the bitterness in their words.
Gillian sighed. "The record store. Spring Street at the corner of David." The car pulled away from the curb and Gillian sagged against the seat. "I've made some calls. Gail's Seafood Shack is offering you a free dinner if you show up tonight. They figure it'll draw customers."
"Sure, whatever," Dash said. She leaned against the door, slumped over and staring into the reflection of her purple sunglasses. She reached into Gillian's satchel and withdrew a notebook. She scribbled, "Empty streets with a bright sun, staring into the dark eyes of my reflection."
Gillian looked down at the sheet and said, "New song?"
Dash shrugged and put the notebook back in the bag.
They made it to the record store with ten minutes to spare before she was scheduled to begin signing. Dash told the driver to go around to the back of the store and park. The line wasn't quite to the alley, but it was longer than she'd anticipated in such a small town. "Maybe some people came over on the ferry," Gillian suggested, reading Dash's mind.
"They'd have just seen me in Seattle or Portland," Dash said. They parked and Dash climbed out. She walked to the back of the line and tapped the last person on the shoulder. "Hey," she whispered.
The girl turned and her eyes widened. Dash brought a finger to her lips, shushing the girl before she could alert the entire line. She made a 'gimme' gesture with the CD the girl was holding and the girl handed it over. "Stick around," Dash said as she signed it. "I'll be looking for you, okay?"
The girl nodded and Gillian plucked Dash's sleeve. Dash let herself be dragged away and led into the delivery entrance of the store. The store manager was waiting, smile plastered on his face, as he extended his hand. "Dash Warren. It's an honor to have you in our little store."
"Happy to do it," Dash said. She saw that there was a huge poster for her concert hanging on one wall; it was from a concert she'd done in New York. A rainstorm had plastered her t-shirt to her lean frame and her black bra was plainly visible. She had one hand wrapped around the microphone stand, the other pushing her straight, black hair up and out of her face. Rain was pouring down her face as she screamed the lyrics to some song or another.
Reviewers had called the concert 'ferocious and primal' and said Dash was 'as elemental as the storm.' Dash had let them think what they wanted; truth was, she'd had to scream just to be heard over the fucking thunder. She followed the store manager to a small table filled with copies of her CDs and a row of Sharpie pens. She took a seat, eyed the markers, and said, "I'm going to have a headache tonight, aren't I?"
Gillian, all smiles now, patted Dash on the back and said, "Your public awaits!"
Dash pulled off her sunglasses and ran a hand through her hair. "Yeah, okay. Let 'em in."
Three hours and two hand cramps later, the last person left with a personalized autograph and the manager had a handful of autographed CDs to add to their inventory. "That's it," Dash said as she leaned back in her chair.
"Until dinner at Gail's. Then we're..."
"No. Screw Gail's. I'll get dinner somewhere else."
"Candace, we promised..."
"You promised. Or rather, you probably just said you'd see if I was interested. I'm not. So... you know, apologize or something. I'm done for the day."
"Bye, Gillian. I'll see you back at the B&B."
She walked to the back of the store, thanked the manager for having her and slipped out through the back entrance. Their driver was leaning against the bumper of his car smoking a cigarette and straightened when he saw her. "Where to?"
"Wherever Gillian says," Dash said without breaking her stride. "I don't need you for the rest of the night."
"Oh, okay. Nice meeting you, Miss Warren."
"You, too. Have a nice night." She grabbed her jacket out of the back of the car, also taking the song notebook from Gillian's bag just in case, and started down the street. She wasn't sure where she was heading just yet - eight o'clock in a small town, it might as well have been deserted - but she was positive she wasn't going to spend the night following Gillian's orders.
Regan Duffy grabbed the mic and leaned forward. "Okay," she said, pushing strands of sweat-darkened red hair out of her face. "What do you guys want to hear?"
The crowd at Daoine Maite stomped their feet and shouted suggestions to her. Soon, the crowd began to chant, "Big Strong Man!" Regan turned to the band and said, "They wanna hear about Sylvester, boys."
The band started playing and the crowd applauded. The bar was an underground cavern, walls of stone and dark wood that made her feel like she was in the middle of the deep woods. She stomped on the stage, her boots making a hollow clap in time to the music as she leaned into the mic and began to sing.
"Have you heard about the big strong man?
He lived in a caravan.
Have you heard about the Jeffrey Johnson fight?
Oh, Lord what a hell of a fight.
You can take all of the heavyweights you've got.
We've got a lad that can beat the whole lot.
He used to ring bells in the belfry,
Now he's gonna fight Jack Dempsey."
Regan clapped her hands together and motioned to the audience to sing the crowd part of the chorus, letting her band take care of the rest as she danced across the stage.
"That was my brother Sylvest' (What’s he got?)
A row of forty medals on his chest (big chest!)
He killed fifty bad men in the west (he knows no rest)
Think of a man (Hells' fire!) don't push, just shove,
Plenty of room for you and me.
He's got an arm like a leg (a ladies' leg!)
And a punch that would sink a battleship (big ship!)
It takes all of the Army and the Navy to put the wind up Sylvest'!"
She whooped and hollered as she sang her parts, clapping in time to the song. Her black jeans were hanging low on her hips, her t-shirt beginning to cling to her chest. She was sweating like crazy, panting like a madwoman as she grabbed the mic to sing the next verse.
Dash had been heading for the harbor, but the sounds of Irish music wafted down the deserted street from... somewhere. She followed the sound along the street, passing full restaurants that were warmly lit, passing lovers walking hand-in-hand by the marina, watched the moon in the rippling water, and finally found a stairway that was all but hidden. 'Daoine Maite' was all the sign said. She frowned and, as she headed down, found herself enveloped by the music.
When she pushed open the front door of the bar, she could hear a woman singing:
"You can take all of the instruments you've got,
We got a lad that can play the whole lot.
And the old church bells will ring (Hells bells!)
The old church choir will sing (Hells fire!)
They all turned out to say farewell to my big brother Sylvest'."
She wound through the crowd, all of them so focused on the band that they didn't even notice her passage, and leaned against the bar. "Whatever's on tap," she shouted to the bartender. He grabbed a mug and began filling it, shouting along with the chorus when it played. He handed her the mug, squinted in recognition and then pushed a bowl of pretzels closer to her stool.
"Who are they?" she asked, nodding towards the stage.
"The Keeners!" he shouted back. "That's Regan Duffy up front!"
Dash took her beer and turned to watch the band. The Duffy woman was putting every ounce of energy into her singing; she pounded her feet against the wooden stage, she leaned out over the edge to get closer to the audience, she barked at people who weren't singing along. She carried her mic around to the other members of the band so they could sing together and then jumped off the stage entirely to move through the audience.
When she reached the bar, she climbed onto a stool and planted her feet on the polished wood surface. "Everyone!" she shouted. "Riverdance!" She mocked Michael Flatley with a quick, apparently improvised jig. "If you use your fookin' arms, we'll cut 'em the fook off!"
Regan scooted first one way, then the other, dancing along the bar as her band continued to play. Dash reached up when she was in arm's-length and tugged on Regan's pant leg. "You guys need a guitar player?"
Regan looked down with a patronizing smile, then her eyes widened in recognition. "Holy shit!"
"Is that a yes?"
Regan crouched down and grabbed Dash's arm. Dash stood, using the stool to climb up on the bar next to Regan, and began to dance with her. Regan said, "Please welcome a young, up and coming star to the bar. Some of you may have heard of her, Miss Dash Warren!"
Dash clapped her heels together, put her arms straight down to her sides and bowed from the waist. The crowd went ballistic. Regan grabbed Dash's hand, stepped in close and they began to spin across the bar. The patrons who'd come to drink rescued their mugs and pretzels and peanuts before the dancing women could spill them across the floor.
Regan leapt from the bar to the ground, helping Dash climb down a bit more carefully, and they both went to the stage. "How about we let this young lady sit in with us for a song or two? How'd you lads and ladies like that?"
The response was an overwhelming cheer.
Regan, the microphone away from her mouth, leaned in and kissed Dash's ear as she whispered, "We know 'Mutt,' 'Leave Me the Sky,' '18 Ways'..."
"We can do 'Mutt,'" Dash said. The guitar player handed Dash his instrument and left the stage, heading for the bar to get a mug of his own.
Regan nodded and straightened. "We're gonna slow it down a bit, guys!"
Dash played the opening notes to 'Mutt,' feeling odd that she wasn't going to sing it, but she was curious to hear how Regan interpreted it. Regan replaced the mic in the stand and began to sing.
At two in the morning, Dash staggered through the kitchen door at Daoine Maite in search of the bathroom. She was drenched in sweat, her hair stuck to her cheeks, her eyes glazed from one too many beers. She put a hand out to the wall and scanned the kitchen, giggling at her inability to find the bathrooms. The door opened behind her and she turned to apologize for being there. Regan chuckled and said, "What are you doing in the kitchen?"
"Peeing," Dash said. "You don't think that's a health-code violation, do you?"
"Come on," Regan laughed. "I'll show you where the bathrooms are." She hooked an arm around Dash's waist and led her out of the kitchen. The band was still on stage, pounding out another Irish jig. Sean Penney, the owner and bartender, had gently but firmly told them not to dance on the bar anymore. Dash had pulled out her wallet and peeled off a couple hundred dollar bills to pay for the damages.
Regan half-pulled, half-dragged Dash to a narrow wood-paneled hallway lit with a single yellowed bulb. Regan pointed to the bathroom doors and said, "You need me in there to prop you up?"
"You just wanna yank my pants down," Dash said. She leaned in and bumped her hip against Regan's. "We can do that later." She laughed again and stumbled into the bathroom.
When she came out, Regan was still leaning against the wall. Her face was flushed and her eyes were wide. Dash gestured at the bar. "Come on. The night is young." She took Regan's hand and tried to walk away, but Regan was planted where she stood. Dash walked back and pressed her against the wall with her hips. "What? You wanna leave your adoring public?"
Regan wrapped her arms around Dash and pressed her hands into the sweaty small of Dash's back. "I want to yank your pants down," Regan purred. She arched one dark red eyebrow and smiled.
Dash pressed her hips tighter against Regan's, feeling the other woman's belt buckle digging into her stomach. "Oh, yeah?" Dash asked, biting her bottom lip. "You got a place we could go?"
Regan pushed away from the wall and let her hand slip under the waistband of Dash's jeans to her ass. She nodded at the bathroom door and said, "Unless you wanna hop up on the sink...?"
"What I'm planning? We'd drown out the music. Someplace private."
Regan trembled and squeezed Dash's hand. They pulled apart and Regan pulled Dash out of the narrow hallway and back into the ruckus of the crowd. They weaved and threaded between tables, trying to avoid the stomping feet of the audience as the band continued to play. When they reached the door, Dash pressed tight against Regan from behind. She laced her fingers over Regan's stomach and pulled her close and hissed into her ear, "I'm so fucking wet right now..."
"Promises, promises," Regan said, grinding herself against Dash. She managed to get the door open, despite knees so weak that she could barely stand, and raced up the steps outside. The street was utterly deserted and Regan pulled Dash to the parking lot. She found her car, unlocked the driver's side door through sheer muscle memory and stepped back. "Get in."
"Who says you're going to be on top?" Dash panted.
Regan grabbed Dash's belt and pulled her close. They kissed, a harsh mashing of lips that was softened by a sudden sweep of Regan's tongue. They broke apart panting and Regan growled, "In."
Dash ducked her head and climbed into the backseat of the car. Regan got in behind her and slammed the door as she dropped into the backseat. Dash pounced, turning the tables before they'd even began, and sat on Regan's lap. She draped her arms around Regan's shoulders and ground her hips against the redhead. "Are you a star-fucker?" Dash hissed. "Wanna fuck famous?"
Regan slid her hands under Dash's shirt, pressing her hands against her sweaty back and pulling her clothes. "I want to fuck you because you're fucking gorgeous," Regan said. She lowered her head and kissed Dash's small breasts through her t-shirt. She nipped and sucked until the nipples stood at attention, tasting the salt of Dash's sweat on her tongue.
"Good answer," Dash sighed. She thrust her hips again and said, "This is just a preview. Just so we're coherent enough to drive back to your place."
Regan slid her hands around Dash's waist and found her belt buckle. It was big, Texas-sized, with a design Regan didn't bother to examine as she pulled it loose. She grunted as she tugged on the leather with one hand, her other moving down to cup Dash's mound through the denim of her jeans. Dash groaned and rocked her hips against Regan's fingers. Through some miracle, Regan got the belt out of the way and tugged down the zipper. She shoved her hand inside the jeans, making a fist with her index and middle finger extended. She thrust her hips forward as her fingertips brushed over Dash's clit.
Dash cried out and reached out with both arms. She pressed her hands against the ceiling and closed her eyes, rising and falling against Regan's hand. "Fuck me," she growled. "Oooh, God, fuck me, put them in. Put them in." Regan bent her fingers and they slid easily between Dash's wet pussy lips.
Despite what she'd said - and it was the utter truth - Regan leaned back against the headrest and smiled at the fact that her fingers were inside Dash Warren. It was something she'd fantasized about for years. Several of Regan's conquests in the Daoine Maite bathroom had been Dash in her mind. And now, here she was, horny and finger-fucking the real deal. God, that fact alone was enough to make her come.
She stretched her legs out and lifted her hips, pressing her feet against the center console for leverage. Dash reached down and cupped Regan's breasts, squeezing them and pinching the nipples through her shirt and bra. "You're so beautiful," Dash hissed.
"Save the romance for later," Regan said. "Come for me."
Dash threw her head back and swallowed hard. She tightened her thighs around Regan's hips and arched her back, her nipples standing out against her shirt like beacons. Regan sat up and latched onto them, leaving twin dark circles on the material. Dash trembled, pressed herself against Regan's fingers and then shuddered twice, slowly sagging against Regan.
They kissed slower this time, though Regan was still thrumming with pent-up lust. She pulled back, her face red-hot and her lower lip trembling. "Are you okay to drive?" Dash asked.
"Yeah," Regan said. They squirmed against each other, Regan pulling her hand free while Dash tugged her pants back into place. Regan climbed over the center console and sat in the driver's seat. She took a deep breath before she found her keys and started the car. The radio came on and Dash's voice came through the speakers, halfway through 'Leave Me the Sky.'
"You are a fan," Dash said from the darkness of the backseat.
"Well," Regan said. She looked in the rearview mirror and couldn't see Dash. It was like she had become an apparition. "I-was listening to it to get ready... I figured we'd get a lot of requests for your songs after the concert tomorrow. Do you want me to turn it off?"
"No," Dash said. "I like it."
Regan was pulling out of the parking lot when Dash's hands suddenly appeared on either side of her. They pulled her back against the seat and then skated down her body to the crotch of her jeans.
"Wh-what are you doing?"
"Just drive," Dash whispered, her lips right next to Regan's ear.
Regan kept her hands firmly at eleven and one on the wheel, even though her fingers tightened until her knuckles turned into sharp little mountain ranges. Dash's hands slid down over Regan's belly, to the catch of her pants. She undid the button and both hands slipped inside. Regan lifted her hips off the seat and let her eyelids flutter as Dash touched her. Dash's breath was hot on her neck and sent shivers down her spine as she imagined those soft, soft lips brushing elsewhere on her body.
"Take everything else," Dash whispered along with her compact-disc recording, "take my money, my car and fly, take whatever you want... just leave me the sky." She bit Regan's earlobe as her fingers curled against Regan's underwear. The car swerved slightly and Dash gave a throaty giggle. "Don't kill us with my fingers on your clit... how embarrassing for the coroner..."
Regan groaned and struggled to keep the car straight. "If it's what you want, I'll gladly say good-bye," Dash purred. "But come on, baby... you gotta leave me the sky..."
Regan released the steering wheel with her left hand and grabbed Dash's wrist. She held it in place, not trusting Dash to stop teasing, and bucked her hips forward until she came. The car had slowed to about five miles an hour and she eased her foot back onto the gas until they were nearer the speed limit. "God, you bad girl..."
"Of course," Dash chuckled. "Don't you read the tabloids?" She withdrew her hand and Regan heard the subtle sounds of Dash sucking her fingers.
Regan pulled off the main road and reached her apartment building not a moment too soon. She parked in her usual spot and climbed out of the car. She took a moment to button her jeans again; it wouldn't do her any good to have her pants fall down as she tried to go upstairs. Her heart slammed against her ribcage, her hands were shaking, as she walked Dash Warren up the stairs to her apartment. She unlocked the door and stepped aside.
Dash took Regan's hand and backed into the dark apartment. Regan kicked the door closed and grabbed Dash, pressing her against the wall and covering the singer's body with her own. Dash groaned and spread her legs, letting Regan slip between them and thrust forward. Dash cupped Regan's face between her hands and kissed her hard. She parted Regan's lips with her tongue and lifted her hips to meet Regan's thigh.
They fumbled for each other's belts and their jeans slid down their legs to puddle on the floor. Regan stepped back and looked down at Dash, her pale legs standing out even in the darkness. She looked up into Dash's eyes and stepped forward again, bending her knees and pulling Dash forward. Dash let herself be lifted out of her pooled pants and hooked her ankles behind Regan's waist. She put her hands on Regan's shoulders and settled gently against her stomach.
Regan slid her hands to the small of Dash's back and held her in place as she pulled away from the wall. "I like to be a little rough," Dash panted as Regan rocked against her.
"You can do whatever you want to me," Regan promised.
Dash shivered in her arms and leaned in for another kiss. She tightened her thighs and rocked harder against Regan. Regan moved her hands down to Dash's ass, squeezing both cheeks before she grabbed the thin material of her panties and tugged. The material ripped, but not completely through. Regan chuckled against Dash's mouth and looked down. "Oh, shit..."
"Not exactly like the movies," Dash said. "Elastic is a bitch."
Regan slid her hand into the tear and said, "Serves my purpose, though," she said. She captured Dash's mouth again, silencing another moan as her fingers found Dash's wet slit, and let her fall back against the wall. Dash's shoulders thudded against the sheetrock and seemed to make the entire apartment building shake.
"Bedroom," Dash said against Regan's mouth.
Regan groaned and pulled Dash away from the wall. They separated and Dash took a moment to shed her torn panties. She pulled her shirt over her head and unhooked her bra and let it fall to the floor in the pile. She stood unashamed in front of Regan and put a hand between her legs, idly touching herself as she waited for directions to the bed. "Regan," she said, snapping the redhead out of her stupor.
"Take off your goddamn clothes."
"Right." She dropped her own panties and peeled off her sweaty tank top. "God... that thing is rank..." She unhooked her bra and dropped it over the couch. She was a little more self-conscious than Dash had been, making her wonder how many times the rock goddess had done this sort of thing. She brought a hand up between her breasts, instinctively trying to cover her nipples.
But Dash walked forward and drew her arm down. "You're gorgeous," Dash whispered. She leaned in and kissed Regan's throat, down to the plain of her chest to take one rosy nipple into her mouth. Regan moaned and arched her back, putting her hands on Dash's shoulders as the singer moved lower. Her tongue found a wash of freckles to explore and then dipped lower, trailing down the valley of Regan's cleavage.
Dash knelt in front of Regan and eased her legs apart. She put her hands around Regan's knees and, as she lowered her head to kiss Regan's thighs, lightly scraped her fingernails across the sensitive skin behind Regan's knees. Regan shivered and gasped. Dash lifted her head like a supplicant and extended her tongue. She parted Regan's lips and her tongue brushed gently across her entrance.
"Oh, g'd'God," Regan gasped. She started to lean back until she remembered there was nothing to catch her fall. She swallowed hard and leaned forward instead, planting her hands on top of Dash's head. Dash's tongue rolled and flicked her sensitive flesh, tracing curves and gently swabbing across the folds. When she closed her lips around Regan's clit, her body went rigid and she pressed down on her hands. She forced Dash's head away and moved one hand to cover her pussy. "God," she breathed.
Dash wiped the back of her hand across her mouth and looked up at Regan. "Think you got the gist?"
"I think I can riff on what you've given me," Regan grinned. She grabbed Dash's hands and hauled her to her feet. They kissed and Dash pressed herself against Regan's naked body. Regan put her hands on Dash's hips and walked backwards towards the bedroom.
The sheet was wrapped around Dash's waist like a sarong, her arms folded in front of her to cover her breasts. Her dark hair, so black that it was almost blue where the morning light hit it, covered her face in thin strands. Regan sat against the headboard, also nude but not in a hurry to dress, and watched her sleep. There was a small tattoo on the back of Dash's neck, where it would be covered by her hair more often than not. It was a simple red lambda, outlined in black.
Regan eased out of bed, careful not to disturb Dash, and went to the bathroom. She took a quick shower - thankful to finally feel clean after spending the entire night dripping sweat for one reason or another - and slipped out of the bedroom. As she started preparing breakfast, she heard the shower come on again. She got the eggs from the fridge and hoped Dash liked them scrambled.
By the time Dash emerged from the bedroom, wearing a borrowed oversized t-shirt that reached to her knees, Regan had finished cooking and was already digging into her food. "Scrambled eggs, bacon and coffee," she said, gesturing at the kitchenette. "Help yourself."
"Thanks," Dash murmured. There was a clattering of plate and silverware, the fridge door opened and closed, and then Dash Warren - the same Dash Warren who had appeared on Saturday Night Live three months ago - sat down at Regan's dining room table with the cow-shaped creamer.
Regan chuckled and covered her mouth. "Sorry," she said, when Dash looked up. "It's like... having John Lennon sitting on my couch wearing bunny slippers. It's just bizarre. I'm sorry."
Dash smiled sleepily and said, "I saw the notes on your night table. Song lyrics?"
Regan blushed. "God. And now this is like William Shakespeare seeing my eighth grade creative writing assignment." She took a sip of her coffee and nodded. "Yeah. I, uh... the band, the Keeners, usually performs cover songs. But every now and then I try my hand at writing."
"I liked the top one. Lost Voice?" Regan nodded. "Really good flow. I could almost hear the music, you know?"
Regan shrugged. "Hell, I mean... I don't know the channels, but if you wanted to use it..." She laughed and shook her head. "God, what am I saying?"
"I'd love to use it," Dash said. "I'll get my manager to talk with you about it."
"Seriously? Wow... thank you."
Dash nodded and finished her bacon. "Really good bacon, too."
Dash leaned back and stared at her plate. "Fucking Mutt."
Regan blinked. "What?"
"If there's one thing every musician dreads, it's turning into a fucking oldies act. But if Alanis Morissette is around in fifteen years, they're all going to be gathered around saying 'Alanis, sing that song where you give the blow job again.'" She sighed and shook her head. "Last night was the first time in a long time I've felt like anything but a walking, talking CD player. Sing it like you did on the album, every single time... it gets tiring. Last night, I felt free. Fuck, did you know we skipped an entire verse of '18 Ways'? That's four whole ways that we skipped over. No one noticed. No one cared."
"I had no idea."
Dash tapped her fingers on the edge of the table and looked up, her eyes bright with a sudden idea. "Perform with me tonight."
"After the concert? The Keeners usually..."
"No," Dash said. "At the concert. Come out onstage with me."
Regan's eyes widened. "No. No way."
"You're talented. You'd be great."
"A crowd that size?! I've never... I mean, Daoine Maite is the biggest venue I've ever played. I have to tend bar there tonight."
Dash leaned forward and said, "Look, you're perfectly entitled to say no, okay? But you shouldn't. You have to decide if you want to be a bartender who occasionally gets on-stage with her band or if you want to be a singer. You go on tour with me, maybe jump from that into your own career. But until you're ready to go out on your own, I would be more than happy to use you for my own purposes."
"You mean on-stage, right?"
Dash raised an eyebrow. "Hey, the road can get boring. We'd find something to keep us busy on the bus."
Regan exhaled and looked down at her suddenly tasteless food. Everything in her body was focused on not jumping up onto the table and trying to keep Dash's offer straight in her mind. She's offering me the world, she thought. My dream, at the expense of my band. She chewed her bottom lip and finally said, "What time should I show up backstage?"
Dash opened the show with 'Mutt,' as she always did. From the wings, Gillian and Regan were watching the concert. The blonde manager hadn't said two words to Regan, but gave the impression she wasn't the first woman Dash had invited backstage to a concert. It didn't matter; how many of those past women would get to do what Regan was about to? How many had gotten that offer from Dash Warren?
Dash wore a tattered t-shirt under a white blouse that was two sizes too big for her lanky frame. The sleeves were rolled up to her elbows and looked like white wings. She pushed her hair out of her face as the crowd applauded for Mutt and said, "Thank you," into the mic. She shuffled her feet - clad in the familiar untied red-and-white sneakers that she wore to every concert - and said, "I, uh... I want to do something a little different tonight.
"Y'see, I love these concerts. I do. I love coming out and meeting the people. But sometimes I just get so sick of just regurgitating the same music over and over. I want something new. I want something you've never seen before. Because, really, why not? Otherwise, you could just sit at home and crank up the CD player and get the same damn show, right? So..." She kicked off the tennis shoes and sent them skittering backstage. "I'm going to mix it up."
The crowd applauded wildly.
"What the hell is she doing now?" Gillian sighed.
"Regan," Dash called. "Regan, get your butt out here."
Regan smiled at Gillian's shocked expression and ran out onto the stage.
"Some of you may know Regan Duffy of the Keeners." The crowd applauded, Dash along with them, as the bassist handed over his instrument to her. "Wanna thank her for joining me up here. We're going to start the New and Improved Dash Warren Tour with a song by Mr. Warren Zevon. Great songwriter, great man, great song."
She stepped back and began a quick, upbeat rhythm. Regan joined in with her and Dash looked over and smiled. Regan nodded and Dash stepped forward.
"Well, the wrong kind of people don't want you to change
They just want you to stay the same
They wanna keep you in between
So hold that pose, like a figurine.
Figurine, don't it make you wanna scream?
Don't you get it yet?
They think of you as a statuette."
She strummed the guitar and stepped back from the microphone. She looked backstage and saw Gillian fuming, arms crossed over her chest and splitting her glare between Dash and Regan. Dash turned her back to the crowd, on the pretense of facing her drummer, and presented her middle finger to Gillian.
When she turned back to the mic, she growled:
"And the wrong kind of people don't want you to change
They just want you to stay the same
They gonna ask you where you been
And make you wait like a mannequin.
They wanna keep you high and dry
To furnish them with an alibi
They wanna keep you in between
So hold that pose like a figurine."
"Figurine," she and Regan sang together.
"Don't it make you wanna scream?" Dash sang. She walked across the stage and let Regan sing, "Don't you get it yet," on her own.
They sang together through the chorus and then faced each other, playing through the bridge as the crowd went nuts. "Don't you get it yet," Dash sang into Regan's mic. "They think of you as a statuette." She pulled back and, as Regan continued to play, decided to make this the most original concert she'd ever done. She cupped the back of Regan's head and pulled her in for a long, blistering, no-doubt-about-it-they're-doing-it kiss.
The applause seemed to stutter and it sounded like the crowd had disappeared for a heartbeat. Then someone whistled and the applause returned with force. Regan's face was as red as her hair as she continued playing while Dash strode back to her own mic stand. She leaned in and barked, "They gonna ask you where you been... don't want me to tell you I'm a lesbian."
Gillian had vanished from the wings. The crowd was insane by the time they played the last notes. Camera flashbulbs flickered like a hundred-thousand fireflies and Dash panted as she backed towards the drums. "Think that was a bad idea?" she asked loud enough for her drummer to hear.
"Well, you pretty much guaranteed yourself the cover of Rolling Stone."
Dash laughed and flashed the 'I love you' sign with both hands. She walked back up to the mic and scanned the crowd. People were leaving. Not a lot, but enough that she could see them making their way up the aisles even with the blinding lights in her eyes. She ignored them and said, "Okay. Now that we have that out of the way... we're going to play a couple song you might recognize. Don't expect them to sound exactly the way you remember, though. We got Regan here, so we're going to mix things up but good. Hang on to your seats, folks."
After the show, which included two encores, Gillian and Dash went into the trailer they'd used as dressing rooms and had a nice, civil conversation that could probably have been heard from the nosebleed section. When Dash came storming out, Regan was torn between facing the music and running for the hills. Sure she'd had a wonderful time and she was eager to see if Dash wanted to unwind with a little post-show coitus.
Dash found her hiding at the edge of the stage, looking out at the abandoned mic stands. "Hey," Dash sighed.
"Hey. I didn't get you in trouble, did I?"
Dash shook her head. She leaned against one of the speakers and said, "Look, I know I invited you to join us on the tour, but..."
"I get it," Regan said, saving her the trouble. "Tonight was... more than enough, trust me. I'm honored you even asked."
"No, I'm not reneging," Dash said. "I was about a hair away from putting Gillian's head through the mirror, but she agreed to let you join us on the road. I was just going to say you don't have to leave tonight." She pulled a flyer from the back pocket of her jeans and said, "This is our itinerary. We're going up to Vancouver next, then Toronto. Well, it's all right there... you can take care of whatever loose ends you have here and then join us... whenever. I'll even reimburse you for travel."
Dash shrugged. "Well, I'll take it out of your pay. Same difference."
Regan laughed and took the itinerary. "Is this real?" she asked.
"One hundred percent," Dash said. She stepped forward and put her arms around Regan's shoulders. She pulled her in and kissed her gently. Regan moaned and put her hands on Dash's hips. The night before, they hadn't had time for intimacy or tenderness. It had been fucking, pure and simple. This kiss was far, far different.
When they parted, Regan looked down at the itinerary. "So, you're in Squire's Isle tonight? I think I could catch up with you there..."
Dash laughed. "You're sure you don't need to..."
"I just need a clean pair of underwear and to lock my front door. I can call everyone and let them know where I am."
"Okay about the calls. The underwear..." Dash bit her lip and stepped back, looking up and down Regan's body. "I mean, if you don't want to take the time, it probably won't be necessary..."
Regan arched an eyebrow. "The tour bus is going to be fun, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Dash said. She slid her hand down Regan's arm and linked their fingers together. "In fact, why don't I take you over there right now? Show you some of the features."
"Yeah," Dash said, leading Regan away from the stage. "The main bedroom, the shower, the dinette, the front seat..."
"The front seat?!" Regan said.
"Oh, yeah," Dash said. "The tour bus is going to be fun..."
Return to the Academy