An Unforgettable Melody - Chapter 6

An Unforgettable Melody - Chapter 6

Ch. 06 song titles

The Firebird, Finale (Stravinsky)

Concerto for Trumpet in E-flat, Movement III (Hummel)

The Trumpet Shall Sound (Handel)

Petrushka, Ballerina Trumpet Solo (Stravinsky)

Pictures at an Exhibition, Movement I (Mussorgsky)

Symphony No. 5, Movement I opening (Mahler)

Pines of Rome, Movement II trumpet solo (Respighi)

Shut Up and Dance (Walk the Moon)

Have You Ever Seen the Rain? (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

An Unforgettable Melody Ch. 06

Melody awoke around 9:45 on Friday morning.  Based on Mike’s wish the night before, she knew that waking him at 10:00 would allow him the perfect amount of rest, while still giving him plenty of time for an unhurried morning routine before work.  She lay in bed a few minutes more, stretching her body awake.  As the clock hit 9:55, she began the task of awakening him in such a way that would relax him for the day ahead.  According to his subconscious, a handjob would best achieve this end.  Conjuring up a bottle of lube, she prepared her hands and exposed his morning wood.

Kneeling beside him on their huge bed, she began gently massaging the underside of his cock, spreading the lube over his length.  Once he was slick, she then wrapped him in her hand, stroking him at a slow, moderate pace with a perfect amount of pressure applied.  As his breathing deepened, indicating his enjoyment, she then deployed part two of her plan.

Gazing at his alarm clock, she flashed her eyes and started up one of his favorite pieces of music, the finale to The Firebird.  The music began ever so softly, the horns entering at almost a whisper.  Through his subconscious, she knew where the first big climax of the piece was, resolving to bring him to orgasm right at that moment.  She increased her pace and applied just the right amount of pressure, all while keeping him asleep.

As she stroked, she used her powers to build his orgasm within him, releasing his eruption right as the music changed to final up-tempo section.  Mike moaned in pleasure, his cum spewing from his cock and coating his abdomen as he slowly awoke.  Now empty of his seed, Melody laid on her stomach on top of him, savoring his cum as he began rubbing his eyes awake.

“Geez, girl.  When I make a wish, you sure as hell deliver,” he said as he awoke.

Licking the last of his cum from his stomach, she giggled and sweetly kissed his belly button.  “Sleep well?”

“Absolutely,” he marveled, sitting up in bed.

“Excellent.  It’s 10:00, so that gives you plenty of time for a relaxing shower, a slow warm-up, and some lunch and mental preparation before we head downtown for your audition.”

Kissing her as she crawled over his body to his face, he said, “You think of everything.”

Showering alone for once, Mike whistled through all the audition pieces as he shaved and cleaned up, moving his hands to the proper fingerings to make sure he had everything down.  Exiting the shower and drying off, he combed his hair before looking through his closet for the appropriate audition attire.  As this was basically a job interview, complete with his hero in attendance, Mike wanted to ensure he made a good impression.  Deciding on a deep red wine dress shirt and a nice pair of dark blue jeans, he then slipped on his brown loafers and a belt to complete the ensemble.

Letting Melody know that he was done, he watched her shapely ass bounce as she strutted to the shower.  He then walked out to his practice studio and unpacked his C trumpet.  Mike began his warm-ups, adjusting himself to each note he played as if he were entering a swimming pool one step at a time.  After finishing his scales, breathing exercises, and acrobatic warm-ups, he returned to their bedroom to find Melody posing in front of the floor mirror, magically trying on different outfit combinations for the day.

With her lover back in the room, Melody now began modeling her outfit ideas for Mike.  Several of these weren’t appropriate to see the light of the outside world, being little more than lingerie.  Finally deciding on a pair of form-fitting black shorts and a tight canary yellow tank top, Melody completed her outfit with a pair of red Converse sneakers.  As Mike whistled his approval, she drew him close and kissed him, moaning in delight.

“You don’t look so bad yourself,” she commented.

After a playful slap on her ass, the duo headed to the kitchen to scrounge for food.  Mike opted for a simple turkey sandwich on wheat bread and a bottle of water, his traditional pre-audition meal.  Melody made herself a peanut butter and banana sandwich.  As they ate, Mike played around on his iPad, listening to his audition music all the while.  Melody worked on his laptop, tweaking the photos of her website to try and attract more clients.  As the time neared 1:30, Mike packed up his equipment and music and the pair began the drive to symphony hall.

Arriving in the employee parking deck a few minutes past 2:00, Melody turned to him and asked, “Can I come in with you to the audition?  Invisibly, of course.”

“Sure,” Mike replied, shrugging.  “But no distractions.  I’m in the zone, after all.”

“Of course.”  A quick, sweet kiss on his cheek, and she vanished.  Good luck baby.  I know you’ll be brilliant.

Walking into symphony hall, Mike made his way to the green room, designated as the warm-up area for the candidates auditioning.  Alone with his thoughts, Mike unpacked his music and the three trumpets he would need for the audition.  Before beginning to play, he recited his typical prayer before such situations: Alan Shepard’s prayer.

“Oh, Lord, please do not let me screw up.  Amen.”

He began by playing some easy scales on each horn, keeping warm air flowing for optimal temperature.  Continuing his slow, easy warm-ups until the audition time neared, he was soon greeted by Janice, the music librarian for the ASO.

“Mike, good to see you.  The audition panel is ready for you.  I’ll help you bring your equipment in, if you like,” she said.

“Thanks, Janice.  That’ll be great.  You can take my music and C trumpet; I’ll grab the E-flat and piccolo.”  Under normal circumstances, Mike didn’t trust anyone other than himself to carry his equipment.  But Janice was a French horn player, and also had training as an instrument repair technician.  He knew she could be trusted to handle with care.

Entering the main stage in symphony hall, Mike set his equipment down on a table center stage and turned to greet the panel, seated near the backstage line.  The trio rose to meet him.  First was Jessica Miller, the principal violinist and concertmaster.  Her elegant beauty always struck Mike, with her full lips, lightly tanned white skin, and flowing brown hair.  But her true beauty shone through every time she played.  Never in his life had Mike seen such joy and passion in the face or mannerisms of any musician like he did in Jessica.  He could watch her with no sound whatsoever and still be entranced.  Though she was only a year older than Mike, Jessica had been a musical prodigy since elementary school, winning her first symphony job two months before her high school graduation.  She had been the Maestro’s second-in-command for almost five years now.

Maestro Robert Spano was next, extending his hand in welcome.  The balding man in his mid-fifties was tended to be rather introverted, but always got excited when it came to auditions.  He relished the opportunity to evaluate talent, and was always imagining which pieces would sound perfect with a certain player’s sound.  Giving Mike’s hand a firm shake, he turned to introduce him to the third panelist.

Philip Smith greeted Mike with his trademark warm personality.  His soft-spoken demeanor belied the immense talent and musicianship that lay beneath; Mike knew he was in the presence of a living legend.

Focus, Braxton.  He’s just a man, after all.

Though he was now in his mid-sixties, Philip never passed up an opportunity to further his skills and better himself.  A year previous, he had surprisingly resigned his job as principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic, one of the best orchestras in the nation, becoming a college professor at the University of Georgia.  His reasons were simple: To spend more time with his family, assist the next generation of musicians on a more personal level, and to reconnect with God.  In a move that reporters had hailed as him “jumping the shark,” Mike had gained more respect for the man than in any musical performance he could ever give.

“Mike, welcome,” Philip said.  “For this audition, we will begin with the concerto you have prepared before moving into the orchestral excerpts.  Following that, we will do a short interview with you to close out.  Are we ready?”

“Let’s do it,” Mike said, adding a bit of confidence to his voice.

Picking up his E-flat trumpet, Mike began his solo concerto, Johann Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat, Movement III.  The quick, vibrant finale had always been a favorite of Mike’s, the notes dancing over a comfortable range on the horn.  Reaching the final strain, which featured a long, extended trill, Mike shaped the note with grace and beauty, causing Robert to lean over and whisper to Jessica in approval, to which she beamed in agreement.

Raising his eyebrows as Mike finished, Philip simply said, “You sound like you could be shaken out of a sound sleep and still play that to perfection.”

“You’re not far wrong,” Mike replied.

“I’m the same way.  Anyway, let’s move on to the excerpts.  Of the five you have prepared, we will allow you to pick the first and last ones you play; the order of the other three will be chosen by us.  What shall we start with?” Philip asked.

Wanting to play his piccolo trumpet before it got cold, Mike began with Handel’s The Trumpet Shall Sound, intending to save Pines of Rome for the end.  He couldn’t help but marvel in irony and nostalgia, as this was the piece that had begun his journey with Melody a week ago.  Pushing those thoughts from his mind, he focused on his style and expression as he began to play.  Though the notes were not difficult, they required great precision and the right tone quality to blend with a full orchestra, which was the reason the panel wanted to hear this piece.

After he had finished, Mike switched over to his standard C trumpet, and Jessica called out the next excerpt: the Petrushka Ballerina solo.  Regaining the ironclad focus he discovered from his preparation yesterday, he danced through the music with as much grace as the ballerina it depicted.  All the while, he made sure to keep his tempo rock solid, as this was the most common mistake trumpet players made in this piece: speeding up or slowing down without realizing it.

Robert chose Mike’s next challenge: Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  The opening solo to the piece began with nothing but the trumpet, testing not only the nerves of the player, but also their consistency, as his tempo set the pace for the entire orchestra two measures later.  Playing with a pompous elegance, Mike’s performance was effortless, jumping from low to high notes as if they were nothing.

After a moment of silence for his sound to finish reverberating through the hall, Philip named the penultimate excerpt: the opening to Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.  Considered by professionals to be the most important classical solo in trumpet music, this piece combined elements from every excerpt Mike had played thus far: the necessary style and blending of Handel, the varying volume and ranges of Stravinsky, and the nerves of a complete solo trumpet from Mussorgsky.  Beginning the funeral dirge at a near whisper, he built the music up to the startling climax, engulfed in the orchestra playing in his mind as he did so.  Finally closing the solo with a return to the trumpet’s lower range, his sound elegantly faded into nothingness.

At last, they had arrived at the final excerpt, and Mike’s ace in the hole: the second movement solo from Respighi’s Pines of Rome.  Mike stepped away from the music stand before beginning; he had no need for it.  Closing his eyes, he lost himself in the soothing, lyrical solo, picturing Melody in his mind all the while.  Her deep red hair, emerald eyes, and intoxicating laugh were all the inspiration he needed to paint a true masterpiece for the panel.  As he finished the haunting melody, the panel sat in wonderment for several seconds to fully appreciate everything they had heard.  They said nothing, but it was clear from Philip’s eyes and Jessica’s smile that he had delivered a rare performance for them that day.

Moving into the interview portion, Jessica started by presenting Mike with a scenario in which egos in the section were creating drama and disagreement, asking how he would handle his colleagues in this situation.  He replied that he would sit down with the section in a roundtable discussion, emphasizing that they are professionals, each hired to play specific roles in the orchestra.  Being sure to never cut anyone down in public, he would remind everyone that, without the role that each trumpet part plays, the orchestra’s quality deteriorates, perhaps resulting in lower pay or less work for everyone.

Robert then asked Mike to tell him the name of the janitor that came in to clean the equipment storage room every Tuesday.  Smiling to himself, as he had chatted with the portly man on several occasions, Mike identified him as Jamal Anderson.  Impressed, Robert commended Mike for being familiar with all the staff members that help the symphony run effectively, regardless of their position or background.

Thinking for a few moments, Philip then said that he did not have any interview questions for Mike.  Rather, he asked if there were any specific techniques he used that helped him prepare for this audition.  Mike began with a quick overview of his typical routine. Sensing that Philip wanted more, he then began to describe the fire drill that his friends had set up for him two days previous, leaving out the part about them mooning and flashing him of course.  His smile a mile wide, Philip told Mike that he had some dedicated and loyal friends, and that he must never take that for granted, no matter how successful he becomes.

The trio again rose to shake Mike’s hand, and Robert dismissed him so that they could converse and come to a decision on which of the candidates best fit the needs of the orchestra.  Thanking them as he left, Mike returned to the green room to pack up his equipment.  Reappearing with quiet footsteps, so as not to startle him, Melody applauded his performance.

“You are something else,” she marveled.

Drawing her close with a big smile, he kissed her, stating, “The die is cast.  It’s in their hands now.”  Sighing, he continued, “Ok, so I’m gonna head outside and chat with Darcy for a bit.  We’ll have you walk up during the conversation as if you’re here to pick me up.  That’ll be a good way to make the introductions.”

“Sounds good to me.”  Another quick kiss, and Melody had vanished once again.

As he walked out of symphony hall, Mike couldn’t help but have the same thoughts he had felt one week ago.

Nailed it!

“There’s the man!” called Darcy from her favorite courtyard bench.

Running up to her with his arms in the air, Mike channeled his inner Rocky Balboa, exclaiming, “Yo, Adrian!  I did it!!!”

“So, how do you feel?” she asked with a laugh.

“Excellent.  You guys really got me ready to go.  Good thing too; Philip Smith was the third panelist.”

“Philip Smith?!  Holy crap!”

“Yep.  Great guy, definitely my personal and professional hero,” Mike replied.  “But hey, if I can ignore your antics, avoiding the intimidation of playing in front of the best trumpet player in the world is no biggie.”

Laughing with a smug look on her face, Darcy shot back, “What?  He doesn’t have the rack I’ve got?”

“Not even close,” said Mike, comically gazing at Darcy’s bust.

“You got any plans for the evening?  Wanna join me for dinner?  I’m glad to drive if you need to down a few beers.”

“Actually, I think my ride’s here now,” Mike said, looking over Darcy’s shoulder.

“Hey baby!” Melody called, walking across the courtyard toward them.

Stunned with a dumbfounded look on her face, Darcy could only ask, “And who… is that?”

Grinning his trademark smartass smile, Mike replied, “My girlfriend.  Come on, I want you to meet her.”

Meeting Melody at a nearby picnic table, she and Mike sat together across from Darcy.

“Darcy, this is my girlfriend, Melody Roberts.  Melody, Darcy White, the best bassoonist the city of Atlanta has ever seen!”

“Great to meet you!” Melody said, shaking Darcy’s hand across the table.

“You too,” Darcy replied, glancing at Mike.  “Ok mister, what happened to ‘no contact of the female variety’?”

Shaking his head in exasperation, he responded, “Well, the truth is that Melody and I have been communicating for a couple of months now.  I just wanted to keep things close to the vest until I was certain of how serious things were, if you know what I mean.  We met online, went on a couple of coffee dates…”

“Bullshit!” Darcy interrupted.  “I know damn well you don’t drink coffee.”

“…Which is why I ordered a Coke!  Anyhow, we have similar personalities and interests, and last week, I officially asked her to be my girlfriend.”

Sitting in silence for a minute, Darcy glanced back and forth between them before finally asking, “You guys are serious, aren’t you?”

Entwining his fingers with Melody’s, Mike replied, “We are.”

Smiling, Darcy continued, “Then in that case, you need to join us for dinner,” pointing at Melody.

“That’d be great!  Gotta celebrate, after all.  I just know he hit it out of the park,” Melody gushed.

“Speak of the devil, and he shall appear,” Mike mused, pointing to the exit to symphony hall.

At the top of the steps, Jessica, Robert, and Philip were saying their goodbyes and shaking hands.  Mike was sure he could hear them chatting about “making an excellent decision.”

“Wonder what that means?” Darcy asked with a sly grin.

As Jessica and Philip went their separate ways, Robert spotted Mike across the courtyard and began walking towards them.

“Could they have made a decision already?” Melody wondered.

“I suppose it’s possible,” Mike replied, “but that would be ridiculously fast.”

“Mr. Braxton, I want to thank you,” Robert said as he approached.

“Of course… but for what?” Mike inquired.

“For making our decision today so easy,” he replied with a chuckle.  “Want to know the first words out of Philip’s mouth after you left the room?  He said, ‘After that audition, I don’t think there’s any contest’.  Jessica and I happen to agree with him.  We’ll draw up the official contract on Monday, but it is my pleasure to inform you that you ARE the new principal trumpet of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra!”

As Melody clapped in excitement and Darcy started a victory dance, Mike tried to remain as composed and professional as possible.

“Thank you so much, Maestro.  This means so much to me, and I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed,” he replied, his hands trembling with excitement.

“Well, you’ve earned it,” Robert said, before turning to Darcy.  “Fire drill, eh?  Very creative, and very effective.  Nice job.”  Darcy beamed with pride in response.

Robert turned to Melody next.  “I don’t believe we have been introduced.  Mike?”

“Ah, yes… this is my girlfriend, Melody Roberts.  Melody, this is Robert Spano, leader of the ASO, and the most badass conductor in the nation.”

“Second most badass, if you will.  I never could overtake Gustavo Dudamel… Anyway, it’s a pleasure to meet you young lady.  I do hope we will be seeing you at some of Mike’s upcoming performances,” he said with a wink.

“Most definitely,” Melody replied running her fingers through Mike’s hair.  “I’m a sucker for musicians, after all.”

“Well, uh, Mike, unless you have any further questions for me, I’ll be heading home now.  Enjoy your weekend, relax, and we’ll see you first thing Monday.”

As Robert took his leave, Melody smothered Mike in an excited victory hug, almost knocking him to the ground in the process.  Once he escaped her death grip, he fist bumped Darcy, and thanked her again for all her help in his preparations.

“All right, that settles it, we’re going to Taco Mac to celebrate!  And I’m not takin’ no for an answer,” Darcy stated.

“Sounds good to me, we’re gonna stop by my place and drop off my equipment first, then we’ll meet ya there,” Mike replied.

Just then, Darcy’s phone beeped, indicating she had a text message.  Reading for a moment, she then asked, “Is it ok if Stephen joins us?  He got off work early today.”

“Uh, sure that’s fine,” Mike replied as casually as he could.

“Great.  See you guys there around 6:00 or so, ok?”

As they parted ways, Mike and Melody traveled back to his CR-V in the employee parking deck.  All the while, Melody held his arm, excited and happy for his good news.

“You know,” she said, “your boss is quite the dirty old man.”

Cocking his eyebrow, Mike asked, “You were reading his thoughts?”

Giggling, she replied, “The look in his eye was kinda impossible to miss.  He… he thought about doing things to me as I was bent over his podium in symphony hall.”

“Holy shit,” Mike mumbled, a bit dumbfounded.

“Don’t worry, he’d never act on it or anything.  He’s well aware of how out of his league he is, but always appreciates a pretty girl when he can.”

As the pair reached his car, Mike popped the trunk to put his trumpet case and music in the back.  Closing the trunk, he noticed that Melody had climbed into the back seat of the car, leaving the door open.  He walked over to investigate, only to be grabbed by his shirt collar and pulled on top of her, the car door magically closing behind them.  Kissing him with passion, Melody had no intentions of letting him out of this one; she needed him, and she needed him now.

In-between kisses, Mike managed to gasp, “You sure this is a good idea?”

“Privacy powers, remember?  Nobody will interrupt us.  Promise.”

Continuing their heavy make out session, she reached down to undo his belt and unzip the fly of his jeans.  He reached to do the same, only to find that she had already removed her shorts and panties.  As she slipped his jeans down below his knees, he could smell how wet her pussy had already become.

“Listening to your music today… it was incredible… it got me so horny…” Melody managed to breathe.  “Take me.  I want to be your victory spoils,” she said, continuing to seduce him.

Not one to deny that request, Mike kissed her with ferocity, moving his cock to the entrance of her sopping wet pussy.  Melody moaned in sheer delight as his engorged member penetrated her.  Finally engulfed in her tunnel, Mike’s thrusts were frenetic and full of reckless abandon.  As he pounded her with desire, her incredible breasts heaved back and forth, her tank top and bra barely containing them and only accentuating their bouncing.  Even though they were covered, their motion and perfect shape was still mesmerizing.  Watching him gaze at her chest, Melody began to fondle them, squeezing and caressing them as the lust in her eyes grew.  Getting an excellent idea, Mike made a wish.

“I wish for your bra to be gone, but your shirt still on, so you can play with your nipples while I fuck you.”

Tingle.  Flash.

The outline of her bra disappeared, her erect nipples now poking into her yellow tank top.  Melody now caressed them with intensity and purpose, before arriving at her first orgasm in force.  But Mike was far from done, continuing his feverish pace as her pussy walls contracted around him.  As she came back down from her climax, Mike instructed her to flip onto her stomach.  She rolled over, pushing her ass up in the air to give him the perfect entrance point.

Mike resumed his thrusting, now penetrating her pussy from behind.  He now kept his strokes at a moderately quick tempo, rather than the wild fucking from before.  He found this to be quite pleasurable, moving fast enough to keep her in a constant pre-orgasmic state, but slow enough to feel every little crevice of her tight womanhood.  Steadying himself on her ass, he loved the feeling of her cheeks jiggling in his hands as he continued to pump his cock into her.  Feeling her nearing another orgasm, he tapped her on the back to signal another position change.

Mike now sat on the bench seat as Melody moved to straddle him.  As she impaled herself on his stiff rod, she kept a tight grip on the backrest and began to grind against his cock.  The desire in her emerald eyes grew with each passing moment, the speed of her humping increasing with it.  As she ground her clit against his pubic bone, she finally reached her second climax, moaning with lust as she coated his cock with her juices.

Refusing to slow her pace for even a moment, Melody now bounced on Mike’s cock for all she was worth.  She leaned forward, thrusting her jiggling tits into his face, causing his breathing to become more labored.  He peeled the spaghetti straps of her tank top down over her shoulders, exposing her hard nipples mere inches from his face.  As he suckled her, she ran her hands through his blonde hair, knowing how to send him over the edge.

Moving her lips to his ear, she whispered, “We both know you can’t resist me.  We both know you want nothing more than to cum.  To fill my pussy.”  Moving southward, she kissed his sensitive neck, working back up to his ear with three more kisses.  “So do it.  Take me now.  Claim… your… prize,” she purred, nibbling his earlobe as she egged him on.

His eyes bulged, and he grabbed onto her slim waist, pounding his last into her slit.  Knowing she had sent him past the point of no return, Melody kissed his lips with force, enjoying their impending dual climax.  As he sprayed rope after rope of his cum into her, coating the walls of her pussy, she arrived at her third and strongest orgasm, screaming at the top of her voice in sheer ecstasy.

“Yes, yes, YES YES YES!!!  DO IT!  CUM FOR ME!  MAAASTERRRR!!!”

Their orgasms finally receding, Mike panted and gasped for air as Melody straddled his lap, planting a sweet kiss on his forehead.  He gazed into her eyes in admiration, impressed at how fun and fresh she always managed to keep their experiences.

“You are a fun and creative genie,” he managed to say.  “You enjoy your little role-play?  Being the prize?”

Giggling, she responded, “It’s not role-playing if I really am your prize.”

“Bullshit,” he shot back.  “You were planning this no matter what happened.”

She attempted to appear innocent, but they both knew he was right; she loved fucking him anytime and anywhere she could.  After a couple of wishes to help them clean up the residue of their juices, the pair climbed into the front seats and started for home.  Fighting Atlanta traffic the whole way, it was almost 5:45 by the time they arrived.  Mike ran in to drop off his equipment before driving down the road to the restaurant.

Arriving at Taco Mac a few minutes after six, they spotted Darcy waving at them from a square table in the middle of the place.  Seated next to her was Stephen, looking somewhat displeased, but Mike couldn’t tell what about.  He was tall and lean, though quite muscular underneath his baggy gym shorts and black T-shirt.  He had short, dark brown hair and a goatee on his face, though a black baseball cap, which he wore backwards, obscured the hair on his head.  Aside from his size and strength, one would never guess that he was twenty-seven years old; he looked about as mature as a college freshman.

What’s eating him?

He’s not happy to be sharing time with Darcy, Melody replied.  He plans to try and convince her to come home and sleep with him tonight.

Even with her making it clear she wanted to slow down?

Yep.  He doesn’t want to take no for an answer, but is trying to soften her up a bit before, should I say, being more forceful.

Mike didn’t like the sound of that, but ran out of time to inquire further as they sat down at the table, introducing Melody to Stephen.  She shook his hand warmly, smiling as she greeted him.  By the look in his eye and the inflection change in his voice, Mike could tell that Stephen was attracted to Melody right away, though Mike couldn’t fault him for that.  She was, by any measure, a stunning beauty.

As the group ordered, everyone but Melody decided on their poison for the evening.  Mike got a Coors, Stephen a Miller Light, and Darcy a Blue Moon.  Melody, unsure of how alcohol would affect her, professed herself the designated driver, ordering a Coke.  Mike sipped on his drink as Darcy quizzed Melody on her background, wanting to know everything about her.  Mike could tell that they were starting to become genuine friends.  Showing particular interest in her photography business, Darcy pulled out her phone to friend Melody on Facebook, promising to try and help her establish a few more contacts.  All the while, Stephen sat in silence, glancing at Melody every so often and downing his beer in record time.  By the time their wings and burgers had arrived, Stephen was almost done with his second pint.

As they finished eating their food, a local band began setting up in the staging area at the far end of the restaurant.  Starting their set, the band’s specialty looked to be alternative rock, opening with Shut Up and Dance.  The girls’ eyes lit up as the song started, taking the title literally by dragging their men to the small dance floor.  Mike had never been one for dancing, but he wasn’t going to deny Melody with the look of desire she was giving him.  After ten minutes of keeping up with Melody’s graceful, sensual dance moves, the band started up Have You Ever Seen the Rain.  Though they played it much slower than was typical, it worked quite well for slow dancing.  On instinct, Melody wrapped her hands around Mike’s neck, gazing lovingly into his eyes.  Rubbing her back with his hands, he drew her close, bringing his lips as close to hers as he could bear without actually kissing her.

“Tease,” she whispered.

“You.  Love.  It.”

Continuing to rock to the slow, steady music, Mike glanced out of the corner of his eye, noticing Darcy and Stephen.  She had managed to pull him in like Melody had with Mike, but it was clear that Stephen was not into it.  Mike noticed his gaze shift towards Melody on occasion.  While Mike had been flattered at first, he began to detect something more in Stephen’s glances than he had at the beginning of the night.

“How are those two doing?” Mike asked, tilting his head towards the couple.

Thinking for a moment, Melody responded, “Darcy is trying to bring out Stephen’s fun side.  Problem is, he doesn’t seem to have one, and she’s growing a bit frustrated with him.  As for Stephen, he began the evening annoyed at spending time with Darcy’s ‘dorky music friends.’  Now, he has lost all interest in her.  He keeps trying to think of a way to get you away from me.  He thinks he has a chance to take me from you.”

“Tool,” Mike snorted.

“He also has increased levels of anger and jealousy, directed at you, to be precise,” she continued.  “He seems to think that there’s ‘no way a guy like that could land a piece of ass like her’.  Plus, the more he drinks, the more these feelings intensify.  I fear that he may become physical at some point, if his drinking continues at its current rate.  There is no worry, of course.  I am more than capable of protecting myself in such a situation, and Darcy as well, if need be.”

“Seems his true colors are starting to show,” Mike mused.  Thinking for a few seconds, he asked, “Out of curiosity, would your powers of protection allow me to subdue him in a fight if things were to turn physical?”

“They would.  You thinking something specific?” she asked.

“Kind of,” he replied.  “We’re not going to mess with his free will or provoke him in any way.  If things do get heated and physical, it’s by his choice.  If something does happen, just keep things under control so Darcy sees what he’s really all about, but doesn’t get hurt or anything before I can step in.  Make sense?”

Nodding, she said, “You want to show Darcy what kind of guy she deserves; someone who won’t disrespect any woman and won’t stand for anyone else who does.”

“Yep.”

“All right, but Master, I do have to ask.  Why go through all these elaborate motions? A wish would peacefully solve this entire situation.”

Nodding, Mike explained, “I’m not here to play God.  All I can do is show Darcy what kind of man she deserves, and what kind of man isn’t worthy of her.  Where we go from there is up to her.”

As the slow number came to an end, Mike decided to take a break with a glass of water back at their table.  The band resumed their up-tempo music, and Melody danced her way over to Darcy and Stephen.  Encouraging Stephen to take a break, the two girls hung together on the dance floor for a few numbers.  Stephen, meanwhile, returned to the table, beginning to down another beer in record time.

Turning to Mike, and trying to remain casual, he asked, “So how the hell does a guy like you land a catch like that?  Dude, she’s a perfect piece of ass!  I bet she fucks like a pro…”

Containing his anger so as not to provoke Stephen further, Mike replied, “Just lucky, I guess.  Of course, to quote Seneca, ‘Luck is where preparation meets opportunity’.  Though I’m not sure how it’s possible to be prepared for a girl like Melody.”

“Whatever, man,” Stephen mumbled, slipping back into his moody demeanor.  Darcy walked up to the table a moment later, grabbing a glass of water as the band took a break.  Melody hung out near the stage, chatting with the girl on backing vocals about their music.

“I’m gonna go take a piss,” Stephen stated, walking off towards the bathroom.

Turning to Mike, Darcy said, “I gotta say, your girlfriend’s somethin’ else.  Sweet, smart, and a lot of fun.”

“You got that right,” Mike replied, chuckling.

“As your friend,” she continued, “I’m advising you to proceed with care.  You don’t deserve to get hurt again.  Still, I’m not blind to the way you two look at each other.  I can tell you’re serious about her, and, unless she’s the greatest liar in the universe, she feels the same about you.”  She looked him dead in the eye, saying, “You take care of her.  Don’t ever change.  The guy you are today is exactly the kind of guy she deserves.”

Squeezing her hand in gratitude, Mike replied with a smartass grin, “Thanks Mom.”

Laughing, she punched him in the shoulder.  “You know what I mean!”

“Yeah, yeah.  In all seriousness, I appreciate it, Darcy.  Thanks.”

“She’s quite… perceptive,” Darcy continued.  “When I told her that you’re exactly the kind of guy she deserves, she said the same thing right back to me…”

“Really?” Mike asked, his ears perking up.

Before they could continue their conversation, the band had started their next set of the night.  As they looked over and saw Melody on the dance floor, Stephen returned from the restroom.  But rather than joining them at the table, he started making his way towards Melody.  Clumsily attempting to dance with her, she moved to create a bit of separation between them.  Stephen was having none of it, grabbing her wrist to force her closer to him, a look of protest and displeasure on Melody’s face as she tried to resist.

“What the hell?!” Darcy exclaimed, rushing after them before Mike could even think of slowing her down.  Arriving on the dance floor, she attempted to pull him off of Melody, shouting, “Stephen!  Let her go!”

Stephen grabbed Darcy’s shirt collar in a drunken rage, snarling, “Sorry, bitch.  I’m trading up.”  He pushed her backwards, causing Darcy to land square on her butt with a thump.

“Hey, asshole!  Get your hands off her!” Mike threatened as he arrived on the dance floor.  Stephen paid him no attention, having not heard him over the music, and was focused on corralling Melody by grabbing both of her wrists harshly.  “I said,” Mike continued, grabbing his arm and forcing him to release Melody, “Let.  Her.  Go.”

Stephen glared at Mike, seething with anger and jealousy.  “All right, shithead, now you get yours!” Stephen growled.

He lunged at Mike with a wild swing of his arm, which Mike evaded with ease.  This first swipe created enough space for Melody to rush over to Darcy, helping her off the floor and away from the fight.  Stephen continued his drunken assault on Mike, but was still unable to land a single punch.

As Mike continued to dodge, he paid attention to Stephen’s movements and tendencies, looking for an opening.  Without warning, Stephen charged forward, attempting to tackle Mike to the ground.  Mike sidestepped, grabbing Stephen’s arm as he passed and swinging him around to throw him off balance.  He was disoriented for a moment, but soon focused his attentions back on Mike, going in for another haymaker.  His attack was much more telegraphed this time, and Mike grabbed onto Stephen’s fist, circling around him with the motion of the haymaker.  He managed to use Stephen’s own momentum to land him square on his back.  Mike pinned Stephen’s right arm to the floor with his left knee, placing his right foot firmly on his chest to hold him in place until help arrived.

“Congratulations, asshole,” Mike growled in his ear.  “You just lost the only girl who ever gave a DAMN about you!”

Stephen struggled under him, attempting to push Mike’s foot and knee off of him, but to no avail.  At that time, an off duty police officer arrived, having been alerted by Melody and Darcy.

“The guy on the ground, officer.  That’s him,” Darcy said.

“I’m Officer Jones.  Did he hurt you, son?” the large black man asked.  Mike shook his head no, keeping his eyes on Stephen.  “Well, in that case, I can’t arrest him.  But I can keep him here and take his keys until he sobers up.”

Handing Stephen’s keys to the officer, Mike responded, “That’ll do.  Thank you, officer.”  Standing, he released Stephen from the ground.  He was still mad, but far too drunk and dazed from the fight to continue his assault.

Turning to the girls, the officer said, “Ladies, if there are any further incidents with this gentleman, I would highly recommend a restraining order, for your own protection and peace of mind if nothing more.”

“I don’t think he will be any problem from here on, Officer Jones, but thank you,” Melody replied, glaring at Stephen the whole time.  “If anything else does come up, rest assured we will take legal action.”

The officer shook Mike’s hand and bid the trio goodnight before helping Stephen up to sit on a nearby chair.  As Mike rejoined the girls, Darcy seemed shaken from the experience, rubbing her temples as Melody comforted her.

“It’s getting late, and we’ve had too much excitement for one night.  We should probably head home,” Mike advised.

Melody nodded in agreement.  “I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t think you or Darcy are in any state of mind to drive right now.  I think we should let her crash on the couch tonight, and we’ll bring her back to get her car in the morning.  What do you think?”

Before Darcy could even attempt a protest, Mike replied, “Done.  Just let me go talk to the manager to make sure they won’t tow her car.  He goes to my church, so it should be fine.”

After a quick chat with Jim, the manager on duty, Mike confirmed that Darcy’s car would be safe for the night.  Mike held the door open for the girls as they walked to the parking lot, Melody’s arm around Darcy’s shoulder the whole time.  Reaching Mike’s CR-V, Melody hopped into the driver’s seat while Mike opened the passenger door for Darcy.  She considered telling him to ride in the front, but the look in his eyes told her she had no chance.  With a stubborn, yet grateful sigh, she climbed into the front passenger seat, Mike sliding into the seat behind her.  As Melody drove them home, Darcy was beating herself up for the entire situation.

“I should never have gotten back together with him,” she moaned.

“It’s not your fault,” Melody assured her.  “None of this is.”

Shaking her head, Darcy continued, “I knew he had a temper.  I had already broken up with him once for it, but I was stupid and believed his lies. I let him back into my life.  I mean, if he had hurt Mike…”

“Darcy, hush,” came Mike’s voice from the back seat.  “All you did was try to see the good in him.  He made his choices,” he said, rubbing her shoulders from behind.  “He chose to show you who he really was, rather than let you help him become better than that.  He chose to assault Melody.  He chose to push you.  He chose.  Not you.  What Melody said was right: You deserve a great guy.  Better than he’s capable of being.  Now, you have the chance to look for that guy.  You owe it to yourself to find him.”

Nodding in agreement, Melody chimed in, “And we’ll help you.  In whatever way you need us, we’re here for you.”

The rest of the ride home was quiet, but Darcy seemed a bit more relaxed and at peace after their conversation.

“Can I get you anything?  Something to drink?  A snack?” Mike asked Darcy as they entered his apartment.

“No thanks,” she replied wearily.  “I just need a good night’s sleep.”

Mike fetched a couple of spare pillows while Melody pulled a large throw blanket from a basket beside the sofa.  Mike then set up her bed for the night; the blanket itself was large enough to double as sheets and covers.  As the couple turned towards their bedroom, Darcy suddenly grabbed both of them in a hug, sobbing and crying on their shoulders.

“I’m sorry… I don’t know how I could have fucked up so bad,” Darcy managed to say between her tears.  “Mike,” she said, looking up, “Thank you for what you did.  I’m scared shitless at the thought of what he might’ve done tonight.  And Melody, thank you for sticking by my side the whole time, for comforting me, and… and promising to be there moving forward.  And… I’m sorry.  I should have been the one comforting you.  He assaulted you, not me, but here I am weeping like a little girl and…”

Pressing her finger to Darcy’s lips, Melody smiled and replied, “No apologies.”

Without a word, the couple squeezed Darcy until her tears had ceded, then wished her a restful sleep before closing the door to their bedroom.  As they stripped and got ready for bed, Mike switched on his bedroom TV, finding NCIS for background noise.  Relaxing in bed, the couple cuddled in silence for thirty minutes or so before one of them spoke.

“I don’t suppose the big strong man wants some hero sex tonight?” Melody asked.

Mike shook his head.  “It’s the furthest thing from my mind right now, to be honest,” he replied.  “I’m worried about Darcy.  How’s she doing?”

Closing her eyes for a moment, Melody said, “Not well.  She’s asleep, but she’s having a bad nightmare about Stephen.  She seems to be afraid of him now.”

Mike nodded.  “From blind love to blind fear.”  Thinking for a minute, Mike asked, “Since she can’t control her dreams, I’d like to help her.  Are you able to do that?”

“It would need to be sexual in some way for me to be able to, though it may already be heading in that direction, and not in a good way.  If her dream continues the way it is progressing, she will watch helplessly as he rapes me, before he turns to rape her as well,” Melody responded.

Thinking, Mike asked, “Would having her prevent him from raping you be sexual enough for your powers?”

Again closing her eyes for at least a full minute, she then replied, “Just barely.  And I must say, I approve.  Such a dream is exactly the confidence boost she needs.”

Mike kissed her, saying, “You’re the best, Melody.  Let’s do it.”

Tingle.  Flash.  “Done.”

Smiling, Mike switched off the lights and TV, taking Melody in his arms as they drifted off into a much-needed sleep.

*****

Gotta get out… got to get out!

Everywhere Darcy turned, there he was; the same menacing look on his face.  A look of hate, and of anger.  Pure, unabated rage.  She felt trapped, like a rat in a maze.  There were hallways every which way, but none of them went to where she needed.  She needed to get away from him, but he was everywhere.

No escape… no escape…

She reached a long, straight hallway.  No sign of him anywhere.  Suddenly, a faint light shone ahead of her.  She sprinted towards it; it had to be a way out.  She ran faster than she ever had in her life, panting all the way.  She didn’t care.  She had to get out.

As she reached the light, it pulsed as if a star had exploded, blinding her for a few moments.  Opening her eyes, she saw him.  It was Stephen.  They were back on the dance floor, but the restaurant was empty.  Looking around, she was horrified at what she saw: Mike, lying bloody and bruised on the ground, was moaning and struggling to breathe.  Looking back at Stephen, he now had his hand at Melody’s throat, his knuckles coated with Mike’s blood.  As he choked her, he reached his hand to Melody’s shorts, trying to rip them off of her as she struggled against him.  He slapped her with his right hand, still strangling her with his left, and tore her shorts and panties off in one motion, laughing with anticipation as he did so.  As he unzipped his fly, Darcy began to feel helpless, until something snapped within the recesses of her mind.

No.  No.  No, no, no, not this time.  I will not be a damsel in distress.  I will not watch idly as he causes pain.  This ends now.

Rushing up to him, Darcy grabbed his wrist and ripped his arm from Melody’s throat with all her might.  As he struggled against her grip, Darcy was surprised at her own strength; she was managing to control him enough for Melody to be able to run.  His eyes turned to meet hers, his rage piercing her soul.

“Sorry, bitch.  I’m trading up.  Guess that means you’re no longer necessary.”

She should have been terrified.  She should have wanted to run.  But she heard Mike’s labored breaths.  She heard Melody’s frantic footsteps as she ran to his side.  They needed her, and she refused to let them down.

As Stephen began to draw back his off hand to strike her, almost foaming at the mouth, Darcy focused her fingers, pressuring and twisting his left wrist to put him into an arm lock.  He swung at her, but his effort was futile; the pain she was causing him made it impossible for him to get a clear shot.  Continuing to twist his arm behind his back, she held him until he began to cry, begging for mercy.

“Please!  Please, no more!  I’ll never do it again, I promise!” he screamed.

“You fucking bastard,” she sneered.  “I’m not falling for that.  You have fooled me for the last time.”

Delivering a swift kick to his balls, Darcy dropped Stephen to his knees.  Keeping her hand on his shoulder so he didn’t slump over, she sauntered around to his front.  He now whimpered and sniveled like the pathetic child Darcy could finally see him for.

“You can lie, you can cheat, and you can hate me and my friends with everything you’ve got.  But you will NEVER hurt them!  And you won’t control me ever again…”

Picking up a nearby baseball bat, Darcy drew back to swing.  She seethed with anger and righteous fury.  She knew she had to protect her friends.  She knew she had to protect herself.  Right as she was about to drive the bat into his head, time froze and the scene faded to white…

Waking up with a slight gasp, Darcy looked around.  She was back in Mike’s apartment.  Rubbing her eyes and laying back on the sofa, she was surprised how at ease she felt.  Despite the intensity of her dream, she felt better than she had all day.  A small smile began to spread across her lips.

“I’m going to be just fine,” she whispered to herself, brimming with confidence.

As she reached for the blanket to go back to sleep, her phone buzzed on the coffee table.  It was a text message from Stephen.

Babe, I’m really sorry.  I was drunk.  That wasn’t the real me tonight.  I promise I’ll make it up to you; just don’t give up on me.  Please.

She laughed to herself, finally seeing through all his bullshit.  It all made sense to her now.  His texts were always well written with proper grammar.  It made him sound more mature than he was in reality.  Everything about him was a lie.  Her response was simple, but pointed.

Fuck off.  If you ever contact me, or my friends again, I’m calling the police on your sorry ass.  Peace out, bastard.

Deleting his name and blocking his number on her phone, she relaxed on the sofa, exceedingly proud of herself. One last thought drifted through her mind before she fell back asleep with a smile on her face.

I wonder how much a Taser and pepper spray costs?

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