“She goes by the name Cupcake and I would give anything for her to be my girlfriend but she’s leaving this place soon…”
“Where are you going?” Taylor asked as I gathered my purse in the living room.
“Out,” I mumbled. We haven’t for real talked since our argument about Zac. The only people I had been speaking to on the regular basis were Hayley, Josh, and Jeremy. Josh was only a little mad at me for choosing not to be with Zac but he didn’t hold it against me like Taylor had been. Jeremy knew not to take sides in fights. He was just smart like that so he vowed to stay neutral, like Switzerland. And Hayley was just there for me whenever I needed her. She was my best friend so she had no choice but to be there for me.
“With?” Seriously, what was with Taylor? Usually he never cared less about who I went out with. That’s why I moved with him after my parents kicked me out.
“Trace,” I answered, watching his face twist as I walked out of the door.
Trace stepped out of the driver side as I walked down the path to the street and met me at the passenger door.
“Hey Cupcake. I’m surprised you got past your father,” he laughed.
He opened the passenger door for me and helped me hop in.
“Let’s go!” Mason yelled from behind Trace and I with Anthony and Blake. Trace smiled at me and hit the gas toward Franklin Road, leading to Nashville.
“You excited?” Trace asked me as I helped unload the band’s various wires in the back of the Kiss Café.
I smiled at him. I was excited to see his band play.
The Kiss Café was in an old warehouse on the second floor on the side of Nashville that was inhabited by late night punk kids and whores. It still looked like it did in the 1980s when the building shut down, rust and all. The owners decided that the old look would keep the people coming to the Café and they only updated the bar and stage area. This was my second time being there, my first was to see Hayley and Jeremy’s old funk-cover band.
Seeing Trace on stage was something I wasn’t expecting. He was a totally different person in some ways. Then again, I knew the sensitive and loving Trace, not the hot, sexy, passionate Trace.
“What’s up Kiss Café?”
The kids in the crowd screamed in response. I was up front, not saying a word. Just watching.
Metro started their first song, which everyone knew…“Shake It.”
“I’ll take you home if you don’t leave me at the front. You’re body’s cold but girl, we’re getting so warm. And I was thinking of way that I could get inside…”
“So now you’re falling in love!”
“Let me go now.”
“This feeling’s tearing me up!”
“Here we go now.”
Mason danced with his guitar slung over his back.
“Now if she does it like this will you do it like that? Now if she touches like this, will you touch her right back? Now if she moves like this, will you move it like that? Come on! Shake, shake, shake, shake, uh shake it!”
Blake seemed so into playing his keyboard. His head slammed up and down, in time with the music.
It was like everyone in the crowd started shouting “shake it” at the same time. Still I just stood there, captured by it all. Being at concerts always did that to me.
Trace started in on his verse. His seductive, deep voice seemed to be singing just to me.
“Your lips tremble but your eyes are in a straight stare. We're on the bed but your clothes are laying right there. And I was thinking of places that I could hide.”
My heart skipped a beat as Trace looked down at me and winked. The girl next to me shoved me…she was jealous.
Next, Mason sang his heart out to his pretty girlfriend…Kelsey. It was cute beyond belief to see him that way and then it occurred to me that Trace could feel that way about me.
“Now it's gonna get harder and it's gonna burn brighter and it's gonna feel tougher, each and every day. So let me say that I love you. You're all I've ever wanted. All I've ever dreamed of to come and yes you did come. I want you so bad. Can you feel it too? You know I'm so, I'm so in love you. I want you so much. I need you so much. I need your, I need your, your touch. And I'd swim the ocean for you, the ocean for you.
Whoa oh, Kelsey!”
After the song ended, Trace cleared his throat.
“Now it’s time for my love song of the night. This is song written for a good friend of mine. We wrote it a few weeks ago and finally recorded it. She’s in the crowd…in fact, right there.”
He pointed me out to everyone and I could feel eyes boring into me from all directions.
“Trace,” I whispered fiercely.
“She goes by the name Cupcake and I would give anything for her to be my girlfriend but she’s leaving this place soon…” His words dragged off and Mason cut in to save Trace from complete disaster.
“This song is called ‘Seventeen Forever’.”
The music started and I started to sway my body once I heard Trace’s familiar voice.
“You were young but so am I and this is wrong but who am I to judge? You feel like heaven when we touch…”
I had to remind myself I was still and teenager, still seventeen. I was allowed to have fun.
“…I can feel your heart beat and you know exactly where to take me…”
I lifted my arms above my head and let my body move to the hypnotic beat of my song.
“…I will you remember me?...”
I didn’t want this moment to end. Hearing Trace and Mason sing filled me up but it had to. And once it did, I felt tears sting my eyes. What was I doing?
Then the lights shut off and the introduction to “Control” started playing. I was trying to leave but the music kept pulling me in. I grabbed a drink from the barista next to me and gulped it down in seconds. Trace was starting to sing, looking dead at me. The burning sensation of the alcohol (I’m not even sure what it was) filled me with bizarre confidence. I gave the barista a five and told her to bring me more of whatever that was. She was back quickly with two of the strange drinks. I down them too in seconds. The glow sticks popped out of nowhere, it seemed. A strobe light began to flash and the body heat in the room intensified. I was beginning to sweat along with the bodies around so I slipped of my grey t-shirt and my black tank top, until I was down to my bra. This music was an eccentric drug to me.
“I want more so!”
“Let your hair down.”
“Take the low road!”
“No one will know.”
The chorus came in a rush a people began grinding and dancing against each other with no question, so I joined in.
“Whoa! I feel just like we’re taking control of the night, of the night. Yeah-e-yeah. Whoa! I feel just like we’re losing control but if you let go, I’ll let go tonight.”
I looked up at Trace to find him staring me down with sensual eyes. I was in my jeans and navy blue polka-dotted bra, sweaty and buzzed, letting lose in a group of strangers.
“I’m coming down. Bring me up. Take it off. Let’s just touch. I’m coming down. Bring me up. Take it off. Let’s just touch. I’m coming down. Bring me up. Take it off. Let’s just touch. I’m coming down. Bring me up. Take it off. Let’s just touch!”
I ended the song with dancing upon a guy I hadn’t even looked at. He began groping my body and I was feeling uncomfortable.
“Hey dude! You in front! What are you doing?!” Trace was yelling, away from the mic.
“I’m dancing. What hell does it look like?!” The guy was drunk, a little too drunk.
I started to pull away from him but his hand grabbed my wrist and pulled me back.
“Aww don’t be like that,” he said in my ear.
Trace pulled his guitar off of his shoulder and jumped down from the stage.
“Leave her alone.” He was trying to keep his voice even but the drunken guy wouldn’t let my wrist go. “Let her fucking go!”
I really wish Trace hadn’t hit the guy but he did, with all his might. The drunk fell to the floor and Trace and I were escorted out into the Nashville night.
“Why did you do that?”
The alcohol was starting to get to me. I was pacing up and down the sidewalk in the cool night.
“Will you calm down?” Trace tried to reason. “That guy was all over you and I know you didn’t want that. What kind of friend would I be if I would’ve let him do that to you!”
It wasn’t a question.
“Since when did you just want to be a friend?” My voice was meek.
Trace grabbed my shoulders, stopping my pacing and stared me in my eyes.
“Since you told me that you were leaving me,” he replied.
I felt the familiar sting of tears and I didn’t even try to stop them.
“I don’t want you to leave. I want you to stay Cupcake. That’s all but I know it’s a lot for you.”
I don’t know what came over me. Maybe it was the stress. Maybe it was the alcohol. Maybe it was just the moment. Being wrapped up in Trace’s arms but I couldn’t help myself. I pulled away and gazed at him.
“Would you be mad if I kissed you?” he asked.
I shook my head no and closed my eyes and I felt his lips on mine.
“‘Night Cupcake,” Trace said as he walked me up the path to my house.
“‘Night Tracy.” I wanted to kiss him again but the porch light flickered on and shined on us.
“I’ll call you later,” he whispered as the door opened.
Taylor was standing there in jeans and a shirt, arms crossed. Was he going through a mid-life crisis already at the age of twenty?
“Maggie, get in here. Now.”
I looked down at my shoes and shuffled in the house. When Taylor slammed the door, I jumped.
“What is your problem?” I asked him, anger filling my voice.
“No, what is your problem? Do you know what you are putting Zac through?!”
He started to say more on the subject until I screamed at the top of my lungs. I caught my breath in time to see Taylor’s bewildered look.
“I don’t feel like I have to explain myself. You guys left me behind a long time ago. Point blank. That’s all! I met another guy while y’all were gone. Get the hell over it Taylor!”
“So what you are just going to break Zac’s heart for some guy in a band?” Then it occurred to him that Zac is “some guy in a band”.
“Yeah. So what? What do you care? You never cared before!”
I turned on my heel to walk away but turned back to hear Taylor’s next remark.
“What are you talking about?! I’ve always cared!”
I laughed hard.
“Yeah, you cared enough to stay with me when I needed someone the most after my dad tried hunting me down! Need I remind you that you left for a seven month tour and cops had to come at all hours of the night because windows and doors would be broken?”
He winced at the memory.
“Get over it Taylor. I’m leaving anyways. You guys won’t have to worry about me breaking Zac’s anymore…for good this time.”