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Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Romance/Love · #988014
Songman - Chapter 2 - Dinner
          Paul arrived at the back door of The Pony club just before 11:00pm. He realized that he could have gotten there anytime and then enjoyed the music but the thought of all that country twang and guys saying “Howdy” would have put him off. He knocked at the door and shuffled his feet while he waited. He looked again at the card that Sierra had given him. The front of the card bore a Pony Club emblem and the club’s address. On the back of the card was what looked like her signature that was almost illegible? He hoped that someone else would know what to do with it. He stood for about 30 seconds and knocked again. When no one answered after another 30 seconds Paul said “Damn” under his breath and started walking to the front of the club. He had gotten about ten steps away when the door opened, spilling a shaft of light into the dim alleyway. Paul raced back and pulled the card from his pocket. One look at the man who had opened the door explained the reason for the delay. “This guy must be over 80” Paul thought “and slow as molasses.” The old guy looked closely at the card and then stepped aside to allow Paul into the club. Paul found himself in a long corridor lit by a couple of bare bulb lights.
          “This way” the old man grumbled as he passed Paul and ambled down the corridor.
          Paul could plainly hear the music coming from ahead and when the old man opened a door at the end of the hallway Paul’s ears were assaulted by the sound of a steel guitar. They were standing at the top of a small staircase that overlooked the entire club. Paul took in the scene in front of him. The place was huge, and as far as he could see moving around what looked like a racetrack people of all heights and sizes where dancing in counter clockwise fashion, and most of them wore cowboy hats. The old man nudged him gently and crooked a finger at him. Paul leaned closer to hear.
          “The guy you’re looking for is over there against the far wall. He’s standing on the small stage wearing the blue suit.” He handed Paul the card back.
          “But, I’m not looking for a guy,” Paul shouted back. The old man either didn’t hear him or didn’t care as he turned and walked back through the door, closing it behind him.
          Paul looked around to see if he could see Sierra but the place was packed. Paul shrugged his shoulders. “Guess I’ll have to do this one person at a time” he muttered to himself. Paul wished he had made some arrangement to meet her at a specific place. He trotted down the steps and walked into a mass of people. He slowly wormed his way through the crowd trying his best not to bump too many people. A pretty girl with long brown hair asked him to dance but he said no and continued on. He looked at every waitress he saw, but none were Sierra. He reached the bar and decided to stop and get a drink.
          “Do you know a girl who works here named Sierra?” Paul shouted at him.
          The bartender looked at him suspiciously, took his money. “Don’t know, could be any girl here, they change so often.” The bartender left and quickly brought back his change and then went over to fill another order from a waitress. Paul had only taken two steps when an over anxious dancer bumped him. He managed to get out of the way but not before half his drink hit the floor.
          “Stupid bitch.” Paul muttered and quickly downed the rest of the drink and placed the empty cup on the tray of a passing waitress "Do you know a girl named Sierra?” Paul shouted. The waitress smiled and shook her head before moving on. Paul decided to go see the guy the old man had pointed out to him.
          Since this required either crossing the dance floor or going around the outside edge of the club Paul started pushing his way through to the outside. The band had stopped playing and the place erupted in applause. Paul turned to look at the band but was blocked by the crowd of people in front of him.
          For the next fifteen minutes Paul struggled his way around the perimeter of the club. He didn’t think that many people could fit into one place, there was no room at all to stretch or, or to breathe for that matter. Whatever Paul thought of the music, there was no denying the fact that they’re were a lot of people who liked it. The band was now playing a soft ballad and the entire stage was dark except for a single spotlight on the lead singer. Paul could barely make out the outlines of the other band members. He finally made it to the base of the small stage and Paul realized it contained the mixing console and the lighting controls. He tried to get the attention of the guy in the suit, but he had his back turned and Paul’s voice could not be heard above the music. Paul finally climbed up on the platform and tapped the man on the shoulder. The man turned startled and looked like he was about to yell at him when Paul passed him the card. The man looked irritated but looked at the card anyway. He leaned over and yelled in Paul’s ear.
          “She’s not finished working yet. I take it you’ll wait?”
          Paul nodded, he leaned closer to the man a yelled in his ear “By the way, where is she? I looked all over.”
          The man smiled and yelled back “I don’t see how could you miss her?” He pointed to the stage.
          At the moment the ballad ended and the stage lights came up and Paul saw her holding a bass guitar. She looked unbelievable in a satin blue vest and jeans. Her blonde hair was long, almost reaching the small of her back and was tied tight in a high ponytail. She was smiling to the crowd.
          “They have three more songs to do and then they’re finished,” the man extended his hand said. “My names Steve I’m the manager of the band, you must be Paul?”
          Paul nodded and shook the offered hand.
          “Can I get you a drink?”
          “Yeah, if you don’t mind, a Coke or Pepsi would be great. I’m driving.”
          Steve nodded and moved off to the bar and Paul again was transfixed to the stage. “A waitress” he muttered, “I thought she was a goddamn waitress.” Another song started and it must have been a popular one as the crowd cheered and rushed the dance floor. From the raised dais Paul got a good look at both the stage and the dance floor. Sierra was bouncing back and forth across the stage to the music smiling to the other members of the band Paul watched her and wondered if she sang. Steve returned with his drink.
          “Can I stay here?” Paul asked.
          “If you don’t mind moving back against the wall it’s fine with me.” Steve said.
          Paul carefully stepped over the pile of cables and leaned against the wall and turned his full attention to the stage.
          The next song was more like a rock and roll song to Paul and he found himself tapping his foot to the beat. “This music isn’t what I expected” he thought as he watched the dance floor. It seemed to be moving as one large group as the crowd performed a line dance similar to the disco dances he remembered from a few years ago in the late seventies. Paul looked up and saw Sierra singing backup to the song but he could not distinguish her voice over the others in the band.
          When the song ended the lead singer announced that this was the last song of the evening. The club erupted to catcalls and boos from a crowd that did not want the evening to end. Steve looked back at him and said, “You should like this one.”
          Paul watched as Sierra stepped up to the microphone and the lights began to dim. The song was another ballad, slow and soft, when Sierra started to sing Paul was lost. Her voice was so beautiful and he could not remember hearing someone sing with such feeling. He closed his eyes and concentrated on listening to her voice and the music and before he knew it the song was over. The club erupted into applause and Paul clapped. Sierra bowed and waved to the crowd. “Goodnight everyone, drive safely.”
          “She’s good” Paul said to Steve.
          Steve looked up at the stage and smiled “She’s very good.” And Paul thought he caught the sound of something more in his voice.
          The club was emptying fast and Steve said. “Come on, I’ll take you up.”
          Paul followed the man up the side steps of the stage and across the miles of cables and cords.
          “Cee,” he called.
          Sierra turned around and smiled at Paul “Oh, good, I see you made it?”
          “Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” Paul replied
          “Well at least not for 375 bucks,” she teased.
          “Touché” replied Paul bowing his head.
          Another band member interrupted Sierra and she introduced him to Paul. The rest of the band soon followed. He shook hands with each of them and promptly lost track of all the names but did notice that Sierra was the only female member. Soon everyone was standing around in a big circle waiting for someone to say something.
          Paul turned to Sierra “Well … can we go? Or do you have to pack up or anything?”
          “No, we have a crew. Do I have time for shower? I feel like an ad for a Nike commercial.”
          Paul hesitated, “Not really, I’ve got dinner holding as it is.”
          At the mention of food the lead singer barked up “Dinner, great, where are we all going?”
          Paul stared back at him as the whole band now looked to him. “Ahh … well ... you see ...”
          Sierra stepped forward “Ah … guys, can I talk to you over here for a moment.”
          Paul watched as the group followed Sierra to the other side of the stage.
          “We all think a lot of Sierra.” Steve said softly from behind him. “She told me what you did for her today and that was very nice. She thinks you’re a nice guy. Remember that and don’t even think of trying to hurt her.”
          The last words sounded like a threat and Paul was about to tell him that it was none of his business, but then realized that maybe she was the only girl in an all guy group and they were just protecting her.
          “I won’t,” he replied not even turning around as he saw Sierra walking back. Paul noticed that she was now wearing a faded jeans jacket that looked 3 sizes to big for her.
          “OK, let’s go.” She stopped suddenly and turned to Steve. “By the way, the band wants Chinese tonight.”
          Steve rolled his head back. “Oh great and where do I find a Chinese food place around here?”
          Paul thought for a moment “Go out to the main road and turn left. Keep driving until you get to the 210th exit. Take the North off ramp and go back over the highway. Just after the overpass you’ll see a small shopping mall. Go in and you’ll find the Purple Lotus. Open late. Good Chinese food. OK prices. Mention my name; they’ll give you a discount.”
          “Hey, thanks, that’s great” Steve said happily as Sierra led Paul off the stage. “Have a good night” he called as they walked out of the club.
          Once they were outside Paul pointed her in the direction of his car.
          “That was nice of you to offer directions.” Sierra said, “I guess you go there quite often to get a discount?”
          “He’s not going to get a discount.” Paul said flatly.
          “He’s not!” she said shocked.
          “The waiter’s going to look at him and say ‘Paul who? But probably with a Chinese accent.”
          For moment Sierra looked at him and then she laughed. “You’re terrible.”
          Paul stopped and looked at her “Does that change your mind about having dinner with me?”
          Sierra quickly shook her head. “No … I like a guy with a sense of humor - even it is a little warped.”
          Paul cocked his head slightly and bowed “Thank you kind lady.” He began walking again “Now, what do you want to eat?”
          Sierra looked at him. “I thought you said it was already waiting?”
          “Well it is … sort of. Anyhow you need to fill out the food questionnaire first. Are you ready?” he asked.
          Sierra looked puzzled but nodded.
          “Are you a vegetarian who cannot stand the sight of meat?”
          “No, she replied quickly and then added, “Are you?”
          Paul sighed “No, that’s one major hurdle cleared. Are you Muslim who cannot eat pork?”
          “A Hindu who cannot eat beef because you think it’s sacred?”
          Sierra giggled “No.”
          “Do you believe that fish should be in the ocean and not on serving plates?”
          Sierra laughed louder. “No.”
          “Good, now what do you feel like?” Paul asked.
          Sierra thought for a moment “You’re talking to a person who has been eating hamburgers and chicken for the last 30 days. Anything would be good as long as the seats are padded, someone serves it to us and we use real silverware.”
          “Well that rules out my first choice of McDonalds. And my second choice of Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
          “I do hope you’re kidding” Sierra laughed.
          “Yeah, how about if I narrow it down. Seafood or Chinese?”
          Sierra paused. “If we have Chinese we might meet the band at the Purple Lotus and we’d probably have to eat with chopsticks, so I’ll go for the seafood.”
          “Seafood it is” he said as they arrived at his car.
          “Nice car” Sierra said as she admired the jet black Mazda Miata. “I’m impressed.”
          Paul opened the door and held it for her. “Your not suppose to be. My first car was a Toyota Corolla with a hole in the drivers’ side floor. I promised myself that one day I would own a nice car, and one day finally came thanks to my local banker.” He walked around and climbed in his side.
          Sierra opened her purse and pulled out a wad of bills. “Speaking of banks, here’s your money”
          Paul started the car. “Your lens is in the back seat. Don’t worry about that now, we can deal with that later.”
          “Okay,” Sierra put the money back in her purse. “So, what did you think of the band?”
          “The last song was beautiful. What was it called?”
          Sierra blushed slightly “It was called ‘Down On My Knees.’ was that all you heard?”
          “That’s all I remember, except the dancing, it reminded me of disco.”
          Sierra looked at him shocked. “It’s called two stepping. If you ever mention to anyone that it resembles disco you’re liable to get a fist in your mouth.”
          “Really” Paul answered in surprise. “Thanks for telling me, I’ll remember that. How long have you been playing?”
          “Since I could walk.”
          Paul looked at her in surprise. “That young? What got you started?”
          “Both my parents were singers.”
          “They must be proud that you followed in their footsteps?”
          Sierra looked out the windows for a second. “I hope so … I don’t know, their both gone.”
          “Oh … I’m sorry. How? If you don’t mind my asking,” Paul said slowly.
          Sierra shuffled slightly in her seat. “Their tour bus was in an accident. I was seventeen, already on the road with another band. I didn’t hear about it for almost two weeks. By then the family had taken care of everything and…” she trailed off.
          “Oh I’m sorry … bothers or sisters? Paul asked.
          Sierra sadly shook her head slowly. “Just me.”
          “How long have you been with this group?” Paul asked quickly hoping to turn the tide of the conversation.
          Sierra brightened up and smiled “About a year. There a great bunch of guys, but there all air heads”
          “What do you mean?”
          “All they care about is music, food and women, in that order.”
          “And … you have other priorities?” Paul questioned.
          Sierra said quiet for a moment “Yeah … no … I guess not, except the women part” she said quickly and Paul laughed.
          “Music is really important to me.” Sierra continued “but it’s not everything. Sometimes I would kill for something …”
         She left the sentence hanging so Paul asked “Like what?”
          Sierra went quiet for a moment and Paul wasn’t sure if she heard the question but he waited.
          “A house I can call mine, someplace where I can cook my own food ….” Sierra trailed off again.
          “Anything else?” Paul questioned
          “A cat.” Sierra said with some finality. “I would like to have a cat.”
          “And. you’d take the cat on the road with you of course?”
          “Of course, the trailer’s big enough, there’s just me in it.”
          “You live in a trailer? Not a semi trailer?” Paul asked surprised.
          “Yeah. Well, not live. When we’re traveling I stay on the bus with the rest of the group, but for over nights at clubs I sleep in the equipment trailer.”
          “What about a motel?”
          “Do you know how much it costs to put 12 people up in a motel?”
          Paul tried to think of the last time he went to a motel and couldn’t remember. “I’ll admit I haven’t been to one in quite awhile …”
          “They spent a lot of money on the bus. It has everything, a washroom, shower, VCR, TV, and a great stereo. It’s quite comfy except that there are seven other people there all the time and you’re never alone.”
          Paul turned a corner and pulled into the parking lot.
          “The Salmon House” Sierra read as the car passed the sign. “Sounds nice.”
          “I think you’ll like it.”
          They parked the car near the entrance. Sierra noticed that there weren’t many cars. “Is it open?”
          “Just for us.” Paul said as he jumped out his side of the car and raced around to the other. He caught the door on his knee as Sierra unexpectedly opened it. He grimaced in pain.
          “I’m sorry.” Sierra said. “I didn’t see you there.”
          “Guys don’t open car doors for you do they?” Paul said through clenched teeth.
          Sierra giggled slightly. “No, I’m usually fighting to close them. Are you okay?”
          The pain had subsided. Paul flexed his knee a couple of times. “I’ll be fine. It’s not a real knee anyway. Let me get the door for you” he said in a normal voice.
          “Oh … Thank you kind sir” Sierra said in a mock English accent. “Not a real knee?” Sierra said suddenly as his words sunk in.
          “I’ll tell you later” Paul said as he locked the door and guided Sierra to the restaurant door.
          Inside they walked up to the hostess. “Hello, I’m Paul Stewart. I think you were expecting me.”
          The young woman looked up from the sheets she was studying and smiled. “I’m sorry, but we’re not seating anyone, we’ll actually be closing in a half hour.”
          Paul smiled “I know. I made a special reservation. Can I speak to Rod please?”
          The girl look confused for a moment and then walked away. Paul and Sierra looked at the native artwork on the wall until they heard footsteps behind them.
          “Paul, glad you could come. Would you care to follow me?” They started to follow as he asked “Smoking or non-smoking?”
          Sierra looked behind her at Paul who said “Your choice?”
          “Do you smoke?” she asked.
          “No. Do you?”
          “Not directly,” she smiled. “But some of the clubs are so bad that I might as well.”
          Paul nodded and turned to Rod. “Non smoking please.”
          Rod led them through the almost empty restaurant. Paul saw only two other tables with people at them and they were both drinking coffee. Rod stopped at a table near the large bay windows that looked out over the city lights.
          “What a beautiful view” Sierra gasped.
          “We like it” Rod replied somewhat bored. “Can I get you anything to drink?”
          Paul helped Sierra remove her coat. “What would you like?”
          “White wine, a dry one, please.” Sierra said still fascinated by the view
          “Two glasses.” Paul said to Rod who left to fill the order.
          Paul and Sierra sat on opposite sides of the table.
          “Looks like I’m going to have to fight the view for your attention tonight.”
          “What’s that?” Sierra asked pointing to her left and not hearing him.
          Paul chuckled and looked where she was pointing “That’s Lions Gate Bridge. They’ve strung lights across both sides of the cables to light it up.”
          “It’s beautiful” she said looking back at him.
          “Your first trip here?”
          Sierra nodded. “First trip outside of the U.S.”
          Rod returned at that moment and placed a glass of wine in front of each of them and then left.
          “No menus” Sierra asked.
          Paul smiled weakly. “Well you see the kitchen is already closed ... so I had to order for you. I hope you don’t mind?”
          Sierra smiled. “Considering that I didn’t give you much time to plan or much of a choice of when we could go out I guess I’m lucky to be eating at all.” Sierra took a sip of her wine.
          “You sort of made it tonight or never” Paul admitted.
          Sierra put down her wine and looked out the window. “Well … we’re on the road again tomorrow night. We have to be in Calgary by Wednesday.”
          “You’re leaving!” Paul said shocked.
          Sierra nodded. “Does that change anything?”
          Paul was silent for a moment caught up in his feelings. “It could” he said slowly. He slid his hand across the table and held her hand. She didn’t pull away and Paul felt a wave of relief flood through him. “We’ll just have to work harder.”
          “Haven’t I worked enough tonight?” Sierra asked sadly, but squeezed his hand.
          Paul released her hand and picked up his water glass. “To tonight” he said quickly “for tomorrow we …” he let the words hang.
          Sierra picked up her glass and said “To tonight. May it be what we dream it would?”
          Paul looked at quizzically but then smiled and raised his glass and clinked them. He took a sip from is glass and made a face.
          “You don’t like the water?” Sierra questioned.
          Paul looked at her and made another face
          Sierra giggled softly “That’ll teach you. You’re supposed to toast with the wine.”
          “I prefer the water to the wine, and I’m not all that fond of water.”
          “You don’t drink do you?” Sierra said suddenly
          Paul shook his head. “Use to, quite well in fact, till it and a few other problems accumulated to making my life miserable. So I quit.”
          “All by yourself?”
          “No way!” Paul stated. “Have you ever heard of the Betty Ford clinic?”
          “Sure, everyone has, did you go there?” Sierra asked amazed.
          “No” Paul said. “But I went to a similar place.”
          “How long ago?” Sierra asked leaning on her hands and watching him.
          “About eight years now I guess”
          “And you haven’t had a drink since?” Sierra suddenly saw the glass in front of her and shot up like a bullet. “Oh … you don’t mind if I … ah …”
          Paul laughed. “Of course not, it was a long time ago, I was just a kid. I would be drinking with you now if it wasn’t for the fact that I’d get sick and make a mess on the table.”
          Sierra laughed nervously. She slowly moved her hand across the table and placed her hand on his. “By the way I want to say thank you for what you did this afternoon, I can’t think of many people who would do that for me.”
          “I think you underestimate yourself,” Paul said softly. “Anyway the motives were purely self-centered.” Paul looked Sierra in the eyes and for the first time noticed that they were a beautiful blue green. “Your very … pretty … and I … I … couldn’t take my eyes off of you today,” he stuttered.
          Sierra blushed slightly. “I know. Every time I looked up you were watching me.”
          Paul and Sierra broke apart as they were interrupted by a deluge of waiters. One placed their meals in front of them while another filled the water glasses and another placed a basket of bread on the table.
          Rod suddenly appeared as the last waiter left and asked, “Is there anything else I can get you?”
          Paul looked at Sierra who shook her head. “A glass of 7 UP would be nice and that should be all” Paul said.
          Rod nodded his head and went off to the bar.
          “The food looks great” Sierra said as she placed her napkin on her lap.
          “Smoked salmon in a light herb butter with roasted potatoes and …” Paul checked his plate. “Some kind of vegetable”
          Sierra snickered. “I think it was cauliflower, a little well done.”
          Paul picked up his knife and fork and showed them to her. “Remember how to use these or would you like a quick refresher course?”
          Sierra picked up her fork with defiance. “I’m going to try and go solo my first time” she said proudly and speared a piece of potato and put it in her mouth.
          Paul clapped softly “Bravo.”
          Rod appeared with Paul’s 7 UP and placed a small tray by Paul’s elbow.
          Paul quickly looked at the two bills and signed them. On the bottom of the tray was a key and Paul picked it up and placed it next to his plate.
          “I’ve left the bottle of wine in the sink at the bar, on ice” Rod said. “Have an enjoyable evening.”
          “Thank you” Paul said as Rod picked up the receipts and left.
          Sierra watched him go and then noticed that there was nobody left in the restaurant. “Is he going to stay until we leave?”
          “No, I have the key and I’ll lock the door when were finished.”
          “They’ll let you do that?” Sierra asked incredibly.
          “They will for the five hundred dollar deposit I put on my MasterCard.”
          “This is costing you five hundred dollars!” Sierra gasped.
          “Calm down” Paul said. “It’s only a deposit. As long as we don’t trash the place I’ll be okay. Besides, I know the owners; I’ve done some work for them. It’ll be okay.”
          Sierra relaxed and went back to her meal. “I’m turning out to be an expensive date aren’t I?” she asked.
          “How’s the salmon?” Paul said ignoring her question.
          “Great. How’s yours?”
          “Delicious.” Paul said quickly “Now back to the interrogation. How did you get the name Sierra? Is it your real name or a stage name?”
          “It’s mine.” Sierra said through a mouthful of salmon. She swallowed her food. “Supposedly, the story goes I was conceived on a tour bus somewhere in the Sierra Madre Mountains of California so ...”
          “Don’t tell me your middle name is Madre?”
          Sierra laughed. “No, it’s Anne”
          “Sierra Anne” Paul repeated. “Sounds nice together.”
          “And what’s your middle name?” Sierra asked
          Paul quickly picked up a piece of bread and put it in his mouth and muttered “Stnly”
          “I didn’t catch that,” Sierra said. “Hey! You ate that piece of bread deliberately.”
          Paul quickly chewed his food. “No I didn’t” he defended “I’m sure I said it loud enough.”
          Sierra narrowed her eyes “Give, full name, now!” The mock seriousness in her voice was unmistakable.
          Paul sat up stiffly “Paul Robert Stanley Stewart. Madam” he said saluting.
          “Grandfathers name” Paul said meekly. “I’m not pleased with it believe me”
          “I think it’s noble” Sierra said.
          “Noble!” Paul looked at her.
          “Okay, Okay it’s not a good name, but what can you do, you didn’t choose it” she said. When he had calmed down she asked, “So … what do you do for a living?”
          Paul finished another forkful of food. “I’m a nerd.”
          “A what?” she asked nearly choking on her food.
          “A nerd” Paul repeated. “I … ah … I work with computers.”
          “Why do you call yourself a ‘nerd’?”
          Paul shrugged his shoulders. “Because that’s what I am. It usually means that I deal better with machines than I do with people.”
          “You’re doing well with me” Sierra said quickly.
          “Yeah, but you can’t see my knees under the table” Paul joked.
          “Shakin’ in fear?” Sierra joked back.
          “Thank God I own stock in Mitchum antiperspirant.”
          Sierra smiled and looked him in the eyes, Paul looked away embarrassed. “Look at me” she said, Paul did so. “You’re doin’ fine” she said softly.
          “Thanks, more wine?” he asked when he saw her glass was empty.
          “I’ll have your glass” she said and he passed it to her. Their hands touched as she took the glass and they looked at each other and smiled.
          “I’m having a good time” Sierra said taking the glass. “It’s been so long since I’ve been on a date that I thought I might have forgotten what to do.”
          “How long have you been on tour?”
          “Almost eight months” Sierra sighed.
          “And where’s home, when your not on tour of course?”
          “I rent a place in Nashville. Since I’m gone so long I always get a new place when I get back. Take my stuff out of storage and set up house for a few months and then start all over again.”
          “Do you mind if I ask a personal question?”
          “Of course not” she answered sincerely.
          “If you don’t want to answer that’s okay.”
          “Okay” Sierra replied concerned.
          “I heard you sing tonight, and it seems to me, and I’m no expert of course, but it seems that you’re talent seems to be a bit of a waste with this band.”
          Sierra looked down at the table and Paul immediately felt bad. “I’m sorry if I’ve said something wrong, or overstepped polite boundaries.”
          “No,” Sierra said lifted her head. “Your not the first believe me, it happens in almost every town we sing in.”
          “So … what’s the deal?”
          Sierra shrugged slightly. I don’t know really. I guess I don’t want the responsibility of being in the spotlight. I’m still a little shy and I guess I just don’t want the fame of Garth Brooks”
          “Garth who?” Paul asked.
          Sierra’s eyes went wide. “You don’t know Garth Brooks!” she said incredibly.
          “Country music hasn’t been my forte; I’m still catching up to the music of 50’s and 60’s”
          Sierra smiled “Don’t worry I’ll change your outlook”
          “Really?” Paul asked surprised.
          “Yeah, sure,” Sierra said with confidence. “I’m pretty good at turning people around to my point of view.”
          “Even from Calgary?”
          Sierra’s face fell “I don’t want to think about that, not tonight.”
          “I’m sorry” Paul apologized. “If you’re finished why don’t we take a drive?”
          “If … it’s all the same to you, I don’t really think a sports car is what I would call comfortable. Can we go to your place?”
          Paul was taken back by the direct question “Sure … are you certain that’s what you want to do?”
          “You trusted me this afternoon; I guess I’ll have to trust you this evening.”
          Paul smiled “Okay, let’s go. By the way did you like the wine?”
          “Yeah, it was good.”
          Paul helped her on with her coat and then led her to the entrance. On the way he passed by the bar and picked up the half bottle of wine and pushed the cork back into the bottle. “Paid for it, so no use wasting it.” Paul pulled a small slip of paper from his pocket and activated the alarm system and then locked the door and slipped the key back through the mail slot. They walked back to the car and Sierra reached out and grabbed his hand with hers. Paul felt the hard calluses on her finger tips from playing the guitar but said nothing. Sierra then hugged his arm with her other hand.
          “What was that for?” Paul asked.
          Sierra looked up at the clear sky and then down at the spread of city lights below them. “I’m alive … it was a beautiful meal … company’s nice … all’s right with the world, at least right now.”
          “You’re a real optimist aren’t you?”
          “Of course, aren’t you?” she asked.
          Paul looked at her and slowly shook his head. “No … I can’t say that I am. I’d have to say that I’m more of realist. It seems that so much has happen already in my life, a lot of it not good, that sometimes I think that I’m too young to feel this old.”
          Sierra brightened suddenly. “There! You see … I knew you knew Garth Brooks.”
          Paul looked at her stunned. “What are you talking about?”
          “That’s a Garth Brooks song. ‘Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old’.”
          Paul smiled “You know something – you’re right.”
          “About what?” she smiled, hugging his arm again.
          “Country music is the only thing you do think about.”
          She gently punched him in the arm as they arrived at the car and Paul opened her side and held the door open for her.
          “Your mother taught you to open doors for ladies didn’t she?” Sierra remarked.
          Paul smiled “My mother taught me many things.”
          Paul walked around and got in the car and started driving towards his place. Sierra shifted slightly in her seat and looked at him.
          “Okay … so… tell me all about computers,” she said suddenly.
          “What?” Paul said shocked.
          “Tell me everything you know about computers.” she repeated. “It’s something you know a lot about and it’s something I know very little about so … tell me about computers.”
          “You’re kidding right?” Paul said.
          “No I’m not, now start talking,” she demanded.
          For the drive back to Paul’s house, he gave a basic introduction to computers. Every few minutes he would take his eyes off the road to see if she was yawning yet, but every time she was watching him intently and listening carefully to what he was saying. His timing was pretty good as he finished up as the lecture as he pulled into the driveway. “Here we are” he stated.
          “I got my door this time” she said quickly.
          Paul laughed “Okay, but you realize that I would have run around to open it right?”
          “I’ll tell your mother she taught you well.” Sierra smiled.
          “If she was here, she’d appreciate you telling her” Paul replied sadly.
          The smile disappeared from Sierra’s face. “She’s gone?”
          “Same as you, both Mom and Dad are gone; they died of natural causes a few years ago.”
          “They must have died young?”
          “Yeah I thought so, but no, they were … older when I was born. Dad was 42 and Mom was 40”
          Paul guided Sierra to the front door and reached in front of her to quickly unlock and open the door. Sierra jumped back and fell into Paul’s arms as a flash of gray fur bounded out the door.

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