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Franco (Bright Side #3)

By:Kim Holden

Franco (Bright Side #3)
Author: Kim Holden





Thursday, January 18

(Franco)

"Let's go, twizzle tits!" I swear Jamie and Robbie are the slowest creatures to walk upright on two legs. Okay, that's a lie, Gus is the slowest. But considering Jamie and Robbie do everything together like they're conjoined, it doubles their slow quotient and puts them slightly ahead of Gus.

"What's on the agenda tonight?" Gus asks.

I can't help but laugh at the obscene amount of gum he's talking through. I know he started chewing gum because it's helping him quit smoking, which I'm proud of him for doing, but his new vice is fucking hilarious.

The chewing halts and he narrows his eyes at me, which only makes me laugh harder. "What, dude?"

Shaking my head through the last of the chuckles, I answer, "The gum. You're killing me with the gum, man. How many pieces are you chewing?"

His middle finger is flashed impressively quick and with the authority of someone who means it, but the, "Fuck you," that accompanies it is half-hearted and sounds more like an agreeable, "I know."

"We're going to the Y-Not. Wanna come?" The Y-Not is a little bar around the corner from the apartment we're temporarily housed in. It looks unassuming, which is so not L.A., and the name is endearingly and horrendously cheesy, which all adds up to a must-see in my book. It's a fairly new establishment, in that it wasn't here a year and a half ago when we recorded the last album.

"Nah, dude, I'm just gonna chill here. Maybe watch some shit TV and get some rest." The way he says it puts my mind at ease. I've never been so okay with being turned down in my life. Gus's past year has been the things nightmares are made of. Losing people you love is a bitch. But losing your best friend, especially someone as fucking outstanding as Kate Sedgwick, rocked him to his core. He was a hollowed-out shell going through the motions for months and months. Looking at life through lifeless eyes and seeing absolutely nothing but the void she left behind. It was devastating to watch, because a) I couldn't help him, b) I missed her too, and c) I knew the pain and loss I felt must be amplified by one thousand percent in his heart-and that kind of grief was unimaginable to even consider.

But the past two months I've witnessed life slowly breathing back into him. At first it was gradual, and I almost wanted to deny the progress I was seeing, because if he plummeted again I didn't think I could take watching it. So, I stood by with reluctant and slightly pessimistic hope that my best friend was recovering and clawing his way out of the depression that gripped him. And once the steady climb became noticeable, it skyrocketed. His confidence in his talent has never been what it should be, but the Gus I watched from behind my drum kit performing in front of me on New Year's Eve was the fucking rock star I always knew he had inside. And I don't mean a showy, cliché douche, because that will never be Gus-I mean a front man, with the confidence to back up his undeniable talent. And watching him in the studio these past couple of weeks confirmed the evolution. It's next level. I'm so proud of him.

"You ready?" Jamie asks as he and Robbie join us in the living room.

I laugh because he says it like they've been waiting on me. "I don't know..." I run my hand over the top of my freshly shaven and smooth head while showcasing my Twin Atlantic t-shirt with my other hand. "Clean shave, clean shirt, brushed my teeth, what do you think? It's not just for show."

Robbie just smirks and shakes his head because he knows I'm busting their balls. "Let's go, showboat."

Walking toward the door, I call him on it, "Damn right, I'm gonna meet someone tonight. I can feel it in my-"

Gus interrupts me, "Balls?"

"I was going to say gut...or even heart...but yeah, balls works too. Later, twat biscuit."

"See ya, dicksicle. Have fun and be safe," Gus calls as the door shuts behind us.

The air is warm tonight, and it feels good to be outside. We've been cooped up in the studio recording our second album for a couple of weeks now, and don't get me wrong I love what we're doing, playing drums is what I live for, but I also love being outside. Being in the water surfing, or walking the beach, or riding my motorcycle is where I am if I'm not playing drums. Every day we aren't on tour, I'm outside. I go a little stir crazy when I'm penned in by four walls for too long.

Jamie and Robbie are arguing with the passion of two scorned teenage girls about a video game they've been playing. I've never been much into gaming so it's like following a foreign movie without subtitles and I tune it out.

The first thing I notice about the bar when we step inside is how mellow it is. L.A. is a pretentious bitch; everything in this city is based on looks, appearances, stature, success...or a damn good fabrication of those. It's an illusion that houses nuggets of authenticity. And I feel like those nuggets are so few and far between that I gloss over them because it's too hard to distinguish the real from the fake. L.A. is not my scene, so the atmosphere in here makes me smile and forget about the people not so far away trying to be someone they're not.

"Modelo okay?" I ask Jamie and Robbie.

They give me two thumbs up because it's a little loud to talk over.

"Cuervo shot, too," Jamie mouths.

I nod, and then gesture with my chin at a door leading to a patio. "Go see if you can grab us a table out back. It's too nice to sit inside tonight."

They nod and make their way past the pool tables, through the throng and disappear out the door.

There are three bartenders: two dudes and one cute little brunette. I get her attention and smile, being the flirt that I am, and she saunters my way.

"What's it gonna be, handsome?" She's even cuter up close.

I pin my pointer finger down with my thumb and show her three digits. "Three Modelo, three Cuervo shots."

She flashes a pouty smile, all full lips, and quickly turns and walks to the other end of the bar to fill my order. My eyes drop to her ass as it comes into view moving away from me. She's wearing shorts so tiny her cheeks are hanging out. Don't get me wrong, it looks good, she's in fantastic shape that's for sure, but here's the thing...I like some modesty. I know that's weird for a twenty-six-year-old guy who has a Ph.D. in flirting, but I think a little modesty reveals humility, which is one of the sexiest traits in a woman. I like a girl who's pretty, but doesn't know it, if that makes sense. Pretty, but doesn't shove it down my throat. Unassuming does it for me. So, when the bartender returns with the shots, she's somehow made the transition from cute to an afterthought. That's how quickly I can write potential off, in a split second. I know, I'm fickle, but if I'm going to spend quality time with a woman, I want to enjoy their company. It takes all kinds to make the world go around and I've dated them all, believe me, maybe that's why I'm so damn picky. I'm not looking to settle down or fall in love, but I still treat dating like an interview process, and vet like a mofo, because crazy or high maintenance isn't something I'm willing to entertain even on a casual basis. I don't care how amazing they are in bed, it's not worth it. Needless to say, I don't date much these days.

///



She pops the bottle caps off the beers and places them on the bar top next to the shots and flashes her smile again. "That'll be twenty-one dollars, sugar."

I hand her twenty-five and ask if she can help me carry the beers outside. She eagerly obliges, and when Jamie eyes her walking toward their table, with me walking behind, his sober expression lights up into mischief. He's into her. The kid can't hide an emotion to save his life. He sucks at poker because,

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