Having arrived late, she'd missed his first spotlight performance of the night, the song she'd dragged herself from bed to hear, so she patiently waited for his next shining moment. She didn't have to wait long. After the set of slow dances the fiddle player geared up for the boasted-about pinnacle performance of the evening.
Her aunt approached the table, excitement evident in her voice. "Come on, we like to stand up front and watch him play."
Nothing could've felt more awkward. She'd already received dagger eyes from some of the old women upon her arrival. Clearly they viewed her as competition. For what? Mia had wondered. Every man there was obviously old enough to be her father. Now she had to endure standing front and center with her aunt and a few other fans to watch the fiddle player perform his highlight number of the night--a complicated piece of the older country music genre.
He launched into his number without delay and Mia stood self-consciously beside her aunt to watch. She felt as though she should be dancing or something--anything except just standing there. Her days of drooling over onstage musicians were long behind her and this man, though clearly gifted, was no rock star.
As the musical display progressed he did take on a certain appeal. He smiled the entire time he played and he played hard. Never had she seen anyone work a fiddle with such skill or exhibit more passion in doing so. She understood why her aunt had been so impressed. Still, she felt out of place.
When the song ended everyone returned to their seats and the band took a break. A small bar in the far corner was selling drinks so Mia wandered over for a soda. The fiddle player happened by and bought a can of beer and a bag of popcorn, then stood at the bar to enjoy them.
He seemed down-to-earth and in the brighter lights she caught a better look at his appearance. Typically not her type, he did possess a certain level of charisma and a warm smile that intrigued her, though. She noted his large dark eyes and strong features. A black ponytail hung at the nape of his neck and he stood very tall over her, dressed in faded jeans and an un-tucked plaid shirt. He reminded her of the Native American men she'd seen at Pow Wows. Tall, dark, and increasingly handsome with each passing moment except for the plaid shirt.
"You play well," she said, curious as to whether he'd speak to her or not. She didn't want to seem rude by ignoring him. After all, he was a celebrity here.
"Thanks." He smiled while munching and drinking.
Feeling out of place as the youngest woman there she added, "My aunt talked me into coming out to hear you play. I don't usually come to these senior dances." Why she felt the need to defend her presence baffled her. She didn't even know him. Why would he care? "Do you have a CD of your music?"
"No, never really had time to make one."
"Oh." Mia felt defeated. "I didn't arrive in time to hear you play Ashokan Farewell. Too bad you don't have it on a CD. That's really the only reason I came tonight, as I'm not into country music much."
"Actually I use it as a warm up piece."
"Oh." She lifted her brows in disappointment. That song in particular had been the main reason she'd dragged herself out of bed when what she wanted was to stay in on this chilly autumn night and sleep. The recent loss of her beloved pet had been draining. "So you've played with other bands?"
He nodded and rattled off several famous bands he'd jammed with while his gaze swept the room.
"Wow, that must be awesome. I've always loved music and played guitar for several years, but never had the luck of forming a band. I settled for writing."
"There's no money in music," he said with a consoling smile.
"I have money. Just missing something else."
Her comment drew a fleeting puzzled look.
Lights dimmed again and he turned to go. She watched him return to the stage. For the rest of the evening Mia sat in her chair against the wall observing the senior couples as they danced. She wondered why this man who appeared close to her age played here when he had obvious talent.
A comforting ambience filled the hall and the age difference between her and the couples dancing seemed to magically disappear, making her realize that age had not dulled their passion for life.
The fiddle music definitely had improved the band over her last experience. She relaxed and enjoyed this quaint getaway while studying the mysterious man onstage. He'd said very little, yet she found him intriguing. Something about the way he played reminded her of days long ago when she had experienced that unique sensation of music sweeping her away.
At the very end of the evening he surprised her by playing an encore of the tune she'd come to hear while the band began to pack their gear. His gesture touched her and she soaked it in with her soul, closing her eyes to let the sorrowfully sweet music soothe her spirit. Before leaving she passed the stage and offered a polite and subtle thank you, not wanting to draw nasty looks from the older women again by speaking to a man. Their claws had been unmistakable.
"Would you like to go for coffee?" he quietly asked.