Grandma's Hands

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krisallenthankyoucamelliaalbumbookl.png [bimg][/bimg]Justin was raised by his grandma; a calm life on the outskirts of a small town in Ohio. It was almost everything he could wish for, considering it was all he'd ever known. He learned how to play guitar as a child, and it stuck with him until his now - his adult years. His teacher was none other than his grandma, his audience consisting of a distant cousin and his grandpa.

Three weeks ago, his life was changed, however. Grandma's hands had gone cold, and the house of two got real sad, real fast. As if the loss wasn't enough, money had come into play, and now, the house was going to be the bank's real soon.

So Justin's left with a choice; take the path his parents did or magically come up with the bank's money. He just hopes he doesn't disappoint his old man while he's at it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

He sat on the corner of Elk and 3rd, his head hanging low and his fingers picking at the strings of his old acoustic guitar. It's funny, almost. After having the thing for over a decade, he hadn't named it yet. There was the casual passerby that would stop and listen, or drop a coin or two in his hat, to which he would thank, but he knew that he couldn't do this for long.

Justin glanced up from the concrete and to the streets, where the morning sun had just peeked over the larger buildings. He'd been out since 6AM, looking for work, but here, there was nothing. He sighed softly and threw his hands into a final strum before he strapped the guitar around his back. He stood and yawned, his hazel eyes squinting as he stretched. It didn't take him long to decide that he'd go drown his sorrows and tiredness in a cup or two of coffee. Maybe he'd find someone who could help him out.

He threw the coins from his hat into his pocket and flipped it onto his head. He remembered when he was younger, he used to put it on all the time and his grandma told him he looked like his father in younger days. He smiled. Not at the thought of his father, but the voice of his grandma.
Kelly hadn't been awake long when she decided to do a coffee run, her small apartment seemed to be missing the warmth of the old days but she tried not to think about it as she threw on her sandals and leather jacket. Walking down Elk she turned to her coffee shop, well it wasn't hers but she went their so often it was tactically hers, and swung a seat by the window grabbing her mocha iced coffee and looking out the window. Dragging her eyes over the street outside she saw a tall, shyly handsome man in a hat with a guitar on the corner, he seemed to be playing for money.

Shrugging her shoulders she stood and left the shop making her way down the street. Before making it to her apartment complex she turned and decided she would go check out the sale they were having at her favorite store. Just as she turned she smacked straight into the guitar player who wasn't paying attention, her coffee spilling all down her blousd.

"Are you kidding me dude?! Ugh what the hell!"
Justin stumbled some, reaching back to make sure his guitar wasn't flinging all over the place. After regaining his footing, he glanced ahead, to a girl who obviously wasn't in the best of moods. The first words that escaped his lips were, "I'm sorry!"

He reached into his pockets and pulled out a few random sheets of paper he wrote notes on. "H-here, use this." A sheepish smile crossed his face as he attempted to help the girl. Yeah, he was fretting. A lot.

Besides, Grandma did teach him to be kind to girls, especially to the "cute ones". His eyes rose to her face, briefly taking in the subtleties of her beauty. "Huh..."
Taking the note paper Kelly wiped the coffee from her blouse. Smiling she sighed, "it's okay. I was headed to buy a new blouse anyways" she winked and handed him back the notes, looking at them she saw they were scribbled with song notes and lyrics.

"You know, you're not going to get very far wasting your talent on the streets. You should try playing at one of the local pubs, they are always looking for musicians. Here," she said as she handed him a bent business card, "this place is pretty popular but they are looking for new music. Call the number on the card and talk to the club owner, I'm sure she'll be glad to have a young handsom- uh, young guy like you..." brushing her Burnette hair our of her eyes and behind her ear she nudged him and blushed a little, he was so handsome and charming.

"Call her, I know her personally so I'll wait here with you so I can talk some sense into her if she says no." A little reluctantly Justin pulled out his phone and dialed the number, Kelly's phone rang and she smiled sticking out her hand for him to shake. "Kelly Winters, owner of Whistler Creek Pub on 12th avenue, how many I help you?" Laughing to herself she smiled.
Justin took back the soiled papers and folded them, shoving them into his pocket. He'd rewrite them later. Saying nothing, he called the number, and his grin grew larger as her phone rang.

His hand reached out and he shook hers, his other one hanging up the phone. "Hi. Justin Marlowe; wannabe musician. Can I uh... Play some music at your place?"

He fixed his hat and chuckled some. This girl was literally an angel sent from heaven; what were the odds that she came along at such a time? He'd thank her when he got the chance.
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"Hmm let me think, I may have to discuss some of your features over some lunch. Oh don't worry, I'll buy. But you owe me." Smiling and not waiting for an answer she grabbed his arm and led him down the street to the Italian cafe, her favorite.

After ordering a tea and a water she folded her hands neatly and tired to look as professional as poasible, but her smile kept peeking through as she looked at him.

"So what kind of music do you usually play Mr. Marlowe?" She said in the deepest voice she could manage, laughing and then sipping on her tea.
"I... Owe you." he echoed silently, wondering if this was good or not. His eyes were wide with surprise as he followed the girl... Well... Was forced to follow her. He glanced at the shops and apartments that lay dormant and silent; he never really came this far into town very often. It was pretty cool.

As they entered the cafe, he took in the delicate smell of sweets, his stomach jumping with joy. He ordered nothing as he sat across from her, a soft smile on his face. Half of it was the joy of meeting someone who could help him, the other being the slight bit of excitement that he might have made a future friend.

"Well," he started, pulling his guitar from his back and laying it on his lap. "I play a lot of blues, and if you've got a piano, I can totally rock out." He chuckled, recalling the music he once made with his grandpa. "But uh... I'd like to try out something a little more new, but this old thing can't make the sound I want."
Smiling Kelly sipped her drink, "I think a piano can certainly be arranged and as for a new sound, well, once you start getting your paycheck you'll be able to afford whatever you'd like to sound like!"

She twisted her fingers on her hand and looked down at the floor trying not to remeber the empty feeling in her apartment since Antonio had left so long aago, maybe this new guy could fill the hole in her heart?.... Shaking her hear she thought No Kelly, get it together! He's just a new act for the pub, nothing else.

"Well alright Justin, when can you start performing? The pub is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 pm to 6 am, weird hours I know but I inherited the place like that and didn't have a heart to change anything."
His hears almost perked at the sound of a paycheck. "Awesome," he said as he shifted in his seat.

Justin's smile faded slightly as he watched her twist her fingers and look to the floor. Signs of... Nervousness? He started to reach forward and ask if she was okay, but she started to talk again.

"Well, I can work whenever I'm welcome. I don't have much to do where I'm from, anyway." He paused, and then asked, "Inherited the place?" A spark of interest went off - something they could relate with had revealed itself; the past.
Nodding she asnwered, "yeah it belonged to my dad and when he passed away two years ago, god rest his soul, he gave it to me. My mother has been dead since I was 11 and I don't have any other family, so it's just me and my pub" she smiled a little and cocked her head sideways.

"What about you? How did you get stuck her in Richton?"
"Your dad must've been a good guy... I'm sorry to hear." He said, his eyes shifting to the delicately carved wood of the table.

He shook his head quickly and let his hazel eyes stare into hers. "I was born here. My mom and pops were uh... Weren't there for me, so I was raised by my grandma and grandpa off on the sides of town. Nothing too special."
Smiling back at him her blue eyes piercing his. "Yeah he was a good guy and oh, that's cool. My grandparents were neve around when I was young and then they died before I was 19... death runs thick in my family I guess..." Looking down at the table she smiled to herself, there seemed to be life ahead of her now.

"Oh! I am so sorry but I must get going! The pub will open in a few hours and I have to go hang some lights. You're welcome to to along with me to check it out, actauily, I insist you come with me. Besides it can get lonely in there all by myself." Flipping her Burnette hair she stood and payed for her tea, looking expectingly at Justin. She really wanted him to come with her, after all, he was going to be the new star of her pub, and possibly more to her.
"Uh..." He paused as she stood and prepared to leave, waiting for him to join along. There would be good that came from the visit, he was sure of it, but his grandpa would be getting ready to start his day soon, and he couldn't do it alone. He glanced at the floor in thought before he stood, strapping his guitar across his back again.

"Yeah, I'll join along. But not for long; I'm gonna need to help my old man." He said with an apologetic tone.
Smiling Kelly payed the cashier and began to walk off down the street, turning only to check if Justin was following her. After about a block he caught up with her, her stride was confident and long, she walked with such purpose. Turning down 12th Avenue they stopped in front of a large black wooden door in between two painted over windows.

"Sorry for the drab outside look, the new design concept artist I hired still hasn't come up with a redesign so for now Halloween Town is the theme haha!" She said jokingly as she pulled a brass key from her coat pocket, one like in the olden days, and she opened the door to another world. The walls were painted turquoise and dark purple with all different types of lamps scattering the walls and assorted night stands. Among the many sofas and pool tables was a stage with old fishing nets attached to the front.

"Dad always said that there was nothing like a comfy couch and a good fishing tale to bring people together..." Kelly said over her shoulder and she dropped the keys on the bar as she slipped behind it and mixed herself a drink. "Want one?"
Justin almost cringed when they stopped in front of the pub, but he made sure Kelly hadn't seen. It wasn't that it was "ugly"... He just expected something different. After she explained the look, he nodded and laughed.

As he stepped into the building, his eyes grew wide with awe. "Whoa," he said, a smile stretching across his face. The lights shined and sparkled as his optics reflected them, scanning the room with a curiosity that you'd find a child with.

He turned to her and his face lit up at the sight of a drink. Then, it sunk when he recalled the lessons his grandma taught him. It wasn't the punishments that scared him; it was the proof she had. "Uh," he said slowly, his eyes diverting to the counter. "I think I'll have some soda, if you have some." He cursed inwardly. What if she thought he was lame because of that?

"Alcohol doesn't uh... Sit well with my stomach." he obviously lied, the sentence almost sounding like a question.
Giggling Kelly watched just on amazement at the decor of the room. Like a child in a candy store ha! She thought to herself. Sipping her Margarita she nodded to him and piled out a cold can of coke from under the counter.

"Don't worry about it actually, I'm kind of glad you don't drink. The last act I had would get hammered before a show and then play terribly!" Shaking her head she came around the bar and dug around in a crate full of trinkets and tools in a small closet by the back door. Pulling out a string of lights that looked like little air balloons she smiled and said, "mind giving me a hand before you go? I'll show you backstage too so you can see your dressing room and all that. I just really need to hang these over the bar, just there." She pointed to a bare spot on the rafters, the only one that wasn't strung up with white Christmas lights.

Her eyes glew with wonder, he was so fit, she never noticed it until now but the light in the pub was catching all of his chisled muscles just perfectly. Woah, Antonio wasn't that buff nor this sweet.... huh, maybe this will turn out good for the both of us. Not wanting to explain her staring at his arms she scurried off to get the ladder.
"Thanks." he said with a grateful smile, taking the can into his hands and opening it, the sound of fizzing like music to his ears. He brought the cold tin to his lips and took a sip. Justin looked to her as he placed the can on the counter.

"That must've been a disaster," he said, laughing at the thought of a drunk performance. He stood when he saw her bring out lights; it was instinct for him to help with things of the sort. He waked over and grabbed a length of the lights. Making his way to the designated spot, Justin looked over his shoulder and spoke to her. "My dressing room? I feel famous already." he joked.

He blinked as he saw her looking at his arms. Was there something on his shirt? Not wanting to make things awkward, he looked away and spoke, "So uh... How many customers do you get here?"
Brining he Ladder she climbed he first few rungs and grabbed the lights from him. He was holding the ladder right below her and when she lifted her arms to hang the lights her shirt lifted just enough for him to see her belly button piercing by she didn't notice.

"Uh well I get roughly 50 to 60 people on the weekdays and on the weekends it's wall to wall people." She said as she attached the lights carefully to the nails on the rafter. Plugging them in she smiled and climbed down the ladder. Looking at him she smiled, "but with you playing here I'm sure it will be busy almost every night huh" playfully she punched his arm and put the ladder back in the closet along with the crate of extra lights.

"Well that should do it. Come on I'll show you back stage."
He grinned a little at the sight of her piercing. It was cute. To be honest, he'd always wanted an ear piercing since he was little, but his grandpa told him it was for girls. His mouth opened to say something about it, but he kept quiet. She had a nice form, especially the way her hips curved. And her legs were slender; if he'd have known anything about how girls wanted to look, he'd consider her perfect.

"That's a big audience," he said nervously, chuckling as he made his way back to the counter, grabbing his soda before he headed back stage with her.
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