His eyes darted to the side, and he noticed me standing there. We just stared at each other. It was ironic, but the only times I could ever feel the remnants of our old connection were in fleeting moments of silent eye contact. Sometimes moments of silence spoke the loudest.
I left him alone again, making my way back down the hall and into the restaurant to tend to the customers I’d been ignoring.
Things really started to get busy. Without Jade working tonight, we were short-staffed, and I was having a hard time keeping up with the orders. Sandy’s had indoor and outdoor seating. Normally, I would only be working one section, but tonight I was going back and forth between the two.
It was nice out, so I knew they would have Justin performing outside. I kept glancing over to the small stage to see if he was there. It was past eight, and he hadn’t made an appearance yet.
Sometime close to eight-thirty, I was in the middle of serving a large party of ten when I first heard it: the chilling sound of a soulful voice that was not familiar in the least. He gave no introduction. No warning. He just started to sing out the first few words, followed by the strum of his guitar. The song that Justin had chosen to start with was a cover of Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers.
The entire room soon quieted down, and all eyes were on the stunning blond male specimen with the spotlight shining down on him. Despite the fact that I was carrying a large round tray of dirty dishes, I couldn’t move. The vibration of his thick, smoky singing voice had completely paralyzed me, penetrating my body and soul.
Aside from the lone teardrop that fell the night he lost it on me during steak dinner, I hadn’t shed any more tears—until now. It was all too much. Hearing how different his voice sounded, how he’d trained it over the years, was a wake-up call as to how much I had missed. All of the hours of practice that must have gone into honing that beautiful voice, and I wasn’t there for any of it. The guilt, the emotions, the reality of a decade gone…everything started to pummel me at once. Not to mention the song—about a girl leaving. It probably had nothing to do with me, but in my mind, it sure as hell felt like it did.