I’m Dakota Collins, a tough talking, eye patch wearing, workaholic photography student. Why am I important? Well, maybe because I get to spend an entire month with Vicious, only the sickest indie rock band out there.
You see, I needed a subject for my Spring Showcase introspective in order to graduate. During a chance encounter at a club I’d been sent to cover for the Daily Gossip, our ironically named college paper, the features writer I usually teamed up with introduced me to the band—by accident, I might add. It involved a run in with a scary, bald bodyguard. Anyway, long story short, I signed a contract to take pictures of Vicious.
I should have known their handsome yet way too serious for his own good bassist, Luka Visraya, wouldn’t be able to keep his hands to himself. He’s gorgeous and all, but the way he smiles spelled trouble with a capital L. I’m in for a long month with him around.
Crazy shit happens and then some. So, if you want the skinny on Vicious and the events revolving around my stay at Lunar Manor, read my story.
I lowered my camera. The use of my full name never came with good consequences. I blinked my vision back at her even if I wanted to spend the rest of the night taking his picture. Sweat rose over my upper lip. I may just have found my subject for the Spring Showcase.
The only problem?
I had to find a way to convince him to be in my project. Something told me this wouldn’t be easy. By the way my heart beat in my ears, drowning out the music and Silvia having a fit in front of me, I wanted it too much. I wanted him too much.
“This the guy you were saying?” I showed Silvia the picture I’d taken. This seemed to pacify her because she sidled closer, mesmerized like a moth to a flame.
“Luka Visraya,” she said with a moan like she’d just tasted the most luscious chocolate before taking a long gulp of her cocktail. The name didn’t register. Silvia must have noticed my blank expression because she continued. “He’s the bassist for Vicious.”
Still no pings of recognition in my head.
She slapped her thigh. “Where have you been? It’s weird that you haven’t heard of them. Their songs are on the radio like every second.”
Of course I hadn’t heard of them. I liked listening to country and I hardly kept up with current events.
“Name one?” Okay, I had a name. Luka. Exotic. A bassist. Part of a band I should know about. So he’s famous. I slowly felt my chances of asking him to be my subject slip from my grasp. If he was someone famous, fat chance he’d say yes to a graduating photography student like me. I just about deflated when Silvia mentioned one of their songs. “Oh, I know that one!” By accident. It played in the radio of the cab I rode in to Sacrifice. I stared at the picture of him then lifted my gaze to where he sat. “He’s gone.”
“What?” Silvia whipped around in time to come face to face with a wall of man. “Whoa!” She pushed at him. “Watch it, buddy!”
“Give me the camera,” he said in a threatening tone.
Big. Beefy. Bald. The three Bs that made up the quintessential bodyguard.
I clutched my DSLR closer to my chest and looked up at him with my good eye. “And why would I do that?” The patch didn’t seem to intimidate him because he just reached out. So much for my Bond villain aspirations. I moved away from his grubby hand. No one touched my camera but me.
Despite her size, Silvia came between me and the mountain. “We’re here to cover Sacrifice for our college paper. You don’t have the right to take away my colleague’s camera.”
Yeah! You give it to him, Silvy.
Not that I couldn’t take care of myself. But if Silvia wanted to play hero, I wouldn’t stand in her way.
“What seems to be the problem here?” a soft, authoritative voice chimed in.
The bodyguard moved aside to reveal the Gothic Lolita. She stood at just about the same height as Silvia, but she possessed an older aura even if she seemed to be our age.
“She’s been taking pictures,” Baldy said.
Lolita’s kohl eyes landed on me then shifted to my camera.
“As I was saying to the big guy,” Silvia explained. “My colleague and I are covering the opening of Sacrifice.”
“For what paper?” Lolita asked without taking her eyes off me. I clutched my camera like an extra appendage. In some ways it was. After losing half my sight, I relied on my camera like an extra eye, seeing the world through its lens. I would rather die than lose it.
“The Daily Gossip,” I said before Silvia could answer just to relieve some of the awkward tension building in me under her gaze. “We study at Wexler U.”
She tilted her head, crossing her arms.
“Okay,” I quickly stammered out. “I get that the name of our paper sounds like a tabloid, but the Daily Gossip is a cool campus paper.” The last part maybe only I believed since Silvia raised her eyebrow at me, but Lolita and the mountain didn’t have to know that.
No one spoke after that. Even in a noisy club, the silence in our group rang in my ears. Not waiting for the situation to get any more awkward, I plowed forward with my own selfish intensions.
“You know Luka.” I said it more as a statement, but it came out like a question.
“I’m Dakota Collins and I’m graduating this spring. I was wondering if Luka would be interested in—”
“What would I be interested in?” a smooth voice joined our group.
The walls of my throat closed, chocking the rest of what I had to say. All eyes turned to Luka. Silvia dropped her empty glass. It bounced off the bodyguard’s shoe and landed in a clatter but didn’t break. Even with my height, I still had to look up at him.
“What are you doing here?” Lolita admonished. “You should be backstage.”
One side of his lips came up. God. Without the scowl, his face lit up. I had to stop the urge to lift my camera and start snapping away. And his eyes were piercing blue. The kind that stretched over my mother’s farm in the summer. Damn.
Seeing him up close, I knew I’d give any one of my kidneys for a chance to take his picture in a formal shoot.
“We have five minutes. Chill, Yana.” He tugged at one of her pigtails.
“Luka,” Silvia managed. “I’m a big fan. Will you sign my chest?”
Bypassing my petite colleague, Luka’s intensely blue gaze studied me. He reached out and I flinched back. His fingers almost grazed my patch. What the hell was the matter with him? Trying to touch my eye patch was tantamount to poking a bandage over a wound and asking the person if it hurts.
Gothic Lolita—Yana—yanked Luka’s arm down. “I’m so sorry!” Her whole aura changed. She went from all business to panicky. “My brother sometimes forgets his manners. He didn’t mean anything about touching your…” She bit her lower lip, maybe trying to keep herself from saying the wrong thing.
That little faux pas cleared my head of the Luka haze and spurred me into action. “Luka, will you let me take your picture for my final project?” I didn’t know where my courage came from, but I knew if I didn’t take this chance, I’d regret it. I had to have him as my subject.
Still not removing his gaze from my face, like my patch transfixed him, he tilted his head to one side very much like his sister did earlier.
“Luka, don’t!” Yana said, but from the consideration on Luka’s face, she was too late.
“You’re a photographer?”
“Yes.” I nodded, in case the word wasn’t enough.
“And you’d like me to be the subject of your project?”
God yes! This time, I could only nod. I didn’t want him to see how eager I was. And I couldn’t live with myself if I embarrassed myself further.
I waited with baited breath.
It seemed everyone in our group waited with baited breath for what the golden god had to say about my brazen request. I soon realized when Luka spoke, everyone listened. The way he pronounced every word precisely yet still spoke so smoothly, like butter on warm toast, captured everyone’s attention. To say he captivated us was an understatement. Something in me certainly wanted to hear him keep speaking. He could read from an accounting textbook in that voice and no one would get bored.
“I need to know that you’re good,” he finally said.
Something about his words seemed to hold a different meaning. I must have missed the alcohol in the soda Silvia had given me. Maybe I was drunk and this was all a blackout dream.
“What are you saying?” Yana faced Luka all the way now, her petite form all rigid.
He unleashed a full on megawatt smile my way. I almost had to cover my eye from it. At my side, Silvia gasped. Her long nails dug into my arm. Like staring at the sun, I couldn’t take my gaze away from him no matter how bad it was for me.
“We’re about to perform. I want you to take several pictures then send them to Yana. If she approves, we’ll see about your request.”
Then, like smoke, he disappeared into the crowd.
When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn’t going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master’s courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she lives in the Philippines and writes full-time.