Neon Moon

Chapter 1

The night sky yawned overhead as the moon slowly made its way to its zenith, cast long brilliant shadows onto the rolling Tennessee mountains. Franklin, Tennessee sits not far from Nashville and shares the same lush forests that sprawl just outside the city limits. Coyotes run in packs across the gently sloping mountain ridges chasing deer throughout the undergrowth. In the neon-colored night, a young woman begins her new life.

Thumping music travels through the sweltering air echoing into the alley. Smoke curled upward from a cigarette gathering into the hooded light behind the backdoor of Tinas Top Shelf. A sleaze-filled establishment only a set or so above ”Hooters ”. It was as clean as it was respectable their newest bartender was taking her break.

Amanda Lewis was had promised herself a lot of things. Shed move close to Nashville so she could work on her singing career, shed stop smoking, shed quit working at this demeaning bar, and that shed break her managers jaw. It was late and those promises seemed like they were made by a different person, Amandas night had been long, tedious, and skin-crawling. Her manager had tried to touch her again. That made four times this week, Amanda had started keeping a ledger of each and every time hed made her feel uncomfortable so she could pay him back as painfully as possible. His mother owned the place so it was ”all in good fun ” and she was ”just being a prude ”.

Amanda braced herself on the stair railing and adjusted her top. Muttering to herself all the while about how she resented having to dress in mostly leather. Amanda stood towering above all the other bartenders and most women in general at nearly six foot two inches. Shed played volleyball all throughout high school and kept her athletic body five years later. She was barely being contained by a too-tight leather top and a pair of leather pants that were honestly some type of war crime. Her hair was shimmer while it was catching the light a bright red that contrasted against her deeply bronzed skin. Her heels burned and the sweat was rolling down her back. June in Tennessee was a killer and inside Tinas, it was always about fifty degrees hotter than the outside.

It was midnight and the last call was fast approaching shed be rushed in a few minutes to get the last few drops of frothy Bud Lite, and Jack and Coke into as many people as possible while the band finished their set. After being here for about three months Amanda had settled into a rhythm and was more concerned about trying to get Tina to let her band play at least a few nights a week for tips and exposure. Anything to try and make a name for herself so she could make her dream come true. Amandas mind was wandering until a noise cut through the thick air and shocked her back to reality.

A trashcan had been knocked over by a shadowy little thing slinking around next to the recycling bin. Amandas curiosity and hesitance to bother going back to work made it seem like a better idea to check things out. Her heels clicked against the asphalt as she made her way to the overturned aluminum trashcan, she crouched down and lifted the half-empty receptacle back up and caught a glimpse of the perpetrator. A raccoon that looked to be about a month old was huddled into a small box shaking. The low light made it difficult to see but it little creature looked healthy if a little skinny.

”Hey there little guy, wheres your momma? ” Amanda said reaching a hand out toward the small cub, but it curled farther into the box. ”Its okay, come here Ill get you some food sweety. ” She said as she retrieved what appeared to be some leftover chicken wing that the raccoon had scattered. Sliding the half moldering garlic wings to the little animal as slowly as possible. She didn really want the little thing to eat that but itd be better than nothing. ”Here you go honey, ” Amanda already planning on maybe trying to take the cub home, ”Ive got an apartment with my brother and my two best friends. If you
e all alone you can come live with us. ”

”Sounds like a good offer to me babe. ” A voice intoned from somewhere behind Amanda. ”I mean, I am awful hungry and Id love to come home with you for a treat. ”

She slowly rose to her full height and turned slowly trying not to provoke any action from the unseen man. Her eyes met his equal and he appeared to be in his early forties, broad-shouldered and with large arms. She could smell the alcohol on his breath even from a couple of feet of distance between them. His face wouldve been difficult to make out in the low light but Amanda knew him well enough.

”Been a little while Ian, been what about a month? ”

”Yeah, thereabouts. ”

”You know you
e not supposed to be here. Tina banned you from the place. ”

”Im not inside. ”

”Ive got a restraining order. ”

”I don see anyone else, whos gonna call the cops. Besides I just wanted to talk. ”

”No, get out of here. Now. If you leave now I won Terry black both your eyes. ”

”Id love to see him try. Anyway. All I want to get to know you, Amanda. I mean come on. The way you looked at me in there. The way you talked to me. I know you like me. I know you want as bad as I want you. ” Ian started to walk slowly in Amandas direction, he wasn presenting a physical threat yet but she could feel his intention probably before he even did.

”You
e drunk, and its my job, Ian. I smile

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