Hey all — I’m at the BottleRock Festival in Napa this weekend, and couldn’t help but have Sotto Voce feels. I promised a ficlet the other day when I passed a tumblr milestone, so here you go, an extra scene from Sotto Voce.
On that note, posting of Chapter 21 will probably not be on schedule. I haven’t gotten it back from beta and I’m headed out to the concert in about an hour. I try to be prompt with these, but sometimes it’s unavoidable… OH, and sorry for the length in a tumblr post, but I don’t know how to do “read more’s” off my ipad.
Nowhere in his Taste Challenge contract did it say that Blaine Anderson was obligated to host a booth at Napa’s latest moneymaker, a music, food and wine festival promoters hoped would be Coachella-meets-haute cuisine.
And it wasn’t something Blaine would normally do, run an impromptu tasting room serving overpriced samples to thousands of people looking to get loaded. He had no need or desire to expand his market share, even if the music event gave him that opportunity — which he doubted.
Yet there he stood, nearly finished unpacking case after case of Mezzo and Allegrezza, preparing to spend the day pouring Rhapsody wines and being put on display by Taste, it’s latest performing monkey.
Taste had purchased the equivalent of three tented booths to feature the wines of its recent Challenge at Napa’s BottleRock Festival, which combined Napa restaurants, wineries and an eclectic mix of music for some 35,000 visitors. The tents recreated classic tasting rooms decorated in tones of deep burgundy and dotted with tables made of 60-gallon barrels.
He wasn’t alone, of course. All of the Taste Challenge winners and runners-up had been recruited for the weekend duty to the side of one of three stages. And it was a good thing they were, because Blaine didn’t have the stock to support this kind of weekend-long promotion.
To be honest, he couldn’t completely complain, either, since Taste Wine Editor — Do I call him ‘boyfriend’?, he wondered — Kurt Hummel had also been required to work the event, a “celebrity draw,” his boss had argued.
It had been scarcely a month since Rhapsody nearly swept the well-publicized event, since he and Kurt had unleashed months of brewing tension. They had been nearly inseparable since, a honeymoon phase of their young relationship that was touching and whispers and lingering glances — and privacy. Though their closeness was well on display at Blaine’s post-Challenge party, their romance was mostly unknown to anyone but their closest friends.
So while Blaine and Diego manned a part of the Taste bar, Kurt sat at the far side of the tent, holding court, signing copies of the magazine, talking wine and posing for pictures with local customers who knew wines, rather than the thousands looking for a cheap hit, a free chair or a few words with the cute guys behind the bar.
Blaine surprised even himself, for even though the promotion was decidedly not his kind of thing, the music festival absolutely was. He found himself dancing behind the bar, jamming to the Alabama Shakes and The Shins while Diego helped him pour. Blaine sang along and fended off the occasional propositions of tipsy women and come-ons from flirtatious men wanting his number.
He took it in stride, looking over to Kurt and offering him a smile or a sly wink before a pour, pivot and slide to open a new Roussanne.
A momentary break in traffic — and a helping hand from Patty, who had been assisting at the Girl and the Fig’s food concession — and Blaine ducked out, sneaking behind a curtain only to emerge directly behind Kurt.
“Pssst. Hey, Mr. Celebrity. What do you think about taking a break?”
Kurt turned to see Blaine peaking out from behind the curtain.
“Taking a break from the fawning masses?” Kurt said with a wink. “Get any phone numbers?”
“Well, there were some lovely divorcées from Santa Paula,” he giggled.
“You know there’s only one person who’s got my number,” Blaine said, reaching out and touching Kurt’s shoulder, leaning to speak into his ear. “I was going to go catch a couple of sets. Take a break. Come with me.”
“Is there a DJ playing anywhere?”
“Kurt, this is not where you go for dubstep. Come on, Andrew Bird’s on in a few minutes.”
“Who? Is this some of that folk music of yours?”
“A violinist. Great instrumentals and he’s really inventive. Trust me, you’ll love him. I promise you’ll have a good time.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then do with me as you will,” he whispered.
They ducked behind the tents to navigate toward the stage without having to bob and weave through the crowd, emerging near the VIP entrance. Blaine took Kurt’s hand, leading him to the stagefront barricade.
The stage lights rose as the sun set, and the performer, alone with his violin, emerged. He was soon joined by a musician on double bass. It began with the rhythmic plucking of his violin, held and played like a guitar to create otherworldly tones, until he finally added his bow in long, elegant arcs.
As the instrumental built, Bird began to whistle, an ethereal tone that sounded almost electronic, adding the tone of an altogether new instrument to the mix.
Kurt leaned in towards Blaine’s ear.
“So what you’re saying is you’re into mouth music?”
“I told you you’d like it.”
“I should say that I don’t,” he said, sliding in behind Blaine, wrapping his arms low around his hips, sliding his fingers into the front pockets of his soft jeans. “So what happens if I like it?”
Blaine leaned back into the embrace, letting Kurt hook his chin on his shoulder.
“Then I can do as I will with you.”
Andrew Bird: Cintro