Don't Stop Believin'

By J.C. Books All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Romance

Chapter Three

--A singer in a smoky room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on, and on, and on--

This is not what I had in mind for an adventure.

Evan had led me to a club with people lining outside of it for miles. I had grabbed his arm, stopping him. “Evan, what are you doing?” I hissed.

“Relax,” He picked my white knuckled hand off his arm. “I know what I’m doing.”

I narrowed my eyes at him, contemplating if I should still sorta trust him or not. But I had nowhere else to go, so I went.

The club was smoky; barely being able to see your hand in front of your face was not a good thing. The smell of wine and beer finally filtered through my nose and I practically gagged. With that and the combination of the cheap perfume the women were wearing, I wanted to be like Patrick Star since he had no nose and then I wouldn’t have to smell the foul odor.

The hustle and bustle of laughter, socializing, clinking of glasses, and the jukebox in the background made up most of the noise bouncing in the room.

Evan dragged me to a back corner of the room, secluded from all the noise and terrible odor. I could finally breathe again. I sat down in the booth, shoving my backpack in the corner as Evan put my suitcase and his under the table. He sat down and then started searching for someone. “So how did we get in the club when there was a freakishly long line?” I asked, curious because he didn’t explain after we got in.

He stopped his search and looked at me. “I have a friend that owns this club. He owes me a favor.”

“Ah,” Was all I said.

He went back searching for his friend, I’m guessing. After a few minutes, he stood up and left me all alone.

So, this is not what I had in mind for an adventure.

A waiter had come back and asked me if I’d like to order anything and I asked for water. He gave me a strange look, but didn’t say anything before he left, going to fetch my water.

So, now I sit here, all alone, bored, and with a water glass for my only company. Yay… I placed my head on the table, already done, and it’s only nine in the morning. Which is a weird time to have a club open, but then it’s Chicago, which is already a weird place.

I think I ended up falling asleep, because someone was shaking me awake. Now this freaks me out because I’m in a club with, most likely, drunk people who basically do stupid things because their brains are incapacitated with alcohol. What a mighty fine idea to fall asleep here! Not.

I turned my head and Evan was peering down at me. “C’mon, sleepy head, my friend has a place for us to stay.”

I blinked, then sat up slowly, still sleepy from my nap. I rubbed my eyes.

“Hand me your bag, Sleeping Beauty.” Evan held his hand out so I could put my backpack in it.

I lagged in my movements. Taking naps always made me slower, so I never did. Usually. I handed the backpack over, which he then in turn handed it to another guy standing there that I just noticed. I started to scoot out of the booth slowly, but apparently it was too slow because Evan ended up scooping me into his arms and carrying me through the club to the employee’s only entrance. Which we went through, leading us down a hallway to a flight of stairs. The guy led us up and opened a door on the next level that looked to be a loft. There were some countertops along one wall with a stove separating them, making it the kitchen area, I think. I didn’t see a fridge at all. There was a couch facing the opposite wall with a TV hanging on the wall in between two bookshelves. The living room is my guess. My immediate reaction seeing the bookshelves was to peruse the books, but Evan hadn’t put me down yet, surprisingly.

A table separated the kitchen and living room. I noticed there was no bed. Where is it? I looked around as Evan gently set me down. Finally.

“I know it’s not the best,” The guy was saying as he sat our bags down. “But it’s the only thing I have at such short notice.”

“This should do.” Evan walked over to the guy and they clasped arms, the old fashioned way of a handshake. I think it’s the medieval version. “Thanks for the help, James.”

James smiled. “Now you owe me one.”

Evan chuckled. “Yeah, yeah.” He clapped James on the back before they separated.

James looked at me, his blue eyes boring into my soul. That’s what it felt like at least. He glanced back at Evan. “So, who’s the girl?”

“Oh!” Evan stood in between us. “James, Mirabella. Mirabella, James.”

I held my hand out for him to shake. “Nice to meet you.” I smiled politely.

He ignored my hand and glared at me instead. I pulled my hand back, afraid to be bitten. He looked to Evan again. “If you have any problems, I’ll be behind the bar serving drinks.” He left, taking the bad mood in the room with him.

“I don’t think he likes me.” I said after he shut the door.

“Don’t worry, he doesn’t like any girl that hangs around me. It’s just how he is.”

“Okay…?” I didn’t ask why, knowing it wasn’t something I should know. I walked over to the windows that lined the wall opposite the door, looking out into the heart of Chicago. Lights flashed and glittered all over the street. I stood, mesmerized by all the colors. Growing up in Alba, Michigan with only a population of two-hundred-and-ninety-five people, there was never this many lights on during the morning… Wait a sec… It’s freakin’ dark out! “How long was I asleep for?” I asked, worriedly.

“I don’t know.” I sensed he shrugged his shoulders. “It’s eight o’clock now. So it depends on when you fell asleep.”

“Eight o’clock!” I spun around in alarm. “I was asleep for eleven hours!” I never, never sleep for that long! I walked over to the couch and plopped into it. “Now I’ll never be able to go to sleep properly again.” I grumbled.

“Well,” He leaned on the back of the couch near my head that I could see him out of the corner of my right eye. “Do you want to go do something so you can fall asleep later?”

“Mmmm…” I thought about it for a few seconds before I turned to face him. “What have you got in mind?”

A boyish grin overcame his face. “You’ll see.”

“This is not what I had in mind!” I yelled at Evan as he raced down a dirt road on a four-wheeler with me clinging to his back for my wee little life.

Evan just laughed. Or at least I think he did. The wind kind of whipped away all sound past my ears at a fast interval that it was hard to tell.

Evan launched us over a dirt hill and I screamed, squeezing him tighter so I wouldn’t fall off and die after we landed. The four-wheeler landed, and I bounced a bit from the impact. Evan took a sharp turn and I squeaked. I was completely freaking out of my mind while riding with Evan.

Evan took another lap on the track and I still screamed and squeaked at all the places I had the last three laps before. Once the engine stopped, I hopped off the four-wheeler and stood ten feet away—or at least that’s what I thought—as if it would explode at any moment.

Evan dismounted and took off his helmet, shaking out his hair, which clung to his head from sweat. I glared at him through my helmet that I hadn’t taken off and wasn’t going to anytime soon. A worker took the four-wheeler and Evan’s helmet away before he came over to me. He smiled, showing his pearly whites and dimples that made him way too attractive for him to be completely human. “You still have your helmet on.” He told me.

“I know.” I said, but it was muffled by the helmet and came out sounding like gibberish.

He came closer to me and unbuckled my helmet for me and took it off. I felt it slide off my head and I could feel the cool air on my face. Which felt wonderful. “I could’ve done that myself. I’m not a baby.” I crossed my arms, irritated at him.

“I know.” He smirked. “I just wanted to see your reaction. And I can say that I was quite satisfied by it.” I punched him in the arm. Hard. “Ow! What was that for?” He rubbed his arm where I had punched him.

“For being an idiot.” I replied.

He just laughed. “Is that what you think I am?”

“Basically.” I turned on my heels and went back to the rental car that Evan had rented before we came out to this dirt area away from Chicago. I sat in the passenger seat, waiting for Evan. I thought he would follow right away, but when I turned to look out the window, I saw him flirting with one of the girl workers. It bugged me for some odd reason that I got out of the car and walked over to where he was talking with the girl.

“—slept with every girl imaginable?” The girl asked excitedly.

My cheeks flamed, I had come in at a terrible part in the conversation.

Evan just laughed at the girl’s question. “Now that is a lie. My ex-girlfriend started that one because she thought I was cheating on her.”

He eyes gleamed with interest. “Was that Sally York or Dolly Allinda?”

“Neither.” Evan beamed with pride. “It was Debbie Hope.”

“Really?!” She sounded astonished. “I didn’t even know you two were dating!”

“She wanted to keep it on the down low. She didn’t want her father to find out.”

Wait a sec… Am I really listening into a conversation like this? And how the heck does she know his past girlfriends? What’s up with that? Maybe she’s some stalker? A logical part of my brain thought.

No, I counteracted. If she was, he’d stay away. Right?

I’ve got to stop talking to myself. I sighed loudly, and it looks as if I scared the bejeebers out of Evan and the girl. I burst out laughing. I had never made anyone scared by just sighing, that it was too good to be true.

Once I calmed down, Evan asked, “How much of the conversation did you hear?”

I crossed my arms and made my face placid. “Enough.” I lied. There was no way I could have understood what they were talking about from where I came in at. But I wanted him to be afraid a little.

He cringed and then sighed. He turned to the girl. “We’d better be going.”

Her face fell in disappointment. “Aw, do you really have to?” She kinda whined.

A flash of irritation crossed his face for a split second, that at first I thought I hadn’t seen it and I second guessed myself.

Reminder: don’t become a whiny girl around Evan. His opinion of you changes.

“Yes, we must be going.” He put a hand on my lower back and started to push me toward it. “Mirabella gets cranky when she doesn’t get enough sleep.”

I was about to protest, but thought better of it because we were finally leaving.

“Oh, okay.” The girl said, dejected. “It was nice meeting you in person!” She called after us when we were three-quarters of the way to the car.

Evan didn’t respond. He finally removed his hand from my back—which I am ashamed to say felt really nice—when he opened my door for me to get in. Once I was in, he got in the driver’s seat, started the car, and headed back to the loft.

I kept glancing at him, his silence was making me worried. “Do you want to talk about it?” I finally asked. No answer. “Okay, then.”

The car fell silent again as we went back to the loft.

When we got back to the loft, I walked in first, followed by Evan who slammed the door closed. I jumped, frightened. I didn’t know how he reacted to anger, so I made myself into a small ball, wanting to disappear. Then I started hyperventilating again; bad memories flashed in my brain to bring it on. Nigel coming towards me with that creepy smile of his plastered on his face. That creep smile of his meant that I was in trouble and was going to get a beating. The only thing I didn’t know is if it was going to be my last day at life or not. When I started wheezing I knew it was and bad would only get worse. C’mon Mira, do your counting. A part of my brain told me. George Washington is number one. John Adams, number two. Thomas Jefferson number three. James Madison, number four. James Monroe, number five. John Quincy Adams was number six and Andrew Jackson seven. Martin Van Buren came next, followed by William Henry Harrison. Then came John Tyler. Number eleven was James K. Polk. Zachary Taylor number twelve, Millard Fillmore thirteen, and Franklin Pierce fourteen. James Buchanan fifteen. Abraham Lincoln sixteen—

A shadow fell over me and I stopped counting. My breathing picked up, scared. My heartbeat pitter-pattered in my chest.

“Are you alright?” Evan asked concerned, his voice soft, trying not to startle me. And for some reason, those three simple words calmed me. I looked at Evan. He was crouched down next to me, a worried expression on his face. Seeing that face made tears well in my eyes and flow out. I wrapped my arms around his waist and cried into his chest. He held me and let my cry until I could no more. I took in a shaky, deep breath when I was done and got a whiff of Evan who smelt like an apple scented forest. I pulled away and found that I had left a big wet spot on his shirt, which made my cheeks flame in embarrassment.

“I’m sorry about your shirt.” I apologized.

He looked down at it. “No worries. I have more.” He smiled kindly at me. “Is there a reason you freaked out on me?” He asked politely. I nodded my head slowly. “May I ask why?” He asked carefully, so as not to send me back into panic mode.

I took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I have anxiety because of some things from my past. And mainly these anxiety—panic—attacks, are caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” I explained.

“Oh.” He said surprised. Probably because he never knew someone so young and not in the military that has PTSD. I watched him stand up slowly as he started to pull his shirt off, letting the subject of my PTSD and panic attack go. Which I was fine with. I was somewhat uncomfortable talking about it anyways.

I hid my face behind my hands, embarrassed.

Evan noticed. “Why are you hiding?”

“Because,” I replied.

“Because why?” He wanted an explanation.

“Because.” Was all that I was going to give him. It’s not like I can say, “I’m just completely embarrassed at the thought of seeing your bare chest because I barely know you. Pun not intended.” I can’t just say that. I’ll look like a complete and total idiot!

I heard knees pop; Evan had stood up. He reached for my arms and pulled me up, my hands still hiding my face. He took my hands away gently, and I looked into his light green eyes. Man, I could get lost in those forever…

What are you thinking, Mira?! I berated myself. Don’t get attached. You’ll never see him again once you figure out where you’re going and what you’re going to do.

Evan leaned down and whispered in my ear, “If you’re embarrassed, don’t be.”

I felt my face get redder. He saw right through me. He was smirking at me when I finally was able to look at him. “Why are you smirking at me?” I narrowed my eyes at him.

“Because you’re so innocent.” He smiled.

I crossed my arms. “For your information, I’m not that innocent. I’ve been kissed before.”

His smile grew and he laughed. “Not properly.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

“That you need a proper kiss.” My cheeks reddened again after he said that.

I thought he was going to give me the proper kiss, but he just walked away, grabbed his suitcase, and went into the bathroom. I heard the shower turn on shortly after.

Fine, then. Be like that. I didn’t want our kiss anyways. I glared at the door before putting on my pajamas, grabbing the blanket off the couch, and curling up into a corner of it.

Stupid, Evan. I grumbled. Always toying with me. Well, I could care less. I’m leaving after breakfast tomorrow so I don’t have to deal with you anymore. Lets’ see how you like that.

Just before I fell asleep, thought of how Evan would react flitted through my brain, and I smiled at the thoughts, happy for the distraction.

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