Fifteen minutes and breaking every speed limit later, I’m pulling my mustang around the back of a warehouse. When I first got into the underground fighting circuit I realized I would need a gym away from prying eyes, and a hideout for when things get messy. Down an abandoned road and through a ghost town, I had found this factory in decent shape after getting lost while losing a tail late one night. Since then I had placed highgrade surveillance cameras throughout the abandoned town, all transmitting back to my security set up in the warehouse which I’ve slowly been bringing up to code.
The whole place looks pretty good if I do say so myself, and that’s with being very careful that nothing appears different from the outside. All cameras are small and hidden, the road is left as broken pavement, the town continues to deteriorate and the outside of the warehouse remains dark and gloomy. On the other hand; I have repaired the warehouse rolling door and hooked it up to a remote, fixed the cracks in the concrete floor before staining the pavement, redone the sheetrock before painting, installed a fighting ring amongst other gym equipment, and many more upgrades. Overall, whether I need to train or hideout, this place was a lucky find.
Grabbing the remote control from the hidden pocket under the driver’s seat, I watch the old door roll up before I pull in and shut it behind me. Stepping out I quickly check for bugs before I walk to the security room, hoping there is nothing to see. After all the alarms and motion sensors are reset, I change into my work out shorts and sports bra. Grabbing my hand wraps I look up and catch a glimpse of my ribs in the mirror, the bruises an abstract painting of purple, black, blue-green and yellow. The longer I stand staring at my ribs, the madder I get at my sudden lack of concentration. Shrugging my band tee back over my head to hide the bruises, I walk over to the punching bag and lose it. Combination after combination, each punch and kick landing perfectly, the punching bag swings back and forth shaking with ferocity. Every move sends a knife towards my ribs but I don’t care, the pain occupies my mind and pushes out my problems and self loathing.
Hours must have passed and I’m drenched in sweat, can no longer feel my knuckles or the tops of my feet, my midsection throbs along with each heartbeat, and the need for pain meds runs supreme even through my parched throat and grumbling stomach. After taking a double dose and rechecking my monitors, I walk into the small room I’ve set up off the gym (Nothing fancy, just a bed, closet and private bath) before promptly face planting on the very comfortable bed.
Tuesday passed, then Wednesday & Thursday. Athena hadn’t shown up to school or my fathers bar since she ran off on Monday. I was agitated, confused and worried about her. Alex continued to try and get through to me all week, but it was no use. I couldn’t concentrate because my mind was occupied by her, I was even more short tempered than normal, and there was nothing I could do about it. I knew nothing about her, and I couldn’t ask my father’s techy to track her down because I was supposed to be investigating her. So by the time Friday rolled around I was about to lose it, all I needed was for someone to look at me the wrong way and I would have an outlet for my anger.
“Eric I’m going to need you to breathe before you pop a blood vessel!”
“I haven’t been able to breathe since monday and I don’t see that ending anytime soon. Alex I can’t be here right now, I swear to god I’ll kill anyone who tries to start shit today!”
“I know man, but I tried everything I could think of to convince your dad you could miss one day and here we stand. I’m sorry.”
Running a shaking hand through my hair I sigh and look at Alex. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I really appreciate you trying with my dad, and me all week for that matter.” We exchange appreciative smiles, Alex clapping me on the back as we walk into the homeroom. Staring at the ground, I make my way towards the desk where I slide in and put my head in my heads. As the class starts, the professor makes his way around handing back our most recent paper before walking back to his desk to write the assignment up on the board.
“Enough with the groaning and welcome to college. The students in the front will be passing back the next book we will be studying. The first five chapters are to be read over the weekend, along with a short summary of what you read where you will answer the three questions up on the board. Annnd Athena, welcome back, you can see me after class for what went on all week.”
My head immediately shoots up as I frantically search the classroom for the fiery hair I’ve been missing all week. Not being able to find her I let my eyes drift back towards her normal seat, and there she is. The only reason I hadn’t seen her before was because she was wearing a large black hoodie in which she had tucked her hair. She was back, and I could once again breathe. I couldn’t help how obvious I was being, throughout the whole class I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. All I wanted, from the minute I heard her name, was to rush over, look into her eyes, and ask if she was okay. When class finally ends I make no effort to move, I know she waits till everyone else has left before she follows. When the classroom is otherwise empty I head out the door and wait for her to finish with the professor. A few minutes later and she walks out heading the other way, unaware of my presence.
“Hey,” She continues walking, “Athena wait up”! She finally stops, waits a beat, and turns around. All week long I felt like I was drowning, but as I gaze into her dark green eyes all is once again okay. We stand there staring at one another, she makes no move to speak. “Where have you been all week, are you alright?” I hear the desperation in my voice and it makes me cringe.
“Hey. I just had some things to take care of, I’m fine.”
The lack of emotion in her words, a jagged knife in my heart, and I’m left stunned.
“Listen, I’m late for class so I’m going to go.”
She turns around and starts to walk away, but I take a few steps to follow her. “Will I see you for a smoke later?”
Turning around once more, I get a last look into her cold eyes as she answers.
“No. I quit”.
Once again, I’m left standing in her dust as she walks away from me… That’s it, my dad can be as mad as he wants but I can’t be here any longer. Just as my lungs had filled with oxygen, she once again knocked the wind out of me. Spinning on my heel, I storm off in the opposite direction and burst through the exit door. I just don’t understand, we had a SOME KIND moment and then she disappeared for a week! Then when she finally shows back up, she’s cold as ice and wants nothing to do with me.
“Fuck!” Finally letting out a scream that has been building all week, I lose it and send my fist flying towards a tree. “God Dammit!” I don’t know how I expected that to help and now my knuckles are scratched and bleeding. Since Alex has the car keys, I decide to take a walk until I find some Isolation.
Spending hours beating the shit out of my punching bag was not the best idea, by the time I was done the pain had tripled. Deciding to skip school, I spent the rest of the week in bed icing my ribs and taking pain pills when I could. By the time Friday rolled around I decided to head back to school, and grab my assignments so I could complete them over the weekend. I didn’t keep much at the warehouse, but luckily I had a few clothes and wouldn’t have to make the trek back home till after school.
So after a very long and hot shower I grabbed an underwear set, a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans, and headed back to the bathroom. Wrapping my ribs and brushing my teeth I go back to the closet and grab a black ribbed tank top, and an oversized black hoodie. I just wanted to hide from the world… Maybe not the whole world… Really just one gorgeous and dreamy man. I cough and shake my head, trying to clear my mind. I couldn’t afford this distraction, I had to shut down whatever it was between us. Confusion and pain clouds my mind. For whatever reason, the thought of not talking to him or being near him feels like a knife in my chest.
After a quick stop to get the largest cup of coffee I’ve ever seen, I pull into the school parking lot 15 minutes early. I’d really done some serious damage to my ribs by not letting them heal properly and now I’d have to postpone my training for another week. One plus of this ill fitting hoodie, the large hood held all my hair as well as covering part of my face. Once I slide into my seat and grab a notebook from my bag, I begin to read and take notes on the book I had grabbed off of the professor’s desk. I got to chapter three before people started filing through the door and taking their seats. Adjusting my hood and turning slightly towards the window I continue to read, soon jotting down the assignment and starting on my essay.
“... Annnd Athena welcome back, you can see me after class for what went on all week.”
Fuck. I would have seen him after class, why did he have to call me out. Throughout the whole class I can feel someone’s eyes burning a hole in the back of my head, all I want to do is turn around and look into his enchanting hazel eyes.
What seems to be hours later, the class finally ends and I wait for the classroom to empty before heading towards the professor. I hadn’t missed much, half of the work I had completed last week anyway. Sliding the make up work into my bag, I begin to make my way towards my next class.
“Hey,” His voice cuts through my thoughts, “Athena wait up”!
Taking a deep and shaky breath, I finally turn around to gaze into those golden hazel eyes. I can’t form words, so there we stand just staring at each other.
“Where have you been all week, are you alright?”
He sounds genuinely concerned and it makes my heart hurt. “Hey. I just had some things to take care of, I’m fine.” I tried my hardest to drain my words of any emotion. In the end they came out cold and sharp and I could see hurt flicker across his face. “Listen, I’m late for class so I’m going to go.” I try to walk away, but don’t get far at all before his voice once again stops me.
“Will I see you for a smoke later?”
How can I have such a hard time walking away from a boy I don’t know! “No. I quit”, I say with harsh finality and continue my walk towards the class I am now late for. As I turn the corner I hear him curse, followed by a long bang. I know I hurt him and it’s making my chest so tight I can barely breath. I know I was an asshole, but it had to be done.
The rest of the day dragged by, and when it was finally over I couldn’t get out fast enough. First finishing my work, next getting wasted.