I must have walked five miles before I stumbled upon a hidden waterfall. Climbing up to the top, I sit down and dangle my legs over the edge as I grab a smoke. The sound of the water crashing down over the rocks helps force my thoughts to slow down, and when I finish my cigarette I crush the butt resisting the urge to see how far I can throw it. “Ugh!” Flopping down on the rock I run my hands down my face and scream. I can’t calm down as there are a billion thoughts fighting for a way out of my head.
My eyes shoot open and I’m met with darkness. Hearing the waterfall on my right I begin to calm down as I realize I must have fallen asleep. I’m not totally surprised, given the rhythmic sound of crashing water and the fact that I hadn’t slept all week. Sitting up I allow my eyes time to adjust to the darkness around me. It’s actually a clear night, so with the full moon and sky full of stars I don’t need the light from my phone. After I climb back down the waterfall I take a moment to find my bearings, unfortunately I have no idea where I am since I had been rage-blind getting here. The long way it is I guess, so I begin the trek by following the tramped down grass back to school, and from there the lengthy walk back home. I guess my phone had died sometime during my nap, because when I went to check the time I was only met with more blackness. After storming out of school around ten, sleeping till around eight, and two very long walks, I didn’t make it back to my house till five a.m. Nine hours of walking and I felt like I was about to collapse. Quietly sneaking into the house, I slip into my bedroom and silently shut the door before plugging in my phone and crawling under the covers.
Only an hour and a half later my alarm jolts me awake, and in an effort to shut it off I fall out of bed to the floor. Groaning in pain I stand on my shaky legs and head towards the shower. As hard as I tried to pull myself together, the dark circles under my eyes and the fact every step I take has me wincing in pain does not lie. I knew it was a long shot, but I still had to try and sneak out before my dad sees me. As quietly as I can, I rummage through the fridge before grabbing two energy drinks, a protein bar, and shoving them in my backpack. Lastly I grab an apple and rub it against my shirt before taking a large bite and heading towards the front door.
Someone clearing their throat causes me to stop in my tracks. Mom, Jake, really anyone but…
“Home. Immediately after school.”
Turning towards the voice I find my father sitting in his office chair, half turned towards the window, smoking a cigar. “Yes Sir.” The fact that he was so calm was not good, but also more than fair. “I get out at 2:30, Alex gets out at 2:45, I should be home before 3.”
“Sir, I know it won’t mean much… But, I’m sorry I screwed up again.”
“... Three o’clock.”
When I fuck up, I really fuck up, and this time I wasn’t even trying. Alex is already at the car waiting, leaned up against the driver’s side & finishing a smoke. As soon as he hears me walking towards the car, Alex climbs in silently. Following suit, I make myself comfortable for the ride to school. Letting out another yawn and rubbing my eyes for the hundredth time this morning, I grabbed one energy drink and offered the second to Alex (secretly hoping he’d turn it down).
Sliding the drink back in the bag, I begin to ponder how to break the ice and apologize to my best friend. “Alex, man, I’m sorry about yesterday.”
“I don’t want to hear that you’re sorry,” Alex’s voice spills out sharp and robotic, “I just want to know what the fuck happened and that your okay.”
“Okay… you deserve at least that much.”
Pulling into the parking lot, Alex turns in his seat to face me. “It’s time to become a model student. On time to every class, all homework completed, grades up and no more behavioral corrections. I know how I sound, but this is for the best.”
“Yes Mom.” I try to lighten the mode and send a small smile his way, he remains unamused. “I know this is serious, I know I disappeared yesterday and I’m sorry. Can we talk later, I think the bell is about to ring.”
Alex nods once before we both leave our freedom at the front door.
I can still see the look on his face as he watched mine turn to stone. A day later and my brain is pounding as I fight within myself. Downing another shot of my boy Jack Daniels, I cross my fingers that this would be the one to clear my mind. However, my bad luck continues so I finish off the bottle. I was at war with myself and the reasoning made no sense. I’ve never had a problem with being a lone wolf, pushing people away, and focusing on my ultimate goal. So what changed? I’ve known of this boy for a little over a week, spoken and seen him only a handful of times! Yet, the pain I felt when I shut him down couldn’t be ignored.
My mind and body are at war, and unfortunately that little bit of alcohol isn’t enough. I need to blow off some steam and get plastered, but I can’t fight and I am out of alcohol. Well, the bar it is. Leaving on my distressed jeans and combat boots, the only thing I change is my shirt. Grabbing one of my lace corsets that is too small, I figure it will be a discreet way of protecting my ribs. I also add some winged eyeliner and dark red lipstick before tucking my ID and cash into my bra and heading out.
With such a high tolerance I have no problem driving to the bar. Pulling into the Della Luna parking lot I see the bar/club is packed with a long line, but as I walk past the bouncer and towards the back of the line, he calls out to me and ushers me straight in. As I walk in, I stop and run my hand down his bicep, thanking him with a flirtatious smile and winking before heading straight to the bar for a round of shots.
Five shots in and I am finally feeling lighter, so when I hear the bass start pumping, I quickly pay for the shots with the twenty in my bra and head towards the dance floor. As the song begins to pick up my hips are rolling to the beat and I slowly run my hands up my body and through my hair. Lifting up my locks, I pile it on my head before letting it fall wildly over my face and shoulders. When I feel hands on my hip, I move my arms over my head and interlock my fingers behind the strangers head. Normally I’d knock someone out for even thinking they could touch me without my permission, but I was feeling warm and fuzzy… Not to mention horny as all hell.
As one song ends and another begins I slowly turn around to face the mystery man, never stopping my hips. The stranger moves his hands from my hips, up to the small of my waist and I look up towards his face.
“Well hello again beautiful.”
The deep voice and strong body belong to none other than Ryder, who continues to stare down into my eyes with a smirk on his face. Moving my hand up his thick arms and draping them loosely around his neck, I continue to focus on the music and the way he is trying to mimic my body’s movements. “Noah Ryder, what a surprise.”
“Oh yes, you look completely shocked”, his sarcasm making me smile. “You know I had to fight off a couple guys just to dance with you.”
“Is that so? Well, were any of them attractive? I always need a good dance partner.” Smirking at him I can feel his grip tighten slightly, and I try to hide my wince in pain. The music changes once again, but Ryder and I continue to move to the same rhythm. Through my peripheral vision I see there are many eyes on us, men and women alike.
“If I’m not mistaken, you already have a dance partner.”
“At the moment, yes. However, there are seven nights in a week.” I’m sure he has plenty of girls throwing themselves at his feet, and he doesn’t seem the type to get jealous. Possessive or teritorial on the other hand is a strong possibility…
“Like I said, you already have a dance partner. All you have to do is call.”
“And if I don’t want to?”
“If you didn’t want to keep dancing with me, how come we are on our third song?”
I smile at his response, he may be trying to hide his possessive streak, but I’ve cracked harder books then him. “Well I am tipsy, so I shouldn’t be held accountable for anything that happens tonight.”
“Is that so?” I see the smile he is trying to hide as the dirty thoughts cross his mind, I’d be disgusted if I hadn’t meant for it to come out that way.
“Yep,” I give a sharp nod with a serious face, before a smirk creeps back onto my face. “So I don’t want to hear about this tomorrow…”
Before he can respond, I grab his collar and forcefully pull him to my level before crashing my lips onto his. In the middle of the dance floor, we continued our makeout session. His hand in my hair, the other high up on my waist keeping us connected and my hands gripping his hair just enough to barely feel pain. It must have been five minutes before we broke apart for air, but I wasn’t done. Walking over to the bars I signal for two shots and down them in seconds. Next I walk back over to a stunned Ryder, still in the middle of the dance floor, and grab his wrist before heading out the door. Once we hit the summer night air, I pull him into the alley and back up against the brick wall. Finally realizing what I intended, he walks toward me until our chests are touching and cups the back of my head.
I have no idea how long we made out for, but we were definitely catching the attention of anyone walking into the club on our left and the employees coming out for breaks on our right. But I didn’t care, I was having fun and he was a good kisser. As things got more heated he lifted me up and I wrapped my legs around his waist, the cool bricks a contrast to the heat we were radiating. Stopping once again for a breath, I slide down his hard body till my feet hit the floor.
“What do you say we get out of here?”
I can hear the lust dripping from his voice, just as I’m sure he can see it in my eyes. But as much as I’d like to get laid, it’s not a great time. “Yes, I do need to get out of here…”
“I meant together Athena, and you know that.”
The anger flickers across his eyes, but he can’t hide the lust that reigns supreme. I should feel bad for playing him like that, but I’m pretty sure I lost that ability a long time ago. “I do. I’ll see you around Ryder!” I walk towards my car, hips swaying to the music still blaring in the club. The whole time I’m waiting for Ryder to come after me. I’m sure it’s been awhile since he’s been left high and dry, and he didn’t look happy. But, surprisingly he doesn’t make the move. Glad I don’t have to deal with that while hammered, I also know this is not the end.
I was home by 2:55 that afternoon, and when I walked through the front door I was prepared for whatever my father decided to dish out. Maybe prepared isn’t the right word, I felt numb, just as I had since my last confrontation with Athena. How could a girl I just met, a girl I had barely spoken to, break my spirit like this? I feel like I am having an out of body experience, just watching as I weakly float along.
I needed a nap, but first I knew to check in with my father so he knew I had followed his order of coming straight home. The house is silent as I walk down the hall, and to be honest it’s freaking me out. We have a large house, always filled with family, friends and employees. Always coming in and out for meetings, training or assignments. When I make it to my father’s office, the door is cracked open, but I decide knocking anyway would show more respect.
“What?!” My father’s voice is rough and cold as he yells in response.
Pushing the door open, I step into the room. “Sir. I just wanted to let you know I am home.”
He glances at the clock before turning back to me and giving a sharp nod. “Good.” Running a hand down his face he lets out a sigh, “Take a seat Eric”.
Once I’m seated in front of my father’s desk, I straighten my back and make sure to look him in the eyes. I’m ready for whatever he says or does, I can’t feel anything at the moment anyway.
“Eric, I’ve been trying to figure out how to handle this all day. We have had this discussion so many times, and nothing seems to get through to you. The only thing I have left to try is treating you like the child you’ve been acting like.”
I wince at the insult, he’s right about how I’ve been acting but it still hurts to hear it outloud from my father.
“From now on you will be home immediately after school, when you get home you will be working side by side with me. When you are not with me and the family business, You will be with the tutor that I will be hiring to help you get your grades up. I will have the tech tracking your phone during school hours, to back up Alex’s watchful eye.
I understand you don’t feel you need college, but I don’t give a shit. Your mother wants you to have a plan you can fall back on, and although I know this is what you want, I respect and love your mother enough to back her up. So if this is the one thing she asks of you, I expect YOU to respect THAT. Nothing bad can come of furthering your education, and you obviously need more time to grow up before you can handle this business alone or even as my right hand man.
Now, I expect this to be the last time we have a conversation like this. Are we understood?”
Taking a deep breath I look down at my hands in my lap before making eye contact once again with my father. “However I need to regain your trust, I will do it. Whatever it takes, I am here and I am willing. I am sorry I have let you down so many times in the past, and most recently I am sorry I worried you, mom and Alex when I disappeared.”
I didn’t deserve a positive response from my father, and I wasn’t expecting it. I knew I had a while to go before I gained any trust or respect back from him.
“Go upstairs and get changed into something clean and professional. We leave for the bar in 10 minutes, you will be helping me in the office as I go over the books and make sure everything is balanced. We will also be checking inventory and looking over any resumes that have been dropped off.”
“Yes Sir,” I respond with a quick nod before I turn out the door and head up to my room. I am beyond tired, and all I want to do is sleep until I once again have to go to school. But if I had said that to my father mere seconds after his reprimand, it would show disrespect and a lack of commitment to our agreement. So instead I would suffer on less than two hours of sleep in a forty-eight hour period.
I grab an energy drink out of my personal fridge, downing half of it before stripping out of my shirt and heading towards my bathroom. After running a brush through my hair and splashing some water on my face, I go to grab some clean clothes. I decide on a slim pair of black jeans tucked into my black combat boots, and a dark gray dress shirt left loose with a black tie to finish it off. Finishing my drink, I grab another and head downstairs with five minutes to spare.
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