Chapter 1 – Stalker
“We really need you out there ladies.” Ben winks and closes the door behind him. Tina rolls her eyes, her smile wide as she stares at the closed door.
“You know you can ask him out right?” I let out a smirk as I tie my apron around my waist. “You act nonchalant around him but I know better.” I hear her let out a huff as I tie my dark brown hair up in a loose bun showing streaks of red.
“He doesn’t like me like that.” Tina shakes her head, longing evident in her eyes. “Let’s get out there before Ben starts cutting our pay.” She pushes me out the back room and into the bar floor. She takes her place behind the bar, taking orders and hands out mugs of beer.
I go around taking orders while keeping my eye out for Emma. I find her sitting on an older man’s lap, she flicks her auburn hair while flashing the man her biggest smile. Her hands are wrapped around the man’s neck giggling and hanging onto whatever the man says. “Hey Em, I can take over from here.” She gives me a sly smile and stands up pulling the man out of the bar and into the night.
I focus on taking orders and delivering the right order on the right table. The bar isn’t that big, a few tables lined up, the bar against the wall, a small stage in one corner and a few booths on one side. Ben snaps me out of my focus when he tells me I can take a break. “Cam you can take a break, I can cover for you.” I give him the tiniest nod and join Tina in the back room. I can hear my stomach growl as I search my bag for the sandwich I packed.
“You managed not to punch someone tonight, I congratulate you.” Tina’s smile wide as she lets loose her blonde wavy hair. She takes her place on the opposite side of me in our makeshift dining area. I roll my eyes at her as I take a bite of my sandwich. “It’s true!” She snatches the sandwich out of my hands and takes a large bite. “There are a few guys interested in you.” She winks at me before taking another bite out of my sandwich. “There is this one guy in a group that will not take his eyes off you. He had his eyes on you the whole night.”
“As long he keeps his hands to himself he can stare all he like.” I wink at her and finish off my sandwich. “Besides, I only have a few weeks left here. I just need to get through graduation then I’m gone.” Realization dawns on me, sadness looms and my heart breaks a little. I blink the threatening tears away and look at Tina, my best friend since I can remember. We’ve been inseparable since we were little, her and her family has supported me since my parents’ accident. “I will visit when I can.” My voice cracking.
Tina pulls me up with her and envelops me in a tight hug. “I know you have to do this for you. You have to promise to call me every day.” I can feel the sadness in her voice as her hug tightens. “Do you really have to go?”
She lets me go and looks me in the eyes. Her eyes pleading I don’t go. “This is a great opportunity for me, this is my dream job. Where else am I going to find an opportunity to apply architectural design?” She lets out a defeated sigh.
“I know. I just don’t want you to go.” She pulls me in for another hug when Ben pops in the room telling us to get back to work. She gives me a small smile before going back out.
I get back on the bar floor and do my usual routine, getting my focus back. Order. Bar. Table. Order. Kitchen. Table. “Can we get one more bucket of beer?” A man in one of the booths says as I pass by their table.
“Sure. Anything else?” I can feel someone’s eyes on me as I write the man’s order in my small notepad. I look up and my eyes connect with the man’s blue hypnotizing eyes and for a moment, my breath hitched and I almost lost my balance.
I shake my head as I walk away from the booth. Probably my imagination or Tina’s earlier teasing. I walk up to the bar and Tina gives me a worried look. “You okay?” I give her a nod. “You look like you’re about to faint. Should I call you a cab? Ben and I can manage the rest of the night.”
“I’m fine. Just got a little lightheaded for a bit but I’m fine now.” I give her a smile. She nods but still looks unconvinced. I give her the man’s orders and watch as she scurries off making them. I can feel eyes on me making me self-conscious about every move I make. I walk back to the man’s booth and set their order down, keeping my head down to avoid eye contact with him again.
The rest of my shift goes by in a blur, my mind focused on those swirling blue eyes. Who is he? What happened back there? Should I be worried? My knees literally gave out when our eyes connected, talk about literally falling for him. I shake my head. He’s nothing. He’s just another distraction. Stay focused. Ben snaps me out whatever trance I’m in when he claps my back. “Great job tonight Cam. See you tomorrow. Can you take out the trash when you leave?” He goes into his office like he does every time we close.
I make my way to the back room, taking my jacket and bag. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Tina’s eyebrows furrowed.
“I’m fine.” I give her a small smile. “Just tired that’s all.” I close the door behind me and make my way out back when I hear a growl. Goosebumps line my skin and my senses are alert, my breathing goes uneven as I search my bag for my pepper spray. “Who’s there?”
I grip my bag tighter as I look around, seeing nothing. “You all right Cam?” Ben pops his head out and I let out a startled breath. I close my eyes and take deep breaths trying to calm my nerves.
“I’m good Ben. I’m heading out.” I start walking to my car, hair at the back of my neck still standing, aware that someone is watching me. I start to open the door of my car when a figure steps out from behind a tree. His eyes capturing my attention, the same blue eyes I was focused on the past few hours. The eyes that had me in a trance. He steps in the light and I take a good look at him. His black hair to his captivating blue eyes down to his sculptured lips. His muscles taut at every step he takes towards me.
I seem to have broken the trance when I realized he was coming closer. I try looking for the pepper spray in my bag when he grabs my hands. His touch like electricity bringing my body alive. I look up to him, his eyes hold mine. For a brief moment, nothing mattered. Every worry fades away. “What are you?” His voice thick and full of curiosity. His voice reverberates in my body, goosebumps start lining my skin like it has many times tonight.
“Camille?” Tina and Ben come out of the bar wide eyed at me and the man in front of me. I snap out of my reverie and so does he. He lets go of my hands and start walking away. I wanted to call out for him to stay. I didn’t want him to go. It was the first time everything felt like the universe is in place. Tina stops me from going after him and starts shaking me. “You okay? Did he hurt you?”
I shake my head and the look I give my best friend, blank. I wanted to go after him. There is something pulling me towards him. I wanted to rip my best friend’s hand off me but common sense brought me back. “What happened?” I whisper before my knees give way. Ben and Tina hold me in the arms and bring me back inside the bar.
I close my eyes. Dreaming of him. His eyes. The feeling of his skin. His presence commanding but with me, it melts away.
Groaning, I sit up and find myself in my bedroom. My eyes come into focus and see Tina pacing, a worried expression on her face. She sits by my side when she sees me awake. “Oh my god! How do you feel? Are you okay? Did he hurt you?” Question after question after question. My brain catches up the present and a start pounding in my skull like it has been locked away all these years. I rub my head and let out another groan.
“What happened?” My voice hoarse, like I’ve swallowed sandpaper. I close my eyes wishing my head would stop pounding.
Tina hands me two tablets of medicine and a glass of water. “You fainted. In all the years we’ve known each other, you’ve never fainted.” She looks at me with disbelief. “What did he do to you?” Her eyebrows furrowed, stand up and start pacing again.
Debbie, Tina’s mom pushes through the door and hands me a bowl of soup. “Hi dearie, this will make you feel better.” She helps me sit up and sit beside me as she feeds me spoonful of soup.
“I can do it Debbie.” I croak. She shakes her head and looks at me like a concerned mother would.
“Camille dear, you don’t have to pretend with me. You know that.” She continues to feed me spoonful which I am grateful for. My heart swells at the thought of Debbie taking in the role of my mother. Her stern demeanor fades away when one of her children becomes sick. Her blonde hair with hints of grey tied up in a neat bun, she’s still wearing the apron I got her for mother’s day a few years back. “Kristina Jane Hall if you do not stop pacing, I will send you out of this room.”
“I’m just worried. Am I not allowed to be worried?” Tina looks at her mother pleadingly but Debbie looks at her that would get any child to eat their vegetables. Tina raises her hands and defeat and huffs while settling down on my brown recliner in one side of my bedroom. “Who is he? We should’ve taken her to a hospital.” Tina says with exasperation.
“She doesn’t need a hospital dear. I’m sure Camille’s just exhausted from work and as for that man.” Debbie pauses and looks at me with a serious expression. “If he ever comes near you again, Tom and Ben are armed with shotguns and will not hesitate to shoot him on the spot.” Her lips curl into a satisfied smile. I give her a small smile. Squashing any worry I have of him getting shot.
“You rest now dearie. Tom and I are heading out in a bit. Are you going to be okay?” Debbie kisses the top of my head and gives me a lingering hug. “Call me if you need anything.”
“Thank you.” I say back before she closes the door behind her.
“Okay. Spill.” Tina crosses her arms and looks at me with a I-know-you’re-hiding-something look.
“What?” My eyes wide.
“I know you. You’re hiding something. You almost fainted again when my mom mentioned shooting the man.” She raises an eyebrow at me as she sits beside me. “Who is he?”
I let out a defeated sigh. “I don’t know.” Tina looks at me unconvinced. “I honestly don’t know. We both know he was at the bar. We both know he was watching me the whole time.” The thought comforts me.
“Oh my god! You’re into him.” Tina smiles wide as she starts to get excited. “Did you get a name?” She starts squealing like a little girl, the only thing missing is jumping up and down the bed.
“No and I’m not sure I’m going to see him again.” Although it saddens me, it is for the best. If I could faint at the sight of him, who knows what would happen when I get to know him.
“Don’t say that. He’s hooked on you. I know that much.” She takes my hands and looks me in the eyes. “I don’t say it often but I do hope you find a man that’s worthy of you. On another note, why did you faint?” Concern once again covers her face. I can feel how worried she is about me.
“Tina, I am fine. I haven’t gotten enough rest and haven’t eaten enough the past few weeks because of school. You know how hectic and rough it can be when you’re graduating but that’s over now.” I smile at her. Hoping it was enough to convince her why I fainted.
“Okay.” A thin veil of tears cover her eyes. “I’m sorry if I get carried away at times. I worry about you Cam. You’re my like my sister and I am allowed to worry.” I wipe away the lone tear by her eye. Love overwhelming us both. I could not have asked for a better family who could’ve taken me in.
“Thank you Tina. Thank you and your family for everything you’ve done for me.” I pull her in for a hug. “You’re like a sister to me too Tina, Debbie and Tom like my real parents and I owe you guys everything. Everything I’ve accomplished, it’s because I have you and your family’s love.” Tears stinging my eyes.
Tina hugs me tighter. My upcoming move threatening us apart. “Promise me one thing when you go.”
“Take care of yourself or our efforts will go to waste.” She lets out a chuckle. “I love you Camille.”
“I love you too Tina.” I smile sincerely at her. “You’re saying good bye like it’s my last night here. I still have a few weeks to go, remember?” She joins me, laughing at how silly we must look with our faces tears streaked and our hair disheveled.
“I should probably go.” Tina begins to stand up and I pout at her. “Don’t give me that look. I would stay the night but Chowder is waiting for me at home, if I’d known I’ll be staying the night, I could’ve brought her with me.” I can already imagine the pouting pug waiting by the door, hoping her owner would come home soon. She gives me one last kiss on the forehead before she heads out.
I wake up the next morning with a pounding headache and a dry throat. I groggily make my way to the kitchen when someone pounds at my front door. I let out a sigh. Who could it be? It’s too early for Tina. Debbie and Tom have a key. I open the door and come face to face with the man whose eyes kept me up most of the night.
“What are you doing here?” My eyebrows furrowed, my eyes throwing daggers.
“I wanted to know if you’re alright.” His voice full of sincerity and his face overcome with concern.
“I’m fine. Anything else?” My voice cold. I don’t know why I’m being rude, it’s probably because he left me when I fainted.
Sadness evident in his eyes, he looks down. “I apologize for the way I acted last night.” Shame laced his voice. “If you would, I would like for you to come see our family doctor.”
“I’m fine.” I say again, in a softer tone.
He lets out a sigh. His eyes turn a shade darker. “It would be better if you would come with us.” He growls. His whole demeanor changed, from a caring stranger to a commanding one.
“No.” I simply replied and I slam the door in his face. I cannot do this at this time in the morning. I rub my temples and head for the kitchen. Making myself a cup of coffee and oatmeal when someone pounds at my door once again.
I open my front door and find him pacing. “What?” I cross my arms in front of me and look at him with the same demeanor he showed me earlier.
“I apologize for earlier. There’s just something about you. I cannot explain it but I can’t seem to stay away from you.” He says in one breath and my mouth gapes open. He lets out a chuckle at my expression. “What I mean in a non-offensive way is, can you please come with me to my place to figure out what’s happening between us?”
“No. I don’t even know your name-“
“Jonathan.” He cuts off.
“Okay Jonathan. I don’t know you. And I am not coming with you. My mother taught me not to go with strangers. Good day.” I say with a huff. I close the door once again and slide down to the floor.
“Phew.” I close my eyes, wishing he would go away.
“Miss Jones, I will keep coming back here until you face me. I apologize for my behavior. Can I please come in so we can talk?” Jonathan pleads through the door. Should I? Will I? I let out a sigh. I might as well get it over with.
“How did you know my name?” I ask through the door. Not trusting myself when come face to face with him and his captivating eyes.
“I asked Ben a few weeks back.” He was watching me for a few weeks now? Realization dawns on me, is a stalker? Will he kill me? A thousand ways he’d kill me runs through my mind. “I know how this look but I promise, I just want to get to know you.” He snaps me out of my rampant thoughts.
“What was your name again?” There was a pause before he answered.
“Jonathan. Jonathan Knight.”
“Okay. Bye.” I lock the door and head straight to my room. I’ll be damned before I open the door without stalking him first.