Elena Gilbert sighed in defeat as she sat down at her usual spot on the Metro Bus. As she set her purse on the vacant seat beside her, she glanced out the window, her reflection gawking back at her through the blurry glass. Elena frowned sadly. Her almond brown eyes overcrowded her face, looking like two massive chocolate Milk Duds, and she had a dull appearance to her tanned skin. Her chestnut hair fell in waves, extending to just below her ribcage, and she fiddled with the split ends as she settled into her seat. It had been a pretty overwhelming night, to put it passively. Too many sleazy men had attempted to feel her up, and it scared the crap out of her. However, doing what she did and wearing what she wore when she did it, that kind of behavior was to be expected with the job.
So, you had to do what you had to do.
Especially when there was money involved.
Despite that fact, she nearly had a panic attack, but Kol had come to her rescue, thank God.
Kol Mikaelson was the very man who had hired her immediately when she had first applied as a waitress, as well as the sole owner of The Rave, the local gentleman's club just on the edge of town. He was generous and had offered Elena a place to stay when she had first arrived in Richmond, but she politely declined. However, he had insisted that she wouldn't have to pay rent. Elena sighed in remembrance as she shook her head. He just didn't get it. It wasn't about the money.
Lately, Elena began to notice that Kol was showing more...frustration in his work. He easily got upset whenever she would tell him about some inappropriate customer, and he would come straight to her rescue. It was comforting at first, but now, it was beginning to occur every night.
Deep down, however, Elena knew that Kol wanted to be more than just friends. It would explain some of the things that he'd done for her, like tossing out some guy the other night who had seriously creeped her out. But that would've happened to anyone, and that singular gesture didn't automatically ensure that her suspicions are correct. Yet at times, when she would show up late to the club, Elena noticed that Kol would let it slip, whereas when one of the other girls were late, he would go ape-shit on them. The club was a busy place. Deep down, she knew why he'd given her some of these little 'free passes'. It wasn't like he had been trying to hide it. However, Elena didn't feel the same way about him. She wasn't interested in a relationship right now, let alone with her boss.
Elena glanced down at her coffee-colored leather watch. It was nearly eight. Caroline and Bonnie- also known as her two best friends since forever- would be over soon. After she had told them over the phone that she'd had encountered a rough night, they didn't hesitate to offer to come over despite her insistence that she would be fine alone. Elena had always been one of those types of people that preferred to be alone than with a group of people. Not that she don't enjoy the occasional company. She just preferred curling up with a good book and listening to indie music.
Elena glanced out the blurry window to see Kol rushing over to the bus, attempting to flag down the driver, his carmel-colored hair wire-like from the rain. Immediately, the bus slowed to a halt and the doors whisked open with a squeak as Kol climbed aboard.
"Thank you, sir," he nodded at the driver in gratitude and strode down the aisle.
Immediately, Elena slouched down in her seat, desperately hoping to appear invisible to Kol. As she placed her small hand in front of her face, she glanced out the window in hopes that he won't notice her.
"Kol?" Elena glanced up at him, feigning shock. He was completely drenched in water from head to toe. He wore got his usual leather jacket, covering up his work uniform, a navy blue tee with the club name printed onto it. Elena glanced down at his muddy feet, and suddenly, she wondered what mess the storm was causing outside.
"Well, this is fun," Kol grinned, and Elena looked back up at him. "May I sit?" he asked, gesturing to the vacant seat beside her, his hazel-green eyes glimmering.
Elena bit her lip hesitantly. This was going to go somewhere that she didn't want it to, but then she couldn't exactly refuse her boss, could she?
"Of course," Elena sat up and attempted a smile as she reached for her black leather Coach purse that Caroline had bought her for her birthday a few years back and placed it between herself and the window. It was literally the only expensive thing that she owned. It was very deceiving as people at the club and on the bus thought that she was some rich young woman living in the big city
How wrong they were.
Kol sat down in the seat beside her. "Well," he sighed as he got comfortable. "Headed home?"
"Yes," Elena deadpanned.
Where else would she be headed off to at nine o' clock at night?
"Do you always take this bus?" he frowned.
You've got to be kidding me, Elena thought with annoyance.
She realized right then that Kol had purposely got on this bus.
"Yep." she shrugged, trying to push the annoying thought out of her mind. "This is the first time that I've seen you on this bus," Elena murmured, subtly calling him out.
Kol sighed. "My car's at the shop. And my brother is late to pick me up," he shrugged.
"Oh," Elena glanced down at her tiny hands.
"Any plans tonight?"
"Caroline and Bonnie are coming over," she told him.
"Oh, I like that Bonnie girl." Kol smiled.
Elena nodded."Yeah, she's a great friend."
The rest of the bus ride was quiet, small talk filling the silence between Elena and Kol. Occasionally, he would ask Elena questions about herself, which she lightly brushed off. She wasn't one for talking about herself. She never had been. It was only when they were the last passengers left on the bus that real conversation emerged again. Elena had been studying the ways that the raindrops trickled down the window when Kol's voice echoed in her mind.
Sighing, she abandoned her current activity and turned to face him. "Yeah?"
"Can I ask you something?"
Suddenly too nervous to speak, Elena nodded.
"Would you like to have dinner with me Friday evening?" he offered.
As she digested Kol's words, Elena sighed inwardly. She didn't want to cross this line. Kol, however, seemed to be in disagreement as he'd decided to put her on the spot.
"Um, Kol, I-"
Elena had no time to react as Kol's lips swooped down to hers, silencing her.
What the hell? Was he kissing her? He was her boss! She had no idea what to do. Suddenly, she felt Kol's arms lace around her waist, pulling her to him, and she couldn't stand the close contact between the two of them. She needed to stop this. As Kol began to get aggressive with her mouth, Elena whimpered as she felt her stomach clench, and she needed to stop this.
"Elena, This is your stop,"
Elena instantly pulled away, scrambling for her purse and coat to avoid what she knew would be Kol's wounded eyes.
She was already up on her feet, ready to flee. However, Kol's wounded voice stopped her in her tracks. Elena turned around slowly to face him nervously.
"Please, forgive me," he begged as he shook his head in what Elena assumed was regret.
Elena's mouth opened and closed several times that she felt like her jaw was broken.
"I should go," It was all she could say. Without hurting him, at least. She had a million things that she could say to say to him, but she couldn't exactly say them. For one, he was her boss, and two, he'd completely give her the cold shoulder, and she didn't need that.
"Please, listen. I like you, Elena. I'm sure you already know that, but I just wanted to do that. I have for a long time," Kol's eyes filled with sincerity.
Guilt washed over Elena immediately. She needed to talk to Caroline and Bonnie. Surely they were at her house by now.
"I'll think about dinner," She told him. It was the only safe thing that she could say, the only thing that would make him content and allow her to leave.
"Goodnight, Elena," Kol breathed, moving aside for Elena to exit the aisle.
"Goodnight, Kol," she nodded at him, then walked off of the bus in a hurry. Once she was at the front, Elena muttered a "thank you" to Connor for saving her.
The second that her feet touched the ground, Elena once again felt overwhelmed with confusion. her boss had just kissed her. She hadn't been kissed in ages per her refusal to get involved with anyone, and she was a whirlwind of emotions thanks to Kol.
Deciding it best to shake them for the time being, Elena walked along the damp grass up to the stoop and dug out the key to her house. It was a small house, yet the perfect one for her. Oddly, in light of everything, the little townhouse actually felt like a home to her. Once she twisted it into the lock, Elena took a deep breath as she braced herself for Caroline and Bonnie. Slowly, Elena pushed open the door and stepped inside of the room.
"What the hell was that?" Caroline hissed as Elena closed the front door, startling her. Elena whipped around. Caroline and Bonnie were on the couch, watching Dancing With The Stars. Taylor Swift's "22" blasted from Caroline's iPod.
"What was what?" Elena stalled as she set her coat on top of the recliner.
Damn, her voice was high.
Caroline rolled her eyes. "I'm talking about your hot and heavy make-out sesh with Mr. Sex-On-Legs!" she scoffed. Her golden curls were gathered up into a bun, the makeup on her pale face faded.
"You saw that?" Elena sighed, her cheeks flaming in embarrassment at the thought of Caroline and Bonnie witnessing that specific interaction between Kol and her. What was that? Her boss had just kissed her, for God's sake. Her head was still spinning from overexertion.
"Yeah," Bonnie nodded from the couch apologetically.
"Of course, we saw it!" Caroline cried loudly, her blue eyes wide. "We're not blind, you know; plus, those city bus windows are too cheap to be tinted," she winked.
"Was that Kol?" Bonnie wondered, overwriting Caroline's comments.
"Yeah, it was. Can we please just drop it?" Elena pouted at Caroline in particular as she sank onto the sofa. In the moment, it had seemed like a good thing to talk about Kol with Caroline and Bonnie, but now that the moment had passed, it just sounded like a bad idea, what with the direction that Caroline had been taking things.
"No, we can't just 'drop it', Elena!" she exclaimed.
"Caroline!" Bonnie admonished as she shook her head, her dark green eyes wide with shock. Elena was secretly thankful for her steel guts against Caroline.
"It's okay, Bonnie. I just-I have a lot going on right now, and honestly, I wanted to talk about what happened with Kol, but now, I'm kind of wiped out," Elena admitted. Caroline's face visibly fell and Bonnie nodded in understanding.
"Get some rest. We'll get out of here." she smiled sympathetically at Elena, then turned to Caroline expectantly.
"What?" Caroline narrowed her eyes at Bonnie. "But we just got here!"
"Yeah, but Elena's tired." Bonnie replied.
"We'll see you later, Elena," Bonnie pulled Elena into a hug, and Caroline did the same once Bonnie pulled away.
"Yeah," Elena smiled as she held the door for them. "Thanks, and sorry for the lame night,"
"Oh, it's fine, Elena. Don't worry. Get some rest." Bonnie insisted as she slid on her navy trench coat.
"Oh, hey," Caroline said as she placed her hand against the door. "I'm throwing a party and I want you to come," she said as she stepped outside into the night.
"Oh, when?" Elena asked as she leaned against the door hinge.
"Friday night," Caroline smiled.
Friday night, Elena thought. What was Friday night?
Oh, Right. Kol's dinner offer.
Elena immediately lit up inside.
"Yeah, I think I can," she grinned.
It was the perfect excuse to give to Kol.
"Great!" Caroline giggled. "Later, Elena,"
Caroline and Bonnie waved as they walked outside and down the driveway to Bonnie's blue car.
Elena shut the door behind her as she walked back into her house.
She'd managed to dodge Kol's constant begging all week.
"So. Elena." Kol said as he sat on a bar-stool nearby. "Have you thought about dinner?" He asked Elena as she carried a tray of drinks to a waiting table of loud and rowdy men. She hated this part; her clothes were too revealing, and she was freezing.
Beggars can't be choosers.
"Yes, Kol, I have. Unfortunately, Caroline's forcing me to go to some party that she's throwing," Elena gave him an apologetic smile. In reality, she did feel sorry that she was bailing on him.
But could you really bail on something that you didn't agree to?
"Oh," he sighed, and Elena felt his disappointment. She could feel his gaze burning a hole into her back. "Where's her party going to be?"
"I don't know. Probably at her house." Elena shrugged. Caroline Forbes of all people had a huge house, of course. She worked at In Style Magazine, and she was a major socialite.
And she's Caroline Forbes.
"She could have it here," Kol suggested.
This stopped Elena in her tracks.
She wasn't expecting this. If Caroline did end up throwing her party at the club tomorrow night, then Elena wouldn't hear the end of Caroline trying to set her and Kol up. And it was already hard lying to her boss. Well, somewhat lying, she reminded herself.
Most of it was true.
"Come on, Elena. I'll cover the expenses. It is my club," he grinned.
If there was a way out of this, Elena didn't see it.
And she would never forgive Caroline for it.
"I'll mention it to her," Elena sighed. Kol smiled.
She was so screwed.
Elena had just hung up the phone with Caroline.
And she loved the idea of having her party at a strip club.
As much as Elena had tried to persuade her otherwise, Caroline was stuck on the idea as if she'd super-glued herself to it.
Come Friday night, Elena was waiting tables at Caroline's party. One of the other waitresses called in sick and Kol asked her to take over for her. So, she was spending her best friend's party working on the clock.
As Elena weaved herself through the crowd as she deliver drinks, she watched the club fill up with Caroline's guests. Due to her high social status, the place was crawling with all kinds of important people.
Elena turned around at the sound of her name, and suddenly, she was swallowed in Caroline's grasp as she squeezed her tightly. Too tightly, Elena thought, as she was beginning to go numb in the feet. Caroline's sparkly dress was just shy of inappropriate.
But who the hell was she to judge? She was the one working at a strip club for Heaven's sake.
"Hey," Elena smiled as Bonnie came up to them.
"This place looks amazing!" Bonnie said in awe as she glanced around in every and all directions of the club. Kol and the rest of the staff had decorated with the help of Hayley, Caroline's party planner. Elena nodded in agreement with Bonnie. It wasa great venue for a party, and as long as Caroline was happy, that was the important thing.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Kol's voice rang loud over the room, and the sound of conversation slowly faded. Elena looked up. Kol was standing on the stage, making an announcement.
"First, we'd like to thank Caroline Forbes here for choosing The Rave as the venue for this event!"
A rupture of applause sounds and even a few whistles as Caroline giggled. Elena turned to see her blushing from head to toe.
"Second," Kol resumed once the cheers showed sign of dying down. "We'd also like to congratulate Miss Forbes on her promotion at In Style Magazine!"
Elena whipped around again. Caroline was promoted? Why hadn't she said anything? Everyone in the room immediately grouped in on her, congratulating her. Immediately, Elena rushed over to her.
"Oh, my god!" she squealed when she grabbed Caroline's attention. "Congratulations, Care! Why didn't you say anything?" she asked as she pulled her friend in for a hug.
Caroline giggled. "Thanks, Elena! I just wanted it to be a surprise," she explained.
"Well, you've succeeded," Elena grinned. "I'm so proud of you!"
"Me too," Bonnie came up beside them, and soon, Bonnie was wrapped in Caroline's arms as well. Once she pulled away, Caroline looked at Elena and Bonnie, a mischievous gleam in her light eyes.
"So, what do you say we get this party started?"
"Its really loud!" Elena shouted to Bonnie over the upbeat dance music. Bonnie frowned in confusion as she regarded her.
"It's really loud!" Elena repeated, louder this time. The music was beginning to give her a headache, or maybe it was the Martini that Caroline had smuggled for her, being that she not yet of legal drinking age until just a few days. Bonnie shrugged, waving her hand dismissively at Elena as she continued to dance with a group of strangers. Elena threw her hands in the air in exasperation. She gave up. Deciding that she needed to use the restroom, Elena weaved her way through the crowd of guests, stumbling slightly with the added effects of the Martini and the stiletto heels strapped to her feet. However, she was forced to turn around when someone grabbed her arm.
"Where are you going?" Caroline slurred, her blue eyes hazing as she stumbled.
"I was just heading to-" Elena yelled. Caroline shook her head.
"Stay with me, Elena," she pleaded.
"You're not really going to deny the guest of honor, are you?" Caroline arched an eyebrow at her, and Elena sighed in defeat as she was dragged across the dance floor.
After about another minute of stumbling to Lady Gaga's "Just Dance", Elena decided to walk a drunken Caroline over to Bonnie while she went to use the restroom. This time, instead of yelling from a good distance away, Elena went to tap her on the shoulder.
"I'm going to the bathroom. Care's drunk," Elena told her, glancing over to Caroline, who was now conversing with some strangers. Bonnie sighed.
"That's not a shocker," she smiled. "I'll watch her,"
Seeing that Caroline was in good hands, Elena nodded in gratitude and made her way to the bathroom.
The usual berry aroma teased Elena as she pushed the rickety bathroom door open. The electronica music still echoed inside of her head like a drum as she felt the side effects approaching rapidly. She was in and out of one of the stalls in less than two minutes and at the sink. Before she could catch a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror, Elena swiped her purse from the counter-top and whisked the bathroom door open, closing the door softly. However, she didn't know why as the pounding music was far too loud for the door's booming slam to be heard. As she made her way back to where she left Caroline, Elena suddenly stumbled forward and landed flat on her face.
Oh, god. Why did she have to be born with two left feet? Well, the slight alcohol influence surely wasn't helping, either. Elena carefully glanced up, and no one seemed to have noticed that she'd fallen. However, something seemed to be going on as she suddenly heard cheering and saw the crowd moving over toward the bar. Elena was just getting to her knees when someone's hands gripped her shoulders, helping her up.
"Whoa, there," A soft voice chuckled. "Are you alri-?"
Immediately, Elena froze in mid-air, her heart rate on overdrive.
She knew that voice like the back of her hand.
"Oh, my god," the familiar voice breathed. Suddenly, strong hands gripped Elena's chin, forcing her to look at them. And Elena felt all of the blood from her face drain as she looked up into familiar bright blue eyes.