I walked away that day holding back the tears, arguing with myself that I’d made the wrong choice. However, Shawn’s actions, or lack of only confirmed that I was doing the right thing.
I had formed an infatuation with him, he seemed to always be there when I needed him to be. He was my knight in shining armour, and really… what girl doesn’t want that. It’s what we always dream of, from a young age. It’s ingrained in us that we are little princesses that need to be protected by our princes. But what happens when the princes don’t exist? Or when the princes turn out to be the evil ogre.
But what happens when you fall for the knight instead because your prince is a monster?
Shawn had done what I had asked for. He had stayed away; it had been two whole weeks and I was still okay. I hadn’t broken down or fallen back into myself. Alex had been angry, upset, hurt… but she understood where I was coming from. She didn’t agree at all, neither did Jasmine, but they respected my choice and just said to call whenever I wanted to.
There were times when I regretted my decision to stay away from Shawn and Alex, but I had convinced myself that this was the best option. If I stay away from the wolves I’m away from the rogues. The only problem with staying away from the wolves, meant that I had no information on the rogues. I didn’t know if more were in town or not. I hadn’t been back to the mall, just in case and I hadn’t smelt anything around town, but I was only human, so I’m not entirely sure how I smelt what I did at the mall anyway.
Tonight, was a first for me, I had been invited out with some from class and I had actually agreed to go. It was only for Pizza in town. I had been to Joe’s countless times before, so I was happy to drive myself there. Plus, it meant I could leave early if I wanted to.
I walked in, to see everyone else already there. They hollered and made a big thing of me actually having arrived. I think they were doubtful I would show up. I sat down in the seat saved for me and joined in easily with the conversation. It almost felt for a while that I could be back in high school, before everything changed. A nudge to my side, pulled me from my thoughts.
“Don’t look now… I said don’t look… but there is a super cute guy over there and he keeps checking you out. No, not yet… okay look now, to your right” I looked over my shoulder when told and smiled when I was caught looking by a familiar face.
“Girl, he is yummy.” Mia, the brunette beside me giggled and looked once more at my admirer and bumped shoulders playfully with me.
“He is yummy.” Her eyes go wide, and her jaw drops open.
“What? That’s all you’re going to say. You won’t go over there, introduce yourself?” I smirk and shake my head gently.
“No need to.” Mia’s eyes once more widen and she looks back and forth, seeing both me and my admirer smiling to each other.
“You already know him? Well, if you need to go, we won’t hold it against you.” I heard a few murmur’s from around the table and laughed at the guys. They were a good bunch, I hadn’t really realised how nice they were until I really started to make an effort, not long after Shawn had come back.
“Ignore them.” Deciding to go with the flow and gaining confidence from Mia I slowly push my chair back.
“I’ll be back, I’m just saying hello.” Once more a chorus of loud voices surround me, and strangely lighten the moment and make it a little easier to walk up to the table in the corner with only one occupier.
“I don’t think your friends wanted you to leave.” Ryan smiles at me and indicates to the spare chair, inviting me to sit down.
“I’m sure they’ll cope without me. How’ve you been Ryan?” I sit down and push my hair behind my ear.
“Same old same old. Waiting for you to come and see me.” I chuckle and lean back in my chair.
“Very cheesy.” I smirk in response.
“Well, I’ve tried everything else to get your number so my options are running low about now.” He says running a hand over his jaw.
“I don’t think you’ve actually just asked me for my number.” I hold out my hand and raise an eyebrow. He slowly catches on and unlocks his phone before placing it in my hand where I store my number.
“How’s the café? Tara still working there.” He nods and a small smile covers his lips.
“You two have history huh?” I simply raise my eyebrows once more. It feels good, I feel like the old me, like everything that happened, didn’t happen. It’s nice to spend time with people that don’t know everything about me. They don’t have that look of pity in their eye.
“Something like that. Highschool stuff. I was surprised to see her working actually.” He frowns a little.
“Something wrong with working at a café?” He asks a little defensively.
“No, no. I mean I was just shocked to see her actually working, anywhere.” He just shrugs.
“Sometimes people can surprise you. You should drop by sometime, talk to her.” Now it’s my turn to frown, I feel like there is more to that than what he is saying.
“Right, well I’m going to get back to my friends. It was good to see you Ryan.” I stand up and he holds out his hand for my phone like I did for his.
“You have my number. Use it.” He just laughs and throws his head back.
“And she’s back…” my group of friend’s shouts, thankfully Joe’s isn’t that busy tonight or else they may have been thrown out by now.
The rest of the week flowed quickly, Friday night was tonight, and I had plans. Something that Shawn had said, had been nagging at me for a while. He had said I should train with them, so that if anything was to happen then I could at least be a little more prepared. While I didn’t agree with training with them, the actual idea of training or learning some self defence was a good one. It couldn’t hurt to learn to protect myself, so I found a course that was happening nearby and signed up. I while I fully believed my theory that if I kept away from wolves the danger would stay away from me… there was always that little what if? And danger doesn’t always come from rogue wolves, it could come from anywhere.
I walked into the small room, where a group of fifteen women were gathered, waiting for the instructor to show up. I recognised one of the faces immediately. Tara.
The hour passed quickly, and my body ached at the end, but I felt like I had learnt something, it felt good knowing that I didn’t need a knight in shining armour to always protect me. I was protecting myself.
Tara left without saying anything to me, normally she can’t wait to have a dig about something. She really was full of surprises lately.
I got into my car and my phone beeped, I made sure to lock the door before I gave the phone my attention. Always be aware of your surroundings, that’s what the instructor had said. And to always lock the car door after getting in. I was learning already, after securing my belt I grabbed my phone from my bag. I frowned when I saw it was from an unknown number.
Unknown: Hey, how are you? Do you have plans for tomorrow afternoon? Ryan x
I smiled when I read it. I wanted to see him, but I still felt guilty. I hadn’t planned to see Ryan at Joe’s, I didn’t know how I was going to initiate seeing him, it had just happened. I still felt like I was using him to get over Shawn, I mean, it was exactly what I was doing; however, I did genuinely like seeing him. He made me smile. I didn’t get anything else, but I wasn’t expecting anything else. Not yet anyway, if anything more than friendship was going to happen, it was going to have to grow over time.
I saved his number into my phone and typed out my response.
Me: Hey, yeah I’m good Thanks. You? I do not have any plans. Amber x
His reply came quickly.
Ryan: Can I take you out? Picnic?
I sighed and leant my head back. It was what I wanted. My plan was working perfectly, I just felt like crap.
Me: Yes that would be nice thank you. Shall I meet you at the café?
Ryan: Cool, around 3pm?
Me: See you tomorrow.
Ryan: See you tomorrow x
I started my car and drove home, conflicted over my thoughts. This was what I needed to get my life on track. This is what I wanted. But now it was happening… it just felt… wrong.
I walked in the café, the bell above the door signalling my arrival. Tara was serving behind the counter; she was looking me up and down and frowned. I decided to just wait for her to finish with her customer or for Ryan to finish his shift, I couldn’t see him, so I assumed he was out back.
“Ryan’s almost finished. He’ll be out soon.” Tara called out to me when her customer had left, I smiled, nodded and walked over.
“Thanks. So how long have you been going to the self defence class?” I saw her tense slightly and then she stood up straighter.
“A while. How are you feeling? I was sore after my first one. I used to think cheer practice was hard work. They should teach that stuff in school.” She talks quietly, I notice a difference in her. There’s something, just different about her. I don’t get much time to think about it as Ryan emerges from the back room.
“Hey, Amber. Sorry I didn’t mean to keep you waiting.”
“She’s been here like two minutes.” Tara sighs and rolls her eyes.
“No worries. I literally just got here.” I study Tara for a few seconds while they go through some things for the café and he checks once more she’s okay with locking up. Ryan walks over to me with a large cooler in hand and his coat slung over his shoulder.
“Hey, I wasn’t sure if you would change your mind.” He smiles and we have a few seconds where we don’t say anything but just smile.
“Shall we go?” I ask and nod towards the door.
“Yeah… yes… yeah” he stutters out, causing me to laugh a little. He seems nervous.
We leave and head towards his car. I’m not sure which one it is so I just let him take the lead.
“Should it be your job to lock up? You seemed a little hesitant in Tara doing it. You won’t get into trouble, will you? For leaving early.” I question when we reach his car, I don’t know much about cars, but I know this red thing is what they would call a classic.
He opens the door for me first, then places the cooler in the trunk along with his jacket. Just as I’m getting in his car, I notice something, a shadow, a figure… I wasn’t quick enough to look. But I’m sure there was someone stood watching, I search around me again but don’t see anything and a gust of wind blows across my face; with it is a smell I will never forget. A smell that Shawn told me didn’t need to be afraid of.
But I am.