Cross Roads

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Chapter Five: Scream

I am walking out of the one-person bathroom in McDonald’s, having changed out of my work uniform and into something more . . . appropriate, as Alvin deemed it, for clubbing. In reality I feel like I am taking my first steps into whore-dom, wearing too tight skinny jeans and a skimpy, loose, knit top. I had refused the heels that Alvin demanded, instead opting once more for my signature boots. The guy can complain all he wants, but I am not risking him abandoning me again, forcing me to hitch-hike home in heels.

Nope. Ain’t gonna happen.

“Someone just took a hop, skip and a dump in there,” I tell Alvin as he is standing in lobby, waiting for me to appear. The look he gives me is priceless, somewhere between mortified and embarrassed. His eyes grow bug-wide, his mouth falls open, and the color his skin takes, I’m pretty sure, is unnatural.

“Spencer, that’s disgusting,” he hisses, nervously glancing over to a couple sitting a few tables away. It is obvious that they have heard me. The boy is trying hard not to laugh, and the girl is trying to look disgusted even as she is laughing into her snack wrap.

“What?” I ask, slinging my backpack up onto my shoulder. “It’s true. It smells in there. I almost threw up.” I walk up to the counter and call, “Someone find the Febreze. The girl’s bathroom is pretty much fermenting in toxic fumes right now.”

Brandon, who is lingering near the counter, grins over to me. “I told you not to eat the Double Quarter Pounder, Spence,” he says. “You know the grease doesn’t agree with your stomach.”

I frown. “Hardy-har-har,” I grumble. “You’re hilarious, Brandon. I think I might die from laughing so hard,” I say.

He looks up from the paperwork he is currently trying to fill out, first raising an eyebrow at me, and then glaring at Alvin who is standing by the door with his expensive little Samsung Galaxy S-whatever in his hands. “Why is he here?” he asks quietly. “And what are you wearing? Spencer, is everything okay?”

I pout and fold my arms, covering up my very unimpressive tits to the best of my ability – I’m pretty sure all I manage to do is make myself actually have a cleavage. “I got into a little bit of trouble,” I admit, glancing back at Alvin to ensure he wasn’t listening or getting impatient. The last thing I need is for the pompous princess to get annoyed and start bossing me around in my place of employment. I am the one who does the bossing, thank you very much!

Brandon leans towards me. “Do you need money?”

I snort and wave a hand. “No, and it’s not like you have any to give me even if I did.”

He knows me too well to be insulted, merely holding my gaze and waiting for me to break.

I will NOT.

The seconds tick by in a tense silence. My eyebrow twitches. I chew my bottom lip. I play with the hem of my shirt.

Brandon remains calm and collected and does not move.

I huff and sigh and say, “I may have done something really stupid—”

“Which is your forte,” he interrupts, nodding for me to continue.

I glare. “Anyways, I did something stupid that might have involved a certain prick’s prized car—”

What!”

I reach out and cover his mouth with my hand, hissing for his silence as I make sure no one has heard. The only ones who are looking are the couple in the corner.

They appear very confused.

They can stay that way for all I care – teach them to mind their own business.

“I did something stupid and got caught, and now I’m being blackmailed. Happy?”

Brandon pulls away from my palm. “Are you telling me that you were the one who vandalized Adrian Knightly’s car?” he whispers harshly.

I shush him again, making a great show out of it. “Not so loud, you fool!”

“You’re calling me the fool? You’re the one who tried to break into one of the most secure houses in the city and failed!” he retorts, poking my shoulder.

“Don’t poke me!” I snap back, poking him in the eye.

Ow!” he cries, drawing away and holding onto his tearing socket. “Spencer!”

“Brandon!” I reply in the same tone. “See? I can do it too.”

“What?”

“Exactly.”

Diversionary tactics are a success. Not only have I gotten Brandon off the topic of why I have to hang out with Alvin, but I have also pissed him off which means not only will he not care for a little while, but that means he will also give me the crappier night shifts so he won’t have to deal with me . . .

Rethinking plan for distraction.

Must find way to salvage my chance at getting day-shifts.

. . . Failure is imminent.

“Spencer, it’s not going to work.”

Incorrect assumptions – remember what happens when you assume; someone always ends up the ass.

“I tried,” I grumble back.

“The next time you try to change the subject, try not to poke me in the eye.”

“That was a spur of the moment decision,” I say dismissively. “It seemed like a good idea when I was doing it,” I say quietly, drumming my fingers on the counter. I look up and around before finally glancing back at Alvin standing by the door with his phone out. He is busy texting and looking pissy-er by the minute. “My life sucks.”

“Yeah, it does,” Brandon agrees. “Where are the two of you going tonight?”

I shrug because, honestly, I don’t know. “Some stupid club. We’re meeting his friends there so he’ll probably go off with them and I’ll just walk around aimlessly. I don’t know. I’ve never been clubbing before. It’s not my scene.”

“Do . . . do you want me to meet you there?” he offers with a very heated, very deadly glare over to Alvin.

“No. You’ve got work tomorrow.” It wouldn’t be fair to ask him to keep me company when he has to be up at six for a ten hour shift. Besides, it’s my own fault for being in this mess. I have to deal with it.

Brandon isn’t deterred, bending his neck so that we are almost at the same eye level – being short sucks on so many levels, pun intended. “Which is why I am being serious, Spencer. If he ditches you or . . . or anything, call me, text me, and I’ll meet you there. Okay?”

I nod, pushing my hair back behind my ear. “And this is why I have officially adopted you as my big brother,” I tell him firmly.

He rolls his eyes but laughs. “Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m an awesome guy,” he teases. “Your kidnapper seems to be getting impatient.”

I turn to see Alvin staring intently over at us, drumming his fingers on an elbow. “I’ll be right over, Princess!” I call before rounding the counter and leeching myself to Brandon’s side, my arms over his shoulders and my ankles hooked by his hip. My boss teeters but manages to stay upright which I am perfectly grateful for. No way do I want to hit the hard tile with the Six-Foot Wonder crushing me beneath him. I’m pretty sure my life would end horrifically if that were to happen. “I w’ove you so much!” I gush with an intentionally loud kiss to his cheek. “See ya later!” I skip back to the door, laughing maniacally to myself.

Alvin appears to be unsettled by the sound. I make a note to do the crazed laugh as often as possible.

“Spencer, that’s not funny!” Brandon calls after me.

I give him a wave, laughing even more at the embarrassed redness coloring his cheeks and the pouting frown that I don’t think he knows is there.

“You’re not even in uniform! You shouldn’t be behind the counter!” he continues.

I roll my eyes and throw up my hands, enjoying the easy – and daily – banter between us. “Then fire me!” I retort, leading the way out of McDonald’s and across the parking lot. I know Brandon is grumbling back inside, thinking about just how much he wants to fire me, but knowing he can’t. He needs me too much to even consider firing me. Out of the thirty-six other employees at this McDonald’s I am the only one who actually shows up, on time, for my shifts.

Dependable, that I am.

Easy to work with . . . not so much.

Necessary, you betcha.

The drive to the club is long and boring. I don’t want to make conversation; Alvin doesn’t want to make conversation. The silence is awkward. I make an attempt at breaking it by turning on the radio, but the second the music filters through the speaker and my hand is slapped away.

“Don’t touch my radio,” Alvin says, returning us to silence.

I huff and slump in my seat, glaring out the car at the passing buildings. Stupid dudes and their stupid, over-protective, controlling-ness over their stupid cars. All I wanted was the radio. Was that too much to ask? Yes? GAH!!

When we arrive the place is already packed for nine-thirty at night. I think we’re going to have to park in the way back of the rear lot, but Alvin has a special parking spot at the front, directly beside a handicap zone. I think we’re going to have to wait in the uber long line just to get past the bouncer – I also wonder how Alvin plans on sneaking me, a twenty year old, inside – but he takes me straight through where the giant wrestler guy lets us in with barely a second glance.

The inside of this ritzy place is no better. It is crowded, packed full with skimpily dressed girls and perverted looking guys. This is definitely not a place that I would go out of my way to visit.

There is even a line for the bathroom!

Alvin spots his friends almost immediately, taking my wrist and dragging me through the club to get to them. Awkward introductions are made. I am given the stink-eye by every single one of the females. The dudes of this unfortunate group don’t even make it to my face, keeping their gazes centered on somewhere below my neck . . . it can’t be my boobs – unless it’s my surprising lack of – so I don’t know what else there is to be interested by. It makes me feel very uncomfortable, and I don’t do uncomfortable.

We haven’t even been here ten minutes and I already want to leave.

His friends have already taken a table, and we sit down. I am barely given enough room to seat my left butt-cheek, hanging over the side of the bench and trying not to glower at everything that moves.

The elite snobs carry on a conversation about snobbish things that I have little concern over, and they completely ignore me where I teeter. That is fine by me.

The group goes through rounds of fruity, expensive drinks. Once, and only once, does Alvin ask me if I want anything, to which I reply that I am underage and I have no need or interest in getting a fake ID. The look that I get is hilarious. I can just picture him mentally kicking his nuts for illegally sneaking me into the club.

For the rest of the night he begins to distance himself, first putting more space between us at the table, and then making constant trips up to the bar before, finally, he and his friends leave altogether. I watch, alone at last, as they crowd onto the dance floor, grinding and whatever else counts as dancing in this day and age.

I snort and get up, going to the bar.

“Do you guys have any soda?” I ask the bartender, having to yell over the blaring music.

He nods, tossing his towel over a shoulder. “We have Coke products.”

“Can I get a Sprite?”

A minute later and he is pushing a glass and a straw at me. I pay, and then go about shoving my way around the club. I walk aimlessly, just trying to entertain myself while also keeping Alvin in my sights. I do not wish to be stranded once again. Once is enough, and I refuse to let my guard down for a second time.

I drink my Sprite and walk.

And walk.

And walk, walk, walk.

I am glad that I had the foresight to wear my boots to this atrocious night out. My ankles would be killing me by now if I had listened to Alvin, the scummy bastard.

“Well if it isn’t Spencer Goode.”

I tense, my shoulders locking up at the grating voice. I bite my cheek and grind my teeth. Never did I think my night would turn out like this. Nope. It didn’t even cross my mind that I would run into the very reason for my life being ruined, the bane of my existence, the cheating bastard himself, Adrian Knightly.

Slowly I turn around, glowering up at the future head of Knightly Enterprises.

“Whoa!” he exclaims with a ridiculously smug smirk. “What’s with the nasty look?”

“Fancy meeting you here, Voldemort,” I snarl, sucking up a lungful of Sprite through my straw. It comes out loud and annoying and Adrian narrows his eyes at me, appearing very Asian – well, if we want to be geographically correct, Oriental would be the better choice.

“I never took you for the reading type, Spencer,” he retorts snidely.

I nod, giving that to him. “I never took you for the literate type.”

He pauses and just stares.

I wait for the put-down to finally dawn on him.

. . . Wait for it . . .

“Funny,” he hisses with a frown.

I am laughing,” I deadpan, sipping again at my Sprite.

“Would you stop doing that?” he cries, reaching out to take my glass from me. I jump back and the remainder of my drink ends up on his pants. “Damnit!”

I look down sadly and my fallen soda. And then I smirk. “And here I thought you were potty-trained.”

Adrian Knightly’s face takes on such an unhealthy shade of reddish-purple that I believe he is about to explode. “You are so childish, Spencer!”

I shrug, unconcerned. “At least I don’t cheat like a scummy bastard. What happened to the girl, anyways? I heard you broke things off with her, too.” I click my tongue and shake my head. “The way you go through women is unsettling. You go through them like I go through pads when I’m on my period.” I ignore my word-spew and just revel in Adrian’s expression. “Tell me, Mister Whore, have you picked up any new STDs recently?”

He lunges for me, and I know he is fully intent on strangling me.

I jump back and scream.

And in the process of my life-saving jump, I end up kneeing the young lad in the balls – my fantasy come to life. He screams and hunches over. He loses his balance as the pain becomes overwhelming, toppling forward and into me. We fall, me screaming because I am worried that by mere touch I will contract one of those awkward diseases that Adrian no doubt has.

I believe that he screams, too, just because I am.

Although . . . his second scream could be because I just so happen to hit him again in that oh so painful area.

Sucker.

“Get off of me you behemoth!” I groan, straining to push up his significantly larger frame as he crushes me to the floor.

My answer is a groan.

“Take it like a man!” I hiss this time as I attempt to push him up enough to worm my legs beneath me. If I can just do that then I have a chance of shoving him to the side. “Grow a pair you big baby!” I pause, thinking over my last statement. “Okay, maybe that was a little mean—”

Eff,” he moans, swearing into my shoulder.

I harden my resolve, and kick him solidly in the chest as I, at last, get him off of me. He rolls over, choking on his loss of oxygen. “Don’t you use that language around me!”

Damn you, Spencer.”

I stand up and push back into the crowd, surprised that none have noticed our squabble. I go towards the center of the dance floor, intent on finding Adrian still there. He isn’t, so I fan out and ignore the sinking feeling in my gut. The search goes on for a while, at least two minutes, before I admit defeat.

Once again I have been left behind.

I curse Adrian and Alvin in my head. Just the thought of screaming obscenities to their faces makes me feel better.

I return to the original booth, picking up my worn backpack where I’d hidden it, in the dark, beneath a seat. It matters little to me that I intrude on the booth’s newest occupants.

And then I leave.

Spencer!”

I am half a block away from the club when he comes after me. Why can’t the guy just leave me alone? It’s not as though we got along when he still dated my sister. In fact, any time we were within sighting distance of each other – it does not matter if it was feet or an entire parking lot – there was always an argument; always nasty remarks thrown at each other. I hated him and he hated me. The hatred was mutual, so it was okay.

But why is he chasing after me?

I spin and glare as threateningly as my five-foot-and-three-inches frame can manage. “Leave me alone, Adrian! Do you want me to kick you in the dick again? I so will!”

He does not appear at all fazed by the threat, marching straight up to me, fuming. “You really think I would ever let that happen twice?”

“You just did.”

His eyes grow wide. “Th-that doesn’t count,” he stutters.

I nod enthusiastically. “Yes it does. I knee’ed you twice. Once when you went to grab me, and then again when you fell on me!”

“That last one was an accident.”

I wave a dismissive hand. “Maybe so, but that was a happy accident. That was a well aimed accident, Adrian, and I regret nothing. Now, for the last time, leave me alone before I call the cops on you.”

“Oh yeah? And say what?”

I give him a look that actually has him looking wary and nervous. “That’s for me to know and you to find out when I take you to court.” I whirl back around, my flying hair catching Adrian in the mouth. I hope he chokes on it – and dies.

“Spencer, wait!”

I ignore him and keep walking. I search for my phone in the many pockets of my bag.

“Spencer!” He is suddenly in front of me, looking desperate and very un-Knightly like. “Please! Just give me a second.”

I sigh and come to a stop. “What?” I ask through clenched teeth.

“I just want to ask you one question, Spencer. Just one, and then I will leave you alone.”

I wait, but he does not say anything, still gazing at me earnestly. “What?” I cry, throwing my arms up.

“Anabelle,” he says to me, scratching the back of his head and looking nervous.

“Yes. Anabelle. She is my sister. The girl you dumped on live TV on your one year anniversary. Do I need to go on or do you know who Anabelle is now?”

He shakes his head. “No, no. That’s not what I meant. I . . . I just—”

“Spit it out already! I don’t have time for this.”

“How is she?”

I falter. Out of all the things he could have asked me about her, this never even crossed my mind. I never even considered Adrian coming up to me to talk, either, so this entire night has thrown me for a loop.

I need coffee for this.

Or maybe sleep.

Both wouldn’t be too bad.

“Why?” I question, searching for hidden motives, a reason for him to be asking after her. There has to be a reason; some dastardly plan for this. Maybe he wants to rub it in her face that she got dumped. Maybe he wants to make fun of her. Maybe he wants to harass her. I won’t stand for it if he does.

“I just . . . I . . . I want to know if she’s doing okay,” he says lamely, staring down at the sidewalk.

“As if you care,” I hiss, poking his chest. “You don’t have a right to be concerned about her. Not after what you did.”

“I know, okay! I know!” he cries. “What I did was so, so wrong. I wasn’t really thinking when I did it, okay? I wasn’t, and now that I am I realize that I never should have done it. I miss her, Spencer. And I want to know if she’s okay after everything. I don’t want her to be sad.”

The fact that he thinks she’s still pining after him – no matter how true it may be – three weeks later is enough to set my blood boiling. “Well, don’t you worry your pretty little head about my sister, Knightly. She’s doing perfectly fine. Better, actually, now that she’s no longer being polluted by the likes of you. She’s going on a date next week. She’s really looking forward to it. The guy actually treats her well, which is more than I can say for some people.” The lie is out of my mouth before I can consider the consequences. Foot, meet mouth. “And do you want to know what the best thing is? I actually like this guy, too.”

Adrian is stunned as he stares, open mouthed at me.

I smile, smugness making me forget completely about the impossibility of my lie. Not only do I have to convince my older sister to go on a date, but I also have to find a guy that I like and who will treat her right; who will go along with my pseudo plan.

“Really?” he wonders quietly.

“Yep,” I answer with a nod. “So stay away from her, Adrian. You won’t find me quite so amicable if you don’t.” I leave then, quite pleased with my ability to make the Knightly bastard flounder on the sidewalk. But now, the real hard work begins.

How do I find Anabelle a date by next week?

Match-dot-com?

Christian Mingle?

The local supermarket?

Perhaps a flyer in the local newspaper?

LOOKING FOR DATE FOR ADRIAN KNIGHTLY’S HUMILIATED EX-GIRLFRIEND. ALL THAT ARE INTERESTED PLEASE CONTACT MCDONALD’S FOR A SCREENING INTERVIEW.

Yeah, maybe not.

My phone buzzes and I am finally able to locate it on the outside pocket. I pull it out, seeing a familiar number on the screen. “What’s up?”

“Everything okay?” Brandon replies.

“Yep. Alvin ditched me again, and then I ran into his whale-poo of a brother.”

Brandon laughs. “Do you want me to pick you up?”

“Yes please.”

“Okay. Where are you?”

I give him the street, and then tell him that I will be waiting at the Dairy Queen there. He says he’ll be there in fifteen minutes, and then we hang up. I go into the restaurant, not surprised to find that it is empty. Lobby is closing in about five minutes, and I have just enough time to order a Banana Split – which I can tell pisses off the guys behind the counter. I grab two spoons as I leave, and then sit out on the curb, eating my whipped cream and thinking.

Just as Brandon’s beat-up old pickup pulls in the parking space I am currently occupying does it happen.

I get a wonderful, ingenious idea.

“You!” I exclaim the second that he climbs out of his truck.

He raises an eyebrow, but says nothing as he sits next to me on the curb. He takes the second spoon that I hold out and delves into my cold treat.

“Brandon, I have a proposition for you,” I say around a mouthful of strawberry syrup, ice cream and banana.

“Eww,” he tells me, shoving my face away. “What?”

“Okay, this might sound stupid, but hear me out before you go casting your judgments.”

He waves for me to continue, stealing the last of the whipped cream for himself.

You,” I start, pausing for dramatic effect, “are going on a date with my sister.”

When he starts choking I realize that maybe I should have waited until he didn’t have food in his mouth. Oops. My bad.

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