“Happy Birthday, Cara!” My parents shout as I enter the kitchen. I smile as I look around the decorated kitchen. Streamers line the walls, balloons with the number 18 are placed around the room. Every year on my birthday, Mom makes a huge breakfast for us. As soon as I see the plates of bacon, pancakes and fruit my stomach growls.
“Thank you so much!” I say as I give my Mom and Dad hugs. We all take a seat and start piling food on our plates. A few minutes go by in silence before Dad speaks first.
“You have everything situated with, Kira? You know your Mom and I will help you move into the dorms.” Dad says. He runs his hand through his graying black hair and his brown eyes shine with affection as he smiles at me. I smile back but shake my head.
“Thank you, but I think we can manage.” I say. Kira, my best friend since third grade, and I are attending the same college two hours away from our homes. We decided we would pack both of our old cars with our belongings and make one trip following each other to move into our dorms. We move next week and even though I love my parents and am very close to them, what eighteen year old doesn’t want more freedom?
“Well, you know if you change your mind we’ll drop anything to help our girl.” Mom says. Her light green eyes gloss over slightly and she tucks her blonde hair behind her ear. I take after my Mom in every way. From blonde hair and green eyes to having the same short curvy frame.
“Thank you. I love you both so much!” I say with a huge smile.
“So what do you have planned for tonight?” Dad ask.
“We’re going to Pale Moon to dance and I’ll probably stay with Kira.” I say. The small country bar is where everyone in this small town goes on their eighteenth birthday.
A shiver runs down my spine as his question reminds me of my yearly dream. Last year was my seventeenth birthday and Eli told me this was the year. He would finally come to me. Of course, I know he won’t. He’s just a figment of my imagination. Every year on my birthday, when I go to bed I know I’ll dream of him. It has been that way since I was fourteen. My fourteenth birthday was nothing more than seeing him in the background.
I walk through the crowd of people trying to find a familiar face. I don’t know where I am or why I’m in this crowd but I feel the need to get out. I really want to get out. People bump into me, not even sparing a glance at me. For what felt like hours I struggle through the mass of bodies. For some unknown reason I look to my right and there standing about twenty feet away is a tall pale man. Black hair and black eyes stand out against his fair coloring. Sharp bone structure frames his face and I feel drawn to the beautiful man. I fight my way through the people to get to him while he stands still, no one bumping into him. When I reach him I stop about one foot from him. Calmness washes over me as I look up into his dark eyes.
“Who are you?” I ask. He gives me a kind smile and the corners of his eyes crinkle softening his sharp features.
“My name is Eli. It’s nice to meet you, Cara.” He says. I feel my eyes widen when he mentions my name.
“How do you know me?”
“I know everything about you.” He smiles with his white teeth shining bright. I notice his two cuspids seem slightly longer than normal. Possibly even sharper. My attention shifts to the crowd around us as it starts to fade and become blurry. Confused I look to him. “You’re beginning to wake up. Happy birthday, Cara. I’ll see you again soon.” He says. As he finished his sentence he too begins to fade until he was gone and I woke up.
“Hello? Cara? Are you even listening to me?” My Mom snaps. I blink multiple times as I come back from my memory.
“Sorry, Mom. I guess I was day dreaming.” I say apologetic.
“I said, be careful tonight. You know we don’t like the idea of you going to a bar.” My parents have always been over protective of me. Being their only child meant I was always watched over constantly.
“We’ll be fine. You know you can trust me.” I say easily. They smile at me in return and we continue eating as we talk about my up coming move and about the classes I’ll be taking soon before we finish and begin putting away the dishes. I offer to wash them but my parents tell me they’ll handle it. I shrug and go back upstairs to my bedroom.
A few hours later I am sitting on my bed painting my toe nails a deep crimson color when my cell phone starts vibrating on my night stand. I reach over to grab the phone and see Kira’s name on the screen. As soon as I answer the phone, Kira’s voice comes through the speaker. “I’m so excited for tonight!” She squeals. I wince from her high pitch voice.
“Me too.” I laugh.
“Do you want to get ready together or just meet at the bar?” She ask. I glance at the time and see it’s already six thirty.
“I’ll just get ready and meet you and everyone else at the bar. I still need to grab something to eat anyways.” Jess, Chloe and Anna are meeting us at the bar tonight also. Kira and I meet all three of them our freshman year of high school when we had Spanish class together. We’ve been very close ever since.
“Okay see you soon!” She squeals again. I laugh as I hang up and walk to my closet. My closet consist mostly of old faded T-shirt’s and jeans. I’ve always dressed for comfort rather than style, something Kira, Jess, Chloe and Anna cannot stand. All four girls constantly go shopping whenever they can, dragging me along against my protest. However, tonight I’ll probably fit in with my stylish group. I pull out the short, tight, white dress the girls had gotten me for my birthday. They gave it to me a few days ago so I’d have it to wear tonight. I quickly pull it over my head and smooth it out over me. It has long sleeves and stops at my mid thigh. If they hadn’t of gave this to me, there is no doubt I would’ve shown up in the faded jeans and T-shirt tonight.
I go into my bathroom and begin to apply some eyeshadow and mascara. I’ve never worn much makeup, preferring to keep my face bare most of the time. Once that’s done I straighten my hair until it’s perfectly straight. When it’s like this it’s reaches almost to my waist.
Slipping on my white pumps that the girls also gave me, I make my way down stairs. I keep my footsteps as light as possible hoping my parents don’t see me in this dress. Even though I am covered up, there’s no way my dad would approve of a dress as form fitting as this one. I make it to the kitchen and quickly scour the cabinets for something fast to eat. After a few minutes of looking and not finding anything I settle on a few granola bars.
After eating, I grab my keys and purse off the counter and silently walk to the front door.
“Well don’t you look cute trying to sneak out. You know, you told us where you’re going, right? You don’t have to sneak out.” Mom’s voice says from behind me. She must have come out of the living room when I walked past.
“I didn’t know if you’d let me after you saw my dress.” I cringe. Mom’s eyes look over my dress and she shrugs.
“It looks great but, it’s a good thing your father has already left for the store or else you probably wouldn’t get to wear it.” She says with a small smile. I quickly hug and thank her as she shoos me away telling me to go and be careful. I promise to let her know when I get back to Kira’s later tonight. I jump into my car and make my way to the bar trying to.
“ID?” The man standing in the entry way of the bar ask. I hand him my ID and he looks at it and hands it back to me. He takes a marker out of his pocket and ask to see my hand. He draws an “X” on my hand and says I can go in now. I walk through the double doors behind him and music assaults my ears instantly. The loud country music could be hear from the parking lot however it is much louder now. I scan the crowd of people and notice my group of friends at a table across the bar. I dodge around people and finally make it to the table.
“Happy Birthday!” All the girls say at the same time. Jess throws herself at me and wraps her arms around me. Her red hair smothers my face but, thankfully she lets go quickly. Chloe and Anna give me hugs next and then Kira.
“I’m so excited! Just think, when we all go off to our colleges, we can do this every weekend!” Kira says, excitedly.
“So what? It’s not like we can get alcohol.” Anna complains.
“No but, it’s still fun to get dressed up and go out.” Kira says with an eye roll. We all laugh at Kira but our laughter quickly turns in squeals as one of our favorite songs begins to blare othrough the speakers. We run to the dance floor as people join the floor also. We dance until the song is over and continue to dance through four more songs. Once the fourth one is over I need to use the restroom.
“Hey, I’m going to the bathroom.” I yell to Kira over the music. Jess, Chloe and Anna all found guys to dance with so Kira and I were left to dance together.
“Want me to go with?” She yells.
“No, keep dancing. I’ll be right back.” I say. She smiles and nods and melts back into the crowd of people. I work my way to the bathroom and wait in line for what felt like an hour but was about ten minutes.
Exiting the bathroom, I walk up to the bar and ask for a water from the bartender. They nod and walk towards the opposite end of the bar towards to get my drink. As soon as the bartender walks away, an odd sensation takes over me. As if someone is watching me. I look to my left and right and see no one even paying attention to me. The feeling intensifys and I look behind me to the dance floor but, see no one looking at me. I sigh and bring my attention back to the bartender who is now walking back towards me. It’s when I look at him, so I see the pair of eyes I’ve felt on me. Over the shoulder of the bartender, I see a set of dark eyes partially covered by dark hair. The eyes are locked on my face, a pale hand moves the hair out of his eyes.
“Here you go.” The bartenders loud voice drags me away from staring at the dark eyes at the end of the bar.
“Thank you.” I say as I take my water. He nods and turns to help the person to my right. I lean over to my left to see the man with the dark eyes to see what the rest of his face looked like but, when I look, he’s gone. My eyes scan the area of the bar and I don’t see anyone who had hair as dark as his.
“Where have you been?” Kira’s voice yells from behind me. I turn around and see her worried face.
“I wanted some water. Sorry the line in the bathroom took forever.” I say with an apologetic smile. She shrugs and her worried frown quickly turns into a smirk as she leans closer to me and points to my right.
“I started dancing with this guy out there and he said his friend noticed you earlier tonight and wants to meet you.” She says. I follow to where she pointing and see two tall blonde men standing at a table close to the dance floor. Theyre definitely attractive but, I’m not interested. They’re facing us but thankfully are not looking and noticing Kira pointing straight at them.
“That’s okay. You go hangout with them if you want.” I say. Kira gives me her famous “Kira look” she uses to get what she wants from people. Her wide brown eyes stare at me and I feel myself giving in.
“Ugh fine.” I sigh and she grabs my hand and starts hailing me to the table the two men are at. They see us walking towards them and they both smile. The tallest one is staring at Kira and I take the time to really look at both men. The one staring at Kira is lean but has broad shoulders. He has a kind face and his smile brightens as Kira goes to stand beside him. The other man however sends a shiver of nervousness down my back as his blue eyes travel up and down the length of my body. I try to stand close to Kira but as his eyes travel up to meet mine and his smile turns creepy as he shifts to stand closure to me. He isn’t as tall as the other man but still about six foot if not a little over. He is much more broad than the other man though. Where the other one is lean muscled this one has huge muscles that strain the fabric of his shirt. I give him a small smile just to be polite but I’m pretty sure it came out as more of a grimace than anything.
“Cara, this is Toby,” she gestures to the man she is standing beside. “And this is Blake.” She nods her head towards the creep beside me. I nod to both men and silently try to figure out a way to get out of this. My thoughts are interrupted by Blake leaning close to me.
“You’re very beautiful.” He says loudly to be heard over the music.
“Thank you.” I say, still trying to be polite.
“I’ve been watching you dance.” He says. Okay, definitely a creep. I nod my head, unsure of what to even say back to that. Kira nudges my foot with hers and I glance at her. She gives me a small smile and I know she can tell I’m uncomfortable.
“Hey, I think I’m going to step out for some air. Wanna come with, Cara?” She says. Thankfully, she knows I want to get away from Blake and this is her doing that.
“Good idea. We can talk easier outside.” Blake says. Toby nods and wraps an arm around Kira’s waist as they start walking outside. She turns her head and mouths “I’m sorry”. I nod and begin walking. Blake tried to place his arm around my waist but I quicken my steps before he can. The four of us walk out onto one of the many patios that is set up around the back of the bar. No one else is out here, unfortunately so it’s just the four of us.
“Kira, you want to go over here and talk?” Toby nods towards the other end of the patio.
“Uh-“ She starts.
“Me and Cara are going to go down here.” Blake interrupts. He grabs my hand and starts pulling me down the other end of the patio. I try to pull my hand away but he doesn’t relent until we round a corner and reach the back of the patio. This area is darker and since were around a wall I can no longer see or hear Kira and Toby.
“Look, I don’t know who you think you are but you cannot just pull me-“ my sentence is cut off by Blake pressing me against the wall with his huge body. My hands instantly go to his chest and start pushing but to no avail. “What are you doing?” I ground out between clenched teeth. He presses his face to the juncture where my neck and shoulder meet. He takes a deep inhale as if smelling me.
“You smell so good. You’ve been teasing me all night haven’t you?” He says with a dark laugh. My blood turns cold and I frantically start trying to push him off me.
“Get off!” I yell. His hand slaps over my mouth and pushes so hard that I accidentally bite my own lip. The metallic flavor hits my tongue and my anxiety goes even higher. I try to kick his shin but he presses even closer to me to where I cannot move. I begin to scratch with my nails his his bare arms. I dig my nails into his arm and drag them all over.
“You bitch!” He snarls. He leans back and his eyes bore into mine. “You’re going to regret that.” He says as he rears his fist back. It registers that he’s about to hit me. I close my eyes waiting for the contact when suddenly I feel his heavy weight disappear. I hear a loud thud and open my eyes. Blake is pinned to the ground by another man. This one too looks like he is tall, with a lean muscular body. All I can see is his back and his black hair. He reads his arm back and begins punching Blake repeatedly. Blake fights back at first but after a couple of punches from the stranger, Blake turns limp in his grasp, his head lulled back and arms splayed out at his sides.
“Stop! You’re going to kill him!” I say. I shouldn’t care what happens to Blake after what he just did but, I cannot see someone murder another. At my words the stranger lets go of Blake and stands. His back is still to me as he stands there breathing rapidly, his shoulders moving up and down. The moon cast a dim light on the man and as he turns around all the air leaves my lungs. There, standing a few feet from me is a man who looks just like the one I’ve dreamt about every year on this day. The only man I’ve ever truly wanted. The man who’s made it impossible for me to want anyone else. Logically, it makes no sense. The man from my dreams is just someone my imagination conjured up. However, as I look into the dark eyes that are locked into my face, I know it’s him. Eli.