I stood outside Duffy’s bar, staring up at the bright neon sign in front of me. Audrey, Thomas, and Declan went to the bar 30 minutes before I left. I gave them some bullshit excuse about something with the cake in order to give myself the extra time to get my shit together. The entire car ride over my heart felt it was constricting. Everything about this situation was giving me anxiety. For those that do not have social anxiety, they will not understand but it feels like I am on a rollercoaster and all it does is keep going higher and higher, increasing the knot in the pit of my stomach.
The constricting skinny jeans and white V-neck exposing my breast made the situation worse. Why did I agree to this? Why couldn’t I have just stuck to my gut and insisted I was not going.
“Come on, you can do this,” I muttered the pep talk to myself, ignoring the looks I got from passersby. Taking a deep breath, I steeled myself for what was inside and entered the bar.
The bar was not at full capacity, but a majority of tables were filled. Clumps of people took place at various spots on the wall. My eyes fell on Audrey and Thomas huddled at a table in the back of the bar. He leaned into Audrey, his lips brushing against her ear as he whispered something to her. Audrey’s eyes lit up before mouthing something back to him as she playfully smacked his shoulder. Though the bar was relatively packed, Declan wasn’t in sight. He probably went to the bathroom, and why do you care so much?
“God, I need a drink.” I plowed my way through the throngs of people and eventually found my way to the bar. I took a seat at the only vacant barstool before turning towards the bartender. “Can I just get a Moscow Mule please?” The bartender gave me a smile before turning towards the bar.
Billy Joel blared through the speakers, doing little to block out the noise of the crowd. I kept my eyes focused on the grain of the bar in an attempt to keep the anxiety at bay. After a few seconds, the bartender pushed the drink in front, giving me a reassuring smile in the process. Even the fucking bartender knows I do not want to be here!
“Someone better call the cops because it’s got to be illegal to look that good.” A voice to my left spoke up, the confidence practically oozing from his voice. Glancing to my left, I saw an average height guy with glasses. They sat crooked on his face, allowing me to see the dark brown coloring in his eyes.
“Jack.” The man stuck his hand towards me to shake. The smile from his face fell as I turned away from him, taking my drink with me.
“Not interested. Have a nice night.” I spoke, my voice closed off. Bile began rising in my throat as I took a swig of my drink, hoping to push it down.
“Come on, don’t be like that. A girl like yourself doesn’t deserve to be here by herself.”
As I opened my mouth to speak, another voice spoke up, this time much deeper than the first one. “She’s not.” Turning around, I saw Declan’s large frame pushing his way through the crowd. My eyes widened as he continued making his way closer towards me. Declan winked at me before continuing. “Sorry I’m late, I had to say hello to the happy couple.”
” I’m sorry but who are you?”
“Declan.” He barked out, leaning towards me in the process. In one fluid motion, Declan reached forward and grabbed my hand. He then pulled me off the barstool, sat himself down, and then proceeded to pull me onto his lap.
“What are you doing?” I whispered, making sure the other guy couldn’t hear me.
“Just go along with-it Mags,” Declan responded, briefly kissing the side of my head before turning back towards the man. “I think it’s about time you left. I’m sure there’s some other girl here that will fall for your bullshit.”
The guy’s eyes narrowed as he stood up from his stool. When he stepped towards us, Declan’s arm went around my waist, tightening as he brought me closer towards him. After a few seconds, the man walked further into the bar.
Once he was a safe distance away, Declan released his hold on me and sat me down in the now-vacated seat.
“Thanks for- whatever the hell that was.” I gestured my hand through the air before focusing my eyes back on the bar.
“It’s nothing. You are already having a shitty time. Some asshole doesn’t need to make it worse.” Declan angled his body away from mine to face the window. “How long do you think you’re going to last before you try making an escape.”
I could not stop the chuckle from escaping my lips as I raised my drink to my mouth. “I’d place your bets on less than an hour from now. Audrey and Thomas are probably so involved with each other that they haven’t noticed I’m even here.”
Declan laughed but stopped shortly afterwords. His attention seemed focused on something out the window. Whatever it was, had his undivided attention. His gaze remained un wavered even as some drunk college student bumped into him, spilling nearly half his drink into his lap.
“You ok?” I asked, standing up from my seat to stand next to Declan. His eyes flittered to mine briefly before returning towards the windows.
“Margaret, I need you to back away from the windows- “
“What the hell are you talking about? Why would I need to get away from the windows?!”
“Margaret GET DOWN!” I didn’t have the chance to say anything as Declan launched out of his chair, tackling me to the ground. Before the two of us hit the ground, three gunshots rang through the air. The front window shattered as all the bar-goers scattered.
I hit the ground, my face slamming into the hardwood flooring. I heard a crack as Declan’s body nearly covered mine. His weight vanished from on top of me and disappeared into the massive crowd.
Groaning, I sat upright on the ground. My face began feeling wet the longer I sat up. What the hell? I looked down and saw that my shirt had become dotted with blood that I realized was dripping down my face.