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Chapter 4

Erik

"Everly??

"Everly what's wrong?

"Everly?

"No. No, no no...she muttered and was walking back and forth. Her breathing was too fast. Her hands were shaking.

I reach out and touch her face and tilted her face up to look at me. She jerked at first and pulled away, but I gently tilt her chin up with my finger. For her to focus on me.

"I can't breathe." She looked away as a few tears slipped away she chewed on her lip.

"I need to go. Now! She whimpered.

She ran off and I was dumbfounded by what just happened. I thought we were having fun and then bam she freaked out and she was gone. I caught up to her.

"Let's get you back. I'm sorry."

'Yes. I need to go back." Her breathing was still erratic. Her eyes shifting everywhere like she couldn't focus on one thing. Like when you have too many things going on at once in your head.

"Shit, are food. We need to get our food."

"Fück the food Everly I obviously totally bombed and you don't want to see me again."

"You said a bad word."

"Yeah, I did. Cause I feel like a fucking loser for putting myself out there and I failed."

"You did really well."

"Not well enough that you ran away from me, not to mention you look terrified every second you are with me."

"I panicked. It happens sometimes when I get stressed or unsure of things."

Why do I even care so much?

"I'm just as unsure and scared," I tell her hoping this will make her see we both are scared.

"Let's have lunch. I am sorry for that freakout."

She bit her bottom lip and she played with her right ear. She hummed as she moved from one foot to the other. I can see she's trying to calm herself down.

"Are you calmed down now?

"Yes!

"Ok. Can you watch where you are going I don't want you falling again."

"I'll be ok."

As we are walking back I noticed she walked over every crack in the sidewalk.

"Scared you will break your grandmother's back? I ask as I step in line with her, mimicking her footwork. Stepping over every part or crack in the sidewalk.

"What? She asked I see a slight smile reach her mouth.

"You walk over the cracks is that because you think something bad is going to happen?

"It just calms me...gives me something to focus on."

"Cool. So what scared you back there?

"Can I tell you a secret? She tucked her hair behind her ears, her eyes stayed on the pavement in front of her.

"Of course."

"You can't tell anyone." She stops walking.

"You have my word."

"I have never ever had a boyfriend or a real kiss."

Wow, I guess she was probably not experienced with a lot but I didn't think she'd never been kissed. She must have guys lined up.

"Really?

"Never...

"Wow."

"Has a guy ever asked you out?

"No. I don't usually talk to guys or really anyone."

"Do you have Friends?

"I have one friend her name is Hannah. She's the same age as me. I haven't seen her in a while. She's into guys and partying."

"And you aren't?

"That's right."

"There's nothing wrong with staying in."

"I like games, drawing, photography and horses and we'll now you."

"Wow, a make the cut? I felt like maybe she likes me.

"Just barely. I don't usually let anyone disrupt my routine." Her eyelashes fluttered and I get a glimpse of her blue eyes. I study her hoping she would look at me.

"Was it that bad? I ask as we are still walking along the sidewalk I noticed she stepped on a crack.

"No actually." She shrugged her shoulders.

"Good," I say as we grabbed our sandwiches and continued on walking we came to a Park and walked through until we came to a bench we took a seat.

"This is pretty." Her legs kick out in a meandering flutter.

"Everly look at me."

She turned and looked up at me briefly. Her eyes still not really on me. Does she think I'm ugly?

"I think you are very pretty." I watched as she takes in what I said and her cheek arose with a rosy colour. She was so cute. Her hair floated down off her shoulders and covered her beauty.

I tucked her hair back but she winced as of I hurt her. I put my hands up.

"It's the hat, isn't it? She sucked in her bottom lip.

God she has no idea how beautiful she is.

"No. It's the girl under the hat." I tell her and her eyes smiled her mouth smiled.

"You really think I am pretty? She turned redder and turned away from me.

"I do." How can I not, she just has this aura of pureness and beauty? I've never seen anything like it. She's what you dream about but never actually find that amongst the mosh pit of people that don't have much to offer. But Everly is genuinely stimulating. I want more. Like your favourite flavour of ice cream that gives you all the best feelings and when you get it you feel complete. okay maybe that's a weird analogy but she just makes me want more of her. Every sentence or quirk excites me. She reached out and touched my cheek.

She was so gentle like she has no mean spirit in her body. I wanted more but it was brief. I get it she doesn't know me she should have reservations about me.

"You're very pretty too. Your face is better than all the others I have seen. And I study faces a lot." She smoothes her hair then played with her rings on her fingers.

"You have a way with words," I said. Holy smokes she's seriously the sweetest.

"I'm not the best at them." She muttered picking at her chipped nail polish.

"I think you are." I leaned in and whispered...

"I think your face is prettier than all the other faces," I say still close to her ear she didn't move away or flinch.

I noticed her skin has goosebumps.

"That tickled." She smiled shyly.

"Did you like it?

"It was nice."

"What about this." I lean in and touch her face with my fingers very gently.

"Feels like butterflies dancing in my stomach." She played with her right ear.

"So you liked it?

"Yes." She says leaning in and whispering close to my ear, her lips touched my skin and holy fuck I was freaking sprung. I adjust my self as discreetly as I can. I ran my hand through her hair.

"How about that."

"Felt good."

She fidgets and looks at her Apple watch on her wrist.

"Shoot...I have to get back."

"Let's go we don't want Cinderella to be late to work."

"You think I'm Cinderella?

"No, Everly sounds much better." Her name was so different it just went with who she was.

"It's Everly Sophia."

"Beautiful. A beautiful name for a beautiful girl."

We are nearly back at the coffee shop that I own. Funny as I own it but I have never seen her before.

"How long have you worked at Sip?

"1 month."

"And how do you like it?

"Can I tell you the truth? She leaned in and whispered.

"Definitely."

She stayed on her tiptoes and damn I could smell the sweet smell of her shampoo. Focus man.

"I hate it." Her hand brushed down my arm like she didn't even realize she did it and continued on walking.

"Why? I ask curiously as I step up beside her staying with her small steps so I don't get ahead of her.

"People stare at me all the time and laugh and today Sally tripped me and I spilt someone's coffee and the cup broke." She turned away I can see her eyes welled up with tears.

"Did she do it on purpose? I hope not.

"I think so. She doesn't like me and she's always laughing at me and whispering about me."

"I'll have a talk with her."

"Why? She played with the hem of her shirt.

"Because if she is making one of my employees uncomfortable or harassing you she shouldn't be working there."

"You're the boss man? She asked.

"Yes," I replied.

"Wow. So you are smart."

"I do alright." I shrug my shoulders.

"Easy over the step," I say as we step up to the door. I hold the door open for her, she made it through unscathed.

"See I can walk without falling." She smiled brightly.

"Watch out!

Everly walked backwards and hadn't seen a lady behind her she knocked into a customer she dropped there plate on the floor. A loud clatter made all eyes draw towards the noise.

"I'm so sorry." She teared up as she picked up the broken pieces of shattered ceramic.

"Everly just leaves it. I'll get it."

"What a clutz." The woman said giving Everly a nasty glare.

"Easy does it. It was an accident. I will pay for whatever you want." I try and smooth this incident over. Poor Everly was not having a good day.

"Thank you handsome, but she should be paying not you." She fluttered her eyes at me and stuck out her chest.

"Here." Everly kindly pulled out a 20 from her pocket and handed it to the lady.

What fucking bitch.

"Everly you don't have to do that," I tell her.

"Thank you." The woman smirks and laughs like she won or like this was some joke.

Everly walked off through the shop and down the hallway.

Everly

I walked back to the back room and paced the floor. I suddenly noticed my flower was gone and my notebook was ripped apart and all the pencils were broken. Tears flowed down my face. This was my stuff and someone ruined it. This hurt me.

"Noooo!!! Who would do this?

"Hahaha...aww poor little Everly."

I turned and see Sally with the worst smile ever, it was like the Cheshire cat.

It made her ugly. Her personality stunk.

I walked past her not want confrontation. But she gripped my arm suddenly and dug her nails into my skin.

"Ouch, you're hurting me."

"All hurt you more if you don't leave Erik alone." She muttered.

"O-okay." I pull my arm out of her grip and walk out rubbing my arm with my hand. I wipe at my tears.

I quickly make my way over with the broom but it is already cleaned up.

Erik is behind the counter serving a customer. He asked me to make a mocha Frappuccino. I nodded and got to work on the drink.

"What's your name love? I ask the woman politely, the one I had knocked into.

"It's Wendy, Darling." She said in a less than pleasant tone.

I write on her cup with a black sharpie her name, Wendy Darling. When I am finished make her drink then passed it to her.

Her eyes scan the cup she read what I wrote on her cup and wasn't happy about it. I thought it was funny.

"You said Wendy Darling, didn't you?

"Are you sassing me? She said in a less than enthusiastic tone.

"No." I shook my head looking at the floor. There were 20 black tiles and five-diamond shape white tiles on the floor behind the serving counter.

"I'd watch this one Sir." She pointed at me with daggers.

"Oh, I am...isisn't she beautiful? He winked at me, sending my stomach into a mass of fluttering tingles.

"Ahhhh." She huffed out an irritated breath and walked off with her coffee drink in hand.

"Hahaha, she's mad," I said a bit too loud and a few customers chuckled.

He walked over to me and whispered.

"I thought it was funny." I felt like my legs got weak when he was so close.

"Why were you behind the counter?

I ask curiously.

"I told Sally to apologize to you." He spoke low his finger ran along with my pinky briefly.

"Oh."

"Did she? He asks.

"No." I shook my head.

"No...she ruined my stuff and I can't find the flower you gave me."

"What??

"She ruined the sketchbook and pencils you gave me. I loved them and she ruined them. Then she gripped my arm hard. She told me to leave you alone."

I show him my wrist that had nail marks embedded in my skin, you could actually see she drew blood.

"Shit, she did that to you? He looked appalled.

"Yes." I nod my head.

"Stay here. Watch the front end."

He walked off. I did as he said. I stayed in the front. I helped the customers. I got most orders right without any problems. One person drinks I got wrong making it a Grande instead of a Venti. But they weren't too upset.

Erik walked Sally out she stared at me with an evil look in her eyes.

"Oh no." I untie my apron and ran after them.

"What's going on? I asked.

"She's fired," Erik said.

"Oh no. That's bad."

"Yeah, it is. Thanks for ruining my life."

Sally yelled at me.

"I...I..I...diddodododododododon't m-mean..."

"Right? play the innocent card, poor studdering Everly." She says in a mocking tone. She rushed at me and pushed me over and pulled really hard on my hair. She grabbed my hat and ran off.

"No....No!!!! I got up and ran after her but my dumb feet failed me and I tumbled to the hard pavement skinning my knees.

"No no no no...

"Shit, Everly." He was right by my side.

"My hat. My hat. My hat. My hat."

"Go back inside I'll get your hat." He told me.

"I need my hat."

"Go inside." He told me again.

I nodded my head and walked back I couldn't help the tears. I wiped at them not want people to stare. I could tell people were watching me. I wish this day was over it's been the worst day. Well, minus Erik. But just bad.

I looked down at me ripped jeans. The knees had red bloodstains on them.

"I'm bleeding." I started freaking out.

Someone came up to the counter and asked if I was ok.

"Are you ok miss? A customer asked me.

"No. Very bad dad. I...I'm bleeding. My hat is gone and my stuff got ruined."

I rambled on.

"Do you need help? He offered.

"You're a stranger."

"A kind stranger, offering you a hand."

"Mmm." I think about it.

...no...I said.

"No?

"I don't know you. That makes you a stranger. Strangers are dangerous."

"That's silly." He said.

"No...

"Yes! He said.

"No, it isn't," I said back.

"Yes...it is." He repeats again.

"No."

"Jeeze are you 5? He rolled his eyes at me.

"NO!!! 22."

"Could have fooled me. You're such a tease."

"No." I shook my head.

"Yes, you are."

"No, I do not make fun of or attempt to provoke a person or animal in a playful way."

"Who the hell are you weirdo?

"Just leave me alone, I've had a very very bad day." I hold back my tears.

"Easy there champ. What seems to be the problem."

"Oh Erik, I mean Mr. Carrington it's a pleasure to see you again."

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