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Chapter 5

Everly

"Why are you bugging my employee?

"I wasn't bugging she was acting weird." The guy said.

"You are a meanie," I said really loud. I covered my mouth.

"See. Crazy." He chuckled pointing at me.

"Dude leave."

"Sir. You can't be serious? He scoffed.

"Why should I have to leave? He crossed his arms staring at me coldly.

"You're being mean and hurtful. I will not stand for it." He said cautiously as he looks at me with kindness making sure I am okay.

"I have a right to come here and to speak my mind." He barked back, he waved his hands around trying to make his point. And he thinks I'm the crazy one?

"Have you ever heard of compassion? Erik asked.

"Compassion; sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others." I let the man know.

"That's right." Erik agreed with me sending me a smile.

"Are you crazy woman?

"OUT!!! NOW! Erik's voice raised up a few octaves people we're staring. He was angry and his face turned red.

"Whatever! Maybe lose the mentally challenged girl if you don't want your shop to go down." The customer said loudly so, everyone heard.

Erik grabbed the guy by the scruff of his shirt and dragged him out.

This was better than an action movie. So much adrenaline.

"This is so cool, Ahhh!!! I clapped my hands excitingly. People were staring again. I don't know why but it excited me to see Erik drag that guy out.

"S-sorry! I squeaked awkwardly towards the customers.

I wiped down the counter. I heard the tiny bell and looked up I saw Erik is back. I smiled a goofy smile.

"You came back. That was so cool. You were like a superhero ninja."

"Hahaha not quite. But I was getting rid of the trash."

"That guy was trash. I giggled.

"Yes, he was." Erik pulled his hands out from behind his back and I saw my hat.

"M-my hat." I stuttered.

"It's a little dirty I found it in the alley."

"But you found my hat." I quickly walked over and took it and placed it on my head. Much better."

"Don't you want to clean it?

"I'll clean it later. It's like my security blanket when I wear it I feel safe when I am without it I feel unsafe."

"Why don't you go home for the day you've had a hell of a day." He offered sweetly.

"But my brother isn't here until 3."

"Well, then a break. Your knees look a little rough."

"Right. I should clean it up. I am a messy girl."

"A beautiful messy girl." His eyes sparkled.

"Would you help me? I asked shyly.

"Okay."

The place was pretty quiet. We walked back to the bathroom. I closed the door after he stepped in.

"Are you comfortable with me here?

"Well yes and no." I tucked my hair behind my ears.

"Yes, being? He asked.

"Yes, being I need your help."

"And no?

"Cause you are a man in close proximity to me. When a female and male are together things can happen."

"Does that scare you?

"Yes," I said looking away.

Why?

"Cause I don't do well with new situations and because you make me feel things." I bite my lip feeling my cheeks arise with heat.

"What kind of things?

"Like butterflies in my stomach. And tingles in my body." I try and explain it.

"That's a good thing, no? He leaned against the wall with a curious expression on his face.

"No. No-no-no."

"Why not?

"Cause I've never felt this what if something is wrong with me."

"Everly. There is nothing wrong with you."

"Well everyone says there is."

"Well, not that I see."

"Blood...

My thoughts go to my knees.

"Ok. Why don't you go into the stall and take your pants off I'll pass you some paper towel and you clean your knees?

"Mmm, okay. That's best, huh?

"I think so."

"Okay. No peaking." I shake my finger at him.

"Hahaha, I wouldn't dream of it."

I stepped in and closed the door behind myself and locked it.

"Do you like me, like more then I stranger?

"Yes." He responded with certainty.

"Do you like my face?

"Very much. You have a beautiful face."

I blushed hearing him say I have a beautiful face.

"What about my body?

"Are you really wanting to know?

"Yes. I asked so yes."

"I think your body is phenomenal."

"Wow, that good, huh? I'm surprised by this.

"Mmmm, yes." His voice sounded husky and deep as he answered.

"What's your favourite part?

"Of your body? He asked.

"Yeah!

"Does this make you uncomfortable."

"A little. But I want to know."

"Okay. Your lips."

"What?

"Your mouth. Your lips. I think they are exquisite."

"Don't guy like butts and boobs." I giggled.

"Those too but your lips are what caught my eyes that and your eyes, hell your whole face."

"My momma says eyes are like looking into someone's soul."

"You have a smart momma."

"Yes. She's very smart. So is my dad."

"Sounds like it. And you are very smart."

"Not so smart but I know a lot but it comes out differently."

"We are all different."

"But I am very different. Society calls me a misfit or a statistic of a scientific algorithm with flaws and who is delayed in speech, language and social interaction."

"Well, I call you beautifully unique."

"That sounds better."

"Ok, here's the paper towel."

"I'll put it under the door."

I grabbed it. I slipped my pants down and hissed as I pulled the jeans down it was pulling on the bloody skin underneath.

"Aaahhh...sss... I hissed.

"You alright?

"It hurts," I whined.

"It's pulling off my skin. I can't do it."

"Do you need help? He offered.

"Yes. But no peeking." I unlocked the door and covered my privates.

"I'll be as gentle as I can." He knelt down and gently pulled the jeans down it pulled on the dried blood but then they came off.

"You did it...

"Let's get you cleaned up." He gently cleaned my knees. He left me to go find bandaids. I told him where the medical bag was. He came back and patched me up.

"Alright all patched up.

I puller my pants back up.

"Thank you thank you thank you." I jumped into his arms not realizing what I was doing and hugged him. I never hug people. Usually only my family no one else.

"Mmmm....you are welcome." His arms wrapped around my body.

"This is nice," I said

"What is?

"Hugging you. I don't hug many people but with you I like it."

"I like it too." His breath felt warm by my ear and ran over my neck. Goosebumps formed on my skin.

"Ok let me down." I looked down at my pants with red stains and holes. "Guess I need new pants."

"Yeah."

"They were my favourite jeans. I don't like wearing anything else."

"What about dresses?

"No." I shook my head.

"What about a skirt?

"No." I shook my head again.

"So just jeans? He smirked

"Yes. I'll just wash these then they will be like brand new."

"Or you could try something new?

"No." I shook my head.

"Why? He asked curiously.

"New things are scary. I like to feel comfortable and my jeans make me comfortable." I said matter of factly.

||• ~~~~~~~~ •||

My brother arrived right at 3 pm. He walked over to me.

"Hey, sis."

"Hey," I said in response.

"What happened to your hat and jeans?

He gives me a once over with a worrisome manner. "Did you get into a brawl?

"Yes."

"What did you do? He gave me that questioning tone of his, waiting for me to explain.

"It wasn't her." I heard Erik walk up behind me.

"What happened?

"Sally the girl that worked here went at Everly."

"Why? Luke asked.

"She said things and she ruined my stuff then she pushed me and pulled my hair and stole my hat."

"Jeeze. Are you okay? He checked me over again.

"I hurt my knees and I felt stupid, and sad because she ruined the things Erik bought me."

"Awe. You are ok?

"Better now. Erik Patched up my knees."

"You were okay with that?

"Yes. He's nice."

"Nice isn't always good."

"Why? I asked.

"Some people can put up a front; a disguise."

"Why? I asked.

"To pretend to be someone else."

"Like a mask?

"Exactly. Just be careful." He said genuinely.

"Erik? She's special so please don't hurt her."

"Not my intention. I'll see you tomorrow Everly." Erik brushed his hand up my arm. I felt the heat and tingles again I was starting to like this feeling. Which was really different for me. Cause I usually hate physical contact. But Erik he's different.

"Okay...9 am right? I looked at Erik briefly.

"Yes." He smiled with a wink that made my body tingle again.

"See you, man." My brother waved.

"See yah. Bye Sunshine." He waved at me.

"Bye Erik." I waved and walked towards the door and looked back. I don't know

why but I wanted to hug him. I rushed back and wrapped my arms around him.

"Thank you for helping me today." I looked up and his mouth curled up into a beautiful smile.

"I wish none of it happened. But I am glad I was there."

"Me too. Bye." I let go and walked away I carefully stepped over the ledge of the door. I cleared it without fail.

I get into the car.

"So you are really okay? My brother asked with concern.

"Yes! He's very sweet. He had a carriage ride for us." I beamed brightly remembering how sweet he had been. Even after I had my freak out.

"What? My brother shook his head like he couldn't believe it.

"Yeah. And he made peanut butter sandwiches just the way I like it. And he bought me new pencils and a sketchbook but Sally ruined them."

I rubbed my hands together excitedly talking rapidly.

"Wow. He really went all out."

"Yeah." I smiled as I looked out the window.

"Does he make you happy? Like would you want him to be more then just friends? My brother asked.

"You mean like a boyfriend? I giggle.

"Yeah."

"I don't think he would want that. And I've never one and he's been with a lot of ladies." I play with my hair.

"He told you this?

"Yes."

"What if I mess things up? I said nervously.

"We all mess things up."

"Not like me." I shook my head.

"We do." He said as he pulled out into the street. "So I'm going to have drinks with him tonight. Are you ok with that?

"Why are you having drinks with him?

I questioned him. Nervous he'll tell him who I really am.

"To make sure he's a good trustworthy guy."

"You don't trust him? I picked at my nail polish nervously.

"I don't know him well enough but if he plans to ask you out I want to make sure it's for the right reasons."

"Don't embarrass me."

"I won't." He patted my hand.

"And do not tell him I have Asperger's."

"I won't. But at some point, you should."

"How will I know? I asked Luke.

"If and when it feels serious." He said. How will I know? My brother said.

"Just tell me and I'll tell you. Or if you just feel comfortable with him then you tell him." He makes it sound so easy. But I am so scared he will reject me. Everyone does.

"Oh my God, this is so exciting." I tapped my feet repeatedly on the floor of the car.

"Easy there. Don't get ahead of yourself." He grinned at me.

"Oh but... I am very excited now." I tapped my feet on the floor of the car and clapped my hands.

"Just be careful. I love you and I don't want you to get hurt." He said cautiously.

"Oh no. What if I get hurt?

"I just mean don't get your hopes up before things happen."

"Oh...okay."

We arrived home and I see my dad's motorcycle in the driveway I jumped out of the car and ran over. I stumbled a little but I stayed upright.

"Hey, sweetheart." He stopped what he was doing and gave me a hug. He wiped his large greasy hands off on a bandana he had in his pocket.

"I had the craziest but super amazing fantastic day." I smiled so big. "Okay...you drink and listen to me. I'll grab you a beer."

My dad and brother shook their heads laughing at me.

"Ok. So my day started off so badly. I forgot my bag and lunch. But then this beautiful man with a neck tattoo helped me. He calmed me down then I went to work. Sally was being mean. So then I ran out and I didn't know where to go. Then Erik the tattoo guy helped me again. Then Luke came and made sure I still had my job.

"Then...

My dad interrupted me.

"There's more?

"Oh yes. The best part. Ahhh."

"Easy sweetheart." My dad laughed.

"Get this Erik had a horse-drawn carriage outside the coffee shop. The most beautiful black horses...

"Wow. He did that?

"Yes. We went for a ride. He had a pink rose on my seat and he had a peanut butter sandwich with no crust and cut in fours."

"Wow, he seems pretty special."

"He's very sweet. I really like him, daddy."

"Luke, did you meet the infamous Tattooed neck guy?

"Yes. He seems legit. I am having drinks with him tonight."

"Sound like a good idea."

"So, daddy, I was thinking after mom said I should move out on my own what if I moved in with Erik, then I wouldn't be alone?

"No, both my dad and brother say at the same time.

"But why? I pouted.

"That's not happening." My dad spoke surly.

"But...

"Everly no." He said sternly.

"Remember what I said you can't get too ahead of yourself." My brother reminds me.

"It's not fair," I yelled and walked off and went upstairs. I slammed my door three times its what I do when I am mad.

"What am I doing? Why do I like this guy? Why do I want to live with a stranger? Well, not so much a stranger now." I talked out loud to myself.

I heard a knock on my door.

"Sweetheart open your door." My dad asked.

I opened the door.

"What?

"Let's talk."

"No."

"Then I will talk. You listen." His voice was commanding letting me know I should listen and what he has to say is important.

"We don't know this guy and neither do you. You may have had a nice day with him. But that doesn't mean you should live together."

"Right. I just got excited."

"And you should be excited and it's completely normal to. But just don't get too attached."

"Why? I asked.

"Cause things don't always work out the way we hope."

"Because I am different? I felt vulnerable and insecure.

"No for everyone. People can hurt people. Relationships are hard work." He brushed his hand through his white beard.

"You think I can't do it? He thinks this guy doesn't really like me and I probably will do everything wrong and embarrass him.

"I'm just nervous for you. Your my baby girl and I don't want to see you hurt." He smiled at me trying to make me feel better. Now I am doubting myself.

"I'll be ok." I said.

"I know." He replied.

"Come down and help with dinner." My dad hugged me speaking lovingly.

"ok. Can we make spaghetti? Cooking and baking are my favourite things.

"You bet."

"Yeah." I hugged my dad again then ran out of my room I ran downstairs stumbling on the last step.

"Shoot."

"Easy there, tiger." My dad helped me up.

"I fell three times today. No four now with this one."

"So it's a good day." My dad teased me.

"Haha yeah!

He knows I usually fall more than that.

I helped my dad make the meatballs.

My mom came home I told her about my day. She looked at my dad with concern.

"We will be back." My mom said as she guided my dad out.

This means they are going to talk about me. I tiptoed to the door and covered my mouth and listened.

Mom: "Dear, this isn't good. She's not ready for this."

Dad: We can't keep her from experiencing things.

Mom: But she's different. This could backfire.

Dad: Let her learn. We will be there to catch her like we always are.

Mom: I sure hope this man is being real. I will whoop his ass if he hurts her.

Dad: I'll be whopping first don't you worry.

"No!!! I yelled. I cried out and pushed the door open.

"Sweetheart. It's not bad it's just we mean he'll have to deal with us."

"But you said Whopping him."

"Not literally. Just we will deal with him if he hurts you."

"Why does everyone think he's going to hurt me?

"We just worry about you." My dad reached out and rubbed my arm.

"All parents do." My mom said.

"So this is normal? I needed to know.

"Yes." They said both nodding their heads.

"I'm hungry."

.......

.......

Erik

I am at Crave the club I own. I'm waiting for Luke to show up. I'm behind the bar grabbing drinks for customers.

I still cannot get Everly out of my brain. Like she is making me feel all kinds of feelings. Feelings I want to explore with her. That's if her brother approves.

I saw Luke walk in and he nods and took a seat at the bar. I extend my hand and he takes my invitation and squeezed my hand back. He wasn't playing. His grip expressed that.

"Hey man. Can I get you something? I offered Luke.

"Rum and coke please." He responded.

"You got it." I made his drink then passed it to him. Then I make myself one."

"Let's go somewhere less noisy." I walked around the bar and lead the way to a table at the back of the bar.

I take a seat and sip my drink.

"So let me just get to the point. Are you playing my sister? Luke just dived in and gets to the point.

"No." I actually mean it. Its been one hell of a day but there's just something about her.

"Really? He eyed me suspiciously leaning back in his seat with his arm crossed.

"Really," I ensured him. But I can tell he's not buying what I am saying.

"She told me you told her you were a player."

"She guessed it." I sipped on my drink.

"Are you going to play my sister? He stared at me intensely.

"No. I see she is different and I like it."

"You do realize she's more than different, right?

"Yeah, it's what drew me to her."

He gets up and starts to walk away.

"No, man I am not playing. Please sit."

"You can't seriously want to be with her? He was very protective of his sister.

"I'd like to get to know her. I can't promise rainbows but I'd like to take her out."

He sat back down.

"Would it be possible to talk to your dad? Should I ask him?

"If you're being serious then yes." He nods his head.

"She's completely taken with you. Like when she lets people in you should count yourself lucky. Cause she doesn't let many people in. She has her family and her friend."

"So she's picky?

Do I even have a chance with her? I do feel lucky I do feel like she's very particular with who she spends her time.

"Let's just say she's careful. And she doesn't trust people. She likes things a certain way and if things get interrupted in her flow she can get stressed and panic."

"I saw her that way a few times today."

"That doesn't scare you? He looked at me straight on. There was no avoiding his stare.

"No. It makes me feel bad like I want to help but I don't know-how."

"She told us that you had a horse-drawn carriage outside the coffee shop."

"Yes!

"Nice move man." It felt good to feel like I did something right.

"And the sandwich she was very impressed, and the flowers and notebook and pencils."

"Well, I had help from you so thank you, man." I gave him praise for helping me. I'd asked him earlier what flowers she liked and what she liked to eat.

"She seemed so upset today and so I went and bought her new things hoping it would make her feel better."

"Did she say anything else about me? I anxiously wait for his answer. I wiped ny hand on my jeans.

"She thinks very highly of you. She thinks your sweet and kind. She can get overly curious about things. So she might ask you a lot of questions."

"I don't mind."

"So can I get your parent's number and address?

"Okay."

I passed my phone to Luke. When he was done he gave it back I see he put there address and their phone number and Everly's cell number as well.

"I'm so nervous."

"Don't be a man. Just be real. If you don't feel something or don't think she's right just please move along."

"I can't help it I feel all these things already."

"She's never had a boyfriend or a kiss or well sêx. So do not expect her to go there with you."

"I've never been with someone so innocent and pure. But she's endearing and just different I like it, I like her." I can't stop smiling like a damn fool.

"I never thought she would find someone. She dreams of fairy tales and relationships like in the movies. She doesn't know about heartbreak and pain of things not working out."

Luke said then he sipped his drink he placed it back down and ran his finger around the rim.

"She's lucky she hasn't had that. It can crush you and make you never want to try again."

"I heard your girlfriend cheated on you?

"She told you? He seemed shocked.

"Yeah, then she asked me if I have ever."

"And have you? His eyebrows arched as he eyes me over.

"Honestly no. I haven't been in a real relationship. The woman always knows upfront that I am not looking for anything substantial or long term."

"But all of a sudden you're going to change? He placed his thumb and pointer finger on his chin.

"For Everly, I would."

"What if she doesn't feel comfortable with you to have sêx?

"Would you leave her? Or cheat on her?

"I don't know man. I've never wanted someone before like this. And no it's not all about sêx." Which makes me feel this is something worth fighting for. That's if her dad even lets me." That's my next barrier her dad.

"I just don't know how you could go from getting püssy to not?

"I don't know man." I ran my hands over my face. He's right like how do I go from having sêx whenever I want to not?

"Not so easy hey?

"No. But I promise I won't push her into something she's not ready for."

"I just want you to be aware so if you can't handle her that you move on."

"Okay. I need a drink. Want a refill?

"I'd love one."

We get up and walked over to the bar. I waved over Matt one of my bartenders. I asked for our drinks.

"Hey, guys? I turned and see two beautiful women smiling at us.

"Evening ladies." I acknowledge them.

"Can we buy you a drink? Luke offered.

I wasn't feeling it so I tapped out. I shook Luke's hand and said I would talk to him soon.

I headed out of the bar. I pulled out my phone. I call up Everly's dad. My heart was pounding hard against my chest. But I had no time to back out as I heard a deep vibration of a man's voice answer.

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