Chapter 4 - Melody
Two weeks had passed. Two weeks, and I hadn’t run into Angel again. It was silly, but I looked for him everywhere, even though I had no idea what he even looked like.
I still felt kind of sad about how things had ended with Heath. We were part of the same social group, so it was inevitable that I’d see him most days. He’d been ignoring me, avoiding me like the plague when we saw each other. And that dashed my hopes that somehow we’d be able to come out of this, still being friends.
But somehow, my mind wasn’t dwelling on my break-up with Heath, as much as it was dwelling on Angel. It was as though I knew that I’d recognize him if I saw him, somehow. And with every day that passed, I became more and more borderline-obsessed with the whole thing. About how he just seemed to swoop in every time I needed saving, yet wondering why he hadn’t stepped forward. Why hadn’t he? Did he have something to hide? He said he’d find me again, but it had been two weeks...
Hailey was dragging me out to some bar just off-campus that was popular with students. She invited Davis and a few of our other friends along, so it would be a group-outing. It was the start of the semester, and everyone was buzzing - no assignments to turn in and no exams to worry about.
“You’re wearing this,” Hailes unceremoniously walked into my room, tossing another one of her tiny dresses onto my bed.
I lifted it, raising an eyebrow. “Why can’t I wear this?” I pointed to the A-line dress that was hanging on a coathanger at the back of my door.
Hailes scrunched up her nose. “You want to look sexy, Mel. Sexy and available. That’s the whole point of this outing. That dress doesn’t give any message. It’s bland,” Hailes argued, and I smiled at her in amusement. She cared a lot more about fashion than I did, and her wardrobe was twice the size of mine, and that was being conservative.
“Fine,” I indulged her, slipping the blue number over my head. It was another figure-hugging dress that clung to every curve with a low-cut back, and it wasn’t very me at all, but I decided to live a little.
About an hour later, we arrived at the upscale bar, walking in with Davis, who drove us like the good boyfriend he was to Hailey. She had him eating out of her hand as she did with everyone else, even though he used to be a bit of a player before he met her. Because Hailes just had that effect on guys - they literally fell in front of her feet and begged her to let them worship her.
Davis had made a joke out of the fact that every single guy was going to envy him, arriving with the two of us at his side, and true to form, he jokingly had an arm around both me and Hailes as we walked into the bar on either side of him. We spotted our group of friends immediately and took a seat on a comfortable couch, retaining our positions with Davis sitting in the middle, casually throwing his arms over the top of the couch, outstretched on both sides.
We ordered a round of drinks, and before long, I was sipping on an Espresso Martini, which was so strong it quite literally robbed me of my breath. But just then, I spotted Heath coming through the doors with a girl hanging on his arm. I couldn’t help it - I did a double-take. It felt like a punch to the gut, seeing him out with someone else so soon after we’d broken up. It wasn’t as though I wanted to get together with him again, but still... it hurt, perhaps even more so because I felt vulnerable, being there on my own.
Heath spotted our group and nodded in a greeting, heading our way as his eyes met mine for a second before he deliberately turned his attention to the girl.
The girl he was with, was pretty. Dark hair, big, brown doe-like eyes. And Hailes must have seen the expression on my face, because she leaned over and whispered... “You’re a lot prettier than her, Mel.”
I just smiled at her, concentrating on my drink, and concentrating on my friend Caitlin, who was seated just to the other side of me. She was also looking at me with sympathy in her eyes.
“Are you okay?” She whispered at me, and I nodded.
“Yeah, thanks for asking.”
It was always going to be inevitable that we’d run into each other. We had the same group of friends; it was only really a matter of time...
“You know what? You should go and talk to another guy,” Caitlin encouraged me, and Hailes overheard, shuffling closer to join our conversation.
“Hell, yes, she should. Great idea, Caitlin,” Hailes concurred, and I shook my head at them.
“Yes. Show Heath that you’re over him. You look hot in that dress, Mel. You should totally do it,” Caitlin was on a roll now, I could see it.
“No, really, I can’t...” I felt embarrassed just at the prospect. I was so out of practice, talking to guys, it wasn’t even remotely funny.
“Heath is trying to make you jealous, Mel. His hands are suddenly all over that girl,” Hailes whispered, scrunching up her nose in distaste again.
My eyes darted in his direction and immediately darted back to Caitlin when his gaze met mine. And Hailes had been right; that girl was basically sitting on his lap, and he had his hands roaming all over her thighs.
“Fine. I’ll do it,” I said with a sudden resolve. Because hell would freeze over before Heath would get the satisfaction of thinking that I was moping over him, while he had clearly moved on already.
“Pick a guy. Any guy, but preferably a good-looking one,” Caitlin encouraged me, her eyes scanning the bar.
“Do it! I’m just going to make a phone call, I’ll be right back,” Hailes winked, before getting up and walking into the direction of the exit.
I stood up, scraping all of my courage together. But then I smiled because just then I spotted someone familiar at the bar.
He was handsome as hell, with dark hair and charcoal-gray eyes, his body chiseled like it was carved out of marble. He was the absolute perfect guy to make Heath jealous with...
I walked right over confidently - he was sitting at a table right in front of the bar with a group of friends, and I knew he’d help me out.
He saw me as I was about two steps away from him and immediately stood up.
“Mel!” He held out his arms and took me into a hug. I stood on tip-toes and whispered into his ear...
“Hi, Connor... I need one hell of a favor...”
His eyebrows shot up, and a broad grin settled on his handsome, chiseled face. “Sure.”
“I’m going to talk to you for a little while. Please pretend you’re interested in me.” My words were barely cold as he slipped an arm around my waist.
He laughed out loud. “Sure. Who are you trying to make jealous, Mel?”
“An ex-boyfriend of mine, who has turned up with a new girl, barely two weeks after we broke up, back there...” I nodded my head backward in the direction of my friends’ table.
“No problem. Let’s work the room, then. Actually... is your sister here, too?” Connor asked with a strange expression on his face and something that sounded like hesitation in his voice.
“Yeah, she is. She just went somewhere quiet to make a call. But she’s here with Davis, her boyfriend,” I explained, and his smile faltered a little before it slipped back on.
“How jealous do you want to make this ex of yours?” Connor asked with a devilish smile, and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Just enough to show him that I’m over him and that I’m not moping over him,” I clarified, and Connor nodded.
“Do you want to take a seat with us for a while? We’re in a good spot here, where he’d be able to see you clearly,” Connor assessed the situation quickly, and I nodded.
“Sure. Move over.” Connor scooted over and introduced me to his friends, who were other players on the football team. There was no way in hell Heath wasn’t going to notice me, that was for sure.
“Or... you could sit on my lap like that girl is sitting on his, you know?” Connor suggested with a cheeky smile, and I laughed at him.
“Umm, no thanks,” I could feel my cheeks get warmer. Connor was one hell of a handsome guy. He was a star quarterback just like his dad, the famous former football player Mayhem Blake, and he had undoubtedly a bright future ahead of him. We all grew up together. His parents, Mayhem and Taylor, were friends with my parents and growing up, the Blake boys were often playing at our house while we often found ourselves hanging out together at theirs as well. And although we drifted apart somewhat over the past few years as we all grew up and forged our own paths, I still regarded the Blakes as close family friends, even though I didn’t see them quite as often as I used to.
“Actually, while I have you here, I have a favor to ask, too,” Connor said, pulling me closer into him.
“Shoot...” I smiled at him.
“I need a date for this sports awards gala dinner-thing. Will you go with me?”
I raised an eyebrow in amusement. Because Connor Blake had no shortage of admirers, that was for sure, and the annual gala dinner was a big deal.
“Can’t get a date, Connor?” I teased, and he shook his head at me, flashing a cheeky grin.
“Come on, Davis. We both know I can get any girl I want to go out with me,” he said over-confidently, and I rolled my eyes at him.
“Why do you need me, then?” I challenged him back, rather enjoying this conversation all of a sudden.
“Because... let’s just say that I have my eye on someone. But that someone is... taken... for the moment. I’m keeping myself... open, so to speak. So that I’m available when she’s available, if you catch my drift.”
My eyebrows shot up again, and my jaw dropped in surprise.
“Really? Connor Blake has fallen for a girl?” I teased, and for probably the first time in his life, Connor looked embarrassed.
“Don’t say anything, please. I’ll keep your secrets, if you’ll keep mine, okay?” He bargained with me, and I thought about teasing him some more first, but then I saw that he was actually serious about this, and I nodded.
“Okay, deal. We’ll... lean on each other a little, until we both get what we really want.” I agreed, and it was his eyebrows’ turn to shoot up.
“And what exactly is it that you want? To get back with your ex over there?” He motioned with his head in the direction of Heath, and I shook my head.
“No. Actually... there’s someone else as well... like you, I’m keeping my options open...” I admitted, feeling self-conscious all of a sudden. Because hell, Angel hadn’t given me any indication that he was actually interested in pursuing anything with me. But still, I couldn’t stop thinking about him... about that damn kiss that ruled my dreams during the day and the night, in-between the nightmares of drowning that kept haunting me as well.
“I see. Well, I’d say your plan to make your ex jealous is working... because his eyes are shooting daggers at me right now,” Connor said with a self-satisfied smirk. “Want to really make him squirm?”
I tilted my head, looking at him quizzically. “What do you have in mind?”
Connor bent his head down and brushed his lips across mine, letting it linger for a second, then pulled away again. My eyes widened because I hadn’t been expecting that, at all.
“He looks just about ready to come over here and shoot me,” Connor whispered in the shell of my ear, and I couldn’t help but giggle, because damn, it felt good to show Heath just how much it didn’t bother me that he turned up with the other girl, and to outdo him, even.
“My job here is done, then,” I winked at Connor, aiming to stand up.
“I’ll call you. About the gala dinner-thing,” Connor clarified, giving me a hug as we both stood up.
“Sure. Have a good night, Connor, and thanks for your help.”
“My absolute pleasure, darling,” he winked at me, turning on that Blake charm again that had girls swooning over the guy.
As I walked back to my friends’ table, I could feel Heath’s eyes burning on me. I refused to look at him, taking my seat next to Caitlin again. She leaned over towards me immediately, with big eyes and a massive smile...
“It worked... Heath couldn’t stop looking at you, Mel. But I think you have another admirer, too, because there was this other guy sitting just over there...” she gestured towards the back corner “...that didn’t take his eyes off you, either.”
“Which one?” I asked, discreetly scanning the bar. Because as she said those words, I just had this feeling, this sixth sense, that it was him.
Caitlin’s eyes darted back into the direction she gestured earlier. “He’s no longer there. When Connor kissed you, he got up and walked out, I think. I was watching Heath, and then when I looked at the other guy again, he’d left, but it looks like some of his friends are still over there, at their table.”
My eyes widened as I scanned in the direction she pointed, and saw a small group of people who were unfamiliar to me.
“Shit!” I exclaimed in frustration because I just knew that he was so damn close again...
Caitlin looked at me strangely. “Not that you’d care about a stranger’s reaction, but damn, the guy was a looker!”
“Describe him,” I insisted, my heart pounding harder inside my ribcage.
“Athletic build. Tall. Dark hair. Tanned - he looked like the outdoorsy type. Couldn’t see his eyes, but the overall package was extremely promising,” Caitlin winked. “If he looked at me the way he was looking at you, I’d be all over him right now,” she joked, and I smiled, but all of a sudden, I had this restless feeling, this urge to try and find him. My sixth sense told me that he must still be around...
“Excuse me for a second... I’ll be back in a minute,” I made an excuse, finishing the last of my drink for courage before walking towards the exit.
I was acting on impulse, following my intuition. When I got outside, there were a handful of people milling around the entrance, but no-one who fit the description that Caitlin provided.
‘Dammit! He must have left...’
I turned right and walked a few steps, not really sure what I was looking for, but still having this niggling feeling that I had to keep looking.
And the next second, I felt a strong arm grabbing me, pulling me into a dark alleyway...