The first time I saw Dean Whitiker was at an underground fighting match. My best friend, Ashley, dragged me to it - even after saying no - telling me it would be the best night of my life and she wasn’t wrong, but she wasn’t right either.
My father was a fighter so I know how it is. I have been to a million of these. My father made a lot of extra money by fighting on weekends. I know the ins and outs of stuff like this; how it all works.
That also means that I saw the moment right after Dean’s eyes met mine when he had a small change in his step. I could see the moment register on his face as his balance was thrown off just slightly. He attempted to recover but it was too late. The opponent’s fist collided with Dean’s jaw and it sent him backward before his opponent landed another punch to his ribs which caused him to fall forward.
Distractions can be the difference between winning and losing sometimes and somehow I distracted Dean. I distracted him that night.
I haven’t stepped anywhere near a wrestling ring since my father passed 3 years ago and I almost didn’t go. Watching Dean get punched and go down struck me hard and brought back memories I had pushed away long ago.
As I ran out of the abandoned warehouse I promised myself I would never go back once again.
Ashley told me later that night that he had won, he bounced back up and knocked the guy out. I was glad, I really was but ever since that night I have had Dean on my mind and no matter what I do, I can’t get rid of his face. I’m not even sure what it was about Dean that night that made him stick in my brain but it was a constant reminder of what I couldn’t have. I hate it.
That was 2 months ago, two months since Dean’s eyes met mine, two months since I last saw him.
I’m standing at the bar with my two best friends, Ashley and Liam. I met them when I first moved to New York right after my father’s death. It was hard to leave but even harder to stay in that house, in that town. Everything and everyone reminded me of him. My father was all I had and I was all he had, but it worked and he was my best friend.
His death hit me hard, harder than anything has ever before. I became a hollow shell of a person the day he died but thanks to Ashely and Liam, I have spent the last 3 years slowly finding myself again. It wasn’t easy, finding myself again, but I did it. I’m not the same girl I was back then but doesn’t time change everything?
My eyes roam around the club, a drink in my hand that I have been nursing for the last few minutes. I scan the back area and my eyes land on a familiar face that causes my breath to catch in my throat and my heart to start racing.
Dean stands on the other side of the club with a drink in his hand and a smile on his face and he hasn’t changed since I saw him in the ring. When the moving lights flash across his face I can see a busted lip and black eye on his face. His dark hair has a messy look to it and as he runs his fingers through his hair I know why.
He speaks to a girl and a pang of jealousy erupts through my body as he laughs at something she said, her hand lightly touching his arm.
His leather jacket clings to him and I can’t help but wonder how he keeps it on in the heat of the club.
“You’re staring.” Ashley’s voice rings loudly and close to my ear so I can hear her over the music.
I tear my eyes away from Dean and look at her while a blush starts to form on my face and I am thankful for how dark it is, “no I’m not.” I lie through my teeth before taking a sip of the alcohol in my hand, a small buzz starting to form but my drink is now empty and I need more.
I turn around and face the bar, motioning to the bartender that I want 5 shots. He gives me a quick nod before focusing back on what he is doing.
I quickly survey the rest of the club, making sure to avoid looking -staring- at Dean. It is Saturday night and it is busy like always.
New York is the city that never sleeps, but Saturday nights are usually so much worse. Most people work Monday thru Friday so Saturday was really the day to party and people usually don’t go home till early Sunday morning.
A tap on my shoulder brings me out of my thoughts and I turn around, the bartender motions towards the shots sitting on the counter. I gave him my credit card earlier to start a tab so I don’t have to worry about paying just yet. I give him a smile and a nod as a silent ‘thank you.’ He nods back and then his attention is called somewhere else.
I quickly take two of the shots, the alcohol burning as it slides down my throat, and then grabs the other ones before turning to my friends and handing them a shot. We clink our shots together and then shoot them back quickly. I give a quick cough since I just took 3 shots in the span of a minute before putting all the empty shot glasses down on the counter.
My favorite song blared through the speakers and a huge smile appeared on my face. Ashley and Liam try to deny my request to go on the dance floor but it isn’t long before the 3 of us are dancing and grinding to the song. The buzz from the alcohol runs through me as I dance, I feel free as I move my hips to the rhythm of the song playing.
Three songs later and Liam appears in front of me with more shots for all of us. I grab one from him and quickly tap it against Ashley’s and Liam’s before throwing it back. The burn is not as strong this time. Liam grabs the empty glass from me and I continue to dance against Ashley. I can feel the sweat on the back of my neck cling to my hair as I moved but I don’t care. One night, I get one real night during the week to not worry about anything and I definitely am not going to let sweat bother me.
Suddenly it feels like I am being watched and my eyes fly open, my movements don’t falter as I look around the room and my eyes meet Dean’s. The effects of the alcohol have my inhibitions down and instead of looking away, instead of leaving, I find myself staring at him as I move my body to the sound of the music blasting through the club.
My name being called snaps me out of the trance I am in and I pull my eyes away from Dean’s as I look at Ashley. “Callie, I need to pee.” I give her a small nod, I know what that means, I was going with her. I don’t mind it really, it is smarter this way but I can’t help the sadness that creeps over me as I look back at where Dean is standing to find him gone.
Thirty minutes and two more shots later I find myself back on the dance floor swaying to the beat of the music, feeling lost in the sound and the beat that is running through my body. I am drunk and it feels so nice to feel free for a few hours. The alcohol is going down easier and the burn isn’t even there anymore.
The feeling of someone dancing against me and a rush running through my body as they touch me brings me to reality. My head whips around to see who it is and I realize it’s Dean, his intense dark blue eyes met mine. I turn my head back around and continue to dance against him, his hands stay rested on my hips and I can’t help but wish he would move them and touch me more.
I bring my arm up and lay it against Dean’s chest, bring it down his body till I hit mine, and then run my hand down my body. His hands wrap around my waist, sitting on my stomach as we move, I push back on him, leaning my back against his chest as we move. My eyes close as I follow the beat of the music and the rest of the night fades from the alcohol in my system and the rest of the drinking that comes later.