T E N
A delicious smell awakens me from my deep slumber.
I crack my eyes open a little and immediately shut them as the bright sun attacks my vision through the window.
I moan and roll over to my side away from the evil window making my head pound.
How much did I have to drink last night?
Incoming footsteps alert me of someone coming near my semi-conscious body but my head is too heavy to move and look at who it is. It’s too early to be awake right now.
I hear a slight rustling of clothed fabric near my head.
“Dani,” Claire’s calming voice says above me as she shakes my shoulder, “wakey wakey, it’s time to get up.”
I reply with a groan and pull the fluffy blanket on top of me over my head to cover my face.
“You’re too loud,” I mumble and turn away from her, “come back at a later time.”
I hear her sigh behind me before leaning onto my body some more. “I made bacon,” she sings, instantly catching my attention.
“Bacon?” I say, my words coming out slightly muffled due to the blanket on my face.
I’m rolled onto my back and the blanket is pulled from my face.
I wince and bring my hand up to block the harsh light. “It’s too bright, turn it off,” I whine.
“I can’t turn off the sun that’s not how it works. Come on honey, I called into the cafe this morning and told them that we would be a little late today. Belle was totally fine with it, she knows how much of a hard-working employee we are. All she asked was we be in for the twelve o’clock rush,” she says casually.
“Oh okay. What time is it?” I ask through a yawn and rub my eyes try to get rid of the blurriness.
“Uhhhhh.” She pulls out her iPhone from her dress pocket and turns it on. “It’s 11:15,” she says.
My eyes go wide. “11:15 and you’re just now waking me up!” I exclaim as a new source of energy fires through me.
I scramble off the couch and throw Claire off to the side of me. I run to the corner of the living room where my purple duffle bag lays and contains half of my clothes, including my work outfit.
“You looked so peaceful I didn’t want to disturb you. You had such a rough night I thought you could sleep in a bit,” she says softly behind me.
I sigh, how can I be mad at her for taking my needs into consideration? Why can’t my family or old friends act like they cared as much as Claire does?
I turn around after I grab my clothes and look at Claire, she’s already dressed in her outfit.
“Thank you. Really. Not many people would want to take me in if I asked them, but you offered which makes you an even better friend. I appreciate it.” A smile begins to grace her lips and she looks at the floor giddily.
“Aww, don’t even worry about it,” she says. A light blush highlights her cheeks. “Now hurry up and get dressed before I eat all the bacon.”
I narrow my eyes at her. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“I already ate half of what I made this morning. Don’t tempt me into eating the rest.” She points her finger at me.
I shake my head and release a small laugh underneath my breath.
“How are you even awake right now? You drank more than me.”
She shrugs. “What can I say? I have a high alcohol tolerance.”
“No, that just means you’re an alcoholic.” I shake my head and turn around to walk out of the living room, wanting to get changed in the bathroom before I become late for work.
“I might as well polish off the bacon, your ass can barely fit in those pants right now,” she says.
I flip her the bird without turning around and find the bathroom. Her laughter is the last thing I hear before closing the door.
Claire and I somehow managed to make it to work without getting pulled over by the police. With all the speeding, swerving, and running of red lights, I believe Claire managed to make three new enemies while on the road today.
I’m surprised that she has so much road rage for others but still drives like an absolute lunatic.
We managed to make it to the cafe right as a huge load of nearby truckers came in for an afternoon snack. Seeing this Claire immediately rushed to the kitchen to help Ms. Belle and the cooks prepare for the oncoming orders while I threw my stuff into the back room while plastering a strained smile on my cheeks.
Overall, today was an off day for me, but that didn’t stop me from getting my tips. I still ended up taking two breaks and four ibuprofens as my massive hangover from this morning continued to rage on, leaving me with an even worse headache right between my eyes.
This is all Claire’s fault for not waking me up sooner.
With a soapy wet towel in my hand, I start to clean the booth in front of me, wiping away sauce stains and huge chunks of leftover food.
How can a person make this much mess and then not even be courteous enough to clean up after themselves?
I rub my temple, hoping it would help soothe the aching pain residing there.
Claire bangs her way through the doors of the kitchen with her purse in hand and whistles a jolly tune causing the pounding in my head to worsen.
Oh, you have got to be kidding me.
I want to strangle her. I want to wrap my hands around her throat and just cut off her windpipe. This might seem a little harsh but at the moment I’ll do anything to make the horrible noise stop.
She looks at me from the corner of her eye and immediately finishes her song. Hopefully, she can see all the irritation I have for her right now on my very irritated, very annoyed face.
Claire quickly pulls out her wired headphones from her ears and frowns. “Who pissed in your cereal?” She says in accusation.
My eyes narrow and begin to twitch. “I didn’t get to have cereal this morning Claire, so how can someone piss in something I never had?” Yeah, I’m a little pissed off, but I think I have a right to be. She’s the one who got me drunk last night, therefore she must bear the consequences of my crankiness.
We’ve been at the cafe for about ten hours and with my shift over I’m not in the mood to stick around longer than I have to. I just want to close up shop, head back to my apartment, and sleep in my nice warm bed that has been calling my name since forever.
“Look Claire,” exhaustion coats my voice, “my head hurts, my body aches, I’m tired, and I just want to hurry up and go home, but you whistling and banging around everywhere really makes me want to choke you right now.” I clench my fingers tight. “So, if you could please hurry up and leave so I can finish and lock up, that would be great.”
I turn back to the booth and start wiping the table again. I know if I look at her I’ll see shock and hurt expressed in her eyes and I don’t need that right now. I’ll apologize tomorrow but for now, I just want to stop talking and continue with my business.
I hear Claire scoff and the squeaking of her shoes indicate she’s walking to the doors.
“Whatever dude, no need to act like a child. Also, if I leave who’s going to take you home because I’m not going to wait around for your grumpy ass to finish cleaning just so you can continue being rude to me in the car.”
I pause and gawk at her.
I’m acting like a child? No, she’s the child, not me! With everything going on in my life she should at least be understanding and know that I’m going through a tough time right now. I don’t need her coming at me like I’m the one causing a problem.
After all this arguing I’m going to need another pain reliever and two shots of Jack Daniels just to finish cleaning in peace.
“I’ll walk home Claire just please leave me alone for right now. Your voice is going to make my head explode.” I scrub harder against the table.
The bell at the entrance of the cafe jingles as Claire opens the door, the freezing air quickly slithering over my uncovered skin. “Call me when that bitchy attitude of yours decides to take a hike.” With that, she slams the door shut behind her.
A groan leaves my throat and I slam my fist against the hard surface in front of me.
“Ow ow ow ow,” I say as pain floods my arm. Flapping my hand out causes the pain to worsen so I stick it between my thighs and bite my lip.
When will I learn to keep my big mouth shut and not let the littlest things affect me? If I keep this up Claire’s going to end up ditching me, then I’ll have no one to help me deal with my stalker.
Why are you like this Dani?
I wish I knew.
With a sigh I check my knuckles, making sure they aren’t broken or cut, and I quickly proceed to clean off the table with my other hand.
Once I’m done I place all the cleaning supplies back in the storage room and grab my stuff from my locker.
I hear the bell chime again from the front, announcing someone just walked in, which is odd because everyone knows that we close at this time.
Hopefully it’s Claire so I can go apologize for my actions.
“Claire? Is that you?” I call out.
No one answers.
“Ms. Belle? Gary?”
I walk out to the dining area but stacked chairs and cleaned tables are the only things that greet me, shadowed by the dim lighting of the moon.
Must’ve been the wind. I knew I should’ve locked the door after Claire left. The last thing I need is to be scared.
“Boo,” a husky voice whispers in my ear.
A scream flies out from my throat. I turn around and smack the person behind me.
“Ouch! Damn you have a strong hand,” says the voice. My palm turns bright red as sharp tingles envelop it but I barely pay attention to it as I back away.
I make eye contact with the intruder.
The sight of golden eyes causes my whole body to sag in relief and I exhale a heavy sigh.
“Alex don’t scare me like that. I almost had a heart attack.” I look around, realizing it’s just us in here. I hold my stinging hand to my chest. “What are you doing here this late, the cafe is closed.”
Rumors of what the townspeople have said begin to creep at the edge of my mind.
Why would he be here now? He could’ve talked to me earlier in my shift, hell, he could’ve texted me and I would have answered, so why did he choose now, in the dead of night, to come and talk?
“I can smell your brain overthinking.” He says quickly, holding his pink cheek. “Dani, I’m not here to hurt you and I’m quite saddened that you would even think that. I came earlier this morning but you weren’t working so I left. I was just driving around in the area and saw the back lights still on so I decided to check if anyone was inside.” Not once do his eyes leave mine.
Maybe he’s telling the truth. However, after everything that has happened to me already, it’s hard to trust people right now.
“What did you need?” I ask skeptically. He takes a small step towards me and I back up, wanting to keep the distance.
He sees this and stays in his spot, putting his hands up to show he surrenders. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay. That’s all. After you sent me that weird text I thought it would be better if I came to see you face to face.”
My face must’ve shown my confusion because he quickly pulls his phone from his back pocket and opens it, showing me his messages.
Dani: I lube poo.
Oh sweet lord baby Jesus.
My cheeks heat up instantly and I grab the phone.
I read the text over and over again trying to wrap my head around why I would ever send something like this.
I must’ve been shit-faced to the moon and now Alex is seeing my drunk side first hand.
I’m so lost in thought that I don’t notice Alexander moving until he’s right in front of me and his large hands are on my shoulder, making me jump.
Slowly he moves his hands up to my cheeks and tucks a curl behind my ear.
“What’s going on with you Dani?” He asks, his deep voice laced with concern. “You didn’t talk to me all day yesterday and I was terrified thinking you were in danger or that I did something to upset you, I don’t know, I just” he pauses and sighs, seeming deep in thought, before stepping closer to me, leaving only an inch between us, “I care about you.” He blurts.“I care about you, a lot, and I want to be there for you because you make me happy, and you go out of your way to understand me, even though no one else does, and I want to be able to help you in the same you help me cuz someone as amazing and beautiful as yourself shouldn’t be sad.”
My lips separate as I try to find the right words to say but nothing comes out. He takes this moment to wipe his rough thumb across my bottom lip, pulling it away from my teeth.
His eyes shine bright with adoration and a small smile curls on his lips. “Just let me help you,” he says softly.
How can people call him a savage? The man before me is nowhere close to resembling what the townsfolk call him. With him, I feel important, like I could tell him all about my problems and he would listen and let me make my own choices. It wouldn’t hurt, letting him into my life and trying to trust him. I think I need this.
So without any more thought, I nod and wrap my arms around his waist.
“Okay?” He asks in confirmation. A wide smile blooms on his face causing mine to widen in return.
“Okay,” I chuckle.
Alex laughs and presses kisses all over my face. “You don’t know how happy you’ve made me.”
Giggling, I put my hands on his broad chest to stop him, but the feeling of his hard muscles beneath my fingers makes me lose all thought of what I’m doing.
Wow, living in the woods is obviously doing great things to this man’s physique.
“Having fun with your hands there, doll?” I snap my face up to his and his blazing eyes darken. Immediately I pull out of his arms and put some distance between us.
I feel my cheeks heat up. When did it get so hot in here?
I cough and drag a hand through my unruly hair. “I must’ve zoned out or something,” I say, not wanting to tell the truth.
A smirk grows on his face. “Or something.”
Seriously, who turned on the heater in here? Someone’s going to get a swift talking to tomorrow when I figure out who’s doing this.
My eyes widen as a thought breaks me out of my daze.
“Shoot, I’m so sorry to ask you this Alex but Claire was my ride to work today, and as you can see, I’m the only one left, so is there any way you could drop me off at my place? I’ll make sure to pay you ba-”
The sound of metal hitting together stops me as Alex takes out his car keys and walks past me to the door.
“It only took fifteen minutes for you to ask me for a ride. Didn’t you think I saw how barren the parking lot was when I came in? Don’t worry, that’ll be something we work on in the future. Now, hurry up doll it’s getting chilly in here.”
I roll my eyes, but a small smile tugs on the corner of my lips in amusement. I quickly catch up to him and we walk outside. With a simple lock of the key Alex and I leave the dark restaurant behind and walk towards his truck.
I open the passenger door and lift myself up into the seat. It isn’t until he turns the car on that I realize somewhere along our conversation and touching that my headache had completely disappeared.
Wassup party people!!!
Hopefully you enjoyed this new chapter of Bleeding Hearts because I know I did! And no, I’m not just saying that because I wrote it 😒
I just love the connection that Dani and Alex are making. Kinda makes me want a relationship of my own 🤧
Anyway, what did you guys think about the fight with Claire? Do you think Dani overreacted about the situation or do you think she’s completely justified for feeling the way she does?
Catch ya next chapter! Please make sure to like and comment!
Hope you enjoyed your stay in Joker’s Basement