S I X
Once Alex is out of view I run up the creaky stairs to my apartment.
All I want to do is take this dress, cuddle into my blanket, and watch reruns of Friends for the millionth time.
I’m still jittery from what just occurred moments ago. My keys clink together in my shaky palms as I try to unlock my door.
What a fool I am.
Just because we had one nice evening out doesn’t mean he was going to kiss me. My life isn’t a Hallmark movie during Christmas time, I’m not going to magically get the boy, well man, of my dreams just because I want him.
I sigh, leaning my head against my house.
If only my life was a Hallmark movie. At least then someone else would have control over life and help me get back on the right path. I feel like I’m all over the place and I haven’t even reached my fifties yet.
Am I already going through my young midlife crisis?
I shake my head and unlock my door, stepping inside.
I take off my heels and drop them on the floor creating a harsh slap noise. My aching feet can finally breathe.
I rest my right arm on the wall next to me and pick up my left foot, rubbing my arch with the bud of my thumb hoping it will roll out the tension that’s been building up the whole night.
Unconscious moans leave my mouth as my muscles begin to relax, now I know how dogs feel when they get their bellies rubbed.
A soft breeze kisses my face, startling me out of my state of bliss. My head snaps up searching for the unknown source of wind. The gentle flow of my white curtains catches my attention from across the room.
I slowly make my way into the living room, cautious of what could be hiding behind the fabric.
With shaking fingers I grab the material in my clammy hands and pull them apart exposing the culprit.
My open window.
A shaky laugh leaves my lips. Come on Dani get yourself together, it’s just an open window.
I don’t remember leaving my window open before I left.
Shaking my head, I pull down on the handle and close the glass pane, wondering how could I’ve been so careless. I begin to walk out of the living room but something catches my attention from the corner of my eye. A white, stark, notecard is settled on top of my dark oak wood table.
My feet don’t make a sound as I walk towards it.
I gently pick up the card and an unfamiliar scent invades my senses. A cologne of some sort which the card seems to be doused in.
My eyes move across the words written, reading it once, twice, three times.
A cold chill snakes up my back, freezing me in place and the card flutters out of my hand towards the floor, the words never once leaving my mind.
Didn’t your mother ever teach you to lock your windows?
You never know who’ll make a grand entrance ❤ - Admirer
Someone was inside my house.
The rest of the night was rough for me. After searching through every crack and crevice of my apartment, I locked all the doors and windows, and after rechecking the locks twice, I finally made my way into my bedroom.
I laid a barbie baseball bat beneath the pillow next to me just in case.
Thankfully there were no interruptions except for me tossing and turning. The feeling of someone watching me had me on edge all night.
I ended up waking up late.
I was so on edge last night that I forgot to turn my phone alarm on and plug my alarm clock back in. I only had 20 minutes to go through my whole routine and head to work.
Now three hours into my shift, I know I look like a crackhead who didn’t know what sleep was.
I stand behind the bar trying to keep my eyes from fluttering close and snapping open every so often a loud noise was made.
The double doors crash open behind me, startling me out of my daze.
I turn my head a bit and see Claire squatting next to me looking for something she needs in the kitchen.
“They have no idea where to put anything. It’s so annoying. Every time I need something I have to go searching for it because the washers don’t know how to do their job,” she says in a harsh whisper for only me to hear.
“Mmmm,” is my response as I look straight ahead.
She continues, not paying attention to me at all, “Like, hello, you get paid to do this, so if you’re going to do it, do your shit right.” The bangs and clatters of utensils hitting cause a few customers to turn their heads in our direction.
“Mmmhmmm,” I unconsciously say. She seems to catch on that I’m not paying attention.
Claire stands up from her crouch and puts a hand on her hip, trying to look intimidating, “Are you listening to me?”
“Yea, yea, totally.” A yawn escapes from me causing my eyes to tear up.
She searches my face intently, zoning in on the dark bags underneath my tired eyes. “Did you get any sleep last night? You look tired.”
She has a point. I look like a nutjob who’s been on a high for 10 years.
I should tell her about the note, she’ll be able to help me.
No, no, it’s just some harmless joke, I probably left my window open by accident before I went out for dinner last night.
Yes, a reasonable explanation.
I force my lips into a smile and scratch the back of my head, causing my auburn locks into more of a disaster. “No,” I respond to her question, “I had a rough night last night, but I’m fine I promise.” I yawn again, covering my mouth with the back of my hand. She squints at me.
“Danielle Christian Tores you better tell me the truth this instant.” Why did she have to go on and say my full name?
A husky voice interrupts us.
“Good morning ladies,” says the familiar voice from the bar.
Claire and I stop glaring at each other and turn towards the customer.
Alex leans his elbow on the wooden counter, a small smirk gracing his lovely lips.
An uneasy feeling settles in the pit of my stomach like a rock sinking in a riverbank. Why am I feeling this way? There’s no way Alex was in my house, I was with him the entire time after dinner, and even before, that Claire and I were inside picking my outfit.
No, I had a wonderful time with Alex last night and I won’t allow my paranoia to get the best of me.
“Good morning Mr. Mountain Man,” she says to him as she crosses her arms, “what’s with the smug look, or are you just constipated?”
He shrugs his broad shoulders which are encased beneath a red, tight fit, t-shirt that shows off his bulging muscles.
He ignores her comment and his soft gaze locks onto mine. “I just had one of the best nights of my life, is all,” he then brings his gaze to Claire’s and his eyes harden. It’s almost as if a violent sandstorm is brewing in his orbs. “You must be amazed that a “Mountain Man” such as myself can actually have fun.”
I’ve never seen him look so hostile yet so calm. From the glare Claire is giving him at the moment, she isn’t very happy.
I cough, trying to ease the cloud of tension between them.
“Claire, can you give us a minute, please?” I ask quietly. She gives me a baffled look. “Please?” I say with the saddest puppy dog eyes I could muster.
“Fine,” she scoffs, “I have to help Belle in the kitchen anyway.” With one last glare sent Alex’s way walks back through the double doors leaving him and I alone.
Well as alone as we can be in a cafe.
I smile shyly up at him as my eyes roam to his nicely styled man bun, not a hair out of place.
Why can’t my hair stay like that?
I wonder how atrocious my curls must look right now with all its wisps and stray ends sticking out.
“Hi,” he says softly, adoration shining in his eyes. My cheeks warm at the sound of his voice.
“Hey stranger, come here often?”
A light chuckle leaves him. Even his laugh sounds like a masterpiece created by God himself.
There’s something about his smile that seems to erase all the tension from his face. I wish he would always look this carefree. Of course, he can’t, since everyone in this town seems to have a strange vendetta against the man.
A soft yawn leaves my mouth and I quickly bring my hand up to cover it. “I’m sorry that was very rude of me.” I lightly chuckle. “I had a really rough night last night. Didn’t get much sleep.”
He furrows his dark brows. “That stinks. I have an idea, why don’t you come with me during your lunch break an-,” an elderly voice cuts over him before he can finish.
“What are these people paying you kids to do these days? Stand around and talk?” The man humphs. “I ordered my meal 15 minutes ago so instead of blabbin’ to the riff-raff can you bring me my food?” My mouth opens in shock and Alex glares at the older man, his jaw ticking in the slightest showing his frustration.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry sir. I’ll bring your food right out.” I turn and see that no food has been set out by the chefs so I head inside the kitchen.
It seems like whenever I’m in Alex’s presence I can never do my job.
I shake my head trying to get in the right mental space.
I make sure all orders are accounted for as I check in with the cooks. I grab plates right as they land in the window and bring them out to the tables.
Especially to the old man who didn’t even say thanks before he started slurping on his soup.
I continue to do this and force myself not to talk to the golden-haired god who hasn’t taken his eyes off me since he’s gotten here.
I look at the clock and realize it’s my lunch break.
I make my way behind the bar and put up my index finger to Alex, asking for one second before backing into the warm kitchen.
Spotting Ms. Belle working on some sort of new concoction, I call out to her, “Ms. Belle it’s my lunch break, I’ll be back in twenty.”
She waves her hand in dismissal, not turning away from her work. “Ok dear,” she hollers.
I stroll out the swinging doors and immediately make eye contact with the bulky mountain man. I slowly shuffle towards him while forcing a tiny smile on my lips to hide my fatigue.
“I’m finally on my lunch break. A very much needed lunch break.” A sigh leaves my lips expressing my exhaustion.
He raises his hand toward my face and tucks the stray curl resting on my forehead behind my ear.
“So, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted by that elderly man,” I giggle, the old man had balls, I’ll give him that. Imagine standing up to a hunk like Alexander. “Yea, laugh all you want Doll, but, like I was trying to say, why don’t you let me take you out to lunch real quick. We can go just around the corner, get you a milkshake, and help you destress,” he says, concern oozing from his tone. That honestly sounds like a good plan and a milkshake doesn’t seem half bad right now.
“I accept your request for a lunch date kind sir. Just let me grab my purse and I’ll be right back.” I give him a quick genuine smile this time and head towards the employee lounge in the back of the building.
I grab my old grey purse from my locker and slam it shut with a bang. A small white notecard flutters through the slits and lands right next to my feet.
My hands shake slightly as I bend down and pick it up. I take a deep breath and gasp at the words written on the paper.
What we have remains between us.
Let’s not bring Claire into our relationship.
2,000+ words for this chapter! I’m so happy on how this turned out!
But, anyway, what do you guys think about the notes? If you got one would you be excited to have an admirer or would you be creeped out? I’d probably shit myself. Like whaaat someone actually knows who I am and isn’t turned off by my snoring?
I’m joking, I’m joking. I’d be creeped out.
Hope you enjoyed your stay in Joker’s Basement