Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 64

Elena


He hasn’t seen me yet. I snap my head down to focus on the bar. With my hands, I move my hair in a way so it hides my face more. I chug my drink through the straw. I need all the courage I can get with him in my presence – including the liquid kind.

“Hey, slow down with that,” Paul interjects my new nervous habit. “That’s a strong drink, drink it slowly.”

“Did you know?” I seethe into his dark brown irises.

“Did I know what?” he asks, a bit confused. His eyes dart upward above my head then back to meet my insecure boiling ones. Rachel leans a bit over Paul’s lap to hear the conversation with a smile on her face.

While I nudge my head towards the door to show them who came in here, there’s a deep voice that nearly knocks me off this stool. “I ain’t over there anymore, Kitten.”

I do not dare myself to turn around to see him; instead, I face forward and finish my drink until the sound of gurgling fills my ears, indicating my drink is gone. I know Mike is leaning patiently on the bar top next to me, too close for comfort. His leather elbow is in my peripheral vision through a couple of locks of my curled hair.

“Are you going to ignore me all night?” I just know he’s smiling. Why is he here? Why is he even talking to me?

I don’t respond. “Dave,” I shout. “I’ll have another.” I lift my glass to show him that it’s empty, and a refill should be his priority right now.

“I really think you shouldn’t,” Paul protests. Rachel’s eyes bug out, probably thinking she helped create a monster. Mike chuckles close to my ear. I can feel his hot breath on me.

“Am I driving you to drink, Kitten?” This is torture. I haven’t even turned to look at him yet; my face is still hidden behind my hair like a coward. I watch impatiently as Dave puts the finishing touches together for my literal pick-me-up.

An electrifying calloused touch grazes the nakedness of my spine from where my dress opens in the back. The touch trails slowly down to where the fabric meets just above my lower back; the feeling jolts a quiver to my core.

“Where did you find this dress?” His voice is calm, deep, and hoarse. I flinch away and nearly jump off the stool to face him.

His eyes nearly pop at the sight of me before him. Those dark green eyes I’m sure can see right through the tough exterior I’m putting all my effort into showcasing right now. “Don’t touch me.”

Before he can respond beyond that smirk, I grab Rachel’s hand and drag her to the other end of the bar and ask Dave where the restrooms are. He points behind us; I force Rachel to follow me into the restroom.

Once inside, I close and lock the door. When I spin around, Rachel is beaming. “What the hell, Rach?” I start. “Did you know he was going to be here?”

She puts her hands up. “First off, you need to calm down.”

“No!” I shout. “Do you know the things he’s said to me? He’s hurt me, Rachel. Why did you think that I’d want to see him?”

It’s now her turn to raise her voice. “No, I don’t - you’ve never told me! Paul said that he wanted to see you; we thought meeting in a public area would be good for you both to maybe try and bury the hatchet. Hear him out.”

“Hear him out? What more could he possibly say? Rachel, he told me he doesn’t date, that I wasn’t his type, and he was only wooing me because he knew that’s what I wanted. He doesn’t want anything to do with me!” I argue.

“Do you really believe he meant that?” she asks.

“Yeah, I do. He was very convincing. But then, just now at the bar...he just keeps confusing me!” I yell into my hands.

She pulls my hands away from my face. “Then, if the opportunity strikes, dance with the first guy that asks you. When you grabbed me to pull me in here, I saw like...four guys check you out.”

I blink. “Why would I do that?”

“To see if he gets jealous!” she shouts then softens her voice, “If he breaks up the dance or the kissing that you may or may not do with a stranger, then you know he didn’t really mean what he said.”

“Kiss?” I must look horrified. I’ve only kissed one guy in my entire life, and he’s rejected me...how can I muster up the courage to kiss a random dude here in this bar?

Rachel laughs. “You don’t have to kiss anyone, but I’m almost positive that it would set Mike off.”

Someone tries to open the door; then there’s knock on it. “In a minute!” Rachel shouts over the door. “Are you ready?”

I nod my head and sigh. I brush my dress down with my hands then turn to look in the mirror.

“You are beautiful. Let’s do this,” Rachel reassures me. The things this girl can make me do...

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