Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 80


“Michael Gilbert?” The bouncer raises his eyes from the plastic cards to Mike.

“Yes, sir,” Mike replies proudly.

“These people with you?”

“Yes, sir.”

He gives us each our IDs back. “Let me see your wrists.” We each lift our wrists, so he can stamp the inside of them with some symbol that allows us in.

I look up at Mike with wonder. How does he know that guy? The bouncer hardly looked at his fake ID. Paul doesn’t seem to have a care in the world, and Rachel is happy like a kid on Christmas.

As we step inside, the music starts to pound through my chest. Taking one step at a time, I make my way down the lit stairwell until my feet hit the floor. It is a party. There is a sea of people under strands of colorful lights; there’s a disco ball over the large dance floor. A mahogany bar stretches from one side of the building to halfway down the hall where the ‘Restrooms’ sign is.

It is loud; the floor sticks a bit to my heels from all the spilled alcohol and other drinks. There are so many people. It’s a bit crazy for me, but since Rachel seems happy as she pulls Paul to the dance floor, then I’m happy too.

My sights take in the surroundings, Mike tugs me into his side with affirmation by the shoulders then speaks in my ear, “Do you know how beautiful you are? All these boys in white sneakers are staring at you.” As if to make sure the other guys back off, he kisses the side of my cheek.

With my head on a swivel, I see what he sees and crack a smile. I don’t normally feel beautiful, but tonight he makes me feel that way with how possessive he’s become.

Mike leads me out onto the floor to dance. He slinks his arms around my waist and holds me close. With our foreheads nearly touching, I take the opportunity to ask, “How do you know that bouncer?”

He smiles and takes his lips to my ear, then says, “I know a lot of people, darlin’.” He sneaks my hands away from around his neck and twirls me out only to bring me back into his chest once more.

The four of us have been dancing together for some time now, and my feet are killing me. I don’t want to stop, though, because I’m having too much fun.

“Do you want anything to drink?” Mike shouts near my ear so I can hear him.

“Water, please,” I shout back. Mike kisses me on the lips quickly then says he’ll be right back. He mentions something to Paul; Paul nods as I watch Mike start his retreat to the bar.

Next to me, Rachel and Paul are dancing close together. Mike and I haven’t been dancing like they are. I think he can sense that I’m not particularly comfortable with those kinds of moves in front of my best friend. For me, those kinds of moves are a little too bold to do in front of people I know. Obviously, Rachel doesn’t think so, but my face would turn red if she caught me doing anything remotely close to what she’s doing. She would pull faces, make me laugh, and pop the sexy bubble I’d be trying so hard to create with Mike.

Trying to be sexy is something I am not good at. I haven’t had a whole lot of practice, and I’d rather not have an audience like Rachel when I try to tap into it. Although, something tells me that once I give Mike the green light, the bubble will have no problem growing. I’d rather us just be alone in the sea of people we don’t know when we decide to let our fire sizzle.

I really have to use the restroom; I don’t think I can hold it until Mike returns. Without getting too close to them, I shout out that I have to use the restroom and to let Mike know when he comes back. Rachel nods her head like she heard me. I look back at the bar, and Mike is still waiting for someone to assist him.

As I push my way through the masses of people swaying, bumping, and grinding, a hand squeezes my butt. I turn around and don’t see anyone paying attention to me. Maybe it was in passing...

I finally make it to the restrooms; thank God there isn’t a long line.

Once I’m finished in the white-tiled room with black stalls where the music is a faded thump sound, I push open the door, carefully, as to not accidentally hit anyone on my way out. As soon as the door opens, a skinny brunette who had way too much to drink stumbles forward and spills the contents of her drink all over my shoulder. I close my eyes, and my mouth drops open. I hope none got on my dress!

“Oh shit! I’m sorry.” The tipsy brunette apologizes with a serious slur but doesn’t seem to be that sorry about it – especially when she finishes with a burp in my face. The stench of the alcohol is enough to churn my stomach. I spin around and retreat into the restroom then go straight for the paper towel. I hover over a sink, turn on the faucet, get the towel wet, and begin to wipe off my arm.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been in here; I hope Rachel isn’t telling Mike that I have diarrhea or any other embarrassing thing that happens in bathrooms.

She is the best person globally, but she never passes an opportunity to joke at my expense.

A couple of girls squeal within earshot, causing me to snap my head to the door to see what the fuss is about. I expected that maybe the brunette out there splashed her liquid contents on another victim, or maybe a girl ran into another girl. I did not, however, expect to see Mike storming his way into the ladies’ restroom.

“What are you doing in here?” This is a sanctuary area -no boys allowed!

"Elena, have you been in here the entire time? Are you okay? I didn’t know where you were; it scared the shit out of me.” His eyes are fierce - his stance engulfs the whole room like he owns it.

“I told Rachel to tell you that I went to the bathroom.”

“She didn’t know where you went.” He cups my face so I can’t look anywhere but up into his eyes. “Never disappear like that again. Understand me?”

“Mike. It’s okay, I just had t –” I didn’t have time to finish the sentence.

“Did anyone stop you? Talk to you?” His questions blurt out one after another. “Did anyone touch you?”

Why is he acting like this? The butt grabbing on my way to the bathroom flashes before my memory, but I’m not about to tell him that. “No!” I say.

He physically relaxes a bit. “Make sure someone goes with you next time or at least make sure they hear you. Do you know how many dangerous people could be lurking around here tonight? Anything could have happened to you, Elena! What if I couldn’t get to you?” He sounds very worried. I didn’t think any of this would be a big deal.

“I’m sorry,” I croak. “You are right. I thought Rachel heard me. I was on my way back, but then someone spilled their drink on me. I’ve been trying to get the stain out of my dress.”

His eyes cut to the side of my left breast and under my arm, where the light red color from the alcohol streamed down from being splashed on my shoulder.

Those green eyes shift back to mine; they instantly soften with sympathy. “May I?” he asks. I give him the paper towel - then he runs it under the tap until it’s soaked. Instead of wringing it out, he presses it on the stain, so the area of my dress fills with cold water.

“Ah! It’s so cold!”

“I know, but at least the stain and the smell may come out.” He dabs at my side some more, being careful with his hand placements. “I’m sorry this happened to you.”

Downplaying how I really feel about the situation; I shrug a shoulder and try not to concentrate too much on where his hands are.

“You have a big wet spot on your dress now, but at least the red color came out. We’ll see how it looks when it dries.” He throws the used tainted paper towel over my shoulder and in the trashcan behind me. A girl walks by and eyes Mike with a flirtation brow. Mike pays no attention to her or the fact that so many women in the restroom are giving mixed looks as they enter and exit the room. They range from what on earth is a man doing in here to swallowing him up with their eyes. I personally would like to scratch those eyes out.

Alas, I push that back and thank Mike for once again coming to my rescue. He apparently has the ability to see right through me, and my open glares to the other women that walk by who don’t even see me. “Don’t you worry. You are the only woman on my radar,” he smirks.

He sees me, though. I am all he sees, and my heart flutters with his statement; when he grabs my hand and asks if I am ready, there’s a zing that bolts to my belly. Butterflies - not nervous butterflies - just happy butterflies.

When we leave the restroom, he insists that I go ahead of him while he directs me through the crowd by my shoulders - practically on my heels. I’m comforted by the fact that no one can grab me from behind now because of how close Mike is to me. Once on the dance floor, Rachel sees me and jumps into a hug that nearly cuts off my air supply.

“Where were you?” She releases the embrace and holds my shoulders at arm’s length.

“I was in the restroom. I told you I was going to be in there,” I point out.

“Honey, I never heard you. I am so sorry! I was worried, girl.”

I wave a hand of dismissal as Mike seems to be scolding Paul. “Well, no need to be worried. I am completely fine.”

Her eyes flicker to my dress. “What happened?”

Without hesitation, I tell her what happened; she wants to claw the brunette to death and wants to know where she is. She seems to be more upset about it than I am. Thankfully she lets it go. A few more minutes after calming down over the incident that I bestowed upon our group, the DJ announces that it’s almost midnight. The countdown in the club roars through my ears.

We all scream out the countdown until “Happy New Year” can be heard in a three-block radius. Mike turns me around as I see a blurry Rachel and Paul kiss then a set of warm, plump, and perfect lips take charge of mine. My first New Year’s kiss. It is enchantingly blissful and everything I hoped it would be. I momentarily forget where I am. My head is spinning as if I am on cloud nine, and it’s just a kiss. The perfect kiss - it’s as if it’s our first one even though it isn’t. Every time he kisses me, it’s like the first time.

Rachel calls my name; I can hear her faintly in the distance. All my mind is consumed with is Mike’s mouth on mine with the way his tongue invades me. His kiss feels like a branding to let anyone and everyone around us know that I’m his.

And I have no problem with it.

Rachel leans over to me, causing my lips to unlock with my date. She tells me that she and Paul are leaving and not to wait up. I gave her a knowing look and a hug. Paul and Mike give each other a fist bump, then the two - who I’m sure are destined to end up together, leave Mike and me in the middle of the dance floor.

Within seconds, Mike hugs my back close to his chest as his hands trail up and down my sides. It’s the green light he must have been waiting for. I give in to his touch like I normally do; the warmth of him that surrounds me heightens the need deep inside.

I rest my head against his shoulder as our bodies sway together with the beat of the music. He takes the lead as the music thumps through my chest. His hands cover mine as he guides them up my body to his neck. My hands stay in place around his neck as his slow hands run down the sides of my body. I feel like Baby from Dirty Dancing, and he’s my Patrick Swayze.

The friction is heated between us. I can feel his hot breath on my neck as I grind against him. I feel myself start to pant; I’m feeling dizzy. Where did that water go?

His hands hold my hips against him for a moment, then tracks them around my belly. “Kitten, do you know what you’re doing?” The husky southern drawl crawls in my ear and blazes my insides.

Innocently, I shake my head, but a small smile on my lips gives me away. I know what I’m doing. I may be inexperienced, but I know when a man is turned on.

“I’m trying to be a gentleman here, but you’re making things difficult,” he groans in my ear as I close my eyes. I’m lost in my own fantasy. “If you continue to ride me like this, then I’ll have to do something about it.”

A rush of heat flames my cheeks at the many thoughts of what he’d do. The lids of my eyes slowly open as I twist in his arms. My fingers fiddle with his tie as I look up at him; without saying a word to me, he tucks me into his side and leads me through the busy crowd, up the stairs, out into the parking lot, and helps me up into his truck.

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