Never Again

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Chapter 23

I’m curled up on the bed in a fetal position, crying so hard the tears have soaked the blanket underneath me. I cry until my eyes finally give up, swollen and sore, and I fall asleep. I vaguely recollect Matt and Seth coming in a few times to check on me, but it’s all pretty hazy.

I wake up sluggishly and rollover noticing there is no light streaming into the room. I glance at the clock and see the bright green light, 8:23. Crap, I’ve been in here for like five hours. My stomach rumbles and my hand flies to cover its insisting roar.

I climb out of the bed and meander to the kitchen. There is no sign of Matt or Seth which I think is rather strange, but instead of looking for them. I go to the fridge—scavenging for something to eat. The pizza box catches my eye and I pull it out … two slices of Canadian bacon with pineapple are left. Instead of heating it up, I just eat it cold, right out of the box. After scoffing down the first slice, I get a beer out of the fridge and take a few chugs before starting on the second slice.

I don’t see any notes, so I walk down the hallway to check Seth’s room. No one’s in here, hmm. They must’ve stepped out for a minute.

Maybe Seth texted me, I go to try to find my phone. A guilty feeling comes over me, thinking about how I haven’t checked it for days. Becca has to be going crazy. I sent her that message to leave the house and then I haven’t said anything since. Where the hell is my head?

Dread creeps over me, when I pick up my phone. I remember the cryptic phone calls I have been receiving. The screen lights up, and I see that I’ve had 25 missed calls 32 text messages.

Holy Crap! That’s insane.

I scroll up to see all the messages from Becca mainly saying hey ... WTH ... WTF ... and ooh, one that says “Merry Christmas”. Now I feel really bad I never even said Merry Christmas to her. What kind of friend am I? And then I see the message sent fifteen minutes ago ...

Hey love, I’m sorry, can we just talk??

How about nine o’clock at the bar in the Lux Hotel

It’s just around the corner.

I still need to give you your present.

-R-

I know I need to be mad at him but I can’t seem to hold onto my anger. Ronin keeps pulling at all my heartstrings. I remind myself that it’s not how the fairytale ends but how it’s written.

I text back:

Of course, nine o’clock, it is.

-T-

A reply instantly makes my phone ding.

Can’t wait to see you.

-R-

Just those simple words make me smile. I shove the rest of the pizza in my mouth and try to find something appropriate to wear. I decide that the sundress Ronin’s house keeper had bought for me, that first night I stayed with him, would be fitting. I slip on the same soft lacy panties and matching bra as well. I apply a light amount of makeup and look at the clock, 8:49. I grab my purse and head out of Seth’s apartment, still wondering where Seth and Matt might have gone.

I find the hotel easy enough and push the revolving door forward and step into the lobby. It is breathtakingly beautiful with marble pillars placed sporadically, large sofas and wide chairs that could fit two full-size adults comfortably, elegant round tables with huge bouquets of flowers making the hotel look expensive and elegant, an exquisite water fountain shooting plumes of water into the sky between the lobby and the front desk. I must look lost spinning around taking everything in, and I remember to focus. A beautiful dark wood door with a glass front is to the left of the front desk. The words ‘TAVERN’’ are scribed on the glass. I walk into the bar and my eyes take a minute to focus. The lighting is a little darker in here than the bright hotel foyer. I scan the room the best I can with my eyes squinting slightly, but I don’t see Ronin. I walk to the bar a little nervous since I’m alone. I pull out a stool and the bartender puts down a coaster.

“What will it be Miss?”

“Can I have a margarita on the rocks, please?”

“Of course. With salt?” He asks.

“Yes, please.”

I watch him pour the tequila and I take a look back around the room. Now that my eyes are completely attuned to the lighting, I can see better. I don’t see him … maybe I missed him. I spin back around and the bartender is placing my drink in front of me.

“Anything else?”

“No, not right now. Thank you.”

“Treva? Treva is that you?” I look up hearing my name, and see Amy grinning down at me.

“Oh, hi Amy,” I say feeling awkward that she’s here.

“What are you doing here tonight?” Amy grins even wider.

“I was … or … umm, I’m supposed to be meeting Ronin,” I finally blurt out of my fumbling mouth.

“I haven’t seen him. I come here a lot, so I know most everyone here.” She turns her head to the bartender. “Gin and tonic please, Rob.”

“Coming right up, Amy,” he winks at her.

I feel uncomfortable. Of all places, why would Ronin have to pick a place where Amy might possibly hang out? I turn around the room again and there’s still no sign of him. I sip on my margarita, agitated that Amy is sitting on a bar stool next to me. Why the hell is she just hanging out there? I try to keep my composure watching the clock and checking the door for any sign of Ronin. Pretty soon, my glass is empty. Amy still hasn’t moved; she just keeps watching me, making me aware of every time I squirm. I dig out my phone—again—to see what time it is. Damn, it’s been more than a half-hour, where is he? He’s late. I put my empty glass on the counter and the bar tender attentively make me another drink.

I take a sip, and then my head begins to get really dizzy. The room starts to sway awkwardly. Whoa, how much tequila did he put in this? I lift my glass and stare at it, but instead of a glass in my hand it looks to be some odd contorted shaped object. I start to giggle at the misshapen glass, “ha, ha—now I’m losing my mind”.

Amy looks at me …“are you okay.” Her smile is twisted and extremely distorted and her one eye looks like it’s sliding down her face. I try to speak, but my tongue feels oddly swollen and numb. “What’s wrong with me?” I mumble.

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