My Life isn't a Fairytale prt 4, a short story by J.Morgan. Date added: 2011-10-28. Times viewed: 611.
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When my eyes opened I saw that the television was turned off and I heard music coming from the kitchen. Slowly and quietly I sat up looking over the back of the couch. I saw Drake, wearing a muscle shirt that he wasn’t wearing before. Thinking of how cold the upstairs was, he was probably hot. I heard the rhythm of a knife chopping and took in a deep breath. “I didn’t know you could cook,” I said hoping that I would startle him.
But no. He turned his head, which was shining in the low yellow light of the kitchen, without seeming shocked that I was awake. “I thought that you might want something better than hospital food. You like Chinese?”
“Never ventured there before. What’s in it?”
His brow quirked, almost playfully, if the rest of his face wasn’t stone. “Not telling, you’ll have to keep an open mind then.” The rhythm of the knife started up again, almost to the beat of the music. I couldn’t help but notice a mark on his shoulder blade half covered by the shirt. A tattoo, no surprise there. A black tribal mark, I kept looking at it, trying to figure out what it was.
I twisted carefully on the cushion of the couch and stood. There was no way I was going to eat something without knowing what was in it. I shuffled my feet feeling stiff in every joint on my body. The couch was beautiful, but it wasn’t all that comfortable to sleep on. “You want help?” I asked and he turned giving me a small amused smirk.
“You’re not all that good at accepting help are you?”
Those green eyes, they reminded me. “Can I ask you a question?”
The smirk disappeared and he went back to work, scraping the chopped celery into a bowl. I took that as a yes, because now that he was standing here I had to ask. “How did you throw Dog against the wall like that?”
“What?” He tilted his head and uttered a nervous laugh. It was the most expression I’ve seen and heard from him since meeting him.
“I remember you holding his arm, and you threw him back, like he was a….I don’t know, like he weighed nothing.”
Drake turned square to face me, his chin lowered to make his gaze intense. There was a twinge of cold in the pit of my stomach that formed, as if I was staring at a wild animal that was going to eat me. But it melted away from the heat that started in my face and spread all over. “I found you shot, and the guy had already run out the back. Whatever you think you remember..” He shook his head. “…must be some kind of hallucination from you losing so much blood. I did carry you out of the house, and kept you from bleeding to death until the paramedics got there, but that’s it.”
I blinked. No, it couldn’t have been all a hallucination. I just was so sure that I saw Drake holding Dog’s arm as he hung unconscious, and then his body being flung back. Drake turned away to the stove, to a large Wok that was over the front burner, blue flames licking the sides of the dark metal. “Don’t worry about it, supper is almost ready, maybe you should go sit. I promise you’ll love it.”
I was still tired, and sore. Maybe he was right, maybe it was just a hallucination. No one could throw a grown man the size of Dog like that, especially with one arm. He carried me out of the house, and kept me alive. For that I should be grateful at least. I did go back and sat down listening to the radio, well at least Drake had good taste in music. A sort of menagerie of hard rock and rock ballads, with a touch of metal in there for depth. I leaned back into the cushioned couch and relaxed.
By the time I was humming to a good song Drake walked into the parlor, silencing me instantly. “Alright, just taste it and like I said, keep an open mind.” He put a plate down in front of me. I could see little shrimp pieces with a colorful palette of vegetables and I think there was some kind of beans mixed in. “Am I supposed to look at it or eat it?” I smirked at him.
He sat down with a wry grin, beside me. “Just eat it.”
I rolled my eyes and took a bite. I chewed and swallowed, my first impression was that it was strange, but then by the fifth fork full I got used to the textures and odd tastes mingling together. “Okay, I have to admit, it is pretty good,” I said finally glancing at him. He leaned back a bit having already finished and then stood up.
“Told you,” he said taking my plate and his, walking into the kitchen to put them in the sink. “You should always keep an open mind.”
He turned off the music and came back into the parlor, his demeanor shifting back to his usual stiffness. “Thank you,” I said before he decided to disappear back into his frigid upstairs. He looked at me. “For everything,” I added focusing on my hands, still able to see the bruising on my wrist from where the I.V was. “Without you I’d be dead. Without you and Sam I would be alone.”
There was a pause, Drake sighed quietly. “You’re welcome.”
The cold was intense, though I didn’t feel it as sweat poured down and over the surface of my fluxuating skin. My form shifted back after a slight struggle, leaving me heaving and bleeding from where I had to cut. The wounds would heal in a few days, but even so I picked up the needle and surgical thread. It was hard to focus after removing so many scales. The pulse pounding music matched the throbbing in the wounds as I easily sewed the tears in my skin.
I took a shower to clean off the blood and got dressed while looking out the front window into the night. My thoughts turned to Beth, it had been a few hours since I came upstairs. She was probably in bed.
The downstairs was silent and dark, I made my way to her room feeling my system slowing in the warmth of the air. Her door was standing open and the small light from the kitchen outlet shown inside of her room and on her face. I walked in so that I could better gauge her vitals. By watching the pulse of her throat, the deepness of her breathing and coupled it with the scents her body gave off, I could know everything I needed.
Her breathing changed when I got closer, I stopped when her eyes opened and focused sleepily on me. “How are you feeling?” I asked in a whisper.
“Alright,” she answered, as her lids blinked and she closed her eyes. I waited for a moment before deciding that I should leave, when she asked. “Why are you so hot?” It was clear she was half asleep, hyped up on meds. I assumed she meant how I could live in the cold.
“High metabolism,” I said and was about to turn to go when she began mumbling.
I stopped but she didn’t say anything else intelligible.
After a week I was able to take the bulk of the bandages off, the doctor said I was healing quicker than he expected and that I would be fully healed in another few weeks. Amazing considering a bullet went through me just a couple weeks ago. I did find out that it was Drake who paid all my hospital bills, and ever since I got home he spent at least a few hours a day downstairs in my part of the house, watching TV and cooking me supper. I could have managed but I was beginning to enjoy his company. Sam hadn’t been coming over as often lately and he said it was because he had business, but I had a feeling there was another reason and he just didn’t want to tell me.
It was a Saturday when I sat watching the clock, Drake hadn’t come down yet and it was well past noon. Usually he came to check on me by now. When I heard his door open and his quiet footfalls I quickly looked back to the television, not wanting him to think I was waiting on him, then did a casual glance at him as he hit the bottom of the steps.
He was wearing a leather jacket and a pair of boots that told me he was going somewhere. “Good afternoon, going somewhere?” I asked trying to sound casual.
He looked at me and nodded. “I’ve got to go away for a few days.”
I got up and walked over, forcing myself not to get excited or upset. He was an adult and free to do what he wanted without telling me. Though I can’t deny to feeling a bit thrown for a loop. “Oh, can I ask where you’re going?”
“Out to the country. Like I said, I’ll be back in a few days.” He paused, then reached for the knob.
“Drake.” I didn’t really think my actions through when I went up to him and kissed his cheek. His green eyes widened slightly when I pulled back and I looked away, feeling my face heat up. “See you in a few days.”
When I turned to walk away his hand grabbed mine forcing me to look up at him. He swallowed, his neck working. “Beth…..” I could see he couldn’t find the words, but I hadn’t expected anything, so I just touched his hand and smiled faintly.
“Go on, I’ll be here.”
His fingers squeezed on mine before he let me go and left, closing the door behind him.
I didn’t expect the house to feel so empty without Drake in it, but it did. After only a few hours I was beginning to wonder if there wasn’t more to us than I thought. I went through all the moments that we would stare at each other, when I just didn’t know how to react or what to say.
I’d been trying to avoid something ever since I got home, but with Drake gone, I knew it was time. I went into my room and took a deep breath sitting down on the bed and opening the side drawer under the lamp stand. Inside was the letter Janine wrote me weeks ago. I never did read it, at first it was because I was angry, then it was because she was gone, and I didn’t want to think about how it was my fault she was gone.
With my fingers trembling I took the white envelope out and opened it up.
I know you’re angry at me, and I know you have a right to be. But I can’t just ignore how I feel about Dog. It may be stupid, in fact I know it is; but I just can’t stop loving him, even though I should. Real love doesn’t work that way. Even if the other person doesn’t feel the same. I hope one day you find out what it’s like. I hope that the person you fall in love with, loves you back and gives you everything you deserve.
Never settle Beth. You deserve so much more in this life.
“Hey! Anybody home?!” I heard Sam call as he shut the front door.
“I’ll be right out!” I yelled wiping the wetness from my eyes and sniffling, trying to compose myself. It took a moment before I knew I wouldn’t just break down crying before I went out into the living room to see Sam smiling while rubbing his hands.
When he saw me he stopped. “What’s wrong sweetie?”
I must have looked worse than I thought. “Nothing. My stupid allergies are acting up I was dusting.” I lied thinking I did a convincing enough job.
Sam gave me a skeptical look. “Uh huh. Listen Drake won’t be gone long, no use in crying..”
“As if!” I interrupted him, sure that my face had turned a bright red color. “Now what did you want?”
He held up his hand as if defending himself from my snippy tone, though I could tell he was holding in a grin. “Alright, fine. If you’re not interested in an interview for a job, then I’ll leave.”
Of course he wasn’t actually going to leave, he stood there waiting for me to react. “What job interview?”
The grin he was holding back came out in full. “I pulled a few strings with the owner of a bar that I go to.”
“No.” I rolled my eyes. “I’m not going to be a stripper.”
Sam’s mouth dropped, then he laughed. “It’s not a strip bar Beth. That’s not the only kind of place I go to, you know. I’m not that shallow.” I snorted and his impish smile confirmed his guilt on that point. “Besides sweetie, you’re gorgeous and all, but you don’t have what it takes to shine that kind of pole.”
I wasn’t sure if he meant that as a compliment or not. “So what kind of job is it, waitressing?” Not a wonderful thought, but I did need to find a job. I couldn’t keep living off of Drake’s kindness. And maybe if I had a job by the time he came back it could be a pleasant surprise for him. Then he wouldn’t have to sit with me everyday doing nothing. I winced inwardly. I had been enjoying our time together, and that would change.
“You’ll see, now go get dolled up.” Then he added. “How’s your voice?”
I went and got ready to go, wondering what Sam had planned for me. When I came out he gave me an appraising look and grinned winking at me. “Let’s go beautiful.”
I rolled my eyes and walked past him to grab my coat. “How about we stick with sweetie.”
Sam chuckled coming over. “You know you’re making it difficult to see any future for us Beth.”
I smiled at him and patted his cheek. “Do you think that far ahead?”
He shrugged and opened the front door for me. “Not usually. Drake is the one who thinks about the future.”
I wished he would stopped mentioning Drake, I was really starting to miss him being around. I was so distracted, that as we drove I didn’t really pay attention as Sam began telling me about the owner of the bar I was going to meet. I heard some details, like he was a large guy who might be a little feely and that I shouldn’t have trouble if I made sure he knew where the line was. I glanced at Sam intensely when he said that and he flexed his neck and tried to smile.
“Trust me sweetie, I would never get you a job in a place you wouldn’t be safe.”
“Right.” I looked out the window at the orange sun flickering between the houses and buildings. “Because a bar, filled with drunk people is a very safe place.”
“Of course you have to make a good impression before Edgar will hire you.”
“What is it that I’m going to be doing, should I make a good impression?” I asked turning my attention solely on Sam. His wide jaw clenched and unclenched.
“Well…you see three times a week he has a band playing. They work for him as back up music, you know, live entertainment makes a bar classier. But he doesn’t have a singer, after his quit last week.”
“Sing?” I choked out and gaped at him. “You want me to sing? In front of other people?” I shook my head. “No way Sam!”
He glanced at me. “Oh come on Beth, sweetie. I’ve heard you sing before, when you’re listening to music.”
My vision blurred from lack of oxygen to my brain, so I took a deep breath. “That’s different, I didn’t know anyone was listening.” With that I glared at him. Just the idea that he was listening as I sung was causing me to melt with embarrassment. Did Drake hear me too? Oh my god. I sunk down I to the seat wanting to disappear.
“You have a beautiful voice Beth. Just relax. You can do this.”
I knew he was trying to make me feel better, but my mind was screaming at me that this was going to end in disaster. I was going to completely embarrass myself and people would laugh. “No, I can’t. I’m not good enough Sam. Just tell this guy that I can’t do it. He’ll have to find someone else.”
“Too late, we’re here.” Sam said pulling into a parking lot that was trapped in between a tall army supply store and a newspaper building, making the small bar seem like it was nestled in a cubby hole inside of the city. I stared at the blinking sign. Keno’s bar and Grill.
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