This story contains sexual content, violence, coarse language and consumption of alcohol.
It is rated R and is for readers 18+ only.
New Year’s Eve (Snow Angel)
Penelope stormed out of the kitchen to go sulk with Elton who would pat her head and let her get away with being mean to me.
I turned back and I touched my mom’s arm. “Don’t dwell on what she said mom, dwelling hurts more than her words ever will. She probably didn’t mean to be so harsh or rude.”
“I just don’t see why it’s such a big deal anymore.”
I closed my eyes for a few seconds to gather my emotions and thoughts. I opened them and hugged her. “It will always be a big deal to me. I just have to accept it and live with it.”
“I see the years of therapy paid off.”
“Mom I could probably be a therapist after all of it. I’m just glad I don’t need one anymore.”
“Amen to that.”
We went out to see the men with glasses of whiskey and Penelope who had shaken off her random foul mood. I think it’s safe to blame hormones and her usual jealous tendencies.
I couldn’t shake Penelope’s words even though I know better. My mind was stuck on the letter and phone calls from the mystery woman. Apparently I’m shaken more than I thought, I seem to be seeing and feeling more negative coming from others. I need to regroup and center myself. Then Locke gave me a sweet smile and I saw it melt in my minds eye and it became disgust or worse.
“Excuse me,” I said quietly and slipped into the kitchen.
It was rude to leave Locke by himself, but I needed a moment to shake my impending panic attack.
I paced the tiled floor and wrung my hands. I was stuck imagining Locke’s face and reaction. It would be the same as all the others. Then whether it’s one day after or three he would go away. Only this time I was afraid. Really afraid. I like him far more than anyone I’ve liked and I want him to like me.
There was a soft knock at the doorway. “Adley?” Elton said quietly.
I swallowed hard and cleared my throat, “yeah.”
“Why are you in here pacing?”
“I just needed a moment. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” He hugged me tightly. “What happened? Pea came out of this kitchen… I don’t even know how to explain her expression. She’s so up and down with the pregnancy these days.”
“She… It doesn’t matter.” What could would tattle telling do?
“This is about your boyfriend isn’t it?” Elton moved me to arm’s length still holding my shoulders. I nodded, he lowered his chin and looked me in the eyes. “Any man worthy of you won’t give a shit about what happened so goddamn long ago.”
“So you say.”
“I do and you know it. The previous ones are all gone because they are lesser small-minded men. I like Locke by the way. He’s interesting and watchful.”
“Yes, like he’s taking it all in, seeing multiple angles. I get the feeling he’s not narrow-minded Adley.”
I could feel the panic within my chest, the tension that came moments before I cry or run and hide.
“Stop it,” Elton said. “It’s not fair that you’re so hard on yourself.” He hugged me again lending me his strength and giving me his reassurance.
“I’m okay now. Thank you. I’m glad you’re moving closer to home soon and that I get to be an Aunt.”
His smile was all I needed to see. He was happy and that’s what mattered. “Maybe you and Pea will bond better, she really is wonderful.”
I may not be her number one fan, but he is and that’s what counts. I know better than anyone that people are rarely universal. Circumstances, belief and opinions can cause a person to behave differently from one person to the next.
Locke didn’t say anything about my disappearing; there was a hint of concern when I came back. Perhaps he sensed my need to move past what he didn’t know about. Either way, he was attentive and seemed to welcome me leaning into him. What will I do if he hates me as the others did or looks at me as they always do?
Time went by too quickly. We had our coats on and were hugging our goodbyes. The moment the door closed behind us Locke spoke up.
“How do you have an electrician licence so young?”
“Tony’s friend Vincent took me on while I was still in high school. I spent half my spare time wiring houses. I took the expedited college course right after I graduated and worked for Vincent until I got the licence. I had no idea what to do after high-school so I tried that.” I replied. “I do work for Vincent off and on.”
“And fixing cars?” Locke asked as we stopped by our cars.
“I used to follow Jordi and Marcel around after school. Tony figured if I’m around I might as well learn too.”
“When I was in high school getting to class was an accomplishment. You really don’t sit still do you?”
“You know what they say, Idle minds and idle hands…” I shrugged.
“I wish we could ring the New Year in together,”
“Me too, I’m off tomorrow if you have time to do something.”
“I’ll take what I can Adley, I’d love to spend the day with you.”
“So who will you kiss at midnight?” I asked as he put his hand behind my head.
“If I can’t kiss you at the stroke of midnight then my lips will have to wait until tomorrow.”
“Damn you are so romantic.”
“I’m just me, take it or leave it.”
“Take, definitely take,” I said as our lips drew together.
The warmth of the kiss spread throughout me swiftly and I nearly cried a protest when we parted.
“See you next year,” I said as I opened my car door.
He smiled and got into his car.
I had a busy hectic night ahead of me and in the back of my mind, all I could do was wonder if my new harasser would show up. Gary wondered the same thing and stuck me firmly behind the bar. It was crazy busy, Gary had all the screens set up to show the ball drop from Times Square at midnight. Marcel, Chastity and I set up all the complimentary plastic champagne flutes and began filling them.
The excitement in the air was contagious and the patrons were all lively and intoxicated. We had all available hands on deck and it was just enough. The servers handed out the champagne as Midnight approached.
“Hey, Adley this was delivered to you from an admirer.” Tara handed me a card and a single rose.
I smiled wondering if Locke had sent it and I opened the card.
“I will ruin you, I will destroy your life. This is the last year you get to be happy. Prepare for a year of misery, long, long overdue.”
I dropped the rose and card in a plastic bag and put it in the safe box quickly. I let Gary know and he called the police. They sent an officer over to take statements. He showed up three hours later around eleven. Gary went to find Tara to get a description of my ‘admirer’. This person planned to draw it out and wouldn’t likely act tonight in a bar full of people. I had a ride home and a roommate to stay the night with me. I was as safe as I could be and I know this person will likely do small things, things to inconvenience and scare me. If only I could find her and we could talk like rational humans.
The officer took the rose and left after twenty minutes. I went back out to the bar to the loud revelers and cheers before the countdown started. The joy of the moment was lost, which meant the harasser was already winning. I turned as the crowd yelled eight. Locke came in wearing an open dress coat over his tuxedo. His eyes locked on mine as he approached. My body went haywire as he approached. He came. He ditched his party to come to a bar and see me.
Everyone yelled ‘four’ in unison as he maneuvered through the crowd. I was frozen, unable to move at the sight of him. I heard Perdita beside me.
“Oh my God Adley, he’s gorgeous.” She left my side to find Tenny no doubt.
“ONE!” The screams, whoops, cheers and trill of noisemakers battered my ears as Locke smiled down at me.
“Happy New Year Adley,” Locke said loud enough to be heard over the cacophony.
I parted my lips to say something back, but he kissed me with too much emotion and I was lost. I slipped my hands up to his shoulders and wrapped my arms around his neck. Someone bumped into us hard and we stopped kissing and grinned at each other.
“I had to. I’ll let you get back to work. I could use a drink.” He winked at me.
I got back behind the bar and got him a Whisky sour. I heard him tell Donovan he liked them. Locke is a whisky man, someone who enjoys a drink but not to get drunk.
I felt Locke’s eyes on me the rest of the night as he stayed near the bar and I stole glances at him. He came.
To be continued…
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