Drip Drop Teardrop Page 2

And now Caroline was dying, too.

Avery swallowed against the burning lump in her throat, looking out the cab window and blinking back tears so Sarah and Jemima wouldn’t see.

She listened distantly as the girls chatted about work and guys for the forty minute or so drive to the Meatpacking District. They pulled up to the club and Avery spotted the guys immediately. They were crowded together, not too far from the front of the line, Josh towering over nearly everyone else there. Adam and Aaron stood beside him deep in animated conversation. As her gaze washed over Josh, who was ogling the ass of the girl in front of him, she drew in a deep breath. Josh was cute in that guy next door-brown hair-perfect blue eyes-dimpled smile-kind of way. Cute but not too cute. He had been the perfect boyfriend at school - together they weren’t uncool, but they also weren’t too cool, which satisfied Avery because that way they didn’t stick out. But when his incessant immaturity and possessiveness started leading to public drama, Avery had broken up with him just before graduation. For the first few months of college he had persisted in trying to get back together with her. He only backed off now because Jemima had threatened to castrate him if he bothered Avery when she was going through all this with her aunt.

“Avery!”

She glanced up as Sarah took her elbow and smiled wanly at Josh as he waved them over. Jemima was already strutting towards them, ignoring the wolf whistle from the gorgeous guy two people back from the front. Avery and Sarah both rolled their eyes and then hurried over to the guys. The people behind them ‘hey-ed!’ and grumbled and complained at them for cutting in front until Jemima spun around and iced them out with one of her famous glares.

“Avery, you look amazing.” Josh pulled her into a tight hug, smooshing her face up against his hard chest. She struggled to pull back and actually had to push him away a little. He didn’t seem to notice though, his eyes washing over her, his eyebrows creasing towards each other in concern. “You OK?” He asked in sotto voce tones. “We’re all worried about you. We’re not quite sure you’re coping, Ave.”

Avery tried not to grimace at how patronising he sounded and was thankful when Adam punched him on the arm. “Dude, shut up.” He turned to Avery, his chocolate eyes smiling. “Ave, babe, don’t listen to him. We all think you’re coping great. Its little princess here who worries like a pimp-less whore.”

“Why would a whore worry if she didn’t have a pimp?” Sarah tilted her head to the side, her nose wrinkled in confusion. “I would have thought a whore would be thankful not to have a pimp. Aren’t pimps bad?”

Avery shook her head in disbelief. “Are we really having this conversation?”

“No, we’re really getting into this club right now cos’ I’m freezing my bony little tush off,” Jemima growled and shoved past them. They watched as she flirted with the doorman. They seemed familiar with one another. She pointed back at them and then brushed a piece of invisible lint off the doorman’s lapel. It was such a clichéd move, Avery shook her head.

It worked.

Jemima waved them down and they hurried out of the line to the entrance, ignoring the yells of complaints from everyone else in line, afraid if they didn’t move fast enough Mr Doorman would change his mind.

The bass of the music could be heard like a faint heartbeat in the distance as they checked their jackets. Avery shivered in anticipation. A security guard gripped the handle on the double doors where the heartbeat pounded behind, each thud of the bass like a taunt beckoning Avery inside. And then the door was wrenched open, the music shooting through Avery in thrumming waves, vibrating in the air around her, demanding her hips to catch the undulations. Sarah grabbed her hand and they took off down the stairs and through the crowds clustered around the tables scattered on the edges of the main dance floor. She allowed Sarah to pull her into the throng of bodies moving to the beat of Rihanna’s Only Girl (in the World), giving herself over body and soul and letting the beat wash away her stress and grief. Here was good. Here she was just one of hundreds of people enjoying the heady bliss of the dance floor.

Soon Jemima found them and yelled that the guys were getting them drinks. Avery wasn’t sure how long it took them but it was a while before they returned with a round of JD and diet coke for the ladies, courtesy of Aaron being twenty one and Adam and Josh having fake ID’s. Avery threw back the whisky and coke and broke through the crowds so she could abandon the glass on a nearby table. She didn’t want anything, even a little glass, getting in the way of her freedom on the dance floor.

The guys danced with them for a while, and Avery’s elbow found Josh’s stomach a couple of times when he danced too close. Just as he was beginning to destroy her buzz, the guys decided they were too hot and went off in search for a table.

Sometime later Jemima persuaded them to leave the dance floor to get another drink and find the boys. Eventually they found them upstairs at one of the low tables and sofas that overlooked the dance floor below. They already had a round of drinks waiting for them. Avery stood with Sarah a little away from Jemima and the guys, who lounged on the sofa, sipping the JD and coke this time as they swayed their hips in time with the music. As she surveyed the huge club, Avery felt a prickle of awareness and her eyes automatically sought out the cause.

Her breath caught in her throat.

It was him again.

The last couple of months at the club Avery had become aware of this guy watching her – well, her friends said he was - but every time she looked over at him his gaze was elsewhere. He was pretty hard to miss. It wasn’t just the fact that he was so tall and wide of shoulder. Or that he was always dressed in this stylish suit that looked as if he should be melting in it. It wasn’t his longish silky black hair or eyes that seemed to burrow through the crowds with power. No. It was the hideous, long scar across his stark face. It cut from just above his right eyebrow, across the bridge of his nose and deep along his left cheek in a diagonal slash. In the flashing light of the club that’s all she ever seemed to see. That ugly scar. That ugly scar that made people turn and look at him with a mixture of fear and awe. The stir he caused made Avery shrink from him in her natural disinclination to be centre of attention. While she swore she found him repellent, at the same time her eyes were weirdly drawn to him. She couldn’t stop wondering what colour his eyes were.

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