Drip Drop Teardrop Page 4

He scared the crap out of her.

“May I have this dance?” He asked in a soft accent she couldn’t quite place – it sounded English but it wasn’t.

Her jaw dropped. Creepy scarred guy wanted to dance with her? She felt her throat closing as she glanced around. Just as she feared, people were watching. Her heart began to escalate as the old irrational terror came back. Her aunt had tried to get her to see a psychiatrist about it but that would mean someone being completely focused on her and well… wasn’t that really the whole fruit of her fear. Avery felt a panic attack come on as people grimaced at her for talking with creepy scar guy.

But then he touched her wrist.

Delicious heat, like dipping into a hot bath on a cold, rainy day, rushed up her arm and her chest opened, her heart slowed. Turning back to him his face was still taut but his eyes seemed… kind? Calm flooded over her, and despite her fear Avery found herself nodding. Why am I nodding? She asked herself distantly. He slowly reached out and placed a strong hand on her waist, drawing her close. Her breath hitched in her throat as she raised her arm, placing one hand on his shoulder and the other in his left hand. Her tiny hand got lost in his huge one and he smiled softly at her, knocking the rest of the air out of her body. She was so sure he was hideous but when he smiled… the scar seemed inconsequential.

His wicked smile widened. “Breathe,” he whispered softly, and pulled her tight against him so that her head rested against his shoulder. She shuddered as he breathed her in, positive he must feel her heart thumping against his chest. The hand at her waist slid gently up and down her spine and she shivered, wanting to burrow closer to him. The hot tingles unfurled across her body and she felt this overwhelming need to melt into him. Even as her mind told her he frightened her, repulsed her even, a fog of intoxication descended around her as they moved perfectly together. Her mouth quirked up in surprise as he repeated the lyrics to the song in her ear. In that moment all she wanted were those lips of his on hers.

No, she jerked back, shivering at the thought. She didn’t really want this creep anywhere near her right?

He tugged her back, almost as if he knew what she was thinking, his hands tightening around her angrily. “This is right,” he growled in her ear.

It was, wasn’t it? She thought, her heart picking up pace again. She was frightened again. Because now this weird stranger seemed so familiar.

An upbeat dance track merged into the last chords of the song and a gust of cold air blew across Avery’s skin. She blinked, opening her eyes, gobsmacked to find she was dancing alone, the dark scarred guy nowhere to be seen.

***

“Seriously, girl, I thought Josh was going to bust a blood vessel.” Jemima chuckled drunkenly as the cab driver headed towards Avery’s apartment. “Did you dance with that ugly guy just to piss him off?”

Avery shrugged, smiling weakly, feeling a little sick. “I don’t know.”

Sarah nudged her with her shoulder, her blue eyes concerned. “I dunno if you should have danced with him, Ave. He’s really… ugh… and I think he may have paid the DJ to play that song just so he could dance with you.”

She flinched at her friend’s unkind words. But hadn’t she been thinking the same? God, they were all so shallow. So what, she argued with herself, frowning. Scarred guy had drawn a huge amount of attention to her by dancing with her and she was furious. Every time she thought about it she shuddered in horror. He deserved the cruel words.

“Did you guys see where he went?” She asked softly, her rational mind telling her that no person alive could move that fast.

“Nah,” Sarah replied, “I’m just glad he left. You didn’t give him your number, did you?”

Avery shook her head, refusing to acknowledge what felt like a twang of disappointment in her chest.

“Oh my God, Ave!” Jemima squealed gesticulating wildly in her JD infused haze. “You should have got his digits! He may be creepy ass but there’s something kinda sexy about the idea of doing it with him! I’d bet he’d be super grateful, if you know what I mean!”

Avery grimaced at all the squealing in the cramped cab. “Can you make it stop?” She pleaded with Sarah, gesturing to Jemima.

“Yeah, can you?” The cabbie groaned.

Sarah giggled and patted Jemima’s arm. “Jammy, babe, you wanna lower the tone a little huh? You’re deafening children in Africa.”

“Pfft!” She waved them off before promptly thumping her head back against the seat, her eyes slamming shut.

“Wow,” Avery whispered, “You’re like a witch or something.”

Sarah giggled again and then began telling her to ignore Jemima. There was nothing sexy about some built stalker guy who has a knife slash across half his face.

Avery was so thankful when the cabbie pulled up outside her apartment. She needed to get away from all the lecturing and questions. She needed to get away from thinking about that weird guy and the way he made her feel. Like she wasn’t who she thought she was. Like she was meant for something else. God, was there anything more traumatising than an identity crisis? Yeah, no, she definitely didn’t need that right now.

As per usual she offered Sarah some money for their expensive cab trip but Sarah shook her head adamantly. Too tired to argue, Avery said goodbye and hurried up to her apartment.

“Avery, that you?” Her aunt’s soft voice called to her as she moved around the sitting room, kicking off her heels and stretching her feet out flat against the cold wooden floors.

“Ahh, that feels good,” she murmured before hurrying into her aunt’s room. Her Aunt Caroline was still awake, her book opened on her lap. “You can’t sleep?”

“I wanted to see if you had a good night.” She smiled softly at her.

Avery clucked her tongue reprovingly. “Aunt Caroline, you should be asleep.”

“Did you have a good time?”

At which part? She felt like asking. The part where I told off my ex-boyfriend or the part where I slow danced with the ugliest, sexy guy I’ve ever met?

“Yeah, I had a good time.”

“Did you dance?”

She grinned. “Of course. You know I love to dance.”

Cold Breeze Cutting Through

the Summer Air

The following month wasn’t a great one. Aunt Caroline underwent another round of palliative chemo and spent the next few days suffering from severe fatigue. Avery stayed home from work so they lost more income. That didn’t matter so much as how strange Aunt Caroline was starting to look, kind of bloated as well as emaciated at the same time, if that were even possible.

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