“That’s a damn good question.”
It feels like there was a heavy bell that rang too close to me. That’s the only way I can describe how I’m feeling. The sound left a ringing sensation on my skin, maybe even deeper.
Every minute on my drive home I thought it would go away, but it didn’t.
It tingles, and refuses to go unnoticed. Even now as I sit with Laura in the parking lot outside of a strip mall with a bottle of cabernet half gone and tempting me to take another swig… the ringing doesn’t stop. I’m trapped in the moment when it happened. When the world shifted and made it impossible for me to get away from the giant bell.
The moment Jase kissed me like a lover in front of his brothers.
I’ve heard of Sebastian Black; my sister went to school with him. I’ve heard of the Cross Brothers. I’ve seen Carter from afar at The Red Room once. To be in a room with such men, with intimidating, dangerous men, I couldn’t think or breathe. It was a mix of fear and something else. Something sinful.
Even with them talking, joking, acting as if it was just an ordinary day and ordinary people in an ordinary kitchen, I couldn’t shake all the stories I’d heard of these men.
But then Jase kissed me.
Every part of my body has woken up, and it refuses to let the memory become that, a memory. It’s holding on to it instead, trying to stay there. Going out with Laura has definitely dampened the ringing, but not so much though that I can’t feel it still, even hours later.
“What’s wrong with you? You love this song.” Laura cuts through my hazy thoughts and my gaze moves from the yellow streetlights and lit signs of the chain stores to focus on her instead.
I hadn’t even noticed music was playing.
“Hey,” Laura says and pats my arm as she leans forward with a hint of something devious in her voice. “You know how…” she shifts uneasily and restarts. “You remember how you helped me interview for the position at the center?”
“Of course,” I answer her and wonder where she’s going with this.
“Aiden didn’t like me during the interview.”
I cut her off and say, “He was a grade-A dick for no reason.” I still remember how shocked I was at his unprofessionalism.
“I hit his car a week before,” she blurts out.
She can’t stop grinning. “I was so embarrassed. It was a rough day. Like really bad and he backed up out of nowhere in the parking lot and I just tapped him.” Her thumb and her pointer are parallel as she holds them up and whispers, “Just a teeny tap.”
“You hit his car?”
“And then I might have… you know,” she stops and laughs again. “I called him a dickhead when he was yelling at me. Like he was screaming in my face and it wasn’t like it was helping anything and like I said, it was a rough day and I just snapped.” Her shoulders shake with another giggle. “And then I showed up for the interview the next week.”
“Oh my God! And you never told me?” I can’t help laughing either. I can absolutely see Aiden and her screaming at each other in a parking lot over a scratch on a car. They both have a habit of taking out their aggression on the least suspecting.
“I was so embarrassed I couldn’t tell you.”
“Well no wonder he didn’t want to hire you,” I comment.
“I know. I had to go back in and apologize. I’d already sent him insurance information that he didn’t even need, but still. I felt awful. It was so awkward and… unfortunate.”
“But he still hired you,” I say and hold up my finger to make that point clear.
“Because of you. He never would have if you weren’t there backing me up.”
“Knowing about the car… I’m going to have to agree with you now. I just thought he was an uncalled for asshole at your interview.”
“I never told you and I want to thank you again, Beth. Thank you.”
“Of course, I love you.” I almost add how she was by my side through everything with Jenny before she died, and that getting her a job is insignificant in comparison, but I leave that out. I’m not wanting to drag the mood down.
“I love you too.”
She spears her hand through her golden locks, moving all her hair to her left shoulder and glancing at her split ends. “You’re off, like even more than you have been. And don’t tell me you’re fine,” she says, mocking the words I’ve been giving her all night.
Reaching out for the bottle of wine, she gives me a pointed look. The swish of the liquid is followed by the sound of a car riding down the half-empty lot and I look at it instead of her.