Authors: K. M. Neuhold
Later that night I’m spacing out, watching
when Dex storms in, looking like he’s about to throttle someone. I’ve never seen him look so pissed. And, in all honesty, it’s a bit frightening due to his hulking size. Suddenly I remember that he’d mentioned earlier that he’d been planning to go hunt Remy down at a party tonight.
“Rough night?” I ask conversationally.
“Yeah you could say that.” He yanks his hands through his hair with agitation.
“What happened? Didn’t find Remy at the party?”
“Oh no, I found her.” He let’s out a humorless laugh and I flinch at the implication.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what he must’ve walked in on. Remy’s reputation is even worse than mine, and that’s certainly saying something.
“That doesn’t sound good.”
I head to the refrigerator, grab two beers, and then hand one to Dex.
“It could’ve been worse, they were just making out. I know she’s not my girlfriend, but goddammit I thought that there was something going on between us.”
I gulp down some beer and start to absentmindedly peel the label off.
“Am I just being a total dipshit chasing after this girl?”
I stare at him for several seconds, weighing my words carefully. I’d honestly not seen Dex chase after a girl before, so that either meant that Remy was something special or he’s finally reached his celibacy limit.
“I know Remy a little bit,” I say.
His head whips up immediately, his gaze is murderous. He clearly made the leap that two people with
reputations had likely fooled around. I hold my hands up in defense.
. I’ve run into her at a few parties and we’ve talked a little. She’s a sweet girl, and she doesn’t seem like she gets around to prove a point or bolster her confidence. She’s a beautiful girl who enjoys sex. I also know I haven’t seen you get caught up in a girl in the year that I’ve known you. You’re the only one who knows if she’s worth it or not, but if she is then you shouldn’t get deterred just because she did what she’s used to doing. If she’s not used to guys sticking around then you need to show her that you won’t be scared off that easily.”
“Okay,” He says with resolve, gulping down his beer and then slapping me on the back.
I barely get changed before there’s a knock on my door. I plaster on a smile and swing the door open to greet Brahm. He peruses my modest button up blouse and jeans and then nods with approval. His inspection rankles me. Asher had certainly been enjoying the way my soaking wet outfit clung to my curves, so why doesn’t my boyfriend want to see my body? I immediately feel guilty for this thought. Not only because I’m betraying Brahm’s trust in a way by wanting Asher’s attention, but also because I know Brahm thinks he’s doing what god would want.
“So what were you doing with your friends?” Brahm asks as we wait for our food at the quiet off campus restaurant.
“We had a water gun fight and then watched Netflix.”
Brahm stares blankly at me for a moment like he’s expecting me to say ‘just kidding’.
An awkward silence falls between us and I try not to squirm under his gaze.
“Will I get to meet your friends soon?” He asks.
“Yeah, actually Nikki wanted you to come on Friday to dinner with us so everyone can meet you.”
He nods approvingly.
“So, I didn’t get a chance to ask before about your being home schooled. I’m very interested in that.”
I cringe slightly at his question, I know he doesn’t want to hear ‘it sucked’ like I told Asher.
“It was...difficult for me. I wish I’d been able to go to school and make friends,” I answer delicately.
“Well, I think home schooling is a fantastic idea. I absolutely want to home school our children,” He announces.
I choke on the water I was sipping. Our children? What the eff?
“I know we haven’t been dating long, but I hope I made my intentions with you clear. I see a future with you Eve. We have the same beliefs and values, those things are the most important factor in starting a family.”
I try to smile instead of grimace, I don’t know how successful I am. Seriously...our children? We just started dating, I’m not even sure I like him yet.
I tug on a purple tank top and a pair of skinny jeans and decide that I actually look pretty hot. I smile with satisfaction thinking of Asher checking me out. This thought is followed by a tinge of guilt due to a knock on my door by Brahm.
“Come on in,” I call out as I search under my bed for my shoes.
“Is that what you’re wearing?” Brahm asks tersely.
I feel a blush creeping into my cheeks.
“It’s like eighty degrees out today,” I point out, feeling the need to defend my outfit.
“It’s even hotter in hell,” Brahm says.
I stare at him blankly, I’m honestly not sure if he’s making a joke or some weird threat.
“You know, we really don’t have to go tonight.”
“No, I should meet your friends, you spend an awful lot of time texting them and hanging out with them,” He says. His tone says that he doesn’t want to argue about going.
His commanding attitude rankles me. I’m starting to feel like this isn’t going to last very much longer. It was painfully clear to me on Wednesday night when I went to dinner with Brahm after hanging out with Asher that the two men are simply not comparable in any way. I’d spent hours laughing and having a blast with Asher. With Brahm it was like I was at a funeral. And, after his awkward comments about us having children together his days are numbered.
I also hadn’t yet mentioned that I work at
, but I’m sure he’ll find out somehow when we’re there tonight. I just hope he doesn’t act like too big of a jerk in public.
“Fine, let’s go.” I gesture to the door and he leads me out.
As soon as we arrive I’m greeted by Nikki and Lee, waving at us from a table in the corner. Uh-oh, it’s right next to the wall of employee pictures that Abby had started last week, which includes a picture of me dressed as Princess Leia in a gold bikini during one of my shifts. Brahm is going to throw a fit. Another part of me hopes that Asher notices the picture and likes it.
“Hey guys,” I greet Nikki and Lee with a hug.
“Hey, Remy isn’t going to make it tonight, she says she’s not feeling well. But, I think it has more to do with avoiding Dex,” Nikki explains conspiratorially.
Abby and Ethan show up a few minutes later looking ruffled and flushed, I can only imagine what they were doing that made them late. And, finally Asher shows, looking a bit down. I’m itching to ask him what’s wrong, but as soon as he sees me his face lights up and he pulls me into a hug. Brahm frowns and looks between us suspiciously.
“You look delicious Angel,” Asher whispers in my ear before breaking the hug.
Brahm clears his throat beside me and I reluctantly introduce him to everyone.
No sooner do we sit down that Asher notices the photo of me on the wall.
“Am I hallucinating or is that a picture of you half naked?”
I blush as all eyes fall on me, most looking amused, with Brahm of course looking pissed.
“Yes it’s me. And, don’t laugh I made a butt load of tips that night.”
“What are you talking about?” Brahm asks in a low voice.
“Eve works here,” Abby answers like it's the most obvious thing in the world. And, I suppose my boyfriend knowing where I work should be a given.
Asher’s eyes fall on me questioningly, no doubt wondering why my boyfriend doesn’t know where I work.
“I see,” Brahm bites out the words crisply, and suddenly I’m actually worried that he’s going to flip the heck out later.
Luckily the waitress arrives to take our orders before the feeling at the table can get any more tense.
“Hey Aubrey, could I get the Dalek Burger,” I say, giving her a smile.
“Actually, she’ll have a salad,” Brahm interrupts.
All eyes on the table fall on him with disgusted glares.
“You have to watch out for that Freshman fifteen.”
Aubrey looks to me for confirmation. I blush and nod. I so do not want to get into it with Brahm right now.
I can feel Asher’s eyes on me across the table and I do everything I can to avoid his gaze. Once everyone has placed their order conversation turns to light topics such as Abby and Ethan’s wedding plans and speculation on what exactly is going on between Remy and Dex.
In no time at all Aubrey returns with our food.
“Wow, that was quick,” Asher comments.
I whip my head towards him with mischief in my smile.
“That’s what she said!” I exclaim excitedly.
Everyone looks at me in surprise before they burst out laughing. Asher reaches over for a high five.
“Nailed it,” He says proudly.
“Well that was disturbing,” Brahm scolds me.
Asher catches my eye and mouths ‘that’s what she said’. I bite my lip to keep from laughing and I force myself to cast my gaze down so Brahm doesn’t see the humor still sparkling in my eyes.
“You know Angel, between that picture and your dirty mouth I may need to come up with a new nickname for you,” Asher says with a wink.
Asher takes a knife and cuts his burger in half and plops half of it on top of my salad with another wink. He turns a deadly glare on Brahm, daring him to say something about it. For some reason the challenging look in his eye causes heat to bloom between my legs. I shift in my seat, not sure what to do with these feelings. What I do know is that I’m supposed to have these feelings for Brahm, not Asher.
Further proof that this relationship is in it’s death knells.
There are two things I know for sure by the end of the night. One, Brahm is a complete douchenozzle and will likely end up eating my fist. Two, that picture of Eve in the Princess Leia bikini is going to star in my fantasies for years to come.
Brahm seemed pissed at Eve when they left, and I can’t help but worry about her. Around ten at night my worry gets the best of me and I send her a text.
Asher: hey Angel, everything ok with the boyfriend? he seemed pissed
I wait about ten minutes without a response before I start to get really worried. I pace my room like a caged lion until I decide to just go over to Eve’s to make sure she’s okay.
When I reach her dorm I don’t hear any raised voices or anything. I knock tentatively and wait. It seems to take hours before the door opens. Eve stands there in a pair of pajama shorts and my t-shirt that she wore home on Wednesday. Holy hell that’s so hot.
“Asher?” She asks with sleepy confusion.
“Sorry Angel, I didn’t mean to wake you.” Now that I know she’s okay I breathe a sigh of relief and turn to go.
“Wait,” She reaches out to grab my arm. “What are you doing here?”
“Honestly?” I pause uncomfortably.
Is is weird that I was worried about her? Friends can worry about friends can’t they?
“Asher, tell me.”
“I was worried about you. Your boyfriend…” I stop and shake my head, I don’t want to call her boyfriend an asshole shithead because that might make her mad. “He seemed mad...I was worried.”
“Yeah, he was mad. When we got back to the dorm I just made him leave because I knew he wanted to fight with me. Then I went to bed,” She explains. “Thanks for worrying about me.”
I pull her into a quick hug and because, as we’ve already established, I’m a masochist. Then, I give her a brief kiss on the cheek.
“Any time, Angel. Do you want to do something this weekend at all?”
“Well, I work tomorrow, but I’m free Sunday.”
“Now that I know what you wear to work I might just have to stop in while you’re working,” I tease.
“Shut up, I got a lot of tips.” She shoves my arm playfully.
“I bet you did. Looking at the picture made
want to give you a tip.” I wink at her and her face blushes bright red. “Good night Angel.”
The bar is busy Saturday night and I once again rake in the tips in my gold bikini outfit. I wonder briefly if I should feel bad about parading around half naked for money. Does that make me like a stripper or prostitute? I sigh internally realizing that morality is so much more of a gray area than I was raised to believe.
At the end of the night I pop into the back to change back into my normal clothes.
“Eve,” Abby calls to me from behind the bar. She pulls out two bottles of Apple Ale and waves me over.
“I think we should talk,” Abby says gesturing at the bar stool and pushing the drink towards me.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“No, this isn’t an employee-employer conversation, this is a woman to woman chat.”
I sit down and eye the apple ale.
“It’s good, trust me.”
I take a sip and am surprised to find it tastes just like apple cider.
“I don’t want to butt into your business Eve. But, I’m a bit worried about you,” She says, coming around the bar to sit next to me with her own drink in hand.
I can’t help but worry that this is about my spending time with Asher. So far he’s been nothing but a nice guy and a good friend, so I really don’t want to hear any more about him being ‘too advanced’ for me.
“You haven’t dated much, so you may not know what’s normal and what’s abnormal. But, the way I saw Brahm treating you is absolutely not okay.”
I almost breath a sigh of relief that we’re talking about Brahm and not Asher.
“He doesn’t hurt me or anything, he just thinks he knows what’s best. My father was the same way,” I try to explain, more in defense of myself than of Brahm.
“That’s what I was afraid of. I understand that in some religious families the women are made to believe that they aren’t as capable of making decisions as a man is. I want to tell you that this is the twenty first century and women do have a voice. You don’t belong to any man, you are your own person, capable of making your own decisions.”
“Okay,” I nod meekly taking another sip of my drink.
“I know I probably seem a bit intense about this... but, I was abused when I was young, before I knew what was normal and what wasn’t. I feel like it’s my responsibility to protect other women when I can.”
“Your boyfriend hurt you?” I can’t picture Abby letting a man hurt her at all.
She nods solemnly.
“My boyfriend in high school used to beat me up, verbally berate me, and...rape me,” She explains, her voice breaking on the last two words.
As if summoned by her tears Ethan appears from the kitchen and puts an arm around her.
“What’s going on?” He looks to me like I did something to upset her.
“Relax macho man, I was just talking to Eve about Brahm,” Eve assures him.
He takes her face in his hands and kisses the tears off her cheeks. My heart aches at the tenderness of the gesture.
“No offense Eve, but that guy is a complete tool,” Ethan says.
I have no idea what a ‘tool’ is but it definitely doesn’t sound like a compliment.
“I know guys, I’ve been thinking I was going to break up with him anyway,” I assure them.
“Good,” Abby gives me a hug.
“Thanks for being my friend.”
I’ve never had so many people worry so much about me before. It’s really nice.