|Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Author: Maddie Fyrce PM
Fate has always been cautious with guys, but when Chris Shelton bursts into her life, it's hard not to ignore him. But Chris has a big secret...one that could change and endanger Fate's life and everything she's ever known.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Romance - Chapters: 20 - Words: 36,764 - Reviews: 201 - Favs: 90 - Follows: 40 - Updated: 07-19-12 - Published: 07-24-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2217944
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
With the look in your eyes
Like you could save me
But you won't even try
And then you tell me again
How everything will be alright
-I Saw by Matt Nathanson
It was a Friday night in late September and I stood behind the bar of The Elephant and Castle, drying a beer mug still moist from the dishwasher. I plunked the mug down on the shelf behind the counter, thankful that I had some time before 7:00, when the pub would open and a crowd of kids in their mid-twenties (some younger with badly faked IDs), fresh from their classes at the nearby Hadlow University would stream in. I was used to the flirty college boys who became more bold with each drink and were the main contributors to The Elephant and Castle's profits, but there were so many other ways I'd rather be spending my time.
Glancing again at my watch and seeing that I had 15 minutes to spare, I berated myself for once again neglecting to bring a book or something to occupy me during the lull between the lunch and dinner shift. After tying on the short apron I wore to appease the health inspector, I quickly pulled my thick, dark hair up in a messy bun. Walking up to the smudged mirror behind the bar, I rubbed it with my sleeve to clear off some of the grime. My reflection stared starkly back, bored looking hazel eyes, black bangs swept of to one side. Rolling my eyes at the face in the mirror, I began pacing the length of the room. I was never a very patient person, and waiting for things to happen was so dull. Tonight, for some reason, I was more restless than usual.
"Turner," I called to the lone cook, a man of about 30 who was sitting in the kitchen reading a magazine. "I'm bored!"
"Your whining." He growled. "You know I don't listen when you whine."
"Awww, you're no fun!" I complained.
"Where's your name tag?" He demanded.
Damn! I'd been hoping no one would notice. My brown, regulation name tag (stating that I was, indeed, Fate Kennedy) had been missing in action for a few days now, and I had been in the process of searching around my apartment for it. So far, I was thinking it was gone for good.
"Um...it's...in my purse?" I shrugged, not bothering to go into detail with my cover story. Turner knew I'd lost it, anyways.
"You'd better find it before the shift starts." He reprimanded.
"Aye, aye, Captain." I saluted him.
"But not now." He continued as if I hadn't spoken. "It's almost seven. You need to go switch on the signs."
Considering that this was one of the more entertaining parts of most nights, I gladly walked in the direction of the power box. I opened the metal door and flipped on the top three switches at once. Immediately the sidewalk outside was bathed in the multi-color glow from the multiple neon signs advertising different brands of alcohol. The last switch I flipped turned on the big, blue OPEN sign above the door.
Ten minutes later, like moths attracted to a flame, college-aged men and women began flocking towards the glow of the neon lights and the promise of booze. Within half an hour, the tables were crowded and the bar was noisy. Smoke and jazz music floated through the air, raucous laughter adding sharp staccatos to the scene. Calli and Hannah, the two night-shift waitresses, made the rounds from table to table as I stood behind the counter, glaring at the customers who neglected to use the coasters I had generously spread along the length of the bar. All of my customers seemed happy enough, and the two other girls were flirting with some guys. I had nothing to do but survey the room. Round tables with too many chairs crammed around them were scattered around the room. The dark wooden bar with the red gravel countertop was located in the corner farthest from the door. The walls were wood paneled on the lower half and painted deep red on the upper half. A TV was bolted on a suspended stand near the bar and speakers were placed strategically around the room, adding to the noise. All in all, it was a fairly classy place.
The hair on the back of my neck prickled, calling me out of my examination of area. As I focused back on my domain (the bar), I realized a new guy had seated himself just behind the beer tap. His dark, scruffy hair flecked with brownish red highlights stuck up at odd angles but still managed to look somehow styled. He had the stubble of a 5 o'clock shadow on his chin. The man examined his hands which were carefully folded on the bar, protruding from the sleeves of a black leather jacket. Now, not to sound discriminating or anything, but this guy looked like trouble. I made my way down the bar, prepared to take his order or ask him to leave if necessary. As I stopped in front of him, he looked up. Piercing, almost feral blue-gray eyes met mine. For a moment, I was unnerved, wanting to take a step back away from this guy who looked capable of anything. I braced myself, then spoke.
"What'll you have?" I asked, acting for all like the cheery bar wench. A sly grin crept across the guys face.
"I'm not sure. What do you prefer?" He asked me, still smiling.
"It doesn't matter. I can't drink on the job." I smiled back, then rolled my eyes.
"I suppose I'll have whatever that guy's having." Turning to the man next to him he asked, "Do you mind?" Before the startled man could react, the guy with the strange eyes reached over and picked up his drink, taking a dainty sip then setting it back down in the space of ten seconds. He looked back at me. "Yes, definitely what that man is having."
I chuckled to myself. Having worked in a bar since I was 17 (my uncle owned The Rusty Nail, a bar in my hometown), I had thought I'd seen it all. This man just proved to me that all I had witnessed in the past was not all there was to witness.
"ID, please." I ordered, holding my hand out expectantly.
"Do you not trust me? I look old enough to be drinking!" He sounded shocked, but the smile in his eyes gave him away. Acting reluctant, he pulled a worn leather wallet out of his back pocket and slipped me an ID. His name was Christopher Shelton and he was 23, almost two years older than I was. After scanning all his personal information (height, weight, that kind of stuff) I handed the ID card back and he slid it back into his wallet.
As I fixed his drink, I searched my mind for a topic of conversation. School seemed safe enough.
"So, Mr. Shelton, what are you majoring in?" I asked, assuming he was attending the nearby college.
"Garden design." He replied, his face dead serious.
I choked on a laugh. "That's a joke, right?"
Laughing, he nodded. "I'm actually majoring in the veterinary services."
"Really? So one day you'll be 'Dr. Shelton'." I responded, sarcasm edging into my voice. I hardly believed that this guy would actually do something important with his life, and it showed on my face and in my voice.
"Ouch." He cringed, placing his hands over his heart. "You wound me. And please, call me Chris."
"Will do," I replied, not planning on calling him anything.
"Now, it seems unfair that you know my name but I have no idea who you are." He grinned.
"Why do you care what my name is?" I asked suspiciously.
"Well, then I would know who I'm writing love songs for." He teased, the sly smile back on his face.
"Nice try, but I've heard it all before." I rolled my eyes and set his drink on the counter before him.
"Yes, but I doubt any of those other guys actually meant it."
I laughed. This guy was good. Too bad for him, I wasn't interested. "Excuse me, but I have other customers to attend to." I announced, turning and walking down to the other end of the bar where two ladies and a man had just seated themselves.
"Wait! Your name?" Christopher called after me.
"Ask around." I yelled over my shoulder before waiting on my new customers. For the next half hour, I couldn't keep my eyes from occasionally slipping over to look at Chris. There was something about him that naturally drew attention. After I had left him, a pretty girl who couldn't be older than 19 slid into the seat next to him. It was obvious to anyone who cared to look that they were in the heavy stages of flirting. She laughed at everything he said, he smiled his "I'm-so-bloody-clever" smile, she leaned in to touch his arm as she probably complimented his rugged good looks. And he was lapping it up. Every once in a while he would look at me as if to say "At least someone enjoys my company."
At some point in the evening, they left. Together. I rolled my eyes. What a typical guy thing to do. You know, spend all this time flirting with one girl and then leaving with another. I spent the rest of the night chatting to customers, thinking how glad I was I hadn't given Christopher Shelton my name or number or any of my personal information.
At midnight, I was glad to lock up. I switched off all the neon lights, wiped down the tables, and loaded the dishwasher with used mugs. After stowing my apron on its hook (and finding my name tag in the apron's one pocket), I slid into my coat and yelled good-bye to the rest of the staff who were busy with their own chores, then slid out the back door into the alley behind The Elephant And Castle and starting the short walk home. As I breathed in the crisp night air, my mind wandered. The nearly full moon beamed down, illuminating the sidewalk in front of me in its yellow-white glow.
I had just reached red-brick building that was Pinecrest Apartment Complex when I heard it. A shrill, high pitched scream of terror. As quickly as it had started, the scream died. I wondered if the screamer had died, too. Glancing over my shoulder, my heart beating wildly, I quickly jammed my key into the apartment door and rushed up the stairs into the safety of my apartment. Looking out my bedroom window into the park below, I imagined a horror movie scene of a tall, skinny man with a long knife chasing after some poor girl in heels. Closing the blinds, I slid into bed, thanking God that I wasn't the one outside before slipping into a restless sleep.