3. It Sent You To Me Without Wings
Aria was tempted to start playing 'The Job That Ate My Brain' for another hour, bask in the truthfulness of it all and then start moshing by herself. She was resting on her couch in the living room, dressed in white to throw off the thoughts of killing him that was a constant in her mind, as she held a pillow and watched 'The Key' with her favorite old time actor, William Holden.
It was the part when he and the female lead had decided to live together; it was the simplest since it did not seek for love but only companionship. When love came into the picture or feelings of any kind it usually came with jealousy and sometimes even hate. She didn't want to be caught up in anything like that herself—especially on her first day off from C Cup.
She resisted the urge to scream into her pillow, even though suppressing it might just break her in half. It had been more than aggravating to her nerves as she passed out coffee to all of Sparky's—her new name for Hayden since he completely did not deserve to be called by his first—fan girls as they watched him dance. Either he was trying to audition on So You Think You Can Dance on a daily basis or was on some super dance exercise work out plan.
She rolled her eyes skyward to the thought. There was no need to overanalyze stupid behavior. If Hayden wanted to entertain his many girlfriends as he blasted music loud even to murder her eardrums then he was allowed to with the same rule applying to her if she wanted to call him a jerk all the way.
Her grandmother had left to go visit a friend an hour before leaving her alone in the house. There was nothing good on TV or even nice to zone out to. In the midst of all her worker-girl routine she had lost track on all the good shows but it was good since it was summer and most of them would come by the time school started again and by then… maybe she would be rid of C Cup or maybe she wouldn't.
The sudden realization of a somewhat definite end for her job there made her shiver.
To get away from the feeling she got up from the couch and walked towards the little kitchen. The fridge was packed with take out bags since she couldn't find the energy when she came home at night to cook something. Now it gave the same result as drinking coffee before bed, she was too restless when she was given time to relax. Restless enough to call in to see if anyone needed her—if they needed help?
It rang three times before someone picked up.
"Hold on," the breathless voice told her.
Aria walked back into the living room with the phone, wondering at the rate she was going if her eyes would roll out of her head.
"Hello C Cup?" Hayden said, getting into what Aria assumed was the only backroom left that wasn't disturbed by loud music.
"Sparky it's me Aria," she said, pushing the words out… then blanking.
"If you're calling just to chat me up you might as well come over and help out with customers as well," he continued a-matter-of-factly.
Aria bit her lip to keep from making a rude point, something that could peel paint off the walls on the scale of how insulting it was.
"Fine. See you there," she ended, hanging up and groaning aloud.
There had to be something better to say than that earth shaker. She wanted to hit herself over the head with the phone but knew that the police would probably be sent to the apartment to check why she hadn't come into work and then the news would have a field day about the girl who killed herself with a phone. She toned it down to hitting her fist on her head as she walked into the backrooms to change into a white blouse and black pants—the uniform that she had made for herself apparently.
It had taken Aria more than ten minutes to get there. Not that Hayden was hanging by the counter so that he could look at the time on the opposite wall, counting down to the moments when she would walk into the shop and start to yell at him for the loud music and start calling it public obscenity or whatever. This day had been good. He has flirted with the usual and managed to get some coffee orders done. There had been no heart pounding when a certain someone called him by the more than offensive nickname of Sparky (she might as well be calling him Spot or dog straight-out).
No, this had been a pure day.
Of course he was on that note was when she had come in.
Her hair was short but still able to be tied up in a little ridiculous ponytail at the back of her smooth neck. Her light brown face was flushed from the ride there since it was hotter than hell—not that he tested the heat there. Len had told him in one of his more sharing (also known as bitter) moods about the underworld where pictures of him where said to be in every darkly made house. He didn't even know that there were houses there with the fire and brimstone stories and all. Len's insider accounts of it were looking more and more like a Tim Burton movie to him each day.
But one thing the demon had been right about what giving the girls too much individual attention. One of them, Sandra, had been graced enough by him for a thirty minute conversation about the revolution of wakeboarding and had been found in an alleyway by her house by her older brother said to have been walking when she pasted out, after seeing one of the more tactile half demons reveal itself, or maybe even a goblin of some kind. He hadn't the faintest idea of anyone else apart from the demons and liked to keep it that way even with Len's pressing. The fact of the matter was they were all dangerous and waiting for him to slip up and fall for someone so that they could be able to get to and from the underworld, someone who they could control. Not like the lesser half human members who mostly had ties to the mortal world and loyalty to Hayden.
There was nothing keeping them from controlling someone of his heart so the best thing would be keeping from being in love.
At that last thought he bowed his head as Aria's eyes met with his. He didn't need to add to the figurative fire. She was here to do a job for his parents and so be treated like someone who was being paid to be there, even if the customers were few and far between at this hour.
"Hello, Sparky." Aria had come behind the counter to get her apron.
She came out and pulled it on without another attempt at talking to him. It was nothing lost but still he had to bite his lip to keep from responding. He had to be aligned with himself in the battle if he was to beat the demons and others. If he was going to have a few bloodied lips on the way then so be it.
"Denny!" Sandra had walked back into the store, gone for a merciful visit to a friends and now back to bore him.
He gave her a slightly crooked smile before going over. It was going to be painful but he had to live through it. No one would believe that he would ever fall in love with her. One open of her mouth and they would drop the outrageous thought in a beat.
She was safe—though he knew little of which girl he was talking about most.
Aria had been at C Cup for some time, maybe even two hours when he came.
She was more than attentive to the people that had come. Since they were few she took her time with their drinks. Without rushing them it would taste amazing. Or at least she could try for amazing and fall among the stars.
Hayden had gone out for a while with a friend, probably to get away from that girl Sandra. Even though she hardly cared about the things he talked about with other people, anyone with two ears and a mind could figure out pretty soon that she was a bore. Then the door had opened, almost as if it had been blasted by the wind, Mariah Carey wind machine style. Her eyes had turned to the door and she had seen a boy coming through with a dimple laced smile towards her.
And he was gorgeous, immortally sexy a la Beckham.
Aria had to close her mouth with her hand. She was more than embarrassed, but seriously—it was that bad. He was five foot eleven inches of shaved black hair, chocolate brown eyes framed by super long eyelashes.
"Caramel latte," he said out of Johnny Depp shaped lips.
She snapped out of her appraisal of him to work on his drink, to try and work on his drink. She had to do it twice since she had added the wrong ingredients the first time (lemon juice instead of milk, ugh) but had gotten to him in time that didn't make her seem like she was utterly shallow and incapable of concentration on anything other than his looks.
He reached down for his drink and put it up to his lips. Aria tried not to watch but it would be like watching herself cut her own hand off. Not doable. He drank slowly and she watched the drink go down his delicious mouth into his throat, watching his Adam's apple move. She was still half aware of the audacity of her staring as he brought his drink down.
"Are you going to be on break soon?" He was leaning on the counter. Attention focused onto her every breath, probably hearing her heart pounding underneath her shirt and apron. "I mean if you would like to talk at a table...?"
"Give me ten minutes," she told him, knowing that she would have lain down on the floor given him a lung if he asked.
He settled into a seat in the back and she went into the washroom to slap water onto her face.
"Stupid, so very stupid." She pressed her face into a tissue paper, making it rip it half from the moisture.
And now she was talking to herself, even if she was standing in front of the mirror it was still weird. And she felt infinitely stupid. Maybe it was Hayden's flirting genes that were probably getting to her or maybe she was just tired. She had to be out of her mind to have made a (semi date? chat up?) whatever with a stranger that had just come in after two seconds of knowing him.
Especially since he was ridiculously handsome.
She would just have to go outside and tell that Abercrombie model wannabe that the agreement was a moment of weakness. That she had bucket loads, trucks even of work that he would be disturbing with his sexiness if he stayed. She worked up the courage and walked outside with more bravado then she felt on the inside. Just walked straight up to him and completely…
Because without knowing his first name (not so important if not thought about) he was eye candy like no other and was looking at her like she was a goddess.
And what girl can resist that?
"What do you want?"
Hayden had been called out by Len to come meet him in the daytime. In a place other than his basement which would be nice if they were actually friends and Lenny wasn't just some half demon that he hung out with sometimes.
"Nice to see you too and can't believe you forgo the sunglasses from this morning. It would have been a real improvement on the James Dean angle." Len was slipping a drink and looking like he was enjoying the sun. He knew that Hayden was two steps, a twist, and electric slide from kicking his ass so he cut to the meat. "They're after Aria now."
Hayden's eyes were half popping out of his skull. It would be one of those scenes in animes were the lines would appear over the character's head to show how pissed they were—or about to get.
"They know you want her so their going to try and get her," Len said, tone pleasanter than his words. "You shouldn't have avoided her like you did."
"Hold on. First who said that I want her and how do they know?" Hayden knew that he was contradicting himself but his plan hadn't worked. He wasn't thinking ten steps ahead in the start and now he was more than a few behind.
Len smiled indulgently.
"You're an open book when it comes to expressions and we half demons like to read," he explained.
"So it was one of your friends who reported it and wrong?" Hayden asked, trying not to keep his worry out of his voice.
Len's smile widened.
"Nice try there but you know I can smell your fear—very delicious—but even if you weren't willing to admit anything about her yet they know that she is special. That can also be smelt or seen." He waved down the waitress for another drink while
Hayden tried to digest everything that was just thrown at him and came out in heartburn. Ah, he can drink so calmly at a time like this when I'm about to go out of my mind.
"How much time to I have then?" he asked, having no idea yet what the time would be for.
Len shrugged, sun dancing off of his curly blonde hair at that moment and eyes growing darker almost black as he thought.
"Not much, maybe a few days if anything before they get aggressive."
"And in the meantime?" he tried.
Len got up, stretching and definitely leaving Hayden with the drink bill. His shirt was lifted up enough for the ring in his navel to show through. One of the girls nearby looked over and giggled. Hayden rolled his eyes when Len winked at her.
"Just don't let her talk to strangers."
And with that the half demon was gone and Hayden was paying for his drinks grudgingly. He knew that asking Len for advice wouldn't be worth it. It was like going into a rigged carnival expecting to win. Obviously she would have to talk to strangers at the coffee shop. He would just have to figure out which ones were the dangerous kinds.
Crazy. Sexy. Lust.
Aria kept her hands folded on her lap to keep herself from reaching over the table to touch him (he said his name was Jules when she sat down) in anyway she could. It was the strangest thing. Every time she looked over at him she needed to touch. Like having someone else's chocolate in front of you and being so damn hungry. But she was trying to fight it at least. Each time a person would go up to the counter to buy something she would return to her post, get her wits about her, go back to ask him to leave and then have her plan wiped away from her memory. Forget her name when he asked her for it in his lead-singer-mid-love-ballad voice.
It was sickening, scary, and a little too perfect. She was almost glad when Hayden showed up at the door invoking familiar annoyance in her. At least that part of her was normal and functioning correctly. Well, she was glad until he came over, grey eyes flashing in Jules's half amused direction like she was cheating on him or something.
"What are you doing sitting down and talking?! We don't pay you to sit and talk—stand if you have to," he said, probably sounding better in his head as the words crashed down onto her. "This is unbelievable. I go out for two seconds—"
Aria threw an apologetic look at Jules who was standing up already. We shouldn't even keep Sparky inside, she thought angrily. People in the store were starting to get uncomfortable so she interjected on the worker man's speech.
"I will deal with you in a second so shut up and get back there," she hissed at him. She looked back at Jules and grabbed his hand, leading him outside.
"Sorry about that, missed medicine intake and all—" she began.
"I'll see you later."
His parting words smoothed out her anger like poured honey. She stood there dumbfounded after her left, not clear on why she was there or the cause of her anger. Then she was dragged back in and into the backrooms by Hayden. He looked a little manic with his olive face contorted in anger, wild hair pulled back with its usual band, and fading on star tattoos making him look extra menacing.
But she laughed at him because he looked crazier than she was feeling earlier with Jules even though she had forgotten why she had felt that way in the first place for some reason. A brief flash of pain flitting across Hayden's face had silenced her mid laugh. She closed her mouth, settling her arms around herself in a position of resignation.
"Fine. I'm sorry about that, sitting down and talking or whatever. I thought I could take a little break since it was pretty quiet here but it's no excuse. I did manage to get the customers who came to buy in between the little chat—and why are you staring at me instead of screaming now?" Aria had looked up from the interesting floor titles to Hayden's face. He was closer to her than she had remembered him being and he was breathing a little slower. She could almost hear his breaths coming in and out of him from under his t-shirt.
"Who was he?" he asked, so soft that she almost missed it.
"Oh Jules?" It had taken her a second to process the information. He seemed more like a dream than someone who had actually come into C Cup looking for some coffee. "Some boy."
"Nah…" Hayden had moved even closer, vans scrapping against the floor. "He didn't seem like that."
It's none of your business Mr. A-Hundred-Girls-Per-Hour, she thought. But it sounded too bitter, laced with something too close to jealousy for it to be spoken aloud.
"Whatever." She turned to leave but he had gotten a hold of her hand. She was more than surprised at the contact, ripping it out of his leather cuff decorated hands. "Yes?"
"Is he coming back?" he asked in a knowing voice.
"Maybe on one of my breaks, sir. And if he isn't allowed in here I'll just go some place else, boss." She walked out of the rooms to deal with customers in a brasher tone that she usually did. Who does he think he is asking me about other boys? Not my boyfriend, ex, or even a crush—stupid nosey prick. She sent him dirty looks for to deter his glaze whenever she caught him looking at her and brushed past him when the day was done.
Only in the night when there was no one to impress but herself did she feel a little salty and maybe regretful about her actions. She finally convinced herself to pick up the phone but it rang.
"Hello?" she said, holding the purple receiver up to her ear.
"He… he… he… broke up with me!" Lucky started.
Aria had to bit her lip to prevent victory chants from slipping out. She was the girl's best friend and therefore not to be happy in the least at his new development but couldn't stop herself from wondering if Bill needed a little comforting too.
Cute boys. Jealous boys. Un-human boys. Galore.
Trivia time—the name of this chapter is extra important in that about to find Carmen Sandiego way. Plus I'm reading new books that are completely kicking my ass with inspiration. (Eclipse being one of them so if you find any good vamp stories on here—other than The V Word which I read, then give me a heads up).
Don't you completely hate it when other people know what is going on in your head before you do? Or tell you what to do? Or any of those slightly inclusive things? Yeah, this is sort of what centered the chap. And the next one can be full of break ups for friends that were totally not good for each other. Or maybe more Jules (Yummy). So if you're want to kick my butt for the long pause between updates, want to play with Len's navel ring, or just want to read more of this then give me an 'add oil' in a review.