The third time Lauren encountered Chloe turned out to be the worst day of her life.

Two weeks ago, Lauren had finished her novel. Most of the loose ends had been neatly snipped and tied together, leaving a few dangling for an open ending. Her readers would never be happy if she didn't give them a few loose ends to salivate over while she worked on her next project. The female lead had finished all of her business and was laid to rest...for now. A mouthy redhead with a story to tell...Lauren wasn't sure the girl would ever really leave her alone.

For now, work was over and Lauren suddenly had all this free time. She'd stepped out of her lair (study) with her head held high, ready to face the world...and found nothing.

When she'd finished every other novel, Jamie had always been there to greet her and take her out to dinner to the flat was empty. Glancing at the clock above the door, she saw that it was ten minutes to midnight. Sighing heavily, Lauren reminded herself that he had to work the next day. He was probably already in bed.

Making her way silently to the bedroom, she saw that the door was firmly closed. That was new. Opening it slowly, she frowned when she took in Jamie's figure. She couldn't put her finger on it...but something wasn't right. He was in bed. He was asleep...that was normal. But the way his back was to her side of the bed, the way he was curled in on himself...she'd never seen that before.

Had she really been shutting him out that much? she hadn't. Not really. Not any more than she had during previous novels. Maybe he'd just had a rough day at work.

Deciding to let him sleep, Lauren quietly changed for bed and slipped in beside him. She'd tell him her good news in the morning. She tried not to be too hurt when his sleeping figure shrugged off her touch. He was asleep. He didn't know what he was doing. His body would probably do anything to protect itself from whatever it'd seen... In his mind, her touch might not come from her. It could come from someone bringing bad news. It could be some kind of shadow...

To him, she could be anything...


The next morning, Lauren woke up alone. No kiss before he left. No teasing note telling her to remember to eat. Nothing.

He didn't text her back.

He busied her phone calls.

By the time 6pm rolled around, she was going crazy.

It didn't help that she'd been running the last month back through the non-writing-spree filter. Sure, she'd been throwing herself into the book in an attempt to get all the words in her head onto paper. Yes, she barely saw him. She only escaped from her lair to eat or sleep...sometimes. Sometimes she'd just catch a few hours on the couch and then go straight back to writing. It wasn't healthy, but it wasn't long term either.

She hadn't noticed the changes. She'd been immersed in her own little world.

Three weeks and six days. That's how longs things had been wrong for. That was the last time they'd had sex. Since then...nothing. He was more interested in his phone than her. He just looked through her when she did resurface. He...he wasn't right.

Lauren knew she sometimes went off the deep end when it came to her writing. She openly admitted it. But how did she miss this...

It wasn't until he didn't come home for dinner that she began to feel ill. When she got her phone to text him, she found a text from the day before telling her he had plans with Alex. She'd been that engrossed in the novel that she'd read the text and promptly forgot about it. It took her all of three minutes to decide that she needed to take action.

Yes, she'd pushed him away because of the novel. It was wrong to expect him to play second fiddle to an imaginary world. But she was back now and she could begin to make it up to him. A few texts to her best friend told her all she needed to know – the boys were heading out to a pub she'd heard of but never visited. It was called On the Rocks or something like that...even walking by it gave her a sore head. But for Jamie, she could stand the rock anthems for one night.

Twenty minutes later she was almost ready and Louise was knocking on the front door. As she put her earrings in, Lauren frowned a little at her reflection. There was just something about it that was familiar...and not in a good way.

Lauren couldn't figure out what it was that bothered her and Louise just laughed and said it was because she felt like she was cheating on her jeans with the dress.

Cream dress that hugged her figure. Black heels that she'd forgotten she owned. The necklace Jamie had bought her for her birthday. Long brown curls tumbling down her back. Minimal make up. Not too bright lipstick and emphasis on the eyes...

Sighing, Lauren gave up trying to figure out what the problem was. It was probably linked to the weight that was currently residing in her stomach. Grabbing her keys and following Louise to the taxi, she decided that she was just out of practice with this whole 'being social' thing.


When they entered the bar, Lauren had to fight back the cringe that came with the music. She didn't have a weak stomach by any means nor was she a bra-burning feminist – you just had to read her novels to see that – but that didn't mean she liked songs that screamed that 'you look so much cuter with something in your mouth'. She had to take a deep breath and remind herself that she was doing this because she was a good fiancée. That Jamie did a lot for her so the least she could do was endure some of his music...even if his taste in music was questionable.

A quick glance around told her that they weren't downstairs. She didn't recognise anyone in the place. She just had to trust Louise when she grabbed her arm and started towing her towards a set of stairs that lead onto another level.

The first thing Lauren noticed about the lower level was that it was a lot quieter. It looked more like a lounge than anything else. She didn't have a chance to take anything else in, because suddenly Louise had stopped, spun around and was trying to push her back up the stairs.

"They're not here. Let's just go. They might be on the second floor. Or actually, how does a girls night sound? We don't need the guys to have a good time."

If this had been during a writing spree, Lauren maybe wouldn't have noticed the panic in her best friend's voice. She would have taken it at face value. Now, she was paying a little more attention.

Planting her feet firmly on the stairs – a feat in itself considering that she rarely wore heels – Lauren looked around the room to see what had spooked Louise. It didn't take her long to find it. There, in the back corner over by the pool table, was Jamie. He was standing at one end of the table, his cue between his hands, gazing hungrily at the girl taking her shot.

Auburn hair pulled back into a high ponytail. A sheer cream shirt buttoned half way over a blank tank top. Skin-tight black jeans. The girl took her shot, potting her ball. And another. And another. Her fourth attempt hit the pocket. The girl slowly rose from leaning over the table, a smirk playing over her lips. Jamie had closed the distance between them in a second, his hands going to her waist as he claimed her lips for his own.

Lauren was terrified that the kiss was going to go on forever. That several sunlit days could pass before the couple came up for air. Salvation came in the form of Alex, who stood a few feet away with a cue in his own hands. "Dude, they're kicking our asses. Can you at least put her down until the game ends? This is torture."

A laugh floated over his last words, and Lauren's eyes snapped to the girl sitting on a bar stool to the left of Alex. Red heels. Red dress. Black hair styled to perfection. The best friend.

The girl in Jamie's arms laughed and rolled her eyes in Alex's direction. She extracted herself from his arms and headed back towards her best friend to grab her drink. Even from this distance Lauren could tell that the purple concoction Chloe picked up was something she'd never touch in a million years.

When she walked out from behind the pool table, Lauren was almost surprised to see black knee high boots. She'd been expecting purple heels.

Swallowing past the lump in her throat, Lauren tore her eyes away from the scene in front of her. As she locked eyes with Louise, it suddenly felt like someone had turned the volume back up. She could hear the music, hear the chaos that was the bar...and she just wanted out.

"Yeah," closing her eyes, Lauren nodded and choked out, "Yeah. I think we better go."

I'm evil aren't I? xD

HesMines x