3: #WakeUp—Part 1

Axl

I hate driving; almost as much as I hate flying. Okay, scratch that; I don't mind driving, but from one city to the other because my friend and business partner got stiffed on a serious money wad? It better be a large freaking sum, because it is too early to be driving at this hour. The sun hasn't even come up Yet! Sighing through my teeth as I fight a yawn, squeezing the steering wheel so hard my knuckles are white—the skin stretched tight over the bones. I get over to the next lane; yawning as I decide to blare the radio to keep me awake. Or tries to, anyway.

The rap is loud, shaking the windows of the little Fiat 500 as I keep on toward the next city. Why the hell does Texas have to be so big?

The radio beeps; making the song fade, I press the green button on my phone and soon the song ends to welcome the Spanish accent of my childhood friend. "How's the drive, man?"

"Its shit," I hiss, "you know I'm not a morning person, so why the hell are you sending me?"

"Because you aren't just my friend, you are my best guy I have if someone needs to be persuaded to pay up. Now, you know where the guy is staying right?"

"I do. In room 320; Quality Inn."

I can almost see Ryan's nod, he doesn't say anything else; just kind of makes a small grunt of appreciation before telling me about the small cut of cash I have coming to me after this guy comes up with the money he owes; not too mention the interests I must collect since it's been two weeks with no dinero. "Don't be a disappointment, Parker, we dealers have bills to pay just like the honest working people."

I smile, "yeah, yeah." The call ends, and the music blares again, but this time a new song comes on and I nearly slam on the brakes when the song dawns on me like a lightbulb being turned on. My heart tightening in my chest as I feel myself not being able to breathe. I need to pull over anyway. Ever experienced a panic attack while the sun is just over the horizon? It paints the vast sky a white-gray hue, the clouds glow like silver paper when you shine a flashlight through one side. I focus on those clouds…try to calm my breaths. But, the song seems to amplify in sound—or maybe that is just my own imagination making my panic attack worse.

Suddenly, I am taken back to a faraway memory that I thought I had buried.

Her hips sway to the music, the beat pounding through the tiny speakers of my laptop as she twirls and dances around my small living room. I feel heat not only rushing to make my face all blotchy with an unattractive blush, but heat also exploding toward that one part of my body that I am quite fond of. I chuckle, trying to readjust myself. "You didn't tell me you could dance." My words were breathless, like I'd been running a mile around a real large park.

She giggles, wrapping her arms around my neck and pressing herself against me, "it's not like I'm a professional, Axl. I just…I don't know."

My head tilts to the side as I grab her hips and turn her nonsensical swaying into a slow samba. Thank you, Ryan my Hispanic friend. "What?" She's blushing now, and the moment isn't awkward as we dance. It's not awkward when we kiss…

And It's not awkward when we—

"Stop!" I yell, twisting the radio power switch so hard that I may or may not have accidentally broken it. I hope Ryan has insurance on this car; if not then I probably should buy some superglue while I'm in Dallas. I'm breathing hard, but at least I am…kind of calmer. Well, calmer than I was five to ten seconds ago. Yep. I start the car again, slowly pulling away from the shoulder of the road to continue long drive to the city. I have tried to keep her out of my head; I have tried to lock away every single happy memory I had with her. Why remember it? What would be the point in pouring the proverbial salt in the wounds of heart? Why let the scars fester? I don't need her. She walked out on me. Me.

She is the one who shut me out; who walked away. Because of her drama…damn her! I squeeze the steering wheel, images of my one who got away zipping through my mind as if I was on a zip line in Costa Rica. Damn it!

"What's your favorite food?" She asked me on our first date, I had been having a hard time choosing a dish. It all looked so good, but a cashier only makes so much on a biweekly paycheck. She grins as I had apparently been biting my lip in in decision—this had prompted her to take the menu from my hands. I glare at her, but the glare lasted only a second because I looked into her crystal blue eyes. Dear Lord, she was beautiful that night. "I will order for you."

"Am I five?"

"Um," She cocks her head to the side and looks at the menu. Her lower lip—plump and a shimmering pink—is caught under her teeth. "I choose for you…the chef salad."

I scoff, leaning back in my chair, "at least choose a burger."

"Nope." She narrows her eyes, but I see the amusement on her face. I see the lightness of her joy and that makes me smile at her as she flips the menu back toward me (may or may not have thwacked my nose, but I brush it off).

God, I can't stop staring at her. "You have a beautiful smile."

She giggles, hiding her face under her hair, "stop it, I do not."

"What? You can't take a compliment?"

She peeks at me, "no, I can't take a compliment. They make me uncomfortable."

"How can a compliment make you uncomfortable?" she shrugs, not answering me as the waitress comes to our table to finally take our order. I had the chef salad.

"Get out of my head, Noley," I mutter to myself as head onto the correct exit toward Dallas. The radio had thankfully changed songs to some oldies tune that I don't care enough about to learn the name. Instead, I focus on the road. Becoming aware of the stinging in my eyes, the tightness in my shoulders. Air restriction. I, Axl Parker, want so bad to just cry right now. So bad.

Instead, I continue driving and shove my hurt to the back of my mind where Noley needs to stay.