If you’re new to the story, please read the prologue here.
This work is my first draft and thus unedited, so may be subject to changes.
The next week and a half went by in a mess. Or was it that I was a mess?
Later that day, after Liam had asked me out – well, sort of. He finally managed to ask if I wanted to go out on Friday. I was already busy Friday, I had made plans with Leah to go out with a few of her friends for a meal. It was a favour for her. She had found out her ex-boyfriend was going to this meal because he was best friend with her best friend’s fiancé or something and she needed someone to back her up. It was an interesting night actually. Her ex-boyfriend was actually really lovely and didn’t hold any grudges against Leah and was quite happy now with his new girlfriend. Even Leah went away – albeit a little drunk by the end of the night – a lot happier knowing that there was no bad air between them.
Liam then asked me if I wanted to meet up at the weekend, but he was busy Saturday and I had already arranged to skype my friends back home and do some well-needed cleaning on Sunday. I had a pile of washing and ironing and my apartment was a mess. I hated it being a mess. But I counter-offered next weekend, so as to avoid it sounding like I was brushing him off, and he agreed.
So, I had a date with my crush, Liam, on Friday after work.
That was in two days.
When Wednesday came, I found myself sat in my apartment fiddling with my thumbs. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was too nervous about Friday evening. I had tried reading a book, but when I read the same line about five times I gave up. I tried to watch TV, but everything just reminded me of Liam and I was a nervous wreck watching it. Even this silly advert about a super-power man with kitchen clothes that is able to scrub away any tough bit of dirt reminded me of Liam – he was always sneaking up to people and blurting lines from the advert. I tried to clean more of my apartment, I hoovered my floor again, even though it didn’t need doing. I washed all my dishes, put a load of clothes on to wash, dusted, cleaned the windows, even gave the kitchen a good scrub. But by about half seven, I had done everything and was bored – and a nervous wreck.
I plopped myself down on my sofa and stared at my blank TV screen, just about seeing my reflection in the mirror. For some reason my own reflection reminded me of a poster I read. The poster had these girls on the front of it drinking cocktails. I think it was because one of the girls looked a little like myself and my mind decided to bring it up now. The poster itself – although not very well done from what I could remember – was trying to advertise a deal on cocktails. Every Wednesday evening they have a two for one deal on cocktails at the bar. It was as if my unconscious was trying to tell me something: go to the bar.
The only problem was; the bar was Xander’s local.
But was that a problem? It’s not like I was going there on a date. I was just hoping to pass the time until Friday without going crazy with nervousness.
Before I was able to talk myself out of it, I was out of the shower, dressed in my favourite red dress and out of the door heading for Mario’s.
“Can I have two Mojitos, please?” I yelled to the bar man about the unexpected busy noise. I couldn’t help but think the extras were back in place. I just needed to figure out where the main star was again.
“Two Mojitos coming up,” said the bar man, before he wandered over to the drinks shelf to grab the white rum and pour a two shots into a large metal mixing decanter.
As soon as he poured one shot in though, I turned around to face the bar to scan the faces.
I huffed under my breath as I couldn’t see who I was looking for. I had caught the attention of a few guys because of my red dress, but none of them interested me.
Last time I was at Mario’s, I had worn jeans and blouse. This time, I had made an effort. My red dress always got me attention. I had read somewhere once then men were attracted to the colour red. So not only did I have my red dress on, I had deliberately accentuated my eyes in dark make-up and wore a deep red lipstick.
I realised as I was sat in a cab that I was being stupid. I told myself that I was only going for the cocktails that was it; I was bored and wanted cheap drinks. But as soon as I saw my reflection in the cab window, I realised it was more than just me being bored and wanting cheap cocktails. I wanted to see Xander again. I felt guilty; I had a date with a perfectly nice guy on Friday. Liam. I was looking forward to it, I was even nervous about it to the point of feeling sick. Unless it was because Xander had been a distraction from Liam last time, that I wanted him to take my mind of Liam again?
Or was it something else?
But whatever was going through my mind. Conscious or not. Xander wasn’t in the bar.
“Here you are, love,” said a voice from behind me. The young barman had made me my Mojitos already and had placed them on the bar top. I smiled and took out my purse from my clutch. After I paid for them, I wandered over to a free booth which appeared to be wet where someone had clearly spilled a drink, and slumped down in disappointment.
I was there for an hour and a half, sipping my Mojitos. I only had two. I decided it wasn’t worth getting another two in fear of drinking too much and having a hangover at work tomorrow. It wasn’t until I was trying to drain the remainder of the melted ice in the bottom of my glass that I realised there wasn’t much point staying there either.
I sighed and stood up from the booth, taking the glasses with me and putting them on the bar top. The bar man giving me a small nod in appreciation as he noticed me, and I just smiled back and left feeling hugely disappointed, both at not seeing Xander and with myself for even thinking this was a good idea in the first place.
When I got outside and started to sulk away, I noticed there was a bit of an incident happening down a side street. The side street was actually down the side of the bar. It wasn’t an alley; unlit, dark and smelling like urine, like back at home in the UK, but it was definitely a little darker and less populated. I noticed there was a guy yelling in the distance as I walked past the street, my phone out in my hand ready to call a cab. I stole a glance down the street and saw there was a guy in dark clothes yelling at another guy. Another was present but was holding himself back away from the scene a little.
But I gasped and stopped in the middle of the street when I seemed to recognise one of them.
I stared down at the commotion and realised finally what was going on. Someone, the guy in dark, held something in his hand. I had a feeling it was a weapon. I wasn’t sure if it was a gun or a knife. But the thing that upset me to the core was that he was clearly threatening a guy in a grey suit. It was a mugging. And the guy in the suit, even from this distance, I knew who it was.
I rushed into the shadows of the street and took my shoes off, now bare footed I walked down the other side of the road and towards the issue, hoping and praying that the attacker didn’t hear me and didn’t attack before it was too late.
Not that I knew what I was doing, but I was hoping that coming up from behind him I could find something to whack him across the head and knock him out. I’ve had my fair share of incidences to be able to protect myself, although none have involved a gun. But me, walking barefooted down the street, looking for something to use as a weapon, was their only chance.
“Just give me the watch, Rich Boy and no one will be hurt,” I heard the guy in the black hoody. Now realising he was in a filthy hoody that was up over his head. His posture was bent and I could see a glint of a knife in his hand.
“I’m not giving you the watch, so either you stab me or fuck off,” said the deep booming voice that went with the masculine bulk in a suit.
“Just give him the watch, Xander,” said the guy holding back. Looking apprehensive.
I didn’t realise at the time, as I was too busy looking for something large and heavy, that Xander really didn’t give a shit the guy in front of him had a knife in his hand.
“No, this watch was a gift from my grandfather, I’m not…,” he paused, his green eyes suddenly fell on me, just as I reached down and found a large rock on the floor next to a large bin. I put my finger to my lip to signal him to stay quiet. His eyes flicked straight back to the attacker in a matter of seconds. “I’m not handing it over. Over my dead body!”
Xander’s friend hadn’t noticed me yet, but the attacker had noticed he paused and went to turn around to see behind him. He would easily have seen me. I held in a gasp as I had straightened up, putting myself in a position to run if I could. But Xander took a step forwards as if to go for the guy and he stopped and held up the knife in his hand at Xander. “You move and I’ll stab you!”
“And you move and I’ll kill you,” Xander said, his voice sounded a little menacing.
The guy seemed to falter slightly, suddenly unsure whether to pursue this idea of mugging Xander and must have been weighing up his options. In the meantime, I had started to slowly make my way towards the guy now armed with – hopefully – a weapon in one hand and my heels and clutch in another.
But just as I made my way slowly and quietly across the street, hearing my own heart pound in my ears and my head yelling at me to leave Xander and save myself, I stood on something and gasped in pain.
Unfortunately, however, the guy with the knife had heard and swung round, knife swung round with him, still in his hand. His emaciated face sunken and pale, his grey eyes fixed right onto mine. I remember seeing pure madness deep within them.
I gasped again and accidentally let the rock in my hand slip from my grip. It landed painfully on my bare foot and I screamed in pain.
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Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue