Travelling Route 66 for Charity – Update

Hello my little demons! 😈

I wrote a previous blog post explaining about my charity tour of America, and why I’m doing it, here.

Since then, I’ve already done a lot of planning (yet, still a lot more to go!). I’ve come up with lots of amazing ideas, bought some maps, found some amazing resources and I’m finally getting there with the intial interary.

We’re doing a road trip down Route 66!

(c) Penny Hooper

Now, Route 66 sounds like an easy thing, just follow the sign posts for Route 66, right? But Route 66, as I have found, has had many alterations over the years, bypasses and re-directs, bridges no longer used, cities and towns built up over it, even the start and end posts have moved.

The original Route was established on the 11th November 1926 (although, from what I can gather, it was being built before this), it was altered in 1930 to follow a completely different line between Springfield and East St. Louis. In the late 1930s, the route was redirected again to cut off Santa Fe. The original route used to connect gold and silver mines such as Oatman, but in the 1950s these were cut off, leaving Oatman abandoned. And a lot of the interstates that were constructed saw the Route 66 abolished, some even cut through the route, meaning it’s no longer possible to drive the whole of the old route anymore. I even saw one section is on private land now – and the owners were selling parts of it to keep it safe from further distruction!

As for the start and end points, these were also moved, both in Chicago and Los Angeles, which you will learn more about both when we come to do the tour but also in blog posts along the way. You can see the map below has the old and new routes, the red is the newer route, the pink/purple bits are the older routes.

Now, we could just stick to the newer route, the one that is mostly mapped on modern maps, but that would be too easy! So, we plan to travel down as much of the old route as possible (unless the road is too dangerous, a dead-end, on private property or no longer exists) to see the areas that those early road trippers would have seen.

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_66#Changes_in_routing

Originally, when I was coming up with ideas on what I wanted to do for this American tour, I was adamant to fit in lots. I wanted to see the Florida Keys, Atlanta, Washington DC, maybe visit New York city again, drive up to San Francisco up the California State Route 1 and visit the Bonnerville Salt Flats near Salt Lake City. When I realised doing the Route 66 will take a minimum of three weeks as it is, I knew we couldn’t do all of it. Well, not unless we can take two months off work and have lots of spare money! So, we stuck to Route 66. There will be other opportunities to see the others another time (maybe, if this one is successful, more road trips?)

Of course, we will be doing a few smaller things, such as going up to Milwaukee to visit the Harley-Davidson Museum (already got an invite), a two-day detour to see the Grand Canyon and another one/two-day detour to see Las Vegas (driving over the Hoover Dam of course!). We also plan to fit in a motorbike ride in Los Angeles, not all the way up to San Fransisco, but maybe at least to Pismo Beach.

We have a lot of ideas that we want to do along the way too, as you know, we will be doing this for charity; well, we have picked out at least four charities. One is close to my heart, one is close to Mozz’s, and the other two we both choose. Of course, I haven’t contacted any of them yet, as I’m still finishing off the itenary, and I have to sort out some personal things, but hopefully in the next few weeks, we can share! But we also have a few ideas such as little challenges or charity events on the route itself, one is even quite big, but again, I need to contact a particular charity to pull it off!

Although we have planned a lot of it already, not only researching where the old route goes, marking it on a map, what sites to see, what time of year to go, and so on. We still have a lot to do.

* We need to make sure we get the right visa; this isn’t just a tourist visit, we plan on filming and fundraising, this might not be suitable on a tourist visa,
* We need to work out the best camera equipment; do we spend a bit more to get a decent go-pro or will cheap action cameras be okay,
* What rigs will we need to set up cameras inside a car and on bikes/helmets,
* Maybe even microphones so we get a decent quality sound,
* We need to work out costs involved; visas, flights, fuel, car, insurance, food, side-trips, hotels, even the costs of bags, cameras, internet wifi dongle, subscriptions and software we might need,
* we also need to know which areas are American-Indian territory so we can respect their land (I plan on contacting the AIANTA – American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association for this too),
* And lots more!

I still have yet to set up a YouTube channel, get it establed now and practice filming, editing and the like. I also plan on getting my social media verified, which is very difficult to do. And of course, around all this, I work full time and I’m trying to publish a new book and write a memoir.

So, now I’m going to get back to marking sites on my USA map after spending two days researching the route and marking it out, then hopefully, I can contact the charities and get the ball rolling!

Watch this space!

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

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OUT NOW! in Paperback and e-book!

Today is the day! Today is the 29th of September! The day ‘I fell in love with a Psychopath’ is officially published!

Copy of Coming 29th September!

Here is the link to the Paperback version: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1722710365/

Here is the link to the ebook version: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

Please do spread this news, like, share and tell your friends about it!

And don’t forget to leave that all important review to let others know what you thought of the book so others know what it’s like!

Have a lovely weekend!
~Penny.

13 days to go!

The count-down begins!… Well, it began the moment I got a release date, but I haven’t used that line yet…

13 days left until I fell in Love with a Psychopath is released!

E-book will be available here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

If you would like a paperback copy, watch this space! 🙂

Coming 29th September!

Celebrating my #WritingFail!

I recently was heartbroken to find out that I hadn’t even gotten through the short-list on the Watty Awards 2018 on WattPad and a friend of mine told me to celebrate the fail, it was a sign of true success… Not entirely sure how failing to even get through the first stages of an award is a success… but it was nice of her to say!

But, in light of this little failure, I decided to push through it!

So, I converted my recent book, which is to be published in paperback (hopefully) very soon, into an electronic copy version and it’s been put up on Smashwords!

It will be available to buy and download on the 29th of September!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

(Scroll down to the end of the post for the synopsis!)

Also, in other news, sent an email to another literary agent about Rose Garden Sanatorium – the one that didn’t get through on the Watty Awards, fingers and toes firmly crossed. But worst case, I’ll publish it myself… so it’ll still be available to buy!

Here’s the Synopsis for I fell in Love with a Psychopath:

What would you do if you realised the man you fell in love with had a psychopathic personality disorder?

After getting her degree in history, Jo took the plunge and moved to Chicago. But one day a guy changes her life completely. And not necessarily in a good way.

When she first moved to the city, Jo met Liam. She had a small crush on him from day one. Along with his good looks, he was funny and charming. Maybe a little immature, but he never failed to make her laugh. Finally, one day Liam asks Jo out on a date and she is stupidly nervous and surprised he even likes her!

Jo meets Xander in a bar. He is handsome and confident. He holds himself tall and constantly watches her reactions with mild curiosity. She keeps bumping into him, sometimes deliberately. He seems to say all the right things and do all the right things and she finds herself craving more of him.

The problem was, however, one of them is a psychopath and he now has an obsession with Jo…

I-Fell-in-love-with-a-psychopath-full

First draft finished…! Phew!

While I’ve been busy with university work, job searching, master’s degree applications… I’ve been busy getting the first draft another one of my books finished (I fell in love with a psychopath), as of yesterday I have finally finished the first draft! PHEW!

I know there is still a lot of work that needs doing to it before it can be print ready, but I’m so glad I’ve got the first draft done! I’ve really enjoyed writing this one too…

If you’d like to read what I have already written, I have posted a few chapters already on WordPress, but I prefer to keep my WattPad account more up to date. So head over now to check it out.

https://www.wattpad.com/story/137106427-i-fell-in-love-with-a-psychopath

Now that my first draft of this piece of work is done, I can finally get back to my other work; Rose Garden Sanatorium.

If you’d like to read a bit of that, here’s the link to it on WattPad:

https://www.wattpad.com/story/124077410-rose-garden-sanatorium

I fell in Love with a Psychopath – Chapter 5

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.


Chapter 5

Just before the guy was even able to even think about what to do in that moment, Xander lunged for him. I didn’t really see much, only really a flash and a loud gasp from someone, because I had fallen onto one of my knees and held onto my foot instinctively.

When I looked up, I just caught Xander punching the guy in the face who was knocked to the ground by the force of Xander’s punch. I saw Xander pick something up from the floor and then walk over to the guy, now in possession of the knife.

“Now let’s see what your intestines look like,” Xander sneered.

He was about to bend down when his mate rushed over to him in a panic. He looked white as a sheet. Unlike Xander who looked red from rage. “Leave him, mate, just let him go.”

“Like fuck will I, after trying to steal my watch?” Xander replied, not even looking back at his mate. “Do you even know who I am?” he sneered again at the guy on the ground. He pointed the knife at him like an extension to his own arm.

“Please don’t hurt me,” the guy started to whimper.

“Listen to yourself, you’re pathetic!” Xander huffed and shook his head in disgust.

At this point I had noticed that my foot was actually bleeding, and I cursed under my breath. The rock had caught two of my toes as they had broken its fall to the floor. One of them had started to bleed and I was worried the other one, my little toe, was broken because it was excruciatingly painful. So much so that tears were starting to appear in my eyes. It took a lot for me to cry.

Because I had muttered though, Xander looked over at me and must have only just noticed I was hurt. At this he stood up a little straighter and appeared to talk to the guy on the floor; “Leave.”

“W-what?” said a small voice from the floor.

“Leave,” Xander repeated, looking back round at him. “Just go before I change my mind and cut you open from your throat to your naval.”

The guy clearly got the message as he stood up and rushed away, without even taking his knife. At first he tried to scurry away on all fours and then managed to stand up properly and made a decent run for it, nearly tripping over as he was in a panic to get away.

“Are you hurt?” Xander asked, walking over to me suddenly, not even watching the man run away. He walked passed his friend who was standing stock still in fright and passed him the knife. He took it without hesitation and just stared down at it in his hands as if shocked he now had possession of the offensive weapon.

I laughed. I was laughing at myself. I felt stupid for what I had just tried to do. “That bloody rock fell onto my foot.”

“Why are you bare footed?” he asked, as he towered over me from where I knelt. I was starting to wish I had sat down on my backside rather than kneeling. My knee were hurting as the road was digging into it. Not to mention I was worried about flashing anyone who stood in front of me. Luckily Xander was standing by my side, otherwise it could have been a lot more embarrassing.

“I took my heels off so they wouldn’t draw attention to me.” I gasped in pain as my toe twitched. “Are you going to help me up or what?” I accidentally spat, half in frustration and half in pain.

I heard Xander laugh slightly and he held out a hand for me. Just as I placed mine into his, he turned to his friend; “Get some ice from Mario’s.”

“W-what?” the guy stuttered.

“Ice, Devon, from Mario’s,” Xander demanded, just as he helped me effortlessly into a standing position. “It’s not a hard request.”

“Oh, sure,” the guy called Devon said and then went to wander off down the street back to where Mario’s front door was waiting.

“Devon, don’t take the bloody knife with you!” Xander snapped at the guy.

“Oh!” Devon stopped, turned round, looked at Xander and then at the knife and just placed it on the floor carefully like he was handling something that might explode and just walked away.

He wobbled slightly as I watched him. I was worried he was going to faint and collapse on the hard floor, but he disappeared round the corner and out of sight, and was momentarily forgotten about. Xander was just shaking his head at his friend as he had just placed the knife in the middle of the street.

I gasped again as a pain shot up my foot and up my leg like an electric bolt. It reminded me of when I once been bitten by an ant in Australia. Although double that pain – no, probably triple it. I remember sitting drinking a small bottle of beer the Australians called a ‘stubby’ under a slight canopy in my rented house. I hadn’t noticed there was an infestation of ants right next to my bare feet – what is it with me and bare feet? They were these huge things with blue abdomens, horrible little buggars they were. One had bitten me on my big toe. The pain had shot right up my whole leg. My toe even throbbed for at least an hour afterwards.

Although the pain I felt after dropping a rock on it was worse, the idea was still the same; the pain travelling right up my leg. Although unlike the ant, I was suddenly feeling a little sick from the pain.

“It’s probably best you move out of the street, Jo,” Xander said, his voice seemed to have gotten softer in a matter of seconds. Although I was mostly concerned with the fact Xander had taken his hands out of mine and I was now standing on one leg.

“Yeah, before I fall over,” I snorted, and put my foot down. But as soon as I did, I wobbled dangerously because I didn’t want to put pressure on it and the pain had made me a little dizzy. Xander had to grab me to stop me from falling over.

He had quick reflexes, but he didn’t seem too bothered where his hands landed when he grabbed me. Although, luckily he didn’t grab anywhere inappropriate, but he did have one hand on my arm and the other on my waist.

“I’ll help you,” he said.

I muttered a thanks and allowed him to guide me over to the side of the street.

Just as we reached the side and I was able to lean against a wall – Xander taking his hands off me again – he asked me a strange question.

“Did you not care that guy had a knife?” he asked.

“What?” I asked, looking back at him in confusion, unsure I heard him right.

“The mugger,” he said, “he had a knife. Did you not care?”

“Err… I guess not,” I shrugged. “My main concern was stopping him, I was worried he was going to hurt you.”

“You didn’t have to step in like that, you could have been hurt yourself.”

“If I didn’t, he could have hurt you. Were you not scared?”

“I’m used to it.”

I laughed. “You’re used to people attacking you with knives?”

He looked at me, his deep green eyes seemed darker for some reason. “I’m sort of used to-,” he paused as if choosing his words carefully, “people trying to threaten me.”

I stared at him for a few seconds wondering what that meant. He was used to people threatening him? Why?

Check out the next chapter here!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

Psychopath-2 (2)

I fell in Love with a Psychopath – Chapter 4

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.


Chapter 4

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.

Check out the next chapter here!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

I fell in Love with a Psychopath – Chapter 3

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.

~~~

Chapter 3

“Hey Jo,” said a voice from beside me and made me jump. I span round in my comfortable office chair and looked up at a familiar face of my colleague. My insides twisted the moment I saw him. Well, to be honest, my insides twisted the moment I heard him. “How was your weekend?”

The guy looking down at me smiled his lovely welcoming smile which sent a familiar warm feeling through my body. He leaned on the desk next to mine with his arms crossed, waiting patiently for my answer. All I could think about was how close he was to me and hoping my pale cheeks hadn’t gone red.

The desk he was leaning on belonged to my work colleague and friend; Leah, who was currently away from her desk. The guy currently in her place was one of those guys that most of the girls swooned over. He wasn’t exceptionally handsome. At least not as handsome as the guy I met on Saturday evening in the bar. But he was cute enough to turn heads. It was his charm and sense of humour that mostly won the ladies over. He had a way of making everyone feel comfortable. He liked to joke about and even make fun of himself. Always had a witty comment to say.

“Oh, hi, yeah, was good,” I felt my cheeks flush. “How was yours?”

His smile widened and I couldn’t help but smile back at him. It was infectious. “Same old. What did you get up to?”

“Oh, not much,” I shrugged. “Went out to that bar you told me about on Saturday though.”

I remembered back to Saturday when I met that strange guy. Xander, his name was. After he told me his name, I felt a little uncomfortable and wanted to leave. He ended up convincing me to have a drink, which I just asked for a glass of water – I didn’t want anything alcoholic and risk getting tipsy, or worse, drunk. When he returned he said again he didn’t mean to insult me and said I could ask him any question I liked. I made a point by asking him the same question he asked me; “who are you?” And I saw that familiar small smile creep on his face and reach his eyes. It was as if he liked the fact I had asked him the same question he asked me. He seemed to like talking about himself a little too. Which was why he probably asked the question in the first place. He told me he was born and grew up in Chicago, finished college, never went to university, but climbed up the employment ladder quickly and always seen in that same bar we were in. The conversation went onto the bar for a bit, I mentioned I hadn’t been there before and he only replied; “I know, I would have recognised you.” I then went back to how he knew Bath. He apparently travels a lot with work. I was nearly tempted to ask him about work, but I stopped myself as I wasn’t sure if it would have been an offensive question or not.

It wasn’t until I noticed the bar was thinning out that I realised it was getting late and I had to excuse myself. Xander didn’t seem to push, he just made a comment about hoping to see me again and let me leave.

I had walked away slightly wishing I didn’t leave. I realised afterwards that whatever anger I had earlier in the evening had vanished, replaced with a deep curiosity and attraction. I replayed the conversation in my head and didn’t find anything of what he said odd anymore. He did say he thought he recognised me from somewhere and was trying to figure out where, which was why he was listing places he knew to see if I did. Then he clearly got bored asking – or maybe thought I was bored, I did seem a little curious to the questions, he could have read that wrong and thought I was bored – and the conversation turned into wanting to know who I was. Maybe by asking ‘who are you?’ he was avoiding those boring cliché questions of ‘What do you do? Where do you work?’ I remember reading somewhere that a person’s job shouldn’t define the person, what makes someone happy defines them. Or was it how they treat people? Could have been both. But either way, I figured that could be why he later asked about my work. He was trying to figure out if work was important to me or not. It was also the reason why I didn’t ask him about his work.

I realised when I got home why I was feeling low that night. Realisation hit me while I was scrubbing myself clean in the shower before bed that evening. I was lonely. Although, Xander filled that hole for just under two hours. Even if it was just a strange chat in a bar. But it returned when I got home.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think of Xander again. I actually hadn’t stopped thinking about him. In fact, for a moment, he even made me forget about my crush at work. When Monday morning came around, I plopped down onto my office chair and felt slightly annoyed it was Monday already. Normally I’d look forward to going in, just to see my crush again and hoping that that day was the day he’d ask me out. But Xander was on my mind. It wasn’t until my crush was in front of me that Xander was momentarily forgotten about.

“You went to Mario’s?” The guy in front of me looked shocked. Maybe even a little disappointed.

“Yeah, it is nice in there,” I smiled politely. “You were right.”

“Who did you go with?”

“Oh, I didn’t go with anyone.”

He laughed. “You went to Mario’s on your own?”

My smile faltered.

“Oh, wait, did you go to score?”

“What?

“Find a guy to hook up with?”

My face flushed. I did speak to a guy; that was true. I had some images of me going home with him or even inviting him back to mine. But I also had previous thoughts of him being a serial killer so I couldn’t really rely on what my intentions were on Saturday night. But I never intended to go there to hook up with anyone.

“You did didn’t you,” he said after I didn’t reply and sat himself down in Leah’s chair. He sounded impressed but his face told a different story. In fact, he looked a little upset at the idea.

“No, I didn’t!”

“Oh,” he frowned. “Then why did you go there on your own?”

I shrugged. “I’m used to going to places on my own, I travelled the world on my own.”

“I guess.” His eyes seemed to go off somewhere to the right, as if he was deep in thought about something. I was curious to know what he was thinking. “If you wanted company though, you only had to ask,” he said, apparently coming back to earth.

I felt my cheeks flush. Did he really just say that? “I actually had company for most it.” I tried to shrug. But feeling a little guilty that I was only moments ago swooning over another guy, I felt I was betraying someone. But that someone wasn’t even a someone. Not to me anyway. Just a crush.

His eyebrows rose slightly, clearly not even trying to feign his surprise. “But you just said you didn’t hook up and you went alone.”

“I met a guy, but I didn’t hook up with him,” I replied.

“Oh,” he said. He was suddenly lost for words. The first time I had ever seen him lost for words.

“Why are you so concerned about what I did there anyway?” I asked, swinging my body round on my office chair to face him.

“Babe, I mentioned that place for a reason, not so you could just go there on your own!” he said. His eyes wandering over my body slightly as he took in my green dress I was wearing. It made me feel even warmer as his eyes skimmed over my body. I hoped to hell I didn’t have horrible red marks on my knees where I had been crossing my legs or he wasn’t put off by my white bits. “I was sussing out if you wanted to go there one day.”

“What?” I blurted out accidentally.

“I wasn’t sure if you liked going to those places, bars and shit – it was something Leah said – so I was trying to figure out if you were interested and then I was going to ask you out. But I got interrupted on Friday and didn’t have a chance.”

“You were going to ask me out?” I asked in shock.

“Sure.” He nodded. “What do you say? Want to go back again? This time with me?” He smiled wildly again.

“Oh,” I gasped. But before I was able to answer, someone interrupted us.

“Liam, get out of my bloody chair!” Leah was back.

The guy in front of me; Liam, shot out of Leah’s chair in a flash, like he had just been stung by a wasp. He suddenly wore a strange expression on his face. One I couldn’t quite place. Either he was surprised to see Leah standing there – which was absurd as it was Leah’s desk and Liam knew that. Or Liam was just scared of Leah for some reason.

When I thought about it, I hadn’t seen Liam and Leah together in the same room for a while. I wondered if they were avoiding each other. Maybe one of them had upset the other. I wouldn’t be surprised, Liam had a habit of saying the wrong thing sometimes. Along with his witty funny side, he sometimes said things that he thought was funny but was actually rude.

I thought it was odd that Leah was upset with him though, she used to swoon over him just as much as I did. I had never told Leah that I was into Liam, as I was worried our friendship would be affected. I never twigged that Leah hadn’t mentioned Liam for a while, not until then.

Leah sat back down in her chair tentatively after Liam shot out of it and gave Liam a rather disgusted look back. “What do you want anyway?” Her New Zealand accent stronger than usual.

“I’m here to talk to, Jo,” he replied, looking away from Leah and then back at me. “Let me know what you say,” he said, before wandering off again without hearing a reply.

When Liam was out of earshot, Leah swung round to me and narrowed her eyes at me. “What did Liam want?”

Leah was a brilliant beautiful woman. Originally from New Zealand and came to Chicago with her father when she was in her late teens. She had curves in all the right places, a lovely brown face that made you think she was constantly going on exotic holidays, and had full luscious dark brown hair. Her eyebrows even looked perfectly shaped. I envied her.

“Err, well, apparently he was asking me out.”

Her face fell. “What?”

I frowned back at her and leaned over slightly. “Has something happened between you two? Did you have an argument or something?”

“Something like that,” Leah sighed and span her chair round to face her computer again. “Just be careful of Liam.”

“What? Why?”

“I can’t say, just be careful, Jo.”

“Sure,” I replied but watched Leah for a few seconds trying to figure out what she meant by that. Be careful of Liam? But he was just a bit of a joker that was all.

I span back round to my computer and sighed deeply. My thoughts went to Liam suddenly. I was thinking about what he had said. Had he just asked me out? I had been wondering about this for months, wishing Liam would finally ask me out. I was up and down trying to figure out if he liked me or not. He seemed to be friendly with most girls.

But as soon as I thought back to going to that bar with Liam, my thoughts went to Xander. It was his local, I couldn’t go there with Liam now, I might bump into Xander!

And then there was what Leah said.

Click here for the next chapter!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

I fell in Love with a Psychopath – Chapter 2

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.

~~~

Chapter 2

It must have been over an hour before I started to relax slightly around this guy. Or it could have been the alcohol. We sat chatting for almost two hours in total, while he tried to figure out where he knew me from. Well, he chatted, I mostly uttered one word answers or the occasional small sentence.

He at first asked if I came to the bar often. I didn’t, it was the first time I’d been there. Then he asked if I had heard of some restaurant. I hadn’t. He mentioned some place with a strange name. I didn’t even know what it was let alone heard of it. He mentioned a company. The name sounded vaguely familiar but I wasn’t sure from where, so I said no. The questions continued one after the other, all the while he sat there watching me curiously.

That was the first hour anyway. The second hour, or what was left of the second hour, was a little different. It wasn’t until I noticed he had gotten a little bored with the conversation and something changed. I remembered thinking at the time; he must have a short attention span.

The conversation had suddenly become weird too. He had given up asking questions that required closed single answers and seemed to start asking a different type of question. Questions that was a little odd in nature, ones I couldn’t possibly answer.

“So, who are you, Jo?” he started after taking a small sign and catching me unaware.

“Sorry?”

“Who are you?”

“You know who I am,” I said. One of those rare sentences I had managed to string together.

“No I don’t,” he replied and took a long pause. It was the pauses that made me nervous. Like I was waiting for him to do something spontaneous in that time frame. I don’t know what, but I had a feeling he was the spontaneous type. My thoughts ranged from him dragging me out of the bar and having his wicked way with me up against a wall, or dragging me out of the bar and murdering me in a dark alleyway. “All I know is your name’s Jo and you interest me, that is it,” he said again. His deep penetrating eyes surveying me.

I literally gulped. I wasn’t yet relaxed at that point. I was still nervous. It was the ‘you interest me’ that set me on edge slightly.

“What do you want to know?” I asked, trying to remind myself that it was just a conversation. A slight sense of confidence suddenly appeared. There was no harm in a conversation. I’ve done it loads of times. It’s not like I’ve never spoken to a guy before.

“I don’t know.”

My confidence vanished. What did this guy want me to say? Was he interested in knowing where I was from? Where I worked? Who my friends were? What?

“Err, well…” I started, “I’m from England–”

“I know that, I can tell by your accent,” he interrupted and then paused again, waiting for me to continue. Waiting for something interesting.

“Okay, well… I moved here a few years ago. After travelling and working a little. I have a Master’s degree in History, I’m mostly interested in ancient history though, not the world wars or anything. I…” I paused, I ran out of things to say. My mind drew a blank. “I don’t know what else to say really.”

“You were on a roll,” he said and smiled again. A smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

I didn’t know what to make of that. I had never met a guy like this. Not one that actually cared enough to know anything about me. I’d met the odd guy who asked certain questions, but more of a formality than anything; “Where are you from? Where do you work? How old are you?” those sorts of questions. But this guy didn’t ask those questions. He asked who I was. A vague question. A question that was difficult to answer. A question that seemed to require an interesting answer otherwise he wouldn’t be interested.

“Well, tell me about yourself?” I asked. Trying to take control of the situation, but not sure I really wanted to know. I was worried about what I might find. Although at the same time, I did want to know. He was mysterious and judging by the watch on his wrist, rich too. I know, thinking back to it, it was an extremely weird interaction. He just wandered over and started talking to me uninvited. He was demanding to the point of arrogant.

“No, we’re not talking about me yet, we’re talking about you,” he said. And I could have sworn I saw him looking disinterested suddenly.

“I… I don’t know what to say.”

“Okay, where in England are you from?”

Easy question, I can answer that one. “From a little city called Bath in South West of England. You might not have heard of it, it’s–”

“In Somerset. South-east of Bristol. Known for its Roman baths. Became a World Heritage Site in nineteen eighty seven,” he said, interrupting me.

“You know Bath?” I asked in shock, feeling my nervousness slowly ebb away.

“I do. I’ve travelled to England a few times.” He nodded. But he didn’t linger on the subject for long, to my disappointment. “Next question; what University did you study at?”

“I got my undergrad at Oxford and my master’s at Edinburgh.”

He gave a small nod. If he was impressed by my qualifications, he didn’t say. Most people did when I mentioned Oxford at least, and those that knew Edinburgh were equally impressed.

“And why move to Chicago?” he took a sip of his beer.

“Err, a number of reasons; I like travelling and I wanted to further my career.”

He didn’t seem too interested in that answer. Like he was expecting me to say something remarkable about how I had got my big break and it was only here in Chicago.

“Where do you work?” he asked.

“Oh, I don’t currently work in anything to relate to history. I just got a pretty boring job working in an office.”

His eyes narrowed. Wrong answer. “So, you got your master’s degree in ancient history but you’re working in an office that doesn’t relate to it?” he quizzed suspiciously.

“Err, yes?” I said. I made my reply sound like a question, not an answer. I felt suddenly concerned that this guy was disappointed in my life choices. I had said something wrong. I needed to fix it.

“Why?”

“I…” I paused and thought for a few seconds, what was wrong with the truth? “I moved here temporarily, I just got a job anywhere just to get my feet on the ground, get settled, before I could apply properly for history vacancies-”

“Why not just wait until there was available and then apply?” he interrupted.

It was my turn to frown. I suddenly realised that I didn’t need to justify myself to some guy. Regardless if he was attractive and possibly rich. I didn’t care who he was, I wasn’t going to bend over for him. It was my choice to move first without my big break, so what if he didn’t approve? How dare he question me? “I don’t know you’ve noticed, but there aren’t many vacancies in ancient history,” I snapped.

“There are lots of a teaching positions around the country,” he replied, not even noticing that I snapped at him.

“Yes, but I don’t want to teach!” I huffed.

“Why?”

“Because I can’t stand people!” I said, raising my voice angrily.

At this the guy raised his eyebrow and smiled at me again. This time his smile reached his eyes a little. “Something we have in common.”

“Then why come over here? Or are you just here to mock me?”

His smile disappeared. “I’m not mocking you.”

“Sounds like you’re questioning my life choices!”

“No, I’m just asking questions.”

“You just asked why I don’t just wait in England and apply for a position when one was available. You sounded as if you were mocking my choice to come to Chicago first without the job.”

“I was curious, I wasn’t mocking you.”

“Right.” I frowned at him. No longer sure what to say.

There was few moments silence between us before the guy in front of me finally filled it. I was mostly aware that he was just watching me. I was starting to get a little nervous again. Plus, I was starting to realise how strange this interaction was; he came straight over and started to ask questions. He didn’t even introduce himself. I started to realise I should probably leave.

“Do you want another drink?” he asked.

I looked at him, looked deep into those green eyes for a moment, trying to figure him out. When I couldn’t see anything there, I groaned slightly before answering, “No, I don’t want another drink!”

“Okay,” he said, apparently unbothered that I was raising my voice and clearly annoyed with him. Instead he just stood up.

“What are you doing?”

“Getting another drink,” he said, and paused as he stood. I was able to appreciate the bulk of his body and his lovely and clearly expensive suit he wore. It looked black in this light.

“What the hell?” I huffed.

He just frowned at me, as if he was confused by the question.

“You think I want to speak to you again after you insulted me? You didn’t even apologise!”

“I didn’t mean to insult you.”

All I heard was; ‘I’m not apologising’. I laughed, which the guy just gave me a funny look, like he couldn’t tell why I was laughing at him. “You come over here, demanding to know why I am familiar, you probe me with questions, then insult me, and I don’t even know anything about you, not even your name, you didn’t bother to introduce yourself.”

“You didn’t either.”

“I did, I told you my name is Jo.”

“I asked you for your name. You didn’t ask me.”

“What?” I laughed again. And he looked at me strange again.

There was a few moments silence between us. He just stood there staring at me while I was just scowling at him. I didn’t want him to leave, I still found him mysterious. But at the same time, I was annoyed with him for being rude.

“Xander,” he finally said, breaking the silence.

“What?”

“My name; it’s Xander.”

Check out the next chapter!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

I know… I know… finish one you’ve already started, Penny. But I can’t help it! These ideas just come to me in the middle of the night, or maybe while I’m in the shower, or I could be staring into the abyss again and I have to write them down!

Anyway, my feeble excuse out of the way… Have a look-see what I’ve already written. *grin*

NB (updated 10/02/2020):
If you’re new to the story, I added a prologue,
please read it here.

~~~

Chapter 1

I was feeling pretty low when I first met him. I was sat in a bar, wallowing in my own self-pity as I stared into a welcoming glass of rum and coke. I knew ordering a rum and coke was a little immature. A glass of wine would have been more adult-like. Maybe a glass of whiskey to remind me when I lived in Scotland. But fuck it, I was in a bad mood and I actually needed a reminder of my teenage years to lift my mood.

It didn’t. It actually made me feel worse.

I didn’t know at the time why I was low. Realisation came a little while later.

I sighed and looked up from my disastrous drink and scanned the bar. I noticed a couple of lads laughing at something funny while one of them rubbed his face in embarrassment. I wondered what was so funny. Maybe the embarrassed one told a humiliating story and that was why he was red in the face? Or maybe the others were reliving something from another day that the guy didn’t want brought up again for the hundredth time?

My attention then drifted to a young couple who were barely looking at each other. Their faces were almost white from the glow of their phones they were staring into. I snorted as I imagined them either talking to each other via their phones instead of talking across the table, or maybe engaging in a pathetic attempt at advertising their wonderful night out on social media.

I sighed again. This time deeply as I brought my glass up to my lips to take another sip.

As I did so, something had caught my attention. Well, more appropriately; someone. My smile fell from my face. The smile that I didn’t even realise I was wearing until that moment. I realise now that that smile wasn’t a happy smile; it was a bit of a cynical smile from imagining the previous couple having a fake good time on social media.

I noticed I had faltered slightly, the glass raised to my lips but not moving any closer. His eyes only briefly glanced at me, but it was enough to send a curious shock through my body and linger dangerously.

I hadn’t noticed him before now. I don’t tend to notice people right away. My first instinct when I’m walking into a bar on my own is to find a table that is both free and far enough away from too many people. Usually in a corner or by a wall so as to not draw too much attention to myself and so I can sit and people watch. It’s not until I have successfully got a drink and slinked my way onto the table quickly enough that I can relax a little and look around myself.

The group with the curious and allusive embarrassing tale were the first people I properly noticed. The couple were the second. And he was the third.

As soon as I noticed him, however, my attention elsewhere was nearly non-existent. He had a strange air about himself that drew all attention to him the moment you noticed him. Everyone else was just background noise. Or extras in a film. There, but not really important. The main characters were important. It was as if he was the main character in this film.

He was ruggedly handsome. Short dark hair, either dark brown or black, I couldn’t tell in the poor light of the bar. A strong jaw, cleanly shaven, with a curious scar on his thin upper lip. He wore a crisp suit, which was also dark, it could have been black but I wasn’t ruling out any other dark colours. He held himself tall while he took large gulps of a beer. He clearly seemed unbothered by the noise around him. Like he too thought it was unimportant background noise.

I found myself staring. My glass now back on the table, that sip I had been meaning to take was never taken. It had lost its appeal. It was as if the welcoming liquid in the glass held no more significance to me and might as well have been stale water.

I gasped as his eyes flicked to me again. His deep endless green eyes seemed to stare straight into my soul and almost reveal my biggest weakness right before me. I was helpless. I even saw a faint flicker of a smile.

Little did I know, that was the beginning.

I remember reading somewhere once that most women – probably only the straight women – usually go for the tall, muscular men who are confident and powerful because they want a partner who can protect them. I also remember thinking that every time I thought of my Mr Right, he would be tall and muscular too. As well as confident enough to protect me and keep me safe. I knew no one was perfect of course, I was expecting some flaws in my Mr Right. But those were definitely my main requirements.

I’m not saying that guy at the bar was my Mr Right. In fact, I’m certain he wasn’t. Far from it. I imagined my Mr Right as a loving guy, with a wacky sense of humour to make me feel better on my low days, who loved me unconditionally and even enjoyed cuddling – I know, cliché much! The guy at the bar didn’t even strike me as that sort of guy. Even then, on that first day I met him. I couldn’t imagine him wanting to cuddle or even having any form of sense of humour. But Mr Right was suddenly forgotten about. Especially when the Mr Most Probably Wrong stood up and walked right over to my table.

“Have we met before?” he asked. His voice as deeply masculine as his features. The now familiar American accent I had gotten used to boomed in front of me. Even his voice sent an involuntary shiver down my spine. I should have realised then that I shouldn’t engage in any form of conversation with him. He was entrancing and it was dangerous.

But of course, I couldn’t help myself; “No,” was the only thing I could say. Unable to string a few words together to complete a sentence.

I was happy enough to know I spoke the right word; I didn’t know him. I was certain I’d remember him if I had ever seen him before.

He watched me for a few seconds. His gaze had some sort of superpower as I felt the hairs on my arms start to raise.

“Are you sure?” he was stern and commanding.

“Yes,” I uttered another single syllable word.

“What’s your name?” he practically ordered. It wasn’t really a question; it was a demand.

I remember thinking that I shouldn’t answer. I shouldn’t give him my name. I didn’t know this man. What if he was a serial killer looking for his next victim? But of course, my lips seemed to move on their own accord; “Jo.”

“Tell me, Jo,” he started. I was unable to read any emotion on his face or his voice. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was currently incapable of reading people or if it was him. “Why do you look familiar to me?”

“I… I don’t know,” I stuttered. Well, at least it was better than a single syllable word.

He seemed to watch me again for a few painfully long seconds and I could feel my palms getting sweaty. He seemed dissatisfied with my answer. As if it was my fault he couldn’t figure out why I looked familiar to him.

“Sorry,” I uttered involuntary to break the uncomfortable silence between us. The background bar noise didn’t even register to me by this point.

For the first time I saw his face move, other than his lips. His right eyebrow rose. “What are you sorry for?”

“For…” I paused. What was I sorry for? “For not being much help.”

“I don’t know…” Another movement, this time a small smile. A smile that made you falsely believe you were in safe hands. “I still think you can.” He suddenly plopped himself down in the chair opposite me uninvited and took a swig of the beer he was holding. The beer I’d only just noticed he even had.

Click here for the next chapter!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

Psychopath-2 (2)