Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

Warning: Strong language!

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Chapter 1

“Oh, for fuck sake!” I grumbled, as a passing car drove through a puddle and splashed me. I looked down at myself, just as a fellow walker on the path shot me a disgusted look. Probably at my language. I didn’t care. I was instantly hurdled into a bad mood. But I was glad to see I wasn’t that wet; the water had mostly got my boots and—

“Shit!” I exclaimed. The reason I was mostly spared from the dirty puddle water was because the majority had splashed on my laptop bag. I had been carrying it in my hand as it had moments ago been hurting my shoulder. But I didn’t hold much hope that the bag was waterproof.

I wiped it down as much as I could with my bare hands and hoped and prayed to a God that I wasn’t even sure I believed in that the laptop tucked safely inside hadn’t gotten wet itself.

I sighed and looked up to see a bar just a few feet away, right next to a rather lovely Mediterranean restaurant with a few bamboo plants outside. I made a mental note to check it out one day. The bar itself was just as elegant—just lacking the plant-life—with a lovely bold black and red sign which read; Da Vinci’s, which looked quite new. I huffed and decided to go get a well-deserved drink and check my laptop was still working.

The door was a little too heavy, but I tried not to show how heavy I found it. I didn’t want any men to think I was weak and could take advantage. I then trudged up to the bar confidently. Fake it ‘til you make it, I had heard once. It was my new motto in life.

“Excuse me,” I said to the barman. He was quite a good-looking guy, with dark brown hair, a small stubble of a beard, and wearing a white shirt, black trousers with a black waist-coat. Although a little too young for me, so I tried my hardest not to smile or stare too much and give him the wrong impression. I had a habit of attracting men who got the wrong impression.

But just as he moved to wander over to me, I saw a guy behind him that instantly caught my attention. He was handsome. Very handsome. Much more my type. Although, he was undoubtedly way out of my league. His black raven hair short and slightly standing up, a little ruffled as if he’d run his hands through it in frustration, a strong masculine hand resting on his handsome clean-shaven jaw, propping himself up as his elbow rested on the bar top. He appeared to be frowning at the laptop in front of him.

It suddenly felt a lot warmer in this bar than the first two seconds of walking in.

My attention went straight to his hand. It was a habit I had started doing lately. I was looking for a wedding ring. Nothing. That didn’t mean he was single though. Not that he’d ever be interested in me.

“Hi doll,” replied the barman, breaking my attention away from the devilish handsome man behind him. I was trying to will him to look up at me; I hoped if he looked up, I’d might be able to find out if he found me even slightly attractive or not. Maybe find that strange spark I hear about in films and romance books. I had a short-lived dream that our eyes would meet across the bar and an instant spark come between us, my world slowing down as he came over to introduce himself. But he was too engrossed in his laptop to even notice me.

“Hi,” I said, smiling at the barman suddenly, feeling my voice getting a little louder as if I subconsciously wanted to attract the attention of the other guy, but being as nice as possible to the barman, so if he did look up, he’d see I was friendly at least. Although, deep down, I hoped the barman hadn’t caught me goggling at his only other customer in his bar.

“I, err—” I’d suddenly forgotten what I was going to ask for. My mind drew a blank.

Wet laptop, that was right!

“Do you have any paper towels? Some inconsiderate buggar just drove through a large puddle and got me wet.” I felt myself flush at my own comment. I had too many male friends who would have heard that comment and found a hidden sexual innuendo in it. I just hoped neither men at the bar; the one behind the bar and the stupidly handsome one still staring intently at his laptop with his frown creating a rather curious line on his forehead, would have noticed.

I had also noticed with a slight twinge of embarrassment that my voice not only was a little too loud, but my stupidly southern English accent had accentuated the way I said buggar.

“Oh, damn,” said the barman, looking genuinely remorseful. “Sure, let me get you some!” He suddenly took two steps away and drew out some green paper towels before he brought them over to me. I just tried to keep my eyes on him and not the guy behind him who was now typing away at something with an indifferent look on his face.

“You know, you can always use the hand-dryers in the ladies,” the barman continued, after passing me the towels, “my girlfriend is always spilling drinks on herself, she says using the hand-dryers is better.”

I mentally found myself sighing in relief at the thought of this guy already having a girlfriend—although hoping it wasn’t too evident on my face. An ex-boyfriend had once told me my face was expressive. He didn’t mean it in a nice way either. At least there was less chance of the barman trying to hit on me; the one man in the bar I didn’t want to hit on me.

Although, a small part of me wanted to challenge myself to that unspoken agreement I had with myself only a few days ago. I had told myself that it shouldn’t be up to the men to make the first move. Women should make the first move. More importantly, I should make the first move.

“Oh, thanks, but it’s for my laptop, not me.” I smiled, but I suddenly felt myself blush, as the handsome man staring at his laptop suddenly looked up. Our eyes met only briefly as he took a sip of a drink that looked a lot like whiskey. His eyes were back down on the laptop in mere milliseconds. It was over so quickly that I could have just imagined it. I didn’t even manage to get what colour they were.

I suddenly felt deflated. He didn’t even smile at me. His eyes didn’t even linger enough to suggest he was attracted. There was no Hollywood spark. Nothing. Well, there goes the idea that he might even be in to me.

“Oh, sure!” the barman smiled. I looked back at him, trying to keep my eyes fixed on this man instead, as well as trying to keep my face straight and not frown in my disappointment. He didn’t seem to have noticed, and he certainly didn’t seem interested in hearing my story about how my laptop got wet. “Do you want a drink?”

“Yeah, might as well!” I nodded and sighed, feeling tired and sore now that I thought about it. Well, I had just trudged from university with my laptop over my shoulder, heading towards my bus stop before I got splashed. “Do you have Dalwhinnie?” I asked, feeling a little defiant and wanting to drink something that might impress. I didn’t want either of the men thinking I was just a silly woman who also was a bit accident prone. Although, I didn’t really want a glass of Dalwhinnie, I actually just fancied a glass of coke. I felt a little thirsty after trudging out of my class and carrying around my laptop everywhere. A glass of whisky wasn’t going to quench that thirst. But I had somehow convinced myself whisky was the better choice in my situation.

I noticed the barman lifted a curious eyebrow at me and I felt a small inward triumph. Although for a split second, doubt creeped through me that that eyebrow signalled something other than being impressed. “Of course. You want a glass of that?”

“Please.” I nodded and smiled sweetly as I started to unzip my leather jacket and loosen my small black scarf around my neck. It wasn’t that cold outside. It was spring. Nearly summer. But it was the Scottish weather; it was a little cold for me. I preferred warmer weather.

“Ice?” the barman asked as he wandered over to the glasses and picked up a glass very similar to what the handsome man had. I noticed then that the handsome man was looking up at me again and I felt my cheeks flush again. My hopes skyrocketed, but my self-doubts kept them from going too high.

I just gave him a raised eyebrow and smiled at him before deliberately cutting off the eye contact myself this time and looked back at the barman, who I playfully frowned at and said, “And risk diluting it with water? No, thanks.”

The barman looked up at me curiously again but smiled when he noticed I was smiling at him. He nodded. “Good point. That’s three-ninety, please.”

After the barman placed the whisky on the bar top, I shifted my laptop shoulder strap over my shoulder and reached into my pocket of my leather jacket, bringing out my bank card to pay for it. “Thanks,” I muttered politely and was about to hand him my card when he spoke, and I stopped in my tracks.

“We only accept payments over five-pound, love, sorry.”

“Oh!” I felt panic rise in me. I felt instantly stupid. I should have asked that they take card first. As soon as my face fell into sheer shock, I noticed the handsome man was back to looking at me again, a small wicked smile on his face. I felt a little small compared to him as if he was mocking me. But I suddenly had a brilliant idea. “In that case, make it two Dalwhinnies.” I smiled triumphantly.

The barman raised his eyebrow at me again but held a strange frown on his face. This time I was sure he wasn’t impressed. Maybe he was worried I was going to get too drunk and needed to be escorted out of the bar. But I wasn’t going to explain and ruin the idea I had.

He seemed to reluctantly make me another Dalwhinnie and placed it on the bar top while watching my face curiously. It was as if he was waiting for the answer to appear on my forehead. But he finally passed me the card reader so I could pay for the drinks. I was grateful to pick up the two glasses, the paper towels shoved into my jacket pocket carelessly and walk passed the bar towards the back of the room.

I had deliberately aimed for the large booths at the back. There were three large booths with large built in seats. The deep red leather looked inviting and comfortable. Plus, more importantly, it meant having to walk passed that exceptionally handsome customer at the bar.

As I walked past him, smelling a wonderful masculine yet probably expensive fragrance, I stopped and placed one of the Dalwhinnies next to his hand. “That one’s for you,” I said, with the sweetest smile I could muster. He looked round at me in surprise, just as I caught a glimpse of an email account open on his laptop with what looked like a lot of unread business emails. But he frowned as if I had just invaded his personal space and I added quickly: “With that frown on your face earlier, you look like you need one just as much as me.”

I then wandered off while taking a sip of my own glass, without even waiting for him to say anything. I was sure I could feel his eyes staring at the back of my head in amazement. I didn’t want to give him chance to brush me off; I wanted him to know that I was just being polite and friendly, not coming onto him. I imagined a lot of women hitting on him, being as handsome as he was, and that was the last thing he wanted if he was busy with work stuff. But at the same time, I wanted him to take notice of me and not as the silly girl who didn’t carry change around with her.

It’s not like I was expecting him to be interested, I just wanted to feel a little in control. I knew a guy like that wouldn’t be interested in me. I was short, looked young for my age and always seemed to look like I was scowling at everyone. I didn’t even think I was that attractive. Not like most of the girls I’d seen in bars. Plus, guys seemed to like the girls with thick make-up and blonde hair. My hair was a dark shade of red—natural of course—one side would flick out while the other flicked in, and if it was too wet outside it would go frizzy. I had stopped dying or bleaching my hair a long time ago, realising that I should just love who I was, my unruly red hair, stupid button nose and all. I was a bit of a rocker-chick too, with my dark eye make-up and leather jacket, rather than a sweet girly-girl, and I was proud of that.

I had also made a promise to myself. After having terrible luck with men; having dated what seemed like only manipulative men or desperate men who just didn’t want to be alone. Then I had a deliberate two-year single spell. I realised that not only was I worth more than the low-life men I had dated in the past, but I wasn’t going to settle for a guy just for the hell of being in a relationship. I wanted a decent relationship. Hell, I wanted a best friend to spend my life with. If I couldn’t find that person, then I was happy enough just being single and making the most of life.

But in those two years, I had a lot of time to realise that I hadn’t really had chance to meet any decent men. I wasn’t sure why it was. Maybe it was because I was unattractive? Maybe it was because I looked too young? Maybe it was because I prefer to wear jeans and t-shirts instead of wearing a dress and getting uncomfortable and cold? I moved to Scotland, it was a little cooler than England. But I also thought that there was another possibility; after speaking to my male friends, a lot of them had admitted they don’t like to approach attractive women in fear of being rejected. So, somewhere in my head I decided that, why should it be men that approach women first? More importantly, why didn’t I approach men first? Rather than waiting for them to approach me? Not that I thought I was attractive! That was another problem; I was sure it was because I was unattractive that men didn’t approach me. But I was going to fake confidence and test it out.

That handsome guy at the bar; he was just a test to see if I could do it. Seems I could. Although, with a ridiculously fast beating heart, stupidly sweaty palms, the thoughts of doubt quickly creeped into my head as I settled into the seat.

Why did I just give a guy a glass of Dalwhinnie? What if he didn’t want it? What if he didn’t like Dalwhinnie? What if he thought I was stupid? Oh god!

Click here to read the next chapter!

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Don’t forget to check out my other works!

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

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

Update! This might be my last post for a while…

So, tomorrow I drive to the South West of England to start my next chapter… a Master’s Degree!

I nearly didn’t, mostly because I got a phone call from the car hire company and I found out that I ‘failed’ a house check… long story, but it’s sorted now! Managed to book another car, although it’s slightly more expensive, and it was all rather stressful as this all happened last minute! But panic over… for now.

As a result of this move, this new chapter, I may not be online as much. I have enlisted the help of a friend to be my Marketing Manager, who will (hopefully) take care of Twitter, my Facebook Page, my Website and Instagram at some point.

My book ‘I fell in Love with a Psychopath’ is still going to be released 29th of September. The e-book is on a pre-release, so it’ll release automatically on the 29th, and I will be releasing the paperback myself on the 29th, if all goes to plan!

The 50% off for the e-book version of ‘It’s My Mistake’ is also still running, if you subscribe to my newsletter on my website you will be automatically given the code:
https://thegirlwhowhispered.wixsite.com/pennyhooper

You can also buy the paperback version here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709

This is the e-book version here (currently at 35% off on the website, but if you sign up to the newsletter, you can get 50% off!): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

That’s it for now! I will try to blog, as I will be trying to keep my writing going, but I can’t imagine much exciting happening! I will try to keep WattPad up-to-date, but I’m not keen on investing too much time on WattPad these days! Too much time goes into it for such a little return!

But in a years time, I am hoping to push it hard! I will look into opening my own business, getting my books printed by a third party company, attend events (book signing events) and invest in real advertising/ marketing!

All the best!
~Penny.

Coming 29th September!

P.S. Don’t forget I’m on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Feel free to connect here:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

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!

Coming 29th September!

It’s true! I Fell in Love with a Psychopath is coming out on the 29th of September!

Coming 29th September!

If you’re an e-book fan, you can pre-order your e-copy here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

Otherwise, watch this space for the paperback version!

Don’t forget to check out my new Teaser Trailer for Rose Garden Sanatorium here!

Chapter 5 of The Love Square on WattPad!

I’ve published Chatper 5 of The Love Square up on WattPad!

Read the story here:
https://www.wattpad.com/story/159227215-the-love-square

This is Part 2 from Ender’s Love, you an also read the story on WattPad, or you can read The Love Square as a stand-alone!

The Love Square

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

… But I need your help to get to #1!

Yesterday I got a little notification from WattPad… how I love to see that little red dot on my WattPad account to tell me I have another notification!

And when I opened it up yesterday, I found my story; Rose Garden Sanatorium, had made the Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

*Gasp*

I have a LOT of faith in that story, so I know it will do well, I just need people to give it the chance. ❤ And seeing it make the Top 10 really made my day yesterday (especially since I had a slightly crash because of my Fibromyalgia too, feeling better today though!)

WattPad has a lot of readers (and writers, like me) who love to read stories, but I see a general pattern with the *type* of stories that get read the most on there… they’re mostly romance. Now, I don’t mind, I write romance too, but for the stories like Rose Garden Sanatorium which doesn’t focus heavily around romance, they are harder to get seen. Well, to be honest, getting recognised on WattPad is hard enough as it is! So, Rose Garden Sanatorium, although it’s been my main project since January 2017, hasn’t been as popular on there.

I have submitted it to the Watty Awards, I have sent it to a literary agent, I have even sent it to WattPad Studios as I have faith it is a good story (the whole series is). And winning Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards is (hopefully) the first step into getting more momentum on the story!

HOWEVER… it seems that to win top spot on the Cryptic Awards means I need people to vote for it, so I am writing this in a plea to people to go on WattPad (it’s free to set up, if you don’t have an account) and vote for Rose Garden Sanatorium to be Number 1 and Best Dark Adventure!

Here’s the link to where you can vote: https://www.wattpad.com/616298631-the-cryptic-awards-closed-%E2%99%A6-the-choosing-%E2%99%A6

Voting closes on the 15th September 2018.

And here’s the link to the story if you’d like to read it before then:

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

1. Rose Garden Sanatorium NEW (2)

Rose Garden Sanatorium made it to Top 30 in an Award!

If you’ve been following what I do on WattPad, you may have noticed that I have submitted to a few awards recently (as well as WattPad studios, which is another story!)

One of the awards I submitted was to the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 – two books have been submitted, ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’ and ‘I fell in Love with a Psychopath’ into two very different genres.

Today, I got a notification to say they’ve got the results for the Top 30 Paranormal and Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller genre, and my book ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’ got through! 😀

Check out the results here: https://www.wattpad.com/612140018-earnesty-writer%27s-awards-2018-top-30-paranormal

I’m super exciting, because that one is my favourite and it would be absolutely amazing if I won something!

If I don’t, it’ll still be brilliant that I get a few new people reading my work, and hopefully build up my popularity. 🙂

If you want to see what all the fuss is about, check it out here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/124077410-rose-garden-sanatorium

Looking forward to find out if the other one does any good on the Earnesty Writer’s Awards, as well as the other Awards I submitted to… Including the famous Watty Awards! 😀

1. Rose Garden Sanatorium NEW (2)

Butterfly House – Chapter 2

Note: If you’d like to read the Prologue and Chapter 1, please find them here:
Prologue
Chapter 1


Chapter 2

The sound of music filled the air as a red Aston Martin Vantage convertible drove down a relatively busy road in the city centre of London, its roof down. The owner of the car, a young pretty woman with long brown hair tied back into pony tail, sunglasses and a large smile on her face, tapped to the beat of the song on her car door as she rested her arm out the window.

The car gave a bit of life to the street for a few minutes, the happy song filling everyone with joy, and the bright beautiful car turning most men’s heads, even a few of the women who either appreciated the car too, or were hoping to see a hot rich guy in the seat instead.

The woman grinned as a set of pedestrian lights turned red, signalling her to stop. She grinned because stopping the car was sometimes the best bit, being able to concentrate on the people around her and not the road, taking in their looks and agape faces as they stared. She winked at a young lad, no older than eighteen, but realised he probably couldn’t see her eyes behind her glasses so gave him a cheeky grin instead.

But just as the lad stumbled across the road, his cheeks going red, the music dulled and her car speakers were filled with a ringing sound instead. She sighed, looked down at her mobile which was on the passenger seat, recognising the caller ID, she pressed the answer button on her steering wheel.

“Hello, beautiful,” she said, making a balding middle-aged man look round in shock as he walked passed the car, and suddenly looking embarrassed when he heard another voice come from the speakers, knowing instantly that that hot woman in the expensive car wasn’t talking to him.

“Al, next Saturday!” said a woman’s voice.

The woman in the car, just as she started to drive off now the lights were green, gasped and said, “Have you realised you love me, so you’re leaving Dillon and running away with me?”

The woman in the speakers laughed. “Lunch, babe.”

“Ah, that’s the next best thing I suppose.”

“Is twelve okay?”

“Midnight?”

Another laugh. “Lunch at midnight?”

“You know me, I like to live life on the edge, thought maybe you were taking a leaf out of my book?”

“I’m in bed by nine these days!”

“That’s usually the same time I get up!”

“At night, babe.”

“Exactly!”

Another laugh. “Then what are you doing up this early?”

The woman in the car looked round at the time on the screen in her car, it read nine-thirty in the morning. “Haven’t gone to bed yet.”

Another laugh. “I can’t tell if you’re joking or not!”

“Sometimes I can’t tell either.” She laughed.

“So, you free next Saturday?”

“Will Dillon be there?”

“No, he’s working, just you and me.”

“That’s a shame, I’d quite like a threesome.”

“Allison!” her friend groaned, and she could almost see her friend going red from embarrassment.

The woman called Allison laughed, just as she saw a disgusted look from an old lady who was walking down the street as she drove past, clearly having overheard Allison. “I’m kidding!” she said, and gave a small pause before saying; “It’s all about foursomes now! Much more fun and no risk of someone missing out.”

Her friend groaned loudly. “I’m regretting booking this place now.”

“Where have you booked?”

“It’s that new place the other side of the city, beautiful willow trees in the gardens.”

“My house?”

“No.” Her friend sighed. “I can’t remember the name of the place.”

“Sounds exciting.”

“So, you free?”

“I’m always free for you, baby,” Allison replied. “I’ll even wear my kinky outfit.”

“I wonder why we’re friends sometimes, you know.”

“I pay you well.”

The woman on the phone laughed again, and then was cut off by sirens as an ambulance drove past.

“Where are you?” her friend asked.

“Victoria Street.”

“Oh god, you’re talking to me on hands free through the speakers with your top down again, aren’t you?”

“Yep,” Allison said, a huge grin on her face, as she stopped by another set of traffic lights. She glanced to her side as another car rolled up next to her. A rather plump looking couple in a beat up Volvo glared at her from within, the passenger; a woman with greying hair and a large mole on her chin, had her window down in the sun. “Oh, toats hot couple right next to me in traffic!” Allison yelled deliberately loud. “Shall I ask them if they want to have a foursome with us?”

“What?” said her friend on the phone, she must have not heard her or was momentarily distracted at work.

“Hot couple, three o’clock, say hi, Kathy!”

Just at the same time as Kathy groaned on the phone, the woman in the passenger seat of the Volvo went red and rolled her window up. Allison just burst out laughing.

“I have to go,” Kathy said, her voice sounding absolutely horrified.

“Don’t worry, you can have the guy, I’ll have the hot chick. Her mole is a strange turn on.”

“Allison,” Kathy groaned. “I have a meeting in five minutes, I’ll ring you later or something to give you the details for next Saturday.”

“Bollox do you have a meeting, you have an awful lot of them when you’re on the phone to me.”

“I was being polite.”

“Don’t be,” Allison said, as she started to drive off again. “Just tell me to fuck off, I don’t mind.”

“Alright, fuck off.”

“Well, I say!”

“Bye, Allison.”

“Love you, sexy.”

There was another groan before the line went dead and the music started to run back up, Allison just drove, singing along without a care in the world, as she drove towards the Wellington Arch.

***

Click here to read the next chapter!


Thanks for reading!
If you like what you read, please check out my other works.

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

I also have a book published, “It’s My Mistake” with 5-star reviews!

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1 – UPDATED

It’s also out in paperback where you can get a physical copy here!

Beta-Readers needed!

I’ve been working hard on re-editing my book ‘It’s My Mistake’ as my main challenge is to get it into a paperback format. I want to do this by making the book the best I can.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist though, and there is something final about a real physical book that I don’t want to have a book riddled with mistakes and plot holes. So, I need beta-readers.

I have asked friends to read, but I don’t have many friends that are willing to a) read a book in general and b) let alone one that is a romantic story!

So, for anyone who likes reading, please feel free to read my book ‘It’s My Mistake’ here:
https://www.wattpad.com/story/124947755-it%27s-my-mistake-%7E-completed
And let me know what you think. If you find any errors, plot holes, or anywhere that generally needs work, please let me know!

Here’s a blurb:

Alice wants a carrer change, especially after a terrible incident at her last job. Her dream job has always been to work in a hotel, maybe even own one. But after messing up an interview very spectacularly for a vacancy at a well-known hotel chain in London, she wasn’t expecting to hold the attention of the Global Business Manager; Daniel Jeffries. And in more ways than one. Does Alice take the risk and accept Dan’s offer or does she play it safe?

Who knew that that interview day would be the day that changed Alice’s life? But is it for the better? IS this alluring Global Business Manager as amazing as he seems? And who is that mysterious yet amazingly handsome man at the hotel?
By the way, if Romance isn’t your thing, or this blub doesn’t catch your eye, there are other works on my WattPad page, feel free to check them out!

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.

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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!

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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

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