My heart is still racing as I head to my car.
I’m shaky all over, my hand visibly trembling as I reach for my door, and I know it’s not because of the cold, despite the fact that the temperatures have dropped to below freezing right now.
I can’t get the look of his eyes out of my mind. They literally scare me…but they also make me feel something else; something I know I shouldn’t be feeling. Something I don’t think I’ve ever felt before. The way he looked at me was just…crazy. Straight-up crazy!
I know it’s mostly in my head and probably my subconscious’ way of looking for attention. That would actually make sense, since I was clearly looking for attention from an absolutely unattainable source. It’s probably for the best, anyway. With my aversion to love, I suppose I’d rather crush on a guy who I know I can’t have.
But is ‘crush’ even the appropriate word for what I’m feeling? Boys haven’t mattered to me in that way for a long time now, so I can’t be sure.
I chuckle to myself suddenly, thinking about how absurd the use of the word is to describe Doctor Frost. He’s clearly anything but a boy.
That much is beyond obvious.
All the same, it’s been a while since I last looked at any guy who made my face heat up from thinking the kind of thoughts I wouldn’t even share with my best friend.
Speaking of Trixie, I really hope she’s okay. And more than that, I really hope she doesn’t run into Gina, and if she does, I really hope it’s not on campus. I know for a fact that it just won’t end well, and Trixie sure as hell doesn’t need any more drama with the university’s student conduct department.
One unfortunate incident her freshman year at a ridiculous frat party gone apeshit pretty much put her under a bit of a microscope with the School of Music’s administration, and any more incidents—even minor ones—have the potential to wreck her record, and her future.
And I can’t have that. She’s too dedicated and works too hard for it to all get fucked up over some chick who seemingly can’t keep her legs closed.
My mother really disliked women like that, and had no qualms about making her feelings known on the matter. Mary Maladines, she called them; after the prostitute, Mary Magdalene. Only, they were supposedly much worse; unrepentant, unredeemable, and came with a host of maladies.
To be fair, she was never specific about what kinds of maladies.
She always stressed that I dress and behave appropriately and ladylike—meaning super-duper conservative—so that I wouldn’t ever become a Mary Maladine. Then again, she was raised uber Catholic, so I dunno.
I let out a deep sigh. I don’t want to think about my mom right now, especially when I’m having such a hard time keeping the good blue-eyed doctor out of my head as well.
I turn the key in the hole and the engine roars to life, bringing my little old car into motion.
I head straight to work, cutting through traffic as best as I can on the highway and through downtown as I make my way to the Mushroom.
It takes a good twenty minutes, and by the time I arrive at work, I still have plenty of time to spare before my shift begins.
By some miracle, the parking spot directly in front of the back entrance is vacant today despite the shit weather. I can’t stop myself from doing a silent fist pump; my small—and probably lame—gesture of gratitude for this small sprinkle of fortune in an otherwise horribly shitty day.
I practically run into the pub the second the car engine dies, doing my best to ignore how much the cold is biting into my body. I don’t even bother to check if my parking skills aren’t complete shit this go around.
In my haste to get inside, I momentarily forget just how slippery the ice has become until it reminds me, and before I know it, my legs are up in the air and my ass is flat on the hard, cold ground.
And it fucking hurts!
Ugh. Nothing like a good crappy fall to top off a crappy day.
I quickly get up and look around, saying a silent ‘thank you’ to whichever deity that’s decided to give me a tiny little break when I see that I don’t have an audience that witnessed my ungraceful tumble. ‘Cause that’s certainly the last thing I need right now.
I head into the back room, which is sort of an unofficial lounging area for the pub’s staff. I come here to study sometimes when the libraries are really full—especially during finals week—and whenever I don’t feel like going all the way to campus on the weekends. The back room is completely vacant when I enter, and mostly quiet, but I can hear slight shuffling and clinking of glass in the distance. It’s obvious that business is slow and there aren’t that many customers, but then again, it’s a Monday afternoon, and a bloody cold one at that. And that’s precisely why I love this shift.
I look at my watch again. I still have about forty minutes until I take over from Nicole, one of the few other waitresses who still works here—although I’m sure she’ll end up quitting sooner than later. That gives me plenty of time to get some studying done.
I sink into the old and creaky but incredibly cozy loveseat that Larry adamantly refuses to throw away, claiming it’s been in his family for generations. It’s undeniably old, definitely a vintage item, and to be honest, it’s not a lot to look at.
Actually, it looks pretty damn ugly; possibly the ugliest love seat I’ve ever seen. It also has a bit of a smell, but it’s one you get past once you realize how comfortable it is. The distinct scent kind of even grows on you after a while. I know it did for me.
It just feels so warm and soft, and in this weather, I’ll definitely take warmth and comfort over looks any day.
Except, for some reason, I can’t seem to get a certain blue-eyed doctor’s looks out of my head, even though I’m really trying not to think about him.
But then that also makes me think of the whole reason I was in his office to begin with. And then that makes me think of his wife.
And now I feel like crap all over again.
I breathe out an annoyed sigh, wondering why I feel so temperamental today, and I realize it’s because of…well…everything, I guess.
My stomach acting up and fucking up my singing in the process. Grandpa’s upcoming memorial. Hearing Danny’s name again and wondering if he’ll decide to cuss me out when he shows up at said memorial the way he did at the funeral. This damn weather. And last but certainly not least, being fucking broke on top of it all.
I breathe out another exasperated sigh, closing my eyes for a moment as I try to ignore the slight stinging sensation behind them and all the worry clouding my mind.
I realize my butt and my tailbone are still throbbing with pain from falling earlier, but I do my best to ignore that, too.
I plug my earphones in and allow the music to stream freely, each note and lyric filling me up like freshly made lemonade on a hot summer afternoon. The flow and rhythm of Chopin’s Étude Opus 25 fills my ears and head, replacing all my previous troubling thoughts. In this moment, nothing matters. Nothing else matters but the music.
I slap open my composition textbook and delve in, skimming over a few chapters I’d already covered over this past weekend. I can’t study without music, no matter what I’m studying. I’ve tried and it just doesn’t work. Everything just makes so much more sense when it’s accompanied by a song. I’ve met a lot of people who say they are visual learners. I guess that would make me an auditory learner then, if there is such a thing.
The music makes me feel amazing, and this particular playlist is a favorite, with compositions by legends like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and Debussy, as well as pieces by more modern composers like Macmillan, Strassburg, and Kurtz.
I’m so lost in the sounds and how they make me feel that I don’t hear the door open or someone walk in. It’s only after several moments that I register that someone else is in the room, and I look up to see Nicole mouthing something to me. I take the earphones off, and the spell is immediately broken. I’m back in the pub, back in the present, and back in my crappy reality. And the soft melodies, harmonious tunes, and smooth transitions are—to my dismay—replaced by Nicole’s high-pitched whining.
“Oh, my God, just how loud do you have that thing on?” she says, waving her hands around dramatically for emphasis with a disapproving expression on her face to match.
“Sorry,” I offer with a sheepish smile, turning my attention back to my textbook. Nicole is cool, but her voice hurts my ears. And I can really do without it right now. Unfortunately for me though, she doesn’t stop talking.
She sighs, shaking her head like a tired mother who’s trying to scold their child but can’t find the energy to do so. Her dark auburn hair swishes around her face, swaying in line with her motions. “You’ll go deaf by the time you’re fifty if you keep that up, you know.”
“Not if your voice beats me to it,” I mutter the words before I can stop myself. I wince as soon as they leave my mouth, hoping to high heaven she didn’t hear me.
“What?” she says, her brows drawing close together in question.
“Nothing,” I quickly offer, getting up from the loveseat and packing the book away.
She waves her well-manicured hand dismissively. “Whatever.” She walks past me to head to her locker, and she drops something as she does.
“Hey, you dropped this,” I motion over to her before bending to pick it up from the floor. It looks like a business card, and just as I’m about to hand it to her, I see the writing on it.
Luxury Escort Agency
Hue-ever Tickles Your Fancy
The contact name on it is Blue Honey, in a fancy italicized font, but I recognize the cellphone number as Nicole’s.
And then realization sets in.
This is a call girl service card.
Nicole is a…call girl?