Sucker Punched (Resilient Hearts Series Book One 1) (8 page)

BOOK: Sucker Punched (Resilient Hearts Series Book One 1)
7.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

We don’t talk or text much over the remaining time he’s gone. He tries, but I just can’t bring myself to answer. I know it’s a cowardly thing to do, but I’m terrified. Moving on and letting someone in again is the big issue, but trusting someone to not hurt me again weighs just as heavily. When Kiaya suggests we go to a new club on Saturday night, I jump at the chance. A girly night of letting my hair down is just what the doctor ordered.

Friday night there’s a knock on my door. I know who it is, and when I look through the spy hole, it’s confirmed. Ethan is back. He holds some flowers, and the look on his face pulls at my heart. I can’t bring myself to open the door. He knocks a few more times, but eventually gives up and leaves. Sliding down the wall, I begin to sob into my hands. Why didn’t I open the door?













Kiaya lives with her mum, but I haven’t met her. It doesn’t appear Kiaya wants me to either. That’s fine by me; we’re all entitled to our privacy. I really appreciate that she doesn’t push for details in my life, so I give her the same consideration.

We agreed she’d come to my apartment to get ready, and luckily, she stopped off to get some wine before arriving. I crack open a bottle and show off my cooking skills. By skills I mean putting two of my favorite ready meals in the microwave. Voila, two crappy meals in fewer than five minutes. After cleaning up, and by that I mean throwing containers in the bin, we start to make ourselves beautiful. Well, actually Kiaya wants to make me beautiful.

“Puh-lease,” she begs. “Please, let me do your makeup. I’m really good; if you don’t like it, I won’t get upset, and you can wash it off. I promise.”

I can’t seem to say no to this girl. “Ok, but if I do, you better not get upset,” I warn. She crosses her heart while clapping her hands, excitably.

Nearly two hours and two bottles of wine later, we are good to go. Maybe it’s just the wine talking, but when Kiaya finishes my makeup, I have to admit, it looks really good. She’s talented and wasted pouring coffee all day, that’s for sure. I have smoky eyes and light pink lips. My hair is pulled back into a sleek ponytail. The outfit we pick for me is a pair of cream-colored shorts, a black sequined tank top, and some heeled ankle boots. The top shows a little cleavage, but I hope it leaves something to the imagination. Kiaya, who couldn’t care less about leaving too much to the imagination, rocks a royal blue mini dress. As we step out onto the pavement, a cool breeze hits my exposed arms. I wish I’d brought a coat. A sly grin grows on my face. Stephen would have a coronary if he could see me now! With him, I only wore baggy t-shirts and jeans because it wasn’t worth the repercussions of dressing nicely. Plus, we never went out anyway. On the rare occasion when he went out, I was never invited.

Kiaya signals for a cab. It’s just after eight and far too early for Vertex, the club Kiaya is desperate to visit. We decide to go to a bar first.

Calling this place a bar is a massive overstatement; it’s a real dive. As we enter, the smell of stale cigarette smoke lingers in the air. My feet stick to the carpet as we walk towards the bar, and I can’t help but notice the paint peeling from the walls. The patrons don’t look very desirable and stop what they’re doing to stare as we pass. I don’t want to be here. My stomach churns, and I feel uneasy.

“What the hell is this place, Kiaya? I thought you said you’d been here, and it was nice,” I whisper, not wanting anyone else to hear.

“Sorry, Caitlin, I must’ve gotten the address wrong. I thought it looked different. Let’s just have one quick drink, and we’ll leave and find someplace else.”

She thought it looked different? Really? “Can we just go NOW, please?” I beg.

In a hushed voice she replies, “Come on, it’s only one drink. Everyone is looking at us.  We can’t just walk out because it’ll be rude. Plus, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.” Kiaya is obviously naive about this place and the people in it, but she’s already reached the bar and signaled the barman. 

“Christ, ok just one,” I mumble to myself, reluctantly heading on over to the bar. 

The barman is old, bald, and really overweight. “What can I get you?” he asks.

I order two beers, and just as I’m about to pay, a mid-40ish guy pushes some money at the barman. “It’s on me, darling.” The guy’s teeth are grossly discolored; his hair is greasy and slicked back. I see why Beth says to always smell the guy first; this one stinks, and the urge to run from him is just as strong as his body odor.

“Umm…thanks, but that’s ok,” I say, trying to pay for myself.

He pushes my hand away. “I said it’s on me.” Ok, now I’m really spooked. He’s nice one minute, and then aggressive the next. A familiar feeling starts in my gut, and I feel the panic rising. I may throw up.

Kiaya slips her hand into my pocket, removing my phone. I’m not sure what the hell she’s doing, but I don’t question it as I’m preoccupied with the jerk.

“Umm…thanks, I guess.” I stutter out towards the foul-smelling man.

“No problem, darling. My name’s Clay.” He tries to wrap his arm around me, and though I pull away, he tries again.

“Hey, we’re all friends here. Right, darling? Relax.”

“I appreciate the beer, but I’d really like to spend some time with my friend. Sorry, Clay,” I say, jumping from the bar stool.  His hand tightens around my wrist.

“You should learn to show some gratitude…”

“Hey, Clay! Do you play pool?” Kiaya interrupts.
What the hell is she doing?
I shoot daggers at her at first, but then I realize she’s trying to distract him. Unfortunately, things don’t get any better when we get to the pool table. Despite Kiaya’s attempts to get him interested in the game, Clay keeps the majority of his attention on me and keeping me near him. Every time I try to leave, he grips my hand, waist, or arm and demands I stay put. Poor Kiaya is beside herself with worry even though she tries to appear strong and brave.  I can see it written all over her face, and quite frankly, I’m about one minute away from losing my mind and having a psychotic breakdown. We were so stupid for coming in here!

Another guy makes his way over to us. He’s a lot older than Clay and is missing his two front teeth. Only black, rotten stumps remain. He backs Kiaya into the corner.

“Hey, baby. My guy Clay’s got him a woman now, and look at you sitting over here all alone.” She looks terrified. My breathing quickens as panic takes hold of me completely.

“Leave her alone!” I make a move to go to her but find myself being roughly pulled back by Clay, and he locks me in his arms. He’s so close, and the smell of stale tobacco and sweat are overwhelming. I gag. “I think it’s time we get to know each other better.”

Though I shake my head, Clay pins my body against the bar. He runs a yellow, tobacco-stained finger along my cheek. Recoiling from his touch, I feel like I may pass out. Shit, this has fast become seriously out of control.

His acrid breath leaves tears welled in my eyes, and I pray to be anywhere but here.

“Don’t hurt me,” I plead, and Clay laughs.

“She don’t want me to hurt her,” he shares with his disgusting friend.

“Yeah, this one don’t want me touching her, either. We should teach these ungrateful bitches a lesson. What do you think? Out back in the alley?”

Clay sneers. “Hell, yeah.” He runs his hand up my thigh. “I’m going to like this.” Trembling, I try to face away from him, but he forces me to look at him.

No, this can’t be happening to me again!

Over Clay’s shoulder, I spot the face of an angel. Ok, it’s not really an angel. It’s Ethan, and he looks murderous. How the hell did he know we were here? Kiaya. I want to kiss her for taking my phone. Relief washes over me, but the sensation is temporary. Anger is etched across Ethan’s face, and that anger isn’t only directed at Clay. With lightning speed, Ethan has a strong grip around the back of Clay’s neck, and the foul-smelling man shrinks down to one knee.

“What the fuck is your problem?”

Ethan completely ignores him but glares at me. The nasty old man who was harassing Kiaya releases her, and not wanting trouble, abandons his friend to move back to the bar.

“What the hell are you doing in a place like this?” Ethan demands. Fear begins to rise once again, and I wince at the harshness of his voice.

“Kiaya mistook this place for a different bar, and once we got inside, we couldn’t get away. I tried. I promise, we tried, but he…” Ethan’s accusatory tone has caused tears to sting at my eyes. I point towards Clay, who is still kneeling on the floor under Ethan’s iron grip. “…he forced me to stay.”

Ethan’s expression toward me softens a little until Clay spits out, “She’s a lying bitch. Your slut of a girlfriend was all over me.”

Before I get another word out, Clay is pulled to his feet, and Ethan knocks him on his arse with one punch. It’s only then that I notice Asher near Kiaya. After she assures him she’s ok, he escorts her towards a very amused looking Roman, who holds the door open. I’m lifted over Ethan’s shoulder, marched past Roman, and carried out of the building.

“Ethan put me down!” I shout, but Ethan chooses to ignore me.

“Nice ass, Caitlin.” Roman teases as we pass.

“Keep your eyes off her ass, Roman!” Ethan growls.

Roman laughs even harder. “What a great start to our Saturday night, boys. Brawls and booty!” He says this while slapping my arse after opening Ethan’s truck door. I yelp because it bloody stings!

“ROMAN!” Ethan bellows, placing me onto my feet with a thud.

Roman holds his hands up. “Sorry, Caitlin. Bro, I just couldn’t resist.” 

“Arseholes,” I mutter, climbing in next to Kiaya, who is crying and being held by a somber Asher.

“Shit, Kiaya, are you ok? Please tell me he didn’t hurt you?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “No, he didn’t, but that was too close, Caitlin. I was so scared.” Dabbing at her eyes she looks to Ethan and Roman, who are in the front seat, and then back at Asher and says, “I’m sorry for texting you, but my gut was telling me something was really wrong with those guys. I just didn’t know what else to do.”

Ethan doesn’t look back when he says, “I’m glad you did, Kiaya.” His knuckles are white where he grips the steering wheel. He’s still pretty angry.

“Calm down, bro. They’re ok,” Roman reassures.

Nothing else is said among any of us, but I feel the tension resonating from Ethan. It takes ten minutes to arrive at our destination, which I discover is the gym. Ethan gets out of the car and walks around to my door, opening it.

I hate that he won’t look at me, and he still seems mad. I understand I could have made better choices tonight, but I’m not a child. That’s how he’s making me feel right now. Ethan holds his hand up for me to take, but his demeanor is intimidating me. I refuse.

“Caitlin,” he warns; his brown eyes now pierce straight through me. I huff when I reluctantly take it, and he drags me behind him, down the alley on the side of the gym. In my heels at this fast pace, it’s a struggle to keep up.

“Ethan, slow down. If you don’t stop with this nonsense, I’m leaving.  You have no reason to be upset with me. I didn’t go in there looking for trouble.”

After ascending the steps, we enter his apartment, and I don’t get a chance to take in my surroundings. Despite my protests, I’m taken through the lounge, down a hallway, and finally into a bedroom, Ethan’s bedroom.

“Sit.” He motions towards the bed. I shake my head and cross my arms over my chest. “Sit down, Caitlin.” For some reason, my legs start to shake, and that’s the only reason I sit down. The shaking probably has more to do with being in Ethan’s room, and less with what happened in the bar.

Ethan closes the door with a bang and stalks across the room. Normally, I’d brace myself for pain or for a hand to roughly wrap around my neck.  Ethan wouldn’t do that to me, would he? The fire in his eyes has me wondering, and I actually begin to feel the fear starting to rise again. He closes the distance, and I shirk away from him, waiting for a reprimand. Instead, he drops to his knees in front of me and runs his fingers gently down my face. He’s offended when I pull away; I see it in his eyes.

“You’re scaring me,” I offer as an explanation.

His hand gently cradles the side of my face. “Caitlin, I would never hurt you. Why don’t you know that? I don’t mean to scare you—ever. I just got really pissed when I saw that guy’s hands all over you, and the look on your face...” his voice trails off, cracking at the end.  “What if I hadn’t gotten there in time?”

I place my hands over the top of his. “But you did. I’m fine because of you. I’m sorry for being so stupid.”

“Don’t call yourself stupid. You made a bad decision, but so did I by flying off the handle like I did. Not with the asshole, he deserved every bit of what he got. I’m talking about with you. I shouldn’t have lost my temper. Unfortunately, it seems to happen more often than I like.” I smile at Ethan and am relieved when he smiles back.

We stay like that for a time, not saying a word, until the spell we’re under is broken by Roman pounding on the door and shouting, “Are you two fucking in there or what?”

Laughter erupts from my mouth, but Ethan doesn’t seem to find it funny.

“Fuck off!” he shouts back at the door. Loud laughter fades as we hear Roman’s footsteps as he’s walking away.

“Umm, I better check on Kiaya. It’s getting late, and we’re supposed to go to Vertex.”

“No,” he says, shaking his head.

“What do you mean ‘no’? I need to check on Kiaya. She was really upset in the car.” I sit up a little straighter.

“Of course you should check on Kiaya, but you’re not going to Vertex. There’s no way.”

“Who made you my boss? I don’t bloody think it’s up to you, mister,” I snap.

“Did you just call me
?” he asks, chuckling.

BOOK: Sucker Punched (Resilient Hearts Series Book One 1)
7.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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