A Case of You
He's her warning. She's his sweet temptation.
An addict always wants what he can't have, even if it will ruin him.
"Speak of the devil and she shall appear.
Who am I fucking kidding.
I have a brilliant memory.
At least until I switch off. Then information bounces off me and disappears into thin air. That's happening a lot more to me these days. I tell myself it's a choice, but I'm starting to realize it's a mechanism I have less and less control over.
In my defense, people talk a lot of shit.
Emmett was full of it last time we talked, which is why I'm here on 42nd and Blake, standing outside a locked and darkened door instead of where I should be if I'd listened.
I caught three buses to get over to this side of town, so I try the handle again as if I'm expecting the outcome to be any different the second time around. It's still locked. Fuck.
In typical Seattle style, it's starting to drizzle. I step back onto the stoop and pull out my Marlboros—another dirty habit. One I'll allow myself, I think, as I strike the last match from the book I carry in my pocket. I shove the empty matchbook from The Electric back in my jeans with its memories of jalapeno nuts, shitty house music, and a pretty little blonde who'd sneak me extra inches of Jack in exchange for a quick fuck after her shift.
You see what I'm saying about my memories? Infallible.
I use the sharp burn of the nicotine to bring myself back into focus, and pull out my phone. Three messages from Em. He's pissed. Really pissed this time. The new address he sends me is across town—I'll never make it before the end of the meeting. I fire him a message back and watch the rain turn the asphalt into a mirror reflecting the neon lights of the street, momentarily distorted as cars drive by.
It's been 243 days since my veins pumped liquor.
I was supposed to be getting an important token tonight. Eight months sober.
I was supposed to talk to the group: the successfuls, the try hards, and the fuck-ups. I'm hovering on the edge of a success story but can't help wondering when my status as a true fuck-up will be discovered. 243 days, 246 days, 527 and every day in between. It's a thin line. It's only through the sheer determination of Em and my sister Ally, that I've got this far. And maybe me—I guess I should get some of the credit. Though on days like this, I could cave as easily as a sandcastle.
The reason? There isn't one. I just want a drink. I could kill for one. But I won't, because I promised.
My phone starts vibrating. "Hey, Em," I say, watching the smoke from my lips curl up into the dark night.
"Where are you?" He's hushed so I guess the meeting has already kicked off.
"At the same place as last week," I repeat, knowing he's already seen my text, so he's busting my balls.
"I told you we had to switch meetings. There're renovations." He sighs, and I picture him scrubbing the top of his shorn hair. He does that when I piss him off.
"Yeah, I missed that memo. Sorry, Em," I say, and I sound it, too. Because I'm nothing if not a good liar. It's a skill I learned from my father.
"It's fine, but we should meet tomorrow, if you can. It'd be good to catch up. You've been quiet this week."
"Yeah, busy at work." The ink stains on my hands show the truth. The newspaper's presses were running overtime in a bid to get out some scandal about a politician, so I offered to help the printers rather than battle with insomnia. "I'm off at four tomorrow. We could meet for a drink? A coffee," I clarify with a laugh. The habit is impossible to forget. It's as ingrained as knowing how to read. The alphabet of addiction.
"Cool. I'll see you then."
I end the call and light up another smoke as the rain intensifies. A group spills out of a bar across the street, laughter and music bursting into the waterlogged night.
The irony of a bar opposite an AA meeting is not lost on me. A few of us have joked about escaping there if it ever gets too much. It always fucking feels that way, but I've never crossed the street. Others have, and they wear their guilt like an invisible cloak, unmistakable to others skilled in the art of denial.
A coffee shop and secondhand book store cling to either side of the bar, cowering from their brighter, noisier neighbor, and a Chinese restaurant blocks off the corner. Tonight, the smell it churns out makes my mouth water. On previous nights, earlier in the year, I would've lost the contents of my stomach to the gutter.
I check the bus times. Ten minutes until the next one. With hunger twisting my insides, my decision is made. I dash over, push the door open, and walk into a cloud of heat and spice. It's pretty full already, but nobody takes much notice of me, so I head to the bar. Again, habit.
The waiter uncorks a bottle of red wine, and then takes my to-go order. "It'll be about ten minutes. Can I get you something to drink?"
Yes. "No. I'm good, thanks." The draught tap has condensation dripping down it. The sight draws all the moisture from my mouth. "On second thought, a club soda."
I'm so full of amazing ideas, I astound myself. Em tells me I'm a masochist. He's usually right. I turn my back on the devil, facing the restaurant.
It's then that I see her. Brunette, curves poured into a red silk dress covered with dragons breathing fire. It's burning in her cheeks as she rushes around the tables. I'm not the only pair of eyes following her around the room.
She's fucking beautiful. A little harassed and tired as she catches me looking and raises a brow. She's not familiar. I would've remembered those eyes. Dark and dangerous.
A stray hand belonging to a sweaty, fat fuck in a suit brushes against her ass. She laughs and slaps it away, but she flashes me a look of disgust as if I'm a friend. It makes me want to punch his lights out. I just smile.
She heads over to the bar, the tray balanced on her hip. "Assholes," she says under her breath to me. "Can't ever get away from them." She stands on her tiptoes, stretching her body over the bar as she reaches for some shot glasses. When they're filled with Patron, the smell of her perfume mixed with the liquor is enough to drive any man crazy. She turns to me. "Someone lookin' after you?"
"Yeah, thanks." I gesture to the waiter. "I've ordered takeout."
She scans me like a book, tilting her head the opposite way to her smile as she takes in my damp hoodie and hair. "That's a shame."
Her invitation settles in my nerve endings, and I see the night in front of me, the way I want it to play out, what it'll take to have her body underneath me, the sounds I'll pull from her, the way she'll taste. It'll be easy.
I watch her for a little while longer before I recognize the signs. My heart rate, the focus, the craving. She's just another type of nectar. The others … they're watered-down, but this … she's too much. She hits me like a slap.
I walk out of the restaurant, my food forgotten, with a matchbook crushed in my hand. The Red Lantern.
AN: Hello again! I'm a little nervous to post this story as it's very different for me. I hope you'll enjoy x
Kim, this story wouldn't exist without you.
Choc, you always show me the way..
Cat, catches my Britishisms like a pro.
Time Lights made me the most beautiful banner, link on my profile.
I lucky to have you all.
Also, love to TLS who featured me in their Sneak Peek this week.
Couple more things ... Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all its characters. I'll aim to post on a Sunday (maybe sooner!)
Think that's about it! See you soon.