Music spilled from the busy doorway to Vibe. Edward leaned against Bella's car watching the door. He'd walked here, so it was well into Bella's shift. Close to two a.m. and still, this place was as busy as a church on Sunday morning, its congregants drove by the need to feel good. To feel better. To feel nothing.
Or perhaps it wasn't that complicated. That deep. He was the one to scratch every surface and look for more. It was a rare type of greed. His wanting.
But a soul needed an anchor. It needed to be set in something solid.
Edward knew that. He knew all about that.
And still, he was thirsty. Soul thirst. It came from an empty spirit that wasn't rooted in anything.
Frightening and exhilarating to think he'd pulled anchor and was drifting. But not tonight. Right now? He was curious. He was doing what he did. Watching. And for a moment…he'd found a goal.
And still, the thirst burned his throat, wanting him to stop all pursuit. He wanted a drink. One drink. And that wouldn't cut it. Wouldn't solve his problems. One decision. One at a time. Run. Sweat. Pound—feet on pavement, fists against the bag, knees against the floor, whip against his flesh. Speak it real and humble. Admit. Stop the self-pity. Get in the flow. Stop swimming against the current. Be carried. Surrender.
Or swim against the current. Try. Good people didn't float. They fought.
It could be spun either way. Float. Fight. It was all bullshit.
And he'd known all of it. In an effort to go deep, he'd only gotten buried in the sludge of human effort. Oh, he knew all of it. How alluring ancient truth could sound to someone slathered in pride. He wasn't unique. Truth wasn't unique. There was always another truth around the door. In the corner lurking to draw someone like him right in.
Lick the floor. Lay in the door and let the others walk over you. Put it to death. Really kill it.
And so he had.
And so this resurrection at the exact place where he'd started, only worse. And that was a truth as well. Appetites. Addictions. Distractions.
How true was his judgment when he was so conflicted inside? Not conflicted. Nothing. He was nothing. And nothing was clamoring for…everything he'd missed.
And she…was the doorway…to it all.
There was a line outside, and he waited his turn. It moved quickly. Vibe was big. The bouncer looked Edward up and down. These boys didn't move like him. That's what Bella had said. He smiled to himself. She saw things like a ten-year-old boy might. Like the bigger boys in the courtyard. "Where did you learn to fight like that?"
He had them all fooled. And it wasn't hard.
Inside, the place was dark, but lights flickered. The atmosphere was creating a mind set. On/off. On/off. Light/dark. Light/dark.
He moved to the crowded bar. Bella was not in sight. He tried to order her drink, but the impatient waiter didn't know what he was talking about. So he ordered a beer. They brought it to him in the bottle. He carried that further into the place. Lots of dancing. She was there. Not working at all. She was on a platform in the middle of the dance floor moving well to the music. A big smile for the crowd that danced around her. When she jumped off, there were arms waiting. She continued to dance on the floor.
She was taking a course, she had said. They had a drink named for her. She got a tray from off a nearby table, and good-naturedly it seemed set to clearing it. She was followed, and she talked and laughed with the two men that were clearly interested, touching her, friendly, one of them stroking a hand down her back. She took a card from him, stuck it in her bra. They moved off, and she finished clearing the table, her hips all work now. Then she wiped it down and let the loaded tray ride her shoulder as she made her way to the bar.
Someone called her name. There were cheers, whistling. He heard the rise of her voice and respondent laughter. But she was not the bartender. There were three. All sculpted men.
She was the energy.
She was the vibe. That's how he saw it.