I: If I Should Stay
Chapter 1. Angel from the Street
"Alright, Man. Catch you later." He holds out his hand for our secret handshake.
"Later, Kwest." I walked out into the alley, outside of G-Major, where I work as a producer, and I head to my car.
I stop dead in my track. Behind the dumpster, there's some kind of scuffle going on and I hear a girl whimper. I rush toward the sound. There's some short bald man holding down small blonde girl, apparently robbing her.
I grab him and haul him off her, shoving him against the wall and punching him hard on the stomach. "Give it back," I snarl angrily at him.
He glares at me.
I punch him again. "Now."
He painfully empties his pockets onto the ground.
"All of it, you son of a bitch," I spit at him.
He emptied his coat pocket. I glared, ready to hit him again, but he emptied his pants pockets too.
"Now get the hell out of here and don't come back. If you do, I'll call the cops."
He scurries away like the rat he is. Poor, pathetic bastard.
I turned to the girl and bright, angry, and fiery blue eyes collide with mine. Angry tears mix with the streaks of dirt on her face. Her platinum hair is greasy, like it hadn't been washed in ages. Her clothes are torn and dirty. Her soft pink lips are pulled into a pout. She's sitting up now, curled into a little ball against the wall with her arms around her knees. Her eyes are still bright with anger and fear as she stares at me.
As I study her, shock bubbles up inside of me. This girl… she couldn't be more than twenty… but she sleeps in the streets! She was… homeless! I do my best to cover the shock before it can reach my face. I try to sound soothing instead. "Are you hurt, honey?"
The flashing in her eyes changed from anger to fear and confusion. Her voice was strange… har, but shaky at the same time. "I'm fine."
I look her over. "You're hurt," I insist, "Please let me help you." I hold out my hand tentatively.
After glowering at it for a moment, she places her hand in mine. I have to fight the shock again. Her hand is so tiny and delicate… it disappears in my own. But her fingers have calluses.
"How long have you played guitar?" I grin as I lead her to the Hummer. Good thing I decided against my Viper today. She was out of gas.
"Since I was five," she says rather distantly. "Since the good days." She frowned at the question in my eyes. She had no guitar. "It got stolen last week." It was obvious that she was bitter about the subject.
I changed topics. "Are you hungry?"
She nods eagerly, but then she frowns.
I stare in horror. "No! what kind of gentleman would I be if I let you pay for you own food?!" I gesture to the wad of cash she has in clenched her tiny fist. "Besides, I think you're having some separation anxiety from that, don't you think?"
She nods again, still silent.
I pull into my favorite Asian place and kill the engine.
A small, defeated voice echoes in the silence. "You don't have to do this for me."
Not knowing what to say, I stare at her for a moment before reaching out and gently brushing her bruised cheek. Then I head inside.
"Two orders Chicken and mango, with the steamed rice."
"Will that be all tonight, Mr. Quincy?"
"Total is $10.24. Ready in ten minutes."
I wait anxiously for the food and, when it's ready, I dash outside and jump in the car, handing her the food so I can drive.
Half way home, she's devoured her food and mine. "I'm so sorry! I was just so hungry and--"
I chuckle at the empty containers, cutting her off. "It's fine. As long as you're satisfied."
She nods and I chuckle again.
"I'll make myself a sandwich. Don't worry about me." Then I notice her eyes drooping slightly. "You're tired. Come on, let's get you inside."
Her eyes widened. "You don't have to…"
"Rest, okay? Don't worry about a thing."
"Thankyouimsorry…" she's asleep.
The whole mansion cliché thing pissed me off, so I bought a small house in the 'burbs instead. In the summer, flowers and a perfectly manicured lawn line the path to the wrap-around porch. My house is navy blue with white shutters around the windows. It's very homey and I enjoy it as much as I hope my slumbering guest will. I carry her inside and set her down in the bathroom. "Wake up. Hey."
Bright blue eyes collide with mine. "Hi."
"Hi. How about a bath?"
She nods weakly. "Okay."
I run the bath for her, making sure the water is warm before leaving her to her privacy. I go back a few minutes later, with the intention of swapping her dirty clothes for some new ones, but what I see instead makes me laugh: she is sound asleep in the midst of all the suds. "Oh, girl," I chuckle as I test the water with my finger before running the hot water again.
She sighs contentedly. "Warm," she mumbles before jumping awake. "You're… in here… with me."
"I was worried about you drowning in the tub in your sleep," I tease her.
She raises an eyebrow.
I nod and put a hot towel next to the clothes I dropped off just now. i grab a bottle of shampoo. "May I?"
She eyes me warily but nods, leaning her head into my hands. After carefully wetting her hair, I squeeze the oozy blue liquid into my palm and begin to massage her scalp. The whole situation is sort of awkward. After all, I've never taken care of someone before. I kind of like it.
I rinse her hair and as I do, I notice that it, once greasy, is now as soft and silky as if she went to a salon every day.
I get out of the bathroom and turn on a movie as I wait for her to dry off and get dressed. She comes downstairs in my pants and one of my t-shirts. She looks gorgeous.
She curls up on the opposite side of the couch, focused on the movie, but only ten minutes later, she's snoring lightly as she sleeps.
Chuckling again, I get up and make myself a sandwich before returning to my movie. When it ends, I carry her up to the spare room.
"Kevin." Her voice is so soft I'm not even sure I heard it. I go to put her down. "Don't go," she whimpers, more clearly this time. She clutches my shirt. "No, Kevin!" she cries, clutching desperately at my shirt as I try to pull her loose.
I try a different approach. I sit on the bed with her, leaning over her as I bring her to rest on the pillow. Immediately, she lets go and snuggles deep into the covers, curling into a ball. "Love you," she mumbles incoherently.
On impulse, I brush her wet platinum locks away from her face and press a kiss to her temple. Then I realize that I just kissed her and hightail it out of there. I set her clothes to dry and take a quick shower before heading to bed. I can't sleep. There's a beautiful homeless girl down the hall who hasn't said more than ten words since I met her only a few hours ago. She doesn't deserve to be out there. She's scared and alone and homeless. God, I can't get over that.
But yet, she makes my heart flip more than everyone I've know in my life put together. How odd.
I jump out of bed and grab my keys, this time heading for my viper. I have no clue who she is or where she's from, but I want her to stay. I need her to stay. I push away the thought as I run to the ATM. I take out a hundred bucks then hit the supermarket. I buy some pancake mix and chocolate chips. She strikes me as that kind of girl. I also pick up more coffee, and some milk and cereal.
I pay for my stuff and hurry home. I stick the remaining seventy four dollars in her wad of cash, which I found adds up to a grand total of twenty six dollars.
It isn't fair.
I don't understand why I'm so protective of her, why I feel so attached. I've only know her for a couple of hours. During most of which she's been asleep. She doesn't belong out there, cold, alone, in constant danger; she belongs…
I don't even want to finish that. I'm going to sleep now. Like that will be easy.
When I finally do fall asleep, I have this dream. I'm driving along on the highway into the sunset. The viper's top is down, and the wind is playing with our hair.
One hand is on the wheel, and the other on the gearshift (a/n: that's what you call it, right?). There is another hand, small and pale, over mine, and I diamond shines brilliantly from its third finger. I look to see her face, but it's blurry. I don't see anything.
I wake up shocked, unrested, and more confused than ever and start to head to the kitchen when I stop. Something isn't right. It's awfully quiet in here.
I head down the hall to her room and my heart hits the floor. The bed is made as if no one had ever been in here. There's a piece of paperfolded on the clothes she left—my clothes. Piled neatly and folded like something out of those Left Behind movies. I shakily take it and read:
Thanks for letting me stay. You didn't have to do that.
I sigh mournfully. She's gone. The angel from the street is gone and I didn't even get her name.