Rating: T for language.
With many thanks to Lucy AKA subtlynice for her great BETA work and general awesome-ness. All mistakes made are my own.
Disclaimer: All characters mentioned are property of Stephenie Meyer. No profit was made from this story.
For the umpteenth time in my life, I was not comfortable with my surroundings.
It was not pitch-black dark but dark enough for me to be slightly worried. The only lighting came from the strobe lights near the DJ's spin table and those rotating lights that every nightclub seemed to have. That didn't sit very well with me. Like I could see anything when the strobe lighting was at least 50 feet away from me. Plus, the revolving lights made me dizzy.
This was precisely why nightclubs weren't my "element", as Alice would say. As if I didn't already trip enough times when there's actual lighting around me. Imagine the different ways I could crack my skull in a place this dark.
I didn't even know how I had let Alice talk me into coming to this place with her. What was it about Club Volterra that attracted her so much? All I could see was sweaty guys, sweaty girls and oh, sweaty guys and girls getting it on. It was rather disgusting, to be honest.
"Oh, Bella, but it would be so fun! We could dress up, relax with a beer and maybe, we could get you a boyfriend!"
That had been her arguing statement. I had tried hard to dissuade her. I told her that I needed to stay in, that I had two English term papers to finish and a report on child psychology to begin. She nodded and sighed sadly, saying that she understood. I then went to have a shower, practically delirious with my victory. It wasn't everyday you could win an argument with Alice Cullen.
Alice damn near assaulted me when I came out of the shower. Apparently, she had called up Mike Newton, a classmate in both my English and Psychology 101 class, and that traitor revealed that the assignments were only due next month.
I was so busted.
It wasn't like I hated nightclubs or anything. I've never been to one before, so I couldn't safely say that I knew enough about it to actually hate it. But something about nightclubs was just totally… off-putting. I blame Hollywood. Nightclubs were the places to go if you wanted to get drunk, get laid, or worst, get kidnapped and then, murdered by a sadistic serial killer. Not the most inviting of places, yes?
So with almost no say in the matter whatsoever, I let Alice doll me up. She picked out a dress for me; too short for my liking but I knew better than to argue. She'd just put me an even shorter dress in retaliation. She pinned my hair up and did my makeup, though it was thicker than my usual routine. I complained that I looked like a drag queen so Alice had to, albeit grudgingly, remove most of it. She made do with seeing me decked out in simple lip-gloss, foundation and mascara. According to Alice, I had to wear heels as well as it would "accentuate" my legs, so I chose a manageable pair of 1.5 inches.
Then, she popped me into her yellow Porsche, a gift from her parents for her birthday, and we drove to Club Volterra. There was a long waiting line but of course, that didn't deter Alice. With a little batting of her eyelids, and I'm sure some money changed hands as well, we were in.
Not knowing what the proper etiquette was when it came to nightclubs, I made a beeline for the bar. At least if I ordered a drink and sat at one of the stools there, I wouldn't look so silly. Alice stayed with me through my first beer, chatting animatedly and loudly about her week at college and asked me about mine. Mine had been…predictable. That's me. Safe, predictable, boring Bella Swan.
I was ordering my next round of beer when someone seemed to have caught Alice's eye and she moved towards the dance floor. "Don't accept anything from strangers!" she told me sternly before leaving. I rolled my eyes. Sure, I was a newbie when it came to nightclubs but I wasn't a total retard.
So there I was, alone at the bar, taking little dainty sips of my beer because I was afraid it would go all to my head at once. It was here when I saw him. You know how it always is in trashy romance novels that when the hero and the heroine see each other for the first time, there's an explosion of sparks, a kind of instant connection? It was like the entire world faded away and only they remained?
Total load of rubbish.
I was pretty sure the only reason why there was even a connection between us was the fact that he had been staring at me for the past fifteen minutes. Normally, because of the horrendous quality of the lighting here, I wouldn't have noticed him but somehow, his demeanor caught my attention and his gaze, oh, his gaze! It was as if he were burning a hole right through me.
I turned my attention to Alice, not wanting to alert him to the fact that I had noticed his staring. A moot point, of course, since he had the nerve to keep looking at me after I caught him staring. I watched as Alice danced gracefully through the crowd, her body in perfect rhythm with the music. If I tried something like that, I'd look like I was having a muscle spasm.
Alice had been blessed with many gifts; the gift of the gab, amazing social skills, and enough money to hang out with the "in" crowd but she was never a snob. I had met her on the first day of the college orientation course and she'd been stuck with me ever since. She had caught me wandering aimlessly in the courtyard and was friendly towards me, helping me ease into this new and exciting world. She had been relentlessly trying to get me to be more…sociable; go to more parties, more clubs, but I had been relentless too, in spurning her advances.
I was glad to be her friend but sometimes, it seemed that one of her secret fantasies was to see me go to a club and magically turn into "Bella the Bomb!"
I had been so caught up in my own thoughts that I didn't even see her approaching me. "Aren't you having the greatest time!" She came up to me, panting slightly from her exertion on the dance floor.
I nodded and smiled, hoping it was enough of an answer. She took my mug of beer and drank a large gulp from it. She turned and leaned against the bar, standing beside me. "So… Seen anyone you like yet?"
"Not really," I shrugged. I didn't want to tell her about him. With my luck, she'd probably march up towards him and threaten to sue him for sexual assault. But if he'd make the first move, say by inviting me for a dance, Alice would push me towards him so fast and hard, it'd be like shoving me into next week. Talk about double standards.
"Well, maybe you should dance with me." It was slightly disconcerting to see her like this, her head bobbing to the music, the lights playing off her pale skin.
"Me? Dance? You might want to call an ambulance first." If there were anyone who could put themselves and others in a hospital just by dancing, it'd be me.
Alice simply gave me a look, as if to say that the suggestion was completely preposterous. I knew better than to question any of her looks so I kept quiet. As long as I made sure not to get on the dance floor, tonight wouldn't be so bad.
"Don't you want to meet some boys?" she asked.
I knew I had to distract her soon so I quickly scanned the place when I saw someone else staring at us. Strangely enough, he was seated at the same table as Mr. Demeanor. Heh, that table really had a thing for us.
"Don't look but that guy over there is staring at you," I whispered into her ear.
Alice, being Alice, immediately shot up and started looking for the guy. "Stop that!" I pinched her arm. I stared at the guy covertly and Alice followed my line of sight. He was definitely good-looking. He had short blond hair that fell just below his ears and was dressed in a loose shirt with jeans.
But there was something else about him. Despite the fact that we were in a nightclub and everyone seemed to be having fun, he was… sad.
"I think I should go over and talk to him."
There was a hitch in Alice's voice, as if she had been knocked over by something unseen. Strangely enough, she sounded… calm. I looked to her in confusion. After all, it wasn't everyday that Alice would suddenly lose enthusiasm for anything, especially men.
"Alice, are you okay?" I asked her, concerned for her well-being.
"I'm fine, I'm fine," she assured me. "I just have this feeling, you know? Like I have to talk to him."
I didn't, of course. How would I understand a feeling like that? A feeling that compelled me to talk to someone of the opposite sex? I'd be lucky if they actually noticed I was female.
I watched as Alice practically skipped over to that table and introduced herself. That was Alice, straight talking; no nonsense whatsoever. She held out her hand and he took it, still seated, and when there was eye contact, I swore I could feel that instant connection in the air, just like in all those trashy romance novels.
She led him out to the dance floor, and I gave Alice the thumbs up when I caught her eye as they slow danced. Tonight was turning out to be a real surprise. Alice wanted to find me a guy but look what happened instead.
I took another sip of beer because, well, what else was there for me to do? Oddly enough, no one had come up to me yet. I'd always heard stories from Jessica, a dorm-mate, about how she would go into a club and if she were at the bar alone; all sorts of men would start hitting on her. Tall, short, young, old, portly, stoutly or just lean mean machines. Obviously, I wasn't like Jessica. Maybe my boobs were too small. I glanced down. Yeah, they were too small.
Seeing as how I had nothing else to do, it didn't come as a surprise to me when I noticed Mr. Demeanor be having an argument with his companions, a statuesque blonde and a brawny guy. Well, I could people-watch too, you know. If I wanted to, that is. After all, he started it first.
Their little squabble appeared to be getting heated, from where I saw it. Muscle Man flexed his muscles more and more, his hands becoming more animated as he used them to illustrate his point. The blonde, let's go with Miss Pretty Face, looked bored but nonetheless, contributed her two cents' worth. Punctuating her words with various facial expressions, I had to admit that she certainly gave off a "fierce" vibe.
Oh Lord, I was quoting "Project Runway". What had Alice done to me?
Mr. Demeanor came across as becoming more and more frustrated. He ran his fingers through his hair, making it even more tousled. His eyebrows furrowed, he gave his companions a long, hard stare before turning sideways and fixing that same, penetrating stare on me.
"Don't panic! Don't panic!" I kept repeating those words to myself as I dropped my gaze and let my hair fall over my face. I focused my attention on my beer. So what if he saw me staring at him? That didn't mean anything. It wasn't like he was some sort of murderer on the prowl. Right?
I delayed in lifting my head. What if he was still staring at me? That look he gave me, it wasn't something casual. There was something in that gaze, so piercing, so intent; like he could see right through to my soul with those eyes.
"Don't be a wimp. Just look up. If he's still looking, go find Alice. If he isn't, drink your beer and stop ogling at him."
I took a silent but deep breath. He couldn't hurt me. We were in a very public place. Alice would kick his ass if he tried anything funny. Giving myself one last pep talk, I steeled myself and looked up.
It was so much worse.
He was walking straight towards me.
Involuntarily, I turned to look behind me, thinking perhaps he was walking towards someone else. Silly notion, of course, there was no one except rows and rows of liquor behind me. My eyes found their way back to him and his demeanor immediately drew me in. I thought he would be one of lanky, scrawny boys who walked with their heads down, feet shuffling.
Not him. Admittedly, he wasn't as built as Muscle Man, but he carried himself well. He held himself upright and there was a slight swagger in his stride. It was like even the air around him was electrifying.
Wow, this was definitely taking the trashy romance route.
I couldn't help but kept my focus on him as he made his way over. Closer and closer. Any second now. Normally, I would avert his eyes but this time, I just couldn't. His eyes had such a stronghold over me. I felt a blush creeping up my face. Surely this wasn't the first time I was meeting a man?
"Hi. Do you wanna dance?"
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