فصل 03

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فصل 03

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER THREE

Auburn

Life is strange.

I have no idea how I went from working at the salon this morning, to an appointment at a law office this afternoon, to working at an art studio tonight, to walking into a bar for the first time in my life.

I was too embarrassed to tell Owen I’ve never been to a bar before, but I’m pretty sure he could tell by my hesitation at the door. I didn’t know what to expect when we walked in because I’m not yet twenty-one. I reminded Owen of this and he shook his head and told me not to mention it if Harrison asks for ID. “Just tell him you left it at the studio and I’ll vouch for you.”

It’s definitely not what I expected a bar would look like. I imagined disco balls and a huge, central dance floor, and John Travolta. In reality, this bar is much less dramatic than I imagined. It’s quiet, and I could probably count the number of occupants on both hands. There are more tables covering the floor than there is room to dance. And there’s no disco ball anywhere in sight. I’m a little disappointed by that.

Owen weaves through a few tables until he gets to the back of the dimly lit room. He pulls out a stool and motions for me to sit while he takes the one next to it.

There’s a guy at the other end of the bar who looks up at us just as I’m taking my seat, and I assume this is Harrison. He looks to be in his late twenties, with a head full of curly, red hair. The combination of his fair skin and the fact that there are four-leaf clovers on almost every sign in this place makes me wonder if he’s Irish or if he just wishes he were.

I know it shouldn’t surprise me that this guy owns a bar and appears this young, because if everyone around here is anything like Owen, this city must be full of young entrepreneurs. Great. Makes me feel even more out of place.

Harrison nods his head in Owen’s direction and then briefly glances at me. He doesn’t stare long, and then his eyes are back on Owen’s with a perplexed look. I don’t know what has this guy confused, but Owen ignores the look he shoots him and turns to face me.

“You were great tonight,” he says. His chin is resting in his hand and he’s smiling. His compliment makes me smile back, or maybe it’s just him. He’s got such an innocent, charming vibe. The way his eyes crinkle in the corners makes his smile seem more genuine than other people’s.

“So were you.” ?We both just continue to smile at each other and I realize that although bars aren’t typically my scene, I’m actually enjoying myself. I haven’t in so long, and I don’t know why Owen seems to extract a whole different side of me, but I like it. I also know that I have so many other things I should be focusing on right now, but it’s one night. One drink. What harm can it do?

He lays his arm on the bar and swivels his chair until he’s facing me full-on. I do the same, but the chairs are really close together and our knees end up overlapping. He adjusts himself until one of my knees is between both of his, and one of his is between both of mine. We aren’t too close and it’s not as though we’re rubbing our legs together, but they’re definitely touching and it’s kind of an intimate way to be seated with someone I barely know. He looks down at our legs.

“Are we flirting?”

Now we’re looking at each other again and we’re both still grinning and it hits me that I don’t think either of us has stopped grinning since we left his studio.

I shake my head. “I don’t know how to flirt.”

He looks back down at our legs and is about to comment when Harrison approaches us. He leans forward and casually rests his arms on the bar, placing his attention on Owen.

“How’d it go?”

Harrison is definitely Irish. I almost can’t even understand him, his accent is so thick.

Owen smiles in my direction. “Pretty damn good.”

Harrison nods and then focuses on me. “You must be Hannah.” He reaches his hand out to me. “I’m Harrison.”

I don’t look at Owen, but I can hear him clearing his throat. I take Harrison’s hand and shake it. “Nice to meet you, Harrison, but I’m actually Auburn.”

Harrison’s eyes grow wide and he slowly turns back to Owen. “Shit, man,” he says, laughing apologetically. “I can’t keep up with you.”

Owen waves it off. “It’s fine,” he says. “Auburn knows about Hannah.”

I don’t really. I’m assuming Hannah is the girl who just dumped him. The only thing I do know is that Owen told me coming to this bar after a showing was tradition. So I’m curious how Harrison has never met Hannah if she’s worked shows for Owen before. Owen looks at me and can see the confusion on my face.

“I never brought her here.”

“Owen has never brought anyone here,” Harrison offers. He looks back at Owen. “What happened to Hannah?”

Owen shakes his head like he doesn’t really want to talk about it. “The usual.”

Harrison doesn’t ask what “the usual” is, so I’m assuming he understands exactly what happened to Hannah. I just wish I knew what “the usual” meant.

“What can I get you to drink, Auburn?” Harrison asks.

I look at Owen a little wide-eyed, because I have no idea what to order. I’ve never ordered a drink before, considering I’m not yet old enough to do so. He understands my expression and immediately turns back to Harrison. “Bring us two Jack and Cokes,” he says. “And an order of cheese sticks.”

Harrison taps the bar with his fist and says, “Coming right up.” He begins to turn around but quickly faces Owen again. “Oh, we’re all out of cheese sticks. Travesty. Cheese fries okay?”

I try not to frown, but I was really looking forward to cheese sticks. Owen looks at me and I nod. “Sounds good,” I say.

Harrison smiles and begins to turn around but then faces me yet again. “You’re over twenty-one, right?”

I quickly nod, and for a second I see doubt appear in his expression, but he turns and walks away without asking for my identification.

“You’re a horrible liar,” Owen laughs.

I expel a breath. “I don’t normally lie.”

“I can see why,” he says.

He adjusts his position on the stool, and our legs brush together again. He smiles. “What’s your story, Auburn?”

Here we go. The moment when I usually call it a night before the night even gets started.

“Whoa,” he says. “What’s the look for?”

I realize I must be frowning when he says this. “My story is that I have a very private life and I don’t like to talk about it.”

He smiles, which isn’t the reaction I was expecting. “Sounds a lot like my story.”

Harrison is back with the drinks, saving us from what was about to become a failed conversation. We both take a drink at the same time, but his goes down a whole lot smoother than mine does. Despite being underage, I’ve had a few drinks in the past with friends back in Portland, but this is a tad strong for my taste. I cover my mouth to cough and Owen, of course, smiles again.

“Well, since neither of us feels like talking at all, do you at least dance?” He glances over my shoulder at the small, empty dance floor on the opposite side of the room.

I immediately shake my head.

“How did I know that would be your answer?” He stands up. “Come on.”

I shake my head again and almost instantly, my mood changes. There’s no way I’m dancing with him, especially to whatever slow song just started playing. He grabs my hand and tries to pull me up, but I’m gripping my chair with my other hand, ready to fight him off if I have to.

“You really don’t want to dance?” he asks.

“I really don’t want to dance.”

He stares at me for a few quiet seconds and then takes a seat back in his chair. He leans forward and motions for me to come closer. He still has hold of my hand, and I feel his thumb brush slightly over mine. He continues to lean toward me until his mouth is close to my ear. “Ten seconds,” he whispers. “Just give me ten seconds on the dance floor. If you still don’t want to dance with me after my time is up, you can walk away.”

There are chills on my arms and legs and neck, and his voice is so soothing and convincing, I can feel myself nodding before I even know what I’m agreeing to.

But ten seconds is simple. Ten seconds I can do. Ten seconds isn’t enough time to embarrass myself. And after his time is up, I’ll come back and sit down and he’ll leave me alone about dancing, hopefully.

He’s standing again, pulling me toward the dance floor. I’m relieved the place is relatively empty. Even though we’ll be the only ones dancing, the place is deserted enough that I won’t feel like I’m the center of attention.

We reach the dance floor and he slips a hand to my lower back.

“One,” I whisper.

He smiles when he realizes I’m actually counting. He uses his other hand to position my hands around his neck. I’ve seen couples dance enough to know how to stand, at least.

“Two.”

He shakes his head with a laugh and wraps his free hand around my lower back, pulling me against him.

“Three.”

He begins to sway, and this is where dancing becomes confusing to me. I have no idea what to do next. I look down at our feet, hoping to get an idea of what I’m supposed to do with mine. He rests his forehead against mine and also looks down at our feet. “Just follow my lead,” he says. His hands slide to my waist and he gently guides my hips in the direction he wants me to move.

“Four,” I whisper as I move with him.

I can feel him relaxing just a little bit when he sees I’ve got it down. His hands slip to my back once again and he pulls me even closer. Naturally, my arms loosen slightly and I lean into him.

His smell is intoxicating and before I realize what I’m doing, my eyes are closed and I’m inhaling the scent of him. He still smells like he just stepped out of the shower, even though it’s been hours.

I think I like dancing.

It feels very natural, as if dancing is part of a human’s biological purpose.

It’s a lot like sex, actually. I have about as much experience with sex as I do with dancing, but I definitely remember every moment I spent with Adam. It can be very intimate, the way two bodies come together and somehow know exactly what to do and exactly how to fit while doing it.

I can feel my pulse getting faster and warmth spreading over me, and it’s been so long since I’ve felt this way. I wonder if it’s the dancing that’s doing this to me or if it’s Owen. I’ve never slow-danced before, so I have no other dance to compare it to. The only thing I have to measure this feeling against is the way Adam used to make me feel, and this is pretty close to that. It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted someone to kiss me.

Or maybe it’s just been a long time since I’ve allowed myself to feel this way.

Owen lifts his hand to the back of my head and lowers his mouth to my ear. “It’s been ten seconds,” he whispers. “Do you want to stop?”

I shake my head softly.

I can’t see his face, but I know he’s smiling. He pulls me against his chest and rests his chin on top of my head. I close my eyes and breathe him in again.

We dance like this until the song ends, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to let go first or if he’s supposed to let go first, but neither of us does. Another song begins and luckily, it’s slow like the last one, so we just keep moving as though the first song never ended.

I don’t know when Owen began moving his hand away from the back of my head, but it’s slowly moving down my back, making my arms and legs feel so weak, I question their existence. I find myself wishing he would pick me up and carry me, preferably straight to his bed.

His initials are very appropriate for the way he’s making me feel right now. I want to whisper, “OMG,” over and over.

I pull away from his chest and look up at him. He’s not smiling right now. He’s piercing me with eyes that seem a thousand shades darker than when we walked into this bar.

I unlock my hands, and I slide one against his neck. I’m surprised I feel comfortable enough to do this, and even more surprised by his reaction. He exhales softly and I can feel the chills erupt over the skin on his neck as his eyes fall shut and his forehead meets mine.

“I’m pretty sure I just fell in love with this song,” he says. “And I hate this song.”

I laugh a little and he pulls me closer, resting my head against his chest. We don’t speak, and we don’t stop dancing until the song ends. The third song begins to play and it isn’t something I’m willing to dance to, considering it’s not a slow song. When we both accept that the dance is over, we inhale simultaneous breaths and begin to separate.

His expression is full of concentrated intent, and as much as I like his smile, I also really like it when he looks at me like this. My arms leave his neck and his hands leave my waist and we’re both standing on the dance floor, staring at each other awkwardly, and I’m not sure what to do now.

“The thing about dancing,” he says, folding his arms across his chest, “is that no matter how good it feels when you’re doing it, it’s always extremely awkward when it’s over.”

It makes me feel good to know that it’s not just me who doesn’t know what to do now. His hand touches my shoulder, and he urges me back toward the bar. “We have drinks to finish.”

“And fries to eat,” I add.

He didn’t ask me to dance again. In fact, as soon as we got back to the bar, he seemed like he was in a hurry to get out of there. I ate most of the fries while he chatted with Harrison a little more. He could tell I wasn’t really digging my drink, so he finished it for me. Now we’re walking back outside and it feels a little bit awkward again, like when the dance came to an end. Only now, it’s the entire night that’s coming to an end, and I hate that I really don’t want to say good-bye to him yet. But I’m certainly not about to suggest we go back to his studio.

“Which way is your place?” he asks.

My eyes swing to his and I’m shocked by his forwardness. “You aren’t coming over,” I immediately say.

“Auburn,” he says, laughing, “it’s late. I’m offering to walk you home, not asking to spend the night.”

I inhale, embarrassed at my assumption. “Oh.” I point to the right. “I’m about fifteen blocks that way.”

He smiles and waves a hand in that direction, and we both begin walking. “But if I were asking to spend the night . . .”

I laugh and push him playfully. “I would tell you to fuck off.”

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