I walked down the streets of Manchester, nearly shivering in the cold London weather. I gathered my jacket tighter around me, ducking my head under the hood. I glanced up as a few brown curls fell from my loose ponytail. I huffed out a breath, attempting to blow the curls out of my face. I stumbled across the street, returning my gaze to the traffic around me. I then moved down the pavement again, staying in the general direction of the nearest Starbucks™ getting lost in my thoughts.
I wish I could say that I was O.K. going out by myself now but I wasn't. I mean, by no means was I depressed, But I was always alone. I had no friends outside the studio, I had no family here, I truly was alone in every aspect of the word. I hated it. There wasn't even a reason for it, it just was. I wasn't mean or painfully shy, I just wasn't anyone's first option on their list of friends, or even possible friends. I was a loner. I was never picked on, never bullied, I had no dark past, I was just... unwanted. No one ever wanted me.
I shivered this time as I was hit with a Strong gust of wind, I looked up at the dark clouds which hadn't been there when I left the flat. Shit. It would start raining. Classic England. I began a slight jog to escape the rain, only to realize I was too late. It began, disregarding the usual build up to the downpour, and flat out falling onto me in heavy sheets. I kept my head low, the curls once flowing in front of my face now soaked through and plastered to my skin. I winced as I felt the ponytail fall down my neck, I would have fix the bloody thing once I was inside. I glanced up as I saw the pavement lighting up from a building, seeing the coffee shop in view. I smiled softly, jogging a bit faster, letting my head fall again.
I went to turn into the building when I was thrown back. I landed in a fucking puddle, soaking my clothes through. My hood fell back when I hit the ground, effectively drenching my now loose hair. Fuck me. I looked up hoping to see what threw me back in the first place. I leaned my head back, rain falling into my open eyes as I tried to get a grip on the situation. And I saw them.
Blue eyes, noticeable even from my disadvantage. I saw how they clouded in concern, before his thin lips set in side ways frown. He leaned down, his own inky black fringe now stuck to his head, grabbing my elbow, and pulling me up gently, placing his other hand around my waist.
It was then I noticed two things. The first of which, was his white button up shirt had a massive tan stain on the front, shit I really mucked that up. The second thing I noticed, was the rain wasn't hitting me anymore. I glanced up, seeing a pretty impressive black umbrella being held above us, held by another man to the side of us. It was at that moment I realized our proximity. I pulled back slightly, cringing when I felt my wet hair sticking to my neck. Ew. I ran my hand through the sodden curls, attempting to undo the wet mess the rain made of me. I probably looked like a half drowned rat right now. Great.
"Are you O.K.?" He asked, surprising me with his baritone voice. I nodded, licking my dry lips, nearly smirking at the irony. He let go of me at that point, extending his hand.
"I'm Phil." he introduced himself. I grabbed his hand slightly cold hand, shaking it slightly.
"Dan" I said softly. The man was stunning, and I felt nervous.
"Oh shit!" I exclaimed, letting his hand fall, before smacking it to my forehead.
“I ruined your suit! I made you spill your coffee!” I groaned. Fuck, I am such an epic fail sometimes! He chuckled lightly, running his hands over the shirt, as if the simple movement could erase the giant Dan induced stain.
“No harm no foul Dan” He said lightly, “I can always grab another shirt, and coffee isn’t that big of a deal. Relax” He said smiling at me. I nodded, still unsure of the situation.
“Can I make it up to you somehow?” I asked shamefully, Oh shit, that sounds wrong. “No, what I mean is, I can get you another shirt, or coffee, I mean, I should do both, I did ruin it, them, Oh God, I am a right twat”- my rambling was cut off by the man laughing softly, his eyes crinkling up, and his tongue poking slightly between his teeth. I stopped, and admittedly stared at him for far longer than I should have. He quickly stopped laughing, smiling brightly at me still.
“Come out for coffee with me.” He stated. Mind you, he didn’t ask, just told me what I should do. I like him. Wait no. That sounded weird.
“Now?” I questioned.
“No, maybe when I look better, and you are not so… wet.” He said, his voice going a tad bit deeper when he spoke the last word. Oh crap.
“Yeah, sounds g-great.” I stuttered, nearly face palming again. God I am such a twat.
“Can I get your number?” He asked me. Duh Dan! I nodded vigorously, taking his offered iPhone from his hands, and entering my number and name into it. I gave it back, flinching at the slight jolt I felt when our hands met. Get it together Dan, this is no fairy tale. Locate your chill mate. I then nodded curtly, turning as walking back into the rain, into the cafe. What the hell just happened?
After leaving the shop, a smile tugged on my face, however unsure it may have seemed. I walked down the street, my clothes and hair wet, yet I wasn’t that concerned. I knew I would have another fresh pair at my destination. I also knew that Janice would have plastic bag for me to take the wet ones home in. God I loved that woman, such a beautiful soul. I smiled again at the thought of her and nearly skipped the rest of the way there.
Upon entering,I was greeted with the usual 'Hey Dan!’ from about twelve people, as well as a few knowing head shakes at my soggy appearance. I smiled again, feeling right at home. I walked into the locker room, gaining a few grunts in my direction. I nodded as I made my way over to my locker. I opened it, laughing slightly as my tights fell out and landed on my feet. I picked them up, and began the uncomfortable task of peeling off my soaking wet clothes. I took the hand towel hanging up on the side of the metal container. I wiped of my damp body, and began the process of putting on the clothes I needed now.
I put on a jock strap, pause for laughter, and then slipped on my black tights. I turned to the side, doing a quick pliè to stretch out the thighs in the fabric. I then put on the tight fitting shirt, grimacing as the fabric held my wet hair against ,my skin. I pulled it through, pulling it up into a tight bun on the top of my head. I went back into the locker, pulling out the black slippers and placing them on the bench, before going back in and grabbing the black pair of slippers, their ribbons, and their toe gels. I put everything else back into the locker, grabbed my shoes, and went back out into the hall to wait for class.
After I beat the other slippers into submission, and put on the black fabric pair, I heard my name called out.
“Dan!” A woman with long braided hair called out. I couldn’t help the major smile that enveloped my face. Janice. I leaped up, and ran over to her, arms open wide as she lunged into them. I stepped back and held on tightly. I truly loved this woman with all my heart.
“Janice! And here I thought I would be forced to be all alone today!” I laughed letting her go and stepping back a bit.
“Why I never!” She exclaimed dramatically throwing her hand to her chest, turning and falling backwards into my arms again. I laughed slightly, her antics amusing as ever. What a crazy woman. I turned my head as I heard the door open, letting Janice stumble onto her feet once again. I bent down grabbing my shoes and walking into the studio. I ran to the furthest bar on the wall, and slipped the shoes on the floor. Looking up I saw Janice padding over to me as I slid into the splits to stretch my hips. Just then the teacher walked into the room, clapping his hands as he called us to order.
“O.K. O.K. Enough chat, lets get started, Dan on your feet. We know; your flexible!” He chuckled in my direction. I smiled ducking my head and standing.
“Pliè” He shouted, and away we went. We worked through our stretches, opening hips, and correcting turnouts. Eventually we began the actual class, and time flew by as I got lost in the music and the orders from Chriss, the teacher.
As the class drew to a close, I got antsy, knowing my time was close. I bid Janice farewell as she walked out, before falling onto my but again. I slipped on the black slippers, wincing as my toes melded the the rubber at their tip. I tied the ribbon up my ankle and stood. I moved en pointe to test the rubber and its position before falling onto the soles of my feet again. I then walked across the now empty room to the stereo plugged into the wall behind the wooden piano. I plugged in my phone, letting the song Derniere Danse by Indila, one of my favourites.
As the song started, I stepped in time to the music, my steps leading me to the mirror as I waited forthe opening lyrics. As soon as her voice pierced the atmosphere, I raised my right leg, letting the breath I was holding fall with the effort. I watched in the mirror as my leg became parallel with my body, my toes reached above my head. I brought it down, rising en pointe to turn in a pirouette, I landed smoothly, letting my arms fan out to my side.
I turned, rising again to my toes, and stepping small and quickly to my right, feeling almost wrapped up in the music. I fell flat again, letting my body move me with the thoughts of today. When the music got faster, I moved with it. Turning so fast, my now loose hair fell slightly from the bun, letting my curls fall into my sweaty face. I ran, using my right leg to push myself into the air. I spread my legs in mid air, smiling when I landed again, not stopping to take the time to celebrate a well executed grand jete. I spun again, letting the music take me away.
I thought of blue eyes, and their piercing ways. I thought of deep sounds, rough hands. I thought of rain, and before I knew it, my music drew to a close, and I was left panting.
“You’re in a mood” Chris spoke, clapping his hands lightly. I looked at him, unsure of what he meant.
“You’re hectic. Like you are confused and anxious about it.” He stated letting his claps come to halt. Chriss always knew something was up, and the perfect thing to say to help. That’s what made him a great teacher.
“I ran into a man today” I mumbled looking down.
“Awesome! Why so glum chum?” he asked .
“Well, I spilled coffee all over him and looked like a drowning rat” I said, my humiliation obvious.
“Oh no.” He said, rubbing his hand over his face. “Then what?” He asked.
“He asked me to coffee.” I said, testing the words and their weight on my lips.
“What?!” He asked, the surprise clear on his ivory skin, His green eyes going wide.
“I know. I was surprised too” I responded, my confusion and uncertainty obvious.
“Dan” Chriss warned, his tone weary. “You are allowed to date”
“I know that, but why would anyone want too? No one ever has before.” I muttered, looking down.
“Dan” he said, elongating the “a” in my name. “High school is over, uni is over. You are an adult. Things change, and I’m sure plenty of guys, and girls, wanted you. Half the boys here I have to keep from acting like pervs around you!” he exclaimed.
“Yeah right” I said, rolling my eyes slightly. No one ever wanted me. I was even second best in my own family. Not that I’m salty about that or anything.
“Dan, just give him a chance ok?” he asked softly. And as if he timed it perfectly, my phone rang.
“No fucking way” I whispered before running over to grab it. I unplugged it, taking note of the unfamiliar number before answering it.
“Hello?” I asked, placing my hand on my hip and turning slightly.
“Hi Dan, it’s Phil, the guy you ran into today” He replied. I gaped at Chriss, who started waving his hands sporadically.
“A-Ah Phil! How’s the shirt?” I asked, my voice trailing off at the end. Wht the fuck?! I slapped my forehead with my hand looking at Chriss who doubled over with the effort of holding his in his laugh. Ugh.
“The shirt did not make it, but that’s O.K.” he laughed. I cringed, putting my hand back on my hip.
“Oh. I’m really sorry about that again Phil.” I apologized.
“That’s O.K. I told you already, no harm no foul. About that coffee date though” He started. Oh great. Here comes the decline and my ultimate rejection. Awesome.
“Can I move that to tonight?” He asked taking me by surprise. I flinched, looking at Chriss again. Give him a chance. O.K.
“Uh, yeah, I just finished up where I am, I can meet you somewhere if you would like?”
“Just give me your address, I’ll have someone pick you up.” he said.
“Um, ok” I gave him the address before saying goodbye and hanging up. Chriss and I looked at each other in surprise.
“What just happened?” I asked numbly.
“You have a date” He whispered back. And then the situation dawned on me.
“I have a date! I just finished dance!” I yelled.
“So change” he replied as if to say duh.
“My clothes are soaked though! This is all I have!”
“Deodorant and paper towel” he began. “Let’s go” he said, walking forward and grabbing my elbow leading me to the locker room.
“Wait Chriss, if I’m going on a date with him, why is he 'Sending someone to pick me up’?” I asked. Chriss stopped.
“Pepper spray” He added before continuing on. After wiping me down and reapplying my deodorant, my phone rang again.
“Hello?” I answered knowing exactly who it was.
“The car is there. It will take straight to me. Don’t worry” Phil said.
“Why do you have a car picking me up at all?” I asked walking with Chriss to the front, leaving my bag in the locker.
“I’m already at Starbucks™” he replied.
“Are you gonna rape me?” I asked bluntly. He roared with laughter, his deep voice rising in pitch as he did so.
“No beatiful. I would never do anything you didn’t expressly ask me to.” he responded, his voice thick.
“Oh. O.K.” I responded stupidly as I hugged Chriss and walked out the door. “I’m on my way” I finished, hanging up as I stepped outside. Waiting for me, I saw large black SUV in wait. Who the the hell was this Phil? I asked myself.
The same man who held the umbrella over us stepped out, and offered a friendly smile. He opened the door to the back seat and moved aside for me to enter. He was tall, taller than me by at least five inches. He was bald, and his face slightly wrinkled with age.
“Are you gonna rape me?” I asked him, going for the same tone I had used with Phil. And like Phil, he laughed, however his laugh was quiet and short lived.
“No. My job is to get you to Mr.Lester safely, unharmed and happy.” He said; his northern accent thick and voice deep. I nodded again’ taking note of Phil’s surname.
“What’s your name?” I asked, remaining where I stood.
“Michael. You may call me Mikey” He replied.
“O.K. I’m Dan” I said.
“I know. ” He stated. I nodded again, feeling kind of dumb as I remembered he was there the first time I introduced myself.
“Well, Mikey, let’s be on our way then” I said awkwardly as I began to get in the car. He chuckled again, closing the door behind me. I looked around, taking in the extravagant look of the massive SUV.
The dashboard was lit with blue LED’s and the radio was an impressive looking touch screen. Above that was another screen, with a map of the neighborhood visible. Mikey got in at this point and I slid over to see his face easier.As he pulled off, I was consumed by questions.
“Why are you here?” I asked.
“I told you why” He answered, his brows furrowing in confusion.
“No, I mean, why do you drive Phil around and stuff, like, who are you to him?” I restated.
“I am his head of security.” He answered. “He entrusts me with his life and all that he deems important enough to need extra protection, which yes, now includes you.” He explained.
“Head of security? What does he do?!” I asked in shock, wait. “This had better not be some like, sex trafficking thing. He can’t buy me.” I said, my palms now clammy with nerves. Again, he chuckled.
“No no no Dan. He likes you. Which is a first in a long time. He doesn’t normally send me to fetch someone for him, and he most certainly doesn’t ask them out after a glance. But I can see the appeal.” He stated. “As for what he does, well, I have been asked to keep that private, as he wishes to tell you himself.” At the end of his statement, I looked up, seeing the cafe come into view.
“One last thing, quickly Mikey.” I began, heart racing. “If I get out of this truck, is he going to hurt me? Physically or emotionally?” I asked quietly.
“No. Physically, Phil couldn’t hurt anything beyond a bug, and that’s if it bit you. That might change however, if someone were to try and hurt you however peaceful he may be.” He explained.
“Emotionally, there is never a right answer, so I will give you the next best thing. I don’t think so. His work requires a lot from him, which is why I am so surprised to even have you in my presence at all. Some people are not okay with that.” He finished, right as we pulled up to the shop as well. Before I could thank him, he was out of the car, and walking to my door. I slid over again, and grabbed my phone as he opened the door for me revealing a smiling Phil. Mikey held a hand out for me, so I took it and stepped down onto the pavement.
“Thank you” I said quietly, noting his small smile before I was turning to Phil, who also held a hand out for me. Taking a deep breath, I took his hand, noticing for the first, time their large size.
“Dan” he greeted me, his lazy smile ever present.
“Promise me you won’t rape me?” I asked again as we headed inside. Somewhere in the distance I heard the SUV drive off. He stopped just outside the building, the scent of coffee already permeating the air. He turned me to him, catching my chin between his thumb and fore finger, holding my gaze. I saw his lips moving, but what I noticed more where his eyes.
Deep pools of azul, with flecks of gold, and green in in them. They sparkled with kindness, and a kind of childlike innocence. They say the eyes are a window to the soul. And if that’s true, his soul was magnificent, and kind, and sweet. If the old saying was true, maybe I wouldn’t get hurt after all.
“O.K. Dan?” his voice broke through my thoughts, snapping me back to reality. Oh shit. What had he said?! I could feel my cheeks heat up with embarrassment, blushing crimson.
“What?” I asked sputtering slightly. He smiled broadly, a chuckle resounding from deep within his chest. He pulled me into him, much to my surprise, holding my body close to his. I heard his heart beat as I struggled not to snuggle into his broad chest. Oh fuck it. I wrapped my arms around his waist, pressing my head further into him. He was so warm.
“I would never hurt you Dan.” He murmured quietly. “And I would never let any harm come to you.” He finished. And I believed him, I could sense the sincerity of his words, and I felt safe. I turned my face into his chest, breathing deeply, taking in the faint scent of raspberries. Against my better judgment, I began to pull back, not wanting to seem weird on what was possibly my, our first date.
“Come on” he said, taking my hand and pulling me into the cafe again. Upon entering I was assaulted by the strong scent of coffee and the sight of sweets glass cases. We walked to the counter hand in hand and waited for the server to come our way.
Upon finishing the drinks she was working on, she called out for the customers and handed them the beverages. She turned to us and smiled brightly.
“What can I get you two today?” she asked, her brown eyes shining.
“Caramel macchiato” we both said. we turned to look at each other before I fell into a fit of giggles bumping into his shoulder. The barista laughed with me, while Phil smiled broadly.
“You two are cute” she said entering the order into the computer.
“Thank you” Phil said softly, his smile still big. I looked up at him, smiling softly. This man.
“That’ll be six pound eighty” she said looking back. We both reached for our wallet at the same time, however a quick glare from Phil told me to put mine back. Upon handing over the bills, i looked back to him.
“You should have let me cover it” I muttered. His face morphed into that of confusion.
“I ruined your shirt!” I said in disappointment.
“Dan, I told you, it doesn’t matter” He said looking down at me. I shook my head slightly and looked away. He got his receipt and led us towards a table next to a window and sat us down.
“Dan” he said. I looked up, taking in his concerned features. “It’s not a big deal. I mean it” he said firmly. I nodded, looking away.
“Relax” he said softly reaching out and tucking a loose curl behind my ear. I turned back to him, watching his expression. It was cautious, yet kind. Patient. I smiled softly in return.
“Dan and Phil!” a voice rang out, breaking our kind of intense atmosphere. We both looked up, and he touched my hand, standing up before going to the counter. I looked away, refusing to watch as he walked away. I heard his chair before I looked up and saw he had rejoined me. I opened my mouth to thank him for the coffee, when my phone went off. As soon as I heard the ringtone, I knew what was going on.
“Shit Phil!” I exclaimed. I can’t believe I forgot! I never forget! His eyes clouded over in concern.
“What?!” He asked, clearly concerned.
“I have to feed the baby, I have to go!” I proclaimed, watching his face fall at my words. Shit. “Um, can you give me a ride to my flat?”
“You have a child?” He asked in surprise. Oh boy.
“No, well, yes, but no. I mean, It’s not mine, but it’s kind of mine. I mean, oh God. I should probably just how you, that would be a lot easier.” I stammered nervously. I gauged his face, watching him grow more and more confused with time.
“O.K.” he said hesitantly.We both stood, grabbing our drinks and walked out. He grabbed my hand, entwining our fingers and led us toward a bright blue sports car. I nearly stopped, but getting back home was more important.
He opened the door for me, after unlocking it, and carefully guided me in. Like i was breakable. After ensuring the seat belt wasn’t cutting my neck and was secure, he got in after me. he started the car, looking in my direction for the way to my flat.
“Uh, just turn around, and go straight. That’s it. I’ll tell you when to stop. ” I said, feeling awkward. He nodded curtly, I could tell he less than happy with the turn of events, but what else could I do? I had prior obligations. We began with the swift turn I mentioned. The tension on the air was palpable, I could feel it with every breath I took.
“Stop here” I said softly, motioning to the right. My flat was chosen with the studio in mind, so by car, it was only five minutes away. Most days I walked though. I began to unhook the seat belt when he grabbed my hand in his. I looked up, catching his gaze with my own. Again, I was locked in instantly.
The blue iris’ were clouded over in concern, yet there was something dark hidden beneath. Had I mistaken the tension earlier? What was going on? I took the moment to examine the rest of his features. His face, had a rather defined jaw line, thin lips set in a line, showing the stress of the moment. For whatever reason, I noticed the smoothness of his ivory skin. He was pale, naturally. And it really did something for me. I was overcome with urge to kiss him. But my lack of experience kept me from doing so. Instead, I leaned forward and brushed my lips against his cheek. Shivering as his breath pooled against my neck.
I pulled away, blushing again. I rushed through my seat belt, and almost ripped open the door in my attempt to get out. I was greeted by Phil smirking slightly as he leaned against the hood, waiting for me to get my act together. I looked down as I started walking, my curls falling into my eyes again. I walked to the front door of the light grey building, unlocking it before stepping in. I flicked the light on, walking up the stairs before me when I heard the door close and the tell tale sounds of his steps behind me. I got to the door of my main living quarters and turned the knob, forgetting what lay in wait.
And it attacked. Flying at him with 147 pounds of protective muscle, Singer was livid. He knocked Phil to the ground, barking and growling as Phil lay quiet underneath him. Fuck.
“No! Singer! He’s a friend, get down and get the baby!” I yelled at the dog. I watched, disgruntled at the tawny creature as it gave Phil one last glare, before turning to do what was asked of him.
“What the hell was that?!” He asked in shock, wiping his face of the slobber Singer had left on him.
“You can’t yell in here. Singer knows any voice besides mine yelling is a bad thing, so if you’re mad, leave now.” I said, my guard flying up instantly. Anyone who couldn’t handle Singer couldn’t be with me. Plain and simple.
“I’m not mad, I was just attacked by a freaking monster!” He yelled again. God. I hate yelling.
“Lower your voice.” I hissed. At that moment, I watched his gaze flicker behind me. Singer and the baby must be back. I turned taking the small creature from Singer’s mouth, and walked into the kitchen. Upon turning on the light, I heard Phil yelp before he scrambled into the room behind me. The tiny animal began mewling in search of food, so I rushed through the task of his bottle, and quickly walked into the lounge again, sitting on the black sofa. I settled in, Singer jumping up and laying beside me and the baby.
“Dan?” Phil said hesitantly, sitting at the far end of the couch.
“Oh, right. Phil, my baby, baby, Phil.” I said in hushed voice.
“Is that a baby snow leopard?” He asked in shock.
“Yes Phil. Yes it is.”