Chapter 8 - Part 1

Jessica was soothing her hands over her outfit just before nine. She checked her watch. Hannah would be on her way to collect her for her first night out in ages. She had decided on jeans and a black top—nothing overly fancy. This wasn’t an attempt to go out with the intention of meeting someone new, but rather about going out to support a friend. She wasn’t even sure she was really up to it, but she was hesitant to cancel. Maybe this was what she needed: a few hours out of the house that didn’t consist of mountains of papers to shift through. 

 

“Where are you going?” Myles’ question while he sat on the sofa took her by surprise when she entered the living room.

 

“Out with Hannah.” She shrugged, adjusting her earring. His eyes swept over her from head to toe, making her feel a little self-conscious.

 

“Where?” he asked, his eyes finally settling on hers.

 

“I’m not sure.” She heard a car pull up outside the house, and when she went to check through the window beside the front door, she saw Hannah getting out of her car.

 

“She’s here.” She turned to find Myles standing.

 

“Have fun,” he told her. There was a look he gave her that she didn’t know how to decipher.

 

She was about to ask him if something was wrong, when there was a knock at the door.

 

“I will.” She felt breathless and nervous like a schoolgirl as she opened the door.

 

Hannah stepped inside to hug her.

 

“Myles,” her friend said, greeting the restless male in the room.

 

“Hannah.” His greeting was curt. He shoved his hands into his jean pockets, looking slightly uncomfortable.

 

Their stiff reaction to each other reminded her of how her two closest friends had never really gotten along well. When she looked back at Hannah, she noticed she was acting a little strangely as well when she refused to look in Myles’ direction and hurried her out of the house.

 

“What was that all about?” she asked when getting into the passenger side of Hannah’s car. The cool air made her shiver slightly, making her question her decision not to bring a jacket.

 

“What?” Hannah asked, sounding distracted as she started up the car.

 

“You and Myles.” She was determined to dig deeper. She could tell Hannah was hiding something.

 

Her friend sighed and stopped what she was doing to give Jessica her full attention. 

 

“It was a snubbed drunken proposition.” 

 

Jessica’s mouth opened as she took in her friend’s candid revelation.

 

“Drunken proposition?” she echoed.

 

Hannah nodded sheepishly, looking like she wanted the ground to open up and swallow her whole.

 

She had never even contemplated something like that happening between her friends, and she didn’t like the unsettling feeling in the pit of her stomach when she thought about Myles propositioning Hannah.

 

“Why did you turn him down?” she asked, trying to hide the way she was feeling from her friend—who could read her better than most people.

 

Her friend gave her a hollow laugh. “I wish. This is really going to dent my ego, but he was the one who turned me down.”

 

“Really?” 

 

Hannah nodded. “We bumped into each other one night and after a few drinks and some mixed signals, I propositioned him, but he let me down gently. It’s been awkward ever since…not that I see him often.”

 

She swallowed, trying to figure out why this new information really mattered. Why did it matter who Myles got involved with? She didn’t like that feeling when she thought about her friend and Myles together. She recognized the feeling, though. Jealousy.

 

“Why didn’t you say anything?” she found herself asking.

 

“Being turned down isn’t something you want to talk about.”

 

Hannah was beautiful. She had light-brown hair with natural blond streaks and beautiful, dark blue eyes. She had never seen any guy turn her friend down.

 

On the way to the club, Jessica digested the new information quietly. Myles and Hannah. Myles had always been her friend, the awkward boy who had shyly introduced himself to her on her first day at a new school. But even she had to admit now that he had grown up into a man who held a confidence that was intriguing to most women. She wasn’t “most women,” however—she was his friend and his older brother’s ex-girlfriend.

 

That led to thoughts of Karsyn. Thinking about him felt more comfortable than her recent thoughts about Myles.

 

Her thoughts were elsewhere when they arrived at the club and waited in line. She was trying her best to pull herself back into the moment instead of floating in her mind, trying to sift through her thoughts.

 

“You’ll love this place,” Hannah said enthusiastically.

 

She forced a smile to mimic her excited friend, even though she wasn’t feeling it at all. 

 

“I’m sure it’ll be good.”

 

She couldn’t remember the last time she had gone clubbing. While she had dated Charlie, they had been homebodies, rarely going out. 

 

“This place is always crawling with hot guys.” 

 

She frowned. Her friend had never found a lasting relationship with any of the guys she had dated, and Jessica believed it was because of the unrealistic expectations she harbored. No guy was perfect and expecting them to be would only set her up for disappointment. It wasn’t a stretch to believe it had something to do with her parents divorcing when she was young. 

 

It took half an hour to get into the club. It was dark and loud as Hannah led the way to the bar. 

 

“What shot do you want?” 

 

“I don’t think—” 

 

Hannah waved her hand, cutting her off. “Come on, try something new.”

 

Her words struck something in her. Try something new. 

 

The barman leaned over the counter. “What can I get you ladies?”

 

The whole point of splitting with Charlie was so she could lead her life without having regrets. Maybe the point was also trying things that she wouldn’t have before. How would she know what worked and what didn’t if she didn’t at least try?

 

“Okay.” 

 

Hannah ordered four shots and two drinks. Apprehensively, she watched the bartender set the drinks down before them. While Hannah paid, she felt out of place in the club, staring at the alcoholic drinks.

 

They downed both of the shots. She grimaced as the alcohol burned its way down her throat while Hannah smiled excitedly. They took their drinks and found a table near the dance floor. 

 

The lights were bright and she was still feeling the effects of the alcohol warming her inside. She allowed her hips to move slightly in beat with the music while she watched people dance. Her gaze drifted over the dance floor, not really taking in much other than the lights and the noise. 

 

It didn’t take long before the alcohol began to relax her and she found herself feeling a little more carefree than she’d felt in ages. She stared down at the drink she’d been nursing for the last half hour. It teased her taste buds, but she had no idea what was in it.

 

“It tastes so good,” Hannah murmured beside her.

 

“It does.”

 

There were a few guys who tried to approach her, but she found herself unable to make small talk. Hannah had done better: she was currently talking to two guys.

 

“Where’s the bathroom?” she whispered to her friend.

 

Hannah gave her directions before turning back to the men, who seemed to be hanging on her every word.

 

The club was full and it was a bit suffocating. She hurried to go before she washed her hands and made her way back to where she thought she had started, but she got a little lost and had to retrace her steps.

 

The sight of Hannah brought her relief until she saw who she was talking to. Karsyn.

 

She stopped, feeling like her feet were weighted down to the floor. 

 

As if sensing her presence, his eyes found hers. There was a familiarity in the way he was staring at her that brought back all the good memories of when they had been together, and none of the memories that had torn them apart.