by Jaden Cane
Two best friends. One murderous man. Maybe a series. not finished.rough, still everywhere.
|The Game/The Chance|
It happened once before. Oh, how I love reproducing those moments he thought to himself. He dwelled on the events of that night again and again in his mind. He remembered every detail, like her fragile hands. The smell of the wet trees, and the sounds of every animal that passed by. He recalled having lost control for a short period of time, which is unlike him. He had spent years learning about himself, and about how to keep a handle on things.
But, the memories are not as vivid as they once were. He doesn't get the full body excitement he once did when reminiscing about the woman, and the chase. That’s his favorite part, the catch. Pursuing the girl and wooing her. Making her trust him, love him. Then giving her the surprise she’s been longing for, till death do us part.
He knows what he needs to do. He must make it happen again. Who will the lucky girl be this time? He likes them in their twenties, and fit. He likes them pale, with dark hair and light eyes. There are millions of them out there.
It was a bright morning. It seems that the sunlight was persistent in violating her eyelids. No matter which way she turned, or tucked, the light was determined to make her get out of bed.
She fussed around with the covers for a few minutes before the droning alarm clock made her get up. The initial standing made her realize that her left foot was dead asleep. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she wiggled her toes and shook her foot until it felt alive again.
She walked to the bedroom door and paused for a moment. Holding on to the frame to steady herself while she wiped the sleep from her eyes. After a brief delay in her morning routine, she headed to the bathroom and ran the cold water to splash on her tired face. I swear I just fell asleep she thought to herself. She looked into the mirror, the image staring back at her seeming like a stranger. Her long, wavy black locks were still pinned from the night before, with strands that have gone astray. Her dark blue eyes looked almost black from the lack of sleep. Red sleep lines danced across her pale face.
The events of the night before ran through her mind in pieces. The smile from a gorgeous man, another glass of wine, one more dance. Then the unexpected embrace from behind her. Chills ran up her spine at the thought, and a smile crept across her face. She couldn’t recall seeing his face, but she remembered he had a cluster of freckles on his left hand, right above his thumb, and he smelt like the outdoors. A mix of wet grass and wood.
With the thoughts that took over her mind, she continued getting ready for her busy morning. She flicked on the radio, and began to feel more alert as the beat drifted into the quiet apartment. She swayed to the beat while she applied her mascara and sang as she straightened her hair. Before she knew it, she was ready and heading out the door to the Café Del Sol. She was meeting her best friend, Crystin for coffee and to piece together the night before. They’ve been meeting at the café every morning for the past eleven years. It was a routine she liked, and often looked forward to. Chantelle loved the quaint café. It was like a small piece of Flordia in her hometown. The walls and ceiling were painted like the sky, and the floor the color of sand. Brightly colored table and chair sets sat around a beautiful display of palm trees, and Orange Blossoms. When she arrived, Crystin was already sitting at a table with two coffees in front of her. She was consistently early and always looked stunning. With long, brown hair and big, bright blue eyes, and a smile that would knock men over, she demanded attention every time she walked into a room.
They met in first grade at the local elementary school. The first day of school, Chantelle was playing in the sandbox with her newest Barbie, and a little boy came along and tore it’s head off. While Chantelle sat there crying, Crystin came along and repaired the doll. She handed the mended Barbie back to Chantelle and pulled out one of her own. They have been inseparable ever since.
“Good morning party animal. Did you get any sleep?” asked Crystin with a stunning smile.
“Morning. I swear I went to bed, but I feel like I got hit by a bus.” She placed one hand on her hip, and the other on her forehead. She enjoyed the dramatics.
“Well, it must have been a small, slow moving bus because, you look great.”
“I can hardly remember what went on last night. Why do we always let Brynlynn talk us into ‘Girls Night Out’?”
“Because she’s one of our oldest friends and we love her. She had to go and get herself married and have children. She looks forward to a night out alone.” Ah, that must be it thought Chantelle. She couldn't picture herself married with children. If all the men in the world were the same, she'd stay single forever. Although, that could be the aftermath of an awful break-up two years ago, with a man she thought she’d spend her life with.
She slowly sipped her steaming cup of dark roast and tried to piece together the night before with her friend.
Neither one could remember the very details of the evening. "I do recall a handsome young man wrapping his arms around you. Did you get his name?"
Chantelle smiled at the small memory she had of this stranger. "No. He didn't talk to me. He just hugged me, and left. I don‘t know what he looks like. It was weird". After they finished their coffees, Chantelle grabbed another and they left to work together. They had been working at the same place for four years now. When they started, it was a small, up and coming flower Shoppe, with a lot of potential. Crystin had opened ’Just Add Water’ in the beginning of summer, after years of dreaming about opening it, and one month later she became so busy that she had hired Chantelle.
The Shoppe was four blocks away from the coffee house. They enjoyed this walk together every morning. Today, the were birds chirping and the sun was starting to peak out from behind the clouds. It was their time to talk about whatever they needed. Most times they would exchange jokes, or stories they had read online, while passing by newsstands and gift shops. Other times, there were more serious matters to discuss, like the date the night before, or the declining health of a loved one.
Once they arrived, they started with the usual routines, Crystin playing with the arrangements and stock, while Chantelle fashioned the display shelves and prepared to flip the open sign.
“Ready to open ‘er up?” Chantelle halfway shouted to Crystin across the store, while slowly making her way to the door.
“Well, hang on just a minute. It’s only 7:30, we still have another half hour. No ones waiting, lets hang out and you can finish your second coffee.” Any time they finished the morning routine early, Crystin would pull the dollar store deck out from under the counter and start shuffling. Chantelle walked over to the counter to join her in a game of cards.
“So, he really just hugged you and left? You really didn’t see his face?” Asked Crystin. Chantelle couldn’t determine what Crystin was feeling. The look on her face was a mix of disgust and amusement. “Nope, I didn’t see his face.” And then it occurred to her, that Crystin might have. “I think we were facing each other when it happened. Did you see him?”
“A little. I mean, I was kinda far away from you at that point, and it was dark. But he was good looking, and tall.”
His teachers and classmates started looking at him with pity. The young man who lost his family in a horrific accident. The breaks on the car failed, and of course he was the only one in the family not with them. He felt his classmates staring, and heard their whispers. ’…think he had something to do with it?… look at him, he hasn’t cried at all…’ The girls would giggle when he walked by, and point when his back was turned, while sharing secrets. The boys would make obscene comments about his non apparent social skills, and his lack of family or friends. They all had their ideas of what he would become.
The citizens of British Columbia knew about his mother and how badly she treated him, and the things she did behind closed doors. Every one knew, even his father and brother, but they pretended it wasn’t happening. She would sneak into his bedroom at night and fondle him, she would speak dirty words. It started when he was eleven, and continued until the night before her death. He still loved his mother, even though he knew she was doing him wrong. Nothing could take away the contempt he felt for her as well. All he ever wanted was to be treated like his brother. What made him different?
He finished off his high school career, then headed out of town. He needed to get away from the accusing eyes of the city patrons that he lived with for years. He didn’t go far, just a province over. He was still close enough to visit his family grave site, but an acceptable distance away that no one knew him or his story. A beginning of reinvention. He would change his life, his outlook and his secrets.
He liked it here. He could see the peaks of the Rockies from his front porch. The deer walked among his property without a care in the world. The eagles and falcons made nests in near by trees. There wasn’t another house for miles. He had his freedom here. He could spend hours in his shop out back without the neighbors wondering what he was up to. He could chose who he let inside his home. It was far enough from town that people didn’t want to stop by. He never had to worry about unexpected visitors.
He didn’t like company much. Having to put on a show in his own home made him feel useless, but he was very convincing. When people walked in, they always said the house looked alive. It was colorful and organized. Small enough for one person, but big enough that people didn’t feel claustrophobic. He spent a lot of money making sure his home was perfect. Just enough of the right stuff to keep up his façade.
The store was open for an hour before the morning rush started. The door chimed for the sixth time in ten minutes. It was the smell of freshly mowed lawn that wafted from the open door that made Chantelle turn around.
There were a few customers looking at the display shelves and contemplating their orders, and the newcomer by the door. He was tall, with broad shoulders, she wondered how he fit through the doorway. She started to walk over to the counter to assist the waiting customers, and couldn’t shake the feeling that this was the man from the night before. She kept trying to steal glances at his hand for the cluster of freckles, but his hands remained in his pockets.
Chantelle was alone in the front of the shop. Crystin went in the back to start making the arrangements that have already been ordered. She continued to help the customers make their orders, but kept her attention on the newcomer. She noticed he had eyes the shade of grassy knolls, and a little bit of grey blended in with his cropped black hair.
Finally the morning rush was over. Chantelle approached the man slowly, still peeking at his hands. She looked up to his face to greet him and he had the most beautiful smile waiting for her. He’s going to be a heart breaker she thought before opening her mouth to say “Good morning Sir. Are you looking for anything in particular today?”
“Actually, yes I am.” His voice was deep and just a little raspy. It sent tingled up her spine.
“Well, I’m here to help. What do you have in mind?” her smile didn’t feel forced, didn’t feel like a front for customers. He’s only said four words to her, and she didn’t want to stop the conversation.
“I’m looking for you.” his eyes flashed on the word ‘you’. She felt her cheeks going flushing and her smile widening.
“That’s very sweet sir, but I meant a flower arrangement.” She started walking over to the display cases to show him some of the options available. “We have arrangements for every occasion. Weddings, birthdays, funerals, holidays and even those just because moments. All the flowers we have are just to your right, if you want something else we will have to special order it which will take an extra two days.” She could feel his eyes upon her cheek and tried to look everywhere but into those green eyes.
“I saw you last night with your friends at the bar. I overheard you telling someone you worked here, and I thought it would be a good way to meet you if I came in to buy you some flowers.” She couldn’t help but look to his eyes now. On the way she caught a glimpse of the hand she was looking for. It is him she thought. Then once again the memories from last night flooded her mind, his smell, his smooth arm on her shoulder and the freckles.
“I don’t know what to say. I think I’m impressed.”
“ Well, let me impress you more on Friday night when we have dinner. What do ya say?” She couldn’t look away from his eyes. She almost didn’t catch what he just asked her.
“Dinner? Yes, dinner. Friday night.” They exchanged contact information and decided that he would pick her up at eight o’clock.
“I have to go to work now. I’ll call you Thursday night to make sure you don’t change your mind. Talk to you then.” He turned and headed for the door. She caught herself watching him walk away, like it was the last she would see of him. He turned and smiled at her before exiting.
Chantelle made her way into the back room to tell Crystin all about what just happened.
“Good thing he caught where you worked huh?” Crystin couldn’t hide her distress from her friend. Chantelle picked up on it right away.
“You think it’s strange, don’t you?”
“ Well to be honest with you Chantelle, I find it weird. I mean, he didn’t talk to you last night, and he was eavesdropping to find out where you work. I’m sure it’s nothing, from what you said he seems like a nice, charming guy. I just don’t want to see you get hurt again.” Crystin was trying to hold back her negative thoughts about this guy. She kept reminding herself that she hasn’t formally met him. So what if he’s a little strange, as long as he takes care of her friend.
“Maybe he drank a little much last night and didn’t want to sound like every other guy at a bar who tries to pick up a girl? I’ll call you before, and after dinner so that you know everything is ok. And if he comes in the store again I’ll have you meet him. Plus, it‘s just one date.” The door chimed and Chantelle walked back into the front to help the new customer.
Crystin tried to carry on with the arrangements but was getting distracted by the nagging feeling in the back of her mind. She learned to trust these feelings, but tried not to be judgemental.
Crystin knew that she was a little over-protective about who Chantelle got involved with. She loved her too much to see her get hurt by someone who didn’t deserve her in the first place. She didn’t want to relive the break-up that Chantelle went through last time. It was hard on both of them.
Getting a call at three o’clock in the morning from the hospital, being informed that Chantelle had been admitted with three broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and a fractured pelvis. Crystin made Chantelle promise to put her down as a emergency contact after the first time her ex got drunk and gave her a black eye.
After visiting Chantelle in the hospital that night, she went over to Chantelle’s house and gathered up all of her clothes, her personal belongings, punched the jerk in the face and called the police. A restraining order was put in place, and he got eighteen months in jail for battery, while Crystin walked away with a broken knuckle. Chantelle stayed with her for almost a year before feeling well enough to live on her own again. Even after Chantelle moved out, she would still come for a sleep over a couple times a week.
It’s been two full years since he has been out of their lives, and Chantelle is starting to live again. The last thing Crystin wants is for her friend to go back to the scared, withdrawn person she was.
Crystin felt bad about ending their conversation the way they did so she went out to the front of the store to apologize to Chantelle. She peaked her head around the corner and Chantelle was standing there with two salads, and two iced teas from the Deli down the street. “I was coming out to apologize for going all protective friend on you back there.”
“No worries. I understand. Now lets eat some of this delicious salad.” They sat down at the counter and started their lunch. “You taught me that if I don’t take chances, things will never happen.” Crystin looked up at her companion and could see the emotion behind her eyes. She knew it was hard for Chantelle to admit her true feelings. Even after all they have been threw, Chantelle hid a lot from her.
“You’re right, I did say that. Again, I’m sorry. I guess I still have some healing to do.”
He was at home getting prepared for his date tomorrow night with Chantelle. He laid out his clothes and packed a small over night bag. He would stay at a hotel in town, so he didn’t have to make the long drive back home, and for on night he could be closer to her.
He was pacing, he knows he’s nervous. He knows what this date means for his future. He needs to be charming, normal and remain calm. He can’t scare her away, he needs her. She’s the one. The one that will make his dreams come true, again.
He walks over to the kitchen to grab a glass of whiskey on the rocks. That always calms him down. Reaching into the cupboard for his glass he gets a flash of his first time with a women. Leaves framing her face as she lay on her back in the dirt. Her clothes scattered in near by bushes. Her pale arms reaching out to him in the moonlight. A smile creeps across his face, and his heart started to race. He placed the cup on the counter, and reached in the freezer for some ice. It’s cold, like her skin. This memory made a chill run over his spine. It almost scared him. He poured his drink and made his way to the living room.
The ice clinked in his glass as he walked over to the telephone. He needs to call Chantelle, make sure she’s still in. He reaches into his pocket for the number on the neatly folded Just Add Water stationary, picks up the phone and dials.
Ring…. Ring.. Ring..
“Hi, Chantelle?” He focused on his breathing to remain calm. Her voice made his heart race.
“Oh hello. Is this the call to make sure I’m not chickening out on our date tomorrow night?” Her tone was light hearted and seemed full of life. It soothed him.
“Why yes, it is. Good guess.”
“I’m not going to chicken out. I was wondering where we were going though, do I need to wear something nice?”
“I made reservations for us at nine o’clock at La Masionette, so you will need to dress up just a bit.”
“Wow. Ok. Thanks a nice place. I’ve heard great things about it. You are trying to impress me, aren‘t you?.”
“I’m all about the impression. So I’ll pick you up tomorrow at eight. Be ready.” She made that simple. This might be easier than I though.
It’s seven thirty, and he isn’t here yet. Maybe he’s a man that’s always on time and never early. Chantelle was finished getting ready by seven in case he was early. She didn’t want to be one of those girls that answers the door then has him wait another twenty minutes.
She tried to sit patiently on the sofa, but her nerves got the better of her. She decided to make a quick call to Crystin to let her know where they were going. Crystin seemed more excited about the date this time than when they were talking about it at work. That made Chantelle feel better about the date.
She had a hard time trusting men. After her last relationship she thought she would never be with another man again. But this man, was charming and extremely good looking, which frightened her. She didn’t want to trust him, and certainly didn’t want to fall in love with him. After all the years she’s spent healing from her ex, she knew that this date would be good for her. Would help push her along.
The doorbell rang and she looked at her watch, seven forty six. He is an early guy. She smiled and went to answer the door.
“Hello, please come in.” he looked handsome in a sleek black suit and matching tie.
“Wow Chantelle. You look stunning.”
“Oh, thank you. You do as well. I just have to grab a coat and my purse and then I’m ready to go.”
“Ok, I’ll wait here.” She walked to the closet and retrieved her nice coat and drapped it over her arm. “Alright, lets get this show on the road.” He opened the door for her and followed behind.
“The car is just over here.” He took charge and led the way, and opened the car door for her. What a gentlemen. I may have lucked out she thought.
It was a sort drive to the restaurant. He got out of the car and around to the door before she even had her coat over her arm. “Thank you. You’re quick.” She had the most stunning smile. This might be harder than I thought. He said to himself, and he reached for her hand to help her out. They walked up the four steps and on to a beautiful pathway surrounded by many different flowers, leading up the double oak doors to the restaurant. He reached in front of her and opened the door for her to pass through.
They were greeted by the hostess who asked if they had reservations. “Yes, at 8:30, its under First Date.” The hostess checked her chart “Right this way Mr. and Mrs. Date.” They both looked at each other and gave a slight giggle and began to follow the hostess to their table. The restaurant was very elegant and romantic. They sat down at their table and looked over the drink menu.
“Red or white?” He looked up to meet Chantelle’s eyes, which seemed to have a sparkle in them. “I prefer white, if that’s fine with you.” He looked up to the waiter and asked for a bottle of their best white wine. The waiter nodded and headed off to get their bottle.
“This is a gorgeous place. I’ve never been here before. I’ve heard such amazing things.” Her look was genuine, and her smile was fascinating. “Yes. I have been here once before. The service was outstanding and the food was delicious. I thought this place would be perfect for a first date with an absolutely ravishing women.” He saw the blush wash through her cheeks and smiled. “That was the reaction I was hoping for.”
The waiter returned and held up a bottle of Lailey Chardonnay. “Is this alright Sir?” He looked up and read the bottle “Yes, I think that will be perfect. Thank you.” The waiter popped the cork and poured two glasses of wine. He put the bottle in the ice bucket and asked for their order. “I’ll go with the lobster special, and she said she would like the steak, medium-rare.”
While they waited for their meals, they decided to play twenty questions to get to know one another better. “You’re favorite animal?” He asked. Chantelle thought for a minute before responding. She looked stunning while looking around the room searching for the right answer. “ It’s a tie between big dogs and koalas. What about you?”
“You’re forgetting the rules, you’re not allowed to ask the same question. Pick another one.” The searching began again, looking around the room for a question. He could see the exact moment the question popped into her mind. “Do you make a habit of randomly hugging strangers, and not letting them see your face, or talk to them?” The smirk on her face amused him. “No. That was a first. I wanted to talk to you, but you looked like you were having way to much fun with your friends. I heard you say something about the ‘Just Add Water’ and I decided I would talk to you there.”
She learned about his passion for the outdoors, and that he once made love to a women underneath a huge elm tree. She was having a hard time concentrating on anything else but his eyes. She swore the longer she looked at them, the brighter they seemed.
“Are you not happy with your meal?” He asked, while concern swept into those beautiful green eyes. “Oh, yes I am. I’m just having a hard time not looking into your eyes. They’re beautiful.” Feeling slightly embarrassed, she looked into her plate of food, and cut up her steak. “Well, that’s a good reason to be distracted. Thank you.” He gave her a sincere smile and let her know that it was alright if she stared.
They finished off their meal with light hearted conversation, and sat to enjoy the last of their wine. “You’re very beautiful Chantelle.”