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It's almost eight PM on a Friday night and you're curling your bangs, getting ready for your date with Griffin. You hope it doesn't end like the last date. Griffin completely lost his shit because he thought you smiled at the waiter for too long. After him practically screaming at you in the car while you stuttered apologies, you tried to leave him be. He called you the next day and acted like nothing happened. He does this all the time but never like last time. Your phone rings and you finish your bangs and answer it.

"Hey Griff."

"Hey. I'm outside, you ready?"

"Yeah, just have to put my shoes on."

"Is your door unlocked?"

"Yeah."

"I'll be right up."

"Ok."

You hang up and turn off your curling iron before opening your closet and pulling out your thigh-high black boots. These are your favorite shoes and you wear them everywhere. You hear Griffin open and close your door and you hear him coming up the stairs. He comes into your room and smiles.

"You look great babe."

"Thank you. So do you."

You start walking for the stairs and he grabs your arm.

"Wait, can I talk to you?"

"Is everything ok?"

"Yeah I just wanted to apologize to you. I never did and I should've. I'm sorry about the other night. I really over-reacted and you didn't deserve any of it. I'm sorry."

You smile and kiss him and he hugs you.

"It's ok."

"I love you Lana."

"I love you too."

"Ready to go?"

"Yes."

You walk outside together and you close and lock your door. You walk to his car and get in the passenger seat and he gets in the drivers side. He holds your hand and starts driving. When he gets to the end of the road, you expect him to turn right towards the restaurant by his house that you always go to but he turns left.

"Where are we going?"

 "There's a bar down here called Nelly's and they have happy hour right now."

"Oh ok."

You sigh quietly. He always starts fights when he drinks. You make a mental note to only talk if he talks to you and order what he orders. There's less likely to be an argument if you do that. He pulls into the parking lot and you both get out. He takes your hand and you go inside. A young, blonde girl skips over and smiles at Griffin.

"Hi! Welcome to Nelly's, you can have a seat wherever and I'll get your drinks. What would you like?"

"I'll have a Jack and Coke, Lana?"

"Same."

"I'll bring them right over."

You and Griffin sit at a booth and he looks at you weird.

"What?"

"You hate Jack."

"Not all the time. I kind of felt like having one tonight."

"You only got that so we wouldn't argue."

"No, I got it because I wanted it."

"Lana.."

"Griffin if I ordered it to dodge a fight then it obviously didn't work. I got it because.."

"You wanted to dodge a fight."

You take a breath and nod.

"Ok."

"Just ok?"

"Can we not do this tonight?"

"I'm not doing anything. Why did you order a Jack and Coke?"

"You're reading into things again."

"No I'm not, I just want to know why you ordered that."

"Fine, I ordered it to dodge a fight and clearly, my brilliant plan didn't work. Can we stop arguing now?"

He rolls his eyes and pulls out his phone. He looks at it until the waitress comes with your drinks.

"Here you go."

"She changed her mind. She doesn't want a Jack and Coke."

"No, it's fine really. I'll drink it."

"Tell her what you want."

"I did."

"She'll have.."

You've had enough. It hasn't even been twenty minutes and you're already arguing.

"Nothing. I'll have nothing, thank you."

You grab your purse and walk out. You run into someone and you drop your purse. It spills all over the sidewalk.

"Fuck. I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention."

"No, it's my fault. Are you ok?"

You look up at the stranger and you're awestruck. He's the most attractive guy you've ever seen in your life. You forgot that he asked you a question and you just stare at him. He waves his hand in front of your face and you shake your head.

"I'm so sorry. What?"

"Are you ok?"

"Oh, yes thank you."

You bend down and start cramming your stuff back into your purse and he helps you.

"You seem upset. Is everything ok?"

"Yeah, I just had another fight with my boyfriend. It happens a lot but this one I had to walk away from."

"What was it over?"

"I ordered a Jack and Coke."

"So?"

"He thinks I only ordered the same as him to avoid a fight."

"Wow."

"The worst part is, he's right. I did order it to avoid a fight but it caused one anyway. I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm telling you all of this."

"No, it's fine. I asked. I'm Zev. Nice to meet you."

He holds his hand out and you shake it. Touching him makes your heart beat like a jackhammer and you can feel your face getting hot.

"Lana. I'm nice to meet."

You blink a few times and shake your head.

"Wait, no. Why did I say that? I've never said that in my life, I don't know what's happening.. um, nice to meet you. I'm sorry."

He laughs and your face gets even more hot. He probably thinks you're mentally handicapped, not that you can blame him. The bar door opens and hits you and you nearly fall over.

"What the fuck dude, watch where.. Griffin?"

Zev narrows his eyes at Griffin and Griffin smiles.

"Zev! How the hell are you man?!"

"I'm good."

"What were you saying?"

"To watch where you're going. You hit this girl."

"Oh, she's fine."

He holds his hand out and you take it reluctantly. Zev looks sadly at you then hides it quickly.

"Oh, you're with her?"

"Yeah, why?"

"She doesn't seem like your type."

"What is my type?"

"She seems quiet. You always dated party girls."

He dated party girls but flipped over you looking at someone for too long?

"She's not that quiet."

He laughs and when you understand, you slap his arm.

"Griffin!"

"Anyway, what have you been up to?"

"Working mostly. You?"

"Going to bars."

"Right, haha. Well, I guess I should let you guys go."

"Yeah. You have the same number?"

"No."

"Here, take mine. I'll call you tomorrow and we'll get together like old times."

They exchange numbers and Zev hugs Griffin.

"I'll see you tomorrow man."

He turns to you and his smile seems different than it was with Griffin.

"Lana, it was nice to meet you."

You smile and quickly look down before Griffin can read into it and he goes inside. Griffin turns to you and you prepare yourself. You know his body language, he's about to start to fight.

"You hardly looked at him. Don't you like my friends?"

"Griffin please. I don't want to argue, this is what I've been trying to avoid."

"Then why are you arguing?"

"I'm not!"

"Now you're yelling?"

"Jesus, I'm exhausted Griffin. Just tell me what the right thing to say is and I'll say it."

"This was a bad idea."

Tell me about it.

"What took you so long to come out?"

"I was drinking my drink and talking to the waitress."

"Right. Can you take me home?"

"We just came out. You want to go home already?"

"I don't want to argue anymore so yeah."

"Well if all we're going to do is argue maybe you should find another ride."

You look at him in shock.

"Are you serious?"

"Yeah."

"Fine. I'll find my own way."

"Ok then. Bye."

He turns around and gets into his car and drives off. Hot tears form in your eyes and you feel them run down your face. You sniffle and wipe your eyes and pull your phone out. You dial your moms number and as soon as she picks up, your phone dies.

"Fuck!"

You try to stop crying and go back in the bar. You see the waitress coming and you quickly walk to the bar and sit. You don't want to talk. The bartender comes over and smiles.

"What can I get you sweetheart?"

"Anything strong. Make it a double."

"Sure thing."

"Lana?"

You turn around and Zev walks up and sits in the seat next to you.

"Where's Griffin?"

"He left."

He notices you're crying and leans closer.

"You're crying. What happened?"

"I don't know what to do. Nothing I do is right."

"What do you mean?"

"Since we got together, we've argued over normal things and it was more than we should have but it was ok. Now, all we do is fight. It's over anything I say or do. The last time we went out, he literally screamed at me the whole ride home because I smiled at the waiter for too long. It's always stupid shit like that and I don't know what to do, I don't know how to make him happy."

"He isn't the one that isn't happy."

You suddenly start panicking and think his words have a hidden meaning. You jump up, already shaking.

"Please don't tell him I said any of this, he will kill me. Please, please don't.."

He stands up and put his hands on your shoulders.

"Hey, calm down. I'm not going to tell him a damn thing. He clearly forgot about our falling out."

"You had a falling out?"

You both sit back down and he waves at the bartender and nods.

"Yeah. He always had a tempter and I figured it would get worse. He used to date my sister and she told me about all of their fights and I would talk to him. He would say it's not how it sounded but eventually, they stopped fighting. My sister ended up passing away and he got really drunk and crashed the funeral. The funeral home director had to threaten to call the cops to get him to leave. He ruined her funeral and I haven't talked to him since, until tonight."

"Holy shit. I'm so sorry about your sister."

"It's ok, it was five years ago. I was hoping Griffin would change."

The bartender walks over and Zev smiles.

"Can I get a Jager bomb and Lana? What do you want?"

"Oh no, I'm ok. I'm not asking you to buy my drinks."

"You didn't, I insist."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely."

"Ok, thank you. A Jager bomb actually sounds really good. I'll have one too."

"You like Jager?"

"Yeah. It's an acquired taste but I always enjoyed it. Plus, I want to get fucked up and that'll do the trick."

"Don't drink over being sad because of Griffin. Drink with me and have some fun. You need it."

He smiles and you smile back. Anytime you smile at Griffin it feels forced but, with Zev it's like second nature.

"You have a beautiful smile."

You laugh and look away to hide your blush.

"Thank you. So do you."

"I have a beautiful smile?"

He laughs and you do too.

"No, manlier. Your smile is.. attractive. Wait that's not the one.."

You both laugh again and it's the happiest you've felt in way too long.

"So.. I'm not attractive?"

"What? No, you're totally hot.. oh my god Lana shut up. I'm sorry, I should've just walked home."

He laughs then furrows his eyebrows.

"Wait, walked home?"

"Yeah."

"Where do you live?"

"Like three miles down the road."

"Three miles? How did you get here?"

"Griffin picked me up."

"You mean he just left you here? He left you stranded?"

"Yeah. When you went in he said that I barely looked at you and asked if I don't like his friends. I just said that I didn't want to argue and I was just trying to avoid it then he asked me why I'm arguing then. I asked him why he didn't come out right away and he said he was drinking his drink and talking to the waitress. I asked him to take me home and he said if all we're going to is argue then I should find another ride. I said fine and he left and I tried to call my mom but my phone died. That's when I came back in here."

"Jesus fucking Christ. It's like that all the time?"

"Yeah."

"Why don't you leave him?"

"I'm terrified of being alone. I know, I'm pathetic."

"I don't think thats pathetic. I thinks it's human. I'm afraid of being alone too but I wouldn't put up with that because of it. You know he isn't going to change, right?"

"Yeah, I know. That's why I don't know what to do."

You down your Jager bomb and set the glass back down on the bar. Zev is smiling at you.

"What?"

"You downed that like a champ."

"My momma didn't raise no bitch."

You both laugh again and Zev orders four more Jager bombs.

"Will he get upset with you about this?"

"About what?"

"This. Us drinking together."

"Oh, yeah. If he finds out."

"Let's make sure he doesn't find out then."

He smiles and you do too. You both drink your Jager bombs and he orders four more. You stay for two more hours just drinking and bullshitting and the bartender yells last call. Zev orders two more Jager bombs and pays him. You stand up and nearly fall over. Zev steadies you and you both laugh.

"How aren't you stumbling?"

Your speech is very slurred.

"I drink a lot. Besides, I can't unhinge my jaw like a snake to consume alcohol like you can."

"I wanted to get fucked up so.. mission accomplished. It's gonna take me all night to get home."

"You aren't walking."

"How else will I get home?"

"I'm taking you."

"I don't need you to give me a ride. I'm a big girl."

"A big girl that's very drunk and the perfect target for rapists. I'm taking you home. Griffin is such a prick for abandoning you."

"And you're my hero."

He laughs and holds your arm tight to help you walk.

"You're so drunk. You'll be praying for death in the morning."

"I already do."

He looks over at you but doesn't say anything. He helps you get outside and into his car and the next thing you know, you're home. 

"How do you know where I live?"

"I tried asking you but you kept passing out so I looked at your drivers license."

"Oh ok."

He opens his door and you shake your head.

"It's ok.. I can do it."

He still gets out and it's a good thing because you can't do it. As soon  as you try to stand, your knees buckle and you fall. Zev catches you and picks you up. You lay your head on his shoulder and he smells amazing.

"You smell really good."

"Thank you. So do you. Strawberry shampoo?"

"Yeah."

He tries the door but it's locked.

"Where are your keys?"

You lift your purse and he takes it and gets your keys. He opens your door and takes you inside then closes it and starts taking you upstairs.

"Where's your room?"

"Last door."

He goes in your room and lays you down on your bed. He takes your shoes off and covers you up.

"Thank you."

"Anytime. How are you feeling?"

"Drunk. I'm not gonna be sick if that's what you're getting at."

"Ok good. I should probably go. You need to sleep."

He starts walking out and you don't want him to go.

"Wait. Don't go. Please? I don't want to be alone."

He smiles and walks back over.

"I'll stay."

"Thank you. You've been so nice."

"Griffin would have done the same."

You laugh and shake your head.

"Griffin left me there because I wanted him to take me home. No, he wouldn't have."

"I know I have no right to ask you this but, will you make me a promise?"

"I can't guarantee that I'll remember but yeah."

"If Griffin doesn't start treating you better, leave him. You're too sweet a girl to be with that asshole."

"He's your friend."

"Was. Was my friend."

"I'm sorry."

"Why? I'm not being treated like shit everyday."

"For being weak. I don't even know you and I asked you to stay because I'm too weak to be alone."

"You're not weak. And I'm staying because I want to stay, not because you asked me to. Does that make it better?"

"A little."

He smiles and squeezes your hand.

"Good."

You're staring into each others eyes and it's intense. You glance at his lips and wonder how they would feel against yours. You push the thought away immediately. He's only being nice and you're with Griffin. You love Griffin.. don't you?

"What are you thinking about?"

"Nothing."

"Are you sure? You seem sad."

"I was just thinking about Griffin."

"Do you miss him?"

"No. That's the problem."

He nods and gets in your bed. He sits next to you and lays his head back against the wall. You look over at him and him being so close to you right now is dangerous. When you're drunk, you have no inhibition. He notices you staring and looks over at you. You're not sure but you think he glanced at your lips, it was too quick to tell. His head is right next to yours and the longer you stare, the more you want to kiss him but, you can't force yourself to look away. You can't control yourself and you start to lean in closer to him. He sits up and gently stops you.

"That's a bad idea."

Rejection floods your senses and your face gets hot. You sit back and cover your face with your hands.

"I'm such a fucking idiot. I'm so sorry, that was stupid."

He takes your hands off of your face to look at you.

"I want to. Trust me, I really want to but if Griffin finds out, I don't want him to hurt you."

"He never hit me. We just fight."

"Until something sets him off enough. Like you kissing another guy for example."

"You think he'll get violent?"

"It's very possible. These things tend to escalate."

"You're right. I should probably go to sleep, I've humiliated myself enough for one night."

He smiles and kisses your cheek.

"Good night Lana."

"Good night Zev."

You lay down and close your eyes but you can't fall asleep. You're too upset to sleep. Why does Griffin constantly want to fight? He can't find it fun, you certainly don't. It's a little cold in here and you shiver.

"Are you ok?"

"Yeah. Just a little cold."

"Do you want my hoodie?"

"This is a bad idea and you're probably going to say no again but, will you hold me? I'm not delusional, I don't expect anything to happen. I just.. it'll make feel less alone."

He smiles and lays down and holds his arm out.

"I would love to hold you. Come here."

You smile and roll over and cuddle up next to Zev and lay your head on his chest. He smells incredible, it's intoxicating. He rests his hand on your waist and you get butterflies. You smile and put your hand on his chest before you close your eyes. It's quiet other than the sound of his heart beating and your breathing.

"Good night."

"Good night Zev."



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Brittney Jeannine Benard
Author
Author Works

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