No Sex until chapter 7 - VirtualAtheist
It was getting on for six o'clock and there only a few people wandering around on whatever business they were on. When I reached Building G5, I stood outside and looked at the double doors that were still wide open.
Don't ask me why, but I was suddenly quite scared. What did I think I was doing? I had no idea who he was and I was just inviting myself into his world. I knew that I had no business being on campus. That bus had passed three years ago when I had to drop out of school... But still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I took a deep breath, steeled myself and marched in through the doors. A sign inside on the wall directed me to the offices of the various doctors and professors who worked here. Under the heading Palaeontology I found the name Dr N Smethwick with an arrow pointing down the corridor to the right.
I made my way along it until I reached an area that opened out with a desk with a computer sat on it and several doors leading into several offices, only one of which was open. I could see Dr N Smethwick inside. He had just tipped his briefcase on to the desk and was searching through the contents.
Before I could make my presence known, he glanced up at me as I held out his notebook.
Those eyes. Those fucking eyes!
I stammered slightly, "I... I think you're looking for this."
When he realised what I was holding, he sighed with relief, "Thank you."
I handed it to him and then looked around the office. To be honest it was in a right state. Books and papers were just dumped in piles all over the place with no rhyme or reason. There were a couple of large bookcases covering the far wall, but they too were just piled haphazardly with books. I could see a very old wooden clock high on the other wall. It had a large brass pendulum that swayed to and fro with a gentle tick tick tick. His desk had a computer on it, but it didn't look like he had ever turned it on and his in and out trays were piled with neatly typed pages of script, hastily scribbled notes and more than a few stubs of flight and train tickets.
As he skimmed over one of the pages in the notebook, I said, "You're not terribly organised."
He nodded, "I know. I suppose I should try and sort it all out, I just don't have the time."
"Being a Dr of Palaeontology is hard graft is it?"
He glanced up at me quite sharply, but his expression softened when he saw the grin on my face, "I need an assistant really. It's not just the University stuff. I work in the field as well."
I moved further into the office and glanced down at one of the papers on the desk, it was the first page of a treatise entitled, 'The Miocene Mammal Necrolestes Demonstrates The Survival Of A Mesezoic Nontherian Lineage Into The Late Cenezoic Of South America' whatever that meant.
"What's this?" I asked, pointing to the paper.
He glanced at it and said, "Oh that's a PhD paper. I was on the board for his defence of it... I keep meaning to file it. Just never have the time."
I pointed to another pile of papers, "And these?"
"That's my script for a presentation tomorrow... Or at least part of it."
"Where's the rest?"
Once again he looked directly into my eyes, pinning me in place. His hand reached out and waved towards the computer on his desk, "Somewhere," he said, "In that fucking thing!"
I laughed, "I'm guessing that computers aren't your speciality."
He joined in with my laughter and replied, "Definitely not. Give me a dig site full of specimens over a computer any day."
The laughter stopped and an uneasy silence followed as we remained staring into each other's eyes. I don't know about him, but I simply couldn't look away. His eyes wouldn't let me.
I murmured, "Maybe..."
"Maybe I could find it for you?"
"Feel free to try."
I sat at the desk and fired up the PC. Once it was booted up, I asked, "What's the talk about?"
"It's called the The Architecture of Ediacaran Fronds."
My brow furrowed, "Can you spell Eddie Karen for me?"
Then I used the Windows search feature to see if that would find the document. After a few minutes, it did. I said, "Got it. You seem to have placed it in the recycle bin. I've retrieved it back to My Documents and it's printing out now."
I smiled at him and he stared back thoughtfully. I got shivers down my spine again.
"What?" I asked eventually
He looked around the room and then returned his attention to me. He sat down opposite me and rested his elbows on the desk tapping the heels of his hands together rhythmically and gazed at me earnestly, "Tell me," he said, "If I asked you to sort this office out, what would you do?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean. If you had to organise this space, tell me what you'd do. Step by step."
I managed to drag my eyes from his, which I freely admit was fucking difficult and looked around the room. I said, "Would I be allowed to use the area outside the office at all?"
"Temporarily I suppose, as long as you didn't inconvenience the other members of staff."
I rested my my elbows on the desk as well and placed my chin on my fists. I blew out heavily as I looked around. Before I could say anything he added, "Also, think about how you would fit an extra desk in here."
I giggled, "Do I have to stand on one foot as well?"
Once again I received that little smile, "No. But I'm interested in your thoughts."
"Right. First thing, I'd get all the books out of here and stack them against the wall outside the office so they didn't get in people's way. Then I'd collect all your papers up and stack them on your desk. Question. Are all of your documents on the PC or are some of them just paper copies?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Well, any that are on the PC can just be binned, unless you've made amendments in pen. No point gathering and sorting paper documents if I don't have to. Its just wasted effort."
"They're all on the computer, but I'm not sure where."
"Fine then. Make a note of the titles and try to find them on the PC. Once found, place them in your document directory if they aren't already there. Bin the hard copy, if not, keep the hard copy."
"Okay, what else?"
"Sort the books into alphabetical order and stack them on the bookshelves."
"What about my ticket stubs?"
"Do you need to account for them?"
"Yes. But there's no system in place. I use a company to look after my accounting, but I'm very behind with my returns at the moment."
"Okay, I would contact the company and find out when they last received your return. I'd need to know the yearly budget. Then I'd create a simple spreadsheet on Excel and start it from your total yearly minus your last return. Then I'd enter all of the costs for the tickets. Print off the costings for each complete month up to the current date and send it off to the accountants," I shrugged, "Then it'd be easy to keep up to date, as long as you entered the costings as and when."
"Suppose I need to be in Sydney, Australia from 1 November to 17 December. I fly business class and normally stay in three star accommodation where available. But I'll sleep anywhere if I have to."
I smiled, "The Internet is a wonderful thing. Loads of websites to book flights and hotels. They also allow you to price check so you get the best deal."
"What if I need a car to get about?"
"Car hire companies are on-line as well."
"Can you use Outlook? "
"Of course. I've just finished an MS Office course."
He stood up and paced up and down a couple of times, tapping the heels of his hand together as he walked. Then he stopped and said, "This is going to sound strange, but... Would you be willing to come back to my house?"
Shocked, I blurted out, "What?"
He looked at me and said, "It's not what you think, and I know it's... certainly unusual, but I have good reasons. I don't just work here, I work from home as well and that space needs sorting too. Trust me on this."
I'll admit, his request surprised me, and if I'm honest, going off to his place when I didn't even know his first name would be a fucking stupid thing to do... But... I have no idea why, I was seriously entertaining the idea. I can't explain it, but even after the short time I'd spent with him... I don't know... I got the same vibe from him as I did with Alan. I felt safe with him.
I gazed at him as he looked out of the window and then came to a decision, "Okay," I said, "I'll check it out."
He smiled at me and replied,"Good. You won't regret it."
"Couple of things though."
His brow furrowed, "What?"
"First, you need to tell me your name."
He laughed, "Sorry. I sometimes forget the social niceties. I'm Nathan."
"And I'm Manni."
"Charmed. And the second thing?"
"You have to promise I won't turn up in tomorrow's papers as the latest victim of the Hull Strangler."
His mouth opened and closed a couple of times before he grinned, "I promise. Besides, I've run out of rope, although I do have some spare boot laces I can use at a stretch."
He reached out a hand, "Deal?"
When we touched it was almost as though a shot of electricity had shot up my arm. His grip was firm, yet gentle and his skin felt surprisingly soft. I saw his eyes widen slightly and his hand trembled very slightly too, but he didn't say anything. And once again I found myself falling into his eyes.
I stammered, "D... Deal."
I didn't want to let go of his hand and simply held it until he gently pulled away and led me out of the building and over to his car. I was surprised to see that it was a BMW X5 and going by the plates it was only a couple of years old.
"Palaeontology pays well then," I said.
Nathan shrugged, "I get by."
The drive only took a few minutes as we travelled just a mile or so from the university to his house on Hall Road. It was at the Cottingham Road end, and a much nicer area than where Hall Road terminated at Orchard Park. We pulled into the drive of a rather smart three bedroomed semi-detached house and he led me inside.
I sat down on a small sofa in his lounge and looked around. The room was separated from the dining room by a wide arch bisecting the space at the halfway point. The front of the room was dominated by a large wooden desk sat in front of the bay window. It too was smothered in notes, papers and textbooks as well as a top end Apple Mac.
Although there was a fireplace, it had been blocked off as the house was centrally heated. The dining room had a simple wooden dining table with four chairs and the entire place was in just the same state as his office at the university.
I watched as he rummaged through various documents and papers on the desk, when he looked over his shoulder and asked, "Would you like a drink?"
I realised I was actually quite thirsty and asked if he had any fruit juice. Nathan wandered into the kitchen at the back of the house and shouted through, "I've got orange and grapefruit."
"No pineapple? Ah well, orange please."
After he'd supplied me with my drink, he sat down on the office chair in front of his desk and said, "Right Manni, have a look around and tell me what you'd do to sort this place out."
I looked around and said, "I have absolutely no idea."
Nathan gazed at me quizzically, "Why do you say that?"
"Well for one thing, is this a living room or an office?"
He grinned, "It's supposed to be a living space. I rather planned on using one of the bedrooms as an office, but it's just as much of a state up there. I just never seem to have the time to sort my life out."
As he was talking, he switched on the Mac and shuffled a few papers around on the desk.
I stood up and positioned myself behind him, I leaned down to look at the Mac, "Ooh! Shiny!"
Without thinking, I placed my hand on his shoulder and once again felt a shiver down my spine.
He turned his head towards me and we looked each other in the face once again. We were only inches apart and my nostrils filled with the scent of his aftershave and it was intoxicating. I'll be honest, it took all of my resolve not to kiss him. I blinked and then quickly stood up straight, slipping my hand back to my side, "Sorry," I murmured, embarrassed.
He looked at the papers on his desk, almost as though he was afraid to look at me and said, "No problem."
Suddenly, he spun round and fixed his hypnotic gaze upon me once again,"Tell you what, I'll give you the quick tour and then you can see what's what."
He led me upstairs and showed me the second bedroom, it had a double bed in it along with the usual furniture, but there were also several cardboard boxes piled in there filled with books, files and a few other things. He didn't show me the master bedroom, "Nothing in there you need to see," he explained, "It's just a bedroom."
Then he showed me the single room at the front. It contained a couple of four drawer filing cabinets, both of which were battered, bruised and empty, and several more cardboard boxes full of palaeontology shit.
"Right," I said, "I've seen enough."
We headed back downstairs and I took up residence on his sofa once again. This time though, he settled down on the sofa next to me, but positioned himself at the other end, leaving a large gap between us. He stretched out his legs and crossed them at the ankles, then put his hands behind his head and said, "So? What would you do?"
I took a sip of my drink and gathered my thoughts. I made sure not to look at him as I knew that would just set me off thinking about kissing him again. Besides, those eyes of his seemed to be able to drive all rational thought straight out of my head, "Okay. I can see that you don't have a telly, so clearly this room would be best suited as an office. For one thing, that room upstairs is far too small for you. What with all the reference material you have. I would use the upstairs room as a box room, but I would keep the filing cabinets in there."
I pointed into the dining room, "I'd reorganise that area into a lounge/dining area. With only one person living here, I don't suppose you need any more space. This room... Get a few bookcases in. Tall ones to maximise the storage space and then sort all your books in order."
I looked at the Mac, "Is that connected to the University?"
"Yes. I've got WiFi and the University uses an online document sharing system."
"Do you spend a lot of time traipsing about?"
His brow crinkled, "What do you mean?"
"I mean, do you spend a lot of time in the countryside doing palaeontology stuff? Digging up dinosaurs and whatnot."
He smiled indulgently and his eyes sparkled, "Yes I suppose I do."
"Then you should get an iPad, one with a mobile connection. You'd have access to all your info from anywhere."
I looked around, "Yes. These walls could do with a coat of paint, and when did you last hoover your carpets?"
Nathan laughed out loud. His teeth were pearly white and even. I found myself strangely gratified that I had made him laugh. What was it about this man? Why did I find myself so eager to gain his approval?
His laughter died down and then he said, "Manni. I like you. Tell me, you've done the MS Office courses. Any others?"
I nodded, "I've done a shorthand and a typing course and I've just about completed a basic bookkeeping course."
"Ideal. Do you want a job?"
I was startled, "What?"
He gazed at his hands briefly as he tapped the heels together, I was beginning to understand that this was his habit when deep in thought, eventually he said, "I'm not sure why, after all I barely know you, but... We seem to click. I need an EA and I think you would be ideal."
"You want me to be your secretary?"
"No, I'm offering you the job of my executive assistant. It's more than just a secretary. The money's better too."
"Why are you doing this?"
Once again his eyes held me in place like I was a butterfly pinned down in display case, "Honestly? I'm not sure. It's just... There's something about you," he glanced up at the ceiling and I could move again, he continued, "That sounded way too creepy," his eyes sparkled as he returned his attention to me, "Wasn't meant to I assure you."
I thought about it briefly. This was incredible! Could it be that my luck was changing for the better at fucking last?
Could this be the escape from the dead end of being a barmaid and a cafe assistant? I glanced around the room and thought about the state of his office at the university.
Sure, it was a massive amount of work to sort out the shitty state he'd got himself into, but once I sorted that out... How difficult could it be?
I looked at him, "Okay. I'd love to. Thank you."
He gave me a beaming smile and my nipples became as hard as bullets.
What the fuck?!?
Nathan said, "I have to be in York all day tomorrow, but maybe you could be here tomorrow evening at say...Eight? We'll need to do some paperwork and then we can have a proper chat about what'll be expected of you. Okay?"
Still confused about how he was turning me on so much with just a smile, I could only nod my agreement and murmur, "Eight PM."
We made our goodbyes and I left the house. I stood in the street and thought about catching the bus home, but my nipples were still fucking hard. I rubbed the front of my jeans surreptitiously and could feel that my panties were soaking. I was so fucking horny it was unreal.
"Fuck it!" I said to myself, "Looks like Steve's getting lucky tonight."
Decision made, I set off towards Steve's house, it wasn't all that far from here. As I arrived there, I saw the side gate was open and I could hear loud voices coming from his back garden. I made my way down the path and entered through the open gate, before I came around the corner of the house, I heard a drunken sounding voice say, "Oi Steve. You still shagging that fat nigger?"
I froze. The blood in my veins turned to ice.
I heard Steve's voice respond, "No need for that sort of talk... And yes I am if you must know. At least when I can't get a decent bird."
"Ha! Braver man than me. It must be like fucking an African elephant."
I was mortified. I knew that Steve wasn't my boyfriend, but I thought he was at least my friend. I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I was so... disappointed. So hurt that he could be party to jokes like that at my expense. I'd been in such a good mood, so happy, so fucking horny. But not now.
FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!
I wanted to rush into the garden and give that utter bastard a piece of my mind. But I didn't. I simply turned around and walked away to the bus stop to go home.
I cried myself to sleep that night. It should have been such a happy day and Steve had fucking ruined it!
I was still in a bad mood when I woke up the next morning. I hadn't slept well and was feeling very tired. Still, I thought to myself, at least I had the new job to look forward to. That was at least a bright spot in my life. An opportunity to try and drag myself out of the shitty place I was stuck in.
I got to the cafe and let them know I was handing my notice in. The manager couldn't care less about me working off the rest of the week, so she just told me to work my shift and then bugger off. There were always students looking for part time work.
I also rang Romeo's and told them not to expect me back there. Same story. This new job working for Nathan was my golden opportunity and I wasn't going to waste it. It looked like I was burning my bridges, but I really couldn't give a fuck. They were both dead end jobs and I was sick of them. I needed a challenge, I needed to be stretched and being Nathan's EA seemed like just the ticket.
I'll admit it, the day dragged like a bastard. I couldn't wait for eight o'clock to roll round. So eager was I, that I actually found myself walking along Hall Road at half past seven. I'd finished work and then sat in a local pub with a pineapple juice until I just couldn't wait any more.
I arrived at his house and saw that his car was in the drive, so I tapped on the door. He opened it, smiled and said, "You're early. I'm just finishing off my dinner."
"Oh sorry," I replied, "I can come back later if you want."
"No, it's fine. Come in, come in."
We sat down at his dining table and I waited as he finished off the last of his Chinese takeaway. We chatted about this and that and he told me that he'd been to see a friend of his at York to discuss a dig they were both involved with down at Cheddar Gorge. Some sort of Neolithic settlement. The dig had been ongoing since the early 1980's and there was still a lot more to do.
I mentioned that I'd handed in my notice and was available to work immediately.
After he was finished eating, Nathan offered me a drink and then we sat down on the sofa. He went into more detail about what my job would entail. Taking notes and producing the minutes of weekly meetings that he held with his students and colleagues, creating Power Point presentations based on notes that he provided. Probably scribbled down on scraps of paper, that I would have to turn into easy-to-read typed scripts.
I'd also be responsible for controlling his diary and making sure that there wouldn't be conflicts between the various digs he visited all around the world. Travel, hotels, car hire, you name it, I'd have to organise it. Not only that, but I would also be the funnel for all his correspondence and as I gained experience, try to filter the wheat from the chaff so he didn't get bogged down.
I would be controlling his professional finances too, and would be required to report back to his accounting company, Farquharson, Daniels & Jones.
To be honest I was beginning to feel a little intimidated at what would be involved and was less than certain of my own abilities. But I was also determined to make the best of it and do my damnedest to make it a success. If only because it meant spending time with Nathan... Eh? Did I just think that?
As the evening wore on, we started to chat about other things. He went into a bit more technical detail about Cheddar Gorge, which sounded like 'Flurgle blurgle plomp whomp', but I just smiled and nodded. Nathan was actually very easy to talk to, we really did just seem to click. The only time I had any difficulty speaking was when he directed those fucking gorgeous eyes at me. More than once we found ourselves simply staring at each other in silence for long, embarrassing seconds.
Nathan looked at his watch and exclaimed, "Shit! It's nearly midnight, where did the time go?"
"Really?" I asked in surprise. I too had let the time slip past without noticing.
He jumped up from the sofa and grabbed a sheet of paper from his desk and handed it to me along with a pen, "I forgot. You need to fill this in so I can send it off to the accountants."
"What is it?"
"Just a basic form so they can bring you on to the company payroll."
I completed all the impertinent questions and handed it back to him. He read through and then looked at me, "Usiku Wa Manane Mwenye? That's a name and a half. I can see why everyone calls you Manni."
I laughed, "Saves time. We're all busy, busy executives on the go."
Nathan sat down at his desk and completed the employer section at the bottom of the form. As he worked he asked, "Your name... Does it mean anything?"
Here we go, I thought, am I going to get the usual jokes? I said, "Yes. It's Swahili and it means midnight."
He murmured, "Midnight... Mid... night... Mmmidnight," almost as though he was rolling it around in his mouth checking the flavour, he went on absently, "It suits you."
"What do you mean by that?" I asked more sharply that perhaps I intended.
Nathan spun round in his chair and gave me a long meaningful look. I began to shiver slightly and wondered once again just how he could affect me like he did. He said, "Not because of your skin, if that's what you think."
Suddenly embarrassed, I stuttered, "I d... didn't... I... I wasn't... I mean-"
Without warning, he leapt up out of the chair and ran upstairs. I could hear him banging about until he returned carrying a pair of the biggest pair of binoculars I'd ever seen. He motioned me to follow him outside into the back garden. It looked more like an overgrown rubbish dump than a garden. Nathan was clearly not the green fingered type.
"Look up and tell me what you see," he said.
I shrugged, "The night sky. The moon. A few stars."
He searched the sky briefly and pointed at one of the tiny dots of light, "Tell me what that is."
"No. It's Jupiter. You can tell its not a star because it isn't twinkling. What you can see is the light from the Sun reflecting off it and reflected light doesn't twinkle."
I was puzzled, "Ooookaaay."
He looked through the binoculars at Jupiter and used the dial to focus, then he handed them to me and said, "Have a look at it through these."
They were a lot heavier than I expected, but I hefted them up and viewed the planet. It didn't look much different to me, but I could just make out four other very tiny pinpricks of light in line with it.
He said gently, "What you can see are four of Jupiter's moons."
Nathan took back the binoculars and pointed them at one of the constellations. He fiddled about again and then handed them back to me. He said, "See that collection of stars? That's Orion the Hunter."
I laughed, "Everyone knows that. I've seen Men in Black."
Nathan grinned and then went on, "See the leftmost star on Orion's belt? Look about one finger width down and left from it and tell me what you see."
Still not sure what point Nathan was making, I did as he asked. After a couple of seconds I saw it. My mouth fell open and I nearly dropped the binoculars. Luckily he managed to catch them. I took them back and looked again, "What the fuck is that?"
"That," he murmured, "Is the Horse-head Nebula. Pretty good huh?"
I handed the binoculars back.
He said, "Understand? Use your naked eyes and all you see is darkness with a few dots of light here and there. You see very little of what's actually in the midnight sky. Use these binoculars and you get to see the hidden depths."
I shook my head in confusion.
He continued, "When I first saw you I just saw a beautiful young cafe assistant. But now look, after just a few short hours I'm seeing that there's more to you than meets the eye."
He thinks I'm beautiful?
He pointed straight up and said, "Hidden depths," then he touched my forehead with his fingertip, his touch once again caused me to shiver slightly and he repeated the words, "Hidden depths. And I think there's more still to discover... That's what I meant when I said your name suited you."
He took one last look up into the sky and then turned to go back into the house, "Come on Midnight, finish your drink and then let's get you home."
What the fuck? That cheeky bastard just called me Midnight! Nobody calls me Midnight! I was fuming! I was really... not... angry... at all. In fact, when he called me Midnight... I liked it.
I finished my drink and then he loaded me into his car to drop me back at my flat. Nathan insisted on walking me to my front door, but as we approached the entrance to the block, a figure appeared out of the darkness behind us and an ugly voice slurred, "The nigger's back. Brought your customer home?"
We both spun round and saw the acne scarred skinhead who had attacked me. He was swaying slightly and his eyes were glassy. I could see that he was either very drunk, or more likely very high. I grabbed Nathan's arm to stop him squaring up to the thug and asked, "What do you want?"
He leered at me and replied in a slurred voice, "Maybe I want your cash, or maybe I want to see what it's like to fuck a monkey," he slipped a wicked looking knife from his back pocket and waved it around, "Or maybe I just want to open you up and see what's inside."
Nathan stepped quickly forward and pushed the skinhead sharply on the chest, making him fall heavily on to his backside, "Run!" he said.
I pulled the door open and we hustled inside. Nathan followed me up the steps to my flat. As we were halfway up I heard the skinhead shout up the stairs, "I'm coming Nigger, I'm gonna have to operaaaaate!"
We could hear his heavy boots on the concrete steps as he chased us, the sound spurred us on to greater speed. We reached my front door. I scrabbled for my keys and in my panic couldn't get the door open. We could hear the shouting getting nearer. I finally got my fingers to work and opened the door, we fell inside and Nathan slammed it shut behind us. He rushed around the place looking for something to use as a weapon and shouted, "Call the police!"
There was a loud thump as a boot kicked my front door, then another, and another. I heard the shout, "Gonna fuck you, Nigger!" and then the thudding again. By this time, Nathan had found my bread knife in the kitchen and stood just inside my lounge doorway watching the front door rattle in its frame.
I knew there was no point calling the police, not for trouble on Orchard Park. They wouldn't get here in time, even if they actually fucking bothered! I was panicking and called the only person I could think of.
The other end of the line seemed to ring for ages and I could hear the front door was beginning to crack under the onslaught, and still the thug was shouting his threats. Nathan was shifting his weight from foot to foot nervously, and I could see his knuckles were white as he held the bread knife tightly in his hand.
Eventually I heard a sleepy voice answer the phone, "Huh? Whazzat? Do you know what fucking time it is?"
I screamed down the line, "Alan! It's Manni! We're in trouble! He's trying to kick my door in! Alan you gotta help! He's got a knife!" I was sobbing now, "Please help!"
Alan was instantly awake, "Hold on Manni. I'm coming!"
The line stayed open as Alan had clearly just dropped his phone. All we could do was wait and watch fearfully as the front door started to give way at the hinges. Suddenly I heard a gravelly voice shout, "WHAT THE FUCK? YOU DARE PULL A FUCKING KNIFE ON ME?"
We could hear shouting now and sickly thuds that sounded like large fists hitting a soft body.
Then there was screaming. Suddenly the front door flew open the wrong way as the hinges snapped and the skinhead's unconscious body flew backwards through it to land in a bloody heap, one arm was held out oddly and was bent in a right angle halfway between the elbow and wrist. Alan followed it inside. He was dressed only in his boxer shorts, great coat and a pair of trainers. He launched himself forward and stamped heavily on the skinhead's blood covered head, "MOTHERFUCKER!"
Alan turned towards Nathan and shouted, "WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?" as he stormed forward flailing his giant fists. I grabbed Nathan and pulled him back so that I was between them and cried, "Alan! He's with me! Alan! Alan! He's with me!"
That calmed him down, but he was still breathing heavily. He looked down at me, "Are you okay, Manni?"
I nodded as I too tried to calm my breathing. Then Alan turned towards Nathan, "What about you, Mate? You good?"
Nathan looked like he was in shock as he simply nodded and let the knife fall from his numb fingers. Alan grabbed the unconscious thug, dragged him out of the flat and kicked him down the stairs. Then he came back into the flat and asked, "You two sure you're okay?"
I looked at Nathan as he sat heavily on my sofa with his head in his hands. I was distraught. I couldn't believe it. I really thought my luck was changing, but first it was Steve and now this!
Nathan had offered me a fantastic opportunity and I had done nothing except put his life in grave danger. I knew that there was no chance now of Nathan wanting anything to do with me. Not after this!
I felt my eyes start to fill with tears, I whispered quietly, "It's not fair."
The tears started to flow and my voice quavered as it got louder, "It's not fair! It's not fucking fair!"
I couldn't help it, I started to sob and fell back on to the sofa next to Nathan, I covered my face with my hands and started screaming, "I can't do this any more! I FUCKING HATE THIS PLACE! IT'S NOT FUCKING FAIR!"
My body was shaking uncontrollably as I struggled to breathe. My eyes were streaming and I could feel my nose and throat blocking up with mucus, but still I needed to scream, "ONE CHANCE I HAD! ONE FUCKING... SHITTING... BASTARDING... CUNTING, FUCKING CHANCE! AND NOW IT'S GONE!"
A wordless, primal roar of despair and rage.
I felt a pair of arms enfold me, I had no idea whose. I buried my face into a shoulder and continued to howl. The arms just continued to hold me tight as the sobs racked my body.
I knew I was stuck in this shit hole... This nightmare... For the rest of my fucking worthless life. I couldn't help but whimper, "I'm not a bad person. What did I do to deserve all this? What did I fucking do?"
I felt the arms release me and I fell back on to the sofa. My hands covered my face as I cried. In the distance I could just make out a conversation.
"You pack her some clothes. She can't stay here any more."
"Have you got space for her?"
"It'll be a squeeze but I can manage."
"Tell you what, she can stay at mine. I've got plenty of room."
"If you're sure."
"Fucking right I'm sure. I'm not gonna let her stay on this estate any more."
"Okay. I'll nip back to mine and get some clothes on. Then we'll get her and her stuff to your car."
I heard noises, but they didn't really register, I felt a pair of huge arms gently lift me up and carry me like I was a baby. Dimly I heard voice say, "I'll be back for this fucker! I know who he is and I know where he fucking lives!"
I heard the dull thud of a foot striking a ribcage and Alan's gravelly tones, "Cunt!"
I was slid onto the back seat of a car and the door closed. A voice said, "You want me to come with you?"
"No, I think we'll be okay."
"You look after her. She's my best friend."
An engine fired up and the I felt the car move. Some indeterminable time later, the sound of the engine stopped and I felt an arm tug me gently from the car. I was led upstairs and placed on a bed, someone threw a duvet over me and I felt a hand stroke the hair back from my face. The light went out and I drifted off to sleep.
I woke late the next morning and looked up at a ceiling I didn't recognise. It wasn't covered in cracks for one thing and for another, it had many cobwebs. Raising my head I saw that I was in a bedroom full of cardboard boxes and then it all came rushing back to me. I sat up and looked around, then I crawled out of bed and made my way downstairs. Nathan was in the kitchen making a pot of coffee, he looked at me, "You okay?"
I nodded briefly and then said, "I'm sorry."
"For all the trouble last night. For putting you in danger."
"Don't be silly. It wasn't your fault."
He offered me a mug of coffee and I spooned three sugars into it.
"Where are my clothes?" I asked.
He waved towards the lounge, I grabbed a couple of bin bags and just threw some stuff into them. They're on the sofa. We can go back to your flat today and get the rest."
I shook my head sorrowfully, "No point. With no front door, the flat will have been stripped clean by now."
I placed my drink on the dining table, grabbed the bin bags, took them back upstairs and tipped them on to the bed to see what I had left. Five blouses, three pairs of jeans, seven skirts, one of which didn't really fit properly and couple of pairs of shoes, neither of which were my nicest ones. The other bag had a pair of trainers and the contents of my sock drawer in it. I couldn't see any underwear.
Strangely, what upset me the most wasn't the loss of almost my entire wardrobe along with everything else I owned in the flat, it was the fact that I'd lost the fancy underwear that Erica had bought me. They were the only present I had received since my seventeenth birthday.
I made my way back downstairs and finished my coffee in silence as I sat on the sofa. I heard a knock on the front door. Nathan answered it and then led Alan and Erica in to see me. I looked at Erica and burst into tears, "I'm sorry. I've lost the lovely undies you bought me."
She rushed over and gathered me in her tiny arms. She said, "Never mind that. As long as you're okay."
Eventually I calmed back down and brought my tears under control. Nathan made sure everyone who wanted one had a drink and then we took stock. Alan said, "I checked the flat... Empty."
Erica asked me what clothes I had and when I detailed what I had upstairs, Nathan was flustered, "Sorry. I didn't think. I just grabbed a couple of armfuls. I didn't realise the flat would be gutted."
"It's okay," I replied.
"No it's not okay! It's my fault you haven't any clothes, so it's my responsibility to replace them."
I shook my head, "No, I couldn't ask you to do that."
Nathan grinned at me and fixed me in place with his eyes, "Good job you didn't ask then. So now I have to do it. And I won't accept no for an answer."
"Okay. Thank you... I'll pay you back, I promise."
He grinned. "Nope. Call it oneoff clothing allowance."
"You can. You will. That's where this conversation stops."
I found myself grinning back at him, "I'm not gonna win this one, am I?"
"No, Midnight. You're not."
Alan, flopped down next to me on the sofa and we chatted about what had happened and what I was going to do. Nathan wandered back through to the kitchen and put a frying pan on the stove for bacon butties. Erica followed him and I could see them talking quietly in the kitchen as he fried the rashers of bacon.
Alan said, "So how come he's allowed to call you Midnight? Don't think I've ever known you allow that."
I smiled, "I just like the way he says it... The way he means it."
Alan looked like he was going to pursue it, but decided against it and merely shrugged. To be honest, I was pleased about that. The reason I liked it felt deeply personal to me. Very private, too private for even Alan to know. I couldn't explain it, but I wanted to keep it between me and Nathan. It was special. It was ours.
The chat moved on to other things until Nathan and Erica came back in. He carried a plate piled high with bacon butties and Erica had a tray with four more mugs of coffee. They set the breakfast on the dining table and Nathan said, "Come on, dig in."
As we ate, Erica said, "Manni, I'm taking you shopping when we're done here. You need a new wardrobe."
Alan grimaced, "I hope I don't have to come. I've better things to do than be dragged around the shops."
She laughed, "You don't have to. Me and Nathan have already sorted it out."
After breakfast was done, we all piled into Nathan's car. It had to be explained to Alan, that we needed Nathan's car because the boot was bigger. That surprised me and I wondered just how many things I was going to buy today.
When we got to the city centre, Nathan parked up in the multistorey car park and then handed the keys to me, "You can load the car when you're done to save you carrying it all about."
We made our way out to the High Street.
END OF CHAPTER THREE
Feb 1, 2018 in romance