December 18th, 2015
Meditation wasn’t a thing that came natural to me. Taking a fifteen-minute hike through the forest to get to the place where I’m suppose to sit still for an hour also wasn’t something that came natural to me at seven o’clock in the morning.
Finn was the one who lead me to the large meditation temple that sat back even further into the forest. It was two stories high with glass walls and stone pillars. As Finn gave me the tour of the first floor, he explained to me how it was important to be at peace with yourself, and how meditating helps you concentrate and gives you a deeper understanding of not only your inner self but our life’s purpose as well.
Considering I had never meditated or practiced yoga in my life, I didn’t really understand the peaceful mindset of it all. Finn handed me a mat to sit on and gave me a few tips on how to breathe and how to silence the mind. He told me he’d be back in an hour to check on me before he walked upstairs, leaving me alone in this large glass room with just my mat and my thoughts.
As I laid my mat down on the smooth wooden floor, I couldn’t believe Charlie had me doing something like this. I’ve always been restless and anxious and that was WITH my eyes open! Now I had to sit in the middle of an empty room, close my eyes, and try to connect to my inner self. Whatever the hell that meant.
I sat in the middle of the room facing the east. In front of me was a gorgeous view of the forest. Just rows and rows of tall trees that towered over the temple the way Charlie towered over me time and time again. I sighed as I closed my eyes, attempting to concentrate on myself. I tried to just sit there and breathe and relax and get lost in this magical transcendence that everyone talks about but my mind wasn’t having it. I started to think about last night and how angry I was when Charlie left the way he did. I thought about how I have love/hate feelings with the way he orders me around. Then my thoughts wandered to his hands. His rough aggressive hands, expertly roaming my body and always leaving me desperate for more.
I felt my heart rate pick up and my chest get warm as I let myself get lost in every sexual moment Charlie and I shared. I thought back to the first time we had sex; The way his hips slammed against my ass as he thrusted himself in and out of me with ease. I bit my bottom lip as I could practically feel his breath against my ear as he claimed me as his. Then my thoughts jumped to the shower we shared and the way he took control; Pinning me against the hot shower wall as he lifted me up onto his hard cock and slid into me without hesitation.
If day dreaming about a man is in the category of meditation, then I was headed in the right direction. I’m pretty sure I was doing it completely wrong but at least I was enjoying myself. I mean, who is completely okay with being alone with their thoughts for an entire hour anyway, lets be honest.
With a sigh I opened my eyes and stared out at the forest in front of me. There was this acrylic glass separating It from I but, it was so peaceful out here that I felt more connected to nature now than I ever have before. I was comfortable. Content. Relaxed. Until I closed my eyes.
With the thought of Charlie being too much for me I decided to not think at all. Or attempt to not think. Only, that lead my mind to darker places; Finding John dead, seeing his parents outside of the police station, the detective and his never ending questions, the missing dagger. I found myself hyperventilating in a place I was so content with just seconds ago. I couldn’t hold a breath long enough to satisfy me before I gasped for another over and over again. Opening my eyes, my vision blurred with tears as my chest became hot and my nose started to run.
I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I started to sob quietly into my hands as I rocked back and forth on the mat, letting everything out for the second time. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t have a handle on anything in my life and I felt like it was all crashing down on me at once.
A little while later after my sobs turned into just sniffles, I felt a hand on my shoulder, making me jump in surprise.
Finn was sitting next to me, rubbing my back and shoulder as he handed me a tissue. I gladly took it and cleaned off my face as we sat there in silence.
A few minutes went by before he spoke, “I’m gunna take you back to the cabin and you’re going to sleep this off. I’ll tell Charlie you’re taking a personal day.” He said softly.
“I can’t take a personal day off when it’s my first day of training, Finn. Charlie will freak.” I argued with a sniffle.
“Charlie will understand.” He reassured me, “He has to leave this afternoon anyway so he won’t even be here. Just take today to relax and we’ll start again tomorrow. I need your full attention to train and you obviously have a lot on your mind right now.” He said as he stood up and pulled me to my feet.
“Thanks, Finn.” I said softly as I rolled up my mat.
Finn nodded, “Not a problem, miss.” He said as he waited for me to put my mat away.
The walk back to the cabin was silent but peaceful. Neither Finn nor I said a word until we made it back to the housing community. I thanked him again for everything and he responded with a nod and told me he would have Anna check on me later this afternoon.
I walked back to my cabin and collapsed on the bed, not caring to set an alarm, or check my phone. I just closed my eyes and slipped into a deep sleep.
I slept all day and part of the night. The only reason I woke up was because I heard Anna whispering in my face, “Wakey wakey, Sleeping Beauty.” over and over again until I opened my eyes.
“What?” I mumbled as I tried to pull the covers over my head but she yanked them off of me.
“Get up sugar, were going out!” Anna said turning on the light.
“Oh my god.” I whispered as I slowly sat up, “How long was I out?” I asked her.
Anna shrugged and looked at her phone, “It’s seven o’clock, you do the math.” She said as she unzipped the black bag she had sitting on my bed.
“Holy shit.” I mumbled as I rubbed my eyes. “What are you doing?” I asked, watching her.
“I’m going to do your makeup, you’re going to put on a sexy outfit, and we’re going to go dancing!” Anna said with a big dramatic smile.
“That’s a terrible idea.” I mumbled.
“When I asked Finn where you were, he told me you had a rough day and I’m here to make it better so get the fuck out of bed and let’s have some fun!” She said pulling me to my feet.
“But-” I started.
“Don’t. Don’t protest because you’ll just waste your time. Now come with me and let me work my magic.” She said firmly.
With a sigh I did as she asked and followed her into the bathroom. She had me sit on side of the tub as she tested out a few different eye shadow colors on me. She settled with a classic smoky eye look before she went to my closet to find me an outfit.
Dark eye shadow wasn’t something I was use to, but it looked sexy and I wasn’t about to hurt Anna’s feelings and wipe it off. While she searched in my closet, I decided to take the time and put a few loose curls in my hair with the curling iron.
She found me some dark skinny jeans and a black t-shirt that was short enough to expose some of my flat stomach, “Simple and sexy. I like it.” She said with a grin.
I found my favorite black heels and slipped them on as she packed up her things and put them in her car.
“Here, eat these on the way.” She said, handing me crackers as I locked up the cabin. “You haven’t eaten all day, and I can’t have you white girl wasted after the first drink.” She said with a small laugh.
“Alright, alright.” I said climbing into the car and opening up the cracker package. “Where are we going?” I asked her as she slid into the driver’s seat.
“You’ll see.” She said with a grin and started to drive.
Anna took me about an hour outside of camp to this college town in the middle of nowhere. Just before we arrived downtown, I saw a sign that said “Welcome to the town of LaJeunesse”. It was a smaller but wealthy town with little shops down the strip and a restaurant at every corner. There were people laughing and drinking everywhere we looked, and for the first time in a while I felt myself get excited.
“How is this in the middle of nowhere? I feel like this should be a ghost town.” I said to Anna as I gawked at all of the people.
“The college is what keeps this place alive. It’s ten minutes away from here and every weekend the students, and professors, and locals all come downtown to relax and socialize. It’s a hidden gem, and they like to keep it that way.” Anna said as she parked the car.
“Everyone is nice here. Its like they’ve created their own little world where everyone is happy and nothing goes wrong. Every time I come down here, I can’t decide if I’m in Pleasantville or Canada.” She laughed, “Either way, it’s a great way to escape from Camp X.” She said as she climbed out of the car.
“Camp X. ” I repeated climbing out of the car and shutting the door, “Wasn’t that some super secret spy training school during World War Two?” I asked as we met behind the car.
Anna smirked, “Yes, Kate. I was kidding.” She laughed, “You’ve been hanging around my brother too much; you’ve lost your sense of humor.”
“I…am not even going to argue that.” I sighed and followed her out of the parking lot. “Where are we going?” I asked as we turned the corner and found ourselves on the main strip, surrounded by people of all ages offering us shots and weed.
“How can they have alcohol outside?” I yelled to Anna, “Isn’t that against some law? Couldn’t they stumble out into the street and get hit by a car?” I asked her.
Anna stopped and spun around to face me, “Katherine Fox I swear to every god out there, if you do not lighten up I’m going to hurt you!” She said as she shook me by the shoulders, “I’m going to get a few drinks in you and we are going to have a good time! Do you know what a good time is?” She asked.
“Yes..” I said with a frown.
“Yes what?!” She asked.
“No-” She laughed, “Just come on.” She said taking my hand and leading me to a night club a few blocks away.
From the outside it looked small but once we stepped in, I felt like I was in Mary Poppin’s purse. It just kept going and going. There was a large dance floor in the middle of the club, packed with people dancing to decent music. Beyond that was the DJ, and beyond that was a large spiral staircase leading to the second floor. I looked up and was in awe as I saw these large strands of silky fabric hanging from the ceiling, holding up these women performers as they twirled through the air.
“The brunette right there,” Anna said, pointing up to one of the women twirling in the air, “That’s my girlfriend.” She said in my ear.
I blinked at Anna, “Your girlfriend?” I asked surprised, “You…You’re gay?” I asked with a raised brow.
Anna smiled, “You think I would date a man after dealing with Charlie my whole life?! No thank you. ” She said shaking her head, “I’ll introduce you to her later, lets go get a drink.” She said pulling me by the hand to the bar.
There were a few seats available so we snagged them and ordered two martinis before we sat back and scanned the crowd.
“So…” I said looking over at Anna, “How long have you two been dating?” I asked her with a smirk.
“Three years.” Anna replied with a big smile. “We met here, actually. She was a bartender at the time and I was a student.” She said before taking a sip of her drink.
“Does Charlie know?” I asked curiously.
She nodded, “Yea, he hasn’t said much about it through the years, they’ve met before and he was decent enough.” She shrugged, “I don’t bring her around the family much though… there’s really no point. Her and I have a life here and were both very happy with it.”
“Oh so you live here?” I asked her.
“Yup! We have a loft above one of the coffee shops downtown, it’s pricey but we manage.” She said looking up at her girlfriend, “If we get too trashed tonight we can just stay there and head back in the morning.”
“Charlie would kill me.” I laughed and took a big gulp of my drink, “Sounds perfect.” I smiled.
Anna laughed, “Just because Charlie is helping you doesn’t mean you have to obey his every command. I learned that the hard way. Just try not to think about him tonight and have a good time, you deserve it.” Anna said standing up, “I need to go to the ladies room, I expect that drink to be gone by the time I get back!”
“You’re a very bossy lesbian.” I said with a wink.
Anna laughed and disappeared into the crowd with her drink in her hand.
A few minutes had passed before I said “Fuck it.” and slammed my martini. It felt good to let loose and not worry about my next move for a minute. I decided I wanted this feeling to last so I leaned over the bar and ordered another martini. As I sat up straight I went to sit back down on my stool but I must have misjudged the distance and missed the stool completely. With a gasp I started to fall backwards, plotting my death as I did so to avoid any looks that would embarrass me in the future, but my back hit a hard chest and I felt these big strong arms wrap around me as I was guided to a safe standing position.
“You alright, love?” Said the man who caught me as he slowly pulled away.
I didn’t want to look up, I was already embarrassed but I had to thank this guy for saving me from even more embarrassment.
“God, yes, I’m so sorry.” I laughed as I shook my head. Biting my lip I guided my eyes up to the face of the man who caught me, and was in awe for the second time that night. I felt my cheeks get warm as I stared up at this gorgeous man. Thick blonde hair, blue eyes, tan skin, strong jaw, full lips, very nice smile. Something about him made me want to ask if we’ve met before, but I just let it go and kept staring.
Him and I seemed to look at each other for a good ten seconds before one of us spoke again.
“You gotta be careful, you get off your stool for even a second and someone runs with it.” He said with a laugh.
I looked down as soon as he said something and realized someone took the two stools Anna and I were using. “Noted.” I said with an embarrassed laugh. “Um, thank you, for.. not letting me fall to the ground and make a fool out of myself.”
“It was my pleasure.” He said with a nod as the bartender set down my martini. “I’ll take a scotch on the rocks, and put this young ladies drink on my tab.” He told the bartender.
“Oh no, you don’t have to do that. ” I said shaking my head.
“You look like you could use a drink, it’s the least I can do.” He said.
I frowned, “Are you saying I look as bad as I feel?”
“No, fuck, you look…” He took a second to look me up and down a few times before he leaned in closer to me, “You look absolutely marvelous.” He laughed, “It just seems like you’ve had a long week is all.” He shrugged, “I could be wrong but, I’m usually good at these things.” He smirked.
“You’re good at picking out the weakest of the herd and taking them home?” I asked with a raised brow.
“Are you saying you’re weak?” He asked.
“No.” I said firmly.
“Are you saying you want to come home with me?” He asked.
“No.” I repeated.
“Alright then, I think you answered your own question.” He said with a smirk before he tipped the bartender and grabbed his drink, “It was nice meeting you…?” He paused for a name.
“Kate.” I said.
“Liam.” He said taking my hand and bringing it to his lips. He kissed my hand softly as we kept eye contact, intensifying the feeling of his lips against my hand and giving me the chills.
“Maybe I’ll find you on the dance floor later.” He said as he released my hand.
I smirked, “Maybe.”
“Looking forward to it.” Liam said before he turned around and made his way though the crowd. As I watched him walk away I noticed his build was similar to Charlie’s. Tall, big arms, thick chest, lean torso. He was wearing a fitted white button up shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his forearms, and a few buttons undone at the top so he looked more casual. His jeans were dark and simple, giving him the casual but classy look about him.
I lost sight of him just as Anna walked up to me with her empty glass. “The line was ridiculous; I hope you don’t have to pee anytime soon.” She said as she set her glass down on the bar, “Where did our seats go?” She asked with a frown.
I finally looked away from the crowd and turned my attention towards her “I…um…Lost them” I shrugged, “Sorry.”
“You apologize too much; you know that?” She said before she ordered herself another drink.
I took a sip of my fresh drink and looked up at the second level, “What’s up there?” I asked Anna.
“That’s more of the lounge area. There are couches and private rooms and games and another bar, follow me I’ll show you.” Anna said as she grabbed her fresh martini and headed for the spiral staircase. I grabbed my drink and followed her, pushing through the crowd until we reached the stairs.
As soon as we stepped foot on the second floor I immediately felt more relaxed. It was less crowded and more laid back. People having conversations while they snacked on some appetizers, people lounging on the couches, the vibe was completely different.
Anna lead me to a high-top table that we stood at while she explained to me how the levels were separated by age and occupation. “Usually this is where the professionals come to sit and have a drink while the students act out their crazy on the dance floor. Its not too loud up here so people can actually have conversations without sitting in each others laps.” She laughed “I actually see an old professor of mine, I’m gunna go say hi really fast, you wanna come with?” She asked.
“Oh no, I’ll stay here and people watch.” I smirked.
“I’ll be right back.” She said and headed over to the bar.
As I sipped my martini, I casually scanned the room for Liam. I didn’t see anything wrong with distracting myself with a beautiful man and vodka. Frankly, I should have been doing this a few days ago instead of throwing myself at Charlie every chance I got. I shook my head, disgusted with myself by the way I’ve been behaving with him.
“How’s your aim?” Liam asked as he appeared next to me, bringing me back to reality.
Secretly happy to see him, I held back a grin. “Excuse me?” I asked looking up at him.
Liam set his drink down on the table and leaned in closer to me, he smelled like soap and cologne, “I’m looking for someone to play darts with, but I can’t have you be amazing and make me look bad.” He laughed.
“I’m decent enough.” I grinned.
“So you’re in?” He asked.
I nodded, “Sure, let me just tell my friend where I’ll be and I’ll meet you at the dart board.”
He flashed me a white grin, “Deal.” He said as he grabbed his drink. I watched him walk into the back room labeled ‘Game Room’ before I walked over to Anna and let her know where I was going.
I stopped in the bathroom to get a quick look at myself, checking my hair and make up. My cheeks were a little flushed but nothing I couldn’t work with. My loose curls held up nicely, and my eye makeup wasn’t smudged which was a miracle considering I never wear makeup. I looked good, really good. Maybe the martini was giving me all the confidence but I didn’t care. I walked out of the bathroom and into the game room, searching for Liam. He was standing in the back right corner with two drinks in his hands, patiently waiting for me.
As I walked up to him I slowly looked him up and down, admiring his beauty as he stood there in the dim light.
“Seen enough?” He asked with a grin, making it obvious that he caught me checking him out.
“For now.” I grinned back.
He handed me a fresh martini and five darts, “Maybe you’ll get to see more of me if you win.” He said.
“What makes you think I want to see more of you?” I asked looking up at him.
“Your eyes give you away.” He said before putting his lips to the rim of his glass and taking a drink.
“Hmm, I’ll have to work on that.” I said as I set my drink down on the table next to us.
“Ladies first.” He said stepping behind me.
“So, Liam, what do you do for a living?” I asked as I threw a dart, hitting right under the bull’s-eye.
“I own a contracting business in the city.” He said, I could feel him watching me as I threw another dart. “I just got back from Africa, actually. I took my crew over there to build a school.” He explained.
I turned around to face him, “You took your crew to Africa to build a school?” I laughed, “I think that’s the corniest line I’ve ever heard.”
Liam shook his head, clearly amused, “Its not a line.” He said grabbing his wallet and pulling out a folded picture of him and five little African kids in front of the finished school, “We were over there for three months, why do you think I’m so tan?” He laughed.
I looked at the picture closely and then up at him, “Holy shit.. you’re an actual decent person. I didn’t think your kind existed.” I joked as I watched him put the photo away. “When did you get back?” I asked him.
“Four days ago. I have some work here to take care of, then I’ll probably head back at the beginning of the year.” He said looking down at me.
“Well, good for you.” I smiled and turned back to the dart board, trying to focus.
“What about you? What do you do?” He asked.
“I’m a writer.” I said as I threw my last one, grouping them all near the bull’s-eye.
“And how does a writer find herself all the way out here?” He asked leaning against the wall.
“Unfortunate events.” I said looking over at him.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” He said and looked over at the board, “Not too bad… you keep this up and you might win.” He said walking over to the dart board and pulling out the darts.
“So what do I get if I win?” I flirted.
He looked back at me with a grin, “What do you want?” He asked walking towards me.
I bit my lip and thought about what to say next, “A kiss.” I smirked, “From you. A good one. Not some innocent little peck on the cheek. I want to taste you.” I said looking up at him as he reached me. I had no idea when I became so forward, but I liked it.
“Well now I might just lose on purpose.” He whispered as he looked down at me. “Or I can forfeit right now and save us some time.” He whispered before he leaned down and pressed his lips to mine. I felt his arms wrap around me and pick me up as he deepened the kiss. I opened my mouth and eagerly massaged my tongue against his as he sat me on the bar stool and ran his hands through my hair.
“Is that what you were looking for?” He whispered to me as he pulled away just long enough to get out a sentence. He kissed me again, harder this time with more passion. He ran his hand from my hair, down my neck, and to my breast. He would softly massage my aching breast just enough to tease me, then he would run his hand back up my chest and neck.
I let out a soft moan as he teased me, wanting to take this further, “We should take this somewhere more private.” I whispered between kisses as I reached out and pulled him closer to me by his belt.
“I agree.” He whispered as he looked up and scanned the room. The game room was now empty but I could tell what he was thinking, “I’ll go see if there are any private rooms available, don’t go anywhere.” He whispered before kissing me one last time and walking out of the room.
I bit my lip in excitement as I waited for him to come back. I took a glance at my phone and saw I had two missed calls from Anna. Confused at why she would call me, I walked out of the game room and to the bar area where I saw her last. She was standing there texting someone when I approached her, “Anna, what’s wrong? I have two missed calls from you.”
“We have to leave.” Anna said in a worried tone.
I frowned, “What’s going on?” I asked.
“Lou had a heart attack, he’s in a stable condition now but… we have to get back, now.” She said taking my hand.
“Okay just let me say bye to someone first.” I said pulling away from her and ignoring her protests. I walked back into the game room only to find it empty. I sighed and searched the second floor for any signs of Liam but he was nowhere to be found. I wanted to at least let him know why I was leaving but Anna kept pulling me towards the staircase. Eventually I gave up and followed her out of the club, a little dizzy.
“Are you okay to drive?” I asked her as we walked to the car.
“Yea I only had a few.” She said as she unlocked the car and climbed in.
I climbed into the passenger seat with a sigh, I was more drunk than I thought.. three martinis on an empty stomach will do that. I sat back and closed my eyes the entire ride there. I brought up Lou a few times but Anna didn’t sound like she was in the mood to talk, so I stayed silent until we arrived back at camp.
Anna told me to go get some rest, that she was going to go see Lou at the hospital in the morning if I wanted to join her. I told her to let me know if she needed anything before I headed to my cabin. I drank some water, washed my face, and took some Tylenol before I crawled into bed. I laid there thinking about Liam, wondering if I would ever see him again. Maybe Anna’s girlfriend knew who he was if he was a regular at the club. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll never see him again. Either way, I closed my eyes and let the room spin me into a deep sleep. That night I dreamt of blue eyes and Africa.
The next morning, I woke up with a small headache and a dry mouth. I sat up and took more Tylenol as I downed a bottle of water and tried to pull myself together. My body was sore and heavy and all I wanted to do was sleep but I checked the clock and it was six in the morning. I needed to shower before I started my day, so I zombie walked into the bathroom and took a thirty-minute shower to wake me up.
Like clockwork, there was a knock on my door at exactly seven AM. I just finished blow drying my hair and put it in a pony when I heard the knock. I walked to the door and opened it with a small smile. Finn was standing there with his hands shoved in his pockets, “Good morning, Kate.” He said.
“Hey Finn.” I said looking at him a little longer than I usually do. There was something about him that looked…different, or familiar, I couldn’t figure it out but I finally blinked and looked away.
“We heading to meditation this morning?” I asked as I shut the door behind me.
He nodded, “We are. You think you’re up for it today? I’m not going to make you do something that you’re not comfortable with. I know yesterday morning was hard on you.”
“No, its fine. I’ll be fine. I have to face this stuff sometime, right?” I said, walking off the porch.
He nodded, “That’s right.” He said as he walked next to me, “Charlie will be joining us this morning, along with my brother and the rest of the trainee’s. We all need some peace after what happened with Lou last night.”
“How is Lou?” I asked him as we headed into the forest.
“It’s not looking too good to be honest with you, he’s been stable since last night but I think his age is just starting to catch up with him.” He said
“How did it happen? Did you see anything?” I asked curiously.
“I heard him and Charlie arguing and then a few minutes later we were transferring him to the nearest hospital. Charlie was with him all night but Anna got there this morning and told him to go get some rest.” He explained.
“I thought Charlie left early yesterday?” I asked.
Finn nodded, “Charlie was on his way out when Lou wanted to talk to him about something. They sat in the lodge for a few hours talking before it happened.” He scratched the back of his head, “Anyway, try not to mention anything to Charlie about it, he seems to be doing fine now but… I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”
I nodded, “I won’t say anything, thanks for keeping me in the loop.” I said with a small smile.
We stayed quiet the rest of the walk. It was obvious we both had a lot on our minds, so we just stayed silent until we reached the temple.
There was a small group of people standing outside the temple doors when we arrived, talking quietly amongst themselves. I watched as a man broke away from the crowd and headed our way. As he got closer I realized it was Charlie.
“Hey…” I said looking up at him.
“Good morning.” He said touching my shoulder then shaking Finn’s hand. “There’s a few people I want you to meet.” Charlie said to me as he took my hand and lead me to the four people he was talking to before.
“Kate, this is a few of our recruits registered with us this year. This is Tom, Adam, Samantha, and Shane.” He said introducing me to them. They greeted me with a smile and a nod and I did the same. “Everyone, this is Katherine Fox.” He said and turned to Finn, “Where’s your brother?” He asked him.
“He said he was looking over some plans for the new build and he’d be here but that was an hour ago… he should be here by now.” Finn said to Charlie.
“New build?” I asked.
“Finn’s brother is building an addition to our lodge, our community is growing and we need it larger.” Charlie explained.
“Oh.” I whispered as I stared at Finn, slowly figuring out why he looked so familiar to me before, “What’s your brothers name?” I asked him nervously.
“Liam.” Finn said.
I closed my eyes, “Of course it is.” I mumbled.
“Here he is now.” I heard Finn say. Spiking my interest, I opened my eyes and followed his gaze to the man approaching us.
Blonde hair, blue eyes, tall, handsome hunk. That was Liam, alright.
I felt my chest sink into itself as Liam locked eyes with me, and I watched as his reaction changed from happy to confused as he realized who I was.
I sighed, “Here we go.”