I couldn’t face Daniel that night. I was too exhausted, and by the time I reached home I realised why I went over there in the first place. The entire night was giving me a headache, I couldn’t process anything, and I didn’t know what to do. Was Daniel already cheating on me, and worse, with Jodie? Maybe they were having fun on the side and I came in and ruined it. That would explain why Jodie didn’t want me to see him. But then it doesn’t explain him. I couldn’t think! I felt like my brain I was going through a shredder and came out with unsolved, unexplained, and unbelievably confusing pieces. None of them fell into place. None of the looking they belong with each other. The worst part of it all was that I couldn’t talk to Chloe or Janet about it, yet I really needed their opinion.
When Friday rolled around it was exactly the distraction I needed. My hair was up in a ponytail, and I opted for a black skirt and halter neck. When I entered the club, most of the women were wearing either leather pants, leggings, or skirts. I wondered if I was pushing it until I saw Nikki’s face drop when I approached.
She oo-ed first. “You already look like one of us,” she said.
I smiled and looked down. “You think?”
“Yes! You totally look hot.”
I went bright red, of course. “Thanks.”
“Indeed,” I heard a voice call from afar. Derek walked up and gave Nikki a hug. I had no idea he was going to be here, I wish I had known, just to prepare myself mentally. He leaned in and gave me a hug, “you look beautiful, Anna.”
I was so glad he couldn’t see my face. By now it probably looked like the colour of a deep red rose. “Thanks.”
“So this is your first night, huh?”
I looked at Nikki.
“I told him and figured he could give you some tips,” Nikki said.
I nodded and turned my attention back to Derek.
“First thing’s first, you’re most definitely going to get a shitty customer every once in a while. Some people think they’re more proper than they really are. Just letting you know to be prepared.”
I nodded, feeling more nervous than I already was.
“Next thing,” he continued, “chat up the customer. The more they stay, the more they have a good time, the more they’ll buy drinks, and in most cases, the bigger your tip will be.”
I nodded like a robot at his every word, and only time will tell if I actually listened. But my mind was constantly flashing back to Daniel and Jodie, and worry lines started to show.
“Are you alright?” Derek asked after Nikki had left.
I forced a smile, but instead it just made me look more tired. “Yeah.”
“Anything you want to talk about?” he pressed.
Can I confide in Derek? I didn’t know. By the time I thought I could it was my time to shine. The club was packed and I didn’t think I made as much of a good an impression as I’d hoped. Of course, there will always been one night that I’d drop and break my first piece of glass, and I’m just glad I did it at the beginning and not somewhere down the end.
Eventually Randy made an evaluation of me at the end of the day.
“You’re good, and you pick up things really quickly and accurately,” he said. “But next time I need to see you be a little more upbeat.”
It was official. I had to talk to Daniel.
Derek walked and Nikki and I to our car, and Nikki continued to give me pointers and then talk about these two hot guys that apparently were staring at us the entire time. I, of course, was oblivious since my mind was elsewhere.
“I’ll just walk Anna back to her car,” Derek said after Nikki found hers and hopped in.
“There’s really no need, my car is just…” I trailed off as I scanned the lot to spot my car. Yup, I was officially having one of those days and this was just the rotten cherry on top of everything. Could it get any worse?
“Looks like will be walking around for a while,” Derek smiled.
I smiled lazily back and started.
“What’s the matter, Anna, you can tell me?” Derek tried again.
This time I gave in, sighing. “I don’t know, because I don’t want to speculate, I’ve done that enough.”
“I’m guessing it’s about a friend?”
“And my partner.”
Derek’s brow lifted. “You have a boyfriend?”
“Yeah, but it’s new, kind of,” I struggled.
Derek smiled. “Okay, so, what about them?”
“Let’s just say they seemed a bit shady. And I don’t know why.”
“What did your boyfriend say when you asked him?”
I looked at Derek and shrugged. “I haven’t.”
Derek chuckled and shook his head.
“What?” I asked.
“Girls,” he mumbled, then towards me he said, “look, you have to talk to him, before anything. You can’t speculate unless you know something, anything about it from him, or her, or better yet, from both.”
“I’m not good at confrontation,” I said.
“Every girl is good at confrontation.” Derek angled his head like ‘of course they are’ and grinned. That actually made me genuinely smile this time. “Just talk to him,” he said when we finally reached my car. Thankfully we didn’t have to stop for food and water looking for it!
“Thanks,” I said.
Derek shrugged. “Not a problem. Any time.”
Derek leaned in and, just when my heart was starting to crazily flutter, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and a hug. He smelled amazing, fresh, despite being locked up in a club full of people. He held me for a while and I leaned on him with exhaustion, not realising how much I needed this comfort. After a certain moment, it became a little too much. I pulled away and fought the urge to kiss him, knowing that I’ll soon regret it. Knowing that the kiss would only be out of anger about Daniel. Knowing I wouldn’t forgive myself for it. And I didn’t know if it was my mind playing tricks on me or not, but it looked like Derek was waiting for something like that too. So I quickly distanced myself.
“Goodnight,” I said, smiling.
Derek smiled back, nodding, and looking a bit disappointed. “Goodnight.” He put his hands in his pocket and stepped back as I drove away.
I was on my home when I decided to pull a one-eighty and head for Daniel’s. The closer I got to his place, the more feverishly anxious I got. Not because I feared Daniel, no, of course not, but because I feared whatever the truth may be.
“Hey Anna,” Daniel said, smiling as he opened the door. He gave me a kiss and I let him linger on my lips, just in case this would be the last time. “This is a wonderful surprise. Come in.” I stood at the kitchen while Daniel walked to the other side. “Want something to drink?” he asked.
I shook my head.
He leaned on the kitchen top. “Are we staying for the night?”
Ugh! I want to. Although, I don’t know if he’ll want me staying after this. “No, I just need to talk to you.”
“Okay,” Daniel said. I could hear the anticipation in that one word. “Before I forget,” he went to the coffee table and picked up something, then came back and handed it to me, “your cell.”
“Thanks,” I muttered. The cell phone was the entire reason I came back. Just this stupid phone!
“By the looks of it, it seems like you’re trying to get rid of it,” Daniel laughed.
“Are you sleeping with Jodie?” I blurted.
Shit! Immediately I regretted the words. I didn’t mean for it to come out like that. On my way over here I settled on my carefully chosen words and decided to let him speak on his own terms, not for me to pounce on him like this.
Daniel furrowed his brows, in confusion and shock. “What?”
“I saw you two together, that night we had our dinner. I came back for my cell and saw you two. Jodie was scared that I might find out something, and you said…you said…” I was holding back the tears and the knot in my throat was growing.
“I know what I said,” Daniel said in a monotone.
“What’s going on Daniel?” I squeaked.
Daniel shook his head. “I can’t tell you.”
My eyes welled up. “Why not?”
He held my head in his palms. “Listen, Anna, you know I would never do anything to hurt you. I made a promise to you and I’m keeping that promise. I just need you to trust me okay. I know probably most guys say that to avoid getting caught out on something, but not me. Those are not my intentions.”
“Then why won’t you tell me?” my bottom lip started quivering and a teardrop fell. Daniel wiped the tear with his thumb.
“Because it’s not my story to tell. You need to talk to Jodie, okay?”
“I took a chance on you Daniel, I trusted you.”
“You can still trust me I promise. Just talk to her.” I sniffed. “Will you?”
I nodded in his hands and sighed. “Only because I trust you.” And I meant it.
Daniel smiled with relief and leaned in to plant a kiss. “Never to worry okay? I promise.”
He planted another kiss and then started leading me into his room.
“I should probably go,” I said.
“Anna,” Daniel said, “look at you, you’re exhausted, emotionally and physically, I can’t let you go like this. Stay with me tonight.”
I wondered about it, knowing that if I turned away, there would be this gap between us; but if I did stay with him, then he’d know that I meant it when I said I trusted him. That I truly did believe him. Daniel began leading me again and this time without protest from me. I collapsed on the bed.
Daniel held me the entire time through.