I Should Face My Fears More Often

***BONUS no.1. Another coming soon. Enjoy.***

If I knew we were going to walk on the pier, I wouldn’t have worn my heels. Every time I stepped I suddenly found myself stunted and trapped into a crack. I’d hasten to detach myself and avoid Eric noticing, but then it’d happen again. Worst is when it happened when I was speaking and at the moment my heel would get stuck I’d emphasise a syllable. Eventually I noticed Eric was turning his head to keep me from seeing his laugh; he raised his hands in the air and just told us to stop.

“I can’t take it anymore,” he laughed.

“What…?” I elongated the word. My red face betraying my blasé attitude.

“You want me to carry you something?”

“No!” I folded into myself. I don’t know why I was so weirded out by that suggestion, but it was weird nonetheless.

“Or…” he sank down to the floor, running his hand down my calf and to my ankle, “…we can take it off?” He looked up.

Man he’s so sexy. It was dark out, but the faint lights were enough to show how hot he was. Especially looking up at me like that, with those eyes, and him on his knees—GAH!

I nodded. “Yeah, we can take it off,” I breathed. I was talking about my clothes now, but hey, his eagerness to unclasp the straps of my black heels was enough.

I reached out for my heels but he waved me off. “Nah, it’s okay. I got it. You relax.”

I can’t!

When we reached the end of the pier we turned around and leaned back with our elbows. Few people were around. The water dark and in all honesty, a bit scary. One of my fears ever so present and covered 90-percent of the world and we were two inches from it!

“So…how long have you been a stripper?” I asked. I cut the non-awkward silence with my question, but it wasn’t the question I wanted to ask straight away. I had imagined I’d ease into it, but clearly my mind was on crack.

He chuckled. “For almost a year now.”

“Oh.” I didn’t want to push for him to elaborate, but I desperately wanted to know if this was a career or a side job of his.

On his own accord, he went on. “Everyone starts out doing something that they don’t want to do to make ends meet, right?” I nodded. He nodded, too. “Well, I moved out of the house really young. Cliché long story short, I didn’t get along with my father’s new wife. Even though she’s actually a lovely person, I hate her.” he laughed, probably to lift the heavy turn the conversation took. “I especially hate her when she’s nice to me. Anyway—” he sighed— “becoming a doctor costs a lot of money. Stripping is good money. Plus, I don’t have to work too often, which makes time for studying easy.”

“A doctor?” I asked, shocked. “I wouldn’t have pegged you as wanting to become a doctor.”

“Stripping suits me, huh?”

Yes, sir! “Yeah,” I lightly chuckled with him.

“I like your friends by the way.”

“Oh, yeah, they’re great.”

“That was Janet, right?”

I nodded. “Right.”

“She’s cute. I mean, the way she was adamant that you go out tonight. Hope it’s worth your while.”

I sucked in a deep breath of air through my teeth, so sharply that my teeth ached from the cold. “It is. I’m having a good time.”

“Hope the stripping didn’t scare you, I just,” he shrugged, “wanted you to know.”

I shook my head. “No, no. it’s fine. It’s what you do.” I shrugged. “I don’t mind.”

“So…why’d she want you to go out so badly?”

I shrugged again. “I don’t know.” I looked down at the floor. The sky. The open water to the left of me, away from Eric’s gaze.

“Who was he?” I looked back, surprise and still. The hot breeze pushing my hair up and around. “I don’t mean to pry,” he quickly said. “I just—”

“How’d you know?”

He laughed. “Being around women a lot. People have gaydar, I have ex-boyfriend-dar.”

I threw my head back and laughed with him. “Oh my God!”

“Shit joke?”

“Sub-par.”

His shoulders shook as his chuckled faded out. “I’ll take it. So…?”

“So…” I shrugged and held it. Then dropped it, sighing, “It was a long relationship and a recent heartbreak.”

He nodded, tightening his lips. “Mmm…” he moved closer.

“So…” I breathed, feeling him a little too close, “I probably need to take this slow.”

He smiled. “I can do slow.” He pushed my hair back to stroke my cheek.

I laughed, my face burning under his cold fingertips. Cold? How did that work out? “I think it’s made me so fearful, or extra fearful, of everything. I’m just glad our backs are to the water.”

He furrowed his brows. “You’re afraid of dark water?”

I nodded. “Yup.”

“Wow.”

“What?”

“First L.A. girl I’ve ever known afraid of dark water.”

“Hey, it’s a common phobia! Don’t tease.”

He laughed and held his hands up. “No teasing.”

I nodded. “Good.”

After a moment, he parted from me and turned around to face the water. “Don’t you think now’s the time to face your fears?”

“Huh?” shit, he’s going to throw me in the water!

He burst out laughing. “Don’t worry, nothing crazy will happen.”

He must’ve read my mind…or the horror on my face. My chest deflated as I sighed. “Okay, phew, good.”

“But I think—” he jumped up onto the banister and faced the water— “you should just come up here, and sit next to me. That’s all.”

“Aww,” I whined. “But what if I fall?”

“You won’t.”

“I could.”

“I got you. Don’t worry. You won’t.” He extended his hand out for me to grab. “Trust me.”

I narrowed my eyes; he slightly contained his smirk. I had to go for it after that. I twisted and turned and thought if I fell, he’s coming down with me. I thought of the splinters that would be pricking my feet, but none appeared; sharks? Nope. The water was dark as hell, but being beside him was helping. He had me in a death-grip around my waist, so that helped.

“See? Feel good?”

“Sure,” I replied, shakily.

“You know, heartbreak and fears are pretty much all the same.”

“Mmm? Really?”

“Yeah,” he shrugged, “they both just take some getting used to. Eventually, you’ll feel more like yourself again.”

I looked at him, our faces inches apart. I don’t know, but suddenly, I felt tired. Maybe sleepy, more so. My eyes began to weigh down, closing and opening slowly, noticing at one point he was eyeing my lips. I shimmied closer to him and watched his smile creep in on the corner of my eyes before I rested my head on his shoulder. His grip looser now, giving me more control, now clutching me gently. Warm instead of hot against my skin. The breeze cooler instead of hot against me. Against me? With me. Perhaps for me. I should face my fears more often.

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