The second she sat down, she reached for the knob to the heater, but pulled herself back wondering why she had. The first night had been the only time. Confused at herself, Kairi massaged her hands in her lap. "Don't feel like breaking my car some more?" It was a tease to lighten the mood.
To his relief, she gave the smallest hint of a smile. "I was about to, but I thought maybe I should be nice after all the rides you've given me."
He chuckled, glad she was playing along. They traveled for two blocks in silence, thick silence that could only come from a break in laughter. Both tried to think of a topic well away from the question he had asked, but it hung too heavily in their minds. "Are you hungry?" The question came quickly. "I didn't eat anything at the show, and I know you probably haven't had anything since before you worked this afternoon." Once again he was right, and it was easy enough for him to guess what her response was going to be. "I didn't buy you flowers or anything like that to congratulate you on that show, so I would like to buy you dinner. Nothing fancy, I promise. We'll eat a McDonalds if that's what you want."
Realizing how set he was in his desire, she gave in. "There's a bar and grill at the end of this block; it's not bad.
Without further discussion, he made the turn into a lot off the right side of the road, pulling into the only open slot he could find at the back of the bar. Though he wished he could open the door for her, he knew she would be out just as quickly as he was. To compensate, he was sure to be the first to grab the door leading inside, stepping aside too allow her in with a slight glow of achievement in his eyes. Kairi gave him a bit of a look, but walked in all the same.
The music was fun and loud. One look at those inside and anyone could see that there would be nothing but country and rock spilling from the speakers. Just two? A waitress asked as they ended through a long hallway from the back door. Receiving an agreeing nod, she led them through the room. Jasen quickly saw that the music came from a karaoke setup on a small stage. At the moment, no one was singing, though a girl was standing at the DJ table looking through a binder of songs.
They were led to a booth just a few feet away from the stage with a promise that the waitress would be back to take their orders soon. So what's good? Jasen flipped through the laminated menu, only two pages long.
Anything with barbecue sauce.
I think that's a rule just about everywhere.
Kairi gave a sly smirk, as if she knew something he didn't. It may be a rule everywhere else, but it's law here. Barbecue sauce. Once again, she showed her passion, even in something so simple and insignificant. When the waitress returned, he ordered a burger that had both BBQ and barbecue in the name, along with bacon. Kairi, shaking her head and laughing at his decision, asked for the same.
A few minutes after she retreated back toward the kitchen, Jasen looked around the room again. You know, I've probably driven by this place at least ten times and never noticed it. I like it, though.
It's not a place for everyone, and it doesn't want to be. People drive by this place all the time and never really look at it. You need a reason to take a glimpse inside before you do, and when you do, you realize what you've been missing all along. Some people have the door opened for them, but they just don't step in, their loss. He understood immediately that she wasn't just talking about the bar, nor was she making reference to only herself, but many things in life.
He shook his head, unable to help from smiling. How do you fit all that passion inside of you?
Instantly, Kairi's face turned red. I use a funnel. She was all too aware of how awkwardly the statement came out, but could think of nothing else to lessen his statement. To her relief, the waitress returned with their food at just that moment.
Wow. That was fast.
We've got a good system here, the waitress joked. Here you two go. Enjoy! With a toast of their water glasses, Kairi and Jasen dug in, eating without hesitation.
You weren't kidding, Jasen managed to get in between bites, I will never eat barbecue sauce from anywhere else again. This left Kairi in a fit of giggles, shaking her entire body. No matter how many times he saw her laugh, Jasen never tired of watching it, and it never ceased to bring a feeling of warmth to him.
The laughter did not seem to stop until the food was done, leaving them with empty plates, teary eyes and refilled waters. Kairi passed hers between her hands, nerves beginning to rise to a level she hadn't known before. I want to answer your question. She spoke to the table.
Jasen watched her move, seeing the change in her eyes and all over. He didn't want to hurt her and never intended to, almost regretting that he had asked in the first place. You don't have to right now, or even tonight. Just, whenever you're...
No. Looking back up, she met his eye, and the sadness in them knocked the air from his chest. I have to tell you now or I'll never be able to. Every moment she was not speaking, she chewed the inside of her bottom lip, and unlike the first time he had seen her do it, it didn't look erotic. It looked lonely, vulnerable. She took a deep breath and then another, needing to settle her racing thoughts. Jasen waited, having no desire to push her beyond comfort.
Releasing her fingers from the cool glass, she looked him square in the eye. "You saw that guy who was... getting friendly with me that night, didn't you? Him and his friends?"
Jasen nodded, needing no time at all to understand who she was referring to. "Yeah. Yeah I saw that."
"Did you see the guy who came up and took me away from them?" This took a bit longer for Jasen to pull from his memory, but he did and once again nodded. "That was Zeke. He's the owner's nephew."
"You pushed him away from you." Until the words crossed his lips he hadnt even realized it was something he knew. As soon as it came to him, though, he recalled the expression of disgust on Kairis face when she had done it, a dark moment that broke even the pretend cheerfulness she wore. Another moment passed through his thoughts, And you looked annoyed when you talked him later, just before you left. You were kind of behind the bar, so I didnt see much. It was Kairi's turn to nod, extremely embarrassed that someone had noticed. "You don't get along with him?"
"He and I had a... a... a disagreement."
She shook her head. No. No, before then.
As prepared as she thought that she was to tell him this, the words caught in her throat, choking her. Making it hard to breathe. It took two deep breathes before she found herself about to speak. "About the meaning of the word 'no'."
There was no lapse of time between her statement and his understanding of what she met. His mouth fell open very slightly. "Jesus."
"It was a few months before you and Hank played. I was working closing shift. Mark, the manager, wasn't there and the waitress who was supposed to give me a ride, as per her personality, blew me off. Zeke was there, though, and he told me that if I stuck around until he closed everything up then he would give me a ride. And, you know, he can't close up until everyone else has left..."
"You told someone, right?
Heat and shame rose to her face as she dropped her eyes, not feeling like she deserved to look at him. This is the first time Ive said it out loud, and I havent even actually said it. I should have told someone, but by the time I realized it wasnt my fault it was basically too late. And I was worried that people would believe him over me and I would lose my job. That wasnt something that couldn't happen, you know? I can barely afford life as it is; without that job She looked up to him. Regardless of whatever stupid justifications I made for my inability to admit that something was wrong, I didnt tell anyone. I went back to work the next day and basically every day after that like nothing happened. I thought if I just moved on, I would be fine.
The thing was, though, he completely controlled my life after that. At first I was scared of him. When I showered, I rubbed myself raw. When I tried to go to sleep, I saw his face. When I was at work, I didnt want to go anywhere near him. And he would smile at me like She shook her head, unable to finish the thought. Eventually, I stopped being scared and started being mad. Furious. But even then he controlled me. I still thought about him and about... that all the time. I wanted to be in control of myself again; he took my control.
When I realized that was when I figured that if I slept with someone because I wanted to, someone I chose and said yes to, then I would get some of it back. So I decided I wanted a meaningless, emotionless one night stand. That's what I went for. For the first time since she began, her words stopped completely, as if she were done. As if she had said all she could say.
Jasen had given more attention to what she was saying than he had ever remembered giving to anything in his life. Everything she had said played over in his head until it was completely ground in. Still there was something missing. So that's why you had sex?
Shifting her eyes quickly from him, to the table, and back to him in a circular pattern, she nodded. Yeah, that's why.
That answers half of my question, but it doesn't tell me...
Jasen affirmed the stolen words with the smallest movement of his head. I don't want to make myself out to be more important than I am, but I know that you've had guys hit on you while you were working. I've seen guys hit on you. I've seen guys want you and try to get you. Why none of them?
Kairi couldn't lie. It would be more than unfair to bring herself to tell him something that wasn't true, but she didn't need to lie to keep her feelings safely tucked away. Most of the guys who had tried something with me, flirted with me, 'suggested' things to me... they're regulars. I see them all the time, and they know me. There was no way I could risk having someone else control me the way Zeke did. Having someone who was just passing through... his last night in town... someone I would never see again, it was perfect.
Jasen felt his heart drop.sexporn
More than his heart. Everything inside of him that held hope for that night seemed to shift downward. He had been a tool to help her forget. He had been a perfect circumstance. Nothing more. No. Her voice broke through his thoughts as she shook her head. You wanted complete honesty. There was a struggle going on inside of her. From the looks of it, a painful one, as she fought to find the right words to say. Even guys who were just passing through... I turned down any flirtations or anything that came from them. I came up with reasons why they weren't good enough. Why they weren't right. You... I couldn't find a reason for.
The truth is, Jasen, I used you to help myself. For that I am more sorry than I could ever express to you. But I hope that you don't think you weren't... something. I watched you on stage and I saw how much passion you had. Tyler, his friends, those guys who were passing through, I doubt they've ever been truly passionate about anything in their lives. I... I'm rambling now. Sorry.
He had meant something. Above that, he had not been chosen for simple convenience, but more. In an instant, he felt his spirits rise again and couldn't even begin to imagine being angry with her. Kairi, she flicked her eyes up to meet his. Thank you for trusting me enough to share all of that with me. First of all... don't feel like you used me. If I helped, even the smallest amount, that's what matters.
As if she knew something he didn't, she hid a shy smile. I would say you helped, more than a little.
His own feeling of joy was not as easily hidden. I'm glad. A deep breath came before he could offer more. That stuff that happened with Zeke, do you want to talk about it?
To his surprise, as well as hers, she nodded. I do. And yes, with you. I couldn't imagine talking to anyone else about it... that was more honesty than she thought she would ever share, ...but not right now. I'm not quite ready yet.
Despite the anger that had welled within him at the thought of something so terrible happening to the kindest person he had ever met, Jasen couldn't help the relief at having meant something or the appreciation that he was the one she wanted to talk to. Thank you, for your honesty, and being able to share that with me.
She smiled, almost awkwardly, unsure of what to say after having possibly said too much. Her focus shifted again to her glass of water, but in the silence took note of the music in the background. Took note of the amateur voice controlling the lyrics.
Do you want to do something fun? The cheery yet mysterious note in her voice intrigued him and threw the lingering mood of the serious conversation aside. He gave her an inquisitive look, tilting his head slightly to the side. Do you trust me?
Yes? She glanced quickly over her shoulder, but it was enough for him to see exactly what she was looking at. Wait, you want me to sing?
With a energized smile, she bobbed her head from side to side. We'll both sing.
Even though she looked serious and excited, he wasn't sure. You're going to get up and sing?
You doubt me? After I was just on stage dancing and singing?
He gave her a crooked smile, looking straight into her eyes. There is very little I doubt about you after that. But, would you really get up there is sweats?
Looking down at herself, she gave a chuckle, as if she had forgotten what it was she was wearing. The laugh lit up her eyes, pulling Jasen in and showing her beauty. Even in the black sweatpants and gray zip up hoodie, she looked great, especially with that smile. Rather than answer, she lifted a single side of her mouth to a sly grin and stood, walking away from him and over to the stage. Within seconds, she had a song picked out and was speaking to the DJ. The boy who was currently on stage finished up his song to a light scatter of applause before relinquishing the microphone to Kairi.
Until that moment, Jasen had hardly had time to process what was happening, but the second she looked over at him she had his full attention. Hey, ya'll. She spoke shyly into the microphone, positioning it back on the stand. Before another word came, the music started, a strong chord followed soon by another. Jasen watched the tips of her fingers tap against her leg, keeping beat.
Last night I got served a little bit too much of that poison baby. Last night I did things I'm not proud of, and I got a little crazy. Last night I met a guy on the dance floor, and I let him call me baby... Her hips swayed lightly as she went on. Unable to take his eyes from her, Jasen only sensed the turn of heads as she reached the chorus. More than the tone of her voice, he believed people were drawn to how truly she performed, getting into the song and letting everything else go.
And I don't even know his last name. Oh, my mama would be so ashamed. It started off 'Hey cutie, where ya from?', and then it turned in, 'Oh no, what have I done?' And I don't even know his last name. Her eyes closed at some moments as her fingers wrapped around the microphone, hips still swaying to the beat. For the second time that night, she was dragging the audience in with her, some of the men watching every small swing of her body, enticing even in the unflattering sweats.
Jasen was drawn in more than any of the others, seeing her movements in slow motion as they happened. Even having seen her dance as magnificently as he had earlier that night, the simple shifts were near perfection. Jasen might have felt uncomfortable with the lyrics, but looking at her allowed him to experience no such thing. He already knew he had been more than nothing to her and was able to see it was a song she knew and enjoyed. Not once did she look down at the screen to see the words.
Her voice was strong through the rest of the performance, and the moment it was over, it was met with an equally strong applause, some people giving a whoop or whistle. Unlike earlier that night, Jasen found himself capable of applauding her, a cheerful grin covering his features.
As he watched, Kairi dropped herself from the stage and rushed over to him. Okay, your turn! Eyes still followed her as she moved, standing just inches away from Jasen and still catching her breath from the performance. Without warning, her warm hands clasped around his wrist and pulled him outward. I got up and sang, now it's your turn.
Overcome by her excitement, he allowed himself to be dragged along. There's no way they're going to enjoy me singing as much as they did you.
Oh, shush! You know people love you. Now get up there.
She gave him another push toward the DJ table and his eyes fell to the open binder, immediately catching a song. Fine, he said, his own excitement growing, but you're coming with me.
No. No. It's your turn. Just go.
Speaking a quick word to the DJ, he held tight to her wrist and went up to the stage. Hey, everyone. Kairi here wants me to get up and sing one by myself, but I'd like her to sing with me, what do you think? A hearty cheer was the only answer he needed.
Still having a list of protests, she was running short on time to give them. The music started. It was a song she had heard several times while in his car, and he knew this would kill any attempt at saying that she didn't know the duet well enough to sing it. He'd heard her humming along the last few times it had come on. Jasen quickly snagged another microphone from the back of the stage, just in time to get in his first line. He hadn't been up in front of a crowd since school had started and the impact of turning to see so many eyes on him sent a warm rush through his body. This was something he had truly missed.
Despite her protests, when her part came up, she sang enthusiastically. The melodies collided and they held their partsperfectly. Jasen glanced over at her, not wanting to lose her from his sight for too long. He had sung countless duets with a number of people, but none felt as pure as singing with her. Just as he was about to turn back to the crowd, she looked over and caught his eye. Her smile didn't hitch her tone, but the one he cou