Desiree's Star Ch. 10byHotSprings22©
Desiree woke the next morning to the sound of pots banging and the smell of bacon frying. She stretched in the bed and stumbled to the bathroom before going into the kitchen. She refused to look at her cell phone. When she was finished in the bathroom, she shuffled into the kitchen where she watched her brother cook. She sat down at the table and thought how amazing Scott was. Candy, his ex, was missing out on a lot. The woman her brother decided to marry would be the happiest woman on the planet.
When he finally turned around, he brought a plate of bacon, eggs and toast to the table.
"What's the date?" she asked as she chomped down on a piece of bacon.
"Your birthday is next weekend isn't it?" This has been a really busy month Desiree thought.
"Don't remind me. I'm old. It's the big 2-6."
Desiree laughed. "You don't look so old. Maybe you can hang on for a couple more years before things really start to go down hill. What are you doin for your birthday?"
Scott threw a piece of toast at his sister and told her he just wanted to go to the bar and have a few drinks. "We can only go to Murphy's though, because they are the only place that doesn't card."
"I don't have to be there. You can go someplace else with your friends and then we could do something else another time." It was times like this when Desiree wanted to grow up, otherwise she'd be 20 forever. Plus she didn't want to admit to sitting this one out because she didn't want to see Gabe.
Scott huffed and told her to shut up. He had already made up his mind, so that's where they were going. He knew he didn't have to say that Gabe was gonna be there too, because he was sure she already guessed it.
In between getting things ready to go back to school, Desiree managed to find her brother the perfect birthday gift. She was in her room putting the finishing touches on it when she heard his car pull into the driveway. She listened from the stairs as her parents wished her brother a happy birthday and gave him their gifts. She waited until hearing her parents leave before descending the stairs. She didn't want her parent to see the gift that she'd gotten her older brother.
Desiree walked into the kitchen to find her Scott trying on the new watch her parents gave him. She stood in the doorway waiting for him to look up.
"What's with the basket?" he asked when he finally noticed her standing there.
"Happy birthday big brother," she said grinning like the Cheshire cat as she handed him the basket.
"Where'd you get the money to buy me a gift?"
"I retuned the dress you bought me," she said matter-of-factly. She smiled at the shocked look on his face. "Just kidding. Open it."
Desiree watched as Scott peeled her letter off the front of the basket and proceeded to read it aloud.
6 Special Things for my Very Special Brother on His 26th Birthday
1. Penthouse Magazine -- you never did have an imagination 2. Personal Ads -- you need all the help you can get 3. Blowup Doll -- trying to help with the dry spell (don't worry, she's a cheap date) 4. Tequila -- to help coax your next victim into bed 5. My Friend's Numbers and Pictures -- there are still plenty of women out there that want your hot bod (although I have no idea why...) 6. Last but not least -- a can of nuts...since Candy took yours when she left.
Desiree was pleased when her brother laughed out loud and pulled her into a bear hug. He was still smiling when he asked her if she was ready to go. Desiree ran upstairs, grabbed her wallet and keys and headed out the door. She made sure to leave her cell phone behind. Gabe hadn't called, and she didn't care if he did.
Cheers erupted when Scott and Desiree entered Murphy's. Desiree watched as her brother was swept up in the crowd and surrounded by friends clapping him on the back and wishing him a happy birthday. Desiree faded into the pack and said her own hellos to friends that were still waiting to say hi to her brother.
Desiree's eyes swept the bar looking for signs of Gabe. Her heart sank a little when she couldn't find him, then she chided herself for getting that excited. Desiree gravitated toward the bar and ordered a beer. She stood with her back against the bar as she watched her brother bask in the center of attention.
Most of the people in there, she knew, and the ones she didn't, she guessed where from Scott's job. Murphy's had been a local hangout for college kids, and when the college kids grew up, it was a bar for the locals. Most of the patrons that came to Murphy's were between the ages of 22 and 35, and that suited Desiree just fine. If she didn't know someone personally, she knew of them. If she didn't know of them, she knew someone who did. That was one of the joys of living in a small town. Desiree continued to watch as her brother received gifts and more handshakes. She looked on as a tall leggy woman walked up to her brother and gave him a peck on the cheek. Scott caught Desiree's eye and she gave him a thumbs up. Scott smiled and motioned her closer. Scott picked two shots up off the table and handed one to his sister. She beamed at him as all his friends toasted to her brother and downed the shot. The warm liquid lit a fire in Desiree's belly and she knew it was going to be a good night. She lifted her beer and took a healthy swig. She looked around, found some people she knew and went to chat.
Desiree had been in the bar for about an hour when she finally settled at the bar. She sat with her elbows resting on the sticky surface of the bar as she sipped on her beer. She twisted the bottle in her fingers enjoying the coolness her fingers were absorbing. Staring at the condensation sliding down the bottle, she began to think about Gabriel. She wasn't sure why, his face just popped into her head.
She pictured his face in her mind, and she almost began to ache with need. She wanted to see him, she wanted to talk to him, but he never came through for her. Wasn't that the story of her life? She was getting angry with herself all over again for trusting him with her feelings when a very deep, very masculine voice pulled her from her thoughts.
"What are you thankin about sweet thang?" clearly, this guy was not from around here.
"Why men think its okay to call a woman he doesn't know 'sweet thang'," she said imitating his accent.
The man chuckled.
"I didn't mean to intrude, but baby, you're too fine to frettin over a man."
Desiree's head snapped up. It was just a lucky guess right? "Who said I was thinking about a man?"
"Only thang I ever seen that could make a woman scowl like that, baby," he called her baby like he'd been doing it for years.
"I'm not your baby," Desiree said coldly. She had enough problems with the men in her life; she didn't need to add another. Her face tightened when he smiled at her. It was a smile like he knew what her game was, and he was better at it.
"C'mon now, don't be like that."
"Can't help it."
The stranger smiled again. It was a scary smile -- like he could talk a woman into doing things she swore she'd never do. His eyes were piercing and Desiree felt like she was under the scrutiny of a microscope, and he noticed it was making her squirm in her seat.
"Makin you nervous?"
"Not at all," she said raising her chin a notch.
"Wanna make me tha happiest man in here and dance with me baby?"
"There you go with that baby bullshit again. I don't dance."
"Don't worry, I'll teach ya."
"I didn't say I didn't know how, I just said I didn't dance."
Desiree watched as the stranger's smile reached his eyes. He had this disarming and confident air about him. She took a cautious glance down at his left hand. No ring. That's always a plus, she thought. She drank in his dark hair and light eyes, a combination she usually found irresistible. His hair was cut close to his scalp, and she longed to run her fingers along the scratchy surface of his head.
Desiree finished off her beer and signaled to the bar tender to bring another. She turned her back on the bar and scanned the crowd for her brother. She finally spotted him in a corner booth huddled up with the leggy woman. Maybe he wouldn't need that blowup doll after all, she thought with a smile.
"Thankin bout me, sweet thang?" his southern drawl was intoxicating.
This guy doesn't quit Desiree thought, but the more he talked to her, the more she wanted to hear his voice. The sound felt like dark red satin drawing across her bare skin under the cover of darkness. It had the same effect too. She was starting to get goose bumps. She needed to get away from him -- now.
Desiree pushed herself away from the bar and stood on slightly wobbly legs. "What's your name beautiful?" he said as he snaked as strong arm around her waist. Desiree would have been upset with the intrusion of her personal space if the alcohol hadn't clouded her judgment. By no means was Desiree drunk, and she wasn't a lightweight, the alcohol just helped her loosen up. So what if she talked to a stranger for a little while? Hell, would the world end?
Standing this close to him, Desiree could see that the stranger looked older -- much older than her 20. He had a look in his eye like he knew what he wanted and exactly how to get it. Her stomach fluttered appreciating that she was on the receiving end of this attention. It felt good to be desired.
For a fleeting moment, she thought of Gabe again and got angry. Was she that unappealing to Gabriel? Suddenly she didn't care if this guy was a stranger, she just wanted him to make her feel something other than the pain in her stomach she got when she thought about Gabe. This stranger looked like he could distract a woman from anything.
Desiree shook her head at the man. "You tell me yours, and I'll tell you mine."
"My name is Christian," he said leading her to the dance floor.
"Well then lets dance Christian."
The music reverberated off the four walls of the small bar and pounded its way through Desiree's flesh allowing her to move and sway with the beats. She was surprised how comfortable Christian was with dancing. He moved right along with her like they'd been partners for years. When the music finally slowed Desiree was pulled to her dancing stranger with steely arms.
"You never told me your name sugar," he breathed into her ear so he could be heard over the music.
"Desiree," she said into his neck as he pulled her closer.
"Hmm, baby I like that."
Desiree could feel his heart thumping trough his chest, and as they moved together as one, she could feel the corded muscles threading his strong back as he swayed and stepped with her. It seemed it was all too soon when the song ended and the loudness returned to the bar. She pulled herself away asking if he wanted another drink from the bar.
He told her no, and that he would be waiting at a table in the corner for her. Desiree smiled politely and walked off. She scanned the bar once again for her brother, and noted that he was still huddled up in the booth with the leggy woman. She was happy for him. He hadn't been out much since the breakup, and she was glad he still had his moves.
Desiree ordered another beer from the bartender, and couldn't help but think that she was having a good time. She was absent-mindedly shaking her head to the music when she could feel someone watching her. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she turned and came face to face with Gabriel.
Gabriel had watched her grinding on the dance floor with that excuse for a man. Gabriel had been sizing him up for the last few minutes and he decided that if push came to shove, he could take the guy. The man looked lean and strong, but Gabe was full of brute force, not to mention he was fueled by jealousy.
This was the last thing Gabriel had expected to see when he walked into Murphy's with Hunnie. Tonight was supposed to be the night he was going to explain everything to Desiree. Tonight was supposed to be the night everything was going to be made right -- and then he saw this.
He stood at the other end of the bar watching her. He felt ridiculous. He had never been in this situation before and it was unnerving. A few weeks ago, everything was normal and now she'd turned his world upside down. Gabriel couldn't believe Desiree would let herself be so completely free and intimate with someone other than him in public. His blood was boiling and he could hear it pulsing in his ears.
The woman Gabriel brought with him tried to talk sense into him. She tried to do the right thing and pull him back, but Gabriel wasn't having any of it. He'd marched right over to Desiree and towered over her until she turned around.
Desiree stood for a moment staring into murderous dark eyes. Her heart was hammering in her chest at the sudden appearance of Gabriel. Any lesser woman would have crumbled under his disapproving gaze; luckily Desiree had just convinced herself she was over him. Not to mention the alcohol was keeping her rooted in place.
"What do you think you are doing?" Gabriel said it with such venom Desiree felt physically hurt.
"Having a good time."
"You call that a good time?" she could see the veins twitching in his neck. Desiree stood her ground and didn't respond. "Look at you," he spat, as he looked her up and down making her feel naked. Desiree resisted the urge to look down at herself and appraise her appearance. She left her house wearing her favorite pair of ripped jeans and a red wife beater. Instead she stared back into Gabriel's cold dark eyes.
"I don't have time for this, someone is waiting for me." Desiree made a move to walk past Gabriel and he slammed both hands down on the bar locking her in place. Desiree glanced around nervously and noted that people were starting to stare.
"I don't give a shit if they are staring," he said reading her mind. "You didn't care that people were staring when you were dry fucking that guy on the dance floor."
Now it was Desiree's turn to let her anger flash. "You've got some nerve you arrogant asshole." The alcohol was talking for her now. "What gives you the right criticize me, for anything? Get the fuck outta my way." Gabriel didn't move an inch.
Desiree continued to stare into his eyes, and it seemed like they were changing. The coldness was still there, but so was something else. Was it hurt? Desiree laughed in his face.
"You -- you didn't think I was gonna spend the rest of my life wondering when you were gonna call did you?" she laughed again. "I didn't even bring my phone."
She watched as Gabriel's emotions clearly etched themselves on his handsome face. She was glad she could hurt him in some way. But somehow, it didn't feel like it was enough.
"You did, didn't you?" she could almost see it in his face. "You can't keep injecting yourself into my life whenever you think it's convenient. Now move."
Gabriel stood stock still trying to control his anger. He tried to reason with himself by saying she was drunk and didn't mean it, but she was testing his patience.
"You are playing with fire Desiree," he tried to warn her.
"Barely even a flame," she said dismissing him. "Now get the fuck outta my way."
Gabriel was about to open his mouth when another interrupted them.
"Is everythang all right Desiree?" Christian said in his thick southern drawl. Somehow in this light, he'd changed. He looked bigger, tougher, stronger. Maybe he was trying to prove that Gabe didn't intimidate him, and that was no small feat. Gabriel's intense gaze could melt steel.
"Stay outta this," Gabriel said turning his attention back to Desiree. Things were not supposed to go like this tonight Gabriel thought heavily.
Desiree took a deep breath and tried to regain the filter between her brain and mouth she always looses when she drinks. She looked around Gabe's massive frame trying to spot her brother. He had his back to her now and she couldn't catch his attention. That's when Desiree spotted her -- it was the same beautiful blond Gabriel brought with him to the charity event.
Desiree's eyes snapped back to Gabriel as she pushed him hard in the chest. Catching him off guard, her took a few steps backward. "You fucker! You brought her to my bar? And you wanna criticize me? You've got some set of balls on you." Desiree was aware that more than a few people were staring now.
"Its not what you think," Gabriel felt desperate now, like he was grasping at straws. If he let her leave now, he'd never get her back.
Desiree shook her head and started to move past him. Thinking of nothing else he could do he grabbed onto her arm. "Let me go," Gabe hated the way she was looking at him.
"I thank the lady wants to be left alone, buddy," Christian said laying his own hand on Gabe's arm. Desiree's eyes grew wide as she witnessed the man's mistake.
As if acting on impulse, Gabriel turned and swung at Christian connecting with his jaw. Desiree groaned now as a crowd had formed and surrounded them. She didn't shout for them to stop, she just looked on like everyone else and watched as the two men began to tear each other to pieces.
Desiree shouldered her way out of the crowd and found her way to the front door. The atmosphere in there was stifling and she couldn't breathe. She could hear the fight being broken up mostly by friends, and knew someone was going to be pushed out the door any second.
True to form, Gabriel was shoved out the front door a couple seconds later and was held from going back in. Desiree listened as his friends congratulated him on beating the shit outta 'the other guy'. Her brother came out a few seconds later, followed by Gabriel's Blondie.
"What the fuck is goin on?" Scott shouted, looking from Desiree to Gabriel. He was met with silence. "Its my fuckin birthday guys. Damnit! Grow the fuck up, both of you," Scott yelled and marched back inside.
Desiree turned around and watched as Gabriel's Blondie walked over to check his wounds. His shirt was ripped and his face was bleeding. Desiree didn't care.
Gabriel stood slowly with a grimace on his face, and watched Desiree studying him.
Desiree was barely breathing as she watched Gabriel tell Blondie to go back inside and to go to the hotel when she was ready to leave. He told her that Scott would give her a lift if she asked.
Desiree's stomach dropped when she realized Scott knew who the blond was the entire time and hadn't told her.
She stood at the edge of the sidewalk willing herself not to cry. Too many emotions were running through her mind as she stood with her back to Gabriel listening to his labored breathing. She felt exhausted and emotionally drained. She didn't even protest when he touched her arm and guided her towards his truck.
Desiree never asked where they were going, but a few minutes into the ride, she realized they were going back to his apartment. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been there. As they rode, neither spoke, afraid they might say something they'd regret.
Desiree couldn't wrap her mind around the fact that minutes ago Gabriel had beaten the piss out of a complete stranger for talking to her. She couldn't figure out what was going on in that head of his, and hoped this trip would clear it up.
Desiree lowered her window and leaned into the rushing air wishing it could wipe everything away. She glanced up at the stars and thinking that no matter what, things would go back to normal when she returned to school.
Wordlessly, Gabriel got out of the truck and headed for his apartment. Desiree waited a few beats in the truck and watched as he left the doors open for her. With a sigh, she got out and followed him.
Desiree caught up with Gabriel in the hallway, as he was about to open the door. He unlocked the door and stepped into the darkness, the silence between them magnified by the fact that they were both blinded with night. Finally, Gabe's fingers found he light switch and flooded his apartment with light.