AngelWatch Ch. 06byHandsInTheDark©
Windy had interrupted my talk with Julie, but two days later I found Amy, and her story came out quickly. She'd had a boyfriend of sorts, or at least a hookup partner she was kind of into. She'd also had a bi-curious moment with a hot blonde in the same dorm. Her boyfriend got wind of it, and the next day he decided to "straighten her out". In the ensuing rape, she'd had her elbow fractured.
She didn't report the rape. The guy had told her that if she did, her bi-curious moment would get back to her parents, her friends and the internet. That was all it took to silence her.
There are times I'm a little ashamed of my gender.
The thing that shocked me was that the rape had worked. She told me she'd never do a girl again. I found that bizarre; in her circumstance, it was guys I'd have given up on. But I was learning that rape had different effects on different people. Rape was still around and going strong, I was starting to realize, because it sometimes does accomplish a guy's aims. However vile.
She told me what dorm he lived in, and what kind of girl he liked -- Asians, as it turned out, which meant meeting him was going to be pretty simple. She told me not to go near him. He'd seem really nice at first, but... he got intense fast, and he was so persuasive.
I was going to show him what persuasive meant.
He was easy enough to find. And fuck was he cute.
I actually caught myself thinking maybe it wasn't rape. Maybe she just decided- and then I cut that thought short. I'd been in Amy's mind. I knew what he was. But as a shocking reminder of how much a good masculine face can screw with a woman's thoughts, it was disturbing. It didn't help that I was in the horny part of my cycle. I'd been noticing guys all day.
He was talking and laughing with friends. Not a care in the world. It must be good to be a hot male in the western world, I decided. Hookups on demand, all the companionship you wanted and hey, if a girl has to be pushed occasionally, so what? They like that, right?
This bastard had forced a girl with a broken elbow.
He glanced my way, and did a double take. I didn't blame him. I was sporting a short, tight qipao, black leggings and a careful makeup job, after all. I smiled at him nervously and looked down at my iPhone. He knew I was watching him anyway, even with averted eyes, and he winked at me. I licked my lips. He'd be back, I knew.
He was, in three minutes. Alone.
"Well now," he said. "I thought I knew all the beautiful girls on campus. How did I miss the best of all?"
"Shit that's cheesy," I said without looking up.
"I suppose. But true. You've got something good going, girl."
I read him. He was awash in sincerity. He meant it.
"Thanks. I can tell you appreciate it by the way you're staring at my legs." I recrossed them for him. "It makes me feel all valued."
"That just proves I'm male. I'm Peter."
"And I'm trying to read here."
He sat down next to me, enough inches away that it wasn't creepy, just pushy. "Hello, TryingTo ReadHere. Please look up, beautiful. The book or whatever will still be there in an hour, but who knows if I will be?"
"I know which way I'm betting. You're the sort that moves in pretty fast -- and moves on again even faster."
"Very true," he said, softly. "But that doesn't make me a bad person."
That got me to look up. "Unholy shit," I said. "You're not even pretending to be thinking ahead. Look, I don't do hookups with total strangers. Kay? Shove off."
He smiled. Shit, he was good at that. Really good smile. Really nice lips...
"I'm going, then," he said. "But I'll be looking for you from this day on. I'll find you when you aren't distracted by a good book. I'll even learn your name. Don't dream it's going to be any other way."
He got up and moved off. Fuck, nice ass, too.
"Yo. Flirt boy. Peter."
He stopped, glanced back, already looking like there were other things on his mind. He really had a good game, I decided. "Yeah?"
"Katelyn. I don't go to this school, so don't bother hunting the register."
He cocked his head at me. "Then I need more than a first name."
"You wouldn't even have gotten that if it wasn't for the nice ass. Look, I'll be in Predicament pub at nine this evening. I might be alone. If I am, you can buy me coffee. If I'm not, stay the fuck away. Can you handle that?"
He looked at me in disbelief. "I'm going to cancel my evening plans and head to a sleazy pub on the off chance you might show up alone. Really?"
"I like the Predicament. Good pizza. Which you might get to buy me."
"No deal. I'll counteroffer though. The Burnished Brass at 10. I'll buy. You'll come alone and so will I."
The Burnished Brass wasn't a posh high end place either, but it was a step up from the Predicament. Kind of flattering.
Then he looked me over, and not subtly. When he got to my eyes, he said. "And dress up. I will."
That sent a shiver down my back. "Of all the fucking arrogance."
"I know. But it's kind of hot, dressing up for someone you don't know, meeting for the first time. Usually everyone's in jeans, you know? Let's do it differently."
"You've got pretty fair odds of getting stood up, after that request."
He paused. "Maybe. I hope not. Very much. See you at ten."
He walked off.
Arrogance and confidence aren't the same thing. Exactly. Are they? Maybe the only difference is timing. Telling me to dress up -- when I already had a nice dress on -- and decent shoes, but not my best, and --
I was seething, and it took me a couple minutes to remember that I was going to kill this guy, shortly after he bought me drinks and maybe pizza. That calmed me down.
Broken elbow. I mean, what the fuck? So one of his harem had test-driven the girl model. He couldn't handle that? He didn't strike me as insecure. Oh, hell, it didn't matter why he'd done it.
An image of red rain, falling, flashed into my head. I whirled, looking for Windy.
She wasn't here. She'd never have been able to hide if she was.
I moved off, back to my apartment. I had a date to get ready for.
I showed up fifteen minutes late, which was the least he deserved for asking me to dress up. I figured he'll bail if I was twenty minutes late, though you never quite know with guys. In fact when I came in he was putting away his phone and reaching for his coat, and it looked like it wasn't a planned performance. He wasn't a patient guy, and it wasn't flattering.
But I was in a gold sparkle bodycon cocktail dress, mid-thigh; and I'd spent an hour on my makeup. Yes, I know. I could have made him see me any way I wanted, so why bother with makeup? But in this case what I was aiming for wasn't too different than my actual features. He liked Asians. So I was mostly messing with his perception of minor details and using makeup to help the disguise along.
Besides, some days, putting on makeup just feels really, really good.
But the end result is that when I walked in, a lot of eyes turned my way, and a lot of girls got the "I'm going to have to hate you now" smile in place for me.
Peter dropped the coat when he saw me, but I pretended not to see him, and headed to the bar. Two guys closed in immediately, and I gave the nod to the pretty one. If Peter was going to tell me to dress it, he was going to watch how other men responded if I did.
He could have played that several ways. He could have left, or just smiled and waited it out, knowing we'd get together at some point. He might have texted me to point out that he was, in fact, here.
What he did instead surprised me. He walked straight in, getting between me and the guy who was asking me what I was having.
"Back off, lad, if you don't want to get hurt," said my new friend. Peter turned to him.
"You'll be the one backing off," Peter said. "It gets ugly fast if you don't. I invited her here."
"Seems to me she's looking for a change of scenery, pretty boy."
You didn't have to be a reader to feel the hostility going off the charts. It was enough to frighten me, and I was about to open my mouth and tell Peter it was ok, I just hadn't seen him, when Peter escalated.
There was a knife in his hand. I don't know how it got there.
"It's simple, leave or bleed."
"What the fuck, lad." My new friend backed up, and looked at me. "I guess you like them crazier than I am. Enjoy your evening." He moved off and went to talk to some friends. The knife vanished, in a smooth and practiced movement.
I moved off to get my coat. Never mind my evening plans; I couldn't cope with this. I mean, fuck, a knife in a pub? Game over. The police would be here soon; I couldn't be around when they got here.
"Yes, I think we need a change of venue," Peter said, appearing beside me.
"The hell? Get away from me, you fucked-up psycho!"
I hadn't meant to snap like that, but... a knife. The image of my last takedown returned to me, the knife cutting his throat, the blood pouring down like rain... I'd felt nothing at the time. But I remembered Windy's knifepoint in my arm, and knives were suddenly scary. My gut twisted; I'd been in complete control when I walked in here, and now I wasn't. I was a scared little girl and he had a knife in his pocket. Somehow that made him more powerful than I was, even though I could have reduced him to quivering fear in seconds.
A group of guys headed my way. The guy who had backed off, and his four friends.
"Step away from the girl," one said.
"Easy, lads," Peter said, but there was nothing easy about his voice. "Your boy threatened me, I sent him packing and now I'm leaving. No trouble needed."
"You're leaving without the girl."
"Better yet," said another. "The girl is leaving if she likes, but you're staying here. The police will be wanting a word on the topic of concealed blades."
The girl, in this case, liked the sound of that. I headed for the door, quickly. To my surprise, some girl and a guy I didn't know joined me on my way out, and they held the door for me.
"Thanks," I mumbled, stepping out. They followed me. Now what?
"Hold up a moment," my newest friend said, and he flipped open his cell. The girl smiled at me. "Cindy and Amos," she said. "You?"
"Um, rather not say, and I'd rather not be around when the police show."
"A little late for that," she said, pointing a thumb at Amos. "Off duty, but it doesn't have an off switch for him."
Amos glanced over from his call. "I'd like you to press charges. If you have reason not to, I'll understand, and we'll walk you to your car. But I didn't see the weapon and I'm guessing you did. And your testimony will be worth something, unlike the lads in there with your friend now."
"Look, I'm sorry, but I'm not local and I don't know your laws and I don't want trouble, I just met him this afternoon and I don't know anything."
Cindy eyed my dress, which in fairness did not scream "first date". I may have blushed.
Peter stepped out, and of course saw us. Shit. This was ruined now. I couldn't take Peter down as Katelyn now, or ever. Not with police having seen us together.
"Katelyn! Interesting start to the date, hey? I think I owe you a better pub."
"You," said Amos, in a You May As Well Come Quiet sort of voice. "You're going to be answering some questions downtown shortly, so I wouldn't be hoping for a date this evening. Not with her anyway." A badge got flashed.
Peter smiled calmly. "Officer, you've got nothing to hold me on. Some boys in there tried to horn in on my evening, and I just talked them out of a fight. End of story."
"And your knife?"
"Knife? Some drunk mentioned one but he was looking to start a fight, five on one. Who saw a knife?"
Amos turned his eyes to me. Right, to make an arrest stick he needed an accusation from a creditable witness. Peter hadn't self-incriminated and Amos needed more to go on.
"I- I didn't see a knife," I said. I couldn't get tangled with the police. I tried to pull myself together; all I had to do was get Amos and Cindy to leave, push Peter off in my own special way, and regroup.
Cindy gave me a pitying look. Amos gave me an unsympathetic one.
"Right, boy," he said to Peter. "Stay out of this place from now on. I drink here and I like my evenings quiet. You're within a whisker of reasonable grounds for search, but you walked out of the pub without a fight, which means I can get back to my evening if you keep walking."
"Thanks, officer," Peter said. "Katelyn, sorry for the fuss. Let's go."
Amos looked at me. I cursed, inwardly. If I broke off from Peter now, Amos would assume I was frightened, and maybe find grounds for pushing on Peter again, and if that knife got revealed now, I was complicit in a hidden weapons violation. Was that enough to get me in trouble? I didn't know. It wasn't worth the risk.
"Um...sure. Um, Thanks, officer. Thanks Cindy!"
Cindy's face was an open book. Just twitch an eyebrow, it said. Just a tiny nod. I'll step between you and this guy with Amos beside me. You don't have to go with him.
But I stepped next to Peter, and she pursed her lips and nodded. They moved off. I could hear the quiet conversation as they did:
"I guess it's ok. Some girls just like them like that."
"Well, you sure do..."
I took a deep breath. Peter chuckled, softly.
"That was fun, eh? I think we can do better than a pub, after that. "
"Let me just repeat fucking psycho," I hissed. "You think I'm going to go all gooey girl because you pull a knife out? What the fuck kind of girls do you date anyway? Goodnight, don't ever talk to me again."
His eyes flared. Anger.
"I've seen those boys before, in the pub here. Your evening wouldn't have been improved by their company, and that's putting it politely. The knife was for your benefit, not mine. Walk if you want, I'll understand, but the knife had nothing to do with showing off. I thought you understood that when you covered for me with the officer."
Furiously, I read him. Again, total sincerity.
"You think you've earned the right to protect me after knowing me for two minutes. Fucking hell you're arrogant!"
He pulled the knife out of his pocket, and tossed it in the gutter. I blinked. I recognized the shape from Windy's training; it was UK Military, and expensive, not some twenty dollar knife. Not something you toss aside. He smiled.
"You're insane." I stared at the knife. "All I wanted was a drink and a pizza. Maybe twenty five dollars, whatever in pounds. How many cheap dates does that knife cost?"
"Um... eight, with shipping. Look, there's some chance it will still be there at the end of the evening. If it's not, I can afford another one. I'm trying to make a point here, ok?"
"The only point you're making is that you're insanely ... fuck, pick a word: arrogant, unpredictable, risk-taking-"
"Male. Male's the simple way to say it. Look, I'm running out of grand gestures here, so-"
"Do you have any idea how fucking frightening it was in there?!"
"I didn't like it much either, but I think you might be worth it!"
"Why? You know nothing about me, except this!" I tugged at the dress. "You risked a fight and a police record over a dress."
"Look, Katelyn, I'm not out here this evening for an argument. I canceled plans with a girl I like to spend time with because, well, because in the two minutes we talked this afternoon, you caught at my attention. Maybe it's nothing. Maybe it's something. I'd like to know which, and drinks and pizza were what you'd let me have to find out. Only now it's going to be drinks and dancing, because I don't like the pub scene in these parts when I'm not carrying. But anyway... the dress is hot, and what's inside it is hot, but I already had a date with a fuckbuddy lined up, so that's not what I'm out here for, ok? Let me tell you what I want, and you can be either in or out on the deal. I want to walk down this street with you, and hang a right, and get into the Galaxy with you. I want to see you dance in those sexy five inch heels, and then get a table and talk to you. Talk not argue. Ply you with alcohol to get you talking more. At the end of the evening, if I like what I heard I want to kiss your forehead and ask for your phone number. It's not complicated. So here I go."
He turned and started walking. I wasn't done arguing, but he was walking.
I cursed and caught up. Peter was one fucking arrogant guy, and the knife thing was sickening, but his flirt game was good. Kiss on the forehead and a phone number; if he hadn't been a rapist, and not long for this world, that line would have caught my attention. I mean, how old fashioned sweet, right? Back in the states I heard a lot of "hey, babe... wanna?" as opening lines. I kid you not.
"I gotta tell you, this whole date thing is hanging by a thread. I'm not into guys calling the shots and assuming I'm up for any random decision they make. Who says I even dance?"
"I've never met a pretty girl that didn't. Maybe girls from the states are different, but this is England and we dance. And... listen, maybe you're used to guys who take one look at you and get all smitten. You're pretty gorgeous, I could see it working that way for you. But I don't smit all that easily. If you expect me to change how I roll because the 'date is hanging by a thread' -- sorry. If you don't dance, propose something else, but let's not threaten to withhold social interaction, right?"
"'Withhold social interaction.' What planet are you from?"
"The planet of Gentlemanly Englishmen. What's yours?"
And he fucking had me there. I was being a bit of a bitch, and he was pointing it out rather nicely. I tried to shift gears.
"American Abroad. Sorry, we're not known for manners, I guess."
"I was starting to think you were French. Alright, no more sniping. Do you dance, by the way?"
"Yes, but not in five inch heels on a first date. That feels a little too much like Professional Paid Titillation to me."
He looked me over again, slowly and lingeringly, as we walked. "..and if I ask you to very nicely?"
"Um... that was an amazing balance of flattering and flat out creepy. And I'm not sniping, I meant it. Look, I know what the dress appears to be saying, but the dress is to punish you for asking for more than you should. I was going to let you take a good long look at what you can't have, and call it an early night."
"Women are always scheming, always planning it out. Everything always has a hidden message, it's all signals and implications. It gets old. I put it out there, straight and clear, and that's what I'd like back."
"Well, you won't get it. Women aren't about straight and clear, or whatever you call it. We keep ourselves secret to keep ourselves safe. Some guys are bastards."
"I suppose. I was a bastard, once or twice."
I shivered slightly. "Really? Tell me about that."
"Why? Are you into bastards? Some girls are. But I try not to be one anyway."
"And what happens when you are?"
We turned a corner.
"Sweetheart... first date. I'd like to focus on all the reasons why you should date me, not the occasional ones you shouldn't. I'm no angel, but let's discuss my past failings another time."
The Galaxy was up ahead. I'd never been inside. It was probably a good place to find rapists but it was pricey and my finances didn't allow a lot of extravagance. I looked at a few girls hanging outside, and decided my outfit held up against theirs. I checked out the guys they were with, and... yeah. This was in no way a first date place.
"Peter... I can't. It has nothing to do with you. That place is just too much with a guy I just met."
"Look, I know the reputation it has," he said, stopping and looking at me. "Hookup palace and worse. So let me spell it out right now. No drinks other than soda, if that's the way you want it. No drugs, no dirty dancing, no trading you around. You and me, sober, dancing and talking. It's all I'm asking for."