“I’m home!” Kim called into the house, kicking her shoes off and placing her handbag on the floor.
No answer. Where was everyone?
The red digits on Kim’s answering machine blinked angrily, 2 new messages.
“Hi Smurfy… just giving you a call to see how you’re doing, but you’re not there… I’ll try your mobile…later!” It was Simon, Kim smiled and deleted the message.
“Hello, this is Constable Penright – I’m ringing to inform you that Otan Zute has been released pending a court summonings. Remember, if you have any problems, you have my details.”
“Great…” Kim muttered, deleting the message.
A quiet giggle could be heard – coming from upstairs.
Jeez Kye… we have an abused woman in the house and you’re up there with Ava? What the hell?
Annoyed, Kim stomped up the stairs, this really had to stop. Kye had to go, he was causing too many issues and even though Kim was fairly certain she could fall deeply for him, he was better off elsewhere.
“Kye!” Kim yelled as she got to the top of the stairs, she rapped her knuckles on the bedroom door.
“I’m coming in, so make sure you’re decent!” Kim opened the bedroom door, ready to give him her all, to really lay into him this time… only it wasn’t Kye… it was someone else…
“Oh my god! I’m so sorry!” Kim cringed, shutting the bedroom door.
Frowning she let herself into her room.
“Kim!” Wang appeared behind her, covering herself with a dressing gown.
“Kim, I’m really sorry…” Wang said, flustered.
“It’s fine…” Kim didn’t know where to look, what had she been doing in there? What exactly had Kim walked in on?!
“Kim…” Seb appeared in the doorway.
Seb had the grace to look embarrassed.
“You guys… are..”Kim started trying to make sense of the situation.
“We’re in love,” Seb stated, and Wang smiled over at him.
“We are, Kim…”
Kim starred from one to the other, feeling dazed and confused – was everyone in this house having sex except her?!
Seb approached Wang and pulled her close to him, kissing her tenderly. “We’ve been together for 2 years…” he said.
“Um… that’s… nice? What exactly do you want me to say?” Kim felt a little angry, Wang had been cheating on Otan, which in all honesty she supposed wasn’t that much of a surprise… but now she was doing it in her house?
“I’m sorry, Kim… we shouldn’t have done this here… I don’t know what I was thinking…” Wang said sheepishly.
“Um… it’s fine, really…” Kim said.
“We’re planning on leaving, early Saturday morning…” Seb said.
“Yes,” Wang interjected, “We’re going back to Takobe, getting away from Ann Arbor and Otan, for good…”
“That’s… that’s fantastic,” Kim said, “I’m really pleased for you both…” Kim supposed it was quite sweet – the two of them running off together… very romantic.
What must it be like to have a hero come and save you… Kim pondered, she was starting to think there was no such thing as heroes… no knights in shining armor.
“Listen, Kim, thank you so much for looking after me last night, I am extremely grateful… but I’m going to stay with Seb…”
“Wang will be safe with me, Otan has no idea who I am… he doesn’t know where I live… he’ll never find her.”
Kim nodded, “OK, I’m not thrilled at the idea of you two lovebirds in my house… so that’s fine, but please – be careful…”
Wang approached her and pulled her into a hug. “Thank you so much…”
“No problem, Antony isn’t expecting you back at work this week… so you don’t have to worry about that…”
Wang smiled at her, “And to think I was such a bitch to you…”
Kim shrugged, “Don’t worry about it…” she said.
“I’m so pleased to see you, man,” Kymani hugged his best friend closely.
“Likewise, Dude… and to what do I owe this charming invitation?”
Claude Valle jumped over the back of the sofa in his hotel room, landing with a soft thump.
Kye looked around the apartment, taking in it’s expensive décor and pristine appearance, “Oh, you know… the usual…” he said.
Claude grabbed a couple of Malteasers from their packet on the coffee table and threw them up into the air, the first one bounced off his nose and rolled onto the floor, the second he caught in his mouth and crunched it quickly.
“Still a doofus jock, I see,” Kye smirked.
“Hey!” Claude swallowed, “I’m not the one in obvious chick trouble…”
Claude launched himself at his friend, wrestling him to floor and laughing as Kye struggled to escape.
“Still a weakling nerd…” Claude laughed, releasing him.
Kye scowled, “We’ll see about that, just you wait…”
Brushing himself off, Kye sat on the sofa his oldest school friend had been sitting a few moments before and helped himself to a few chocolates.
“So, tell the wise Claude… what exactly is the problem?”
“Well,” Kye began, and he began to explain about his most recent fight with his girlfriend, Ava, and about the incident involving Wang and Kim.
“It’s just so hard, I’m sharing a house with this really gorgeous girl, and my really gorgeous girl can’t stand to be around her…”
Claude shrugged, “So go to your girlfriend’s place? It’s Ava, right?”
“Yeah…See… I worry about Kim… she’s so innocent, she’s such a good person and now I’m worried that this Otan dude’s gonna come for her…”
“Why? She’s not a kid, she’s old enough to look after herself… so she’s been upset recently, what did she do before you lived there? As for Otan or whatever his name is… he won’t come after Kim… if he’s got any brains he’ll leave…”
Kye frowned, “I guess…”
“Are you sure you’re telling me everything? Because it seems to me that you like Kim a little too much…”
“Pah, I don’t, I just care about her…”
“Whatever dude, but you have to decide which is more important, Little Miss Stroppy Pants Ava, or Little Miss Issues Kim…”
Kye glanced meaningfully at his friend, he didn’t like his tone.
“I’m sorry man,” Claude held up his hands defensively, “but Ava seems a real pain in the bee-hind. I mean, she’s a friggin’ ex model, what’s she got to be worried about? Plus she’s smart… she’s training to be a neuro-surgeon for gods sake, she needs to get over herself and stop being so self absorbed… As for Kim, she seems sweet and all, but she obviously has a lot of issues, she lost her mother and now she wants someone to come and look after her… seems like it’s a ‘you’ll do..’ sort of scenario to me…”
Kye shook his head, “I don’t think it is, she opened up to me, she told me she hasn’t told anyone the things she told me…”
Claude held Kye’s gazed for a few moments.
“What?” Kye asked finally.
“I notice you jump to Kim’s defence, but not Ava’s?”
“Indeed, you like Kim, you don’t want Ava. Problem solved.”
“I don’t think it’s as simple as that…”
“Why the hell not? You’re travelling soon anyways, so who cares? Ditch Ava and go with Kim, it’s just for a bit of fun. Even if you stay with Ava it doesn’t matter, it’s not like anything serious is going to happen with either relationship.”
Kye nodded, he supposed his friend was right, what did it matter? Ava was just some random girl he met, and Kim, well, sure she was gorgeous and a great person but nothing would ever come of a relationship with her.
“Thanks dude, I really appreciate you coming here – I needed some guy time – all these girls are giving me a headache… How long are you staying?”
“No probs dude. Thought I’d stay about a week…” Claude stood up and reached for Kye’s coat, throwing it to his friend he said – “Now how do you fancy showing me what this place has to offer? What do you say we hit the town?”
Shrugging on his coat Kye replied “Sure, sounds good to me… need to get changed first though.”
“Cool, gimme 5 and then we’ll head to yours… Kim’s… whatever…”
I need your love
I need your time
When everything’s wrong
You make it right
I feel so high
I come alive
I need to be free with you tonight
I need your love…
The sound of Ellie Goulding’s wispy, airy tones filled the dancefloor together with a pounding bass and eletric beat making Kim want to get up and dance as soon as they entered the club.
A group of girls were dancing, clearly showing off for a few men who stood watching close to the bar a few feet away.
“Oh my god, I love this song!” Crys squealed, grabbing Kim’s hands and leading her to the dance floor.
Kim closed her eyes and swayed to the beat, imagining it was just the music and herself… transporting her away from Ann Arbor and away from any problems she might be having.
“Sway your hips more!” Crys yelled, shattering Kim’s illusion, “We’re being watched!”
Kim didn’t care enough to look over her shoulder to see if Crys was telling the truth. In all honesty she didn’t want any male attention tonight, she was here for herself.
“Oh shit…” Kye said as they approached the bar, he’d recognise that ass anywhere.
“What’s up?” Claude asked, sitting at a bar stool, Kye kept his head down.
“Two pints of Fosters please,” Claude asked the bartender, handing him his money, “Which one?” Claude asked Kye.
“The one in blue…” Kye sat next to his friend, “I’d rather she didn’t see me…”
Claude stood, and picked up their pints, “Come on then, lets sit round the corner…”
They sat down on one of the club’s leather sofas, and Kye took a deep drink of his cool beer, savouring the bubbles and it’s bitterness.
“So, what are you going to do?” Claude asked, sitting back comfortably on the sofa, “It’s pretty damn obvious to me that you like this Kim lass as more than just a friend…”
Kye sighed, “I don’t know, I don’t think it’s worth the hassle…”
Claude peered around the wall which divided the pair from the dancefloor, he looked Kim up and down taking in her toned legs and curves. “Oh I think it is…” he smirked.
“Hey, dude!” Kye exclaimed, “Not cool! You’re married to my sister!”
“Relax! I’m not about to try it on with anyone else, I love my wife and I’ve never been happier, I’m just saying that that girl over there –“ he gestured to Kim, “Is damn fine, and you’d be stupid not to go there, who cares? It’s not like you’ll be here in a month…”
Kye shrugged, taking another sip of beer. “True… I just can’t hurt her when she’s already hurting…”
“You don’t have to! Just explain to her that you’re travelling but you’d like some fun in the mean time… just be honest with her…”
Kye shrugged, “I need to break up with Ava first…”
“Then do it, live for the moment, dude, Carpe Diem and all that… now get yourself over there and go talk to her.”
“I’m gonna need a few drinks first…”
Claude smiled – “They’re on me,” he said.
“Wow I’m roasting!” Kim panted, waving her hand close to her flushed cheeks, attempting to cool herself down.
“This place is banging tonight,” Crystal pulled her hair back and over her shoulders, “another drink?”
Kim nodded as Crystal walked over to the bar, she made her way to the side of the dance floor where she’d left her bag.
Digging out her phone, she checked the screen for messages hoping for something from Kye but there was nothing, just another message from Lily and a missed call.
“Here you go,” Crys passed Kim her drink, a Vodka and tonic and they stepped out onto the dance floor once more.
“OK, don’t look now,” Crys took a sip of her drink and swallowed, “but that cute guy over there has been checking you out since he got here about 15 minutes ago…”
Kim turned to look and Crys grabbed her jaw turning Kims head back to face her, “I said don’t look!”
“Ouch!” Kim squeaked, rubbing her face, “that hurt!”
“Chill out!” Crys said, “Shit he’s coming over!”
Kim turned and was met with a warm brown gaze and floppy chocolate hair, Simon.
“Oh my god!” Kim exclaimed, the alcohol in her bloodstream making her more outgoing than she really was, “Si, what are you doing here?!” she reached up and pulled him into a hug, genuinely pleased to see him.
“It’s my mate’s birthday,” Si gestured to the bar where a group of men were stood, one of them raised his glass to them and Kim smiled in return.
“More importantly, Ms Carbelle,” Simon smirked cheekily, “What are you doing out? And on a work night too?”
“Hi!” Crystal interjected, “I’m Crys!”
Simon turned to her, taken back by her sudden outburst, “I’m responsible for leading Kim astray,” she giggled flirtily.
“Oh I see,” Simon smiled.
“Wanna dance?” Crys asked, already jiggiling to the beat.
“Er… maybe in a few minutes.. I’m not much of a dancer,” Si replied.
“Suit yourself!” Crys laughed, backing away from them and bringing her arms over her head, dancing… seductively? Was she really trying it on with Si? Kim wondered.
Si turned to Kim and looked her up and down, “Wow you look great…” he said.
Kim blushed under his gaze, “Thanks,” she said.
“Um… your friend…” Si started.
“You like her?” Kim smiled, I could totally set these two up, although I’m not sure what Crys would make of The Evil Dead…
“Not exactly, she’s a little full on… but my friend does. Is she single?” Oh.
“Yep, tell him to go for it.”
“Cool, cool… so how long have you been here?”
“About an hour….”
“And you’re already drunk?”
“Not drunk!” Kim Protested, “Just a little… tipsy…”
“Tsk tsk, a drunken Smurf, ” Simon joked, “and on a school night!”
“You really do look gorgeous,” Si said, suddenly.
Kim blushed again, “You know,” she leaned into him, alcohol making her confident – sexy even.
“I was thinking you should come over to mine… and I can show you one of my favourite films…”
“Yeah? That sounds great,” Si smiled, “Sort of like, ‘I’ll show you mine and you show me yours?’” he winked.
“Oh definitely,” Kim said, mocking seriousness, “how about tomorrow? After work?”
Something in the back of her mind was screaming KYE! But Kim chose to ignore it, after all, she’d not spoken to the guy for days, he obviously didn’t like her in that way and Si? Well he was lovely, plus It didn’t have to mean anything, they could watch the movie as friends.
“It’s a date,” Si winked.
“Phew, I’m boiled!” Crys approached them as the song ended.
Si turned to her, “My friend,” he gestured to the bar, “he’d quite like to buy you a drink…”
Crys fluttered her long thick lashes, “Me? Ok, well, are you going to introduce us?”
“Sure, Smurfy, you coming?”
As the evening progressed they drank and danced, living purely in that moment and not thinking about what tomorrow may bring.
As midnight came around Kim was suddenly aware of how drunk she was, the room slowly spinning and her gait had become unsteady. Si caught her arm as she almost toppled on her heel.
“Whoa,” he chuckled, “I think someone’s had enough… let’s get you home,”
“It’s OK, I’ll get a cab…” Kim opened her bag, checking for her phone.
“Are you sure? I’ll ride with you if you want?”
“I’m fine,” Kim said, “You only live around the corner, it’s pointless you coming all the way to mine…”
“Ok, well text me when you’re home?”
Kim nodded and added, “Call me though, tomorrow?”
Kim smiled at him sheepishly and glanced over to see where Crys had got to. Spotting her kissing Si’s friend, Freddie, Kim decided to leave her to it, Crys could look after herself.
“Ok, here goes!” Kye got up from the seats, time had flown, and after more beer and a couple of vodka shots his confidence was up.
“Whoa, dude,” Claude stood with him, “Where are you going?”
“Imma tell Kim I LOVE HER!” Kye shouted, almost toppling over a glass table. Claude steaded him.
“I really, really don’t think that’s a good idea… jeez man, when did you become such a light weight? Good job you don’t have work tomorrow…”
“I’m fineee…” Kye burped… “I don’t feel so great…”
Claude laughed, “I think it’s home time.”
Nodding, Kye frowned, “Kim…?”
“You can tell her tomorrow…”
Kye nodded again, looking greener by the second.
Claude threw his arm over his friend’s shoulders, acting as his support, the pair staggered precariously towards the exit.
Kye turned to look at the dancefloor, hoping for one last peek at Kim.
It was at that moment he saw her lean in and place a short sweet kiss on the lips of another man. A tall, long hairred, good looking other man, and that was when his stomach turned. Luckily, he managed to keep his dinner, but the sight of Kimberley Carbelle kissing someone else, no matter how fleeting, felt like a knife being twisted in his stomach.
Ekin Masu’s stomach rumbled loudly.
Sighing, he checked the glove compartment of his Mercedes Benz – hoping for something to quell is uneasy guts.
Finding nothing he slammed the compartment closed and slouched back in his seat.
Damn Anne Arbor. Why he’d agreed to come to this god forsaken place he had no idea.
Actually, that wasn’t strictly true; he’d come here because his boss had needed him to, and one thing Ekin was sure of was that you didn’t say no to Otan Zute. Plus the money – it was good… but his missed Kaji… his beloved Kaji… what had he done? Feelings of guilt began to rise – he supressed them, closing his eyes… Now here I am, sitting outside some woman’s house… waiting. Pointlessly.
Sensing movement out of the corner of his eye Ekin peered into the rearview mirror.
An attactive woman dressed in blue emerged from a cab, she smiled at the driver and made her way towards the front door.
Wang was nowhere in sight… Otan wouldn’t be happy about that… Ekin would get the blame for not knowing her whereabouts.
He watched the woman enter her house and saw the hallway light flick on.
Ekin started the engine and was about to set off to speak to his boss when he paused – just for a second. This job wasn’t worth the hassle, Otan would punish him for sure, it was Ekin’s job to know Wang’s location at all times… and he didn’t which meant he would be castigated.
Ekin wanted to go home… so why didn’t he run? Ekin shook his head… Don’t be stupid, Ekin, he thought – because no one runs from Otan Zute.