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   Chapter 2 Two

Wildflower By Aubrey Wolfe Characters: 27843

Updated: 2019-10-21 22:03

"I'm so glad you suggested coming here, I really needed this!" I shout to my best friend, Summer, as she dances wildly next to me, her blonde hair a tornado of strands around her.

"Don't thank me, you can thank Parker. He's the one who texted me to come out tonight, probably because he knows he is going to need help at some point, " she yells, but continues on her dancing rampage.

I laugh at her and look towards Parker at the bar, hoping to catch his eye. My heart stops when I notice the tall, handsome stranger who literally fits the perfect description of talk, dark and handsome.

I feel my face getting hot just looking at him, watching him loom over Parker, dominating his frame by almost an entire foot. I feel Summer stop dancing beside me and follow my line of vision.

She gasps and grips my hand. "Dear, lord. Who is that sex god standing next to Parker? He didn't say anything about bringing new friends, or hot friends for that matter."

I feel a twinge of jealousy when she says that. Guys have always picked Summer over me, and though I have never hated or even despised her in any way for it, I can't help but feel jealous towards her glossy blonde hair and big green eyes, with lashes so thick and skin pore less, she never needs make-up.

I always feel plain next to her with my tasteless brown hair, a little past my shoulders with no style to it, and dull blue eyes. I have a splatter of freckles across the brides of my nose, covering most of my cheeks as well.

There is nothing special or eye-catching about my appearance, not like Summer.

She nudges me. "Go talk to him, find out if he's single for me."

I give her an incredulous look. "Why me? Why not you then if you want him?"

"Because, you're taken so you can't flirt. Be my wingman." She winks and pushes me towards the bar. I get bumped around a bit and twirl back around towards her, but she is already gone.

Are you serious?

I have no choice now but to either move to the bar, or get bounced around in the growing crowd. I choose the option that allows me to breath, and make my way up to the stranger, who has now moved away from Parker and is leaning over the bar.

I assess him while he is distracted, and realize there isn't something quite right with him. I can see his arms are shaking, looking down towards his hands gripping the counter to see his hands are also trembling. He's pale, and there's a large vein popping out in his neck.

He looks like he is on the verge of having a break down. Everything in me tells me to turn around and walk the other way, that everything I am seeing is screaming danger, but a voice in the back of my head urges me forward.

I want to help him. He obviously isn't holding up well, for whatever reason.

I want to find out.

"Are you alright?" I call out.

He looks up at me, and I'm instantly sucked into his dark eyes, drowning in their dark pools. I swear he is staring into my soul as his eyes penetrate me. I suddenly feel exposed, almost vulnerable under his gaze.

And I like it.

He just stares at me, his body still shaking. I frown, trying to figure out what is going on inside this guy's head. For someone so beautiful, his eyes carry a lot of shadows in their dark depths. That leave to wonder if he's military or something.

Without thinking, I jump across the bar and land next to him, but he jumps away as if scared of any contact. That just makes more questions swirl my head, and the warning coursing through my body to emanate more.

Something about the haunted look in his eyes, though, prompts me to reach out for his hand. I feel his fingers beneath mine and grasp them, not missing the way the shadows in his eyes instantly disappear, and the trembling in his hands stop.

That isn't from me, is it?

I'm overthinking. There is no way my simple touch could calm this stranger in the blink of an eye. His eyes are still shifting around the room, and he looks scared as all hell, while still maintaining a calm demeanor somehow.

"Want to step outside?" I find myself asking, not sure what compelled me to invite this stranger to a quieter, less crowded area.

An image of my boyfriend Everett passes through my mind, reminding me that I'm just helping that guy; nothing more.

That doesn't seem to calm the butterflies dancing around my stomach, as I pull him closer to the end of the bar. When we reach the crowd, I feel him squeeze my hand, making me hesitate and look back at him.

The haunted look is back in his eyes, so I just smile, encouraging him that whatever he is fighting, it's okay. I squeeze his hand back, and like before, the shadows disappear and he pushes forward.

We reach the front doors and I push through them, welcoming the cool breeze of Summer that is about to hit New Jersey soon, the feeling of it already in the air.

I walk us over to a less crowded corner out front the bar, hoping it will help calm him down a little. He takes out a pack of smokes and looks at me, hesitating.

"It's alright, I'm used to the smell, " I say and I nod at him. He still doesn't speak, and I realize then how much I want to hear his voice; hear if it sounds as sexy as he looks.

I wipe the urge away. I shouldn't be having these thoughts about another man, especially one I just met. I love Everett, and I have for the last 5 years we have dated. We are high school sweethearts, if we do ever get married, which I intend to do.

But looking into his deep eyes, I can't help but want to forget my life for one night, and get lost in them.

I've never experienced any sexual feelings other than mere attraction; Everett has been understanding that I want to wait until I feel I'm ready, but even with him, I have never felt the sexual urges I feel now, gazing at this handsome stranger.

"I haven't seen you around here before. Are you an old friend of Parker's?" I ask, attempting to make small talk although my chest is vibrating from my nerves.

He nods. "We went to high school together, " he mutters, his voice like honey against my ears, deep and melodic. It makes the hairs on my arms stand up and goosebumps to cover my skin.

"Did you move away afterwards?" I ask, wanting to hear his voice more. I could stand here talking to him for hours, just listening to him.

"Something like that, " he says, a dark look flittering through his eyes. I realize then, he is still clutching tightly to my hand. I feel how warm his skin is against mine, sending tingles through my fingers.

Commotion comes from behind us, and I turn to see Parker making his way through the crowd towards us. He bumps into a guy behind me, and he ends up dropping the beer bottle he is trying to hide under his jacket.

The bottle smashes on the ground next to me, and I feel a piece of glass cut into the side of my calf, hot pain shooting through my leg.

I cry out and clench my teeth, hissing through the pain. Before I know what's going on, the guy is next to me instantly, leaning me against his broad shoulder to inspect my leg.

"Oh, shit! Emily, I'm so sorry!" Parker cries, seeing the blood now running down my leg in a consistent stream.

"Where is your first aid kit?" the guys asks Parker, not looking away from the cut on my leg.

"Uh, I keep one behind the bar, Summer should be there. I'll call her and ask her to bring it–"

I'm picked up before Parker has the chance to even finish talking, the stranger lifting me into his arms and walking towards the front without waiting for Parker.

I feel his entire body tense under me the instant he steps through the front door and it slams behind us. I turn my face towards him, seeing his jaw is clenched tightly and the haunted look is back in his dark eyes.

Without thinking, I rest my head in the crook of his neck and cuddle slightly against his chest, a pang of guilt striking my heart when I think of Everett.

But all I'm thinking about right now, is how much my leg burns, and how I really do think my touch helps calm this strange man; keep whatever demons he has at bay. That makes me feel important, special in some way.

It makes me want to help him.

I feel him relax and start moving through the crowd. I can hear his heart beating erratically, making my pulse quicken knowing how I affect him.

He carries me behind the bar, where Summer comes rushing up to us.

"What happened?" she asks, and I don't miss the flirty look she throws him. I try not to smile when he doesn't glance at her, his eyes settled on me.

"Some guy accidentally dropped his beer bottle and a piece cut me, " I say. It's hard to concentrate on Summer with the heat of his gaze on me.

She rushes over with a first-aid kit and starts cleaning up the blood on my leg, but he stops her and grabs the kit.

"Do you mind?" he asks, and I see Summer swoon over his voice, much like I did, and I try to contain to slight jealousy I feel again. She nods and steps to the side, looking at me as she fans her face.

Parker reappears and starts apologizing again.

"I didn't even see the guy, and he shouldn't have had a bottle out there to begin with. I don't permit alcohol outside my club; I don't want to responsible for someone showing their junk to some old lady."

I roll my eyes. "It's alright Parker, as you can see, I'm being taken care of, " I say, thankful that we're behind the bar, where it's a little quieter covered by the counter.

He shakes his head, as if just realizing the situation. "Oh, have you guys met yet? This is–"


I look up to see those deep eyes staring intensely at me, sucking all the air out of my lungs.

"Uh, yeah, Tristan. He's a friend from high school, " Parker says. "Anyway, I have to get back behind the bar. Are you going to be alright, Emily?"

I nod, unable to look away from Tristan. The name rings in my ears, and I feel a blush creep on my cheeks as I imagine myself screaming his name.

No, stop it! What is wrong with you?

I scold myself, hoping it doesn't show on my face. Tristan continues to clean my cut, caressing my leg as if it's the most fragile thing ever. I'm still very aware of Summer hovering over us, making flirty eyes at Tristan who isn't paying her any mind still.

"So, where has Parker been hiding you all this time?" she asks, leaning closer to him. I don't miss the way his jaw clenches or feel him tense up when her shoulder brushes his. He squeezes my leg, causing me to wince from the sharp pain that shoots up it.

He notices and looks up at me, concern filling his deep brown eyes. He looks down at his hand and realizes how hard he's gripping my leg, releasing it instantly. The moment his skin leaves mine, I see the shadows invade his eyes.

To my dismay, he takes another step back and hands the first aid kit to Summer. "I'm sorry, I have to go." He turns towards the back door without another word and races through it.

Summer raises her eyebrows at me. "What was that about?"

"You scared him, that's what."

She frowns and slaps a band-aid on the cut before helping me off the floor.

"What do you mean I scared him? I barely touched him and just asked a question. What's so bad about that?" she asks, looking back towards the exit door.

There is nothing wrong with that, if Tristan were any other normal guy.

But he isn't normal, that much is obvious. Whoever he is, he is hiding a lot of secrets beneath the surface, and despite the warnings going off in my head still, something is coaxing me to find out just what he is afraid of.

I fight the urge to run after him, wanting to feel his skin against mine again, and watch the shadows disappear from his eyes, seeing their deep warmth.

I close my eyes and look away from the door, knowing with that single thought, if I do run after him, I might not ever leave. I have Everett to think of, someone who I have already decided I want to spend the rest of my life with, who has been kind and supportive for 5 years straight, despite the slight struggle of my virginity.

It may have caused issues for us when we first became serious, but we have conquered those insecurities and come out stronger for it. I'm not about to throw that away for the first damaged soul I find.

My mother has always told me I am much like her, always wanting to help those in need, and often letting our feelings get the better of us. She says it's similar to how she met my father. She has never told me the exact story, but she did describe her meeting my father as an odd occurrence.

She met a broken and damaged man, and couldn't help but feel drawn towards him, wanting to help him despite the warnings she was given. Within him, she said she found the most loving and caring man, who dedicated his life to forever loving her, and me when I eventually came along.

I don't remember much from when I was younger, but I remember my father wasn't there when I was born, and my mother confirmed that when I was older. He didn't know I existed, until I was five years old, then my mother said he did anything and everything he could to be in her life, so he could be in mine.

The rest is history, and my parents have been in love ever since. Even to this day, I have never seen so much love between two people, and they aren't afraid to show me that their love isn't perfect, that they fight and suffer like any other relationship; but it's last dedication to always love each other, that helps them prevail.

I can see that being Everett and I one day. We may not spend every day together, and sometimes I feel that's a good thing. But I know when the time comes, we will be able to conquer anything life wants to throw at us.

As I think this, I can't help but feel if I'm trying to convince myself that I truly love Everett, to overthrow the little voice in the back of my head, telling me to run after Tristan and chase his demons


"I think I'm going to head home, " I say to Summer. She looks at me and frowns, but nods and walks with me to the door. I say good-bye to Parker on the way, who gives me a look saying we are going to talk at some point.

I can only imagine about what.


I leave the club and immediately return to Parker's place, forgetting that he has the keys and I still don't technically have a place to stay.

I sit outside his front door, leaning against it and closing my eyes. I try not to think about everything tonight, about her, but it's impossible. No one has ever had that effect on me, not even as a kid.

Maybe because it's been so long since I've felt truly safe, and for once I felt like that under her touch. I felt like nothing could get to me if she is there, nothing haunted me. She was able to banish it all, with the simple feel of her soft skin.

That isn't to say she is the only one with that ability. She is the first girl I've spoken to or touched in 10 years. I'm sure that can do a lot to a person who had to go through puberty in jail. It wasn't the most pleasant experience.

It's part of the reason I'm the mess I am now. The reason why when I realized how much I was already relying on this complete stranger; I made a run for it. I don't need to involve anyone like her in my life, not until I at least get my shit together.

Besides, who is to say she won't turn away from me, or make a run for it, when she finds out the things I've done, to get where I am now. What would she think of me then, if she were to find out I'm so messed up, because I practically grew up in prison?

She won't want anything to do with me. No girl her age wants a basket case. I can't think she is much younger than myself, early twenties. Which means chances are she's already experienced most of everything; sexual and otherwise.

So, she will want the same if not close in return from the person she spends her life with, or even part of it. If there is anything, I have truly come to realize rotting away in there, it's that life really is too short. I've lost 10 years of what was supposed to be a childhood, transgressing into adulthood.

But I missed out on all of it, and instead had no choice but to transgress in a hostile and aggressive environment.

However, I can't ignore the way my mind and body reacted to her, and I'm afraid I may not get that with anyone else.

The shrill ringing of my phone cuts off my thoughts, and I see Parker calling. About time he notices I'm gone.

"Where are you?" he asks, his voice barely audible through the static noise of the music behind him.

"I couldn't handle it, I'm sorry. I'm back at your place, but I realized now I don't have a key yet."

"Check the back door, I might have left it unlocked, " he says and I make my way around the back, spotting the small wooden door frame at the far end. I twist the knob and cheer silently when it turns.

"I'm good, it's unlocked."

"Awesome, make yourself at home, I'll be back in a few hours. You can crash in my room for now if you want, I always usually take the couch as soon as I get home anyway."

We bid or farewells and I enter the house, kicking off my shoes and tearing my shirt off immediately, feeling the pressure building in my chest again as it feels like the walls are closing in on me.

I had my thoughts outside to distract me, and Emily's touch at the club to calm me. Now, I am left alone with my demons.

I walk over to the fridge and pray that Parker has something strong in there. I settle for the beer bottles I see and grab one, walking over to the couch to try and distract myself once again with mindless television.

Before I know it, I'm passing out before I'm even halfway through my beer, my mind finally giving into the exhaustion.


I wake up to Parker hitting me in the face with a dish towel.

"Dude, you've been sleeping for almost 13 hours straight. I wish I could do that, " he says when I finally manage to blink my eyes open enough to see him grinning down at me.

"What do you want?" I ask, trying to roll over on the couch.

Parker catches my shoulder and flips me back around. "I want you to get up, I have the day off and it's already 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Come on, we've got shit to do, " he says and walks back towards the kitchen.

"What do we have to do today?" I lift myself off the couch and rub my face. Parker sticks his head out from the kitchen and smirks.

"Just stuff, you'll see when we get there."

I roll my eyes but are too tired to argue. Getting out of the house might be nice, but at the same time terrifying. After last night, I knew I'm not ready to go out and mingle with society. I just want a few more days to act like a hermit, before I'm ready to face another scenario like before.

My mind drifts back to Emily, her breathtaking blue eyes appearing behind my eyelids, quickening my pulse. Parker comes back into the living room, interrupting my thoughts as he munches a bowl of cereal.

Afterwards, we both shower and quickly dress before climbing into his truck. He drives me towards town, where most of the major shopping centers are. My curiosity grows, but I remain quiet, knowing Parker isn't going to say anything no matter how much I pester.

He's stubborn like that, and has been ever since I've known him. It's nice to see not everything has changed.

Everything clicks when we pull into a home decorating store, much like a thrift store; but for furniture.

"You know I don't have money for anything right now, I haven't started working at the club yet, " I say to Parker with a frown.

He shrugs. "Who said you were paying?"

"I'm not letting you waste your money on me, I can manage on my own once I start working again. That's the only way I will accept money from you, " I say, not bothering to remove my seatbelt to show I'm not going anywhere.

Parker shakes his head. "You don't have a choice right now, I'm buying you some furniture whether you like it or not, and it doesn't require you to come with me." He climbs out of the truck and turns to grin at me. "So, do you want to come with me, or do you want to risk me decorating your new place?"

I roll my eyes but get out anyway. I really don't want to risk Parker and his poor taste in anything decorating my place. This way, I can choose the least expensive items as well.

We spend the next few hours of the evening picking out tables, couches, a bed set and a few end tables, and a dresser. Even with trying to pick the cheapest items, it still came out to a lot more than I would ever expect anyone to pay for furniture; at least all at once.

Parker didn't seem fazed by it though, like he is used to spending this amount and not shed a tear. He never used to be this way, he hated spending any large amounts of money, on stuff that mattered or was pointless.

I assume now that the money he has is what he himself has earned, so he views it a little different than before. I can't help but feel a little proud of him, and guilty at the same time; because he is spending that hard-earned money on me.

We load the furniture up into one of their rental trucks, that Parker secretly rented ahead of time, so I couldn't argue and you have to give them 24-hour's notice before arriving and using the truck. He persuaded them last night before we left for the club, to let him rent it out for later today.

Guess it is kind of a good thing I slept for 12-hours.

I climb into Parker's truck and wait while he gives the delivery guy the address and directions to the house. When he gets in next to me, he gives me a particular look.

"So, there is something we need to talk about, " he starts off.

I raise a brow at him, urging him to continue.

"About last night, I wanted to start off by apologizing, I should have known you weren't ready or even prepared to face a crowd like that. I was just excited to have you back, and wanted to jump right into the old life we had before, but too much has changed and I realize that now."

I give him a soft smile, reassuring him that I understand. I'm happy to be back in his life as well, that was part of the reason as to why I agreed to go out.

"Besides that, I also wanted to talk to you about Emily, " he says, and her blue eyes flash in my mind the instant he says her name. My pulse starts racing and I feel the warmth spread over me at the mere thought of her.

"What about her?" I ask, trying to keep my cool.

Parker frowns. "I saw the way you looked at her, Tristan, and believe me you aren't the first guy to stumble over his feet when they first see her. I just want to be the one to warn you, before you get carried away; she has a boyfriend."

Even though I had decided I wasn't going to pursue anything with her before, at least not with anyone until I get myself together, hearing that still disappoints me.

"It's fine, I don't think I'm ready for anything like that anyway. She caught me in the middle of freaking out, unfortunately, and offered to go outside. You came out, she was injured and the rest you know."

Parker nods, but doesn't seem convinced. I don't feel convinced, either. All day I have been struggling to keep her off my mind, thankful that Parker did decide to drag me out here and occupy my mind with the idea of finally getting my freedom back, and getting my life on track.

Starting with this apartment, and then a job at the club. Parker agreed to let me start tomorrow morning, giving me the slow Monday morning crowd to deal with on my first day. He also said he would ask Summer to go over for the morning, to help show me where everything is and what to do, so he can sleep for the night shift later on.

I vaguely remember the bubbly blonde that took over for Parker behind the bar last night. I also remember the way her shoulder brushed against mine, and instead of it calming me like Emily, it prickled my skin and sent my anxiety into overdrive, like every other person I happened to brush by last night.

Why is Emily the only one? That should confirm that it isn't just a coincidence or a fleeting feeling. But my mind still tries to deny any connection between us. Besides, she's already taken, which I should've guessed.

A girl with her beauty and kindness, no doubt someone would snatch the opportunity up.

If I had met her under different circumstances, I would have too.

I shake my head clear of the thoughts, deciding I wouldn't worry about Emily or her friend, until at least tomorrow. Tackle one thing at a time, and right now; it's hauling all this shit up these narrow stairs.

With much effort and help from the truck guys, we managed to move every piece of furniture into the apartment, organizing it disorderly in the living room area. Parker and I then get to work setting it all up, starting with the bed set, then coffee table. Before I know it, it's starting to look and feel more like a home.

"Now, all we need is just a few tacky posters, some lamps or something, and we're solid, " Parker says and gives the place a thumbs up.

I admire the plush black leather couches and smooth wood coffee table, running my hands over them. I peer into the bedroom, where a brand-new bed set and mattress await me tonight.

Finally, a proper bed to sleep in.

I haven't known what that feels like, since before I entered prison. My father always made me sleep on the couch, and though at the time I was small enough for it, the beds in prison weren't much bigger or comfier.

My stomach starts leaping at the thought; this is all mine. My life is coming together, slowly but surely.

I can do this.

I can overcome these demons, and return my life to normal, maybe even start pursuing some of the unknown passions I never had the chance to discover before. There has to be something I am meant to do, and it can't just be hacking into security systems for criminals.

There has to be something more.

My mind drifts back to Emily, but I will the images away.

I can't be thinking of something like a relationship right now, or even forming friendships. I have to focus on repairing myself, and easing my way back into society. No doubt half of the state of New York knows my name, which is why I was so adamant on introducing myself to Emily last night.

I was afraid Parker would reveal my full name. Tristan is a common enough, but Tristan Burke isn't. Here, that name is only common for one thing; trying to break into New York's national bank, one of the largest and wealthiest banks in the country.

I knew it was a bad idea coming back here, for that exact reason, but I knew I had nowhere else to go. If the opportunity ever came for me to move somewhere else, I'm going to take it. There's a chance they don't know about me down in Australia or maybe Ireland.

"I'll leave you too it, but I'll be back tomorrow morning to drive you to the club and let you in, Summer should be there not long after, " Parker says. I bid him farewell and continue to admire my new set-up for a few minutes, before deciding to make something to eat.

Also realizing, I have no food. I take my phone out and send a quick message to Parker to order pizza, and get a quick respond back of what I think is a thumbs up. My phone isn't upgraded enough to get emoji's, or whatever they're called.

A half hour later, my doorbell rings and I'm greeted with a delivery guy holding a pizza box. He hands it to me and says it was already paid for downstairs, then goes on his way before I have the chance to ask anything else.

I send Parker a quick thank-you message and dig into the pizza, polishing off the box. Stuffed full afterwards, I can already feel my eyes getting heavy. I saunter over to the bedroom and collapse on the super plush mattress, my eyes drifting closed instantly.

Tomorrow is another day.

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