I walked out of Zane’s apartment almost in tears. I was going to collapse. I barely made it to the elevator. I just made it out of his apartment building. I managed to walk to the nearest train station and got on the first train. I didn’t care where it went. I didn’t care about anything at that moment. I felt broken. Like everything in my life at that moment had lead me to this to feeling like I was nothing.
And when that mood came I had to kill it quickly. I rode the train for three stops before I managed to make my legs work and get out of the car to head back up to the street to get my bearings. Twenty minutes later I was walking into my favorite tattoo parlour and Henry looked up. He smiled at me, “Hey Angel.”
“Ant’s not around is he?”
Henry shook his head. “Nah, he doesn’t come around here much anymore. Says the tattoo’d girls just aren’t worth it anymore.”
I grinned. “Can I look through your stash?”
He smiled. “What’s wrong?”
I shook my head. “Boy trouble.”
Henry laugh. “What did my big brother do?”
“Nothing he hasn’t done a million times over. He’s part of the problem, but not the problem. I’m the problem.”
Henry didn’t look like Ant, he looked like his mother, who wasn’t Ant’s mother. But they grew up together. “I’m sure Ant is the problem. He will never admit to liking you more than he should, but he does.”
“I know how Ant feels. At least how he feels when he feels like shit. Cora dumped him.”
“I know.” Henry said as he placed the big binder of examples in front of me. I started flipping pages while Henry sat on the other side watching me.
“What’s got you seeking another tattoo?”
“I told you a boy.”
Henry laughed. “I got that. Tell me.”
I shook my head. “My dad doesn’t like him because he could hurt his business. He doesn’t like Ant. Ant tried to press too hard and when I told him about it, he focuses on the dom/sub relationship. We just got in a fight and I walked out.”
I saw the tattoo I wanted. I pointed at it and said, “I want this.” And then pointed at my left wrist. “Here.”
“Alright.” Henry sat me down and I pulled my earbuds around me and pulled up a calming track that could drown out the buzz of the needle. I closed my eyes and I felt Henry’s gloved fingers against my skin. And then I focused on my breathing, not the biting fear of the needle that was about to ink my skin.
An hour later I was walking out of Ant’s family shop. Across the street I saw a vacancy sign and decided what the hell. It wasn’t close to anything I knew but it was close enough and far enough from Zane to at least check out.
I found an apartment I couldn’t aford. It was a studio apartment in Hell’s Kitchen that I’d have to hit my trust to afford. But for now that would work. I’d find something more suitable later, the landlord would let me rent month to month. As long as I paid. I paid for three months up front in cash after a trip to the bank. It wasn’t furnished but I could sleep on the floor until I could get something to sleep on. But the most important thing was groceries which I had before night fell.
I realized I hadn’t slept at all and when I finally settled in on the hard wood floors I crashed hard.
For the next week I avoided the gym, I called in sick for every class I had. I stayed in the back at Fiore much to my dad’s dismay. I ran around Hell’s Kitchen learning the local joints as much as avoiding old haunts. But no matter what I did I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something. I knew exactly what I was missing – Zane. But I refused to beleive it. I hadn’t fallen in love with him. It was just lust and desire.
But I found myself listening to songs on the radio trying to figure out what song he’d written. I doubted it even played on the stations I was listening too. But it didn’t stop me from trying.
That first week in Hell’s Kitchen was rough, I hadn’t even seen Ant and his brother worked across the street. I was avoiding life. But classes started and I was too busy with my new classes to really care about anything else.
Eventually I started my new schedule at the gym. And I’d fallen back into teaching my yoga class and hitting the mma ring every other night to calm from a long day at school. I worked when I could at Fiore, doing whatever my dad decided I needed to do.
With my own place I started working on my own recipes. I didn’t have my dad’s help, and he wasn’t a yell away to come help or to steal my ideas. I wanted to open my own restaurant one day. Wanted my own recipes, this was my first shot at doing that alone. But I didn’t have anyone to feed them to so after I made them, a good share I dumped in the trash. It was then that I missed Zane. Alone in my apartment. It’d been a good month and a half since I’d seen him. I hadn’t even run into him accidentally when my schedule returned to normal. School was such a good thing for my mental health. But it didn’t help Valentine’s Day was around the corner.
Cal, who was in like all of my classes again this semester, wasn’t a great friend. But we’d been hanging out. As we walked from class to the train station he asked, “What you doing Friday night?”
“Probably working, same thing I do every night.”
“Awe. Me and a couple guys are going trolling for girls. You aught to come with.”
“Alright. I guess I can go. I’m sure my dad will let me take some time off.”
“He should you work yourself to death between classes and work. Do you ever have a minute to breathe?” Cal teased.
I smiled. “I like staying busy. Keeps my mind busy.”
Cal just nodded like he understood. I doubt he did. He said. “I’ll text you with details Friday.”
We parted ways and I went home. I missed my parents. I saw Babbo everyday but I hadn’t been home to see Dad. Babbo said he asked about me often. But I couldn’t go home to see him, and Dad was too busy to come to the restauarnt to see me. Neither of my father’s had stopped by yet. I knew Dad knew where I was, he made sure my lease agreement was truly month by month and not a scam. It was good having a lawyer in the family.
By the time Friday night rolled around I had dressed and redyed my hair a stunning blue that reminded me of Zane. I hadn’t realized it the time when I bought it. But there it was. I was thinking about him even when I wasn’t. I glanced at the full rest on my left wrist that said Breathe underneath and sighed. I still missed him, but I didn’t have time to see him, much less thing long about him.
I got a text from Cal and sighed when I read it.
Cal: We are going to Zion. Meet us at 6 when the doors open. Saint Valentines Day special: Free shots for the first seven hundred patrons who come dressed appropriately.
Attached to the text was a flyer and I laughed – classic!
What are you wearing?
I laughed at the way that sounded, but I wanted to see if Cal got it.
He sent me a selfie of him in regular club going gear. Then a comment.
Cal: I hope this doesn’t mean what I think it does.
No. Good luck getting your free shot.
I went home and dressed accordingly. I had to raid my dad’s closet. He was about the right size. Dad was home. “Angel? What are you doing?”
“I’m borrowing Babbo’s double breasted gray pin strip and that 20’s hat he likes to wear but you won’t let him.”
He looked at me and frowned, “Why?”
I opened the flyer and he chuckled. “Your friends don’t know do they?”
I shook my head. “I don’t think they got it.”
Dad walked over and hugged me. “I’m sorry Angel. I don’t agree with your decision, but I do still love you.”
“I know Dad. I’m sorry too.” I didn’t tell him it was over. Last time I did, I spent the night with Zane. And I was going to Zion again. So I wasn’t going to lie to him.
It wasn’t the best make up but we were talking again. He had helped me get ready for the club. It was Zion but I was going to have a good time.
Dad said farewell, “Don’t forget to do your best Humphrey Bogart impression.”
“I’ll try Dad.”
And with that I walked to Zion in the cold weather without a coat. It was almost 6 and I wasn’t even sure if Cal and them were there yet or not. I was mildly surprised to find them camping out in the front of the door. Cal whistled. “Looking sharp.”
“You didn’t catch the reference did you?” I asked.
“Saint Valentine’s Day special. Seven people, the hundred was in paranthesis meaning it wasn’t really important, and the free shots.” Cal and his friends looked at me with a blank stare, “The Saint Valentine’s Day masacre where Al Capone murdered seven rivals? There were even bullet holes in some of the letters.”
That was when the doors opened and my favorite bouncer walked out. He grinned at me as I tipped my hat. “I should have know you’d get it.” He frowned as he listened to his headset. “Zane isn’t here tonight.”
I shrugged. “Thanks for letting me know, but I came with guys from class. Not here to see him.” I said nonchalantly. Though I was disappointed and I looked up at the camera with a frown. I hadn’t meant to but fuck I had wanted to see him…