Super Dark (Super Dark Trilogy) (9 page)

BOOK: Super Dark (Super Dark Trilogy)
6.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“Don’t bet on it,” I muttered as I deftly reached out and snatched Frasier’s hat off his head.

“Hey! Give that back!” Taffin shouted.

“Sorry, but it doesn’t belong to you,” I said, hiding it behind my back and turning to make a swift exit.

As I walked away, I stuffed the hat onto my head as Taffin called after me, “Be back soon or I’ll come looking for you.”

Instead of heading back to the party, I slipped in through another door at the back of the house. I didn’t know where I was, but I was intent on getting as far away from that creep as I could.

I wandered aimlessly through a network of corridors and then up a set of stairs, until I found a room where the lights were dim and another DJ was playing slow music. There were only a few people in there, most of them lounging on big Turkish-style floor cushions. I liked the vibe immediately and decided to stay a while. Taking a champagne flute from the drinks bar, I collapsed on a big velvet cushion in the corner of the room, feeling like falling asleep and wishing I hadn’t let Frasier talk me into coming.

“Nice hat,” said a voice from above me.

I glanced up and saw Lee leaning against a wall with his baseball cap so low I couldn’t see his eyes—but I knew he was smiling. I could feel it.

“Thanks,” I mumbled, staring down at the bubbles in my glass.

“Good party?” he asked.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“What time did you get here?”

“Around nine-thirty, and you?”

“I just got here.”

For a moment neither of us spoke, but I could feel his eyes on me. I repositioned myself on the cushion, desperately fighting the urge to look at him.

“So did you come here alone?” Lee continued, his voice as sweet and lyrical as a song.

“No, Frasier’s here somewhere,” I said, my fingers playing with the stem of my glass. “Did you come with Becky?”

“No, I haven’t seen her.”

I felt a tinge of joy, but tried to remain calm. I took another gulp of champagne. As the liquid trickled down my throat, I found myself at a loss for what to say next. At that moment, I almost hated the way Lee made me feel. It was all so confusing.

Lee broke the silence. “What are you doing this Sunday?”

The question took me by surprise and for a moment I didn’t realize he was talking to me. “I’m sorry, what did you say?” I stammered.

Lee smiled and said, “There’s a photography exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery on Sunday. A group of us are going. Would you like to come?”

I pretended to deliberate for a moment. “Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Fantastic. We’re meeting outside Sloane Square station at twelve.”

“Great! I’ll be there.”

Swallowing hard, I tried to focus on a boy and girl slow dancing by the DJ stage. They looked so absorbed in each other as their bodies swayed gently like a solo heartbeat. I envied them.

“Would you like to dance?” Lee asked softly, as if reading my thoughts.

“No, thanks,” I said hastily.

The idea terrified me. I had never danced in my life and wasn’t about to make a bigger fool of myself than I already was. Discreetly, I peeked up at Lee. He was wearing a white shirt and black jeans with a silver belt chain hanging from the pocket. His magnificent lips were pulled back in a smirk. Apparently, he found my discomfort amusing.

I stood and walked over to the table to get another drink. I needed to cool down and collect myself. As I decided which glass to take, I could feel Lee watching me, drinking me in. I exhaled deeply, momentarily lost in a fantasy world. Then I knocked over several champagne flutes, soaking the front of my jumpsuit.

“Damn!” I hissed, knowing Mum was going to kill me when she found out.

In a heartbeat, Lee was standing beside me. His voice filled with concern, he handed me a napkin and said, “Are you okay? You didn’t cut yourself, did you?”

“No, I’m fine,” I replied, running my fingers through my hair and feeling like an idiot. “I guess I need to find a place to get cleaned up.”

Like Cinderella escaping the ball at midnight, I turned and raced into the corridor, and after trying a couple of doorknobs, I finally found a bathroom. When I came out, I ran squarely into Frasier as he was walking down the hall. His face was red and puffy and from the muddled look in his eyes, it was clear he was inebriated.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“I’m fine,” Frasier said, his words slurred. “I just—” He stopped midsentence, looking at my head. “Hey, my hat!”

I smiled, took off the fedora, and as I put it back on his head, I asked, “Did you find Becky?”

“No, I bumped into Hannah and she said Becky’s not coming. Apparently she came down with a migraine.”

“Oh, Frasier, I’m sorry. I know you really wanted to see her.”

Frasier shrugged his shoulders, his eyes filled with sadness. “I guess it was for the best,” he said, his lower lip quivering with emotion. “It wouldn’t have made much difference anyway. Let’s face it. What chance do I have with a girl like Becky? Just look at me. I’m ugly.”

Gently, I placed my hand on his shoulder. “You’re not ugly. Please stop saying that.”

Wiping away a tear with his sleeve, he turned toward the wall and said, “What girl would want to date me? I look like a bloody freak.”

“Stop saying that!” I said firmly. “You’ve got a lot going for you, Frasier. You’re smart and funny and loveable. It’s not
all
about looks, you know.”

“Would
you
date me?” he asked, turning to look me in the eyes.

“Of course I would, because you’re a great person—and that’s what counts.”

He gave a watery smile. “Thanks, Sam. You’re a good friend. I kind of wish I was in love with you instead of Becky.”

My eyes widened. “You’re in love with her?”

“Yes,” he said, nodding sadly.

“Oh, Frasier, I don’t know what to say. I guess you’ve shocked me.”

“Haven’t you ever been in love before?”

“No, never,” I replied, shaking my head.

“Well, don’t do it,” he said. “Love is a horrible feeling, Sam—especially if the one you love doesn’t love you back.”

I laughed nervously and lightly punched his arm. “Hey, this conversation’s getting way too serious. Let’s go downstairs and get some food. I think you need to sober up a bit.”

He nodded and shakily followed me toward the staircase. As we descended, Frasier leaned on me, and I realized that I had never fully appreciated just how heavy he was until that moment. Then disaster struck—again. Only a few steps down, Frasier lost his footing and tumbled to the bottom of the stairs. There must have been at least forty steps, and it looked as if he hit every one of them on the way down.

Immediately a crowd of people gathered around him as I rushed down the stairs. I heard someone say, “This boy’s hurt. Somebody call an ambulance.”

Panic-stricken, I pushed my way through the crowd and knelt by Frasier’s body. He looked up at me and moaned, “I think I broke my leg.”

Taffin appeared above us. “Don’
t worry, old man. We’ve got
an ambulance on the way.”

Suddenly, Lee was crouching beside me, examining the damage to Frasier’s leg, his face drawn with concern. He slid his arm under Frasier’s shoulders and carefully raised him to a sitting position. Then, in one swift, fluid movement, he lifted him to his feet.

I was astounded by Lee’s strength. Frasier was a big guy, yet Lee had just lifted him like he was picking up a feather—without a flinch.

Lee handed Frasier his glasses. One of the lenses was cracked.

“How are you feeling?” Lee asked gently.

Leaning on Lee’s shoulder, Frasier took a wobbly step, then ran his fingers gingerly over his kneecap. Finally, he looked at Lee and said, “I feel okay.”

“No broken bones?” Taffin asked, obviously relieved.

Frasier shook his head. “No, I’m fine, but I’m still a little dizzy.”

“Don’t worry, the ambulance is on its way,” Taffin said.

Frasier shook his head. “Cancel it. I’ll be fine. I just need to go home and get some rest.”

“I’ll call you a taxi,” Lee said, pulling out his cell phone.

“Okay everyone, Frasier is fine! Let’s all get back to the party!” Taffin shouted.

There were cheers of approval as the guests went back to what they had been doing before the interruption. I stood by Frasier in the hall as we waited for the taxi. His eyes were glassy and vacant from a combination of the alcohol and the fall. Lee stayed with us, but no one spoke during the ten minutes it took for the taxi to arrive.

After Frasier and I had climbed inside, Lee handed the driver some cash and said, “Take my friends wherever they want to go.”

“Please, you don’t have to do that,” I said. “I’ve got money. I—”

Lee cut me off. “Don’t worry about that now. All I want is for you guys to get home safely.”

Before I could protest, Lee was waving the driver on. As we pulled away from the house, I found it hard to think straight. The night had been so strange and filled with so many twists and turns—and there was something about Lee that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It was just a feeling, but it bothered me, though I didn’t know why.

Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted by a hard thud against my shoulder. I turned and saw that Frasier had passed out.

F
IVE

Saatchi

W
hen my alarm clock went off on Sunday morning, I didn’t want to get up. The bed felt so warm and snug that I happily could have stayed under my quilt forever. I hadn’t slept well the night before, only managing to drift off in the early hours. In fact, I’d pretty much had no sleep at all since Taffin’s party.

I’d spent all day Saturday drinking black coffee and nursing a killer hangover, to the point of doubting whether I’d be able to go on the Saatchi Gallery trip. But somehow I dragged myself out of bed and was ready by ten-fifteen. This time I was wearing my own choice of clothes: a gray hooded sweater with black leggings and my favorite red-and-white Converses.

In the kitchen, I put two slices of bread in the toaster and made a cup of tea along with scrambled eggs and bacon. When I’d finished cooking, I took my breakfast into the living room and turned on the TV to check the weather forecast. Then, as I sat on the sofa, absent-mindedly chewing my toast, my thoughts drifted back to Lee and what had happened on Friday night.

I kept replaying the events over and over, trying to decipher if there was anything I’d missed. I thought about the way Lee had looked at me, the way he’d smiled at me, how he’d asked me to dance, and the possible significance of him not bringing Becky to the party. Could it be that Frasier was right? Could someone as gorgeous as Lee really find me attractive?

It wasn’t that I had low self-esteem—far from it. I knew I was pretty and knew how to make the most of my appearance, but I wasn’t exactly supermodel material, and Lee was so perfect, I found it difficult to conceive that I’d even show up on his radar.

I closed my eyes and tried to make sense of the crazy state I was in. Why did Lee have such an effect on me? I’d always been so calm and reserved around the opposite sex, never once letting a boy get close to me—but somehow Lee was different. He got to me in a way no one else ever had.

A large part of his appeal for me was physical, which I found disturbing. When I was around him, it was as if my body took on a life of its own. I craved him in a way I couldn’t control—and it was shaking me to my core. We barely knew each other, yet I felt an undeniable connection with him. Part of me was deathly afraid of getting hurt, but another part couldn’t resist playing with fire. I was curious about all my new feelings and wanted to see where they would take me.

Around eleven, I left the apartment and took the overland train from Elmfield to Victoria, and then rode the Tube straight to Sloane Square. As I passed through the ticket barriers, I saw that I was early, so I decided to kill some time browsing the newspaper stand.

Ten minutes passed.

I started growing restless, wondering where everyone was. I pulled out my phone and thought about who to call. I didn’t have Lee’s number, so my best option would be Becky. If my call went to voicemail, I could assume she was on her way.

BOOK: Super Dark (Super Dark Trilogy)
6.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

H. A. Carter by Kimberly Fuller
The Trap (Agent Dallas 3) by Sellers, L. J.
London from My Windows by Mary Carter
BearyMerryChristmas by Tianna Xander
Feckers by John Waters