Our eyes met as soon as I entered the bar. Not even the darkness of the environment could prevent the stare down that occurred. His blue eyes clashed with mine and warning bells sounded in my mind.
I pulled at the dark denim jacket that I had thrown on over my low-cut black shirt and jeans with black flats. The perfect outfit for me for this spring evening. I tucked a piece of my blonde hair behind my ear and smiled at the bartender when I approached. I ordered a light beer and received it immediately, basking in the fact that I didn’t have to pay due to my brother having an open bar.
“There’s my favorite little sister.”
I smiled at the moniker. “I’m your only little sister,” I said as I turned around. There standing behind me was my older brother, IPA in hand, ready to be the life of the party.
“I’m glad you could make it.”
“Same, but I wouldn’t miss your promotion celebration for the world. I’m so proud of you.”
I leaned in to hug him and when I looked over his shoulder, I saw the only person who was currently on my shit list.
“Hey, man, congrats again on the promotion.”
Broderick came around Hunter’s left side while I stood on his right. It took everything in me not to roll my eyes. I waved my brother off when one of his friends called his name and all that was left were two piercing blue eyes staring back at me.
I let out a deep breath. “I don’t want to talk to you.”
“Tough shit. I want to talk to you.”
He had some damn nerve. I leaned over and whispered to him, “I’m not talking to you about anything related to my personal life because it is none of your concern. Better yet, I don’t want to talk to you at all. So leave.”
That didn’t do anything to deter him. “Hellion, if you want to experience Elevate up close and personal, all you have to do is ask. Not entertain the idea of some asshole in a cheap three-piece suit taking you there.”
My mood soured. Broderick had the audacity to say these things, but I refused to sit here and tolerate it. I took another swig of my beer before I put it back down on the bar and turned to him. “Who knew how much of an asshole you could be? Wait, don’t answer that. Have a good night.”
I hoped the bite in my tone told him that I wanted him to have anything but. I made my way through the crowd and found my brother.
“Listen, Hunt, something came up and I need to head out,” I whispered in his ear.
“Already?” The look of disappointment made me feel like shit, but I knew if I stayed, Broderick would be watching me like a hawk all night, which was disturbing, whereas my own brother wouldn’t do this. I also didn’t trust myself not to snap at him again. Hunter opened his arms and I stepped into his embrace. “Do you want me to walk you to the subway?”
I shook my head. “No. Don’t miss out on your own party because of me. I might decide to take a cab. I’ll call you later.”
I gave him one last smile before I strolled toward the door. Just before I reached it, I looked up and found Broderick staring back at me from another corner of the room. He lifted his beer in a mock salute, and I gave him my one-finger one in return. Two could play this immaturity game.
I pulled out my phone to call a car and saw that the wait time was way longer than I wanted to deal with. I adjusted my jacket over my body, applied a coat of lip gloss, and put my phone back in my purse before I wandered down the street. I had walked a couple of buildings away from the bar before I heard a low groan coming from my left. When I looked, I found a dimly lit alleyway, but I saw nothing in the darkness.
Is someone over there? Where did that noise come from?
Although fear swam through my mind, I knew I had to do something. That was when I saw someone leaning against a brick wall and it was clear that they were hurting in some way. As I started to walk into the alley, another figure appeared from the shadows and walked up to the person and the next thing I heard was a croak. The figure backed away from the person, who slowly slid down the brick wall.
Did…did I just see someone get stabbed?
A scream bubbled below the surface, and I knew if it erupted from my mouth I would draw the attention of the person still in the alleyway. Before I could emit any sound or run away, I felt a hand slip over my lips, and another around my waist as I was dragged away from the opening of the alley. That something felt warm against my lips. Since I still had the ability to fight, there was no way I was going down without one. I fought against my attacker, and I heard a grunt before someone said, “Grace, cut it out.”
“Let me go!” I screamed, but it was mostly muffled by what I now knew to be Broderick’s hand.
He continued pulling me back until he whispered in my ear, “I’m going to remove my hand, but you have to promise not to scream.”
I nodded my head quickly and he did as he said he would. As he wiped his hand, removing the remnants of my lip gloss from it, I said, “Broderick, I might be able to save his life, let me go.”
“Do you want to save your own? Be quiet and follow me.