Don't Turn Back (Coming Home Book 1) (7 page)

She returns shorty to the front carrying a tray. As she places it down on the table, I see she has brought me a Coke, a couple of Danishes and a packaged muffin. 

“You didn’t have to do all that.” I tell her, this time I am feeling genuinely appreciative.

“It’s no problem. Sorry I don’t have anything hot; we won’t have coffee or tea ‘til in the morning. We always keep plenty of these on hand, though.” She points down to the tray of food.

“No, this is plenty. Really.” I open the Coke and take a swallow.

For the next hour, we manage to make small talk while I eat the Danishes. I tell her a little more about where I’m from, how I hated school, and about a few of the jobs I’ve had since finishing school several years ago. She opens up to me as well, about herself, telling me about her parents selling their family home and moving away to travel full- time, her best friend Rebecca, the classes she is taking at college, and her desire to become a teacher. She also tells me about the apartment she has by herself and how she sometimes gets lonely living alone.

I am amazed how easily we start to feel more comfortable around each other just from this brief conversation. After the hour has passed, even though it seems much longer, we discover we both have two brothers each, and we like the some of the same music and television shows. 

She tells me about a band that comes to town about once a month and plays at
Night Moves
, the club that is next door to the hotel. She says I would really enjoy their music and if I’m around Saturday night, I should stop by to hear them. Since her best friend’s boyfriend is in the military and is away right now on duty, she and Rebecca hang out together quite often on their nights off.

“I’ll, um, definitely consider coming to hear them.” I tell her. “And I’m sure I would enjoy meeting your friend, too.” At that moment, I realize just how tired I really am when I let out a big yawn. If I’m going to get some decent rest tonight, I really need to be heading to my room. 

I stand to dump the trash from the tray. “Here let me take that from you.”  She reaches for the tray, and I pick up the still-wrapped muffin.      

“If you don’t mind, I think I will save this for in the morning.” I place it inside my bag.

“Sure. If you want me to pack you a few more things for later, I can.” I realize in this moment I could probably get her to do just about anything for me.

“I’ll be okay. I have really enjoyed tonight and I can’t thank you enough for everything. I promise you, I will make it up to you some way, somehow, Jennifer.” I’m pouring it on thick right now and I know it.

“Okay. Seriously, if you don’t have any plans, we’ll be next door tomorrow night, a little after nine if you’d like to join us.” Is she for real? Am I really hearing her? I know she is just trying to be nice, but talk about rushing into things.

“I’ll definitely consider it.” I tell her, not knowing if I actually will or not. 

“Goodnight Brian. Hope you can get a couple hours of sleep in before morning.”

I walk down the hall to my room, thinking this day turned out better than I had ever thought it would.






The end of my shift is nearing, and I can’t help myself from looking in the direction of the room I had issued to Brian just hours ago. Thoughts of him remained in my mind throughout my shift. I can’t imagine leaving everything behind and starting over someplace new, not knowing anything about it or anyone there. How do you even choose where to go? Or, how do you let things get so bad to the point you need to escape from them and start fresh?

I keep thinking I will see him leave. I go to the back and grab my things before heading to the clock to punch out. Saying my goodbyes to everyone, I’m really looking forward to being off the next two days. I wonder if Brian will come back to the hotel again looking for another room, or if he might possibly show up at the club tonight? I really don’t expect to see him since he doesn’t have any money but a girl can wonder, right? I can’t wait to call Rebecca this morning to give her all the details about last night. She’s going to flip. She barely believed my story about him from the previous night when the cops brought him in.

I suppose Brian must have walked out the side door of the hotel, because his car is gone from the parking lot. I know it was still here a few minutes ago because I kept glancing outside, hoping I would get to see him just one more time. He must have snuck out in the few minutes I had gone to the back. It makes me sad that I didn’t have the chance to tell him goodbye.

I get to the car and call Rebecca, anxious to share all the recent details with her. Her phone goes straight to voicemail, indicating it is off. She more than likely talked to Greg most of the night after getting home from work, so she’s probably sleeping in this morning. I try my best to fall asleep, but I can’t seem to get Brian off my mind. After he left to go to his room last night, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. The things he shared with me lingered in my mind. Sometimes in life, some people are just dealt a bad hand. Everyone deserves a second chance, though. I’m appalled by his ex-girlfriend’s behavior, but I keep in mind there are always two sides to every story, and I’m sure he was probably leaving out a few details to save face.

I lay down on the couch, wrapped up in my blanket, and toss and turn. I try watching television, hoping it will help me fall asleep. I must have finally drifted off, because when I wake up, it’s dark outside. I quickly check my phone and see that my best friend has sent me several text messages.

Hey girl. We still on for the night?
Jenn, you up yet?
Call me.
Sorry, I’m just now getting up. Yes, still going out tonight.
Starting to get worried about you.
I’m fine. Had hard time sleeping.
Pick you up at 8:45?
See you then.

I manage to drag myself from the couch and walk to the kitchen. As I stand in front of the refrigerator, I realize I need to buy some groceries. I really hate that I slept most of the day away, but I have the next two days off to catch up on everything around my apartment and any errands I have. I pop a frozen dinner in the microwave and head to my bedroom to look through my closet for something cute to wear tonight.

Everything I pull out doesn’t look right. I hold several outfits up to my body while glancing in the full-length mirror on the back of my closet door. Normally, I would wear something comfortable, but trendy. Now, I find myself looking for something a little more appealing, a little slinky, or even slightly sexy. If there’s even a slight chance Brian might show up tonight, I want to make sure I look good.

I have never considered myself anything more than average-- I have a decent figure, and manage to keep my weight under control with little effort, thanks to having high metabolism. My long, pale blonde hair is natural and I usually wear it pulled back in a ponytail, but tonight I think about adding a little curl to it. I finally find an outfit that catches my eye. I pull out a silver sparkling top with spaghetti straps and hold it up to me.
This will definitely do
. I decide to pair it with my favorite jeans and high-heeled boots. I glance in the mirror once more and feel confident with the outfit I’ve chosen.
, I think to myself. This might catch his attention should a certain someone happen to show up tonight. The microwave beeps and I return my thoughts back to the present.

Am I crazy to think he really might show? I probably am, considering I’m trying to select an outfit that might turn him on.

I quickly eat my microwave dinner and jump in the shower. I’m finishing up my hair and makeup, spending a few minutes longer than normal, just as my doorbell rings. I head to the front door, always happy to see Rebecca. 

“Dang, girl, look at you,” she squeals. “Since when did my girl start dressing like this? And your hair! It looks amazing.” She reaches up to touch one of my springing curls. 

I feel my cheeks turning red. “I just decided to do a little extra tonight. You never know who we might happen to see.” I’m wondering if she is reading anything more into this. 

I haven’t had the chance to share anything more about Brian with her yet. I really wanted to talk to her as soon as I left work this morning, to tell her all the details, but since I was unable to reach her, I figured I would wait until tonight to mention anything. Besides, I may be investing more into this than I should. There’s always the chance I’ll never see him again. But the butterflies I’m feeling right now indicate otherwise. 

“Sure you don’t have a hot date lined up?” She asks. “I thought I was your date for the evening.” Rebecca and I always have a rule about going out-- we arrive together, and we leave together. Simple as that. Rebecca is always fun to hang out with and we have a great time together. When we do go out, we always dance with each other, and limit ourselves to two drinks apiece. Neither of us will drink anything in the last hour before we are ready to head home. Pretty much everyone in the club knows us because we’ve lived here our entire lives and thinks nothing about seeing us dance around together having a good time. Rebecca’s boyfriend trusts her completely. We are simply two best friends looking out for each other and having a good time.

Taking a second glance at myself in the bathroom mirror, I’m satisfied with the way I look. Rebecca is waiting by the door for me. 

“I’ll drive us tonight if that’s okay with you.” Rebecca says as we walk to the parking lot, where she has parked her car next to mine.

“Fine by me.”

I flip through different radio stations trying to find a song that will get us pumped up for the band that’s going to be playing.

“What’s up with you tonight? You’ve got this glow about you.” Rebecca asks me.

“Oh, nothing. Just ready for a fun night with my girl.” Rebecca and I share a special friendship, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world.

“You sure you’re not holding out on me about something?”

“Of course not, Becca.” I look over at her and smile. I get the feeling she suspects something is going on.

We arrive at the club and see there’s already a line forming at the door. It moves rather quickly, and I find myself glancing around, looking for any sign of Brian. Looks like a good crowd has come out tonight to see the band.

“Let’s grab a table and order. I’m starving,” Rebecca says as she pulls out a chair to one of the high top tables that line the side of the club. I’m not all that hungry since I just ate before getting ready to go out, but I agree to share a little something with her. Sitting off to the side gives me a clear view of the dance floor and the bar.

I hop up to the table and glance at the menu. “I don’t know why I even bother looking at this thing. I think we’ve tried everything here.”

A waitress walks up to the table, introduces herself, and takes our drink orders.  “I think I’ll have a margarita on the rocks please.” I tell her. “Salt on the rim.” Rebecca orders the same.

I look over at her and see she is swaying in her chair to some song that’s already blasting from the speakers. I tell myself that tonight I am going to relax and have fun, whether Brian makes an appearance or not.

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