House of Syn - Chapter 5
The green-eyed DJ helped her up, but as soon as he did, a strong hand pulled her backwards. She turned around to see Matt.
"What's going on here?" he asked.
Valen was too drunk to figure out what was going on. She just stood there, hanging on Matt's shoulder for balance.
"I was just helping her up. She fucking passed out cold for a second there," Zacky said. "Maybe you should get her out of here?"
She didn't hear anything for awhile except the music and bustle of the club, but she did register that something was moving. Then she realized that what was moving was herself. She was being carried. She pried her eyes open, expecting to see Matt. Instead, she saw Brian. And he looked amazing so close up. Even if everything around him was spinning.
"Brian?" she asked.
"So much for us having drinks, huh?" he asked. "They tell me you were drunk before I even got there. Next time I'll get there early so I won't miss all the fun."
"Next time," she giggled, laying her head on his shoulder. She realized they were outside. "Where are we going?"
"I'm taking you home," he said. "Where do you live?"
"Close to your shop..."
"I figured. Can you give me your address?" he asked.
She heard Baby's voice nearby saying something, and she realized that it was too good to be true for Brian to be taking her home alone. Of course Baby was there.
"Maybe it's on her ID?" Baby asked.
That was the last thing she heard before she passed out on Brian's shoulder.
When she came to, she was in an unfamiliar bed, and she felt like her head was splitting open, or being weighted down with weights. Or both. She opened her eyes to see a fluffy white Yorkie dog laying on her chest. For a minute, she wondered if it was real or if she was seeing things. Upon noticing that she was awake, the dog stood up and started wagging its tail. It looked awfully excited.
"Oh, hello," she said, and petted its head. "Wow, you are so cute!"
Upon hearing these words of praise, the dog ran up and licked her face. She started laughing because it tickled.
'Where the hell am I?' she wondered, sitting up and holding the dog.
She looked around at her surroundings. It was a nice room, but it didn't look very personal. She thought it looked like a guest room, maybe. She tried to remember who had taken her home with them.
The only thing she remembered about the night before was green eyes. Beautiful green eyes.
She remembered talking to him; flirting with him. She remembered him leaning over her, concern written on his handsome face. Did she go home with him? Would it be bad if she did?
'No way,' she decided. 'That guy was gorgeous. Besides, I'm still in one piece and clothed. So nothing happened. He must have helped me! This must be his dog.'
The dog was nibbling madly at her clothes now. She petted it, and it looked up at her and barked, happily, wagging its tail.
"You are so cute!" she cried, again, scratching its head and ears. "I love you! Yes, I do! Yes, I do!"
"Valen? You awake?" she heard Brian's unmistakable voice call from not far away.
"Yeah," she called back, surprised. She was in Brian's house ?! That was a totally unexpected shocker!
He knocked on the door that was slightly ajar, and then came in. He leaned against the wall and gave her a smile.
"Partied kinda hard last night, huh?" he asked.
"I guess so. How'd I end up here?" she asked.
"Well, you passed out and we couldn't find your address. We couldn't find a purse on you, either. Baby was really worried about you, so we brought you back here."
"Oh great. I lost my purse," she said, disappointed. She was also disappointed that it was Baby's concern, not Brian's, that had brought her here.
"No, actually Jimmy found it. You left it at the bar, and he noticed it. So he brought it back for you. He lives here. He's my roommate."
He gestured to her purse which was sitting safely on the nightstand.
"Whew. Thank God," she sighed, still playing with the dog, subconsciously.
"So. All my friends seem to like you already," he said, looking amused. "Even my dog."
"Oh! This is your dog?" she asked. She thought of course even his dog would be wonderful. So far everything associated with him seemed to be pretty great.
"Yep," he said, sitting on the foot of the bed. "Her name's Pinkly."
He reached out for Pinkly, but she wouldn't leave Valen. Even when he called her. Valen stuck her tongue out at him.
"I don't believe this! She normally doesn't like anyone new," he said.
"Really? Well, we must just be kindred spirits," she said, cuddling Pinkly. "So, from the way it sounds I really embarrassed myself last night?"
"Nah. Everybody enjoyed meeting you. And they got to spend more time with you than I did, so I'm a little jealous."
She wasn't expecting to hear that, and it surprised her. So he'd actually wanted to spend time with her? This news made her happier than ever. It wasn't until she remembered that he had a girlfriend that she felt deflated. Even though he might actually like her a little, that like was purely platonic. And his girlfriend was sure to get in the way of it. No girl wanted their boyfriend to start spending time with some new girl.
"Where's Baby?" she asked.
"She can party all night and still go to work?"
"She's hardcore like that," he said, with pride.
"What does she do?"
"She's a stylist."
"What do you do for a living?" he asked.
"I do Quality Assurance at a company that manufactures law manuals," she said. "I work with computers. I write code. I guess you could say I'm in IT."
"Oh. That's pretty cool."
"No, it's not. Being a stylist is cool," she said, with a dejected sigh.
"Well, there are different ways to be cool," he said. "I think knowing a lot about computers is cool."
She smiled, but kept looking at Pinkly, who was sitting contentedly in her lap and looking up at her with unexplained affection.
"I think she can sense that I like her," she said, petting Pinkly's head.
"Oh man, steal all my friends, why don't you?" Brian joked. "Even Zacky called awhile ago to ask how you are."
"Zacky?" she asked, puzzled. The name was unfamiliar.
"Didn't you two meet? He's the DJ."
"Oh," she said. "Yes, we met. Sort of. Beautiful green eyes..."
"What?" she asked.
"Nothing," he said, with a shake of the head and a wrinkle of the nose. "You know what? I'm starving. Why don't we go grab something to eat?"
Really she had no appetite. What she really wanted were two aspirin and some water. But she knew she had some aspirin in her purse, and she didn't want to miss out on an opportunity to have lunch with Brian. She would just take those aspirin when they got wherever they were going.
"Sure," she said.
Since it was after noon, they went to a burger joint for lunch. It was a place that she went to all the time, since they lived in the same neighborhood. They had huge burgers and a cozy dining area that was good for hanging with friends. They got their orders and sat, chatting about random things.
They shared some basic information on each other, and Brian told her about the people she'd interacted with the night before in more detail. But Valen wasn't having as much fun as she thought she would. This was mainly because Brian kept bringing up Baby. It was like he was constantly thinking of her. She knew that she should find it cute, but it was still pretty tough to take.
'I should be happy for him,' she thought. 'I mean, I know I could never have him. I am just happy that I get to spend time with him. I never thought we could get along this well. I wonder what on Earth he sees in me? Oh well, I'm not complaining...'
"What about you?" Brian asked. "Are you seeing anyone right now?"
"Well, not really. My last boyfriend didn't really pan out," she said.
"Oh? Where'd you two meet?" he asked.
"On the internet."
"Okay. So was it awkward meeting in real life for the first time?"
"Oh no, we didn't meet in real life. We dated on the internet," she explained, continuing to eat her fries.
Brian stared at her.
"What?" she asked.
"How do you date on the internet?" he asked. "You never see the person. You never go out with them. You never touch them. You never have sex with them."
"Sure you do. Online," she said, and reached for the ketchup.
Brian just looked at her, lost, as she put ketchup on her fries.
"So before the last guy, who did you date?" he asked.
"A banker in Scotland."
"Oh, you've been to Scotland?" he asked, impressed.
"No no, this was online, too," she corrected. "Most of my friends are online, too. Except for a couple of girls I went to college with. We've been friends for years."
"Oh God," Brian said, looking truly afraid. "We have got to get you into the real world. Quickly."
"I dunno, the real world doesn't exactly like me," she admitted, then shrugged. If she wanted to be friends with Brian, really, she wasn't going to get there by lying to him.
"The real world liked you fine last night," he pointed out.
"Are you serious? I totally embarrassed myself."
"You did not. Well, you did say some pretty embarrassing things to me -"
"Like what?!" she cried, panicking.
Brian grinned, evilly.
"I'm not telling," he sang.
"Oh God, please tell me?" she begged. "What did I say? I want to know what I said!"
"Not much. Just that you wanted to sexually maul me or something," he said, and chuckled. "And you proposed marriage at one point..."
"Oh God," she groaned, grabbing her head. She was so disappointed in herself, words could not describe it. "I'm so sorry!"
"Don't be. You were drunk," he said, waving a hand like it was nothing.
"Was Baby around when I said these things?" she asked, quietly.
"No. No, she didn't hear you."
"Whew," she exhaled. "Thank God."
"Well, maybe you do have a crush on me," he suggested, leaning closer and looking amused. "You know what they say, drunken words are sober thoughts."
She went off into a giggle fit behind her hand.
"Hmm. Looks like you do," he said.
"I-I-I do not!" she cried, indignantly. She could feel her face reddening. "I have a crush on someone but it is definitely not you! It's...it's Zacky!"
That was all he said. "Oh." She couldn't figure out his reaction. Was he not happy about her liking Zacky? Was there some reason why she shouldn't like Zacky? Sure, he was pretty much out of her league, too, but he wasn't as far out of her league as Brian, and he had seemed to be interested in her the night before, right? Was he taken, too?
"Is there something wrong with Zacky?" she asked.
"No, of course not. Zacky's my friend. He's cool."
"Oh, good. Is he taken?"
"At the moment, no..."
"So, since you want me to date in the real world and all, what tips do you have for snagging a lovely male specimen like Zacky?" she questioned. She wanted to know, but she also wanted to do anything and everything she could to stop him from thinking she liked him.
"I would suggest not snagging Zacky," he said, and laughed.
"Why not? Is he not nice?"
"Well, Zacky is a nice guy, but he's a bit..."
"Yes...?" she prompted.
"Shallow. And whorish."
"So you're saying I'm not pretty enough for him, and he wouldn't be faithful to me," she summarized, feeling disappointed.
"No! No, I just mean that you're not exactly Zacky's 'type,'" he said, gingerly.
"Well, he called me gorgeous last night! I remember that much!" she cried. "Maybe he has more than one type?"
"Zacky calls every girl gorgeous," he said, as though he hated to break it to her.
"Oh," she said, and sighed.
Well, there wasn't going to be any Zacky for her, either. She felt stupid for even thinking that Zacky would ever really go for her. She should have known that it was just harmless flirtation, and that a guy like him would flirt with everyone.
'Why didn't I get that? I just don't belong in Brian's little world,' she thought. 'Why hang around these people if I'm only really going to be the outsider looking in? I am never going to be cool enough. Never.'
"What's the matter?" Brian asked.
She looked at him, and he just looked so beautiful and so adorably concerned.
'He is kind,' she realized. She could see it in his eyes. 'Baby said he was a good person. She's right.'
Somehow that knowledge just made it all even worse. It would have been so much easier to forget him and move on if he'd just been a gorgeous dick that she could write off. But she had the feeling that there was so much more to him than she knew, under the surface. She wanted to know. She wanted to know everything there was to know about Brian. Even if she could never date him. But she didn't think she would really get to do that, either. It was clear that there was a very big distinction between his world and hers.
"Nothing," she said, looking down at her hands. "I just want something I can never have."
Neither of them spoke for a moment. Valen knew she had considerably dampened the mood. She figured it would be best if she just give up on everything right now. Just go back to her internet life where no one could disappoint her.
"I should get going," she said, shouldering her handbag. "Thanks for taking care of me last night."
"No problem," he said.
"Well, see ya around," she said, and grabbed her tray, taking it with her.
Brian watched her get up and dump her tray.
She could still feel him looking at her as she headed out, and it was making her nervous. Why was he looking at her?
"Hey Valen?" he suddenly called.
She stopped, and turned around to look at him. He got up and strode over to her.
"If you really want to 'snag' Zacky, maybe I could help you," he said.
"You would do that?" she asked, looking up at him in surprise. "Why?"
"Because, you seem like a really nice and...unique...kind of girl, and I don't want to see you down. Besides, maybe it's time Zacky dated someone with some substance for a change."
"Well, if I'm really not his type, what could we do?" she asked.
"We could make you more his type," he said. "But, you'd have to be willing to work hard and do exactly as I say."
Working with Brian? Working with him meant spending more time with him...That sounded good to her.
And if she actually managed to 'snag' Zacky, then it was all the better. Maybe it would help her deal with the fact that Brian was taken and also completely unattainable. She wanted to date someone in real life. And Zacky would be one hell of a someone.
"Okay. I shall do whatever you say," she agreed.
"Good. Then we'll start tonight. Come by the shop after 1:00."
"I'll be there with bells on," she said.
"A-are you really going to wear bells?" he asked, curiously.
"Well, no, it was just an expression...Why, do you want me to? I mean, I have some -"
"No. No, I was just checking."
"Oh, okay. Then see you at one," she said, and giggled excitedly.
She left the restaurant feeling happier than she had in a long, long time.