Ryan P.O.V.

Soft music was playing along with the chaos of people chattering as I entered the night bar. Few people were dancing at the corner while others were drinking to oblivion. I scanned the whole place and spotted Luc leaning against the counter of the bar, sipping in his drink.

I walked towards him and greeted him. ”Hey, Luc. How are you? Its been so long. ” I said as I hugged him, patting his back.

”Seven months to be precise and what took you so long? I was waiting for like half an hour, and where is Rowan? ” He bombarded me with questions, watching me settling on my stool.

”Was stuck in work and so in traffic, and about Rowan, he will be here anytime, ” I answered as a bartender around in his early twenties came to ask for my drink. ”Tequila shots, ” I ordered and turned towards Luc.

”Well, thats new. ” He commented, eyeing the drink the bartender was putting in front of me.

”Need some distraction from work, there was a lot considering that Im shifting again after a year, ” I replied.

”Oh yeah from work. I heard that you bought 55 percent shares of — Andersons? ” His tone was suggestive.

”You heard absolutely right, ” I replied as I gulped the first glass of tequila down my throat in one gulp, scrunching my face at the bitter taste.

”But Andersons is not even that famous. It is not even related to your line of business. They are related to interior and you from stock marketing. Then why are you investing in them? ” He asked as his expressions changed to intense ones, his voice seemed stern, deep, and rough which made me confuse.

”Well, I know Andersons is mainly related to the interior but its one the top company in this line. And its not about my field of work, its about investing money in something good. Don worry, I have a good vibe about this project. ” I replied smoothly.

”Yeah, I am not worrying. I am just, you know, saying that its not your line of business so you don have to do it. ” He shrugged casually.

”Do you know them? Andersons? ” I asked raising my eyebrows at him.

”Nope. I was just curious so I asked and said. Its your choice anyway. ” He said, waving his hand dismissively and gulped his drink.

”Yeah of course. And its not like I can do something, the deal is already signed. ” I told him and he nodded.

We fell into silence but suddenly his phone started ringing and he excused himself. I watched his figure getting lost in the crowd before I turned back to sip my drink.

I had known Luc for 7 years. When I was 17 and went to get training for self-defense. When I got there, I met Luc. I really liked his fighting stunts so Rowan and I decided to get training for self-defenses and Luc was our trainer. He was just a year older than us so we became friends pretty easily.

But he was hardly ever in New York. Always he was busy in his business of selling different parts and kinds of the gun or else, he would be traveling but he stopped giving training a few years ago for some unknown reasons.

But since then, there was always something off about him. Like he was pretending to not know anything or he knows everything. Sometimes he just confused me with his words, just like now, the conversation about my business. He was never the one to interfere in my business and this sudden talk messed with me but I just shrugged it off.

Finishing tequila, I ordered a beer for myself and looked around watching the world going crazy as the song changed from soft to pop. I was enjoying my beer and so my environment when one blondie, with makeup caked on her face, wearing a very tight black dress, came to me and handed me a tissue paper which held her number with her name Sophia. I smirked and was ready to flirt with her when suddenly my eyes fell behind her, on Claire, sitting at the far corner.

She was sitting alone near the bar counter. Her hair was ruffled, indicating she had been running her hands through them, repeatedly. Suddenly an urge to go to her rushed through me so I excused myself from Sophia who was looking at me with weird expressions and went towards Claire. She was wearing a greyish-blue boat neck long-sleeved dress which ended up just below her knee, making her look beautiful as always. But you just met her one time Ryan. My self-conscious mocked at me but I ignored it.

I settled on a stool beside her, facing the dance floor while her back was towards it, and stared at her. She was grazing her middle finger along the rim of the glass, staring at her drink but she seemed to be lost somewhere else which was absolutely wrong because she spoke out;

”What do you want, Hernandez? ” She sighed rolling her eyes and gulped her drink, scrunching her face lightly, and ordered another.

”Nothing, just thought you would need a company as you were sitting alone here, ” I stated, eyeing the shots, the bartender was placing in front of her.

”I certainly don need your company, and I am sitting alone because I wanted to. ” She said pointing me with her eyebrows and chugged down the shot, scrunching her face, then slamming the glass down and staring into nothing.

I just sat there and for the first time noticed all the details about her features. Her eyes were the most beautiful color of hazel, with specks of gold, green and dark brown in the center. They were bloodshot and swollen but they seemed so empty and cold as if no desire and life left in them. Her nose was straight with slightly red at the edge. A mole was placed on her right cheek. Her lips were set in a little pout and they were the shape of the heart and as I looked at her, I realized that she was a bit tipsy. A kind of tipsy where she was well aware of her surroundings but lost somewhere else.

At that moment, she looked different and distant from this world. Her demeanor which looked so authoritative and intellectual in the meeting now seemed broken to me. She looked so vulnerable and fragile at that moment that the desire to protect her flicked over me. From whom or what, I didn know.

”You can take a picture of me if you want, Hernandez. I won mind. ” She blurted out, annoyingly.

I chuckled at her comment and ordered a drink for myself. An uncomfortable silence was held between us because I wanted to ask the reason for her shitty state. The bartender placed my drink and taking the drink in between my hands, I shifted my gaze to look around where I spotted Rowan talking with Luc near the bar. He didn notice me and I didn feel like going there because sitting here, even in uncomfortable silence, seemed more inviting to me. I turned my head towards her and decided to give my luck a try.

”Did you come here alone? ” I asked an obvious question, in an attempt to start a conversation.

”Obvious fact. ” She replied shortly.

”Why? Whats the matter? ” I asked again.

”Nothing you should be worried about, ” She replied calmly without looking at me, just continued grazing her finger along the rim of her glass.

”Then why are you drowning yourself in alcohol as if there is no tomorrow? ” I asked, keen to know the reason as I shifted my gaze from her hands to her face. She sighed loudly in frustration, drank her whole drink, and looked up at me.

”You ask way too many questions Hernandez and whether I drown myself in alcohol or not, its my concern, not yours, so if you will please excuse me, I would like to drink in peace, ” She said as she ordered another beer. I put my glass on the counter and started drumming my fingers lightly on my knee as I watched her drinking. She was not in a state to drink another glass so when the glass was near her lips, I grabbed it from her hand.

”What the hell you think you are doing, Hernandez? ” She hissed loudly over the loud music with annoyance and irritation dripping from her voice.

”You seem to have had a little too much drink. So you shouldn drink more, ” I said calmly.

”Like I didn know about that, and save your talk for someone else. ” She said sarcastically and held her hand out. I raised an eyebrow at her, confused.

”Give me my drink back and then you can get lost, ” She said irritated as she rolled her eyes and dude did I stare at her dumbfounded? …not really believing the fact that she just said get lost to me? She was really something else. I just stared at her when she sighed loudly and snatched the drink from my hand, chugging it in one gulp, and looked at me, irritated. ”What?! ”

”Drinking is not a solution, you know. It can help you forget the problem for a while but not give you a solution. So share it with someone. ” I said calmly.

”Someone? You mean, share with you? ” She asked with a pointed harsh look.

”Its okay if you don want to. I only meant that sharing with someone helps you feel easy, so share it with any friend or family… anyone you
e close to. Keeping everything just in your heart can sometimes make the condition worse, ” I said, keeping my voice as smooth and slow as can.

Hearing this, her features somehow calmed and something flickered in her eyes as slowly they started to go foggy, — maybe in some distant memory.

”Only two persons I know and they have dealt with enough problems of mine as well themselves, so don wanna add more to an already full platter. ”

”But you are — sad. ” I tried finding the right word but just couldn find any. She shrugged.

”Well, everyone is sad. You deal with problems every day yet you get more the next day as well but you keep going. You move on and hell you even learn to live with your problems but the world isn fair. — Some gets punished for simplest things, –as simple as knowing the truth, and then you have to carry the burden of owing something to them which is necessary but hard. And then the time comes when the universe stands against you cause you
e desperate and it wants to have a good laugh at you. So yes, everyone is sad because, to be honest, sometimes you just can stand the universe, Hernandez. ”

We stared at each other, I at the loss of words and she, — well, no one could be sure but anyone could detect the pain in her voice and in her words. Impeccably referring that she has experienced a lot or she has seen it from close.

It was her who looked away first, getting on to her feet, she grabbed her purse and took out some dollars, slamming them on the counter, she turned to me and smiled lightly, a lifeless smile, nothing more than lifting her mouth.

”My night has already been ruined and gone downhill, all thanks to you but you have a good night. ” and she started walking towards the exit. I just stared at her back as her figure vanished in the crowd of people.

I sat there thinking about the conversation I just had and that conversation kinda left me hanging somewhere, — somewhere between knowing everything and not knowing anything at all.

After some time I got up, shook my head, and sighed lightly, grabbing my drink I went towards Luc and Rowan to join them but even with them, I had my mind occupied with Claire, re-living that conversation in my mind, again and again, trying to at least hold the grasp of knowing part.

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