Home > Until Willow (Until Her- Him #12)

Until Willow (Until Her- Him #12)
Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds

 


Chapter 1


Willow

SITTING ACROSS FROM Alec, I tap my fingers against my martini glass as he stares at his cell phone and types frantically. Pressing my lips together as I study him, I wonder how long it would take him to realize I was gone if I just got up and left.

My guess? Twenty minutes, if not longer.

He and I have been dating for a few weeks; he’s a nice enough guy who checks all the appropriate boxes. He hasn’t stood me up, hasn’t once looked at another woman when we’ve been out, he opens car doors and as a bonus he’s good looking. The thing is he’s as boring and as obsessed with work as every other man I’ve dated. And, I mean, I get it–work is important but so is enjoying life.

And if I’m honest I’d like a man to be a little obsessed with me–I mean, not stalkerish–but I wouldn’t mind finding a guy who puts me first, who makes it clear that he can’t get enough of me–a man who gives me his undivided attention when we are in the same space, especially when we’re out on a date at a fancy restaurant and I’ve put in the effort of actually dressing up for the occasion.

With a sigh, I look across the dimly lit restaurant and spot the sign for the restroom with an arrow pointing down the stairs. Maybe a couple of minutes away from the table will give him time to finish with what he’s doing and give me time to get out of my head.

“Hey.” I reach across the space between us and touch his hand and his head flies up. “I’m going to use the restroom before our food comes. I’ll be back.”

“Sure.” He gives me an apologetic smile. “And I’m sorry. There’s just a lot going on at work.”

“No worries.” I muster up a smile and scoot out of the booth. “I’ll be right back.”

“Sure.” He checks me out as I stand and his eyes darken, letting me know he is not completely oblivious to me.

I walk across the restaurant then navigate down the stairs in my heels. When I reach the bathroom, I go inside, and since one of the stalls is already occupied I use the other. It takes a second to get the heavy wooden door to close but once I get it locked I take care of business, then try to open the door. It doesn’t budge, so I push it harder, and it still doesn’t move.

“No way.” I shove my arm into it like I’m a linebacker causing pain to race across my shoulder to the back of my neck, then kick the door as hard as I can. Nothing. “Oh my god.” I bang the door and yell for help getting no response, then look around the entire frame of the stall finding that there is only about a ten-inch gap at the top and nothing at the bottom. Taking a breath, I try to calm down and think, I don’t have my phone so I can’t call anyone, but someone will have to come in here eventually. Right? Right. Crossing my arms over my chest I wait, then wait some more. Without a watch or clock, I don’t know how much time has gone by, but it had to have been at least fifteen minutes, if not longer.

Starting to get anxious I look at the top of the stall then at the toilet. Maybe, just maybe, if I stand on the seat I can reach the top. Carefully, in my heels that are slick on the bottom, I place one foot on the edge of the toilet, then jump up as high as I can, barely catching the frame with the tips of my fingers. Using all my strength I pull myself up then swing my leg catching the toe of my black platform sandal on the frame. Without a doubt, I look like an idiot, but when I get my leg over, I use that to pull me up, only to find myself squished between the roof and frame of the stall. Wiggling, I squeeze through the tight space, then drop my legs and then look down as I hang there.

It’s not far, but I’m still about a half a foot off the ground. I let myself fall and thankfully I land on my feet, though my right ankle wobbles causing enough pain to make me gasp. I limp over to the sink then blink at my reflection in the mirror. My hair and my black body-hugging wrap-around top is covered in dust. I glance down, finding my black jeans are just as dirty as the rest of me.

Great!

I wash my hands then attempt to dust myself off, getting the worst of it before washing my hands again and leaving the bathroom. When I get back to the booth Alec looks up at me from his plate that is already half eaten. I slide into my seat.

“I got locked in the bathroom.”

“I was wondering where you were. I was about to send a search party.” He laughs.

My throat prickles with annoyance because he obviously didn’t care enough about me being gone to send someone to make sure I was okay, or even come looking for me himself.

“This isn’t going to work.” I mutter to my self and turn to grab my cell phone along with my bag then jerk my head around when his hand grabs my upper arm.

“I didn’t mean anything by that. I was just joking.”

“I know.” I pull my arm back then dig into my bag for some cash, finding two twenty-dollar bills. I place them on the table with him watching, then start to scoot out of the booth.

“You’re leaving?”

“Does it even matter if I’m here?”

“Of course it does.”

“Alec, we hardly see each other, and when we do, you’re normally distracted by work or talking about it.”

“My job...”

“Is important–believe me, I know.” I tell him gently because I don’t want to end things on a bad note. I mean he is a nice guy, he’s just not the guy for me. “I’m sure I’ll see you around.” I get up and then, without sparing him another glance, I walk through the restaurant to the front door and out.

Thankfully I drove myself, since he was coming to dinner straight from work, so I head for my car that I parked in the lot just down the street. When I get behind the wheel, I ignore the excessive pings from texts Alec is sending, turn on my engine, then back out of my parking spot. After I turn out of the lot, I hear the rumble of a motorcycle engine and on instinct I check my mirrors. With my heart in my throat, I watch as a black Harley, with it’s driver matching the bike in a black jacket and helmet, cut off the SUV that was behind me. With their shield down I can’t see their face, but I can tell the man driving is not a small guy. Still, no matter how big he is, riding a bike can be dangerous, and I’m half-tempted to yell out my window that he should be more careful.

I keep an eye on him in my rearview as I drive toward my condo, but when I’m halfway there, I spot the sign for a liquor store and decide at the last minute to stop and get a bottle of wine, so I’ll have it for the bath I plan on taking as soon as I get home. I turn into the lot, noticing the motorcycle pass, then search for a place to park.

I wander the isles in the store, trying to figure out what I’m in the mood for. Merlot is normally my go to but there is something about a hot bath and Rosé that goes together perfectly. After a good ten minutes of debating, I end up getting both, then check out and leave the store with my bag in hand. As soon as I step outside, I notice two guys dressed similarly in jeans and hoodies with baseball caps; they’re standing near the rear of my car next to a large black SUV with tinted windows. A prickle slides down my spine as they turn to look at me, and I’m half tempted to spin around and go right back into the store.

“Hey baby.” A deep voice calls out and I look to my side finding a man approaching me, a man that is dressed exactly like the guy on the Harley minus the helmet. He’s big, probably over six feet with broad shoulders, dark hair that’s cut low on the sides, longer on top, with a thick well trimmed beard covering the lower half of his face and tattoos that I can see peeking over the collar of his shirt. “You didn’t tell me you were stopping here.”

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