Sophie regretted going with Antoine the moment they set foot in Danfords where upon entering his sweet, charming demeanor switched to the menacing control freak she always seemed to forget was his real personality.
He grabbed her arm and started taking her where he wanted to go-to a remote area where she could only guess he would start his constant barrage of delusional crap—“You’re the girl for me…never letting you go…we belong together-yadi-yadi-yada”--which she didn’t want to hear at all anymore, let alone now when she just wanted to have some fun.
Damn her! How could she be so stupid, so easily fooled every time? Well, no more of that. This was the last straw…the absolute last one!
Despite her protests—drowned out by the deafening music and over-excited high school kids—Antione dragged her on through the crowd. It was only when they bumped into a huge group of her old high school friends who refused to allow him to take her away so soon that Sophie could plan her getaway.
As she warmly and gratefully greeted her long forgotten friends, Antoine stood taciturn and ornery just waiting for the moment to take her away from them and have her all to himself, but her friends—God bless them all!—had other plans too.
“Come hang with us tonight, Sophie,” said Gerri--one of her oldest friends from way back in kindergarten—who watched Antoine hovering in the background with a wary expression on her face.
“It’s been so long,” Tammy said. “Please, stay with us.”
“We’d love to brag about the night we got to party with Catalpa Valley’s very own celebrity,” Gerri added.
“Celebrity? There’s a celebrity here…now?” Sophie said, looking at them eagerly.
They all started laughing.
“What?” Sophie said.
“We’re talking about you, hot shot,” Jack said.
“We’ve seen your youtube video, girl! You’re viral around here,” Bonny said, grinning from ear to ear. “You looked and sounded awesome!”
“Your band is amazing,” Jack said. “I was real surprised you could sing that good.” He got an elbow in the gut for that one from Bonny.
“Oh, it would be great if you got up there and sang tonight,” Sue said. “We’d love to hear you perform for us.”
“Pity your bandmates aren’t with you,” Robbie said. “It’s amateur night tonight, so….”
“She’s not an amateur anymore, Robbie!” Bonny said, punching his arm. “Not when you make it on youtube!”
“Any idiot gets on youtube just by doing something stupid, but yeah, Sophie’s no amateur anymore,” Frank said quickly before he got smacked, too.
“You know what I mean. I’m sure she could still sing even if she is almost a pro,” Robbie said.
"I'd love to sing, but I'm not at all prepared and I don't have my band with me," Sophie said, suddenly longing for the chance to get back up on stage.
“I wouldn’t mind meeting your super-hot bandmates sometime,” Gerri said.
Sophie laughed. “I think I can arrange that,” she said.
“Hello!” Dave said, all annoyed. “Boyfriend right here.”
Gerri kissed his cheek. “I only want to meet them. All this is for you, Baby,” she purred, shaking her curvy butt for him.
“Well, we should get going,” Antoine said, wrapping one arm around Sophie’s shoulders and the other painfully gripping her arm he started pulling her away from her friends.
“Antoine!” she shouted, but was dragged away and swallowed up by the dancing throng.
“We’ll be here if you want to come back,” Jack said, shaking his head as he watched them disappear into the crowd. “What is she doing with that scumbag?”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Antoine?” Sophie snapped, stepping out from under his arm, trying in vain to wrench herself free of his vise-grip hold.
“We came here together, Sophie, and we’re staying that way. I haven’t seen you in weeks,” he said, anger flaring in his jet black eyes.
“For God’s sake, Antoine! You saw me nearly every minute of every day for months in Miami when we were taking all the same stupid classes and I haven’t seen any of my other friends in over a year. I’m hanging with them tonight,” she said. “It’s not up to you what I do.”
“I promised your mother I would take care of you. That means I have to stay with you the entire night and bring you back home safely and I don’t want to spend all night hearing them fawn all over you,” he said, tightening the grip on her arm to the point of pain.
“This is your idea of safely? You’re hurting me!”
“Then stop acting like a bitch,” he said, loosening his grip.
She took the opportunity to break free, sticking her boney elbow into his rock-hard stomach. It hurt her more than it did him.
“I can take care of myself,” she said.
“Surely you jest. Have you forgotten that bar in Fort Lauderdale where you were almost gang-raped?” he snapped. "You would have been if not for me."
“That was not…that’s not the point,” she said, shaking her head. “You just don’t get it. I don’t want you, Antoine, and I don’t need you.”
“Actually, you do at least when it's time to go home. Remember, you have no other way of getting home so you better cooperate,” he said.
“I’ll walk home before I let you think I’m your property. I'm not going anywhere with you until you realize you and me are never gonna happen. We’re never gonna be anything more than friends, and you know what? I can’t even call you a friend anymore. We have zero in common. Marine biology was your thing, never mine, and you’re just a big old bully trying to force me to be what you want me to be. You just don’t give a shit about anybody but what you want. If you don’t have your way, you turn into a monster. Well, you can forget that. I don’t need that crap!”
They glared at each other for a minute, then Antoine relented.
“Okay, okay, whatever you say,” he said, suddenly turning on the charm, switching tactics at the speed of light. “I don’t wanna fight, Sophie. Let’s just have a good time tonight, okay? Your mom wouldn’t want you hanging with people she doesn’t know."
"What are you talking about? My mom knows all of those guys and their entire families." "She told me to watch out for you, remember? I feel responsible for you so…”
“You act as if I need a babysitter, which I don’t! And as for my mom…Well, we’ll just have to fix that then,” she said pulling her phone out of the tiny purse strapped across your chest. “Mom won’t mind if I go home with another friend just as long as I tell her.”
Quicker than she could place the call he snatched the phone out of her hands.
“Give it back!” she shouted.
“You’re staying with me tonight. We don’t need those morons hanging with us,” he said, holding the phone out of her reach which was not easy being she was so tall.
“The hell I am!” she yelled, trying in vain to take back her phone, but he held it fast in his hand.
“I’ll give it back to you after I take you home,” he said. “We can leave now if you want. This place sucks. Hey, we still time to catch that movie.”
“Fine, keep it and I can tell my mother you stole it,” she said, swiftly turning, pushing her way through the crowd of kids going as far and as fast as she could until she reached the safe haven of her friends.
“That little bitch,” he muttered under his breath, seething with rage. “I’ve waited long enough. Way longer than I should have. Didn’t wanna do it this way. Wanted it to be different, Sophie, cuz you were special, but you leave me no other choice.” He then stuffed her phone into his pocket right next to the tiny little pills he knew would help him get his way with Sophie, once and for all…as it had done many times before with other reluctant girls.
Sophie was really liking being Catalpa Valley’s first near-celebrity. She was having the time of her life with her old pals, and she couldn’t understand why she had forgotten how much she enjoyed being with these people. As she was regaling them with tales of her gigs in Orlando and Miami and other lesser known places in the sunshine state, she all of a sudden had her eyes covered from behind and in a panic-- assuming it was Antoine back to start trouble--she elbowed him in the stomach as hard as she could, stepped hard down on his foot, then slammed him with the heel of her hand up into his jaw.
Only problem was…it wasn’t Antoine.
“Dang, Sophie,” Palmer said, nursing his pained ribs and bruised jaw as he hobbled on one foot. “When did you learn karate?”
“That’s not karate, you idiot,” Penny said. “It’s self-defense.”
“That’s not karate, you idiot,” Penny said. “It’s self-defense.”
“That was amazing!” Gerri said. “Can you teach me how to do that?”
“What? So you can use it on me? I don’t think so!” Dave said.
“Oh, my gosh, Palmer! I’m so sorry,” Sophie said. “I didn’t know it was you. I was attacked once in Miami and I just… Danny…um…he's in the band and he taught me that move, after the kidnapping attempt and…”
“Dang!” Jack said. “You were almost kidnapped?”
That started a whole new discussion after which Palmer said, “Well, all I know is next time I wanna ask you to jam with us, I’ll wear body armor.”
Sophie grimaced, still feeling badly for hurting him., but she quickly got over it. “Do you mean you have a band?” she said excitedly.
“Yeah, we’re playing in a few minutes after this group is done,” Palmer said. “I spotted you here and came over to say hello, but I didn’t think you was gonna go all Rambo on my sorry ass. Now I’m not so sure I wanna sing with you!”
“Aww, pretty please?” Sophie said, pouting a tiny bit. “I promise to keep my hands to myself.”
He laughed, and rubbed at his jaw. “Come on, I’ll introduce you to the gang, just don’t hurt them!”
“Damn that girl!” Antoine muttered, watching her on stage, hamming it up for all to see. He was getting pretty sick of this crap. Bad enough he had to deal with this sort of stuff back in Miami, but now here, at home? It was even worse! The entire town was treating her like a fricken rock star.
He had to get her out of here and soon or he’d never get any time with her. So he went to the bar and got two sodas, one for him and one for her. Discreetly he dropped the pill into her drink and went to meet her as she stepped off stage. Unfortunately for him, she was called back for an encore.
“Seriously?” he muttered clenching his teeth so hard he felt his tooth crack.
Another two songs and Sophie was finally coming off the dais grinning from ear to ear, but her smile swiftly turned to a frown upon seeing Antoine. “What do you want now?” she said, keeping her distance.
“I know how hot and thirsty you get up on stage, so I brought you this,” he said. “Just a peace offering. I’m sorry for…manhandling you. I just wanted to spend some alone time with you. Can you blame me? It’s a been a long time, you know.”
“Antoine, get it through your thick head. We are not…”
“I know, I know. Come sit with me and we’ll do this …just-friends thing if that is what you insist. Maybe one dance, though? Can you give me that? After you rest up and have a drink I mean.”
She hesitated a moment then went down the last remaining step and took the glass from his hand.
“No! Sophie, no! Don’t do this! Didn’t you just say no more second chances with this guy?” Richard shouted in her ear, but to no avail. She heard nothing.
“Thank you, Antoine,” she said swirling the ice cubes in her drink with a finger. “Let me just have a few minutes with the guys, just to thank them for letting me sing with them tonight. I’ll be right back.”
He smiled and let her pass unperturbed. Now that the ball was in his court, he could wait quite patiently.
©2014 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved