Saturday, January 24, 2015

The One Thing by Briana Gaitan Excerpt

I lean back against a brick wall to catch my breath and regain my composure. I slide down against the brick until my I can lean my face into my knees and take a few deep breaths.
“What’s a pretty young thing like you doing wandering the streets all alone?” a voice says from beside me. Looking up, I blink against the bright sun to try and find the source. I stand up.
“Over here.”
I follow the sound of the voice and spin around to see a lanky guy, a little older than me, sitting on the stoop of an old brick auditorium. My eyes graze his shaggy, dirty blond hair that falls in his eyes and his strong, square jaw. When he smiles, there’s a cute dimple in his left cheek. His eyes are kind, clear blue engulfed with dark lashes. My eyes move downward against his lean chest and tight skinny jeans. As if on instinct, I flashed him a flirty grin. Man, this guy is beautiful…in a grungy skateboarder kinda way.
“Just taking a leisurely stroll,” I comment. I examine the cigarette in his hand and wrinkle my nose a bit. He notices my displeasure and smashes the butt under his old converse. Converse? No, no, no. I talk myself down. He takes a swig of water from a plastic bottle and sets it down on the ground. This guy isn’t cute, he’s shabby. He’s an emo. He’s—and I’m—he isn’t my style at all. Oh, gross. How could I have stooped so low as to even for the briefest moment consider him attractive? I tend to go for more classic, metro-sexual men. Armani suits, expensive cars, slicked back hair and Rolex watches. That’s what turns me on; not smokers with tattoos. Though from what I can see of his, they look quite impressive. A flash of something large on his right bicep, but I can’t make it out. Not wanting to get caught staring, I look up at the bright sky instead. The urge to walk away consumes me, but I need another moment to catch my breath and rest my aching feet. He stands up and walks closer, making my heart pound against my chest. Oh, shit. I stare straight ahead at his old gray tee shirt and black jeans that hug his body. He stops right in front of me and rests an arm on the wall behind me to support himself.
“You look really lost. Need some help?”
God, that sexy voice. Heat begins to pool between my legs. No, this isn’t a safe position. He’s a stranger! I straighten up and look into his face, that beautiful face. Focus, Ginger!
“I’m not lost. Would you kindly back off?” I snap.
Men don’t randomly offer to help women. They always have ulterior motives. They always expect something in return. He backs up with his hands out in front of him in surrender. His face is sincere, honest. Like I even know what that looks like.
“Hey, I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m only trying to offer you some local hospitality.”
I sigh in exasperation and pull my phone out to check the time.
 “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m late to an audition, like it even matters now. I won’t get the job anyway, and your little distraction.” I dangle my fingers in the air at him. “It isn’t helping either.”
“Their loss.” He shrugs while giving me a wide smirk that makes my body tingle.
He has perfectly straight white teeth. It’s amazing. It’s the kind of teeth that only dentist’s kids have. I lean in to get a closer look at his mouth. Stop that! Just look at him. He will use you and throw you away with a broken heart. He isn’t a safe choice. My word, how does he keep them so white with all the smoking? Stop it, Ginger!
“Are you okay?”
I realize I’m scowling at him, and staring at his teeth like a gawking monkey. I’m tempted to smile, but refuse to. Attraction or no attraction, I’m not about to let him know how affected I am by his presence.
“I’m fine, thanks for asking. You can go back to…whatever it is you were doing.” I wave my hand as if he’s a minion out to do my bidding.
He laughs, but doesn’t take the hint. “I’m just taking a smoke break between sets. We’re doing a sound check for a show tonight. Hey, you should come check us out.” He motions toward the building beside us, an ancient looking place. Great, he’s a musician. They’re even worse than actors. I raise an uninterested slim brow at him, but don’t say a word.
“Doesn’t like music, duly noted.” He laughs again. It’s so intoxicating. He articulates all of his syllables, but I can’t pinpoint the accent. His voice isn’t suave or deep, he definitely sings with a wide range, kind of like Ben Gibbard. That’s right; I like music. In fact, I love music and Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favorite bands. I just don’t like the reputation that precedes musicians. I open my mouth to protest, but stop. I don’t need to explain myself to this guy.
“Thanks for the neighborly concern.” I roll my eyes and wait for him to go back inside, but instead we both anxiously stand there daring the other to walk away first. With a crooked grin plastered upon his devilishly handsome face, he digs into his back pocket to pull out another cigarette. He lights up, but blows the smoke away from me. My nostrils flare, and I have to keep from kneeing him in the balls. How dare he trap me in a corner while he puffs on those death sticks. Such a disgusting habit, if you ask me. After a minute, I give up, push myself off from the wall, and turn my back to him.
“Have a good one!” he calls out from behind me. “Fuck you,” I mumble to myself as I strut away. I throw my purse over my shoulder and curse myself when a smile appears on my lips. He is an interesting character. It’s not every day I get to meet someone who isn’t a stuck up social climber.
 My feet scream in agony with each step, but I refuse to turn around. Well, that is until I make it about two blocks down the road. Only then do I allow myself to stop and peek over my shoulder. He’s still standing in the same spot on the sidewalk. His eyes are locked on me, I think. From far away, his hair appears darker, making him seem more mysterious. When he raises his hand to wave, I quickly turn around. My pale skin heats in excitement. I haven’t been this worked up over a man in a long time, not since I first began dating Barrett. I should feel bad for getting so turned on by another guy when I just broke up with my fiancĂ©, but I’m not. Barrett screwed it up. Ergo, I don’t care.
 The crosswalk flashes green for me to go, but before I step across the street, I take one last look behind me. Disappointment fills me as I gaze at the empty sidewalk. He must have gone inside. Nashville is a big city, and I’m only visiting for a few more days before I return to LA. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever see him again.

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