How To Live Without Dying

Tinsley was always loped in with the popular crowd in one way or another. It was just what her mother wanted. But, Tinsley couldn't stand it.

Ian was an indie skater kid with an undeserved bad reputation.

Sparks fly when they meet, but things quickly turn dangerous.

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Sort of happened by chance, and I just kept on with it, but all of the chapter titles are taken from songs by Land of Talk.

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8. The Man Who Breaks Things

I began to lose my mind during the days that Ian wasn't around.

That, and I broke my phone. Not having money, I responded to a Help Wanted ad that I found online.

It read as follows:

WANTED: Awesome person who is willing to learn to make coffee and specialty drinks, as well as put up with an annoying boss who makes up inane songs while pretending like he knows how to play guitar. Must be available to work some weekends. Call 972-XXX-XXXX and ask for Lucy, even if Jude tells you he's the boss.

Sure enough, over the phone, Jude told me he was the boss.

"Is this a test?" I asked.

A woman's voice answered on the other end, "Yes, and you passed!"

Only a few hours later, I was wearing an apron behind the bar and taking orders. Lucy should me the basics of making the drinks. Jude assured me that he couldn't stay away from behind the bar for too long, so I wouldn't be on my own.

After two weeks, I had gotten the hang of things, as well as my first check. So, I bought a new phone and called Ian the moment it was working and in my hands. We'd only been able to communicate through emails, and I missed his voice.

"Howdy," he said, the smile clear in his voice. "What kind of phone did you get?"

"Just a cheapy that I could swap the sim out of," I told him. "It makes phone calls to you. That's the important thing."

"Yes it is," he sighed, then asked. "What time do you get off work?"

"Ugh," I groaned. "It's a show night tonight. I close."

"Does your dad know about any of this?" Jude asked.

"No," I sighed. "He thinks I've been spending time with Mandy or Krystin."

"Tinsley..." Ian said. "You need to be careful with this."

"When can I see you?" I asked, changing the topic.

"I was thinking about coming to see you at work," he said. "What time is the show?"

"It starts at seven," I said. "Can you make it before then?"

"Of course," he said and I heard keys jingling in the background.

"Don't speed to get over here," I warned.

"I won't," he said.

We both made it to the cafe at the same time and I laughed nervously when we saw each other. I had convinced Ian to be a little more brave in town. At least in spots where neither my dad nor any of his friends ever hung out. This was definitely one of those spots.

I surveyed the cafe for any faces, then I pulled Ian away from the big window he'd been standing near and planted a big kiss on his lips. He smiled broadly when I let got of him.

"Why, Miss Tinsley," Jude came out of the kitchen with an incredulous look on his face. "Who is this strapping young fellow I've caught you with?"

I blushed furiously and said, "This is Ian. Ian, this is my boss, Jude."

"It's nice to meet you, young man," Jude said in a mock fatherly tone that sounded like it came out of a forties radio drama.

"Jude, don't embarrass the poor girl," Lucy said as she came out of the kitchen with a fresh pan of cookies.

"Ian, that's Lucy," I told him. "My other boss."

"And my underling," Jude was always trying to make a point that he owned the place, even though Lucy was the one who kept it running.

"Would you mind helping us move some chairs and tables around?" Jude asked Ian. "I'll give you free drinks and cookies until midnight if you do."

"Sure," Ian answered.

Another one of our baristas showed up about thirty minutes later. Her name was Jasey. After that, Jude's elusive little sister came down from the apartment. She was my age, but she acted like she was seventy-five and twelve at the same time.

Once everything was set up, we enjoyed some cookies around the bar and waited for people to show up.

The band came and my heart sank when I recognized one of the bandmates as Jared Massey, brother to Preston Massey. The same Preston who shoved Ian through a glass door just above a month ago.

Jared and Preston were totally different people, though. They even hated each other. So, maybe Preston wouldn't show up. Preston definitely wouldn't show up.

I wanted so badly to be able to hang out with Ian and my friends at the same time. I wanted to have him near my home, my job, and accessible whenever and wherever. It wasn't fair that spending time with him felt so fragile. It wasn't fair to feel like we had to hide.

I kept an eye on the door as the crowd began to filter in. No sign of Preston, so I started to relax.

"Go enjoy the show," Jude told me. "I'll count it on your check as crowd control."

"I smiled, hugged him, then took off my apron and went to meet Ian at the edge of the crowd.

"Don't you have to work?" he asked.

"I am working," I said and he smiled.

The singer of the band approached the mic and introduced them to the crowd as Sloppy and the Kisses. They started playing and were surprisingly good for a local band. Very grungy and bluesy. Their lyrics were very quick witted.

In the middle of the second song was when I heard the shout.

"Reese!"

It was Preston's angry voice, but his face was covered with a bandana and a hoodie was over his head. Ian put himself in front of me as Preston lunged for him. Ian dodged his punch.

"I don't want to fight you," Ian said.

Preston jumped at him and Ian tackled him to the ground. But, then Preston punched him in the stomach. Ian fell to his side and Preston stood up, then took off out of the cafe.

The fact that he just ran confused me at first, but then I noticed Ian groaning. I dropped down on my knees next to him and saw the blood spread across the front of his shirt. Preston hadn't punched him. He'd stabbed him.

"Oh god!" I screamed and ripped off the hoodie I'd been wearing to press on the wound, trying to control the bleeding.

Someone dialed 911. The sirens weren't far, but they didn't feel close enough.

The ambulance wouldn't let me ride with him and the police had questions to ask me.

Lucy drove me to the hospital when they were finished and all I could do was hope that he was still alive.

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Margot and Dave were clinging to one another in the waiting room. Jack was comforting Mandy.

I sat by myself and stared at the floor.

I didn't think Preston was criminally insane. Jude had never been guilty and Preston knew it. So, why was he so bent on hurting or killing Ian?

Finally, a doctor came out from Ian's operating room.

"He's going to be alright," he said and you could feel the tension in everyone fizzle out. "The attacker missed all of his major organs."

"Can we see him?" Margot asked.

"He's asleep right now," the doctor said. "But, you can go in two at a time."

When it was my turn, I went in by myself and stared at him. His face was paler than before, but he was breathing. I sat down in the chair at his bedside and took his hand in mine, then I laid my head on his chest to watch it rise and fall as I listened to the steady beat of his heart against the beeping of the monitors.

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"Hey," I heard his voice and opened my eyes.

As soon as I saw him and it clicked in my head that he was awake, I started to cry.

"I'm okay," he assured me and patted my head. "I'm fine."

I shook my head, "It's my fault."

"If I hadn't wanted to be there, I wouldn't have been there," he said. "And, you get your wish. I'll be staying with my parents the next few weeks until I'm all healed up."

I nodded, but I still felt dismal about the entire situation.

Apparently, there was no evidence to pin the crime to Preston except for the few people that recognized his voice. That wasn't enough for him to be arrested.

Ian was discharged from the hospital the next morning. Margot, Dave, and Mandy took him home.

I rode with Jack to our house. Wed tried to sneak into the house without our dad hearing us, but he was waiting in the living room.

"Where have the two of you been?" he asked calmly.

"We were at..." Jack started, but his voice faded as my father held up a newspaper.

"The victim's girlfriend, Tinsley Scott claims to have recognized the voice of the masked attacker as eighteen-year-old Preston Massey. The police have declined to comment on how this will affect their investigation of the matter."

Jack and I were silent, but my father stood up.

"Tins, get out of the house," Jack said and I ran for the door, but my dad caught me violently by the arm.

He pulled me away from the door and pinned me to the nearest wall.

"When were you going to tell me you started dating that little rat?" he asked, his hand tightening around my throat. "Huh? Or, that you'd gotten a job?"

Jack tackled him from the side and he let go of me. I fell to the floor, gasping for air, then grabbed my phone to dial 911.

I was telling on my father, something that my mother never could do.

Dad managed to get up and he shoved Jack into the wall.

"Nine-one-one, what is your emergency?" the operator asked as my father walked towards me.

"Four-ten Mayfield," I cried as he slapped me and sent my phone flying from my hand.

At least I got the address out. They knew where I was.

Jack had gotten up. He tackled our father again and I ran out of the house. I ran to the neighbor's and pounded on the door, shouting for help.

No one would answer the door. Finally, I heard the sirens. I ran to meet them in the yard and immediately told the officers what was happening.

My father and Jack were still fighting when the police opened the door. They pulled the two of them away from each other and put my father in handcuffs.

I walked over to pick up my new phone. It was shattered, just like the one before it.

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