☠ Chapter Nineteen ☠
➳ ARIELLE'S POV
"Where are we?" I ask, stepping out of the car.
Zayn locks the car doors and gently tucks the car keys into his jean pocket. "You'll see babygirl." He looks over at me, raising a single eyebrow, his lip curling into a crooked smile. He walks towards me. I instinctively reach for his fingers, but his arm quickly hooks around my body, so that we can walk together, his hand resting on my lower back.
I'm not entirely sure where I am. On the drive over, Zayn wouldn't tell me where we were going and I felt nervous at first, but once his hand rested on my thigh the worry washed away just as fast as my judgement. We drove all the way across the city until he pulled up to this small house. There are a few cars parked on the street, and I can hear a low thumping sound coming from the small building. The air is thick with the smell of cigars and weed. As we step up to the front door the cigar smell is overwhelming, and I inhale deeply, reminiscing about the times when my neighbour would smoke cigarillos out on his deck when I was a child, and I'd hover at my window admiring the scent.
When we step in the doorway I can't help but cringe. There are bottles and cans of liquor tossed everywhere on the floorboards. The house smells of vomit, liquor, cigars, and weed. When I look over to the left side of the house I notice several men sitting on the couch with near naked women giving them lap dances. As I look around I can't help but compare the inside of the building to what I'd imagine a motorcycle club to look like. I gape when one woman pulls her shirt off and her naked breasts spring free.
Zayn just slowly glances in the woman's direction and looks away, as if it's totally normal. When I look at the other faces in the room I realize that I'm the only one who even notices that it's not normal for a woman's breasts to be so casually on display. I feel his fingers twitch lightly on my back and he leads me towards a door.
When he opens it I finally become aware of the fact that the door leads to the basement. Before me are decrepit stairs which are in such bad shape I'm terrified to stand on them. The air is thick and foggy in the basement and I listen to a heavy cough.
Instead of letting me walk first down into the basement, Zayn takes the lead, grabbing my hand and leading me down. When we walk around the corner I see a poker table in the middle of the room. Around it sits four men and two women. The women, of course, are seated in their bras. All of the men are shirtless, and a few are missing their shoes, socks. It takes me a moment to finally realize that they're playing strip poker.
I look over at Zayn and my eyes wander all over his body.
"Four of a kind, read 'em and weep boys," a man's voice says. I turn to look at a muscular man placing his cards down onto the table top. "Time to lose the pants," he chuckles. The men stand up and sloppily pull their pants down.
The man with the full house turns towards Zayn and I when he notices our presence. He stands up and claps his hands, "Zayn!" Everyone's heads turn in our direction and I automatically take a step towards Zayn. Zayn takes a step forward and they embrace in a quick hug.
"Liam, it's good to see you mate," Zayn says before coming back to my side, returning his hand to my lower back once again.
I look at the man before me. He's got short brown hair, brown eyes, there are a few tattoos scattered on his arms. His chest, stomach and shoulders are built up with muscle. I recognize him as the man that was standing with Zayn the first time I ever saw him. I stand there ogling him without a shirt for a moment before I feel Zayn's fingers dig into my back, bringing me back to the present.
"You must be Arielle," Liam says.
I nod my head. "Yes," I say, all too awkwardly.
"Liam," he introduces himself with a friendly smile. "I've heard a lot about you," he looks at Zayn.
"Thank you, it's nice to meet you." I reply.
"Will you two be joining us?" He asks.
Zayn's fingers tense on my back. "No," he says sharply.
"Come on, live a little!" I hear a familiar voice and when I lean to look around Liam I spot Louis' smiling face. I hear a toilet flush and a door open and that's when Zoe comes sauntering out from the back end of the basement. She stumbles until she's standing in front of me and she embraces me haphazardly, obviously drunk. She wanders away from me without saying anything and sits down beside Louis, just in her bra and panties. Oh boy.
"Tell them to come play," I hear Louis whisper, not so quietly to Zoe.
"Come play!" Zoe yells out.
"She's not playing," Zayn says.
"Well are you playing?" I ask, turning towards him. His hand snakes its way around my waist and he grips harshly.
"No, neither of us are," he growls at me. His eyes are dark, warning.
"I promise it's just fun. Come on Zayn!" Liam says.
"What's wrong Zayn? You're not a pussy, are you?" I hear a woman's voice ask. When I look at her me eyes go wide - she's one of the women sitting at the poker table, in just a bra. She puts her elbows up on the table, squishing her breasts together. Her lips curl slowly into a smirk and she gives Zayn this suggestive look.
When I look at Zayn he's glowering back at her. The awkward tension in the air tells me that they know each other. The way she's pushing her breasts out and twirling her hair in her fingers tells me she's obviously trying to get him riled up, probably because she's attracted to him. I take a heavy breath and when Zayn hears it he stiffens beside me. His fingers dig deep into my side.
"Fuck you, Snow." Zayn spits.
"I like the lip ring baby," she slurs. I stiffen beside Zayn, glaring her down as if my glare will set her on fire.
Zayn doesn't say anything, he just walks towards the table and sits down at it. Liam looks on obliviously for a moment. "Well, are we going to fucking play or what?" Zayn asks.
Furious, I stomp over to the table and take the empty seat next to Louis. Zayn's dark eyes bore into me. He's obviously furious as well, but if he wants to play games, well two can play this game. He gives me a warning glare but I give it right back.
"Now we can start." Liam says, sitting down at the table. He begins shuffling the cards. I look around at the table, noticing Snow at the one end of the table, staring at Zayn. Those who were seated at the table earlier begin putting their clothing back on, making the game fair.
At this close proximity I can see just how rough Snow looks. Her arms are covered in small bruises and scratches and her skin is speckled with acne and scars. Her hair is knotted, and a section of her false extensions are hanging from her scalp. When she reaches for the cards that Liam has just tossed in her direction I notice the small red injection spots. Track marks.
What kind of people does Zayn hang out with?
Liam slides my cards to me and I casually bend the corners to see what I've been given. A king and a seven. I look up from my cards and eye up Zayn who twists his lip ring while staring at his cards.
A few people toss their cards back towards Liam, folding. "I'll bet my shirt," Snow starts the bidding.
"I'll call," Zayn says, smirking in my direction.
Louis folds as well.
"I'll call," I say, never taking my eyes off Zayn. I watch his Adam's apple bob up and down slowly.
Liam places three cards face down in the centre of the table. He slowly flips them face up, one by one. His thick fingers flip over two kings, and a three. Zayn's fingers reach for his lip ring.
"Can I raise the stakes? Winner chooses a loser to take off whatever article of clothing they want. If you fold now, you won't have to take off anything," I say, my focus fixated on Zayn.
"I'll call that," Snow says.
"Call, babygirl," he smirks. His eyes travel downwards to rest on my breasts. He bites his lip, turning it white.
Liam deals another card, a four. The three of us call and so Liam deals the last card. He deals another three. Everyone calls again and Snow slowly flips her cards over. She reveals a seven and a four. She has a pair of three's and a pair of four's.
When I look at Zayn he twists his lip ring while staring at me. He carefully turns his cards over, revealing an ace and a three. He has a full house with a set of three three's and a pair of king's. "Full house babygirl." I smile and he looks down at my cards in anticipation.
I reach forward, turning my cards over. A full house with three king's and a pair of three's. I just narrowly won over Zayn.
"Fuck," Snow curses.
Zayn just stares at my cards and smirks to himself. "Well, babyboy," I tease, "first you take off your shirt like you bet earlier. And I want your pants off." I smile.
He quickly yanks the shirt off his body and then stands, slowly pulling his pants down to his ankles. Snow's eyes go wide and then she pulls off her shirt. Zayn sits back down at the table and Liam begins shuffling.
I watch his hands quickly shuffle the cards as if he's done it a thousand times. I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket.
Zayn: I'm going to get you out of your clothes tonight babygirl, I promise.
Arielle: You'd have to actually win to do that
Zayn: Aren't you feisty? I love it Angel. Let's just ditch this, head home and play our own game… hint: it involves stripping ;)
I feel the heat slowly begin creeping up my neck. I bite my lip as I look down at my phone. It vibrates again quickly in my hands.
Zayn: Don't bite your lip like that babygirl. You have no idea what it does to me…
Arielle: Tell me…
I look up from my phone after pressing 'send,' watching his reaction. He stiffens in his seat, bites his lip, and runs his hands through his hair before typing something. After a few moments he looks up at me, gaze dark. Two vibrations.
Zayn: I'm imagining your lips wrapped around me. Boy, I call you Angel but you're not so innocent, are you love? ;)
Arielle: What do you think? ;)
Liam deals me a hand and I look at it quickly, distracted. I fold my cards before my brain can register what they were.
Zayn: Fuck, you're making me hard. Remember how good I fucked you at the wedding?
I watch Zayn fold too, suddenly totally disinterested in the game. He stands from the table and heads towards the washroom, still in just his boxers, socks, and Docs. I decide to follow him. As I'm walking away from the table I hear Zoe and Louis shouting at me. When I turn to look at them they're hanging off each other, almost too drunk to form a coherent sentence.
I hear the water running in the washroom and I walk towards the sound. When I turn the knob the door opens to Zayn standing over the sink, running his wet fingers through his hair.
I step inside and close the door behind me. He hears me click the lock on the bathroom door and he looks up in the mirror, staring at me in the reflection. I bite my lip.
He quickly turns from the sink and pins me up against the wall. Zayn's hands grip my bottom and he lifts me up, my legs wrapping tightly around his waist. My hands ghost over his naked skin, wanting to learn every crevice, every curve, every little stain of ink in his body.
My teeth grab his lower lip and I pull it. He grunts loudly while his fingers dig into the skin on the backside of my thighs. He bites and sucks at the skin on my neck and collarbones and I throw my head back against the cold stone behind me. I heedlessly run my fingers through his hair and tug on his roots.
It's euphoric being touched by him, almost as if he's a drug and I'm an addict. Every single moment is clouded by a thought about his soft lips, his rough fingers, his husky grunts and moans. He's made me feel reckless, impulsive, hooked, alive.
He slips his tongue into my mouth and pushes me harder into the wall. His hands slowly make their way up my thighs until they rest on my rear. His lips begin trailing kisses up my jawline until he comes to my ear. He nibbles on it, "fuck," he curses in my ear. His large hands squeeze my rear and the world blurs a little.
I have to close my eyes to concentrate on slowing my heart rate but it doesn't seem to work. "Arielle, babygirl, are you okay?" I hear him ask. He let's me go gently so that my feet touch the ground and I can no longer stand, I slowly slump down until I'm on the cold tile floor.
Zayn's right there, kneeling at my side, "what's going on? Are you okay? Do I need to phone an ambulance?" He's rambling out so many words at once that I can't focus on anything. I feel his large hand rest on my chest, just above my heart. "Fuck, your pulse is racing. Are you having a panic attack?" I begin hyperventilating as the pain in my chest begins.
Zayn grabs a hold of my right hand and tries to hold it still, but it won't stop trembling. I choke. I try focusing on him but everything around me seems so detached and unrealistic. I manage to nod my head up and down in response to his question.
He sits down on the floor in front of me and I feel his fingertips wipe underneath my eyes, spreading moisture all over my cheeks. He grabs either side of my face and holds it up for me, forcing me to look him in the eyes. "Babygirl, stay with me. Focus on me. This'll pass. Just focus on me."
His strong arms lift me up into his lap and he holds me, "here, here. Try holding my hand. Focus on my fingers." He reaches his hand out towards mine and I struggle to move them in the direction of his, even though I so desperately want to touch him. "C'mon Angel, you can do this."
I feel the burning sensation of his touch but mentally I can't focus on it. This goes on for seconds, minutes maybe, my mind can't register time in its state. "You're almost there," he says, his voice much more clear. I'm finally able to focus on his face after struggling for what felt like forever.
"You're here, you're here. Focus on me," he says for the thousandth time, looking down at my face. I realize that I don't think he knows what he's saying in his panicked state. I don't think he realizes that he's showing me just how much he cares about me.
The first time I had a panic attack with him I blacked out. This time he was here when I needed him to be and he brought me back. He cared enough to sit here and hold me. When I look down at my fingers they're intertwined with his and I realize that the gesture shows exactly how much he cares. Zayn places a soft kiss to my forehead and I squeeze his hand to let him know that it's over.
"Thank you," I hoarsely murmur to him. He gets up and puts his hands out in front of him to help me stand to my feet. He helps me to the toilet and puts the seat down so I'm able to sit. It takes me a moment to catch my breath and for my heart to find its normal pace.
After another minute or two I'm finally able to stand on my own. I step up to the sink and run cold water over my hands. When I look at myself in the mirror I notice the mascara that has run down my face. I wash it away gently.
There's a knock on the door. "Zayn, I'm sorry but there's someone here to see you." Liam.
I hear Zayn curse, "tell the lad to come back later, I'm busy."
"I tried. He said it was important."
Zayn sighs loudly before stepping towards me. He places a hand on my waist, "are you okay?" He asks quietly.
"I am now. Thank you," I reply. I stand on my tippy toes and place a soft kiss to his lips before he turns and walks out of the bathroom.
A/N: kinda sorta wanta ignore the massive elephant in the room: zayn. i'll just be over here still pretending that nothing has changed until come july when i will only be seeing 4 :( (nonetheless i'm uber excited to see them)