Love and War

Bonnie can't help but think life would be so much easier if she didn't have to make choices. If she didn't have to choose between family or a future. If she didn't have to choose between Eli or Alfie. If she didn't have to choose between success or loyalty. If she didn't have to choose between one kind of love of the other.

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3. Three

My seventeenth birthday party is horrible. I know nobody there apart from Alfie and we barely get to talk because my dad keeps urging him towards businessmen who could hire him. I keep being urged towards women who are mothers to rich young men. My mother tells me that I must be polite and kind and maybe I will have a chance, even though I am not really looking for one. 

"Bonnie." Alfie manages to come up to me at one point later on in the party after some people have left. "Let's go now."

I frown. "Go where?" 

"Exploring. To those other parties, like we talked about-"

"Shhh!" I hush him, dragging him to a corner. "This party is still happening, we can't leave."

He groans. "Oh come on Bonnie, I thought you wanted to be reckless! We're seventeen now, come on."

I consider it for a moment. I then realise that if I spend ages considering it, I will decide to stay here so I just follow Alfie. Nobody sees us leave but I know I'll be in trouble later on when my parents ask me where I disappeared to but oh well. I'm pretty sure my parents are going to force me to marry soon and I want to live as much as possible before that happens.

We walk along the streets for only a little while before we reach somewhere that I'm unfamiliar with. I trust Alfie and keep following him. It was raining while we were in the party, leaving the streets glowing from the streetlights. 

"How do you know the way?" I run a little so that I can keep up with him. I link my arm through his so he doesn't rush off without me. 

"I explored a little yesterday." he admits, an excited glint in his eye. "I know a bar where there is a party happening right now."

A nervous chill runs up my spine. "Have you ever been to one?"

"A few." he nods. "You'll love it."

We walk a little farther until we reach a pub. I've read about pubs but I've never been near one in my life. Even from outside the door I can hear rowdy shouts and laughter and glasses smashing and the most amazing, fast paced music. I'm terrified but I realise that no husband is going to let me come to a pub so I push the door open, ready to experience something new. Alfie laughs at my enthusiasm. 

I frown, looking him up and down. He isn't wearing his blazer and his tie is loose. The only time I've seen him like this is after we go swimming in the lake in summer. "Where did your jacket go?" I have to shout over the noise. 

"We looked way too posh to be in here!" he yells, grinning. "You need to sort that dress out!"

I gasp. "Do you know how expensive this dress is? It's one of a kind!"

He laughs, shaking his head and takes my hand as another random man takes his and suddenly I am being yanked around the pub. It takes me a minute to realise what's going on and then I see the huge line of people which I am a part of and I realise we're all dancing around together and I start to laugh, happily. I grab onto another random lady's hand and she laughs, following us and grabbing somebody else's hand. Even though there must be three dozen people on this line, there are still so many people elsewhere. I can barely see any empty space. 

The lady lets go of my hand, still looking so happy, and goes to get herself a drink. Another person grabs my hand but instead of dancing with the rest of us, the person pulls me away from the line and over into the corner of the pub. Once my eyes adjust to the darkness, I see that it's a young man. He is taller than me, with messy dark hair and light eyes. He wears black trousers, a white shirt that is unbuttoned far down his torso and a black waistcoat which is too big for him and is undone. He has the most charismatic, cheeky smile I've ever seen.

"Hi!" I exclaim happily, trying to pin my hair back up. 

"You don't belong here." he seems to be speaking normally even though I can hear him above the noise. His voice isn't common but isn't snobbish. It's a nice medium. He doesn't tell me that I don't belong here with an accusatory tone- more a curious one.

"I know!" I tell him.

He smirks, stepping closer to me. I've been this close to a man before but sparks seem to fly around my chest this time. With the other men, we were slow dancing and it was boring and they were boring. This man has a casual posture and incredible clothes. He's interesting. My heart thuds as he smiles that quirky smile at me and takes the pins out of my hair, throwing them to the floor. I feel conscious of my messy hair falling around my shoulders and try to push it behind my ears but he shakes his head, pulling it back around to frame my face.

"That's better." he chuckles. He's standing so close, I can see that his eyes are a grey colour but not a dull grey. A stormy grey. "Now we need to sort your dress out."

I snap out of my daze, frowning at him. "What? I didn't hear you."

"We need to sort your dress out." he laughs. "It's too pretty for a place like this. You're not fooling anybody, princess."

I stare at him, horrified. I don't want to protest too strongly, I don't want him to think I'm stuck up but I love this dress.

"I'd... I'd rather you didn't." I admit.

He laughs again, shaking his head and crouching down, still looking me in the eye. He must have figured out that I get really distracted by his eyes because while I'm still looking at him, he grabs the hem of my dress and rips it, standing back up in one swift motion. 

"Better." he tells me.

I stare at him, shocked.  "Really?" 

"You fit in more now." the quirky smile returns. 

"Bonnie!" Alfie calls, wandering over. He frowns at the man and tugs me away gently before I can even say goodbye. He frowns down at me, glancing at my torn dress. "Did that man try to do anything to you, Bonnie?" 

I laugh at the thought. While I was with that man, I was sort of in a daze but now I'm realising how happy that encounter made me and how happy this whole night is making me and the giddiness returns.

"No!" I grin. "He was just helping me fit in!"

Alfie raises an eyebrow but shrugs and a smile crosses his lips. "Do you want a beer?" 

I nod and as we walk over to the bar, I glance over my shoulder and the young man is holding a beer glass of his own in the same corner as earlier. He nods, holding it up to me and I smile.

 

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