"It was 18:36 and Chrystal was ready. She decided to wear her dark denim high wasited jeans which were ripped at the thighs, exposing parts of her tanned skin. A white tight crop top, which slid off at the shoulders and of course, Ashton's scarf. She slipped on her small white heels, turning this way and that, fully inspecting her outfit. Chrystal couldn't help but wish she was thinner. She wasn't fat, she was muscular and thick from years of dancing, but she had never loved her body, she tolerated it at most. She had straightened her hair and brushed it and brushed it, until it flowed silkily down her back, almost touching her butt. She kept her make up simple; a little foundation, minimal mascara and she had filled in her brows. She decided against blush, she had a funny feeling she wasn't going to need it. She mentally pictured Ashton standing next to her, and she suddenly felt ridiculous. How could she ever compare to him? If God made us in his image, then Ashton was an angel. Finally shrugging, she mentally told herself she was a sexy goddess and grabbed her white purse and filled it with the necessities.
Funnily enough, she hadn't heard from Ashton all day. Paranoid, she worried he wouldn't come. Maybe I should text him? She quickly glanced at her phone, then shook her head. He'll come, she told herself. He better. She paced her flat impatiently, slowly watching the minutes tick by. She brushed her teeth meticulously for the second time in the past hour. She was so beyond nervous she had created a whole new state of being. She decided to sit down, but her feet tapped the floor relentlessly. No, that wont do. She decided to move to the window, every car that passed set her heart racing. Now, that definitely wont do. So she decided she'd stare at the clock until it was seven. It was ten minutes to. The ticking of the clock seemed to be getting louder and louder. I'm going insane. She shut her eyes and began reciting the lyrics of "You're My Star" by Stereophonic's. It was her favorite song. She hummed along and then began to sign it aloud. Her voice cracked at first but after the chorus, it had warmed up into something quite wonderful. She had forgotten how much she loved singing and in minutes, she felt almost at ease. Then her phone buzzed and it shut her up instantly. It was Ashton calling. She answered almost immediately.
"Hello?" She hardly recognized her own voice.
"I'm outside sweetheart," he said coolly, her heart jumping at the sound of his voice. Chrystal shot a look at the clock, it was exactly seven o'clock.
"I'll be right down," She breathed into the receiver and then hung up. She gave herself a last once over look in the mirror, applied a nude lip gloss and then left her apartment. Once outside, she stopped short, the only man she could see outside her flat was definitely not Ashton. He was dressed in a black suit, and wore black sunglasses, even though there was no sun which could possibly effect his eyesight. He was standing in front of black, glossy Jaguar with blacked out windows, with his hands clasped in front of him. He smiled slightly upon seeing Chrystal. It in no way, made her any less terrified of him. He was at least 6 foot tall, he wasn't unattractive but there was something about him which made her want to look away.
"Miss Winters I assume?" He boomed in his deep voice. Chrystal nodded, wearily stepping towards him. "Mr. Irwin is waiting for you." He suddenly stepped aside and opened the Jag door, exposing the cream interior of the backseat.
"Ummm... Okay?" Chrystal said, unsure she stepped towards the car and stopped at the door.
"Get in then," a familiar voice said from the inside. The sound of it reassured her, and she folded herself into the back seat.
The Jag was surprisingly spacious and everything about it screamed that it was ridiculously expensive. It had a black screen dividing the back seats from the driver. "You look beautiful," his voice said from beside her. Turning her attention away from the fancy car and onto him. He was smiling widely at her, his smile knocked the breath from her. She smiled shyly back at him, feeling that familiar heat touch her cheeks. He gently touched her right cheek, "You're absolutely adorable when you blush." And of course, she blushed even more furiously. She was sure she resembled something more of a ripe tomato rather than a twenty two year old woman. His hand still resting on her cheek, gently stroked back and forth, seemed to burn her already heated skin. She closed her eyes and sighed at his touch. After a moment, which always seemed too short, he let his hand fall. She opened her eyes and looked up at him. His eyes seemed golden in this light, and she could see his affection for her burn behind them. It heated her from the inside out. She could feel that he was seeing the same thing reflected in her eyes.
"Nice scarf," he noted, the corners of his mouth pulling up at his own joke. Chrystal tore her eyes from his to look down at it. It matched her outfit perfectly. "Why thank you," Chrystal chimed, "Some beautiful young man gifted it to me this morning."
"Really? Beautiful you say?" He said pulling at his red flannel shirt.
"The most beautiful I've ever met," She stated.
"God, he sounds like a dish. I must meet him," he added. Chrystal giggled and he picked up her hand and held it loosely in his. He gently turned it this way and that, before bringing it to his mouth and kissing it softly. It sent shivers of delight through her body. She smiled breathlessly at him. "Do you want to know where we're going?" He asked softly, playing with her fingers. Chrystal nodded, excited. "Tough. It's a secret," He said, flashing a wicked smile at her. Chrystal pouted and pretended to be disappointed. Honestly, she couldn't care less where they were going, as long as it was with him.
"Ready to go Mr. Irwin," a voice suddenly filled the car, the screen separating them from the driver suddenly slid open revealing the back of the scary man's head. "Yes please, Todd," Ashton said politely. Todd!? This man certainly did not seem like a Todd, more like a Max or a Mack. Chrystal almost giggled. "Oh, Todd meet Chrystal Winters, a new and beautiful friend of mine," he said proudly, squeezing her hand.
"Good evening ma'am, lovely to meet you," his said, his voice sounding if it was anything but.
"The pleasure's mine," Chrystal responded pleasantly. The screen slid back across and the car purred to life. It took about 15 minutes to reach their destination, Ashton hadn't let go of her hand the whole time. He'd trace circles with his thumb across the back of her hand every now again, which sent her tummy tumbling each time.
"Can't you drive?" Chrystal wondered, feeling uneasy about Todd's presence. He gave a small chuckle before he replied. "Of course I can, it's just more convenient for me to have a driver," he simply said.
"Hmmm," was all she said. Chrystal couldn't imagine having her own driver. She looked at the man sitting beside her. He was so young but apparently already so rich. She frowned, she didn't really know much about him.
The vehicle came to a halt. "We're here," Ashton announced, squeezing her hand again. Chrystal smiled and got out the car. She hadn't been watching where they were going so she was surprised when she found she was in the outskirts of town. The shops here were noticeably less fancy and less expensive. Even Chrystal considered this a dodgy area. Ashton caught sight of her uneasy expression and laughed slightly. Chrystal looked up at him, he seemed to be even taller, towering above her. He looked very casual in his leather jacket and red flannel shirt, buttoned loosely, exposing a good portion of tanned skin. It was distracting. "Where are we going?" Chrystal asked, curious now. He said nothing but held out his hand to her. She slipped her hand into his without a second thought. He gave her an ear grinning smile which she returned with just as much enthusiasm. His smile was infectious. He led the way into an alley next to a barbers, towing Chrystal behind him. They walked on deeper into the maze of unmarked buildings, until he finally came to a stop which appeared to be a dead end. "And this is the part where you kill me?" Chrystal joked.
"How did you guess?" He said, his voice deadly serious. Chrystal looked at him, her blue eyes wide with alarm. Ashton laughed uncontrollably. "Oh Chrystal, I'm kidding," he said, placing his hands onto her shoulders. She playfully shoved him and he turned away from her and walked to the edge of the wall and knocked three times. Chrystal shot him a puzzled look. After a few moments, a door which had been hidden in the walls surface popped open and Ashton exchanged pleasantries with the man behind it. Chrystal watched astonished as Ashton walked back to her and began to pull her through the door.
Inside was no more appealing than the outside. Why on earth had Ashton brought her here? They were walking along a red, dimly light corridor. The male Ashton had been talking to was walking ahead of them, leading the way. Chrystal's grip on Ashton's hand tightened and he turned back to shoot her a reassuring smile. "Is this a drug den?" Chrystal whispered quietly, so only Ashton would hear. He stifled a laugh and simply shook his head. Unconvinced, Chrystal tried to not touch anything except Ashton. They suddenly came to a stop at a metal, heavy looking door. "Enjoy your meal," the man said. We are not going to eat in here!? Chrystal shuddered at the thought. Chrystal caught sight of the man that had guided them. He wore black clothes and had tattoos all the way up his arms which continued all they way up to his throat. He smiled warmly at them as he opened the door to another dimly lit room. Chrystal didn't like this at all. Still she let Ashton pull her into the room. What she seen astounded her. The contrast from the corridor to this magnificent room was shocking. Chrystal gasped. Ashton watched her reaction with an excited smile on his face, and he wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
The room was huge. The main source of light was six large open fire places around the edges of the room. They were circular and encased with red bricks. Rows and rows of fairy lights dangled from the ceilings and there were about seven or eight tables, widely spread out. There was a long bar to the left of them and straight ahead on the furthest wall she could see into an open kitchen. To her right the entire wall was a massive, brightly lit glass aquarium filled with exotic fish she couldn't even begin to name. Soft music played from an old juke box and everything about this place felt warm and magical. It was the most perfect restaurant ever. She went from hating this place to loving it in about ten seconds. "Oh my gosh..." She was at loss for words.
"I know right," Ashton said, chuckling, "You're face was a picture!" Chrystal laughed and let him lead her to one of the free tables in the restaurant. There were only four other people in the place, and they sat at the booth furthest away from them, deep in conversation.
They were greeted by a lovely hostess in the matter of minutes. They ordered a bottle of wine and shared a large pizza between them. Turn's out Ashton loves Italian's too, and Chinese food. "You know, I hardly know anything about you," Chrystal blurted out once they had both finished eating. Ashton smiled and took a drink from his glass. "My middle name is Fletcher, I'm 23, born in Australia, I have three best friends; they are my band- I cant live without them, my favorite colour is red, I'm a Cancer, I snore and I hate the dark. I'm currently sitting across from the most beautiful girl in the world and I think she might like me." Chrystal stared at him in awe.
"Your turn," he said, slightly embarrassed. God. she wasn't nearly that interesting.
"I'm 22, born in Scotland, I have one best friend- I could probably live without her," Chrystal said laughing, "My favorite colour is also red, I'm a Scorpio, I do not snore, I don't mind the dark. I'm currently sitting across from the most wonderful guy and he's staring at me as if I'm crazy, and I think I might like him a little too much," Chrystal rattled off nervously. He hadn't taken his eyes off her the whole time. "Too much, huh?" He asked curiously. She just nodded and smiled sweetly at him. They talked of many things, Chrystal , made sure to keep her past and herself off topic as much as possible. It was hard to evade his probing questions.
"So why did you leave home?" He asked, an innocent enough questions but it sent Chrystal into automatic shut down. "No reason, change of scenery. Fresh start," The same answer she gave to everyone.
"And your family?" Chrystal stiffened in her seat and her expression changed from one happiness to sheer discomfort in the matter of seconds. Ashton almost instantly picked up on it.
"They're fine, they don't need me." Her answers were short and clipped, as if rehearsed.
"Do you keep in contact with them?"
"No," she snapped, she was annoyed. "Look, I'm sorry can we talk about something else?" Ashton studied her face for a moment. The girl that sat before him seemed to have changed in minutes. She was paler and her hands were visibly shaking, she'd drawn away from him and was glancing towards the door as if she was about to bolt at any minute. He was about to push the issue when he decided against it. Whatever she was keeping from him, she wasn't ready to share. "Sure," he said brightly, filling up is glass with more wine. He watched as she visibly relaxed and some of her natural pallor returned to her face. There was clearly a lot more to this beautiful girl than what meets the eye. He watched her as she threw herself back into the conversation with more animation than before. Acting as if that bad moment that passed between them had never happened. He wasn't sure what she was keeping from him, but he was determined to find out.