5. // part v
shawn // part v
The club is alive. The pounding buzz of the music provides a backdrop for the clinking of glasses and the muffled drone of chatter. Flashing neon lights illuminate the dance floor, while darkness hugs the corners which adolescents melt into. The intermingled scent of smoke, sweat and too many people instantly assaults my nostrils as I wade through the pulsating throng.
“Do you want another drink?” I yell over my shoulder, battling for my voice to be heard above the music. Shawn shakes his head, and mouths something which doesn’t reach my ears.
I spin on the spot to find myself just centimetres from Will’s face, his faded cobalt eyes sparkling beneath a low-cut fringe of windswept blonde hair.
A smile creeps across my lips. “Will! Long time no see!”
He grins and envelopes me in a one-handed hug, the other clutching a glass of dark liquid. “You’re actually staying for the party for once?”
Over his shoulder, I spot Shawn standing there awkwardly. His jaw is clenched and his face a mask.
“It won’t become a habit,” I tell Will. “Don’t get used to it.”
“We might as well make the most of it then,” he winks at me, swigging back some of his drink. Will is an old friend of mine who performs regularly at The Ice House with me. I hadn't seen him since my father died.
“So, you’re back to performing at this old place?” he inquires.
I shrug, my gaze drifting downwards. “We'll see.”
"Good performance today, though," he compliments.
"Thanks! And you," I smile, meeting his eyes again.
“Thanks,” he says. Wills gaze shifts to Shawn and he raises his eyebrows. “New man?”
I feel the colour rushing to my cheeks. “No! Um...Nate, this is Shawn. Shawn, this is Nate.”
Will sticks out his hand and Shawn shakes it firmly. “Nice to meet you, mate. You know, I could swear I’ve seen you before somewhere...”
Shawn smiles humbly. “Likewise. And you might have.”
I blink at Shawn, half expecting him to mention his fame to list his achievements. I know that I would. But he shrugs it off casually. Will just smiles unknowingly and touches my arm.
“I’ll leave you guys to it. I’ve got to go fuck shit up,” he grins.
“Nothing’s changed there,” I smile back. He grins and melts into the swarming crowd. My eyes follow him, watching him spin on a barstool and lean over the counter. “One pint of lager,” he mouths at the bartender. She nods and melts away into the cries of a hundred other thirsty patrons.
Shawn sidles up to my side, his warm hand brushing against the small of my back. His hair is ruffled and he leans closer so that he wouldn’t have to shout to be heard. His lips graze my ear lightly as his thick accent blocks out the music I can hear.
“God, it’s so hot in here,” he mutters. I nod, glancing at him. His mouth skims the side of my face as I turn towards him, causing my heart to hammer in my chest.
“Are you sure you don’t want a drink?”
He shakes his head, grinning at me slightly. “Are you determined to get me drunk, or something? That’s like the hundredth time you’ve offered.”
“Well, I’m sorry for trying to be polite,” I scoff, returning a small smirk. “But the drinks are free for performers, so we might as well make the most of it.”
He smiles and shrugs.
I tear my eyes away to watch the swarm of dancers writhing in the middle of the club, bathed in the vibrant lights. I prise out Will again, the mass of bodies pressing him against a preppy blonde in a tight, thigh-skimming dress. Her cheeks are flushed pink – I can’t tell if it is due to the heat in the room or Will’s close proximity. Will’s gaze wanders up and scans the room until his eyes meet mine and he shoots me a calculating expression, unblinking.
“Who is he?”
The comment is unexpected and I tilt my head at Shawn unsurely.
“What?” I say, raising my voice to be heard above the clamour.
“Will. Is he like your...boyfriend or something?”
I bite my lip to stop myself from laughing. I can’t picture myself – shy and determined – with Will – mischievous and daring. “No. We’re just friends.”
I can’t help but notice the way Shawn’s shoulders relax and relief crawling across his face. I swallow, looking away.
He grabs my hand unexpectedly and my insides burn like his touch has ignited them. “Are we just going to stand here all night or shall we dance?”