Meet Me In the Hallway

We had made love earlier that day with no strings attached, but I could tell that something had changed - how you looked at me then.


A story in which a college student and an ex-performer are brought together at a downtown bar by a twist of fate.

*characters are not affiliated with real people, just their physical appearances and anything stated*

[WARNING: Strong language, Drug abuse, Sexual content]

copyright © justins_only_babe 2017



11. eleven

= Layne =


People come and go, but it seems more are coming than going. The music started about half an hour ago and the energy in the bar has intensified. Everyone is buzzing with excitement and alcohol running through their veins.


The plus side to working Friday's is that everyone gets so wasted, they tip like they have all the money in the world. I think I have over a hundred dollars in my tip jar. Each bartender has a jar under the bar that they put their tips in, just so they don't have to carry it in their pockets or wear an apron.


One of my regulars just left a tip and tapped the bar twice, letting me know he was leaving. He always taps the bar before he leaves to make sure I get my tip. I rush over and gather the ones in my hand. I don't bother counting it before I shove the money in my jar. I quickly wipe down the area the man was sitting at and I lift my eyes to scan the room.


My eyes land on the tall man walking my way. His eyes are focused on getting through the people. His shoulders are tense and his jaw is clenched.


I really wish Nicole would come back from the bathroom because I really don't want to talk to him right now.


Harry sits down at the seat in front of me. His focus is on the bar directly in front of him. I don't bother asking what he wants because I know. I turn around and start making a jack and coke. He's angry about something and this is his go-to drink. I also don't want to hear anything from him unless it's about what the hell happened last night.


I slide the drink to him and go to help someone else, even though no one really needs it. I can feel his eyes on my back while I get someone a round of shots. Nicole comes back and starts to work on the drink orders from the waitresses. I hand the tray to the customer and they rush back to their table. I take the cash they gave me and see Nicole giving me a quizzical look from the corner of her eye.


"What?" I ask as I put the money in the drawer.


"You tell me what." She says.


I furrow my brows at her and shake my head, "what?"


She averts her eyes to something behind me. "When did he get up here and why aren't you flirting with him?"


I laugh uncomfortably. "I don't know what you're talking about," I lie. I know exactly what she's talking about it.


She rolls her eyes and finishes making orders.


I turn away from her and quickly scan everyone's drinks. One of them is empty, and of course it belongs to the person I want to avoid. I sigh and grab the bottle of jack off the shelf. My legs carry me to him and I grab his glass - avoiding his eyes.


"Hey," he says simply.


"Hey." I snap.


He recoils a bit but regains his composure quickly. "Layne?" When I don't look at him, he lowers his head to try and catch my eye. "Layne, look at me."


Something in his tone cracks my heart and makes it swell at the same time. No, I say to my heart, don't do that.


I hand him his drink and meet his gaze. He seems less tense now, and his eyes are full of confusion, stress, and something else I can't quite put my finger on.


"What?" I ask.


"What's wrong?" He sounds genuinely concerned, but he should know.


"I have to work." I state and turn around.


I immediately stop because Nicole is standing right in front of me. "No, you don't," she smiles, "you're on break."


My face falls flat and I roll my eyes when she turns around.


Instead of talking to Harry, I walk away from the bar and grab my bag to change into my jeans. Working in a skirt has been the worst idea ever. Every two seconds, some guy comments on it. I've never wanted to punch so many people so much in my life.


I rush to the bathroom to avoid any conversation with Harry until I'm changed. I lock the door and quickly take off my skirt and throw on my black jeans. My shirt is styled the same as before. I pull my socks over the material and tug my boots on. When I'm happy with my appearance, I unlock the door and swing it open.


Harry isn't at the bar where he was sitting before. I sigh - whether it's with relief or annoyance, I don't know. I head to the exit and start pulling out a pack of cigarettes for when I get outside. As soon as I open the door, I'm hit with a gust of cool air. I walk around the side of the building and put the cigarette between my teeth. Once it's lit, I inhale deeply and instantly feel more relaxed.


"Layne?" A deep voice says and I'm no longer relaxed.


I take another drag and lean against the wall.


Harry steps in front of my and is leaning forward slightly. His bag is nowhere to be found and its a little unnerving to see him without it.


"Where's your bag?" I ask lamely and blow smoke between us.


"Inside. What's wrong? Are you okay?" His tone is urgent.


As I stare at him, I can't help but wonder why he cares so much. We met at a bar, hooked up, and that was supposed to be the end. He wasn't supposed to come to where I work, and ask me about my tattoos, and get a slushy with me, and talk to me about my brother. We were supposed to fuck and that was supposed to be it. Other guys wouldn't have said a word if they saw me after a hook up. They'd avoid me at all costs - but not Harry.


"Why do you care so much?" I ask, sounding more frustrated than curious.


His eyebrows furrow and he licks his lips. "I- what?"


I take another drag and blow out the smoke as I speak. "Why do you care so much? We hooked up once, and all of a sudden you want to know everything about my life. You show up at my apartment at one o'clock in the morning - which I still don't know how you got into - and ask me where the hell I've been. I don't even know you, yet you're acting like a psychotic boyfriend. Then, when I ask you about it this morning, you get a phone call and practically sprint out of my apartment. What the hell was up with that?" I throw my cigarette on the concrete and stomp on it with my boot. "You're confusing the shit out of me and it's pissing me off. I don't get it, Harry. I don't fucking get it."


His lips are parted and his eyes are scanning over my face. He takes a deep breath and winces, like he felt an uncomfortable shot of pain. He turns away from me and runs his fingers through his hair. He takes his bottom lip between his teeth and looks at me again. I know I threw a lot at him just now, but I don't care. I'm pissed off and confused. I just want answers.


"Layne, I-" he takes a deep breath and looks around before meeting my eyes again. "I don't know. I don't know why I care so much. I just know that I do. I think about you constantly and I want to be around you all the time. That sounds crazy, I know, but it's true. I'm gonna be honest, I'm a little fucked up. I've been through a lot of shit over the past couple years and I haven't been dealing with it very well. But when I see you, I feel like none of that matters. You're the only thing I can focus on. There is something about you that is different than everyone else, and I can't put my finger on it. I'm sorry for last night, that was a one time thing - I promise. I wasn't in the right state of mind and I panicked. I'm sorry. I just- fuck, I don't know."


His words should make me want to turn and run, but they don't. They make me feel warm. They're so honest and genuine. I am a little freaked out, though. He was right, it does sound crazy. But you can't control the way you feel. You can hide it, but it will always be there. Instead of hiding, he gave it to me. He laid it out in front of me and told me exactly how he felt.


I don't realize that I haven't said anything until he steps forward and reaches for me, then retreats. "Just, please don't give up on me. I'm crazy, I know. I don't want to scare you off. I was fucked up last night, that was way out of line. And the phone call, it was a friend. He doesn't call often but when he does, it's never good. I'm sorry. Just give me another chance. Please. I'll make it up to you. I can go to the gas station, or movie theater, or wherever and get you a slushy so you can enjoy something while you work. Please, Layne. I'm sorry, I'll do anything."


He looks so worried. He's practically begging me to forgive him for something that doesn't need forgiving. My eyebrows pull together in thought and I tilt my head to the side. I can't help but wonder what he means when he says he's gone through a lot of stuff in the past two years. I suddenly have the urge to find what those things are and make them stay in his past instead of living in his present. But I can't ask him now. That takes time, and I'll give him all the time I have.


I reach my hand up to his face and rest my palm against his cheek. I want to make the stress that is clouding his eyes disappear. "I just wanted answers, Harry. Not an apology. You have nothing to apologize for. I'm not going anywhere."


The anxiety behind his expression leaves instantly and my hand falls from his face. He sighs heavily with relief. I see the hint of a smile on his lips but he doesn't let it grow.


"I have to go back to work." I say and push myself off the wall. "I'd say 'see you later,' but you have to get your bag and your friends are still in there."


He allows his smile to grow, this time, as he follows me back inside. Harry walks to the bar with me, and grabs his bag from his seat while I walk behind the bar.


Nicole smiles at me and I give her one in return. I go to where Harry is standing across the bar and lean forward.


"I think I'm going go," he says, "I'm tired and I don't want to hang out with my friends, right now."


The fact that he thought it was important to tell me this makes me smile. "Okay, have fun doing whatever you're planning on doing. I'll be here."


His expression softens. His hand comes up to my face and tucks a loose piece of hair back in its place. "I'll see you."


"Bye, H." I say half-heartedly.


The soft expression his face held is now hard. Back up, I think.


"Nicole called you that earlier. I don't really like it. I don't think it suits you." My tone is light, trying to relax him.


It seems to work slightly because he isn't as tense as he just was. "I don't really like it, either. Goodnight, Layne."


With that, he turns away and walks out the door.

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