The sound of tearing paper filled the silence, followed immediately by the pitter patter of rain. Roman huffed as he balled up the September page of his calendar and tossed in into the trash. It was just his luck that the rain would start tonight. It happened every year. At the same time. Ten o’ clock sharp. Ever since he was born twenty-five years ago. It was like nature wanted him to be depressed for his birthday, but, like always, he was going to make the most of it, rain or no rain.
He swiped his wallet from off the counter of the small kitchenette in his dingy apartment, marveling once again at how shitty his place was for almost $3,000/mo rent. Cities were so expensive. But, unfortunately, cities were where all the jobs, bars, and women were. So in the city he would stay. He would just have to keep harassing his boss abut that raise he had been promised. Last year. In May. God, his life was going nowhere.
“Happy Birthday to me,” Roman muttered, grabbing an umbrella and sliding his keys off the keychain near the front door. “Now, let’s go get wasted.”
The bar was as crowded as ever. Loud drunks guffawing and slipping out of their seats, scantily clad women dancing for free drinks, a table of DDs sipping on sodas. It felt like home to Roman. He slid in next to two other men at the bar and called over the bartender, “Bourbon on the rocks.” The young man left to make his drink, and Roman took the opportunity—while he was still sober—to scout the place for any hotties. He wasn’t disappointed tonight. The women at the bar clearly outnumbered the men, and on the classic scale of one to ten, he didn’t see any that he would rank less than a six.
“Bourbon on the rocks,” the bartender called, interrupting Roman’s predatory hunt. He slid the drink down the table. Roman took a long sip and sighed. He glanced back at a group of drunk looking women. Amongst them was a long-haired blonde with a voluptuous figure. Target acquired, he licked his lips and downed the rest of his drink.
He made his way through the sea of people to the table where the blonde girl was sitting. “Hey there, pretty lady,” he said, leaning suavely against the side of the booth. He flashed her a coy smile. “I haven’t seen you here before.”
The girl turned to face him. Her eyes were strikingly blue and her cheeks were rosy with color, although whether it was from embarrassment or drunkenness, he couldn’t say. “Maybe that’s because I’m new to the city,” she replied.
“Oh really?” Roman raised a brow in embellished surprise. “I’d love to give you a tour sometime.”
“Sounds like fun, but I don’t walk off with strange men. I don’t even know your name.”
“Fair enough. My name is Roman Sousa.” He took her hand and brought it to his lips. “And you are, my lady?”
The girl’s cheeks deepened in color very noticeably, “L-Lily.”
“Don’t give him your number!” A shrill female voice shouted over the steady rumble of the crowd. Roman’s blood ran cold. Not her again…
A short, Asian girl with blue-tipped hair shoved her way through the people in the bar. Her brows were knit together in anger; her face was scrunched in rage. She placed herself between Roman and Lily. “Don’t trust him! He’s a liar and a cheater.”
“What’s going on?” Lily asked, eyes wide with shock.
“This guy is a jackass, that’s what,” the Asian girl snapped. “He lied to me just to get me to sleep with him.” She turned to the blonde girl and placed her hands urgently on her shoulders. “He told me he was looking for a long term relationship. He even went out on a few dates with me, just to convince me it was true.” She glared over her shoulder at Roman. “He tricked me for almost a month before I realized he was just a douchebag who had added me to his collection. He was with two other girls at the same time, but pretended he was faithful to me the whole time!”
“That’s terrible,” Lily gasped. Her harsh gaze was turned on Roman as well. “You’re a dick.”
Roman shifted his weight uncomfortably. This was awkward. He hadn’t expected Cindy to show up here. She hardly ever went to bars. Damn it. He couldn’t think of a way to save himself, so he just scoffed and walked away. Unfortunately for him, Cindy followed.
“I know what you’re up to, Roman,” she hissed, trotting along at his side. “But I’m not gonna let you screw over any of these poor women. They’re not gonna go through what I did. Bastard.” She practically spat the insult at him. “I’ll be watching you.” With that, she turned and made her way to an empty table, where she proceeded to sit and stare at him with hawk like focus.
There went his night of fun. Roman made his way back to the bar and ordered another drink for himself. If he wasn’t going to score tonight, he might as well drink himself into oblivion. After all, that was the next best thing, right?
October 2, 2015 New York, NY 5:00AM
Everything was cold. Roman opened his eyes, instantly aware of a sharp, throbbing pain in his head. That was the only clear thing, however. Everything else was a confusing mess. He had no idea where he was or how he had gotten there. He sat up slowly, nursing his hangover. How much did he have to drink last night? Why did his body hurt like he had been in a fight? How did he get to this alley? It was the first time in a while he had gotten blackout drunk, and now that he was feeling the pain of it, he remembered why he didn’t do it more often.
“Shit,” he grimaced, rubbing his temples. As he began to regain his bearings, he checked his person for his belongings. Luckily, it was all still there. His keys, his wallet, and his phone, which happened to still have about six percent of the battery remaining. With its GPS, he checked his location. He was still pretty close to the bar, and with that, close to his bike. It was just a short walk West. He rose shakily to his feet, cursing repeatedly as his head pounded from the strain. He took a breath, and then took a step, starting the difficult journey back to his motorcycle.
Abigail was sitting by the windowsill of her apartment, with a cup of chamomile tea in her hands while one of her legs dangle, with her swinging it to and fro. In the safety of her small apartment, she watched as the skies overhead progressively turn darker. She never knew why, but she always liked looking at the sky in her free time. It always gave her a sense of calm in a strange, mysterious way. She figured that she just really appreciated what nature had to offer, which was perfectly suited for her as she practiced the religion of Shintoism, though not as often as she would like. That was one of the disadvantages of living in a country where there really isn't a set religion. It was great to practice whatever you wish as your religion, but Shintoism isn't very popular, unlike Christianity or Buddhism.
Hearing her phone go off, Abigail was taken away from her thoughts, soon checking over her phone. It was a call from her friend, who was asking if Abigail was still planning on going to the volunteer work for the next day.
"I will, I will. Don't worry." Abigail reassured her friend Kali, pacing around her apartment as she sipped from her cup of tea.
"Okay Abigail, I trust you. We really need help moving the boxes of clothes down at the orphanage. A lot of people brought stuff in this month!" Kali exclaimed, causing Abigail to smile at herself. Kali always seemed like a nervous wreck, but Abigail never lied when it came to her commitments.
"Right. I will be there. And I'll see if there's more people wanting to help out too. Sounds like you really need the help."
"Oh my gosh, that would be AMAZING. If you could do that, you would be saving me a lot of work!" Abigail nodded to herself, holding her phone in between her ear and her shoulder as she wrote down a note to herself for more recruits while Kali continued on. After a few minutes of doing more arrangements, Abigail was off the phone and the apartment was silent again.
Sighing after drinking up the last of her tea, Abigail looked at the time and smiled. It was time for her to visit her lady friend, Mrs. Perkins. She was an elderly woman who lived a floor above her and was a good friend of Abigail for a few years now. Grabbing some shoes and her keys, Abigail got ready for the walk upstairs and headed out. Arriving at the apartment, Abigail picked up the bag of groceries that is left by the delivery man and opened the door to the cozy little apartment that smelled like soap and peppermint.
"Ah, time for dinner already, dearie?" Mrs. Perkins called out, hobbling over with the aid of her cane out of her room. "Seems so, Mrs. Perkins. What do you feel like eating today?" Abigail asked, setting down the groceries as she rolled up her sleeves.
"How about something warm? I can feel a storm coming on, my bones are beginning to ache and I feel a bit chilly." The salt-and-pepper haired lady requested, going over to the kitchen to help Abigail. Abigail hummed slightly, deep in thought as she went through her head anything that could fit the criteria. "We could always make lasagna, and have warm sandwiches while we wait for it to cook?" The old woman nodded in approval, and Abigail got to work.
The girl began to take out the ingredients needed for the lasagna and soon started to lay out the pasta, then the sauce and cheese and meat, all in that order a few times until the pan was filled to the top. Having cooked this recipe for Mrs. Perkins countless times in the past, she was used to all the motions of it. Mrs. Perkins spoke to her about her daily routine and the local gossip while Abigail cooked, with the girl listening attentively as she cooked.
"You know, my grandson wanted to thank you, Abigail." Mrs. Perkins commented at one point, as Abigail was putting the pan into the oven.
"Oh? What for? I haven't done anything." Abigail replied, closing the oven door carefully.
Mrs. Perkins chuckled softly, shaking her head slowly. The woman had her hair up in a tight bun, her glasses pushed up on the bridge of her nose, with the woman being seated in her rocking chair located in between the living room area and the kitchen area. Her wrinkled hands were in her lap, relaxed and resting. "He wanted to thank you for your kindness towards me. Of course, you know how busy he is with his business now, and he is very grateful that you have been helping me while he is away. I am very thankful too."
With a blush, Abigail laughed shyly as she took off the oven mitts, placing them on the counter. "It's no big deal. I have known you since forever, and you have helped me so much. I can only think of doing this as a way to return the favor." Sitting next to Mrs. Perkins now, Abigail smiled brightly. "Now, tell me more about Tyler! Is he doing okay?"
The evening went on with the two ladies conversing about random topics, while they ate dinner together and listened to classical music. Once it was beginning to turn dark, Mrs. Perkins yawned slightly. Abigail took this as a sign that it was time for her to go home. Walking Mrs. Perkins to her room and fetching her a glass of water for her medications, Abigail started to walk back to her apartment, when she heard thunder outside. Excitedly, she went down the stairs and out to the street, where she was greeted with a shower of rain. She smiled and spun around as she enjoyed the feeling of the rain droplets on her skin. It was refreshing to be in the rain again, and as much as she had enjoyed it, Abigail quickly went back into the building before she got too wet. Giggling to herself, she went up to her apartment once more, changing into comfier clothes before getting to her laptop to check in on her emails. She was hoping to find an email from a friend who was going to help her go on a trip to Europe, but nothing came up in her inbox.
Sighing a little, Abigail stretched out in her bed and watched the rain come down on the city. With the soft noise of the rain, she was soon lulled to sleep.
Roman groaned and rolled over on his bed, sinking into the comfort of the soft mattress, and drawing the warm blanket over his still-aching head. He knew he must’ve been dancing on the line of alcohol poisoning to be in this much pain the next day. That damn Cindy… This was her fault. He wouldn’t have had so much to drink if he hadn’t been so pissed off at her for ruining his chances with any of the girls at that bar. He almost wished she was still around so he could give her a piece of his mind.
“Ugh…” he moaned as a fresh wave of pain hit him. He was never getting out of bed again. Ever. Not even if New York City caught on fire and Superman came to put it out and started taking pictures with all the residents. Not even if…
His stomach let out a loud growl.
Well, that would do it.
Roman sat up slowly and twisted at the waist to let his legs hang over the side of his bed. It was annoying to have to move in small increments like that, but it was all he could manage with his killer hangover. He looked up at the mirror that hung from the door across from where he was sitting. He looked like a complete wreck. His black hair was disheveled, his face was pale, and his usually clear, green eyes were bloodshot. His body was covered in bruises from what he could only guess was a fight with someone at the bar—perhaps the bouncer?
He got up from the edge of the bed and meticulously put on a set of clean clothes—nothing fancy, just a long sleeved, black t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. After that, he went to the bathroom to fix up his ratty hair and brush his teeth. He used mouthwash as an extra measure to get rid of the alcohol on his breath. After all, he didn’t want to leave his apartment looking like a homeless drunk.
On his way out, Roman downed some Tylenol, threw on a leather jacket, and slid a pair of sunglasses over the bridge of his nose to aid in the nursing of his hangover. He would be damned before he let a headache keep him away from crispy bacon.
For efficiency’s sake, Roman walked to the nearest café, Morning Star, which was only two blocks from his apartment. He just wanted to be in and out. Full quick, and back home even quicker. The annoying little bell chimed when he opened the door to the restaurant, and a cheery hostess greeted him with an unholy amount of enthusiasm for the morning.
“Good morning, sir! Just one?” she asked in a bubbly voice.
“Yeah, just me,” Roman muttered. He rolled his eyes behind his darkly tinted sunglasses. Hostesses always asked how many would need seating, even when the answer was obvious. It was part of their job, and he knew that, but in his irritable state, he thought the question made her sound dumb. However, he chose not to pick a fight so early in the day and held his tongue.
The young woman led him to an empty booth, “A server will be with you shortly.”
Roman nodded and sat down. He opened up the menu on the table, passing the time by searching for a good looking breakfast plate as he waited for his server to arrive.
Abigail woke up to her alarm, hitting the snooze button as she let out a big yawn. In her half-asleep state, she clumsily got up from bed and made her way to the bathroom to wash up and fully wake up. Wobbling over to her closet, she tiredly picked out her uniform for work, where she was a server for a café called Morning Star. It was a part time job that she had gotten a few months ago while she looked for a better career in between the few classes she needed in order to have a degree in photography and international studies.
The uniform consisted of a deep red, buttoned down shirt that was tucked into her black skirt that reached knee-length, along with black tights underneath. She also wore a black and red apron with a black ribbon bow to tie around her shirt collar, similar to a men's formal tie. Wrapping her light brown hair in a bun, she puts on her black cap to hide her hair in and slipped on her work shoes.
Checking the time now and then, Abigail began to make herself a bit of breakfast as she drank some coffee that had been brewing while she was changing. As she served herself a plate of two Sunny-Side Ups with toast and some sausage, Abigail walked to her small table and ate at a steady pace, still making sure she had time to get to work. It was a rather quiet routine, and sometimes Abigail did miss having company around to at least have someone to talk to. Being the only one in her apartment wasn't her ideal lifestyle, but she was stuck with it nonetheless. After a few minutes of enjoying her meal, she placed the dirty dishes into the sink and grabbed her small backpack and keys, heading out to work, which was only a few blocks away from where she lived, making it really convenient for her in case she forgot something or wanted to go home for lunch.
Arriving at work at around 8 o'clock, Abigail was soon put to work, taking orders from customers, taking them to the chef, greeting customers as they walk into the door and serving the food, all with excellent service and a smile. Doing all of that as a server came fairly easy for her, as she liked to talk to people and help them out with anything that they needed in order to make their visit more enjoyable. She just loved the sight of people genuinely happy with their food on the daily basis.
About less than an hour into the shift, Abigail heard the bell chime as a man walked into the café. She looked over to where she was at in the cash register and spotted the man, seeing that he was wearing dark clothes and a pair of sunglasses. He looked a bit peculiar to her, but she shrugged it off and continued to get the bill for a previous customer. This should give the man some time to look over the menu and decide what to order while he waited for her to be done with the customer. Abigail went over to him a minute after she got the money for the customer's order, now taking her notepad and pen in her hands while she approached the new customer.
"Good morning, sir! My name is Abigail and I'll be your server for today." Abigail greeted him with a bright smile. "Would you like something to drink while you decide on your order, or are you ready for me to take it now?" She asked, the words coming naturally out of her mouth as she had experience in the job, as well as her genuine kindness towards the customers.
Roman hard a hard time focusing on the small print of the menu. Having gotten only three hours of sleep—he didn’t count his blackout because he had no idea how long he was unconscious—it was hard to pay attention to anything. That, and the incessant aching in his head made it damn near impossible to read. He sighed and rubbed his temples. Just as he was getting frustrated, a waitress walked up and greeted him. She had the same cheerful tone as the hostess who had met him at the door. He looked up at her over his sunglasses. He paused.
What a piece of work! She was the most beautiful girl he had seen in a while. A definite eleven on a scale of one to ten. Her long, brunette hair fell in soft waves past her shoulders, and her blue eyes felt like they were piercing into his soul. As for her body… Infinitely better than the blonde girl at the bar. What was her name? Something starting with an ‘L’… Oh well, it didn’t matter anymore.
“Hi, Abigail,” Roman said with his most charming smile. He removed his sunglasses and set them on the table. “I’ll have a coffee to start. Whatever is your strongest.” He was glad he had cleaned himself up before he left his apartment. He would never have a shot with a girl like this if he looked like a vagabond. It seemed luck was on his side for once in his life. “Also, I must say,” he added coyly. “It’s a pleasure having such a pretty waitress to take my order.
Abigail felt herself get a bit flustered as the man suddenly gave her a charming smile. Nodding as she took note of his request for strong coffee, she felt her cheeks heat up just a tiny bit as he complimented on her looks. Sure, Abigail would be complimented on her looks all the time by various people, and she would dismiss them and go on with whatever she was doing, but the man had managed to catch her a little off guard. It was a little strange, but Abigail made sure that she didn't show her flustered emotions to the customer. Something about him made her a bit weary, but she couldn't judge him right off the bat without knowing him first. Although she did have to admit, the guy looked charming.
"Aw, well, thank you for the compliment, but I'm sure you have met plenty of women who are prettier than me." Abigail replied, becoming naturally humble. She didn't feel like she can be compared to other women. "It is my pleasure serving you today. I will be back with your coffee sir, if you'll give me just a moment." With that, she quickly walked to the kitchen, taking a mug and saucer from the racks and a coffee pot of the strongest coffee they had readily available, taking it back to the man. Arriving at the table, she smiled at him as she served him his coffee.
"How is your morning going? Are you having trouble choosing something to eat for breakfast?" She asked with sincerity, giving a passing server the coffee pot who had asked for it.
A smirk tugged at the corner of Roman’s lip. He could tell that Abigail was struggling to hide her embarrassment, but the pink glow that formed in her cheeks gave away the truth. He had her hooked. Now he just had to seal the deal somehow. His green eyes glossed over her form one more time as he thought about different approaches to try. She seemed like the bashful type, so compliments were probably his best bet.
“Certainly not!” he exclaimed to the waitress when she humbly said that there were prettier women than her. “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve met in quite a long time. I mean it!”
When she left to prepare his coffee, he turned back to his menu, squinting hard. He was a bit more awake now, so he could read the menu better than before. He chose a couple of breakfast dishes that looked good and filling, and then he spent the rest of his waiting time by searched his memory for lines that had worked on other women in the past. He didn’t want to mess this up in his tired, hungover state.
Soon, Abigail came back, asking him a flurry of questions. “Not gonna lie, my morning hasn’t been the greatest,” Roman answered with a one-shouldered shrug. “But it’s getting better.” He winked at her flirtatiously. “As for my order, I’ve got a couple of options picked out, but I’d love it if you would tell me what your favorite breakfast is here.”
"Oh? What happened?" Abigail asked, looking at him with a bit of interest. She definitely had a soft spot for people's stories, and this opportunity was no exception. But she quickly let out a laugh and rolled her eyes as the man declared that his morning was getting better, while giving her a wink. Right, now she knew for sure that he was flirting with her. No wonder he gave her compliments on her looks and tried to make himself suave.
Pushing her sleeves up a little, she hummed a little as she thought over his question. It's been a while since she actually ate at the café. Taking a glance at the menu, Abigail searched for the dish she had enjoyed the most. "Call me average, but I honestly like this platter." She pointed to the platter that consisted of a stack of pancakes, with scrambled eggs mixed with crispy potato bits, along with a few strips of bacon and sausage on the side.
"The café's pancakes are the best, in my opinion, and I just love their egg and potato. I honestly could care less for anything that's too fancy." Taking a small step back to let him pick his choice, she took a good look around the café, making sure that there wasn't a customer who was in need of assistance. Turning back to her customer, she got her notepad out again, ready to write something down. "Ready to choose something now? Or do you need more time?"
Roman chuckled to himself and shook his head when Abigail asked what happened to make his morning less than good. “Don’t worry about it,” he said dismissively. “I just made a dumbass decision last night. It’s fine now, though—especially since I get to spend time talking to a beauty like yourself.” In truth, he didn’t really want to tell an innocent looking girl that he had gotten wasted and passed out in an alley. In all his years of hitting on chicks, he knew that was the quickest way to shut down a potential date.
“Really, that dish?” Roman quirked his brow in mock surprise. “I was just looking at that one before you got back. You’ve got good taste, Abigail—can I call you Abby? I’ll take it.” He offered up another one of his trademark smiles. So far, so good. If things kept up like this, he would definitely be able to get her phone number before the end of his meal.
At that very moment, the door of the café opened violently, drawing the attention of everyone in the building. Roman turned as well, just in time to see two men enter, dressed fully in black, wearing dark shades over their eyes. As soon as they were through the doors, they stopped and looked around, as if seeking out someone or something in particular. Roman looked away, avoiding eye contact. It wasn’t a stretch to guess they meant trouble, and while he didn’t recognize either of their faces, it also wasn’t a long shot to assume they were looking for him. He had a history dealing with shady people, after all.
Shit, shit shit… he chanted in his head. He slipped a little lower in his seat, hoping they wouldn’t come to his table. Of course, that was too good to be true. It didn’t take long for the two men to spot him. The made a beeline for his booth, lips pursed and foreheads wrinkled in anger.
“Hey, jackass!” One of the men, a tall, stocky fellow, snapped. “Think you could get away with what you did last night?”
Roman blinked, Damn it all. What did I do? I can’t remember anything before the alley. His green eyes flickered to Abigail. Well, there went his shot with her. It wasn’t worth putting up a façade anymore. He turned to the two men, meeting their fiery glares with a haughty smirk, “What? You two just think you can waltz in here and expect me to fight you or something? This is a nice establishment. Show some class.”
“Bastard,” the stocky man growled, stepping forward and grabbing Roman by the collar. “You just expect me to walk away after you get frisky with my girl? Come outside and face me like a man, you sleezy coward!”
“I’m the coward?” Roman slapped the man’s hand off of his shirt. “You’re the one who showed up with a bodyguard. Don’t think you can take me by yourself, huh?” He glanced back at the front desk of the café, where he could see the hostess dialing numbers into a phone. Her eyes were wide with fright.
She’s calling the cops. He clicked his tongue in nervous frustration. He wasn’t about to go to jail now. He had to get out of here.
“Alright, alright,” Roman held up his hands and slid out of the booth. “Let’s go outside.”
The stocky man clenched and unclenched his fists, clearly fighting the urge to punch Roman in the face. He cracked his neck and leaned in close to his face, whispering menacingly: “You’re gonna wish you’d never been born, punk.”
“Touché,” Roman snarled. He led the way as the three men headed out of the café, walking slowly so the other two would think he was being compliant. However, as soon as they were all beyond the perimeter of the building, he spun around so quickly that the men in black had no time to react. In a flash, he smashed both of their heads together, left them on the ground, unconscious, and sprinted for his bike.
“So long!” Roman laughed maniacally. “Say hi to the po po for me!” He started up his motorcycle and sped out of the parking lot, leaving the others to take the fall just as he heard the faint beginnings of police sirens in the distance.
Abigail raised an eyebrow as the man told her vaguely about his morning, before letting out another laugh. "You are a flirt." She said as she shook her head, smiling to herself. Seeing that he had apparently wanted to choose the dish she had suggested, Abigail smiled a bit. "Oh wow, you were? Maybe I do have good taste!" Abigail played along before chuckling a bit. "That dish is a classic really. I just like classic dishes." She replied with a shrug, before writing down the name of the dish for his order. "Sure, you can call me Abby. My friends call me that." Abigail added on, not leaving her eyes from her notepad.
The young woman was about to ask if he had wanted to add something to the dish, when suddenly two men burst through the door. Abigail was visibly startled, and her eyes grew wide as she watched the men search for something. Noticing that the man she was currently talking to began to try and hide himself, her mouth to let out a small gasp as the two men went over to harass her customer. She quickly moved away to where the rest of the bystanders were, helping a few ladies get to safety along the way.
Abigail watched as the men decided to settle thing outside, and soon enough, the police came to investigate right as her customer disappeared out of sight. Abigail let out a frustrated sigh, hating the fact that this violent drama had disturbed the peaceful café. She came to not like the man, as he seemed to be like a shady guy to her now. And to think, she was getting complimented and having a friendly conversation with him! Now she had to deal with the aftermath, having to make sure people were okay and dealing with upset customers who wanted their money back, or wanted to do something ridiculous like sue the café for letting something like this happened to their morning breakfast time. One man even blamed Abigail for letting this happen as she was the one serving the man they were looking for! All the commotion just gave Abigail a massive headache and more work to be done, while having the dissatisfaction of making people happy now.
Everything just got slightly harder for her at work now, and she just wanted her shift to be over already so she can go home.
Roman’s eyes darted nervously to and from his side view mirrors as he rode his bike away from the café, his fingers twitching over the throttle in case he had to gun it down the steet. But so far, all was quiet—or as quiet as it could be—in the big city of NYC. No sight nor sound of cop cars or sirens. It looked like he was in the clear.
He pulled around a corner, parking in an alleyway on a low traffic street near the outskirts of the city, and breathed a sigh of mingled tension and relief. He swung his leg over the side of his bike and put down the kickstand. It was a good place to take a quick rest before he went back. And contemplate the crazy last twelve hours of his life.
He was glad to have gotten out of that mess without even a scratch, but his frustration about the night before had been rekindled with the newfound knowledge that he had “gotten frisky” with some guy’s girlfriend. Probably while the bastard was standing right there. That would explain the bruises on his body, after all.
He groaned and leaned against the side of a building, raking his fingers through his hair. Dammit! While he didn’t really care about whether a chick was single or taken—just because there’s a goalie doesn’t mean you can’t shoot to score, eh?—he did prefer to avoid situations that would get him beat senseless by big jackasses. Putting the moves on said jackass’s girl was not the way to do that.
And speaking of girls…
His thoughts drifted back to that waitress, Abigail. For some reason, he couldn’t get her completely out of his head. Sure, she was hot and all, but so were plenty of other chicks. And he had his pick of the lot of ‘em. Not Abigail though. There was no way in hell she would ever consider going out with him after what went down at Morning Star. So why was it that he couldn’t forget about her and move on with his life?
Roman ducked his head around the corner, checking to make sure he was still in the clear. Still no cops. He chuckled underneath his breath. They must have been satisfied with the arrest of those two idiots back at the café. He put the kickstand of his bike back up and hopped up onto the seat. He was just about to ride out from the alleyway when his phone went off in his pocket. He checked the caller ID; It was his boss. He checked the time; It was 9:44AM.
He swiped the option to receive the call, “Hello?”
Sousa, what the hell are you doing? The meeting with our new client started almost an hour ago!
“Sorry, boss. I forgot that was today,” he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Look, can you just start without me? I’m not gonna be in until later. I’m feeling a little under the weather this morning.”
Uh huh, the man’s voice was skeptical. You’re gonna have to get over that drinking problem of yours sometime, Sousa. You’re really on thin ice, you know that? You’re just lucky you’re good at your job or I’d be firing you right now. Get your ass over here when your hangover is gone. I’ll see you then.
“Aye aye, boss man” Roman answered. He hung up the phone, slipped it back into his pocket, and rode out into the street. However, he didn’t go straight to work. He didn’t feel like doing that just yet. Instead, he decided to take a detour and drive around NYC for a little while. The honking cars, trying to get through crowded intersections; the angry businessmen, shoving through packed sidewalks to get to their jobs; the street vendors, harassing tourists while wearing wild costumes… The bustle of the city brought him joy. He needed a little joy right then. So, he headed back towards the towering skyscrapers of New York, planning to ride around for a while before he went to his job at Precision Horizons.
Abigail continued to work, trying harder to help and give better service to the customers that were affected by the incident from earlier, while welcoming and explaining the new customers why the police were here to guard the place. Either way, work was work. When her boss came in to check on her, she noticed how tired Abigail looked, and decided to let the poor girl go home. Abigail graciously took the offer, planning on going home and just take a good nap for a while.
Walking out the door and starting to head towards her apartment, Abigail took her time to pass by some alleys on her way there. Soon enough, she felt like someone was right behind her, walking closer and closer towards her. She didn't think nothing of it, as NYC can get crowded a bunch of times and that was natural. Abigail just focused on getting home as quick as possible so she can sleep, as she had desperately needed it.
Turning a corner, Abigail was forced to cross another alleyway, and suddenly, another guy approached her directly, giving her a sly grin. With wide eyes, Abigail tried to go the other way, only to end up bumping into the guy that was following her. "Heeeeey, where you goin' little lady?" The other man asked as he walked forward, making Abigail get scared and try to run away again, just to that the first guy could grab her wrist and pull her back.
"What's in this backpack, eh?" He asked, attempting to get the backpack off of her before Abigail began go struggle. "Let go of me, that stuff is MINE!" She exclaimed, managing to pull her backpack away somehow. "Eeeey girly, I wouldn't do that if I were you.." the second guy warned as he took out his blade, smiling wickedly as he showed it off to the girl. The first guy took a hold of her again, grabbing both her arms behind her back while the second guy pressed the blade against the base of her neck. Breathing heavily, Abigail did the only thing she could think of. "HELP ME!" She screamed. "HELP-" She was cut off by a big hand covering her mouth by the first guy. Terrified now, Abigail whimpered as she began to shake in fear. She didn't want this to end horribly, but she felt that she could die right now because of these guys. Abigail tried to stay calm, but everything was making her nervous and horrified.
The best part about riding a motorcycle in NYC was the way the vehicle fit so smoothly between the stopped cars in all the streets. Traffic in the Big Apple was always hell on earth, but for Roman, all he had to do was ride between the honking cars and dodge the jaywalking pedestrians in order to make each green light. It was a bit of an adrenaline rush, especially during the morning, when all the businessmen and women who were too lazy to walk hopped into taxi cabs and ubers, jamming up the roads like bad cholesterol. The excess of vehicles made it tricky to bob and weave, but he had lived here for years; and as such, he had figured out a working system. However, this morning’s casual drive turned out to be a little bit different.
As he was making his way down towards an intersection on 4th Street—it was a red light at the time—Roman caught a brief flash of movement in the corner of his eye. Sure, New York was always bustling with activity, but for some reason, this particular motion drew his full attention. Once his motorcycle had been brought to a stop, he turned to see what was going on. He pinpointed the source of the commotion and quirked his brow with intrigue. It was Abby the waitress… being mugged by two armed scumbags. Now, normally he wouldn’t have gotten involved—he should he risk his own neck for a stranger?—but here, he saw an opportunity for redemption. If he saved her from those criminals, he could show Abigail that he wasn’t just some jackass who hit on other guys’ girlfriends. Maybe she would give him her number. After all, what girl wasn’t crazy for a knight in a leather jacket?
Having made up his mind, Roman cut sharply across the traffic, ignoring the honks and rude exclamations along the way. He drove the motorcycle onto the sidewalk, bracing himself as his bike bounced up over the curb, and shouted at the two robbers, “Hey, Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum! What kind of idiots need two men to take on one girl?” The thugs turned to look at him, surprised to see a man riding a bike directly at them. The one holding onto Abby let go of her suddenly, scrambling to get out of his way.
“What the—” he stammered, holding up his knife in defense. “Who the hell are you?”
Roman slowed his motorcycle to a stop and stepped down from it. He popped open the kickstand and walked towards the robbers, tilting his chin up cockily. “Who, me? I’m just your friendly, neighborhood, Spider Man.” In a flash, he swung at the man with the knife, clocking him right in the jaw before he had a chance to react. The thug staggered, holding his face in his free hand. He glared up at Roman, trying to seem fierce, but his eyes exposed his fear. He obviously didn’t want to fight. The two were likely just looking for an easy target, and now that Roman had showed up in Abby’s defense, any ease they would have had was gone.
“Tch,” the man spat blood on the ground. “You’re not worth it. C’mon!” He gestured to his partner and the two fled down the street.
“Yeah, that’s right,” Roman taunted loudly. “You better run from Spider Man!” He smirked, proud of his victory, and turned to the waitress. His voice was soft with uncharacteristic sympathy, “Are you okay? Those two thugs didn’t hurt you did they?”
Abigail yelped as she was dropped onto the floor, her legs feeling like jello as she watched her savior come to the rescue, with him turning out to be the guy who caused her trouble at Morning Star. She couldn't do anything in her confused and terrified state, only able to just sit there and watch as the guy defended her, while adding some humor into his saving.
Watching the thugs run away from him after one of them got hurt, Abigail shakily got up from the floor, holding her backpack close with one arm as she supported herself using the wall next to her. She took a moment to catch her breath and calm herself, as she was still shaking violently from the incident. Almost forgetting to respond, she looked at the guy and gave him a small, tired smile. "I-I'm fine.. I'm just a bit shaken up." She replied, tucking some of her hair behind her ear. She was so mentally exhausted now. Abigail didn't know if she could even go to her apartment now, since her legs felt heavy.
"Really, thank you for saving me. I-I really owe you one.." She said softly, clutching to her backpack a bit tighter. "And I guess I can forgive you for that scene you made back at the café..." She trailed off and let out a sigh. Her mind was beginning to feel like mush. She didn't know if this was her mushy brain talking, or if it was her actual self reconsidering the events from earlier that involved the man. What was his name again? She let out another sigh as she tried to regain her thoughts. Then again, the man did save her life. Any longer, and she swore she could've been robbed, or hurt, or maybe even both, or worse! She really needed to figure out a way to repay him, but at the moment, she just wanted to relax.
"I never got your name. As much as I'd like to think you're the real Spiderman, you're not really Peter Parker, are you?" She joked half heartedly, attempting to lighten the mood, for her sake. As much as she wanted to laugh at his antics with the thugs and calling himself Spiderman, Abigail was too scared to even crack a smile then. Even if she had a fondness of superheroes, she didn't laugh. The incident was too much for her. "O-On second thought... Can we get out of here? I really don't feel safe.. and I feel like I'm going to be sick." Abigail warned, holding her head as she closed her eyes shut. The adrenaline must've been making her body go weird. She felt nauseated and could feel a headache coming on.
Roman bit his lip to suppress a grin when Abigail thanked him for saving her and said that she would forgive his scene at Morning Star earlier that morning. It sounded like he was in. He just hoped his damned misfortune would stay away for once so he wouldn’t lose her trust again. He still couldn’t put his finger on it, but there was something different about this girl, something that kept him wanting to come back. No other woman had ever had an effect like that on him. It was strangely off-putting and addictive at the same time.
“Nah,” he shrugged when the waitress asked—probably jokingly, but he didn’t know her well enough to tell—if he was the real Spiderman. “The name’s Roman; Roman Sousa.” He held out his hand to shake hers and smiled in a friendly manner. “Nice to meet you again, Abigail the Waitress.” He fought off a victorious laugh when she asked if he could take her somewhere else. Awfully trusting of strangers, aren’t you? he thought, his eyes sweeping over her hungrily. It was almost too easy… But he wasn’t about to give away his real intentions: to score a one night stand with this beautiful woman.
“Of course,” Roman said. He stepped over to his bike, which was still parked on the sidewalk, popped up the kickstand, and swung his leg over the side of it. He patted the small passenger seat behind him, grinning impishly at Abigail. “Ever ridden a motorcycle before, pretty lady?”
Abigail smiled as she shook his hand as he gave her his name. Something about him was making her a little nervous, but she only decided to brush it off. She was too tired to actually think this through. "Roman Sousa. Nice to meet you too again. And it's Abigail Astor. I do have a last name, you know." She replied, before she pulled her backpack onto her back again. Patting herself down, she let out a sigh of relief as she saw that her things were still on her person.
Watching him get on his motorcycle, Abigail gave him a small, skeptical look, having second thoughts now as he gave her that grin. "N-No, I haven't ridden a motorcycle before." She managed to say, a light blush coating her cheeks now. For some strange reason, the way he complimented her made her want to blush, and it made her frustrated that her blush was noticeable. With a huff, she walked over to the bike and cautiously got onto the seat behind him. "U-Um, do I just hold onto you?" She asked a bit timidly. "You won't do anything funny, are you?"
A devious smile crossed Roman’s lips at the sight of Abigail’s fluster around him. It was so easy. He barely even had to try to impress her. She seemed to be smitten with him just because of his natural charm and good looks. At the very least, she was embarrassed by his flirtatious comments. The girl had fallen into his web; now he just had to close in and seal the deal.
Roman chuckled at her question, “Just hold onto my waist, doll. You don’t think the guy who just saved you from those two robbers would hurt you, right? I’m not gonna lay a finger on you—unless you ask, of course.” He winked coyly. “Now then, as for a place to go…” He stroked the stubble on his chin in thought. Normally, he would have taken a beautiful girl like her right back to his place, but she wasn’t the type to go along with that. She definitely looked too innocent for anything so fast-paced. No, he would have to play a slower game to secure a night with this one.
“Do you like ice cream?” Roman asked. “I know a guy in Central Park—real nice; he gives me discounts—who has a cart. I’ll buy.” He revved his motorcycle’s engine and drove out onto the street, weaving through the flow of traffic, without giving Abigail a chance to answer. “You deserve something sweet, little miss. You’ve had quite a day.”
Abigail angrily pouted at Roman, but slowly wrapped her arms around his waist like he instructed. “I don’t think I’ll ask anytime soon.” She grumbled, watching him ponder over where to take her. “You are a strange guy. I don’t know you very well either, so I wouldn’t know if you would be a trustworthy person.” Abigail added. Preferably, she would rather go home, but interestingly enough, she wouldn’t mind going somewhere else. Maybe going somewhere other than home would work just as good to distract herself
But Roman didn’t even gave her a chance to respond to his question about ice cream, already revving up his motorcycle and started heading over to the guy in the cart. Huffing a little, Abigail kept a tight hold on him, a bit nervous with her first motorcycle ride. “Thanks for taking me out for ice cream, but I can pay for myself!” She called out to him, not wanting to seem like a gold digger. “I don’t mind paying for myself, don’t waste your money.” As much as she supposed he was trying to treat her with some ice cream as a way of being nice, she didn't want to take advantage of this guy. It didn't feel right, and besides, having company was more than enough for her.
Roman enjoyed the feeling of Abigail’s arms around his waist. Her touch was electrifying—even more so than the other women he had brought for rides on his bike. It made him want to take a few extra detours on the way to Central Park, where the ice cream vendor would be. He didn’t know how well Abigail knew the area though, so it was a bit risky for him to knowingly take a wrong turn. He didn’t want to scare her while she was still skittish around him, after all.
“Ah, ah,” Roman tutted when she tried to tell him not to pay for her. He flashed her a grin over his shoulder, smoothly leaning to his left to dodge a stopped taxi up ahead without slowing down. His driving was both reckless and controlled, the mark of someone who had years of biking experience and the confidence that came with it. “Don’t even bother trying to cover your own bill, darling. It wouldn’t be very chivalrous of me to let you get away with that, now would it?” He leaned to his right to skirt around the side of a truck, laughing wildly. “Almost there now!”
With his efficient driving, it didn’t take long for them to reach Central Park. Roman slowed his motorcycle to a stop and climbed off. He held out a hand to help Abigail down, leaning forward in a garish but gentlemanly bow, “M’lady.”