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Many thanks to Rileyworks for his edits…
Amber awoke, her eyes gradually blinking open. Her mouth felt dry and gummy; a wrinkle from the pillow had left a painful crease in her cheek. She was hot, and her head felt foggy and sluggish as she struggled to make sense of her disorientation. She felt out of sync, like a dubbed movie where the words don’t quite match the lips of the actors. As her consciousness slowly came online, she pushed herself upright and pulled her brown hair out of her eyes. At that point, she abruptly realized she was laying on an unrecognized bed. Further, she was only wearing her underwear.
She tried to recall where she was and why she was practically nude, but her normally quick mind felt like it was trudging through mud. She didn’t have a boyfriend and definitely wasn’t the type for a one-night stand. Plus, as she tried to focus on the previous evening, she found a pounding headache, but nothing else–it was a complete blank. The last memory she could really grasp was snuggling up on the couch with a good book and talking to Kat on the phone.
This was most definitely not her couch, and there was no book in sight–panic seized her heart in an icy grip. What the fuck happened to me?
Her eyes swiftly scanned around the room trying to gather her bearings, but everything was blurry. My glasses! Where are my glasses? She blearily fumbled around and found them on a small nightstand next to an empty wine glass, nearly knocking it over in her haste. Reflexively, she caught it, a muted ting cutting through the silence as her ring tapped the crystal. She set it upright and picked up the slim frames with more care.
As she slipped the lenses on, she could make out that she was lying in a tastefully decorated room, her legs tangled in the sheets that had been pushed to the foot of the mattress. A pair of french doors looked out on some kind of stone patio, but it was too dark to see clearly. A distant treeline was barely visible, black shadows cutting an erratic line across a deep blue-grey, hinting that morning was just around the corner. Or night has just begun, she thought.
The realization sent a chill down her spine and adrenaline spiked throughout her body like black tendrils. She bolted upright, her body in full-blown alarm mode. Oh my God! Where am I? What happened to me? And what the hell happened to my clothes! While she was starting to make sense of what was physically around her, her thoughts were still careening randomly.
“Oh, you’re up!” The owner of the voice had just walked in a door opposite the french door. Amber whipped around, her legs tangling even more in the sheets. A young man stood there in a pair of pajama bottoms, his brown hair tousled.
Spencer? Why is he…? Wait…no! Nonononono! Her brow furrowed. “What happened? What did you do?” Amber growled at him, her normally velvety voice distorted by her panic.
“I… Sorry?” He looked at her, his forehead creasing over his brown eyes.
She finally untangled her feet and stood up. “I’ll bet you are. What happened to me? Where are my clothes?” It was only after making the demand that she realized she was facing him bare-chested. She suddenly covered her breasts with her arms. “Stop staring at me!”
With a look of annoyance, he stepped back into the doorway and turned his back to her. “I’m not… You’re upset.”
“Upset? Of course, I’m upset! I’m fucking pissed.” Anger coursed through her. She spotted her skirt laying at the foot of the bed and grabbed it, pulling it on quickly. “I go home to read… wake up nude in your room in the middle of the night… God only knows what happened, and… and… aaaahhh, where the hell is my bra?” she yelled, her voice rising in pitch as her eyes darted around.
He glanced back over his shoulder but quickly turned back when she shot him a dirty look. “I think it’s on the floor on the other side of the bed.” She maneuvered around the bed, picked up the undergarment, and began putting it on. “This is not the morning I was looking forward to,” he muttered to himself.
“Oh, I’m sure it isn’t,” she said bitterly. “I can’t believe you did this to me.” She found her top near where the bra had been stashed and tugged it over her head, her voice muffled briefly as she spat out a machine gun staccato of words. “I don’t know what you gave me, but there’s going to be hell to pay!” As long as she was angry, it held the fear at bay.
She pushed past him down the hallway and found herself in a small kitchenette attached to a larger living area. Her purse lay on the granite counter; she picked it up looking for her phone. It wasn’t there. “Where’s my phone? Give it back!”
“Gave you? You drank some wine.” He had followed her into the kitchenette. He sounded frustrated. “As for your phone, I don’t know. You had it last night. Do you need me to–“
“Oh, of course,” she cut him off, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “One glass of wine eryaman otele gelen escort equals waking up with no clothes on and a head filled with lead. Makes total sense.” She was annoyed that he had followed her and moved away from him, her eyes casting about looking for her phone. She spotted it on an end table near a sofa with a blanket partially tossed over it. She picked it up and jammed her finger against the button to power it on. Probably going to be dead. The screen lit up: 24%. It also informed her that it was a little after 5:30 in the morning. Okay, so it’s not dead. And not the beginning of the night. Her heart started calming down a bit.
She pulled up Katelyn’s number and called it, all the while keeping her eye on Spencer. He just stood there watching her, his eyebrows furrowed, his expression unreadable. A groggy voice answered. “Hey, girlfriend. How was last night? Wait, what time is it? You okay?”
“No, I am not okay,” Amber spat out. “I’m at Spencer’s. Can you give me a ride home? Do you know where he lives?”
Amber heard rustling as Katelyn moved the phone around. “Umm, yeah?” She sounded a bit confused or out of sorts. Probably because I’m calling her so early out of the blue. “I’ll be there soon as I can. Are you going to be okay until then?”
Amber glanced over at Spencer. He was walking over to a closet by the front door. He didn’t seem threatening. But isn’t that how his type worked? Take advantage and then act like nothing’s wrong. Deny everything. “I… I think so. But hurry, okay?”
“Sure thing. I’m heading out the door as soon as I grab my shoes. You call me if you need anything while I’m on my way.”
Amber sniffed. “Okay. Yeah, okay. He’s not… he’s… just hurry, Kat.” She hung up the phone but kept it in her hand. Her mind seemed to be clearing, and she had a thought. She stepped back into the bedroom and grabbed the wine glass from the night before, placing it in her purse. I’ll give this to the police so they can test it to find out what he put in here. She went back to the kitchenette and was startled. Spencer was back from the closet, her jacket in his hand. He’d seen her coming out of the bedroom.
“Here,” he said, handing it to her. “It’s chilly out.” He had an odd expression on his face, and his voice sounded flat.
Probably feeling guilty or trying to cover it up, she thought.
“Do you want to wait for Katelyn in here or up at the house, or…” He trailed off. “I could make you some coffee.”
Up at the house? It was at that point she actually took stock of her surroundings and realized a growing familiarity, as if a haze was starting to lift. A small patchwork of the previous evening’s memories started to trickle back: Steve’s out-of-control party… She, Katelyn, Aaron, Monique, and Tyler being invited to Spencer’s place for a more subdued get-together in his pool house… Her sitting by a pool drinking a glass of wine Spencer brought her.
“I think I’ve had quite enough of you making me drinks,” she replied, tartly.
He frowned. “Suit yourself.” He moved into the kitchen and pulled down a mug, putting it under the Keurig on the counter. He popped a cartridge in and soon the aroma of coffee filled the air. It smelled delicious, and Amber felt herself becoming more alert. Her stomach growled loudly as he sipped from his mug. He glanced at her stomach and then back up at her face, but looked away when he got to her eyes.
He turned to the small fridge and pulled out a pack of pre-packaged muffins, opening them and taking one for himself. “Listen, I’m sorry that what I did upset you. I really am. Obviously, you’re mad, and I want to give you your space. ” He paused, looking between the muffin and coffee in his hands as if they somehow held the answer. “You’re welcome to help yourself to whatever you want. Or not. And you can stay here until Katelyn arrives. I’ll… I’ll be up at the house. It’s clear you don’t want to be around me.” He sounded resigned as he started walking past her.
Her stomach growled again. Gods, I’m so hungry! And he just opened them, so they are probably okay… She moved towards the counter, reaching for a muffin.
Spencer paused at the front door, glancing back at her. “And Amber?”
“What?” she mumbled, her mouth full of the flavor of blueberries.
“Your shirt is on backwards.”
Amber’s head leaned against the glass in the Camry’s door, her eyes occasionally twitching involuntarily as the trees flashed by. She wasn’t really looking out at the forest; she wasn’t really looking anywhere but inward. Kat was holding her left hand while she navigated the car smoothly down the curvy road. The glass felt cool against her forehead. She closed her eyes when the rising sun peeked over the horizon and caused her to squint. She was drained and the day had just begun. With her eyes closed and the hum of the tires, she felt herself starting to slip into her memories…
She sincan escort rushed in the door, slightly out of breath. “Sorry I’m late. There was an accident or something that caused a massive detour.” She maneuvered around the front desk and passed behind Cindy to get to her own desk around the corner.
“Oh, no problem. It’s been slow,” replied the middle-aged woman, standing up. “However, I am going to head out. Jordan’s teacher called. I need to go pick him up. Apparently, he had an issue in class.” She sounded exasperated.
“Ahh, I’m sorry.”
“Thanks. Nothing too bad – I think he’s just acting out because of the divorce. Though, I do have to tell you one thing. So, apparently, he told his teacher, quote ‘I didn’t sign up for this shit – my mother did.'”
The unexpected comment from a seven-year-old caused a rich laugh to erupt from Amber before she could catch it. A moment later she pinched her lips together. “Sorry,” she apologized.
Cindy smiled as she made her way around the counter. “No problem. I have no idea where he learned that language, but it is funny… though he won’t think so later tonight.” As she was pushing the door open, she turned back. “Oh, I forgot to mention–there’s a computer guy who’s here to work on prepping Mei’s office for the new network stuff. He’s down in her office. Arrived just before you did.”
“Oh, okay.” Amber stepped back and glanced down the hallway to get a better view. She didn’t see anyone but thought she saw the briefest flash of a shadow across the doorframe.
“You’re the last one here, so I wanted you to know.”
Amber gave her a thumbs-up as Cindy headed out the front door. She sat down at her desk and opened up one of her files to start some data entry, thought for a second, and glanced back down the hall. I should probably go check in. She put the folder down and headed back.
As Amber moved down the hallway, she could hear movement inside Mei’s office. She leaned her body around the door frame and could just see the top of some brown hair as someone moved around kneeling on the opposite side of the desk extension that wrapped around the side.
“Hey,” she called out, knocking on the doorframe. “Just checkin’ in.”
“Yah!” exclaimed a voice, followed by a thump against the desk. A moment later, a head popped up and a pair of brown eyes peered over the desk. They widened briefly as he looked over at her. “Oh! I mean, hey! Sorry, you startled me.” He was rubbing the top of his head.
“Oh, sorry!” she apologized. “I just wanted to see if you needed anything since I wasn’t here when you arrived. You okay?”
The young man stood up, straightening his t-shirt out. He looked to be a bit older than her, maybe 25 or so. “No worries. More shock than anything. I don’t think there’s any permanent damage.”
“That’s good.” She stepped into the office a bit and looked around at what he was working on. Several computer cables and various tools lay neatly on the desk.
“Say… why are there two of you?” he inquired.
She looked back up at him sharply. “What?”
He broke out in a grin and winked. “Just kiddin’. I’m fine.”
Amber rolled her eyes and smirked. “So what’s the plan? I wasn’t aware we were having anyone over and we’re closing soon.”
He looked around. “Well, the real work is tomorrow. Peter hired me. I just wanted to stop by and get the lay of the land, so to speak. I was in the area and figured I’d get a couple of things done now. Another woman… Cindy, I think… was here and let me in. Do you need me to leave?”
“Oh, no, we’ve got a bit of time left. Do what you need to do. Nice shirt, by the way.” She pointed at his t-shirt which depicted a glass half-filled with a liquid. It had a diagram stating ‘50% air:50% water — technically, the glass is completely full.’
He glanced down and then looked back up at her. “Oh, thanks. You too.”
Amber glanced down at her rather plain grey t-shirt. There was nothing particularly remarkable about it. “Uh, thanks?”
He visibly cringed. “Sorry. Just said that out of habit. I wasn’t really thinking.” Then, realizing how that sounded, he backpedaled. “I mean, it does look nice… well, you look nice… I mean, it looks nice on you.”
Amber looked at him, one eyebrow slightly raised and a subtle smile peeking out of the corners of her lips. “Well, thank you just the same.”
“Uh… you know what, I, uh, I think I’ll go back to what I’m good at.” He pointed at the wall under the desk and dropped back to his knee, grabbing a screwdriver from the desktop.
Amber turned away. As she moved back down the hall, she heard him mutter, “Suave, dude, real suave.” She chuckled softly.
About five minutes later, she turned off her computer. There wasn’t a lot left to do in the time available, so she headed back down to Mei’s office. Might as well spend it with the cute guy who’s going to be around for the next few days. She cleared elvankent escort her throat in an exaggerated manner and stomped her feet loudly. “Just little, ol’ me coming down the hallway. No reason to be alarmed. If you want, I can loan you my bike helmet,” she belted out in a sing-song fashion.
When she entered the room, he glanced up and smiled, a network jack in one hand, a pair of needle nose pliers in the other. “Funny gal. You know, I’m a modern man–I have feelings too.” He went back to working on the port.
“Well, Mr. Evolution, would you and your feelings mind some company? I have nothing left to do for the day.”
He grinned. “You don’t? I’d like that very much.”
They passed the remaining time chatting about the networking project he was there for, his skilled hands working quickly while he spoke. She found out that he owned his own computer tech company, and her boss Peter had hired him. He’d be on site for the next couple of days, mostly working in the server closet, but there were a few odds and ends like this broken network jack and a dual monitor install.
As they were wrapping up and making their way back to the front desk, he asked her, “Do you mind if I run out to my car to grab a couple of things? It would be a lot easier to just leave them here for tomorrow.”
“No problem,” Amber replied. “Need me to get the door?”
“That’d be great!” He smiled at her. She followed him out, staying at the door as he made his way to a small SUV in the lot. She watched as he stacked up several equipment boxes. She caught him casting a sidelong glance at her, but when he saw she was watching, he looked away. Eventually, he made his way back in.
“Thanks,” he said as he squeezed by her, maneuvering the boxes so they wouldn’t catch on the frame. He smelled nice, just a hint of something that reminded her of camping in the woods.
“My pleasure,” she murmured once he had passed.
She followed him down the hallway and helped him offload the topmost boxes. “That ought to do it,” he said, dusting his hands on his pants and then picking up his laptop and tool case. “It’ll be all ready when I come in the morning.”
Heading back up front, Amber stopped at her desk to grab her water bottle and purse while he continued on to the front door. “So anyway, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then?” she asked brightly.
He stopped and turned, his foot holding the door partially open. “Sure thing. It’s a date!” His face froze as he realized how forward it sounded. “I’m sorry… I didn’t intend to be so… that wasn’t…”
Realizing his discomfort and that he wasn’t trying to be creepy, she wanted to let him know it was okay. “But Mr. Evolution,” she replied coyly, “how could it possibly be a date? We don’t even know each other’s names. Mine’s Amber.”
Relieved that she hadn’t been upset by his slip of the tongue, his eyes warmed and he grinned. “Spencer.”
“So… Do you want to talk about it?”
Amber started from her reverie, her head pulling away from the window. The sun was a bit higher now and there was more definition to the surrounding hillside. All in all, it was looking to be a beautiful morning despite the terrible way she’d opened it. “Hmm?”
Katelyn glanced over at her friend. Amber had always been the quiet one, but considering the nature of the call and her silence now, Katelyn was worried. “Do you want to tell me what happened?” She brushed a strand of blonde hair back over her ear. “You called me at o-dark-thirty practically crying and making it sound like something terrible happened at Spencer’s. Aaron was really concerned too; I had to talk him out of coming with me.”
Amber thought for a moment, trying to piece the hazy bits back together. Her head felt considerably clearer than it had earlier. Her memories of last night were still mostly missing, but thankfully, her mind was at least starting to engage at its normal pace. “I’m not exactly sure what happened. I woke up naked in his bed and… and I don’t know what happened to me. I think he drugged me and… I don’t know what else.” Her voice caught in her throat at the idea. “Some things have come back to me, but everything’s such a blur.”
“Shit. Seriously?” Katelyn tightened her grip on the steering wheel and looked over at Amber. “You two really seemed to hit it off last night. If we had known, Aaron and I never would have left you there. But you just seemed so happy.” She slowed the car down as a squirrel darted across the road. “You say you don’t know and it’s a blur? What do you remember?”
Amber took a deep breath and tried to still her shaking hands. “Well, I kind of remember we were all at Steve’s party, and it got out of hand. Didn’t a lamp get broken when two chicks started Jello wrestling?”
“Yeah,” Katelyn scoffed sarcastically with a roll of her eyes. “What else,” she encouraged.
“I vaguely recall Spencer inviting us to his place and… Did Monique and Tyler leave after a while?”
“Tyler said he had to work early so they left relatively soon after arriving. Might have been around 10:00 or so. They only stayed for about thirty minutes, I think. Not even worth the drive time, if you ask me.”
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