Assisting the Heart
Coffee and Confrontations- Chapter 2
Last Updated: 12-19-08
A/N- Okay all! Here is chapter 2. Sorry it took me so long to get out, I do apologize! Lately, I’ve been busy with a class that I’m taking for work, so that gets first priority. Anyhow, I do know that this chapter is very long, but I’m okay with that. I didn’t want to add much more to it because then it would have made it weird and awkward trying to find an appropriate ending. And yes, Shane and Mitchie are going to happen, I promise! Just not for awhile. :grins evilly: This chapter is dedicated to the people who are my sounding board! I owe all of you hugely for your help! It means the world to me! And thank you to my reviewers! Enjoy!
Mitchie rang the doorbell at 8:55 a.m., glad that she was early. She gave herself one last look over before deciding that she looked presentable. The door swung open, making her turn around to see Nate looking back at her.
“Wow, you’re early. That’s…..unusual,” Nate stated slowly as he waved her in before glancing at his watch.
“Sorry, I prefer to be early or right on time, rather than late. Good morning, by the way,” she replied.
“Good morning. Before I forget, here are the keys to the house and the office so you can get yourself copies made this afternoon. The locksmith downtown knows you’re already coming,” he informed her as he handed her a set of keys.
“Thanks. You know, I could just use Leslie’s keys if that would make things easier,” Mitchie replied.
“No, it’s fine. She had to turn them in with security before leaving, so we usually never see any of the copies that we made before ever again,” Nate replied too nonchalantly for Mitchie’s taste.
“You say that like it’s expected, like it’s become something that you’re used to,” Mitchie said.
“Well, when you have more than forty personal assistants that get fired, you tend to get used to it. I don’t want you worrying about your job, though. Just remember what I told you yesterday. The only way you can lose your job….”
“Is if I quit,” Mitchie finished for him.
“Yep. Just remember that, and tell it to Shane if he even so much as considers firing you. If he has any problems with that, tell him he knows where he can find me,” Nate replied with a grin.
“All right. What do—“ Before she could complete her sentence, the doorbell rang. She turned around and grasped the knob, pulling the door open. A delivery man stood there with a box and a silver clipboard in hand, his nametag reading Steven.
“Hi. Is there a Nate Thompson here by any chance?” the gentleman asked.
“She can sign for it! She’s the new PA!” Nate yelled out, making Mitchie blush.
“Ohh, okay. Why am I not surprised?” Steven chuckled. “If you just take this box, I can show you where to sign.”
“Sorry,” Mitchie said before taking the box and setting it on a table behind her.
“Just sign here and here,” Steven informed her, pointing to the proper lines with X’s by them and offering her his pen. She took the pen and signed where he had indicated. “Thanks so much. And good luck, miss.”
“Thank you,” she replied as she waved at his retreating back. She shut the door before picking up the box and taking it to Nate. “Here, this just came for you.”
“Oh, it’s yours,” he corrected.
“It’s your new PDA. That way, you don’t have to worry with a paper day timer or anything, it’s all going to be right there in your hands the moment you schedule it.”
“Wow. I just…..wow. Thank you so much. It means a lot,” she said with a smile before getting a pair of scissors and opening the box, pulling out the contents.
“Don’t worry about it. The way I see it, it’ll help to make your life a bit easier,” he told her with a smile in return.
“Good morning, Mitchie,” Jason said quietly.
“Morning, Jason. You look tired,” she remarked.
“To be honest
with you, I’m not much of a morning person. I never have been, even when we
“What? You two
“Shane, too. That’s where the three of us met and formed the band. We ended up winning Final Jam, and the big prize that year was a recording contract for the winner, and the rest, as they say, is history,” he replied.
“Dude, how we got started and everything, it’s not that old of a story yet,” Nate said.
“Well, it isn’t new,” Jason retorted.
Mitchie giggled before looking up from the PDA. “Do you guys want some coffee?”
“Yes, please!” Jason practically begged.
“Sure,” Nate replied.
“How do you both take it?”
“I’d like a decaf with two creams this morning,” came from Jason’s still sleep-filled voice.
“Decaf with one cream, two sugars. Everything to make it should be in the kitchen, Mitchie.”
“Okay. Two coffees, coming right up!”
Less than ten minutes later, she returned with the coffees in her hands, made as they had specified. “Oh my gosh, you are amazing, Mitchie Torres!” Jason exclaimed happily as he sipped his coffee.
“I just made coffee,” she told him, her cheeks flushing.
“Yes, but you also happen to make great coffee. While some of our other assistants have made coffee for us, they haven’t done the greatest job in the world,” Nate informed her.
Before Mitchie could reply, the front door opened and two people entered. “Morning!” a familiar voice called out.
“We’re in here!” Jason called out with a knowing grin.
“Okay, why do I smell coffee and no one made me any?” Shane asked arrogantly as he came down the stairs, dressed in a pair of sleep pants and t-shirt, rubbing at his eyes.
“Because, Mr. Crankypants, you’re the one who sleeps until all hours of the day. I tried waking you up one day before you wanted to be woken up, which was against my better judgment, so if you want coffee, you’ll have to be up at a regular time like the rest of us,” Caitlyn replied with a smirk as she and a friend of hers and Mitchie’s entered the room, Starbucks in hand.
“Ella?! What are you doing here?” Mitchie asked, shock in her voice.
“Surprised to see me?”
“I think the word ‘yes’ comes to mind!” Mitchie nearly squealed.
“Jason and I have been dating for awhile now. I usually come over in the morning to see him,” Ella replied with a smile, setting her coffee and bag down before hugging her friend.
“Wow! It’s great to see you!” Mitchie said, as she returned the hug.
“This is for you, by the way,” Caitlyn cut in, holding out a coffee cup. “Made just the way you like it. I had a feeling you’d have forgotten to get some before coming here.”
“What do you mean?” Ella asked.
“Oh, sorry. Nate hired me yesterday to be Connect 3’s new PA after Shane fired Leslie,” Mitchie informed her friend.
Ella rounded on Shane. “You fired her!? What for?”
“She didn’t make my coffee right. Now, if the three of you are done with your little powwow, can I get some coffee?” he said.
“I don’t know. Can you?” Caitlyn queried.
“Bite me, Gellar.”
“NO thank you.”
Mitchie sighed before rolling her eyes. “How do you take yours?”
“Black, two sugars and one cream,” he replied with a smirk.
“I’ll be back with it in just a few minutes,” she shot back at him, striding into the kitchen. She quickly emptied out the coffeepot and began to make a new batch of coffee, breathing in the lovely smell as it filled the kitchen. She grabbed a Styrofoam cup and a plastic lid, along with two packets of sugar and one of cream, before turning off the coffeemaker. She pulled the pitcher out and poured the coffee before mixing in the sugars and cream, placing the lid on top and snapping it on. She returned to the living room to find Shane sitting in an armchair with Ella and Caitlyn next to their boyfriends.
“Here you go,” she said as she handed it to him. “Careful, it’s hot.”
“How hot is it?”
“I just made a new batch. Nate and Jason both wanted decaf this….what’s wrong?” she asked, noticing that he was staring at her as though she was crazy.
“I don’t drink right out of the coffeemaker coffee. You need to cool it down,” he sighed helplessly, as though she should have known.
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“No, I’m serious. Go cool it down,” he ordered.
“What are you gonna do about it if I don’t?” she retorted, her arms crossed over her chest.
“Either you cool the coffee down, or you lose your job,” he threatened, placing the coffee on the table in front of him and standing up so he was taller than her.
“Mr. Gray, I am not your maid. If you want your coffee to not be as hot as it is, then I suggest you either somehow find a way to cool your coffee down, make it yourself so it’s just the temperature that you want, or drink it once you feel it’s fine,” she replied coolly, turning around to head up the stairs.
“Ms. Torres, get back here right now or you might as well pack up your things and leave for good,” he told her arrogantly, making her shake her head and walk slowly up to face him again.
“See, if I was anyone else, that would be scary, so that was a good try, but you’re not going to get anywhere. I knew when I started that this job wouldn’t be easy, and when Nate hired me, he and Jason told me that the only way I would lose my job was if I quit, seeing as you had fired at least forty personal assistants before me. And considering that I don’t intend to quit, then I suggest that you had better get used to me being around, Shane,” she ground out before turning on her heel and marching up the stairs.
It was so silent, if one had dropped a pin, the noise from it would have been extremely loud. Instead, the four people sitting on the couches behind him burst out into laughter. “Wow! Now that….that was priceless! And I don’t have my camera on me today! Darn,” Caitlyn said mockingly, snapping her fingers.
“Is she always like that?” Ella asked.
“Only with Shane when he gets to being an asshole, then yep,” Caitlyn told her with a grin.
“You know, yesterday was amusing, but two smack downs in less than three days? He is so seriously working up a record there, dude!” Jason replied gleefully.
“Okay, could all of you please quit talking about me like I’m not in the room? And what the hell did she mean, you two, when she said that the only way she would lose her job was if she was to quit?” Shane demanded to know.
Nate smirked knowingly. “Jason and I pretty much told her that the only way she’s going to lose her job is if she quits. You can’t fire her, and after that, neither of us really want to either.”
“So you mean that I’m….”
“Stuck with her until she decides to quit or until her internship is over with? Yep, pretty much, although I may consider hiring her even after she’s finished her internship,” Nate replied with an evil grin.
“You wouldn’t!” Shane said with wide eyes.
“Why wouldn’t we? The only person here who has a problem with her is you. Just get used to it already,” Jason replied with a roll of his eyes.
‘Like hell I will,’ Shane thought to himself with a growl. The day he got used to her would be never. She had already humiliated him twice and there was absolutely nothing that he could do about it. He couldn’t fire her and anytime he tried to make her do exactly what he wanted only resulted in him being embarrassed. He knew that she’d be around constantly, and the only time that she wouldn’t be was when she was out taking care of things. ‘Unless I keep her so busy that she doesn’t have time to come back here to the house,’ Shane thought to himself before heading up the stairs, hearing someone in one of the spare rooms playing a piano that they had in there. Rather than stopping to see who was playing, he continued on, not knowing or caring who it was and went to his room to change and shower for the day.
Downstairs, Nate just shook his head at his friend’s behavior, knowing that it was just Shane having an attitude and not liking having been embarrassed by someone that he’d only met the day before.
A moment later, the sound of someone playing a piano reached his ears, making him curious. He knew Shane didn’t play the piano too much, and he surely wouldn’t be right then, Caitlyn and Ella were both down here with himself and Jason, which only left one person: Mitchie. He made sure that Caitlyn was occupied talking to his friends before heading lithely up the stairs, standing outside the door to one of the spare bedrooms that had great acoustics to it. He personally loved playing the piano as an outlet for whenever he was stressed or restless, which was why he’d had one put in the room.
He paused outside the door, listening to each of the keys as they were pressed before a voice began singing, one of the best he’d heard in a long while.
been the kind of girl
That hid my face
So afraid to tell the world
What I've got to say
But I have this dream
Right inside of me
I'm gonna let it show
It's time to let you know
to let you know
Nate’s jaw was hanging open as he listened to Mitchie sing. He knew from her profile that she loved to sing, but didn’t know that she was this good, nor did he know that she could play the piano as well as she was. He entered the room quietly, standing behind her as she played, before clearing his throat to announce his presence.
She jumped at the sound of someone clearing their throat, having been off in her own world and her heart pounding rapidly. “Oh! I’m so sorry! I just came up the stairs and the door was open and…..”
“Mitchie, it’s okay. I don’t mind, really,” he said, trying to calm her down.
“Are you sure? I’m really sorry,” she apologized profusely.
“It’s fine. I don’t get to play it nearly as much as I’d like to, so feel free to play it whenever you have any spare time, okay?”
She snorted disbelievingly. “Why do I get the feeling that that won’t ever happen with Shane around?”
“Ah, he’ll be fine. He’s used to getting whatever he wants, and you’ve told him no in some form or another twice already, so he’s just sulky. If he gets to be too bad, I want you to let me know, all right?” he asked.
“It depends, so we’ll have to see,” she said with a smile. “Did you guys have any plans for today?”
“We have to go
into the studio and record a song, which won’t be much fun as it’s going to
take awhile and Shane’s going to want to argue about changing our sound. Then
Jason, Shane and I have to go to the House of Blues in
She stood up and grabbed the PDA that was next to her and followed him into his office. She took a seat on the other side of the desk, watching as he bustled about the room, muttering to himself until he sat down across from her. “All right. Here’s everything you need to put into your PDA that Leslie had in hers. It should cover you for the rest of this month and the beginning of next. You’ll also have to answer e-mails and phone calls about events, parties, calls from charities, so on and so forth. Sound good?”
She took the small stack of papers from him and nodded. “Yep. I’m good to go. When do you three head out of here?”
“In awhile, actually. The label wants us to be there by eleven thirty, which means we have to leave no later than a quarter till eleven to be there early,” he said with a sigh.
“Are the three of you traveling in one of your own cars, or is someone going to be driving you?”
“No, we have a driver named Matt. He knows that we have to get going soon, so he should be here any minute now,” Nate said, glancing at his watch.
“Okay. Is there anything else that you need me to do?” she asked.
“Yes, actually. Can you go to the club tonight and just doublecheck the guest list, take care of any odds and ends?”
“Sure, no problem,” she complied.
“Oh, and I want you to be there tonight at the concert,” he added.
“But I don’t have anything to wear,” she replied with her mouth open slightly in shock, not having expected an invitation.
“Go ahead, buy something and have the place that you buy it at charge it to this credit card,” he said as he handed her a credit card. “You have my cell phone number in that stack of papers in case they don’t believe your story.”
“A-are you sure? I would feel like I’m taking advantage of you and being rude,” she stammered.
“Mitchie, the only way you could be rude would be to not take it. I mean it, I want you to take it,” he insisted as she slowly took the card from him. “And don’t even try to say that you’re going to pay me or the label back for it. It’s fine.”
“Thank you,” she said softly.
“You’re welcome. Oh, and before I forget, feel free to bring a friend with you. Cait and Ella are gonna be there tonight as well. Now, I have to go and bug my two friends and get them ready to leave,” he said with a sigh as he left the room.
“Good luck!” she called out. She gazed at the credit card in her hand before shaking her head to clear it of its thoughts. She quickly found her purse and put it in one of the side pockets, making sure to close the snap.
Mitchie sighed to herself as she stood in the midst of the throng of people that were already inside the House of Blues, waiting for Connect 3 to perform. The concert hall was standing room only, and the room was filled from wall to wall with bodies. She gently pushed her way through the crowd to get to the side door that was marked ‘Authorized Personnel Only’. She held up her pass that was in her jacket pocket so the bouncer inside could see it, breathing a sigh of relief when he waved her on. She made her way down the narrow hallway to the dressing room, twisting the knob and pushing.
“You guys really have to hurry. It’s nearly eight and that’s when you three are scheduled to go on,” she informed the two males who occupied the room, Jason and Nate sitting in armchairs.
“Well, we’re ready to go, but his highness is apparently having a hard time getting his hair to be just oh-so-perfect,” Jason grumbled, making Mitchie sigh.
“All right, then you two get out there and get on the stage. He’ll be out there in a minute.”
“But who’s going to keep you two from killing each other?” Nate chuckled with a grin.
“I will. Now go!” she admonished, opening the door and motioning them out.
“Yes, ma’am,” the duo chorused as they traipsed out. She shut the door behind them and took a deep breath before crossing to the door on the other side of the room. Without even asking for entrance, she just opened the door.
“It’s nearly eight o’clock, which means you’re supposed to be on stage right now, and you’re in here fussing over your hair?” was the first thing she said.
“You know, in some cultures, they consider it polite to go ahead and knock to make sure it’s okay to come in before just barging into a room. I could have been naked for all you knew,” Shane snapped as he carefully held a straightener to a piece of his hair.
“Yes, and there are also cultures where there are people that are far worse off than you. They don’t get to fuss over their hair for hours, so what might your point actually be? At this point, I just care about making sure that you are on that stage on time,” she retorted with a slight blush to her cheeks before striding over to him and snatching the straightener out of his hands.
“Hey! Give me that!”
“You’re going to want to stand still, unless you want me to burn you,” she warned before pressing the release button on the apparatus. She quickly grabbed another piece of his hair and worked on that for a few seconds before moving on. In less than three minutes, she had finished straightening his hair entirely and had sprayed it with hair spray.
“There you go, Mr. Pop Star. All done. Now can you please get your butt out there and on stage?” she asked through gritted teeth.
“Rock Star,” he corrected her as he looked at his hair, noting that it was done practically to perfection. “How on earth did you do that so fast?”
“Years of practice. You need to get going, now.”
“All right already! God only knows how, but you manage to wind up the PA for the band, you humiliate me twice in less than 24 hours in front of my friends, then you come barging in here without an invitation! Not to mention, you’re just wanting to shove me out the door and here I was, honestly considering thanking you, but forget about it now!” he snapped sarcastically.
“Mr. Gray, I’m your personal assistant, so I had unspoken permission to come in here. It is my job to make sure that you are on time for concerts and events and that you are there for every single one that you and your band mates decide to go to. When I came in here, you were nowhere near being done, so I took over. If that’s a problem with you, then I apologize, but you had less than ten minutes to be on stage and I was not going to let you be late. That would reflect badly not only on myself, but you, Nate, Jason and the label as well, and I don’t think that any of us would have appreciated that. Now, if you don’t wish for me to have to come and take over the job of making sure that your hair is done, then next time you may want to actually start getting ready in the dressing room instead of taking a nap,” she replied smoothly as she opened the door to the hall.
“Well, why would I worry about doing it myself when I have you to do it for me?” he retorted with a smirk as he followed her.
“If that’s the case, then you can hire a hairdresser to do your hair for you.”
“See, I tried that already. The first one was completely horrible, the second screwed my hair up so badly that it took forever to come back from it, and the third didn’t listen at all. Everyone after that was either too star-struck to actually accomplish anything or they were completely incapable. Besides, it didn’t take you that long to do. You’ve had years of practice, remember?” he replied, echoing her words from earlier.
“I seriously doubt that I’m going to have time to do your hair all the time, but if you say so,” she said with a roll of her eyes. “Look, go through this door and you’ll see Jason and Nate already on stage. Break a leg!” she stated as she held the door open for him, making him smirk triumphantly and walk toward his bandmates. She heaved a sigh and headed toward the main room, getting there just in time to hear them being announced and the curtain go up, a throng of screams greeting her ears.
She eventually found her way over to the entrance, where she found the young man that she’d brought as her guest for the night. She greeted him happily with a hug and a kiss, talking to him for a few moments before turning back to the stage.
“What took you so long?” she yelled over the torrent of screams as Connect 3 performed on the stage.
“Traffic was horrible, not to mention my boss kept me for about an extra hour. Sorry, doll,” he replied.
“It’s all right. Let’s just enjoy the concert,” she said with a grin, making him nod in return and put his arms around her waist from behind.
Thankfully, the concert went by with no accidents of any sort. Every note was sung flawlessly, every chord hit just right. Mitchie grinned happily and said a silent prayer of thanks to no one in particular that nothing bad had happened. As they began to play their last song of the evening, one of her favorites, she pulled away from her boyfriend’s grasp to talk to him. “Hey, come with me. I want you to meet the guys.”
“What do you mean?”
“I told you, Todd, I work for Connect 3, remember? I’m their new PA,” Mitchie yelled over the din.
“I’m sorry. I completely forgot,” he apologized.
“It’s okay, come on!”
She grabbed his hand and pulled him through the mass of bodies that were dancing and singing along with the band onstage. They managed to reach the bar without anyone crashing into them and got a small table.
“Hi, can I get three bottled waters, one Coke and one Sprite, both with light ice?” she asked the bartender after leaving Todd to watch over their table.
“You got it, sweetheart,” he replied with a nod. A moment later, he placed three cold bottles of water on the bar along with the Sprite and Coke.
“Thanks,” she said as she handed him the proper amount of money for the drinks before going back to the table. “Here’s your drink, baby,” she told him as she handed him the Sprite.
“Thanks, but why didn’t you get me something alcoholic? I took a cab to get here so I could drink if I wanted to,” he informed her.
“If you want something different, then go get it yourself. Forgive me for being nice,” she snapped.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked, surprised at her behavior.
“I’m sorry, I’m just—“ she trailed off with a sigh but never finished her response as she saw three slightly sweaty gentlemen make their way over to her and Todd, along with Caitlyn and Ella.
“Hey, you guys! Where were you two?” Mitchie inquired.
“Oh, we were pressed into a corner, trying to ignore the insane fangirls that like to mob our boyfriends and their best friend.” Caitlyn retorted with a smirk.
Mitchie grinned and rolled her eyes. “Well, I’m glad to see that all of you are okay. Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. Todd, this is Jason Black, Nate Thompson, and Shane Gray, the three members of Connect 3,” she introduced, indicating each of them. “Guys, this is my boyfriend, Todd Matteson.”
“Hi, it’s nice to meet you,” Nate said as he held out his hand for Todd to shake. After a moment of reluctance, Todd shook his hand before shaking Jason’s.
“Same here. So you’re the infamous Shane Gray,” Todd stated as he met Shane’s eyes.
“Yeah. Can’t say as I’ve heard much about you from our PA here,” he quipped coolly.
“Mmm, looks like we’re in the same boat then. You know, it’s funny. I ended up running into a girl that you were caught on camera with, but she said she hadn’t heard from you since then.”
“What’s your point?” Shane asked, trying to curb his desire to punch this guy who had no business prying into his personal life.
“Just that if I had bedded a girl, I would have taken more care of her than you did,” Todd said nonchalantly.
“Todd!” Mitchie admonished with red cheeks.
“I need to talk to you in private. Let’s go and dance,” she demanded through gritted teeth as she pulled him out onto the main floor.
The group of five watched as Mitchie pulled Todd forcefully out onto the dance floor. “You know, I really don’t like that guy. Can I hit him?” Shane growled.
“Back up there, buddy. As much fun as that might be, aren’t you the one trying to get on the good side of the label so we can see about changing our sound?” Jason said quietly, moving to stand in front of his friend. “Think about that, and then think about what punching him would do.”
Shane’s shoulders fell as he realized that Jason was right. “You know, I really hate it when you’re right.”
Shane rolled his eyes and laughed. “Never mind.”
“Don’t worry. You’re not the only person who doesn’t like him,” Caitlyn supplied after watching what happened between the pair.
“What do you mean?” Nate asked.
“Well, Mitchie had me meet him several months ago, shortly after they started dating. I didn’t really care for him then, but I decided to let her make her own choices, and I still don’t care for him.”
“Why’s that?” Shane replied.
“Because I just have this weird feeling about him. I can’t shake it, either, but I’m not sure what it is,” she told Shane as she looked past him to see Todd looking her up and down before quickly looking away. “Come on, let’s go dance,” she said to Nate with shiver as she grabbed his hand and pulled him away.
“Bye,” Ella waved after them. She went to turn back to the table but felt like someone was staring at her. She shrugged her shoulders before turning to her boyfriend. “I’m gonna go grab a drink. Want anything?”
“Nah, I’m good. Thanks, though,” he told her before she walked off. “Think something’s up with Cait?”
“What do you mean?” Shane queried confusedly.
“I mean, she looked creeped out by something or someone.”
“I’m sure if something was wrong, she’d tell Nate and have him play the hero,” Shane replied with annoyance.
“Whatever. Can you tell Ella that I went to go and ask Mitchie to dance?” Jason requested, moving away only when his friend waved him off.
“Mind if I cut in?” Jason asked a few seconds later as he walked up to the new PA and her boyfriend.
“Is that okay with you, Todd?” Mitchie looked at him for permission.
“Yeah, sure. No problem. I’ll be over by the bar if you need me, babe,” he replied as he kissed her lightly on the lips before walking away, making her blush and Jason scratch his neck embarrassedly. Jason waited until Todd was several feet away before taking Mitchie’s hands in his.
“You did a great job tonight,” she said after a few moments of dancing.
“Thanks. I’m glad you were able to be here to see it.”
“Me, too. I’ll have to remember to thank Nate for asking me and a friend to come,” she said.
“I’m sure he knows. You look great, by the way,” Jason complimented, nodding his head at her midnight blue blouse that dipped slightly, black knee-length skirt, and high heels.
“Thank you. Another reason for me to thank Nate,” she replied with a blush.
“Are you having a good time so far?”
“Other than what happened earlier with Shane, yeah. I can’t wait to get back to our apartment so I can chew Todd out, though,” she said through gritted teeth.
“Don’t give him too hard of a time.”
“Eh, he’ll be fine,” Mitchie smiled.
Jason laughed. “If you say so. Just remind me to never piss you off so that way, I don’t have to worry about you killing me, okay?”
“Jason, I doubt that you could ever piss me off, unless you were actually trying,” she said with a giggle.
“Finally, a laugh. I was wondering if you were going to do that anytime soon,” he replied.
“Thank you. I feel a little bit better now.”
“That’s great to hear. Wanna go see if we can find everyone?”
“Sure, let’s go.”
He offered her a bent elbow, which she laughed and took with a shake of her head. They walked over to the table that Mitchie and Todd had gotten earlier, where Ella, Shane, Nate, and Caitlyn were talking. “Hey, you guys,” Mitchie greeted.
“Hey. Did you have a good time?” Caitlyn asked.
“I did, but then I remembered that Ella would probably want her boyfriend back. He’s all yours.”
“Thanks. Can we go and dance now?” Ella asked as a song with a bit of a slow tempo came on, grinning as she saw Nate gently lead Caitlyn to dance.
“Here we go again,” he teased as he led her out onto the dance floor. He pulled her into his arms and held her closely. “Are you having a good time tonight?”
“Mmmhmm. What about you?”
“No complaints so far. The only other thing that I can think of that I’d really rather have been doing would have been to make a birdhouse, but other than that, I’m happy right where I am and who I’m with,” he smiled.
“That’s good to hear,” she replied. She lifted her head slightly and opened her eyes, noticing that Todd was staring at her as he stood next to the bar. He looked down into his drink before taking a sip, making her shake her head internally. She danced with Jason throughout the rest of the song, trying to force herself to believe that he hadn’t been staring at her. She noticed that her boyfriend was moving a bit slower than normal. “You okay?”
“Yeah, just a bit tired.”
“Let’s go and sit down,” she suggested as she led him back to the table where Caitlyn was in a heated discussion with Mitchie.
“I’m telling you, he’s been staring at me, like all evening!” Caitlyn said indignantly.
“What’s wrong?” Ella asked.
“Caitlyn thinks that Mitchie’s oh-so-great boyfriend has been staring at her all evening, Mitchie says he isn’t, but I know I saw him looking at both Caitlyn and you, Ella,” Shane summed up simply.
“He wouldn’t do that,” Mitchie replied.
“No? Then why did Shane, of all people, catch him staring at me and Ella?” Caitlyn questioned.
“Was he staring at you?” Jason asked as he moved to look at Ella. She bit her lip and looked at Mitchie before looking back at him.
“He was. I caught him staring at me a few times while you and I were dancing. I tried brushing it off like it was nothing, saying it was just coincidence.”
“Maybe we should just ask Todd before we jump to any conclusions, okay?” Nate suggested. Everyone in the group nodded or voiced their agreement. “Mitchie, can you go get him and have him come over here?”
“Sure. Even though I know he wouldn’t do anything like that, sure,” she replied reluctantly. She turned in the direction of the bar and walked off, returning a moment later with the gentleman in question.
“Hey, everyone. What’s up?” Todd greeted.
“Todd, we need to talk to you about something. Caitlyn and Ella……they think….” Nate trailed off, not sure how to say what he wanted.
“Why the hell have you been staring at me and my friend Ella all night, you perv?” Caitlyn spat.
“Caitlyn!” Mitchie said in shock.
“What? Unless he’s blind, which he sure doesn’t look like he is, then he can see that both Ella and I are taken,” Caitlyn replied coolly.
“Is she telling the truth? Have you been staring at Ella all night?” Jason asked calmly as he stepped forward, Nate moving with him.
“Listen, guys, I don’t know what—“
“Just answer the question, Todd. Were you or weren’t you staring at them like they were pieces of meat?” Shane asked triumphantly.
“Like you’re any better,” Todd retorted.
“Whether I’m better than you or not isn’t currently in question. Besides that, I know better than to stare at my best friends’ girlfriends. So we’ll try this again, and you can lie if you want, but I know differently: were you staring at Caitlyn and Ella?”
“I don’t see how this is any of your business, Gray.”
“You were staring at them,” Mitchie answered for him, coming to the conclusion herself.
“No, I wasn’t! I can’t believe you’d even think that!” he shouted.
“I didn’t want to, but it’s kinda hard not to when you pretty much refused to answer the question,” Mitchie snarled before turning her back on him and starting to walk away.
“You can’t tell me that you believe them over me?” Todd scoffed as he grabbed her wrist.
“Right now, yes, I do. And you’d better do yourself a favor and let go of me,” she said loud enough for everyone to hear her, making him sigh and do what she told him.
“Doll, it didn’t mean anything. I just saw them both. Not like I was planning on cheating on you,” he insisted.
“Just shut up and leave me alone. I’ll talk to you when I feel like I can do that without wanting to hurt you,” she said coolly.
“I’d do what she said if I were you,” Jason growled. “Right now, I’m not feeling too friendly toward you at the moment, either. I don’t think any of my friends are, actually, so you may want to just get out of our sight and leave her alone before any of us decide to cause you bodily harm.”
Todd looked like he was about to resist again, before shrugging and walking off. Mitchie dropped down onto a nearby stool and sighed, her head in her hands. “You okay?” Caitlyn asked.
“You and Ella were the ones that he was staring at all night, I should be asking you that. God, I’m such a horrible friend,” Mitchie said.
“Nah, you’re not horrible, you just wanted to stick up for your man. Besides, guys stare at me all the time and it makes Nate insanely jealous and possessive, which hey, total turn on,” Caitlyn replied with an evil grin.
“Get your mind out of the gutter,” Mitchie retorted with a smirk, making Caitlyn shake her head.
“You two okay? I honestly thought that you were going to hit him Mitchie, which if you had, I can’t say that I would have blamed you. I mean, I wanted—“
“We’re fine, Ella. Thanks for asking,” Mitchie interrupted her friend in mid-ramble. She got down from the stool to give her friend a hug. “I think I’m gonna head out for the night. I’m wiped.”
“Okay. Are you heading back to your apartment?” Nate asked as he, Shane and Nate came closer.
“No, I’m gonna stay at a hotel for the night. I’ll just swing by there to get some stuff for tonight and tomorrow.”
“You don’t have to do that. You can just stay at the house, we’ve got plenty of room,” Jason suggested.
Mitchie smiled gratefully. “Thanks for the offer, but I’ll be fine for tonight. I just need to be alone and I don’t really want to stay at the apartment.”
“You sure? It’s no big deal if you stay at the house, really,” Nate said, backing up Jason.
“Yeah. I’ll be okay. Thank you again, though. For everything. I owe you one,” she replied.
“I told you, you don’t owe me anything. Just be at the house tomorrow for work and we’ll be even.”
“Okay, I’ll be there. And I will see all of you tomorrow,” she said as she hugged Caitlyn, Ella, and Jason, before shaking Nate’s hand and getting to Shane. She licked her lips uncertainly and shifted on her feet a bit, unsure of what to do.
“Thanks....for....” she trailed off, making him smirk and nod.
“Get out of here. I’ll see you tomorrow morning, and don’t forget my coffee,” he warned.
“Jerk!” she replied before shaking her head and walking away, not feeling his eyes on her backside the entire time.
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