"So where are we going?"
AJ gave me an odd look as we left the club and I shrugged, looking around for Talen. It had taken me twenty minutes to lure my blue-haired friend away from the girls and 10 extra minutes to persuade him into leaving the club. My patience was running out as we walked into the crisp, night air.
Inside the club, I had checked my phone as AJ dramatically came up with an excuse for his new fan club, only to find 3 missed calls
all from my mom. She found out, I just knew she must have. She must have tried to reach me at Dan's. For some reason, my mother finding out wasn't the big catastrophe it had been earlier in my naïve mind. All I wanted to do was find Talen. I dismissed the calls and resumed my search for the lanky bartender.
"We have to find someone," I murmured to AJ.
"That's really specific, dude," AJ sneered, sarcasm dripping from his voice.
"Just look for that bartender that was working in the club."
"Seriously? What are we doing, hanging with a bartender?"
"He's cool," I snapped, getting a bit defensive. "You don't know him."
"You don't either."
I glared at the ground and was stopped short as a hand wrapped around my shoulder.
"Hey, where're ya going? The place's the other way."
I gasped as I looked up into a hazel eye, the man's mouth curved into a sly grin.
"Hi," I breathed, my cheeks darkening.
"So you guys ready to party hard?"
AJ crossed his arms and gave Talen a suspicious glare.
"Where do you plan on taking us?"
Talen smiled and started walking away. He raised a hand for us to follow and we hesitantly accommodated, stepping into the rhythm of his lanky stride as we followed behind him. I stared at the man's back; his hair falling down past his shoulders in perfect wisps, his body language spoke defiance and assertiveness. I knew I was staring too much when AJ rammed an elbow into my side, raising his eyebrows at me in question.
"Here we are," Talen's voice chimed in before I could deny anything to my friend. We both looked around, noticing the alley we were in with nothing but a sullied door breaking the solid, graffiti-filled wall.
"What are we doing here?" AJ asked, his suspicion heightening.
"Sheesh," The bartender scowled. "So many questions."
Taking a step forward, Talen opened the deserted door and pushed us in. Heavy metal was blasting so loud that I couldn't hear myself think and sweating, gyrating bodies crammed the center of the flashing room where a dance floor had been spray painted in multiple colors.
"Pretty sick, right?" Talen smiled at me and walked deeper into the hidden space. I noticed AJ had wandered into the crowd while I stayed in Talen's shadow. I followed him to the back of the club where we were furthest from the speakers and the crowd. He sat on the floor, pulling out a cigarette and laying his head against the wall. I sat next to him as he lit the stick and smiled at me.
"So," I said awkwardly. "When did you find out about this place?"
"About a month ago," He exhaled the smoke slowly and looked at me. "I usually come here when I'm not working."
"Do you ever sleep?"
"Eh," Talen shrugged. "Usually during the day. I have an apartment not far from here. What about you, Gage?"
I looked down, fidgeting with my fingers.
"I don't live around here," I muttered. "I'd love to live in the city but
I don't even have a job and I need my parents to help me pay for college."
"Do your parents know you're gay?"
My eyes widened and my cheeks started burning red with embarrassment.
"H- How did you"
"I can just tell. But I don't care about that. You're rich, aren't you?"
"My parents are. They don't like who I hang out with, AJ especially. They don't like the way I dress and they don't like that I'm gay. I usually have to sneak out to do anything with my friends."
"So that means you snuck out tonight?"
"I told my mom I was hanging with this nerdy kid, Dan, because she loves him and wants me to be some kind of clone of him. Yeah, right."
Talen laughed and gave me a knowing look.
"Life's a bitch," He snickered, taking another drag of his cancer-stick.
I chuckled and rubbed the back of my neck, my cheeks burning.
"Hey, look at that girl over there," Talen pointed to some trash bag of a girl attempting to grind with a guy.
"She looks more like an animal than a girl," I snorted, staring at her in disbelief.
"The dude looks like he'd rather be grinding with a dinosaur."
Our eyes met and we both exploded with laughter. His arm wrapped around my shoulder as we leaned forward, our eyes watering.
"I- I can't" I laughed even harder, holding my stomach. I didn't know what it was, but it felt like I had known Talen forever. It felt like I'd been friends with him for years when I only met him about an hour ago.
After a few minutes, we had finally calmed down and my breathing slowly returned back to normal. My blue eyes met with his hazel ones and we sat there in silence, smiling as if we'd been best friends since kindergarten. My phone buzzed in my pocket and I hesitantly pulled it out of my pocket, breaking eye contact as i pressed the answer button.
"Gage! Where are you?!"
A weight dropped to the pit of my stomach, my eyes widening in fear as I heard my mother's bewildered voice through the receiver. I put my hand up, tapping my wrist to ask Talen what time it was.
"1:30," He mouthed and sweat started forming on my forehead.
"Who are you with? You would have been home a long time ago if you were really with Daniel!"
I stood up and ran into the restroom, to get away from the booming music. The walls were coated with graffiti and I was scared to touch the tarnished counter.
"I was with Dan," I said quickly. "But when we left the library, we got lost walking home and"
"Don't you dare give me that bullshit! You were with AJ weren't you?"
"Tell me the truth, Gage!"
I hesitated, trying to think up a good excuse.
"I was with him," I muttered, giving in. What else could I have said? She found out because I had lost track of time. It was my fault. I should have been more careful.
"You're grounded. Get home, now. "
And with that, she hung up, leaving me standing there with my phone to my ear and my heart beating hard within my chest. I was so screwed.
AJ entered the restroom, Talen following in behind him.
"My mom found out."
"What?" AJ's mouth dropped open. "How?!"
"Because of how late it is. Dan's probably asleep by now."
"I'll drive you home."
Talen stopped me as I walked past him.
"Give me your phone."
Talen exhaled and grabbed my phone from my hand. I stood there, staring at him as he punched in his number and handed it back to me, smirking.
"Text me later, alright?"
I gave him a small smile and nodded.
When I got home, I laid on my bed, utterly exhausted. My parents had sat me down and interrogated me for two hours. I told them that I was just hanging at AJ's house when they called. They wanted to know why there was so much music in the background and I told them that we just had the radio up. Luckily they fell for it and sent me to my room. I was grounded for a week from seeing anyone but it wasn't like it mattered much. I was forbidden to hang out with AJ or anyone like him normally so being grounded didn't really make any difference. I pulled out my phone and smiled as I saw Talen's number saved in the contacts.
Talen? Hey it's Gage.
My phone buzzed almost seconds after I sent the message.
Hey man. What's up?
Just had a long convo with my parents. Grounded for a week, not that it matters.
They are rather
You have no idea. They've been like that ever since I can remember. What're your parents like?
If I told you, I'd have to kill you.
Oh then please, go on.
Ha. Maybe someday.
Alright. Well I'm going to sleep. Night.
Later, Rich Boy. ;]
I hadn't noticed I was blushing until I put my phone down and felt the heat in my cheeks. I didn't think I'd have a chance with Talen. I was obviously out of his league and dating someone like him would really piss off my parents. I really wanted to steer clear of that drama for now. I'd have to keep my newfound crush a secret just for me, myself, and I.