AtoZ Challenge · Jax and Riley · Vanished

Riley #AtoZChallenge

Oh god. What did I do?

My head is pounding and I cringe squeezing my eyes tight against the light.

Reluctantly, I blink open and realize I am not where I am supposed to be. I don’t recognize the bed I’m in or the industrial style loft it’s located in. I sit up in a rush but have to grab my head when the sudden movement clashes through it painfully.

And it all comes back in a rush.

Daniel. Alcohol. Lots of alcohol. Vanished. Jax.

Oh god.

This is so embarrassing.

I am not a drinker. I hardly ever drink. And I haven’t gotten drunk in years. Not since college.

And now, last night.

And Lucas’s best friend witnessed the whole thing.

I bury my face in my hands and shake my head in denial.

I’m still in my dress from yesterday. My mouth is dry and stale. I can only imagine the state of my hair. But somehow I have to gather what’s left of my dignity and get out of here.

And I should probably thank Jax for taking care of me last night. I’m sure it was not on his To Do list.

Gingerly, I move to the edge of the bed, testing the sturdiness of my stomach. I notice a glass of water and some aspirin on the nightstand and I swallow them down gratefully. Then chug the entire glass of water. I am so dehydrated.

Well done, Riley. Way to handle your life like a champ.

Now that I’ve managed to get to my feet I take in a bit more of my surroundings.

The loft is huge, largely unfinished. The concrete floor is polished, exposed brick make up three of the four walls broken up by huge nearly floor to ceiling windows. He’s divided the ‘bedroom’ from the rest of the space with a large screen. Peaking around I see a cluster of couches in the center with a TV and gaming console. The far side is separated by another large screen hiding whatever is behind it.

One of the couches has a pile of blankets, indicating that is where Jax spent the night, but he’s nowhere to be found. I can’t decide if I’m relieved or disappointed he’s not here.

I can never really decide what it is with Jax. Uncertainty shrouds every interaction I have with him.
Except, apparently, when I’m totally intoxicated.

I didn’t even notice the sound of the shower until it turned off. The sudden silence is startling. A moment later Jax emerges from the only door in the loft wearing a pair of jeans and nothing else. His hair is still wet, finger-combed back from his face.

I swallow. He’s wearing jeans and nothing else.

To keep myself from staring at all the muscles and tattoos on display I force myself to step forward.

“Morning.” My voice is hoarse. I feel my cheeks heat.

He tosses me a look over his shoulder. “Hey! Teach! You’re up. Want some coffee?” To the left is the kitchen, appliances lined along the wall with a large island and stools defining the ‘room’.

“Coffee sounds good.” I awkwardly slide on to a stool, trying not to stare at his back as he starts the coffee brewing. “Sorry about last night. I don’t usually-”

He chuckles. “You think I don’t know that isn’t your usual MO?”

Silently, I drop my eyes to the island in front of me.

Jax turns so he’s facing me, crossing his arms and leaning his hip against the counter. “You don’t need to apologize, Riley. It’s not everyday you walk in on your fiancé cheating. You’re allowed to act a little crazy.”

“Still, I disrupted your whole night.”

He grins at me, causing my stomach to flip. I push a hand against my abdomen pretending this is also a reaction to my drinking. “I didn’t have any plans. We had fun, right?”

I nod reluctantly. What I remember, we did have fun. We played pool and danced to the juke box and chatted with friendly strangers.

“Macy must think-”

“Macy doesn’t think anything. Other than you needed a night out. He’s not like that. He’s not going to judge you for something we’ve all done.”

I smile ruefully. “I liked his family’s bar.”

Jax nods and turns back to pour the coffee. “Yeah, it’s a good spot. It’s great for when we’re looking for a place to just chill, you know?”

He sets a mug in front of me.

Gratefully, I take a fortifying sip.

I hear him take a deep breath and then he asks, “So what are you going to do? About the cheating asshole?”

Tears sting my eyes and I blink rapidly to fight them off.

What am I going to do?

Instead of answering I look around suddenly. “Do you know what I did with my phone?”

He walks over to the couches and grabs my purse off the center table. “I shut it off last night. It kept beeping,” he explains, handing it over.

Smiling my thanks, I grab my phone out of my bag and turn it back on. I cringe when I realize it’s nearly 11am. But I have a vague memory of us not retuning to the loft until nearly four last night. This morning. Whatever.

Sure enough, I have dozens of missed calls and unopened texts from Daniel.

I can explain.
Please talk to me.
I’m sorry you saw that.
Riles, I’m getting worried.
Don’t do anything stupid.
Where are you?

And then Please talk to me again.

I shoot him a text, letting him know I’m alive but not ready to talk and turn my phone back off. I force the images of him in bed with someone else from my mind. I wish I could erase them entirely but I know that won’t ever happen.

And if I’m being completely honest with myself, beneath the pain and betrayal and confusion I’m also the tiniest bit… relieved.

I don’t want to marry Daniel. And now, it seems pretty obvious he doesn’t really want to marry me.

So I have no idea what I’m going to do. But I know what I’m not going to do.

I’m not going to get married.

Want to know more about the night before? Catch up here and here.

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