Raine and Sawyer · Vanished

Sawyer

I think I’m being hazed.

I mean, not really. But kind of. I am currently at my place of employment scrubbing a toilet that was cleaned by our weekly cleaning crew two days ago. Which seems like a ridiculous request.

I’ve only been working at Vanished for a month so obviously, I’m the natural choice for these shit jobs. And despite the fact I think it’s completely unnecessary, I’ll suck it up and get it done. It’s not like this is a normal occurrence. Some girl named Lori that Jax knows from way back is in town and coming to the shop soon. For some reason he’s a bundle of nerves, wanting the place to shine even more than usual. I’m not sure why he cares so much about impressing this Lori, considering he’s already got a girl and seems to be solely and entirely focused on her. Happily so.

The truth is I can come up with a list of three dozen guys who would fight me for this job, just off the top of my head. A month ago I was one of them. But Lucas Abbott, winner of Top Ink, offered a chair to me. On a probationary period of course. It’s off season right now, which means the reality show based on Lucas and this shop isn’t shooting currently. My role on the show is still up in the air which is fine by me. I’m not here to be on TV.

Macy told me soon after I started part of the reason I got the job was because I didn’t care if I was on the show or not. I haven’t been tattooing long and I’m here to learn. From the best. Everything else will take care of itself.

I feel my cell phone vibrate in my pocket. I flush the toilet one last time, wipe down the counter and wash my hands. Then I dig out my phone, eager. Hopeful.

But ultimately disappointed. A text from my brother asking about birthday plans for my mom next week.

It’s not her. Not the girl I spent last night with, a fucking amazing night, before she snuck out at dawn. I managed to bluff my way through getting her number from the hotel and texted her a couple hours ago. No response.

Yet.

I’m keeping the faith.

Sweet Raine. I’ll see her again. The universe would not be so cruel to show me a glimpse of perfection and then take it away.

I’m no angel and I’d be lying if I said last night was the first time I’ve gone home with a stranger but I’m not really a one-night kind of guy. And she was fucking incredible. Cute, fun, up for anything, quick with the comebacks. Sexy as hell. When she grabbed me as we were leaving the bar, kissing me so sweetly and inviting me back to her hotel room I didn’t hesitate. I’m no idiot.

I’m still frowning at my phone as I wander to the break room, ready for my next ‘Prepare for Lori’ assignment.

“No response from the love of your life yet?” Macy needles.

I flip him off. Distracted as I was last night, I didn’t think to set my alarm. When I finally woke up this morning, sweet talked the desk clerk into getting Raine’s phone number, there was no time to go home and change before work. Macy didn’t miss the fact I was wearing the same clothes from yesterday and he wrung some of the more innocent details out of me.

I should have known better than to give Mace that kind of ammunition. He’ll never let me live it down.

“You wouldn’t be so quick to mock my pain if you’d seen her,” I tell him, grabbing a chair and turning it backwards before straddling it, resting my arms along the back.

“So who is this Lori chick anyway? What’s all the fuss about?”

“Lori’s like a little sister to Jax. They spent a few months in the same foster home as kids and Jax kind of took her under his wing. Eventually her mom cleaned up her act and got custody back, remarried and moved to Philly. They’ve kept in touch but I don’t think she’s been back to Chicago since.”

“So you’ve never met her either?”

“No, talked to her a couple times. I was the one who called her when Jax was shot. She wanted to come but she was out of the country.”

My phone buzzes again and Macy smirks at me, raising one eyebrow expectantly. I try to play it cool, not wanting to give him the satisfaction and even more ammunition.

Three seconds in I can’t stand it any longer and check my texts. I ignore Macy’s chuckle.

My brother again.

Damn.

What happened with Raine? More here.

Raine and Sawyer · Riley and Jax · Vanished

Raine

The slowly lightening sky alerts me to the fact I need to leave. Soon.

I’m surprisingly reluctant. Partly because It’s going to be annoyingly cold outside and I am so warm and cozy right now. Partly because I’m going to have explanations to make that I’m not looking forward to. Partly because the guy I spent the night with last night was, is, pretty spectacular.

Or maybe I just liked who he let me be.

It’s been a while since I haven’t had disapproving eyes on my every move, waiting for me to screw up so my mistake could be pointed out and I could be corrected.

Last night I ate what I wanted to eat. I drank what I wanted to drink. I played darts! And danced to the juke box.

God, that freedom was heady. That and his dark hair, and steel blue eyes, and sexy beard shadow, and gorgeous sleeve tattoo. I was totally sober and still flying high. So at the end of the night, when they kicked us out of the bar, I kissed him. I asked him back to my hotel room. I chose.

But now the sun is creeping in to tomorrow and I have to go.

I slowly scoot to the edge of the bed, easing out from the arm wrapped around me. I pause after making it to my feet, holding my breath until I’m sure he hasn’t woken up. Silently I gather my things.

Sawyer. His name.

I glance over at the bed as I pull my clothes on. He’s rumpled and sexy still asleep, snoring lightly.

I’m hit with a momentary wave of indecision. I could stay….

But last night…last night didn’t count. It was just a gift I’d given myself. A chance to take a mini-vacation from my life.

No, not a mini-vacation. That’s not quite right.

The final blow releasing me from my past life, leaving me untethered and ready to start totally fresh. It’s funny how sometimes you have to go back in order to move forward. When my mom moved us out of Chicago, that’s when my life irrevocable changed for the worse. Coming back here feels like coming back to that fork in the road. And this time I’m choosing, not just a kid along for the ride. I’m choosing. And I’m choosing to go the other way at that fork. Taking the other path.

I hope the better path.

I feel lighter, actually hopeful for the first time in years. That’s got to be a good sign, right?

Today I start the life I choose.

I start my apartment search, my job search, my life search.

Sticking around here, waiting until he wakes up and attempting to start something with the first guy I meet in my new-again city seems like falling in to old patterns, not starting new. The whole point of coming back was so I could be on my own, figuring out what I want. Not to find another boyfriend, no matter how tempting he may be.

So I’m staying the course on my plan. Entering in to this next phase totally unencumbered. I am a blank canvass.

I’m giddy.

First on my agenda, once again going back to move forward. I’ve got to go see Jax. I just hope his offer to come visit any time was real and not just something you say to be polite assuming it will never actually happen. I mean, he’s tried to keep in touch over the years but he hasn’t actually seen me since I was fourteen.

Twelve years is kind of a long time to hold someone to a promise. Hopefully I’ll have a place to sleep tonight.

Well, worse case scenario I can use some of the $50,000 I have stashed in my suitcase for another hotel room.

See what Sawyer thinks here.