Chapter 19: The Mission

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Alex left after breakfast because she was heading to Montreal to see if they really do have the best bagels in Canada. Meanwhile, Nathan darted to his room quickly after her departure, and Darian returned home right after Alex left.

It was chilly in the apartment as the December air seemed to seep through our windows. Darian was bundled from top to bottom, meanwhile I sat comfortably in thick leggings, some fuzzy socks and wool burgundy sweater I recently purchased at the boutique by the apartment. My roommate was practically shivering as I sipped my coffee. "Dude, the heat is on and yet you're still dressed like you're going to the Arctic. "

"I don't handle cold weather well," Darian said through clenched teeth, looking annoyed at my ability to wear a couple of layers and still be warm compared to him wearing five layers and still shivering.

I rolled my eyes and looked in the direction of Nathan's room, curious where he was heading out to. He hadn't talked to me at all last night after Alex blurted out who I'd date. As soon as she left, he claimed he was going out. "I have an idea."

Darian cocked an eyebrow. "Intrigue me."

"Well, it's more of a mission." I stated, taking another sip of my coffee. "I have always wanted to know where Nathan disappears when he doesn't work in the mornings. Haven't you?"

My friend shrugged. "Not really, he's probably just hanging out with Hayden or going for a run. You know he used to be a track star in high school, right?"

"No," I said, shaking my head. Despite this information being compelling, I shook it off quickly, who knew Nathan was a track star once upon a time? I leaned forward but spoke quietly, nervous Nathan would hear. "I'm going to follow him today and see what he's up to."

Darian shook his head, the pompom on his toque bouncing as he did so. "You are nuttier than a Snickers bar."

An hour later, I was dressed head to toe in black, in efforts not to stand out as I slowly followed Nathan in the streets. Call me creepy, but I genuinely wanted to know what he was up to, every time I'd ask he'd simple say, 'out.'

Despite trying to be subtle with my attire, Darian was beside me and he was hard to miss. Refusing to take off any of the clothes he wore in the apartment, he wandered the streets with three sweaters, a puffy jacket, heavy boots, and a bright blue toque. He sighed as we walked, almost as if he were out of breath. "Do we really need to follow him?"

"Yes," I said, making sure to keep an eye on Nathan at all times. He had stopped at a convenient store and headed straight to the counter. "Darian, look!"

The man at the counter turned around and grabbed a pack of cigarettes from the labelless cupboards behind the register. Nathan paid for the pack and began to walk again down the street, stuffing his purchase in his pocket.

Darian quickened his pace in efforts to not lose his sight on Nathan. He said to me quietly, "He doesn't smoke, he told me he quit before he moved in."

I shook my head and shrugged lamely. "Maybe they're for a friend?"

My roommate gave me a doubtful look and rolled his eyes.

We continued to follow Nathan for a few more minutes, when finally, he approached a building and stopped at the top of the stairs that go down to the entrance. The building itself looked run down. The red bricks were chipped, broken windows were covered with sheets of wood, and the front door was dented, as if some punched or kicked it.

Nathan didn't enter the building just yet, instead, he reached in his pocket and grabbed a cigarette and a lighter. He lit his smoke and took a long drag. Darian's eyes widened as his brother took another drag and he stood up. "That little shit lied!"

"Darian!" I whisper yelled, grabbing his arm, pulling him down behind the bench we stopped at, across the street where Nathan stood, oblivious to the fact that we were both watching him. "If he sees you, we're toast."

Darian looked livid as he squatted down beside me. "What if he is dealing drugs?"

"He's not dealing drugs," I whispered. "He's probably just stopping to have his cigarette and then he'll keep walking along."

I was wrong. He finished his smoke, squished it with his foot, and began going down the stairs and into the building.

Darian and I remained silent for a few minutes before I stood. "I'm going in."

"Audrey," Darian began. "You have no idea what's in there, let me go in."

I shook my head. "Darian, I love you, but you look like a giant marshmallow with all those sweaters on. I'm the least noticeable out of the two of us."

Darian nodded his head as I started to walk towards the building. "Be careful!"

Making my way down the stairs, I looked through the small crack in the window beside the door. There were way too many people in there for Nathan to notice me. Opening the door slowly, I made my way inside. Punching bags hung from the ceiling on one side of the room, and the on the other, a giant boxing ring.

Men were going to town on the punching bags, so much so, you could barely hear anyone talk, all you could hear were the slaps on the bags and grunts.

My eyes searched the room as I tried to find Nathan, but I wasn't very lucky. Too many people were surrounding the ring and too many people were scattered around the room, either using the punching bags or using one another.

I wormed my way through all the gross and sweaty bodies, heading towards the back of the room. From there, I noticed there was a smaller room with exercising equipment and someone beating on a lone punching bag that hung in the middle of the room.

I stood at the entryway as Nathan continuously punched the bag. His eyes were blazing and his eyebrows were knitted as he focused on his target. Sweat ran down his face and his grey shirt was already starting to darken. He looked furious, but he also looked like he was at peace, as if he were in his element.

I continued to stare at Nathan as he worked. Dare I say he looked... good? My thoughts were cut short when a man placed his hand on my shoulder. He gave me a toothy grin and said, "What's a pretty thing like you doing in a place like this?"

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