Chapter 20: The Gym

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I stepped back, hoping that he would let go of my shoulder, but his grip only tightened. "I-I was j-just-"

"Audrey?" I heard Nathan call from behind me. He began approaching me and the man. "Baby, what are you doing here?"

Baby?

The man gripping my shoulder let go and gave Nathan a weak smile. "Sorry kid, didn't know she was spoken for."

Nathan put his hand on the small of my back like he had done at Ed's only a week before and pulled me in close as he growled out, "Well, she is, Hank."

The creepy man - Hank - huffed and started muttering under his breath as he left the room.

Nathan quickly grabbed my arm and sat me down on one of the benches by the weights. He ran his hand through his sweaty hair and his hazel eyes looked darker than usual. "What are you doing here? This is not a place a girl would want to go, especially alone!"

I rolled my eyes at Nathan. "If you're trying to scare me, it's not going to work."

"Damn it, Audrey!" He yelled, kicking the punching bag in frustration. "If they didn't know you were with me, all kinds of things would have happened to you. So, I'm asking again, what are you doing here?"

I shrugged and my eyes drifted to the floor, suddenly feeling bad for intruding on Nathan's activities. "I just wanted to know where you go when you disappear and I was worried because you were angry at me last night."

Nathan's features softened, but he still stared at me intently. "I wasn't angry at you. You don't have to worry about me, princess."

I scoffed, looking up at him. "I don't have to worry about you? Nathan you are in the middle of a sketchy ass gym with creepy guys named Hank! Not to mention, you started smoking again. Which isn't a big deal to me but Darian is livid!"

Nathan took a deep breath, his shoulders falling as he did so. "You brought my brother? Where is he?"

"He's outside!" I yelled, feeling angry for whatever reason. "He's outside because he looks like a damn marshmallow in his abundance of sweaters and he is going to kick your ass when he sees you for lying to him!"

He let out a hearty chuckle, the one that fills rooms as he bent down and met my gaze. "No one can kick my ass, princess. Why do you think I'm here?"

I gulped as I stared at him. His hazel eyes were narrowed as he looked at me. Seeing them this closely, I found flakes of gold and green.

"I know why you were angry last night," I blurted, unsure as to where that came from.

Nathan cocked his brow and gave me a lopsided smirk. "Oh?"

"B-because Alex said I wanted t-to date Hayden," I winced, bracing myself for Nathan's response. However, only silence remained in the room. So I continued, "I only said that so she would shut up, she would have never left if I didn't give her a name."

Nathan let out a sigh. "You don't have to lie to me, Audrey. Date who you want, I don't care."

He began to put on his gloves again and looked at me, without a hint of emotion. "You should leave. Take Darian with you."



"He's boxing?" Darian spat as we headed back to the apartment. "Why is he boxing?"

I kicked a pebble and sighed. "I didn't get to ask that. He was too busy yelling at me."

My roommate gave me stare that was a mixture of shock and surprise. "Why would he yell at you?"

"Well, he was mad I followed him, mad that I brought you, and mad or I don't even know what it was, when I brought up my sister saying I'd date Hayden," I rambled.

"He needs to chill," Darian stated.

We continued to walk towards the apartment, not really bothering to talk. I think both of us needed to process what had happened today.

What was Nathan's problem? He's just so weird. It felt like he was having one mood swing after another in the gym today. One minute he's calling me baby and then the next he's saying he doesn't care who I date.

Boys.

In my pocket, I felt my phone vibrate. Quickly, I pulled it out, slightly hoping it was Nathan. But it wasn't, it was Hayden.

"Hello?" I said as I answered the phone.

Darian give me a quizzical look and I brushed him off.

"Hey, Audrey," Hayden greeted, sounding strange. "I was wondering if you wanted to go on a date tonight? There's a new movie playing at the theatre close to your apartment."

I stopped in my tracks and looked over at Darian. He gave me a confused look and I mouthed the words, Hayden asked me out.

My roommate clapped his hands and nodded his head vigorously. He mouthed back, say yes.

"Audrey?"

I let out an awkward cough and nodded my head despite him not being able to see me. "Yeah, sure. That sounds great!"

I could hear Hayden's smile in his voice as he said, "Great! Maybe we can stop by Ed's before hand and get a dessert or something?"

"That sounds lovely, pick me up at 8?" I asked and Darian damn near died as I said it.

"See you at 8!" Hayden responded and then the line went dead.

My roommate rushed up beside me and let out a small scream. "Oh my God, Audrey Holland is back in the dating game!"

I gave my friend a small smile but I started to feel extremely nauseous. Am I really ready to go back into the dating game, let alone with Nathan's best friend?

As I walked home, I couldn't help but to think that if Alex hadn't opened her big, stupid mouth I wouldn't be in this mess to begin with.

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