Chapter Two

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I laugh at her expression. "Seriously, Alena? Are you not ready yet? I left a note saying to be ready for eight. Did you not see it?" She rushes towards me, her hands grabbing mine as she pulls me up from the sofa.

"I am ready, see. I don't wear these to uni and work, do I?" I look at her. I can't help but wonder what she thought I was going to wear. I know, of course, I do, but to expect it is crazy.

"Not a chance, you're wearing something better than that" - her finger points across my body. She disapproves, which is not a shock. I had a feeling this would happen. I stand with a shocked look on my face, my head shaking. She just smiles. 

I don't want to show my body off. I don't want the risk of it. Plus, who is going to be looking at me anyway with her there?

"When was the last time you went out? Like out, out and actually enjoyed yourself and showed yourself off? Before Max. So move it." Walking, she begins o pull me through to the bedroom. She throws open the wardrobe doors. She is rifling through it as she does. The clothes are flying over her shoulders as she looks for something suitable. Always messy, she can't be clean. I can't help but smile. She turns around, throwing something, my hands catching it.

"Put this on and hurry up; we're late!" I look at the dress. Yeah, this is Georgina's style, not mine. Low cut, very low cut. The thigh-high black dress is occupying a slit that goes far too high. Slipping into it, I feel like I have nothing on. Grabbing another pair of shoes, I put them on.

"Right, I am ready." I stand waiting while looking at her. I feel like I look amazing for a change. Her face falls as she stares at the shoes. Okay, she disapproves of the shoes. I knew she would. Flat, simple and no heels.

"Put these on. Don't wear them. You're not fifty, Alena. Actually, throw them out altogether." Grabbing the shoes she holds, I put them on. I stand up, feeling myself wobble from the heel height. I walk over and stand in front of the mirror. I stand looking over my body. I am nothing special. not even average. My hair wild and crimson, very hard to miss, my green eyes almost look out of place. I shake my head slightly.

I'm slender, yes, but still not perfect. I feel an arm wrap around me. "We look amazing, don't we?" She grins, and I turn to look at her reflection. Now Georgina is fantastic. Long legs, blue eyes, auburn hair. Her body is impressive. The benefit of going to the gym. Well, not auburn as she is blonde but dyes her hair to hide that fact.

Georgina is the woman every man hangs around at the clubs and bars, hoping for a chance. I would if I was a guy, and here I am, stood next to her. I have no chance with any guys. She is stunning. I am less than average. I feel worse now than I did before—Max's words flowing through my head. I should have refused, just wore jeans, he was right.

"Come on. We're going to be late. The taxi has been waiting for us." Her hand grabs my arm, and she pulls a little too quick and hard. My body wobbles, and I nearly fall. I hate heels. I hate my birthday, and sometimes, I hate Georgina for making me go out. Walking downstairs, I climb into the taxi next to her. My nerves now kicking in. My stomach flipping and worry rising inside me.

I have not been out since Max. My ex and a person I want to forget and move on from. Yet, he always seems to be there. He is the person who destroyed my life so quickly. It is the reason I only ever see faults in myself. The truth is, I have not been the same since Max. I can't. I seem to be stuck in that mind space of being afraid to leave my house. Fearful of men. Afraid of myself, but mostly. I have no self-esteem left at all, none. Every bit has been ripped away from me.

Sure I will see a cute guy and hope. When they do try, I never feel safe. It is like it will take something big to make me feel secure with a guy again. While I kept trying to find who I was. Every time I see a bit of my self-esteem come back, his face is there in my mind, ready to steal it away, just like today.

"What? Oh yeah. We'll be there in two minutes. Stop complaining." Georgina's voice snapping me out of my memories. She hangs up and turns to face me as she smiles. "Just Liam complaining we're late. You will love it! Honestly, Alena, you will." Liam is our flatmate. He is into all things tech—gaming, cameras, computers. I don't see the fascination with it, to be honest. Why waste time sat there pressing buttons? That is me though. 

Maybe it is because I am not a tech person that I don't understand it? Yet so many do. I guess that is another thing Max hated about me. That I saw that as wasting my time. I wasn't interested in any of that. Of course, he was. He had tried to force me to be.

Liam is lovely. His mousy-blond hair and green eyes are amazing. He is more like a brother to me, training to be an electrical at university. The taxi finally stops. Looking up, I see the bright lights. A night club. Of all the places, Georgina picks a night club. My mind is now screaming at me to run and fast. Just go home and avoid all this, but I can't be cruel with the effort Georgina has put into this. Maybe just an hour?

Walking in the music is loud, that doesn't bother me. It is the mass of people I don't know that worries me. The fact I can't hear if someone is right behind me.

"I invited everyone, so I hired the club just for your party so that you will know everyone." Georgina stands smiling before hugging me. "Happy Birthday." I nod at her words, looking around at the people. There is no one here I know. Where is Liam? I know him. I can't stop myself from laughing. The fact she thinks I know these people amazes me. Walking in, people keep coming over. You would expect them to be coming to wish me a happy birthday. Instead, they just smile at me and greet Georgina. Some don't even notice me. 

We walk through the crowds, my eyes falling on Liam, and I feel myself relax slightly. He is standing with someone, no doubt another student from university. "Look, Liam is there. Who is that with him?" Georgina looks at them then walks ahead. I watch as she reaches them, her arms wrapping around the guy in a tight embrace before she steps back.

He is taller than all of us, maybe around 6ft 3? My eyes catch the artwork on his arms. I am walking towards them but feel like I am going slow while staring at him. Why do I feel such a pull towards this guy I don't even know? 

My heart is racing, and I feel like there is a magnet drawing me to him, my hair standing up. I watch as Georgina's hand rubs against him, just like Georgina would with any hot guy. Reaching them, he turns, and I am frozen. Wow, I can't stop myself from staring. Who is he?

"You must be Alena. Happy birthday." My eyes look up to his before scanning across his body. He is big, muscle wise big. The artwork clearly doesn't stop on his arms. I can see it on his neck as well. His smile is soft and gentle. Why do I feel the urge to touch him? Why the hell do his tattoos make me so weak?

I try to smile as my eyes take him in, in all his godlike beauty, his tattoos, beard, everything.  "Hi." Is that all I can think of? Hi, and it was a weak hi as well. I should be more like Georgina, confident and rubbing his arm to make it known I am interested.

"Alena, this is Jackson. My brother." I look at Liam, his eyes looking between us. Is he annoyed? Wait, Liam? His brother? The difference is massive, Jacksons height for one. His hair and even eyes are a different colour. Why is my hair standing up? I feel like I just walked into a freezer.

"Oh, hey, and thank you." Finally, words exist within my mouth. I must look like a right fool, but something about him makes me want him. It is making me nervous, and I haven't felt this way in ages. He makes me feel safe. How? I want to touch him, my eyes look at Georgina, I see it on her face as well. In that case, I have no chance, no chance at all, if she is interested. I don't stand a chance. So I will give up the fight before it even starts. She wins. She gets him. I will just wait for tonight to end.

"Well, let's get a drink first. Tonight you are dancing, Alena." Georgina drags me to the bar. Jackson stood watching us as we walk off. No doubt watching Georgina, not me.

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