A tear runs down my cheek. The guy behind the counter struggles to get the register open. Liam stares at me, fear in his eyes. He's frozen in place with his wallet in hand.

"Give me that too!" The guy yells. The smell of liquor overwhelming me. I scrunch my face, trying to keep the smell from my nose with no success.

Liam hands the wallet to the guy cautiously, his hand shaking. The man snatches the wallet quickly, his hand leaving my neck for a second. I don't know where it came from, but I swung my arm backwards, trying to elbow the guy in the face, but my hand was blocked by his gun. I let out a scream as my hand collides with the gun. Liam lurches forward at the sound of my scream, his hands balled into fists at his side. The muscles in his arms bulging from under his shirt.

"Don't move!" The man screams. I cradle my hand as I stare into Liam's eyes, the barrel of the gun at the base of my neck. The man turns his attention back to the guy behind the counter. "Hurry it up! Or I'll shoot pretty boy over here!"

"Here!" He screams as he throws the money at the man. It floats to the ground. The guy drops a black bag at Liam's feet. I'm not sure where he had kept it before. "Pick it up." He growls at Liam. Liam drops and gathers all the money shoving it into the bag as fast as he can, making sure not to leave any behind. Liam fumbles with the bag, trying to close it, but his hands are shaking too bad and he can't get the bag closed.

The man moves the gun off my neck only to be replaced with his arm. By his elbow he has a tattoo of a black dragon, it's tail wrapping around his forearm and it's body twisting across his arm, the head blowing flames onto his hand. "Hurry it up boy or I'll shoot you as well." He repeats.

"No." I gasp. It hurts to say anything. The man tightens his arm around my neck, cutting off my airway. I claw at his arm, trying to release it's grip on me. My lungs begin to burn and I draw blood on his dragon tattoo.

"Here!" Liam screams pushing the bag towards the man. He grabs it with the hand holding the gun while shoving me into Liam. I stumble forward, light headed and we both go crashing into a stand of chips. I land on Liam, my face inches from his. The door dings again as the man rushes out. I cough, trying to get my breath back.

"Told you it was dangerous out here." He whispers. He did tell me.

"You two okay?" The cashier rushes to us and helps me up. I look at him for the first time. He's a young man, probably in his mid-twenties. He has chocolate brown hair and bright blue eyes and olive tanned skin. His facial features are strong and handsome looking. He smiles at me, a bright white smile.

"Yeah, I am." I replied, my voice hoarse, as Liam struggles to his feet. I rub my hand, it's now purple.

The cashier looks at Liam. "Sir, are you okay?"

"How's your hand?" Liam ignores the cashier and walks to me, looking down at my hand. I try to hide it.

"It's fine." Honestly, it's throbbing.

The cashier looks at me then Liam and sighs. He turns to pick up the mess.

Liam looks me in the eyes, I can tell he knows I'm lying. Thankfully, he let's it go. He turns to help the man.

"Thanks..." He pauses, waiting for Liam to say his name.


He smiles. "Thanks Liam." He goes behind the counter. "Here's your drink sir."

Liam looks at him puzzled, "I don't have any money."

"I know. It's on me." He turns to me. "Would you like something."

I shake my head no, not wanting to test my voice at the time.

He nods and walks to the back of the store. Liam takes the drink and heads out the door. He walks out first, looking both ways before moving out of the way for me.

I walked closer to him, afraid to wonder to far away. His jacket is still wrapped around my shoulders. I pull it tighter against the cold night. I look at Liam, he shivers. I feel guilty at keeping his jacket so I take it off and hand it to him.

"I don't need it." He lies.

"Yes you do. You're shivering." I shove the jacket into his hand, he doesn't take it.

He looks down at me. "Fine, I don't want it."


"I don't mind being cold to be honest." He shrugs his shoulders.

A cold breeze blows by and my arm turns to solid bumps. I quickly slide the jacket back on. "Thanks."

"Don't mention it." He takes a sip of his drink and hands it to me. "Try this."

I take it and try a taste. When the liquid touches my tongue, I realize just how thirsty I was. I take other drink, not really tasting it before handing it back.

"Didn't know I was that thirsty." I say.

"We can go back and get another one." He says as he takes another drink.

"I don't want to go back there."

Our pace is faster than it was on the way to the filling station. I can see the house the party's at. Lights are still on and I can hear a faint rumble from the music.

"Party's still going." Liam says as we walk pass. We both stare at the house. We can see people through the windows. "It doesn't look like many people are still there."

"No, it doesn't." I look to see if I can see Sammi in there, but it's hard from a distance because the faces all look the same from here. I tear my eyes from the house and to the road ahead. We walk in silence until we get to Sammi's house and I stop. Liam looks up at the house.

"Here it is." He whispers.

I just nod as I take off his jacket and hand it to him. He takes it this time.

"Thanks Liam. For the jacket and the walk." I smile a fake smile.

"I enjoyed it Brandi. I hope we can do this again, without the drunk at the filling station." His voice goes into a half laugh at the end.

"Yeah, maybe." I say as I turn and walk up the drive. "Bye Liam." I say over my shoulders. I hear him say bye to me faintly. I walk inside without looking backwards. As I open the door, I am attacked.

"Brandi! You're home!" Sammi yells, tears in her eyes. "I was so worried! Where were you? Stephen and I were looking all over for you!"

"I went for a walk."

Sammi looks past me and into the road. I follow her gaze. Liam is walking away.

"Who's he?" Her eyes turn back to me.



"I don't know. I... I never asked."

"Well, do I know him?" She asks as we go inside.

"Yeah. He was the kid that Terrance beat up."

"Oh... Awkward."

I just smile. "How was the party after I left?"

She goes on to tell me how her and Stephen left the party shortly because of Terrance and how they went for a walk and he kissed her under the stars. I nodded every once in awhile so she wouldn't ask me any questions.

We went to her room upstairs. She went to the bathroom first, still talking about her and Stephen. I sat at the bench below the window, looking at the road where Liam last stood. He seemed like a kind kid. I rest my head against the wall and close my eyes. I soon drift off to sleep.

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