13.2K 397 29

Nathaniel was at work, with less than a handful of sleep and it was starting to catch up to him and club him over the head. And the night was still young. A yawn broke across his discipline, despite the pot of coffee in his gut, the loud music throbbing around him and the mass of people demanding attention. His coworkers were all ribbing him about spending a late night in some mystery woman's bed, and even though that was the plain truth, it was far from the lascivious mental image they were all painting. Nate had simply held Ophelia until she'd passed out again, and then tried to settle into sleep himself. It was a largely unsuccessful task to say the least. But he wouldn't have changed his actions for the world because Opi had so clearly needed someone in that moment of vulnerability and he had felt profoundly honored to be able to help her.

In the exhausted light of his day today though, something very disturbing occured to him. Ophelia wasn't letting anyone close to her. The few moments he was able to help her only drove home the fact that she was far too alone, and far too fatalistic. Yes, it was likely that she was dying. And yes, it was a terrifying prospect. But Nate was now worrying over just what Ophelia might decide to do in those moments someone wasn't there to keep her safe from herself.

"Yo, lover boy. Did you hear anything I just said?" One of Nate's coworker's vroke through his depressing, exhaustion driven reverie.

Nate blinked and looked at Tom, honestly not having heard a thing. "Sorry, in another world. What's up?" He tried to push the thoughts to the back of his mind to deal with later. He could always tell Grace his concerns. Although that meant talking to her again and things were just getting complicated between them enough as it was.

Tom smirked at Nate, probably assuming something mildly to wildly perverted had taken over Nate's thoughts. A month ago and he would have been right. "I was saying that you should go home and sleep. This is a goth bar but you're slow footed, dead looking state is even bringing the energy of this place down."

"Ha, ha." Nate shot back wryly. "I could be covered in scars and I would still rock the panties of this place."

"Hell, chicks dig scars man. Why don't we just claim your gay and give the rest of us blokes a chance?" Tom grinned, playing along.

"You still wouldn't have a chance. I'm already not playing the market, and they're not flocknig to you yet. Your problem is that you get too attached too quickly." Nate ribbed his friend. The conversation wasn't as smooth as it could have been, both men were circling through the tables and clearing out glasses and plates, jotting down quick orders and only getting a chance to spit words at each other when they were dumping dishes in the kitchen behind the bar.

"Hey, unlike you, I'm trying to find Mrs Right." Tom shrugged off Nate's playful insult. That was the core of Tom's problem too, he was jumping feet first into relationships. Not jus feet first either, he put his whole heart into it, often becoming too attached too quickly and scaring off the woman he was with. Part of the problem was that the type of women Tom went after were good looking, and they knew it. They wanted to play the field, be wooed repeatedly and have men fight over them.

"Have you tried being a friend to the woman first. It's a lot easier to say you love her when she already knows that's there!" Nate shot back the next time he got a chance to speak to Tom.

"Yeah, 'cause that's worked out so well for you." Tom snarked right back and Nathaniel almost dropped the tray of drinks in his hands.

Nate could dance for hours through complicated choreography, fight his way out of a nasty brawl and delicately set up the perfect tableau for a photography session. And yet Tom's words nearly made him drop good liquor and break heavy glass. Tom crowed with laughter, seeing Nathaniel's dumbstruck look of horror.

Aces Wild (House of Cards Series 4)Read this story for FREE!