It’s officially #SpookySzn!
One random night in September, the premise of this short hit me like a ton of bricks. And the next day, it was completed.
So please enjoy my not-really-romance contribution to the season, Ghosted 🙂
(note: this was something super quick, and fun, and free for me to do that is only lightly edited, so please don’t hold grammatical errors against me lol.)
This was not how the night was supposed to go.
The plan was to get dressed, hand out candy at my mother’s house for a few hours, and then head down to the bar my friends were hanging out at to show my costume and face before going home with some hours left of Halloween to spare. But instead, I was at bar four of an unplanned crawl, drunkenly glaring at my ex who was too occupied with some bitch to even notice I was in the building.
Honestly, I was over it.
Over him, over Halloween, over… being drunk.
I mean, the shit just wasn’t as fun when instead of turning up, you felt all sad and shit. And that feeling only grew as my friends tried to cheer me up, their encouragement unfortunately having some type of reverse effect that left me sadder since it felt like I was ruining their good time.
“I’ma just head out,” I told them somberly, though the staggering step I took to do so said I wasn’t going anywhere.
At least, not without some assistance.
“Paige, are you crazy? We’re not letting you catch a ride in this condition,” Hazel said worriedly.
A worry I tried to put at ease when I unconvincingly defended, “I’m fine. Really. I’m really… really fine.”
“Fine to sleep without supervision? Yes. Fine to ride home by yourself on the ultimate stranger danger night? Absolutely not,” Joanie concluded while Hazel nodded nearby.
Still, I did my best to sound completely sober when I whined, “Y’all, come on. It’s not like I’ve never done it before. And besides, taking me home is completely out of the way. I don’t wanna ruin y’alls night any more than I already have.”
“This is non-negotiable, Paige. Now come on,” Hazel decided, wrapping her arm around mine so that she could drag me towards the bar’s exit while explaining, “I’ll just have the Lyft driver do a round-trip to my place. That way you’ll be somewhere safe enough to sleep your alcohol off, you’ll have no reason to feel guilty about messing up any of our fun since it’s only down the street, and you’ll still be around in the morning for my good spooky dick story that I’m speaking into existence.”
“Fine,” I pouted with a playful roll of my eyes, glad that Joanie decided to link her arm with my other one in that moment since I wasn’t sure if I would’ve made it outside on two feet otherwise. But the cool night air seemed to help, along with the peppermint gum Hazel slid my way once we were in the Cadillac being driven by a nigga with a fresh fade and a freshly-opened Black Ice air freshner whose seat was reclined so far back that it was damn near against my knees.
My inner bird was tweeting. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one since Joanie’s ass was practically in the dude’s lap by the time we pulled up to Hazel’s apartment.
“I’m gonna go let her in real quick, and I’ll be right back,” Hazel told the both of them, Joanie responding with a casual wave of her hand when she insisted, “Take your time, girl.”
For whatever reason, that made me laugh – and burp – glad to have found at least a tiny sliver of joy in the night. And that dot of happiness was only added to once Hazel guided me into her place and was so sweet about getting me settled in on her couch, an appreciative grin on my lips as I earnestly told her, “Thank you for taking such good care of me, Hazel.”
“That’s what friends are for, Paige,” she insisted with a grin of her own. “Now get some rest. I’ll leave some water and crackers out on the counter for you just in case you need them.”
I’d heard what she’d said. But I wasn’t sure if I was actually still awake when she’d said it, the wearing of her couch feeling like it was molded specifically for my body as it carried me straight to dreamland. And by the time I woke up, you could’ve told me a few nights had passed and I would’ve believed you, my brain feeling unusually alert as I noticed light coming from under the bathroom door along with what sounded like someone washing their hands.
“Hazel, is that you?” I asked just as the door was being opened, the fact that the shit seemed to be going in slow motion making me uneasy as I asked again, “Hazel?” But she didn’t answer, since it wasn’t her, the sight of a man staring back at me making me hop off the couch to grab a weapon as I screamed, “Who the fuck are you?!”
“I should be asking you the same thing,” he responded, the comfortable steps he took in my direction mentally disarming me even as I grabbed a vase and argued, “You first!”
With a dazzling grin, he answered, “Darius Cook. Hazel’s… cousin.”
“Hazel didn’t say her cousin was going to be here,” I told him, my grip on the vase tightening in a way that made him laugh before he explained himself.
“Well when I ran into her down at the after hours spot a little bit ago, she told me I could come here if I needed a place to crash tonight.”
“But I’m crashing here,” I whined, once again making him chuckle as he shrugged to ask, “What’s your point?”
Considering it wasn’t exactly my place to be hogging, I didn’t have much of a response for him other than a still-startled glare while he cleared the distance between us and continued, “I’m good with the floor. Unless you’d rather make room for me somewhere else.”
It wasn’t until that moment that I really realized just how attractive he was, his appeal confusing me a bit since it was made up of things I wasn’t usually drawn to that somehow all looked perfect on him.
I mean, the piercings, the braids, the bulky kind of muscle that made me wonder if we’d never been acquainted before because his ass was doing time in the clink…
They were all things I would’ve steered clear of in public but had me salivating in private as I told him, “You’re fine. I mean, with the floor. The floor is fine.”
With a smirk, he didn’t move away, standing in front of me as he started to remove the shirt he had on and I immediately asked, “What are you doing?”
“I’m supposed to sleep in my costume?” he questioned amusedly, the fact that I’d completely missed what he was even dressed as only highlighting how distracted everything else about him had me as I awkwardly covered, “Oh. Right. Umm… make yourself at home then, I guess. Not that this is my home to say that for, but…”
Before I could finish my ramble, he took a step closer and asked, “Paige, am I making you nervous?”
“As if the step that put his bare chest right in my face was going to make anything better,” I thought as I peeked up to tell him, “Isn’t it obvious?”
“Don’t be nervous,” he insisted with a pleasant grin, gently grabbing my chin to add, “I’m not gonna hurt you.”
I believed him.
I don’t know why. Maybe it was just my gut instinct, or maybe it was because he was Hazel’s cousin, or maybe I’d just… had a hard night and wanted to hang on to this glimmer of possibility that all men weren’t on my bad side for the rest of eternity.
Or maybe it wasn’t any of that. Maybe I just wanted him and was good with the idea of throwing caution to the wind in favor of the moment when he brought his lips down to mine for a kiss that felt like it landed in every nerve of my body.
Head to toe, I was lost in his lips, the tongue he added damn near making me float until I pulled away with a groaned, “Mmm. We should probably… get some rest.”
I was already walking away when he caught me with an arm tossed low around my waist, using it to pull me back against his erection where he suggested, “Something tells me that’s not what you really wanna do.”
“And something might not be wrong,” I admitted, releasing a moan once he used his position behind me to start kissing on my neck. And from that moment on, there was nothing I wanted more than for him to have his way with me, a job he took great pleasure in once he guided me over to the couch and did things to me that made him feel less like a stranger and more like my husband-to-be.
I mean, I already loved Paige like a sister, so marrying into her family seemed like a win. But when I woke up alone on her couch the next morning, I realized I might’ve gotten a little ahead of myself as I looked around the living room and found no immediate signs of my future beau, the fact that I hadn’t even heard his exit leaving me puzzle until I noticed the bathroom door being opened.
“Good morning, sunshine!” Hazel sang, my disappointed reaction only making her frown as she joined me on the couch and acknowledged, “You look… bothered.”
“Because I am bothered,” I admitted before asking, “Where’s Darius?”
“Darius. Your cousin,” I repeated with additional context like she needed it, or like she hadn’t been the one to invite his ass over here just last night.
Still, she kept up her oblivious act, really selling the confusion when she responded, “Paige, I don’t have a cousin named Darius.”
“Very funny, Hazel,” I groaned with a roll of my eyes, even giggling about it when she said, “I’m serious, P. I have no idea who you’re talking about.”
The look I gave her in response was to signal she could stop playing already. But the real ass fear I saw in her eyes made my heart race a little as I tried to calmly explain, “He was here last night. Said he saw you at the bar, and that you told him he could come here to crash if he needed to.”
Her face scrunched as she shook her head and insisted, “Paige, that alcohol must’ve twisted the hell out of your dreams cause I did no such thing.”
“Hazel, we had sex!”
“What?!” she squealed, popping up from the couch to ask, “You had sex with some random man who broke into my apartment?!”
“He wasn’t a random man! I thought he was your cousin! Y’all have the same last name and everything,” I defended as I met her stance, suddenly realizing how ridiculous it was that I hadn’t asked for any hard proof in the moment as Hazel paused her hysteria to ask, “Wait… you said his name was Darius? Like, Darius Cook?”
Her recognition made my shoulders drop as I whined, “See, I knew you were fuckin’ with me. That is so not funny, Hazel.”
“Paige, I’m not fuckin’ with you,” she sighed, pulling me back down to the couch like she knew I needed to be sitting for the moment she shared, “It’s just… Darius Cook used to live across the hall from me. We’d always make jokes about being related because of our last names, but… he died, Paige. Like a year ago.”
“Shut the fuck up,” was what rushed from my mouth before I could even form a real thought, the whole thing feeling like some sick joke that had me covered in goosebumps as Hazel defended, “I’m serious, Paige. Look it up. His girlfriend found out that he was a serial cheater and turned his fine ass into cubed steak.”
I didn’t want to look it up.
I couldn’t look it up.
Not because I didn’t think she was telling the truth. But if I saw his face on a news article, I was afraid I’d never be able to sleep again. And not only that, but if he was here last night, that meant he could still be here right now, the whole thing making me tremble as I warily looked around the room and asked, “Hazel, are you telling me your apartment is haunted? Did I… get some spooky dick last night?”
The question was enough to make Hazel tense up as she inched closer to where I was sitting and slowly started looking around herself, the glint of terror in her eyes telling me everything I needed to know long before she answered, “I don’t know. But considering the only trace you have of this person is the name of a dead man, I think it’s safe to say you’ve been ghosted.”
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