I’m exhausted as I enter Shameless. The last thing I want to be doing tonight is clubbing. It’s one in the morning and I’m wrecked. I called in a favour from Mike, asking him to close Brody’s. Mike looked kind of surprised but didn’t say anything. Thank goodness. I don’t know what I would have said if Mike had called me on my decision to leave work early so I could hang out with Claire.
It almost makes me laugh to think about how I worried Claire wouldn’t be able to keep things in perspective. She seems to be doing a better job of it than I am. I missed her tonight and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I kept searching the bar for Claire even though I knew she wasn’t there. We have such limited time together and I’ll never admit it, but I look forward to the two nights a week we spend together. In fact, it’s all I think about.
Even though she refuses to go out with me during the day – something I’ve given up on trying with her – we’re getting to know each other better as we hang out at the bar on Saturday nights and whenever Claire can make it down during the week. I thought I knew her pretty well before, but I never realised Claire could be so much fun. I didn’t know she’d get along so well with the guys at the bar or enjoy helping me out so much.
Now she’s broken our unofficial agreement to spend every Saturday night together and I’m in pursuit. I want to see her and I need more of the incredible sex I’m quickly becoming addicted to. I’ve always enjoyed sex, but with Claire the pleasure is out of this world. And the intensity between us still scares me, but I’m starting to wonder how I went so long without experiencing that kind of spark with someone.
I search the club, looking for Claire. The club is popular and it’s crowded. Technically, I probably would have had to wait in line to get in, but the bouncer is a regular at Brody’s. R&B music assails my eardrums. Not the kind of music I’d choose for the bar. The people in the club are clearly enjoying it, though, dancing together so closely it’s difficult to force my way through the crowd.
I spot Kara first, her vibrant red hair catching my attention under the lights. Where’s Claire? It takes me a moment to realise I can’t see her because a guy is dancing behind her, blocking her from my view. I watch for a moment while some guy with black hair and white skin that glows under the lights puts his hands on Claire. She turns around and smiles at the guy before moving away from him.
When the guy follows her and puts his hands on her again, I see red. Before we started sleeping together, I would have stepped in in a heartbeat, but now that we’re bed mates, I’m ready to knock the guy’s block off.
I’m across the dance floor in seconds, pulling the other man’s hands off Claire and putting my own on her, pulling her to me. Spinning around, Claire opens her mouth to yell at me, thinking I’m the other guy, and then stops, looking surprised.
And then pleased.
A smile curves her lips and her eyes light up with pleasure. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be closing?”
“I asked Mike to close for me.”
In that moment, I worry I’ve exposed more than I’d like – more than even I know.
Not willing to give her time to overthink, I grab her around the waist, finally taking in what she’s wearing. I notice her lips first – painted a light berry-blue – one that matches her dress. Her dress is short and gives every man in here a view of her perfect legs. Her hair is up, exposing her neck, with curls hanging over her forehead. She looks…capable of seducing every man in the club.
I’ve never really thought of Claire as a siren before. She’s always been the gorgeous girl next door that drove me crazy. But the Claire I’m holding in my arms is dressed to drive every man around crazy.
“You look fucking hot,” I tell her, pulling her against me even tighter.
“Hey,” someone says, tapping me on the arm.
I turn to see Kara standing there, glaring at me. “It’s girl’s night. What are you doing here, Dylan?”
“Ahh, crashing? Is that a problem?”
The way Kara is looking at me tells me it is. “You know, when I heard you and Claire were hooking up, I’d hoped you’d at least take her out and show her a good time occasionally. You’re supposed to be Mr Adrenaline Rush and yet the only thing you do with her is-”
“Kara!” Claire snaps, looking more livid than I’ve ever seen her before.
And that is saying something, considering how I’ve pissed her off on numerous occasions.
“You told me to take a timeout from the list and I am. I don’t need anything else from him. I don’t want anything else from him.”
Despite the fact we discussed these terms before we started sleeping together, and despite the fact that it’s what I wanted, an ache reverberates through my chest. I know I can’t offer her what she wants. It’s good that she’s not looking for anything else from me. In the months we’ve been sleeping together, she’s convinced me she can keep things in perspective. But sometimes it hurts to think we’re so incompatible and that I’ll never be the kind of guy she wants.
Which is crazy.
We’ll never work out in the long-term, not when we want such different things.
And yet, while I’m here and while we’re doing this, I want to spend more time with her. I’m no longer content with the two nights a week we spend together. I definitely wasn’t happy to be deprived of her company tonight. Is there any harm in pushing for a little more time together before I leave? It’s not like she can’t handle it.
Kara seems to think I’m responsible for the fact we aren’t hanging out more.
“I do want to take Claire out. I want to show her how I have fun.” I turn to Claire. “Go out with me tomorrow. You asked me to show you how to have fun.”
Her smile is strained. “And you have.”
“I can do more.”
“You don’t need to. The girls are showing me a good time.”
She’s being difficult.
“I’m going to take Wednesday night off. How about I take you to do something instead of you coming to the bar or me hanging out at your place?”
“I don’t mind helping you out.”
There’s an element of panic to her voice, as if giving in to my demand would push her out of her comfort zone. But isn’t that what she wanted to do by sleeping with me?
“I know. But now it’s my turn to help you out. You’re going out with me on Wednesday night. I’m not taking no for an answer.”
“I guess I don’t have a choice, then.”
She tries to sound happy, but I can see just how worried she is. My determination to show her a good time – to show her how to have fun – and help her experience different things grows exponentially. She’s dipped her toe in the deep end, but she still hasn’t jumped in. By taking her out, I’ll be helping. It’s time for Claire Chase to give up control completely. Not just in bed, but in life.
As a bit of a control freak with some major anxiety issues, I understand Claire. I think she needs Dylan in her life. Opposites can help bring out the parts of us we might otherwise suppress. 😀