I’m looking for opinions on my revised chapter.
CHAPTER ONE (Lana)
“You did what?” Bree, my best friend stares at me, stunned. Her brown irises remind of little chocolate buttons against the white of her eyes. A strand of spaghetti dotted with chilli sauce hangs out her fuchsia pink lips.
“I told my parents I want my trust fund,” I tell her calmly. “They offered it to me after I graduated and I told them I’d let them know when I needed it.”
Bree shakes her head and glares at me as if I’ve committed the ultimate sin. She sucks in the spaghetti. “You shouldn’t have been so hasty, Lana.”
We’re at a tiny Italian restaurant in Ballito – Pavarotti’s – Bree’s favorite eatery on the Kwa-Zulu Natal North coast. I haven’t told Bree the rest of my news yet. God only knows how she’ll react.
“I wasn’t hasty. I felt the time was right to use the money to live the life I’ve always wanted.”
“I don’t believe you. Anyway tell me what you’re going to do with so much money?” Her wild, red curls tremble when she mock shudders at what I could possibly have in mind.
I shrug. “Settle down.”
She twirls spaghetti around her fork and eyes me surreptitiously. “Settle down? You’re only twenty. Whatever happened to the plans we had to travel the world?”
“I’ve decided I prefer stability.”
“Stability? What the fuck’s gotten into you?” Spots of color appear on Bree’s cheeks. She points her sauce tipped fork at me. “Is there something you’re not telling me? Did you and parents fall out?”
“No.” I shake my head. “This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while.”
Bree pours herself more wine. “I swear you’ve been kidnapped by aliens or something.”
“We were supposed to take a gap year, remember?”
“I’m taking my gap year now.” I look away from her when emotion threatens to fill my eyes with tears.
“Now?” Bree stops eating. “Why? I know you love attending school full time.”
“I need a cha –” a sharp jolt of pain paralyzes me. Shit. Why now? I hold my head between my hands and concentrate on my breathing for a while.
“Lana?” Panic rises in her voice. “I’m calling a doctor,” she screams when I don’t respond immediately to her.
“No,” I gasp, “It’s nothing –” Please let her buy my lie, I pray. The blinding spasms cease after a few minutes leaving me weak and nauseous.
“Have you even been to a doctor?”
“Yes,” I nod.
“He ran some tests.”
“Shit, you’re shaking like a fucking leaf.” She holds a glass of water to my lips. “Drink.”
I manage to take a few sips. The headaches strike when I least expect it. There’s no particular pattern, warning or interval. They just happen spontaneously.
Bree calls for the bill. “I’m going to drop you off at home,” she insists after she’s paid. She stands up and holds my hand, ready to catch me if I fall.
“No. I…” Bree doesn’t know I moved out last weekend. She wants to drive me to my parent’s place.
She narrows her eyes. “Why don’t you want to go home?”
I might as well tell Bree the truth and get it over with. The nausea fades away and most of my strength returns. “I moved out.”
She sits in her chair with a heavy thud. “What the fuck did you that for?”
“I needed space and time to focus on my writing –” it’s partly true. My freelance writing career’s really kicked off in the last few months. “And since Beauty Bulletin decided to make my column a permanent fixture, I decided I needed more space to focus on my career…” Beauty Bulletin is one of the most popular magazines in South Africa.
Bree sighs and shakes her head. “I don’t know what you’re not telling me but I can promise you one thing, Lana. Whatever it is you’re hiding– I’ll find out sooner or later,” she vows. She watches me closely as I wake up. “You could tell me now and get it over with,” she pleads.
“I’ve told you everything.” Bree’s a tough cookie to convince. “My parents have been really supportive of my decision. Dad even bought me a car so I could be more independent.” The car was a gift from Dad when Beauty Bulletin told me they’d decided to make my column a permanent part of their magazine but Bree doesn’t have to know that.
Bree eyes my Ford hatchback. “What? Damn, you’re lucky.” Bree borrows her brother’s VW Golf to move around.
“Yeah.” My dad and I have always been close. I’m grateful he didn’t ask me too many questions when I told him and Mom I wanted to move out. Dad’s always been supportive of my decisions.
She shakes her head. “There’s more to this. I feel it in my bones.”
“Your bones are wrong,” I insist even though I know Bree’s bones have never lied. Bree and I have been close since fifth grade. We’ve cried with each other over failed crushes, shared fashion disasters and each other’s happiness. Lying to Bree is more difficult than lying to my family.
“My bones have never been wrong.” She looks up sharply. “Are you sure this isn’t about Zane?” Her brown eyes darken.
“Positive,” I assure Bree on our way to the parking lot. Zane and I dated briefly. He’s a model and fitness fanatic with a heart of gold. After two dates both of us agreed we were better off as friends.
Bree sighs. “I’m happy things are working out your way, Lana, but I know you’re hiding something from me. She places her hands on either side of my shoulders. “Just because I’m dropping the topic now doesn’t mean I’ll forget.”
Our eyes meet.
“So where did you move to?”
She stares at me blankly. “Where the fuck is that?”
“About twenty minutes from here.”
Bree still has no clue what I’m talking about. “North or south?”
“North.” She’s going to freak out in five seconds. I count down mentally in my mind. Five, four, three, two, one…
“Are you kidding me?” She’s about a head shorter than me. Bree stands on tip toes to look me straight in the eyes. “You moved to the fucking heart of a sugar cane farm. I don’t believe this. You’re twenty. Not sixty. Sugar cane farms are for retirement – not starting out.”
“There’s barely any sugar cane farms left. Besides it’s on the beach. I love it there.” I try and sound as convincing as possible. “It’s quiet and peaceful and good for my writing.”
“Don’t use your writing to cover up. You’re going there to hide.” She leans against my car. “Are you pregnant?” she asks suddenly.
“What?” I laugh. “By who?”
“Zane,” she whispers. “I wouldn’t blame you for messing around with him. He’s got a great body and personality.”
I shake my head. “Zane prefers messing around with guys.”
“Shit. I’d have never guessed he was gay.” She shakes her head. Her phone rings then cutting our conversation short. “Fuck. I forgot I have to pick Mom up from the mall.”
“I’ll call you later.” She promises before she gets into her car and takes off.
Thank God I didn’t get caught this time. I sigh in relief before driving to my new home.
My rented house overlooks Blythedale Beach. Lucky for me this section of beach isn’t busy and I have a clear, uninterrupted view of the Indian Ocean. The natural vegetation on the shoreline hasn’t been touched and provides a stark, green contrast to the golden beach sand. The standard, two bedroomed house has an open plan kitchen and lounge and a decent sized bathroom. I had my stuff moved here a few days ago and unpacked most of it yesterday. I sink onto the double bed and stare at the ceiling.
My own place. Tears burn my eyes. I always imagined moving into my first house would be a wonderful, joyous celebration – dinner followed by drinks with my closest friends and family. Instead here I am alone with the sound of the Indian Ocean for company. I lie on the bed and doze off for about two hours before my stomach growls. The fridge and cupboards are empty because I haven’t had a chance to do any grocery shopping yet. The joys of independence. My stomach rumbles louder. I have to eat before hunger makes me insane. There’s a restaurant on the beach – I recall seeing it on my way to my new home. I grab my car keys and move so fast I’m dizzy by the time I’m in the driver’s seat. I take a moment to calm down before driving.
The restaurant is quiet – it’s nearly nine p.m. and the sun’s last rays cast a dim glow over Blythedale. I rush inside Nando’s as if there’s a crowd behind me – I’m that hungry. Thankfully the restaurant isn’t busy. The smell of freshly grilled chicken permeates the air. My mouth water. I make my way to the cashier to place my order first.
“I’d like a regular chicken burger.”
“Anything to drink?” The waitress asks me.
“Yeah. Lemon water please. And could you please make that a take out?”
“Sure.” She smiles and confirms my order.
“Your order will be ready in about ten minutes,” she tells me.
“Thanks.” I take a seat in one of the vacant booths while I wait.
The atmosphere here is incredibly laid back – even the beach is quiet at this time although it’s the heart of summer. I plan to eat alone on the shore while watching night fall. Although there aren’t any signs of security guards or police fear is the last thing on my mind when I walk to the shore. I clean my hands with a wet wipe and dig into my burger. Eating alone isn’t so bad after all. Anyway I have to get used to it.
I’ve never eaten a burger that fast in my life. Something rustles behind me on my way to the bin.
The parking lot is lit but the thick clusters of trees forming a part of the natural riverine forest casts a dark shadow over almost everything in front of me. Night falls in five seconds flat and my heart sprints. Holy honey coated crap. Suddenly being out on the beach in the dark doesn’t seem like a good idea at all. I’m shaking so badly the paper bag falls on the ground instead of inside the bin. I’m too scared to pick it up. My car’s parked a few meters away from me. I count to five and prepare to run just as someone steps in my path.
“Going somewhere?” It’s too dark for me to make out his face but I can see he’s heavy set and he’s not alone.
“Home,” I whisper and step backwards when he advances towards me.
“Aw. So soon? I thought you’d stay and keep me company.” He sounds like he’s smiling. Evil smiling. Fecal eating fuck nugget.
The guy turns away from me when he hears a car. I contemplate running to my car while he’s distracted.
Okay, Lana, run on the count of three, I tell myself, one . . . two . . . three . . . I brace myself for my getaway from this thug and his friends. They’re quicker than me though. Before I have a chance to suck in a deep breath they surround me. There are four of them and they’re just as heavy as the first guy.
“Are you new here?” One of the others wants to know.
I read somewhere that not responding to would be attackers makes them more aggressive.
“No.” Fucktard, I add silently.
“We haven’t seen you around before,” another one sneers, “where were you hiding?”
“Um…I was away at college for a while.” How the hell am I going to get out of here? I’m outnumbered four to one. There’ll be no more dinners on the beach for me – if I make it out here alive. You and your free spirited ideas, I tell myself.
“So what’s a pretty girl doing here all alone?” The leader asks. They move around me as if they’re animals circling their prey.
“Dinner,” I whisper. These assbags aren’t going to leave me alone anytime soon.
“And you didn’t invite us,” the third one says.
“You will make up for that, won’t you?” the leader half – whispers. It’s more of a statement than a question.
I wish I’d taken self-defense classes or something. I contemplate kicking one of these douche bags in the balls but what good will that do when there are three others? Crap. Now what? I catch a brief glimpse of star splattered sky and wish Superman would soar out of the atmosphere and to my rescue. If only Superman were real.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” The leader asks.” Are you afraid of me?”
The others snicker.
“I’m thinking.” There I go again – speaking out the first thing popping into my head.
“About what?” He asks in a low voice as if he’s suddenly taken a keen interest in me.
At least my spur of the moment responses bought me some time. If I can keep him talking and carry on walking backwards I’ll reach my car in about thirty seconds. The keys are in the right hand pocket of my jeans. They’ll need excellent night vision to see my every movement.
“Dinner,” I reply when I realize he’s waiting for my answer.” I could buy you something to eat –”
“How about we skip dinner and go straight to dessert?” The Leader of the Fucktards suggests.
My butt grazes my car door. I slip my hands inside my pocket and press the button. The car unlocks silently. I reach slowly for the door handle. My hear picks up speed. Sweat breaks out on my forehead and my throat dries up. Leader’s hand grabs mine just as I press the lever to unlock the door.
“Going somewhere? Or do you enjoy it in the backseat?” The leader presses his body against mine. He reeks of alcohol and sweat. Nausea races upwards and pauses in my throat.
Oh fuck. This is the end of me. I close my eyes and pretend this isn’t happening. Oh God why couldn’t Superman be real – just this once. If only he’d appear out of nowhere and pull this smelly bastard off me. A bike roars in the distance. I focus on its sound and imagine Superman is on that bike. Within seconds the sound of the bike is the only thing my mind holds onto. Leader’s hands tighten around my waist. His ugly breath clogs my nostrils.
Forget him. Superman will rescue me. Where do I come up with candy floss shit for dreams? Hello? I’m about to be eaten by a bunch of twat waffles.
Crazy thoughts race through my head as I squeeze my eyes tight and clench my hands into fists bracing myself for the impact of his mouth on mine while at the same time trying to shut him out altogether. Somehow the shutting out part works. The leader’s hands loosen on my waist and his pungent alcohol breath gives way to fresh sea air.
“Fuck!” He gasps suddenly before the sound of bones breaking sickens me to the pit of my tummy.
Instinct forces my eyes open. We’re surrounded by a group of bikers with bikes so shiny the moonlight reflecting off of them blinds me temporarily. One of the bikers punches the leader on his jaw. The others circle the remaining would-be attackers.
“I didn’t touch her.” Leader winces.
“Liar,” mysterious Biker says in a deep voice, “Didn’t your mama teach you to always tell the truth?”
My spine tingles at the sound of his voice.
“I warned you about stepping on my ground, Skull.”
My ground? This sounds like a movie script gone real life. To mean it means one thing. I found Superman. Unless this is a dream. And none of this is really happening., Shock probably stupefied me. Or I’m dead and I’ve stepped away from my body…I shut my eyes and pinch myself. Fuck. That hurt. No, I’m not imagining any of this. The bikers are really here and one of them is teaching Skull a lesson he’ll never forget.
“I want you to take your pack of vermin rats and get the hell out of here.” Superbiker says.
Skull and his gang don’t need to be told twice. They disappear into the shadows so fast nobody would have guessed they were really here.
“Did he hurt you?” I’m stunned at how quickly my wish was granted. I asked for Superman and I got a Superbiker. My chest tightens. If only all my wishes were granted so easily…
Warm hands cup my face. I catch a glimpse of a shiny bracelet on his right hand. His left thumb is partially covered with a band aid.
“Hey? Are you okay?”
Superbiker’s talking to me. Say something, Lana. “Yeah…I’m fine.”
He’s standing so close to me I smell his aftershave and cologne – the scent is woodsy, earthy and incredibly sexy. He’s pushed the visor of his helmet up but a clump of clouds block out the moonlight making it impossible for me to even catch a glimpse of my savior.
“You’re new here,” he says.
“You can tell just by looking at me?” Damn he’s got skills.
“No. The license plates on your car.”
Hmm. He’s an observant guy.
He steps away from me. “You shouldn’t hang out here this part of night,” he says, “tell me where you live and we’ll escort you home.” He opens the car door for me.
“What’s your name?” I blurt.
He pauses. Perhaps my question’s caught him off guard. “Why?”
I shrug. “It’d be nice to know.”
He leaves me standing outside my car and jumps on his bike. “Get in the car. My boys and I don’t have all night to wait on spoilt little rich girls who have nothing better to do than invite trouble upon themselves.”
Strangely his words sting. “I’m not a …” Oh why bother. I get inside my car and roll down the window. For a moment there I’d assumed he’d really cared when he’d asked if I’d been hurt. I guess whoever my mysterious biker rescuer is – he’s just doing his job. Hope and romance take a back seat.
They follow me home. Superbiker pulls up beside me when I stop outside the gate and gestures for me to give him my keys. He unlocks the gate and waits for me to park. I roll down the window and wait for him to leave before jumping off. He pauses next to me while reversing out the driveway and lifts up the visor. Invisible waves of his seductive cologne and aftershave engulf me. It’s still too dark for me to see him properly.
“Thank you,” I tell him.
“For roughing up your haters?”
“You’re welcome.” A brief silence follows. “Tell you what, princess. If you can find me in the daylight I’ll tell you my name.”
“Deal,” I reply. Challenges are definitely my thing. I’ll find him all right even if the sound of his voice is all I have to go only have more though – his smell, the bracelet on his right hand and his built. Superbiker’s tall, broad shouldered and not even the darkness can hide his pert ass. I take in his silhouetted and hope he sticks around a few more seconds so I absorb more details about him. . Lucky I have an excellent memory.
“Good.” He sounds like he’s smiling as he reverses and roars away into the night.