Chapter 4 : Sweet and Sour
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Audrey’s next few weeks seemed to revolve around that smile.
Strangely, she awoke each day with a constricted heart, knowing that her days of seeing Percy again were growing closer and closer until she was almost frantic with it. It was a strange and dangerous reaction to a man that she didn’t know, had only just met and was probably more twisted on the inside than she could have ever imagined.
But there was something about him that demanded her. She would rather not think too deeply on whether or not she was simply attracted to him because of the viciously wounded aura hanging around him, the same sort of aura that hung around herself.
The days that she didn’t spend wondering what he was doing, where he lived or what his life was like was overshadowed by the harshness of her own. With school weighing her down with studies long into the night, working on her new routines for Bare Back and then performing in little more than scraps of clothing for all to see, she had never been more exhausted.
Remmington, the foul manager of the place kept sleazing around here and there, making hints on how he could help her pay her bills. Audrey turned him down every time, somehow managing to slither away from him right before his large, sweaty hands connected with her exposed skin or angling her face away before his breath hit her face.
There were a lot of things that she had done in her short life that she was ashamed of but she would never, ever beg. When there was no one to help her, she had to survive on her own and trust—that was what killed you. Percy had been right when he’d said it was uncharacteristic of her to want his trust but Audrey thought that it was different with him and wondered if something stupid in her honestly wanted to try. Try and trust a stranger, rather than a relative like her distant brother Eric, who was dead for all she knew.
Despite rejecting his crude advances, Remmington turned his attention to some of the newer girls who didn’t know any better to either stay out of his way or risk losing their job and standing up to him. There were rumors floating around the locker room on the nights when Audrey paid enough attention and shook off her weariness that Remmington was becoming a bit more aggressive towards some of them.
It had made Audrey think of her father, who was long dead but still haunted her and had haunted and used her mother for years before she had finally wasted away with cancer, though she wondered if she’d been hoping to escape somehow. She and her brother had been forced to deal with their father for a while longer before he’d finally passed away, the liquor finally getting the best of his heart and veins.
Remmington reminded her sourly of her father and over the next few days, she kept her eyes on him, waiting and watching for the moment when he would pounce on some helpless girl, or worse, threatened them into silence. It proved to be useless however when the club was so busy and the newer girls were reluctant to trust the rest of them and with Bare Back receiving more and more business, it was impossible to keep track of anyone else’s problems.
She had enough of her own.
But that thought quickly dissolved one night when she spotted the hulking, dark shape of her manager blocking a slight girl’s way to the exit after a particularly hectic few performances. When she’d caught her manager reaching out as if he might hit the girl, she’d rushed over, rammed her elbow into his bulky gut and stood in front of the girl, who’d cowered and wept.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Audrey had furiously demanded as the girl had cowered against a wall, holding her arms. Remmington had held his gut, glaring down at her in both surprise and outrage, as if he couldn’t believe that someone so small had gotten the better of him and she had grimaced—he obviously didn’t know her well enough by now.
“Stupid bitch,” Remmington had snarled between his teeth and his tone had caused the fine hairs on her arms to rise up. But this vision of anger, his face twisted and ugly had been nothing compared to the broken and haunted expression that she’d seen on Percy’s face a while back and she’d steeled her spine. Her manager was a roach compared to him, “You don’t know what you’re getting into.”
Audrey had glowered up at him, at his superior weight and height and then at the exit doors that would lead her and the girl to freedom if she had to make a run for it. “I don’t give a shit. If I catch you trying to hurt one more girl, I swear to God,”
Remmington had sneered and he’d always been a very large man from what Audrey could tell and he used that sort of heaving force to get his way. His cigar had been poised lazily in his teeth and the smoke had filtered down to her and she’d batted it away furiously, “You swear that you’ll do what?”
Audrey had flushed, knowing that there was very little she could do if he got the best of her but if she had to, she would go down fighting. She had had to learn the hard way that her fists, teeth and feet worked better than words and she regretted vaguely that she’d stopped running with gangs because she could have used a lead pipe just now. “I’ll take care of you.” She’d spat furiously.
Remmington had roared with laughter and the sound had been ugly and misused and she’d heard the girl behind her sob into her hands. Audrey had glanced back at her, seeing through the heavy make-up on her face and knowing with a hard pang in her chest that she was only a year or two younger than she was. The poor, stupid girl, “By doing what?” he’d paused deliberately. “That bloke you’re seeing wouldn’t last five minutes.”
Audrey had felt her teeth gnashing together because something told her that Percy would be able to take him. It made her feel oddly cold and she’d snapped, “He hasn’t come back to see me so don’t worry about him! I can take care of myself!”
“I’m sure he’ll come back. Losers like that always come back to nasty little bitches like you,” Remmington had said scathingly and Audrey had felt a subconscious shiver of horror. It had taken all of her strength not to cry, “I noticed him here last time. Getting a little ahead of yourself, aren’t you?”
His tone had been so nasty that Audrey had felt as if she’d been burned by it but she’d chosen not to say anything to it. Instead, she’d thrust her arm towards the frightened girl behind her, “And what do you think you’re doing? Even losers don’t sink this low but you’re far below that.”
Remmington’s face had flushed a dark, repulsive red and she’d tensed, waiting for him to make a blow but he’d merely stepped closer, crowding her. Audrey hadn’t backed down, merely clenched her fists, wondering how long it would take her to fish out her keys from her jeans and ram the sharp edges into his eye if she had to. “I’m just trying to show this girl who’s boss now get out of the way!” he’d barked, trying to shove her.
Audrey had glared up at him with pure disgust, her eyes flashing and nimbly dodging him. There had been many times in her own life where she had been in this other girl’s position, being the cowering victim of some bully like her father or some useless boyfriend. “I’m not going to let you threaten this girl so back the fuck off, prick.” She’d hissed up at him.
“You’d better watch your mouth,” Remmington had hissed dangerously, his eyes flashing with contempt. Audrey and the other girl had eyed him warily, as if he might do something drastic but he’d done nothing more than sneer down at them, “you think you’re something don’t you, Tang? I noticed how you’ve been lately…”
Audrey had felt a pool of dread and prickles had danced along her skin. “How I’ve been lately is none of your goddamned business, all right? It’s bad enough that I have to come back to this dump every night and see your face,”
At that, Remmington had appeared as if he might actually hit her, his face becoming nothing but a mask of pure, hot rage. But right when Audrey thought that he would raise one of his meaty fists and pound her face in, preparing for the blow and gnashing her teeth, did he say— “Don’t get comfortable. No one is ever going to want a piece of trash like you. You’re only good for one thing and you may as well get used to it.” And with a dark look, he’d turned away, lumbering down the tight corridor and causing various other girls to scatter.
Audrey had been more shaken than she would have liked to admit but she’d turned to the other stripper with a quickly assessing look. “Did he touch you, hurt you?” when she’d shook her head, tears brimming in her brown eyes, she’d said sharply. “What’d he want with you?”
“What do you think he wanted?” the girl had snapped furiously, shoving off her attempt to pat her back consolingly. “I hate it here! I hate it but I don’t know what else to do—” she’d broken into tormented sobs, pushed Audrey forcefully away and run in the opposite direction towards the lockers.
Audrey didn’t see the girl again.
The encounter stayed with her days later though, no matter how much she would have wanted to forget it. Remmington had only pointed out things about herself that she had refused to believe and kept buried far below the surface in the place that didn’t need or want to be revealed. Her father had hated her and she had been in so many terrible situations with terrible people that it was almost difficult for her to imagine something good happening for her.
But she had to make them happen.
She would go to school, she would somehow get into theater and someday, someday she would make her own plays and be the biggest playwright there ever was. At least, that was what she was fighting for. When she had a day off, she quickly immersed herself in her homework and studies, reread all of her Edgar Allen Poe collections and dreamt about seeing Percy again so it came as a shock when she heard her apartment door being knocked on.
Slowly making her way off her couch and ignoring the junk papers that scattered the floor as she went, Audrey yawned lazily and longingly glanced down at her tattered copy of Sense and Sensibility. Someone had a lot of nerve coming to her flat just now and she wasn’t particularly in a good mood to be giving up her Jane Austen for anyone and with a growing frown, she wandered over to the door, where another knock exploded to her ears.
“Hold on a minute, goddamn,” she muttered irritably while running a hand through her scraggly black hair, she wondered if it was her landlady demanding the next amount of her rent. She flinched a little, not quite wanting to get into it with her just now.
It came as more than a bit of a shock when she yanked the door open saying crossly. “I already paid you, okay? Come back another time—?” to find Percy standing on the other end. His hand was still poised to knock and a faint smile was on his face as he stared down at her, quickly taking in her old, holey pajama bottoms and the Bare Back T-shirt she wore, “erm, am I dreaming? Please, God, say I’m dreaming.”
Silence from the Almighty.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Ms. Tang. But it’s only me,” Percy said with an amused glimmer in his pale blue eyes. His glasses were falling down his nose and he absently pushed them back up and said with an uncomfortable glance at her, “would you like me to come back some other time?”
Audrey grabbed onto his arm before she could help herself. “No!” she practically screamed and before he could say anything else, she yanked him inside and slammed the door. Percy let out some sort of exclamation but she was already hugging him, “it’s been weeks and weeks! I thought you wouldn’t come to see me, you prick!”
Percy awkwardly patted her head and replied calmly, his voice a little gruff. “I was a bit busier with work than I thought but I came here almost as soon as I could.” He said uncomfortably as she buried her nose into his shoulder, inhaling his cologne, “what are you doing?”
“Just sniffing you, relax. You smell good,” Audrey explained before letting him go with a reluctance that was almost unsettling. Percy appeared more embarrassed than annoyed and she belatedly ran her eyes over him, noticing for the first time that he wasn’t wearing his strange bathrobes for once and was dressed in ordinary clothes. “You’re not in your bathrobe today.”
Percy looked down at himself and gave her a slightly exasperated expression that she had a feeling that he’d used on quite a few people. He exuded old-world haughtiness and it oddly made her think of him as rather more adorable, “I thought you would appreciate this a bit better and for the last time, they’re not bathrobes.”
Audrey was a bit confused but then again, there was nothing that she actually knew about him and that was something she wanted to have changed. They were playing a game, information for information on one another and she was extremely excited by the prospect of delving into his secrets a little—it would make her feel closer to him. And that was frightening, “All right, then what are they?”
“Just robes, Ms. Tang.” Percy replied after a short moment of taking in her filthy apartment with surprisingly keen eyes. Her kitchen was a mess and though he thankfully couldn’t see the take-out boxes on the counter and the dishes in the sink, he had a clear view of her living room. There were beer bottles, her school books and candy wrappers littering the floor and her TV blazing some boring news program, “you, ah, have been busy?” he asked politely, lips twitching.
Audrey felt herself flushing all the more and didn’t think that lying would sit well with him, not when the evidence was in full view. “I got a day off from work and decided to get some work done for school and I wound up reading a little.” She admitted and his eyes strayed to the beer bottles questionably, “I’m alone. I don’t have to look pretty for anyone.”
Percy appeared mildly impressed and she saw a rueful grin appearing on his face, something that looked almost surreal. Audrey stared at him quizzically until he said, “No, I don’t think you’ll ever have to be anyone else, Ms. Tang. Trying to impress others doesn’t really suit you,”
“Was that a compliment?” Audrey asked in amazement. She didn’t get many compliments on her character and she found herself blushing and wanting to skip around the room with happiness, and then wondered when she’d started thinking such stupid thoughts. “Damn, Weeeasley, you’re gonna have to marry me now.”
Percy appeared alarmed. “What for?”
Audrey shrugged her shoulders and briefly saw his eyes glance down to her chest as her shirt shifted, the faded colors like dried ink on her skin. “I’m never going to let you forget that you complimented me and if you marry me now, I might ease up to say, five times a day instead of every hour or so like I intend on doing.”
That had him laughing a little. “You’ll make anyone a very… interesting wife but I’m afraid that I’m not sure I want to be married.” Percy said with startling honesty and she squinted at him, wondering if he had some other girl that he was committed to at the moment and feeling that silly bite of jealousy around her heart, “not right now anyway. I’m much too busy,”
“So you actually want to get married?” Audrey asked with true surprise. She had never really thought about it and after watching the wreck that had been her parent’s relationship for so long she flinched at the very idea. Marriage would be some sort of horrible trap, “you don’t look the type.”
Percy’s eyes flicked with something that she couldn’t and probably would never understand and she saw his mouth tighten. “I’ve changed quite a bit from how I used to be.” Audrey heard a slight pause, as if he had stopped himself from saying too much at the last minute and she achingly wondered what the words might have been. “It’s pointless to mention all of that now though, Ms. Tang.”
Audrey absently reached out and gripped his forearm, her nails digging into his sleeve. “I’d like to know more about you. You either tell me or I’ll keep thinking you’re some circus freak that has amnesia,” she teased and he snorted with laughter. “Let me make a guess.”
“I’m not sure if that’s a terribly good thing, Ms. Tang.” Percy said with widened eyes, as if he couldn’t bear to hear what she had to say next. Audrey frowned up at him and watched as he gently removed her fingers from his sleeve and pushed her hand away, the flash of need she sensed from him tightly bound and strapped. “Your imagination is frightening.”
Audrey glared up at him. “Oh, shut up! I was just going to ask if you’re like, some actor or one of those weird people that dress up like their favorite TV characters. You know, like the nutters that go around quoting Star Trek or Star Wars.”
“What on earth are you talking about?” Percy asked in true confusion and her jaw dropped, wondering if he had been living under a cozy rock for the past few decades. “I’ve never heard of such a thing,” his expression was dubious, his brows knitted together.
Audrey thought that she might wring his neck and decided that she would have to go out and buy the VHS of those series and movies (Buying a VCR was expensive but she would splurge if she had to) just so he could know what she was talking about. It was insane, the strange life he must have had, “You are an enigma, Percy. I can’t wrap my fingers around you,”
Percy’s mouth opened and then closed like a fishes and she stared up at him in bemusement before he asked carefully. “Are you trying to make an inappropriate joke, Ms. Tang?”
Audrey roared with laughter. “No, but if you want, I can whisper some in your ear.” He took a step back when she threatened to advance on him and she was nearly overcome with laughter before she took in his ordinary clothes again with a curious smile. “Why’re you dressed in normal clothes?”
“Like I said earlier, I thought you would appreciate these better. And I would get fewer stares while I was on the street with you—even though you do appear to be a little girl,” Percy said and the jab caused her to frown furiously, raising her fist in a playful shake. “My younger brother’s girlfriend decided to take me shopping.”
Audrey thought that his younger brother’s girlfriend had rather boring taste in clothing and she stared at him critically. “Well, first of all, Weeeasley, lose the tie, you’re not going to a funeral and second—” she said with a frown while going up to him and yanking his shirt out of his trousers, “you don’t have to look so damned formal.”
Percy spluttered and tried to pry her away but she was undoing the first few buttons on his shirt, flinging his tie somewhere over her shoulder and then running her fingers wildly through his hair to mess it up. Audrey thought there was no grander pleasure than picking on him just now, “What are you—get your sneaky little fingers away from my belt buckle—ow! Ms. Tang!” he snapped as Audrey smacked away his hand so she could loosen the thick belt around his waist.
“You look like a dork! Stand still, dammit!” Audrey grumbled, trying to have her way and he gripped her shoulders tightly. It was just then that she noticed her position; where her hands were and how rigid he had become and she took a shaken step away—but not wanting to. “Erm, sorry. I wasn’t trying to take advantage of you.”
Percy looked as if she thrown him around the room a few times and then wrestled with him with thick rope to make sure he was properly handled. His shirt was now free of his jeans and she had somehow managed to roll his long sleeves up against his forearms so that now she could just make out a hint of muscle that wasn’t ordinarily seen. “…Do you always leap at men this way?” he asked after a moment, panting in a way that wasn’t entirely warranted.
“No. Only for you,” Audrey said uneasily, seeing a wild expression in his eyes that reminded her of a wolf nearing a plump little deer. She wanted him to reach out and catch her, possibly kiss her again without being completely drunk but he looked away, his jaw clenched tight, “I’m sorry, Weeasley. Really, I just got a little carried away.”
The only sounds in the entire flat was the hum and buzz of her TV and she thought that he wouldn’t reply but he just nodded, accepting and dreading her as if she were some sort of curse he couldn’t and shouldn’t want. “It’s my fault for wearing these clothes, you went into shock,” he said with the weakest of smiles.
Audrey blew out a sigh of relief, startled that her lips were trembling and begging for one delicious press of his mouth against hers. “Don’t look so smug,” she managed to mutter weakly before taking in his clothes with a bit more clarity now that she’d ruined them. It was rather simple getup, nothing spectacular but she hadn’t thought that she would ever get such a kick out of seeing him in blue jeans, a white button-down shirt and trainers, “where are you going all dolled up?” she asked.
Percy looked incredibly awkward, standing there in her messy hallway with his ruined outfit but she soon realized that the state of her clothing was what had distracted him. Audrey’s cheeks burned and she folded her arms across the small expanse of her chest and saw his eyes darken a little, “…Would you mind putting something more appropriate on?” he asked after a stiff moment.
Despite being embarrassed, Audrey found herself grinning and asking huskily. “Never seen a girl without a bra on before?” when he turned red, she roared with laughter. “Merlin, Weeasley, relax. It’s not like I’m asking you what sort of panties you like.”
“That is none of your bloody business Ms. Tang,” Percy replied haughtily, though his ears had turned rather red and she laughed at him. Uncomfortable and annoyed, he swept a swift, carnal gaze over her and asked with more force, “put something on. I wanted to talk to you for a moment and I can’t concentrate with you not properly dressed.”
Audrey stiffened at the obvious verbal command but her curiosity over what he might want to talk about overweighed it. “All right, fine, make yourself at home.” When Percy looked around doubtfully at the trash littered around her living room floor, she flushed, “just move some of that junk around and park your ass somewhere, okay? I’ll be right back.”
When she turned her back, flushed and annoyed that she had been seen as such a slob by him, Percy called carefully. “Would you mind it if I toyed with your television?” and she halted briefly and looked back to see that he had wandered over to it and was running his hands around as if he expected a seam. “I can’t help but be curious.”
“Knock yourself out but don’t do anything freaky with it. I can’t afford to have a kid in my place,” Audrey replied seriously and he spluttered. She broke into a grin, “I’m just teasing, relax. And what am I supposed to wear? You look like you’re going somewhere.”
Percy had crouched down to his haunches and was examining the screen with a fascinated expression on his face. It was nearly innocent and so bizarre that Audrey found herself staring at him in wonder, taking in the slope of his nose and the hard line of his jaw, wondering if he were some strange little creature that she’d just so happened to have a chance to meet. “Staring is rude, Ms. Tang.”
Audrey flushed. “I wasn’t staring and if I was, I’d only be doing it if you weren’t wearing any clothes.” Percy started and turned pink around the ears, angling his head at her as if he couldn’t quite believe she’d said something like that out loud. “Don’t look so shocked.” She said dryly and his eyes narrowed slightly before running slowly down her length before hastily looking away, “…So what am I supposed to wear?” she managed after a small beat.
Percy swallowed hard before he said stiffly. “Something nice,”
Audrey felt her heart hammering out of her chest in both shock and disbelief. She wasn’t sure if she should get her hopes up or if she should even be thinking such a foolish thought but was Percy suggesting that they were going on a date? A date? Dread settled over her. She hadn’t been on a date in years and she had a feeling that the backseat of some bloke’s car didn’t count, “Sure, I’ll, uhm, get right on that.”
Hastily, she rushed into her bedroom and slammed the door. She could hear Percy rummaging around in the living room but after a few minutes of silence from him, Audrey clapped her hands over her cheeks and took slow, easy breaths. There was no reason why she should be getting ahead of herself. It was just Percy. It was just strange, addictive Percy whom she wanted more than anyone else that she’d ever met.
Audrey felt her head buzzing and shook it off, stomped her foot and damned herself for being so stupid. “Nothing is going to happen. Nothing is going to happen, he won’t date trash,” she muttered miserably before going to her closet. Her room was small, the walls a dull white and her mattress at least three years old and with more lumps than was possible.
Clothes were strewn about the floor and on the walls she had a few pictures, most of them of her mother and none of her father or brother and she tried not to look at the sullen smile of her only real parent. Her mother had been smaller than she was, slight and with shortly cut black hair and a perpetual sadness around her eyes, even when Audrey was hugging her and she felt a bitter twinge sinking into her chest.
Being married to someone like her father would drain all the life from someone eventually and Audrey had no idea how her mother had been before they were married or what sort of lies her father had spilled in her ear. Trying not to think too deeply on that, Audrey wandered towards her small closet; kicking dirty clothes out of her way as she did so and hastily rummaged around for something suitable to wear.
There were tank tops, jeans, skirts and Audrey didn’t think that wearing a corset would be appropriate and snatched a simple, tight red dress from a shelf, shrugged out of her clothes and yanked it on. It fit like a glove and showed what little curves she did have and she smoothed her hands over her hips doubtfully—Percy had liked her in red hadn’t he?
Unsure and a little nervous, Audrey dug into her closet with more vigor until she found a pair of sheer stockings that she’d borrowed last year from Pamela and stuffed her legs into them. After wiggling her toes a little she sighed and snatched out her favorite denim jacket.
After slipping it on and feeling a bit of comfort from the familiar material against her skin, she rushed to her dresser where make-up, brushes, clothes and pins were littered on the surface. After searching through the mass she quickly ran a comb through her long black hair.
She had only a small mirror overhead and critically tried her hair in a number of styles before settling for pinning it up at the top of her head in a simple braid. “There. This isn’t a big deal, calm down for fucks sake,” she muttered.
After applying a bit of red lipstick, purple eye shadow and a bit of eyeliner, she stepped away with a satisfied nod. This would have to do. Heart pounding, Audrey yanked a pair of black biker boots (It was a souvenir from her gang days), stuffed her feet into them and walked out, “Weeeasley?” she called, to make sure that he hadn’t left her.
Percy was sitting on the floor with her TV situated precariously on his lap as he removed the back of it with surprisingly deft fingers. Audrey was mortified to see that he had found her small collection of tools that she normally kept in a junk drawer in the kitchen, “What the hell are you doing?” she demanded, jaw dropping.
There were parts, wires and bolts strewn all over the floor and he flinched from the sound of her voice and looked at her, mouth hanging open. A wild and gleeful look flickered in his gaze and the anger and shock she’d felt upon seeing her TV mutilated vanished in an instant as she thought of how cute he was, sitting there, “I couldn’t help myself. I had to see how it worked—”
“Are you trying to tell me that you’ve never been around a TV? I thought you were acting weird the last time you were here but I just guessed you were drunk as hell.” Audrey replied in disbelief while placing her hands on her hips.
Percy’s cheeks turned pink but he replied in a dignified, stuffy way that she found all too adorable. “I may have been drunk Ms. Tang but I was sober enough to enlighten you with thrilling conversation.” Audrey roared with laughter, “….are you angry with me for the television?”
Audrey stopped long enough to wave it away. “Well, yeah, but I’ll make you put it back together for me.” Percy looked far too delighted by the idea before standing up reluctantly and tipping her TV on its side and staring at it longingly, “Fuck, if you want to bang it just say so, Weeeeasley.”
“Ms. Tang, that mouth needs to be washed out with soap and vinegar.” Percy replied disapprovingly, though his lips were twitching with amusement. He placed his hands in his pockets and for the first time, ran a critical eye over her and she watched a strange flush cover the high crests of his cheekbones before he complimented awkwardly. “You look nice.”
To Audrey’s everlasting shame, she giggled.
Percy burst out laughing in surprise. “Did you just giggle Ms. Tang?” when Audrey’s jaw fell open in horror and she shook her head in denial, he waded over to her, grinning wildly. “I think you did giggle.”
“Shut up! I did not giggle!” Audrey snapped but she had, and they both knew it. Glowering up at him, she stabbed him in the chest with her finger with unnecessary force and he laughed all the harder, “that never happened and if you say anything about it I’ll pound you into the ground!”
Percy flung his hands up as if he could fend her off but with his superior height, he could easily pick her up and toss her over his shoulder. Audrey felt a spark of dangerous need at the thought that she wouldn’t really mind it if he did, “You’re just so small and tiny, Ms. Tang. It’s adorable,” he said with a suddenly malicious gleam in his eye.
Audrey gawped at him. “Are you teasing me?! You bastard!” she cried, trying not to laugh even as her shoulders threatened to shake uncontrollably. With more energy than she’d had in days, she pounded him with her fists and kicked at him until he easily pinned her arms at her side and bowed his head, overcome with laughter. “Weeeeasley, you are not even cool.”
“I know I’m not. You’re just so tough and mean. And so cute,” Percy managed to say and she glowered and rolled her eyes. She had never been called anything else but cute by nearly everyone she’d ever known but it suddenly didn’t sting or make her wish she were anyone else, it sounded almost…endearing with the way he said it. “If I let you go, will you hit me?”
Audrey thought about it for a moment and pressed a bit closer against the length of him and felt his body tense. His fingers dug into the denim of her jacket and his breathing slowed; that flush coming back over his cheeks, “You don’t have to let me go. I can whisper dirty jokes in your ear if you want,” she said softly and he shot her such a disastrously heated look that she couldn’t breathe. For a few more minutes, they stood together that way, her body aching and wanting until he finally, reluctantly released her and took a few hasty steps back.
“If we don’t leave, we’ll be late.” Percy finally said after what had felt like a slight century with the two of them staring at one another like wary animals. Audrey ran her hands down her arms, feeling the heat of his fingers even through the denim, “I wanted to take you out since you don’t seem to get a chance to relax.”
Audrey eyed him awkwardly, not sure what to say. When she spoke, her tongue felt like paper and she had to wet her lips with her tongue, “That was uhm, nice of you to do for me Weeeeasley. Where are we going?”
Percy glanced away from her, his lips moving but no words coming out as he motioned for her to follow him towards the door. After snatching her keys from a hook by the wall and snagging her purse, she willingly left her apartment, closing and locking the door behind them, “It’s a surprise.” Was all that he said and Audrey glanced at him, her eyes taking him in for something…something that would let her know if she weren’t imagining the sort of need pulsing around them.
But there was nothing and she found herself not saying a word.
“Percy, you really didn’t have to do all of this.” Audrey found herself saying in amazement and wariness as they stood outside of a small theater a while later. There was a slight crowd and the air was a tad chilly but she found herself moving closer to him, wanting some sort of contact to break up the strange pressure and silence that had formed between them. “How did you get tickets?”
The theater they were standing outside of, Heathcliff Hall was a small, but popular one that was known for classical and modern plays. Pamphlets and promotional fliers were stuck along the aged brick wall, many of them just tapped on over the older, more decayed prints from years or months before and while Audrey had always wanted to go, she had never had the time or the money.
No one would have gone out of their way for her like this and she stared up at the strange, peculiar mystery beside her, unable to believe that he would intentionally do something that would please her. Her, who was considered to be nothing but trash by herself on those dark days and by people like Remmington and her dead father.
It was surreal.
Percy didn’t answer her, his lips tight as he snatched a poster from the wall, the paper snagging and tearing a little. Audrey was unsettled, sensing that he was upset….like a feral monster ready to attack and she felt a bolt of unease, “…I thought this might interest the both of us.” He handed the flier to her.
Audrey took it and read out loud, unable to stop the trembling in her voice. ““Heathcliff Hall is proud to present for your pleasure the Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe with special guest appearances by Joseph Wring!” she felt her own heart pounding. “Percy, he’s a really famous actor! He’s been on Broadway! Percy!”
Percy appeared slightly startled that she’d used his first name and she was far too excited to retract the slip of her tongue. “Broad…what?” he asked in confusion, though his eyes were flickering over her ecstatic face with a soft smile. “So I’m assuming that he’s someone you admire, Ms. Tang?”
“Admire? He’s one of the greatest! He was in Othello, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet,” Audrey rambled on, her cheeks becoming flushed. Percy appeared dastardly confused as they moved up in line, his hands going into his pockets as he pulled out two perfectly ordinary tickets, “you don’t know anything about Shakespeare do you?”
“No, but I vaguely recall you mentioning his name.” Percy replied with raised red brows as the couple behind them gawped, as if they had heard him say something unholy. Audrey understood and felt their pain, “what is it?”
Audrey gripped his arm and shook him a little. “You are such a weirdo! You are coming over my place after this is over and I’m going to read you Julius Caesar.” Percy amused her by opening his mouth to say something, perhaps make some sort of excuse and she wheedled, “we can go to the crappy burger place….?”
Percy’s mouth opened but his shoulders slumped a little with defeat and he gave her a stern glance as she whooped happily. “Don’t think that you’re going to have all of your way tonight Ms. Tang. We really need to consider the fact that I’m bad for you,” he whispered into her ear, his warm breath ruffling the fine hair on her cheek.
Audrey felt a shiver before reminding him in a whisper. “And you forget that I’m The Bad Taste. The best stripper that Bare Back has ever had! I always get my way.” This was a bluff and they both knew it but she couldn’t contain her excitement, “and you want me. Just give in.”
Percy surprised her by wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her up against his side but she noticed that it was only because a few men across from them were eying the length of her dress. “I would rather you not want something you can’t handle. And that dress is far too short.” He said with a venomous look at the leering men, causing them to blanch and turn away hastily.
“You don’t like it? And I show much more of my ass on stage, thank you,” Audrey found herself saying annoyingly, though she was a bit uncomfortable. She didn’t like being leered at, it made her think of all the things and places that she shouldn’t and wouldn’t go again; “I didn’t know what to wear.”
Percy heaved a weary sort of sigh but ignored her long enough to hand the tickets over to the doorman, who was a large and hefty man that was blocking anyone else’s way inside. Another was on the other side, yanking a few teenager girls by the arms and dragging them off before they could sneak inside, probably wondering what all the fuss was about. “Ms. Tang, I love the dress. All I’m thinking about currently is how to get it off you but that is not the sort of thing that I’ve taken you out for and I would appreciate it if you would control yourself.”
Audrey reeled back, squirming out of his hold and glaring up at him. But their tickets were gone, having been scratched and the doorman motioned for her hand, took out a stamp and marked it with a simple X. Percy’s hand was stamped and at his confused expression as they went further inside, the aisle being flooded and red chairs hastily filled, she explained, “It’s just something they do here. If you leave you can get back inside with it.”
Her tone had been curt, emotionless and Percy’s shoulders sagged but his eyes flashed with irritation. The anger around him was brimming but he nodded as they took seats in the third row, the curtains drawn over a rather large stage and candles lit in every available nook and cranny, which gave the darkening area a haunted feel. “Why?”
“The person who owns the place used to work at clubs.” Audrey replied without looking at him, her eyes running over the flier in her lap. It was boasting that tonight would be the best performance for The Tell-Tale Heart ever done, “he’s someone that actually likes to have fun.”
Percy crossed his long legs as the curtains were slowly pulled back and when she glanced at him; his pale blue eyes were fixated on her face. A warning lurked beneath them, “I’ll give you fun Ms. Tang but not the kind you’re asking for.” And before she could say anything more, she heard doors slamming and the entire theater was thrust into darkness.
Okay, now I'm going back to my other story Abandon and after that I have no clue. Cassie Potter, Girl on the Sidelines, remind me please! :p
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