The Chorus of ‘The Shake’ by My American Heart’ rang loudly in my ear.
Under almost any other cirgreat timesstances, I would have been happy to hear it. Probably would have even sang along or bobbed my head to the beat. It was my favorite ring tone. One that I never got tired of.
I glanced at the clock with my half closed eyes.
4:42 in the morning, it was unwelcome.
I felt the same annoyance as my cell phone screen flashed brightly on my pillow next to me directly into my sleepy eyes. I moaned moodily.
I squinted, shielding the bright light from my eyes with my long black eyelashes. I swatted madly at the phone hoping to happen to push the right bumon to silence the beast.
I must have gotten lucky because the sound cut off and all that bothered my sleep now was the white screen that pushed past my blockade of eyelashes and burned into my retinas. I moaned again before rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and finally facing the light with both eyes mostly open.
It was a name I had not seen flashing on my cell phone screen in just over a year now.
And now, at 4:42 4:43 in the morning she had chosen to call me.
Maybe she just sat on her cell phone or something… I reasoned, more than willing to just ignore the call roll over, make my self uncomfortable and fall back into slumber land.
I had one more ring to decide before she would be sent to my voicemail.
“Hello?” I answered sleepily after snapping my phone open and bringing it to my ear. “Samantha?”
No words answered, just sobs. Bursts of cries. I listened to my childhood ex best friend trying to inhale through her cries, but sounding like a broken record as she gasped.
“Sam calm down.” I said sitting up, her uncontrollable sobbing bringing me out of my sleep like a bucket of cold water. “Sam are you OK? What’s wrong?” I questioned firmly, demanding an answer.
“He…he hit me.” She squeaked through her cries. “He hit me really hard this time.” I stood already throwing on my shoes and grabbing my car keys from my desk.
“Where is he Sam?” I questioned referring to her slimeball of a boyfriend. I knew that if he was still at her apartment and caught her talking on the phone with me, a lot worse would happen.
“I can’t go do this anymore Annie, I can’t.” She didn’t answer my question, but began babbling hysterically. “It’s not worth it, I’m not worth it. This is it Annie, I am too far down, its the only answer…” She continued on.
I stopped dead in my tracks. I was already out of my apartment and half way through the parking lot, my feet which had been moving on their own had stopped. My eyes widened finally realizing what she meant.
“Please Samantha… please.” I begged her. My own tears beginning to escape. “Don’t do anything, just wait for me.”
I heard more muffled crying from her side of the phone. My heart was in my throat and I willed my feet to pick their stride back up.
“Samantha, promise me you will wait for me.” I demanded into the phone.
“OK….” She whispered.
“Oh Sammi pleeez don’t tell me you said yes.” Annie begged taken back that her best friend would even talk to such a jerk, let alone agree to going out on a date with him.
“As a matter of fact I did.” She pouted. “And I would think that my best friend would be happy for me for landing such a hott date.”
Annie rolled her eyes. Yeah he was cute, but there was something about that Jake guy that seemed a little…. off. He was too old for her anyway.
“Aww! Does Sam have a hott date!?!” Said a teasing voice through the crack of Samantha’s bedroom door.
“Shut up Bert!” She growled embarrbumed and threw a pillow at the door causing it to slam shut all the way. “How did I get such an annoying cousin!” She said loudly and rolled her eyes, but the grin on her face let Annie know she was just teasing.
“Whatever!” Bert said barging into her room and plopping down onto her bright pink bed next to them. “I am the coolest cousin you know!” He reached out and began tickeling Sam. She giggled madly.
“Say it! Say it! Bert yelled not showing any signs of letting up on his ‘tickle torture’.
“Your…ha hahaha the… coolest… ha ha ha…cousin.” She squealed gasping desperately for breath.
Satisfied Bert showed mercy and released her small frame. He grinned madly at her and she gave him a fake glare.
“Dude Bert.” Said yet another voice from the door way. It was Quinn.
Annie’s heart began to flutter. She could feel her palms sweating. She was frozen in place.
Talk about crushing on someone.
“What are you doing up here with the chicks? Playing tea party?” Quinn asked looking around the bright pink room. Flower wall paper danced along the top of the walls.
“Yes.” Bert said putting on his most serious face.
“C’mmon we are all going down to I-hop.” Quinn said rolling his eyes at his best friends childishness.
Bert stood and slapped Sam playfully on the knee.
“Well Sam, have fun on your date… And remember, no sex until after your married.” He teased leaving the bright pink room.
Quinn glanced back at the two girls, his eyes lingering on Annie before he followed Bert.
With Quinn no longer in the room Annie was finally able to breath again.
“So.” She said turning back to Samantha continuing on with their conversation. “When is your date?”
We were only sixteen then.
It seemed like such a long time ago. Before Jake ruined it all.
“Which apartment is it?” I asked into the phone scanning the numbers on the doors of the broken down apartments.
“Sixteen…” Said Sam’s quiet voice from the other end.
I found the door that had the gold letters sixteen on it and twisted the knob. I pushed the door in but it was stopped. A chain lock held it in place.
“Sam…” I called through the crack as I snapped my phone shut and banished it to my back pocket. “Sam?”
I felt her push the door back and unlock the chain. She let the door slowly glide open.
One word…. mess.
She was a mess, the apartment was a mess, everything was a mess.
There were several broken beer bottles littering the floor, no doubt thanks to Jake. The room was littered with junk, there were stains all over the carpet. But it was nothing compared to Sam. Her golden hair was everywhere and her mascara and eyeliner was smudged all across her face. A large bruise was swelling just below her right eye and on her arm was a dark hand mark where Jake had grabbed her too tightly.
“Oh Sam…” I said running at her and wrapping my arms around her. After a moment we broke the hug and in silence she hurried and closed the front door, once again bolting it with the chain.
My eyes scanned the mess of a living room. On the table in the center of the room was a large variety of pills.
“Sam.” I said in a serous harsh tone. “You wouldn’t.” I more demanded then asked.
She shook her head from side to side.
“I waited for you.” She said quietly scanning the pills with her own dark brown eyes.
She sank onto one of the couches that bordered the room and put her head in her hands.
“Annie I can’t go on.. I don’t see any other way…”She murmured through her hands. “I told him I was leaving him… he was s-so mad. What if he comes back…” She trailed off.
My guess is that in a drunken stupor, Jake had stumbled off to some party after his fight with Samantha. Jake was a big ‘jock’ like guy, if he came back, the two of us would be no match for him if he became violent.
I glanced at the door uncomfortably. The little chain that held it in place didn’t make me feel much safer.
As if guessing what I was thinking, Samantha handed her phone to me.
“Call Bert.” She whispered, never ending tears still trickling down her cheeks.
“You can’t be serious…” Annie stared at Samantha wide eyed.
“Why not?” Samantha challenged. “We love each other. Why wouldn’t I move in with him?”
“Sam, you are only seventeen years old! It’s bad enough that he convinced you to drop out of school, but this is a really bad idea!” Annie pleaded with her best friend to think before she made such a rash decision like moving in her with Jake, her twenty-four year old boyfriend.
Annie had disliked hated Jake from the very start. He had taken hold of Samantha and changed her. She was no longer the fun sweet girl Anni had once been so close with. He was constantly calling her rude names, and getting angry at her for dumb little reasons. Sam’s family and friends all begged her to leave him, but that had only made things worse. Sam became defencive and belligerent towards all of them. Even Annie only held on to their friendship by a thread.
“I am almost eighteen! And what do you know about what is good for me?” Sam snapped being completely unreasonable. “Do you know, I am beginning to think Jake is right about you. You are just trying to get in the way because you are jealous.”
Annie was taken back.
She was anything but jealous of Sam and Jake.
“Fine.” Annie growled back at Sam in anger. “If you are too stupid to see what he is doing to you, then I am done wasting my time with you.”
Annie knew that it was harsh, but she was caught up in the moment. She was tired of taking criticism from Sam.
From that moment, Sam and Annie’s friendship was over.
“Sam?” Said a familiar voice at the door, it was followed by a few urgent knocks. It had only taken him minutes to get there after I called.
“Sam it’s Bert open up” he called through apartment sixteen’s door.
I stood and swiftly glided to the door. I unlocked the chain and opened the door to let Bert in.
He immediately walked quickly past me and to Samantha, who was still seated on the couch crying. He wrapped his arms around her and stroked her hair whispering that it would be OK.
Before I could close the door and re-lock it, another body slowly made his way through it’s frame. Bert had brought a tag along. Quinn.
Again I froze in shock. My childhood crush, like a ghost from the past came in slowly, looking around the untidy apartment. He turned to me as I closed the door behind him and nodded towards me in recognition. I nodded back.
Bert continued to try and sooth Samantha who, at the sight of her closest cousin, began to sob uncontrollably again. Quinn and I just stood side by side in awkward silence.
Finally I couldn’t take the tension.
I mumbled something about ‘getting a drink of water’ and sauntered off to the kitchen.
Quinn’s eyes followed Annie as she walked off to the kitchen for a drink.
He couldn’t believe it was the same girl.
He remembered the last time he had seen her, it was right before he and the guys had left for their first tour. What was it? About three years ago? She had been a scrawny little sixteen year old with thick glbumes and a mouth full of braces. Her hair had been a mousy brown mess, and he had always remembered her as being so awkward and quiet. Bert and Quinn were good friends with Samantha’s older sister, Rachel, and so they spent a lot of time over at their house. Samantha and Annie were usually there to, so he had seen enough of her to recognize who she was. She was always ‘Bert’s cousin’s quiet friend’ or ‘Rachel’s little sister’s shy friend’. Not that they ever talked about her much. Annie had been really good at blending into the background.
She had to be about what? Nineteen now? She had grown up a lot. She still had a small frame, but now she was pretty decently endowed. Her glaces were replaced by contacts showing off her vibrant green eyes, her mousy brown hair had been tamed and it fell in layers around her face, giving off a healthy glow. She no longer had her braces, and a straight row of brilliant white teeth dazzled when she had said something about getting some water.
It was not only her appearance that had changed, but her movements. Quinn had noticed how graceful she was. Like every move she made was part of some beautiful dance.
She was no longer a little girl, but a woman.
The ugly duckling, had most definitely become a swan.
But Quinn’s thoughts were shattered as the knob to the apartment door twisted. He glanced up at the chain lock, which had not been locked back into place. It was too late to stop Jake from coming in.
I searched through the dirty mess of a kitchen for a clean cup. Couldn’t find one. In the sink dirty dishes were piled high, it wouldn’t have surprised me if some of them were from weeks ago. I scrunched up my nose as a rotten smell reached my nostrils.
What have you done to yourself Sam…
I decided against the water.
I heard voices coming from the living room and decided to go back in. I knew even though Sam had begged asked me not to call the cops, that we would have to eventually.
I watched my feet as I made my way back to the living room where everyone else was. Trying hard not to think about how all of the stains on the carpet had gotten there. I was just coming out of the hallway to join the group when a strong hand grabbed my arm and forcefully yanked me toward its owner.
I felt cold metal against my temple.
It was the barrel of a gun.
“Put the ****ing gun down!” I heart Bert’s voice growl at Jake who was holding me firmly against his chest with one hand and with the other pressing the gun to my head. I could smell the alcohol as he breathed He was rank with it.
“Sam..smmmanthaaa” He slurred his words making the scent of alcohol even stronger. My body was frozen with shock and my heart began racing. I was blind with terror and the others were only blurs through my sight.
“Sam don’t leavvve mee…” His words tumbled out over one another. “I ****ing swear I will killlll her if yooou leave me…” He threatened.
Quin and Bert were frozen, unknowing what to do. We all knew that if they got too close, Jake might panic and pull the trigger. Samantha sobbed, her eyes wide with terror.
“Jake no… please Jake.” She pleaded with him. She was helpless.
“Yourr n-never going to find aaanyone better Sam.” He went on glaring at her. “You ff****ing ****, your worthless… I amm the only one whooo is everr going to lllove you.” He sneered.
Sam nodded her head, tears falling like rain.
“Please Jake…” She spoke softly.
At her voice Jake’s firm grip on me began to relax, I felt the metal beginning to slowly pull away from my head.
Then it all happened at once.
There was a movement from Quinn’s direction and a loud bang of the gun.
My eyes closed and I was dropped to the floor. The last thing I heard was the echo from the gun shot ringing in my ears before all went dark.
For the second time that day I was awoken by flashing lights. This time they were red and blue. There were people talking all around me. I blinked a few times before my vision focused. I felt the cool outside air grazed my skin and I sat up slowly looking around.
I was laying on top of a white stretcher next to an ambulance. Police cars all around. I could see a crowd of people standing round the havoc which took place in the outside parking lot of Samantha’s apartment complex. It was still mostly dark outside, indicating it must have still been early.
“Good to see you awake.” Said a man dressed in a paramedic’s outfit. “You fainted when the gun went off.” He explained seeing the look of confusion on my face.
The last scene which had taken place before I had blacked out hit me over the head.
“Is everyone OK?” I asked the parametric urgently.
“Oh yes.” He said with a bright smile. “A little shaken up, but you will all be just fine.” He bumured me motioning to the cop cars a little ways off. I could see Samantha, Bert and Quinn talking to some cops who were asking them questions.
“What happened?” I asked. The parametric seemed to be pretty well versed on the latest news, so I continued to turn to him for the answers.
“Well the neighbors heard the gunshot and called the cops down” He filled me in. “They just took the guy down to the police department, but apparently he was holding you at gun point when that young man there tackled the gun out of his hand and held him down until we were able to get here. He was close to getting shot himself, luckily it just missed him. It’s a good thing you had him there to help you out.”
I followed the paramedics pointed finger. It directed me straight to Quinn.
“Yeah.” I said softly.
”’Scuse me a moment.” The parametric said after his name was called by another man dressed in the same uniform. He left me sitting on the stretcher just staring at Quinn.
He had just saved me…
I watched as Quinn nodded his head at something the cop had said. He glanced over at me. Our eyes connected.
I felt my heart race again, this time in a good way…
Quinn once more turned his attention back to the cop and nodded his head a few more times at what the cop was telling him. The cop must have finished talking to him because he was once again looking at me. This time he began to walk towards me.
I watched him as he approached.
He was so much like I remember when I was younger. His eyes held more maturity and he had a bit more scruff around his face, but he was still Quinn. The guy my heart had fluttered over as a child. And now he had saved me.
He finally reached me. His eyes scanning over my frame.
“You OK?” he asked in a worried tone.
I nodded slowly, unable to find words to speak. It was what always happened around him.
Without warning Quinn bent over and wrapped his arms around me in a tight embrace. I felt my arms rise, and I squeezed him back.
My thoughts were dazed.
“I was really worried when he pulled that gun on you…” He muttered, his face in my hair. I could feel his breath against my neck.
“Thank you….” I said quietly. My heart thumping.
He pulled away from me and looked me in the eyes.
“So listen… I know that the cops have a few questions for you and all, but I was wondering…” His voice faded off and he shyly dug his hands into his pockets. He had a sheepish look on his face.
“I was wondering if after you might want to come with me to grab a cup of coffee or something… you know to calm our nerves about all of this.” He asked in a shy voice.
I smiled. Finally, for the first time I found my voice to speak to him.
“I would love that.” I said courageously.
Quinn held out his hand to help me off of the white stretcher I was still sitting on.
I took it and slid off finding my feet on the hard pavement below.
The sun finally rose over the horizon as Quinn and I started walking back to where the police were still questioning Sam and Bert. Our hands still grasping one another’s.