Against all odds, p.3
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       Against All Odds, p.3

           Kira Adams
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  “No one appreciates me as much as you do, Austyn.” Heath shifts his brown eyes to me quickly, a smile playing upon his lips.

  “We have quite a few surprises in store for you guys today, Jaxon Colby will be in the studio later to discuss his third album release, Anchored, and you will have a chance to win tickets to his show next month at the Reve Theatre. It’s Monday, so we want to know your most embarrassing hook-up stories for a chance at five hundred dollars. And don’t forget, 105.5 is paying your bills all the way through the end of the month, so send them our way for a chance at the Vibe paying it in full! Make sure to stick around for all our Monday Madness Fun.”

  The music begins playing and I notice Heath remove his headset and make his way toward me. His thick dark hair appears to be a little disheveled and the bags under his eyes tell me he must have had a rough night.

  I glance from his face to his attire.

  Definitely not your best hour, Heath.

  Although he attempted to wear a button down shirt and slacks, his blue shirt looks as if it desperately needs a date with an iron and I may be hallucinating, but it seems as though he is wearing two mismatched socks. It’s difficult not to laugh at his unkempt state.

  “Long night?” I address him, nodding my head at his overall appearance.

  “You could say that.” He smiles cockily, baring his gleaming pearly whites.

  “Please tell me you didn’t ruin another female’s life?” I joke half-heartedly.

  I’d be surprised if Heath has a heart, even in his mid-thirties, he isn’t in any rush whatsoever to settle down. Women are simply a conquest to him. To use and discard as he sees fit. I feel sorry for the women that actually see something in the sleezeball.

  “I made all of her fantasies come true. Haven’t you heard? I’m like a God to women.”

  No, you’re just a scumbag.

  I nod slightly, avoiding his gaze so I can roll my eyes at our resident dj, DJ Trik. He stifles a laugh from behind his booth. Everyone knows how I feel about Heath, except for Heath himself—he is oblivious to many things.

  “You still dating that hippie-peace enthusiast?” Heath asks, poking fun at Avery.

  “His name is Avery, and my answer is the same as it has been every day the past year—yes.” Even though his breath smells of mint, there are still whiffs of his alcohol consumption from the night before. His hangover is getting the best of him.

  “You wouldn’t know what to do with a real man,” Heath mutters under his breath as he begins making his way back to his chair.

  “Maybe not,” I counter louder than he had dared to be. “But Avery’s more of a man than you could ever be.”

  The rest of our crew begins cheering and clapping at my comeback.

  Too bad that wasn’t on the air.

  * * *

  Walking through the door of our two bedroom apartment, I draw in a sigh of relief. Today felt like it would never end. I’ve been anticipating my return home from work the minute I stepped inside the building.

  As I close the door behind me, I remove my flannel scarf and hang it up on the coat rack along with my wool peacoat.

  “Avery?” I call out, positive he is home as he works out of our apartment.

  “In here,” his familiar voice wafts out of our living room.

  I drop my purse and keys on the kitchen table as I pass through.

  He is sitting on the couch, in what I like to call his office, staring intently at his computer screen. “Hey babe, how was your day?” he greets me without breaking his stare.

  Although I absolutely love my job, I hate talking about it outside of work, so I always keep my answers short and to the point. “Fine.” I take a seat next to my boyfriend on the couch. “Where’s Ri?”

  I’m referring to our furry friend, Ornery. She is our Persian, Siamese mix which we adopted from a local animal shelter over two years ago.

  “Last I checked, she was taking a nap on the bed. Productive one she is,” Avery jokes.

  Just as I begin to get up and investigate her whereabouts, Avery grabs my hand and pulls me back down beside him. “I didn’t even get a proper hello.” He closes the distance between us and pecks me on the lips.

  “You seemed busy, I didn’t want to interrupt your focus.”

  Avery’s green eyes pierce through me. I swear, I can never get enough of his stare, it’s the most immobilizing and exhilarating feeling in the world being looked at by them.

  “I could never be too busy for you,” he replies, stroking my cheek softly. “I just have to finish this before the deadline, which is…” he pauses, glancing at the watch on his wrist. “In two hours.”

  “Is this the Melani job?” I ask, referring to a contracted job Avery has been hired for to redo an entire corporation’s website.

  He nods, sighing. “I’ve been working on it since you left for work.”

  Poor guy.

  I leave for work every day at 5:45 am. California traffic is a bitch, especially in the mornings. After commuting for nearly a month, I decided to say fuck it and ended up selling my car. Now, I am forced to leave even earlier as it cuts half an hour off my already lengthy commute.

  Avery and I opt to live outside the city in a neighboring town called Berkley. We can easily travel into the highly populated city of San Francisco whenever we want to via public transportation, but for the most part, Berkley has everything we ever need.

  “Well, I better not hold you up anymore. I’m going to cuddle with Ri. You can join us whenever you finish.” I kiss him quickly before heading toward our bedroom.

  “Hey, no fair!” Avery whines.

  “It’s the name of the game, babe.” I stick my tongue out at him before making my way toward our furry baby.

  * * *

  “How are you even functioning right now?” Liv glances back at me from the passenger seat. We have spent the past hour at a wine tasting and because I am the only one who enjoys white wine, I’ve consumed quite a bit more than my counterparts.

  I shrug, smiling devilishly. “I’m a machine!”

  Liv giggles at my statement and then I watch as she grabs Tyler’s hand and squeezes it gently. “Are you sure you’re okay to drive?”

  Tyler glances at Liv and flashes her one of his most charming smiles. “If you don’t remember, I only had a couple of tastes. I let you and Austyn finish off the rest of mine.”

  “Oh yeah,” she says giggling even more.

  He kicks the engine into gear and pulls out of the gravel parking lot.

  Liv and Tyler have been together for over two years. The way they complement each other is endearing. It’s one of the reasons Avery and I enjoy spending as much time with them as we do. I hope someday Avery and I can be as uncomplicated and in love with each other as they are.

  We’ve only been dating for eight months, but we haven’t passed that milestone yet. The one where we say the L word. I know I like him…I know I more than like him, I just don’t want to come to the realization that he is my other half before he does. It may be stupid and old-fashioned of me, but I’m stubborn when it comes to that.

  I glance over at Avery who is also inebriated, sitting in the backseat next to me. “How are you feeling?”

  He breaks out into a wide grin. “I feel wonderful! Can we get some food?”

  Tyler is chuckling at his drunk best friend. “How did I know we would eventually end up at Shari’s?”

  It’s become our drunken ritual. Get wasted and then gorge ourselves with greasy food from the popular restaurant. Although I am a vegetarian, I always opt for the fries, even though Avery tends to steal the majority of them.

  “Food! Food! Food!” Liv and I chant in unison.

  Poor Tyler has gotten used to being our designated driver. He enjoys a beer or two while watching a football game, but for the most part, he doesn’t partake in our crazy shenanigans. I love that he never makes us feel guilty or stupid either. He can have just as much fun sober. He’s awesome.

>   I feel Avery’s arm snake across my back and pull me into him. He rolls down his window and places his head against the side of it, inhaling the cool breeze.

  Goosebumps begin to rise all over my skin which makes me shudder.


  The quick action of my shuddering makes my stomach do a flop unsettling it. My face must read uneasiness because Avery shifts so that he is looking straight into my eyes. “Are you okay?”

  I can feel my stomach churning, almost like it’s a pot of soup and someone is stirring it. I look out the window at the passing freeway, but it’s only making it worse. Dizziness coupled with the growing feeling inside of my stomach is making me swallow non-stop in an attempt to keep it all down. I close my eyes, taking in deep breaths. But I feel like I am on a merry-go-round, even behind the darkness of my eyelids, I can’t seem to get the world to remain still. The burning bile is rising up my throat with each passing second and I know I won’t be able to hold it in much longer.

  “Austyn, are you okay?” I hear Tyler ask in a concerned tone from the front seat.

  I worry that if I open my mouth to respond, I will regret it. So I continue to keep my eyes firmly closed, still swallowing madly in an attempt to settle the contents of my stomach.

  “Do you guys have any water?” Avery asks, and I can tell by the tone of his voice, he knows I am not okay.

  I hear shuffling in the front seat. “No…Austyn, we’re going to stop at 7-11 to get you some water. We’re almost there.” It is Liv’s voice, she is speaking in a soothing tone.

  I feel Avery’s hand gently smoothing my hair away from my face and rubbing my back, but I know deep down, I am not going to make it.

  I open my eyes slowly and lock them with his. “I’m going to be sick.”

  Avery’s eyes shift nervously around our friend’s jeep and then he seems to come to some sort of realization. Quickly, he scoots as close to me as humanly possible and then pulls his sweatshirt from his body, making a makeshift bowl. I realize without even having to verbalize it what he is suggesting.

  I glance once more out the window, realizing we are still on the freeway and there is nowhere we can safely and quickly pull over. Although I know he adores me, I don’t know if I will ever be able to live down this moment. And then I stop caring because I can feel my stomach bubbling and the acid rising up in my throat. I grip the edges of his sweatshirt like my life depends on it and then begin vomiting directly in it.

  “Oh my God!” Liv shrieks from the front seat, but I can’t focus on her right now, I need to get the contents out of my stomach. I need everything to stop spinning.

  “Are you kidding me, man?” Tyler exclaims. “You couldn’t make it one more exit?”

  I’m tuning him out. The only thing I can focus on is my makeshift bowl in front of me, which is growing fuller each minute I yack. I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand shakily and still feel unusually weak. I’m not finished yet.

  I glance up unsteadily at Avery and his face is stone cold. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is holding his breath as he is averting his eyes out the front windshield. He flicks his eyes to me. “How do you feel?” he barely gets out before his face contorts in an ugly fashion and I can tell it is taking everything inside of him not to ralph like me.

  “I…” Just as I begin to speak, I begin projectile vomiting, barely missing his face by mere inches. The rest of his sweatshirt is not so lucky. He reaches out his hands to create another makeshift holder for my stomach contents when I feel the car screech to a stop.

  “I’ve already filled both his hands and his sweatshirt with my vomit and even though we are stopped…Avery cannot hold it in any longer. He loses it.

  I can hear Tyler freaking out from outside the car. As soon as they stopped, he must have jumped out quickly.

  My stomach is finally beginning to feel semi-normal when I glance up at Avery and see vomit sticking to the side of his mouth as well. He looks just as miserable as I do. We are a disgusting pair. A disturbing sight. It’s at this exact moment that I realize without a shred of uncertainty that this man…a man who just let me barf all over him, loves me just as much as I love him.

  God, do I love him.

  Four – Finding My Passion Again


  Austyn has been working late almost every day this week so I’ve been spending my time in coffee shops. There is this one a few blocks away from our house that hosts an open mic night a couple of times a week and I’ve become a regular at it. My band broke up a little over a year ago and I’ve been itching to get back out and play for quite some time now…but I know I’m rusty. Going and listening seems to be about the best I can do right now.

  Tonight I decided to bring my guitar with me for the hell of it. I’m not planning on playing at all, but sometimes, I like the comfort of carrying around my instrument. I’ve been seated for a half an hour when I catch a pair of eyes on me. Okay, it’s not like I didn’t notice her noticing me as I entered the establishment with my instrument…but I’ve been catching her glances my way for quite some time now. I’m not sure what she wants, but I’m not afraid to be bold. I take a sip of my coffee and then stand, leaving my guitar case at my table and make my way to the pair of blue eyes that have been stealing glances my way.

  She has long curly blond hair that goes past her mid-back. She is decked out in a multitude of tattoos and she has a lip ring and small nose ring.

  “Hi.” I wave politely. “Do I know you?”

  She looks surprised that I’ve approached her. Her eyes begin shifting around nervously. “Umm…no. I mean, I don’t think so…”

  “I just, I saw you staring at me and I thought it might be because we know each other from somewhere.”

  She runs her hand over her long hair anxiously. “No. I just…I saw you brought a guitar but haven’t seen you get up there yet.”

  So that’s what she was so fascinated with. I break out into a grin, glancing back at my instrument. “Yeah…I brought it…but I wasn’t planning on going up tonight.”

  “Why not?” she asks, her brows furrowing.

  “I’m just a little rusty, that’s all…” I reply. “Are you planning to get up there?”

  She shakes her head no. “I sing sometimes…but I don’t play an instrument. I’m sure no one wants to hear me sing acapella.”

  I chuckle. “Probably not.” Then a light bulb goes off in my head. “I could accompany you…” I don’t know why I throw out the suggestion, but her body position and eyes tell me that she is dying to get up on stage…and if the only thing stopping her is that she can’t play an instrument…I’m willing to help her out.

  Her eyes shift to the floor. “Oh, no, I couldn’t ask you to do that.”

  “I’m offering,” I reply warmly.

  Her eyes shift back up to meet mine and she breaks out into a sincere smile. “Seriously?”

  “Yeah.” I shrug. “It could be fun.”

  She nods hesitantly. “Yeah.”

  “I’m Avery by the way.” I extend out my hand for her to shake.

  “Dakota.” She grips my hand, shaking it.

  “Do you mind?” I motion toward the empty chair at her table.

  “No.” She shakes her head.

  I pull out the chair and plop down in it. “So Dakota, what song would you like to sing?”

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