On the very last weekend of winter vacation, I was closing up my mother’s dance studio and deciding that I didn’t want to go back home just yet, I walked across the street to a lounge called Esor. It was Saturday tonight and every Saturday, they had live jazz artists come in and play.
Upon entering the dim-lit lounge, I found a seat far to the back and as per usual, on stage was a performer. Tonight it was a woman in a black dress and the band behind her was playing in perfect trancing harmony.
Cindy, the waitress, came around. “Hey there, sexy. Long time no see.”
“Life’s been real busy,” I murmured.
“I know what you’re saying, and it’s not like winter has been giving us a break either.”
“I don’t acknowledge winter.”
Cindy smiled. “Gotcha. So the usual?”
I smiled back. “Usual, please.”
“One almond latte and cheese croissant on the side.” She walked off with my order, and I sat back in the booth listening to the woman singing up front.
In all truth, on Saturdays Esor was more for couples. It set a nice romantic feel with the low lighting and soft jazz. But I came here because I like the atmosphere, plus I liked jazz. It was a break from today’s top music on the radio. Also, my mom is a fan and I was brought up listening to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and Nat King Cole.
A few couples were getting up and dancing with their lovers when I noticed across the room the manager in a crisp, black suit with his thick dreads pulled back in a long ponytail.
The manager, Zachariah, looked in my direction, and held up a glass of wine. I smiled back with a nod. Although we hadn’t really spoken to each other, he never tried to hit on me—not that I would go for an older man. He was like my father’s age, that would be wrong on many levels. I don’t think the manager likes me, like that, but there seemed to be an odd connection there. I think it’s because we both have a love for jazz music. Nevertheless, I had felt this odd pull toward that guy who bumped into me at Blue Notes Lounge. It’d been a few weeks since my birthday celebration, but I still found myself thinking about that asshole and his bright blue eyes.
Should I fear this odd connection with the manager?
I felt as if I should, despite him never making me feel uncomfortable. I watched him across the room as he talked to one of his employees, and I felt a gnawing, evident pull. I was feeling more drawn to Zachariah than ever before. We had never exchanged more than a few sentences, and I knew he always paid for anything that I ordered. From the moment my mom introduced me to Esor a few years ago and I met Zachariah, I hadn’t paid a dime every time I came to this lounge. At first, I assumed he liked my mom, therefore I got special treatment. But as time passed, I no longer knew what to think.
I looked away from him, not wanting my staring to come off as weird. This intense pull made my insides knot horribly. Realizing the connection with the blue-eyed hottie and with Zachariah were eerily comparable, I felt sick to my stomach. I felt like getting up and leaving the place, when Cindy stopped in front of my table with my order.
Thanking her, I told myself that I was overthinking everything. Selena had seriously done a number on my mind. I took my time to sip the latte and eat my croissant, when I thought I saw Chace amongst the crowd. But after a double take I realize that it wasn’t him. Finishing up my food, I enjoyed the music and noticed someone across the lounge staring at me. I didn’t recognize him; just for good measure, I looked behind me to confirm that there wasn’t anyone else. But when I turned back around the stranger was gone.
When the performer on stage stopped for a break, I decided it was time for me to leave as well. Through the crowds of people, I saw the same man once again watching me. Soon, I noticed that he was following me toward the exit of Esor. Beginning to panic, I made a swift turn and bumped right into Zachariah.
“I’m sorry,” I said almost immediately, and shifted back from his closeness. I looked back, checking if that guy was still following me.
my eyes back and forth, noticing that the man following me was nowhere in sight.
Oh my god. I’m losing my mind.
Zachariah asked, “Are you okay?”
I looked up at him and his keen brown eyes. “I-I think someone was following me,” I answered, not knowing why exactly I told him that.
I could have gotten it wrong.
“Amelia, why would someone be following you?”
“I-I don’t know,” I answered, realizing he called me by the wrong name. I understood the mistake—we hadn’t spoken much—but why did it feel like a lie? Like the name he called me, was right in every way.
I backed away from him further, trying to piece my mind together, but I hadn’t gone far when Zachariah grabbed me by the elbow. He didn’t grab me in a forcible manner; his tight hold was firm and gentle, yet still, I knew not to try to flee.
When his eyes found my own, they held me captive, and I felt myself falling into an abyss.
His words were a distant echo. “Amelia, lately you’ve been coming to me when it’s time for your feeding.”
“I’m not Amelia,” was all I was able to get out and I felt as if all I could do was stare into his eyes, like he was the only one in this lounge full of people.
The music and voices were only background noise, as Zachariah became my only focus.
“No,” He agreed. “Once upon a time, but not anymore. Nevertheless, I am intrigued with our connection, and how you unconsciously find your way here. I do not have to come to you,” then without waiting for my response, he then guided me to the back of the bar, where there was a room and he opened it. I followed him without question, without hesitating.
I followed Zachariah into his office, and he closed the door behind us, concealing me in the room. In a distant part of my mind, alarms were ringing, warning me about potential danger. Even so, upon looking Zachariah in his eyes, all fear vanished, as if they never existed.
“This will be quick and as per usual, you won’t remember a thing.” Was his final words.