Welcome to the C Chapter of Runaway: A Choose Your Own Adventure Novel. Please be advised, there may be adult content depending on the choices you make. Please vote for your choice and I will post the next chapter tomorrow.
Your choice for C was Answer the Call: (Sorry it got a little long! The rest are shorter!)
Aralyn picked up the phone and pressed the green button to answer the call. She could barely make out what was happening on the other end of the phone. Was that someone moaning? Was it a good moan or a bad moan? A chill ran through her. Was someone being hurt? She pressed the phone harder against her ear, trying to hear clearly. It wasn’t a whole lot better.
“Hello?” she said, hesitantly.
No one said anything. The moaning continued.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” she raised her voice a little, looking around the empty restaurant to see if anyone would hear her talking on the phone. She was feeling anxious now because Sevy was waiting for her.
Still, there was no change in the sound. Then suddenly, she heard a woman’s voice loud and clear, “Oh yeah, baby, fuck me!”
Aralyn’s eyes went wide. What the hell? Had someone accidentally dialed this phone? But who randomly dialed during sex? Maybe they rolled over a phone in a clothes pocket or something? Aralyn simply couldn’t figure out how it could be an accidental dial, but it certainly wasn’t helping someone get their phone back. She immediately regretted answering the call. She had only answered because she thought it might be the mobile phone’s owner trying to find his phone.
Now Aralyn really didn’t know what to do. She felt like she should just end the call. That seemed the easiest thing to do. But now that she had answered, she felt like she couldn’t. She felt like an intruder, but it was like watching a train wreck. She just couldn’t turn away from it. The voice was alluring.
The moaning continued. The woman’s voice kept ringing out loud and clear through the phone. She was saying all sorts of encouraging things to someone on the other end. After two minutes of standing there, not sure what to do, Aralyn’s brain snapped into focus. She knew that Sevy was waiting for her outside. He was much more important than some random phone call. She hung up. But what to do with the phone? There was no one to give it to at the hostess stand. Most of the waitresses seemed to have left, and the only manager she knew had left.
She pocketed the phone and resolved to try to find the owner another way.
She got outside to find Sevy leaning against his car in the chilly air. “Hey, what took you so long?” Sevy asked.
“Nothing,” Aralyn said. “I just got held up.”
“So,” she echoed.
“Do you want to go do something?”
“Yeah,” she said. “Like what?” She surreptitiously looked at her watch to see what time it was. It was almost midnight. “What is there to do in this town close to midnight on a weeknight?”
“Not a lot,” he admitted grudgingly.
“I’d say a diner, but I imagine that seems silly given where we work.”
“Yeah, not a diner,” he smiled. “Better not give the competition any business.”
Aralyn wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not, so she waited for him to say something else.
“I’m joking,” he said with a nudge.
“What about Walmart?”
“Yeah, we can do something stupid like set all the alarm clocks to go off in the middle of the night, or we could buy something dumb and cheap.”
“Really?” Aralyn raised one eyebrow at him. That sounded immature.
“Nah, I’m kidding again. ” Sevy said, smiling. “All right, I have a good idea. Do you trust me?”
No, she thought, but she kept that to herself. “Sure, I think so.”
“Come on,” he said, and he extended his hand to her. She took it, and he guided her to his passenger side door. He opened the door for her, and she slid in. He shut the door behind her and got behind the wheel. Aralyn was scared to ask where they were going but she had excited butterflies in her stomach, too. She was so happy to be with Sevy who happened to be attractive.
He drove with the radio on, and neither of them said anything. It was an odd change since they talked so much when they were working together. After fifteen minutes, he pulled into a deserted parking lot and parked all the way at the back where there were no streetlights.
“Where are we?” she asked.
“It’s a park.”
“Are we supposed to be here?”
“Not really,” he said. “Technically the park closes at sundown which was hours ago, but usually the cops don’t patrol it on weeknights as long as there isn’t a ruckus down here.”
He turned on the flashlight on his phone and held it up so they could see where they were walking. He took her hand to guide her over rough patches of ground. They walked down and around, winding on the path between large trees. Then she saw a pavilion up ahead. There was a creek bubbling nearby.
“This is one of my favorite places in the world,” he whispered.
“It’s beautiful,” Aralyn whispered back. As they walked along the path, the sound of the water grew. “What is that?” she asked, raising her voice so he could hear her.
“It’s a waterfall. It’s so cool.”
“Wow,” she said, “That’s amazing.” It wasn’t a true waterfall, but a set of manmade steps beneath the water masqueraded as one.
“In the summer, as a kid, we would slide down the steps in the water.”
“Didn’t that hurt?” Aralyn asked, surprised.
“Yeah, sometimes. But all in the name of good fun,” he said.
Next to the waterfall were some stairs. At the top of the stairs was a little pavilion. In the middle of the pavilion was a table, the same octagonal shape as the structure around it. Sevy climbed up on the table and sat on it, with his feet on the bench. Aralyn climbed up next to him, with his help. They sat close together, thigh to thigh.
After a few minutes, she was shivering now that she was sitting on a stone table without moving. Sevy noticed. “Are you cold?” he asked.
She wanted to say no because she didn’t want him to suggest they leave, but she couldn’t deny the chattering in her teeth. She downplayed the truth. “A little.”
He slipped an arm around her and pulled her even closer to him, though she hadn’t thought that was possible. She snuggled into his shoulder under his arm and felt a warmth moving through her that had nothing to do with the closeness of their bodies. She looked up at him, and he looked down at her, and she knew that if she didn’t pull away now, he was going to kiss her. A part of her wanted to pull away. A part of her wanted to keep things simple. Why was it that she was about to kiss the first friend she had made in this town? She didn’t want to complicate the only friendship she had. She had gotten herself in enough trouble letting her heart run away with her. Or maybe not her heart. Maybe a lower body part that took over her brain.
But in the end, she couldn’t stop looking up at him. She didn’t want to stop him from kissing her. She wanted to feel his lips on hers. And so she kept her face turned up toward him, and she parted her lips slightly.
His face came down, and their lips touched lightly. Aralyn moved the last fraction of an inch to press their lips together. His lips were soft and firm. She opened her mouth to him, and he slipped his tongue between her lips. He tasted like coffee and sugar. She wasn’t sure if it was her imagination or if it was real, but it was the taste she detected from him.
The kiss was magnificent. Aralyn was finding herself lost in it when suddenly, a phone started ringing. She didn’t recognize the ring-tone, but Sevy wasn’t reacting to it at all. Was there someone else there? They broke their kiss, and she looked around, trying to identify the source of the ringing phone. And then she realized. It was the mysterious phone she found in the diner.
“Hey,” Sevy said, “your phone is ringing.”
She almost said, “It’s not mine,” but the words got stuck on her tongue before she could get them out. She wasn’t sure why she didn’t want to tell Sevy that the phone wasn’t hers but she just didn’t want him to know.
“Are you going to answer?” he asked.
“Not right now,” she said, and she fumbled a little while trying to silence the phone. But unfortunately, even though she hadn’t answered the phone, the moment between them was lost. Sevy had pulled his arm from around her shoulders and was climbing down off the table.
“Shall we go?” he asked. It didn’t sound like he was upset or angry at all with Aralyn, but she felt immense disappointment. She knew that she couldn’t force things, and she shouldn’t be surprised that he wanted to leave so soon after their moment was stolen, but her heart sank all the same.
What the hell was she doing with him anyway? He was her coworker. What if it didn’t work out? It would be terrible for her. The first friend she made.
Her level of anxiety was rising at a rapid rate, and then the phone rang again. That damn phone! What had made her think it was a good idea to pick up the phone in the first place? And why had she taken it with her? She could have just left it there under the table, or set it at the hostess stand and let someone else find it. But now it was burning a hole in her pocket as she silenced it again. She waited by the passenger side door for him to unlock the door. Before he had opened the door for her like a true gentleman and after what had happened, she figured he would leave her to fend for herself, but he came over and opened the door for her anyway.
She smiled at him, and he returned her smile. He went around and got in on his side of the car. He fired up the engine and drove off. He went back to the diner’s parking lot where her car was the only one left in the lot. “Will you be okay getting home?” he asked.
“Yes, I think so,” she said.
“Cool,” he said and left it at that. He didn’t turn off the car or get out. He was patiently waiting for her to get out of the car. She got out and was about to shut the car door when she plucked up her courage and leaned down back into the car.
“Are you working tomorrow?” she asked.
“No,” he said. The silence stretched between them, and Aralyn was about to turn away when he added, “Are you?”
“Yeah,” she said.
“What time?” he asked.
“Noon to four.”
“Maybe we can hang out after?” he asked. Aralyn felt her cheeks go red in the darkness.
“Sure,” she replied.
“I’ll meet you here,” he said.
“Okay,” she said. That made her feel better. She wouldn’t have to adventure out on her own in this unknown city.
When she was safely in her apartment, she looked at the mystery phone. There wasn’t a voicemail, but there was a text. “Tomorrow, I will send you information on The Dugneon.” Aralyn had no idea what that meant.
In the morning, she was super nervous about seeing Sevy after work. She spent her entire four-hour shift trying to stop the butterflies in her stomach from flying out of her mouth. Of course, she knew that was a ridiculous thought. Aralyn wasn’t sure she took in anything that the other waitress was telling her, but Aralyn didn’t screw up too badly, so she was happy with that. As four o’clock drew near, she kept looking at the door, waiting to see if Sevy would walk through it. Would he come into the diner? Would it be too obvious that they were in a relationship, or whatever the hell it was? Would anyone think twice about them hanging out? Would they even care if they knew?
But Sevy didn’t come through the door while she was working. He didn’t come through the door while she was getting her stuff together, either. She was afraid he wouldn’t be waiting for her in the parking lot, but as it turned out, he was sitting in his car. Aralyn saw his silver car at the back of the lot among the few other cars. She walked toward it, trying to stifle a huge grin.
“Hey,” she said as she approached the car. He rolled his window down as he watched her approach. She couldn’t tell what the look on his face was.
“Hey,” he replied.
“What’s up?” she asked.
“Not much. How was work?”
“It was good. Not too busy.”
“That’s good. Well, mostly. It goes faster when it’s busy.”
“Yeah, but it’s better for me not to be too overwhelmed since I’m still so new.”
“That’s true,” he agreed.
It was cold standing out in the parking lot. Even in the bright sunshine, the air was chilly. Aralyn stuck her hands in her pockets.
“Want to get in?” he asked.
“Sure,” she said, and she walked around and climbed in on the passenger side. He didn’t get out to open her door, but that would have been a massive effort.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“No,” she replied. What else could they do?
“Want to catch a movie?”
“Sure,” she said.
He put the car in gear, and they drove over to the movie theater which wasn’t more than five minutes away. They sat in the parking lot and discussed which movie they were going to see. He bought their movie tickets and offered her popcorn, which she declined.
“Woah,” she said as they went into the theater. Instead of the standard movie theater seats, there were recliners in the whole theater. Each seat had a number, and she looked at the ticket the ticket taker had handed her. It had a seat number on it like a concert venue. “This is… amazing,” she said, not able to come up with any other word.
“What?” he said, utterly sounding confused at first, “Oh, the theater? Yeah, it’s been like this for a while now. It’s great, isn’t it?” He explained to her how they hadn’t finished putting in the bar, but there would eventually be full bar and food service, delivered directly to your chair.
“I feel like that would distract from the movie.”
“So do I,” he said. “Maybe they’ll only make it available if you come early and watch their commercials.”
“Ha, that would be something,” Aralyn said. Personally, Aralyn liked the previews for other movies. It was part of the whole movie experience, and she wouldn’t trade it for anything. She could do without twenty minutes of TV commercials they played before movie previews.
They found their seats and settled into them. Aralyn was surprised when Sevy raised the armrest between their seats. Now they were really close together, their arms just touching.
Aralyn was nervous at the close contact. She wasn’t sure if Sevy was going to hold her hand or if he was going to ignore her during the movie. She wasn’t sure which option made her more nervous either. The commercials ended, and the previews came on. Sevy leaned over and whispered in her ear, “I bet there will be ten previews.”
She smiled and tried not to laugh out loud; he was so cute. She whispered back, “Okay, I’ll take that bet. But I’ll bet there will be eight.”
“You’re on,” he whispered.
“What are we wagering?” she whispered back.
He looked at her appraisingly for a minute. It seemed as though he was trying to figure out if she was serious or not. She was looking back with an entirely serious expression, though, and he said, “Suggestions?”
She just shook her head and shrugged. She wanted to suggest a kiss, but she wasn’t bold enough for that, especially as she still didn’t know what was going on. After the failed kiss last night, was this a date?
So she just kept smiling and looking at him and waiting for him to come up with something.
Finally, he made a suggestion, and it wasn’t at all what Aralyn had been hoping for. “Loser buys dinner.” On the plus side, it meant that he wanted to keep hanging out with her after they saw the movie. She took that as a positive sign and agreed to the bet.
They counted the previews, and as it turned out, there were nine of them. They grinned at each other but didn’t talk as the movie started up.
When the movie ended, and the lights came up, Aralyn waited to see if he would be one of those people who stayed until the bitter end. He was, and it paid off because there was a hidden scene at the end of the movie they got to see. They were one of the few who had stayed that long. When the final scene ended, Sevy put down the feet on his recliner and began to get up. Aralyn did the same.
“So,” he began.
“So,” she repeated.
“What does that mean for our bet?”
“I don’t know,” she said, truthfully. They hadn’t done an over/under deal. They had just each picked a number.
“I’ve never actually bet on something like that before,” he admitted.
“Me neither,” she smiled shyly, and he smiled back. Their eyes locked and he took a step closer. It seemed like he might be leaning in to kiss her. But then, the spell was broken. The employees had come along and were cleaning up the theater for the next showing.
“Come on,” he said extending his hand to her. She took it, and they left. “Where do you want to go for dinner?” he asked.
“That depends,” she replied. “Who is paying?”
He laughed a hearty laugh that she loved so much. “Good question.” He was silent for a moment, thinking. “We could call it a draw.”
“We could,” she agreed. It was a logical thing.
“So then we’d each pay our own way,” he mused.
“Yeah,” she said.
He shrugged. “That would be okay, I guess,” but it didn’t sound like it was okay.
She raised an eyebrow at him and plucked up the courage to point that out. “You guess?”
He shrugged again. “I just don’t like the idea of you having to pay. You just moved here. You just got a job. I know how much you make.” He winked.
“We have the same job!” she protested.
“True, but I’ve been working there longer so my base pay is more.”
“How do you know that? Maybe I got Devon to start me at a higher rate.” She said defiantly.
“Because I keep tabs on things.”
His statement felt deceptive. She wondered what that was supposed to mean, but she was running out of gusto to push the point. “Okay, we’ll see.” She hoped he would let it go.
“Fine,” he said. They were pushing through the darkly tinted doors into the evening sunlight. “That’s beautiful,” he murmured indicating the setting sun.
“Yes, it is,” she agreed.
“Do you want to go watch it somewhere quick?” he asked.
“Sure,” she agreed. Sevy appeared to be quite the romantic. Walks in the park. Sunsets. What was next?
He seemed to know everything about the area, too, because he knew right where to go to get a good view of the sunset. They only drove for a couple of minutes, which was a good thing because otherwise, they would have missed it. He parked at the top of a hill and they watched the sunset. While they sat, his hand slid across the center console in the car and rested on the top of her thigh. He wasn’t overly touchy. He wasn’t making advances to make her uncomfortable; he just rested his hand there comfortably. She had waited to see if he was going to move his hand with mixed feelings. When he didn’t, she laid her hand on top of his, and their fingers curled together, the back of his hand in the palm of her own, her fingers falling between his.
When the sun had set, he turned to look at her, and it felt like all the air was sucked from the car. Aralyn didn’t know why the look was so intense. Maybe it was the small space. Maybe it was the atmosphere. But all she knew was that suddenly she couldn’t breathe, and she wanted to sit in Sevy’s lap or kiss him or have sex with him. Something to release the tension that had suddenly sprung between them.
And this time, there were no distractions. Aralyn felt herself leaning toward Sevy, and he was mirroring her movement. They were only inches apart now, and she could hear her ragged breathing in the quiet car. Sevy had turned the radio off while they watched the sunset. There was no sound.
Their lips touched, and it was like an electric jolt between them. Her lips parted willingly as Sevy’s tongue probed Aralyn’s mouth again. The kiss deepened, and she found herself pressed as far across the center console as she could be, but it wasn’t particularly comfortable. The gear shift was between them, and it was pressing into her thigh.
Sevy pulled his hand from her grasp and wrapped his arms around her, which she was sure was no easy feat in the cramped space. She brought one hand up and cupped his face. She could feel the beginning of a beard, even though he must have shaved that morning.
The car was cramped with two people, but she didn’t care. She just loved the feel of his arms wrapped around her. His fingers curled in her hair and held her to him as best as he could. The hand that had been pressed against his face wrapped around to the back of his neck and kept him pressed against her. After what simultaneously seemed like no time at all and seemed like forever, Sevy broke their kiss. Both of them were panting.
“Wow,” Sevy whispered. Aralyn agreed with his sentiment, but she couldn’t catch her breath enough to reply. She felt spellbound by him. “Are you okay?” he asked with a chuckle. Aralyn grinned at him. “I’ll take it you liked that?”
“Yes,” she whispered, not because she was embarrassed but because she could barely get the word out.
Sevy pulled away from her but left one hand on her thigh. She wrapped her fingers around his and held on tight. She didn’t want to lose their connection, but the car was an uncomfortable place to make out. “We can’t stay here too long. People will think it’s weird if there’s a couple just sitting here after dark.” He winked at her, and she smiled. A couple? Had he said a couple? Aralyn didn’t know if he meant that they were a couple-couple or just that they were two people sitting in a car. She wanted to ask, but she also was terrified of the answer he would give.
The words she could get to come out of her mouth were, “So where to now?”
“Dinner,” he said with a smile. “You’re buying.”
“I am not!” she protested.
He didn’t respond. He just smiled and put the car in gear.
Two hours later, they had finished a lovely dinner at a local burger place and were back in the car. Sevy had paid for dinner, despite Aralyn’s protests that she could pay for her meal. But he hadn’t listened and had paid for the whole thing. She had even tried to pay the tip, but he had shot her down about that also. It was sweet, if a little sexist, in Aralyn’s opinion. She decided not to make a huge issue out of it. There was no reason to, she figured. He was just trying to be a gentleman.
But now the night was winding down. Part of her wanted to invite him back to her place or to see if he wanted her to go to his, but it was too soon. She barely knew him, but her disappointment was almost palpable.
He drove her back to the parking lot at the diner and pulled into the spot next to her car. The parking lot was nearly deserted. “Can I see you tomorrow?” he asked her before he let her get out of the car.
“Yes, please,” she said.
“Are you working?” he asked.
“No, are you?”
“Yes. Maybe I could have your number, and I could give you a call.” He winked, and she laughed. They had never exchanged phone numbers in all the time they had been talking. Though, when she thought about it, she realized it had only been a couple of days. They exchanged numbers, and she got out of his car and into hers. He didn’t kiss her goodnight, and she wasn’t sure why. Was it because they were in the parking lot of their workplace? Was it because he didn’t want to? Was he regretting their kiss? No, that didn’t make sense. She was just being insecure. And then thoughts of her previous life invaded her mind. She sat in her car with her eyes closed, willing herself not to cry sitting here. She missed… Iowa. Her emotions were all over the place. Aralyn wanted to be happy for the budding relationship she was forming with Sevy, but she was sad for the life she had left behind. What was she to do now?
Then she felt it. Buzzing. It was the phone she had found at the diner the night before. She had shoved it in the glove compartment of her car, and right now it was buzzing. She pulled it out and looked at the display, gripped with indecision. It was the same number as the last time it rang. As she held the phone, it stopped buzzing and went dark. She had missed the call.
The next day, Aralyn waited anxiously for the phone to ring. She was both waiting to hear from Sevy and the mystery person. She wasn’t even sure which one worried her more.
She heard from Sevy first. He sent a text.
Aralyn: Hey 🙂
Sevy: I’m at work.
Aralyn: Bad boy, texting at work. 😉
Sevy: It’s sloooooow
Aralyn: I’m sure.
Sevy: I can’t wait to see you. 🙂
Aralyn: I feel the same.
As soon as she sent that text, she rolled her eyes at herself. She sounded like an idiot. But… he wanted to see her! That was a good sign! Sevy was quiet for a while. Then, finally,
Sevy: Sorry, customers.
Aralyn: It’s cool. I understand.
Sevy: What do you want to do today?
Aralyn had no way of answering that question. There were so many things she wanted to do, most particularly, she wanted to see Sevy, but she also desperately wanted to hear from the mystery person about The Dungeon.
Aralyn: Whatever you want.
Sevy: That’s a dangerous proposition.
Aralyn knew that he was right, but she couldn’t help herself from the answer.
Sevy: I’ll be in touch. 😉
Oh boy. Aralyn didn’t know what that meant. When the phone rang an hour later, she jumped a mile. Then she realized it wasn’t her phone that was ringing. It was the mystery phone.
She answered and heard someone moaning softly as before. Then a voice came into the foreground. “Hello Aralyn. The Dungeon is an exclusive club. Not everyone gets an invitation. Your password is Elixir. You will receive a text with the address in one hour. We are open 24 hours a day.” Click. Elixir. Aralyn was breathing heavily.
Should she go alone? She could ask Sevy, but whatever it was they were doing was so new…
Does Aralyn go alone?
She accepts the invitation alone.
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