remember Me - Chapter 1
Garrith Jameson strolled into The Red Love in search of something. Something he needed? He wasn’t sure. But it was a feeling so strong it threatened to take over his very being, to rock him to the core if he didn’t get it taken care of.
His back was stiff and his muscles hurt in all the right places. Being in a boxing ring with a guy who used to fight for a living, definitely had the upper hand. Garrith would like to hurt physically because of other reasons but that shit storm had dried up months ago. He figured it would just be better to escape then to deal with it. Pussy.
As he headed into the club, the deep booming base of the music washed over. He wasn’t into dance music but if it was loud and you could feel it deep in your bones, it made him happy. Unfortunately, a person had taken up full residence inside his brain; she was etched into his soul and even though he hadn’t seen or talked to Keisha Lee in six months or so, he felt drawn to her. Pulled towards her very being. He would never get over the fact that she couldn’t remember him. It tore at his soul knowing that after all of the shit they had been through, she wouldn’t know how much he actually did to get her back. How much she meant to him. How he had fought for her love. Literally.
As he approached the long wooden bar, he found that there were no empty seats. A couple of young guys noticed him and quickly got out of his way. Did he look that rough? He knew he hadn’t bothered to shave in a couple of days but he did shower. Garrith lifted the collar of his jacket to his nose and inhaled. Definitely didn’t smell bad. He shrugged and sat at a now-empty stool. A cute blonde stood in front of him, sporting a low cut black t-shirt with The Red Love in red letters above her heart.
“What can I get for you, darlin’?” she asked while mixing up two drinks at once.
Garrith hadn’t seen her around the club before. Had it been that long since he had been around? “Tequila,” he bit out.
She raised an eyebrow. “Rough night?”
Garrith scoffed. More like a rough couple of months. “Not just tonight.”
The bartender nodded. “You a cop?”
Garrith’s jaw clenched. He was a poor excuse for a man of the law. Since the shit with Keisha went down, he wasn’t able to concentrate and took a leave of absence. Actually, he pretty much just disappeared. He’d be surprised if he still had a job.
“Former.” There was no point in denying it any longer. He never told people he was an agent. Didn’t like talking about it. Not that he wasn’t proud of his work or what he did for his country. People judged and he felt like a pussy for caring, but he did. Keisha never knew that he was an agent and he felt like an ass that he couldn’t tell the one person in his life that he had shared everything with about his job. No wonder she didn’t want to remember him.
The bartender smiled and poured the clear gold liquid into a shot glass. “My daddy’s a cop. Retired actually. His drink of choice is scotch.”
All Garrith could do was nod. He didn’t know why she was telling him this.
She continued, “He’s much older than you but I can already see the start of it in your eyes.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Garrith snapped. He didn’t mean for his words to come out with an edge but the way the woman looked at him with pity made his skin crawl. He didn’t want pity. He wanted his girl back.
The bartender’s smile widened. She didn’t take his shit. Garrith kind of liked her. It was about time the owner hired someone who wasn’t so timid and that could take on the dick customers like him.
The woman shrugged. “I’m saying, it’s not uncommon for people who work in law enforcement to become alcoholics. Just be careful.”
Why did she care? His heart swelled a little that this stranger was watching out for him. “Who are you?”
She laughed, a full-blown belly laugh that he could feel in his soul. She stuck out her hand. “The name is Evvie Neal.”
Garrith returned the handshake. “It’s nice to meet you, Evvie. I’m Garrith Jameson and it’s about time the owner finally made a smart decision in the people he hired.”
Evvie’s smile tightened. “The owner is an asshole. He didn’t hire me but it’s nice to meet you too, Garrith.”
Garrith bit back a chuckle at the jab at his friend. He had heard that Brett MacLean had turned into a bit of a douche over the past couple of months. “I’m sure the owner has a reason for being a—”
“For a being a what?” A heavy hand landed on Garrith’s shoulder, making him spin around. Brett was standing behind him, a wide grin spreading on his face.
“For being a dick,” Garrith finished as he stood up from the stool.
“Dick is an understatement,” he heard Evvie mumble behind him.
Brett’s gaze flicked to hers, a hint of interest flashing in them before turning cold. It was only a small hint but Garrith could tell that his friend felt something for the blonde bartender. It was about time, too.
Garrith frowned, his stomach twisting into knots. Could he get over Keisha if he had to? He didn’t want to answer that question. Ever.
“Why don’t we leave people to actually do their job for once and head into my office?” Brett suggested.
Evvie scoffed and went to serve other waiting customers. Interesting.
“Nah. I need another drink.” Garrith sat back down on the stool. He didn’t want to be alone with the questions that Brett no doubt had for him. Like where he had been for the past couple of months, why had he not contacted his sister and so on and so forth. Blah blah blah.
“Garrith,” Brett pressed.
“Either you sit down and join me for a drink or leave. Either way, I’m not going anywhere.” Garrith motioned for Evvie to give him another shot of tequila. He would take the whole bottle if he could. Brett huffed and sat down beside him. The tension in the air grew, mixing with the scent of sweat and alcohol.
“Evvie,” Brett said sharply.
Evvie turned to them from the other end of the bar, her eyebrows narrowing. Garrith watched as she stomped over to them and placed her hands on the bar. “What?”
Brett smiled. “Nothing.”
Garrith gaped at the two of them. Evvie’s jaw clenched. She slammed the bottle of tequila on the bar top and placed two shot glasses beside it. “Have at it, boys. See if I fucking care.” And with that she walked away.
Brett grabbed the bottle and poured the gold liquid into the two glasses.
“What the hell is your problem, Brett?” Garrith had never seen the guy act like such an asshole.
“I don’t have a problem,” Brett replied, slamming back the shot. His demeanor was hard, unhinged, like at any moment he would snap. The guy seriously needed to get laid.
Garrith looked between Evvie and him. Or maybe he had but not by the right woman.
He sighed and followed suit, pouring them each a drink. “Have you talked to Tori?”
Brett tensed before taking another shot. “Have you talked to Keisha?”
Fuck. “Touché.” Garrith hadn’t talked to Keisha in months. Not that he didn’t try. Every time he picked up the phone to call her, he froze, his stomach twisting into agonizing knots. What would he say? He didn’t know where to begin. Garrith poured another shot and held it up to his lips. Breathing in the burning intoxicating scent, he slammed it back, letting the heat of the alcohol wash down his throat.
“So where the hell have you been, Garrith?” Brett asked, putting the cap back on the bottle.
Garrith shrugged. “Around.” There was no way that he was telling anyone where he was. What kind of man would that make him if he admitted to sulking for the past couple of months over losing Keisha? Wallowing in self-pity, he reached for the bottle, but Brett grabbed it first.
“I don’t think so.” Brett rose from the stool and walked around the bar, putting the bottle back on the shelf.
“Brett.” Garrith frowned.
“Tell me where you’ve been and I’ll give you back the bottle,” Brett said, placing his hands on the bar top.
Garrith thought a moment and sighed. He didn’t need the tequila that badly.
Brett smiled. “Didn’t think so.”
Garrith scrubbed a hand down his face when the back of his neck tingled like someone was watching him, and then a warm hand landed on his arm. Before he even turned to the person touching him, he knew instinctively who it was. The light smell of roses wafted into his nose, making his dick jump with excitement.
Without looking, he grabbed hold of the hand on his arm and removed it. He rose from the stool and headed in the direction of the washroom. Needing to get away from her. From everything. He never should have come back. He should have just stayed away. It would have made things simpler.
Keisha Lee felt like her heart was being ripped in two and pulled from her chest in an agonizing grip. Watching Garrith walk away from her without acknowledgment tore apart her soul. She still couldn’t remember anything about him but she felt a connection none the less.
When she walked into The Red Love to meet up with her brother, her heart jumped with glee at seeing Garrith again. His short blonde hair made her fingers itch to touch it. His broad back, begging for her soft caress. If only she could remember. She thought maybe she would approach him and he would be happy to see her. It had been a couple of months since she had seen him and she didn’t bug him. She knew that he needed time, but seeing him again made her realize that maybe he would never be able to get over the fact that she couldn’t remember him. It wasn’t like it was her fault. Garrith knew that. Or she hoped he did but she felt like he blamed her. Maybe used it as an excuse to move on. Keisha knew that they had a history but she didn’t know how deep that went.
Tears burned her eyes, threatening to escape when a heavy hand landed on her shoulder. She sighed, her shoulders slumping as she covered the hand with hers. “I miss him so much, but I can’t remember him at all.”
“I know, Keisha,” Brett said. He squeezed her shoulder lightly and walked back behind the bar. Seeing her brother doing something so unorthodox for him, threw her off. A cute blonde bartender that Keisha hadn’t met yet walked past him, lightly shoving him. Keisha raised an eyebrow.
Keisha sat at the bar and waited for Garrith to come back, praying he would talk to her.
Brett placed a martini in front of her and she thanked him. Taking a bigger sip than usual, she let the burn of the gin coat her throat before it settled in the pit of her belly.
“Who’s the new bartender?” Keisha asked, motioning to the woman at the end of the bar, who was laughing at something a customer had said.
Brett followed Keisha’s gaze and scowled. “Hell if I know. Jake hired her.”
Keisha stared at her brother a moment. He seemed odd. Closed off, even. “Are you going to introduce me?”
“Why should I?” Brett bit out.
Keisha huffed. If he wanted to be an asshole, she’d just introduce herself.
She hopped off the barstool and walked to the end of the bar, waiting for the blonde to notice her. Her hair was pulled back into a pony tail and the uniform Brett made his girls wear was sexy on her. The tight black t-shirt showcasing full breasts was tucked into a short as hell red and black plaid skirt. Her skin was pale, perfect. The blonde noticed her and smiled, her bright blue eyes twinkling.
Keisha stuck her hand out. “Hi. I’m Keisha Lee. The owner,” Keisha motioned to Brett at the end of the bar, “is my brother and I’m sorry that he’s an asshole.”
The blonde laughed.
“I’m Evvie Neal and your brother is definitely a douche but I won’t hold it against you.” Evvie smiled.
Keisha laughed. “He’s a good guy. Just takes some time to crack his walls.”
Evvie’s eye brows narrowed. “I’ve noticed.” She looked back at Brett and waved. “Oh shit,” she said as he glared in her direction and rose from the stool, heading their way. She burst into laughter and went back to serving customers. “It was nice to meet you, Keisha.”
Keisha smiled. “It was nice to meet you too. I’m sure I’ll see you around.”
Evvie nodded and as Brett walked by them she stuck her tongue out at him. Keisha laughed harder and followed her brother.
“If I didn’t need the staff, I’d fire her,” Brett mumbled as they approached his office.
“Why? She seems nice and she’s obviously a hard worker.” Keisha gaped after her brother. What the hell was his issue with Evvie?
Brett didn’t answer and sat on one of the black couches in the middle of his office. “How are you doing?”
Ah, changing the subject. He definitely was good at doing that. Keisha sat across from him and opened her mouth to reply when the door opened. She turned and saw Garrith standing in the doorway.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t…I thought…I’ll come back.” Garrith turned around, slowly closing the door.
Keisha shot up from her seat. “No. Garrith, stay, please.”
Garrith shook his head. “No. I don’t think it’s a good idea.” He looked past her. “Brett, I’ll come by tomorrow.” And with that he was gone.
Keisha stared at the closed door, a hard lump forming in her throat. It wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t remember him. It wasn’t. At all.
“Yeah. I’m on my way.”
Keisha turned to Brett putting his phone back in his pocket and rising from the couch. “There’s some dude asking for the owner. He’s looking for someone apparently.”
“Oh, well I’ll just go home,” Keisha said softly.
“I should only be a moment,” Brett said, coming up to her.
Keisha closed the distance and wrapped her arms around his middle. “Okay.”
His body tensed and then relaxed a moment later. He cupped the back of her neck and sighed. “Give Garrith time.”