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When a Tornado Meets a Volcano

attributing circumstances.

I met Kent Connors the summer I turned twenty-two. I sat on a bar stool clutching the last of my cash and my ID, too drunk to even give a damn that I didn’t have a way to get home. My long dark blonde hair tumbled down my back and my green eyes were watering, I wasn’t sure if it was from the alcohol or my life. I couldn’t get the burn of the alcohol from my nostrils and the world seemed to become a giant blur, the colors were so beautiful.

I laughed, burying my face into my hands and before I knew what hit me, I was crying. I collapsed onto the counter, my muscles relaxed except for the sobs rocking my body violently. I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned, wondering who would hit on a crying girl, but instead I saw him. Staring down at me with the kindest hazel eyes that almost pierced mine, then I threw up on his shoes.

I stared at him for a while, my vision failing me due to the alcohol. He was tall, at least six-foot-two. He had a flop of brown hair piled on top of his head and broad shoulders. He looked like some sort of athlete, his muscles were defined underneath his white v-neck, I scoffed at it. I remember his voice, deep and distant, almost objective, “What's so funny?”

“Nice v-neck, douche,” I laughed at my own joke before I felt another rush of vomit coming up and he quickly grabbed my hair and pulled it out of my face. I stared at the dirt and realized we were outside in the bushes. I felt the cool night breeze on my face where my tears had been. “Why are you helping me?” I asked, resting my head on the palm of my hand.

“Because you need it,” He said harshly, he sounded unhappy to be here, I wanted to push him away from me and tell him to leave, but something about him comforted me. I wanted him to stay. “You need some food, come on,” he instructed me, I was too drunk to argue. I remember praying quickly, hoping he wasn’t a homicidal psycho. I got into the passenger seat of a car, a nice one, with leather seats and a fancy interior. I groaned as I rested my head against the window, sleepy and drunk.

“If you’re going to throw up, please let me know because if you throw up in my car you’re buying me a new one,” He said, honestly his tone made him sound like a huge dick, but for some reason I mistook this for a joke and started laughing.

“Don’t worry, I’m all tapped out,” I slurred, letting the radio relax me as he pulled into a diner parking lot and walked over towards a garbage can tossing a button-down shirt, a tie, pants and a pair of office shoes. I raised my eyebrows, “What did you get sick of them?”

“No, you got sick on them,” He smiled, there was a soft laugh after words, but it was barely audible. I saw his smile for the first time, it was adorable. It had a somewhat-childish attribute to it, but it was also mature and sexy. That was also the first time I realized that this random Samaritan was a total hottie. I ran my fingers through my hair trying to get some volume going.

“Sorry,” I apologized curtly. I ordered a water and the pancake platter until I frowned realizing that I had three dollars to my name. Sobriety was coming on me fast, I rubbed my forehead completely humiliated. “Okay, I have more to apologize for because I have three dollars and an ID, that’s it. I’m sorry I threw up on you and why are you still talking to me? I would’ve definitely ran for the hills,” I sputtered out at a pace that seemed too fast for even him.

“It’s fine, there were a couple of guys talking about essentially raping you, so I decided to intervene,” he shrugged as if he was talking about the weather. My eyes widened as I looked at my tank top and jeans. I groaned loudly and resisted the urge to bang my head against the table.

“Well, thank you for intervening,” I muttered awkwardly, I was so tired and so sad. I thought I might start crying right here and now, but instead I took a deep breath and tried to contain myself. I looked around at the harsh fluorescent light above me and the dingy tables and cracked tile floors. A part of me panicked, afraid of either getting murdered or getting food poisoning. I huffed before shrugging. “My mom always told me never to get into cars with strangers, especially when drunk.”

“Kent Connors,” he extended his hand in a professional manner, his face very stern. I took his hand awkwardly and weakly shook it, biting my lip.

“Lilly Montgomery,” I replied, slightly drunk yet trying to reciprocate the professionalism. I took a giant sip of water and wondered why he was even sitting across the table from me, staring at me intently. “Seriously, why are you doing this?” I asked, a serious frown on my lips.

“I don’t know, you seem like too nice of a girl to be in a place like that. Why’d you even get that drunk?” Kent shrugged taking a sip of his water. He had a sharp nose, but it fit his chiseled face perfectly, his eyes almost seemed green in the lighting. I shifted awkwardly, not wanting to discuss my personal life.

“Nothing to stay sober for I guess,” I replied, trying to seem nonchalant about the whole thing. I blushed thinking of my boyfriend, well now ex-boyfriend, naked and panting on top of another girl, the fact I was on the verge of flunking out of school and how this was never what I wanted from life. I wanted the pain to stop, I wanted a break from reality, if only for a night, and I got carried away. That seemed like too much crazy to unleash onto a perfect stranger.

“How old are you anyway?” He sneered, clearly disapproved of my answer. I frowned, wondering why he seemed so callous and serious. He had perfect posture and a stern brow, why was this guy so serious?

“Twenty-two, how old are you?” I retorted. Yes, I looked young, but he seemed to be about my age, so he had no room to talk. My blonde waves tumbled freely over my shoulder as I bent down to check my phone seeing fourteen missed calls from Jackass, I mean Jason, my ex-boyfriend. I frowned.

“Twenty-eight,” He replied cooly. We sat in silence for a while and I took the opportunity to text Jason: stop calling me, it’s over. i’ll get my stuff tomorrow. “You look like you just got dumped.” My eyes darted up to him with an anger burning in them, he seemed pleased that he had struck a nerve. I narrowed my eyes at him, but before I could open a can of verbal whoop-ass on him he spoke again, “I figured, a girl like you doesn’t drink that much unless she’s been dumped.”

“Excuse me? How is this any of your business?! And what exactly does ‘a girl like you’ even mean? Fuck you. You don’t know me,” I snapped at him, looking him straight in the eyes as I said every word. There was a soft throat clearing from my right and my face paled realizing that the waitress had come to deliver our food. I smiled sweetly and thanked her after she placed my food in front of me.

I noticed her eyes lingering on Kent, he was a good-looking man, I wasn’t surprised, but I felt oddly jealous. Probably my ovaries screaming about my biological clock to my subconscious. I stared at him, scowling as I took a giant bite of bacon. “You’re a good girl, I can tell. You’re too attractive to be in a bar crying and you’re naive enough to be in a bar like that and not be looking over your shoulder. I must admit, I didn’t know you were feisty,” he chuckled, adding the last as a concession. I curled up one side of my lip pensively, wondering if that was an apology or an explanation or a compliment. Kent Connors was confusing me.

“Then what were you doing in a place like that?” I asked referring to his J. Crew khaki slacks and brown boat shoes. I knew the place was a total shit-hole, but I had seen the advertisement for quarter shots and when you’re desperate and broke, you’ll take what you can get.

“I went there with a potential client, who has, let’s say, less than refined tastes,” He replied taking a bite of his omelet and frowning before swallowing and taking another bite. I wasn’t sure if I was more pissed off or intrigued by him, I took another bite of pancake and the more I ate the clearer my head got.

“I didn’t get dumped, I dumped him,” I muttered, feeling as if I had to prove something to him. I took another sip of water before taking another bite, feeling too full to finish the whole plate. I looked up and saw him jutting out his bottom lip as if I had peaked his interest. He pushed his plate away and crossed his arms.

“So what has you so upset, Ms. Montgomery?” He asked with concerned eyes juxtaposing a sly smirk on his lips. I tilted my head, everything he did was like a riddle. The competitor in me wanted to figure it out and quickly.

“I walked on him fucking my best friend,” I spat, taking another sip of water. I could barely raise my head, my cheeks flushed from pure embarrassment. I literally felt a pain in my heart from the betrayal and self-doubt. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t love me, why I wasn’t enough. I couldn’t understand how she could do it. I didn’t understand lots of things about this world apparently; maybe Kent is right, maybe I am naive.

“Oh, I’m… I’m really sorry,” His voice sounded genuine, I gathered my nerves and looked up to see a genuine sympathetic look in his greenish-golden eyes. I frowned, now I was getting pitied by some guy from a bar. I lightly slapped my forehead, wondering how in the world I had gotten to this point. I felt as if I was going to explode, both emotionally and physically. My stomach felt so full and my heart was a hole in my chest, I stood up and thanked him. I adjusted my brown boots and prepared for the walk home. I figured it would be at least a couple of miles.

“Thanks for everything,” I muttered brushing through my hair again and as soon as I had walked out of the threshold of the restaurant, I let my head hang as tears came running down my pale cheeks. I felt an urge to vomit overwhelm me and I held my hair in a side ponytail as I threw up food I didn’t pay for. Tequila always did make me sick even after I had sobered up, I spat and walked down the sidewalk, trying to warm my arms with my hands. The humidity seemed to weigh me down, but the gloss on the trees and sidewalk almost made them reflective as the moon shined down on them.

My phone vibrated loudly, I looked down and saw Jason’s phone number popped up and for some reason decided to answer it, “What?”

“Baby, I am so sorry. Both me and Jess are so sorry, I mean we didn’t want to hurt you. Oh God, I am so sorry,” Jason stammered, repeating the same thing, trying to rush out the words he didn’t have. I wanted to throw a thesaurus at him or something, but instead I sighed and looked at the sidewalk passing under my feet. “It’s just God, Lilly, I mean I love you, but you were never around anymore and Jess and me, we just-”

“Don’t finish that sentence,” I snapped, my voice lowered and full of anger. “You told me you loved me, you don’t cheat on the people you love. You don’t blame the people you love and you sure as hell don’t hurt them. I hate you, Jason, I really do,” I disguised my voice to hide the tears streaming down my face right now. He may have hurt me, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much he had affected me.

“Lilly, come on…” Jason whispered, I could almost see the cocky smirk on his lips, expecting me to go back to him again.

“Jason, don’t call me again. Have a nice life, asshole,” I said brusquely before hanging up on him. I kept walking through up a street until I saw a car pull up next to me, slowing down considerably to move with my pace. The window rolled down and I saw Kent smiling at me, it wasn’t a pitying smile, it was kind.

“So, a girl like you shouldn’t be walking around late at night. Let me give you a ride,” He grinned. I must have done three Hail Marys in my head before climbing into the car. I had watched on Nightline that abductors rarely looked dangerous, but I did have my phone with me so the police could track my movements. “Are you always so quiet?” He asked breaking the silence and my train of thought. I turned to face him, his profile was like the rest of his face, very stern and rugged. He was attractive and I threw up on him, yep, sounds like me.

“I could ask you the same question,” I replied, rubbing my fresh French manicure to feel the smooth gloss (it was a nervous habit). I had to stop and question why I was even nervous? The potential murder-scenario, a little bit. Oddly enough, I felt nervous because I was attracted to him.

“No, I’m not,” He replied.

“Oh, well neither am I,” I answered, feeling a pang of guilt for not have answering his question. I turned and noticed him looking at me in his peripheral vision, I wondered what he was thinking because he eyes didn’t divulge anything. “I live at the apartments on Sixth and Duval,” I added timidly. I twisted the ring on my finger and felt a twinge of anger, remembering when Jason had given me this ring. The small diamond and emerald on white gold glittered, reflecting the streetlights we passed under. I didn’t even know what to do with it. It was a promise ring, “engaged to be engaged” were the words Jason used. I pulled it off and tried to crush it in the palm of my hand.

“Here, you can, like, pawn this or something,” I said, holding it out for him to take. He pulled up to a red light and looked at it for a minute before curiously tilting his head at me.

“Why would I do that?”

“Because, I owe you money for the meal and the clothes I vomited on, I don’t have any cash on me, but you can have this,” I explained, a lump in my throat as I held back tears. I remembered the pure joy I had felt as he gave it to me.

”I know it’s not the biggest ring, but I just want you to know when we graduate and get jobs, I’m gonna marry you. I’m gonna get you a huge diamond ring when I ask you to marry me. This is my promise to you, I want a future with you. I love you, Lilly,” Jason grinned brightly, opening a small, black velvet box. I felt the tears spring to my eyes at how beautiful his words were and I couldn’t get the big, stupid smile off my face.

“I love it and I love you, Jason,” I giggled, I felt like a little girl watching a romantic comedy, but this was real life. I slid it onto my left hand ring finger and let out another laugh before wrapping my arms around him tightly. I didn’t care about the fact there were drunk people I didn’t even know in my apartment, I didn’t care that he had been forty-five minutes late to my birthday dinner.

“Good, you know you’re my girl,” Jason grinned, his blue eyes shining. His happiness seemed to be accentuated by the fact that I was elated. He gently tilted my head up and pressed his lips to mine. “Forever and always,” he added on before rubbing my back.

I scoffed, the words seemed like a joke now. Forever and always, they sounded so poetic and so true, but I guess his perception was different than mine. I dropped it into the cup holder between us, letting him know that I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

“You don’t have to do that, I make more than enough money,” Kent smirked, looking over at me. I furrowed my brow, you could just say thank you… I thought, crossing my legs and turning to look out the window. I saw him pulling up to my apartment complex, I thanked him before practically running out of the car. I felt bad, growing up in the South, my mother had always taught me to be more than grateful when people help you. My mother had never met Kent Connors. I crossed my arms fishing through my keys to find the one for the pedestrian gate.

I walked awkwardly through the vacant parking lot and looked up at the moon. There was something peaceful and tranquil about night time. I sighed seeing my roommate, Nora’s car parking. I knew she would have questions because nothing stayed private in our little circle of friends. I sighed pulling myself up the stairs, suddenly exhausted and desperate to change into a pair of pajamas. I didn’t even have a chance to put the key into the lock when Nora swung the door open. Her long brown hair framing her thin face, her black-framed glasses accentuated her widened brown eyes and her lips were turned down into frown.

“Where in the hell have you been!” Nora scolded pulling me into the apartment by the wrist. I groaned, already knowing where this conversation was heading, “I just called you! Where were you! No one has talked to you since, you know…” her voice transitioned from angry to worried. I furrowed my brow and dug through my pockets looking for my phone and groaned wondering where I had left it.

“I lost my phone,” I sighed, running my fingers through my hair. “I’m sorry Nora, I just didn’t want to talk to anyone, except tequila. I don’t know, I was just so shocked!”

Nora’s face softened as she adjusted the oversized sweater on her small frame and her eyes began to water as she hugged me tightly, nearly squeezing me to death. “I am so sorry Lilly, no one should ever have to see that! And you know what? Fuck Jess, because that is just completely unacceptable! And you probably don’t want to talk about it,” Nora faded, probably because my face was incredibly sad.

“No, it’s fine. I just need wine and I don’t know,” I walked into the kitchen pouring myself the largest glass I could find of Merlot before looking down at myself. I needed to change, I grabbed the first pair of yoga pants I could find and a cami, quickly changing out of my outfit that smelt like a bar. I walked back out and saw Nora on the phone with a coy smile on her face.

“Well, I’m sure she’d be glad to meet you tomorrow. Yeah, at Coup Cafe right by our apartment? Okay, well then she will see you tomorrow. Bye,” Nora spoke with a calm voice, but she had an overexcited smile on her lips and was shimmying her shoulders awkwardly. I let out a soft laugh and returned to my very large glass of wine, sitting on the bar stool near our kitchen counter. We didn’t use our kitchen very much, but it was still cluttered with mail, homework and things we forgot to put back in place. It contrasted the clean and organized apartment. “You have a date tomorrow,” Nora chimed.

“Uh, what?” I inquired with my jaw on the ground. Seeing as I just broke up with my boyfriend of two years five hours ago another date seemed much too soon. “Nora! I am not on the market, I’m wounded and in my self-pitying phase.”

“Oh hush, it’s the guy who gave you a ride home. You left your phone in his car and he called me because my name in your phone is Roomie Nora, which could be potentially misleading. Anyway, apparently he was quite taken with you and wanted to meet up with you,” Nora winked excitedly, her words coming out a millions miles an hour.

“To give me my phone back, you psycho!” I laughed before taking a giant gulp of my wine. It was definitely going down easier than the tequila had and wouldn’t make me vomit.

“God, Lilly, you are so naive! You have no idea how many guys flirt with you! Plus, this guy sounds hot, describe please,” Nora retorted, sitting on the bar stool next to mine with an excessively optimistic smile on her lips.

“Uh, well he’s some sort of business guy. He seems well off, he has dark brown hair and like these kinda greenish-hazel eyes. He’s really tall, broad shoulders and muscular from what I could tell. I don’t know much about him,” I blushed as I thought of him. I hid my cheeks by placing my hand on my cheek casually and turned. She had a giant smile on her lips.

“I knew it! He sounds like a total babe! So that means that I am dressing you and doing your makeup tomorrow! Don’t tell me its too soon! Haven’t you ever heard of a rebound?” Nora asked in a matter-of-fact tone. I rolled my eyes, Nora was more assertive than most, but being the oldest of five siblings she had to be. We were both straight forward, but Nora pushed the thin line to bitchy.

“Fine, I’m going to bed,” I muttered, shuffling my feet and clutching my giant glass of wine in two hands as I walked past Nora’s room and into mine. “Goodnight bitch!” I called out.

“”Night! Love you, whore!” She called back out, her voice sounded like it was coming from her room. I laughed before closing the door behind me and I stared at the room that was painted a pale shade of blue. I saw all the pictures of Jess and Jason and my stomach literally twisted, I placed my glass down on my bedside table and got started pulling down all the pictures of the past two years of my life. I had them collected in a pile prepared to trash them until I saw a happy couple smiling at me from a glossy photo. I picked it up and studied Jason’s face: his cute button nose, his bright blue eyes and his blonde hair almost seemed to be the same color as mine. His arms pulling me into his chest tightly, we looked like we were in love. We looked happy. I looked at my dimples and giant smile, my arms over his.

A tear drop fell right onto my face and I didn’t even realize I was crying. I impulsively ripped the picture, again and again and again until there were only confetti-sized bits scattered on the ground and I yielded to the wave of emotion. He was always so good to me, he never yelled or lost his patience, he always remembered to tell me he loved me. He was supposed to be perfect, he was supposed to be my happy ending and instead he just shredded my heart.

I forced myself up and into my bed and I heard the door whine open. Nora stood in the doorway with a box of tissues and crawled into bed with me, gently stroking my hair and whispering everything would be okay. “You can talk to me, Lilly. Talking helps trust me, when Dave broke up with me I bottled it up and I felt like shit all the time,” Nora spoke genuinely.

I told her everything I was feeling: the betrayal, the heartache and oddly enough, the relief. For some reason, Jason had scared me with the commitment, I had never imagined marrying my first boyfriend and we were so young, it seemed a little insane. The guilt I felt for the relief and back to heartache. Nora listened to it all and stayed with me the rest of the night.

“Tomorrow will be better, tomorrows are always better,” she consoled me. I nodded not sure if I agreed with her, but I needed to believe it.
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so this is probably the longest chapter i'll write.
i'm sort of nervous about writing an original fiction, because it seems less people read them.
please comment :)?