December 30, 2014

Breaking a Life Story (Part V)

(Read parts I-IV by clicking here!)

Part V --
(Note: Croix is pronounced 'CROY')

I ended up having a couple shots of Atomic Wine and it was quite tasty yet potent. I didn't get drunk but I felt better with alcohol in my system. After following up with some glasses of water, I tip-toed out of the club. Not to sneak around, but because my feet felt like I was walking on needles. I exited the club and walked around to the back of the building where I was parked.  The night wouldn't have been complete without at least one more mishap, of course.

As I tip-toed to my car, I wasn't paying attention and my heel got stuck in a small but deep pothole, twisting my ankle and sending me down to the ground, face first. I was in pain, I had wasted money going there, I was frustrated so I screamed and cried as I just laid on the ground. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. I was a good person, I prayed, I respected my parents, my peers, and I just couldn't get ahead in life. I don't know how much time passed by, I just laid there crying wishing I had never had dreams beyond my hometown, wishing I had better luck. Through my tears I could see some headlights shining in front of me. I was almost in the middle of the driveway, I didn't care if I got ran over or not, my feet and ankle hurt so bad it would've been nice to be put out of my misery. I wondered if that would be considered suicide.

I heard a car door open and slam "Ma'am are ok?" I looked up and in the bright light I saw two bodies, both males.

"I just fell I'll be ok...I think." I said trying to suck up my emotions and pain. I wondered what a hefty girl like me must've looked like sprawled across the ground. I blushed hard.
"Is she ok?" Another body appeared, this one much taller. "Let's help her up."

I wasn't sure how they'd help me up without a forklift, but two of the three guys pulled me up to my feet. One of them was tall-ish and olive skinned with dark eyes, he looked Hispanic. I looked over to the taller guy and there he was, Bryan Reynolds. My mouth dropped, I couldn't believe it was him. I had never really met a celebrity. Sure, I was in the same mall as Scarlett Johansen once and maybe I got a peek of Jay-Z when he came to Birmingham for a charity event, but up close and personal? Never. I tried to bear weight on my ankle, but as soon as I did I yelped. The olive skinned guy was examining it as I stood there mesmerized by Bryan who was now on his cell phone.

"I think your ankle is just twisted a bit. Those shoes aren't helping. I'm Croix Panadero , Bryan's trainer.  I look at these kind of injuries all the time." I heard him say, but I was still focused on Bryan. "Ma'am..?"

"Oh yeah, I believe you. I will just go home and get some rest and ice it."
"Do you need a ride home, I'm sure Tommy wouldn't mind dropping you off."
"No, my car is just right there. Thank you."

Bryan got off the phone and he looked at me, he was perfect, more perfect than I had ever saw on TV. "Are you sure you're fine?" he asked seemingly as if he genuinely cared.

I swallowed hard as I looked at him in the eyes "Yes, I am fine. Thank you so much."
"Stay off of it for at least two days and you should be fine. If not go to the emergency room" said Croix.

"Oh no, I have to be out of here by check out time tomorrow, I'm just visiting. I can't afford to lay up in the hotel to recover."

"Where are you staying?" asked Bryan.

"Embassy suites just down the street on Marietta." I looked at him like he was my idol, clinging to his words, I'm sure I looked like a dork.

"You shouldn't drive with your foot like that. I'm at the Ritz-Carlton just a couple blocks away. Let us bring you to the hotel and we'll take care of everything else. Do you trust me?" he flashed that gorgeous smile I had always admired on TV and I melted on the inside but tried to remain cool on the inside.

I gave a big smile "Oh well that would be nice. Thank you so much...I don't know what else to say."

Croix picked up my clutch bag, keys, and cell phone as Bryan helped me to the SUV he was riding in. He smelled amazing, like the best after shave money could buy. I slid my heels off and my feet throbbed. I used my left foot to hop up inside of the truck. Bryan shut my door and walked around and got on the other side, sitting beside me. Croix sat in the front passenger seat, while the driver Tommy, put the car in drive and sped away. I retrieved my items from Croix and was quite paralyzed. Here was Bryan, the man I needed to save my career and I was silent. My hotel was a less than 10 minute trek so I had to speak up and fast. I remembered what Divan said, and now was my moment to sell myself and be confident even if I didn't feel it.

"Well...My name is Christina, by the way. I'm from Birmingham and I was just here visiting. Really just visiting to see you." I said hoping to not come off as flirty but flattering rather.

"Oh really? How nice of you to visit. Glad to meet you Christina, thank you for being a fan."
"Actually, In addition to being a fan, I'm a newsperson. I work with Birmingham's ZWAP and I was wondering..."
Before I could finish he cut me off.
"Stop the car!" Immediately the car came to a dead stop.
"So you're a reporter? You did that just to stop me and get a story? Goddamn reporters will do anything for a story!" he said in an angry tone.

"No, you've got it all wrong I didn't fake that...I fell, I didn't see the hole..."
"Save it for your headlines, get out now"

Just when I thought my luck couldn't get any better, it made a complete 360. I didn't want to argue or make him more upset. I was embarrassed, my face was hot, I didn't even look at Croix or Tommy, I was shamed. I grabbed all of my items including my shoes and opened the door, stepping out on to the warm, rough ground. It was actually kind of flattering that he thought a tabloid would send me out to play damsel in distress. I shut the door and limped away slowly. My foot hurt like hell and I wanted to cry again, but couldn't even find the energy. I wasn't sure if I should go back for my car or keep walking to the hotel. I wasn't very far from either of them. I sat on a bench near the bus stop and I just wanted to give up on everything. I didn't want to cry but I couldn't stop the tears from falling as I watched the cars speed by me. I just wanted to be back in Montana, wrapped in my mom's arms once again, this life of dreaming was not what I expected.

A few minutes passed by before a black car pulled up. It was fancy and the windows were tinted dark so I couldn't see inside. The passenger's side window rolled down and I could see Croix in the driver's seat.

"Look I'm sorry about what happened, let me give you a ride to your hotel. Bryan has a thing about reporters, he didn't mean to be so harsh."

I should've resisted, I should've been melodramatic like in the movies, but I was thankful he was there and I wasn't going to put my pride ahead of common sense. I stood up and limped to the car, before I could get to the door, he jumped out and opened the door for me, helping me in. I didn't want to talk, I just wanted to get to the hotel and go home and forget about the night. As he drove, he tried to make small talk but I wasn't there, I was back in Birmingham packing up my things in my office, giving the keys to my apartment back to the manager, and catching a flight back to my hometown. I broke down in the car, crying uncontrollably.

Croix stopped talking and the car stopped running. My face was buried in my hands, I couldn't see anything, he could've kidnapped me and I would have no clue. After a few minutes of silence, I moved my hands away and could see the lights from the hotel's parking lot. I looked over at Croix and he was just looking at me, he seemed scared and unsure about what to do. I looked at the clock on his car radio, it was 2 AM.

"I'm sorry, I'm just so tired...I just want to go home. Tonight was such a waste."

Croix didn't respond.

"Thank you for coming back to get me. I can't re-pay you for what you've done for me, but thank you again."
"I don't think tonight was a waste. You had an adventure although it wasn't what you wanted. You met some people, had some fun a long the way. It wasn't a total waste, try to look on the bright side."
"I've grown up, there's no bright side in this life."

I opened the car door and attempted to get out, but my ankle wasn't allowing it. Croix came around to my side and helped me out of the car and to the door. We took the elevator up to the fourth floor, room 423 was mine. I opened it with the key card and he helped me on to the bed. I felt awkward having him help me, he was tall but thin, much thinner than me but he was strong, I felt comfortable enough to lean on him. I figured he was helping me because he felt pity for me, I was a sad case afterall. I thanked him again but he wasn't done yet.

He took my key card and ice bucket and disappeared. Once he returned he filled a bag with ice and put my ankle on a couple pillows. He wrapped the bag in a couple towels and strategically placed it on my swollen ankle.

"You should be fine until the morning, hopefully the swelling will be gone soon. Just stay off of it. I'm getting your car towed over from the club, and paying for your stay for a couple days. My professional opinion is that you should stay off it for at least 2 days."

"Well what qualifies you to be a professional? You could just be a friend of Bryan's that he gave a job to. I know how that goes."

He laughed, "We are friends and have been since high school but I have my Bachelor's in Kinesiology, I'm certified with the National Athletic Trainer's Association, and I've been in this business for over 5 years. Am I qualified enough?"

"I suppose so. But Bryan retired from basketball a couple years ago, why are you still a part of his entourage?"

"Like I said we've been friends for a while and Atlanta is my hometown. Bryan has a home here and I help him train and condition during the off season. He conditions even if he's not playing, fitness freak if there ever was one."

I nodded only partially intrigued but mostly exhausted.  "I am so tired. It's been a while since I've been up so late. I don't get out that much"

"Same here. Get some rest, and stay off that ankle. You have room service, use it," He said sternly.

I watched him head to the door and I waved goodbye. I wasn't sure if I'd see him again, but I definitely wouldn't mind if I did. I felt comfortable with him and not once did I worry about how I looked or how he might've viewed me. I'm pretty sure I looked a mess after the club, the fall, and the tears I was positive I looked quite awful but I didn't care. Before I could analyze him more, I drifted off into a peaceful slumber, I felt light on my feet for the first time all night.


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