What to do when staring down an angry mob of twinks?
“What kind of asshole test is that?” Aggressor twink put his hands on his hips.
Apparently by not telling them they passed the platinum star test since they found pussy so repulsive. Jerks. Just because it wasn’t what they were attracted to didn’t mean they had to rip Evelyn apart. Cooper frowned. The twink’s hip jutting and squinted eyes were probably some kind of flag.
Like a retreat as fast as possible from the scene in question.
Too bad Cooper had no possible retreat since he was surrounded on all sides.
Evelyn clung to the back of his shirt, not to mention Ross, the two using Cooper as a shield. Thanks. Real supportive coworkers, these two.
“Listen, I get you’re mad—” Cooper began but was cut off by a snort.
Aggressor twink rolled his eyes. “We don’t need bitches like her.”
“You’re the only bitch here,” Evelyn shot, still cowering in safety.
“Please, stop.” Cooper glanced over his shoulder. “Just say you’re sorry so we can go.”
Twink laughed. “Run along, kiddies, with your tail between your legs. Like the pups you are.”
“Says the dog who shakes their ass like a dog in heat,” Evelyn spat. “Ready to get bred.”
“You fucking cunt!”
The next few minutes were a blur of terror, chaos, and self-defensive moves meant for personal areas Cooper rather wished people would let alone. A fist got too close to his face while a knee made a close shave near his nuts. Yells, screams, and bodies moved on masse. Hands grabbed at his shirt, pants, and arms—almost all trying to reach past him.
More than enough hit close to home. Too close. A light-headedness consumed Cooper, causing dizziness and his stomach to turn.
But no matter how pissed Copper was at Evelyn, he wouldn’t let a gang of people beat the shit out of her. No one deserved that. No one.
A fist connected with Cooper’s stomach then his left ear got boxed. Ringing joined the queasiness. He pushed forward, ducking, blocking where he could until he erupted out of the angry clubber’s bait ball.
Several staff looked on, money exchanging hands. A few of them seemed rather perturbed Cooper was standing if their expressions were anything to go by. He shrugged. Being big did have momentum going for him.
Before Cooper could make it away from the mass of people, though, a hand drug him back in.
“Get me out of here!” Evelyn yelled in his ear. The demanding request followed by a punch to his kidneys.
Cooper flinched, ducking his head and biting back the nausea.
“What is wrong with you? Move your big ass!” Evelyn pushed insistently at his back. “This place sucks. No fucking respect. The assholes. At least you’re not like their sort.”
It was Cooper could do to stand. To not keel over and end up trampled in the throng. Evelyn grabbed his arm, wracking Cooper with a shudder. Repulsion swept through him as his stomach pulsated with the need to throw up. But he pushed it all down. Had to. All he wanted was home, his bed, and if getting Evelyn out of Stubby’s then that was what he’d do.
They slithered between bodies, arms and legs only to pop out on the side facing the DJ. How did that even happen? Cooper glanced over the crowd and saw the staff to their left, exchanging money—most likely anyway by the hand movements—again.
Though a couple bigger bruisers, the bouncers had waded into the club. With no music playing the mad shouts and curses were all that was left of the evening. Harlan was in the middle of the bait ball, trying hard to separate Ross from an angry clubbed who had him in a headlock. The moment the bouncers decided to take action and wade into the crowd, Cooper must have made a face or something because Evelyn pulled on his arm.
“Time to go.”
“What about Ross?” Cooper asked.
“He's a big boy who can handle himself.”
“You brought him here.”
“And now I'm leaving him here.”
God. How did Cooper attract people like her? Was there a sign on his forehead? Was there something wrong with him?
A big whistle rose above the noise, everyone clapping their hands to their ears, including Cooper. When he tested the waters and let go, silence had descended upon the club again. Bouncers were separating people and moving them toward the doors. Harlan had Ross by the cuff and was searching the room with his eyes.
Instinctually maybe, or possibly because Cooper was a huge, stupid idiot, he raised his hand. Harlan’s searching halted and he pulled up, dragging Ross in their direction. A punch hit Cooper square in his kidneys.
“What are you doing?” Evelyn hissed.
“You slut!” Aggressor twink had reemerged from the fray. And of course, by them.
Evelyn lunged for the asshole, but Cooper managed to get ahold of her and pull her away as Harlan pulled up with Ross, let go, and grabbed the twink.
The two hissed and threw more insults at each other until one of the larger bouncers came over and asked, “You wan’ me to toss ‘em, Harlan?”
Evelyn and the twink sagged in Cooper’s and Harlan’a holds.
“No, they're not going to make more trouble, are they?”
They shook their heads.
“All of you, fork over your IDs,” Harlan continued. And once they complied, he asked the bouncer to photocopy them. “All of you are banned.”
“What?” Evelyn and the twink shrieked.
The two would have make the best of friends if they weren't already enemies.
“I mean it. You guys show up again, staff will call the cops, no questions asked,” Harlan continued. He dipped his head toward their group when the bouncer came back and held up their IDs. “Now, I'm going to take—” he glanced at the twink’s license. “Donny, here, outside. Give me a five minute start Terrell.”
“Sure thing,” the bouncer answered and turned to face Cooper and his coworkers.
The sounds of protest from Donny echoed in the club as he was escorted out. Cooper reveled in the empty silence that followed his ejection. So much so he almost forgot he had Evelyn held up against him. Well, actually, he had forgotten until she rubbed her ass against his crotch.
“What the!” Cooper let go of Evelyn post-hast.
Laughter, her ‘happy-me’ giggling, resonated in the empty space. Had a killer-clown quality to it really. Creepy as fuck. She turned to face him, but luckily Terrell motioned for them to follow him to the door. Cooper fell in line with a quick step and refused to look behind him. In his head he chanted a reminder Evelyn could not hurt him. They were leaving. And he'd be home soon enough.
When they got to the car, Terrell about twenty paces away, Evelyn stopped Cooper from ducking into the car.
“What?” he asked none-too-politely. Cooper had no patience left, especially not for her.
“That twink what you like? Femmes like him?” Evelyn let her head fall back and smiled up at him. “You know, all you have to do is say the word.”
Harlan stood across the lot, next to a black BMW Donny was getting in. He was waving, asking for Cooper to wait up a minute.
“We are not waiting on that asshole,” Evelyn said. One of her hands started moving up and down Cooper’s flank.
“Harlan's not an asshole.” He tried to take a step back but bumped into the car.
Ross shouted. “Let’s go!”
Evelyn sneered at the car. “As I was saying, if you want to give girls a go, say the word.”
“Again, excuse me?”
“I saw the way you looked at Donny. I'm just saying if you're ever questioning about how it works with a girl, you can give me a go. Because I think you look at me like that sometimes. So if you need someone to fuck, I'm a much better choice than that dog.”
Nope. Cooper really didn't follow. Didn’t want to know how she equated disgust with the lack of humaning properly to come hither looks. The sneak peak into her thought process was down-right frightening.
“Never know until you try it.”
“Actually, I have. And I would never sleep with you.”
The silence should've been warning enough, but the strangled fury with Evelyn’s question, “you’ve fucked a girl before?” did have warning bells going off in Cooper’s sleep-addled brain.
“Being bisexual, I do know what I am attracted to in both men and women, and you and Donny are definitely not it.”
The fury in her growl set Cooper’s hair on end. Shit for foot to mouth fuck ups. That was the cake.
Harlan called out, jogging up from a few yards away. “Hey, Cooper, before—”
“You fucking lying bastard!” Evelyn yelled.
Cooper didn't see her fist, only felt it when it connected to his jaw.
* * * * *
The cab ride home felt like the longest in history. Maybe it had something to do with the black eye and sore stomach, and well, several other sore areas on Cooper's personage. He prodded the swollen flesh on his face, letting out a hiss. Shit. That totally hurt.
"You all right?" the cabbie asked.
"Yeah, or, I will be once I get home."
"You sure you don't want me to take you to the emergency room?" The man's eyes met Cooper's in the rearview mirror.
He shook his head. "Just gonna stand under a long hot shower then crawl in bed for a quick nap. That should do it for me. Probably."
The cabbie shrugged, but his eyes flicked back to Cooper's face again before going back to the road.
"I'm really okay." He prodded his eye again. Ow.
"Definitely a shiner you got there. You piss off some girl's boyfriend?"
"Nah, I pissed off the girl."
The cabbie laughed, slapping his hand against the wheel. "Boy, you are in trouble. Girls fight dirty, and they are way more scary in a fight."
"Yes. Yes, they are."
The cabbie shook his head, smiled, and laughed one more time before letting the conversation drop. Cooper was eternally grateful for that small piece of grace. Exhaustion clung to him, and all he really wanted was his bed. To be alone—without any surprises or angry people mobbing him. Or Evelyn.
Speaking of the witch, Cooper rubbed his sore jaw. Who knew she could pack such a powerful punch? Not him, that's for sure. He would've moved out of the way.
When Evelyn screeched and swung at him, pure shock kept him rooted to the spot in the parking lot, allowing her to get a solid punch in Then all Hell broke loose. Harlan waded in and it got worse from there.
Cooper never, ever wanted to set foot in Stubby's again. Luckily, it seemed he was barred for life. As were Evelyn and Ross. The damn little aggressor twink managed to get blacklisted too. Those punishments, honestly, Cooper could live with.
A hand shook him. Cooper blinked, jerking instinctively. When had his eyes closed? The cabbie stood next to him, door open, the lines on his face crinkled, and a frown forming on his lips. Behind the man, Cooper's apartment complex loomed up in the darkness. Guess they still haven't fixed the lights.
"You sure you're all right, kid?" He took his hand off Cooper, but didn't step back.
"Just tired. Working too many hours and, and… stuff. Tonight didn't help."
"I know how that goes."
"Yeah. How much?" Cooper reached for his wallet.
"Don't worry about it."
"I was about to go off shift anyway."
Cooper rubbed his head. "You sure?"
The cabbie nodded. "Everyone needs a break sometimes."
"Thanks, uh, Mr.—" Cooper glanced for the taxi diver identification card. "Hamilton."
Mr. Hamilton smiled and offered him a hand. Cooper took it and hauled himself out of the cab. He thanked the cabbie one more time, taking the business card offered to him, and promised to call if he changed his mind about the emergency room.
He probably looked like dogshit, but, really though, it wasn't too bad. Not enough for a doctor anyway. Cooper didn't need those bills.
Down the dark path between the old brick apartment buildings Cooper trudged. It took Cooper every ounce of energy and willpower he had to put one foot in front of the other. But he managed to make it to his door and into bed. Sort of. Laying across the bed with his clothes on still counted. He'd deal with everything else when he had more energy. Right now, Cooper just needed some sleep.
The fallout at the cafe, his clothes, Evelyn and Ross, and all that shit, could wait another day.
Except his mind wouldn't let him calm down. The tumultuous emotions of the night getting the better of Cooper. He needed to find a way to calm down. So he did the one thing his frazzled mind could. He called Jo. She would know the right thing to say without asking. They could talk about anything and everything, and by the time they were done, Cooper would be able to let go of the disastrous night.
“Cooper? Everything okay?” she asked in way of answering. The words slurred together, her voice soft with sleep.
“Shit. What time is it?”
“Don't worry about it,” Jo replied. “Sleep is for androids and puppies.”
Cooper chuckled. This was friendship.