Lost in the Dark Chapter 1

Don’t confuse my personality and my attitude because my personality is me and my attitude depends on you.

Two years ago

The icy sweet and salty flavor of her margarita, and the smokin’ hot eye candy around the bar, were the only things keeping Tari from ditching the shallow women seated next to her.

Agreeing to go out with her roommate had been a mistake. The two of them had established early in the semester that they had little in common. Her roommate was a cheerleader whereas she enjoyed the quiet Zen of Yoga. Tari loved small gatherings while her roommate went for big parties. But Tari hadn’t known how to politely refuse the invitation to join her roommate and some of the cheerleading squad in an end of semester celebration.

After two hours and three dive bars, the effort to keep her mouth shut was starting to make her jaw ache. Tari prayed the shallow women would forget about her when they stumbled off to the next one. If Jamie, the leader of said cheerleaders, spewed one more snobby or bitchy thing, Tari was going to find her own way home.

This whole night was just one more in a long list of failed social experiments. It was like the women didn’t even notice how vapid they sounded. She didn’t belong with the cookie cutter trust fund babies and it was obvious with just a glance. With dark amber skin from her birth mother and pin straight ebony hair probably from her unknown father, there was no hiding that Tari’s ancestors did not hail from the European continent. Her clothes were nice but not a single piece contained a designer label, and she couldn’t have cared less. She worked hard for both her money and her scholarship and wasn’t in the least bit ashamed.

Tari didn’t go out often so her social experiences were limited, but she was fairly sure these women would be considered rude by any decent person. The bitter taste of resentment burned at the back of her tongue because she was all too used to rude. She had been ‘saved from savagery’ by the Christian missionaries who adopted her. With them, she had traveled to a new country every year only settling down a few years ago in a religious commune. She lived everyday surrounded by a toxic mix of piety and superiority. The only reason they were allowing her to go to college was because they assumed she was going to school to become a missionary doctor to further spread the word. Superiority because of money, background, or religion was complete nonsense in Tari’s mind.

She just had to survive tonight then two more years of school. Tari hid her smile behind her glass focusing instead on the hum of the happy bar crowd surrounding her. The last two bars had been crammed full of college kids with the same top hits playing repeatedly. The stink of bodies blowing off steam with abandon had made her slightly ill. However, at this bar, rock music was a fun background to the lively conversations. The people around them had an edge that reminded Tari more of a jungle then the tamed, bland animals in a zoo. Most of the men wore leather vests and clothes of hard-core bikers while brightly colored women strutted in oh so skimpy outfits that drew the eye. Tari wished she could spend hours studying the unique and surprisingly fit people around her, but the crap going on at her own table made that impossible.

“Twenty dollars says I can get the hot gardener at the bar to buy me a drink.” Jamie smirked and tugged down her top
to expose white surgically enhanced cleavage.

The flinch that hit Tari caused her to spill a bit of her drink. Denver wasn’t exactly the United Nations and this bar wasn’t any different, so it was all too easy to guess who the twit was talking about. A gorgeous man, standing at the bar, with warm golden skin leaning forward and talking to some friends. His dusky skin tone, sharp features, and straight black hair made her think he had Native American or South American heritage. She would have to hear him speak to be sure of which it was. However, Tari was more interested in the fact his muscles were a perfect example of the male physique. The worn black t-shirt and jeans he wore hid nothing and had her imagination questioning if he had the illusive V that melted any woman’s panties.

“You’re going to hit on someone from here?” Her roommate whisper-shouted sounding shocked.

Jamie waved her hand dismissively. “It’s not like I would bring him home to my parents… geeze. You act like you’ve never taken the help for a ride.”

“And I’m done.” Tari threw back the last of her drink. “It’s been interesting meeting you all but I’m going to call it a

Tari stood feeling a little tipsy, but for once enjoyed the fact she towered over the petty bitches. At 5’11” she usually avoided heels, but Tari had wanted to dress up tonight and her kick ass leather boots had three-inch heels allowing her to tower over them.

“You can’t leave yet,” her roommate whined. “We haven’t gotten to ask you to join the team!”

Tari grabbed her purse from the back of the chair. “What team?”

“Cheerleading of course.” Jamie said it like Tari had just asked the stupidest question in the world. “You’re tall, strong and supposedly flexible since you do that yoga stuff every day. You would be a perfect spotter.”

Tari didn’t even know what a spotter was. What had given any of these women the idea she might want to be a

The token brunette of their crowd cleared it up with her next statement. “We couldn’t get any more guys to sign up. You’re built like a man so close enough. Plus, since you are a scholarship student you have to have good grades and we need the boost.”

All the girls nodded. What the hell did grades have to do with cheering? And did the idiot think calling her manly was a compliment? Alcohol fuzzed her brain, but she didn’t think that even sober she could follow that logic.

“Let me get this straight. You want me to be your manly charity cheerleader?”

“No need to shout.” Her roommate pouted.

“You have got to be kidding me.” Tari wanted to throw drinks on all the little Barbie doll wannabes and ruin their perfect makeup.

“I thought you said she didn’t have an attitude?” Jamie asked with confusion contorting her face.

“Attitude?” Tari spoke ten languages fluently but when she got really mad she fell back on the Spanish she had spoken most of her teenage years. “Eres tan patético, que resultas entrañable tu hija de una hiena.”

Ignoring the stunned looks, Tari grabbed her purse, deciding to settle her tab at the bar and get the hell out of this place. She would worry about making friends another time. Pulling out a twenty from her wallet she headed away from the pack of women.

Jamie was out of her seat and grabbing Tari’s arm before she made it ten steps. “Did you just call me pathetic, you low class piece of trash?”

Tari looked down at the woman, who barely came up to her chin, saying nothing because she didn’t trust the anger boiling inside of her.

Tari noticed the bar had gone silent though the peroxide blonde had not, and continued her rant. Jamie huffed and
flipped her overly stiff hair. “You’re the pathetic one who couldn’t even see we were just pitying the poor charity case, who wouldn’t even be in college if her freaky ass cult didn’t pay her way.”

Tari ripped her arm out of the bimbo’s grip. “Meapilas. If it wasn’t for your daddy’s purse strings and an overpaid plastic surgeon, you wouldn’t even be on your precious Cheer team.”

The gorgeous example of human anatomy at the bar burst out laughing, and his deep, gorgeous voice sent chills down Tari’s spine. Jamie flicked her hair over her shoulder glaring at the man. “What are you laughing at Jose?”

Tari didn’t know if the shiver that ran up her spine was from rage or the terrifying look that formed on the man’s face. She couldn’t believe Jamie wasn’t running away from that glare because she would have been if it were focused on her.

“You should leave.” The chill in the man’s voice felt like it dropped the temperature in the bar by a few degrees.

“You can’t tell me what to do,” Jamie huffed.

“No, but I can,” The burly bartender replied. “I reserve the right not to serve entitled little bitches.”

“You’ll regret this. I’ll tell everyone what a shithole this place is.”

The bartender laughed. “God, please do. I can’t stand when you spoiled college kids ruin a good place.”

Jamie seemed to notice she was the center of everyone’s attention. It was impressive the amount of looks she was getting with a mix of disgust and outright hate. Tari took a little bit of pleasure in watching the bimbo brigade scramble to leave. Her roommate didn’t even have the backbone to glance her way. When they were out the door the whole atmosphere swung back to normal and everyone started talking again.

Not wanting to risk bumping into the women outside, Tari made her way to the bar figuring one more drink then she would call for an Uber. Facing her roommate wouldn’t be fun, but it was only two more days till she headed home for winter break and maybe she could get a dorm change before she came back. For right now, she was just going to see if maybe she could get another smile out of the gorgeous man at the bar.

Coming 3/12/21!

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Ann Jensen Books

Writer of Steamy Romance. Part time author, full time engineer and single mom. Enjoying life and trying to find my write life.

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