The plane ride to Brussels was nowhere near as horrible as I had imagined. Granted it took almost the entire day, and I lost half of the next day, I was still eager to see my friends.
At the end of the baggage claim, I found Robert holding a sign with my last name on it. Beside him was Alex, who was wearing sunglasses and an Adidas track suit.
Robert, on the other hand, wore a button up shirt with jeans.
“Hey,” I said when I was near enough.
“I got your bags,” Alex said taking my carry on from me. I smiled at him then we hugged awkwardly.
“So, glad you were able to come!” Robert beamed.
“Well, you can show me how excited you are by getting me to the nearest cafe for some coffee and croissants!”
Alex rolled his eyes and walked ahead of us. Robert took my hand into his and led me out of the airport.
“After we check into our hotel I was thinking we would head over to the convention.”
“Convention?” I said after sliding into the taxi.
Alex snorted. “I thought they were kidding about that too.”
“Where are we going?” I turned to look at Robert.
He smiled. “We are going to a coding convention, and then we’ll head out.”
“But don’t you guys want to be there all day?” Alex leaned forward. A wrinkled formed in between his eyes and the way his voice came out made me think he was up to something.
Robert bit his lip.
“You guys want to go to this convention, Avie and I don’t. Let me and Aveline do something by ourselves today and we’ll meet up tomorrow.” he grinned. “So you guys won’t have to leave.”
Robert shook his head but I could tell he was being worn down.
“What will you guys do?” Robert said his eyes darting between me and Alex.
Alex shrugged making it seem as though he hadn’t given this any kind of thought. But he always had a plan.
“We will think of something.”
Once we were left alone Alex leaned next to me so his lips were near my ear and said, “Let’s head to the Netherlands.”
“What?” I giggled.
“They will never know, they are going to some code convention and we don’t have to. So let’s go to the Netherlands.”
“And do what?”
He shrugged. “Go to Amsterdam. You’re only young once.”
I snorted. “Sure, why not. I’ve always wanted to be with a hooker.”
I shook my head. “You are such a boy.”
An hour later I was on a train with Alex heading towards the Netherlands. Almost two hours later we arrived at a storybook village known as Amsterdam. Each build was painted in various colors from yellow to cream and brown. Bikes littered the streets like confetti after a party. People were strolling down the small cobblestone streets with either pastries, sandwiches, newspapers and cell phones in their hands. We walked passed pubs with screaming soccer fans, honking taxis, people locking up their bikes and dog walkers.
Alex grabbed my hand in excitement pulling me towards a rather German looking pub. Inside people were laughing and clinking their mugs together in celebration. I stuck behind Alex, afraid of getting lost, all the way to the bar.
In perfect Dutch, he ordered two beers.
After getting our beers and finding a place to sit down, I took a sigh of relief. I have always loved coming to the UK, I had only been to Europe once when I was little and I had forgotten how much like home it felt like to me. The kind of sigh I took was one you take after coming home from a long day at work or having been traveling for a few days.
“Alright, so. Right now as we speak we can do the following things.” Alex said.
I leaned closer to him, which I didn’t have to go far. We were sitting at a tiny round table meant for intimate conversation.
“We can go clubbing at Air, Supperclub or we can hit up the Red Light District.”
I bit my lip. Alex took a long drink of his beer and when he set it down he snapped his fingers.
“We should go to Air.”
I nodded, not knowing anything about Air. He must have realized I was confused because he started explaining the club to me. It was a typical place just decorated in white, he mentioned we could get the VIP area if we wanted. One perk of traveling with an athlete.
We were so drunk. I danced like I had nothing to fear or worry. Alex danced behind me, with his hands on my hips. Above us, the lights changed to every color of the rainbow and then some. The brownie that we had eaten was starting to make me feel weightless, whereas the beer was making me feel sluggish. I felt Alex lean in closer to me, rubbing his stubbled cheek along mine. He smelled like expensive woodsy cologne and sweat.
I leaned into him, loving the way his body felt against mine.
“Have I ever told you how beautiful you are?” he breathed into my ear.
I nodded, and will a giggle I said, “You told me the first time I met you.”
He chuckled softly. “I need new lines with you.”
I turned around slowly and wrapped my arms around his neck. Our hips moved closer to each other, our noses brushed.
“You, Alex, do not need new lines.”
“No?” His voice grew husky.
His brown eyes roamed over my face until finally settling on my lips. I licked them out of spite. Then I felt his large hands sliding down the length of my back to my ass. I circled my hips, which elicited him rolling his eyes into the back of his head.
The next thing I knew my hand was being grabbed and I was being pulled towards the exit. Alex was hot on my heels shouting something in Dutch. I looked at the person, stealing me away wondering what in the world they were doing. My mind was too lazy to think about dragging my heels.
Outside, I looked at Alex. He was still shouting at the man, frantically running his hands through his hair.
The only word I could make out was prostitute and purchase of illegal narcotics.
The next day, still drunk and not talking to Alex, we were back on a train heading back to Brussels. Alex had tried very hard to make things up to me. I didn’t want to think about what happened. I didn’t want to remember that I had to sit with him after he got arrested for assaulting a cop! The charges had been dropped once they all realized he had been trying to protect me, and he wasn’t really assaulting anyone. Of course, everyone came to that realization after Alex’s attorney had arrived. Once that happened they realized who the hell Alex Bernet was. When that had been discovered they all wanted pictures and autographs. I was sure the pictures didn’t come out that great considering he was drunker that I was. And still is.
“I’m so sorry Aveline.”
“Seriously, you are still going to act like that?”
“I paid your bail for nothing. Now I’m out a thousand euros, and I have no money for the rest of the trip.”
He rolled his eyes. “I was trying to protect you.”
I pressed my fingers against my temple.
“I shouldn’t have come.”
He ran a hand between my shoulder blades on my back.
“Look, for what it is worth I never thought something like this would have happened. I promise to make it up to you.”
I looked up at him, my eyes were stinging from being tired and tears.
“How?” I sobbed. “If my dad finds out about this.”
He shook his head. “Your dad is never going to find out, and if he does so what? You are allowed to act like a selfish ass right now. You are young, single and you should be thinking about you. Live Aveline, that is what you were doing last night,and I know you loved it.”
Looking away from him I allowed a few tears fall from my eyes. Alex drew me into his arms and kissed the top of my head.
“I’ll look after you the rest of this trip, don’t worry about money. Whatever you need.” He lifted my face up to meet his by putting a finger under my chin. “Ok?”
I nodded, my gaze only coming to the tip of his nose.
“As far as your dad is concerned, I’ll make sure this story never gets out.”
I choked back a sob then nodded. Alex ran a hand through my hair a couple of times before he insisted I lay my head on his shoulder.
“Alex,” I said after a few minutes.
“Don’t take this the wrong way but you stink.”
He chucked. I felt his lips brushing the top of my forehead. “So do you Aveline.”