Adam sat down on the barstool and stretched his arms out high, pulling at his muscles and allowing his bones to crack and provide sweet relief from the pains of his manual labour. He didn’t hurt that much. Not as much as he thought he would anyway. He had been working in the vineyard for a little over eight months now and had been surprised at how easy he had found the strenuous work to be on his body. He had assumed that, given that he was used to a particular style of living that didn’t exactly compliment the hard work needed in the fields, he would have struggled like a bitch for ages whilst he got used to using the muscles that had otherwise been dormant in his body previously. What had actually happened however, was that his body had welcomed the extra work with open arms. It seemed to have thrived under the stress of the work as if it had been something that it had craved. As such, ever since he had taken on the work in the vineyard, he had found the manual labour to be like a drug; the moment that he started working at the beginning of the shift he suddenly became overwhelmed with the need to push himself further and further until he could physically do no more. Then and only then, did he stop on his own accord. Most days, his manager Mark would have to come and tell him to stop when his shift was over.
He had worked especially hard today. He knew that if he hadn’t, his mind would have only wandered to places that it shouldn’t, given that the day that he had been dreading was now only one day away.
Adam looked up to see Caroline standing opposite him on the other side of the bar.
“What can I get you today?” She asked.
Adam looked at the menu but didn’t bother reading it as he had been fantasising about what it was he was going to order for about three hours now.
“I’m going to go for the Chef’s Burger.” He said.
“Card please?” Caroline asked, holding out her hand. Adam handed over his ID card and she swept it through the machine.
“It says here that it’s your last burger for the month.” Caroline said. “Are you sure you want it today?”
“I’m sure.” Adam said. “I’ve earned it after today’s shift.”
“Isn’t it almost harvest time?” Caroline asked. “Are you sure you don’t want to save it for then?”
“I’ve got my entire rationing of steaks reserved for that day.” Adam said with a grin.
Caroline smiled and handed back his card. “Well, in that case, one Chef’s Burger coming up. Do you want your usual drink?”
“Yes please.” Adam said and Caroline poured his lager.
Once Caroline left to place his order, Adam pulled out his latest book from Christiana’s library. She had been educating him and Adam had realised about five books ago that she had a really twisted interest in her types of books, this book had been no exception, currently the main character was skinning a woman alive for kicks and being really graphic in his description of it.
Adam had gotten through his entire meal and four chapters of his book when the cheers began. They initially started from outside in the lobby area, however at the sound of them, one of the women sitting in the dining area bolted for the door in anticipation. When her cheers could be heard alongside the rest of them, the reason for the cheering became clear; the woman who had left was the girlfriend of one of the men who had gone on the scouting mission, it seemed that they had returned.
“They’re early!” Jason said from behind the bar.
“Great,” Adam said, not even attempting to hide the sarcasm from his voice.
“I’d work on that reaction if I were you.” Jason commented.
Adam shrugged. “It’s no secret.”
“That you’re in love with Christiana?” Jason asked. “I thought you were living in a life of permanent denial about that.”
“What? No!” Adam said. “It’s no secret that Connor and I don’t get along! Why the hell would you think that?”
“Due to the fact that you and Connor don’t get along,” Jason said. “That and how you follow Christiana around like a puppy dog.”
“I don’t follow her around!” Adam argued, but then stopped to think about it. “Do I?”
Jason nodded. Adam wanted to ask more but the scouting party had now made their way into the dining room and the chance of any kind of conversation became impossible as the room suddenly erupted into a thunderous cheer and a mass of people all rushed forward, shouting out their own questions, desperate to be heard.
Adam groaned his displeasure in this and motioned to Jason for another pint. Jason obliged and Adam immediately downed the entire glass.
“Well, if anyone desperately needs me, I’m going to be drinking in my room.” He announced to Jason in a brief moment of quiet.
He got up to leave but found someone standing in his way. He looked to see that it was Connor, he was staring at Adam suspiciously, his mouth raised on one side into a small grin.
“What do you want?” Adam asked.
“I’m looking for Christie.” Connor said.
“Well I can’t help you.” Adam said. “Excuse me."
“Aw come on Ad.” Connor said, smacking him playfully on the shoulder. “You don’t need to hide away because of me. I’m not nearly as scary as you think.”
Adam gritted his teeth and counted to ten in his head. He was not in the mood for this.
“You might want to work on that ego of yours, believe it or not, people are capable of making decisions that actually have nothing to do with you.”
“Awesome.” Connor said, “Then whatever the reason was, it can be changed on account of your good buddy Connor coming back after risking his life and all that.”
“Risking your life?” Adam scoffed. “Last I checked, all you guys have been doing for the past month is entering a room and giving the okay sign. Forgive me if I’m not rushing to put in an order for a statue of you or anything.”
“And that’s opposed to what you’ve been doing?” Connor asked. “What is it again? Plucking berries from trees?”
“And on that note.” Adam said, grabbing his bag and making a move to leave.
Connor laughed. “Oh come on Ad, I’m only joking. Stay for a drink. It’s on me.”
Adam rolled his eyes. “Yeah, because that joke doesn’t get old.”
However he did sit back down, chucking his bag onto the floor. He would endure one drink. Anything more and he was pretty sure he’d be ready to knock him out. Not that he could, which just added salt to the already gaping wound that was his detest for this man.
Jason began to pull their drinks when Kelly approached the bar.
“Connor,” she said, her voice cool. “I heard you were back. Did everything go okay?”
“No problem.” Connor said with a grin.
Kelly called out Gary’s name who seemed to appear out of thin air beside her.
“What’s up?” He asked.
“Did they all come back clean?” Kelly asked.
“Supervised urine tests were done, no traces of the toxins were seen.” Gary replied. He threw Adam a wink. “You’ve got to love the perks of the job."
“You know, there is such a thing as trusting your own brother.” Connor said.
“One thing that I have learnt over the past few years, is never to trust a person who wants to live.” Kelly said.
“It’s good to see you too.” Connor replied.
Kelly didn’t respond to that at first. She just stared at Connor for a moment, an odd expression on her face. It seemed as if she was battling with something or other. Eventually she nodded and gave Connor a fleeting hug.
“I’m glad you’re okay.” She said in a low voice that Adam only just heard as he was the closest to them.
As they began to pull away, Adam spotted Duncan appear in the entrance. He waved him over, signalling that Connor was here. Duncan nodded and made his way over to them. As he reached them, Adam got up to greet him but saw that Duncan’s attention appeared to be elsewhere. He stopped short in front of Kelly and Connor and Adam presumed he wanted to greet Connor himself.
However, instead he pulled at Kelly’s shoulder so that she was forced to face him and punched her squarely on the jaw. Kelly spun round with the momentum and landed on the bar, sending several drinks flying and crashing to the ground.
It was as if everything seemed to have frozen at first. No one moved as the entire room turned to see what had happened and stood silent in shock as the realisation hit them. Adam heard a low whistle from Jason and Connor appeared to be blinking in shock, transferring his gazes in between Duncan and Kelly.
“Dude,” Adam said, moving towards Kelly to see if she was okay. “Not cool.”
“What?” Duncan spat. “The bitch deserved it.”
“You hit a woman, Duncan!” Adam said.
“Oh please, she’s barely a woman.”
Gary was at Kelly’s side with Adam, checking to see if she was okay.
“Enough!” Kelly ordered. “I’m fine. He barely knocked me.”
“Is that an invitation for more?” Duncan asked.
“Duncan, take it easy.” Connor warned, moving himself in between Duncan and Kelly.
The room fell silent again as everyone watched for Duncan’s next move. No one really knew what to do. Adam could see some of the men appear to be itching to get closer in an action of macho protection but it was clear that no one really knew how to react to it properly and Kelly quite clearly was not looking for any help. As such, all that was left to do was to simply sit and watch, waiting for either party’s next move.
“Duncan.” Kelly said eventually. “Perhaps we can talk about this outside?"
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Duncan spat. “Keep everything under the lid.”
“Er, Duncan.” Adam started, realisation hitting him on what it was that Duncan was talking about.
“She will never be the same, you know that right?” Duncan shouted, clearly not caring who was listening.
“Duncan.” Adam repeated, his voice louder now.
“You’ve completely ruined her life, she will never get over what you have made her do!”
“Duncan!” Adam yelled it this time. “Let’s take this outside, huh?”
“Why?” Duncan asked, his eyes never leaving Kelly’s. “Everyone deserves to hear what it is that their fearless leader is capable of.”
“That may be,” Adam said, dropping his voice so that only those closest to him could hear. “But it may not be the best thing for Daniela if everyone found out what was going on.”
Duncan’s eyes left Kelly’s then and found Adam’s. Adam could see him working the consequences out in his mind. If Duncan outed Kelly now, he would also be outing Daniela and all the lives that she had taken over the past ten months. People may be angry at Kelly for what she made Daniela do but, if this truth came out now, the person who would suffer the brunt of the anger and outrage would be Daniela. After all, she had been the one who had killed all the people. Kelly had been here the whole time. It would be a long and difficult process explaining the components of Danel to a mass public in order to clear Daniela’s name.
Duncan let out a frustrated groan and turned back to Kelly. “Kelly,” he said. “A word please? Outside?”
Kelly grabbed a serviette from the bar and held it to her jaw. With a last murderous glare at Duncan, she made her way out of the room, Duncan and Connor following suit.
“I, er,” Adam said, glancing around him. “Should I go?”
“I reckon.” Gary said, “I’m pretty sure you’re the only one that is stopping those two from ripping each other’s throats out right now.”
Adam cleared his throat and stumbled forward, pushing himself into a jog to catch up. By the time he reached the lobby, Duncan had already turned back onto Kelly, taking up his previous shouting. Adam decided to position himself by Duncan’s side, especially as Connor was acting as the human shield between the two of them.
“Move out of the way Connor,” Duncan said. “This isn’t your fight.”
“It isn’t yours either!” Connor said. “You’re way too invested in this Duncan, there’s no way that Kelly could have foreseen that Daniela would pull the stunt she has.”
“Really?” Connor spat. “Is that so? There was no way that Kelly could have suspected an impressionable woman in her early twenties was going to feel guilty and get herself lost in a substance that lists ‘loss of emotion’ as high ranking in it’s side effects?”
“Enough Duncan.” Kelly ordered. “What is this yelling exactly meant to achieve anyway?”
“Oh not much really.” Duncan said. “Just the deep satisfaction of knowing that someone’s paying for the turmoil Daniela’s going through.”
“Please,” Kelly said. “Daniela’s not going through anything. She’s practically giddy.”
“See, that’s what happens when you make mistakes that risk people’s lives and then skip off and leave them to get on with it; you miss out on all the little pitfalls of their torment.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Kelly asked.
Duncan stopped for a moment, clearly battling with something in his mind. Eventually he spoke, his voice calmer and softer.
“Nothing,” he said. “Just that eventually she will come out of there and thanks to you, she’ll probably never be the same again.”
“So everyone keeps telling me.” Kelly said. “And I’ll repeat myself for the last time. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
“You know what? I’d like to cross that bridge now.”
“Well tough. You can’t always get what you want.”
“Don’t even get me…”
“I said that’s enough, Jennings. This conversation is over.”
“It’s like you’re asking me to hit you again or something.” Duncan inched forward at his words.
“Duncan,” Connor said. “Stand down. It’s not worth fighting over.”
“Piss off Connor, no one asked you.”
“Oookay.” Adam piped up. “Duncan, how about we go and get a drink huh?”
“I’m not in the mood.” Duncan said, his eyes shifting menacingly between Kelly and Connor. “I’ll be in the lab.”
“Duncan wait.” Connor said as Duncan started to walk away. “Is my girlfriend in there?”
Duncan looked at him for a moment and shrugged. “Haven’t seen her.”
Connor swore under his breath and made his way towards the bedrooms.
“Connor,” Kelly called as Duncan disappeared into the clinic. “A word please, I need debriefing from your trip.”
Connor sighed. “Can’t it wait?”
“No. Follow me.”
With a heavy sigh and a longing look towards the direction of his room, Connor turned and followed Kelly towards her office.
Adam stood where he was for a while, not too sure what he should do with himself or who he should follow, if he should follow anyone at all. Eventually he decided that back the way he came was the best way to go, who knew, maybe Christiana had arrived at the bar in his absence and he could get his final moments with her before Connor whisked her away for their inevitable neverending sex-fest.