How the Light Gets In

By: L.H. Cosway
The Cracks Duet Book Two

Chapter 1

Eleven years later

Manhattan, New York City, 2017

“Ms. Jackson” by OutKast pumped in my ears.

I bobbed my head as I mixed a cosmo, while my co-worker, Danni, shot me a grin from the other end of the bar. The crowds pulsated on the dance floor and hands clutching crumpled bills vied for my attention.

It was just another Saturday at FEST, the nightclub my aunt Yvonne managed. I’d been working here for two months, ever since I moved from Dublin to New York, and I had to say, even if the work was exhausting, the tips were phenomenal. You didn’t get tips like these in Ireland.

Not unless you worked at a strip club.

And I wasn’t talking about mixing drinks at the bar of said strip club.

There was also an energy to this city I hadn’t anticipated. It really didn’t sleep. There always seemed to be something happening. Any hour of the day or night you could find a comedy gig, or an interactive theatre show, or even a doga class. That’s right, yoga for dogs. Whatever floated your boat, you could find it here.

I never expected to end up in a place like this. In all honesty, I thought I’d stay in Dublin forever. Like, forever-ever. When you lived from pay check to pay check, life came with its limitations. But then Yvonne offered to set me up with a job, not to mention let me stay in her apartment. How could I say no to that?

When Gran was still alive, I would’ve flat-out declined, but she passed away last year. I didn’t have anything to stay put for anymore, and it was an odd feeling. For so long I had an excuse not to leave, then I had none.

So I took the leap.

“What’s your name, gorgeous?” a suit asked from the other side of the bar. The first few buttons of his shirt were undone, his tie loose and his grin even looser.

“Name’s Evelyn, what can I get you?” I replied, professional smile in place. I wasn’t a big fan of being hit on by punters, but such was life when you worked a bar. Some nights I wondered if I should take one home, let them warm my bed for a while, but I always thought better of it. I wasn’t made for one-night stands. Mostly because I fell in love too easily. A charming smile and a well-placed compliment and I was handing over the keys.

During most of my twenties, my misguided, empty heart constantly looked for a person to fill it. Now I was coming to learn that the only one who could repair my heart was me. I had to find happiness within myself before I found it with someone else.

I wasn’t there yet, but I was working on it.

“I love your accent. I’ll take a whiskey sour, on the rocks. Don’t think I’ve seen you here before. You new?”

I nodded as I put his drink together and did my best to be heard over the music. “Yeah, been here a couple of weeks.”

“Really? Do you like New York?”

“Yeah. It’s a great place to live. Expensive, but great.”

“Well, if you ever need anyone to show you around, give me a call,” he said and handed me a business card. I took it without even looking at the name and slipped it in my pocket to dispose of later.

“Sure. That’ll be eleven dollars,” I replied and handed him his drink.

He took a sip, slid me a twenty, then disappeared back into the fray of the nightclub.

“That accent of yours gets all the best tips,” Danni said, an annoyed slant to her mouth.

“That’s just because nobody can tell where I’m from. I’m ninety-nine per cent convinced all Americans think Irish people talk like Leprechauns.”

Danni chuckled. “Don’t be so xenophobic.”

“You’re the xenophobic ones.”

“You’re both goddamn xenophobic,” said Ger, the third bartender on shift tonight. “Now get back to work. I’m drowning here.”

I shot him an apologetic look and hustled to take more drink orders. By the time my shift was done, I was ready to keel over and expire, but again, I loved it. I loved the electricity of the city, the never-ending customers at the bar, the loud, deafening music, and the sheer exhaustion you felt at the end.

You could say positivity was my New Year’s resolution. Whatever my situation in life, I was determined to make the best of it. When I was young, cheeriness was my default setting, but then life had its way with me.

After I lost Sam I could never see the sun, even when it was beaming in the sky.

Now my goal was to leave the darkness behind.

It’s what he would’ve wanted.

I was chomping at the bit for a nice, hot shower and at least ten hours of sleep as I rode the subway to my aunt’s apartment in Brooklyn. It wasn’t the safest method of transportation, but since driving wasn’t an option it was my only choice. Although Yvonne and I worked in Manhattan, it didn’t afford us the luxury to actually live there.

Anyway, I had a bottle of pepper spray in my bag and a rape whistle in case I ran into trouble. It was almost five a.m. by the time I got home, took my long-awaited shower, and crawled into bed in my knickers and T-shirt. I didn’t wake until a little after one, but I’d slept like the dead and was deliciously rested.

I could hear Beethoven playing in the living room. Yvonne must’ve been home, enjoying her day off. Since she was management, my aunt usually finished work around the same time I started, so we didn’t cross paths too often. It was good in the sense that we both got our alone time in the apartment, because it wasn’t exactly what you’d call spacious.

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