He broke his awkward silence, “Erin, you’re drunk. Jesus, no one puts me on my ass like you do. If I’m ever going to be great at anything I wan…”
I cut him off, “I think someone’s following me.”
“Princess, I can’t hear you, please wait for me. Don’t leave the house. Just stay there and wait for me.”
I ignored him and tried to whisper louder, “I think there’s someone coming.” I realized I was exactly like the idiots on the crime shows. I was such a stereotype it wasn’t even funny, college girl roaming the city drunk and alone. “Shit.”
His voice got panicked, “Erin, what’s shit? I can’t hear anything else you’re saying. What’s going on? Why do you sound scared? I don’t care that you just said that stuff. I just want to have this conversation with you. I want to see you, when I say the things I wanna say.”
“Shit,” I muttered again, hurrying to the apartment and ignoring him. I couldn’t hang up; I needed him to be there still, so I wasn’t alone. I was about to become a skin suit and the last thing I ever said, was a confession to a guy about being more than me, even in my own mind.
“What’s happening?” he asked sounding angry.
My hands shook as I looked back. The man watched me. Was he really though, or was I just acting so crazy that he was staring at the display. My hands shook as I opened the door. I pulled it shut, dropping my phone.
I picked up the phone, “Hello?”
“What are you doing?”
I swallowed, “I thought a man was following me.”
He shouted again, “Where the fuck are you?”
I shouted back, “I’m home!”
“For Christ’s sake, where’s the guy following you? Is he in the house?”
I moaned, “There is no guy.”
I could hear him getting frustrated but I needed water and a bed.
“Princess, I swear to God, you’re going to be the death of me. What the hell? Is there a guy or not?”
I groaned, “There was. I thought he was following me. He was just walking.”
“Well, I’ll be at the house in two minutes.”
I realized suddenly, he was out of breath and the bar noise was gone.
He was coming home… After everything I had just said? My drunk mind was whirling until a light bulb came on. It was one of those drunken evil light bulbs, but it was better than dealing with the shit I’d said ten minutes before.
I muttered really low into the phone, “What? I couldn’t hear you. I’m gonna hit the hay.” I hung the phone up and ran the rest of the stairs to the apartment, jamming the key in the door and racing inside. I ran to my room, pulled off my shorts and shirt, and stalked out into the kitchen. I grabbed the Gatorade, he’d just bought, from the fridge and cracked it open.
He rushed into the apartment. He was almost heaving and covered in sweat.
I frowned, “Hey! Don’t you have more show to do?”
He looked homicidal as he glanced around the house, “So… you’re… fine?” He struggled to get his breath.
I looked around like what he was saying was absurd, “Yeah.” I swayed a little bit, while trying to maintain my cool.
His eyes flickered on my push up bra and panties. I turned, bending over completely and grabbed the freezer drawer, placing the Gatorade at the back of the drawer. I stayed there for an extra second.
When I stood up, I could see the look in his eyes had worsened. He took a step back, putting his hand to his mouth, “Oh man. Are those Victoria’s Secret’s Brazilian-butt underwear?” he moaned.
I held up the piece of ice, I’d discreetly pulled from the drawer and ran it over my cleavage, “Yeah? What’s up with you? You’re acting weird.”
He ran his hands through his hair, backing up farther, “Seriously? I ran like five blocks to get here, and this was a trap? So all that, ‘Lochlan you’re the best, I can’t compete with you—OMG a man is following me’ was shit?” He even raised his tone to mimic my voice, but really just sounded like a cartoon character.
I laughed, shaking my head. I tossed the ice in the sink and walked up to his chest. I looked up into his eyes, “How do you boys say that?” I tapped my fingernail against my cheek, “Oh yeah, don’t hate the player, hate the game?” I blinked a few times and walked by him to the bathroom.
“You… you cheated hardcore. You made me think you were in trouble. How could you do that?” He was mystified, but my lack of clothes seemed to be making him confused enough, the dark-eyed look didn’t come back.
I looked back at him, “You let me believe you were some crazy, southern hick who was making an attempt at being a rock star.” My words slurred a bit, “You didn’t tell me you were a famous star.”
He walked to me, towering over me. The furrowed brow were there instantly, “Are you fucking dense? All those people asking me for my signature? The fucking cop on the first day we met, asked for it. You assumed that. What, you can’t fucking Google shit? I thought it was hilarious you didn’t know who I was. In fact, I liked it. You treated me like shit and yelled at me, like people used to do.”
I flinched and looked at the door, “You probably should go back to the bar, before the crowd gets mad.”
His blue/black eyes bore down on me, “We closed after that song. We only played one set.”
I felt the sobering feeling of the heat of him standing over my mostly-naked body. He ran a finger down my jawline, “Princess, you scared me for real. No games when it comes to that, okay? I can’t handle you not being safe.”
I shook my head, “I… I didn’t mean to. I really thought he was following me.”
His gaze narrowed, “You have to tell me what the deal is with you. Mace, paranoia, sketchy about leaving the apartment except in the morning, and only for running with your mace. What’s up?”
I stepped back, “It’s nothing.” My back pressed against the wall by the bathroom door. He stepped closer, putting his arms on either side of me, “It’s safe to tell me.”
I swallowed the vomit slithering up my throat, as a shudder took control of my body.
He laughed bitterly, “You’re hanging on by a thread, aren’t you? You’re gong to barf any second? You drank too much didn’t you?”
He reached for the bathroom door and opened it, “Go get sick. We can talk tomorrow.”
I nodded again and slipped into the bathroom.
I knelt at the toilet, realizing he’d ran as fast as he could to come and make sure I was safe.
The thought lasted seconds, before the wine came back with vengeance.
The New Deal, AKA playing house
I woke with a start and a gasp. My head spun. I moaned, wincing at the bad feelings covering me. I was on my bed. I didn’t remember much. I was still in my lacy Brazilian-butt underwear and push-up bra. I pulled it off and pulled on a tee shirt and some sweats. It was cool in the room. There was a note, a glass, and a small carton of something on my bedside table.
Drink this and take these pills and come wake me up.
I shuddered, looking at the carton. It was coconut water. I popped the pills in my mouth and poured the murky-looking liquid into the glass and drank it back. It wasn’t so bad. Not as coconut flavored as I imagined it would be.
I left the room to see him passed out, in his clothes still, on the couch.
I tiptoed to the kitchen. Flashbacks of me in my underwear were trying to get through the barrier in my brain. I pushed them away.
I poured a glass of water.
I looked back at him, “Hey.”
He grinned, “How are you?”
I shook my head, “Stop shouting.”
He nodded, “I suspected.” He came and grabbed my hand, pulling me to the front door. He grabbed my flip-flops from the organized shelf next to the door and continued to walk.
“I don’t want to go. Where are we going?”
He scooped me up into his arms, “Somewhere necessary.”
He carried me down the stairs like I weighed nothing. “Put me down.”
He shook his head, “No, your drunk ass is gonna go too slow and I’m starving.”
I panicked a little, mostly because I had no energy, “Loch, I can’t leave the house like this.”
He grinned, “I like it when you accidentally call me Loch.” He always ignored the things he didn’t want to hear.
When we got to the car, he opened the door and placed me inside. I sat inside and got my bearings. He climbed in, grinning, “You don’t drink, do you?” He passed me my shoes. I slipped them on, trying not to heave.
My throat was burning from the puking and my head was spinning, “No. I never pass the two-glass rule.”
He didn’t say anything else, thank God, until we got to a small mom-and-pop establishment. I made a face but he pointed a finger, “Trust me?”
I looked at him and with all my might I tried to say no, but I didn’t. The nod was almost involuntary. I opened the car door and he was there, holding a hand out for me.
I recoiled, “You’re being sweet to try to trick me into losing the apartment.
He shook his head, “Not today, I swear.”
His blue eyes sparkled. He didn’t even know he was doing it. I groaned and let him pull me from the car. I burped. He gave me a worried look. I laughed, “There’s nothing left. I got it all out last night.”
He placed my hand on his arm and closed the door, “Okay, but if you throw up on me, I might just let you win.”
I laughed, “I’ll remember that.”
When we walked inside, he pulled me to a booth. It sounded like I was squeaking against rubber, when I sat. I looked around, frowning, “What is this dump? Why do you always eat in seedy, shitty places? Is that guy smoking?”