He acted like it was normal that all we did was hang out in the apartment, watching entire series on Netflix.
I knew it wasn’t.
I left class and headed for the Starbucks near the house. Gerry was meeting me. He was worried about me. I was too. I wasn’t any happier with him being Lochlan Barlow and single, than I was when he was my Loch.
I walked, noticing the bite in the air. The end of October was cold, compared to the muggy warmth of September. I wrapped my sweater around me tighter and walked quickly.
I looked back to see one of my professors. I waved, “Hey, Dean.” He insisted we called him by his name. He was the cool teacher.
He jogged over, smiling. He was good looking and only about thirty-five, at the most, so he was the typical hot prof.
“I meant to talk to you about the civil rights paper you handed in.” He breathed heavily as he reached me. His charming smile faded into a serious look. He cocked a dark eyebrow and ran his hand through his short chestnut hair, “It wasn’t your best work.”
I winced, “Sorry.” I didn’t have time to worry about it; my torts homework was also due.
He shook his head and pulled it from his briefcase, “Here, I’m giving you a second chance.”
I gave him a confused look, “What?”
He nodded and started walking the way I was going, “Yeah. I know you’re good for at least an A, if not an A plus. This was shit. I gave you a C.”
I laughed, giving him a wounded look, “Don’t sugarcoat it.”
He shook his head, “Hey, you’re not an undergrad. I’m not going to babysit you.”
I looked down, “I know.”
He gave me a sideways look, “I heard Lochlan Barlow broke up with you. I sort of assumed that it was directly related.”
I gasped, “What?”
He blushed, “Sorry. I’m not trying to pry.”
“Where did you hear that?”
He pressed his lips together, “A blog that follows the band. They said that he was seen with other girls and you weren’t in the picture anymore.” I almost threw up.
I got control of my near gagging and frowned, “They knew my name?” He nodded, giving me a grim look.
I sighed, “You’re a fan?”
He laughed, “I’m not that old.”
“My dad’s a fan and he’s nearly sixty; it isn’t about age.”
Dean shrugged, “He’s an amazing singer. The drummer is very skilled. They’re just one of those honest bands that has natural talent. I saw them live in the bars a few times and it was life changing. Very raw and moving. They love what they do.”
My throat burned.
He hit my arm, “Forgive me. I’m sure it hurts to talk about it.”
I nodded, “Something like that.” I let it be that Lochlan broke up with me. I let that be the truth, because what did it matter for my career.
“Where are you headed?”
I pointed up the street, “Starbucks.”
He smiled, “Me too. I’ll walk with you.”
A smile crossed my lips, “Okay.”
“So did you watch the footage last night on the case going on in Las Angeles with the mom who murdered her kids?”
I nodded, “Yeah. They’re really trying for that insanity plea.”
He scoffed, “She isn’t insane. She’s selfish. You can see people’s sins in their eyes. Watch hers, they don’t dart like a crazy woman’s would. She’s sane. She has remorse and demons in there now. Guilt is impossible to hide in the eyes. If you choose defense as your career, you have to make sure you inspect the eyes of every potential client. They say that eyes are the window to the soul, and when it comes to passionate emotions like hate, love, guilt, and sorrow, that’s true.”
I knew that to be true. I’d seen the demons release the beast in Lochlan. His demons swirled in his eyes.
Dean got the door for me. He walked to the counter, “What should I get you?”
I shook my head, “You don’t have to buy my coffee.”
He smiled, “Of course, I do. I just bored you to tears with my eye speech. Now tell me, so I don’t order the wrong thing.”
My chest burned instantly. Lochlan always ordered for me, against my will. I opened my mouth to say caramel macchiato, but all that was there was, “Soy vanilla latte, please.” It was the drink Lochlan always got us both—regardless of the fact, I didn’t like soy milk much. I got us a table and sat down. I made sure I got one with a few chairs. I knew Gerry would be there any minute.
Dean carried over my drink and sat down. He took off his sweater, and I noticed how attractive he really was. His body was tight and fit. He was tanned and athletic looking. I smiled and imagined what it would be like to date someone like him. He was my kind of perfect.
“So did I tell the class the joke my grandmother emailed me this morning?” he sipped from his drink.
I shook my head, lifting my cup to sip.
He laughed before he told the joke, making me laugh. It made the sexy mature man seem cute and adorable.
He calmed himself, “Okay, why do male attorneys usually wear tight shirt collars and ties?” He snickered. I shrugged. He fought his laugh, “It keeps their foreskins from creeping up and covering their faces.”
I laughed out loud. Hearing him say foreskins was weird.
Dean was almost crying.
“Your grandma?” I asked.
He nodded, wiping the tears in his eyes. He sighed, “She’s a crazy old bitch.”
I laughed harder but Dean stopped. He looked up, red-faced instantly. I turned to see Lochlan hovering above me with a savage look in his eyes. I smiled, “Hi.”
His eyes never left mine. I hadn’t seen this face since we’d left Gerry’s that night. It made me nervous to see the beast so close to the surface in a coffee shop. I pointed, “This is my professor, Dean Hamilton. Dean this is my friend, Lochlan Barlow.”
Dean stood, putting a hand out. He looked like he might cry.
Lochlan didn’t take his eyes off of me. I looked behind him to Gerry at the till. He grabbed the drinks and hurried over. I pointed to him, “And this is the drummer of Thin Ice, Gerry Ronson. Gerry this is my professor, Dean Hamilton.”
Gerry put the two coffees down and shook his hand quickly, “Lovely to meet you.”
I grabbed Lochlan’s hand and squeezed, “Can I talk to you outside?” I smiled at Dean and Gerry, “Excuse us.”
Gerry nodded, understanding the awkwardness, and put a hand on Dean’s arm, “So a professor, huh?”
I dragged Lochlan out the door and pulled him to an alley and to a quiet spot. It didn’t matter where we went, he was Lochlan Barlow. People were taking our picture and watching us. I shoved him behind a dumpster and paced for a second.
When I looked at him he looked frozen over but he spoke softly, containing his rage, “What was that? I thought we weren’t dating other people.”
I tilted my head, “You haven’t kissed a single girl or fucked one stranger?”
His eyes twitched with the guilt Dean had been talking about. I nodded, “I figured as much.” I was shaking inside but I remained calm on the outside, “That was my teacher. I have bent over backwards to ensure you stay calm. I do everything I can, to not make a scene for you and your reputation. You can’t do me the same courtesy?”
He loomed over me, “Are you fucking him?”
An astonished look stormed across my face, “Are you hearing me?”
He stepped towards me, forcing me to back up. My back pressed against the brick building. He bent down low to me, “Are you fucking him?”
My lip trembled. I nodded out of spite and hatred of the way he made me feel, “Yup.”
The switch was fast. His face went dark. His hands balled up. I shoved him back, like an idiot, and turned to walk away. He grabbed my arm, spinning me, “Why? Why him and not me? He’s your teacher for Christ’s sake.” He was shaking. He was homicidal. He wasn’t fun to toy with. He was too crazy.
I sighed, seeing the poor choice I was making, “He’s gay, you idiot. I just said it to piss you off, so you know how it feels to be jealous and insecure. I know what you’ve been at since… before… me and you. The funny part though, is now you know how it feels. Granted, he’s gay so it’s not like I’m going to get any, but at least you know how this feels. And that makes me petty and horrid and happy.” I covered my face with my hands, shaking my head.
“I saw the way he looked at me when he met me. He looked nervous.”
I flailed my arms, shouting for all the spectators, “YOU ASSHOLE, HE THINKS YOU’RE HOT! LIKE A SUPERSTAR! HE LIKES YOU, NOT ME! HE FOLLOWS THOSE STALKER BLOGS ABOUT YOU! HE WAS TELLING ME ABOUT WHAT’S ON THERE, SO FUCK YOU!”
My chest was rising and falling rapidly. I bit my lip and tried to get control of myself. I was a hot mess, he made me crazy and out of control. I looked at him with daggers and pointed at the café, “I guarantee he’s getting Gerry’s digits right now. He’s a huge fan.” I covered my trembling mouth with my hands and took deep breaths into my palms.
His body wrapped around mine. I hated his touch. I shoved him off of me and stalked down the alley. A guy snapped a picture of my tear-stained face, as I turned away from the coffee shop and walked home.
I was on the couch eating from the Ben and Jerry’s tub when he got home.
Danny had mated for life with the blonde Gabby bitch and wasn’t there to be a buffer for me. I knew we would be talking about it, no matter what. I was ready for him.
He looked adorable carrying my pretty, pink Coach school bag that I’d left at the coffee shop, but I didn’t acknowledge him. He walked over to the couch to see what I’d done.
He dropped the bag on the couch, my side of the couch. He started to laugh, “Are you fucking kidding me?”
I ignored him until he took a step for me. I put my hand out, “This is my side. You stay on your side. All your shit is there anyway.” And it was. His jeans and pop cans and water bottles and food wrappers were all shoved to one side of the room. My side was immaculate. The divider was a thick, black line painted onto the wall and floor. Duct tape made the line on the couch.