Look the Part (Page 13)
“How do you two know each other?” Cam asks, crossing his thick arms over his black T-shirt clad chest.
“Flint is my landlord who’s trying to evict me because he doesn’t understand my job or the fact that rats are some of the cleanliest and most intelligent pets.”
“Wow!” I tug at the cuffs to my shirt. “You just threw me under the bus.”
Cam barks a hearty laugh over the smooth music, buzzing chatter, and glasses clinking against tables.
Ellen shrugs. “Saying those words to your parents would have been throwing you under the bus. Saying them to Cam is just nudging you into the bumper.”
Cam nods toward the stage. “The corner booth is vacant.”
“Thanks,” Ellen and I say in unison.
“What happened to ‘I’m not twelve?’” I whisper in her ear as we weave our way through a sea of people huddled into small groupings of round tables and chairs.
“I changed my mind.” She slides into the low-back, curved booth and slips off her jacket, revealing a tight-fitting turtleneck sweater that hugs the curves of her breasts almost as nicely as the light denim jeans hugging her legs and ass. The dark red hair, soft blue eyes … the whole damn package is going to be my ruination. I can just feel it.
I slide in next to her so we both have a good view of the stage. “Mr. Hopkins, the usual?” the waitress asks.
“And for you?”
“So you used to live downtown?” I watch the performer on stage, going for small talk because I still don’t know what possessed me to call her.
“For six months when I moved here. Couldn’t find anything closer to the hospital that fit my budget. I had a roommate.”
“And she agreed to a six month lease?”
I loosen my tie and slip off my jacket. “He? You moved in with a random guy you didn’t know?”
“Sort of. He owns the building but spends most of his time in Florida where he owns other rentals. His sister is a nurse at the hospital. I met her when I came to town for an interview, and she gave me his name. I know, I know, it was a crazy leap of faith that he wasn’t a serial killer.”
“That’s when you found this place?”
“Yep. Nick, landlord slash roommate slash non-serial killer, brought me here once, and I just kept coming back on my own when he wasn’t in town.”
The waitress sets our drinks on the table.
“Is that water?”
I nod. “With lime. I’m driving.”
“You’re quite cautious.”
“I am.” I return my attention to the sax player on the stage, feeling Ellen’s gaze on me, but I don’t give her a chance to take this topic any further. “What were you doing when I called?”
“Masturbating.” She grins, keeping her eyes on the stage.
She shrugs. “Me too.” Her head turns toward me and she sips her wine. “But …” She sets the glass on the table. “If that’s too much honesty for tonight, then…” her eyes roll to the ceiling “…let’s say I was polishing my silver. Or maybe washing my hair. Writing a concerto. Studying theory and composition. Knitting. Take your pick.”
I scratch my neck. There’s something about her that my body rejects. Maybe it’s not her. Maybe it’s me and my need to understand her motives. I don’t think she has any—and that makes me uneasy. “Why a music therapist?”
“Ha! Really? Now you want to know this? Where were these questions at my interview? No way. You go first.”
I lean back, resting my arm on the back of the booth behind her. “Fine. What do you want to know?”
“Why does Cam act like you’re famous?”
I smirk. “I’m not famous.”
She turns her body toward mine, bringing one knee close to her chest, her foot resting on the seat of the booth. “Maybe not, but Cam thinks you’re a big deal at least in the world of football.”
I sip my water, staring at the lime trapped beneath the ice. “I played in college and would have gone Pro as wide receiver had I not fucked up my knee. Instead of finishing law school, I became an agent for a very promising quarterback. That’s how people around here know me. The man behind the player who gave Minnesota their first Super Bowl win. He took early retirement. I went back to finish law school and the rest is history.”
“That’s a good story.”
It’s not a good story. It’s so fucking tragic I can barely find the will to crawl out of bed every morning.
“You don’t look happy. Your wife died somewhere in that story, didn’t she?”
She drops it. No how, why, or where. I omitted the most defining part of my life, and she doesn’t ask anything else. Again, I can’t figure out her motives.
We watch the band play for the next hour. She finishes one glass of wine but turns down the waitress’s offer for a second glass. The dead wife topic always leads to nowhere. It’s the ultimate conversation killer. Tonight is no exception.
“Let’s go.” She slides out of the booth.
I toss cash onto the table and follow her out the door, feeling guilty for the lack of any conversation over the past hour. “I’m sorry for not saying much—”
She whips around and grabs the lapels to my jacket, pulling me around the corner to the alley. She kisses me. Her hands take mine, and she guides them to her waist. “Touch me,” she whispers over my mouth.
“Where?” I take a step forward until her back presses to the side of the brick building.
“Anywhere …” Her breath is labored and desperate as she licks and sucks the skin between my ear and the collar of my jacket. “Everywhere … just … touch me.” The pain in her voice bleeds all around us as if she’s dying and my hands are the only thing that can save her.
I touch her everywhere, making her moan into my mouth, making her clench my arms to stay upright, making her beg, making her fall apart under my touch—in a dark alley just after midnight. Anyone who could see us would think we were simply making out. Her coat hides my hand up her sweater and the other down the front of her jeans.
“Jesus, Flint …” My name rips from her chest as she tugs my tie to bring my mouth to hers. She hums like I’m the most delectable thing she’s ever tasted. Her hips jerk and circle as I rub her off.
She sucks in a sharp breath, holds it, and releases it in small staccatos while my fingers slow down with her release. Her eyes blink open, searching my face. “Thank you,” she whispers, resting her forehead against my shoulder as I zip and button her jeans before we draw attention to us.
I kiss the top of her head. “Let’s go.” She hugs my arm as I lead her to my car and open the door like the gentleman I’m clearly not after what I just did to her in the alley—what she asked me to do to her. Why? I’m not sure.
She drifts off to sleep on the way to her apartment. I try to figure out what just happened and what comes next.
“Ellen? We’re here. Do you need me to carry you up?”
She stirs and rubs her eyes. “What? No.” She shakes her head. “I’m good. Let me just get my keys out.”
I go around and open her door.
“Thank you,” she says in a sleepy voice.
“I’ll walk you up to your door.”
I follow her to the second floor and the door at the very end of the hallway. “This is me.” She unlocks the door but doesn’t open it. It’s the first time I’ve sensed actual nerves on her part. “Do you want to come in for …”
“No. I should get home.”
Her shoulders sag with what looks like relief. I don’t know what to take from that. And it’s too late for my brain to make a good attempt at figuring her out.
Looking at her watch, she sighs. “It’s late. Thank you for the call. It was definitely … unexpected.”
“Unexpected,” I echo her. The word feels hollow and misplaced at the moment. Unplanned? Regrettable? I don’t know how I feel.
“Goodnight.” A small smile makes an attempt to stick to her face.
“Goodnight.” Before I can even think about kissing her again, she cracks open her door, slides inside, and shuts it behind her.
When I hear her locks click, I take my blue balls, eternal erection, and completely fucked-up mind home for a cold shower and some much needed sleep.
Thoughts of an impending eviction notice, no Plan B, and talented fingers giving me an alley orgasm bring me out of a restless sleep at four o’clock Sunday morning. Instead of wallowing around in bed, fighting sleep that I know will elude me for the rest of the day, I slip on old clothes and clean my apartment with The London Philharmonic Orchestra’s “50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music” floating through the air.
Two hours later I have nothing left to clean, but my mind still won’t submit to sleep, so I power walk to my favorite coffee and bagel shop. Armed with caffeine and carbs, I head home to shower and look online for a new office space.