Motion (Page 26)
When we reached the top stair, he side-stepped, cutting me off, stopping directly in front of me, and forcing my eyes to his.
“Listen, I was pissed at the time. But I’m not upset anymore.”
“If the roles had been reversed, if I’d found you, an unknown person, naked in my bed. And then you groped me? Should I forgive you so easily? Should I not be upset?”
He frowned, looking frustrated. “I’m not saying what you did was okay, and I’m really glad—I mean, really fucking glad—you feel remorse about it. You apologized. I forgive you.”
I scoffed, shaking my head.
His tone turned stern. “No. I get to decide what and who I forgive, and I forgive you. But, fine, forget about that for a minute. There’s one fundamental difference between what happened that night and the hypothetical, role reversal situation you’re proposing.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that?” I lifted my chin a notch.
“At no point was I afraid of you.” His gaze seemed to narrow, as though watching my reaction very carefully, and he added slowly, “But I’m guessing, whatever happened to you, was scary as hell.”
I didn’t flinch. But holding his eyes, I felt mine sting. A searing numbness settled in my stomach and I found I had to swallow before I could speak.
“Nothing happened.” I parroted his own words, my voice gravelly, and then stepped around him, walking calmly to the front door.
I remembered I didn’t have any keys just as I spotted two slips of paper tucked into the door jam. Retrieving them, I read the first,
I stopped by. Wanted to see how you were doing. I found this postal service slip just inside the gate on the cement so I brought it up to the door.
I’ll be by tomorrow. Maybe we can have breakfast and catch up.
Love ya, Gabby
I handed her note to Abram when I finished and glanced at the second slip. Sure enough, it was one of those orange United States Postal Service slips.
Sorry we missed you! We tried to deliver your package. It is now being held for you at Wicker Park Commons on N Ashland Ave. Please stop by with a photo ID to collect your package.
“Must be your cell phone and stuff,” he said.
I turned my head and found him at my shoulder, reading the postal service slip.
“Yeah. Must be.” I handed it to him as well and stepped to the side so he could unlock the door.
Abram shoved the notes in his back pocket and retrieved the keys, his eyes on me the whole time, his features mostly clear of expression. But he didn’t unlock the door.
“Hey,” he said.
“Yes?” I said.
“So, can we forget it happened?” He took a shuffling step toward me, dipping his chin.
“Are you going to unlock the door?”
“Can we forget about it? Start over?”
I didn’t have to think much about his request, because the only logical path forward was obvious. “No. We’re not going to forget about it. You’re going to hold that grudge.”
He exhaled a frustrated-sounding breath even as his lips tugged to the side. “Oh yeah? Why would I do that?”
I told him the truth, “Because you never know when that Lisa might come back.”
Newton’s First Law of Motion: Inertia
I needed coffee.
I didn’t usually drink coffee, but I awoke the next day with an insatiable desire for coffee. And donuts. Okay, actually, it was a Stan’s chocolate cake donut I wanted. But donuts always tasted better with coffee.
Regardless, I needed both. And a shower.
Last night, after returning home and our short—albeit uncomfortable—discussion on the front porch, he’d wordlessly unlocked the door and we’d both retreated to our separate spaces: me, upstairs to play the violin badly; him, wherever he went.
It was for the best. No other choice. Lisa would be arriving any day now, we would be switching places, and Abram could never know I’d been Lisa this week. Any like or regard or respect I had for my messy Adonis was as irrelevant as it was inconvenient.
Therefore, I put him firmly from my mind, played my violin badly for a few hours, went to sleep, and then woke up with an insatiable craving. For donuts.
Presently, checking the clock next to Lisa’s bed and discovering it was still quite early, I decided to take my time getting ready while I waited for Abram to wake up and escort me to get donuts. The plan was: I would speak to him as little as possible on the way, and I would avoid him for the rest of the day.
In the meantime, I debated whether or not to take a bath, but ultimately decided against it. I already had that shower helmet. Plus, I suspected a bath would just make me think of Abram, and I definitely didn’t need to be thinking about Abram while taking a bath. BIG NO.
Retrieving the awesome helmet from my room, I took a shower. I then turned the showerhead off, sat on the edge of the tub, removed the helmet, and turned on the main faucet. Since I had plenty of time before Abram woke up—given his slackerish history of sleeping until whenever—I shaved everything that was appropriate to shave. Usually, I didn’t. Fanatical grooming was pretty low on my priority list. But, given my present predicament, how else was I going to pass the time?
Once finished, I turned my attention to the dry shampoo Gabby left two days ago. I’d never used dry shampoo before, and I had plenty of doubts about its effectiveness. I was pleased to discover it worked superbly. Huh.
After brushing my teeth, toweling off, and dressing in Lisa’s clothes—a flowy, silk pink tank top tunic, a brand-new white lace bra, and a pair of tight jeans—applying makeup, and checking my appearance a few times, I was disheartened to discover that a mere forty minutes had passed since I’d woken up. And yet, the hunger had only intensified. For donuts.
Slowly, I descended the back stairs, strolled into the kitchen, sauntered to a stool, and sat. Sadly.
Man. I really wanted it (a donut). One of those colossal cravings held me in its grip, where you can almost taste the thing you want, your mouth waters just thinking about the coveted item, and you get this sense of restless injustice, like the world is conspiring against you, keeping you from the object of your desire . . . which was a donut.
Tapping my fingers on the quartz countertop, I glanced at the clock over the double ovens.
Standing, I speed-walked to the pantry, pulled my wallet from my bag, pulled a twenty from my wallet, pushed the wallet and the bag back in their hiding place, and tiptoed to the front door. I couldn’t wait. Abram was probably going to sleep until after noon, and I refused to be denied (A DONUT!)
Slipping on Lisa’s Vera Wang comfy sandals, I crept to the door, opened it as quietly as possible, and closed it just as quietly.
The walk to the Stan’s Donuts was speedy and uneventful, and the ordering process was efficient and swift. I was more than halfway home when I realized, in my rush, I’d forgotten to order coffee.
No matter. I can just brew a cup when I- when I . . .
I stiffened, stopped, and sucked in a breath.
There he was. Abram. Sitting on the outside steps, his elbows on his knees, his hands clasped in front of him. Glaring at me like I’d just deleted his LHC simulation data without making a backup.
Releasing the air in my lungs, I bit my bottom lip and approached the gate with caution. I shouldn’t have been noticing how crazy attractive he was when he glared, but I did. How could I not? He glared at me as I punched in the code. He glared at me as I opened the gate and shut it firmly behind me. He glared at me as I approached. By the time I made it to the bottom step, I wasn’t sure if the warm blush heating my cheeks was remorseful embarrassment at having been caught, or merely a reaction to the stern severity in his gorgeous dark eyes.
Either way, I tried to ignore both, and smiled. “Want a donut?”
His glare flickered to the bag I held, and then back to me. “You left.” Abram’s voice was cold steel, had cold steel been able to speak and was alarmingly good-looking when it glared.
I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. “Yes. Yes, I did. And I’m sorry.”
“You broke your promise.”
“I needed coffee, but I forgot to get coffee, because what I really wanted was a donut. And here, see?” I lifted up the bag. “I got enough for you too.”
Nothing about his expression altered, which caused a thrilling little shiver to race down my spine. My goodness. Was it hot outside? It was hot outside, right?
He blinked just once. “What kind of donuts?”
“Uh, all kinds. A virtual cornucopia of donuts, if you will. They usually give people a box for this many, but I asked for a bag.” Peering into the paper sack, I began listing all the options.
But as I rattled off the list, Abram stood, descended the steps until less than five decimeters separated us, and used his finger to hook the top of the bag open further, peeking inside. He was so close, I could smell him, his fragrance, and it had that melting effect on me as usual. But I also smelled the donuts, which meant I was now melting and trying not to drool.
Abram glanced between me and the interior of the paper bag. “Which one is your favorite?” he asked quietly, an edge of something treacherous in his tone, maybe even sinister.
I blinked up at him. “Why?”