Motion (Page 30)

“That? What is ‘that’?”

“You know—” I waved my hand in the air “—calling, texting, having conversations about mundane things, making plans. That.” Not when I could achieve more satisfaction on my own than with a partner. It was simple math.

Gabby blinked at me several times. “It’s like I don’t even know you, Mona.”

My chuckle caught me off guard, so did my lingering smile as Gabby and I looked at each other. Her eyes were intent as they moved over my face, like she was trying to solve a puzzle.

“You need help,” Gabby said at last, causing my smile to vanish.

I frowned at the floor. “Help with what?”

“You have a distorted view of reality, and what you deserve,” she said softly.

“No. I just don’t believe romantic relationships are necessary.”

“You think you deserve less.”

“It’s not about what people deserve, Gabby.” I sighed. Again. Hadn’t it been an hour yet? Shouldn’t she be leaving soon? “It’s about what people need. I don’t need—or want—a relationship.”

“Because you don’t have time?”

That wasn’t precisely true, but—as Lisa would say—whatever. “Sure.”

“Because you’re so busy being a genius and doing the math, you don’t have time for people?”

“I have time for people, just not a boyfriend.”

“Even if that boyfriend was awesome? Even if he built you up, supported you, loved you, adored you, and made it his life’s mission to ensure you knew—every day—how amazing and special you are?”

“That’s not a boyfriend. That’s a dog.”

She waved away my sarcasm. “You don’t need love? Companionship?”

I hesitated, searching the air around her head for the right words.

“Fine,” she said before I could assemble a response. “Then you think you need less than other people.”

I shot her a questioning glance, but before I could respond, she snapped her fingers.

“I have an idea!” Gabby scooched to the end of the bed closest to me and leveled me with an intent and wide stare. “Abram.”

I returned her stare, giving nothing of my thoughts, or my feelings, or my body’s betraying, quantum reaction at the mention of his name. “What about him?”

“He’s hot, right?”

I shrugged and confessed to the understatement of the century, “His exterior is attractive.”

“Yeah, but what do you think of him so far? You two were flirting up a storm the other day. Is he a guy you might want to get to know better? If you know what I mean.”

“I don’t know him very well,” was what I said, but my thoughts on the subject were: I LIKE HIM SO MUCH!

“Ah ha!” She pointed at me. “You didn’t say no, which means you’ve pictured him naked.”

I sighed for the hundredth time. Speaking of, where the heck was Abram? Shouldn’t he be kicking Gabby out?

She grinned, wagging her eyebrows. “You should let him touch you.”

I choked. “Pardon?”

“Let him touch you. I’m not saying—you know—let him do whatever he wants or anything. I’m just saying, if he touches you, and if you like it, you should let him. And also, you shouldn’t interrupt the touching with discussions of consent and expectations or whatever.”

I looked at her askance. “You’re kidding.”

“I’m not. You should just—you know—give a guy the opportunity to read you, see if he can figure out what you like without giving him printed directions. And a map. And a contract to sign in triplicate. See if you can enjoy not knowing what will happen.”

I was already shaking my head before she finished, planning to tell her how ludicrous of an idea this was.

First, no.

Second, also no.

Third, what happens when Lisa arrives?

And fourth, an encounter without explicitly communicating expectations, hard limits, and goals? What was the point? The data wouldn’t be generalizable!

Except . . . the times Abram has touched you without asking, you’ve liked it. Mucho.

My pulse jumped. Just the thought of all that—all that touching me without . . . I rubbed my chest, at a hot tightness there, and tore my stare away to scowl at the wall. Gabby’s suggestion was on repeat in my head, and it wasn’t just anxiety or fear I was feeling.

“You’re thinking about it!” Gabby jumped up from the bed and crossed to the desk, standing directly in front of me.

“Gabby, you’re mentally disturbed.”

“Don’t deny it, you’re definitely thinking about it. You should make the Mona-moves on him.”

I gave that suggestion a firm mental shove. “And what happens when Lisa gets back? Would she pick up where I left off with Abram? Pretend to be me pretending to be her? Gross and cosmically wrong on so many levels.”

She sighed impatiently. “You think too much. She’ll just call things off.”

“Just like that?” I snapped my fingers. “And he won’t care?”

Gabby shrugged. “I mean, probably not? Look at him. He’s a hot commodity in this town. If he wants some, he doesn’t usually have to work too hard to get it. He’s a goodtime guy.”

I shook my head lightly, squinting at her, a flare of something uncomfortable in my chest. “A goodtime guy? What does that mean?”

“It means he’s experienced, and he’ll show you a good time, but you don’t have to worry about him getting clingy.” When I continued to stare at her she huffed and lifted her eyes to the ceiling, exasperated. “Let me put it this way: I’ve never seen him with a girlfriend, but he’s always surrounded by girls.”

“And you know for a fact that he has relations with all these girls?”

“You sound like a lawyer, Mona. This isn’t a trial.” She studied her nails. “Guys like him always have—”

“Guys like him? Guys like what?”

“You know, insanely hot, talented, always single and keeping his options open. He’s not going to care when Lisa calls it off.”

I could feel myself making my about-to-sneeze face. What Gabby was saying was diametrically opposed to the Abram I was coming to know, especially after talking to his mother and sister. He just didn’t seem like that kind of person—

Wait. What kind of person? You mean someone like you?

I flinched, frowning, not liking this thought. And it wouldn’t be the same, would it? Yes, I’d had relations with several men without any intention of making any of those men my long-term partner, but that was all in the interest of testing a hypothesis. Totally different.

Okay. Whatever you need to tell yourself to sleep at night.

“Why are you making that angry face?” Gabby lifted an eyebrow, her gaze moving over my features. “Don’t get mad at me for Abram being easy. I’m trying to do you a favor here. Get in there and use him to have a good time.”

Pinching the bridge of my nose, I took a deep breath, irrationally offended on Abram’s behalf at him being labeled a ‘goodtime guy.’ That wasn’t Abram. It just wasn’t. Don’t ask me why, but I knew this was an unfair estimation of his character.

Anyway! I couldn’t think about this now. Therefore, I ignored this discordant assertion.

“Whatever. It doesn’t matter, because nothing is going to happen between us. I can’t ignore that Abram is in a position of authority over me, over Lisa.” I said this mostly as a reminder to myself. After our donut encounter this morning, I couldn’t and shouldn’t forget that nothing was ever going to happen between us. He and I weren’t even friends. Lisa’s well-being was his responsibility. “He’s been tasked with ensuring my safety. How inappropriate would it be for me to, as you say, make moves on him? I would never put him in that position.”

“Oh, come on. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind being put in any position with you if—”

I interrupted her mid-eye roll. “No. I think he’s already been through enough. Lisa did enough damage last year, don’t you think?”

“It’s not like being with either of you would be a hardship.” Her hands fell to her legs, smacking her thighs as she completed the eye roll. “See? This is what I’m talking about. Why can’t you understand how beautiful you are? Anyone, including Abram, would be lucky to—”

“He’s not an object! Even if he’s been with the entire female half of Chicago, he’s still not an object!” I whispered harshly, straightening from the desk, causing her to rock back on her heels. “People are so much more than what they look like, what is wrong with you? He’s not disposable. He’s not here to use and amuse. He is more than ‘like, super hot.’ He is a person, with thoughts and feelings and a family who loves him, who he also loves. He is funny and sweet, and irritating and witty, and doesn’t like to show his smile. He writes music and sleeps at crazy hours, he eats pizza cold—who does that? So gross—and knows too much about whales, and steals donuts, and should really invest in a new razor . . .”