Motion (Page 35)

“It’s just, you were up early.” His sleep patterns were so sporadic, and this facet of his personality fascinated me.

Abram finished chewing a bite of steak before responding. “You were expecting to make it to the donut shop and back before I woke up?”

I shrugged, but also shot him a guilty look.

He chuckled. “I came down the stairs just as you walked out the front door.”

“Why didn’t you try to stop me?”

He ignored my question and asked one of his own, “Any regrets?” The speculation behind his eyes made me think maybe the question had a double meaning, but I was too distracted by the memory of this morning’s tussle to parse through what the double meaning might be.

The grabbing, the teasing, the friction of our bodies as I jumped and slid down his, the touching, the staring, his scent . . .

Instead of answering directly, I cleared my throat and said, “It’s important to live in the present.” I said this mostly to remind myself, but also, due to the limits of the space-time continuum, living in the present was the only option. Wishing for a different past or an impossible future was pointless. “So, uh, did you write any music last night?”

“No, but I did get some lyrics written earlier today. You’re playing the violin again?”

“Yes. I can almost play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” which means “Old MacDonald” is next, and that’s my favorite, with all the bock, bock, bocking, and moo, moo, mooing, and then the wolves came, as the prophesy foretold, in this economy.” I forced myself to take a deep breath here so I would stop talking. Something about the way he was looking at me with those intense, deep brown eyes made me feel fidgety.

But Abram grinned, and the flash of dimples made my knees happy I was sitting instead of standing. “Why do you do that?”

“Do what?”

“You say weird stuff sometimes. Like, ‘and then the wolves came.’ What is that?”

“It’s just a thing I do . . . when I don’t know what to say.” I’d been caught without prunes and my lasagna was finished. Might as well tell the truth.

“So you speak nonsense?”

“It’s not nonsense. These phrases, they’re special. They’re special phrases that work for almost any occasion. They’re evergreen.”

“If you say so.” During dinner, his left dimple had become a permanent fixture on his face and it was hugely distracting.

“They are.” I rubbed my forehead, feeling somewhat harassed by his attractiveness. “Here, say something and I’ll use one of my phrases.”

“Fine. Let’s see. Um—” Abram’s gaze moved beyond me. “Okay. Want to go see a movie?”

“In this economy?”

A short, surprised laugh shook his shoulders and lit his eyes. “You’re nuts.”

“So let it be written, so let it be done.”

“Oh no. You’re not going to stop, are you?”

“Be that as it may, still may it be as it may be.”

He was fighting a massive grin. “Please stop.”

“There’s no escape from destiny.”

“What can I say to make you stop?”

“Wise words by wise men write wise deeds in wise pen.”

“You are so fucking weird sometimes.” He shook his head, his shoulders also shaking, losing the fight.

“As the prophesy foretold.”

“Oh my God—” he clutched his stomach, tossing his head back to laugh “—I love you.”

I sucked in a breath, my heart doing a strange, twisting thing. I kept my eyes affixed to the table so he wouldn’t see my illogical and sudden turmoil, because it was illogical and it was turmoil. I told myself that his words had been an expression, nothing more.

Abram is a goodtime guy, he probably loves everyone.

Yes. Exactly.

. . . Wait! No. No, he is not a goodtime guy! Stop thinking of him that way.

The explanation was much simpler: he didn’t love love me. It had been a figure of speech.

I lifted my gaze—just for a single second—to peek at him. But then I couldn’t look away because something distressing happened.

The laughter and resultant smile lit up his face, casting everything else in the room in bleak shadow, and he wasn’t hiding either this time. However, it wasn’t just the smile that was distressing—I’d seen him smile several times at this point—but rather my new and completely involuntary physical reaction to it. The sight hit me in the stomach, an unexpected blow, jarring my teeth, a little painful and a lot uncomfortable. At first.

And then the pain dissipated, became an expanding warmth, a hum of kinetic energy—even though I was sitting perfectly still—radiating outward to my fingertips and toes, clouding my brain, and wrapping my whole person in a lovely, tight, cozy cloud.

Holy shit.

What the hell was that?

A microcosm of the big bang but in my body!

Disoriented and mesmerized, I couldn’t take my eyes from his face where the effects of his laughter still lingered, giving his features an attractiveness that was four-dimensional. More than physical, it was an allure that permeated both space and time.

“What?” Abram’s laughter had tapered while I’d been having a mini freak-out. “No more phrases left?”

I pretended like I needed to scratch the back of my neck as I quickly sifted through the possible anytime-phrases remaining:

Just like in my dream.

But at what cost?

And thus, I die.

They all felt a little too . . . accurate.

So I shrugged, glancing at him quickly and offering a tight smile, murmuring, “And then the wolves came.”


Normal, Tension, and Other Examples of Forces

Recovering from the mini big bang took some serious concentration. Luckily, Abram’s mood had turned contemplative on the drive home and neither of us spoke.

Although, halfway through the drive, while we were stuck at a stoplight, he turned to me and said, “Thank you for coming with me. I had a great time.”

I was trapped in the sincerity of his stare, caught in the velvety cadence of his voice, only able to nod dumbly and mutter stupidly, “Great time. I had . . . also.”

He grinned, his features softened by the glow of nearby streetlamps and the red light of the traffic signal, his four-dimensional attractiveness growing to ten dimensions, where the tenth were those pesky infinite possibilities and I was suffocating in the tenderness of his big, gorgeous, ten-dimensional brown eyes.

Oh my heart.

But then the light changed and he gave the road his attention, leaving me to my entropy. Thank goodness we still had several blocks before the house. I required both the dark and the quiet to order my thoughts.

Closing my eyes, I frantically tried imagining the vastness of space. Like earlier in the day, I worked to put facts first and events into perspective. I reminded myself that I didn’t belong here, that this was Lisa’s reality and not mine. That Helped.

I reminded myself of Gabby’s advice, that he wasn’t the type of person I wanted to have feelings for. That also helped even if I didn’t 100 percent believe it.

The crack had widened, the mutinous bargaining voice had grown more persistent, leaving me with an undercurrent of agitation instead of peace, and wishing instead of acceptance.

As soon as Abram pulled into the street parking outside our house, I was out of the car, walking to the gate and punching in the code. By the time he’d sauntered to where I stood holding the gate open, I had a plan. Once we made it inside, I was going upstairs and going to bed. I hadn’t been sleeping well, and lack of sleep could lead to poor decisions.

Abram said nothing as we walked up the stairs to the front door, and I kept my eyes firmly fixed forward, my jaw clenched, my hands fisted at my sides. No matter what, you will go upstairs and go to bed. By yourself.

He withdrew the keys and unlocked the door; I felt his eyes move over me just before opening the door. “You want to watch a movie?”

I waited until we were inside and I’d slipped my shoes off before answering. “Um, no thanks.” Without turning, I added, “I think I might go to sleep.”

I sensed that this answer seemed to take him aback, as though it had been exactly the opposite of what he’d been expecting. I took advantage of his momentary confusion and turned for the kitchen, my brain telling me to go, go, go!

Even so, my movements were sluggish. The logical path was forward, I knew that. Nothing could ever happen between us, I knew that too. Watching a movie with Abram would undoubtedly lead to not watching the movie while still being with Abram.

But to what end? The way he’d been teasing me all day, the easy banter, how I caught him looking at me in the bookstore and over dinner, how I’d undeniably been looking at him in the same way. I wasn’t stupid. All the variables plugged into an equation that equaled mutual attraction.

This wasn’t a crush, this was requited desire and reciprocated like. Kissing, unscripted touching, gazing, whispers. . . I was near dizzy at the thought. But in this specific case, that also totaled certain disaster.

He’s not a person you want to have feelings for.

And yet, I wanted.

Something is wrong with me.

“You’re tired?” he asked, following me into the kitchen and to the back stairs.