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- XVII -

Now

"…To get more", Dylan said.

I blinked and turned around. For the last ten minutes I’ve been staring out of the window, caught in my own thoughts that were filling my head with urgent buzzing. I haven’t heard a single word of what he said.

"What?" I asked. "Sorry, I was thinking."

"I said you are out of coffee", he said slowly. "You’ll need to get more. What are you thinking about?"

I smiled and went away from the window.

"About the fact that I am liking that idea more and more", I said and took the empty coffee bag out of his hands.

"What idea?" he narrowed his eyes with suspicion.

He looked like someone who is expecting to hear some really bad news.

"Us moving somewhere", I said and he relaxed. "What did you think I was gonna say?"

"I don’t know", he shrugged. "Something about you losing yourself again…"

"I don’t even care about that anymore", I sighed and pulled him closer. "My priorities have changed in case if you never noticed."

He pressed his forehead against mine.

"When do you want to move?" he asked softly. "And where?"

"I’m gonna stop by my work place today", I muttered, slowly running my fingers along his neckline. "Let them know that I quit… In a couple of weeks, maybe…? As for where…" I shrugged. "Doesn’t matter. We’ll flip a coin or something."

"Okay", he said, his breath warm on my face.

It felt strange and amazing to have him back in my life. I spent eight years trying my best to forget him and to put every single thought of him out of my head. I thought I’ve succeeded. And it only took him a couple of days to turn everything upside down again. Now I couldn’t even imagine being without him.

I slid my hand under the collar of his shirt and frowned when my fingers ran across something that felt weird. I pulled his shirt aside and stared at the decent size bite mark. It looked new too.

"Did I do that?" I muttered, carefully touching it.

He raised his head and looked at me, his transparent eyes tranquil.

"Yeah", he said softly.

"Jesus…" I winced. "I am sorry…"

"Don’t worry about it", he almost purred. "You can mark me anyway you want…"

"Mark you?" I laughed quietly. "I wasn’t marking you…"

"Well", he said, his fingers playing with my hair. "If you want to, feel free. Tattoo me for all I care."

"Tempting", I muttered. "I don’t know about tattooing but I might draw something on you… With edible paint."

"Wanna practice drawing now?" he murmured.

"Tempting", I said again. "But first of all your ribs need to heal better and second of all…" I sighed. "I don’t have any paint."

He gave me his usual smile and I marveled at my body’s response to that. Seriously, it’s like I am becoming one of Pavlov’s dogs or something. I considered practicing some drawing without any paint but at the last second decided against it. Really, I need him to heal faster and if I keep succumbing every time, it’ll be a long time until he is fully functional again.

"I’m going to go get more coffee", I said and he let out a small sigh. "And then I will stop by my work place to let them know that I am quitting."

"Two weeks notice?" He looked at me with a mix of mockery and surprise. "Really? You actually gonna give them your two weeks notice?"

"That would be a nice thing to do", I nodded. "Some people do that, you know… But no, I’ll just tell them I won’t come in anymore. They won’t get too upset though… Especially after I gave my manager some serious burns by spilling my coffee all over him…"

He laughed softly at that. I ran my fingers through his hair, thinking that now apparently it was my turn to transform into a clingy one, since I started constantly craving at least some contact with him. I shrugged it off. Yeah, I am clingy, end of story. I grabbed my keys and my wallet, put my shoes on and managed to leave the apartment in less than an hour after I did that. On my way to the car I felt somewhat proud of my self control.

****

I decided to stop by my work first since this task was much less pleasant than buying coffee. To my enormous surprise the whole thing took me maybe fifteen minutes tops. "It was nice knowing you, have a pleasant life", that was pretty much what I’ve been told. I signed a couple of papers and soon enough I was standing in front of the coffee display at the closest Starbucks.

I was staring at the French Roast without even seeing it. The only thing on my mind was Dylan, of course. I was trying to figure out the best place for us to move when someone slapped me on my shoulder.

"Well, what do you know!"

That brought me back to reality and I turned around.

"Tanner", I said evenly.

Is he stalking me or something?

"I was thinking about calling you later today", he said with a wide smile.

"Really", I didn’t even bother making it sound like a question.

"Yeah", he nodded. "I am leaving tomorrow morning. Going back home. Hey, Mickey got out of the hospital!"

"Really?" This time the question formed itself without any effort from me. "I thought he was in a really crappy condition."

"He is", Tanner nodded. "The doctors were against it but…" he shrugged. "You know Mickey. He bitched and moaned until they finally caved in. He hates hospitals."

"Uh huh", I nodded and grabbed two bags of French Roast from the display.

I paid for my coffee and was about to say something like "Okay, have a safe trip" or some other crap like that when Tanner said:

"Hey, let’s have at least a cup of coffee, shall we? I mean, I haven’t seen you forever! God knows when I’m gonna see you again!"

I considered that for a couple of seconds. I really didn’t want to talk to him but I figured that I might as well do that. So I ordered myself an espresso and soon enough we were sitting outside, drinking our coffees and smoking. Tanner kept blabbering nonstop about something and I barely listened to him. Suddenly his pocket meowed and he stopped talking.

"Excuse me", he muttered and pulled his phone out. "Hello? Oh hey, babe! What?" he frowned slightly. "You serious? Oh, man… Jenny, you are something…" he laughed softly. "Uh huh… What time? Four forty, got it. Look, I was planning on going home tomorrow, you didn’t have to…" he laughed again. "Yeah, yeah, I know, you crazy cat! Okay, yeah, I’ll see you later… Love you too. Bye…"

He put the phone on the table next to his coffee cup and shook his head.

"Women", he muttered. "Get this, she is flying in to surprise me!"

"Who is flying in?" I asked politely.

"Jenny", he grinned. "My girlfriend. She said she wouldn’t even let me know but she needs a ride from the airport…" he laughed again.

"Where do you stay now?" I drank some of my espresso. "At Mickey’s?"

"Oh God, no!" he grimaced. "Mickey is a pain in the ass even when he is healthy. I am staying at the Seventh Continent."

"That’s a nice hotel", I nodded.

"It’s not too bad", he agreed. "Here, check it out…"

He fumbled in his pocket for several seconds and finally pulled out his wallet. He flipped it open and handed me a small photograph. I looked at it. It was a picture of a young woman. She had incredibly blonde shiny hair that immediately reminded me of Dylan, small sharp facial features, and a wide sincere smile.

"It’s Jenny", Tanner said and I glanced at him when his voice became unusually warm.

"She’s really pretty", I nodded and returned the picture.

"Pretty?" he snorted. "She is hot, man!"

I laughed and nodded.

"My bad."

He smiled and put his wallet away.

"So did Mickey say what the hell happened to him?" I asked indifferently and Tanner’s eyes immediately became wary.

"Yeah", he nodded, his face hidden behind his coffee cup. "Some psycho assaulted him… Robbery or some shit like that."

"I see", I said slowly. "Well…" I finished my espresso. "I gotta go, Tanner. Have a safe trip and…"

"Wait", he said and I blinked at the desperation in his voice. "Connor, can I ask you a personal question?"

Personal question?

"Sure", I nodded.

He looked like someone who is trying to come up with a brilliant idea but has nothing.

"Ummm… When we were in high school", he said finally. "Almost everyone believed that you and that new guy we had our senior year…" He coughed. "Well, everyone believed that you two were sleeping together… Was it true?"

I almost frowned. Why the hell is he asking me this?

"Yeah", I said evenly. "It was true. Why?"

"Huh", he muttered. "I’ll be damned… I was just curious…"

Curious my ass. He looked like he was trying to come up with something else and then I realized who he reminded me of. Someone who is trying to waste as much time as possible with useless questions and pointless remarks.

"I gotta go, Tanner", I said and he looked like he was about to grab onto my sleeve to keep me in place.

Suddenly his phone meowed again and he grabbed it from the table with speed of light.

"Yeah", he breathed when he pressed it against his ear. "Yeah? Okay, got it."

He shut his phone and gave me a relieved smile.

"Sorry for that last question", he said and got up. "It was just bugging me. Hey, I gotta take off."

"No problem", I got up as well and shook his outstretched hand. "Have a safe trip."

"Will do", he nodded and raced to his car.

I watched him drive away and I couldn’t get rid of the heavy bad feeling that started gnawing on the back of my neck with icy cold sharp teeth.
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