Here is part two of my latest story. As with most of what I write, there's a lot more to this than sex (in fact, you won't find any sex in this part), so to full enjoy the tale, please read part one. I look forward the reading any and all comments, and --as always-- I hope you enjoy. -SS
I crossed the road leading to a small house set back a few yards from the sidewalk, moving toward someone unloading his car into the driveway. He turned when he heard the sound of my sneakers against the gravel. “Hi there.” I held out my hand to him, which he accepted with a slight smile. “I don’t know if you remember me. I’m…”
“Charley. Yeah, I remember.” There was a small hesitation before he spoke “I'm Matt, by the way, in case I didn’t make memorable first impression.”
I smiled in return, “Maaatt! Right. From the giant plastic map board thing. I thought you looked familiar, but I just couldn’t quite place you.” He rolled his eyes at me. “Really, though, I was just considering the possibility that I could be the last person on this campus you want to get stuck with; in which case you could simply have started talking in a made up foreign language and shooed me away, which happens surprisingly often... ” Of course, I was joking. Small talk was a foreign concept to me, and I tended to avoid it whenever possible. However, it proved necessary at times, and my only saving grace was humor. Usually terrible terrible attempts at it.
A chuckle crossed his lips as he pulled a box from the trunk of his car. “So is your wit the reason you got stuck with me?” My wit was actually what kept me from being paralyzingly shy.
“How do you know I didn’t volunteer? I could be some crazy fan who's completely goo-goo over you.”
He stopped unloading and looked at me solidly for the first time, as if assessing me. “Is that what you are?”
“Of course not. Even if I were, I wouldn't admit it; that would just be silly. Do homicidal maniacs go around warning their victims before they strike? I think not, extraordinarily bad for business.” Serial killers was my default topic when nervous. “I'm Charley Zephyr. I was asked to show you around because I'm not a crazy fan who's completely goo-goo over you.”
A corner of his mouth flickered upward. “How flattering.”
“I do what I can.” The words came out fluidly, as if part of a natural response. “Want some help with this stuff?” He started to give me that look that I've gotten one too many times in my life to not recognize before it was even fully formed. “I'm stronger than I look.” At 5'5 and weighing less than 110 pounds, people often questioned my physical abilities; I liked to challenge that whenever possible. As if to prove myself, I lifted one of the boxes he had placed on the lawn. To my displeasure, it was heavier than I'd expected, but I held it regardless. He laughed again, showing a smile with straight white teeth. “I guess you are, but how about we wait on this,” he took the box from me, carrying it effortlessly and set it back in the car, “and you show me around first. That way you'll fulfill your obligation right off the bat, and I don't waste all of your day.”
“Oh, a day with Matt Ringler, what part of that could possibly be a waste. After all, I had to beat the other girls away with a very heavy, electrified stick in order to get this job.”
“Uh huh, you definitely strike me as the star-struck type.” He closed the trunk of his car. It was an older model than I would have expected from someone with money, though well restored and with a fresh coat of dark green paint. Matt looked at me expectantly. There was good humor in his eyes and his smile was one which had undoubtedly caused much swooning.
He was right about that, though. Star-struck was definitely not something that would describe my personality. Then again, it was rare I did things that the average female was “supposed” to do. I tended to only wear t-shirts, jeans and sneakers with my blonde hair up in a messy bun, as I didn't know how to do anything else to it. The only time I was caught in anything nicer was if the occasion called for it. That day, for instance, I did only a bit better than my usual with light brown shorts and a baby doll style tank top. Even with shorts I wore sneakers; I cursed the very existence of flip-flops. Swooning over guys was not my style, or a past time. My DVD collection was filled with far more horror movies, action adventure and thrillers than chick flicks, Stephen King took up most of my book shelf, and only real vampire novels were anywhere to be found (because real men don't sparkle). On top of that were a few scattered video games and an understanding of sports. Even so, I was not a complete “guy”. Being polite and appropriate were second nature, and soft-spoken would be an understatement when it came to describing me- in public at least. Not to mention, I carry the magical ability to walk in heels without looking like a baby giraffe.
Matt seemed good humored enough, so I continued to joke with him. “That's only because you haven't noticed what a master thief I am. Do you think I picked up that heavy box for nothing? I figure I could make a pretty penny off my new relic.” His expression flashed to that of minute concern. “I'm kidding. Now come on, I have a tour to give.”
So many other girls had pined and begged for the chance to show Matt around the campus on his first day, one even offering sexual favors to the department head. She was turned down immediately and people tend to whisper about her when she walks in the room, now. Guys had also been offering, some of them gay and some looking for a good buddy to help attract ladies.
It wasn't hard to believe people were going that out of control. Matt was, admittedly, wonderful to look at. His amazing smile could leave anyone swooning. It could be playful, charming, teasing, gentle, caring, mischievous... or so I'd heard. Cool blue eyes only added to the beauty, capable of more emotion than any number of words could hope to achieve. His voice was deep, the kind that rumbled through your chest when he spoke. There were a few freckles lining his nose and cheek bones, allowing for an almost playful, boyish look. Currently, his hair was shorter, just long enough to have been tousled around by the wind from the drive; I knew girls who would give anything to run their fingers through it, or even take a good grip of it. Standing next to him, I came to about his shoulders, putting him at around six feet. From what was visible, it was easy to tell he was well built, arms toned with muscle, without being terrifyingly WWE muscular. What was hidden by his loose t-shirt was also well toned, as was common knowledge to a number of people. Everything about him existed to get a girl in trouble. Masculinity and physical perfection aside, not only was he a movie star, but his family was filthy rich.
After his crazy, out of hand audition, he was accepted into the theatre program. As much as the school would have liked to have welcomed him just as they would any other first year, the campus-wide freak-out when the news began to spread made it obvious that that wouldn't exactly happen, not to mention the massive trouble at the auditions. The honest truth was that I had not volunteered for the position of tour guide for him, but was asked specifically to help him settle in because I was not the star-struck type. They had seen and heard about me handling him on his previous visit and admired it. 'Down to earth, logical, and in control' was how my theatre professors described me when they requested I be the one who helped. They trusted enough in my sanity that I wouldn't use my position to sneak into his bedroom in the middle of the night, or set up hidden cameras all over his apartment. I had no doubt that some girls in the department wouldn't think twice before doing either of those.
I took him around the campus, most of which he had already seen. As the summer session had already ended and fall classes would not start for another few weeks, the area was relatively empty. Also, Matt's arrival date had been “leaked” to the general public. Luckily for him, I was the one who leaked it, and he would not be pulling up to the campus for another week and a half. This made the walk much calmer with less screaming girls and possible sprints into abandoned buildings to avoid mob tramplings. He had pulled the same baseball cap he had previously donned low onto his head and sported a pair of sunglasses, so those who did walk by didn't pay him much attention. As the summer sun was high and hot in the sky, he did not look much different from the other guys walking around.
“So, what is it you liked about this school that made you want to come here?” I asked about a half an hour later, as we walked away from our meeting with the theatre faculty.
At first he didn't say anything, but just turned and looked at me. Even through his sunglasses I could tell he was giving me a look. One blessing I was always glad for was that I don't blush. No matter how embarrassed or humiliated I get, my cheeks remain a neutral color. A small wave of heat rushed over me when I saw his look. Had I said something stupid? “Would you like me to rephrase the question? I could ask in pig-Latin, if that would better suit you...”
He chuckled. “Well, my parents wanted me to look into the programs of different universities and see which one best fit with what I was trying to find, but in the end I just picked the one that had the hottest girls sunbathing on my campus visit.” He spoke in such a matter-of-fact tone that even my wit almost failed me. Only almost.
“And now that you're actually here you've realized that you'll have to transfer because those girls you saw sunbathing were actually paid models expertly placed for your looking pleasure and really all the girls who genuinely go here are either trashy skanks, prissy bitches, insufferable know-it-alls, or, well... me...whatever the hell kind of a person that is, and I really hope it's none of the above.” He pulled his sunglasses off and looked me in the eyes, one of his coy smiles on his lips. Again, I felt myself grow hot. Then, slowly, his shook his head with a laugh. I tried not to wonder what he was thinking, though I was hoping that I had not come off as an insufferable know-it-all. In return to his shaking his head, I gave a shrug, giving a bit of a smile. “But really, why here?”
“Instead of some prestigious private school where I would be granted my own house and have a ball thrown in my honor or a building erected after me if I so desired and yadda yadda yadda? Truth is: this school has an amazing program, as I'm sure you know.” I nodded in agreement. “The campus is beautiful... with and without the sunbathing girls, the town isn't insanely big, and neither is the school, though it is big enough to get a little lost in, which is a charm in itself. But what really sealed the deal was that the professors made me feel like I was just another student auditioning for their program, like they had never seen or heard of me before. Other schools had accepted me into their program without even asking for an audition; this school expected it. That might sound like something that isn't so great, but trust me that can be a huge relief. I mean, other schools invited me to 'dine with the faculty', asked me to do photo-shoots or guest lecture classes and all this other....nonsense.” He looked down at me, a look that I knew meant assessment, but of what I couldn't tell.
He must have trusted whatever he found, because he went on. “Some people say that if I didn't want people climbing over each other trying to get my autograph or going out of their way...and getting into mine... trying to take my picture and the other stupid crazy stuff people do, then I shouldn't have become an actor. I see their point, but I also say that hundreds of thousands of other people get to do what they love every day without having their privacy invaded, why can't I? My dream wasn't to be a 'famous actor', only to be an actor. Fame just happened to come with it.” His voice was genuine, and it was obvious he truly meant what he was saying.
Admittedly, I had often thought the same thing myself, and it was a large contributor to my lack of a star-struck mentality. On occasion, I had passed a famous actor while walking through the city; it was rare, though it had happened. Once they had filmed a huge movie in the town next to mine and I saw quite a few people I recognized then, but it meant very little to me. I was seeing people, artists, workers. I admired their work, but that did not mean I had to be obsessed with one of the creators of it. My mind went to the sincerity in his voice and I admired it as well. “What? What's that look?”
Lost in thought, I hadn't noticed that I was smiling. I laughed at myself. “Nothing, just thinking.” He seemed to accept it, though unsatisfied, as the best answer I would give. “So, what is it that you're hoping to get out of the school?”
“You mean 'why would you bother going to school if you're already successful?'”
“Well... kind of, but no.” The way he worded it had a different feel to it, almost a negative one. It wasn't what I wanted. “I mean, you did decide to go to school. A lot of people see going to school as a means to get good a job, which you already have. But there's a lot more to get out of school than a successful career if you're willing to work for it. Some people go to finish or get a degree because it seems like something you’re supposed to do, you know? It's a... rite of passage, I guess. Other people go for other reasons. You had to have been looking for something. Besides, school isn't just acting classes. Not only do you have to delve into other areas of theatre, but you'll also have your gen eds to take. It’s a lot of work. People with good sense don’t go to school just because they can afford it.”
He stopped walking, turning to me and removing his sunglasses completely. For a moment, it looked like he was going to speak, but he only shook his head, slid his glasses back over his ears and began walking again. Thinking I should accept it, I followed behind. Then, “Sorry. Most people have asked me why I would bother going to school. I guess I was just ready to get defensive. Your question, it sounds the same, on the surface, but it's not is it?” I shook my head, feeling I didn't have to answer, but giving him one regardless. “I didn't think so.” He was silent for a moment, watching two squirrels chase each other around a tree. “Let me get back to you on that one.” I nodded in agreement and let the question drop.
We continued walking, and I asked him more about himself, straying away from anything Hollywood related. He was genuine in everything he said, when he wasn't joking of course, and thought before he spoke. Some of my questions he managed to counter, directing them towards me, but I had long since mastered the art of avoiding conversations about my life. Humor helped that, too.
“So, where are you from?” I finally asked, watching him adjust his sunglasses against the bridge of his nose.
“Are you asking so that you can track down my childhood home and steal my teddy bear?”
As he looked over at me, I pretended to hold a pen in one hand, poised to write on the imaginary pad of paper grasped in my other. The second the question mark showed on his face, I made as if trying to hide both objects from his view. “Uh... no. Of course not. What would make you think a thing like that?”
He chuckled, crinkling up his nose in the process and shaking his head. “You know, I do imagine that information is available on the internet.” His tone was playful, yet held an almost hidden air of distaste.
Regardless, I nodded. “Yeah, I do imagine it would be. IMDb is filled with everything anyone could ever want to know about you. The school website also has maps of the campus and a frequently asked questions page. There's really no need for me, now is there?” My tone was even, without annoyance or bitterness.
Even so, my words, once again, made that assessment look toy across his features. “Dexter, Georgia,” he said, without further prompting. “It's this little town about two hours south east of Atlanta.”
“You like it?”
“I love it,” he smiled a bit, stealing a glance at me. “And I miss it. It's been a while since I've been there.” Matt bent and picked a discarded fast food cup, juggling it between his hands. It was a little weird, seeing him play with trash, but I didn't have a chance to ask before he continued. “L.A. is alright. There's definitely a lot more to do, but it's not the same. Sometimes I miss knowing people's names and caring about my neighbors, you know? People in L.A. walk around like they're in their own little bubble. You avoid eye contact, look straight ahead and avoid physical closeness. So often, you have no idea what's real and what's fake. It's not like that in Dexter, not at all.” Just as we got to a pair of trashcans set of the sidewalk, he tossed the cup inside. That was the reason he had picked it up, to put it in its proper place. To clean up. My heart decided to thump an extra beat.
“So... uh...” Words temporarily forgot how to form. I took a deep breath. “You have any brothers or sisters in Dexter, Georgia?”
We were getting close to his apartment again, less than a mile off. “I do. An older brother, Mason, who likes to remind me that he's bigger than me at every possible moment.” I laughed, trying to imagine an older, bigger version of Matt, probably with the same coy smile, imagine them young and roughhousing. “Plus two younger sisters. Rachel is 24, but don't tell her I told you that. She likes to say she's 22. I don't really get the point of lying since she's lived in the same town her whole life and is already married to guy she started dating when she was 15.” This made me sad, a sort of nostalgic sadness as opposed to being sad for her. The image of high school sweethearts had long since upset me.
“You wouldn't think she's married, from what I've heard. It seems like she's always hanging out my parents' house. Not like, in a getting away from her husband kind of way, but more of a... she hasn't quite learned how to cook way. We get along fine, but she can be so high maintenance sometimes; I don't know how Travis keeps up with it. Then there's Renee; she's the baby. 17, senior in high school. She's still looking for herself, you know? She jumps between being a complete tomboy and prettying herself up in dresses and making sure not a single hair is out of place.” He laughed, looking off a head of us, his eyes going slightly out of focus.
“It sounds like you miss them.”
He nodded, “Oh yeah. We were all always really close. Even me and Renee. We didn't really get to spend much time together, since she's ten years younger than I am. I left when I was her age to head to L.A., so the age gap was kind of off putting. We talk a lot, though. I can't go a week without calling my family.”
“Are you the only one who's moved out of town?”
Just like that, his smile grew a hint of sadness. “The one and only. Renee obviously still lives at home. Rachel went to school forty-five minutes away, went home every weekend, every holiday. Mason did the same thing, except he still lives at home. Well, he rents out the guest house, but he still sleeps in his old bedroom.” The second he started laughing, I couldn't help but join in. Everything about his happiness in that moment was contagious.
At that moment, we reached his apartment, it was a little past three. The sun had not let up in the least, and it had to be in the 90s. “Still willing to carry some boxes? It'd be a big help.”
I gave him a smile and answered honestly, “I'm always willing to help.” He opened the trunk and began unloading into my arms and the front lawn of the building. My first steps into small house left me a little surprised. It was much smaller that I had been anticipating. The living room and kitchen were about the same size that mine were in my apartment and his bedroom, as I found on my second trip, was only slightly bigger than my own. After a total of about four trips each, everything was unpacked from his car, leaving boxes, bags and everything in between scattered around his living area.
“I don't mean this offensively and I apologize if you take it that way,” I began, looking around at the boxes that littered the room and at the apartment itself, “but I would have expected you to have more stuff, and possibly a bigger apartment.”
He laughed then, truly laughed as a smile spread on his face and he plopped himself down on his “new” cheap sofa. “No offense taken.” It took him a moment to finish chuckling before he responded further. “I see you learned absolutely nothing about me over the past two hours because you still apparently think that I am some rich, spoiled star who has collected endless amounts of useless shit just for the sake of having it.”
I worked up my best bewildered face. “Whoa, wait, what? You mean you're not?”
“Always a critic.” He chuckled again. “Are you hungry? I was thinking about ordering a pizza.”
I was starving. “No, I'm good. But if you want pizza, make sure you order from Gonzo's. They have real pizza, not the frozen dough crap.” Having grown up down the road from a pizzeria, I was known to be picky.
Matt was smiling at me, his blue eyes sparkling even in the dim light of his new living room. Again, it seemed as though he was assessing me. “Duly noted.” For a second he just looked at me. Suddenly self-conscious, I had the strong desire to move but found myself unable. Finally, he spoke again. “Well, if you don't want any pizza, would you at least like some water or something? And by something I mean water because I don't actually have any food or drink products of any kind yet.”
“Water is great.” The urge to leave lessened, but remained in the smallest degree.
“Come to think of it, I don't even know where my cups are.” He got up and started looking at the boxes as if hoping a cup would pop out for his convenience.
It was my turn to laugh. “I could always stick my head under the faucet.”
He was reaching for a box to search through, but stopped and looked up. “Really? That would save me a lot of trouble of going through these boxes.”
Sighing, I sat down on the floor and began to pry open a box. “You know, this is what they make permanent markers for.” My box was filled with DVDs and some assorted books. The titles caught my interest and I was lost in riffling through them, satisfied with his taste in entertainment. Next thing I knew, a balled up bit of newspaper struck me in the face. Looking up in surprise I saw Matt feigning innocence as he pulled newspaper wrapped plates out of a box. He didn't even look at me, so I picked up the paper and threw it back.
“Hey, what was that for?”
“Oh don't even. You started it.” He shrugged playfully, as if saying he weren't ashamed of the truth behind it. We popped a few more boxes open, riffling through the contents.
“What about you?” There had been a long silence, filled only with the sound of tape being ripped from cardboard. His voice startled me a bit, the question a bit more.
I shifted my gaze from my box to him and back to the box quickly, feeling the uncomfortable itch that came with conversation turning in my direction. “What about me?” It took a bit of effort to keep the uncertainty out of my voice, but I managed.
“Where are you from?”
“Here. Well... not here here, upstate a bit.” He nodded, shortly, seeming to catch the lack of elaboration in my response.
“You get to see your family often, then?”
A knot formed in my stomach, a cold, unforgiving knot. “Actually, I uh...” Just then my phone rang, cutting me off. Seeing the number caused a pull of panic in the pit of my stomach. I immediately started getting up from my place on the floor. “I have to go.”
Whatever the expression was on my face at that moment, it must not have been good. “Whoa, is something wrong?” His body straightened as if he were readying himself to stand up too.
There was, indeed, something wrong. “Uh... no. No, I just lost track of time is all. Sorry. I had a really g... It-it was nice meeting you…again. If you need anything else, well, help with anything else or anything just call... or text if you're not a calling type of person. You have my number, right?”
He started to raise himself to his feet. “Yeah, but...”
“I really need to go. I'm sorry. Goodbye, Matt.” With that, I took off out the door. Luckily, I caught the phone on its final ring.
The questions began.
Sam didn't live at my apartment, but that was where he was waiting for me, regardless, an argument was quick to his tongue. The details had since become insignificant and overly redundant. I took it in stride. Once upon a time he was a great guy all the time: sweet and polite. He even held doors open and insisted on paying. He did things he had zero interest in simply because I was interested.
Then he cheated and once upon a time became a distant memory. After two years of dating and I lifetime of friendship, I felt obligated to give him another chance. But the day that I found him in his apartment with another girl, something else came out of him, something almost bitter. He apologized until I wanted to tape his mouth shut, but clutched onto me as if I had been the one who’d found something on the side.
The worst part came shortly after. He got down on one knee and it became impossible to walk away. I kept thinking my Sam was going to pop back up. He didn't.
Admittedly, Sam was not completely unfortunate in his looks. In an earlier life, that of high school, he fancied himself an athlete, one of the best defense players on his football team. He left his blonde hair a bit shaggy, though kept his sideburns and connected goatee tighter to his face. During an argument – it was hard to say exactly when as the arguments had become far too frequent – we found that his wrist was easily larger than my biceps, which in themselves were not completely hopeless. Only further reflecting upon his personality, lately he felt the need to wear shirts two sizes too small. Apparently his muscularity was not obvious enough without such emphasis. It was not rare for him to go out and find a number of girls to work a bit of flirtation on him, though it was rare that any flirtation would last for long after he opened his mouth. Mostly I ignored it, too fed up to really care.
The one time I threatened to take the ring off, he cried. Dropped down next to me and cried, saying he was trying to get better, going to get better. I hadn't been sure, at that time, what I should feel. The moment I had caught him cheating I was relatively numb. It didn't tie my stomach in knots, make me want to hit him or leave me wanting to claw out the other girl’s eyes. I did think about it quite a bit, but mostly just to try and figure out why I didn't seem to care. When he proposed, I didn't jump up and down with excitement. I smiled politely, said yes and moved on with my life. Through those moments I realized that not only did I not love Sam, but I didn't believe in love at all.
I had never felt head over heels with him, never felt the need to pour out my soul. There was no time in memorable history that he sent butterflies through my stomach. We were good friends who kissed, held hands and cuddled during movies.
Okay, so I did believe in some love somewhere far away. My parents had been in love, but they were the exception. Love was like magic, not everyone was capable and most refused to see it. I was with Sam because he was safe, predictable.
“You'll never get another guy like me. Remember that, Charley!” He slammed the door, with much more force than necessary to achieve his wanted effect, though matching the tone of his anger perfectly. As I toyed with the ring on my finger, I couldn't help but think that I hoped he was right. But I knew Sam would never get another girl like me, one with brains and talents. He would never deserve her.
Just as I dropped myself to the couch, my phone rang again. This one was a special ring tone, so I knew who it was right away. “Hey, Jer. What's up?”
A cheery voice greeted me on the other end. “Charley! I have been bouncing up and down all day waiting for you to call me. When did you get back? How did it go? Why haven't you called me?! I have never been so disappointed to have already graduated college before in my life!” Jeremiah was the one person I had trusted enough with the actual arrival date, and was the only non-faculty person who knew it was happening today.
“Chill out. I just got back. Honestly, I might still be there if it weren't for Sam calling me and yelling my ear off.” Obvious annoyance colored my tone as I began pulling my shoes off and moving toward my make-shift pantry.
“Ignoring that jerk for a moment, what took you so long? You were just supposed to give him a tour of campus.” He sounded far too excited for simply asking about how a tour went.
Grabbing a box meal off the food shelf, I flipped it to look at the instructions. “That's what I did. We went to every building, he brought along his class schedule and we went through where everything was for that. I showed him the football stadium...”
Jeremiah interrupted me, “That would definitely not take as long as you've been out.”
“Oh, you're absolutely right. I totally forgot the part where he threw me down on his cheap, spring mattress bed and ravished me until I begged him to stop.” I put a pot of water on the stove to boil and rolled my eyes, knowing it couldn't be seen over the phone, but also knowing he would sense that it was happening.
“Alright, miss sarcasm. All I'm saying is that you must have done more than just give him a tour.”
“We took our time. I don't know; we were talking and stuff. Then, when we got back, he asked me if I could help him unpack his car, which I did. That was about the time that Sam called, and I hurried back in hopes that maybe he wouldn't yell quite so much, but no luck there.” Bitterness was clear in my voice as I dumped the contents of my box dinner into the slowly bubbling water.
“Are you going to see him again?”
“For the love of...” I couldn't help but laugh. “You make it sound like it was a first date or something. The theatre faculty asked me to show him around; I did. They gave him my phone number in case he has any questions or anything like that, in which case, yes I'll see him again. If not, I'll see him when school starts, if any of the people in the department leave him alone long enough for him to be visible.” I picked up a spoon and swirled around the contents of the pot, hearing Matt's thoughts of fame circle around in my head. Intermittent images of his smile made it difficult to focus.
“Do you think he recognized you?”
“Yeah. He told me he remembered me from the auditions.”
He sighed. “That’s not what I’m talking about and you kn…”
“Don't even start with that.” My playful tone took on a twist of seriousness as he danced to the topic I had told him to drop the moment the faculty asked me to give Matt the tour.
His tone, however, kicked up the playfulness. “Oh, come on, Charley. Don't you remember that he...”
“Jeremiah!” I gave a short laugh to let him know I wasn't upset. “You're done, okay? No more talky. We'll hang out sometime this week and then you can spew your ridiculous thoughts.”
“You sure Sam won't mind you spending time with me?” The name oozed from his mouth. Even over the phone I could see the face he was making in its utterance.
“He'd probably mind more if it weren't for the fact that he thinks you're gay.”
He sighed over the line. “You know, most girls aren't able to admit that they're in a shitty relationship. I will never understand you. I'll talk to you later, hon.”
“Night, Jer.” The phone clicked off.
Later that I night I settled into my bed with a book, as was normal for me to do. When I finished the final page with a satisfied smile, it was just about time to call it quits for the night. I rolled to turn my light off when my phone began to vibrate, nearly moving itself off my milk crate night stand. Catching it, I unlocked the screen to a new text message.
Thanks again for your help.
The number wasn't saved in my phone, but I was able to figure pretty well who had sent it. I thought about the hurried manner in which I had left and the trouble that had progressed afterward. Detachment was how I had learned to handle just about anything in life, and it was what I had planned for Matt. I also couldn't help but think that his message was spelled out in complete words, instead of something along the lines of 'ty 4 ur hlp', which for some reason made me chuckle.
Of course. It's what they pay me for.
If he couldn't catch the bit of humor in the statement, then I obviously hadn't done my job earlier in the day while I was with him. I flicked off the light and rolled back over onto my left side, sliding my phone under my pillow and getting ready to fall asleep. Just as I was reaching that place in between being awake and being asleep, my phone went off again.
The backlight burned my eyes and it took a second to read the next message.
Obviously, my hopes that I had not seemed completely distraught and somewhat out of my mind when I left were fruitless. Answering his question honestly was not even an option, but I was far from a fan of lying.
Just the side effects of being a superhero
Joking didn't count as lying. Again, I slid my phone under my pillow and rolled over to sleep. Before my hand even left the phone, it was vibrating. The message came in two bursts.
Well, I hope you got the bad guy. I wanted to ask if there was any chance I could get some of your help tomorrow, finding stores and places to eat and such? I'd really appreciate it, but if you can't it's fine.
Again, my mind went to the troubles of the day, tempting me to respond in the negative. I began typing a response when the phone flashed yet another new message.
Plus, you're the only person here who I know.
Followed immediately by...
And it's what they pay you for, isn't it?
Unless, of course, you need to save Gotham.
He would have had me at being the only person he knew, but his humor sealed the deal for him. It was not often that a written message brought a laugh past my lips. I responded with an agreement, cleared the conversation from my phone and immediately fell asleep.