The apartment was up two flights of stairs. The party had started an hour ago. He arrived as quickly as he could after he received a text from David to stop by the liquor store for more beer. Always more beer.
Inside, he looked around. Not a bad crowd, he thought. Lots of faces he didn’t know. He took the beer to the kitchen and placed the two twelve packs in the fridge, but not before grabbing one for himself. He changed his mind when he noticed that they weren’t as cold as the ones that had been inside the fridge, so he took one of those instead. He felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Guess who?” asked a woman’s voice.
He had no idea. He turned around.
Shit. It was Sarah. David sister’s friend. Double shit. He had met her last time he went to one of David’s parties. Emily had come to drop off some food she made for his party and Sarah had come with her. Emily had left, but Sarah had stayed and had thrown herself at him and it was not a pleasant experience. The girl could talk. She had him pinned down for two hours and she acted like she expected to see him again. He never called her. And now here she was. Damn it.
“Hey…” He pointed at her and smiled, beer in hand.
She hugged him. He did not hug back.
“Hi! I wasn’t sure if you were coming, but then I saw David arrive about ten minutes ago, and he mentioned you were on a beer run.”
How could he get rid of her? He needed to think of something fast. Just then, he saw a flash of short blonde curls coming into the kitchen, Emily. Save me, he thought as he looked at Emily, silently pleading her to help him.
“Yeah, it’s good to see you, too,” he said, still trying to think of a way out.
“I almost brought a date, but it’s a good thing I didn’t,” Sarah said.
He looked past Sarah at Emily and held her gaze.
“Sorry, I’m actually sort of seeing someone.” It was a lie. Emily, who had heard, knew it, too. Sarah however, wasn’t even fazed.
“Oh, well that’s okay I mean, she’s not coming, is she?”
And that’s when Emily finally came in for the save. She had remembered how Sarah had gone on and on about him after meeting him. It was obvious now that he didn’t reciprocate those feelings.
“Yes. Hey, actually she’s just back there.” Emily came around to put her hand on his arm. “This guy here helped us move in. And I guess he and Elle really hit it off,” Emily said to Sarah. Then she looked back at him. “Actually, before you go over there, I was wondering if I could ask you to help open the window in my bedroom. It’s stuck and David hasn’t had a chance to try. And then I will let your date have you, I promise.”
“Sure.” What the fuck was happening?
Once they were inside of Emily’s room, he asked, “Okay, who’s Elle?”
“I’m sorry. I panicked. You needed a save. Fucking Sarah, she’s so persistent. You remember Elle. She’s my friend from high school. She’s been at the University of Maryland for two years. She’s the one in the graduation picture you like, from my parents’ house.”
He swallowed. He remembered the picture she was referring to. “She’s the one who’s moving back?”
Emily nodded, smiling.
He wasn’t surprised he didn’t know. David didn’t exactly talk about his sister or her friends very often. He thought this party was just because Emily had gotten a new place. Ordinarily him and David didn’t hang out with Emily and her friends, but David had wanted to come tonight and it wasn’t hard to convince the rest of the guys to come along, too.
“You can kill me later. I wasn’t planning on saying that. Let me text Elle. Wait, I’ll call her.”
He took a deep breath. “Well, anything is better than being stuck with your crazy friend. Unless Elle is another nut job. She’s not, right?” he asked, smiling.
Emily laughed. “No, Elle won’t bother you too much. She’s a little on the quiet side. Okay wait, let me call her. Also, I wasn’t kidding. The window really is stuck. Could you try?”
Emily pulled her phone out of the pocket and called Elle, who was in the living room.
“Okay, I had to save one of my brother’s friends. He was being hounded by Sarah. I don’t know why I invite her anymore. Anyway, really quickly, he told her he was seeing someone else, which is a total lie. And she still fucking tried to pounce on him because he wasn’t actually with his date, so I kind of told her that his date was here and that you were his, uh, date… Just made it work for one night. You don’t even have hang together. He’s going to hang out with my brother anyway. Please. Please. Please. Be nice to him. He’s David’s best friend. Love you. Oh, and you met because he helped us move in here. We’re in my room right now, I’ll bring him right out.”
Meanwhile, he had gotten the window open.
“Thanks. Okay, so Elle will be fine. And she’s my best friend. So be like really nice.”
“At least it will be an interesting night.” They walked back out into the party.
“Elle, sorry I had to steal your beau. He got the window open!!!” Elle smiled and
turned to look at both of them. The man was tall, a whole six inches taller than Elle. He had dark skin and dark hair. She wondered if her was Greek. He was definitely good looking. He had a long thin face with big dark soft eyes. He politely kissed her on cheek. Elle couldn’t remember the last time a complete stranger kissed her on the cheek, but then again, he wasn’t supposed to be a complete stranger. They had to make it look like they had chemistry, but she was touched by the simple gesture nonetheless. He pushed his hair back, waiting for her next move.
Elle excused herself from the conversation she was having with an old friend and he led her to a quiet corner in the apartment. He leaned in close, his right hand brushing her hip ever so slightly. She was just as beautiful as he remembered from the picture at David’s house, except for the glasses. Elle normally wore contacts but couldn’t bear to wear them today. She was still jet-lagged from her trip and her eyes felt dry. He took a sip of beer. She was definitely cute. Her dark brown hair was up in a ponytail. She was dressed casually in a pair of tight jeans and an old Bob Dylan shirt which fit her just right.
“I am so sorry about this,” he whispered into her ear.
Elle smiled. “It’s okay. It’s what Emily does. I’m used to it. So, where’s the girl we’re doing this for?”
He described her with his back to the room and Elle scanned the party.
“Shit, she’s looking in our direction, but pretending she’s not. Ooh, I know her. She went to our high school. God, I didn’t like her then.” He stayed close to her.
Elle put her hand on his chest. “If we are going to make this believable, we have to get out of here for a second. Let’s go outside.” She took his hand and led him to the balcony.
Once outside, he gently backed her into the sliding glass door and leaned in. “This should look real enough,” he said. She smelled good, he thought.
“Easy, easy. Don’t give me bad rep. Everyone will think I’m super easy. I just met you,” she said softly, but she was smiling.
His lips hovered over her collarbone, coming ever so closely without actually doing anything. From the inside of the party, though, it didn’t look that way. The sheerness of the curtains made the illusion all too real. “I helped you move, so you didn’t just meet me,” he said.
Elle laughed. “No. Mary and Jordan helped us move. And they’re inside., I should text them to lie for us if it comes up.” Elle turned and headed for the bench. “C’mon, let’s sit down for a minute.”
She pulled out her phone and sat down, sending a group text to Jordan and Mary. “Okay, Jordan and Mary are up to speed.” Elle laughed to herself. “Wow, this is crazy.”
He sat down next to her and looked at Elle. She crossed her legs, suddenly self-conscious. Her body had reacted to him when he pushed her against the sliding glass door. He had been gentle, but the effect was a powerful one. It didn’t help that he was incredibly good-looking. He had that southern California look down. He seemed easy-going and looked great in the black t-shirt he was wearing and what she guessed must have been designer jeans and shoes.
“So, what are you going to do once you’re back?” he asked, breaking the ice.
Elle shrugged. “Get a job, go to school. You know, the norm.”
Emily knocked on the sliding glass door and joined them outside. “Elle, I just talked to David, so he’s knows now.”
“Okay. God, I haven’t even had a chance to say ‘hi’ to David yet. So, what’s the plan? I’m just supposed to lie to everyone in there because one girl couldn’t get her feelings hurt?” Elle asked, remembering David and what had transpired last time she saw him two years ago.
Emily glared at Elle.
He was quick to defend himself. “Whoa, hey. This wasn’t my idea. You can do what you want. You don’t have to help me. I’ll figure something out. Don’t worry about it.” He smiled a tight-lipped smile, left the two of them, and went back inside.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Emily asked once he was gone.
“I’m sorry. Shit.” Elle sighed. “I just got embarrassed when you mentioned David. We just got his friend involved in some crazy lie. And I’m tired and grumpy. I’m sorry.”
“Okay, I got his friend involved in a crazy lie, but it’s harmless. And Adam doesn’t care, no one cares. It’s not a big deal.” Emily sat down. “Elle, David’s friends are awesome. And that one…well, he likes you.”
Elle looked at Emily. “What are you talking about?”
“Elle…he likes you,” Emily said.
“How do you know that?”
“You know that picture of us on graduation day? The one where you have your robe in
your arm and, you’re laughing?”
“What about it?”
“He looks at that picture a lot when he comes over my parents’ house. Last Christmas we all had a little bit too much to drink, and he asked me about it. He wanted to know who you were, where you were. I’ve seen him look at it like at least a dozen times.”
“How do you know he likes me? Maybe he likes you.”
“He does not like me. He’s never ever made a pass at me. And he can be on the tad outspoken side. Listen, he’s a good guy. My favorite of David’s friends. Didn’t you always want to date one of his friends anyway?”
She laughed. “When we were like sixteen!” Elle left out the fact that at one point, she had wanted to date David, but never told Emily.
“Well, wishes do come true. What do you think, anyway? Think he’s cute?”
Elle thought about his dark hair. The way it had tickled her neck when he was leaning in close. She thought about his dark eyes, his dark skin and wide smile.
“He’s definitely cute,” Elle said.
“Yay!” Emily clapped.
“Oh, Em. Don’t get your hopes up. I can’t do this right now. I literally just moved back.”
“Okay, okay, I know,” they were interrupted when David knocked on the sliding glass door. He waved then came out. “Emily, something is going off in the kitchen.”
“Oh shit, the cookies.” She stood up and David took her place.
Elle’s heart pounded in her chest as she stood up for a hug.
“David, hi!” she said as he hugged her back. David towered over her at 6’3”. His straight dirty blond hair was still slightly long, but not as long as it had been when she had last seen him. Elle thought back to that incredible week they shared. She wondered if he ever thought about it. Seeing him smile now; after two years, wasn’t making her as nervous as she’d thought she’d be. She was thrilled to see him. While she had been attracted to him then, there was something about him now that made him appear less gawky. He looked older. The shorter his hair was, the more grown up he looked. She loved the way his hair framed his face perfectly, especially when he looked down. In this moment, though, his big blue eyes smiled down at her.
“Hey Elle! It’s been such a long time. Hey, cool shirt. Wait, is that the one we got together?”
“Yeah, it is.” Elle cringed, wishing she had worn something else. She had put it on this morning when she found out David was coming. Then, she had thought it would be a good idea, celebratory somehow, but now she wondered if she looked like that same teenage girl who had tried to get his attention.
“I still have mine, too, except mine has a hole now. Too much use, I guess.” They sat down on the bench. She wasn’t sure what they’d talk about, she hadn’t spoken a word to him in two years.
“Hey David, I’m so sorry about your friend getting mixed up with Emily and I in this scheme. You know how Emily can get.”
David laughed. “It’s okay. I think she’s just making up for all the drama she’s missed since you were away.” He realized she didn’t know how to proceed with Elle. David smiled shyly. “Hey, listen, sorry I didn’t say ‘hello’ right away. Andy reigned me in as soon as I got here. Word of advice, never get into a Marlon Brando/James Dean debate.”
Elle smiled politely, but didn’t know what he meant. She made a mental note to research the actors she had heard of later. Instead, she blurted out exactly what was on her mind.
“David, I also want to apologize for what happened the last time we saw each other.” David turned to look at Elle, she had a worried look on her face. “I am so embarrassed. The way I made it into more than it was.” She shook her head, remembering how foolish she had felt afterwards.
So much for breaking the ice, he thought. She went right into their past. “Oh hey, don’t be embarrassed. It was a long time ago.” He paused, searching her face. “But it was nice, you know? I’m glad we went through with it and we had that.” David looked down into his hands, his blond hair falling over his eyes. Truth was, he didn’t want her to apologize for it. No woman had looked at him the way she had, or had said anything close to what she had said to him two years ago. He had brushed her off then, the idiot that he was. But what was he supposed to do? They were both going to be living on opposite ends of the country. But she was back now, and he wanted to ask her out for a drink sometime, maybe start from square one. He wondered if she’d ever look at him that way again or if she’d ever hold onto him again, the way that she once had.
Elle peeled the sticker label off of her beer bottle. “I know we missed each other the last few times I came out. I asked Emily to invite you tonight, but I honestly wasn’t sure if you’d come.” It was time to put the past behind her, she thought.
“Hey, of course I’d come. Sorry about the entourage I brought with me. We just left a movie and they wanted beer and free food, so they tagged along.” David loved his friends, but he wanted to figure out a way to escape them so he could talk to Elle properly. He figured he’d introduce her to everyone, and casually make eye contact with her, starting with small moves to let her know he was interested. “Come on, let’s get back inside. I’ll introduce you to the gang.”
She followed him inside. She scanned the apartment, wanting to also apologize to his friend for how she acted. She decided to go along with the lie, and why not? It could be fun, and it was just for one night.
David led Elle back inside and back to his small group of friends.
“Elle, this is Andy.” Andy was the shortest of the four. He was 5’6” maybe 5’7”. He was wearing a punk band shirt over his broad body. Elle extended her hand to meet his. David continued with the introductions.
“This is Mark.” Elle shook his hand, too. He was the most preppy looking of the bunch, very handsome, with killer dimples and gorgeous espresso-colored skin.
“And this sexy bastard, well you already know him.” David said, laughing easily with his friends.
Elle blushed. She realized just then that she didn’t know the name of the friend she had been set up with.
“Hi everyone,” was all she managed to say. She held up a hand in an awkward greeting. How could she not have asked anyone his name? Sure, it had been a whirlwind of craziness since the moment he arrived, but that did not excuse the fact that she could have asked his name. Her heart started racing and she looked down at his beer and noticed that it was empty.
“More drinks, gentlemen?”
“Ah, gotta love this one. Welcome back, Elle.” David pulled her in for a side hug and held onto her. Elle smiled, remembering how she had grown up watching David pull his sister in for the same type of hug. While Elle was still embarrassed how she had acted, David didn’t hold a grudge and she was feeling more and more at ease around him.
She went for David’s friend’s beer and they locked eyes for a second. He held on to his beer not wanting to give it up. She kept her hand on the bottle and their hands touched. His gaze was penetrating. Finally, he let go and smiled.
When she returned with four beers, David was pulled into a conversation with Andy. David took the beer Elle handed him, nodded to Andy as a way to end the conversation so he could talk to Elle, but Andy only got more heated.
“It’s the same exact storyline as the original. Couldn’t they come up with a different fucking plot line? You can literally do anything with superhero movies, I don’t get it.”
Elle looked David’s way, but didn’t want to interrupt, so she turned her attention to her new friend.
“Hey, I’m sorry about earlier. I’m jetlagged and grumpy from the lack of sleep. Anyway, I’ll do it. It’s not really a big deal.”
He shrugged. “It could be fun right?”
Elle smiled at him. “You know, I actually have no idea what your name is. We were never introduced.”
“Oh, this is good,” he said with a smile, then took a sip from his beer bottle.
Elle watched as Emily turned up the music across the room. Elle winced, not feeling in the mood for a party tonight, even if it was for her. “Hey, can we take a walk somewhere for a bit?”
“Sure.” He looked around the apartment. More people were starting to arrive. Someone had just walked out onto the balcony to answer their phone. “Where?” he asked.
“How about your car?”
“Yeah,” he replied softly. He took his keys out of his pocket and took her hand.
“Hey, where you two off to?” David yelled playfully. Deep down he felt he was losing his chance.
“To make out,” his friend yelled back. The entire party heard. Elle bit her lip and blushed.
David smiled at his friend’s response, but couldn’t think of a single thing to do. He thought about how the rest of the night would play out. Those two would pretend to be seeing each other, but what if, just what if David lost her to his best friend?
Once they were through the door, her “date” apologized.
“Sorry, I was kidding about the whole making out thing. I forgot you have a squeaky-clean reputation,” he teased.
“It’s okay, I don’t mind. It’s a good show. I think it’s working.” But her heart was racing at the thought. He was so incredibly handsome, completely out of her league. “Where are you parked?”
“On the main street about a block away.”
“Hey, so I’m really sorry so for being such an asshole,” she said once they were outside. “It’s been a really long week and this isn’t your fault.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Elle laughed nervously. “I can’t believe I didn’t ask anyone what your name was. Okay, so what is it?” She stopped to look at him.
He laughed with her. “I am not telling you.”
“What? Why not?”
“Because it’s more fun to see you go through the night this way.”
“I can just ask Emily. Or David. Someone is bound to say it out loud.”
“But that will ruin all the fun. Let me introduce myself to you, later. Properly, yeah?”
“Fine.” She had to admit, she was amused.
When they got to the car, he opened the door for her.
“So, what do you want to talk about?” he asked when he got inside.
“Oh, just that I’m sorry.” Elle said, unsure of what to say next. She hadn’t planned on what to say after she apologized.
“You mean the stuff you said on the way here?”
“Yeah, I guess I thought there’d be more, but that’s the jist of it.” Elle said awkwardly, a silence hovering between them. “Really, I just wanted to get out of there for a minute.”
He nodded and looked out of the window on the driver’s side. “You know, ever since I’ve met you, I’ve been lying an awful lot,” he said matter-of-factly.
She smiled and straightened the hem of her shirt.
“How about we making one lie a truth?” he whispered.
She swallowed. It was so quiet in his car. She couldn’t hear a thing except for their breathing. She was sure they’d be able to hear her heart racing any second.
He leaned in closer and looked down at her lips.
“I don’t even know your name,” she whispered.
“Well, here goes your reputation,” he whispered before he kissed her. He put his other hand on her leg. She put her arm around him, while her other hand went up to his shoulder. His kiss went even further, deeper. She pulled back.
“Sorry, I got a little carried away,” he cleared his throat.
“It’s not that. I just…wow. You’re really good, that’s all.”
He smiled and went in for another kiss. Softer, this time. He placed a hand on her face. Her entire body melted into his arms. She wished they weren’t in his car at this moment.
“I kind of love that you don’t know my name right now,” he said, breathless, in-between kissing her.
“I kind of do, too.”
They kissed for a few minutes longer, before Elle pulled back again. She tucked her shirt down, suddenly self-conscious. She could feel how bad her body wanted him.
“Well, see. We’re not liars anymore, you and I,” he said.
He closed his eyes. “Wow. This was not what I was expecting to happen tonight. But I am definitely not complaining.”
“We should probably go back up.” she said awkwardly.
“Yeah, I’m gonna need a minute.”
Elle blushed. She didn’t want to look down at him as he adjusted himself quickly. Instead, she looked out the window. They were starting to fog up from the inside.
“I need to get something to eat. Do you guys have anything upstairs?” he asked, changing the subject.
“Yeah, I think Emily ordered some pizza for everyone. What time is it? She ordered it for nine.”
“Oh good, I’m starving. I think the beer is getting to me.”
“Where do you live? Around here?” she asked, wanting to get to know him.
“About twenty minutes away.”
She nodded. “Did you grow up here?”
“In Los Angeles? I did.” He adjusted himself once more, then said “Okay, I think I’m ready.”
“But wait. Hold on.” He leaned over to her and kissed her once more on the lips, very quickly. “I just wanted to do that again.”
Her heart did somersaults.
The pizza had already arrived when they got back and the party was in full swing. Elle felt as if everyone could tell they had made out and she was okay with it. She couldn’t hide her smile and spent the rest of the night mingling with others.
A few times, she checked in with David and his friends. She looked at them from across the room. They stood out amongst Emily and her friends. They dressed a little older. Talked a little louder, had more opinions and seemed very intellectual. She walked over there a few times to make sure they had enough to drink and eat. Once, David’s friend pulled her down onto the sofa on top of him and kissed her quickly on the lips. All of David’s friends cheered. Elle blushed, she didn’t want to appear the easy type in front of David, but when she looked for him, David was nowhere to be seen.
In the kitchen, Emily found her brother, David, eating a slice of pizza. “Looks like those two hit it off.” She had a smirk on her face and was proud for setting them up.
“I thought they were just pretending to like each other,” David said, his mouth full.
“No, I think they actually like each other. Well, he has liked her for a while, actually.”
“What do you mean a while? He’s never met her before today.”
“He’s seen pictures of her.”
“Pictures?” he asked, confused. He thought back to the picture he kept of Elle in his bedroom, and wondered if his friend had meant that one, but he couldn’t possibly.
“You know that picture of us downstairs at Mom and Dad’s? That’s the one he saw and trust me, David, he likes her,” Emily said, then asked him if he was still coming by tomorrow to help her Dad deliver the dining table.
David said he was, but was distracted. What if his sister was right? Then he’d most definitely lose his chance with Elle. A little while later, he joined the guys again and tried to act casual.
“Hey, so my sister actually managed to set you up, huh?” he asked his friend in question.
“Yeah, call me crazy, but I think I’m actually gonna go for it.”
“As in tonight?”
“I don’t know. Probably. I mean, she’s cool. I could see myself asking her out in a couple of weeks. Let her get situated.”
“I don’t know. She is wearing a Bob Dylan shirt. Maybe she’s better suited for David.” Mark said. Everyone knew David was the Dylan fan.
“No way. David can’t date his sister’s best friend. That’s like some unwritten law. It would way get too weird. Plus, I mean, he could never come here. Sex would just be too awkward with his sister in the next room,” his friend replied, not having the slightest clue about how David felt about Elle.
David laughed, playing it off. Somewhere, deep inside, he knew they were right. It probably would get too weird. And what of he and Elle didn’t work out? What kind of toll would it take on him and his sister? Or Elle and his sister? They were too close for him to get in the middle of it. His friends were right, it was probably better he didn’t go after her.
A little later Elle decided to start cleaning up in the kitchen rather than having to do most of it tomorrow. Sarah, Emily’s friend, ran into Elle while she was cleaning and approached her.
“Hey, so congratulations on landing your new guy,” Sarah said spitefully, having had too much to drink.
“Oh, well, it’s just…” Elle shrugged. “It’s nothing yet.” She didn’t want to cause a scene and wasn’t the type to get jealous or get dramatic.
“He’s an asshole, you know? My guess is he won’t even call you. Maybe you should quit while you’re ahead.”
“He’s definitely not an asshole,” she replied, defending him.
“You barely know him.”
“True. Which is why it’s nothing, yet.”
Elle continued to clean the counters, trying not to get mad.
“I bet he’s a lousy lay,” Sarah said.
“Excuse me?” Elle asked, putting the dishtowel down and turning to face Sarah. The nerve of this girl.
“In the sack, I bet he’s lousy.”
“Well, tomorrow morning I’ll keep you posted,” Elle said defiantly and smiled.
Sarah scoffed, said something under her breath and walked out.
What a bitch.
It was still early, and there were a still a lot of people around, but Elle was jetlagged, still on East Coast time. She was starting to get really tired and stifled a yawn. She had to get some sleep soon.
Just then Emily came in. “Hey hon, the kitchen looks great. Thank you.”
“Oh sure. Listen, I know you’re going to ask me about your brother’s friend. Do me a quick favour? We have this thing going on. You know, you never actually introduced him to me by name, so I have no fucking idea what his name is. And so far, I haven’t accidentally heard it, even though Sarah came in and talked shit.”
“Oh my god, she talked shit?”
“Yeah, but don’t tell me his name, okay?”
Emily laughed. “Okay. Weirdos. But what did Sarah say?”
“She said he would probably be a lousy lay!”
“How the fuck would she know? Anyway, what did you say?”
“I told her I would let her know in the morning.”
“You did not?!”
“Of course, I did. Why are you friends with her, anyway?”
“I know. I need to do something about that.”
“Hey, so thanks for tonight.” Elle sighed. “It’s really great to be back. I’m super sleepy though. I feel so lame, but I am so tired.”
“It’s okay.” The two of them hugged. “And you’re welcome.”
Elle sleepily walked over to David and his friends. Her heartbeat had already started racing again on anticipating of saying goodnight to the one friend in particular, wondering if she’d ever see him again.
“I hate to say it, guys. But I can’t stay up anymore. I’m still on East Coast time.”
David and his friends drunkenly booed her.
“You’ve got to fight it,” Mark said.
“I have been fighting it,” Elle laughed.
She felt a hand find hers. Her ‘date’ leaned in and whispered in her ear. “I’m not letting you walk in there by yourself,” he said, his words confident.
She nodded back at him. She felt the same way.
He started to say goodnight to everyone.
Elle’s heart danced. She remembered the state of her bedroom and decided to warm him.
“Yeah, so…my stuff just got here yesterday. Everything is still in boxes except for the bed.”
“Lucky for us, that’s all we need,” he said.
“Listen, I’m kidding. I get it. You’re tired. I was just kind of hoping for a private goodnight kiss. Maybe I’ll get a little daring and take off my shirt and go out to the bathroom or something for a little attention, though.” She laughed as they walked into her room.
“Jesus, you weren’t kidding about these boxes. Did you live in a mansion before and now you’re trying to fit everything into one bedroom?” he joked.
She cringed. “I know. I read a lot, so I have a lot of books. I can’t seem to get rid of any. Not even my entire Goosebumps collection from when I was a kid.”
“Wow. I’d love to see it all when it’s all unpacked. Let me know if you need some help with all this stuff.” He peeked through a partially open box.
She nodded. He looked at her, took a deep breath and brought her closer to him by putting his arms around her waist.
“Don’t worry, I won’t overstay my welcome. I really should stop drinking anyway. Would you mind if I just chill in here for a while? You can use my shoulder as a pillow,” he whispered.
“I have pillows, thank you. But no, I wouldn’t mind.” Elle turned away and stifled another yawn. She took him by the hand and led him to her bed. He leaned on top of her, hovering closely and came in for a soft kiss.
“Thank you for tonight. This is so much better than the alternative,” he said after a few moments. “They’re probably thinking we’re getting it on out there,” he said, nodding towards the closed door.
Elle laughed. “Probably.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. Your reputation and all. And to think, you’re in bed kissing a man whose name you don’t even know…wait, you don’t know it yet, do you?”
“Why don’t you finally tell me?”
“Well, not now.” He kissed her again.
After a few minutes, they heard a knock on the door. It was Emily. “Hey, can I come in?”
Adam adjusted his position but didn’t exactly get off of her. Instead, he leaned to one side so Elle could have a view of the door.
Emily opened the door. “Oh shit, sorry. I thought you were alone.” She smiled at the two of them.
“It’s okay. What’s wrong?” Elle asked.
“Nothing, I just wanted to remind you that my brother and my Dad are coming tomorrow sometime around eleven or twelve to deliver the table. Wake me up if I’m asleep when they come.” She knew Elle would be up earlier than her since she was still on East Coast time.
“Oh yeah, I will.”
“Okay thanks. Goodnight,” and Emily winked at the both of them and closed the door. Outside she found her brother.
“Am I good or what?” she said to him. David did not ask her to elaborate on the details. He didn’t need to. It didn’t matter anymore.
Back inside Elle’s bedroom they continued where they had left off and kissed each other with more force and passion than they had before. Elle’s hands roamed underneath his shirt. She could feel her body ache for him and really wanted to do something about it, but this was nice, too. Maybe it was a good idea not to, especially if he was David’s friend. She continued to kiss him and to let her hands explore. She moaned softly as they kissed each other. She could tell he was hungry, hungry for her. Elle wrapped her legs around his body and he put his hand underneath her back. She could feel him between her legs, despite the jeans they were both wearing. Elle wondered if she should take hers off but didn’t want to send the wrong message. Not tonight.
As if he read her mind, he stopped gracefully and kissed her neck. “We should slow down, or else…” He knew she was tired, so he lay next to her and changed the subject. “You know, having a pretend girlfriend is kind of nice.”
“How do you mean?” Elle asked with laugher in her voice.
“Well, it got me out of a sticky situation. It could get me out of so many things. Plans I don’t want to keep, that sort of thing.”
“You could just get a real girlfriend.” Elle joked with him.
“Why, you want the job?” he asked playfully, cursing himself afterwards. He was jumping to conclusions, but he couldn’t help it. He liked her.
Elle hit him softly. “That’s not what I mean.” She snuggled up closer to him instead. “Just stay and talk for a minute. I’m not that tired anymore.” She put her arm around him and they both continued to lie in her bed and talk. A minute turned into two hours. Their bodies were touching the whole time because of her twin bed. She loved how warm he was. He was good at making her laugh. He explained how he had met David and the rest of the guys. He was roommates with David at UCLA. David had gone for the music program, while Adam studied architecture and had a full-time job in his field. She told him about her last two years in Maryland. She asked him about his background. He told her that both of his parents were Hungarian, but he got his dark skin from his Mom’s side. He also told her that he was obsessed with the ocean. He learned how to surf as a teenager and he told her he would take her out to the beach one morning in the future. She was excited about that. He did get up to the restroom, once. He had taken off his shoes when he climbed into bed with her, but he had decided to keep his shirt on. The party was winding down, but he still managed to receive a few cheers from whoever was left. He looked around, but it looked like all of his friends had left. Those who remained were just Emily’s friends, and Elle’s, too.
When he returned, they talked for another thirty minutes. It was just past one in the morning when he said he would be okay to drive. The alcohol had worn off.
Elle put her arm across his chest and held on to him tightly.
He looked at her and kissed her forehead.
Elle was asleep minutes later. He shifted in her bed, realized he wasn’t comfortable because he was still wearing his clothes and quietly took them off.
He thought about where the night had led him. The girl from the graduation picture. No fucking way. He fell asleep remembering what it was like to kiss her.
The next morning, when she awoke, he was fast asleep. She looked around for a clock, but she remembered it was still packed. She got on top of him and looked for her phone on the floor. Six a.m. Damn, too early.
She went back over to her side of the bed and looked at him. She noticed he had taken off his shirt, and took a peek under the covers. She liked what she saw and smiled to herself. She put her arm around him and kissed his shoulder, careful not to wake him up. She tried going back to sleep.
Two hours later, he awoke and couldn’t remember where he was. He had a strange dream about boxes. And then he remembered why. He looked to his left and saw her there. Her legs were tangled around his. He smiled.
“Elle.” He touched her face.
He kissed her face awake.
“Elle. Wake up.”
“You’re adorable when you sleep,” he said.
“Okay, I’m awake.” She smiled at him sleepily. “Hi.”
“Hi.” He smiled. “Hey, so my name is Adam.”
“Adam. I like it.”