chapter 5

Edward had brought two parachute cloth bags with him to the store, so he insisted that I use one of them. Then he carried all of my groceries. He said he clearly had more upper body strength, plus, the heavy load would only exacerbate my muscle tension.

I couldn’t argue with his logic, so I trudged behind him carrying his own much lighter bag.

Before I we got a block away from the store, he pointed out that it would probably be better if we dropped my stuff off first.

“Hey, are you just trying to get my address, all full-on stalker style?”

He laughed so hard he had to set the bags down.

“No,” he said, hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. “I honestly just thought you’d like to drop your food off.”

“Oh. Well, that’s what I thought,” I said.

I made him wait in the lobby because there was NO way I was letting him see the dust and clothing covered mess that was my apartment. Plus I hadn’t washed all my dishes in like…ever. I was more of a “pay as you go” a month behind kind of dish person.

I wondered if I should change underwear. I pulled the waistband of my pants out to check undies status.

CK bikini. Last year. Not shabby. No period stains on these, I don’t think.

I looked in the mirror at my hair. I fussed with my short ponytail a little. Don’t want him to think you fixed your hair to go to his place for a massage. I fluffed my bangs a little, so they looked less greasy. I considered make up, but at this point, he was going to wonder what was taking so long.

I ran down to the lobby and said, “OK, what now?”

“Now, Swan, I take you to my place.”

He wouldn’t let me carry his bag. I told him fair was fair.

He said I could wrestle him for it.

I declined.

But I did start fantasizing about wrestling him for the bag. I knew I could tackle him, which would be easy; I’d totally have the element of surprise on my side. I mean, no one expects when you say, “I’ll wrestle you for it,” that you actually will do that…well, unless you’re ten…then he, being stronger than I, would roll me over, laying his full-length…um, body, on top of me, grinding into me. I’d totally spread my legs and give up and let him dry hump me as long as he liked…I wondered if he knew how to massage with his—

“—Hey!”

“Huh?”

“Am I that boring? Why don’t you ever pay attention?”

“I was!” I lied.

“Really.”

“Yeah.”

“So, what’s your answer? Yes or no?” he asked, stopping and turning to stand in front of me, bag on the ground, arms crossed.

“Um…I think I need more information before I make a decision,” I said, trying to look thoughtful with a finger tapping my lips.

“You need more information.”

“Yeah. I like to make careful decisions, looking at all the options. You can’t just go into things willy-nilly,” I said seriously.

“OK,” he said, scratching his chin. “Let’s see, will the brand make a difference?”

“Oh, absolutely,” I said.

“Fine. You are really fucking high-maintenance, Swan,” he said. “OK…”

I kept waiting for a response.

“I can’t do this,” he said turning away from me and picking up his bag. “I asked you out on a date, and you weren’t even paying attention. I was going to play along, but I’m kind of hurt, now. I can’t go out with you if you’re just gonna…ignore me…not that you would even want to go out with me…I’m probably boring the hell out of you right the fuck now. I should have just—”

“—NO!” I said. “Wait, I’ll pay attention! I promise! I’m sorry, you’re right, I’m a dreamer! I’m totally in my head all the fucking time. I’ll try harder to pay attention! Please!”

He was laughing at me again. “You are such an easy mark!”

“What?”

“I didn’t ask you out. I was just telling you about myself, but then I didn’t hear you actively listen for almost two blocks, so I called your name and you didn’t respond, so I said, ‘Hey!’ and somehow that got through…what the fuck were you thinking about anyway?”

Shit crackers.

“Nothing,” I said walking quickly, leaving him behind.

“Hey, you’re gonna pass my building!”

I stopped and turned. “Really?”

“No,” he said catching up. “I just wanted you to stop.”

I sighed.

“I don’t think I want to be friends with you, Ed.”

“Whoa, whoa…what’s up? What did I do?”

“You just joked about asking me out. Did it ever occur to you that I might think you were serious? That I might want you to? That it might hurt my feelings when I found out you were fucking kidding you fucking—”

And his mouth was on mine.

His arms were around my waist…hands slipping south.

My hands were trapped against his chest in a late cognitive effort to ward off the inappropriate maneuver.

I almost moaned, but managed to get a hold of my self enough to turn it into an agitated “mmmph” as I pushed him away.

Fortunately, he complied. “Sorry,” he said.

“Yeah, you say that a lot. Ever thought about not doing the things that result in apologies?”

“Yeah, but, I never pay attention when my head tells me to stop.”

“Well, you ever do that again, and you’ll get an elbow to the neck.”

“Wow, you’re hard-core,” he said laughing, running his tongue over swollen lips.

“You know it,” said a raspy voice I realized was my own.

Then, I noticed I was still gently held in his arms.

“Seriously, why say such a thing?” I asked.

“Sometimes I’m childish. I wanted to ask you out, but you keep ignoring me. My pride was hurt, so I…just…did it without thinking…a-fucking-gain.”

“Well…I’m sorry I wasn’t paying attention. Really I am, because now I don’t know anything about you.”

“Well, if I take you out, we could remedy that.”

“OK. What do you have in mind?”

“Well, what do you like to do?”

Yeah, Swan, tell him about your busy life of fun: dancing, pottery, rock-climbing, knitting and the ever-popular flea marketing.

Oh, wait, you don’t do any of those things. You read trash, eat junk food and watch Syfy.

“Um…you know…let’s just forget it.”

“Whoa, you just went to a bad place.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, what the fuck would you know about it?”

“Plenty.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Well…fine, then.”

He rolled his eyes and deftly slid one hand down to capture mine in his warm grip.

“C’mon, my apartment is two blocks away. I’ll give you a massage and take you back home in my car, OK?”

I wanted to make him suffer, but in this scenario, that wouldn’t work. He had all the aces.

“Fine…I mean…thanks.”

I was unable to meet the eyes that I knew were intently watching my face when he replied: “No problem.”

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