I don’t even have a cat!
I don’t know what synapses misfired in my brain, but I wanted to kick myself. I wanted to punch myself in the face until I lost consciousness. Right about now, I could probably dive into a pool of hydrochloric acid without even a pep talk.
His brain must have been as clouded as mine, because he paused for a few moments, processing, then looked around.
“I don’t see a cat.”
My throat was getting dry, the way it always did when I lied. I was a terrible liar (as evidenced by, well, me).
“That’s because… it’s not here. Yes. The cat that I own is not here because… I have to go get her. I forgot, I was supposed to go pick her up.”
He glanced at the clock, which now read 12:20 AM.
“You’re supposed to pick her up now?”
I pushed at him again, and this time, he rolled off of me and to the side easily. He was completely naked, and I was in my bra and skirt with my panties still hooked around one ankle.
“Yes… she’s at the Vet! It’s a, um, 24-hour Veterinarian…”
“A 24-hour Veterinarian?”
“Uh, yeah. We have those here… in America. Totally.” That hydrochloric acid was sounding incredibly appealing right now. “And I was supposed to pick her up hours ago.”
“You can’t go by in the morning?”
I tried to slip my panties back on my other foot, and I toppled backward, ass-planting on my hardwood floor.
He hopped off the bed and knelt beside me, which only made me more flustered considering he was still naked and still, um, ready.
“I’m fine, promise. I’m fine. I just… if I don’t pick her up tonight, there will be a fee, and I can’t afford it.”
“Well, let me get dressed and I’ll go with you.”
“NO! Um, no, that’s okay. Shouldn’t your locksmith be coming soon?” I finished with a smile that I hoped said, this is no big deal. I’m sure it actually looked like I’m a crazy person, run now while you can!
He glanced at the clock, his gorgeous face marred by a frown.
“I guess, yeah.”
“Great. I’m just--- I’m just going to run. You can, um, let yourself out whenever you’re…” my eyes wandered over his body again, and I felt like melting into a puddle of idiocy and mortification and arousal. “Whenever you’re, um, ready. Um, done. Um, just whenever you like.”
Then I flew through the curtain that shielded my bedroom from the rest of the apartment, and bolted out the door, ignoring him as he called out my name.
It wasn’t until I’d walked halfway across the parking lot that I realized:
1. I wasn’t wearing shoes.
A. Or a shirt.
2. I didn’t bring my keys
A. Or anything really.
3. I’d just left a complete stranger in my apartment.
Whoever said one-night stands were supposed to be simple with no strings attached had clearly never met the disaster that was me.
That’s the number of people who saw me hiding around the corner from my own apartment in just a skirt and a bra.
That’s the number of ant bites I got on my shoeless feet.
That’s the number of times I was tempted to do myself physical harm because I am an IDIOT.
That’s the number of times I tried not to cry, but failed.
Garrick stayed in my apartment for a good ten minutes after I left. The entire time my mind was like a five-year-old who just drank a bathtub full of energy drinks. What was he doing in there? Was he just getting dressed reeeaaally slowly? Was he looking through my things? Was he trashing my place because I’d run out and left him there like the biggest jerk this side of Kanye West at the 2009 VMA’s?
When he finally exited, I watched him close my door, and then pause. He looked at the metal apartment number nailed into the siding, and just stared at it for a while. Then he shook his head, and started toward his own apartment.
I waited until I couldn’t see him anymore, and then I waited for another five minutes just to be safe (6 more ant bites, 1 more passerby, and 4 visions of self-harm later).
As soon as I got inside, I curled up on my bed. The same bed where I’d almost had sex. The same bed where I had wanted to have sex… sort of. The same bed that had held an incredibly sexy, incredibly naked British boy. Perhaps I had just jumped off the cliff into Crazy town, but I could swear that the comforter was still warm where his body had been. Like a complete psycho, I leaned my face into the pillow and sniffed like girls in books and movies always do to see if I could still catch his scent.
I couldn’t. And I felt super creepy.
I also couldn’t sleep in this bed without going crazy.
I moved my pillow to the couch, where I sat numbly, probably in shock. At the very least, I could reassure myself that this was only a private humiliation. No one else had to know how pathetic I was. And after my borderline schizophrenic display earlier, I was pretty sure he was going to avoid me as avidly as I planned on avoiding him. We might live in the same apartment complex, but if I had my way we’d never have to see each other again.
Morning came too early, and I was stiff from sleeping on my crappy couch for the entire night. Plus, my head was pounding like I actually had punched myself in the face like I’d been tempted to the night before.
I moved sluggishly, dragging myself into and out of the shower at a much slower pace than normal. My hair was still wet when there came a knock on my door. Kelsey practically fell on top of me when I opened the door because she’d been trying to peek through the peephole.
Silently, she smiled and mouthed, “Is he still here?”
I sighed and said, “No, Kels, he’s gone.” I turned away from her, grabbing my head to try to stop the turning that was happening in there, too. I left the door open, and walked away, knowing she’d come in whether or not I issued an invitation.
“Someone’s a crabby camper this morning. What is it? Was it awful? Was he like… miniscule?”
“He was not miniscule!” Not that I had a great deal to compare it to, but I was pretty positive that wasn’t the case.
“Oh, so it was just bad?”
I should have just told her that I hadn’t gone through with it, but my head was pounding, and my stomach was churning, and I did not want to be forced into going out again tonight for try number two.
So I lied.
“He was fine. I’m just hung-over.”
“Fine? FINE? Come on, that boy was gorgeous! Please at least pretend that you liked it!”
“I did like it!” If by ‘it’ we were talking about the single greatest make out session of my life. “I liked him.”
Those words were out of my mouth before I really thought of the consequences.
“Oh no!” Kelsey cried. “No, you don’t! I know he was your first and all, but that does not mean you have to jump into insta-love. This was purely physical that’s it. If you try to do something stupid like marry this boy, I will personally drag you kicking and screaming away from the altar.”
“No! You’re right, of course.” I shrugged like it was no big deal, but my throat was getting dry, and I could feel the skin of my neck and cheeks getting red. I hoped she would just assume I was embarrassed, because normally she could pick out my lies like nobody’s business. “I swear it’s not a big deal. I’m not in love with him. I’m not going to marry him. In fact, I barely remember most of it.” And by barely remember, I mean most of it didn’t actually happen. The rest though… that was imprinted on my brain. Not even the almighty tequila could take those memories away from me. I just wish it had taken the memories of how it ended.
“Well, that sucks. But everything was okay, right?”
“Yeah,” I forced a smile, “Everything is okay.”
Kelsey hugged me, and it felt like one of those moments where we were supposed to be bonding or connecting or thinking about the same thing, but since everything on my side was a lie, I just hugged her back, and tried to pretend she was comforting me about my awkwardness.
“Alright, now get your ass in gear. If I don’t get coffee before class, I’m going to die. My sleep schedule is still off from Christmas Break, and I feel like a freaking zombie.” Zombie for Kelsey meant she was at a 6 on the perky scale instead of a 10.
I always thought I was an extrovert until I became a theatre major. Then I realized I just didn’t like silence. When there were plenty of other people around willing to be the entertaining one, I found I much preferred just observing.
The Starbucks on campus was overrun with a zombie horde of other sleep-deprived students. By the time I got my caramel macchiato I was pretty much already awake, and we were definitely going to be late for the first class of the last semester of our last year of college.
We booked it to the Fine Arts building, breezing past the hipster Art majors smoking outside the doors. We jogged down the hallway to find that sure enough, the doors to the small black box theatre where we had acting class were already closed.
“Shipoopi,” Kelsey said.
Then… because we’re theatre majors… we broke into the song from The Music Man. Because sometimes life just needs a little music. (But we did it quietly and on fast-forward because we were still late for class).
There was no way to enter this theatre without making a ridiculous amount of noise. The doors creaked and slammed no matter what you did. We pushed open one of the doors and immediately heard Eric Barnes, the head of the department say, “Late!”
We called an automatic, “Sorry Eric!”
Careful not to spill our coffees, we pushed through the curtains that surrounded the edge of the room, and grabbed the nearest empty seats on the risers.
I set my coffee down and went about organizing my stuff, digging through my bag for a pen and my folder.
“As I was saying,” Eric continued. “Ben Jackson was supposed to be teaching this course.” Ben was pretty much our favorite teacher, but he’d been offered a role in this killer new show off Broadway and would be taking the semester off. “But as you all know, he’s in New York for a few months. To replace him for the time being we have one of our most talented former students—Mr. Taylor.”
I finally found a dull pencil in the bottom of my purse. It would have to do. Kelsey chose that minute to grab my elbow and jerk me toward her. I glanced up at her and then at the front of the class where she was looking. Then the pencil I’d worked so hard to find fell from my hand, and rolled away, lost to the abyss under the risers.
The new professor was staring at me, even though everyone was clapping, and he should probably be waving or at the very least smiling. Our eyes met, and suddenly I was very glad I’d already set down my coffee.
Because the new professor had been naked in my bed a mere 8 hours ago.
Garrick was my teacher.
It felt like hours passed before he looked away from me. When he did, the smile he gave the class was uneasy, and he tugged absent-mindedly at the tie around his neck.
“Thank you, Eric. But please, everyone, call me Garrick.”
I think I could actually feel the hormones released into the atmosphere when the girls in the room heard his accent. I felt Kelsey staring at me, but I fixed my eyes on one of the stage lights hanging overhead, and tried to think my rapidly beating heart into submission. This was bad. This was SO BAD.
“Like Eric said, I did my Undergrad here, and then graduated this past May with an MFA in Acting from Temple University in Philadelphia. I’d been working in the theatre scene there for about six months when Eric called and asked if I’d be interested in the temporary position here.”