She ground into my hand when dropping off some paperwork on some Tuesday afternoon. I was lazy until I felt her ass, and its associative heat.

I offered her a silent special arrangement after the quarantine started. It was silent and yet, loud.

I asked her to come to my home and work with me on a project, one that would take Palmer Sporting Goods to the next level of industrial competition. She accepted, and ever since it has been a fight within myself as to whether or not to explore things further.

Today I chickened out. I should have told her to stay and talked to her about it. She should have tried to let me know more than a simple apology. She should have…

I should call her.

The number comes on naturally to my fingers and it rings twice.

‘Miss Cast.’

‘Hello, Sir.’

‘Julia...’

‘I’m sorry. Force of habit. Hey, Henry.’

‘Are you alright? You left in such a hurry this morning.’

She exhales and I hear some ruffling of sheets. She must be in bed. It’s only just past six o’clock, though.

‘I just needed to sort a few things out on my end. It didn’t feel right to keep on working with half a mind.’

‘But my own was here. Or at least half of it. I was here,’ I insist gently. ‘With half yours and half mine, we could have finished it all today.’

I feel her smile and imagine that she is tasting her lips.

‘It was not intentional.’

‘I know. You did not -’

‘Julia?’

‘Sorry. Um… I’m okay, no need to worry.’

The drink in my glass, almost empty and in need of a top up, looks great in this lighting.

‘Maybe this place doesn’t make you comfortable. Would you mind if I came to yours tomorrow so that we can finish it? How does nine o’clock sound?’

Static.

I push the phone closer to my ear.

I hear her breathing.

Fast.

‘Julia?’

A click.

The line is dead.

I try her again.

There’s no answer.

My gut hums loud right now, and I know what must be done. I set the glass down and move swiftly past the Victorian seats, past the old, low chandeliers and fight the long black coatsleeves up over my shoulders and then down my arms. I grab the keys behind the hidden painting and pluck the mask off a rack in the wall.

I am out the door. I lock it. Dashing left, I find the garage door. I palm the screen and it beeps. The door slides inward and upward. Eyes of glass and color glare back.

I choose my stead. The Harley will do for tonight. I kick it up and let it roar. The blue button on the right lever blinks as I pump the gas. The garage door locks behind me.

The gate magnetically opens. The air slams into my face. Cold. Sudden. I push the gears harder. I swallow the bitter swill in my mouth. My gut hums louder.Chapter Five - Julia‘So, tell me what you want to hear, something that’ll light those years, sick of all the insincere, I’m gonna give ALL MY SECRETS AWAY...’

I would have won The Voice in an easy swoop, man. The lights, cameras, crowd would have all bowed down to my two cold feet, billowed a sexy gust right from the bottom up of my red cotton fluff robe and crowned me the Queen of Altos.

The semi-full pink hot water bottle by my feet is trying and failing at its one job. Between my two cold feet, it is nuzzled and rubbed and fondled. Rhythm from the mildly blasting speakers find my arms in the air as I sing along to a classic that pulled me through college and while house hunting for a roommate.

OneRepublic was Charlotte Prestige’s favorite band before she found funky beats from the mystical chimes of the Haitian people. I pull the glass of wine closer to my lips and take the old country in.

I am no expert, but whoever made this batch in 2010 knew what they were doing. It slides down my throat and I smile.

At a time like now, Charlie would have forced me to the kitchen with mitts on, and we would have made fudge from scratch. She would have made sure I had my fill of her childhood stories, and later we would argue about whose childhood memories of music or movies were correct.

She would then ask me, when totally inebriated, whether I had had sex behind the bleachers for my sweet sixteen. The answers to these painfully personal questions would be an obvious and blatant NO, masked deceptively under the guise of needing to sleep or being too tired to have such a chat at two in the morning.

She would pass out, and I would have taken an old, tattered muumuu that lay on the third hand couch we so cherished and covered her sick Norse tattoos and lightly moisturized arms. I would sleep next to her and thank the heavens, or the depths, or whoever listens to such utterances from the lips of a quiet and saintly virgin, for a friend who came from the worst and most vile and highly questionable vestiges on the planet: the Craigslist’s Roommates Wanted section.


Tags: Jamie Knight Romance
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