CHAPTERELEVEN

POPPY

It’s been a while since I’ve been home at this time, but I’m happy that I have some time today to get something around the house done. I’ve been trying to keep away from Tristan as much as I can, even though I haven’t seen him since that night on the porch. I don’t want to bump into him by mistake and have him think I’m still pining over him or anything like that. I’ve been called pathetic once already. I don’t need him to do it again.

Just as I’m about to throw on some music and get started cleaning up the house, I hear a knock on the door. I’m not expecting anyone, so I make my way over slowly. If it was a delivery, they have to buzz up. Who the hell is at my door?

“Who is it?” I ask and quickly look around the area for something that I might be able to use as a weapon. I never used to be this paranoid, but after all the shit that happened to the DeLancy family, I know that anything is possible, and I don’t want to be caught off guard.

“Tristan,” a deep voice answers, and I nearly stumble back on my ass right there.

Tristan? What the hell is he doing at my door? The last he told me, he didn’t want to have anything to do with me.

I open the door slowly in case it’s not him and it’s someone else trying to trick me, but when I see his face and the slight smile there, I open it all the way. To say I’m surprised would be an understatement.

Um, what the hell? Why is he here, and why is he staring at me like he wants to ask me about the weather or some shit like that?

“Yeah?” I say when he doesn’t speak right away.

“Fuck, yeah, sorry. Um, I was just wondering if you had any sugar. I made some coffee, but I don’t have any sugar left.”

I squint my eyes at him as my brain goes over the words that just flew out of his mouth.

Did the man that broke me down from the inside out come to my door and ask for a cup of sugar? He must be out of his mind.

I look away and let out a sigh, hopefully, discreet enough that he doesn’t see me. I’m not going to let him dictate how I react. If he wants to play around and ask for sugar, like everything is perfectly normal, I’ll let him. Then he can get the fuck out.

“Sure, come in.” I open the door and walk with a purpose to my kitchen to pull out my sugar can. I hear him following behind me, but I don’t bother to look. The quicker I get him the sugar, the quicker he can get out of my space.

I pull out a small zip-loc bag and hold it open, so I can pour in some sugar for him.

“Hmm, I never pictured you as someone to go against the law,” he jokes, and I pick my head up to look at him. Before I can ask him what he’s talking about, he gestures with his chin in the direction of my pet, Mouse’s cage.

“I thought we couldn’t have pets?” Tristan says as he leans against the side wall and waits for me to finish with the sugar.

“Yeah, well, don’t tell Nial.”

He chuckles, and I nearly drop the bag of sugar I’m pouring. What the hell is going on here? He hasn’t so much as laughed once in my presence since I’ve seen him after his ordeal. Now he’s joking and talking to me.

“Do you think you need to be concerned about the landlord finding out instead of the property manager?” he asks, keeping his eyes on me.

“No, Nial runs everything for whoever owns this place. In fact, I’ve never seen the owners.” I give him a slight shrug and go back to the sugar, but I’m moving much slower than I was before. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell is going on here, but I feel like I have a serious case of emotional whiplash.

“Yeah, you’ve seen them,” Tristan says, and I hear him walking up behind me, getting closer. Close enough that I can smell him. The same scent that I longed to smell one more time when he was away. Now it’s surrounding me, and I can’t get away because I invited him into my house, trying to be cold.

I turn but sidestep away from him, not wanting to get too close, “What the hell are you talking about. I think I would have known if I had met the owners of the house.”

When he laughs and bows slightly as if he’s just meeting me for the first time, my gut coils in disgust.

“Really? You?” I don’t want to believe it.

“Yeah, I own all of the shotgun houses on the street.”

I roll my eyes and close up the zip-loc of sugar to give to him. “Of course, you do. So, what, are you here to tell me that you’re going to kick me out?” My words are hard, but on the inside, I’m freaking too. I could find somewhere else to live, but it wouldn’t be right away. I love my small little place. It’s close enough to work, quiet, the neighbors are usually not as much of a nuisance except for Tristan, and it just fits who I am. I don’t want to have to leave this place. Tristan doesn’t say anything for a while, but he walks over to the cage and opens it. I clutch the bag of sugar in my hand and wait for him to do something mean, like kill my pet. I’d have to cut him or something if he did that. I don’t know how I’d explain that to his sisters, though.

Mouse pokes her head up and stares at Tristan for a moment before she decides that h’s trustworthy enough to say hello.

I hold my breath when Tristan puts his hand out, and Mouse quickly crawls up his hand, his arm, and sits comfortably on his shoulder.


Tags: E.C. Land Crime
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