“Can I call you later or tonight?” Gray asked as he unlocked the door for Olivia.
“Of course,” she answered as he handed her keys over.
Reaching up, Gray brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes. “I’m sorry I kept you out all night.”
“Don’t be,” Olivia smiled. She leaned in and kissed Gray softly on the lips. “Go get some sleep.”
Smiling, Gray opened the door for her. “Bye,” he said as she walked in.
“Bye,” she said as he closed the door. Moving to the window, she lifted the blinds so she could watch him walk to the Jeep. Feeling delight creep through her tired body, she quickly whipped out her phone. She had four missed calls and eight new text messages.
Leaning against the wall, Olivia texted Dean, “I’m home. It’s about 5 am. Will call you with details later.” Holding her phone next to her chest, she smiled. As her phone vibrated against her chest, she couldn’t help but smile at the thought of telling Dean everything that had happened.
“Sleep well. Gray.”
Olivia smiled and texted, “You too.”
Her phone vibrated again as another message arrived into her phone. It was from Dean.
“I’m in your bed.”
“Huh,” she said out loud. Locking the door, she walked down the hall to her room. “What are you doing here?” she asked when she saw Dean tucked underneath the covers of her bed.
“Kyle dropped me off,” he answered, throwing back the covers. “When you didn’t answer or text, I started to worry. You know me. I had him drop me off so I could wait patiently inside.”
“What if I had brought Gray in here?” Olivia asked, dropping her keys, phone, and purse onto the nightstand.
“It would have been a bit awkward if he had seen me here in your bed,” Dean said as she took her jacket and shoes off. “I’m assuming it was a good date.”
“A great date,” Olivia corrected as she climbed into bed next to him.
“Why do you smell like you fell into a fire?”
“Long story,” she answered, pulling the covers around her. “By the way, I managed to make a fool out of myself.”
Dean pulled Olivia closer to him. “You said something without thinking didn’t you?”
“Oh yea,” she said, letting him hold her. “You would have covered your face and left the scene of the crime.”
“Did you scare him off already?”
“Surprisingly, I don’t think I scared him at all.”
“So what do you think?” Chris asked as he stared at the door to Gray’s apartment. “Light knock or emergency bang?”
Shrugging her shoulders, Ellie contemplated their options. “How about a just answer the damn door knock.”
Chris’ brown eyes wrinkled. “I’m not sure I know how to do that one.”
“Hold this,” Ellie said, holding out two nylon bags. After he took the bags, she positioned herself at Gray’s door and knocked her fist against it.
“That sounds a lot like an emergency bang,” Chris said from behind her. He placed one of the bags on the floor and fished his cell phone out of his pocket. He dialed Gray’s number and waited. “Dude, we’re outside your apartment. Don’t ask why. Just let us in.” Putting his phone back in his pocket, he smiled at Ellie. “He’s on his way. He doesn’t sound happy, but he’s coming.”
“Sometimes you amaze me.”
“I’m not as stupid as you think I am,” Chris said as the door to Gray’s apartment opened. Looking his best friend, he let out a whistle. “You look like crap,” he said and shoved his way past Gray.
Stepping back, he motioned for Ellie to follow. “Who’s bright idea was this?” he asked, closing the door.
“Ellie’s,” Chris offered. “Chinese was mine.”
“Why are you here?” he asked, collapsing onto the couch. He reached up and pulled the blanket that was on the back of it onto him.
“You weren’t at work,” Ellie answered as she sat down at his feet.
“I took today off. Is that okay?”
“You haven’t been answering your phone either.”
“I’ve been sleeping.” Gray knew what road this was going down and he had no current desire to travel it. “I’d still be asleep if you two hadn’t shown up.”
“Is Olivia here?” Chris asked, looking at Ellie. She returned the same grimace he knew he held on his face.
“Why would she be here?”
“You guys did have a date last night,” Ellie answered. “Maybe it turned into a hot and heavy date.”
“If it had, I wouldn’t have bothered to let you in.”
“Boy you’re cranky,” Chris said as he started going through the kitchen cabinets. “Where do you keep your plate again?”
“Cabinet next to the fridge,” Gray answered. “And you’d be cranky too if your friends just showed up while you were trying to sleep.”
“We were worried about you,” Ellie said as she patted his leg.
Shuffling his leg against her hand, he pulled his legs closer to him to get away from her. “Bullshit. You guys just couldn’t wait for me to tell you about my date.”
“That too,” she said and stood. “You hungry?”
“No. I’m sleepy and want you guys to leave.”
“Well that’s not happening,” Chris said as he scooped out a huge heaping of food onto a plate. “It’s my lunch break so you’re stuck with me for at least an hour. So you might as well buck up solider.”
Groaning, Gray figured if he could become a human cocoon in a blanket that Ellie and Chris would just ignore him while they were on their lunch breaks.
“So how was the date?” Ellie asked as she sat back down at his feet.
“Just good?” Chris asked. “That doesn’t sound good at all.”
Sighing, Gray threw the blanket off of himself. Sitting he up, he looked at his two friends. “It was great date. She loved everything I did. We’re getting married next week. I’ll make sure you get the invite.”
“What time did you get home from your date?” Chris asked, sitting down in a chair near the couch.
“I don’t remember. The sun was coming up?”
“The sun was coming up?” Ellie asked. “Where were you two all night?”
“Guys, seriously, you both knew my date plans. Where do you think I was?”
“Not staying out until the sun comes up that’s for sure. We kind of figured that the date would end uneventfully.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Gray said to Ellie. He stretched back down on the couch and pulled the blanket back around him. “For your information, it was a great date. I’m going to call her again later today or tonight. We’re going to go out again.”
“So this could be serious?” Chris asked, shoveling a fork full of food into his mouth.
“This is serious,” he answered. “We both don’t want to play mind games or any games period.”
“Did you lay your heart out on the line already?” Ellie asked.
“But you guys have had the relationship discussion on the first date? Either she’s crazy or you are.”
“Hell you’re both probably crazy,” Chris chimed in. “It’ll be a perfect relationship.”
Ellie shot him a glare that said shut up and he raised his hands in surrender. “There’s no going zero to sixty in a relationship Gray.”
“Did I say we were at sixty Ellie?” he asked, burying his head underneath a pillow. “I said we both said we don’t want to play games. We both said we liked each other’s company and wanted to see where this would go. No mind games. Honesty.” Sighing, Gray didn’t feel bad that it was half-truth. He didn’t want to tell his friends exactly what Olivia had said. They would have immediately formulated an opinion that would not put her in a good light and besides, he felt just the same about her and he was sure that would not put him in a good light in her friend’s eyes either.
“You didn’t say that?” Dean asked as he buried his head into a pillow.
“Unfortunately, I did. Wino courage got the best of me. I expected him to run.”
“What did he do?”
“He stood up and walked over to me and I just kept on spilling my mind out of my mouth,” Olivia answered. “Then he stepped closer, grabbed me, and kissed me.”
Dean unburied his head and looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “And?”
“And it was hands down the best kiss I have ever had in my life,” she answered, as she rolled onto her stomach. Pulling her elbows underneath her, Olivia propped herself up. “I was left completely breathless.”
“Did you carry on your fraternization?”
Olivia shook her head. “No. I think the kiss was more than we had expected.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“Is anyone home?” Zane’s voice bellowed from the living room.
“In the bedroom,” Olivia answered. “Bring the food with you.”
“Do you think it’s a good idea to share all this with Zane?” Dean asked, lowering his voice to a whisper.
“I said I would,” she answered. “I can’t hurt his feelings.”
“Gloating about a new love while he loves you is definitely not going to hurt his feelings,” Dean replied sarcastically.
“Should I be concerned that you two are still in bed or that you want me to bring lunch in here?” Zane asked, leaning against the doorframe.
“Just get in,” Olivia said, rolling over. Sitting up, she threw back the covers for him.
“It’s all good.” Zane set the bag of food down and pulled out paper plates. “I’ll just sit on the bed.”
“Are you just scared to get into bed with a gay man and a straight woman?” Dean asked.
Laughing, Zane shook his head. “No, I’m scared I’ll get food on that righteously expensive comforter.”
“Today’s laundry day. Don’t worry about it.”
“Is this what you guys normally do? Lay in bed?”
“Just today,” Olivia said. “I didn’t get home until late.”
“So the date went well?” Zane asked, handing a plate to Olivia and then Dean.
“Very well,” she answered, feeling Dean’s elbow dig in her side. She pushed his elbow away and continued, “He was a perfect gentleman.”
Sitting on the bed next to Olivia, Zane continued to hand out food until the bag was empty. “Where did he take you?”
“Somewhere outside the city,” Olivia answered, passing a box of rice to Dean. “It was a wooded area. The one you see in every horror movie.”
“And you’re telling me this why?”
“To set the scene,” she answered, passing the box of rice back to Zane. “We travel along this dusty road and I have already told him I have an over active imagination and not to pull any shenanigans. He promises he won’t.”
“Did he keep his promise?”
“He sure did,” she answered proudly. “He had set up a romantic table for two with a fire pit going.”
“Which explains why you smell like you do,” Dean interrupted.
“Anyway,” Olivia said, reaching over to Zane’s plate and taking a piece of broccoli, “he had a vegetarian meal, wine, and had even set up a telescope so we could look at the stars.”
“If I had a vagina, I’d saw awe right now,” Zane replied, “but I don’t. So I hope you were impressed by his hard work.”
“Completely impressed,” she answered, resting her head on his shoulder.
“Did you kiss him goodnight?”
“Yes, but it wasn’t a full on make out session.” Olivia watched Dean’s face that was watching Zane’s face. No reaction revealed the reaction of the other. “It was a nice respectable kiss.” She felt Zane’s shoulder tense under her head. Lifting her head, she continued eating as if nothing had happened.
Nodding, Zane felt a piece of jealousy land in his heart. He swallowed his food and swallowed his pride. He had all the years behind him to have said something to Olivia, and he knew he couldn’t say anything to her now. “So what did you guys talk about all night?” he asked.
“This and that,” she answered as a wave of reprieve washed over her. “We sat and listened to cds we had made for each other.”
“Like in mix tapes?” Dean asked, trying to help change the subject.
“Yes. We both had to make a cd for the other.”
“We named our favorite three songs by our favorite artist.”
“Who’s his?” Zane asked.
“What are his three favorite songs?”
“Something about a tin cup. I don’t really remember.”
“You’re suppose to remember everything,” Zane said with a smile. “That’s what chicks do right? Remember the minute details and repeat them verbatim to their girlfriends.”
“Yeah, and my girlfriends that are with me now aren’t girls. Besides, I’m the only person her with a vagina, so enough said.”
Olivia opened the door to her spare bathroom and saw the towel that Gray had left. Dropping the handle of her Radio Flyer, she picked up the towel and tossed it into the laundry basket that sat in the wagon. She checked the trashcan and saw the wrapping for a toothbrush. Opening the medicine cabinet, she took out the toothbrush that Gray had labeled, closed the cabinet, and left the bathroom. Pulling her wagon behind her, she stopped at her bedroom and walked to the bathroom. She put Gray’s toothbrush in the medicine cabinet with a sigh. She had two reasons for doing it. One she didn’t want Zane or any one from the crew to freak out and two she hoped that eventually he would be back over for another sleep over. “Sex or no sex,” she said to herself as she crossed her bedroom. When her phone began to ring, she pressed the button on her Bluetooth. “Hello,” she said wearily. She always felt awkward wearing the hands free device but it let her get the household chores done and let her keep up with her friends.
“You sound tired,” Gray’s voice said into her ear.
“A little off-kilter that’s all,” she said with a smile.
“Did I call at a bad time?”
“Not at all,” she answered, continuing to drag the wagon down the hallway. “I’m just doing laundry.”
“Ah, my arch nemesis. Did you get any sleep today?”
“A little. You’re lucky that you only have Chris and Ellie.”
“Why’s that?” Gray asked.
“Did they ask you about last night?”
“Of course. They woke me up for it.”
“Multiply them by four. I felt like a robot by the time I got the last phone call from Heather.”
“How about next time we just write a blog about it from each of our perspectives and send it out to them.”
“Now that is a great idea,” Olivia said. “So if I’m doing laundry, then what are you doing? Cleaning my arch nemesis the toilet?”
“Something far worse,” Gray answered.
“Go look out your front door,” he said.
Dropping the handle of the wagon, Olivia walked to her front door. “I’m assuming I should open it,” she said and opened the door to find Gray standing on her front porch with a pizza box in his hand and his phone to his ear. “And why is this far worse?”
Lowering his phone, Gray smiled. “I’m sure this is breaking every dating protocol that has ever been discussed, published, filmed and so on. I’m in fact sure that over the past two nights we have broken every dating protocol that single people have created.”
“And that’s why they’re still single and sitting on a couch eating pizza alone,” Olivia replied. “Feel like sharing that pizza?”
“I thought you would never ask.” Gray stepped inside and closed the door behind him. “Were you talking on an earpiece while doing laundry?”
“Yeah.” Olivia pulled the piece off her ear and felt her face redden. “That hold the phone between your ear and shoulder thing hurts my neck and makes my chore work less effective.”
“I know it’s not polite to show up without an invitation or notice, but I had to get away from my apartment.”
“Are you being stalked by friends?”
“I may only have to tell two people, but they might as well be all eight of your friends.”
“You’re always invited, so don’t worry,” Olivia replied. “Do you mind if I dump this load of laundry into the machine?”
“Do you need help?”
“I got a system. My little red wagon and I are pros.”
Gray laughed and stared at the little red wagon the laundry basket was sitting on. “Do you hate to carry laundry too?”
“Pretty much,” Olivia answered as she walked across the living room. “Make yourself at home. The plates are in the cabinet next to the fridge.”
“Got it,” Gray replied. He thought it was weird that they both kept their plates next to the fridge. Chris would say he was an idiot and Ellie would say it was a sign. He himself just thought it was again just weird. He watched as Olivia picked up the wagon’s handle and disappeared into the room that had been closed off the last time he had been there. From what he could see, it was her home office and apparently somewhere in the room was her washing machine and dryer. “Where do you keep your glasses?”
“Opposite cabinet.” Olivia couldn’t believe Gray was at her house, but she was ecstatic he was there. She just didn’t trust herself to enjoy the moments before the fall and she always fell. Taking a deep breath, she tried to calm her nerves. They had already had their first date and it was a success. They had agreed they would make arrangements to go on a second date and that’s as far as their plan making had gone. Sighing, Olivia closed the lid to the washing machine. “Sometimes you just have to stick your neck out and take a risk. Good or bad,” she said to herself. And she knew that the risk with Gray would end up either in heartache or happiness. She wished for the latter though she often got the former.
Gray didn’t have any intention on showing up at Olivia’s. He had simply decided to get out of his apartment because he had been lounging in it all day. He had picked up the pizza with the full intention of crashing Chris’ couch but lost in his own thoughts, he found himself at Olivia’s. He had debated on leaving without saying anything but he knew with his luck she would walk outside or see him through the window. There would be no sensible explanation of why he was sitting outside of her place with a pizza as his passenger. He just sucked up all the courage he could find in the car and made the call. If Olivia had turned him away, he would have been embarrassed but would have left knowing that he had taken a chance.
A knock on the door made Olivia look up to find Gray leaning against the doorframe. “I’ll only be a few more minutes,” she said.
“You’re fine. Please don’t rush on account of me,” he replied, shoving his hands into the pocket of his jeans. “I have some bad news.”
Tossing the laundry she had in her hand into the washing machine, she took a breath not knowing if she should prepare herself for the worse her mind could imagine or just relax and go with the flow. “Is it like I just ran over your cat bad news?”
“You have a cat?”
Smiling, Olivia shook her head. “No pets.”
Gray thought a moment and then shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t think it’s pet death bad, but it could be. It depends on how you look at it.”
“I’ll remain with an open mind until the news has been completely heard. Should I sit or stand for the bad news.”
“Are you a fainter?”
Olivia shook her head.
“Standing’s fine then.”
“Okay, hit me with the news.”
“Something funny happened on my way here. To be honest with you, I had been caged up in my apartment all day and I had to get out. So I figured I’d grab a pizza and then head over to Chris’ to watch anything sports related and drink beer. But somewhere after picking up the pizza, I got lost in my thoughts and found myself in your driveway.”
“That’s bad news?” Olivia asked with a smile on her heart.
“No, but the pizza has pepperoni on it and you’re a vegetarian.”
Smiling, Olivia said, “I can pick it off. It’s okay.”
“Are you sure?”
Olivia nodded. “I’m not a vegan. I’m just a plain old vegetarian who sometimes eats an egg or two and who has such a love for cheese and wine that I would make most vegans cringe.”
Gray felt himself smile. “I have one more question.”
“When do I get to kiss you again?”
Feeling her heart stop, Olivia nervously answered, “Now if you’d like.”
Gray pushed himself off the doorframe and walked to where Olivia was standing. He didn’t hesitate or let any fear stop him. He just pulled her to him and kissed her. It was something he had been thinking about doing all day. He liked the way her lips seemed to mold perfectly into his. He was sure it was what he was thinking about in his subconscious when he found himself at Olivia’s. He had never met a woman that had occupied his brain like she had and he actually didn’t mind that she was inside there kicking up the cobwebs.
“You know,” Olivia said, trying her best not to sound breathless, “if you keep kissing me like that, then I am going to have to invest in a defibrillator or hold you hostage.”
Smiling, Gray rested his forehead against hers. “Holding me hostage would be more cost effective in the long term.”
Biting her lower lip, she gently pushed him away. “Please go pick pepperoni off my slice of pizza so I can load this laundry. I will then give you all my undivided attention.”
Stepping slowly backwards out of the room, Gray left Olivia as she had asked. He returned to the kitchen feeling his nerves tingling underneath his skin. Taking a deep breath, he pulled his phone from of his back pocket and turned it off. If she was going to give him all her attention, then he wanted to do the same for her.
Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Olivia exhaled slowly and felt excitement pull up the corners of her mouth. She looked at the laundry and then quickly tossed what needed to go into the machine. She was sure she looked a mess, but there was nothing she could really do without drawing attention to herself. “Go with it,” her mind said. She nodded to herself, closed the washing machine, and promised herself she would do just as her mind had suggested.
“What’s your all time favorite movie?” Olivia asked, putting the pizza box into the recycling bin that was on the small side porch she had. Closing the door, she looked it and moved to the sink where Gray was washing the dishes they had used.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” he answered, turning the water off. “You?”
“As in I’ll have a slice of pie?”
Olivia shook her head and turned the water on. “As in the number pi.”
“I’ll be honest. I’ve never seen that movie. I don’t ever think I’ve even heard of it.”
“Not many people I know have. But Darren Aronofsky is a brilliant director.”
“Would I know anything else by him?”
“Requiem for a Dream?”
Gray shook his head.
Gray shook his head again. “Have you at least seen Butch Cassidy?”
“Yes,” Olivia answered, rinsing off the soapy plate.
“So I’m going to have rent those movies aren’t I?”
Shrugging her shoulders, Olivia placed the clean plate in the dish rack next to her. “They’re not for everyone. I like odd movies.”
“So what’s Pi about?”
“Do you really want to know?” she asked, looking up at him.
Gray nodded at her. “Yes. It’s something you’re interested in.”
Olivia nodded slightly. “In short, it’s about a man who is a math wiz and a genius at computers. He’s trying to figure out the pattern of the stock market and he’s being stalked by Wall Street and Hasidic man who wants his information for their own purpose of course, but then the movie makes you ask yourself is he just a paranoid schizophrenic or is it real.”
“That sounds interesting.”
“It took me like two times to actually get the movie.”
“And his other movie Requiem for…”
“A Dream,” Olivia finished for him.
“What’s that one about?”
“A million reasons not to ever become addicted to anything. It’s the movie I’d show any kid who felt like they would have to give in to the peer pressure of trying drugs. The movie scared any need for me to try any drugs or over the counter diet pills.”
“I might watch that one first.”
“It’s definitely an eye opener.”
“Where’s your dish towel? I’ll dry these off for you.”
“Are you kidding me?” Olivia asked, brushing Gray’s hand away from the dishes in the dish rack. “You brought me dinner. You shouldn’t even be washing these dishes. I have a dishwasher.”
“But it’s only a handful of dishes and besides, I’m trying to prolong my visit with you.”
“And if you were late for work tomorrow morning, I’d feel really bad. Besides, we have lunch plans for tomorrow.”
“But that’s not right now,” Gray replied, drying his hands.
“No, it’s not, but it’s all you get for tonight,” Olivia smiled. “And maybe another kiss or two at the door.”
This page copyright © 2009 Shelia Taylor
All rights reserved | This is a rough draft and not the final version
Categories: The Dumbing Down of Love