When I wake up the next morning, the first thing I open my eyes to is a poster of a bikini model. It doesn’t take long after that to realize where I slept last night. I look down at the dark comforter I have knitted between my fingers. When I turn over onto my back, I stare up at a ceiling dotted with faded glow-in-the-dark stars. I push myself up into a sitting position and take in the rest of the room. The shirts that had been littering the floor last time I was in here were gone. There was a guitar missing from a stand in the corner. Kaleb is nowhere to be seen.
I stand to my feet and find my shoes easily stored by the side of the bed. My two bags are sitting there as well. I rifle through my bag and find a pair of clothes that Kaleb had placed inside. I stand to my feet and pad barefoot to the bathroom off Kaleb’s room.
I stare at myself in the bathroom mirror for a moment. I look like an utter disaster. My hair that had once been straight is a mess of tangles around my face, my eye makeup is smeared, and my skin looks ashen. Last night really took it out of me.
I change quickly into the T-shirt and jeans and then find my phone. There’s no missed call from Leo, but it’s still early in the morning. I find my brush I’d asked Kaleb to pack and brush my hair into a pony tail. Thankfully, he remembered my tooth brush as well. I finish up in the bathroom and step back into Kaleb’s silent bedroom.
I open his door and I’m greeted by more silence. I step into the hallway. The first thing I see is the open doors to the den. Kaleb’s sleeping form is stretched across the couch. There’s a small blanket thrown across his body, it doesn’t quite cover his feet. It’s nice seeing him like this. When he’s awake, he looks mad at the world and defeated. In sleep, he looks relaxed.
I walk silently towards him, hoping not to wake him up. He’s looked so tired lately, I want nothing more than to let him sleep. I step foot into the den, my footsteps silent. But obviously not silent enough. Kaleb bolts upright. His eyes are wide and frantic. He searches the room quickly, before stopping on me. If I wasn’t mistaken, he looks scared.
“Oh, Greer, it’s you.” He says in his attractive morning voice. He runs a hand over his face and rests back against the sofa.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.” I say, taking a seat on the couch next to him.
He sighs, “It’s alright.”
“I could’ve slept out here.” I told him.
He shakes his head quickly, “No. It’s fine. After what happened last night, I wanted you to have a good night’s sleep.”
My mind flashes back to last night. The disaster that I once called my houses is still fresh in my mind. I wish I had someone to talk to about what really scared me. Leo’s the only one, but I don’t like putting my feelings on him. He’s already done so much for me. A part of me wishes that I could talk to Kaleb. I quickly snuff that part of me out.
“Thank you for letting me stay here.” I say to him, unable to meet his calculating stare.
“Greer, really, you don’t need to thank me.” He says, scratching the back of his neck.
A moment later our conversation is interrupted by my phone. I pull it out quickly, expecting it to be Leo. It’s Bash though. Kaleb looks down at the screen and sees the name. He groans. “I’ve got to take this.”
“Whatever.” Kaleb snaps.
I step out of the den and into the hallway, “Bash, hey.”
“Hey, Geer. I can’t talk very long, but I just wanted to see how you were.” I can tell he’s busy with something in the background.
“Oh, okay.” I sigh. “I’m alright, still kind of shaken up about it though.”
“Of course.” He says. I hear a door slam closed on his end. “Did you hear anything more about it?”
“My uncle said that someone else was robbed last night too. They think it was just some random break in.”
“Were you able to go through your things last night? To see if anything else was missing?”
I sigh, “No. I got out of there as soon as I could last night.”
“Oh, really? Who did you stay with?”
“Just a friend from school.” The lie is bitter coming from my mouth and my heart clenches. I don’t know why I’m always lying about Kaleb to Bash.
“Oh, okay.” I think Bash knows I’m lying. “Well, I just wanted to check up on you. I’ve got to go, but I’ll call you later alright?”
“Okay, sure.” I smile. “Bye, Bash.”
“Bye, Greer.” He hangs up the phone.
I stand there a moment longer before joining Kaleb in the den again. His eyes don’t meet mine as I sit down. He hates even the mention of Bash. I can feel the anger rolling off him already. “Would you stop?” I snap.
“I wasn’t even speaking and you’re already mad at me?” He groans.
“You were fine a until you saw Bash’s name on my phone.” I snap. “If we’re going to try to get along, you can’t just switch moods when you don’t like something I do.”
“It’s not because of something you did, Greer!” His voice raises with frustration. “It’s who you’re hanging out with! It’s him!”
“What is it about him that you don’t like?” I question.
He groans and covers his face with his hands, “I don’t want to talk about this again.”
“Oh, we’re talking about it!”
“I already told you why I didn’t like him!”
“No, you gave me excuses, Kaleb!” I yell. “You said you had a feeling. You also said that it was weird. But you didn’t give me actually reasons!”
He growls, “Can I just not like someone?”
“Yeah, I guess you can. I just don’t understand.” I shake my head. “He’s been nice to me, Kaleb. He was there for me last night.”
"I was there for you!”
“You came in throwing punches!” I yell back. “That’s not exactly helping!”
“Because when it comes to you I have no common sense!” I don’t think he meant to say the words, but they’re hanging in the air now.
“I’m sorry.” I sigh.
“No, you don’t need to be sorry.” He lets out a shaky breath. “I don’t like fighting with you, Greer.”
I scoff, “Could’ve fooled me. It’s like the only thing we ever do together.”
He laughs, “You’re right. We’re pretty good at it too.”
“I don’t think that’s a good thing.” I notice.
We fall into silence. Kaleb closes his eyes and rests his head back. His head snaps up a moment later, “Did I hear you say we were going to try to get along?”
I laugh, “Well, it seems like we can’t get rid of each other and I’d rather not spend all of our time fighting.”
“I think I’d like that. It gets exhausting fighting with you.”
“Yeah, it does.”
“So, as friends now. Does that mean you’ll listen to my advice?” He asks.
“I don’t think you should see Bash anymore.” He says quickly.
“Oh, no. Not happening. Bash is officially off limits.” I warn.
“Fine.” He reluctantly agrees. “Are you hungry? I’m starving.”
My stomach growls a moment later, “I could definitely use some food.”
I’m sitting at the island watching Kaleb flip pancakes. He’s singing an Italian song that plays through the kitchen speakers. Kaleb had once told me he didn’t sing, he’d been lying. I have never heard a boy sing quite like Kaleb does. I could listen to him for hours.
He turns around and slides a plate of pancakes towards me, “My special recipe.” He gives me a charming smile and leans against the counter top.
I take a bite of the cinnamon topped pancakes and an instant smile crosses my face, “Holy cow.” I beam.
“Good, huh?” He questions with a laugh. He hops onto the counter and takes a bite off my plate.
“Where did you learn to cook?” I ask him.
His smiles flatters, “Irene taught me.”
“She means a lot to you, doesn’t she?” I take another bite.
He grins at me, “If I answer a question of yours, will you answer one of mine?”
“Depends on the question.” I answer.
“Fine, let’s play a game.” He says to me, with a smirk.
“We each get to ask three questions. The other must answer truthfully. If we don’t want to, we can pass. You only get one pass though.” He explains. “You game?”
“Fine. Answer my question first.” I cross my arms over my chest.
He nods and takes one more bite of pancakes, “Yes, Irene does mean a lot to me. She took me in willingly when I had nowhere else to go. And trust me, I wasn’t an easy kid to raise.”
“Okay, your turn.” I say.
“What do you see in Bash?” He asks, the disgust at Bash’s name clear on his face. He notices I don’t want to answer. “You can pass, but then you’ll have to answer all my other questions.”
“I thought I said Bash was off limits.” I warn.
“Yeah, but I set the rules of the game and you agreed to them.”
“Fine.” I think it over. “Pass.”
“I can’t believe you used your one pass on the first question.” He laughs. “Ask your second question.”
“What happened to your parents?”
His jaw tenses, “Pass.”
I don’t argue. “Your turn.”
“Is Bash your boyfriend?”
I groan, “I can’t believe you.”
“You already used your pass so you have to answer.” He states.
“He’s not my boyfriend. We’re just hanging out.” That wasn’t exactly true though.
“You’re lying.” He says quickly.
“What? I am not.”
He leans forward and presses his fingers between my eyes. “Remember, I can always tell when you’re lying.”
“Fine. He’s not my boyfriend, okay? But we’re more than just hanging out. I don’t really know what we are right now.”
“I see.” He says and looks away from me. “It’s your last turn.”
“How do you know Italian?” I question.
“My mother spoke it.” He said quickly. I wondered if Irene knew Kaleb’s mom. “Okay, my last question.” He looks me over quickly. “What happened to your parents?”
I didn’t want to answer, but I did anyway. “They died in a car crash a few months back.”
He studied me for a moment. Most of the time when I told people the fake story of my parents’ death, an unmistaken look of sadness and pity crosses their face. I was an expert on that face. That’s not the look that Kaleb got though. His was understanding, but also something more.
“Remember when I told you I was going to figure you out?” He says. I nod slowly. He leans forward so he’s close to me. His finger touches my forehead once again. “I’m going to figure out why you’re lying about your parents.”
I instantly sat away from him. “Excuse me?”
He shrugs, “I know when you’re lying, Greer. What I don’t know is why though. And I’m bound-and-determined to figure it out.”
I’d made an awful mistake, I realize that now. I made the mistake of not pushing Kaleb away when I had the chance. I made the mistake of letting him get too close. Now I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t know how to make Kaleb understand that he couldn’t ask questions like this. How was I supposed to lie to him when he knew when I was lying?