Chapter 9: Callie
The drive to my apartment was quiet except for the directions I gave Aidan. When I asked him why he didn’t know where I lived after dating for three months he just shrugged and said, “You always wanted to go over to my place or we went out”.
He acted like it wasn’t a big deal so I let it go. He parked, and I debated for a few seconds about whether I should invite him in or not before he made the decision for me. He got out of the car and came around to my side, opening my door before I finished gathering the bag the hospital had given me for my things. I looked up at him, his hand out and waiting to help me out of the car. I ignored it and heat creeped up my neck when he moved back and chuckled at my stubbornness.
Although I felt relief at his willingness to give me that space, I was also filled with inexplicable disappointment. If he hadn’t moved I would’ve ended up rubbing my body along his all the way up. I shook my head at myself for being disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to rub against him like a cat in heat. I trudged down the sidewalk to my door, very aware of his presence close behind me. I became flustered when he stopped right against my back as I was trying to unlock the door.
I didn’t realize my hands were shaking until I dropped my keys before getting them into the deadbolt once. Twice. On my third try, Aidan reached around me and grabbed the keys out of my hand. I held on to them tighter, not quite willing to admit defeat. He tugged harder, trying not to hurt my hand but also letting me know he wasn’t going to let go. I rolled my eyes but let him take them, stepping aside so he could get to the lock
“Why are you so fucking stubborn?” I heard him mutter under his breath as he smoothly slid the key into the two locks. I held back a small smile, my lips twitching in amusement at how annoyed he sounded. He’d seemed willing to let me try and do everything myself but now I was seeing some of the frustration leak out. I couldn’t deny it gave me just the tiniest bit of satisfaction to be affecting him in any way.
He let me go in first, following close behind. I watched him as he looked around my place, face expressionless. Suddenly I was dying to know what he was thinking, what my apartment told him about me that he didn’t already know. I also glanced around, imagining I was seeing it through his eyes.
I lived simply, but comfortably. I didn’t have much in the way of things, but everything I did have was centered on comfort. The plushiest couch I’d ever sat on was against the wall facing the door. I’d painted the walls a barely-there blue, and had a large painting of an ocean and sky that blended almost seamlessly with the wall color. A medium-sized TV sat on a simple entertainment center with only a handful of dvds. I had a Wii so that I could watch Hulu and Netflix, but I’d always been more of a book person. You only had to look at the bookcases against the wall in my dining room, filled to the brim.
Along with the bookcases was a small dining table and four chairs around it, with a seating bar connecting it to the open kitchen. I kept everything clean most of the time, but there were some pillows haphazardly thrown around in the front room, and my laptop sat open with papers scattered everywhere on the dining table.
My home was my sanctuary. It was where I could escape from people, a safe place for my mind so I tended not to invite people over. My family and Char were the only people I’d ever had over- and now it made complete sense that Aidan had never been here before. Knowing myself, I probably hadn’t been sure enough about him to invite him in.
Satisfaction filled me when the first thing Aidan reacted to were my bookshelves. His face lit up with a small smile and he went to investigate them. I left him to it, walking down the hallway to my bedroom. I passed the second room which I’d turned into a sort of library-office combo where I had three more full bookcases lined against the wall, and in my room, I had another one about halfway filled.
“When you’re done looking at those books, there’s more in the room back this way,” I called out. I didn’t get a response, but I really hadn’t expected one. I dropped my stuff on my relaxing chair near the bay window and laid down on my king-sized bed. I sank an inch or two into the blankets and pillow-top mattress and a grin spread across my face at the feeling. This was my favorite place in my apartment, followed closely by the bay window. I absolutely adored my huge, ridiculously soft bed and I didn’t think I’d ever get used to the sensation of sinking into it. I hummed quietly in happiness and closed my eyes.
I laid there for a few minutes and I’d almost started to doze off when Aidan’s voice startled me. My eyes popped open and I realized that he was quoting something to me.
“‘The thing about chaos, is that while it disturbs us, it too, forces our hearts to roar in a way we find secretly magnificent.’” His voice trailed off and he looked up from a book; I’d put together some of my favorite poems and bound them together and that’s the book he’d apparently picked up. His eyes met mine and my breath stopped at the burning intensity I saw there. “This is an interesting poem to leave a bookmark at.” His eyes roamed down my body quickly, then around my room. I sat up as gracefully as possible (which wasn’t easy, seeing as how I’d all but been swallowed by my bed) while he was looking away.
His eyes met mine again as I nervously ran my hands through my hair, hoping it hadn’t turned into a bigger mess than it already was. “I uh… It’s one of my favorite poems.” I cleared my throat when he just stared at me, seeming to wait for more. “I read it a lot, especially when my life seems to be getting out of hand. It helps me to remember that I’m doing what I love and that chaos can be good for me.”
He nodded. Before I could move or say anything else, he was sitting next to me on my bed. He jerked a bit as he sank down more than he had expected to and it made me grin even though his nearness made my heart feel like it was trying to escape my chest. He scowled at me playfully and bumped my knee with his own.
Handing me the book, he said, “Show me another of your favorites.”
I swallowed hard, my throat suddenly dry. I could feel the energy between us buzz up my arm when our hands touched while he passed me the book. I rifled through absentmindedly, thinking about the tingle in my arm when I realized I’d stopped at a page. I glanced at it and my cheeks heated with embarrassment. I tried to flip to another one but Aidan stopped me.
“Stop. Read it to me.” His voice was deeper than before and I couldn’t meet his eyes as I hesitated. When I realized I was being ridiculous, I straightened my spine and met his gaze with determination. I wasn’t going to let my physical reactions keep me from being brave. This was just another kind of chaos, one I didn’t know how to handle yet. I had this particular poem by an unknown author memorized, and I wasn’t going to hide behind my book to recite it. I licked my lips before starting, and his eyes tracked the movement.
“‘I wanted him in the bluntest way. I wanted his lips, his hands, his arms. I wanted him in the way the ocean wants the shore, constantly reaching and running back. I wanted him the way rain wants to fall, the way the sun wants to shine, the way the words want to be read. I wanted him to infinity, to the millionth degree, no amount of rain could douse the fire I had in me for him.’” I’d planned on finishing the poem strongly, but as my voice trailed off I could hear the want, the plain desire in its breathiness. I had never experienced something as sensual as this moment, right here. I could feel that I was practically begging him with my eyes to kiss me, touch me, anything.
I glanced down and saw his hands squeezed tightly into fists beside him. My eyes couldn’t stop but rake over him and my breath caught in my throat audibly as I saw that he was unmistakably hard. My nipples peaked in response, and I could see the bulge swell even more as I stared. I quickly glanced back up to his face in shock. He met mine on the way up from staring at my breasts and the hard tips poking through my thin bra and shirt.
I felt the bed shift, but I wasn’t sure if it was him leaning towards me or the other way around. Or maybe it was both of us. My breathing picked up and I was on the verge of lunging at him when three loud knocks on my door rang through my apartment.
We both jerked back, and I stood up quickly. I practically ran out of my room to the front door. I expected to hear him laughing behind me, mocking me for escaping so quickly but I heard nothing. I tried to catch my breath, checking through my peephole to see who it was.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. “Calliope Drakos, I swear if you don’t let me in I’m going to-” I ripped the door open before Char could continue shouting and knocking out in the hallway. I glared at him, partly because he was being obnoxious and partly because he had interrupted my almost-kiss with Aidan. No, wait, I was grateful for that part. Right?
“Charles, what are you doing here?” I had to move out of his way quickly because he had already started to shove his way into the apartment. He looked around like he was searching for something. Or someone. My heart squeezed.
“Don’t ‘Charles’ me little miss sneaky pants, where is he?” He folded his arms as I shut my door and tried to put on a blank face.
“Who?” I asked as innocently as possible but Char always could see right through me. He studied me for a beat, then two, then three and four. I started to flush at his scrutiny. His eyes widened and he came closer.
“Were you making out with him just now?”
“NO,” I protested too loudly. “Well, not yet.”
Char crowed quietly in triumph. “You bitch! I can’t believe you’ve been hiding this from me!”
“Well join the club Char. I can barely believe it either. How did you know about him anyway?”
“Your dad called me while you were still knackered out in the hospital. Said you might be going away for a couple weeks and wanted to give me a heads up.”
“Great. Well, to make a long story short, I’ve apparently been dating this guy for the last few months and now I’m going away with him on some business trip so he can make sure I don’t worsen and so we can ‘reacquaint’ ourselves with each other.”
“Ah, I see your dad wasn’t exaggerating about the amnesia thing.”
“Unfortunately not.” We both paused for a moment. It was only when the water from my bathroom shut off that I noticed it’d been running. Char whipped around and I stared over his shoulder as we watched Aidan emerge from the bathroom with the edges of his hair damp. I grinned but quickly wiped it off my face before he could see it. I was betting he splashed cold water on his face to try and cool down. I glanced at his crotch for a second and noticed that the freaking monster in his pants had gone into hibernation for this awkward meeting.
“Holy shit,” Char said quietly to no one in particular. I started grinning again. Holy shit was right. Even though whatever was happening annoyed and confused me, it was impossible to deny that Aidan was quite the specimen. It almost made me sick but I was too busy drooling on the inside.
Aidan looked back and forth between the two of us with a raised eyebrow. I shook myself out of my stupor to introduce them.
“Char, this is Aidan, and Aidan this is Char, my best friend and business partner.”
Char strutted to meet Aidan halfway. “Well no wonder you hid this guy from everyone Callie, he’s a damn god! If I looked like him I’d have my pick of guys any minute of every day.”
A laugh burst out of Aidan as they shook hands. “It’s good to meet you too Charles. I knew about you, but no one mentioned how handsome you are. If I weren’t straighter than a ruler…” Aidan shrugged casually and I swear Char swooned.
Char glanced back at me as I rolled my eyes at them. “That’s it babe, he’s mine. Claimed. Dibs.”
Aidan was grinning so big I could’ve stuck a quarter in his damn dimples. I glared at Char’s hand still grasping Aidan’s. A tinge of jealousy went through me even though I knew they were both just joking. However, it didn’t stop me from wanting to claw my best friend’s eyes out for a split second. He read the near murderous look in my eyes and reluctantly dropped Aidan’s hand.
“By the way Aidan, you can call me Char. All my friends do.”
“Char it is. So, what brings you here, other than trying to steal her man?” He gestured toward me and Char cut me off before I could retort that he wasn’t my man.
“Wanted to check up on my girl.” I noticed Aidan’s hands tense slightly at that phrasing, and I watched as he tried to make himself relax. I could almost hear him chanting he’s gay in his head over and over. “And, as I was telling Callie when she let me in, her dad called me to check if it was alright that she went on a vacation for a couple weeks. So I came to talk some business with her before she took off. When are you guys leaving?”
“Tomorrow,” Aidan answered. He looked at me and I could see the question in his glance to see if I had any more arguments. I probably did, but I couldn’t think of any at the moment. “We’re flying out tomorrow,” he repeated. “Which reminds me, I’ve got to go talk to my boss about the specifics and getting that extra ticket secured.”
Aidan walked towards me and pulled me into a tight hug. I was stiff at first, unsure what to do. After a few seconds I leaned into it and hugged him back. I drew in a deep breath, his masculine scent filling my nose. He pulled back and rested his hands on my hips. Squeezing them briefly, he searched my eyes.
“So, I’ll see you…” I trailed off, unsure.
“I’ll pick you up tomorrow night; we’ll be taking a bit of a later flight. Can you be ready by 6:30?”
I nodded and he smiled. He leaned forward and kissed my cheek, lingering for a few seconds before facing Char again.
“It really was good to meet you Char. I hope to see you again soon.”
“Likewise,” Char replied cheerily.
Aidan shut the door after himself. I didn’t realize I was staring at the closed door, fingers grazing where his lips had rested on my cheek until Char let out a low whistle.
“You’ve got it bad, girl. I’m still pissed you didn’t tell me about him.”
“I guess I didn’t tell anyone about him,” I sighed and turned back to him. I fell down on my couch, head back and hands covering my face. Everything was moving so fast and this was my first real chance to breathe since Aidan wasn’t around. I felt the seat next to me dip as Char joined me.
“Callie, love,” Char pulled a hand away from my face to get me to look at him, “I’m not judging you for anything… But it just seems a little weird that you didn’t tell anyone about this guy before all of this.” He motioned towards the lump on my head. “You’re a private person, but you usually tell me things. And you’re close with your family so it’s not like they would disown you for dating someone a little rough at the edges like him.”
My brain throbbed hard at his words. I could feel myself on the verge of tears, and I just didn’t want to deal with all of this right now. There was no way to prove anything since I just couldn’t remember. My voice cracked as I replied to Char.
“Can we just leave it alone for now? We really need to figure out a plan for the next two weeks that I’m gone.” Char searched my eyes and finally nodded. We made our way to my home office and Char started to tell me about the last candidate he’d talked to and how he might have a couple potential matches for her.
I pushed everything but business out of my mind and it only took us a couple hours to get everything solidified. Char left after a tight hug of support and I went straight to bed telling myself that I could worry about my problems in the morning.