I heard the door slam shut, and I turned around, afraid for my life. Then I became fearful for a whole different reason. There he stood, shaking the light snow from his hair then shrugging his jacket off.
"Lewis?" I knew I looked as confused as he did.
"Oh. My flight was canceled. It looks like I'm staying here." I could feel my face heat up, aware of what I was wearing. I tugged at the bottom of the shirt. "Hey, is that my shirt?"
"It looks good on you." I blush profusely.
"I didn't know it was yours. I'll just go change and return it to you." I turned to go to my room to drown in my embarrassment until he stopped me.
"Keep it." He was biting his lip as if stopping himself from saying more, and he was looking over my body like I was the most delicious meal he never tasted.
"Okay." I rushed to my room at a loss for words. The universe was playing a cruel joke on me. Was his flight canceled? Really? So much for thinking things over.
I change into some black tights and a loose t-shirt. I put my hair into a bun on the top of my head. When I went into the kitchen, Lewis and his suitcase were gone. I wondered whether I imagined him. Maybe, I really was losing it. Or perhaps he was in his room, and I was just hoping he wasn't here. I can't think with him around, and the fact that he declared his love for me while he was drunk, wasn't helping.
I rambled through the refrigerator, looking for something to sate my rumbling stomach. I found some fruit in the bottom drawer, and I grabbed the milk for some cereal. I turned to set my findings on the counter, stopping mid-task, only to find Lewis's lustfully watching my every move. I didn't hear him. His gaze was unwavering even when I caught him. It was as if he was in a trance.
I slowly put the items on the counter. "Do you want me to make you some?"
He finally snapped out of it and shook his head a little. "Sure."
I begin to chop the strawberries, kiwi, and mangos. I added in the grapes then grabbed two bowls. All the while, Lewis followed me with his eyes. For some reason, I felt nervous in his presence. Like all the feelings we have for each other, all the sexual tension would burst like a bubble.
I put his favorite cereal, Cocoa Puffs, in his bowl, and fruity pebbles in mine. I poured the milk in them and dispensed the fruit into two smaller bowls, finishing them off with spoons and gave him his dishes across the breakfast bar. He placed his hand over mine when he grabbed them and held them there for a few seconds longer than necessary. I could feel his eyes urging me to look up, but I refused to look into those tantalizing blue eyes.
He walked to the dining table, sitting down. I grabbed my bowls and sat across from him. We ate in silence, and I avoided looking at him at all costs. I decided the silence was too awkward and spoke up.
"So, there were no other flights available?"
"Trying to get rid of me?"
I looked at his irritated face. "No. No. I...I was just trying to make conversation."
"Emery, I'm kidding." A grin replaced his previous expression. I breathed a sigh of relief. "I, honestly, wasn't in a rush to go home anyway. I'm not really close with my parents. They aren't the best people."
"I'm sorry to hear that," I voiced my concern.
"It's okay. They just like to show off for their friends at the party they throw every year. I'd rather not be surrounded by those stuck up assholes." I nodded my understanding and started to eat my fruit. "Plus, I knew you weren't going home, so I thought I'd keep you company."
I did possibly the worst thing I could have at that time. My eyes drifted to his alluring gaze, trapping me in them, not wanting to be rescued. Then my phone chimed.
I got up to go to the kitchen counter where it was charging.
K: I need you to come to the store immediately.
E: What's up?
K: Just get here fast?
E: okay. I'm on my way.
"That was Kyle. I have to go in."
"Take my car. I have nothing to do today except go grocery shopping later."
I got dressed like I was in a marathon. I ran past Lewis, grabbing his keys from the bowl.
"Be careful," he shouted.
"I promise I won't scratch her," I said, turning to face him.
"You. You be careful. The roads are icing over."
"Okay. I will." I was taken back by this. He always warned me about his car, making sure I care for his 'baby.'
I got to the book store, and it was a frenzy. There were so many people stuffed in the store that I had to squeeze through them just to reach the counter.
"Emery! Thank God you're here."
"Barely. What is going on?"
"We are going to start hosting book readings here, and Lara Jackman agreed to come. Since the space is limited, I have to sell tickets so I won't violate safety codes."
"The Lara Jackman?"
And I'm here because?"
"I need you to get your ass in gear and help contain these savages."
"Aye. Aye. Sir." I saluted him as he rolled his eyes at my gesture.
"Excuse me, everyone!" I shouted into the crowd. It will make your purchase faster and my day a little bit better if you all form a line. Please help me out."
There was grumbling as people fought over where their place in line was. It was crazy. I love Lara Jackman, too. One of my favorite writers, but it's not that serious. There was shouting coming from the front desk where Kyle was tending to the customers. I walked up there to see that Jeff guy that Dustin was hanging with yelling at Kyle—not happening.
I pushed my legs as fast as they could get me to reach a now furious looking Kyle.
As I approached, I heard Jeff say, "I sure hope you enjoy this little store you got here. It's not like you have much else. Just an old geezer who's trying to live out his thirties when he's way past his prime. Trying to get at these young broads, old man?"
Before Kyle could release his wrath on that poor, foolish soul, I stepped in. "Get out."
He turned to me with that strange glint in his eyes. "Oh, if it isn't Dustin's piece of ass. What are you doing here? You get this old man's rocks off, too?"
I was offended but felt no need to defend myself to this jerk off. "I'm not telling you again."
"Young pussy, eh." He looked over to an eerily, calm Kyle. He turned to look at me again. "Hell, since you're giving it out, how about-"
He didn't get to finish his sentence. Kyle swiftly grabbed him by his shirt, slamming his head on the counter, causing a sickening crunch. I know his nose was broken. He lifted his head with his hand, covering his bloody nose.
"I'm going to fucking sue you!"
Kyle was still deathly calm when he spoke. He spooked me. "Don't touch my employees, sir, or I will be forced to defend them."
"I didn't touch that bitch!"
Kyle yelled to the crowd, "Ladies and Gentlemen, didn't he touch my employee here?"
The customers' yes's echo throughout the store. I just witness how much rank my boss actually had. He didn't touch me, but with how Kyle defended me, I would be inclined to agree with him on the stand, risking perjuring myself. With the crowd agreeing with him, I questioned if he really did touch me, and I just hadn't realized it.
Jeff stormed out, pushing through the crowd. I turned back to Kyle, who was back to work like nothing happened. "Thanks, Kyle."
"No problem. No one disrespects my employees."
"I'm your only employee." I laughed.
"Well, get back to work. Time is money," he quipped.
I got back to work, instructing the customers and helping the ones who just wanted to find some books. It took hours, but we got it done. The store was now empty, and I was exhausted and hungry. I was now sitting down at the front desk with my head resting on the counter.
"Hey, Emery," I sat up. "I'm going to be going on a trip out of the country during winter break. I have to handle some business, so I'm closing up shop."
"You can't do that!" I was about to lose it. No work to put space between Lewis and I will be dreadful. It's awkward enough.
"I just did. And why are you trying to avoid going home? Isn't everyone gone?" His brows scrunched up with curiosity.
"No. Lewis is still here." I mimicked Lewis's accent, "His flight was canceled."
"What's wrong with that? Now you have someone to talk to instead of spending Christmas alone," he chastised in his brotherly tone.
I wasn't planning on telling him about the sexual tension smothering Lewis and me, but it came out in rambles, not disclosing my home life. I continued my babbling to the point of spilling about Roman and how I don't know what to do. These men drive me crazy. I love different things about them.
"And I think I'm falling in love with two different assholes who are going to be crushed or angry if I don't choose them. Or I'm going to end up hurt if I choose wrong." When I finished, I was panting from the lack of oxygen that my declaration stole from me.
Kyle didn't even flinch nor looked surprised. He was just quiet. "I can't tell you who you should choose."
"But why not? It would make my life so much easier." I whined, covering my face with my hands then raking them through my hair.
"I'm sorry I can't do that, but I will tell you that you are a grown woman, and that decision is yours and yours alone. It's nobody's to judge, and you have to do what feels right for you. You can't choose who you fall in love with."
"But, I'm falling for both of them."
"Then date both."
Can I do that? Was it that easy? Would they be okay with that? Date both. I think Kyle may be on to something.