The Gentiles

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I’d expect Abe’s place to be like Harry’s bedroom. No matter how much I love the guy and how he appears put together on the outside, his bedroom never seemed to have seen the light of day. Harry had me helping him clean up but a couple of days or three, it goes back to what it was before. Organized chaos. That’s what I reared myself to witness. Not… this. Not that I couldn’t believe it. It’s just unexpected. I guess my assumption before was correct. How people often misjudge Abe. I myself am guilty of that.

His room is not huge. It’s industrial. There’s a bed, a television, a couch, a small rounded wooden dining table paired with a couple of chairs, and a kitchenette. On my right from where I am standing by the entrance is another door which I am positive is the bathroom.

Everything is neat and tidy. No clothes on the floor, the bed is made. No unwashed dishes or any kind of litter. Not even a single poster or anything to decorate his walls. While it might look clean, it seems sad and empty. Then again, he just moved in and was looking forward to making he place his own little by little by adding more personal stuff in it and not just convenient furniture.

“Come here, kitty, kitty,” Abe calls out to me, smirking with a naughty glint in his eyes, as he steps inside. He even has his hand held out my way, rubbing his fingers together as if I’m a real stray cat that action is going to entice me to come to him. This is not the first time he did this, he often teased me like this when we were younger, even patting my head like a good puppy.

I roll my eyes, closing the door behind me as I enter the lion’s den. “Some things never change,” I commented under my breath so he wouldn’t hear. He still did.

Abe cups my chin with his hand, grazing his thumb along my skin as his gaze bore down to mine. “That they don’t, little nymph,” he murmurs in agreeance.

That warm sensation burst through me again, spreading through my insides and rushing towards my brain. I’d mistaken it for pure fear in class before, that day when Abe first showed up in school. Maybe it really is fear but now, I realize, it’s laced with something else entirely.

The corner of his lips tilted up and he released me, my breath trying to catch up with my speeding heartbeat. He walks over to the kitchenette and filled a kettle with water from the tap.

“You still like tea.”

It was not a question and he said it as if to reiterate what I had just told him.

Some things never change.

As he prepares my tea, I took the moment to study his room more. Not one thing out of place, that much is certain. It reminds me of a hotel room where everything is set and put together, always ready for the next occupant after the previous ones have stayed temporarily.

“You’re not planning on staying here long, are you?”

The question just popped right out of my mouth and I again wished I could avoid awkward situations like this when I make another person uncomfortable with the words I didn’t run over my head twice before speaking out loud.

But Abe didn’t look offended. Amused, maybe. Definitely shocked.

Surprised that I’d even suggest such a silly thought, or surprised that I’d guessed correctly?

He handed me a white mug, the thread of the teabag hanging on its side. I took it from him with both my hands, noticing the print of a chamomile on the little tag. I smile gratefully at him. It’s my favorite tea to drink but I doubt he knew even that small of a detail. He probably kept a selection of different teas and happen to have this one or he just might simply enjoy its relaxing effects, too, like I do. With Abe, I realize, anything could be possible.

“No,” he confirmed. “It’s nice but, I don’t think I’d be able to stick around for long.”

I took a sip from my mug after blowing on it. “Why is that? Have you found any other place that you like better?”

He shrugs, not offering any more than what he said and I rolled my eyes.

“You did not just roll your eyes at me, little nymph,” he grumbles, and I have to stifle a laugh.

The way he said it makes me think that he’s not used to such stubbornness, which is quite refreshing to me. Harry tolerates my being bratty to him but he knows I don’t mean it. He’s the only person I could do that to. Who knows how my attitude would be taken out of context by other people who doesn’t know me.

I sighed. “Well, too much for offering to help you tidy up the new place.”

One of those teasing smirks appeared and it suddenly felt warmer in the room. Avoiding Abe’s gaze, I fan my face with my free hand. I hear him chuckle and it only made my palms sweat all the more.

“Finish your tea, nymph. Then I’ll bring you back.”

Abe pulled at his blazer in the act of taking it off but froze with a grimace. There’s a pinch in my chest as I remember one dreadful thing.

Placing my drink on the bedside table, I went over to him with my eyes frantically shooting straight to his side. “Are you okay? Does it still hurt?” I fired.

Wincing, Abe let go of the lapels he was clutching. He shook his head, dark, thick hair bounced gracefully around his face. “Nothing to worry your pretty head about,” he replied quite harshly before turning away from me.

I grab the back of his jacket to stop him and my hands went to his shoulders, gripping at the collar of his jacket. “Let me help you,” I told him as I push it down his arms.

He shrugs me off easily, a low growl coming from him as if a warning. “I don’t want your help, Callie,” he bit out and that stung. Not as much as his next words, though. “You’ve overstayed your welcome. It’s time for you to leave.”

Annoyance swelled up inside me. “I overstayed my welcome?” I asked as I rounded him up to face him. “We’ve been here not a full fifteen minutes, Abe.”

I crossed my arms, matching his glare. I’m upset. I only want to make sure his wound is okay. I have stitches of my own that have to be cleaned, bandaged changed, regularly. Abe lives alone, at least that’s what it looks like. If he needed my help stitching him up he sure as well needed someone to clean it for him. He couldn’t even lift his arms up. How did he even manage to get into his uniform?

“Just,” I say, not masking my building irritation. My hands grab at his lapels and push them rather roughly than I intend to, my emotions getting the better of me. “Let me get this off you and we can look at your injury.”

Abe winced and I felt a little guilty. Still. It’s his fault. He’s so stubborn.

“Don’t move your arms. I’ll slide the sleeves down,” I instructed, my voice softening. I was surprised that he let me. Guess he realized I can be just as persistent as he is. Slowly, I managed to get his jacket off, catching both sleeves behind him with my arms encircling his waist.

“Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

I jolted at the sudden pressure on my hips, looking down to find that Abe has placed his huge hands there, gripping me firmly but tenderly. Has it been there the whole time? Because I hadn’t noticed it until now.

We’re standing so close to each other, I’m almost hugging him. My breath caught when my eyes catch his peering down at me with such blaze only this time, what spurn within me is not entirely fear, of that I am sure of. The way he studies me, waiting for my reaction, my next move, makes me want to stay in this intense, comfortable silence for a little while, enjoying how a door of vulnerability seem to open within the shallow surface of his eyes, the only part of his soul he willingly let other people see, people who didn’t care to search deeper, understand better.

If I so as much move an inch, this moment would end, taking with it my chance of getting inside this troubled young man who has the weight of the world in his shoulders. What kind of world it is, I’m just not so sure I want to find out.

Involuntarily, I sucked in a huge gasp, now becoming aware how shallow I’d made my breathing in an effort not to disrupt this rare moment we are sharing together. And how that simple act changed everything.

“It’s a mistake bringing you here.”

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