In the Wash: The Rona Shively Stories

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Chapter Eleven

I’m not sure what felt worse, remembering that I had cried in front of the resident pansy or waking up in bed with him. It appears that the two run neck and neck in the fucking wonderful Olympics of dumb shit. I freed myself from his arms, trying not to wake him as I tiptoed to the bathroom to take an industrial strength shower. I’m not sure what happened. One minute, I’m crying in my kitchen, the next minute, I’m wrapped up in my sheets with a man that I normally think of as a sister. This sucked.

I turned the hot water on full blast and added a little cold just to protect that first layer of skin. I stepped into the shower and grabbed my soap. I scrubbed until I felt normal and then reached outside for my towel. I dried off and pulled on a pair of fresh underwear. I stood at the sink and looked at my reflection in the mirror. My dirty blonde hair hung in stringy strands awkwardly framing my face. I could never get the right cut. No matter how many times I asked for a simple bob, the stylists always tried to give me a shag. There must have been a special on that particular class at beauty school. It was unfortunate because it left me looking like Jane Fonda in Klute.

Without much in the way of make-up, finished putting myself together without using the blow dryer. I didn’t want to wake him until it was absolutely necessary. I wondered if it would be possible to just leave a note, get the hell out of here and deal with him later. Just as the thought crossed my mind, I smelled coffee perking and some other heavenly smell coming from the kitchen. He was up and evidently, cooking.

“Good morning,” he said, happily. He had this goofy smile on his face and was whistling to himself as he flipped pancakes at the

stove.

“Hey,” I said, “Where’d you find pancake mix?”

“I ran down to my apartment,” he said, “There’s nothing good in your cabinets.”

“I’m not much on cooking,” I said, apologetically.

“No problem, I’ve got you covered,” he said.

“Look…” I started to say, but he cut me off.

“Now, I know what you’re going to say, Rona,” he interrupted, “I don’t want you to feel bad about last night.”

“But, I…” I started to say, and he interrupted again.

“But nothing, you needed someone last night and it was my pleasure,” he said, “I’m not going to make you uncomfortable over

this.”

I managed a quiet thank you and then, “Charlie, I think we need to be honest with each other here.”

He stopped flipping and turned down the heat as he stepped around the counter. He sat down at the table beside me and took my hand.

“Rona, I know you make jokes about me all of the time and that you probably are feeling pretty much mortified right now,” he said, “but, I am really okay with maintaining that banter. I just hope this convinces you once and for all that I’m not gay.”

I looked at him for a moment and then it hit me. The son of a bitch had done this on purpose. I stood up and said, “You bastard, you did this to fuck with me!”

“What!” he exclaimed, confused about the swift turnabout in my mood.

“You know exactly what I mean,” I said angrily, “You ‘comforted’ me because you wanted to prove something, not because you genuinely cared that I was hurting last night.”

“No, no, Rona,” he said, trying to grab my arm. “I didn’t, that’s not what I meant.”

“Oh forget it!” I said, grabbing my purse. I stomped toward my door and said, “Just lock up when you go.”

“Wait, Rona, please,” he said, stepping in front of me.

“Get out of my fucking way,” I said, glaring at him.

“Rona, come on, I want to talk to you about this,” he pleaded. “ I wasn’t doing this to hurt you. I really wanted to be there for you last night.” He put his hands on my shoulders and tried to get me to look at him.

“I wanted to kiss you and it seemed natural to take it further,” he went on, “I would never have done that for show.”

I shook my head and said, “Bullshit.”

“No, seriously,” he said, “I’ve always liked you, but you always treated me like the resident pussy. I was so glad to be here without fighting with you last night.”

I looked at him for the first time. He was serious. Maybe he did really care. I didn’t need this shit today.

“Charlie,” I said warily, “I’m sorry but this is hard for me.”

“I understand,” he said patiently.

“I can’t just let people in,” I said, “It’s just not that easy for me.” “It doesn’t have to be anything more than what it was,” he said, “I know you try not to like people, but that’s as hard for you as admitting that sometimes you do.”

“Please, I’m really not that deep,” I said, “I just don’t need anything else to get tangled up in. I’m just not able to give that much.”

“Rona, I think that’s an excuse,” he said.

“Maybe so,” I said, “but I don’t want to have this thing hanging over us.”

“I won’t get crazy,” he said, “I promise.”

“I really have to go now,” I said, “We can talk about this later.”

“Great,” he said, “I can make you dinner tonight if you want.”

“Let’s just see how my day goes and take it from there,” I said. We said goodbye to each other and he managed to kiss me one more time before letting me out the door. I promised him that I would check in with him when I got back in for the night and we could talk about things. He still didn’t know what had caused me to cry in the first place. We hadn’t talked about it at all; the lust had taken over.

I had to admit that I felt better now than I had when I first woke up.

He wasn’t nearly the jerk I thought he was. For now, though, I needed to

focus on work. I still needed to check on Norman and I wanted to call Rita Gofski back before noon.

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