Allie tightened her walls around his rod.
"I'm yours, Dean," she moaned. "I'm all yours."
She thrust faster on top of him. The seashore washed away the sand from their feet.
"Say my name," he begged.
"Dean! Dean!" she screamed. He watched as her arms filled with bruises and the sea caught on fire.
She looked behind her crying, "It's Grayson."
Dean hugged her shivering body.
"I'll protect you."
"No, I have to go with him. We're getting married."
Then her bruised skin burned until she turned into ashes.
Dean woke up from the nightmare, panting, covered in sweat. He could hear his heart suck his chest like a wormhole. Mr. Pops whined and jumped on the bed.
This was the only dream about Allie he prayed didn’t come true. He dropped his temple on his dog’s back.
"Hey, buddy. Good morning to you too.”
With the corner of his eye, Dean realized there was something floating under the door. He gasped as smoke wafted into his bedroom.
"Allie!" he yelled, swiftly opening his bedroom window and carrying Mr. Pops through it. Knowing of the dangers of heat transfer, he covered his right hand in a shirt to turn the doorknob. The thick smoke blurred his vision. He ran into Allie's bedroom, but she wasn't there. The worst was happening, and she was in the kitchen, in the middle of it. But as he moved into the hallway, a light escaping the bathroom caught his eyes.
"Allie!" he yelled again, attempting to open the locked door. "Allie!" He shoved his body against it. "Allie!" He gained momentum and threw himself against the door. Part of the wooden frame cracked open and he pushed through it.
The shower poured water and steam over Allie's silhouette while she massaged her conditioner out of her hair. She hummed as high volume exited her waterproof headphones, which were connected to the phone sitting on the soap holder.
Dean shoved the transparent curtain aside, seeing her naked body, including the belly button that drove him to the edge. There was no time for that.
Allie gasped, doing a poor job at covering her twins and recently shaven kitten.
"Oh, my God?" she screamed.
"We have to go. The house is on fire,” he pulled off her headphones and grabbed her towel.
"Oh my God!"
He held her hand and took her into his bedroom, where they both climbed through the window.
"Mr. Pops! We forgot—" Allie shouted.
"He's fine. He was the first one out," he said.
Allie wrapped her arms around Dean, letting him feel her nipples against his bare skin. He realized the neighbors were outside already, so he covered her with the towel.
"Pops!" he called.
"Is this your dog?" A lady held Mr. Pops by the collar.
Dean scurried toward her. "Yes, thank you. I don't have my phone. Can you call nine-one-one?"
"My husband already called them," she said.
Smoke continued to exit the apartment.
"Why is there only smoke?" mumbled Allie.
The firemen came out of the apartment with four homemade smoke grenades. Both Allie and Dean stood close to each other, scrutinized by the neighbors. They heard teenage girls giggle while talking about the “naked couple, who were probably doing it in a bedroom full of candles.”
"Sir, I found these in your residence. Did you know there's a penalty for wasting our time?"
"Wait, what?" said Dean.
"You mean the place is not on fire?" said Allie.
"No." Another fireman appeared. "Somebody was messing with these kids. There’s a broken window in the living room. There are smoke grenades everywhere."
"Is the gas toxic?" asked Allie.
"Non-toxic Halloween smoke cans. Ya’ll can go back inside."
"Great! Thank you."
"Thank you.” Dean shook the fireman's hand.
The fireman nodded watching them leave.
"God damn frat boys," he whispered, although Dean could still hear him.
Allie fastened the towel around her torso while inspecting the broken window.
"Your ex is crazy," she told Dean.
"You think she did this?" he asked.
"Who else? Eggs the other night and now this. You should talk to her."
"Knowing her, it might make things worse. I need more evidence before I can talk to her. Her dad is really strict. If I can prove to him she’s been doing this, he’ll ground her for life."
"Okay, as long as I don't get egged accidentally." Allie returned to her bedroom.
Questions about Meryl surged. It disturbed her that Meryl’s father still had the power to ground a grown woman. Allie worked so hard every day to be an adult, she envied the ones privileged enough to have parents. But she didn’t want a father like Meryl’s.
At the moment, she could not share those thoughts with Dean due to the fact he had just seen all of her. Steam didn’t even help cover her lady parts. She had had roommates before, but they never encountered so many embarrassing situations.
"That’s when the fireman told me it was smoke cans," said Dean.
"Bro, I can't believe Meryl would do that to you," replied Jay.
"Okay, let me rewind," Jay continued. "You barge into the bathroom, open the shower curtain, you see your hot roommate naked, and ya’ll do nothing."
"Dude, I thought my house was on fire."
"Hey man, I'm just saying, when life gives you lemons—"
Dean smirked and took a sip from his water bottle. "They weren't lemons. They were cantaloupes."
His friend cackled, attracting an audience.
Dean pulled out a transparent bag containing a grilled cheese sandwich.
"Where did you buy that?" asked Jay.
"I didn't buy it. Allie made it for me. You want some?"
"You just met this girl, and she's already making you sandwiches?" Jay broke the bread in half watching the melted cheese stretch in elastic glory.
"It’s what good roommates do," said Dean.
"Good roommates check out each other's cantaloupes,” laughed his friend.
Before Dean could add to the joke, their professor came into the auditorium to deliver the exam.
Olivia's blonde hair rubbed against her back like a pendulum as she approached Grayson's office.
"I came to tell you we postponed the court date."
"Fucking told ya it would work," said Grayson, taking notes from a binder. "Erikson from accounting thinks we make a dominant team."
"Really? Shouldn't you look happier about that?" His colleague raised an eyebrow at his pensive mood.
"I am happy. Sorry."
He ignored her and continued his work.
"Come on," she closed the binder gently. "What's wrong? Did you give her the ring?"
"I did," he dropped the pen.
"And?" she hung her thigh on the corner of his desk.
"It's her roommate. I think he's into her."
Grayson gave Olivia a do-you-not-see-the-problem look.
"What if she likes him too?" he said, irritated by having to explain.
"She doesn't like him.” She shook her head convincingly.
"How do you know?"
"Grayson, even if she likes him, you gave her a ring. Do you think she’ll put that in jeopardy for some college boy?"
Grayson nodded and picked up his pen. The relationship he and Allie developed was worth more than the roommate she had just met.
Allie got home from work to find Dean on the veranda, playing with a circular device.
"Check this out." He pressed a button on the device. Thin tubes began spraying water over the soil around the plants without dripping onto the floor.
"I thought you hated watering plants. How long did this take you?" Allie grinned in admiration.
"I still hate watering plants,” he said. “I basically automated the system you created. It was easy.”
"This is amazing!" She poked the buttons. His ingenuity was sensational, making her add a level of respect for him. Perplexed, she continued to explore the object, when she accidentally caressed his fingers.
Their gaze sealed. Drops of sweat ran out of his scruffy hair, and he had never looked more handsome. Improving the irrigation system might have been easy for him, but he worked hard, and that was alluring; and once again, dangerous.
"You're amazing," he whispered.
Her expression didn’t change, paralized by the fireworks in her belly. She cleared her throat. “Is there any way to control water pressure for each individual hose?"
"Yes, I just didn't want to do that yet because Jay offered to make a phone app."
"A phone app.” The men’s undertaking was humorous.
"What more can you expect from nerds on vacation?" he laughed.
"Right!" Allie remembered Dean had just finished taking all of his finals. "Did you pass?"
"I did. All A's."
"Yay, I'm so happy for you," She hugged him.
He wrapped his arms around her tightly. Neither of them letting go. It was as if she had known his rapid heartbeat forever. He traced lines down her back when they noticed a presence in the living room.
"Grayson.” The girl pushed Dean away.
Her roommate glanced at his chest in disappointment.
Dean's anger overpowered his brain. Allie belonged with him, and he was letting her be in a room alone with another man. He tried to open the circular remote but he couldn't even place the screwdriver onto the head of the screw. His hands were sweating, fixated on the girl he barely knew. He had to do something.
Allie took Grayson into her bedroom. They shut the door, and he promptly kissed her. He unbuttoned her shirt while she sucked on his neck and gripped her rear. In an instant, the memory she wished most to forget swooped into her mind. Her muscles tensed up, not being able to do anything. What if it hurt tonight?
"Allie?" Dean called from the hallway.
"What the hell does he want?" Grayson was annoyed. Allie shrugged her shoulders and put on a loose t-shirt.
Allie opened the door a few inches. Her eyes looked like they would pop out of her sockets.
"I'm so sorry to bother you." Dean said between breaths. "Do you have some laundry detergent? I'm trying to wash my clothes.”
"Sure," Allie went into the bathroom, inserted her arm in the bottom cabinet, and retrieved a bottle of liquid detergent.
Once alone, Allie determined, tonight she would make herself like it. She made slight steps toward Grayson. He put his hand on her behind again and hauled her toward his chest, when they heard another knock. Grayson took a deep breath and Allie did the same in relief. The lawyer was her future husband. She shouldn’t have been so scared. She needed to stop being anxious and Dean needed to stop saving—cross that—bothering her.
"Sorry," she whispered at Grayson and opened the door again.
"Hi, it's me. Do you have any quarters? I'll pay you back."
Allie dug into a drawer and gave him a small knitted bag filled with quarters.
"This should be enough," she said.
Dean brought his clean laundry to the laundromat, searching for the left washer by the vending machine. He put the basket on a table and lifted the first and second items.
"Damn it," he said. He hadn't separated the colors. Well, if looking like a clown was the price to pay, then so be it.
He shoved all the clothes in the washer and inserted four coins under the dollar symbol. The reds, whites, and greens could be seen spinning through the glass hatch. His fingers patted to the rhythm.
The washer was working properly. Months of complaints and the day he needed it broken, some appliance guy had fixed it. Impatiently, he moved to the vending machine. Number fourteen was some weird orange soda that looked like pure sugar. Before his finger helped the rest of his body self-destroy by pressing on the keypad, the washer stopped.
He looked inside the hatch and attempted to open it. The lock button was glowing red and his clothes were swimming in water.
"Yes," he grinned.
"I'm ready for you," he said.
"Not so fast,” said Allie. "I want to do it, but I also want us to take our time."
Grayson tucked Allie underneath him and spread her legs, but his plans were ruined by more knocking sounds.
"I swear he's doing it on purpose," he whispered.
"No, he never does this. If he's knocking, it must be important." Allie tried to get up but Grayson held her down.
"Just ignore him and he'll think we're asleep."
"That's rude, Grayson." She jumped off the bed and put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.
"I am so sorry to bother you again, but I have a situation." Dean's eyes were double their normal size. His left foot was almost inside the room.
"What happened?" Allie scanned the surrounding hallway, expecting imminent destruction.
"I think I used the wrong washer and now it's jammed and all my clothes are wet and I can't get to them because the door—"
"Did you try turning it off and back on again?"
"I've tried everything!"
Allie looked behind the door, raising one eyebrow at Grayson.
"I'll be back. It shouldn't take long," she said.
Her annoyed fiancé dropped his head back on the pillow.
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