5: there was the second time
My phone buzzed for the umpteenth time as I tried to watch a show on the television in my living room, while bundled up in two sets of thick blankets.
Letting out a throaty exhale, I scrunched my face and grabbed my phone and looked at the screen, seeing yet another text from Melia.
lil melly: did he at least look like his dick was suckable? i need answers pls
I laid my head back on the couch and sighed, throwing my phone aside softly, taking my hair out from its bun, annoyed with how messy the messy bun had turned out. Its kinkiness made it even more difficult to take the scrunchie out, pulling out some strands on its way out.
Again came two vibrations from my phone and a low grumble left my lips when I had to tear my gaze away from the solemn scene playing on the tv screen.
lil melly: i know where you live. answer my text or i’ll show up to the building acting like a deranged ex
Knowing very well that Melia would definitely do just that, I picked up my phone and texted her back.
nothing to talk about. i don’t even remember him.
Lies. Lies. Lies.
Yes you do remember him. You remember him oh so well to say the least.
Anyone could remember that face...that body.
Literally, a second after the text was delivered, Melia sent one back.
lil melly:on my way!
Then came the knocks on my door before Melia emerged dressed in pajamas like she assumed she was allowed to stay the night.
Melia slipped the lollipop from her mouth and licked over her red-tinted lips giddily. Putting the bag I guessed was food onto the counter, she spread out her hands and cocked her hips to the side raising her brow in expectancy.
Tossing her unfinished candy into the trash can, she sauntered over to me.
“Alright. Let’s talk,” she said in a tone that you would think I asked her to come over and talk about the “problem”.
I leaned away from her as she plopped herself onto the couch, giving her look of feigned annoyance.
“I did not even call you over. And there is nothing, I repeat, nothing, to talk about!” My voice rose a bit at the end of the sentence so I collected myself, straightened my back, breathing in deeply. “Don’t want to, don’t need to talk about it.”
If I didn’t talk about him, then there would be no possibility of me getting caught up on some stranger that made my hormones act up.
But then again the problem wouldn’t be to get Melia to stop talking about him, the real problem would be getting the image of him and his voice out of my head.
Why was it so hard in the first place? It wasn’t like I felt something for everyone I talked to so why was this any different?
Why was he any different?
Melia softened her face as she studied mine, settling her elbow on the back of the couch then glancing to the television.
“I don’t want to watch this. Why is it whenever I come over you want to be all in your feelings with these dang soap operas.” Melia complained, her eyes on me as she spoke.
“This is my home,” I spoke incredulously. “You came all the way from your place to complain about the things...in my home.”
Melia craned her neck out, her expression feigning attitude. ”Our home. After all, what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours. Isn’t that right lil Xenny?” She reached out and pinched my cheek lightly until I let out a sigh, tilting my lips in a small smile.
If anyone were to ask how Melia and I were able to keep our friendship for so long with our two very different personalities, upbringings, and socializing skills, the answer...well there wouldn’t be an answer.
There’s no answer to just knowing how much you needed another person in your life.
I wasn’t sure if Melia needed me as much as I needed her but the day we became friends in high school, I finally thought that there actually was something to like about me.
I mean if you looked at Melia and then looked at me back then–and even now–Melia was always the one everyone’s eyes were on. She was popular. From sports with the addition of her academics. Sure I was the top of the class and it was shared with her but when it came to me, suddenly everyone looked the other way.
And at times like those, the only person to be focusing on me was Melia.
Feeling down? There was Melia with jokes going on for minutes until I cracked.
Angry? Melia was there to find what I was angry at and be furious right along with me.
Feeling nervous? Melia had a mantra that she chanted in Hawaiian that calmed me down immediately. I didn’t have the slightest idea what she was saying the first time, but the softness of her voice and her pronunciation was where I found peace.
So if anyone really looked at it, I guess there was an answer as to why Melia and I were friends.
She was my support. A necessity.
Melia laid down on my lap and held her phone up to her face and opened a camera on the company’s account we had on instagram, fixing her hair a bit and switching it to record.
“Don’t record me,” I groaned, “I look ugly right now.”
“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that,” Melia hummed and pressed the recording button, posing for a few seconds before directing the camera towards me.
My hand flew up to cover the bottom half of my face, my eyes the only thing showing.
“Look at her,” Melia said in a small voice, “in loving memory of Xenia Thomas because right after this video ends I’m going to ruin her night!” She turned the camera back to her and gave a peace sign.
After Melia ended the video, she sat up and turned to me and stared for a while.
I took my gaze from the television and returned her stare, cocking my head a bit.
“So let’s talk,” Melia chirped, adjusting her shirt and shorts.
I smacked my lips and looked back at the tv. “About?”
“I don’t know. What do you feel like talking about?” she continued, persistent on getting me to talk.
“Absolutely nothing,” I deadpanned. “Just wanna watch the show and enjoy my night.”
“Mhm okay so let’s talk about the elephant in the room,” Melia grinned. She clasped her hands together and exhale, gesturing them towards me.
“Which is?” I asked in a flat voice.
“Dick.” Melia opened up her phone quicker than I could process and pulled up my instagram page.
Swiping through, she landed on the direct messages page and showed the phone in my face.
“Mel I know you know Ihave glasses on and this doesn’t make it any better,” I murmured, grabbing her wrist and moving her hand until it was at a distance I could see what was on the phone screen.
“What are all these unanswered fine men doing in your direct messages?” Melia inquired, her brows raised. “Hm? Perhaps we should answer–”
“No!” I exclaimed without controlling the volume of my voice and earning a judging look from Melia. “Sorry...I mean...no. And to be fair you don’t answer yours either.”
“Unless you have an excuse that someday you’ll meet your literal soulmate for life–which might I remind you, I did–don’t use me as a scapegoat Xenny.” Melia patted my head and started tapping through the profiles.
While she looked through all my messages, I got up and walked into the kitchen grabbing two water bottles from the fridge, then dug through the bag of food, pulling out the containers of Chinese food.
“Okay I’ve deleted them all!” Melia announced, letting out a breath like it was a hard day at work.
I stopped drinking mid-gulp and set my water down. “Oh? Who would’ve thought–”
“Because we’re on mission to find that hunk you bumped into earlier today. I’ve never seen you with that look on your face after meeting someone, so this is definitely someone we can’t let go!” Melia rambled on, with an expression that let me know that I had to be stuck on this man.
I cracked open the plastic container and sat down on a stool, pushing around the food with a plastic food.
“How about we eat quietly,” I suggested, slumping my shoulders.
You know who looked really edible?
The Italian man who ignited a fire in you that you never knew existed.
“Knock knock.” Melia tapped her knuckles against my forehead lightly, making me jump out of my thoughts. “Anyone there?”
“Yes. And she’s hungry.” Before Melia could continue her prying, I should’ve two spoonfuls of fried rice into my mouth, chewing slowly.
Melia glared at me, slurping up her chow mein loudly.
So then we ate without mentioning the construction worker with the deep dimples and oversized muscles.
And I was thankful for that because for at least that moment, my mind was clear.
I grunted with exhaustion carrying the last box into the storage room and separating the lingerie pieces into their rightful containers.
Outside, Riyya, the intern, and Melia were going through the different fabrics that were brought in for the spring line.
That was her thing.
Knowing what brought comfort or discomfort to customers. So with every new line, she had the fabrics for each design laid out and she felt through each of them, stretched them out and repeatedly rubbed it against her bare skin to make sure no irritation was caused.
My forte was sketching designs despite my confidence in showing as much skin as I exposed in my illustrations. It could be a way to express how I wanted to see myself. How I wanted to show myself to the public.
But that was never going to happen.
Just look at me.
With a sigh, I finished up with the pieces, stacking the box in the far back of the storage room. I shuddered unintentionally and pulled my sweater closer to my body, sniffling before leaving the room.
“It’s way too cold for us to not have the heat on,” I complained the moment I walked into the break room. Bending down to check the thermostat, I repeatedly tapped the button to up the heat.
I trudged over to the fluffy lavender couch and plopped down, a quiet whine passing through my lips. I took off my glasses and sat them on my stomach.
Why was I so stressed? So tired?
A normal answer would’ve been because we had a new line of lingerie coming out soon.
But the truth was...the embarrassing truth was that every time I attempted to close my eyes, right there was Melia suggesting this man was interested in me or just the man himself popping up and prohibiting my normal amount of sleep.
I was weird. Weird for thinking about this situation as long as I have.
“Is there something wrong my dear friend.” Melia made her way to me and sat so closer her thigh was on top of mine. “You know I don’t like seeing you sad.”
I shook my head. “I’m not sad...things are just frustrating right now.” I rested my head on the back of the couch and my eye shut.
Even with my eyes closed, I could feel the sinister smile from Melia sneak up on me.
“Is it because a certain someone is on your mind? Perhaps that guy from yesterday?” she pressed, nudging her shoulder against mine suggestively.
I froze and stammered, “I’m not. Clearly I was talking about a sketch.”
Melia fidgeted. “Oh to hell with a freaking sketch! You’re sexually frustrated! Just admit it,” she hollered. “Now tell me who the hunk is so we can start our search and give your libido what it deserves.”
I put my glasses back on, disgusted at Melia’s words as usual. “Nope! I told myself I wouldn’t–”
Melia cut in, her voice playfully serious. “Xenia Aisha Thomas, if you don’t tell me about that man right now I will not hesitate to bind you up and torture you until you do.” She poked at my breast making me flinch and gasp. “And that’s a promise.”
Knowing Melia kept every promise she made and this was my breaking point, I gave in.
“Fine! Fine, fine,” I said exasperatedly.
“Okay...” I started off, uneasy and hesitant. “He was everything that I could list that is perfect in a man all in one. He was like this Greek god. Like...like a model straight out of a magazine type of man. He had these dark green eyes that just swallowed me whole. And his arms! God his arms were so big I actually thought he would be able to pick me up like can you imagine that? His lips were so full, I just wanted to tackle him and kiss him all over.” I inhaled and exhaled, relaxing my body. “And the dimples. You know I’m a sucker for dimples.”
Give it up. At this point, you’re a sucker for him.
And you don’t even know his dang name.
I didn’t realize Melia matched my excitement until I felt the wide smile on my face and one stretch across hers.
“Did you get a name? Anything?” she urged.
“No...” I chewed my bottom lip. “No...but I guess we talked for a few seconds.”
God, I sounded like such a high school girl.
I repeated the words he had said to me that day and earned a look a approval.
“Oh...yeah we gotta find him so you guys can fuck. You can’t just walk away from an opportunity like that.”
Riyya came back into the room and set the phone down back on its holder. She flipped to a page in her small notebook, nudging her dark glasses.
“The handyman has been scheduled. The only open time today was at 4:00 pm,” she read, then closed her notebook.
I checked my watch, just as Melia did.
That was just in twenty minutes.
Melia told Riyya to leave early and she offered to help us with anything before she left.
And when we declined, she exited, waving at us with her bag in her hand.
While we waited, Melia criticized my lack of...sexual experiences.
Even had the audacity to say I’ve never seen a penis. Then proceeded to say fifty seconds of porn doesn’t count.
Well it does!
As time passed, I ignored Melia after her accusations and started scrolling through my phone, humming a small tune.
By the end of the allotted time, I was covered in gloss from Melia’s attempt to get me to stop ignoring her. She finally relented when the front door opened.
“Must be the guy.” I stood from the couch and grabbed a napkin from the center of the table, wiping away at my cheeks. “I’ll go check it out.”
“Okay.” Melia stood along with me and reapplied her gloss. “Love you.”
“Disgusting,” I muttered, walking out the break room with my head still turned to look at Melia.
Slowly, I turned my head and faced whoever entered the shop, the smile on my face dropping into an expression of astonishment and pure fear.
The man looked at me and just stared, his lips turning up into a grin as if he knew we were going to meet again.
Be normal! Say hi or something. Just be normal.
Yet all I could muster was a sound from the back of my throat.
You suck, you know that?
First off, how?
The chances were so, so slim.
Well they weren’t very slim were they?
The store was looking for a handyman and I happened to bump into the one whose card had slipped into our mail the day before.
Fate and chances.
A chuckle rumbled through his chest, around the room, and shamefully into my panties.
“Remember what I told you about keeping your mouth closed Amore,” he spoke, accent heavy on his deep, smooth voice.
“Uh...” I choked up, mouth closing immediately after what he said.
His smile grew and so did the deepness of his dimples, slightly covered by the scruffiness from his growing beard.
He stepped closer and the panic that was loading into my body reached full capacity and my feet moved on their own, escaping to the break room.
But when I tried to push the door, it didn’t budge, a small cackle emitting from it instead.
Melia poked her head out and looked at me innocently.
“Where ya goin’?” she asked in a small voice.
“Melia,” I warned urgently, pushing the door again. “Let me in. I’m not kidding!”
“No,” she retorted. “and I suggest you stop right now. He’s looking at you all weird. Oh, and there goes his eyes, he’s looking at your ass now. But he’s thinking about his face in between those–”
I glanced back hurriedly and did indeed find his eyes on my posterior, where they quickly looked back up at me.
I turned to Melia and glared, curling my lips.
“Would you ladies mind showing me exactly how you want the shelves designed?”
Oh please stop talking before I pull a Melia both in my mind and mouth.
Melia finally opened the door, making me stumble and fall into her.
“Of course!” She smacked my butt into the room. “Xenia why don’t you go on ahead and grab those sketches of yours.” Then she left me alone and went to talk about god knows what what to the stranger in the middle of our store.
I blew out a breath and gathered myself–or I tried to–rushing to my bag and looking through the stacks of papers with shaky hands, afraid of what Melia would say or do without me in the room.
Pulling out the two pieces of paper, I ran to the door, inhaled, then passed through, hearing the first few digits of my phone number.
“Here are the sketches!” I blurted, purposely cutting in Melia’s sentence.
I walked over to the man and handed him the papers, his hand brushing mine, lingering longer than a stranger’s should.
And I freaking melted.
“Thank you Amore,” he spoke lowly, trying to catch my wandering eyes.
My whole body clench and the temperature in the room shot up.
“My...my name is Xenia,” I said back, gaze still on his chest instead of his face.
“I know,” he chuckled again. “But my nickname fits you better, no?”
You can call me anything you want to if you keep talking like that.
“Y-yes. I mean...no!” I gritted my teeth. “Mhm.”
Then Melia, ever kind with the good timing, whispered from behind the counter, “suck his dick.”
I hushed her immediately, groaning inwardly.
Melia checked her watch and walked around the counter.
“If you two lovebirds don’t mind, I have another matter to attend to so I will see you later,” she announced, waving to the handyman, pulling me aside.
“If I don’t find you sitting on his face when I come back, I assure you this friendship will be over,” she hissed.
“I’ll kill you,” I grumbled back. “Do you know how loud you’re being?”
She beamed. “Yes.” She slipped away. “Bye!”
Right when the door closed, the man spoke again and I was thrown back into the bubbling reality of having a conversation with this man.
“My name is Emilio,” he introduced himself, holding out his hand.
My hand met Emilio’s, engulfed by his largeness. His thumb caressed the skin near my wrist, trailing down to my knuckles as he let go, eyes on me.
I looked over him once, failing to be indiscreet when he puffed out his chest just a bit.
How could someone be so big?
Not that I was complaining.
“Nice to meet you Emilio,” I replied, dropping my hand to my side.
“No.” Emilio tilted his head, studying my face. “It is nice to meet you. Again.”
There was a small panic in his face before I continued talking.
“Oh again! Yes. I totally remember us meeting that afternoon yesterday.” I cleared my throat then murmured to myself, “like I’d forget.”
Emilio pulled up the papers I handed him and gestured to the sketch.
“Do you mind uh...explaining this,” he mumbled, trying his hardest to make himself understandable.
“Of course.” I took the papers from Emilio gently and set them on the counter. “I’m sorry I don’t speak Italian. Out of all the languages I speak, that’s not one of them.” I furrowed my brows and brushed the loose hairs from my bun away from my face, tucking them behind my ear.
“It is fine,” he said softly.
I focused on the paper with wide eyes, feeling his stare on the side of my face.
Hadn’t he had enough already?
“Okay so basically,” I croaked then coughed, clearing my throat. “It’s just a big beam stretching across right here above us, meeting both these walls.” I waved my hands above my head. “And these curved steel rods installed into the beams so we’ll be able to hang up some mannequins.”
“Mmm. And is there a uh certain time frame you have?”
Please for the love of god get this done as soon as possible so I won’t have to fantasize about you right in front of your face.
“Take all the time you need,” I settled, unable to control my mouth.
Nope. You can control it. You know you want him to stay as long as possible so you can drool over him all day while he calls you Amore.
“You’re welcome,” was my response as I began retreating to the back room.
“You understood me?” Emilio called out, making me stop and face him.
“Yeah...well not really but yes. This guy came in last week and said the same thing so I looked it up on my phone...because I’m a nerd and I like learning new things.” I chastised myself for adding the last part, immediately wanting to run into the break room and lay face down on the couch.
But instead of giving me the judgment I expected, Emilio laughed to himself, shaking his head.
"Voi è molto interessante,” he remarked.
“Um...okay,” a giggle passed through my lips as I continued to the back room.
I left the door open a bit, peeking through for a moment.
Emilio stared at the door with a bright grin, his cheeks reddening slightly.
He must’ve been sick. Had to be.
No way I could’ve caused that.
There’s just no way.
I sat down on the couch, disoriented for a bit.
Absentmindedly, I grabbed my phone and clicked open a search tab, typing in the nickname given to me by yours truly.
“My love,” I read out to myself quietly.
“My love,” I repeated again.
Okay that’s enough of that! You’re getting pulled in again.
Remember all that high school bull crap? College?
We don’t want a replay of all that false hope. All that hurt. We don’t want any of that now do we?
I clicked off my phone.
No, we don’t.