Imperfect Strangers

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Do Things

OAKLYNN’S POV

“Not so fast jerkface!”

Tristan and I jumped apart as Hailey burst into my bedroom again and yanked Tristan back by his collar, while I cowered in the corner.

“C’mon Hails!” Tristan protested as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Stop being a CB and lea-”

Her brows drew down in a scowl and folded her arms. “I think it’s time you said your goodbyes and left,” then emphasized, “Now!” Hailey was extremely protective of me-worse than an older brother.

“Can you at least allow me to say bye to Oaklynn?” He compromised.

“I’m not leaving, you’re going to have to do it with me standing right here,” she told him, her mouth set in a stubborn line.

That’s when I decided to step in. “It’s okay Hails. You can leave I’ll be safe.” I steered her towards the door. “Besides you can’t play chaperone-I know you have a hot date tonight.”

We stepped into the hallway just as her boyfriend Michael walked through the front door. “Am I interrupting something?”

“No. Take her away from here Mike.”

“I intend to do that so don’t wait up,” he said as he threw his arm around her and kissed her temple.

“Don’t worry about me okay? Go out and have fun.” I gave her a quick squeeze as they made their way out.

“You’ll call me if you need me?” she made me promise.

“I have you on speed dial. Now get outta here,” I held the door open for them.

“Goodnight Lynn,” Mike said before I closed the door and went back to my room.

I leaned on the doorjamb of the frame and looked at my ex. “Start talking Tris. Why are you really here?”

“Who’s Ren?” he questioned as he held up my phone.

“None of your business,” I replied as I snatched my iPhone from his hand.

“So you’ve already moved on huh?” He was looking extremely peeved as I shuffled over to the bed.

“What’s it to you? You dumped me remember??” I promptly countered as I propped myself against the headboard and threw the comforter over my legs, suddenly feeling exposed.

“It was a mistake-I wasn’t thinking straight O,” he raked his hands through his hair as he paced up and down the floor. “Plus I was under pressure-work, home-a lot was going on baby.”

“Why didn’t you just talk to me??”

“I -”

“Didn’t want to burden me with your problems-yeah I know.” I finished off.

“My parents are getting a divorce Oaklynn. My dad cheated...” he disclosed.

I gasped as I let it sink in. “I’m so sorry Tristan...”

“The worst part is...it’s someone we all know...” He sat down by my side, elbows on his knees and his hands ruffling his hair.

“We do...” I braced myself.

“Professor Carol Hunter.”

“No!” My hand flew over my mouth.

Surely not her?? I was hearing things-it couldn’t be that sweet, kind woman... She was my favorite teacher, someone we all loved and looked up to-no this couldn’t be.

“Turns out they got careless and she’s expecting...” The despairing, dejected expression in his tone caught my eye and my heart went out to him. “Yeah, I’m going to be a brother again.”

“I’m sorry...I don’t know what else to say...” I replied helplessly.

“Can I stay here tonight? I don’t think I can go home right now...”

“Tris, I-”

“Please?” his red-rimmed eyes implored and I felt myself weakening. “I promise not to try anything. I just want to hold you. I just need-” he sighed and dropped his head in his hands.

“Why don’t you come to bed?”

What? Who said that?

“Or maybe we can scrounge up some leftovers to eat first?”

“That would be great.” His lips curved upwards and he nodded.

He’s was so close I could feel the heat of his body. The familiar aftershave invaded my space. He smelled like a heady mix of male musk and something so faint and sweet, it made me want to press my face to the skin of his chest for a better smell.

“Lead the way...” I laughed as I waited for him to stand up so I could get out of bed.

We warmed up pizza and fried chicken and different odds and ends we found in the refrigerator. Then had a feast and washed it down with hot chocolate with two marshmallows and a flake in mine. The conversation was light and we skirted around the issue of our relationship. Guess tonight wasn’t the night to dig into that. I just wanted Tristan to know I was here for him as a friend.

When we went to bed he snuggled against me and fell asleep almost instantly. I used the opportunity to slip out to the privacy of Hailey’s room, to check my phone and respond to Ren’s messages.

REN: I miss you call-girl. Hit me up when you get this.

LYNN: Prove it.

REN: If my memory serves me correctly...you owe me, Oaklynn Turner. It’s time to pay the piper babe.

I took a deep breath and pressed the green button on the screen. Here goes nothing...

“Hey,” he answered after the first ring.

“Hey.”

“Talk to me, babe? I want to hear your voice.”

“I-don’t even know what to say,” I let out a low, soft but coy laugh.

“You don’t know what the simple act of hearing words come out of your mouth is doing to me.”

“Tell me...”

“Keep talking babe. Just keep talking. Don’t stop..ever.”

“So... I went to Victoria Secrets the other day-to try and return the-uhm-merchandise-and they said they don’t allow returns. Can you believe that? I mean I hadn’t even worn the stuff. So after I explained to the shop assistant that I didn’t really need the stuff anymore because-you know-she told me the solution was easy...”

“Oh yeah? What did she say?”

“She said I should find myself a new boyfriend that appreciates the finer things in life.” I laughed.

“Oaklynn Turner...I think you’ve come to the right place...”

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