I got back to the loft and was overwhelmed by the silence. I reached down to take off my shoes and nearly fell over when the ground began to shake.
It was rare to have such large earthquakes back to back, but this was Los Angeles, and apparently, it was ‘earthquake season’.
Not that it even made sense that there was an ‘earthquake season’; that idea was positively ridiculous. That being said, I found myself on the floor pressed against the wall praying for the shaking to end.
I felt like I was going to puke but held everything in. I wanted to yell, scream, and cry-to fucking feel something other than everything that I was feeling at that moment.
Instead, I walked to the kitchen.
I took out some flour, eggs, and a rolling pin. There was only one way I was getting through this fucking night. I found myself getting lost in the motions as I began to make my pasta. I was eyeballing my ingredients, but that was probably because of the alcohol.
The alley was warmer than I thought it would be when that man had taken me outside.
I wrapped the dough in cellophane and let it rest in the fridge. All I could think about was how alone I was- I turned on the water and started to clean the countertops religiously.
I couldn’t remember what he looked like.
I checked the dough; it was still too early.
“WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN!?” Nolan roared, causing me to jump.
My mind began to race, thinking of excuses. I tried opening my mouth, but I couldn’t think of a single word to say. I tried to get my bearings, but I looked over and saw him staring at me strangely.
“Come here,” he said firmly, and I obeyed. He took my face in his hands, “are you okay?” He wiped his thumb across my face.
“I’m fine,” I said numbly.
“Fuck that. You’re covered in blood. What the fuck happened!? It’s all over your face!”
I felt shock come over me, and I went to the bathroom. I got there before he did and slammed the door, locking it behind me.
“Open this door! Come on Zoey! Open the door!”
I looked at myself and saw the blood on my face. I washed it off and washed off my makeup. It didn’t take long. I just needed water to make it go away. I opened the door, and Nolan grabbed me.
“It’s still on you. On your chest and on your arms. What happened, Zoey?”
“If it bothers you that much, just look away,” I said, grabbing the dough out of the fridge.
I unwrapped the cellophane and saw blood in the dough. My hands began to shake. I wrapped it up again and threw it away.
“Stop moving! Just stay still,” he said urgently, “talk to me.”
He grabbed my shoulder, not allowing me to leave, and he called someone. He looked concerned and irritated with me.
“I dare you to be honest with me,” he said as he paced his breathing, “what happened to you?”
“I was attacked,” I said.
The door opened, and I saw Ray, he was head of Nolan’s security team. Nolan stepped away as he asked me questions.
Ray sat me on the couch and patiently me questions that I struggled to answer. Then, he snapped on these baby blue gloves as he talked to me. Or were they robin’s egg?
He pulled out a kit and took out a cue tip. He talked to me as if what he was doing was completely normal and casually ran a q-tip over the exposed parts of my body.
“Look, Ray, I’m fine,” I said, “I handled it. He has a broken nose, and I’m pretty sure I badly bruised other parts of him.”
“That’s not the point,” Ray said adamantly, “he could also do this to other women.”
“I was making dough,” I started to say and breathed, “I was going to make pasta, and I didn’t realize that I had his blood on my palm. The dough is in the trash. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
I got up and left.
I was tired of the show that Nolan was putting on. This was all unnecessary. I just wanted to go to sleep and go back to normal. I walked into my room and closed the door, but Nolan had somehow been behind me and pushed it back open.
“Talk to me,” he said.
“Why? I’m just your best friend’s little sister,” I said acidly, “it’s not like I’m anything important.”
“How… were you… look, what I said to Hannah I was saying to get her off my back-”
“I don’t care,” I said flatly.
“Well, I do care,” he retorted.
“I swear to everything that you believe in, if you even breath a word of what happened to my brother, I’ll-”
He kissed me. I don’t know why but he kissed me, and I could feel my anger subsiding. It was sweet and soft. I could feel a heat rising within me, but I refused to let it win.
“I’m not a toy for you to play with,” I spat at him.
“Why must you always be so,” he balled up his hands into fists “grrrrah.”
“That’s not a word,” I said as he walked out the door.
I fell onto the bed, tired and anxious.
I don’t know how long I had been just staring at the ceiling, but I was afraid to go to sleep. So I put on my sports bra and my shorts and headed upstairs.
I was afraid, but I softly knocked on the door. I couldn’t hear if he was awake or not, so I tried pressing my ear to the door only to stumble over myself as he opened the door.
“I figured you would have trouble sleeping,” he said softly, “you can stay here.”
It was dark, but I was able to maneuver my way around and walked apparently straight into his side of the bed.
“Move over a bit,” he whispered lazily.
Pushing against the bed, I moved only to be pulled in against Nolan. I bit back any and all sounds that were attempting to escape. His heat and his touch sent chills down my spine.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you today,” he said softly into my ear. “I was inside grabbing drinks for the girls when they realized that you weren’t there. Then there was the earthquake.”
I nodded and closed my eyes as he gently rubbed my back. I soon found myself falling asleep in his arms.