Earthquakes and Chills

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Chapter 13

“Well, a bunch of the guys are coming over to play games,” Nolan said.

“Oh, so that’s my cue to leave then?” I laughed.

“Yes, that’s your cue to leave,” Nolan said, mocking my voice. “Jack will be over soon, and he has invited a bunch of guys, so you are more than welcome to take yourself out and do stuff.”

“Just go out and do girl stuff?” I said, mocking him back, “okay… sure.”

“What games are you guys going to play? Because if it’s Halo or Call of Duty, you might want to keep me around,” I laughed.

“It’s poker night, so goodbye,” he said, lifting up his water bottle to salute my leaving.

I finished my pizza then slipped on the pants that I wore yesterday with Nolan’s card still in the back pocket. I threw on a sweater and looked back at Nolan.

“Who in the world plays poker night on a Monday?”

“Poker night is whenever I say poker night is,” he laughed.

“That’s just stupid,” I said, closing the door behind me.

I decided to head across to check on things at work. Even though Monday was my day off and Nolan’s day off, it was usually when businesses were in full swing.

“Girl, what happened to you?” Janice said as I walked in the door.

“Ha. Ha. It’s my day off. I was just coming in to check on some messages and emails.”

“Again, I ask you, what happened to you?” Jan remarked

“Overworked?” Marybeth looked up and chuckled from the corner as she grabbed some coffee.

“I guess, but aren’t we all?” I remarked haphazardly.

I went over to my desk and took down all of the messages of note. I put them all in an email and sent it to Nolan.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Nikki said, laughing as she walked up to my desk, “come on, girly, you gotta be doing something else today. It’s your day off. You should not be working. Also, don’t think I do not see the wardrobe emergency.”

“Don’t worry, I’m just about to head out,” I said softly, smiling.

“There’s a new store around the corner that you should check out,” she hinted, “I think you’d like it.”

“Okay,” I said, drawing out the vowels, “I’ll go check it out.”

There was only so much I could do in the office to kill time, so I took Nikki’s suggestion and checked out the store. It was definitely her kind of place, but it was closer to my kind of price.

I actually found something that I sort of liked that I knew would bother Nolan to see: a jumpsuit. I figured Mr. Chauvinist wouldn’t really like the pants part, and it brought me joy. The only thing I didn’t like was the low-cut sides. It was flirty in ways that weren’t expected.

Stepping out, I felt like I was finding myself. Not that the clothes defined me but being able to express myself made me feel more comfortable in my own skin. In a way, it felt like I was wearing beautiful armor that protected me from the world.

Game night was probably over, so I headed back to the apartment, figuring that I could maybe watch a television show or a movie and then head to sleep. But, as I neared the door, I realized that I was definitely wrong; whatever was happening was in full swing.

I held my breath and opened the door.

“Holy shit! Is that Zoey!?” Jack said as Nolan sunk in his chair.

“Hey Jack,” I smiled as he came over to give me a hug.

“Whatcha doin’ here girly? Oh wait,” he looked over at Nolan, “are you staying here!?”

“Oh ho ho,” Carlos laughed.

“Fuck you Carly!” I yelled and then softly said to Jack, “yeah, some shit went down, and Nolan offered me refuge. So I rang the bell, cried for sanctuary and everything.”

“Does Miles know? He’s been texting me trying to figure out where you’re at.”

“No, he doesn’t know, and if you do say anything, I swear to everything you hold dear that I’d gut you,” I warned him.

“Wow, all that running really does go to a girl’s head,” Jack said loudly, referring to my cross country days, and laughed. Then, he looked at me darkly, “are you willing to play with us?”

“I don’t play poker,” I lied, “besides which, I wouldn’t ever play with you losers.”

I looked over and saw Charlie pantomime getting struck in the heart and falling over. I looked into Jack’s eyes with a promise of a challenge and moved to walk past him. Jack caught my shoulder and caught my gaze.

“What if I dare you?” He asked.

“I don’t know if you want to play this, Jack. The last time we played, you cried,” I said mockingly.

I glanced over and saw Mike choke on his beer. Carlos patted his back and looked at me like I was fucking insane. But then again, maybe I was.

“We were 18,” Jack said matter-of-factly, “and you can definitely consider this a dare now.”

“You’re on,” I said as I walked over to the table that Nolan had set up. I wondered where he kept the table and the chairs.

“Okay, let’s go,” Jack said.

“Wait, doesn’t someone have to stake me or something?” I asked.

“Well-” Carlos began to say.

“Do you have any cash?” Jack asked.

“No. I started this new job, and I haven’t gotten paid yet, so I don’t have any cash,” I said, avoiding eye contact with Nolan.

“Well, clothing is always an option,” Jack said.

“Deal,” I said as I reached over to shake his hand.

I watched Nolan’s jaw twitch and saw a few eyes widen in disbelief as I took the offer. The guys didn’t know that Miles had spent a while learning how to play poker and while he sucked… I was amazing at this game, especially…

“We’re going to play a game called Texas hold’em. Do you know how to play?” Jack asked.

“Nope,” I said, to which Carlos snickered.

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