Earthquakes and Chills

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Chapter 7

My grandmother was the one who taught me how to cook. I opened my phone just to close it again. I wanted to call her and tell her what happened today with Nico. She would’ve loved to hear that story about how I talked to a fantastic chef about his food.

I smiled to myself as I made a simple chili. Nolan had gone up to change, and I figured I should probably do the same and left the chili to simmer on the stove. I didn’t have pajamas because I didn’t wear pajamas. I usually just wore a pair of shorts and a sports bra around the house.

I felt oddly naked just wearing shorts and a sports bra, but it was better than just roaming around in my underwear. Besides, Nolan had seen me in my underwear already, and this is always how I looked when I went out for a run, so it was totally normal.

Nolan had already come downstairs, and I saw him sneaking his way toward the chili. He lifted the lid and reached for the spoon.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” I said, crossing my arms.

“I was just checking the food. I wanted to see what you were making,” Nolan said innocently.

“You were the one who was so concerned about what movie we were going to watch, so why don’t you choose something while I cook?”

“Fine,” he said, putting to lid down and heading to the living room.

“Is that couch even comfy? It just looks like endless leather,” I said as I started stirring the chili.

“I’ll have you know that this is a very comfortable couch. I have yet to get any complaints from any of my guests about it,” he sneered.

He settled on some show he seemed really interested to watch. I poured the chili into some bowls and cut off some slices of bread that I put on the side. I added a flourish of cheese and chives on top and let him have at it.

I loved the way my grandmother would make chili. She would always start with a roux for the base, but I just didn’t have the time or the want to do that tonight. I just wanted something fast and straightforward.

I looked over at Nolan and could see that he absolutely enjoyed it. He even went back to fill his bowl again with more, not once breaking his eye contact with the show.

Nolan could be silly and fun when he wanted to be. This moment with just us watching tv and hanging out reminded me of home and how I would spend time with my family. I missed my Mother despite her craziness. I wish that I could just call her and fix things, but that’s what I always did.

I always called her and fixed things. I was an endless mess of a cycle that never seemed to right itself. I needed time to find myself. I had to try standing on my own… even if it meant that I was momentarily leaning on Nolan.

He didn’t much seem to mind, at least that’s how it appeared. I did my best not to cause any issues. We have lived together for almost 5 days now, and it didn’t seem like I was that much of a bother to him.

“Are you going to share some of the blanket ever?” Nolan asked.

“Sorry,” I winced and threw some of the blanket his way.

“Are you okay?” He asked.

“Yeah,” I said haphazardly answering back.

“Dare?” He said, smiling.

I arched my eyebrow surprised that he even remembered. When we were younger, my brother and I would play Truth or Dare all the time.

Truth soon became too boring to us; it also didn’t help when Miles declared that it was a coward’s way out. So, Truth or Dare just devolved into a series of dares that we threw out at each other. We had an ongoing game that we played every day, even at school.

It didn’t take Miles long to wrangle Nolan and Jack into our games. It was always a fun thing to do whenever we got bored, or they ever found me at parties. We’d rehash the game. Of course, we’d let other people play, but Miles and I always took the game pretty seriously.

“What are you going to do? Dare me if I don’t answer?”

“Is that what you’re choosing then?” He said carefully. “Alright, I dare you… I dare you to give me a neck massage.”

“That’s not how this works. You have to dare something worthwhile,” I laughed, “plus that is the worst dare I have ever heard.”

“Well, I didn’t know that Zoey Anderson backed down from dares. This is a new development. Maybe, I should call Miles and let him know that I beat the once-great Zo Anderson.”

“Don’t,” I warned. I didn’t want Miles to know where I was. “Fine.”

I climbed over and sat on the rail of the couch. Nolan leaned back, and I moved my hands against his neck.

“Woah, you have this horrible knot right here,” I said while I tried to slowly massage it out.

“Yeah, I know,” he said irritatingly.

“Your turn,” I said as I continued to massage his neck.

“My turn for what?”

“Dare,” I said, offering up each choice.

“Woah, that’s not how this-”

“I… dare… you...” I said as my nails dug into his knot.

He caught my hand and pulled me down, but I swung my legs, catching him almost in an armbar. He stood up and forced his entire weight against me, pinning me against the sofa.

“Don’t think for a moment that you’d win,” I said, catching my breath, “I can still beat Miles if I wanted.”

“This is ridiculous,” he said breathlessly, “you seriously think that you-”

I moved quickly and used my hip to turn him. Nolan slammed into the floor, and I sat on top of him, pinning his wrists above his head.

“You were saying?” I said with a smile.

“Dare,” he said, narrowing his eyes.

“I dare you to go to Girls Night,” I said, smiling victoriously.

“Girls night?” He asked, confused.

“Yep, the girls are all getting together on Sunday to celebrate me finishing my first week. You are now gonna come,” I smiled.

He rolled his eyes, and I laughed. I made the mistake of letting go of his wrists, and he flipped me on my back. I arched beneath him and struggled to find a way out, but he was cheating and using his body weight to hold me down.

“You’re cheating,” I said through gritted teeth.

“Wait. What? I can’t hear you, Anderson. It sounds like you’re saying that I’m winning,” he said, using my own games against me. He pushed himself up and jumped away as I moved to kick him, “Woah. Get some sleep, Zoey. It’s late. Besides, losers clean the kitchen… right?”

I threw a pillow at him as he jogged up the stairs.

“COWARD!” I yelled as he rounded the corner to his room.

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