Earthquakes and Chills

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Chapter 9

“What’s for breakfast?” Nolan asked as he came in the door.

“Burritos,” I said, smiling as I rolled his up for him.

“We don’t have to go in today, so why don’t you go out? You can take the car and feel free to use the card however you like.”

“Is this your way of getting out of Girls Night?” I said seriously.

“No. I’ll be there. I promise,” Nolan said as he crossed his heart, “just go out and do something. Have fun.”

“I thought I’d just stay in,” I said truthfully.

“Are you sure?”

I wasn’t a mind reader, but I could clearly tell that something was up. For whatever reason, Nolan needed me out of the house. I was determined to find out why.

“Truth,” I demanded to him, “what’s going on?”

“Oh, that’s definitely not how that goes,” he smiled, “you can’t just demand the truth out of me.”

“Okay, wise-ass, I dare you to tell me the truth about why you want me out of the loft so badly,” I said.

“Fine,” he said, gritting his teeth, “my mother is coming over for lunch.”

“Mrs. MacKenna will be gracing us with her presence? Here? On this very day?” I laughed at his chagrin.

“Yes, and I don’t want her asking any questions,” he growled.

“Okay, okay,” I said, raising my hands, “you do realize that she always really liked me, right? So I’m sure she would be fine if she saw me here.”

“Look, I just don’t want you here when she’s here. Please.”

“Woah. Alrighty then,” I said, trying to ease the tension, “I’ll just start getting ready and head out now.”

“Thank you,” he said as I walked away.

I looked through the bag of clothes that I had brought with me and pulled out some jeans and a graphic tee. I threw on my chucks and grabbed Nolan’s card, sliding it in my back pocket.

“What’s that?” I said as I passed Nolan noticing a weird look he was giving me. “You realize that women can wear other things besides dresses and heels, right?”

“Whatever,” he said.

“Fucking chauvinist,” I spat back at him as I picked out a set of keys.

“What did you say!?” He said, walking toward me as I reached toward the door.

“You heard me. I called you a fucking chauvinist,” I said.

He closed the gap between us, but I refused to move. I looked up at him, almost daring him to make a move. Instead, he gazed down into my eyes, trying to decipher the message I had hidden within them.

He smiled, slowly licking and biting his lower lip.

“Just thought I’d help you open the door and see your way out,” he said, flashing me a cocky smile.

“Dick,” I spat out.

“Watch your language Zuzu,” he said in a singsong voice as he closed the door behind me.

I headed down to the garage and resolved to find something to do. However, I quickly realized that life without a phone was slightly more difficult than I thought it would be. Thankfully the car had navigation, otherwise I would’ve been completely lost altogether.

I drove over to Santa Monica and decided to walk the promenade. I stopped at one of the storefronts seeing a tight lowcut mini dress that I knew Nikki would approve.

“Hi!” This woman said, approaching me, “do you need help?”

“Oh, I was just looking for my size,” I said sheepishly.

“We also have some dresses in the sale section if you would like to look at those,” she offered.

“No, I think I’m going to go with this one,” I said firmly. “You know what, I think I’m just going to pull out a few of these other ones too in my size.”

I grabbed some other dresses that not only would I never consider wearing, but I knew what the salesgirl was trying to imply. She didn’t think I could afford these dresses, which was somewhat true, but Nolan could afford these dresses, and I was supposed to be fucking treating myself.

“Did anyone help you?” The woman ringing me up asked.

“No, actually, no one helped me. Quick question, do you sell shoes?” The woman nodded and pointed behind me. “Okay, I’ll take a few of those too.”

I walked past the salesgirl, who looked absolutely gobsmacked with my haul. I winked at her and thanked her for not helping me. Then, I put my bags in the car and headed back. I also managed to sneak a burger along the way.

As much as I enjoyed cooking, there was just something about burgers and pizza that also brought me so much joy. Although, I probably should’ve been more mindful with my splurging. Still, I figured I wouldn’t be able to get out of my indentured servitude for about a year, so I might as well have a few more outfits.

When I came back, I found myself completely alone. It was an odd feeling to be here by myself. I put on one of Nikki’s dresses and was ready for the night.

I threw my hair up in a bun only to come out and see that the clock on the oven only indicated that it was 4 o’clock. However, we were all getting together at 8pm, so I had more than enough time to kill.

I took off my shoes and thought about turning on the tv but found myself getting bored even by the idea.

Thinking that there might be a book somewhere in Nolan’s office, I decided to rummage around and find something to read. I had never come up here. Even when Nolan gave me the tour, he just pointed to where his room was and his office.

Thankfully the door to the office was open, and I tiptoed in. It was much grander than I thought it would be. Nolan had an entire wall that was all one bookcase. He even had one of those fancy globes that probably just came with everything else in this office.

I looked through the shelves and found myself happening upon Hume. I pulled it down and sat on the couch. As I opened the book, I was reminded of being at school. I used to think I was the next great thinker- someone who would move the world with ideas, unlike anything anyone has ever seen before.

I took a breath, then heard a clatter.

There was a muffled sound that I couldn’t quite distinguish. So I put the book down on the couch and found myself listening for the sound. Whatever it was, it seemed to be coming from downstairs.

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