#19 That escalated quickly
The smell of coffee, bacon and eggs wakes me, and my stomach grumbles. I blink a few times to adjust to the bright light coming from between the curtains that I didn’t properly close last night in the midst of all the sex. I smile to myself at the memory of falling asleep with James pressed up to me. I roll over and press my face into the pillow he slept on. It smells like him.
I get out of bed, pull on some panties, and grab my silky black bathrobe from the back of the bathroom door, wrapping it around me before stepping into the living room. James is in the kitchen, already in his uniform while he piles food onto a plate and puts it on the kitchen table.
“Good morning, beautiful,” he says, grabbing a plate for me as well. “Did you sleep well?”
I walk into the kitchen and hug him from behind while he makes me breakfast. Is this guy for real?
“How are you already in your uniform?” I ask, pouring both of us some coffee from the pot he made. Glancing at the clock, I see that it’s only 5 am. Holy fuck. I’m up at 5 am on my day off.
“I drove back to my place to change,” he explains, turning around to kiss me. He already tastes like coffee, and he’s so warm against me that I just want to stay in his arms forever. He smells like soap – wait, did he shower? And… I’m pretty sure I only had one egg left and no bacon.
“Did you drive to your place, shower, get changed, get groceries from your own fridge, and come back here to make me breakfast?” I ask, stepping out of his embrace.
“I’m a morning person,” he says with a shrug. “I didn’t know if you’d want me to just leave a note and go to work and let you sleep, or if you’d prefer to see me before I left, so I just picked what I wanted most, and that was to see you again before leaving for my shift.” He smiles sweetly and gives me a kiss on the top of my head. “I hope that’s okay.”
“More than okay.” I move in for another kiss, enjoying how his hands knot in my hair and the way his muscles feel underneath my hands. “It’s a little early for me to eat though. I usually don’t have a breakfast this big at 5 am.”
“But your shifts often start at 6, right?” James asks, sitting down at the table with his cup of coffee and digging into his toast and eggs. “Don’t you need to eat something before going to work?”
“Yeah, yoghurt or something,” I say, poking at my own eggs, not really hungry even though it all smells great. I just nibble on a piece of bacon and sip my coffee, watching him scarf down his food in record time. “Want more?” I offer, pushing my plate towards him.
“I feel bad for waking you up now,” James says while he starts on my eggs. “I didn’t know you don’t eat a big breakfast.”
“And I didn’t know you were this much of a morning person.” I yawn again. “I thought you were perfect, but I guess I finally discovered a flaw. I don’t like mornings.”
James chuckles and gets up to get me more coffee. “If that’s the only thing you don’t like about me, I think I’m good. I won’t make the mistake of waking you up before my shift next time.”
“Next time?” I ask, smiling at that idea.
He mirrors my expression and rubs his foot against my leg under the table. “Yeah, next time. Do you want to-”
Before he can finish his question, a knock sounds on the door and Thomas’ voice calls out to me. “Fran, I know you’re up, I heard you moving around. I need some advice! Get your cute ass out here, babe!”
James’ brow furrows and he gets up, staring at the door that leads to the hallway. “Who’s that?”
“My neighbor,” I explain, hating Thomas right now. “He’s a good friend of mine. I’ll just go see what he wants.”
I move to open the door, seeing Thomas standing there in a blue suit, his blonde hair pulled back into from his face. He’s even wearing dress shoes.
“Why do you look so fancy this early in the morning?” I ask, frowning.
“I think the question is why the fuck you’re even awake,” Thomas counters, his eyes lingering my breasts spilling out of my robe. “You’re not a morning person. Isn’t this your day off?”
There’s a sound behind us in the kitchen that sounds like water running to clean the dishes.
“Oh,” Thomas says when realization hits him. “I get it. The date turned into breakfast. Nice.”
“What do you need advice on?” I ask, groaning when Thomas steps into my apartment without being invited in.
“Hey man,” Thomas says to James, walking right into the kitchen and holding out his hand. “You must be the hot cop who arrested Franny. I’m Thomas, the neighbor.”
They shake hands, and I can tell James is seizing him up like he’s trying to figure out if he’s got anything to fear from this guy in front of him. It seems he decides he does, his jaw setting and his muscles flexing underneath his uniform. Well, shit.
“Chill out, dude,” Thomas says, laughing at James’ stance. “You should be thanking me, really. I’m the one who zipped up her dress last night, you know. She looks good in purple, doesn’t she?”
Fucking hell, he’s only making things worse. This could only get more awkward if he goes on to talk about having sex with me before my second date with James, but surely even Thomas wouldn’t do that. I hope.
“Thomas, what do you need?” I ask, wanting him to leave my apartment already.
“Oh, right,” he says, grinning as he turns his attention back on me. “Dylan and I created this app for a restaurant downtown and we’re headed over there soon to present it to them. I’ve already decided on this suit and shirt, but I can’t decide on a tie. Red or green?” He holds them up for me to see.
“Red,” I say, grabbing his sleeve and trying to pull him back to the hallway. “Bye, Thomas.”
“One more thing,” he says, not budging. “I don’t actually know how to tie these. You did it for me last time, remember? Could you help me out again?”
He’s right, I did help him last time he had to get all dressed up. I watched a YouTube video to figure out how to do it and we had to do it over five times before he looked presentable. Surely he can do that himself, right? Why the fuck is he bothering me with this?
I know it’s not fair to be mad at Thomas right now. We always do this, knocking on each other’s doors for help. He zipped me up for my date yesterday, and that wasn’t the first time I asked him to do something like that. He’s my friend, after all. Normally, I like that we’re this comfortable around each other, but right now I just hate how unpleasant he’s making my perfect morning with James.
“I can do your tie for you,” James offers in a deep, angry voice. He steps out of the kitchen and jerks the red tie out of Thomas’ hands. “I’ve been trying my own ones since I was seven.”
“That must have been a really posh, weird childhood,” Thomas jokes, ignoring how upset James looks.
“You don’t have to help this dipshit,” I tell James, putting a hand on his arm. I give Thomas aglare, hoping he will get the hint and get the hell out. “Surely Dylan can do this for you when you meet up with him?”
“It’s not a problem,” James grumbles, already fixing the tie and pulling it around Thomas’ neck so tightly that he winces. “There you go. Good luck on your presentation.”
“Thanks,” Thomas says in a strangled voice, loosening the tie a little. “Nice to meet you, James. Bye, Fran.”
The moment the front door slams shut behind him, James and I lock eyes, examining each other’s reaction. After a long tense moment, he exhales and unclenches his fist, finally relaxing.
“Sorry,” he says, smiling wryly. “That was totally uncalled for.”
“It’s okay,” I say, glad that he’s not mad at me.
“No, it’s not,” James goes on, walking over me to take my face in his hands. He kisses me softly and sighs. “I’ve… I’ve got some issues with… jealousy. I’ve been cheated on before, and I tend to get a little possessive. Sorry. I totally overreacted. Tell Thomas I’m sorry.”
He did act a little weird, but it’s good that he knows that. James seems to know himself, flaws and all, and I like that. We all have our quirks and baggage. At least James knows that he’s intense and possessive and he’s working on that. Besides, if the roles had been reversed and I some girl in a fancy dress had waltzed into his apartment while we were having breakfast after our first night together… Yeah, I would have acted the same way for sure. Especially since Thomas called me babe and mentioned zipping up my dress. And – oh god, he told me to get my cute ass out there, didn’t he?
“I hope you don’t think any differently about me after that,” James says, looking worried. “I just really like you and I turned into a caveman just now, wanting to throw the competition out of our cave.”
I giggle at that description. “It’s okay. It’s not like you punched the guy.”
“I didn’t like the way he looked at you,” James confesses, his hands dropping to my shoulders and squeezing them gently. “Like he… like he knows what you look like naked. That’s just me, though. I’ve been through a lot of shit with my last girlfriend, but I shouldn’t take that baggage into our rela- well, into us.”
Oh shit. I need to come clean now, don’t I? If I don’t and he finds out later, he will be angry at me for sure, and for good reason. I’m not going to tell him that I slept with Thomas an hour before James came over to make me a steak dinner, but I do need to come clean about my past with my neighbor.
“Actually… Thomas has seen me naked,” I confess, cursing myself for the way that just came out. Not the right words to use at all. Fuck. “We've known each other a long time now, and we used to sleep together. He’s just my friend, though, nothing more.”
“Oh,” James breathes, his hands dropping from my shoulders. He takes a step back, looking down at the floor. “Okay. Well, erm, I think I need to get going. My shift starts soon.”
“James,” I say, reaching out to him, but he steps away and grabs his keys and phone from the table.
“Talk to you later,” he says without looking at me. He walks out without looking back, slamming the door shut behind him a little louder than needed.
Fuck me. That just escalated quickly.