I look at Christian, incredulous; he still has my phone. I tried to take it from him a few times, and this last time when I reached for his pants pocket he swatted my hand away and then grabbed it, twisting it behind my back. He moves so quickly, next thing I know I’m on my back on the bed, him on top of me, pinning down my hips with his knees. I’m too startled to react, to struggle underneath him. My lungs feel crushed by his weight; my breath comes out rigid and hard. They feel as if they’ll shatter me.
He’s looking down at me with his big desert eyes, hollow and sad. That’s all I can ever read: utter grief. Grief for what, exactly? It’s hard to look away from him. His lips are so close to my face, hovering right over my nose, his breath warm and reeking of cigarettes. I wrinkle my nose and turn my head away. Everything seems to be moving in slow motion. His breaths are ragged too, matching the pace of mine, coming out just as hard. I want him to get off of me.
I can feel my cheeks heat up and I know they’re as red as a rose. Christian lowers himself a bit, leans back on his heels, arms stretched out above me. He looks like a cat elongating its back after a well-needed nap. His face is at my throat now, his breath tickling my skin. I try not to laugh. I feel something poking at my thigh and he looks up at me, his eyes wider than ever, and his cheeks flush with fresh blood. He jumps off of me and stands back against the desk. I sit up and look at him and bite my lip to contain my grin. A giggle manages to escape my lips and I slap my hand over my mouth to keep it from accumulating into uncontainable laughter.
“Seriously?” I say, giggling.
He heads for the door, then turns and fishes my phone out of his pocket, tossing it onto the bed. He doesn’t look at me. “Don’t flatter yourself, Princess. It happens randomly.”
“Oh?” I say accusingly. I’m not sure why I’m suddenly intrigued. It was an odd feeling, his hardness probing my inner thigh. I’m not entirely sure why he was on top of me in the first place, either. Was it even necessary? No, I don’t think so.
“It always happens when I’m around a pretty girl,” he says, trying to brush it off as if it were nothing.
“You think I’m pretty?”
“Well you’re sure as hell not the Ugly Duckling.”
I’m about to say something when the doorbell rings. I get up and go down to answer it. It’s Cole. I open my mouth to say something, but he pushes past me, knocking me into the wall of the hallway. “Cole!” I call after him.
He’s looking around frantically, huffing breaths like an angry bull faced with a red flag. He starts to climb the steps but stops, watching Christian come down them, staring at him as if Cole is the intruder, not him. He’s acting as if he lives here, as if he’s the man of the house.
“What's up?” Christian says to Cole nonchalantly. He walks towards him and Cole backs up into the living room, his fists clenched as if he's planning to punch Christian in the face. I'd be surprised if he does; I never picture Cole to be the violent type. His anger scares me because I've never seen someone so angry before, especially not someone who is so sweet and caring most of the time. Next time I'll have to think twice about letting Christian into my house.
Cole lunges forward and I reach forward to stop him, clasping my hand around his forearm and pulling him back against me. He struggles for a moment and I'm surprised at my sudden strength. Christian just smirks and says, “I think that's my cue to go now. Thanks, Coconut.” He winks at me and steps around us and Cole turns to watch him. Once the door shuts Cole sits down on the couch, staring at where Christian stood only moments before, as if he's still there. I sit with him and take his fist, opening up his fingers to massage his palm, to calm his nerves. He's shaking almost violently.
I rub my hand up and down his back. “Cole?” My voice is soft when I say his name.
“Sorry, sorry,” he says hurriedly, his voice tight. “I always feel like he is going to hurt you.”
“He's not going to do anything to me. It's okay.”
He finally looks at me. “Why was he here?” He points at the floor when he says ‘here,’ motioning to the house.
I shake my head. “I don't know. He was knocking and when I opened the door he fell in. He was bleeding. I felt obligated to help him.”
“You didn't have to.”
“I couldn't just kick him out, Cole! He was practically unconscious!”
He gives me a sad look and then turns away. I'm constantly wondering why Christian has Cole so unsteady. Before we got together, he was never like this, never so angry at a single person. Perhaps he is the type of person that encloses so much of his anger within himself that there are times when it ruptures and he relinquishes it until his tongue goes slack and his throat burns with fire. My mother used to be like that, but she started to clean more often and that's how she levels her anger whenever someone upsets her.
“Did he touch you?” He asks abruptly, staring at our hands. His eyebrows furrow together, and, just as always, I want to rub my thumb there in between them.
“What?” I ask. This question could go two ways.
“Did he try to sleep with you?”
He looks at me, his jaw set. “I'm being serious, Melinda.”
I shake my head. “He's not like that, Cole.”
“He looks at you like he wants you.”
I can’t help but laugh. Cole glares at me, not smirking. Not even a little bit. “Christian hates me. He’d never want me like that. He’s even said so himself.”
He hesitates and then turns to me. He says, “Do you want him?”
I scoff and stand up. Did he seriously just ask me that? I feel furious all of a sudden; I just want to hit something. I want to hit him. “Cole I don’t want to talk about this.”
He stands up and reaches out for me. “Melinda, I’m sorry! I don’t know why I asked that. I’m sorry. It was a dumb question.” He presses his lips together in thoughts, rubbing his hands on his hips. He’s wearing a blue button up from Banana Republic – the one I went with him to get – over a white V-neck white skinny black stripes. I was there for that too. The blue of his button up makes his skin look as if it’s glowing, and his eyes darker than usual. I look away and then back at him. I can’t stay mad at him.
Cole opens up his arms and steps towards me, folding me into him. His skin is warm against my neck. He smells faintly like eucalyptus oil and mint; it’s so enticing. “Let’s go do something,” he says. I can feel his lips moving on the top of my head, mussing my hair.