1 - Kelly's Friend
They took their stroll down the slightly-crowded avenues and sidewalks as evening fell upon them in an array of scattered stars and brisk air beneath the navy blue sky. Neon lights and orange street lamps did well to linger in some of the calm ambience needed for a quiet night in the summer like this one. However, the swift visits of cold air occasionally forced the blonde-haired woman in the black Nine Inch Nails shirt to lean closer to the larger, more masculine shape of the man next to her. The two walked side by side as strangers, both having known each other for no more than an hour or two. Though, with how tightly their fingers clung together it wouldn’t appear as so.
A part of her wanted to apologize for how determined she was to hold his hand, but Greta didn’t regret it; and Elijah wasn’t sure as to how he’d been so welcoming to the act. One minute, she was just alone at a party, leaning against the fridge, urging him to come take a walk with her out of boredom. Now they had slipped away from the house, and to Greta’s satisfaction: walking as if she belonged to something else other than herself again. With another pull on the strap of her tote bag, she tugged it higher upon her shoulder, while with curiosity, still wondering about the man she just freed from washing the dishes. Unlike the other guest, she knew nothing of him, but assumed enough with how much he smiled amidst conversations with her friend, Lulu and laughed with her assistant, Kelly. He was just some handsome, fresh face occupying the kitchen; catching her eye with how strong he held himself and how large his arms were while doing something as mundane as washing the dishes.
Oh how I want to be held in those arms tonight.
The blonde-haired woman thought to herself before getting out of her head long enough to speak. “So how is it that I’ve never heard of you, Elijah...?”
“Clayton. Okay. So how is it, Elijah Clayton, that you’re Kelly’s friend, but I’ve never heard of you until today. You were the only single guy those girls seemed to more-than-tolerate chatting with at that party.” She could recall bringing her curiosity to her assistant after first spotting him, hearing the vague descriptions from Kelly when she tried to ask about who he was.
Oh, he’s just a friend.
He’s just here to help us keep the house clean while the party is going on.
But all the answers were dismissive, enough so as if she wished for Greta to go nowhere near him. But how could she not? She wanted something new tonight, craved it even. How could she see a man like this and simply think to go back to the office? Or return home to eat whatever leftover Chinese she had in the fridge? Sure, she could go hang our with her friend Krista at one of the clubs downtown, but this interaction felt rare, natural; and the idea of just the two of them walking around right now seemed more alluring than her having to grind and vie for the attention of some stranger that probably would’ve probably woke up the next morning to go back to his girlfriend.
With a sharp intake of breath, Elijah pushed out a gentle, thought out sigh. “I mean, what is it you wanna know? I’m mostly friends with Kelly. We grew up together back when we were in Georgia. But Lulu’s cool too though.” Having enough chances to hear his voice, she basked in the tone of it. It was deep, velvety. But there was also comfort to it, as if she could fall asleep to him reading her some long, drawn out physics paper and dream of it sauntering her off to someplace magical.
“So Kelly had friends back in Georgia?” Greta asked. “Color me shocked. And here I thought I was in the running to be her closest one.”
“Might have you beat with that if we’re talkin’ the last thirteen years.” The both of them laughed at his mention, but now she had just grew even more curious of him. She remembered when she took over the publishing house from her aunt, taking the chance on Lulu’s girlfriend when she just moved into the city and needed work. Greta could easily think back to the two twenty-two year old’s, struggling with what little people they had while selling books and picking out new authors. Now she and Lulu were married, working on having their first child together, and this man was the only remnant of her past that Kelly ever physically brought to existence.
“But, we’re practically brother and sister... I mean, apart from the actual brother she has back home.” Somehow, hearing that description eased Greta a bit. She was there at Kelly and Lulu’s wedding, remembered how happy she was when she strutted into Greta’s office just two years ago with a diamond engagement ring fitted upon her finger. Greta never got the chance to learn much about her friend’s life back in Georgia. But now there’s this piece of the puzzle she discovered, this tall, sexy piece that her mind couldn’t help but to examine the more their bodies grazed one another upon every taken step.
“Practically a sister, huh?” Greta said. “Then you might have some funny stories I can embarrass her with at work. Because there is no way she’s as prim and serious than she lets on.” She teased.
“Hold up, get her going with that Pokémon rap from the 90′s. But if you wanna see her really lose it, put on that song from A Goofy Movie.”
Greta’s brown eyes beamed at the given information, which only made her loosen up even more. “Ugh! I’ve gotta remember these! Where have you been!? You could’ve made the work days so much more fun for me. Seriously though, where have you been?”
But Elijah shrugged. “She knows how I like my privacy. Kinda only really came up here to Seattle cause she asked me to.”
“How long have you been here?” She asked.
“’Bout a few months now.” He was newer than she expected. Everything about this man was also a mystery, and to know him was slowly molding into a mental obsession. She could feel herself slipping a bit, heading down strange territory that she hasn’t been familiar with in quiet some time as her head made another guest appearance in all it’s abrasiveness.
What’s going on here? Where are we even going?
Her mind went on as she let out a quiet huff. Then she looked back to realize just how far they walked from the neighborhood.
Seriously, like where are we going? Is this a date? Are we hooking up? Are we getting something to eat?
Her eyes suddenly darted upward to find Elijah again, this time examining the shape and texture of his face with such attraction.
Is he eating me? God with those lips he better- No, stop that!
But if there was anything her mind won over, it was the urge to beg the query. “Hey, where are we walking to?”
“I uh- Damn, I don’t even know.” He gave a nervous, but calm chuckle and licked his lips as they both stop in their tracks to look around. “I mean, in my defense, you were the one suggesting we’d sneak out the house.”
“Yeah, I’m impulsive like that.” She admitted with a proud giggle. “But c’mon, I didn’t expect you to actually follow me out back there. You didn’t have to come.”
“You’re right, I didn’t.” He said before looking down at her, finally taking the time to drive his gaze up and down her face and the black shirt hiding her body from his vision. “But I’m here now.” He shrugged, and with the movement of his shoulders, Greta relapsed into looking at his arms again, her gaze admiring the tone of them in both color and shape before slipping her gaze back up to his face, catching his full lips as they parted to tease her of the shine in his teeth.
Are you kidding me? Even his mouth resembled starlight!
“Y-yeah, you are.” She tried to take in the fact that he was simply pretty, but in a way that calmed, yet seduced her. All the while Elijah just tried to fathom how unfathomably beautiful she was. By now, they were still standing near the brick walls of a closed building, just beyond the small traffic. She didn’t know what else to say now. They were so close, the night still so young and promising. They probably needed more words between them before ascending from strangers, but he was too damn hot, too damn new.
Sighing, however, Greta snapped out of her mental fascination as she began to walk again, not ready to mess this up yet. “W-we uhm... We should eat something, definitely. Maybe? Are you hungry?” She looked back to see him follow, only to slow down her steps just enough for her hand to reach back and find his again. By now, it was as if to touch him was instinctive, and having gotten so used to the warmth in her grasp, he didn’t deny their return to hand-holding.
“Yeah, I can eat.”
She was a little more relieved to hear him before she replied. “Well I know where we are now. And if I’m not mistaken, there’s this pretty good pizza spot just down the street if you’re up for it.”
“Pizza sounds good.” He responded. And so he they walked back to their venture again until they made it to the restaurant, not taking too long to spell the pepperoni and sauce before Greta’s eyes rolled back in desirable bliss.
God, how long has it been since I had pizza?
She quickly pulled him inside, where both their eyes shifted from the menu above to the pizza that was laid out before them behind the glass. “Okay listen...” Greta was quick to turn her head and see him, while in pondering, brought her hand up to stroke her chin as if to expel some powerful theory from her mind. “So I know what I’m getting. I’m not saying we’ve gotta have the same thing... But if you get vegan, I’m hailing an Uber and I’m gonna pretend like this night never happened.”
She watched him laugh and garnered more confidence in herself. “Look, if it makes you feel any better, I wasn’t even gonna get that. So you don’t even gotta worry about it.”
She slipped one of her hands into the pockets of her denim jeans and curved a smile along her lips before tossing a playful smack to his arm, not realizing just how firm it was until now. “See? Now this doesn’t have to end.” Greta walked up to the register and ordered, getting ready to undergo Elijah’s reaction as his eyebrow raised at her choice, though he didn’t grill her about it until they made it to their booth. “You know you fucked up right?” He teased. “I mean, vegan’s one thing, but how the hell can I fuck with somebody that’s gonna put pineapples on their pizza?”
She snorted a laugh and held her hands up in protest.
“You’re still sitting here, aren’t you?” She retorted. “Besides, at least I got variety, what with your plain ass pepperoni pizza. You know this isn’t a elementary school cafeteria. You got options”
He chuckled again, sitting back in the plush cushions of his seat. “I was just trying to not get messy with my choices a’ight?”
“Mhm, whatever you say.”
They ate when their plates and drinks arrived, and as she noticed that he ordered a cup of marinara, Greta didn’t hesitate to dip some of her slices into the sauce. However, she looked to him with a sly, flirtatious glance as if by now, he should’ve gotten used to her boldness.
“So, Elijah from Georgia...” She started. “What brought you to Seattle anyways?”
With a shrugged, Elijah responded. “Kelly told me she and Lulu were tryna have a baby this year. She asked if I wanted to be a godfather.” He then took a sip of the soda in his cup, examining her as while she ate, as though he didn’t get tired of looking at her already. “How about you? You just gonna sit there and be a mystery all night?” Her head lifted at the realization, furrowing her eyebrows as she tried to take it in.
It wasn’t really common for someone to ask who she was. Typically, everyone around her knew Greta Abney: whether it’d be business partners, investors, even potential hookups. Though, the difference between the three is that one of those didn’t try to stay once they heard they were sleeping with a woman that probably earned three times more than they did.
With a brush of her shoulders, she attempted to hide her confusion to the question. “I would’ve thought that Kelly might’ve said something.” But as she thought about Kelly and how guarded she tends to be, Greta could assume that perhaps he knew very little - if any at all.
However, he surprised her when Elijah shook his head. “No. Nothing. Do y’all work together or something?”
She raised her eyebrow for a moment, a look of confusion slightly contorting across her face before she cleared her throat. Work together? Did he not know? The realization struck her with so much reassurance that it almost felt like a breath of fresh air. He really didn’t know. It was then did she feel like they were truly strangers now, and it was perhaps something she needed right now. Sure, Elijah was as nice as he was attractive, even laughed at the things she said; but judging from all of her other bad experiences with men, most of them shared the common denominator of not handling the fact that she, or her family, were very rich people.
And so, with a lightest of grins from her pink-shaded lips, Greta answered him. “Yeah we do. We work in this little book store uptown. The pay’s a little iffy, but it’s not that bad of a place. We get to pick our own hours, play music, every other week we’ll have a author come and read some of their work. It’s actually pretty chill.” She watched him a little longer, her gaze held back from admiring his smile any deeper to just settling with the fact that it just happened. Was she okay with the lie? Of course not. But tonight was going too well to care about the truth. After all, it was just one night. She told herself. Whether it ends on his doorstep or in his bed, what I do for a living didn’t need to come to light.
When they were done, the two departed from the restaurant, their attempts to prolong the inevitable dwindling with each passing minute as they continued their walk. “Can I ask you something?” Greta soon spoke up, looking back to Elijah as he followed her.
“What do you think of me?” She asked, but almost instantly regretted the decision to do so.
With a raised eyebrow, Elijah was dumbfounded by what she brought up, unsure as to whether or not the question was meant to garner deeper understanding despite it’s simplicity. “I dunno.” He answered. “I mean, what? Is you about to kill me or something?”
She giggled and shook her head. “I just mean, when I walked up to you and you saw me, what did you think? I promise, it’s not some trap or some universal-bending discussion.” She half-lied, her mind already reloading the inquiry for a later time - if there was to be one with him. “I’m just saying, you could’ve let me say the gibberish I said and moved on. Instead, you’re out here with a complete stranger.”
“Well, what brought you over to me?” Elijah tossed back to her.
But for Greta, that was easy enough for her to add a shrug with the answer. “I saw you and thought you were hot.” As bold as the response was, he didn’t seemed all that surprised at how daring she became, but he pleasantly scoffed at the compliment. “It’s true.” She added. “We’re not two high school kids, I won’t dance around it. I saw you standing there with that tank top on, minding your business and you just got me. Nothing more to it.”
“Wow...” Nervously, he tried to laugh it off. “How the hell am I supposed to beat that?”
“Easy, you don’t. Just tell the truth.” A grin curved itself along Greta’s mouth as she teased. “C’mon Georgia boy.” She softly lured, not minding the nickname she deemed for him. “Why are you out here with me?” He paused in his further steps and wondered on that, trying hard not to make the response so grand. When she turned back, her chestnut hues studied the features on his face once more as it seemed like all her hope was now dangling on a string.
“I won’t lie, it was a little strange. I don’t know you, you don’t know me. This ain’t really something I’m used to doing. But you’re hella cute. And if we ain’t holding back then I’ll go ahead and say that I can think of far worse things to do than stand out here with you right now.”
He had her at cute, and just by going with that, her head found refuge from the sliver of insecurities she was threatened with only moments earlier. One step after another, Greta made her way over to Elijah. He didn’t move, his gaze unwavering from the focus of the woman before him. Quickly enough, the air was now shared between them. He smelled of cologne, of pizza, his body heat inviting as she tiptoed up to welcome him by the grace of her lips. Their first kiss of the night was slow, descending ever deeper as their mouths blended together to offer guidance for their tongues that had now joined the fray.
She rested her hands onto his sides for support, and before she knew it, her wish was granted as his arms linked themselves around her body. His hold on her was tight, but she wanted it even tighter. As if she couldn’t take it, her lips dared to explore more of his face, kissing his chin, then his jawline, peppering all the way down to his neck, where she now deemed them ready for where they should go next. “Take me far away from this place.”
And to her request, Elijah Clayton obliged.