A Boy Named Blue
I pull up to my new home and see some shirtless guy sprawled on the front porch.
He’s lying on his stomach, wearing only jeans, his forehead pressed into sagging boards. He’s got a beer bottle hooked over one finger.
Drunk, obviously. And blocking the front door.
I’ve probably arrived too early to move in. The property manager for the house told me the existing tenants sleep late on weekends.
“They’re college kids,” she explained over the phone. “I’ll let them know you’re coming, and I’ll be by in the afternoon with the key.”
I should have stayed later at the ranch. But my grandmother and I were about to kill each other after a week under the same roof.
So I headed out at the crack of dawn, and I’ve been killing time for the last couple of hours, getting to know the tiny town where I’ll be spending the next four years.
The clock in my car says it’s exactly 10 a.m. That’s going to have to be late enough. All I want to do is move into my room.
But here’s Mr. Drunk Mess, in my way.
Maybe he’s the boyfriend of one of my new housemates. Whoever he is, I’m so not in the mood right now to deal with him.
I hear his voice as soon as I step out of the car. “Max. C’mere, Max. It’s okay. You can come out now, buddy.”
He’s still got his face pressed into the porch, talking to nobody. His voice is tender, deep, melodious. It’s a nice voice. It doesn’t sound drunk.
I close the car door, maybe a little harder than necessary, and stand there squinting as I walk toward the house.
Even with my sunglasses on, the bright sunlight seems to magnify my hellacious headache. Lack of sleep always gives me a headache, always makes me miserable. I was too wound up last night to get more than a couple of hours.
It takes me a minute to focus, and when I do, I see that—whoever this guy is—he’s now on his feet, his hands wrapped around two posts, his bare feet hanging over the edge of the porch.
The beer bottle is on the railing.
And I can’t help staring.
The guy is all washboard abs and jacked-up biceps. He’s got dark hair that falls across his face and light blue eyes that are squinting in the sun. He’s giving me this smile that moves from his lips through his five o’clock shadow and up into his startling eyes.
He’s seriously sexy.
“You our new housemate?” he asks, and my mouth drops open at his words.
He lives here.
I hadn’t even bothered to ask. I’d just assumed everyone living at the house was a girl. Typical freshman thinking, I guess.
“Um, yeah,” I mumble after a long moment, “I guess I am.”
He steps off the porch and walks toward me, sticking out his hand. “I’m Blue. Blue Daniels.”
I don’t respond. I just stand there, freaking tongue-tied, my stomach doing calisthentics.
He lives here.
Finally, I manage to whirl around and yank open the rear door of my old Nissan Maxima, pulling out an overstuffed egg crate. Then I turn back around, my face burning.
Blue Daniels is still standing there with his hand out, an amused expression on his face.
“Oh, sorry,” I fumble, shifting the crate to one hip. “I’m Keegan. Um...Keegan Crenshaw.”
I slip my fingers into his, attempting to shake his hand without making even more of a fool of myself.
Blue’s grin deepens. ”Keegan. Nice name. I like it.”
“Thanks,” I murmur, breaking into a sweat.
I’m wearing shorts and a tank top because it’s ridiculously hot. Typical for Oklahoma in late August. But I’m not sure it’s the weather that’s making me sweat.
“I like your name, too,” I add, blushing. “It’s. . .different.”
Blue shrugs. “My mom was obssessed with Dylan when she was pregnant with me,” he explains with a smirk. “You know. . .Tangled Up in Blue?”
“Oh! Yeah, I love that song.”
“Yeah, so did she. Obviously.”
“I heard you’d be moving in today,” Blue goes on after an awkward pause. “But we didn’t expect you quite this early. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one up.”
I can feel his eyes sauntering over my body, clearly checking me out. He’s not even trying to be subtle.
It’s not going to do him any good, though. I’ve got enough craziness in my life. No way I’m adding falling into bed with a horny roommate to the list.
Even if he’s a smoking hot horny roommate.
“Geez, look at me just standing here like an asshole.” Blue reaches for the crate, rubbing his arms against mine as he pulls it away. “Let me help you.”
He sets my crate on the front porch as I scan the outside of the house I’m about to move into.
The place doesn’t look in nearly as good shape as it did in the online ad I answered a couple of weeks ago. Some of the porch’s boards are rotted through, and some of the siding looks like it is about to fall off.
No telling what my room looks like.
I didn’t have much choice about taking it, though, as I waited too long to apply for campus housing at Ikana College.
Even all the off-campus housing in Hickory Flat was taken. The only thing I could find was a room in this ramshackle house.
“Man, it’s so damn hot,” Blue says, wiping an arm across his forehead as my eyes, without any permission from my brain, watch his abs move up and down.
The boy sure has a rockin’ body.
Stop it, you idiot.
Blue steps back to my car and pulls out one of my boxes. I rush over to yank open the other rear door and slide another box across the seat toward me.
It feels weird to have this guy I don’t even know helping me with my stuff.
Said guy moves toward the porch. “Come on,” he says over his shoulder, “I’ll show you around.”
I follow him up the steps.
He’s so close to me I can smell his aftershave or whatever it is that’s giving off this musky, citrusy scent. It makes me want to bury my face in his chest and breathe deeply.
Some tingly place inside me flares up like it’s been splashed with gasoline.
I close my eyes for a moment, trying to get myself under control.
When I open my eyes, Blue hits me with that playful smile again, And I start tingling in places people don’t talk about at parties.
Holy shit. Stop it.
Blue shifts the load he’s carrying to free up a hand, then pushes opens the front door. “Welcome, Keegan Crenshaw,” he says with a flourish and that hard-to-resist grin.
I start to step inside. But then I come to an abrupt halt, gasping as I notice the web of scars fanning across Blue’s shoulders and running in thickened, pinkish lines halfway down his back.
They look like burn marks. Or marks made by some kind of whip or stick or something. It’s a lot more than just a scratch or two. Obviously, something bad happened to this guy.
“Old war wound,” Blue mutters. Obviously, he noticed me staring.
Which was tacky.
But the wannabe reporter in me is already thinking of a dozen questions to fire at him. What’s his story? He’s a veteran? Was he wounded in action? What exactly happened to him?
I notice Blue also has a tattoo on his shoulder: dog tags, with something written on them that I can’t make out.
It calls up even more questions. Where did he serve? In what branch? How old is he? He definitely looks older than me.
I swallow my questions for the time being. I don’t want to cause him pain. I mean, I can tell just by looking at all the scars that this must be a painful memory.
And Blue and I are apparently going to be living in the same house. It would be good not to come off as an inconsiderate jerk within an hour of meeting him.
I still want to know what happened to him, though. Maybe, when we get to know each other a little better, Blue will let me interview him for a feature story for the campus paper.
Assuming that hasn’t been done already.
He is standing a few feet away, near the front door, scanning my face. I have the odd sensation he can tell what I’m thinking.
His tight expression is a big change from the playful one he had just moments ago. I notice a muscle twitching in his jaw. But he doesn’t say anything.
Then I realize I’m hearing a dog whine nearby. I quickly look around me, but there are no dogs in sight. I can still hear the whining, though.
“Do you hear that?” I ask Blue, still looking around.
Before he can respond, a long snout thrusts its way through the hole in the porch where Blue was laying when I first pulled up.
“There you are,” Blue says to the dog under the porch.
“Oh.” I set the heavy box on the porch and smile at the friendly brown eyes staring up at me. “Is that who you were talking to when I first got out of the car?”
“Yeah, that’s Max.” His voice is tender again. “I forgot to lock him in my room last night, and all the noise from the party scared the shit out of him. This is where he hides when he gets scared. For a big dog, he’s kind of a wuss.”
He whistles. “It’s okay, Max, you can come out of there now.”
In a flash, the dog disappears under the porch.
Blue laughs softly. “He has to go back out the way he got in. He’ll show up in a minute. Let’s go on inside.”
Thanks for reading Tangled Up in Blue! Please SHARE with your friends.
© 2020 Emily Blaze All Rights Reserved