I’m so restless my legs twitch, which only adds to my annoyance when my bare legs slide over the comforter and little zings of feeling run along my sensitized skin. Thoughts of the things Drew has done to me on this very bed invade my mind and make me flop back with a groan. Shit.
Shoving my face into a pillow doesn’t help. Nothing does.
I should do something, something physical, go for a walk—because I hate running—or try those core-strengthening DVDs that Iris is addicted to. A thousand sit-ups sounds about right. I’m rummaging for a sport bra when my phone dings. And my whole body freezes. But not my heart. That pounds with want and glee. Stupid heart.
I walk with admirable calm and leisure to my bedside table where my phone lies. The message, with its little green symbol shines up at me on the dark screen. Drew.
A grin splits my face. My hand shakes only a little when I slide the screen and read.
Baylor: Hey. You there?
Should I answer? Maybe I shouldn’t be “there” because I know what he means. Not, am I by my phone. What person on this campus doesn’t have a phone on hand at all times? He means am I free to talk? Am I sitting around on a Saturday night pining for… I pause. If he’s asking then he too must be free. Right?
I nibble the corner of my lip as I answer.
Me: I’m here
It only takes him a second to reply.
Baylor: What are you up to?
Baylor: I’m in my hotel room.
Like he needs me to know that he isn’t just checking on my whereabouts, but that he wants to chat. I am absolutely not grinning as I settle down on my bed and get comfortable.
Me: I’m in my room too.
Baylor: On the bed?
Me: Beats sitting on the floor.
Baylor: I love that bed. ;)
I snort. The pig. I’m never ha**ng s*x with him on this bed again. Maybe his bed. Let him have the haunted memories.
Baylor: I’m a guy. Porcine thoughts are indicative of our sex.
Only Drew would use a word like “porcine” and “indicative” in a text. And I’m the ass**le who thought he was some meathead jock.
Me: Knowing is half the battle. Why aren’t you out?
There. I asked. And it nearly killed me. It kills me more when he takes a few seconds before answering.
Baylor: Didn’t want to go out.
Me: Why not?
Stop. Stop now, you masochistic cow!
My phone remains still, accusatory. You had to ask, it seems to say to me. I jump when it dings again.
Baylor: Tired of it. Going out. The scene. The guys want to party.
He doesn’t say the rest. He doesn’t need to. No one on his team really drinks, which means there’s only one party option available. My stomach does an ugly, green slide into jealousy when I think of all the girls that would be hanging all over him were he out tonight. But he’s not. He’s texting with me. He sends another.
Baylor: And you’re not here.
My throat closes. Honest to God closes. I can’t swallow. I stare at the phone lying limp in my clammy hand. An insidious voice in my head shouts Danger, I’d Turn Back If I Were You! This is too close to a relationship. I don’t want one. Not with him.
The worst part is, I’m lying to myself. He isn’t the arrogant jerk I thought he was. I want him. Constantly. I want to talk to him. A few texts and my whole night is brighter, the color and textures of my room richer, deeper. I can smell my body lotion, grapefruit and vanilla, when it had been a muted muddle before. And I can taste the sourness of fear in my mouth. It sharpens when my phone rings in my hand.
He’s onto me. He knows I’m about to freak. My heartbeat is a relentless, thud, thud, thud that I’m certain he hears when I slowly slide the bar and answer. “Break a finger over there or something?”
“I decided I wanted to hear your voice instead,” he says with a little laugh.
Because he isn’t in front of me, because I’m not distracted by his golden glow, his voice has that much more power over me. It sinks through dense flesh and slides along bone, nestling deep into that hard pumping organ that used to be my heart. It doesn’t feel like mine anymore. A queasy sensation snakes through me.
“And I hate texting,” he continues. He’s unsure. I can hear it in the way he tries to force a light, joking tone. And because I know this is hard for him, the guy for whom everything comes easy, I clear my throat and dive in.
“It’s impersonal,” I add.
There’s a real smile in his voice now. “Yeah. Most people don’t get that.”
“Are you tired?” My tongue feels bigger than normal, like I’m going to soon trip on my words, tell him something I’m not ready to admit.
“Yeah.” The sound of him shifting around comes through the phone, and I immediately wonder if he’s in bed. Does he sleep naked? “Can’t sleep though,” he says, thankfully unaware of my devolving thoughts.
“Happen a lot?” I know it does. We’ve already talked each other to sleep before.
“More so now.” He pauses. “I keep thinking about you.”
Shit on a pretzel stick.
The pillow is soft against my back, but my skin is still too warm. And then my stupid mouth betrays me. “I think about you too.”
I cringe so hard my cheeks prickle. But he sighs. It’s soft and gusty, and I lean toward it, pressing my cheek to the phone.
“I wish I were there,” he says.
I do too. So much it hurts. It hurts deep in my chest and along my stomach. I slide farther down the bed, as if I can run away from the feeling.