“I just wanted to say hi.”
He leaned in to kiss my cheek, and I backed away. As much as he wanted to pretend that it was all innocent and friendly, we both knew it wasn’t.
“I was just saying good-bye.”
T.J. nodded, and then turned around and walked away.
I drove home to grab a snack before leaving for the shop, feeling sad. I made a couple of ham-and-cheese sandwiches, and then ate one on the way, thinking about the stuffed animals and flowers that had begun to pile up in front of Keaton.
When I pulled up to Skin Deep, the Intrepid and Hazel’s Talon were already there. I walked in, but no one was at the desk or in the vestibule. I walked a few steps down the hallway, immediately seeing Trenton’s yellow boots, one of his feet bouncing up and down.
“Just f**king do it, Hazel! Are you waiting for Christ to come back? Fuck!”
“No,” she said sweetly, glancing at me. “I was waiting for her.”
She impaled his ear, and he stifled a growl, followed by a string of expletives—some I’d never heard before.
“Really? I’m getting f**king gauges for you, and you call me beautiful? How about manly? Studly? Badass?”
“Pretty!” Hazel said, planting a kiss on his forehead.
“I brought you a ham and cheese,” I said, picking off tiny bites of ham in the remainder of mine. “It’s in the bottom cubby up front.”
Hazel stabbed him again, and both of Trenton’s feet came off the floor, but he didn’t make a sound. “And that is why I waited for your girl. So you wouldn’t cry. Damn, Cami takes your dick every night, and it’s way bigger than a sixteen gauge.”
I frowned. “Uncalled for. You need to get laid. You’ve been super in-apropos lately.”
Hazel jutted out her lip. “Tell me about it!”
Trenton wore a wry smile. “But she’s right, baby doll. I’m way bigger than a sixteen gauge.”
I choked. “I’m outta here.” I walked back to my desk, threw away the rest of my sandwich, and organized forms, counting to see which ones needed more copies. Then I walked back to the copy machine. I didn’t have to do busywork for long, though. Our afternoon was soon filled with students getting tattoos for their deceased classmates, frat brothers, sorority sisters; and in one case, a father came in to get a tattoo in memory of his daughter.
I wondered if any of the people walking through our door knew the girl with the pretty toes. I closed my eyes tight, trying to fill my mind with something more pleasant. By close, we were all exhausted, but Trenton and Bishop wouldn’t leave until everyone who came in for commemorative ink got what they came for.
When the last customer left the building, I rocked my hips from side to side as I logged off of the computer, trying to provide some relief to my sore back. The shop floor’s carpet was placed over concrete, and standing on it all day was torture.
Hazel had already left for the night, and Calvin tore out of the parking lot five minutes after the final customer. Bishop and Trenton cleaned up, then came to the front to wait for me.
Bishop was glaring at me, and it didn’t take long for me to notice. “What?” I asked, a little snippy. I was tired and not in the mood for his weirdness.
I looked at him like he was crazy, and so did Trenton.
“I saw T.J., too. That was T.J., right?” He put emphasis on the letters. He knew.
Trenton’s face immediately jerked in my direction. “T.J.? He’s in town?”
I shrugged, trying like my life depended on it to keep my face emotionless. “He came to check on family.”
Trenton narrowed his eyes and clenched his teeth.
“I’ll get the lights,” I said, walking down the hallway and opening the main breaker. I flipped the switches, and then returned to the vestibule. Bishop and Trenton were still standing there, except now Trenton was staring at Bishop.
“I’ll tell you. But promise me you’ll think before you act. Promise me you’ll let me explain.” I knew I couldn’t explain everything. I just needed to buy some time.
“He was at my Jeep when I got out of class. We talked for a little bit. It wasn’t a big deal.”
Bishop shook his head. “Definitely not what I saw.”
“What the f**k is your problem?” I hissed.
“Know what?” I shrieked. “Nothing happened! He tried to kiss me, and I backed away! If you saw anything different than that you’re a f**king liar!”
“He tried to kiss you?” Trenton said, his voice low and menacing.
“Fuck off!” I yelled, throwing my entire organizer full of paper clips at him. I yanked on my coat and walked outside, but Bishop was already pulling out of the parking lot. Trenton came out, and I locked the door, turning it several times before pulling the key.
Trenton shook his head. “I’m done with this, Cami. I’m f**kin’ done.”
“Yeah, I’m done. You expect me to keep putting up with this?”
Hot tears filled my eyes and ran down my cheeks in a continuous stream. “I didn’t even kiss him! Nothing happened!”
“Why are you crying? You’re crying over him? That’s just f**king great, Cami!”
“No, I’m not crying over him! I don’t want this to be done! I love you!”
Trenton paused, and then shook his head. “I’m not done with you, baby. I’m done with him.” His voice turned low and frightening again. “He’s done with you.”
“Please,” I said, reaching out for him. “I explained to him. He knows now. It was just closure, I think.”
I nodded back quickly, begging him with my eyes.
Trenton pulled out his car keys. “Is he still in town?”
I pressed my fingers together at chest level, and then touched them to my lips. “Trenton, you’re exhausted. It’s been a crazy few days. You’re overreacting.”
“Where the f**k is he staying?” he screamed. His veins popped from his neck and forehead, and he began to shake.
“I can’t tell you,” I said, shaking my head.
“You won’t,” he said, breathing hard. “You just . . . you’re going to let him continue to f**k with us like this?”
I kept silent. I couldn’t tell him the truth, so there was no point.
He pulled away. “Why don’t you tell him, Cami? Why don’t you tell him you’re with me?”