I watched him as he passed by me and sat in the chair. He put his head in his hands, resting his elbows on his knees.
I closed the door behind me. “What happened?”
He shook his head. “She thinks I’m cheating on her. I tried to explain, but she won’t listen to me.”
I walked across the room, my arms crossed over my middle.
He looked up at me, desperate. “Will you talk to her for me?”
“Sure—as soon as you tell me what’s going on.”
His eyes fell to the floor. “I lied to her.”
“Why I’m always late. It’s not because of traffic. I’m only taking ten hours, and I’ve been working evenings at the school for extra cash.”
I shrugged, eyeing him. “Why didn’t you just tell her?”
“It’s cash under the table. I’m helping a guy with maintenance on a building just off-campus—trash, lawn, paint, fixing things.”
“Okay. Why did you keep that from Kirby?”
He swallowed. “Because it’s for the Delta Gamma sorority house.”
Unable to keep the laughter from barreling out of my mouth, I pinched my lips together with my fingers.
“I’ve dug a deep hole here, Falyn. I need your help.”
“How am I going to help you? And since when does the UCCS sororities have houses?”
“It’s in Boulder,” he said, looking exhausted.
“You’re driving an hour and a half to Boulder every day for work? Why?”
“Because it’s half an hour from Denver, and I wanted to get a closer job for when we move. The opportunity came up, and I took it.”
Kirby and I were close, but nothing I said would make her ignore the facts.
“It’s not funny, Falyn. It’s good money, but she’s not going to believe me. Please tell her. You know I love her. You know I wouldn’t cheat on her. She knows it, too. She’s just mad.”
“She also knows you lied.”
His shoulders sagged. “She’s going to dump me over something stupid.” He looked up at me with the most pitiful expression. “Please?”
“I’ll talk to her, but I’m not going to promise you anything.”
Gunnar nodded and stood before trudging to the door. He twisted the knob, opening the door just a few inches, before he turned to me. “I would never cheat on her, Falyn. She’s the only girl I’ve ever loved.”
He opened the door the rest of the way, revealing a wet-faced Kirby standing in the hall, holding a bottle of wine.
“I just … I didn’t know what else to do,” he said.
Kirby threw her arms around him, still holding the bottle. Gunnar lifted her off the floor to keep from bending so far down. He tightly held her, and she buried her face into the crook of his neck.
She leaned back to look him in the eyes and sniffed. “Don’t ever lie to me again.”
He shook his head. “I won’t. This scared me straight.”
She kissed his lips, holding the bottle out to me. “I brought this to share.”
I grabbed it from her. “You’re not old enough to drink.”
“I was upset. I snuck it from my mom’s cabinet.”
She looked at Gunnar, and they practically mauled each other again.
“Take it somewhere else.” I pushed Gunnar far enough into the hall, so I could shut the door.
I leaned against the side of the refrigerator and chuckled, looking down at the wine bottle in my hand. Even when they were annoying and dramatic, they were cute.
“Well,” I said to no one, “at least I’ll sleep well tonight.” I was alone. It was safe to enjoy a glass or two.
I screwed off the lid and poured the white moscato into a glass, bringing the bottle with me to bed. It tasted exactly like a twelve-dollar bottle of wine should, too warm and too sweet, but it would do.
I finished off the glass within five minutes and poured another, filling it to the top this time.
Ten minutes later, that was gone, too, and I was pouring another.
So much for only two glasses.
I plugged the phone into the wall and set it on my nightstand, and then I stripped down to nothing before crawling into bed. One of the many good points about living alone was sleeping naked without a second thought.
The sheets brushed against my skin as I spread out beneath them and relaxed onto my down pillow.
The phone buzzed on the surface of the nightstand, and I found myself scrambling to pick it up, giggling.
Can’t sleep. Wishing I were still in the Springs.
I fought the urge to hold the phone to my chest. Watching Gunnar and Kirby’s lovers’ spat, followed by three glasses of wine in less than twenty minutes, made me feel oddly sentimental.
Yes. They had a fight.
Don’t be such a hard-ass. It happens.
My brother Travis. He fell pretty hard last year. Now he’s married before he’s legal to drink.
How old is he?
So he was married at nineteen? Weird.
Not really. They’re good together.
Oh, so you approve?
If they love each other, sure.
How do you know you love someone at nineteen?
You’ll meet them next week. You’ll see.
I put away the phone and finished off my glass, feeling everything slowing down. Even my eyes were blinking slower. I stretched out my legs, letting the sheets glide over the tender parts of my skin. I glanced at the phone, grinned, and reached over. I tapped it a few times and held it away from me, waiting until a long tone filled the room.
“You’re still up?” Taylor asked, his voice sounding tired but not sleepy.
“This phone buzzes every time you text me, and I’m lying here, naked, in bed,” I said, hearing my words slur. “I have this urge to put it between my legs and hope you text me again.” I knew how completely inappropriate I sounded, but I didn’t give a single fuck.
For a full ten seconds … there was silence.
I pressed my lips together, attempting but failing to stifle a laugh. “Kirby might have brought a bottle of wine.”
“I don’t, but I’m alone, so why not?”
“Oh, so you don’t drink in public.”
“Or in private—if anyone is around.”
“I’m conflicted,” he said matter-of-factly. “It’s tempting to let this play out. Then again, I know you’ll hate yourself—and quite possibly me—tomorrow.”
“I miss you already,” I said, the smile vanishing from my face. “I tried not to like you.”
“I knew it,” he said, amused. He sighed. “I was a goner on day one. You’re fucking mean, and it makes me absolutely crazy. But in a good way.”