I snatched my coat from his outstretched hand and backed away. “Hunter, you can’t force me to date you, even if we did kiss. But you’re right, maybe I have been unfair. Maybe we should stay away from each other.”
“Come on, don’t say that!” He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. What can I do to make this right?”
“I don’t know!”
I turned on my heel and hurried away, expecting him to chase after me. When I realized he wasn’t following, I put my coat on and quickened my pace toward the dorm, the crisp night air chilling my tear-stained cheeks. Goddammit. Why did things always have to turn out so horribly?
I got back to my room and checked my phone. Daniela had texted me several times asking what happened and how I was. I texted back and told her I was going to the library to study. I knew it would be hard to be productive, but I had to do something. Sitting in my dorm would drive me crazy.
Daniela texted back and said the two of us should meet up when I was done. I agreed, grabbed my books, and headed to Wheatley Library.
Once I got to the library, I had a hard time focusing. It was emptier than usual, and the people that were there were mostly chatting first and studying second. There was too much swirling through my head. I stared at my psych textbook rereading the same paragraph over and over. I needed to know this material soon or I would fail my midterm. Dammit this is all because of Hunter. Frustrated, I tried focusing on just the pictures and diagrams, but nothing stuck.
I took a break and stared out the window at the student union. Why did I think that being just friends with Hunter would work out? I’d been warned multiple times by Daniela to be careful and not fall for him. I’d ignored her warnings, and here I was, trying to study in the library on a Friday night so I didn’t fail my midterms.
Looking down at my notebook, I saw the only words I had written were “Psych Notes” at the top of the page. This was hopeless. I texted Daniela to ask if she wanted to watch some Grey’s Anatomy together. She responded with an enthusiastic message: Hell yeah :). I packed up my stuff and headed back to my dorm.
A few days passed without word from Hunter. I was beginning to wonder if I had made a mistake by suggesting we stay away from each other. Was this the end of our friendship?
Still, those damn dreams of kissing his lips didn’t stop, if anything, they only intensified with his absence. I’d tried taking Benadryl hoping for a dreamless slumber, but it ended up twisting the dream, turning a kiss into some bizarre situation where Hunter was bottle-feeding me across his lap like a little kitten while stroking my sex at the same time. When I woke up, I immediately tossed that bottle of Benadryl into the garbage. We’d been talking about Freud and the interpretation of dreams in psych class the other day and I shuddered to think what that dream had meant.
Finally, Saturday evening arrived. Daniela decided to forego partying in favor of studying for midterms and I didn’t feel like doing anything either so I decided on enjoying a quiet night in my dorm room.
My phone alarm chimed, notifying me I had to go feed the kittens soon. I hated the idea of having to go over to Hunter’s apartment. The thought of seeing him again pissed me off. After debating it over in my mind and considering other options, I decided I was going to go over a little earlier to feed the kittens, hoping it would give me a greater chance of avoiding him in case he decided to come back from the gym early to catch me still at his place. Those poor little creatures didn’t deserve being caught in the crossfire of whatever was happening between Hunter and me.
I put my jacket on and walked over to Hunter’s place.
As soon as I opened the door, I heard adorable high-pitched mews coming from the kitchen. I walked inside, took off my snow boots, and hung my coat on the hanger beside the door.
“Where’s my little kitties?” I said in my best babying voice.
The mews grew louder in response and I heard tiny paws scurrying across the tile to the pet barrier. I could distinctly hear Taylor’s sweet—but loud—voice above the others. As much as I didn’t want to play favorites, if some sick person put a gun to my head and asked me to choose my favorite kitten of the litter, I’d have to say it was Taylor.
“There’s my kitties!” I exclaimed.
I paused. Kittens aren’t supposed to know English, let alone speak it, I thought. Grasping the situation, I turned and saw Hunter on the other side of the kitchen counter with a towel around his waist and damp hair. His bare muscular torso snapped me to attention and a heated ache moved through me.
“Hunter!” Recovering from surprise, my mood immediately turned sour. “I thought you’d be at the gym.”
“I was,” he said evenly as he dried his hair with a second, smaller towel. “I went earlier today so I could have more time to relax in the evening. What are you doing here so early?” Although his question indicated otherwise, his tone seemed like he’d anticipated I’d be coming early.
Dammit, he outsmarted me.
It was apparent Hunter had altered his clockwork routine because he wanted to talk about the recent drama between us. Unfortunately, I was too pissed at him to want to do the same. I put my hands on my hips. “Oh. Well, I’ve got plans later so I came earlier to feed the babies and give them some attention. Once I’m done here, I’m out.”
He ran a hand through his dark hair, pushing wet strands away from his forehead. “You need help?” he said, lacking his usual enthusiasm. “I’ll feed the boys and you feed the girls?”
I was about to decline his help but then a kitten began gently grazing my leg with his paws. I turned to identify the rascal and saw it was Rampage—Hunter’s favorite kitten. A petty thought ran through my head and I couldn’t resist. “Oh look who it is! Rampage wants me to feed him. I think he likes me better,” I said smugly.
Hunter was visibly taken aback. “What?” he grunted. Hunter came over to my side, kneeled down, and began petting Rampage. “C’mon Rampage, I’ll feed you.”
Rampage closed his eyes and tilted his ears down enjoying the pets against his back but he didn’t stop kneading my jeans.
Stooping to pet Rampage on the head, I eyed Hunter. “You might play with Rampage a lot and give him affection but the little guy wants my affection too.”
Hunter narrowed his eyes. “He’s a naive kitten. He probably just likes that peachy perfume you always wear.”