He smiled. “Yeah, I get plenty of alone time here.”
I found that difficult to believe given his devilish good-looks. It would be easier for me to believe if he’d said he had a ticket system for girls lining up outside his apartment door. Maybe even a BYOC policy—Bring Your Own Condom. That could explain the contents of his bathroom trash.
I forced another gulp down my throat, uncomfortable with how being so near him made me restless. “What do you like to do in your alone time?”
“In my alone time?” He cocked a brow and looked at me with curiosity.
I glanced at his sculpted chest because I couldn’t help myself. “Yeah, like when no one’s around, just in private.” I was thinking about how I liked to mope and draw in my alone time and was hoping to find common ground between us. He probably didn’t sit on icy bridges in his alone time but maybe he did something relatable so I could convince him I wasn’t just some depressed girl trying to kill herself.
A glint in his eye, his grin widened. “What do I like to do in my alone time?” he repeated, suggestively. “Oh, just the usual stuff guys do when they’re by themselves. You know, normal stuff.”
Oh no. Was I flirting with him? I’d unintentionally said something that could’ve been interpreted as a reference to his mast***ation routine. God, how awkward. This was not my lucky day. I glanced at his towel and noticed a towering bulge that hadn’t been there before. My face flushed. Shit, did I do that?
I tightened my legs together in my seat and giggled nervously. “Cool. Um . . . you can go take your shower now, you know. I don’t want to be the reason you catch a cold.”
His brows narrowed. “You gonna be okay here?”
I took a sip of my tea and forced a slight smile. “I’m not going to off myself if that’s what you’re asking. Really, I’m okay.”
“I’m asking about your comfort.” His expression became serious and a quick glance at his crotch revealed the bulge had disappeared as mysteriously as it came. “We both just had a near-death experience. It’s normal to be shaken up. Hell, even I’m still a bit affected. It might help if we kept each other company, that’s all.”
His words sent a shiver down my spine, as if he had caressed me with his hands. He was too concerned about me, too caring. I pictured everything that could happen. The whirlwind romance, the heartbreak that would come afterwards. Guys as hot and flirty as him were always dangerous, and in my current state, getting my heart broken would shatter me. What I needed was a normal and boring return to campus, and Tattoos and Muscles was clearly going to be none of those things.
I put on a more convincing smile. “I’m more than comfortable. Thanks for saving me. Thanks for everything.”
His expression relaxed and he nodded. “You’re welcome.”
“Go take your shower, we’ll have plenty of time to chat afterwards,” I lied. “Can I watch TV?”
“Sure, the remote is on the coffee table.” He nodded slowly to himself, before seeming to make up his mind. Finally he got up and headed to the bathroom.
He got up and it took an extraordinary amount of effort on my part not to check out his butt as he strolled to the bathroom. I was sure it was divine anyway. After being so close to him, I felt like I needed another shower—a cold one.
Shaking my head from a stupor, I realized I definitely needed to get out of here.
After hearing him close the door, I turned on the TV, straining my ears to listen to what he was doing in the bathroom. The TV was on ESPN. I flipped a few channels until I reached one of those juicy daytime talk shows, waiting to hear him turn on the shower. As soon I heard the showerhead running, I stood up and placed the mug on his coffee table.
Then I went over to the kitchen counter and gathered my wet clothes. I tried to be silent, but when I slipped my feet into my wet boots, they squelched loudly on the carpet. Fortunately, the woman on TV screaming at her boyfriend about how he cheated on her with her own mother was loud enough to drown out the noise.
I was about to rush out the door when I realized that I’d be stealing his clothes. Frantically thinking of some quick way to repay him, I spotted his kitchen trash can and decided to take his trash out as a way of thanking him. It wasn’t a fair payback—he’d saved my life after all—but at least it was better than nothing. To appease my guilty conscience, I ended up taking his recyclables as well.
“I couldn’t help myself. Your mom’s a MILF,” the TV blared.
It was the last thing I heard before I opened the front door and stepped outside.
I planned on looking for the dumpster around his apartment but when I reached the bottom of the stairs, I heard his door open. Panicking that he’d catch me, I slung the garbage bags over my shoulder and sprinted in the direction of my dorm. Running across campus in an oversized shirt and jeans, wet, dirty clothes in hand, and two black trash bags jangling over my shoulder, I probably looked like a deranged homeless person. A homeless person who saw imaginary cats.
After a fifteen minute dash that had my heart pumping, I arrived back at my dorm. Large, golden letters across the entrance read “Floyd Hall”. I threw the garbage bags into the dumpster and took the four flights of stairs up to my floor. I opened the door to my suite and promptly went into my room.
Reaching into the pocket of my still dripping jacket, I pulled out Dad’s letter. The ink was starting to run a little and the room was turning blurry.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I should have been more careful. I gently placed the letter on the window ledge next to the radiator. Hopefully it would dry off and still be mostly intact.
I rummaged in my closet for a while before changing into my pajamas. Tears started falling down my face as I curled up in my bed. Why was I crying now when I couldn’t before? I grabbed my pillow and held it against me. I thought I couldn’t feel anything anymore, but I was wrong. I knew it was stupid, but I had felt a lot of strong conflicting emotions from just being around Tattoos and Muscles—or Tim or whatever his actual name was.
Worst thing though, it was probably the most normal thing I had felt in a long time.
Plagued by dreams and daydreams of Tim and his naked torso, I was still recovering from the entire episode several days later as I was sitting in class. It was an 8:30 AM session of Psychology 102. I hated morning classes, especially classes in a lecture hall with a hundred-plus students. We were in the very back row. The only reason I had signed up for the course was to be in the same class as my suitemate Daniela.