“That’s weird,” she mused. “Did you guys have a fight or something?”
I shrugged, feeling even more bewildered now that I was talking about it out loud. “Nope.”
She bit her lip. “Huh. I have to say, that is pretty strange. When are you going to talk to him?”
“I don’t know,” I said truthfully. “I was going to take a shower then give him a call and see if I can go over there or something.”
“What are you going to say? I mean, are you thinking you want to try and stay here? Go back to Indiana? Am I going to see you anymore?”
Her questions were making me feel overwhelmed. “I don’t know,” I said, my voice breaking. “I love Hunter and I want things to work out, but I don’t know how we can do that.”
Daniela’s eyebrows shot up. “Have you told Hunter that you love him?”
“Yeah, that night of the party.”
“And he loves you?”
“That’s what he said,” I rasped, trying to stop from crying. “But I don’t know why he hasn’t contacted me in days. This decision is going to drastically change things for us and I can’t even get ahold of him. He’s letting me down.”
She grimaced. “You didn’t text him before last night, right? Maybe he’ll respond soon.”
“Yeah, that’s true.”
“I say give it some time,” she said with a shrug. “Once you do talk to him, if you really love each other then you’ll find a way to make it work.”
I took a deep breath, thankful for my friend’s level-headedness. “Thanks Daniela.”
“I guess what you have to decide is whether you’re staying or going. Everything depends on that.”
I nodded. “Yeah. I’ll definitely keep you in the loop.”
“Thanks,” my friend said. “Let me know if I can do anything, okay?”
I smiled at Daniela as she stood up and walked out of my room.
After she left, I sat and stared out my window. Was there some way Hunter and I could stay together? I sent another text asking where he was. After waiting a minute to see if he would respond, I grew impatient and went to take a shower in the suite bathroom. The sensation of the warm water hitting my shoulders and chest helped me feel a little closer to normal. After a few days of being alone in bed with my thoughts, I was looking forward to just being around other people again.
When I got back to my room the first thing I did was check my phone. Still no response from Hunter. This was getting weird.
I stared at my phone, deciding whether to call. Screw it,I thought. Even if he was being a jerk by not responding to texts, I still needed to talk to him. I found his number and put the phone to my ear. The phone rang a few times—which meant it wasn’t off—and went to voicemail. I left a message asking where he was and threw the phone on my bed.
An idea dawned on me as I looked at the keys sitting on my dresser. I could go over there to see if Hunter was there. Seeing the kittens might also make me feel better.
I grabbed my keys, put on my coat, and left. Part of me hoped he would be at his apartment. Part of me had a bad feeling about his reason for not picking up the phone.
Hunter wasn’t at his apartment. As I kicked off my boots and hung up my coat, I heard the kittens eagerly mewling, excited to have a new friend to play with. All six of them came running to me as I walked into the kitchen. As I gave them loving pets, I noticed dirty dishes filled the sink. Judging by the brown line ringing around one of the pots, it looked like the sink had been filled up with water and left to sit for days.
Had he not been home for a while? Afraid that the kittens hadn’t been fed, I looked to their food and water bowls and was relieved to see they were reasonably full. Even if it wasn’t Hunter, someone had been in the apartment within the last few hours, because the kittens went through food and water like locusts.
The more I thought about it, the more likely it seemed that it hadn’t been Hunter who fed them. Life got crazy for everyone sometimes, but things would have to be pretty hectic for a clean freak like him to ignore his dishes for days. My guess was he hadn’t been home.
At the same time, it was hard to imagine why he would be sleeping somewhere else. Was he hurt? Sick? The more I thought about it, the less sense it made.
Then an ugly thought flashed through my mind: there was no way he was cheating, right?
I shook my head and brushed it aside, afraid to even consider the idea. After writing a note on the fridge’s whiteboard asking him to call as soon as possible, I left his apartment and walked over to Huck Cafe. I had just spent several days alone. Being around people sounded a lot better than going back to my dorm room and staring at the wall.
I got my usual large black coffee, found a table, and sat down with my sketch pad in my lap and my phone on the table. When was Hunter going to get back to me? The messiness in his apartment increasingly worried me the more I thought about it. It was so out of character for him to leave things as untidy as he did. There was no way he would allow that if he were home for more than a few minutes at a time.
I looked around from my seat, hoping to find something or someone to sketch. As I scanned, I heard Hunter’s name above the general buzz in the shop. I found the source of the conversation after a moment’s search: two girls wearing pink sorority t-shirts sitting a couple tables over from mine. The girl on the left had her blonde hair in a sloppy ponytail, the one on the right had wavy shoulder-length hair.
“I thought he was dating that girl whose mom got murdered,” Ponytail said.
“Me too,” Wavy answered. “But Shannon said she saw him and Ada walking into the health center, and he didn’t look right, like he was really stunned or something.”
My spine straightened and I nearly dropped the coffee in my hand. I subtly tilted my ear to listen more closely.
“That’s weird,” Ponytail said. “Why would they be at the health center together?”
“I don’t know. They used to be a couple, right?”
Ponytail took a sip of her iced coffee. “Yeah, but that was like two years ago.”
Her friend twirled her hair. “Maybe they never totally stopped sleeping together.”
All the air left my lungs at once. I suddenly wished I was back in bed. This was rampant speculation, but I still hated it.
“I don’t know. Even if they still hook up sometimes, they wouldn’t go together to the health center. Unless?”