Just as Edgar pushed forward for more, there was a knock at my door. I pulled away and frowned.
“You expecting somebody?” he asked.
I shook my head. “No.”
Reluctantly, I stood up from the couch and hurried down the hall. I pressed my face up to the peep hole to peer through and instantly froze. On the other side of the door stood a familiar man dressed in black skinny jeans, a black button-down shirt, and a dark leather jacket. He had his blond hair swept to the side, held in place with a bit of gel. Several piercings adorned both of his ears, and the man had deliberately shaved a notch into his left eyebrow. He was trying to go for a bad-boy-biker look, but he was far too scrawny and bug-eyed to really pull it off. I sighed and cracked the door open an inch, making sure to block it with my body so he couldn’t force his way in.
“What do you want, Todd?” I snapped.
“Daliah!” he exclaimed. He threw his arms out like he wanted a hug, but I refused to come out from behind the door. “Baby, how are you? You’re looking foxy as ever.”
I glowered at him. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I heard about your art show.”
“Okay. Cool. Get lost.”
“Don’t be like that, red,” he groaned, frowning to feign disappointment. “I’m so proud of you!”
Anger welled up inside of me, hot and dangerous. “You’re proud of me?” I spat. “You can’t be serious. You were the one who said I wouldn’t make it out here.”
“I was just teasing you, Daliah. Come on, baby, you knew that.”
“No, actually. You weren’t teasing me. You were being one hundred percent serious.”
“Nah, Daliah, I was just joking. You never could take a joke. I always knew you’d make it as an artist. You just took what I said the wrong way and flew off the handle.”
“So you’re blaming everything on me?” I shouted, incredulous. “How dare you show up here after everything you said. That’s totally untrue.”
Todd sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Come on out, baby. I just want to talk. Can I come in? I’d rather not do this in the hall and make a scene.”
“No,” I stated firmly. “Get lost.”
“Daliah, honey, don’t be like this.”
“Tell me what you want, or I’m going to call the cops. What the hell are you even doing in Sacramento, anyway?”
Todd shifted uneasily from foot to foot, but he quickly forced a smile. There wasn’t anything genuine about it, and I knew better than to let his charm fool me. “Look,” he started, “you left super suddenly after our fight. You kind of left me hanging to pay the bills.”
“We broke up,” I stressed. “It was my apartment. I was the one doing you the favor when I left everything to you. I even paid the rent for the remaining months of the lease.”
“You’re obviously doing better for yourself,” he continued, brushing me off. “I just need a bit of support to get me to next month.”
“You want money? From me? So you’re not only a shitty ex-boyfriend, but you’re a leech, too? How did I not see it earlier?”
Todd’s expression darkened. He placed his hand on the door and applied pressure, trying to force the door open. I held my ground, albeit with a bit of struggle. Todd was taller and stronger than me, and I didn’t know if I’d be able to keep him out.
“You owe me,” he growled. “I carried us for months while you worked on your art. And what? Now that you’ve got a fancy show you think you’re better than me? The least you can do is cough up all the money I wasted on you.”
My mouth dropped open in horror. “Get the hell away from me!” I shrieked. “Or I’ll call the cops.”
Todd took a step back from the door, lining his shoulder up in an attempt to charge forward. But just as he was about to lunge, Edgar stepped past me and placed himself between me and Todd. He towered over Todd, strong arms folded across his chest. His brows were pulled together into a steep frown, lips pressed into a fine line.
“Who the fuck are you?” hissed Todd.
“I could ask you the same question,” said Edgar coolly. His voice was low, deep, and full of controlled rage.
Todd had to lean slightly to look past Edgar’s bulky frame and stare me down. “This your new boy toy?” he snarled.
Edgar shoved him hard. “Get out of here.”
“Or what? You think you can take me?”
“Edgar, don’t,” I begged. My hands and legs were shaking, too terrified to do much else. I needed to call the cops, needed to stop them before things escalated into a full-on fight. I didn’t want Edgar to get hurt, and the way things were shaping up, a brawl was imminent.