Trashed / Page 17

Page 17


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The girl starts and presses a hand to her chest, having not seen me as I approached. “Holy shit, you scared me, dude.” And then she actually sees me and her eyes go wide. “Holy shit. Holy motherfucking shit.”

I ignore her unblinking stare of disbelief. “Do you know where I can find Des?”

She tilts her head to one side. “Why?”

“I met her yesterday, and I wanted to…talk to her.” I take a step closer and let a silence hang. “Do you know where I can find her?”

The girl has a calculating expression on her face. “She came home last night looking like she’d been crying.”

“Home?” I glance at the door behind the girl. “She’s your roommate?”

“Ruth Nicholson.” She extends her hand, and I shake it, squeezing gently.

“Adam Trenton.”

“Nice to meet you, Adam.” She withdraws her hand and fixes me with an impressively hard look. “So why did she come back looking shaken up?”

I hesitate, not knowing what to say. Finally, I decide on neutrality. “I think if she didn’t explain, neither should I. But how about you just tell her I’m here, and let her decide if she wants to see me.”

Ruth nods. “Good enough.” Her eyes rake up and down. “Nice tux, by the way.”

“Thanks.”

She goes back inside, and then returns after only a moment. “You can go in.” She closes the distance between us and looks up at me, a fierce expression on her face. “You better be nice to my friend, dude. I don’t care who you are. Don’t hurt her.”

“She’s in good hands,” I tell her.

She nods, a rueful expression crossing her features. “Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of.”

And then the small but fiery girl with blue-streaked hair is out in the rain, ducking and running across the street and into a coffee shop. The door to her and Des’s apartment is cracked open, so I knock on it and push in. It’s a dorm room, exactly like you’d find in any college in the country. Small, a bunk bed on one wall, a bookshelf and two small bureaus on another, a bathroom behind a partially open door. There’s an actual closet too, shallow and narrow, but more than most dorms have. There are girl clothes everywhere, a bra hanging off the hook of the bathroom door, inside-out jeans on the floor, a hairbrush on the desk under the window, a tiny scrap of thong underwear on the floor just inside the bathroom. Having sisters, I’m unfazed.

Des is sitting at the desk, her hair in a ponytail and hanging over her shoulder. She’s wearing yoga pants and a hoodie, and she manages to be a knock-out even in that.

Her eyes find mine. “Hi.”

I move to the desk and perch one hip on the edge. “Hey.”

She eyes me warily, but doesn’t move away from me, even though I’m suddenly in her personal space. “What’s up? Why are you here, and why are you wearing a tux?”

“Do you have a nice dress here with you?”

She just blinks at me. “A dress?”

I nod. “Yeah. Like, a nice one. An evening gown type of thing.”

I can see the wheels turning in her head. “I do, actually, yeah.” Her gaze flits over me. “God you look hot in that tux.” She closes her eyes slowly and presses her lips together, as if she hadn’t meant to say that.

I laugh. “Thanks. So. How long will it take you to get ready?”

She frowns. “Ready? For what?”

“The ferries are shut down, so the person I was bringing to the dinner tonight can’t get here. I want you to come with me.”

“The dinner? The fancy fundraiser dinner?”

“Yep.”

She shakes her head. “No. No fucking way.”

I lean closer to her, brush my palm against her cheek and inhale her scent. “Please?”

She nuzzles her face into my palm, closes her eyes and lets out a shuddering breath. “Adam, that’s crazy. I don’t belong at a dinner like that.”

She really doesn’t. Neither do I, if you ask me. But no one’s asking me.

I just grin at her. “But I want you there. I really don’t want to go, but if I have to, it’d be better if you were there.” I don’t know what I’m saying, but it feels true. “Please? I need you to go with me.”

She hesitates. And then she stabs her finger into my chest. “You can’t leave me alone. Not for one second.”

I’m leaning into her finger, closing the inches between us, inhaling her scent. I take a strand of her thick silky black hair between my fingers and spin it so the end twirls.

“I won’t.” She smells so good and looks so good and I want to kiss her, so I do. Slowly, carefully, briefly. “I’ll stay by your side the whole time.”

She seems shaken by the kiss, as if she wasn’t expecting it, and doesn’t know how to deal with it. “Promise?” she asks in a whisper.

“I swear.”

“Give me forty-five minutes.”

“No problem.”

She stands up and I move out of the way. She slides past me, her eyes finding mine. A smile crosses her face, but then she ducks her head and goes into the bathroom. I catch a glimpse of her as she tugs the band out of her hair and shakes it out, and then shrugs out of her hoodie. I catch a glimpse of a bare shoulder and a hint of tattoo ink just before she closes the door.

Ten minutes later, she’s out of the shower and emerging from the bathroom wreathed in steam, a towel turbaned around her hair and another wrapped around her torso. I get another glimpse of the ink, but it’s hidden by the towel and I can just see the edges of it. It looks like words, text of some kind, but that’s all I can make out. Des just out of the shower, dripping wet and flushed from the heat, is a version of her I’m starting to really like. She offers me another small smile, rifles through the clothes on one side of the closet, and withdraws a red dress. Then she goes to a dresser where she withdraws a bra and a pair of underwear, but I can’t make out what either looks like. She vanishes into the bathroom once more, and this time she’s in there for a full half an hour. I hear a hair dryer going for a while, and then further silence.

The intimacy of waiting for a woman to get ready is not lost on me. Even in the year and a half that I was with Emma, we didn’t share these kinds of intimate moments. I never saw her just out of the shower. Never waited for her to get ready. We always met somewhere, or I picked her up at her house, waiting in the foyer for her to come down.


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