I Wanna Text You Up (Page 11)

Every time he comes home from his late nights at work or at study sessions, I hear him, and I lie awake in my bed listening, waiting…for what? I don’t know, but I feel so…tuned in to him.

Which is so stupid because we haven’t spent that much time together, and when we do, it involves grocery shopping and him annoying me until I laugh.

But still…there’s something there, something sitting just beneath the surface.

“What in the hell are we watching?” he finally enquires after the episode is nearly half over.

“Parenthood.”

“Like that old movie with Steve Martin in it?”

“No. Well…sort of. This is a very loose adaptation of it.”

“It’s…”

“Sad? I know. I cry like every episode.”

“That is not what I was going to say at all. Wait, that chick…is that Lorelai Gilmore?”

I pause the show and stare at him. “You know who Lorelai Gilmore is?”

He lifts a shoulder. “We had TV and they showed these things called reruns. It was on one of the three stations we got.”

“And you watched it?”

“What? She’s hot.”

I fall into a fit of laughter. “Total dude response.”

“She’s got fire, kind of like you, lots of spunk—I like that.”

“Like me? You like my spunk?” I can feel my lips twitching at the words.

He narrows his eyes. “Don’t be a perv, but yes, I like your spunk.”

“I like your spunk too, Caleb.”

“Zoe! It’s not as funny when you say it. It’s more…real!”

“What? You can be all pervy but I can’t?”

“I wasn’t being pervy at all. That was you! You sure do like to leave your mind in the gutter.”

“I can’t help it,” I say, tapping my temple. “It’s like a twelve-year-old boy up in here.”

He shakes his head. “Oh, I can tell. I can fucking tell.”

I give him a gentle kick. “You like it, and me.”

Caleb glances over at me with a look in eyes that’s something a little more than friendly. “I do.”

I rest back against the couch, not asking him to clarify what he meant because part of me doesn’t want to know. As silly as it is, I like this flirty thing we have going on. On one hand, it feels strange because he’s Delia’s ex, but on the other hand it doesn’t, because it’s just who I am. It feels natural, and if I’m supposed to be treating him like any other roommate, this is exactly what I’d be doing.

Right?

“I’ll be leaving early in the morning,” he says.

“Because it’s Sunday?”

“Yep. I’ll be back late tomorrow night…I hope.”

“Do you want a ride?”

“No, I got it.”

“Do you want to tell me where you’re going?” I try to push.

“Not yet.” His response is stoic, but that word he put there—yet—it implies that maybe one day he could tell me where he goes.

Huh.

“Are we really going to keep watching this?”

“Yes, Caleb, we’re really going to keep watching this.”

He lets out a loud groan and snuggles into the couch more, but I don’t miss the way his eyes don’t stray from the TV screen once.

He likes it, and he likes me.

I grin to myself and focus back in on the latest Braverman drama.

I wake up to the growling voice of Hatebreed’s Seven Enemies reverberating off the walls.

A body shifts beneath me and I freeze.

Caleb.

Oh hell. We fell asleep together on the couch, somehow tangling ourselves up more than we were before. I’m practically draped across him. I remember moving at some point during the night, flipping around so my neck wasn’t propped on the arm of the couch. I remember Caleb’s voice whispering, “Shh, just sleep,” in my ear as he pulled my head into his lap and ran his fingers through my hair. It lulled me back to sleep in no time.

I glance to the clock hanging near the front door, checking to see what time it is. Two AM. Who in the hell is calling this late at night?

“Hello?”

I don’t move and barely breathe, trying not to alert Caleb to my consciousness as he answers his phone in a sleepy drawl.

“Yeah. Yeah.”

He lets the person on the other end of the line speak, and I can faintly hear their voice. Whoever it is, it’s a woman, and she isn’t happy at all.

“I got it.”

Another raised voice.

“I got it, Mom. I’ll bring them.”

Mom? Why is his mother calling at this hour?

“I said I will bring them. Have I ever not before?” He’s practically growling the words out at this point. “Yeah. Yes. I will. Now?”

He lets out a long sigh and runs a hand over his head.

“Yeah. I’ll leave now.”

He ends the call and throws his phone onto the other end of the couch.

“Son of a fucking bitch,” he mutters. “Dammit. Motherfucker.”

I can feel it as he scrubs his hands over his face, hear as he scrapes over his five o’clock shadow.

He’s irritated, and I can’t say I blame him. It’s early as shit and unless it’s an emergency, there’s no reason he needs to leave for his Sunday trip right now.

I want to sit up and tell him all this, but it’s not my place. It’s not my business.

He carefully scoots out from under me and I lie there, listening as he moves about the apartment and gathers his things.

He’s quick, only taking about five minutes to get ready.

I do everything in my power not to jump when I sense him standing over me, when his fingers gingerly meet my cheek. He swiftly brushes a lock of hair back from my face and then just as fast, he’s gone, grabbing his bag and disappearing out the front door.

My phone chimes not even three minutes later.

Caleb: I’m off for my Sunday funday. I’ll see you later.

I don’t respond. Instead I place my phone back on the table and sit up, curling his blanket around me.

I don’t fall back asleep.

I don’t move until the sun comes up.

I sit there, thinking about Caleb…about the phone call, his hand, his anger toward his past…about everything involving him.

He was right to masquerade as The Riddler.

Caleb’s an enigma through and through.

Seven

Me: Okay, it has officially been three days since I’ve seen you. You came back from your Sunday outing, made me an omelet for breakfast, and then disappeared again. I’m starting to think I made you up.

Caleb: I told you my schedule was insane. This week is going to be hell for me. Shift after shift, study group after study group, and class after fucking class. Don’t forget all the other little shit I have to do in between.

Caleb: Friday the 12th is my next day off.

Me: THAT IS NEXT FRIDAY! WHAT THE HELL!

Caleb: Tell me about it. I need a damn nap.

Me: You really don’t have a day off until then?

Caleb: Fully off? No. I’ll have some time to sleep and maybe a few hours in the mornings every now and then.

Caleb: How’s Mittens doing, by the way? I saw your door was cracked last night and when I couldn’t find him I assumed he was with you. Sorry kitten duty has fallen to you.

Me: Don’t you ever apologize for allowing me to snuggle that adorable fluffball all night long.

Me: He’s good. He was a little skittish at first, but we’ve worked it out. Now he won’t leave me be. I had to repaint a spot that was drying last night.

Caleb: Shit. Sorry about that.

Caleb: My hours are officially cut starting next Thursday. I’ll still be gone on Sundays, but I’ll only be working one double instead of four days a week after classes. I’ll be out some money, but the sleep and study time will be nice, especially with finals slowly approaching.

Caleb: Why’d you ask when I’d be home next? You missing me already, Zoe?

Me: I miss your cooking. You? Not so much.

Me: Thanks for making enough dinner for leftovers when I was at work last night. My stomach and my co-workers love you.

Caleb: I’m not too bad of a cook, huh? Learned that shit growing up in the trailer park too.

Me: I’m impressed.

Me: I’m sorry, but it is INSANE how our schedules don’t line up, right? I’ll be at work and you’ll be at work. I’ll be home and you’ll be at work. You’ll be home and I’ll be in class. What kind of shit is that?

Me: Though I did hear you in the shower this morning. You sounded a bit…preoccupied. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Me: (THAT WAS A MASTURBATION JOKE.)

Me: Caleb, you there? I’m bored. There’s a project I could be working on, but nothing is inspiring me. Nothing is speaking to me. I hate that part about being an artist sometimes—you have to wait for that spark when you just want to hit the ground running. Hard balance to maintain.

Me: I guess you’re busy and I’m just rambling anyway. Good night.

Caleb: Sorry. Study group ran late last night and then I didn’t want to be the rude ass passenger on the way home. Then I just passed out once I sat down on my bed, and now it’s early morning so you’re probably in class.

Caleb: Don’t think I haven’t heard your late-night moans, Zoe. The walls in our apartment are thin. (MASTURBATION TRUTH, NOT JOKE)