From Marty Vee:
This is a RomCom novella I’m sharing in segments, about two people who don’t like each other getting quarantined together. I suggest starting at the beginning:
But I’ll recap anyway:
Billie is a junior reporter for a local network and Edgar, her least favorite person, works in the same position at a competing network. They are quarantined together at his house. She recently found out that most of her previously conceived notions about him are based on someone else’s lies. As these things go, feelings got all involved and they did the deed. On Day 10 she asked some National Guard soldiers if she could grab some things from her home and come back to Edgar’s place.
I hope you enjoy it!
I’m looking at social media, not for any purpose other than passing time and the addictive nature of scrolling. My butt is going numb because this sofa doesn’t allow for blood flow.
The bike shorts he lent me the other day are the only things I want to wear anymore. My makeup is “done” and my hair is in a long braid over one shoulder. I just emailed a video to my producer. My anxiety about the video I filmed in Edgar’s bedroom has gone away. It was ridiculous anyway. Obviously, no one found us out. I can make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.
Edgar is on his phone next to me. He’s wearing basketball shorts and a thread-worn tshirt. I’m surprised he isn’t shirtless more often. I don’t understand why he’d cover any of his skin up. Maybe I could get him to stop.
He half smiles at a text message and it makes my lips twitch upwards.
“Who you talkin’ to?” I ask.
He rolls his eyes and his shoulders tense. “Right, Cat as in Cathrin is my friend. Kitty is the shitty name Sofia calls her.”
“What’s wrong with the name Kitty?”
“Nothing, but it’s not her name.” There’s a bite to his words, that could be directed towards his ex-wife, but it feels directed at me.
“What are you two talkin’ about?”
He looks at me out of the corner of his eye. “Are you checking up on me?”
“Are you checking up on me?”
“What does that mean?”
“Nothing is going on between me and Cat.”
What the hell is going on here? “Yeah, that’s cool.” I add because I want to cut this off at the knees, “You know I have guy friends, right?”
He closes his eyes and shakes his head, his neck turning red. “Shit, sorry. I…” His head shakes again. “I just, I guess that’d be called projection.”
“Something with Sofia?”
His blush has risen to his cheeks. “Yeah, she’d get jealous anytime I talked to a woman. Sorry.”
I shrug. “It’s okay.”
I look back at the computer screen, but my mind is focused elsewhere. It’ unsettling, how quickly he landed on that accusation. I guess, he did admit that it had nothing to do with me. I want to brush it off, but I can’t yet.
Also, how serious are we in his mind? I like him way more than I’m comfortable with but we haven’t discussed being exclusive or anything.
“I freaked you out,” he cringes.
It’s then that I realize, I’m scowling at the keyboard. “I’m fine,” I lie.
“Yeah.” Then because I want to decipher where we stand, I add, “This is just casual anyway.”
He goes still, the color drains from his face. “Is it?”
“I mean, I like you.”
The muscles in his jaw flex. “But you just want to be casual?”
“I don’t know, I guess I haven’t really thought much about it.” That’s mostly true. Sure, last night I laid awake dreading what my feelings for him mean. Bu that was only one night. “It seems a bit early to call, right?”
The tension in him relaxes. “If you think so.” He says this without any resentment, he almost sounds relieved.
“What does that mean?”
“I’ve got time in spades, if all you need is time, I can be patient.”
“Feeling pretty confident, there?”
One dark eyebrow lifts towards his hairline. “Do I have a reason not to be?”
I don’t want to lie to him but I also don’t want to tell him, “no,” I just roll my eyes instead.
We watch each other for a few seconds. I’m expecting him to lean over and maul me, in the way that I like. Instead, he puts his arm around my shoulder and scoots closer to me. His thigh is pressed alongside mine. I can feel his muscular side against my arm. It’s pleasant, but there aren’t any sexual intensions. It’s contact for contact’s sake. For intimacy.
In his other hand, he holds out his phone for me to see. “Sometimes, Cat and I just send each other stupid memes.”
I’m reading the through them, one after another. My finger scrolls the images up, each meme lamer than the last. “These are terrible.”
“Do you send each other any funny ones?”
He nods. “When they’re relevant but mostly, it’s this.”
“So… you’re just a total nerd with her.”
He gives me a proud closed mouth smile and an eager nod. “Full embrace.”
I laugh but I’m also shaking my head. He’s so damn sweet.
“She encourages you to be totally you,” I observe.
The goofy expression on his face morphs as he considers this. “Yeah.”
“That’s a good friend.”
“She is. What about you? Is that Libby for you?”
“For sure,” I answer.
“What’s your favorite thing about her?”
I don’t have to think long, before telling him, “She’s so open with her affection. It makes me feel more comfortable with mine.”
“Ugh. I really like you.” His hand on my shoulder squeezes.
“There is no through-line on your conversation today.” I’m picking on him but inside I’m glowing; surprised he can’t see it.
His large brown eyes roam over my face before they land on mine. “You’re complicated and I like it.”
“You would think after Sophia, you’d want simple.”
“She gave the impression of being simple; open book. It wasn’t real.”
I have an itchy feeling in my gut. I’m not an open book, that’s for sure, but I’m not exactly what I seem either. People assume that I’m confident, without any insecurities. I don’t show the full range of my emotions to anyone. Being vulnerable is one of my biggest fears, so I’m not.
“I’ve had a lot of therapy,” Edgar admits. “It’s hard to have your trust violated like that and then it hasn’t fully stopped, with her… continuing to force a relationship, despite how fucked up it is.”
“I’ve considered therapy.” The words are out of my mouth before I even realize the thought. He’s sharing with ease, it’s provoking the same out of me. But I don’t want to take the words back, not yet at least.
I don’t know when or how I became so self-protecting but it has definitely affected my relationships. My childhood self was always mitigating any uncomfortable exposed emotions; learning how to keep from crying, learning how to laugh when something hurt.
Learning how to keep people out.
I don’t know how else to be. It’s ruined past romances, but I don’t want it to ruin this. I want this, with Edgar. My feelings for him have become something with its own life. They breathe their own air. They’re going to start speaking for me soon. I’m way past liking him. It happened so fast.
If he told me that he loved me, I would say it back.
I would mean it.
“It’s challenging, but it’s worth it.” He shrugs.
“Wanna watch something?” I jerk my head towards the TV. I can’t keep talking about this, with all of these dangerous thoughts in my head.
His unabashedly gentle expression warms a few degrees. The phone in his hand lands on the coffee table with a thud, then he pinches the computer on my lap closed and sets it on the floor. Anticipating heat stirs in my gut. I watch as he slowly leans towards my propped knees. His hand glides down my no longer smooth shin.
My head falls onto the backrest, loving the feel of his warm skin on mine.
Then he stops.
I snap my eyes open and look at him. A mischievous goofy grin on his beautiful mouth.
“The fuck?” I demand.
“You said you wanted to watch something.” He’s holding a remote control out to me.
“I’ll make you pay for this.”
“Looking forward to it.” But he settles in next to me.
The sofa is as comfortable as it could ever be.
From Marty Vee:
Thank you for reading! If you’re enjoying the story please share it with a friend.
You can continue to Day 12 at: https://martyvee.com/2020/05/11/you-and-me-in-quarantine-day-12/
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