“Did he kiss you?” Miriam asked. She had waited up for me. Sometimes I really regretted giving her that spare key.
I kicked off my shoes and threw myself back on my bed. “Nope, I kissed him on the cheek.”
She gasped in dramatic surprise. “You did? I see you like him more than you thought.”
“Yes, I do.”
“I don’t like that tone in your voice. What’s the problem?”
“He’s just…. I don’t know.”
“You had a good time right?” Miriam said, sitting next to me.
“This bloke seems like the real deal. At least for a short while.”
“I guess,” I muttered.
She grabbed my wrist and pulled me up to her level. “Then what’s wrong? Do you think there’s something underneath everything he puts out?”
“Yes,” I answered quickly. That was it. That was that nagging feeling in the back of my head. “He’s keeping something from me. It’s not a trivial thing like he stole sweets from a shop when he was younger. I feel something much bigger than that.”
Miriam took in a deep breath and made me face her. “If you truly feel uneasy around him, trust your gut and stop seeing him. I know I want you to date, but not at the expense of being on your guard the entire time. Sleep on it and see where you stand tomorrow, okay?”
I nodded. “Yeah, okay.”
“Good. Remember we have that meeting tomorrow.”
I groaned and lied back on the bed again. “Just what I need.”
Miriam laughed. “Of course it is. Eight sharp, don’t be late.”
She soon left my room. When I heard the front door close, I finally relaxed. She was right; I had to trust my gut. Remus was a nice bloke, but not a trustworthy one. I feed lies to people every day, it isn’t a difficult task for me to pick up on the lies of someone else.
“He’s still nice,” I whispered aloud.
I rolled over on my side and stared out the window. Ignoring the part of my mind that begged to get into a relationship again, I closed my eyes and drifted off.
I wanted to get home. No, scratch that. I needed to get home. My feet were aching, my fingers were close to falling off with all the paperwork I had to do, and my nerves were about completely shot. I should have quit that job a long time ago. Maybe that Remus bloke had a point.
“Don’t think about him,” I softly scolded myself. If I wasn’t planning on seeing him again, I had to stop thinking about him.
After making sure I had everything done for the time being, I hopped in the nearest cab to get far away from that place. Miriam had to get Alan from the sitter, so I made the trip home alone. The silence was what I needed to kill the headache that threatened to hit me at any moment.
“What the hell?” I muttered while walking up to my house.
Sitting on my front stairs was Remus. He was staring out in front of himself, muttering quietly. So much for that headache going away.
“Remus?” I asked, cautiously approaching him.
His head shot up toward me and he jumped to his feet. “Hey.”
“Why are you here?” He winced slightly at the harshness in my voice and I silently berated myself for it. There was no need to be rude to him. “I mean, how long have you been sitting here?”
“Just for a few hours. I-I wanted to see you again.”
“Because…because…. Hell, I don’t know.” He threw himself back down on the step, more than irritated with the situation.
I carefully sat next to him, placing my briefcase in my lap. I knew I would regret asking, but I couldn’t help it. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. It’s just that I really like you.”
Yes, I knew it. “You do?”
“Yeah, but…I know we hardly know each other. A friend of mine keeps telling me to loosen up a bit and have fun.”
I snorted softly. “Sounds familiar.”
He turned to me and there came that smile. “I see I’m not the only one fighting a relationship.”
“Anyway, would you like to go out again? That is, if you’re not working.”
A part of my gut still felt uneasy, but my head ordered me to go along with him.
“No, I don’t work tomorrow. Meet here?”
“Sure. Six this time. There’s this movie playing at the cinema that I think you’ll like.”
“Okay, I’ll see you at six.”
He gave me a quick one-armed hug before walking off. I sat still on the step, cursing myself for giving in so easily. But, maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. It’s just a casual outing. Nothing more than that.
I had fun with him. I actually had fun with that guy. The movie was perfect…he was perfect that night. Nothing seemed forced, and there was never an uncomfortable moment. Something had changed with him. Though he still seemed more reserved than me, it was a nice change.
“Where do you live?” I asked him during our late walk back from eating out.
“It’s a cabin in the woods. My father moved us there when I was a child.”
“Why the woods?”
“He loved the wilderness.”
“Can I see it?”
There it was. That tension. I felt it through his arm as I held onto it. But it only lasted a split second before he smiled. “Sure. We can take a bus for a little, but it’s still a long walk.”
“One of us needs to get a car.”
He laughed, shifting our position in order to place his arm around my shoulders. “You make more money than me. You get the car.”
The two of us joked around the whole trip to his cabin. I had been out that way before, but I had never gone out from the city. It had to have taken him over twenty minutes just to get into the city to see me.
The bus soon let off and Remus and I walked the remainder of the way. The woods were quiet, peaceful even. Having Remus hold me as close as he did didn’t hurt things either.
“There are rumors about this place,” I said, suddenly remembering a conversation I had with Alan. That boy did have a vivid imagination.
“Like what?” Remus asked.
“Well, my neighbor’s son told me how the kids think that this area is surrounded by werewolves or ghosts.”
Remus chuckled, but released his hold on me. “Really? I never heard anything.”
“You must be one hell of a sleeper.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well, I do recall hearing a howl or two occasionally from my bedroom. I usually leave the window open. Whatever it was, it’s loud as hell.”
He laughed some more and soon stopped in front of a small, but homely-looking cabin. “Shall we?”
Inside wasn’t what I expected. It was dreary and all, but there was a neatness to it despite the lack of items inside.
“I like it,” I said, sitting on the sofa.
“Thanks. I try to keep it clean. Do you want some tea?”
It didn’t take long for Remus to re-enter the room with some fresh tea in his hands. “Here you are.”
We both drank in silence. It wasn’t as weird as before, but that nagging feeling decided to claw its way back up at me.
“It’s that late?” I asked suddenly, glancing at the clock on the wall. It was close to one in the morning. “I should be getting on home.”
“You work tomorrow?”
“No. I took a few sick leaves. But, I’m going out to breakfast with a friend.”
I placed the empty cup on the coffee table and stood. Remus walked with me to the door, but neither of us opened it.
“I had fun,” I said, suddenly feeling a chill slide down my spine. He was much too close to me.
“Me too…. I appreciate you going out with me again. We should do it next week.”
“That sounds nice.”
“Good. I’ll walk you back to the road to get a cab.”
“No, you don’t have to. It isn’t that far.”
He turned to reach for his jacket anyway. “I know, but it’s dark.”
“Remus, you don’t have to.”
“Positive. Thanks again.”
I leaned to kiss him on the cheek, but he turned back to face me. My lips landed on his instead. I instantly backed away, my lips tingling from the quick peck.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
His eyes stared deep and hard into my own. I never felt that intimidated before.
“Don’t be,” he whispered, his breathing becoming slightly heavier.
He gently grabbed the back of my neck and pulled me in. The kiss was soft, yet had a sense of urgency to it. I had no other option but to slide my fingers into his smooth, thin hair. If anything, that chill I felt intensified.
I pushed away from him then. “Remus, stop.”
He made no arguments with me and backed off. “Okay. What’s the matter?”
“You’re lying to me. Something’s wrong.”
“I’m just….” I trailed off, sighing deeply. “I don’t know. I’m never usually like this. I’m never this forward.”
Remus rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably. “Sometimes you have to be spontaneous.”
“And who told you that?”
“Well, being spontaneous tended to get people hurt.”
Remus gave me a sheepish grin. “But it’s fun. Look, if you don’t want to do this, then I won’t force you. I’ll walk you home right now.”
“No, I don’t want to go home.” What the hell was I saying?
“No,” I said, my word vomiting continuing to pour out. “I just want to talk.”
I moved slightly away from the door. “Yes, talk. I just want to talk with you tonight. Is that all right with you?”
“Yeah, it is.”
He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on my lips. Both of us took in a deep breath and an annoying part of me couldn’t help but feel a twinge of guilt for stopping what could have happened. But it was for the best…. It was for the best.
We stayed up talking into the wee hours of the morning. Birds had begun to chirp and sunlight peaked its head into the few windows in the sitting room. Our conversation consisted of mainly random things about each other. What food we liked, what sport we hated. It was basically twenty-five questions gone overboard. But anything was better than continuing on with what could have happened. I had only known him for a few days. Hell, I was far older than the kid. There was no way I could sleep with him.
“How did you really get those scars?” I asked him.
Remus didn’t drop our connection that time. He stared on at me, determined to get me to trust him. “A wolf in the woods.”
My hand went to my chest. “Oh my God, are you for real?”
He nodded. “Yeah, it happened when I was younger.”
“Thank goodness you’re okay.”
“Yeah, thankfully. What about you? Any dark secrets I should know?”
“I have no secrets.” Who was I trying to kid? Everyone had secrets.
Remus caught onto that and moved closer to me on the sofa. “Come on, I told you my story.”
“Fine.” He was right, I owed him. Hardly thinking through my next move, I stood and moved so that I was in front of him and lifted my shirt up slightly. I caught him swallowing hard as he stared at my bare abdomen. With shaking fingers, he reached out and a soft sigh escaped me as he gently traced over the small, pinkish scar that rested near my bellybutton.
“What happened?” he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
“A car accident. I was only a child, but my father fell asleep at the wheel. This was all I came out with.”
“Your father didn’t survive.”
He stated it as a fact more than a question, one to which I could only nod. Before I could lower my shirt, Remus had stood and kept his hand firmly on my waist. I anticipated another kiss, but he instead pulled me in for a tight hug. I buried my face in his warm chest and took him in. Maybe moving forward with him wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.