“How was the show?”
“Fantastic.” His smile was impossibly wide and giddiness rolled off of him. He’d had his fair share of wild concert nights, but this seemed exceptional.
“Aaaand how did things go with blond boy?”
He dropped onto the couch behind me and sighed loudly. “I think he’s a keeper.”
“Could be new boy excitement, but it seems like we have a lot in common. We love all the same bands. And he’s a great kisser. And so f*****g hot, my God.”
I smiled, genuinely happy for him. “That’s great, Eli. I can’t wait to meet him sometime.”
“I know.” His shoulders sagged. “I was bummed he couldn’t do dinner tonight. Did you go out with Cameron instead?”
“No, we made plans for tomorrow. I’m sure he’s probably sick of me by now anyway.”
“I doubt it.”
“All he does is torture me, and all I do is complain.” True enough, but we seemed to be feeling each other out with humor. The banter helped me find some boundaries with him, and a little part of me enjoyed hurling fresh and clever insults his way.
“You don’t talk about other things?”
“Yeah, we do. Nothing too deep though, which is fine by me.”
He leaned in, taking a peek at my notebook. I shut it quickly.
He narrowed his eyes at me. “Have you showed him any of it?”
He rolled his eyes and gave me a duh look.
“No way. It’s way too personal for that.”
“He probably doesn’t even know you write, does he?”
“He used to.”
“Do you write about him?”
I took a long drink of the now lukewarm breakfast tea I’d been ignoring. “Sometimes. I mean, I used to all the time.”
I shrugged. His return to my daily life was conjuring thoughts that I’d never admit to out loud. I’d written them down for the sole purpose of putting them and the emotions they represented away. That’s how I’d gotten over him the first time, and that’s how I’d keep my head this time.
“Read me something.”
“No, Eli. This is like…therapy. It’s not really for sharing.”
“Come on, I’m three sheets to the wind. I won’t even remember it in the morning.”
I didn’t flinch.
“Maya Jacobs, if you do not read me something, and soon, I will steal your notebook, photocopy it, and distribute it to every man you bring home for as long as you let me stay here and freeload.”
I gasped. “You wouldn’t dare!”
He grinned mischievously. “No. But you need to stop keeping all that s**t to yourself. It’s awesome that you write it down, but that’s just the first step.” He blinked a few times. “Please?”
I rolled my eyes, and reached for my notebook, and flipped through for something that was close to finished. I never wrote anything down with the intention of having it read. Skimming over the words, I imagined how any number of people would receive them. The exercise was nothing short of petrifying.
“I don’t know, Eli. This is all really rough. I’ll work on something and read it to you tomorrow, okay?”
He snatched up a loose sheet that was on the floor beside me. “This will do.”
I reached to take it back but he twisted out of reach.
“Relax!” He cleared his throat and his gaze darted down the page.
I bit my lip, replacing it with my fingernail after a couple minutes passed. This was nerve-racking.
“Eli, enough. Give it back. You’ve read it, right?”
“I’m re-reading. Chill out, woman.”
I took a breath and waited for him to lower the page. When he did, his eyes were more focused than they’d been before. “Maya, honey. Promise me that you will try to make this work with him. For your sake, for his sake. For my sake even.”
I ripped my nail off and stacked the rest of the papers that were strewn about, tucking them safely inside the now worn notebook.
The relief and satisfaction I’d relished moments ago at having poured my soul onto the page was quickly replaced with a frightening vulnerability. My heart and stomach seemed to be inextricably connected now, constricted over what I’d shared and Eli’s drunkenly honest assumptions about it.
“What?” I rose.
“Goodnight, Eli. I’ll see you in the a.m., okay?” I leaned over to kiss him on the forehead and disappeared into my room.