The Storm Ch. 01 of 03byTom_Lym©
"Sorry babe. Me and the guys are going on a road trip."
Sonya closed her eyes and tried to understand where such a powerful homicidal urge had come from.
"Babe" she started, trying to keep the sweet separate from the sour, "you promised to help me move my things today, though. Remember?"
She could hear them chatting and jostling around in the background. Her mind started racing as she considered the implications of her fiance's casual cancellation. The good cheer on the other line began to take on an ugly tinge to her ears.
"Hey - did you hear me?" she raised her voice to be heard - a few of the remaining students in her class asking the teacher questions glanced over in her direction and (wisely, she thought) looked away when she raised her eyes to them with the mildest hint of ferocity. While her voice struggled to maintain its sunny pitch, thunderclouds were clearly forming -- visible even to the untrained eye. A long moment passed as the background noises continued.
"What? Yeah, I heard you. It's a surprise! Look, this is important- I'll make it up to you, though. Totally. Give me some sugar, sweetness."
She could hear cat-calls and other background chatter accompanying Steve's last comment. Her eyes punched holes in some distant object located behind the littered whiteboard at the front of the class as she disconnected the call without responding. That's one of the things that sucked about the new smartphones -- you couldn't get the same emotional release scrolling your finger to hang up the line that you could slamming it into its holder. Same idea, though.
There was a part of her that felt obligated to go through the motions. He would call and text her again and again, sooner or later and eventually she would forgive him and they would make up and then he would begin toeing the line of acceptable behaviour, taking her for granted, and it would begin all over again. But that was a problem to deal with when she had calmed down - for now, she took the mildest bit of satisfaction in setting her phone to silent.
Son of a bitch. Son of a bitch. She really didn't want to have to call a moving company - but she might have no choice if she couldn't find another warm body to help her out.
Performing a quick breathing exercise she remembered her old soccer instructor teaching her, she inhaled through her nose and tried to exhale the fire in her belly - unsuccessfully. Packing her textbook and binder into the bag with a bit more force than was strictly necessary, she tried to generate a mental list of friends who might be able to help her out in her current predicament. Strolling out of class and finding a relatively quiet spot in the cafeteria to sit and concentrate, she messaged her usual group.
Her electronic emergency cry for help was universally rejected. One of her girlfriends wished her luck with a smiley face.
James? No - he was out of town. Trevor? Actually, no. Not Derek - bad idea. Evan? Crap, she hadn't talked to him in forever.
Damn. As she scrolled to the bottom of her contact list and made her way back up again, connecting faces to numbers, she realized that she hadn't seriously considered how many of her male friends she had stopped contacting since Steve had proposed to her. Come to think of it - the great male migration had begun even before they had gotten serious. It's harder than you might realize to simply maintain the number of male friends you have when you settle down with one of them.
As she stood there, uncertain as to how to proceed and feeling frustrated and angry with just the mildest bitter feeling of despair threatening to swell in her eyes and ruin her makeup (who really wants to spend their Friday evening moving their belongings alone? Or any evening, for that matter).
Fate apparently felt obligated to intervene.
"Hey Sonya? Sonya, right?"
She turned her head sharply at the utterance of her name, to the person who broke her trance, like a cat hearing a small furry mammal in the vicinity. Her look was purely predatory. Rick was approaching her - more commonly known as the hot tall model guy who sat in the row directly in front of her. Trying to quickly shift gears, she smothered her annoyance at the predicament of her current situation and tried to soften her features - to give an encouraging, acknowledging smile as he came closer.
Key word; tried to
The focus of her dark eyes may have felt a touch singed.
Judging by the widened eyes and slowing pace, she had failed.
Too many teeth in that smile.
Little too sharky.
"Something the matter?" he asked saddling up beside her table, his voice a little cautious.
For a moment she considered taking him up on his offer of confidence - going on a long, emotionally wrenching soliloquy about the unfairness of her situation and the selfishness of her boyfriend, and the fact that clouds were rolling in and it looked like a storm was on it's way - despite the forecast of clear skies and mild temperatures - and how she had to move all of her belongings tonight so that someone else could move into her place tomorrow and how life sucked when even your local newscasters couldn't be depended upon. How real friends are the ones sticking around even when it's inconvenient. How expensive gas was getting! EVERYTHING!
Instead she squashed the strange, psychotic little urge with a note of concern and instead strove to appear calm and composed. Maybe a little too relaxed.
"Oh, you know. The usual" she said in a way that conveyed that nothing at all was bothering her in an extremely unconvincing way. The white knuckled grip on her phone may or may not have given away her bluff.
Rick stared at her face for a long moment, and Sonya was increasingly aware of the rising temperature in her cheeks. He couldn't see it, but she felt it.
"Well?" she said, slightly annoyed - mostly embarrassed.
"You have a truck, right?" he asked, as if confirming something he already knew.
"You're going downtown, right?" like the fact that he knows which direction she goes after school was common knowledge.
"Do you need some help?"
A light drizzle had begun as they stepped out to the parking lot and began to pick up as they sped up a little bit to her truck. A click and a turn later they were both out of the rain and sitting beside each other. Exchanging polite chit-chat, Sonya found herself warming up to her new friend and classmate. He turned out to be a fairly interesting guy. It didn't hurt that he was a pleasing sight on the eyes. Mentally, she chastised herself for running her eyes over his body, taking in his shape. She may have been maintaining slightly better posture than she normally would if she didn't have company.
Why was she feeling the tiniest bit flustered? Whatever, she was engaged (or was it engaged to be engaged? Her gaze fell to her driving hand for a moment, noting the lonely finger as she had many times before) - not dead.
"Can I ask you a personal question?" he asked, after a brief lull in the conversation, as they came upon a red light.
"Maybe" she said, guardedly.
"What are you passionate about?"
They were both staring ahead at the traffic, He said it so casually, so matter-of-factly, that she was momentarily taken aback.
She laughed after a moment. What a silly question! How was she supposed to answer?
"What do you mean?" she asked, caught momentarily off-balance, feeling a little guarded.
"Passion. Y'know - interests, dislikes, loves, hates - I don't really know you all that well."
"Sure you do! We talk in class all the time."
A moment passed. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see his profile turn slightly towards her. His fingers drummed an oddly distracting little beat on his knee. She couldn't help but wonder if the muscles in his hand and forearm accurately represented the rest of his body. A little shiver (delightful?) ran through her. She took her eyes off him for a moment and adjusted the heat.
It was chilly, sure.
"There's talking, and then there's talking." There was something in his voice in that simple statement. Sincerity? She wasn't sure. It was something you didn't really hear unless you were talking to someone you've known a long time. It felt too...familiar, too intimate, if that made any sense. She knew what he meant, what he was talking about, but felt a strange, chaotically playful urge to disagree with him - just to see what would happen.
"You're wrong," she replied - less confidently then she would have liked. "For example, I know that you like boats but hate the ocean. You watch Entourage and like cooking with your bare hands."
A moment passed as he considered her response. She could see his brow lower in an expression that looked to be part confusion, part concentration as she concluded her extremely brief biography on her classmate. Then the look passed and a beaming smile lit up his face.
"I see you've creeped my Facebook profile." She felt a little heat in her cheeks as he smiled and nodded in acknowledgment in her general direction.
A moment passed. "I was curious," she admitted "to know more about you."
His laughter pearled out in the cramped confines of the truck. A nice laugh. Nice everything.
"What's so funny?" she asked, maybe a little sharply. Was he making fun of her? Fucker.
"Sorry," he said "I just find it funny how quickly people can come to the conclusion that they actually know somebody on the basis of a few blurbs and pictures."
He had a point, she had to admit.
"Well, what are you passionate about?" she countered to his original query.
"Living a good life," he replied simply. Like it was a matter-of-fact statement that should instantly make perfect sense.
She paused for a moment, considering.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean living a good life. Experience different cultures, different people, cross the oceans a few times, eat some great food, drink better beer, listen to some soulful music , have some belly laughs, maybe raise a family, help beautiful women in distress from time to time - you know, the usual. I take it a day at a time."
Silence reigned in the car for a moment. Another green light -- they were making good time.
"I'm not really sure," she replied after a moment "what I want out of life."
"That's good" he said. Concise bastard.
"What?!" she gave a genuine laugh at his response. "How is having a big question mark for a life goal considered a good thing?"
"Oh, it's not. But it was an honest answer - that's something." His mask of sombre sincerity cracked and he joined her in a brief round of laughter at the absurdity.
"Wait, hold up," she replied before the moment passed "you think I'm beautiful?"
"Sure" he replied, glancing over at her.
"I'm engaged, you know."
"That's nice." a playful twinkle in his eye and a suppressed smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
She wasn't sure how to take that.
"Hey, pull over here" a note of urgency in his voice
"What? Why?" she asked, amusement transitioning into confusion.
"The good life. Beer. You're buying."
The complete moving of all her worldly belongings didn't actually take all that long. Rick was a hard worker and did the majority of the heavy lifting. It took them as many trips as it did hours to move all her stuff. They were actually forced to work fairly quickly - the rain began coming down harder, straining the protective abilities of the crappy tarp hovering over her things. Fortunately, her stuff absorbed a minimal amount of moisture - due in no small part to her newest friend.
She was actually surprised how well they got along. Sonya wasn't usually much of a talker, but conversation came easily with Rick. He was honest, which helped her be (mostly) honest too. A couple of times she actually found herself gazing a little too intently at the shape of his hands as he carried the boxes to the truck, shoving them under the tarp with enough force to make her wince a few times as they did their best impression of a human assembly line. Couldn't help but notice how his muscles bunched and tensed as he lifted and moved, the grunts and sounds of effort he made while gently lifting and carefully moving the antique dresser her grandma had given her for her high school graduation.
He was surprisingly rugged, for a pretty boy. A little while later, they brought the final centerpiece for her apartment - after a slightly cramped ride in the elevator- and unceremoniously dumped it on the ground of her room.
"Wiew," sighed Rick, as he plopped down on her crappy (slightly damp) futon - one of the few assembled pieces of furniture in the cluttered mess that she would later rename her living room - and opened a beer and began taking large gulps. The sound of the rainfall outside intensified, a dim sound through the walls. Grabbing the unopened case of beer, he tossed her one and grabbed one for himself.
She grunted in acknowledgment and sat down on her nice, plush rug. The day had started early and had finished late; the sun was setting. At least she had managed to make the best of a bad situation, though her muscles promised her attitude tomorrow.
Rick raised his bottle to her in a toast, and she followed his lead.
"To new friends" he said, solemnly. "To new friends," she agreed, clinking the bottles together.
Their fingers brushed each other, and she was genuinely surprised at jolt of sensation course up her arm when they did. Trying to contain her reaction, she searched his face. He didn't seem to act as if anything were amiss, and she decided that was probably good policy.
They talked and traded stories - Rick had a way of telling ridiculous stories about his life with a completely straight face that really lit her up. She told him about the time she had been bartending and a senior citizen had showed up in a ridiculous suit (complete with matching fedora) and tried to pick her up. He told her about the time his high school teacher had made a pass at him. Neither was really aware of the rate they were running through beer until she went to get some more and realized they were down to the final bottles.
Pretty terrible alcohol management for aspiring bartenders. She giggled at the thought.
"Holy crap," she exclaimed, with a bit of a slur. "We went through that whole twelve pack like a couple of frat boys."
"What? No waay," replied Rick. "We only drank... okay, that actually makes sense. I have to piss like a race horse."
"Nice," she fired back. "but ladies first."
"Not always" he said, with a wink and a shit eating grin.
She narrowed her eyes at his comment, but it didn't have any oomph behind it. She managed to walk to her new bathroom with nary a hitch, except for when she somehow managed to bash her knee into the door frame as she passed it. Swearing as she entered, she closed the door.
"You alright?" his muffled voice was barely audible.
"Yeah, no worries."
Normally, she would be a little mortified at the idea of carrying on a conversation with someone she had really just met a few hours ago while she was relieving herself in the bathroom - but she was just buzzed enough to not give a shit. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the merri-go-round sensation the alcohol gave her.
After she was finished, she took inventory of herself in the window and began preening out of habit. She was a fairly attractive, she thought, not trying to toot her own horn - dark skin, darker eyes and fine features framed by long black hair. It came just to her mid-back, and spilled over her ample breasts. Cupping them, she couldn't help but notice how her waist tapered and then flared out again. Sonya was a well-rounded woman in every sense of the word. Standing at just under six feet, she could picture herself a runway model on a good night.
Damn she looked good, as she messed up her hair up a little bit with her hands to give it a more tousled look, giving the mirror a seductive look and a giggle . She thought so, anyways.
And Rick had called her beautiful.
Of course, most runway models probably couldn't (or wouldn't) indulge in a case of beer while wearing sweat pants and a loose fitting sweater after a hard day's work.
She was smiling to herself as she finished washing her hand and walked out - into her guest.
"Whoa," he said as she bounced off his chiselled body, steadying her by her shoulders. "Slow down, hot stuff."
There was a moment, just a moment, when her eyes, feeling smoky, met his as he laid hands on her, where some part of her wanted him to throw her to the floor and rip her clothes off. Then the moment passed and she snapped back.
His eyes crinkled as he smiled and squeezed past her into the bathroom.
She took a moment to compose herself before slowly slinking back to her still-warm spot on the carpet, neighboured by bottled casualties. Her knees were a little rubbery. Well, one was. The other was starting to hint at stiffness.
Trying to shake off the feeling, she was mostly composed and nursing her last beer when he emerged from the bathroom.
"Sweet place, Sonya" he remarked.
"Thanks. I thought so too" trying to be casual.
"I think I'm going to head out, though. I've gotta' be up early." He moved towards her and began picking the litter. Such a sweetie.
Arching her eyebrow, and not sure whether disappointment or relief was the more dominant emotion, she winced on the inside more than she had when she had bashed her knee when her mouth moved before she had really thought about it;
"How are you getting home?" she gave a significant glance to the storm outside.
"I'll take the bus, no big deal" he said, moving towards the doorway, putting his still-damp looking shoes on.
"What? No way. It's pouring out! I'll drive you."
"You're not sober enough to drive."
She couldn't really argue that.
A moment passed. A flicker of lightning.
"Crash here tonight, I'll drive you home in the morning."
It was his turn to pause as he gave her a direct look.
"You're sure that's okay?"
"Yeah, it's fine. Just no funny business" with a smile and a wink. Did she wink? Jesus.
"Sweet. Thanks Sonya. I wasn't really looking forward to waiting for the bus in the rain."
He returned the good cheer as he reversed course and finally took off his damp sweater. His shirt rode up and Sonya's breath may have caught at the sight of his well-developed abs. Dear god. She wasn't sure but it looked like his six pack came with two freebies. Domesticated butterflies ran free-range in her stomach.
He strode back to his spot on the futon and sprawled into and onto it, like it was where he belonged.
She tried to get up to go get a blanket, and her knee wobbled a smidgen. She didn't fall on her ass, but she didn't gracefully descend back down, either.
"Is your knee alright?" he asked, concern in his voice.
"It's fine" she said, with a hint of a wince in her voice. "Just a little stiff."
"Let me take a look at it" he said, completely serious.
"What? No, it's fine."
"Sonya, please. It's the least I can do." he said calmly, slipping off the couch and down onto the carpet with her, "Let me see your leg." Narrowing her eyes at him for a moment, she sighed and daintily extended her leg to him. He slowly rolled up the pant leg. Apparently his body's thermometer ran a little hotter than hers did, as his hands felt extremely warm making contact with her leg. Goosebumps. He probably noticed but didn't say anything as he gently touched and probed her knee with his hands, his eyes intent on her face, searching for reaction.
"Ah," he said, "there" and went to work.
She wasn't sure what he did, or where he learned it, or why it felt so good - but it did. Minutes passed, or maybe it was tens of minutes - she didn't know and didn't care. The hum of alcohol in her system, the sensation of strong, skilled, warm hands rubbing and kneading her knee, and then her leg, practically overwhelmed her even as the sound of the storm outside lulled her into a state of complete relaxation. When he proposed that she lay on her stomach on the rug so that he could do the same to her back, she barely hesitated.