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We stepped into a tile floored hallway that broke away into a large open living room and kitchen that looks nice enough for Taylor Swift to use. The walls were white and lined with stainless-steel counters. The house was decorated with simple modern furniture. Not a single picture hung on the white and yellow walls. It was hard to ignore that every piece of furniture matched as it were taken from a showroom as is.
“We are sitting ducks,” Malachi groaned dropping his bag next to his feet. “We need a plan B.”
“Why is that?” I crossed my arms tightly around myself as I took in the inside of a house I would normally only drive by. Pete trotted up the stairs with his guitar case hanging loosely off his shoulder. He felt like a million miles away.
“I’m in love,” Molly cooed. Her large green eyes glistened as she looked at the shit we just stepped in. The pink streaks in her hair glowed under the bright lights hanging from the high ceilings.
“Something doesn’t feel right,” Malachi said, his eyes set only on Lincoln, who did seem at all impressed by the house. “I was expecting a shoe box with roaches.
Lincoln shrugged, “They are good speakers,” as he finished his sentence his lips curled into a smirk.
“I’m sure,” Malachi tossed his hand to the side dismissing Lincoln, “Where is my room?”
“Rooms are upstairs, and they are all huge,” Pete’s voice traveled down from an open loft overhead.
“Well, I guess I’m heading upstairs,” Malachi walked toward the wooden staircase keeping his eyes on Molly. Concern etched into every inch of his tired face.
Molly’s smile was suddenly gone. The spark disappeared from her eyes. She rubbed her stomach with a frown.
“You okay?” I asked her as I hitched my bag up on my shoulder.
“I just need some water,” Molly whined, walking toward the kitchen.
“Let’s not do this tonight,” Malachi’s voice tightened but clearly from concern and not frustration.
“You can do whatever you want.” Molly’s voice was indifferent, which wasn’t a tone from her I’d heard yet.
Malachi pushed out a massive sigh giving me the feeling there something I wasn’t catching, some hidden line of communication I wasn’t privy to. Malachi hissed a “Whatever,” as he climbed the stairs.
Suddenly I was the only one still standing in the foyer. I was in another world. Malachi was right, as nice as the house was, an ominous feeling hung in the air. A hole in my stomach was growing and filling with doubt. I was completely uncomfortable and restless in my own skin at that moment. Without a better idea as to what to do, I also meandered up the stairs.
Lincoln sat on a twin bed in the first room off the hallway. He was taking stacks of comics out of his green messenger back. As he grabbed a bunch of Spiderman, his eyes found me like he knew I was looking at him the whole time. His dark hair fell in front of his eyes. It seemed that every time it did that my heart melted into a pathetic puddle. As usual, I had no idea what he was thinking.
“You worried like Malachi?” His voice revealed more self-doubt then I’ve ever caught before. Lincoln is so mysterious about everything it comes across as confidence but in reality it really wasn’t.
“I guess a little.” I stepped into the room.
“Don’t you trust me?”
“I don’t really know you,” I smiled nervously. My words had come out colder than I intended but the truth I suppose often does. I added, “I definitely don’t this Rex guy.”
“I get it,” he mumbled.
I was frustrated that he wasn’t saying more. I wanted him to make me feel better somehow, assure me that I hadn’t just made a terrible mistake. But, he couldn’t because he didn’t know much more than I did. I realized that he was possibly even more lost than I was.
“Did I hurt your feelings, because I didn’t mean to.” I let my crossed arms flop helplessly to my sides. “I’m just…overwhelmed, I guess.”
“Me too,” Lincoln patted the spot next to him on the bed, and my heart twisted to its side.
The moment I sat down next to him I picked up an issue of Spiderman, nervous of the sudden tension screaming between us. I was in fact in over of my head. “I haven’t read this one yet.”
“What about Spiderman do you like so much, you hardly touch the other comics.”
“I like that’s he an underdog.”
“You like underdogs?”
“I am an underdog,” I glanced up from a panel solely focused on the web, to find his dark eyes on me.
I made a weird noise and looked back at the page.
“I make you nervous.”
“That’s an understatement,” I mumbled into my sleeve.
“Do I make you nervous?” I squeaked the words out like an award mouse.
“Nope,” he said leaning in. He pressed his lips hard against mine. I swear I could feel all his panic and self-doubt through that kiss. His hungry desperation wasn’t for me; it was for general escape.
Was that all this was?
The cruel thoughts whirled around in my head.
The distant, frantic strum of Pete’s guitar cut our very intense moment with a hint of gravity, at least for me. I pulled back, but his hand found my hair and pulled me back into him. My heart raced as uneasiness sunk into my knees.
Lincoln’s hands were everywhere. My chest was about to implode. Without any thought, I stood up. Flashes of something I didn’t want to think about found an entry into my mind.
“What’s up?” Lincoln frowned, his voice ragged and out of breath.
“We aren’t gonna do it tonight. We are still getting to know each other.”
“Can’t we do that better if we are sharing a room?” Lincoln grabbed my hand attempting to pull me closer.
“I’m gonna be in my own room,” I smiled a little annoyed with his attitude. Just because he found us, a place didn’t mean we were gonna shack up, did it?
“Is it cuz good boy Pete is here?” Lincoln’s face transformed into one continuous frown, his eyes even seemed a shade or two darker.
“No, it’s because I’m not ready to move fast. Everything feels like it’s moving too fast.”
“Whatever,” Lincoln’s voice was very curt. He turned to an issue of Captin America, “See ya in the morning,” he mumbled.
I was confused and stood there for a minute unclear how things got so weird so fast. The distance from my mom scared me. Her smile and guidance felt lightyears away. I was looking for an escape, but now I didn’t recognize anything.
I backed out of the room. At first, I just stood in the hallway for a moment unsure of what to do. I rubbed my hands on my thighs trying to hear my mom’s voice. Brain poured into my head. Was he okay? I was hit with a powerful desire to find a corner, curl up, and cry. My world was spinning out of control. In a house full of people I felt completely alone. Was it too late to fix everything?
The sound of puking came from a crack in a mostly closed door. I glanced in without really intending to as I made my way down the oversized and strange hallway. Even the doorknobs looked like they cost a fortune. Molly hurtled over the toilet with fingers stuck down her throat. It hit me what the secret dialogue between her and Malachi meant—all the comments he made in the car made sense. I didn’t know what to do, so I just kept walking even though that it didn’t feel like the right thing. Instead, I followed the sound of Pete’s guitar.
I came to a large room at the end of the hallway. Of course, Pete would grab the master suite first. He sat perched on the window sill. His whole body curled around the guitar making it seem like they were one. His crystal blue eyes drawn to the cords as his fingers plucked each one.
He looked up startled to see me. He stopped playing as a sweet smile formed on his dimpled face. “Done with lover boy already?”
I crossed my arms and looked down at my feet.
“Trouble already?” Pete leaned his sticker-covered acoustic against the wall.
“I want to take things slower than lightning speed.” I knew that sentence was all I needed. After all, Pete knew everything about me.
His eyes grew dim. He stood up and walked over to me. Pete folded me in a giant bear hug, “You might want to tell him about that night. Ya know, if you are serious about that clown,” Pete mumbled the words into my head. I heard them, but at the moment all I wanted was to be there in his arms because it’s the closest I felt to home in a while.