Olivia let the car roll to a stop in front of Zane’s house. He had been unusually silent the entire car ride to his house. She wasn’t sure if Simon’s theory and Gray’s observation were true or if Zane was just silent from a wine hangover. “You okay?” she asked, putting the car into park.
“Yeah,” he answered as he unbuckled his seatbelt. “Did you know about Dean before last night?”
Olivia nodded. She had completely forgot about Dean coming out among them after everything ended up being kosher with Heather in the end. Once she had stopped crying and got herself together, she had walked in and gave Dean a hug and Kyle a hug. She asked them both to forgive her for her selfishness and asked if they could still be friends. Olivia had admired Heather for that. She knew it took a lot for her to pretend that Dean being with someone else didn’t bother her. She knew in time that Heather would be over Dean but was very proud of her to try and make the next step. “Are you okay with it?” she asked.
Zane nodded. He was more than okay with it. He had always felt a little jealous by Dean and his relationship with Olivia. “Yeah. I just noticed you were the only one who didn’t seemed surprise by it.”
Olivia didn’t know what to say so she just kept quiet.
“So what happened to you and the guy from the bar?” Zane asked. It had been a burning question he had wanted to ask Olivia, but also one he wanted to avoid.
“Nothing,” Olivia answered, glad to know she wasn’t lying to Zane. “We somehow made it back to my place,” she said and saw a look of disbelief flash across his brown eyes. “Dean said we were both completely trashed and put us in a cab. To be honest, I don’t remember getting into the cab or my house.” She watched Zane’s face for a reaction and saw none. “I woke up the next day fully clothed with Gray next to me.”
“Was he clothed as well?”
“It would have been very weird if he hadn’t been,” Olivia answered and watched a brief smile crawl across his face. She told him about the rest of their afternoon and that they had said they would call each other. “We’ve been kind of playing phone tag,” she added feeling a twinge of guilt cut through her.
Zane nodded. “He seemed like a cool guy,” he said, knowing that Olivia rarely met other people other than from her line of work. “I hope it works out. Whatever it is you want to happen.”
She didn’t know what she wanted to happen, so she asked, “Do you really mean that?”
“Why wouldn’t I?” he asked in returned.
Shrugging her shoulders, she knew she had to think quickly. “You know our crew is very critical of new people joining the fold.” It was a good answer and it was the truth.
“Only when they’re douche bags,” Zane answered. “Gray doesn’t seem like one. Besides, he seemed to make you smile the other night, and you haven’t done that in a long time.”
Olivia felt herself blush. “You guys make me smile every day,” she replied.
“It’s a different smile,” Zane said as he opened his door. “Just keep me updated.”
“You’ll be the first to know.”
“If I’m second to Dean, that’s cool,” he said as he got out of the car. “If I’m behind anyone else, we’re done.”
Olivia smiled at him and was happy to see Zane smile at her in return. They were good with each other and they were both happy for that. “If he turns out to be a jerk, you’re the first person I’m calling.”
“I’ve always got your back,” he said, closing the door with a smile. Stepping back as the car started, he watched as Olivia drove off. He was happy for her as long as she was happy and he knew she knew that.
Sitting on his couch, knee deep in laundry, Gray’s attention was not at the task at hand but the quarterback throwing a Hail Mary pass into the end zone. It failed miserably. Grabbing the remote, Gray settled further into the couch and surfed the channels until he found something mind numbing to watch. His laundry wouldn’t go anywhere he thought as he watched some innocuous looking fish lunge out at a fish five times bigger. The innocuous fish won. He took this as a sign that despite his thoughts of Olivia being an untouchable and unconquerable entity, she wasn’t. Sighing, he flipped off the television. Untouchable and unconquerable he thought. She’s not a piece of land he said to himself. He studied his phone that was resting on the arm of the couch. He had purposely been ignoring it since he woke up that morning. He had even walked around with it while loading laundry and then put it down. He had wanted to call Olivia the moment he woke up. He had never wanted to call anyone the moment he woke up. He hated talking on the phone. He hated all things to do with the phone, but there he sat, eyeing the phone and wanting to talk on it. He had successfully ignored it for a few hours and now it sat on the arm of the couch mocking him. He knew he had to call Olivia. He asked her if he could and she had said yes. He just didn’t know when was a good time. If he called too early in the day, would she think he was being to eager or annoying. If he called too late in the day, would she think he had forgotten or didn’t really want to talk to her at all?
“This fucking sucks,” he said out loud. “This is why I don’t bother dating.” Ignoring the mocking phone, Gray sat up and started to fold his laundry. He promised himself that he had to get through one basket of laundry so he could call Olivia.
His phone vibrated on the arm of the couch. Could she be calling me his brain asked. Eyeing it, Gray glanced hesitantly glanced at the caller ID. “Hello,” he said into the phone. It was only Chris.
“Why does Ellie know more about this Olivia chick than I do?” his friend asked. “I thought we were best friends.”
“We are,” Gray sighed as he continued to fold his laundry. “You didn’t seem interested in knowing more about Olivia only if I had quote unquote you, ‘banged her.’ And that is none of your business.”
Chris sighed into the phone. “So is she cool?”
“No, she’s a troll,” Gray answered. “Of course I think she’s hot.”
“Okay,” Chris sighed. “When do I get to meet her?”
“I’ve only known her for a few days,” Gray answered. “You’ll meet her when it’s time.”
“She is a troll then.”
“No seriously, don’t hang up,” he replied. “I’m sorry. Have you guys gone out on a date yet?”
Gray reached up and started to rub the bridge of his nose. Sometimes Chris could be down right stupid. “What do you think?” he asked.
“So when are you going to ask her out?”
“When I call her later today.”
“Why not now?”
Exasperated, Gray couldn’t hide his feelings. “Because I’m on the phone with you moron.”
“And whose fault is that?” Chris asked as he laughed into the phone. He knew too easily how to push Gray’s buttons and enjoyed doing it.
“This is why I don’t share things with you,” Gray replied. “You just like to aggravate the crap out of me. I’m hanging up the phone now. I’ll send up a signal flair if I get a first date.”
Chris was still laughing when Gray ended their call. He knew Chris and Ellie were getting a kick out of him being interested in someone. What they didn’t know was that he had been interested in Olivia for a long time. And they would never find out if he could help it.
Letting the hot water from the shower wash over her, Olivia took a deep breath and slowly exhaled it. This was her time. It was her time to reflect and her time to be completely distracted by thoughts of Gray. This is why I don’t date her mind said. Olivia hated the way her mind would obsess over things and the current thing her mind was preoccupied with was Gray Smith. She hated that he had invaded her thoughts. She almost hated the thought of liking him, but her heart kicked at her from within. Taking another deep breath, Olivia sat down on the floor of the bathtub. As the water fell her on her, she searched her memories of Gray. She wanted to find one thing that annoyed her about Gray, but her search turned up nothing. So far, Gray hadn’t produced one annoying habit that she had noticed and she was always quick to notice annoying habits of others. She was good at reading others and their relationships with her closest friends. She just wasn’t great at reading others when it came to her own life. Opening her eyes, she watched water fall off of her eyelashes and then stood up.
“Mental list,” she said out loud. “Gray has no bad or annoying habits so far. He’s courteous and chivalrous. He didn’t do that annoying wait three days to call.” She stopped and made a mental note to keep an eye on the phone calls. If he called too much he was more than likely a stage-five clinger that she was going to have trouble getting rid of in the end. Sighing, she focused back on the list. “He’s a nice guy and he has my attention.”
“What do you hope for?” her mind asked.
“Something good,” she answered. “Whatever will be will be. Whatever happens will happen. I’d like to go out on a date and see where it leads.”
Her mind smiled at her. It was the first time in a long time that she had wanted someone other than her friends in her life. Turning off the shower, she grabbed a towel and wrapped it around her just as her phone rang. An excitement immediately filled her blood that it could be Gray calling her.
Gray held his phone in his hands. He didn’t want to push send yet. He didn’t want to seem too eager so he waited another ten minutes and then hit send. The same ring back song filled his ears. He knew he would forever associate that song with Olivia.
“Hi. It’s Gray,” he said.
“How are you?” she asked.
“Good. Are you busy? Can you talk?”
“I just got out of the shower,” Olivia answered as she collapsed onto her bed.
Smiling to himself, Gray pictured the thought of Olivia wrapped in a towel with her damp hair falling around her. His pulse quickened a little too fast and he pushed the thought immediately out his head so he could focus. “Thank you for the image,” he said.
Feeling her cheeks redden, Olivia covered her face with her free hand. “So,” she said, quickly wanting to change subjects. “How was the rest of your night last night?”
“Completely uneventful,” he answered, “after Ellie tried her hand at grilling and failed miserably.”
“I see I have competition in the bad cook department.”
“There’s not any competition there. Ellie can’t even boil water.”
Olivia laughed. “Okay, I can at least do that.”
“What about you? Everything okay with Heather and the rest of your crew?”
“Yes,” she answered, pulling the blanket from the bed around her. “Heather came around and had a nice long talk with Dean and Kyle. She apologized for bursting into tears and asked Kyle if they could be friends.”
“That’s good,” he said. “I’m sure Kyle said okay.”
“Yeah,” Olivia replied, feeling her mind go blank. “How was your day today?”
“Completely full of laundry,” Gray answered. He hated the phone and was struggling in his thoughts to keep a conversation going. “I really wish I had a laundry fairy to do mine. It’s the epitome of hell for me.”
“Even worse than scrubbing toilets?”
“Mine would be mopping and sweeping. Actually, just sweeping before you mop. That truly sucks.”
“We need maids.”
“And if I could afford one, I’d hire one in a heartbeat,” Olivia replied.
Gray took a deep breath. He knew he was just making small talk to avoid asking Olivia out on a date. He was scared to death she would say no or even worse, laugh at him. A silence filled the space between the phones and Gray felt his heart panic. “Would you like to go out?” he asked. “On a date? Maybe continue this conversation in person instead of over the phone?”
“Do you mean tonight?” Olivia asked.
“Tonight would be great, but unless I want to go to work naked tomorrow, then maybe later this week.”
Olivia felt herself turn bright red as a vision of Gray naked fluttered into her mind and then out. “Thank you for the image this time,” she replied, feeling a ball of nerves in her stomach release. “I’d love to go out with you.” She didn’t know she had been waiting for him to ask her out. “Do you have a specific day in mind?” she asked, knowing her schedule she knew she only had a few days that would allow her to go on a date.
“Not really,” Gray answered. “Is there a day that’s better for you than others?”
Mentally going through her schedule, Olivia closed her eyes and then answered, “Day after tomorrow is one of the better days.”
“Then pencil me in,” Gray replied as relief coursed through his body.
This page copyright © 2009 Shelia Taylor
All rights reserved | This is a rough draft and not the final version
Categories: The Dumbing Down of Love