“Oh, please.” She catches the cabinet with her foot and stops spinning. She points to Owen. “He’s a guy. A guy you apparently spent the night with last night. A guy I think is a lot nicer than the other guy, and a guy I think you’re sad is moving.”
What is wrong with this girl? I can feel Owen staring at me, but I’m too embarrassed to look at him. I glare at Emory again instead. “I was actually beginning to respect you because you never gossip.”
“It’s not gossip when I’m saying it to both your faces. It’s called conversation. We’re discussing how you guys are attracted to each other and you want to fall in love like . . . like . . . two . . .” She pauses for a moment and then shakes her head. “I suck at metaphors. You want to fall in love, but now he has to move and you’re sad. But you don’t have to be sad because thanks to me, you now know he’s only moving for a few months. Not forever. Just don’t give in to the other guy first.”
Owen is laughing, but I’m not. I grab the blow dryer to drown out her words and I finish styling his now-short hair, which actually looks really good. His eyes stand out even more. A lot more. They look brighter. So much so that I’m finding it really hard not to stare at them.
I turn off the blow dryer and Emory immediately begins speaking again. “So when are you moving, Owen?”
He stares at me when he answers her. “Monday.”
Emory slaps the arm of the chair. “That’s perfect timing,” she says. “Auburn is off today and tomorrow. You guys can spend the whole weekend together.”
I don’t tell her to shut up, because I know it wouldn’t stop her. I step behind Owen and untie the smock wrapped around him and then shove it into a drawer, all the while giving her a death stare.
“I actually like that idea,” Owen says.
His voice makes me fear for the safety of the world, because I’m single-handedly depleting the oxygen supply with all the deep breaths I take every time I hear it. I look at him in the mirror and he’s leaning forward in the salon chair, staring at my reflection.
He wants to spend the weekend with me? Hell no. If that happens, then it means other things will happen and I don’t know if I’m ready for other things yet. Besides, I’ll be busy with . . . Crap. I’m not busy at all. This is the weekend Lydia goes to Pasadena. There goes that excuse.
“Look at her trying to come up with excuses,” Emory says, amused.
They’re both staring at me now, waiting on me to respond. I grab Owen’s hat and put it on my head and walk straight for the front door. I don’t owe Owen a weekend and I definitely don’t owe Emory a sideshow. I swing open the door and begin walking in the direction of my apartment, which also happens to be the direction of Owen’s studio, so I’m not surprised when he appears next to me.
Our steps fall into sync, and I begin to count them. I wonder if we’ll make it all the way to his studio without speaking.
Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen . . .
“What are you thinking?” he asks quietly.
I stop counting our steps, because I’m not walking anymore. Owen isn’t walking either, because Owen is standing directly in front of me, looking at me with those big, noticeable Owen-eyes this haircut just created.
“I’m not spending the weekend with you. I can’t believe you would even suggest that.”
He shakes his head. “I didn’t suggest it. Your inappropriate roommate did. I just said I liked the idea of it.”
I huff and fold my arms tightly over my chest. I look down at the sidewalk between us and try to figure out why I’m so mad right now. Walking away from him won’t make me any less mad, because that’s actually the problem. Thinking about spending the weekend with him excites me, and the fact that I can’t come up with a reason as to why it’s a bad idea is pissing me off. I guess I still feel like he owes me more of an explanation. Or more of an apology. If Harrison hadn’t called him last night, I’d have probably never heard from or seen him again. That’s a little bit crushing to my self-confidence, so I find it hard to just accept that he suddenly wants to spend time with me.
I unfold my arms and rest my hands on my hips, then look up at him. “Why didn’t you at least let me know you were moving before standing me up?”
I know he tried to explain himself earlier, but it wasn’t good enough, because I’m still upset about it. Sure, he may have not wanted to start anything if he was moving, but if that’s really the case, he never should have told me he’d come back the next night.
His expression doesn’t waver, but he does take a step closer. “I didn’t show up the next night because I like you.”
I close my eyes and drop my head in disappointment. “That’s such a dumb answer,” I mutter.
He takes another step closer, and he’s right here, right in front of me. When he speaks again, his voice is so low I can feel it in my stomach. “I knew I was moving and I like you. Those two things don’t make a very good combination. I should have let you know I wasn’t coming back, but I didn’t have your number.”
Nice try. “You knew where I lived.”
He gives no response to that comeback other than a sigh. He shifts on his feet, and I finally allow my eyes to make the brave journey to his face. He actually looks very apologetic, but I know better than to trust the expression on a man’s face. The only things worth trusting are actions, and so far he hasn’t proven very trustworthy.
“I messed up,” he says. “I’m sorry.”
At least he’s not giving me an excuse. I guess it takes a little bit of honesty to be able to admit when you’re wrong, even if you aren’t very forthcoming with the why. He has that going for him.
I’m not sure when he moved this close to me, but he’s so close—really close—that to passersby it would look like either we’re in the middle of a breakup or we’re about to make out.
I step around him and begin walking again until we reach his studio. I’m not sure why I stop when we reach his door. I should keep going. I should be walking all the way to my apartment, but I’m not. He unlocks his door and glances over his shoulder to make sure I’m still here.
I shouldn’t be. I should be separating myself from what I know could be two of the best days I’ve had in a long time, but will be followed by one of the worst Mondays I’ve had in a long time.