Letting out a chuckle I shook my head as I watched him. “Something tells me it’d take more than just a few fries to ruin those rock hard abs of yours.”
“Ah yes, I did notice that you were rather interested in those earlier.” He shook his head giving a playful smile as he looked at me. “But you’re not too bad to look at yourself. In fact you’re gorgeous, even as bruised as you are right now. I had a lot of time to think while you were unconscious the other night, to admire, and that was one thing I noticed.”
“You’ve mentioned it once or twice now.” I offered with a small shrug, “I’ve never really thought of myself as beautiful or any of the like but if you say so then I guess I’ll believe you.” It was good to see him in a better mood then when he’d called. I had been a little concerned about the way he sounded when he called, he just didn’t sound happy or like himself. I knew how weird that sounded since I hadn’t known him very long so; it was more it didn’t seem like the him I knew.
“You’d best, because it’s true, oh I should warn you that once you’re feeling up to it some of the guys from the cast want to go out for a beer. You know that whole meet you and make sure you’re not some creepy stalker type thing? I promise they aren’t too bad, a little irritating sometimes but all and all, they aren’t too bad normally. I promise I will keep them on a short leash until you’re ready to deal with the real them.”
“Oh no, sounds like fun.” I responded with a small smirk as I looked at him. “Maybe one night you guys will have to drop by the bar while I’m working.” I couldn’t help but smile as I looked at him. “They say there’s no better way to get to know me then there.”
“Nah, we want you to come with us. However you can’t be surprised if they start frequenting the bar to come and visit once they recognize you as one of their own.” He shook his head. “Sometimes they’re a strange bunch, but they’re fun. Honest they aren’t too bad. So what have you been up to today?”
“I’ve been working on a story idea.” I responded looking up at him offering a small smile as I did. “Shortly I’m going to get the laundry folded and put back in the laundry room seeing as how I pretty much live out of a laundry basket.”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll get it folded here shortly as my repayment for not being able to watch that movie with you tonight.”
“I told you already, it’s fine.” I sighed as I looked at him. “I’ll be here when you get home tonight and besides you’ve got to remember that I’m used to working nights so I’ll probably still be up when you get in. I’ll probably crawl into bed just after you leave and be up when you get home. I mean I know that you’ll be tired and stuff when you get home but doesn’t mean I won’t be a dear and come sit with you while you fall asleep.” Giving him a small wink, I got up getting rid of the trash before heading into the laundry room. This was the one thing I was thankful about rather than having to go to the laundry mat, I got to do laundry at home. Pulling the laundry from the drier I tossed it into the basket before scooping the basket up heading for the living room again. “If you insist though I will let you help me fold the laundry.”
“Alright, I can do that, works for me.” He responded leaning over the back of the couch to look at me as he did. “As long as your definition of help is that I can do it while you sit here and keep me company.” He made every attempt to look as innocent as he possibly could, but even at that, it just wasn’t working for him.
“How about no then?” I asked as I looked at him shaking my head as I did before breaking out into laughter as I noticed that Maverick had hopped up into my spot and was trying to look innocent. “Like Owner like dog.” I responded shaking my head as I looked at the two of them laughing lightly as I did, before sitting on the floor in front of the couch setting the laundry basket on the floor as I did.
“No, you’re not going to sit on the floor, make her get down.” Nick responded reaching to make Maverick get down off the couch, shaking his head as he did.
“She’s fine, don’t worry about it.” I couldn’t help but laugh as I looked at him shaking my head as I did. I couldn’t help but sigh as the phone on the coffee table began to ring again. “I’m incommunicado; leave me a message after the beep.” I muttered picking it up sighing seeing it was in fact my best friend I picked it up. “Hello?”
“Is it really true?” Maria screeched causing me to pull the phone away from my ear.
“Is what true?” I hadn’t spoken to Maria in at least five days now; I really had no idea what she was going on about. Maria and I worked together at the bar normally but since she’d taken the week off we hadn’t seen each other since the Friday before.
“That you were seen at the bar with Nicholas Shultz?” My eyes flipped up to look at Nick who was trying his hardest not to laugh because she was talking loud enough I didn’t have to put the phone to my ear. Well at least one of us was slightly amused by this.
“I can neither confirm nor deny that rumor.” I couldn’t help but shrug as I did. “Maybe at a later date or time I will be able to release that information.”
“Come on, we’re friends! Are you going to be at work tonight?” Maria continued to babble on.
“No, Johnny gave me the rest of the week off. As for we’re friends, I’ll let you figure it out but listen Maria, I think I’m going to lie down, I’ve got one hell of a headache started.”
“Alright, but you’d better call me later and fill me in on all the gory details understood?” Maria was wound for sound and it was easy to tell.
“Yea, as soon as I’m feeling better we’ll talk about it Maria I promise.” I responded. “Later.” I let out a small sigh hanging up the phone. “Forgive me for that, and I’m not seeing what you see as funny.”
“Why didn’t you tell her? Are you ashamed of me or something?” He asked as he looked at me, still laughing as he did before picking up a pair of shorts and beginning to fold them. “You know as tiny as you are I’m impressed by the length of your shorts, more curious where you get them.”
“I didn’t tell her because she is perhaps the most talkative thing I know sometimes. If she’d known she’d have wanted to come over and it just would have been bad all over. As for my shorts, I hate my thighs, I prefer to hide them and where do I get them? That’s simple, in the fall I buy new jeans and then when it comes to be summer time I chop them off at the knee roughly and let them fray.” I couldn’t help but shrug as I looked at him. “By the end of the summer they’re in just the right shape for the next summer as long as I’m the same size.”
“Seems like an ingenious idea. However, I must say, if you get to meet my friends, it’s only fair I meet yours as well.” He offered with a smirk as he looked at me. “I do assume after that phone call that you have friends right?” He was beginning to push his luck now, and he knew it too, the devilish look in his eyes told me that much.
“Oh hush up and fold laundry.” I responded shaking my head as I grabbed a t-shirt and began to fold it. “Maria’s really the only friend I’ve actually got that I don’t consider just an acquaintance; I don’t really have time for a whole lot of friends.”
“You look like you’re starting to get tired.” Nicholas gently offered as he looked at me. “You’re used to sleeping now; it’s only fair that you get a nap. It’s like you said you’ll probably still be up when I get in tonight anyways and I know that you won’t sleep while you’re alone.”
“No, I’m fine.” I shrugged continuing to fold the clothes in front of me. The truth was, I didn’t want to miss a moment that could be spent with him, he’d already admitted that he didn’t get a lot of spare time and that bothered me, I didn’t want to miss out on a moment of the time that we did have together. “Actually I’m not really tired and I don’t normally sleep for another hour or so at least yet anyways. Normally, I’m trying to struggle through a little bit of homework so that I can go to bed.”
“This semester’s almost over isn’t it?” He asked setting another folded pair of shorts on the pile.
“Yup, sure is. Thank god, another week of class and then finals and we’ll be all set to go. I’ve got an online class and a Tuesday night class; it runs from six p.m. until 9 p.m. roughly. Which believe me isn’t too much fun to sit through.” That was the truth, I often times fought to sit through it; just trying to make it through was hard enough. It was a three hour long class, trying to keep my attention span working that long wasn’t an easy task.
“We’re almost done taping this season, so maybe we’ll get to do something when you get out of class. Go away for the weekend and do something or something like that. You don’t work at the bar on Saturday and Sunday right?” He asked as he finally came around to realizing that he hadn’t actually asked that question.
“Not normally no, we’ve got a couple of girls who can’t work week days because they’re in school all the time so they work the weekends for us and give us week girls a couple of days off. So as long as neither one of them calls in sick, I get them off.” It was then that I began to realize there was so much about him that I hadn’t noticed before.
“Come here,” He offered as he gently patted his left knee. “Cause if you don’t, I’ll have to come down there and get you and then that would just make my life harder on me.”
“Oh, and heaven forbid we do that. Let’s not make the mighty celebrity lift a finger to do something for himself.” I couldn’t help but smirk pulling away as he reached down to grab hold of me and pull me up onto his lap.
“Hey come back here,” He just shook his head before getting up grabbing hold of me before he sat back down pulling me up into his lap as he did. “Don’t you dare bite me.” He laughed as I moved my head closer to his forearm.
“How come? We saving that for the bedroom?” I asked looking up at him, after all he’d already said that he didn’t like being tied up or being held down, so what did he like?
“That’s completely up to you.” He responded offering a small shrug as he looked at me. “You know what I won’t do, I’m all for trying new things though.” He reached out wrapping an arm around me pulling me up against himself while he did.
I felt comfortable burying my face into his chest offering a small smile, there was something comforting in his smell alone. I couldn’t quite pin down which cologne it was but it was one I smelled before that much I knew.
“You really do look like you could use a nap; I’ll be here later on tonight, and I promise I wont move until I have to leave, so you can get as comfortable as you would like to.” He leaned down gently pushing up my chin before he placed a gentle kiss on my lips. “Hope you don’t mind I didn’t ask you before I kissed you.” He gave a small smirk as he looked at me.
“I do, but I’ll let it go this time. Next time I’ll make you pay for it.” I offered before curling back up as I did. “For now though, I think you’re right and I think I will take that nap.”
“Night then, we’ll talk repayment of such crimes later on.” He said adjusting back against the back of the couch before he gently cradled me in against his shoulder. “I probably won’t be here when you wake up but I’ll lay you out on the couch when I leave, until then though I’ll be here, I promise.”
“You’d better be,” I murmured closing my eyes as I nuzzled in against him as I did. Within a few minutes the sleep that I had been trying to avoid over came me.
When I awoke, I cracked an eye offering a sigh as I realized that I was curled up on the couch. He had left, he had settled me in on the couch before he did, but he’d still left. I understood his need to get back to work but yet I wished he were still here. Slowly sitting up I sighed seeing that the basket of laundry was gone; I couldn’t help but figure that he had put the laundry away.
I had been serious about living out of my laundry basket; in fact I preferred it that way really. The laundry basket sat in the laundry room and all I had to do was pull the days clothes out of the basket set them in the bathroom so that I could get dressed in a hurry when I got up, whether it was headed out the door to work or to class. After all I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to just hang out with people. I worked Monday through Friday and went to school at the same time, so by Friday afternoon when I got home from the morning job, I was exhausted enough that all I really wanted was to curl up and go to sleep. However, even that wasn’t really an option, because I still had homework that needed to be done for the Tuesday night class and the online class that still needed to be done.
I wasn’t complaining though, it wasn’t that I hated my life, not at all. IT was just that some days were highly stressful, and it was a stressful lifestyle, but it paid the bills. It paid the bills while my education was improving. Granted I wasn’t taking a lot of classes at one time but I was going to school, that was a start wasn’t it?
Glancing at the clock I let out a small sigh as I realized that I had in fact been asleep nearly five hour and it was nearing seven pm. The truth was though, I felt better than I had when I’d gone to sleep. It had been quite a few days now since I’d gotten to lay down and not need to be up again to be on time to work.
Normally right about now I would be wondering into the bar to start a seven to one shift, only to turn around, come home and get maybe five hours of sleep if I was lucky and start it all over again. The next few days were going to be enjoyable, but yet I couldn’t get used to it, that much I knew. After all, if I was going to make the rent payments and student loan payments and other things I needed to live.
Granted Nick had already said that if I wanted to I could quit at the bar, but the last thing I wanted was him paying my living expenses. I was far too proud for that, much too proud in fact. That was something that he would eventually learn about me, that much I was sure of. And yet, I couldn’t help but think it was an enduring quality that he was willing to take care of me.
I’d been working at that damn bar close to three years now and there were nights I seriously considered quitting, but I needed that job to survive essentially. I’d suffered under Johnny’s rein for a year and a half of that time but that didn’t mean that I had ever enjoyed working there. There were a few days where I could honestly say I had ever minded working there, and I had to admit that if it hadn’t been for that job I would have never met Nick. I supposed that should have been my reward for suffering through. The silver lining to my gray cloud.
One of the few things I could be thankful for after enduring that hell, I supposed. The barking from outside brought me out of my day dream, the mutts were both obviously outside, Nicky must have let them out before he left. Crawling from under the blanket that had been dropped over me, I went over pulling the door open, trying not to get run over by the two of them. “Easy guys,” I couldn’t help shaking my head, they acted as if they’d known each other for forever now. Gage’d been a great dog since I’d gotten him but on occasion the neighbors complained purely because of the fact that he was a Pitt Bull. Sure he was that, it was true but even with that said he was the best dog.
Before I’d met Nick, Gage slept with me, he took the other half of the bed, often crowding into my side. Which it wasn’t that I minded it necessarily but when he tried to push me out of bed, I minded a little. And then there was Simba and Nala, they were rescues as well. I’d had Simba since my ex tossed him on the street. Poor cat had been with him four years at that point, and I wasn’t about to let him on the streets or end up in a shelter. Nala, I’d just gotten eight months ago because Simba had decided at five am every morning I needed to be awake. I on the other hand didn’t, which was when I decided he needed a playmate.
The bark from further into the kitchen, reminded me that poor Gage hadn’t been fed. Filling the food bowl and setting it on the floor, I began debating what to do with the rest of the evening.
The tinkling of my phone in the living room sent me running for it. It wasn’t a number I recognized but it was local, worth answering I supposed. “Hello?”
“Well hello there, I hear there’s a gorgeous woman here.” Nicks voice rang through the speaker on the phone. “I didn’t wake you did I?”
“No the mutts trying to come in did that but I should be up anyways.”
“Come on Stephanie, you’ve just been seriously injured, take the time and recover.” I could have sworn I heard a sigh from the other end.
“And you’re at work, so you’re not allowed to be worried about me. Or well not supposed to be anyways.” I still wasn’t sure why I’d let him into my life and yet I didn’t regret it either.
“I get spare time occasionally, you know. Besides they’re complaining it’s not dark enough to shoot. So I figured I’d call and see how you were doing.” He made it seem so innocent, not like he was being over bearing or over protective and for once I didn’t question it.
“Not dark enough to shoot, that’s a new one. As for how I’m doing, I’m doing. I’m sore but I’ll live. The mutts are in the kitchen eating and I’m considering left overs from last night.” His cooking even warmed up was better than mine any day. Culinary wasn’t one of the skills I’d mastered.
“You enjoyed that huh? As for not dark enough, they seem to think that if they’re filming a scene for grave yard shift, maybe it should be dark out. I’m more amused watching Eric try and find something to entertain himself.”
“You mean to tell me it’s not workable that it’s light out at midnight?” It was time he see the sarcastic side of me or well at least a part of it.
“Not unless you’re in Alaska in the middle of summer. Now my suggestion for you is, get some food in you, turn the TV on, curl up with your blanket and get some sleep. I hopefully shouldn’t be much more than a couple more hours.” Nick’s voice was gentle as he spoke, quiet and soothing.
“Did you grab my keys when you left?” It had just dawned on me that the front door might not be locked, maybe it was a sense of paranoia setting in but I was beginning to panic.
“Yep, doors locked and even if it weren’t I can promise between those two dogs there wouldn’t be anyone getting near you. I went to move you before I left and Maverick started growling.” That made me feel a little better but still I knew my ex and his druggie buddies were still out there and there was a good chance that this had only been a warning. “You want me to come home?”
“No, I’m fine.” I tried to keep my voice as calm as it could be, “I’ll be alright, honest. Till you get home at least.”
“Alright, if you’re sure then I’ll see you in a couple of hours. I think I’m going to find something to eat and then hopefully wrap for the night by nine but it’s been a long day so it may not go that simple. You’re sure you don’t want me to drop by instead of getting dinner?” He didn’t seem to believe me, I just wasn’t sure how to make him believe it.
“Positive, I’ll find a book and curl up here on the couch after I eat and probably still be here reading when you get home. Don’t worry about me, just get what you need to done. You said it yourself I’ve got the dogs if something happens.” Right now I’d try anything to make him believe that I was alright. If I couldn’t make him believe that, then I knew he would show up and the chances of him leaving once he was here weren’t very good.
“Alright, you need anything call, if I don’t answer it’s more than likely going to be Eric who answers. He’ll know where to find me; he’s not a bad guy, promise. You’ll like him, he’s eager to meet you. Anyways, I’ll see you when you get home ok?” From the looks of things it seemed as if I had managed to convince him that I would be alright.
“Yep, see you then.” Maverick and Gage both let out a bark looking at me. “I think they’re both trying to say hello or good bye.”
Nick let out an audible laugh. “Pet their heads for me and then get yourself something to eat. Talk to you soon.” With that the line went dead.
Setting the phone back on the coffee table I forced myself up off the couch starting for the kitchen which brought both dogs running after me. Reaching down I pet both of their heads before pulling the fridge door, pulling out the container of left overs from the night before. “Alright guys, hop up on the couch and I’ll be in shortly.” It wasn’t quite cold enough yet to necessarily turn the heat up, chilly though but still warm enough during the day to wear shorts. At night though it was cool enough for a sweatshirt and jeans and sometimes even a blanket, tonight was one of those nights.
While I would have preferred curling up with that special someone and a blanket, I’d settle for the dogs and a book. Or maybe I’d do a little writing, work out some new songs or work on the story from earlier. Pulling open the fridge I pulled the left overs from last night out of it and pushing it shut.
Five minutes later I was wandering into the living room, bowl in hand. Both Maverick and Gage lay at the foot of the couch still, an ear perking as I wandered into the room. “Well guys looks like its just going to be you and me for awhile guys. So what do you think, should we watch some TV or should we do some writing?” Neither dog acknowledged me as I curled up on the couch pulling the blanket up over myself. “Well gee you’re both a lot of help.” I muttered. Taking a bite from the bowl in my hand, it proved me right, even his left overs were better than anything I could cook. Maybe I’d have to keep him around just for that, or at least I’d let him think that. I was still intrigued by why I had allowed him into my life.
Once I’d finished eating and getting the dishes done, I figured I’d get a shower and crawl into pjs and then maybe get some writing done, or maybe I’d be exhausted and feel like crawling into bed.
A smile spread across my lips as I moved back through the living room heading for the stairs, both dogs lay asleep on the couch. Something told me this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and I really couldn’t say that I minded. After all, the more play dates the two of them ended up having, the more I got to see Maverick’s human companion, a thought I wouldn’t turn down in the least.