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Price Drop Announced

31 May

1671587Greetings, readers!  I am pleased to announce that, to celebrate the anniversary of self-publishing my first novel, the KINDLE prices for the first two of my books have DROPPED!  

The Mirrors at Barnard Hall is now available for only $1.99

AND

Semester of Thursdays is now available for only $0.99!

 

AND REMEMBER: Tomorrow, June 1, from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm I will be signing and selling books at The Ruth Enlow Library in Oakland, MD.  Please stop by and say HELLO!

 

HAPPY READING!

-Jenny

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Semester of Thursdays: Book 2

29 Mar

BOOK TWO: Remington Kover

Disclaimer:  It is extremely rare to find a man who thinks like Remington Kover.  So rare, in fact, that I had to make him up.

Cover 1

CHAPTER ONE

Another monotonous Thursday.

Alec had asked me if I wanted come out, knowing I would accept out of obligation, not because of some misguided desire to meet new people.  We both knew what I wanted had nothing to do with this.  If it did then I would be at the library working on my biology project that was due in two weeks.  It would be a relief to have that burden out of my way so I could have time to proofread it with fresh eyes.  I hated procrastinating, even by the most lenient definition.

If Alec hadn’t met that blonde last week then I could have stayed at home in peace.  But she had a “friend” which meant I was responsible for entertaining said friend so Alec could have Lena all to himself; with the horde of men who usually followed her around that would be no simple task.

Being his “wingman” he had called it.  I had made it clear to the blonde that I wasn’t interested in her or her friend, but she hadn’t cared either way.  Lena had said her best friend was in a relationship so it wouldn’t be an issue.

Since when did relationships matter to anyone?

Just because Lena didn’t expect the four of us to go on a double-date didn’t mean there was no pressure.  Alec and Lena expected me to talk to this girl; expectations and pressure were incestuous cousins.

“Come on, Remington.  God you’re slow!”

“You know if you break down the door just to see her again you’re going to end up scaring her away.”

I had seen it before, but Lena Whyte was by far the worst case.  There was barely enough room for both her and her commitment issues inside the bar.  But if Alec was interested I would support him in stony silence for as long as he needed me—or for as long as I was able to bite my tongue, whichever came first.

Alec slowed when he got to the entrance and stood up straighter, attempting to obtain the air of nonchalance that I had perfected through years of legitimately not caring.  It had become second nature for me to walk into a crowded room and not see the other people present.  I was there to consume a few mind-numbing bottles of beer and go back to my unobtrusive existence.

The bar was busy—a typical Thursday night in Frostburg.  We had to push past a group of guys to make it to where the bartender could hear our orders over the buzzing crowd.

I no longer noticed the way people looked at Alec and me when we went into a bar.  We were almost a head taller than every male present; intimidating to them like lions to a bunch of hyenas.  That was until they learned that we weren’t interested in any of the prey they’d had their eyes on.  We typically kept to ourselves, leaving them to their scraps.

The women were different, more pathetic.  The offers in their eyes made me want to scream.  How many of them had a boyfriend back home waiting for them?  How many of them were planning to go back to their insignificant other afterward?

That thought made me even more annoyed at having to be here.  Lena’s friend had a boyfriend, and I didn’t want to inadvertently get in the way of that relationship.  I was confident enough in my own attractiveness to know that she was likely to give in if I showed any interest.  Not that I would be interested; it had been too long since a member of the opposite sex had appealed to me.  So I would do what I usually did when Alec dragged me away from my laptop; I would tolerate her company and then leave as unaffected as I had come in.

When Alec saw Lena from across the room he was like a Clydesdale with blinders on, suffering from complete tunnel vision.

Lena Whyte was beautiful in an obvious, chesty way.  Alec needed obvious.  He was intelligent, he had the second highest GPA in our class (behind me, of course), but my friend lacked common sense when it came to women, especially the beautiful ones.

Lena was blonde, flashy.  My last two girlfriends had been fair-haired, but I preferred brunettes; yet another testament to my lack of good judgment.  Lena noticed Alec and I coming and she smile brazenly.  There was nothing pretentious about the woman; what she wanted seemed straight forward enough.  I didn’t agree with the way she looked at Alec, but at least she wasn’t playing any games.  She was genuinely interested in him… for now.

The blonde bombshell turned to a petite girl on her right.  The brunette rolled her eyes at what Lena was saying.  She had straight brown hair, glossy in the dim light.  Her skin looked translucent next to Lena’s dark tan.  Her face was angular, thin to the extreme, and she wore very little makeup.

There was something refreshing about her face, something real.  Maybe it was that she wasn’t trying to hide behind multiple layers of caked-on foundation or inch-thick mascara.  The girl was dressed simply in a pair of black skinny jeans that accentuated her thin frame, and a gray t-shirt.  She whispered something to Lena then peeked at me beneath her lashes.

Her eyes pierced my soul; the gray irises matched her t-shirt.  They weren’t a dull gray like a cloudy day; they were stormy like the sky during a hurricane.

I was so preoccupied with Lena’s friend that I almost stomped all over a little girl who had thrown herself in front of me.  She had probably thought she would stop me, but all she really did was put her own life in jeopardy.  I scowled at her, halting the apology in her throat and offer on her tongue.  She twisted away, falling over herself as she disappeared.

“Alec, it’s so great to see you again,” Lena said in a smooth voice, confident in her chokehold on my friend.  Alec’s smile was almost too wide for his face.  He was going to rush into things and scare her away.  Oh, well.  His mistakes were just that: his.  “And you too, Remington,” she said as an afterthought.

Lena’s friend’s eyes widened slightly.  What had Lena said her name was?  It hadn’t mattered last week so I hadn’t paid any attention.

“Alec, Remington, this is my best friend, Meredith.  Mer, this is Remington and Alec.”

I liked how Lena subconsciously staked her claim by introducing Meredith and me before Meredith and Alec.  At least there was something moving in Alec’s favor, even if it was unintentional.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Meredith,” Alec said politely.  “Lena couldn’t stop talking about you last Thursday.”

I was impatient to hear what Meredith would say. She didn’t keep me waiting long.

“Same to you.  I’ve heard a lot about you both.”

What had she said?  Apparently my sense of sight canceled out my other senses.  I couldn’t pull my eyes from her mouth as she formed her words.  She licked her full lower lip like she was nervous.  Her voice was low and husky, threatening to become lost in the noise from the boisterous crowd.  I wanted to move closer to hear better but managed to stand my ground.

“Can I get you a drink, Meredith?  Lena?” Alec offered.  He could barely make it through the necessary preliminaries before wanting to steal Lena away from the intrusive mob.  It was a testament to his willpower that he even remembered to offer Meredith a drink.

“No, thanks,” she rejected graciously.

Who turned down free drinks? 

“I don’t drink.”

Someone who doesn’t drink, that’s who.

“Ever?” Alec asked, making it sound like her admission was some grave sin.

I thought it was admirable.  Alcohol tended to impair judgment and allowed for bad choices and regret.  I took a deep drink of my beer in defiance.

“Nope,” she confirmed.

“Lena?  I know you can’t use that excuse.”

Lena batted her eyelashes at Alec and handed her empty bottle to Meredith.  Was she too lazy to return it to the bar herself?  I looked down, prepared to say something to Meredith but she was gone.  Then I saw her petite frame moving toward the back of the bar to sit at one of the few empty tables.  Didn’t she realize how rude it was to ignore me?

There were two stools next to her.  Before I had made a conscious decision I found myself seated on one.

A bartender came around to collect empty shot glasses and beer bottles.  When he tried to take Meredith’s, she snatched it back from him like it was her first-born child.  I raised my eyebrow, not wanting the first words I said to her to be some insipid question about an empty Michelob Ultra bottle.

Meredith broke the tense silence with a quick explanation.  “I use it as a deterrent for men whose pick-up lines consist of, ‘What can I get you to drink?’”

That made sense.  I couldn’t even begin to relate how many men used that line to break the ice with a girl they were interested in.  Hadn’t Alec done that same thing with Lena only a little bit ago?

I suddenly felt the urge to know more about this mysterious girl beside me.  Lena had probably told us the short version of her life story last week, but I couldn’t even remember one minute detail.

“What is it you do?” I asked, unable to keep silent any longer.

She opened and closed her mouth three times before responding.  “Lena didn’t tell you my entire life story last week?  She forgets to filter information and has a love for exaggeration.”

“She may have,” I said, only mildly embarrassed that I hadn’t been interested last week.

“I’m a hair stylist.”

“Oh.”  I hadn’t expected that answer.  Her hair looked normal to me.  Healthier than most, but she didn’t sport some edgy cut or color like the few stylists of my acquaintance.

“Oh, what?” she ground out.  Her pale face flushed pink along her pronounced cheekbones.

Had I offended her?  Surely not.  I had spoken fewer than ten words in her presence.  “That wasn’t what I had been expecting you to say,” I clarified.

“What were you expecting me to say?” she pushed.

I had offended her.  The realization amused me.

“Something more… more…”  More what?  More prestigious?  I couldn’t say that.  Then she really would think I was a dick.

“Just more, right?” she seethed.

“Yes, actually.”

Her pink cheeks turned blood-red.  “Why is it that you people think yourselves better than everyone else?  There are jobs in this town you’d never deign to get your soft hands dirty with, ones below your obvious lofty status.  But if it weren’t for those workers you wouldn’t have clean water, designer clothes, or salon-perfected hair.”

I hadn’t meant to belittle her profession; it had just been an unexpected admission.  But she was unknowingly doing the same thing she had accused me of: she was judging me.  Meredith did not know me.

What confounded me was that I wanted her to.

“And by ‘you people’ you mean…?”

Anger flushed in her stormy eyes.  “Basically just you.”

“Basically just me,” I repeated quietly.  Meredith had a problem with me.  Why did that bother me so much?

“What is it you do?” she asked, sounding calmer than she had during her lecture.

“I’m in my second year of medical school at the university,” I responded automatically.

She snorted.  I was sure she had meant it as a derisive noise but I thought it was endearing.  “Oh.”

“Oh?”

She squared her frail shoulders.  “I did expect something like that.”

“Like what?” I challenged.

She chewed on her plump bottom lip as she toyed with her answer.  I tried to pull my eyes away but got only as far as her top lip.  The sensitive pink skin was the shape of a perfect bow, slightly turned down at the corners in a permanent pout.

“Something pompous,” she answered smugly.

Meredith had fire and a backbone, two very respectable traits.  Respecting her would be far worse than befriending her.

Alec’s voice rose above the noise of the patrons left at the bar.  He and Lena exchanged reluctant goodbyes, and I moved to intercept Alec at the coat rack.

“Well, what did you think?”

“About what?” I asked stupidly.

“Meredith.”

“I’m not sure what I think…” or if I should share it with you “…but I know she thinks I’m pompous.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because she told me so.”

“Well, you are pompous.” Alec chuckled before turning to catch one last glance at Lena… or so I had thought.  “That frail little thing had the balls to call you pompous?”

“Balls, Alec?”  I certainly hope not.  My face pulled into an unfamiliar position.  “Meredith surprised us both.”

* * *

I hope you got a laugh out of that chapter; it was so much fun to write!  After much deliberation I have decided not to post the remainder of Book #2 on my blog.  But if you’d like to read it, you can purchase a digital copy of Semester of Thursdays for only $2.99 or a print copy for only $14.99.  Click HERE for the appropriate links.

It’s Not Over Yet

27 Mar

2156133Just because the final chapter from Book #1 of Semester of Thursdays was posted last week doesn’t mean it’s over!  Swing by on Friday for a sneak peek from Book #2, my favorite of the two, which gives an account of the same story from Remington Kover’s perspective.  If you feel like Book #1 left some gaps for you, be sure to check it out.

 

-Jenny

Semester of Thursdays: Chapter 26

22 Mar

This is it!  The FINAL chapter from Book #1 of Semester of Thursdays!  Next week I’ll be posting Chapter 1 from Book #2 (my personal favorite of the two books).

Without further ado, I give you the FINAL chapter…

Cover 1

* * *

A knock vibrated our front door, pulling me out of bed.  Leave it to my roommate to forget her keys on one of the last nights in our apartment.  The impatient pounding came again, louder this time.  I pulled on my sweatshirt and sweat pants just in case she had decided to bring Alec with her.  Grumbling as I unlocked the deadbolt, I flung open the door and stifled a scream when I saw who was outside.

“What I meant earlier, when I said I didn’t know how to deal with you…” Remington said, his words coming in a flood.  His hair was soaked, sticking to his smooth forehead.  His shirt was damp and the bottom of his jeans muddy.  “Do you remember?”

How could I forget?  It was only a few hours ago.

I crossed my arms against the vivid memories.  The statement had hurt my pride more than it should have.  His comment had ruined and ended my night.  “Yeah, I remember.”

“It had nothing to do with you and everything to do with me.”

“That excuse is overused,” I sneered.

“What excuse?”

“The whole it’s-not-you-it’s-me excuse.”

“It’s a valid explanation.  Do you realize the deplorable person I’ve become?”

“How can you…”  The lifelessness in his eyes stopped my sentence.

“I’m the one person I hate the most, the one who has no respect for another person’s relationship.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked slowly, attempting to set him at ease.

“I’m no better than the one she cheated with.”

“You’re not making any sense, Remington.  Why don’t you calm down and come inside?”

“I shouldn’t come inside and I can’t calm down!  That guy—that bastard knew she had a boyfriend, he knew me, and he hadn’t cared.  I have always believed in being the good guy, the one who respects another person’s relationship, the one who hopes everyone will get their own happily ever after.”

“That’s a good quality,” I pointed out, still not comprehending.  “I respect you for that.”

“Don’t!  I hate myself because of you.”

The passion in his voice took my breath away.  “What did I ever do to you?”

“You were there… and then you wouldn’t leave…”  He ran his hands through his drenched hair, mussing it into an attractive mess.

“I can leave now.”  I went to close the door, but he held the wooden slab open.

“That’s just it, Meredith.  I don’t want you to leave.  I never wanted you to go so I always had to be the one to go away.  You’re in my mind, and I can’t get you out.  I have never wanted another person’s relationship to end more than I wanted yours to be over.”

“But it…” is over.

“So that’s why I don’t know how to deal with you.  I kept dropping hints; I couldn’t help myself.  Then, after I would say something—too much—I would regret the torn, condescending look on your face.  I’m not rude.  Ask Alec.  I’m typically unfailingly polite.  But I wanted you to be single so badly… I needed to let you know that you had options, that I was interested… beyond interested.  I kept hoping that maybe you would accept some lewd proposal I would make even though I prayed you would be too faithful to do so.

“So that’s what I meant,” he repeated.  “I can’t make you any promises.”

“I never asked you to,” I said quietly, unsure if he could hear me above the howling wind.

“Yet I find them on the tip of my tongue.  Instead of trying to make them, I find myself trying to keep them from spewing out.  I want to make you promises.”

I stood on my front porch, all words erased from my mind.  My heart beat rapidly, pounding against my chest and vibrating my shirt.

Remington looked miserable after his heart-felt confession.

“Say something… please, Meredith,” he begged.

What did he expect me to say?  His subtle hints, ones I had dismissed, came crashing upon me.  It had been too easy to dismiss them because there was no way in this universe that he could have been interested in me.

All I could do was breathe.

His mouth pulled into a hard line as he stepped backward into the rain.  I numbly watched him walk across the parking lot, hands shoved deep into his jean’s pockets.

I waited until he was out of sight before shutting the door against the elements.  My body retreated to the couch, attempting to process the sensory overload.  My soul remained on our stoop, splashed by the falling raindrops.

Technically I was single.  Technically I could do what I wanted.  And this night, at this very moment, I knew exactly what I wanted—who I wanted.  Was it possible to know that with such certainty in only a semester of Thursdays?

A hard knock beat on my door, making me jump.  Lena could not have chosen a worse time to come back home.

But she hadn’t.

Remington was there again, this time completely soaked through.  His t-shirt clung to every centimeter of his chest and arms; his hair was in his eyes.  The rain dripped down his face like tears.

I wanted to ask him what he expected me to do, what he would have me say, but I didn’t have time.

“Good guys end up last,” he said to himself, his voice gruff with emotion.  “Screw it.”

Remington pulled my head to his, pressing our lips together in a crushing kiss.  My mind was spinning, and I couldn’t catch my breath, not with him this close.  I squirmed against the weight and dampness, squeaking when he only pulled me closer.

He jerked away abruptly and stared at me, gasping.  We looked at one another, unsure of how to proceed.  He lurched back, and I felt his gravity pulling me toward him.

Remington was right.

“Screw it.”

I jumped into his arms and wrapped myself around his lean frame.  He stumbled into the rain, and I showed him the passion and tension bursting inside me.  He clung to me, reluctant to let any air separate us.  I pulled away and couldn’t even smile; these emotions were too raw, too new to feel anything but wonder.  I unraveled my legs from his trim waist and slid down his torso until my feet hit solid ground.

“I… I… I have to go,” I stuttered, more to myself than him.  Remington watched me escape to my car, his eyes searing my back.  I couldn’t look into the rearview mirror to see how long he stood, frozen in the middle of the pouring rain.

“Hey Joel?  Grant?” I called.

The air conditioning was on in their apartment, and I shivered as it cooled the damp shirt against my skin.  I could have called him to let him know it was truly over, but a phone call was too impersonal.  Despite his embarrassing display tonight, Holden deserved more after being with me for so long.  I owed him this visit.

I raced up the steps, and Joel popped his groggy head out of his room.

“Hey, Mer,” he said, surprised.

“Hey, I’m sorry for being so loud but I need to talk to Holden.”

“I don’t think now is the best time,” he whispered.

“Don’t worry.  I’ll be outta here in a minute.”  I opened the door to his room and flicked on the light switch.

As humans we like to think we know how we’re going to react in every situation.  If our parents die in a freak car accident we know we’d be devastated.  If we won the lottery we would pull out our secret shopping list of what we’d buy with our millions—everyone had one.  If we caught a man we had loved in bed with another woman we’d be irate.

But I wasn’t irate.

My senses were heightened.  I didn’t feel the familiar downward spiral of misery.  I felt a release, a freedom from oppression.

I was relieved.

Technically we weren’t together.  And, even if we had been, technically I had cheated on him tonight too.

“Mer, I can explain.”

I looked between my ex-boyfriend and his busty, red-headed bed buddy and didn’t care.

“Huh,” was all I could grunt as I turned to leave.  There was somewhere else I needed to be, someone else I wanted to be with.

“Come on, Mer.  Will you let me explain?” Holden pleaded.

“Does it change the situation?” I called back to him, not bothering to slow my pace as I made my exit.

“No, not really.  But it may help.”

“Then no, you can’t.”  He was no longer the source of the help I craved.

I made it halfway down the rickety steps before he caught up to me.  “I was so angry when I left the bar tonight.  I had thought that you… Mer, you know it’s never going to happen again.  I made a huge mistake.”

“I know you did, and that it’s not going to happen again.”

“You do?”  He judged my eerily calm demeanor warily.

If I thought about it too much I would probably have looked at myself the same way.  This person coolly, rationally reasoning through the current betrayal was not me.

If anyone would have asked me a month ago what I would have done if I had caught Holden in bed with another woman I could have given that person an exact rundown of the events following the hypothetical incident, right down to the length of the blade used to inflict his punishment.

Then I would have gone into hibernation and nursed my wounds for at least a year.  Everyone knew me as Holden’s girlfriend—a curse in any small town where you’ve lived your entire life and dated the same local guy for the majority.

But that’s not what happened at all.  My carefully laid-out plans of destruction and disembowelment had been inaccurate.  As a matter of fact, I did the absolute last thing I had thought I would do.

I laughed.

And it wasn’t just some cynical chuckle at my own idiocy for thinking that this man could be faithful to me.

I laughed and it sounded carefree.

I was happy.

Holden stared at me, waiting for the slicing pain I had warned him about; there were specific consequences he had been threatened with on numerous occasions.  But I didn’t look for a sword or machete.  I laughed, shook my head at the pitiful look my ex offered, and left.

I took the remaining stairs two at a time, not because I was in a hurry to leave but because I felt light, buoyant.  Gravity could not hold me down or force me to land on each carpet-covered board.

“See ya, Grant,” I said excitedly when I passed him coming from the kitchen.  He had probably been hiding the steak knives in an effort to protect his friend’s genitals.

“Um… bye, Mer?”

When the door slammed behind me it wasn’t because I was angry and using loud, unnecessary force to punish the building where Holden was staying.  No, it was because the spring had broken two months earlier and the landlord hadn’t bothered to fix it.

I raced to my car in the downpour, uncaring about the disastrous state of my appearance.  It took all my focused effort to keep from driving erratically.  Not from suicidal tendencies, but simply because I could not wait to be home.  A song filled with angry, vengeful lyrics kept me company on my journey.  I whistled along to the beat, belying the bitter purpose of the composition.

I pulled into our too-packed parking lot and took a steadying breath.  All the lights in our apartment were on, beckoning like a lighthouse and warning passersby of potentially treacherous conditions.

Instead of hurrying into the apartment I walked through the rain, allowing the drops to bond my clothes to my skin and ignoring the uncomfortable way my pants clung to my legs.  When I reached the shelter of our porch it struck me that I wasn’t ready to go inside just yet.

The walls would attempt to contain the insane energy radiating from my core; I couldn’t handle being suppressed.

So I took a walk up the steep hill of South Broadway Street.  At the first break in the incline I wasn’t even winded.  Then I noticed a familiar black Mercedes parked beside the elementary school.  The engine wasn’t running, but the windows were covered in a film of steam.

I knocked forcefully on the tinted glass, and the heavy door swung open, nearly taking out my kneecaps.

Remington didn’t emerge.  He just sat there, as soaked as I was, marinating in the damp leather seat.

“Did you go to him?” he asked, resigned.

“Yes,” I confirmed with a shaky breath.

He closed his eyes, swallowed, and whispered, “And?”

No words of explanation came to mind.  I didn’t want to taint this—whatever this was—with a pitiful sob story.  So I didn’t answer.  I couldn’t describe everything that I was feeling—the swirl of emotions, the heightened awareness, the cosmic pull between us, so I didn’t try.

I launched myself toward him, giving in to the attraction that had always existed between us, allowing myself to feel.  And I felt… the steering wheel pressed unforgivably against my back as electricity passed between our lips.  Rain-dampened clothes melded our bodies together.

When we came up for air he gave me the most endearing look of wonder.  My heart swelled, expanding to allow for this beautiful man.

“What is—?”

“Don’t know, don’t care,” I interrupted, impatient to kiss him again.

“Sounds good to me.”

Our semester of Thursdays may have been over but we had plenty of Thursdays—and Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays and Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays—to look forward to.

Semester of Thursdays: Chapter 25

15 Mar

It’s the last Thursday of the semester… What’s going to happen?

Cover 1

* * *

“I can’t believe I’m graduating on Sunday!”

Finals were over, our lease was up this month, and my best friend was moving on to the real world.  Well, as real as Lena’s world could get.

“I know.  It only took you five years,” I teased.

“Five glorious years.”

“Five glorious years,” I agreed.

“I still can’t believe it’s real.  It has always seemed like such an idle threat.  Now it’s here.  How am I supposed to get you to come out with me now?”  Her tone was thoughtful.

“You could always ask nicely instead of resorting to threats.”

“That’s not very fun,” she countered.

“Who knows?  Maybe I’ll be the one who drags you out with me this summer.”  Lena laughed, assuming I was kidding.  “What do you think?”

“About what?” she asked, still grinning.

“Are you going to come out with me tonight?”

“I don’t know, Mer.  I still have a ton of stuff to pack.”  It looked like her closet had vomited clothing all over her room and into the hallway.  Some of the garments had made it into the cardboard boxes, but most were collecting dust on the floor.

“Come on,” I pushed.  “Before you know it you will be graduated and we may never see each other again.”

“I don’t know…”

“You’re going to give in eventually.  Now is as good a time as ever.  Besides, if you say yes then I may feel grateful enough to help you pack.”

She relented with good grace.  “I guess I’ll come out tonight.  After all, you need me.”

“I do, huh?”  As hard as it was to admit, it was true, I did need her.

“Yeah, you’re not very much fun by yourself.”

“Why do you hang out with me then?”

“Because I’m enough fun for the both of us.”

“Right,” I agreed adamantly.  “What would I be without you?”

“Boring and dull.”

“And well-rested.”

My phone beeped, announcing a text message.

“Who is it?” Lena asked, ignoring my right to privacy.  I would have it no other way so I didn’t waste my breath telling her it was none of her business.

I just wanted to let you know that I’m back in town for the weekend.  I miss you.

I dropped my phone like it had electrocuted me.

“Mer?” Lena rushed to my side and picked up the phone.  “No, he didn’t!  I am not going to let that jerk ruin our last night.”

I drew a deep breath and pulled a smile from the depths of my soul.  There had to be happiness down there somewhere.

“Neither am I,” I promised.  It had taken me an entire semester to be undeniably excited for a Thursday night.  And the reason for my giddiness happened to be named Remington.

It had been five years since I had felt the pull toward a member of the opposite sex.  So long, in fact, the past five months had come and gone before I realized the attraction for what it was.  Until Remington I had been immune to men’s charms and feeble attempts at flirtation.  It was just my luck to be drawn to the most closed minded and rudest one of them all.

He was gorgeous, but I had met plenty of hot guys and felt nothing more than tolerance for them.  Somehow, Remington was different.  For whatever reason he was still a mystery to me.  He lurked in the background… No, not lurked; that would imply that he creeped me out.  Brooded was a more apt description.  He brooded in the background, never saying much.  He just stared, taking in even the most mundane conversations and inconsequential movements.  He was by far the most miserable person at any party he attended—a title I had previously held.

And I liked him.

It had taken me a semester of Thursdays to admit that.

So he was the reason I was excited about going out.  Would he act the same tonight, on our last night together, as he had every other Thursday?  More importantly, would I let him?

 

***

 

I smiled shyly at Remington.  “I had hoped you would be here.”

His customary frown deepened.  “Really?”

I laughed.  “Yes.”

“Why?”

I shrugged.  Why did there have to be a reason for anything?  “I’m not sure yet,” I admitted.

He looked around the packed pub.  “This place seems pretty exciting.  I don’t know why you’d hope I was here to dull it down.”

“It just got better thirty seconds ago.”

What had come over me?  Maybe it was the nice weather or the finality of the night.  This was the last Thursday of the school year.  Tomorrow the undergrads who were still in the dorms would return to their respective homes throughout the country and the seniors would endure a few more days until the commencement ceremony on Sunday.

Remington stood up, his chair scraping along the tiled floor.  I thought he was smiling but, on further inspection of his beautiful face, I noticed he was sneering.

“What’s wrong, Remington?”

He glared at me, his anger palpable.  “I just don’t know how to deal with you,” he ground out.

Something inside me snapped.  I had come out, determined to enjoy my last night with my friends, with Remington, and now he was looking at me like I had leprosy.

“I’m not some communicable disease you can treat with a dose of penicillin,” I shouted, aware that my livid reaction was irrational.

He took a step away from me.  “That’s not what I meant, Meredith”

“Well then, what did you mean?”  Even as the question was out of my mouth I knew it would remain unanswered.

“I can’t…” he responded to an invisible voice.  He shoved his hands in his pockets and jumped away.

“You came over here to tell me that then you turn and leave.  What a great plan,” I said as I chased him to the door.  I had already embarrassed myself; why not go all the way?  After tonight I wouldn’t see any of these people again.

This was it.

He whipped around, nearly knocking me over.  I steadied myself against the cold cement block wall.

“I came here to do a whole lot more than tell you that,” he added in a harsh whisper.  His face was close to mine.  The heat radiating from his broad chest pushed me further into the wall.

“Are you going to elaborate or run?”

“Run.”

Remington had been rude and confusing but never dishonest.  He didn’t let me down as he stalked out the back door.

“Hey, Mer.”

The familiar voice sent a jolt of fear running down my spine.  I had come to the bar, prepared to take a step toward Remington, toward a future I wanted and yet I found myself face-to-face with my past.

“What are you doing here?” I accused.

Holden seemed stunned by my uncharacteristic reaction.  “I texted you and told you I was coming home.”

“And I told you that I needed some time.”

“Some time to what?” he grimaced.  “To throw yourself at the first guy who looks your way?”

“What are you talking about?”  I was too busy throwing myself at someone who wasn’t willing to play catch.

“Don’t play stupid with me.  Was he done with Lena and wanted to round out the apartment complex?”

Blood pulsed behind my ears, and the voices around me blurred into a muffled hum.  “You don’t know what you’re saying, Holden.”

“Yes, I do.  I was right all along.”

“I’m going to go now.”  I needed to escape from this nightmare.  Maybe I would wake up and find that my last Thursday hadn’t been a disaster.

“No, you’re not,” Holden ground out, gripping my arm and pulling me to face him.

“Meredith, do you need anything?”

“No, Alec.  I’m fine.”

Holden gave Lena’s boyfriend a dismissive look.  “What is this?  Partner swap?”

“That’s enough, Holden.” I warned.  “Why don’t you just go home?”

“Why?  Do you need to meet my replacement in the parking lot?”

Alec took a step toward him, clenching his fists.  Holden smiled meanly but was smart enough to know when he was fighting a losing battle.  He shoved out the back door and disappeared into the blackness.

“Mer, are you okay?” Lena whispered, her voice laced with concern.

Alec waited behind Lena but he didn’t make a move to retrieve his friend or go after Holden.

“I’m fine,” I said in a watery voice.  “I think I’m going to call it a night though.  Alec?”

“Yeah?”

“Will you make sure Lena makes it back home safely?”

He smiled sadly.  There was only a hint of anger lighting his eyes.  “Sure thing, Meredith.  I’m sorry.”

“So am I.  Goodnight, Lena.”

“Love you, Mer.”  The pity in her voice was too hard to ignore.

“Love you too.”

And just like that, the one Thursday I had been undeniably excited for, my last Thursday, was over.

 

 

Semester of Thursdays: Chapter 24

8 Mar

Cover 1

“Hey there.”

Lena nudged me and nodded to someone next to us.  “I think he’s talking to you.”

“What?  Oh!  Hi.”  The young man was standing beside me, invading my private space as he leaned toward me.

“Are you having a nice night?”

I could barely hear him over Lena’s snickering in the background.  “Fantastic.”

Somehow he missed the sarcasm laced in my reply.  “That’s good.  I haven’t seen you around here.  Do you come here often?”

“Yes, actually.  I’ve been here every Thursday for the past five months.”  Give or take a day.

There was no point in lying, or being polite.  If there was one thing Remington had unknowingly taught me it was that manners were overrated.

“I wonder why I haven’t seen you.”

“Probably because I haven’t wanted to be seen.”

He grinned.  “It’s a good thing that has changed.”

“It hasn’t,” I returned acidly.

“Oh, um… right.  Well, have a good night.” He stuttered before escaping.

“Yeah, I will,” I muttered to his retreating form.

Lena laughed hysterically as the boy slinked away.  At least that’s what I thought she had been laughing at.

“Hey, Meredith, do you remember me?”

I glanced at the next intruder so quickly that his image didn’t have time to focus.  “Nope.”

He cleared his throat, and I looked at him once more.  There was something vaguely familiar about his husky features.  “I’m Billy.”

“Okay?”

“You don’t remember me at all?”

“Oh!  Billy!  I remember now.”  And I would promptly like to forget him.

He grinned; his meaty face dimpled confidently.  “Awesome.  I hoped I had made an impression.”

“Oh, you did.”  A bad one.  “You’re the one who had never been turned down before, right?  Did you show up for round two?”

He opened his fishy lips twice and then stepped away faster than a man with a bladder control problem who had to pee.

“Do I smell funny or something?” I asked Lena without turning to face her.

“Why?”

“Because I swear I’m giving off some sort of scent.”

Lena leaned toward me to take a whiff.  “Same as always.”

“It’s like every guy in this place has asked me out or tried to hit on me.”  I glared at the group of men surrounding me like sharks circling a bloody limb in chummed water.  Didn’t they know they were supposed to hit on Lena and ignore me?

My friend giggled at my discomfort.  “They’ve been waiting a long time.”

“Yeah, right.  It’s the end of the semester and they’re just out of options.”

“No way!  Good news travels fast,” she contradicted.

“I still haven’t forgiven you for that,” I reminded her.

“You will.”

“Have I told you lately that you are obnoxious?”

“Not since lunch.”

“Well, it remains true tonight.  Would you look there? Here comes your boyfriend.”

Lena didn’t respond to the dig.  She smiled beautifully and went to greet Alec and Remington.  I retreated from the group to take my place at the corner table.  Remington bought his drink and came to join me.

“You look different.”

Different?  I couldn’t look good or beautiful, I had to look different.

“Thanks,” I mumbled.

He rudely didn’t say, “you’re welcome,” so I assumed he’d meant it as an insult.

Why do you look different?” He was still staring at me; the assessing gaze made me nervous.  He had never looked at me for such a lengthy period of time.

“You tell me,” I challenged.  “I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”

At least he hadn’t been like every other guy in here and asked me out.  I felt a pang of something in my gut but I couldn’t put a name to the feeling.  What would I have said if he had asked me out?

One more week, I reminded myself.  Ten days and this would all be over.  What was I going to do without Lena around to pester me?  She was laughing at something Alec had said.  Remington’s eyes followed mine, and together we stared at the boisterous couple.

“What are you going to do without her?’ he asked, reading my mind.

“Without who?” I asked, buying myself some time before formulating an answer.

“Lena.”

All I ever did was complain about her and her nutty compulsions, but she had always been right; this wouldn’t last forever.  There was going to be an end to our era together.  Lena Whyte would eventually grow up and become overwhelmed with her own responsibilities; Lena would become un-fun like me.

“Probably become even more boring and antisocial,” I finally answered.

More antisocial?  You’re out almost every Thursday night.”

“But I’m not exactly socializing,” I pointed out.

I took in the various groups of people milling about in the crowded bar.  There were close-knit women who only wanted to be left alone with their mojitos, smaller groups of anxious young men, and those that had melded together.

I could take or leave the presence of every person in the bar, save two of them.  If I never saw their nameless faces again my life would remain unaffected.  But Lena was one person I could not live without.  And, as mortifying as it was to admit, I would miss Remington as well.

Lena and I had been intertwined for so many years now that I could never really lose her; she was a part of me.  But Remington… I had a horrible feeling that I was one of those people whose absence would leave him unaffected.  I wasn’t ready to give up our odd conversations and painful silences.

“Are you ready for this to be over?”

“This?”  Had I been that easy to read?

“Thursdays,” he clarified.

“Are they going to start skipping from Wednesday straight to Friday?” I teased, reluctant to provide him with an honest answer.

“You know what I meant.”

“No.”

“No, you don’t know or no, you’re not ready?”

“I’m not ready,” I whispered.  I would never be ready.

“What’s bothering you?” Remington asked quietly.

“Nothing,” I lied.

“You’re lying.  When you worry your nose gets a wrinkle above it.”  He lifted his finger to point at the bridge of my nose.

“No, it doesn’t.”  How could he know that?

“Are you going to tell me?”

“Since when did we become confidants?”

“Sometimes it helps to talk it out with a neutral party,” he offered.

“No one is neutral.”  At least I didn’t want him to be neutral.  I wanted Remington to be biased, to be so far on my side that he couldn’t even see the dividing line.  But he couldn’t be, not really.  Because, neutral or biased, I would never reveal to him what had been troubling me.

“I know.”  Remington smiled sadly and resumed his people-watching.

He had been attempting to be cordial, the least I could do was play nice. “Are you ready for finals?”

“Is anyone really ready for finals?”

“Good point.  I bet you’re ready for them to be over though.”

“Of course.  Although summertime will only bring more classes.”

“But at least it should be warm outside.”  Should was the key word.  When you lived on top of a mountain the temperature rarely met the standards associated with that particular season.

“Why did you choose medicine?”  And why hadn’t I asked him before this?

“I’m good at science.”

That was the most generic answer I had ever heard.  “I was good at English, but you don’t see me trying to write a book.”  I grinned when he turned toward me with an incredulous expression.

“I know it sounds corny but I think I can help people.  Wasting a talent is unforgivable.”  His serious tone touched my heart.  How this rude, beautiful man had been able to do that was beyond me.

“That’s not corny, it’s sincere.”

He shrugged.  “Same thing most of the time.”

It was getting late, but Lena and Alec showed no signs of leaving.  We were so close to the end of the semester that I didn’t mind closing the place down.  I settled comfortably in my chair, enjoying every last moment of one of my last Thursdays.

“I missed you this week.”

The declaration nearly knocked me off of my stool.  “What?!” I squeaked, no volume coming behind my words.

Remington glared at me.  “You heard me.”

“Yeah, but I don’t think I heard you correctly.”

He gave me a confused look.  I stared at him until my eyes were crossed.  He turned back to watch the thinning crowd, without a care in the world.

“Oh, you heard me correctly.”

The man didn’t even like me.  “But you don’t even like me!”

He whipped around toward me, angry. “Who told you that?”

“No one needed to; it was obvious to everyone, including me.”

“You don’t know how wrong you are,” he said evenly.

“Oh really?  Tell me one time when you were nice to me,” I challenged, my head was spinning like a cyclone filled with twisted memories.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

Remington would be the type of person to fail to see the correlation between the two.  “Normal humans are nice to those they like.”

“I was nice to you when we were at that costume thing last month.”

The incident was clear in my mind, as though it had occurred yesterday.  “Maybe,” I hedged.  “But the fact that you ditched without a word cancels out the whole incident.”

“Regardless, I was nice to you.”

“Alright.  Tell me of a time when you were nice to me that wasn’t followed by a bout of unforgivable rudeness or one of your disappearing acts,” I qualified.

Remington scowled at me, silent.

“Told you so.”

“Your point doesn’t prove anything.”

“Sure it does,” I said snidely.  “It proves that you don’t even like me.”

Why did that fact twist in my gut and churn my stomach?

“Unfortunately, I feel considerably more for you than mere like.”

“Unfortunately?”  I snickered, unable to move past the first word in his sentence.  “Disclaimers like that prove my point.”

Instead of arguing he made a move to leave, to run away.

“How do you do that?”

“Do what?” he asked reluctantly, not bothering to direct his question toward me.  Instead, he spoke to the empty darkness that marked the hollow corner of the bar.

“You say things like that then walk away so easily.”

Easily?”  He turned and took a menacing step toward me.  I crossed my arms, challenging him.  “You think hearing them is hard, try walking away afterward.”

“Then why do you do it?”  Why couldn’t he stay and make me believe he had meant what he had said?

“Because I can’t stay.”

“Why not?”  Just stay this once.

“Because…” he looked like he wanted to say more but thought better of it.

“Thanks for clearing that up,” I whispered to the void he left behind.

 

Semester of Thursdays: Chapter 23

1 Mar

Check out my FACEBOOK page to see who won the free signed copy of Semester of Thursdays.

And now onto today’s chapter.

Lena’s up to her tricks again…

Cover 1

“I wish you could have come with me!”

“Come with you where?”

“To the mall,” Lena whined.

“For the last time, Lena, I don’t need any more clothes!” At this point they would just be more stuff to pack up and move.

“No, no, not to shop.  Well, not to shop for you but for me! You have honest, invaluable opinions and voice them on demand.”

“We were just there two days ago, what could you have possibly forgotten to buy?”  The entirety of the mall’s summer wardrobe had been in my trunk.

“You’d be surprised.”

A muffled voice came over the speaker, too close to be considered the background chatter of a busy store.

“Who was that?”  It had sounded like a man’s voice.

“I made a huge mistake, Mer.”

“No!  Lena, you couldn’t.  Oh, I really like Alec.”  And I had mistakenly thought that she had liked him more.

“Don’t be stupid,” she snapped.

“What?”

“That was Alec.  The mistake I made was bringing him to the mall with me.  He was fine at first then I realized all he was doing was telling me I looked good in everything and agreeing with me so that I would shut up.  All he’s been doing for the last two hours is complaining.  It’s driving me insane!”

Poor Alec.  “How long have you two been shopping?”

“Give it back—” Lena’s voice faded.

“She’s the one driving me insane.  How do you stand her for—” Alec’s words trailed off as my friend stole back the phone.

“Since eleven.”

“Lena!  It’s almost three thirty!”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.  He’s gotten to spend an entire day with me, real quality time.  He’s the luckiest man in the world.”  A peal of masculine laughter erupted from the background.  “Anyway, Mer.  I need you to help me.  Well, to help Alec.”

“Oh, well if it’s for Alec then I’ll do it,” I said with a smile in my voice.

“Hey, Mer.”

“Oh!  Hello again, Alec.”

“I need you to do me a favor,” he said.

So Lena hadn’t been lying—a first.  “Sure. What is it?”

“I have class at four so I won’t have time to drop Lena home beforehand—which is her fault by the way. ‘It’s only going to be a quick trip,’ she promised.  ‘We’ll be back long before your class,’” Alec said, mimicking Lena’s high pitch.    “I was ready to leave days ago.  Ouch!  She’s turning violent, never a good sign.  Anyway, she’s having a fit about waiting the hour for me to get back from class.  Is there any way you can meet us at the house to get her away from me?”

I tensed.  Alec’s house was also Remington’s house.

Alec didn’t miss the awkward silence.  “I’d ask Remington to drop her home but he won’t be there because he has class until five.  There’s a key under the flowerpot so you can just wait inside if you want.”

“Flowerpot?”  Straight men weren’t supposed to have flowerpots.

“Yeah, don’t say a word.  Lena’s already given me crap about it.  It was Remington’s idea to get a landscaper—long story.  Just go in and make yourself at home.  We’ll be there as soon as I can drag her away from the sales—dead or alive.”

“Good luck,” I agreed, less enthusiastic than I had been initially.  “If you take away the source of her power she will have to stop.”

“What’s that?”

“The Visa.”

Alec’s hysterical laugh vibrated the phone.  “I wish I would have known that three hours ago.  See ya.”

“Wait!  Where do you live?”

“Grant Street, near Collegiate Flats.  There’s a two-story brick house with black shutters on the left.  That’s us.”

I knew the house well; it was one of the nicest ones in such close proximity to campus—too nice for a student residence.  “Okay.”

“I don’t care what Lena says about you.  You’re a saint!” he announced just before the line went dead.

“Yeah, I know,” I muttered to the empty room.

For some unknown reason I decided to change from my black-on-black salon gear into something that didn’t reek of ammonia and perms.  It took me ten frustrating minutes to find an outfit appropriate for the errand.  I was only going to collect Lena, I reminded myself.  Nothing more.

The drive took me another ten minutes due to Frostburg’s evening traffic and numerous red lights getting in my way.  When I pulled into Alec’s driveway my mouth fell open.  The house was larger than I had remembered.  How had Alec and Remington landed this deal?  They had to be paying a small fortune in rent.  Our townhouse was nice and clean, but this place was extravagant.

I sat in my Sentra for a few minutes, studying the daunting structure.  The clean lines of classical architecture and organic framing by professional landscapers weren’t what had been intimidating.  It was the home’s residents that made me nervous, unsure of myself.

I hadn’t planned on going inside but my curiosity got the better of me.  Somehow I couldn’t stop myself from lifting the ceramic flowerpot at the edge of the concrete slab and unlocking the glass-paned door with the key I had found beneath.

The inside of the foyer was what I would have been expecting from this nice of a house but not from a residence with male students.  Typically, college houses with male tenants were littered with beer bottles, movie posters, and random sweat-stained garments.  The inside of Alec’s house looked like something out of Southern Living.

“Hey, Alec!  You’re really late.  Do you know where my…  What are you doing here?” Remington accused as if I was committing some heinous crime by being here.  I suppose breaking-and-entering was illegal.

My face was on fire as I watched his lithe frame freeze mid-step.  He nearly fell over the railing, stopping his decent with a death-grip on the banister.

“I was just leaving.”  Lena could find her own way home.

“No.  I don’t… I didn’t mean that the way it came out,” he amended quickly.

“You could have fooled me,” I said, reaching for the door.

“It was rude.”

“Since when does that matter?”  It never had before.

“Meredith, wait.  Please?”

The quiet plea stopped me.  My hand was inches from the knob; all I needed to do was turn it and make my escape.

“I’m sorry.”

What was going on?  First the magic word and now what sounded like a sincere apology?

“It’s fine,” I dismissed.  After all, it should have been fine.  The snappy tone and harsh words shouldn’t have mattered.  This was Remington I was dealing with.  I turned slowly to face him, unsure of how he would react to my dismissal of the entire incident.  He looked confused, like he was warring with himself over some vital argument.

“What I meant was: why are you here?”  His words hadn’t changed very much yet the tone was inquisitive, genuine.

“I’m waiting for Lena and Alec.”  And cursing both of them because they had put me in an awkward situation.  Alec had said that Remington wouldn’t be home.  “You weren’t supposed to be here.”

“Sorry about that.  My professor canceled class today so I got out an hour earlier than usual.  Where is Alec?”

“He and Lena went to the mall for some big sale.  I told her that I’d meet her here to bring her home since Alec has class.”

“Alec. Went. Shopping?” Remington choked.  His blue eyes bulged.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

The man in front of me, the one who rarely smiled, broke into a fit of… giggles.  That was the only word to describe the high-pitched noise coming from his shaking frame.

“You don’t understand,” he forced between chuckles.  “Alec hates shopping.  He must be in deeper than I had thought.”

What kind of warped world had I unlocked when I opened the door to this house?  At first Remington had been himself—rude.  Then his typical demeanor had vanished as if that Remington had been a façade, a character he had been playing for everyone else’s benefit.   This new Remington was laughing , at ease with himself—and with me.

I waited warily for Lena to arrive and save me from this fourth dimension, to take me back to reality, but the door behind me remained closed.

“Since you aren’t carrying around an empty bottle I suppose I should ask if you would like a drink,” he offered, composed.

“Um…”  My body decided to make the decision for me.  Remington smiled an open, friendly smile and my mouth went dry.  “Sure,” I croaked.

He turned and disappeared down the darkened hallway.  I had a debate with myself on whether to follow or escape; the battle was lost before it had begun.  I raced after him.

“We have water, coke, or beer.  Your choice.”

I should ask for a beer.  Maybe the alcohol would help to calm my nerves, zinging with the electricity of uncertainty.

“Water is fine.”

He nodded once, pulled two glasses from a cabinet, and poured one for each of us.  When he walked toward me every muscle in my body tensed.  Remington cleared his throat, and I realized belatedly that he had been offering me the drink.  My hand shook so violently that I nearly spilled the entire thing on his tiled floor.  I watched him watch me as he took a deep draught, and waited for me to do the same.  What I really wanted to do was put the condensation forming on the outside of the glass against my sweaty forehead.

“You don’t have to stand around and wait.”

“Okay,” I sighed like some insipid, infatuated twelve-year-old.  The syllables sounded more like, “Whatever you say, sexy.”

His brows drew together as we both questioned my mental stability.  “Would you like to wait in the living room?”

This time I agreed with more backbone.  “Okay.”

I followed him woodenly; my joints ached with every step.  I collapsed on the corner of his plush sectional with relief.

“Where are you going?” I asked, my voice too shrill to feign indifference.

Remington frowned, and I felt more at ease with the situation.  When he wasn’t grouchy and miserable I didn’t know how to react to him.

“To get the remote?”  The inflection in his voice asked for my permission.

“Okay.”

He grabbed the device and sat as far from me as possible without being on the arm of the couch.  “Do you want to watch anything in particular?”

I was saved from answering by the creak of worn hinges and a draft from the open door.  I stood up so quickly that I spilled the water all over my leg.

“Hey, Remington, Meredith,” Alec greeted, toting Lena and a handful of bags behind him.

“Aren’t we all cozy in here?” Lena asked with a giggle.

From the corner of my eye I saw Remington scowl.  Everything was back to the way it was supposed to be.

“What are you doing back so early?” Alec asked his silent roommate.  “I promised Meredith that she wouldn’t have to put up with your sour mood until tomorrow.”

“Class was canceled,” Remington ground out.  All traces of the kind host had evaporated.

“I’m sorry, Meredith.  I owe you one.”

“It’s fine, Alec.”  I didn’t mind.  It was different seeing Remington in a setting other than the stale confines of a bar.  I’d never admit it aloud, but the change had been nice.

“Did you buy yourself anything from the mall?” Remington drawled meanly.  “A pair of balls, perhaps?”

“Some for you, is it?” Alec challenged.

“Mer, I think it’s time to go.  We can let these boys duke it out without an audience.” Lena interrupted, gripping my hand and pulling me out the door.  I handed my nearly-empty glass to Alec as we swept past.  “Thanks for watching her, Remington,” Lena added like some grateful mother to the babysitter.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Alec said with a wistful smile.

I wanted to gag aloud.

Just before the door slammed shut, I stole one final look at Remington.  He wasn’t smiling but he looked like he wanted to say something to us—to me.

“Thanks so much, Mer.  You’re a life saver,” Lena said.

“I know.”

“There was no way we were going to make it back in time for his class if you wouldn’t have met us here.  Then I would never have lived down the shopping trip.”

“It’s no big deal,” I muttered.

“Well?”

“Well, what?”

Lena rolled her eyes as we hopped into my car.  “What happened?”

“What do you mean?  Nothing happened.”  Remington had surprised me, offered me some water—which I had spilled on myself, and I had left.

She pursed her lips.

If I were to guess I would have said that she looked disappointed.