He Never Told Me What He Did For A Living
When I finally emerged from the bathroom, I was relieved to find the bedroom was empty.
Wrapping the towel firmly around my body and holding it in place with one hand, I stepped onto the carpet with my bare feet. The clothes Gerard had given me were still laying there on the bed, only now there was a pair of plain black panties next to them. The still attached tags and receipt next to the garment were all the proof I needed that someone had picked them up for me. It was awkward enough that Gerard had gotten so flustered over seeing me with my top half-unbuttoned but now he’d bought me underwear too? Stifling a groan, I let the towel drop and began removing the tags from the panties, slipping them on quickly. I followed with my bra, then the sweatpants and t-shirt.
Wiping away the fog on the mirror, I brushed my hair with a comb I’d found on the counter. The door banged against the wall as someone barged in, and I jumped, startled at such an entrance.
Of course, it was Frank, and behind him was Gerard. “So glad you knocked,” I said sarcastically.
Frank ignored me. “Are you ready now? Geez, you look like a drowned rat!”
I rolled my eyes at him. “I’d rather look like a drowned rat than smell like a dead one,” I said, fixing him with a glare.
I didn’t have time to brace myself when Frank launched himself at me, and the force of his body knocked me backwards. I managed to stay upright until the back of my knees hit the bed, and I fell ungracefully onto the mattress, with Frank landing right on top of me. With a triumphant look, he pinned me to the bed with his knees and proceeded to dig his fingers into my ribs. Much to Frank’s dismay, I didn’t giggle hysterically- instead, my face pinched in pain, and suddenly, Frank wasn’t pinning me to the bed anymore.
“Are you alright, Josie?” Gerard asked, offering his hand to help me up from the bed.
I rubbed my ribs, and nodded my head.
Frank looked at Gerard for an explanation. Gerard only shrugged and said, “Josie’s not ticklish there.”
Frank raised an eyebrow. “How do you know?”
“I tried tickling her once,” he said simply, not shaken by Frank’s scrutiny.
“Well, I guess we should start the movies now,” Frank huffed, and began shuffling through the movie collection. “How about starting with Sleepy Hollow?”
Gerard lifted his gaze from me to Frank, who was holding up a DVD with Johnny Depp on the cover. “Fine with me,” he said.
Soon enough, all of the lights were turned off, except for one floor lamp next to the worn plaid sofa Frank, Gerard and I were sitting on. Bob had settled for sitting on the floor, back against the bed, while Mikey sprawled out on the bed. Ray was sitting uncomfortably on a black beanbag that was covered in cracked leather.
Somewhere in the middle of the movie, the doorbell rang. Mikey and Gerard exchanged a questioning look. “Who could that be? Everyone we invited is here,” Gerard said.
“Maybe its Josie’s friend,” Mikey said.
I thought for a moment. “I don’t think so. She had a mess to clean up from the party.”
Frank moaned loudly. “Just go open the fucking door!”
There were a few scattered snickers, but the movie was paused and Mikey and Bob went to answer the door.
For the second time, the door was shoved open, where it banged against the wall loudly, and then the overhead lights flooded the room. Gerard, Frank, Ray, and I shielded our faces from the lights as our eyes slowly adjusted. “Sorry, Gee, she just barged in,” Mikey said apologetically.
Braving the bright lights, I uncovered my eyes to see who’d come to join us. A woman stood before us with cropped platinum blonde hair and an expectant look on her face.
Risking a glance at Gerard, I took in his expression. “Eliza? What are you…how did you…?” he stammered, as if he weren’t quite sure what to say. I got the impression that she hadn’t been invited, but Gerard was still shaken by her presence.
“You thought I’d miss up a chance to hang out with you guys?” she asked incredulously. “And would someone please tell me which of you robbed the cradle?” The last was said with a sour look towards me.
No one said a word, and she seemed content to stare at me, sitting so close to Gerard, dressed in his clothes. I shifted uncomfortably to look at Gerard, who was staring at the woman with a confused look on his face.
“Um, Eliza, this is Josie. Eliza, this is my friend Josie,” he mumbled as an introduction.
Eliza reached a hand out to me, and I reluctantly took it. She squeezed it firmly, and I took it as a warning. “Josie…it’s so nice to meet you. Funny, I haven’t heard Gerard mention you,” she mused, implying they spent a lot of time together.
Gerard looked alarmed, and I think I heard a snicker from Frank. “Eliza is my, uh-”
His hesitation to explain her gave her the opportunity to speak up. “Girlfriend,” she said smugly. “I’m his girlfriend.”
“Hairdresser,” Gerard finished lamely.
I raised my eyebrows at him, wanting to ask him if it was true, but with that urge came the knowledge that if I did that, I’d be outing my own feelings for him to everyone. And that was the last thing I was going to let this bitch have.
“Sorry, Gerard hasn’t mentioned you either,” I said sweetly, subtly scooting closer to him on the couch. He tensed when I touched his shoulder, and Eliza shot me a look that could kill, if such a thing was possible.
“Shame on you, Gerard,” Frank said with a laugh.
“Shut the fuck up, Frank,” he growled.
“So, are we going to watch the movie or not?” Eliza asked, walking over to the couch. She stopped in front of me, obviously expecting me to get up so she could have my spot. I simply stared at her like she was crazy, and eventually, she moved around to sit on the other side of Gerard, in the spot Frank had vacated in order to go lay on the bed with Mikey.
Shooting me a hateful glance, she sat back, edging closer to Gerard, which only sent him scooting closer to me. The lights were shut off again, and someone hit play on the DVD player. Gerard was so tense I could taste it, could sense it in the way he sat rigid against me and fidgeted ever so often. When he leaned over to whisper in my ear, I could only wonder at what he was going to say.
The last thing I expected him to say was “Play along.”
In the dark I blinked at him, and seeing the desperation on his face, I softened, and nodded my head instead of telling him no, that I wouldn’t play his games. I jumped when his hand brushed my thigh, relaxing when he entwined his fingers with mine. Taking a breath, I leaned my head against his shoulder. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Eliza sitting there, still so close to Gerard, but now she was stiff and angry. She’d come here uninvited, and been rejected by Gerard; it was adding insult to injury that he’d rejected her for me, a much younger woman.
I only hoped Gerard could handle the hell this woman was going to rain down on him.
Update 1 of 2 (2/11/15)