Home > Night Owl (The Night Owl Trilogy #1)(2)

Night Owl (The Night Owl Trilogy #1)(2)
Author: M. Pierce

That's when I saw the email from [email protected].

The email with her picture.

The picture that made me hard.

Subject: Come back...

Sender: Hannah Catalano

Date: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Time: 11:15 PM

Matt, hey. I really hope you read this. You haven't replied to my post. I miss the story. And I miss talking to you.

I can't stop thinking about what happened.

I met Mick through WoW (I'm a reformed nerd) and we cybered like twice over private messages. He's a really bad writer. It was really bad. Then we started dating long distance and I used to do things with him over video chat. That's all.

I don't know why I'm telling you this stuff, except that I want you to know that what happened between us isn't normal for me. I liked it though. Knowing you were getting off turned me on.

Speaking of Mick, I'm leaving him. My sister is flying out here on Thursday to help me pack and we're driving back together. I'm moving in with my parents for a while. Pretty awesome, since I'm 27.

I guess the point is, we'll be on the road for two or three days and I'll only be online on my phone.


* * *

After jerking off to Hannah's picture like a desperate juvenile, I must have reread her email three times. I mentally filed the new information.

Hannah has a sister.

Hannah is twenty-seven.

Hannah is leaving her boyfriend.

Hannah liked helping me get off; she can't stop thinking about it and it turned her on.

And now she had a face and a name, both of which I expressly asked never to know.

Hannah Catalano.

So she was Italian. That explained the knockout figure and the dark, heavy hair.

I logged onto Skype.

Night.Owl: Hey.

Little.Bird: Hey! That was quick, lol. I sent you an email like fifteen minutes ago.

Night.Owl: Don't I know it.

Little.Bird: Haha...

Night.Owl: Let's get one thing straight Hannah. I'm not sure what you think it means that you helped me get off with your rudimentary descriptive skills, so let me clarify. It means nothing. It definitely does not mean you can now assault me with your life story.

Little.Bird: Wow. Wow...

Night.Owl: Use your words.

Little.Bird: You... are such an a**hole right now.

Night.Owl: You say this like it's news.

Little.Bird: It's news to me. God, I'm SO SORRY that I decided to tell you I'd be gone for a few days. We WERE telling a story together basically every day, but since you haven't replied to my last post, I guess that's off.

Night.Owl: It's not off. Don't get all hyperbolic on me Hannah. However, let's pause and consider the distance between 1.) telling me you're going to be MIA for a few days, and 2.) forcing your name AND picture on me.

Little.Bird: ... what?

Night.Owl: Yes, shocking but true. Our minor indiscretion does not suddenly negate my wish to preserve mutual privacy. No full names, no pictures, etc.

Little.Bird: Wtf. I didn't send you my picture. Or tell you my name.

Night.Owl: Okay [email protected].

Little.Bird: omg

I rolled my eyes and sat back in my chair. Maybe I had been a little harsher than necessary, but I got my point across. I was angry. I was angry with Hannah for plaguing my thoughts, and angrier that she was gorgeous and forced me to know it.

Somehow, my life would be easier if I could imagine Hannah as a fat pimply stranger on the internet, or even a faceless stranger on the internet. Anything but that dark-haired beauty blowing a kiss at me with her pink, pouty lips.

Five minutes passed and Hannah said nothing.

I fiddled with the desk calendar.

Night.Owl: Do you have anything to add to that stirring articulation?


I opened my email, then opened Hannah's email. Her account picture had changed. Gone was the tiny portrait of Hannah Catalano, replaced by a purplish swirl of galaxy and stars.

Panic chilled me.

It was gone. Her picture was gone.

I clicked on the galaxy and it took me to a larger picture... of the galaxy.

Already I couldn't remember the details of Hannah's face.

Night.Owl: What the fuck. You just changed your account picture? You do realize I have already seen it...

Little.Bird: Matt, I am so, so sorry. I know you're never going to believe me, but this is the truth. I emailed you from my main account by accident. I am so embarrassed right now, I want to die. I would never infringe on your boundaries like that. God, everything's been so insane in my life lately. I was worried I'd scared you off. I sat down to write you an email, and bang.

Night.Owl: Oh...

Little.Bird: Yeah, I... I'm so mortified. I'm so sorry...

Night.Owl: I... really thought you did it on purpose. Obviously. Wow.

Little.Bird: No, I would never. I swear. I love writing with you. I respect your privacy. Or I try to...

I frowned and considered the words on my screen. It was an accident. And thanks to my overblown reaction to that accident, I had lost access to my only image of Hannah, the girl who was steadily setting my mind on fire.

I ran a quick Google image search on Hannah Catalano.


Night.Owl: Do you even want to know what I thought?

Little.Bird: What you thought?

Night.Owl: Of how you look.

Little.Bird: Oh. Um. It doesn't matter.

Night.Owl: Doesn't matter?

Little.Bird: Yeah. It's... no big deal. I'm just so embarrassed.

Night.Owl: Well, in that case, you'll be pleased to know I barely looked at it. It was a tiny picture and as soon as I realized what it was, I closed the window.

Little.Bird: Oh... okay...

Night.Owl: Yeah. And thanks for changing it so promptly. I appreciate that.

Little.Bird: Sure. So... I should... probably get back to packing.

Night.Owl: Mm. Good luck with that. I'll reply to your post soon.

Little.Bird: Sweet. I'll reply when I can.

Night.Owl: Don't worry about it. I know you've got a lot going on, and you'll be tired after the move. What state are your folks in?

Little.Bird: Oh... didn't I tell you? Haha. Gosh. Super awkward night.

Night.Owl: Huh?

Little.Bird: Nothing. They still live in the house I grew up in. In Colorado...



LEAVING MICK'S HAIRY ass was the best decision I made in the last five years.

Leaving my job as a teller at Bank West was the second best decision.

The guy and the job didn't respect me—and they didn't deserve me.

No matter how I asked or what I threatened, Mick refused to quit smoking and drinking. He had an infuriating habit of groping me in public and lately the sex was, well, not sex. More like a six-thrust oops!

When I looked at Mick, I had to force myself to remember that I used to love him. I used to find his nerd humor funny. I used to be attracted to his jawless pointy-chinned face and scruffy receding hairline.

Sort of.

As for the bank, I stayed on as a teller for three years while my favorite boss got canned, my friends gradually left, and I was passed over time and time again for promotions.

Good riddance to them both.

And hello to three days on the road going fifty-five with a U-Haul hooked to my Civic, spacing out and thinking about Matt.

"Hellooo?" My sister waved her iPod in my face.

"Huh? What?"

"For the... third time." She turned down my Lana Del Rey playlist. "Can I puh-lease change the music?"

"Oh, yeah. Whatever."

I stared ahead at the highway.

I felt Chrissy watching me as she plugged in her iPod.

"Sooo." She plopped her feet on the dash and hiphop blared from the speakers.

"So what?" I glanced at her. As always, I was struck by my sister's beauty. She's twenty-one and has a dancer's fit body. Much to our parents' chagrin, Chrissy was saving for an apartment and putting herself through dance classes by working at a strip club. She claimed to love it, but I wasn't so sure.

"So, who's the new guy?" She arched a perfectly plucked eyebrow.

Our father calls us both heartbreakers, but Chrissy and I are practically opposites. My style is natural. I let my hair grow long, prefer glasses to contacts, wear very little makeup, and work out only enough to define my soft curves.

My sister is punk. She has tats, half a dozen piercings, lives in eyeliner, and dyes her pixie haircut black and blond.

And when it comes to me, she has always been uncannily perceptive.

"New guy? There is no new guy," I said. "Can you turn this shit down? Or at least find a song that doesn't make my ears bleed?"

"Girl, you better get used to it." Chrissy grooved in her seat, lifting her arms. Bracelets clanked down her wrists. "It's what we'll be listening to when I teach you how to twerk."

"Excuse me?"

"I've seen you dance, Han. You need a little help. And then you can show your new guy, it'll drive him nuts. Is he in Colorado?"

Yes. Yes he is.

"What? No! I mean, no there is no guy. You're ridiculous."

"H'okay," Chrissy laughed. "All I know is, you would never have ditched your job and boyfriend without some motivation. Sorry Han, your balls just aren't that big."

I swallowed and focused on the yellow lines rolling ahead of me in the night. I wanted so badly to talk about Matt. I thought about him nonstop while we packed and drove.

Spread your legs. Help me come. God, my heart is pounding.

But what could I tell Chrissy? You're right sis, I met this guy named Matt. Online. I know exactly three things about him. He lives in Colorado, he's an awesome writer, and he gets off talking to scantily clad strangers on the internet. Love at first Skype.

Yeah, that would go over well. Lots of laughing and eye rolling would ensue, and of course the inevitable question: do you know what he looks like?

God, no, I didn't know what Matt looked like.

I knew what Cal looked like—tall, blond, handsome, lean—but Matt could be a three-hundred-pound basement dweller. Ugh, he probably was. Stereotypes exist for a reason and Matt happened to be an internet-trawling male of an indeterminate age who came inside of five minutes when I told him I had big br**sts (and who also had a convenient no pictures rule).

What a depressing line of thought.

I gave my sister a flat look.

"Be useful," I mumbled, "help me look for a hotel."

We stopped at 3:00 a.m. in the Cascades. My sister flung herself onto the motel bed and passed out. I sat in the bathroom and checked my email for the one-hundredth time.

Finally! Two emails from Matt. One was a reply to my post. The other had no subject.

Subject: (no subject)

Sender: Matthew S.

Date: Saturday, June 29, 2013

Time: 2:46 AM

Hi Hannah,

I just sent you a post. How's the move going? You're a brave little bird. And hey, you're invading my state. Small world, right?

I want to say that I hope you don't think less of me after what happened (the bathrobe incident, as I like to call it). I know it was seedy as fuck. I wouldn't be surprised if you did think less of me. I don't know what to think of myself.

Sorry I was a dick about the picture.

I haven't seen you on Skype so I assume you're on the road. I'm going to break another one of my rules. If you want to call, my number is 303-774-5761.


* * *

Subject: Seedy as fuck

Sender: Hannah Catalano

Date: Saturday, June 29, 2013

Time: 3:20 AM

Hey, are you still awake?

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