Home > Night Owl (The Night Owl Trilogy #1)(6)

Night Owl (The Night Owl Trilogy #1)(6)
Author: M. Pierce

"Are you done?"

"Sure," I laughed. "For now."

"Good. You should really restrict these flights of fancy to your fiction, where I can redline them on grounds of verbosity and excessive allusion."

"You know you're not my editor, right Pam? Or are your delusions of grandeur expanding?"

Pam and I bantered like that for another half hour, after which I escaped home.

A run through the city or a ride out to the mountains might have done me good, but lately I couldn't break away from my phone and computer and a safe space in which to handle my daily hard-on for Hannah.

I took a stab at writing. The result was me slouched in my office chair and staring into space. Around dinnertime I sent Hannah an email.

Subject: Assholery

Sender: Matthew S.

Date: Sunday, June 30, 2013

Time: 7:37 PM

Hi Hannah,

I enjoyed our conversation last night. In future, you probably shouldn't be so lax with personal information. We internet predators feed on such facts. For example, now that I know your superpower wish is to fly, I am ten times closer to discovering the location of your secret bunker.

And I want to project more than my a**holery onto you.

(I was decent last night. All bets are off now.)

Call me when you get a chance. I'm bored.


* * *

I sent the message and roamed my apartment like a zombie.

I stared at the forty plus Tupperwares crammed into the freezer, each labeled with a sticky note. Yes, my girlfriend had not only cooked and frozen about two months' worth of meals for me, but she planned the order in which I should eat them.

I picked out a frosty noodly looking thing dated for the middle of July. I hit it in the microwave for two minutes. Mystery dinner: beef stroganoff.

I was still poking at my food when Hannah texted.

9900 Sienna St. in Aurora. We have an open door policy. Except for tonight, an old high school friend is taking me out. I'll have my phone. So excited to be home!

I called her immediately.

"Hey!" she answered. I could hear a dog barking in the background and people talking over one another. "God, I'm s—"

"What the f**k is wrong you," I growled. "I cannot... believe you texted me your address. Are you insane?"

"Oh don't start. I refuse your bad attitude tonight. I'm freaking stoked to be home and you are not going to do your Mr. Frostypants routine on my parade. Come on."

"Hannah." My voice trembled with anger. "You don't even know me."

"Yes, you've pointed that out more than once. It's not for lack of trying."

"It doesn't matter. I could be anyone. You can't go around giving your address to strangers from the internet, please. That kind of behavior is a terrible accident waiting to happen. Do you have any idea how much this troubles me?"

"I'm starting to get an idea." She yawned in my ear. Oh, that little devil.

"Fortunately for you I am not a psychopath, but I c—"

"Yes, okay Matt. Point taken. I solemnly swear never to give my address to internet randos in the future, etcetera etcetera. But this is my life, my life I'm risking or whatever. And I didn't give my address to some random weirdo, okay? I gave it to you. I want to meet you."

I had meandered into the living room and was gazing at my sketch of Hannah. Every time she said my name, contentment spread through me.

God, Matt... I can feel it, how wet I am.

Compared to the eyes I remembered from Hannah's photo, the eyes in my sketch were lifeless. I could meet her. I could meet those dark, mischievous eyes.

I glanced at a framed photo on the wall—Bethany's face and mine squished side by side, both of us smiling broadly against a backdrop of Miami Beach.

Bethany. My girlfriend.

"You want to meet me," I repeated, testing the incredible weight of the words.

I had never felt such longing in my life. My whole body responded to the idea of Hannah near me. My shower fantasy flickered through my mind.

"Yes," Hannah said, "I want to meet you. The thought makes me nervous as hell, but I want to meet you."

"But not tonight."

"Um, unfortunately no. Not unless you want to meet my friend from high school."

"A guy friend?"

"Yes, Matt. A guy friend. A friend who is a guy. Don't get any ideas."

"I don't have any ideas," I muttered, "but he might. Where is he taking you?"

"I don't know. Some bar. I'm dirt poor so he's buying."

"Great." My mood was souring fast. Hannah was going to a bar with some skeezy old high school friend. Given what she'd told me about her adolescence, I knew her high school pals weren't exactly young scholars. Mostly gamers and dropouts.

"Try to sound a little happier for me."

I made some kind of noise. Hannah giggled. Fuck, that sound. Why did she have to be going out with some dickbag tonight? Why couldn't she pant and moan on the phone with me until I came? I needed to come—with her. God, I needed it.

"You're cute, you know," she said.

"I prefer handsome. And yes, I know."

"Ha! Such a snob, too."

Someone in the background was repeatedly calling Hannah's name.

"I also know that. You're being summoned."

"Ugh, I know. Apparently the way to solicit attention in this house is to go full five-year-old. Anyway. Um." Hannah moved away from the background noise and lowered her voice. "I'll... I'll text you when I get home, okay? We can chat if you're still up."


"And I'm... wearing a baby blue satin thong," she whispered.

I exhaled and closed my eyes. My world slowed.

"Good," I said, and I hung up.



AFTER MY BRIEF conversation with Matt, the last place I wanted to be was at Lot 49 with Evan Rexer.

Don't get me wrong, the Lot was a hip little bar and I loved the Pynchon reference, but after Evan got one beer in him it became apparent that Matt had been right—Evan had ideas.

He kept draping his freckled arm around my shoulders, squeezing my side, and "inadvertently" brushing against my br**sts. Gross. I wouldn't have enjoyed it even if Evan were good looking, which he wasn't. He was overweight and had a scruffy beard that reminded me all too much of Mick's body hair.

I shot Matt a text.

I begrudgingly admit defeat... this time. Idiot friend is creeping on me.

Matt replied within seconds.

Are you alright?

Fine, just annoyed. This outing can't end soon enough. I didn't mean to worry you.

Matt's reply came a few minutes later. Reading it, I could practically hear his sarcastic voice, laced with that strange mixture of anger and amusement.

Well you did worry me. You'll have to make it up to me. Text me if you need a ride, though I make no promises to get you home.

I shivered and slipped my phone back into my purse. Powerful knowledge, that I could call my sexy stranger and he'd whisk me away from this crowded bar and pimply horn dog.

Evan pinched my side.

I twisted away.

"That kind of hurts," I grumbled. I doubt he heard me over the loud, distorted music coming from the band.

I sighed and sipped on my Long Island. The drink was hitting me hard, probably because I needed dinner. When Chrissy and I got home, after hugging my parents and brother and dog, I shuffled around the house feeling depressed.

Moving home at twenty-seven is less than triumphant. I didn't even have enough money saved to get my own place.

My mother had promised to delegate some of her transcription work and pay me under the table until I got on my feet. While I appreciated the offer and would definitely appreciate the funds, it was a blow to my pride.

Was this really my life? How could I graduate summa cum laude, attend grad school on a full scholarship, and end up living with my parents and typing medical records?

I recognized the song floating above the voices in the bar. The band was doing a halfway decent cover of "Jigsaw Falling Into Place."

"Perfect!" I laughed. I finished my drink with a big swallow.

"What? You want another?" Evan shouted.

"No! I'm going to dance!"

"Oh." His face fell. I almost felt sorry for him. I knew Evan would never join me on the dance floor. This was a guy who played Dungeons & Dragons and dressed up for opening night of the new Star Trek movie. "I'll finish my beer!" he shouted.

I slipped off my stool and melted into the small crowd in front of the stage.

The band guys and a few dancers eyed me hungrily, but I closed my eyes and tuned them out. God, I loved this song.

The tempo whirled higher and I began to dance. I lifted my arms into the air. I was wearing a pale tiered ruffle skirt and it rose off my thighs when I spun.

I let my mind drift back to Matt. I missed him. I'm not sure how I could miss someone I'd never met and chatted with only a few hours ago, but I did.

I wanted him to be here.

I wanted him to be dancing with me, his hands on my body and his voice in my ear.

I missed our story, too. Writing with Matt had become the high point of my days, and despite our campy storyline, it challenged me. My prose was clunky compared to his. I got hung up on diction and syntax; I agonized over every word.

Matt's prose flowed effortlessly. He grabbed words without fear, however colloquial or antique, and sacrificed every rule of grammar in the pursuit of expression. And damn, did that boy know his grammar.

Once, he scathingly brought my attention to my "chronic misuse of apostrophes."

"How about your chronic use of sentence fragments?" I shot back.

"It's deliberate," he replied, "versus what you're doing—making clumsy mistakes. I'm sure you've seen Picasso's surreal stuff, but have you seen Science and Charity? Art is not an assembly of accidents. You have to master the rules before you break them."

I smiled and swayed to a stop as the song ended.

We left the bar around 10:30, mostly because I lied about having cramps.

Evan was ranting about an online game. He tried to take my hand as we crossed the street. I pulled away.

"Seriously, Evan," I huffed.

I was about to unleash on Evan when something caught my eye.

A few yards down, almost directly across from the Lot, a streetlamp illuminated the figure of a tall man. He stood at a slant and held a leash. At the end of the leash was a small lump with tall ears.

Evan snickered.

"Oh my god," he said, his beery breath too close to my face. "Is that dude walking a rabbit? What a faggot."

I drifted down the sidewalk toward the man. He ignored me, even as I stepped onto the grass. Even as I ogled him shamelessly.

His hair was dirty blond, carelessly mussed, and he wore a fitted gray t-shirt and jeans. Damn, this guy knew how to wear jeans. The light wash denim clung to his lean thighs and tight ass, and I could see that the low waistline barely covered his groin. His handsome face was clean shaven. I stared up his body from his flip-flops to his hair.

Fuck, I hope Matt looks this delicious.

But this was definitely not Matt. No way. I may not have known Matt well, but I could say with near-certainty that he would never, ever, own a pet rabbit, much less take it for walks in the middle of the night on some kind of...

"Tiny harness," I blurted. I stared down at the bunny.

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