Into the Hollow
But I’d gone too far to turn back now. Earlier I had told Jimmy that Dex and I would do the “Sasquatch Special.” A new contract was faxed over to which we both signed, and it included the new pay raise. It was barely enough to survive on but it was a lot more than it was before. Even though I made sure the contract was on a show-by-show basis, so I wouldn’t get roped into something I’d regret, I was still committed. And it felt good. My head and heart were all over the place and that one sense of stability is what I needed to keep going and not turn back.
Talking to Ada was the hardest. She called me back after I hung up with my parents and she sounded almost weepy over the phone. She missed me and dealing with my parents alone was harder than she thought.
“Can you hear my thoughts?” I asked her, looking into the warm interior of Top Pot Doughnuts and debating a sweet treat.
“No,” she said. “Nothing. You’re probably too far away. What were you thinking about?”
“Donuts,” I told her.
“You’re probably not passionate enough about donuts,” she said.
“Well I used to be.”
“Can Dex hear you?” she asked.
“I don’t think so.”
“Maybe it’s just a family thing.”
“Yeah. Though I thought Maximus heard me that one time. Speaking of the douchecanoe, has he been around?”
She sighed. “Of course. Like, just this morning. But good news is that dad is like totally bored of him or something so he just told him to go.”
“Good.” Maximus now seemed like the ultimate meddler.
“So you’re going back to the Experiment in Terror show now? Seriously, are you sure that’s a wise idea?” I could hear the disapproval across the line.
I rolled my eyes even though she couldn’t see it. “You sound just like Dex.”
“Why? He doesn’t want you to do it?”
“No, not really. He agreed now, but originally he told Jimmy that I wouldn’t be a part of it. It didn’t matter though, Jimmy wanted me and we both managed to convince Dex.”
“Are you sure you convinced Dex? Maybe this was his backward way of convincing you.”
I paused, my stomach heavy. “No, I don’t think so. He was pretty determined to not let me do it. I think I believe him. He’s pretty worried about me.”
“Well I’m glad someone there is. It’s hard to worry all the way down here.”
“You’re three hours away, Ada,” I told her. “And I’ll be back soon. I need to get the rest of my stuff and my bike. We’re heading to BC to film in a couple of days, so I might come down in like a week or so.”
“Here’s hoping they’ve calmed down by then. They’re being so spazzy and so unfair.”
“That sounds like mom and dad.”
“Well, stay in touch, all righty?” she pleaded. “And if all else fails, use the shining.”
I giggled. “Yes, and I will expect you to show up with an axe and a snowmobile.”
Pause. “What’s that from?”
“The…Shining. Haven’t you…oh nevermind. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
I hung up the phone and decided to skip the doughnut. But while I got closer the apartment, I ducked into the convenience store across the street. They didn’t have donuts but they did have a sign that said “Fresh Beer” and a cute sandy-haired guy behind the counter who was filling large jugs from the tap for “to go” beer.
“Need some beer?” the cute guy asked. He looked to be maybe around 25-years old, of average height and nice build, very cute smile and a funny Battlestar Gallactica t-shirt.
I smiled shyly, glad I put some effort into my appearance that morning and looked at the clock on the wall. “It’s after noon, is that allowed?”
He grinned and grabbed a jug. “You seem like a girl who makes her own rules, so sure why not. What will it be?”
I picked an amber ale, even though I really hadn’t planned on drinking half a liter of beer before my gynecologist appointment. Oh well, it felt good to be out and meeting the neighbors.
“I haven’t seen you around before,” he said as he pulled back on the tap, keeping his eyes on me yet somehow not spilling a drop.
“I just moved to the city,” I told him, fidgeting with my plaid scarf.
“Where did you move from?”
“Well, welcome to Seattle.” He put down the jug and wiped his hand on a dishtowel. He held it out for me with a big, dimple-inducing smile. “I’m Paul.”
I shook his hand. “Perry.”
“Pretty name for a pretty girl,” he said, and cranked a cap on the beer bottle. “Hope you enjoy the beer. If you do, come back here and let me know. I could take you to the brewery where they make these puppies.”
“Speaking of puppies,” a voice called out from behind us.
I whirled around to see Dex had strolled in the store. My palms immediately felt sweaty.
“Hey Dex,” Paul greeted him casually.
“Hey,” he said, his eyes narrowing on him for a split second. Then he brought them to me. “I was just going to get the car from the shop when I saw my poor dog tied outside, looking like he just ran a marathon.”
“Sorry,” I said, looking for my wallet. “I ended up talking to my parents. Took longer than I thought.”
“And getting beer,” he remarked. He smiled at Paul. “She’s a troublemaker, this one.”
Paul looked between us both as he placed the jug on the counter. “You know Perry?”
I could have sworn Dex winced. “Yes, I know Perry. And it seems like you know Perry now too. She just moved in with me.”
Paul’s face reddened. “Oh, I’m sorry, I-”
“I’m his new roommate,” I said quickly.
“She’s my partner,” said Dex.
“Work partner,” I clarified to Paul with a smile.
“But we live together,” Dex shot back.
I tried not to glare at him. “For now.”
“Right,” said Paul in that I’m going to back away slowly kind of voice. “Well, Dex. Here’s your beer, uh, Perry. It’s on the house. A welcome to Seattle thing.”
“Thank you, that’s mighty kind,” Dex said with a slight bow and plucked the beer off the counter and headed out the door.
I shot Paul an apologetic look and ran after Dex, out of the store and onto the frigid street.
“Hey,” I said, pulling on his coat for him to stop.
He turned and cocked his head. “Yes?”
“What was that about?”
“What? Oh right, here’s your beer.”
Dex shoved the cold jug into my hands. Then he undid Fat Rabbit’s leash and handed that to me too.
“No,” I said, trying to juggle the items. “The cockblocking.”
He burst out laughing, his brows raised as he looked at me. “Cockblocking? What? You have a cock now?”
I stamped my foot. “No, Paul. He was flirting with me and you totally shot him down.”
His chin lowered and pulled back against his neck. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. You were just chatting, from what I saw.”
“He was flirting and you know it. You wanted to make it look like we were together.”
“Why would I do a thing like that?”
“Because you’re a jerk.” I said the first thing that came to mind.
He looked around him, as if for backup. “Wow. Maybe we should add a no name-calling clause to the house rules.”
“Enough with the damn rules already.”
“Hey,” he growled, coming right up to me, chest against mine. “If it weren’t for those damn rules, we’d already be having dirty sex all over that apartment.”
Either it was the words “dirty sex” or the way he was looking down at me so intensely, or the fact that he might have been telling the truth or how damn confident he sounded, I was stunned and at a loss for words. My cheeks immediately flushed.
He kept his shining, dark eyes on mine until I had to look away, while my brain struggled to come up with something other than playing images of us having dirty sex together.
“That’s right,” he continued, voice low and velvet smooth. “You know it’s true. I’m not saying I agree with the rules though, but you know, you started them.”
I cleared my throat, finding my footing. “And I’m glad I did. Man, you are way too confident for someone who keeps getting shot down.”
His eyes widened humorously. “Shot down? And who’s doing the shooting, you?”
I opened my mouth then realized how egotistical I would have sounded.
“No, you’re not shooting me down, kiddo,” Dex went on. “Because I’m not really trying. When I do try, you’ll know it. And then you’ll throw the whole damn rulebook out the window.”
He flashed me a smile and then turned and strolled down the street with wide, powerful strides. I watched him go, my brain still on the fritz, until Fat Rabbit started anxiously pulling at the collar. In a daze that made my heart feel like it was on spin cycle, I let the dog lead me across the street and back home.
The days leading up to our trip North went by quickly. Which was both a good and bad thing. Ever since our altercation and sexual threats outside the convenience store things were kind of strained between us. Well, they were to me. Dex seemed completely fine and at ease, despite dropping some suggestive comments here and there. They never went further than that, which meant Dex wasn’t really trying and just teasing instead. I could live with that…for now.
Of course, I felt a lot better now that I had the IUD inside me. Not that I got it because of Dex, because really, I didn’t, but it was nice knowing it was there for protection in case something happened. I couldn’t go down that road again and I had to play it safe.
Rebecca was so sweet to take me and I apologized profusely to her, feeling bad for dismissing her problems and for ragging on Dex so much. She understood, cuz she’s made of awesome, and I made a promise to myself not to put him down when I was around her. Besides, the longer I was living with him, the more I was warming up to him. Maybe not my heart - I liked to keep that in the deep freezer - but definitely my body. Sleeping in the room next to him, hearing him in the shower, sneaking around for moments with his shirt off just so I could get a glimpse of what his tattoo was (regrettably, he’s remained clothed around me) was making me a bit crazy and my libido was off the charts. I couldn’t even masturbate without fearing I’d cry out his name and scare the damn dog.
Hence why the IUD seemed smarter with every waking second.
We had to rise early on the day we left for the shoot since the drive to the town of Snow Crest, BC, was at least eight hours away. We were still in Washington, just passing the snow-covered town of Ellensburg, when I noticed Dex’s eyes weren’t quite on the road but on my chest.