“Well,” I amend, “except for a few things, I guess.”
He motions to my arm. “Purple cast.” And then, quieter, “And you were wearing pink the night you were shoved.”
My fingers tingle in this weird way when he says that, like blood has evacuated my extremities and rushed to fill my chest. He meets my gaze head-on, like he wants to cover this now, first, before we do anything else; our conversation at the bar was such a scratch of the surface, and now I know that he didn’t intervene because he wasn’t here legally.
“Tell me what happened that night,” I say. “I don’t remember much.”
“Well, yeah. You were rather unconscious.” With a little beckoning tilt of his head, he turns, leaving my bedroom and heading out to the sofa. He pats the seat beside him.
For a few seconds filled with blinking embarrassment, I realize this means he saw me in complete disarray.
My saggy tights.
My skirt at my waist.
And, later, my shirt unbuttoned to my navel.
He laughs. “Sit.”
“I was such a mess.” I drop down beside him.
“You landed on the subway tracks and knocked your head.” He looks at me quizzically. “Of course you were a mess.”
“No,” I say, groaning into my hands. “I mean you probably saw my saggy crotch and my boobs.”
A strangled laugh comes from beside me. “I wasn’t really thinking about crotches and boobs at the moment. I jumped up, telling the bum to wait, but he ran. I tried to reach you but couldn’t. I worried if I tried to fetch you, we’d both be stuck down there. I called the paramedics, called the MTA. The ambulance arrived, and that was that.” When I look back at him, I find him studying me. “It happened so fast. I wasn’t sure what he was doing at first, but then he came for you. I don’t have a legal ID or residence. I was paranoid. That’s really it.”
He nods to my cast again. “How much longer do you need to wear that?”
Tracing a finger along a line in the hardened bandage, I say, “I get it off in three weeks.”
“Does it hurt?”
He nods, and the silence swallows us.
We look around. At the dark television, the window, the bookcases, the kitchen. Anywhere but at each other.
The more I repeat the word in my head, the more it sounds fake, like it’s not a real thing.
Calvin clears his throat. “Do you have anything to drink?”
Booze. Right. This is the perfect situation for some booze. I jump up, and he laughs, awkwardly. “I should have thought to get champagne or something.”
“You bought the dinner,” I remind him. “Obviously the champagne was on my list and I dropped the ball.”
Pulling a bottle of vodka from the freezer, I set it on the counter and then realize I have nothing to mix it with. And I finished the last beer the other night.
“I have vodka.”
He smiles valiantly. “Straight-up vodka it is.”
“Straight-up mediocre vodka it is,” he amends with a cheeky wink.
His phone buzzes, and it sets off a weird, giddy reaction in my chest. We both have full lives beyond this apartment, which remain complete mysteries to each other. One difference between us is that Calvin likely doesn’t care about my life outside of this. Yet I care intensely about his. Having him here feels like finding the key to unlock a mysterious chest that’s been sitting in the corner of my bedroom for a year.
Looking up, I meet his eyes. They’re wide, almost as if he’s not sure whether to answer.
“You can get it,” I assure him. “It’s okay.”
His face darkens with a flush. “I . . . don’t think I should.”
“It’s your phone! Of course it’s okay to answer it.”
“It’s not . . .”
Unless, maybe, it’s some Mafia drug lord and if he answers his ruse is up and I’ll kick him out. Or—gasp—maybe it’s a girlfriend calling?
Why had this not occurred to me?
“Oh my God. Do you have a girlfriend?”
He looks horrified. “What? Of course not.”
Holy shit, how long until his voicemail puts us out of our misery?
“. . . Boyfriend?”
“I don’t—” he starts, smiling through a wince. “It’s not.”
“My phone isn’t ringing.”
I stare at him, bewildered.
His blush deepens. “It’s not a phone.”
When he says this, I know he’s right. It doesn’t have the right rhythm to be a phone.
I lift the vodka to my lips and chug straight from the bottle. The buzzing has the exact rhythm of my vibrator . . . the one I tucked beneath that cushion on the couch days ago.
I’m going to need to be pretty drunk to deal with this.
I roll over onto my side, right into a solid, warm body. It’s black all around us, and the darkness only amplifies his quiet moan. Against me, Calvin is completely bare; we both went to bed clothed, but somehow I ended up back out in the living room—naked—and the unbelievable heat of him seems endless in the tiny sofa bed.