Authors: Lila Felix
“Ok, in that case, six a.m. And one more thing.”
I bit my lips to stop myself from laughing.
This should be rich.
“I’m gonna be wearing a pair of shorts tomorrow. Try not to pick a perch and stare at my ass all day like you did when I was cleaning.” She winked at me and walked out. And I thought I’d been so stealth about the whole thing. Damn, I was so wrong.
Holy shit! I couldn’t believe I just said that to him. But I had to. He had to know that he wasn’t quite the ninja he thought he was. And I needed help tomorrow. That backyard resembled a sugar cane field.
I’d gone out earlier that day to mow the grass since it looked like the greatest case of ridiculous I’d ever come across. This big beautiful house with all of its crown molding, granite countertops and maple staircase to sit next to that wasteland they called a backyard was a travesty. I called Mrs. Collins about it before I started, just in case it was a no, or something that would set Breaker off.
She’d told me about his affliction in our meeting and what she wanted me to do about it and how much she’d pay me to do it. There was no way I could ever make that much money anywhere else, not to mention, I wouldn’t have to find a place to live.
And I felt like I could help. My mother had been somewhat the same way but she was paranoid about aliens and demons and such. She wasn’t afraid of people at all. Mrs. Collins had been very thorough. She knew what was in my background. She also knew I had no money for a dorm and none to pay for college. So she made me an offer I couldn’t resist.
Except, I didn’t know I’d actually start to like Breaker.
He didn’t fit the mold I’d so carefully carved. He wasn’t so incredibly handsome, but when he smarted off to me the dimples in his cheeks came to life. And when I surprised him by telling him I saw him watching me, his gray eyes gleamed. I had to remember I was here to do a job, not bag a boyfriend.
The next morning, I awoke at six and got dressed in a white tank top and some cut off shorts. I threw on some tennis shoes and put my hair up in a bun. Bread, eggs and milk in hand, I started breakfast. Breaker wasn’t up yet and I knew that I’d eventually have to go up there and knock on his door to wake him up.
I made stacks of French toast and decided to go the extra mile and made sausage too. I had everything ready and his lazy ass still wasn’t up. I took the stairs two at a time and reached his door. I knocked and the door flew open revealing a smiling Breaker wearing basketball shorts, an old Rage Against the Machine t shirt and a ball cap. Forget what I said before about him being incredibly handsome. He was hot.
“Now who’s staring?” he laughed and I slapped the bill of his hat.
“You’re late your Highness,” I retaliated.
“And you’re wearing shorts.” He stepped back and dramatically checked me out.
“Stop. Are you hungry?” I asked him.
“Oh yeah, I’m hungry.” He kept his eyes on my legs.
“You have to quit now.” I joked and turned to go down the stairs. We ate breakfast in mostly silence except for when Breaker moaned every time he put a bite in his mouth.
“Do you have to moan every time you put something in your mouth?”
That really set him off and the rest of the meal was filled with cheesy innuendos.
I finished first and went to put my plate in the dishwasher.
“Are you done your Majesty?” I said as I reached for his plate.
“You’ve really got to stop with that.” He said. “It was funny the first maybe six times.”
“Ok, ok. So do you want to mow and I can weedeat—or do you want to weedeat and I’ll mow?”
He scrunched up his mouth and looked in the air like he was thinking hard.
“It’s not that hard of a decision.” I crossed my arms.
“I was just trying to think about the job that gives me the best view of your ass.”
He got slapped again, “Stop!”
He went to get the gas from the garage where I’d put it the day before and I went outside to survey the area. It was a huge yard. It would probably take all day to mow it and get it looking decent.
Breaker mowed and I tried not to cut my leg off with the weedeater. I finished the perimeter of the yard by the fence and then started in by the house. The weedeater stopped and I realized it was out of gas again. I walked over to the porch and looked at the time through the glass door. It was a little after noon. Breaker was halfway through the enormous yard and somehow I’d missed it when he took his shirt off. And I could see from where I stood that he was getting sunburned.
I waved at him and he saw me and stopped the mower.
“What?” he yelled from across the yard.
“You’re getting burned and I’m starving.”
He gave me a curt nod and walked over.
“Do you—I mean do you ever…”
He laughed, “Spit it out.”
“Do you ride in a car? I mean, if I wanted to run for a burger, could you come with me? We won’t get out, just the drive through.”
Though he’d been in the sun all day, he suddenly went pale. Now I’d done it. Me and my big damned mouth.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. I just wondered. Shit, I’m always apologizing to you!”
He shrugged, “It’s fine. But no, I don’t go anywhere. But you make me want to again, so I guess that’s something. But I haven’t had a fast food burger in years.”
I gasped, “How are you still alive?”
He grabbed my shoulder and laughed. I didn’t know I was burnt until he touched me. I let out a hiss.
“Sorry, shit. You’re pretty burned too.”
“I am. Look, how about I go get us a slew of fatty, greasy food and you cool off.”
“Ok, but I’m not gonna cool off. I’m gonna hunt you down some aloe and Tylenol.”
I got into my car after grabbing my wallet and my keys. I stopped to think about what I’d said. And then I threw a mini fit right there in the driver’s seat, hitting the steering wheel and kicking the floorboard.
“What an idiot!” I screamed at myself.
I drove to my favorite drive in burger joint. I ordered burgers, fries, tater tots, chili dogs, and one of each flavor of milkshake. I couldn’t imagine going for a week, much less years, without fast food.
I pulled back in and expected him to have reclused back into his room. But he was there in the kitchen, the look in his eyes like a starving coyote.
“I got two of each thing.”
“Seriously?” he asked. “What do I owe you?”
“Nothing. The look on your face is totally worth it.”
I watched him while he ate, more of the moaning and groaning. I laughed and showered my tots with ketchup.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing.” I said back.
“They think they’re gonna further my insanity.” He said while wiping his mouth
“What?” I didn’t know if he was talking about the fries or the tots.
“My parents, my sisters, they all think if they bring me food from the outside or have family dinners over here instead of my parents’ house that I’ll get comfortable here and never get over it.”
“And what do you think?”
He took another pull on his milkshake, “I think I’ve gotten comfortable here, regardless of what they have or haven’t done. I think I need someone to challenge me. I’m ready to be over this shit already. And today when you asked me if I would go with you, I should’ve. But I don’t want you to see it if I can’t handle it.”
I nodded and I understood. I wouldn’t want to flip out in front of anyone either. And I certainly knew how it felt to be ridiculed.
“Do you know when it’s coming on? What is it like a panic attack or something? I mean, do you have any warning?”
He balled up his greasy papers, done with his meal, “Most of the time I do.”
“So we start slow. We go for a drive, no stopping, no people. Then we progress to a drive thru or maybe a drive in,” I waggled my eyebrows to lighten the mood. “Then maybe, I don’t know, we go somewhere out there without many people and then just see how it goes. I’m your friend now, you gotta let me try.”
“Let me think about it. But first, you are burnt to a crisp.”
He got up and picked up a bottle of aloe. “May I?” He asked.
“Yeah, thank you.”
“Pull down your straps,” he said, his voice so much softer than it had been just seconds ago.
I pulled them down the curve of my shoulders and inhaled another hiss as his fingers touched my shoulders.
“Sorry, I know it hurts.”
“Thank you. You don’t have to do this.”
“But I do. You’ve only been here four days and you’ve helped me more in that short time than anyone ever has in two years.”
I nodded and didn’t focus on his strong hands on my shoulders. And I didn’t even notice how his breath blew on the back of my neck. And I especially didn’t feel his stomach pressing against my back. I couldn’t feel any of that. A liar—I’m also a filthy liar.
He stopped rubbing and I opened my eyes, though I didn’t know at what point I’d closed them.
“Can we finish tomorrow? I’ve got some things to take care of.” There it was; his breath against my neck again.
“Yeah, sure. No problem.”
He put the bottle of aloe next to me and then stomped up the stairs—and I was alone again.