As I exhale deeply, I change into another sweatshirt, making sure to put on a bra underneath, this time. We all know lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place, but you can never be sure. I return to the kitchen shortly, and see Anderson has cleaned up the table and all the dishes are already done.
“Wow,” I smile. “It’s like having a maid.”
He chuckles. “You didn’t think you’d be doing any cleaning while here, did you?”
“Well, why not?” I sit down opposite him, grateful that we’ve already moved past the awkward episode and we can chat nicely again. “You guys are supposed to keep me safe, but I don’t remember anyone mentioning you guys cleaning up after me.”
“Well, ask Fynn and you might get a different answer,” he shrugs, with a wink, “but, I think it’s nice to do these little things. I mean, it’s just a few dishes. I don’t mind washing them, instead of leaving them in the sink to dry up and then, it’s Hell washing up.”
“Spoken like a true housewife,” I can’t help but giggle.
“Keep talking like that, and you’ll be doing your own dishes,” he jokingly threatens me with his index finger.
“Alright, alright,” I surrender, in good humor.
“So, have you managed to find anything good on your bookshelf?”
“I haven’t even checked, sorry.”
“No need to apologize,” he smiles.
“I’ll take a look as soon as I - “
The sound of approaching footsteps makes us both look in the direction of the front door, where Fynn immediately appears.
“Everything good?” Anderson asks.
“Yes,” Fynn nods, giving me a skimming look, then placing his empty plate on the table before us. “Your turn to watch.”
With those words, Anderson stands up. “If you try to make a coffee later on, see if the old girl will make one for me, too,” he tells me.
“Sure,” I nod, with a smile.
Fynn doesn’t say anything else. He just heads to their room, closing the door behind him. With both of them gone in their opposite directions, I am left alone. I’d love to talk to my friends, just to see how they’re doing, only to hear their voices, but I know that’s impossible. So, I head back to my room, to check that bookshelf, even though I myself have already started feeling like I’m in a novel of my very own, and the end was still very much a mystery to every character involved.
I exit into the fresh air, exhaling loudly. I remember the little tap which draws water from a nearby well, and I head over there. The splash of cool water on my face feels restoring. I’m not sleepy or tired. It’s the opposite, actually. I’m too spirited, I guess is the word. Way too spirited than I should be, under these unwelcoming circumstances, but it is, what it is.
Bouncy. Peppy. Zesty. I think of all those terms my mom used to refer to when she’d be talking about boys and their strayed thinking when it came to girls. I guess that’s exactly how I feel now. The sight of Maddie’s nipples piercing through the light fabric of her sweatshirt still returns to me. Actually, I can’t say that it returns, because it never left me. So, it’s stayed with me since I first laid eyes on them. And, the image is still as fresh in my mind as half an hour ago.
I splash some more cool, deep water on my face and for a moment, I feel refreshed. But, the image returns again, with a vengeance. I feel a stirring in my pants, something that has no place happening here or now. I can’t think that way about her. Maybe Fynn is right. I’m way too friendly sometimes, and occasionally, it came back to bite me in the ass. I don’t want that to happen now. I can’t lose focus of what’s important here, and that’s Maddie’s safety. I can’t go around with a freakin’ boner, wondering how it would feel to fuck her brains out. Fynn would kill me. Hugo would hang me by the balls. I know all that, and more. And, yet, her sweet face won’t leave me, even when she’s not around.
I sigh heavily, knowing that I need to work on this every single waking moment of my time here. That only adds more strain to the situation. But, it is what it is. I need to make it work somehow, and just keep my distance from her. That’s the only way.
At that moment, I feel my work phone vibrating. It’s a burner, specially bought for the purposes of coming here, and it’ll only be used for a few days. Then, either Fynn or I will go and get another one, for the next few days. We can’t risk being tracked this way.
“Hello?” I pick up, already guessing who will be on the other end of the line.
“Yes, Chief Garth?”
“Have you settled in?”