She mutters something about the flight being bumpy and then wanders off toward the baggage claim station. I follow along, standing next to her while she checks her phone.
“I had a draft paper due yesterday,” she explains. “I was hoping for quick feedback.”
“Well, I’m hoping to make you forget your master’s program and papers and thesis arguments for about forty-eight hours.”
She looks up at me. I was hoping for the playful smile I love, but all I get is a look of exasperation. Emily is traditionally pretty in a lot of ways with her honey-blond hair, bright hazel eyes, and a cute, upturned nose. She’s in a white T-shirt, jeans, and a navy blazer, looking like she could go horseback riding or teach a college class. Either way, she’d look good even in spite of the downward tilt of her pink mouth. I reach out and trace my thumb along her lips.
“Your face is gonna freeze like that,” I say, leaning in for a kiss.
She allows it but turns away as soon as the baggage claim buzzer goes off.
As Emily makes her way closer to the carousel, I shove my hands in my pockets and blow out a sigh. I’ve been feeling so guilty about kissing Billie. It won’t happen again, especially now that I know we have to work together on this project at the boys and girls club. Still, I wonder if I should tell Emily about it. Although, at this moment, I doubt she’d care.
When she spots her bag, I jog over to grab it for her. She thanks me, and I pull it along behind me as we make our way out to grab a taxi.
“So, what do you want to do this weekend?” I ask. “I made us a reservation for dinner tonight but thought I’d see what you were up for.”
“Have you done any sightseeing?” She stares out the window at the sights as they pass.
“Not really. I mean, I walk around a little, but I don’t do too much besides work stuff.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” she mutters to herself.
“Well,” I say, feeling affronted, “I mean, I did go out to see some live music one night.”
She turns and appraises me. “Cal, I know you pretty well. You like routine and you’re way out of yours.”
I’m not sure how to take the statement. It could be that she’s saying she understands why I haven’t seen a lot yet. Her tone makes it seem otherwise, but I’m bad at reading people most of the time, even people I know well. I can read one thing, though. Em hasn’t smiled once since she got here. She keeps looking at her phone. I guess she’s just distracted by her school stuff, but still.
When we get to my apartment, Em dumps her things in the bedroom and then disappears into the bathroom. A moment later, I hear the bath water running. I knock lightly on the door.
“Want some company in there?” I ask through the door.
“No, I’m good,” she answers back.
I frown and sit on the couch to watch sports highlights while she does her thing. When she finally comes out, she’s in a fluffy white robe, her blond hair piled on top of her head in a dancer’s bun, tight and perfect. I pat the couch, and she sits, leaning into me as I put my arm around her.
“Feel better?” I press a kiss to the crown of her head.
“I guess. I hate flying, I’ve realized.”
“Oh. Sorry to hear that.”
“It just makes me feel crowded and dirty. Nick says the air doesn’t just circulate and recirculate, but I can’t help but feel planes are just germ factories.”
“Who is Nick?”Don’t like the sound of him.
“He’s a guy in my master’s cohort. We work on a lot of projects together.”
“How does he know how air circulates in a plane?”
She shrugs. “When is dinner?”
I look at my phone. “An hour.”
“Okay. I’ll go get dressed.”
She starts to get up, but I pull her back, leaning in to kiss her neck. “We have time,” I say against her skin.