Brent left that night feeling somewhat lighter. When he made it back to his less than cozy room, he nuked some ramen he’d previously bought then sat down to eat. While he ate, memories began flooding his mind again, he felt locked in time. He had so much inner turmoil buried inside his heart and mind that me immediately started doing push-ups to direct his thoughts elsewhere. Once he worked up a good sweat, he showered and climbed in bed. Nightmares of dead bodies, sounds of gun fire and explosions mixed with disembodied screams jolted him awake. He’d been asleep no more than two hours, and was tired beyond belief. Reaching over for his phone, he punched the phone number to Pixie, but soon realized he never asked for her number. What was he going to do now? If he drove back to her place, she would let him in, right? He weighed that option and hoped he didn’t waste gas for nothing.
Pixie thought she heard a knock at her front door, but ignored it and rolled back over and shoved her face in her pillow. There was knocking, harder this time. There was no mistaking it, someone was at her door. Who could it have been at this time of morning? So, she traveled from her room through the front room, looked through the peep hole and saw Brent.
“What are you doing here? Do you have any idea what time it is?” she yawned.
“It’s two thirty in the morning!”
“I said I was sorry.”
“Are you dying or something?”
“You could say that. I can’t sleep.”
“Come on in.” she blew out a breath and let him pass her. “If you wanted to see me again, you could have just said so.”
“That’s not it. I really can’t sleep.”
Pixie sauntered towards her room and signaled for him to follow.
“You’re going to have to sleep in here with me.”
“Are you sure?”
“What, are you scared that you’ll wake up to a blond haired woman” she teased.
He smiled and rounded to the right side of her bed and climbed in. Shutting the bedroom door she followed in his footsteps and slide in on her original side of the bed.
“I didn’t think you’d let me in, let alone into your room.”
“As you can see I’m a very generous person, now go to bed.”
His comment made her puff out a laugh and soon enough they were both off to sleep. The next morning she awoke to him beside her still sleeping. She thought for a person who proclaimed he had a difficult time sleeping, he seemed to be doing a very good job of catching some zzzz. Pushing herself up from the bed, careful not to disturb him, drug herself in the kitchen to start breakfast. Moments later, Brent appeared in the kitchen watching Pixie fulfill the dual roll of frying bacon and scrambling eggs while spreading what looked to be creme cheese over browned bagels. Pixie had a sense she was being watched so she glanced over her shoulder and told Brent to have a seat at the small breakfast table in the kitchen. He did so as she pulled down two small glasses for orange juice and plates for their food.
“You seemed to have slept well.”
“Yeah. I’m surprised myself. I feel well rested.”
“Good. Do you have somewhere you need to be this morning?”
“You’re already kicking me out, again?”
“No. I was just asking. And how am I going to kick you out? You haven’t even had breakfast yet.”
“Are you planning to kick me out after I eat?”
“Not at all.” she smiled slyly at him.
“Honest. I assume you do have a job right?”
“So…you just work whenever you feel like it?”
“My situation is a difficult one right now.”
“Ah. Okay. What about your home life? I see you have a ring indentation around your finger. Your wife wouldn’t be happy you’re at another woman’s house.”
Brent looked at his ring finger as if it was foreign to him. “Yeah, well I’m no longer married.”
“Uh huh…so what happened if you don’t mind me asking?”
“You don’t believe me.” it was more of a statement than a question.
“Should I believe you?”
“I have no reason to lie to you.”
“Okay then. What happened to your marriage?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“I’m just making conversation.”
“Of all the things to ask…”
“Look here, you’re eating my food, drinking my orange juice, which was freshly squeezed by the way, and sucking up my air for free, the least you could do is feed my curiosity.”
He could only stare at her in awe. He’d never come across a women like her. And freshly squeezed orange juice, how do you even work that into a conversation? She certainly was a piece of work. Well he may as well breakdown and tell her.
“You ordering me around in my own house?”
“Yes. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Not at all.”
Brent shook his head and gave a little laugh, then sobered up. “The short of it is, I came home and found my wife, ex-wife, in bed with another man. Not just any man, he was my best friend, former best friend.”
“Ah I see. That usually is grounds for divorce, unfaithfulness. Clearly you’ve divorced recently, so how fresh is your wound?”
“A week or so.”
“Well the bright side is, there are other fish in the sea.”
“I’m not looking to start dating for a long, long time.”
“I can understand that. Where have you been staying since your divorce?”
“You’re essentially homeless.”
“I’m not homeless.”
“Well what would you call it?”
“I’m just in a transition.”
“In order to transition, you have to have somewhere to transition too. You have a place in mind?”
“I havne’t thought that far ahead.”
“So like I said, you’re homeless.”
“Ah ha! No, I’m not. I wouldn’t normally do this but how about we make a deal, a contract stating that you’re willing to move in with me just until you get back on your feet. Of course conditions will apply.”
“Hmm. I’m listening.”
“Are you willing to help with the usual stuff, laundry, kitchen duties, blah blah blah?”
“Yeah I can do that.”
“And what about that job you say you have?”
“If you’re worried about me freeloading, I have more than enough money in my account to help with bills and whatnot.”
“Really? Then why am I offering to house a man who’s sitting on money?” she asked herself out loud.
“You do realize I just heard you?”
“I tend to talk to myself out loud, you’ll have to excuse me.”
“Have you changed your mind?”
“No. How about we finish breakfast, huh?”
He nodded in agreement which gave him time to digest everything that’s transpired between them, and this moment of silence gave him time to form questions of his own. Once they finished breakfast, dishes were washed and left to dry as they moved into the living room.
“So, you know more about me than I do you, won’t you offer up any information?”
“Why would I just offer up information about myself? What kind of woman do you take me for?”
He laughed and let his head and neck rest against the plush pillows of the couch, then turned his head and said “I like you, you’re funny. Quite unpredictable but funny.”
“At least you know. Do you know what else you should be careful to remember?”
“That I’m every man’s dream woman.”
“Oh ho! How can you say that with a straight face?!” he was truly amused at her level of confidence.
“I’m not the same woman on a daily basis, I don’t even look the same on any given week, let alone day. I tend to think men need spice and variety in their life. Don’t you agree?”
His laugh was uncontrollable and infectious so much that even Pixie had to laugh. It had been a long time since she’d heard a man really laugh. She was beginning to like him a little more already and would love to have him around for a while longer. Pulled themselves together, they resumed their conversation with a few chuckles in between.
“You have an unusual high level of confidence, where did you get that from?”
“As long as I remember, I’ve always been this way. Of course there was a time that I lost confidence, but I got it back.”
“What made you lose confidence in yourself?”
“I grew up in an abusive household. Many times I watched my father strike my mother and she’d never let me take up for her. One day when my father was working she pulled me to the side and told me to always have confidence in myself, that I was more than worthy of love and respect. My mother told me to never let a man beat you down so much that you feel you can’t make a clean break for him. This was strange coming from my own mother granted the situation she was in. But she always built me up with encouraging words and backed me up with anything I wanted to pursue. So how with all my mother’s wise words did I let myself fall into the same trap. I was in a relationship for two years with a guy, the first year was great, but the start of our second year he started making snide remarks about my body, that I was too fat, that I wasn’t pretty enough, and then words turned into fists. Anytime I ignored him, he’d slap me and throw me around like a rag doll. In a year a lot can happen to chip away at your self esteem. I stopped believing I was worth anything, that maybe I deserved what I got. Of all people my mother could tell something was wrong with me when I would go visit her. I never let her see my bruises, and the ones I had on my face I covered with make-up. But she’s my mom, a mother always knows something isn’t quite right with their child. Eventually she pulled the truth out of me and got me away from my boyfriend at the time. I ended up losing all my possessions, all I had were the clothes on my back and shoes on my feet. So, yeah…my confidence took a few licks but now I’m stronger and wiser now. I know the signs to watch for now that I’m an adult.”
“I’m sorry that happened to you. Your father never hit you?”
“No, just my mother. I don’t know why he never turned on me.”
“In any case, that’s a good thing. I’m glad you’re doing better now.”
“So does this also mean you mother severed ties with your father?”
“Yep. After twenty years of marriage she finally decided she’d had enough. I’m definitely proud of her. So what about you, what’s your family like?”
“I was raised by both my parents. Had it not been for my father, I wouldn’t have ever gotten around to starting my own business. He pushed me something fierce. We’re actually in business together, but he’s been running things while I was away on duty.”
“On duty? You mean the military?”
“What was it like, being in the Army?”
“It’s really not something I want to talk about right now.”
“Wait, earlier you said you came home and found your wife in bed with your best friend. So you just got back on U.S. soil?”
He blew out a breath and replied, “Yeah.”
“Damn, what a welcome home present.”
“Could we talk about something else?”
“Fine. Fine with me.”
“So about your hair.”
“Really, this again?”
“I’d like to see you with your own hair.”
“What do I get if I show you?”
“What do you want?”
“How about you work at the bar with me, for a while.”
“What about your boss?”
“Lucky for you he’ll be away for a few days. He took a much needed vacation. So what do you say?”
“I don’t know anything about mixing drinks.”
“Most of the customers order beer, so you shouldn’t have a problem.”
“I’ll be getting paid for my services, correct?”
“Absolutely. You’re eating my food, breathing my air, and drinking my tap water, for free I might add.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” he laughed.
“I’m serious. You’re already sitting on money and you have an unnamed business of your own. You don’t need anything else.”
“I need to unwind, is what I need.”
“Well you’ve come to the right place, because Ms. Pixie knows how to give a massage. You game?”
Brent looked her in the eyes for a moment and asked “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Sure. What’s the worst that could happen?”