2. a phone call

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I dreamed of our conversation that night. It had been brief, but it had left an impression that might last far longer than necessary. I doubted that I would meet anyone like Dante Heron again. He spoke in odd sentences, jumping from subject to subject and grabbing things to discuss from thin air only to discard them a second later. He was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Disjointed.

Ms. Demalier had smiled at us from where she stood, surrounded by people who clearly wanted her attention but received little. Her behavior had made me even more confused while Dante had led me further into the maze of his thoughts. In the end, Cal had saved me from the strange meeting by announcing that it was time to go.

The last thing I did was say goodbye to Dante, but he'd just given me a half-smirk in response. I hadn't been surprised at all—he defied convention, so why expect him to be conventional?

Sighing, I sat up in my bed and scratched an itch behind my left ear. I could hear Ayden and Cal rummaging around on the other side of the door, and I knew it was time to get up, before one of them decided to breach privacy to force me out of bed. Only a week had passed by since the term had ended, but I already regretted my choice to leave the apartment behind to stay with Ayden and Cal over the summer. I'd thought it would be easier to find a job farther away from the campus, but so far no one had showed even a remote interest in hiring me. It was only a matter of time before Ayden or Cal stepped in to set me up with someone or something, but I wanted to do this on my own.

The bed creaked when I rose, reminding me that I wouldn't be able to bring anyone home if I wanted to keep things quiet. Not that it mattered—I hadn't been interested in anything remotely sexual since Mom died.

"Chris, are you awake?" Ayden called from the living room.


"We're heading out. Just grab what you need from the fridge."


It was a lot easier to get up and out of the room once the pair closed the front door behind them. When they weren't around, I didn't have to feel like the bothersome little brother.

Sunlight poured in through the large windows in the living room, warming the parquet floor beneath my feet. I would have to leave the apartment, eventually. The rooms became far too warm in the summer months—something they hadn't considered when buying the place. I knew Ayden had tried to install blinds, but Cal had refused, saying that he couldn't stand shutting out the sun. He had a point.

I padded over to the kitchen area and smiled as I saw coffee in the brewer. I poured a cup and sat on one of the sleek chairs. The newspaper lay open before me, and the first thing I spotted was a review of yesterday's concert. Deciding not to read it, I took a sip of the coffee, winced, and rose to discard it in the sink. Nothing was worse than cold coffee first thing in the morning.

I glanced back at the table. Did they even post job ads these days? Sighing at the prospect of yet another day spent searching for a job, I opened the fridge and scanned the contents. No juice either.

Resigned to a morning without juice or warm coffee, I sat and began to flip through the pages. I stalled by reading a comic strip, but once I was done, I searched for the ads. It didn't make any sense to wait for a job to land in my lap.

Waitress wanted.

Like that would work. Nope.

I read the other ones, grumbling as their catchphrases failed to excite me at all. I crossed out a few I knew I couldn't get, a couple that I really didn't want, and was left with three ads that I would force myself to call about. The first one was the waitress job.

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