Word count: 873
Even standing there, he didn't understand what drew him to such a place. The oak door loomed in front of him. It was quarter of midnight and she probably wasn't even awake, he thought. He knocked anyway.
He stank of too many beers and other people's cigarettes.
She opened the door after a few long seconds and gave him large, frightened doe eyes between the narrow opening. Their eyes connected and for a lingering moment, he watched the way she studied him.
There was so much fear in her eyes that he wondered if he truly was fearsome. If there wasn't a modicum of goodness to him. Just a shred, he thought, would be enough.
It didn't seem there was.
"Nevermind," he said, clearing the brief hurt from his throat and shaking it off, "Sorry I woke you." He didn't wait for her response, and turned to make his way to the staircase at the end of the hall.
He was already shoving the door open when she said, "Wait. Christian - Brian," she corrected, "don't go." He didn't want to meet those eyes again, so when he glanced back to her doorway, he kept his gaze a careful distance from hers. Her posture said she wanted him to leave.
He fought with himself inwardly, hesitating to move forward or to turn back. What had he been doing there, anyway? Did he even know?
"Please," she added, "I wasn't sleeping."
He sighed. There was an edge to her voice, a fright that he wanted to believe had nothing to do with him. "You don't look like you want company," he countered, his low voice managing to carry down the hall to her.
"I don't want to be alone, either."
There it was again, he thought, that subtle terror that shook the vowels before they left her mouth. He didn't say anything, choosing to make the trip back to her door in a sore silence. What had she thought he was going to do?
Hardly, he thought, almost rolling his eyes. He didn't think about how long it had been since he'd actually been with a woman; it was a part of normal life he didn't consider himself privy to anymore. It rarely crossed his mind. When he reached her, she swung the door open wide and let him inside.
She was wearing pajama pants and a thin bathrobe tied tightly around her waist. Her hair was loose around her shoulders. Her living room was decorated with pale blue christmas lights and movie posters. Her TV was on, but the sound was off. He could smell gin in the air.
An aluminum baseball bat rested against the leg of a tall, narrow table beside the door. A spray can of mace sat on the arm of the fat leather couch a few feet away. She had already moved into the kitchen, seeming content to be silent along with him.
He realized suddenly that she hadn't invited him in. She had invited in a hulking man-guard. A hired protector, without actually hiring him.
Her hands shook slightly as she poured herself a drink.
"I'll take one of those," he said, figuring, why not? He'd done plenty of drinking as it was, and if she was planning on trying to get a business exchange underway without negotiating terms, then he wasn't going to be very courteous about trivial things.
He hated being roped into situations.
It took eight gin and tonics between them before she stretched out on his lap, the two of them settled into the comfortable couch in the living room. A black and white film, that he had "just had to see", played on the screen with the volume turned down low.
Two more for her to ask how he got the scar on his eye.
He hadn't had nearly enough to drink to tell her, so they drank more.
It wasn't until he couldn't remember how many he'd had that things started to get out of hand. When he kissed her, she kissed him back. And, as Newton's first law warns, an object in motion will stay in motion. Once things started to go wrong, there was really no where else for them to go.
Christian woke up before dawn, as he always did after he spent the night drinking, and wasn't quite sure if he was surprised or not to find that his pants were nowhere to be seen and the woman in bed with him was naked. He wondered if he was still dreaming.
He climbed out of the bed stiffly, unconcerned about waking her since she was drooling into her pillow and showed no signs of sleeping any way other than soundly. He wandered out of the bedroom, remembering the layout of the apartment easily, and stalked down the hallway in the nude, hoping no one else lived there.
He found his pants in the hallway and his shirt thrown over the couch. He gathered the rest of his things and dressed quickly, stuffing his keys and wallet into his pockets and leaving without a second thought.
Chances were, when she woke up, the last thing she would want to see would be him, so he headed home.