I yawned, leaning against the window and glad I had Sundays off.
"Okay, that was awesome," he said.
I rubbed my eyes. "Yeah, I'm glad your friends like me, too."
He opened the house door. "No. I'm talking about you kicking that guy's ass."
My mom heard and frowned. "You got into a fight? Deidre."
"Mom, it wasn't like that," I said and got a water bottle from the fridge.
While Artemis told her about what happened, I went to the bathroom to wash off my makeup and drink my water. I yawned again. I was severely thirsty, though, and drained the bottle before washing the makeup off.
"Artemis is singing your praises," Evelyn said, poking her head in. I smiled shyly. "Did you do your makeup?"
"No. Artemis did it. I don't know how to put on makeup," I admitted. "Or take it off, come to think of it...."
"Don't worry. I'll go get your mom."
I nodded and she came in a few minutes later.
"You know I don't approve of violence," she said but she was smiling. "Here, use this soap for your eyeshadow."
"You're the one that insisted I take the classes. They paid off."
"What was his name?"
"I have no idea. I was sitting with Mike's dog and he came up. I thought he really wanted to talk about dogs," I sighed. "Guess I was wrong."
My mom sighed and kissed the back of my head. "A lot of guys are like that, I'm afraid. They'll pretend to be interested in something you like and then take advantage of it."
"Like the chasers?" I whispered.
She smiled sadly. "Yeah, just like the chasers."
I looked at her. "Do you ever miss it?"
"Come with me," she said and led me to my room. While I changed into my pajamas, she answered. "Yeah, sometimes I do. Not because I want to live like that again, but because that's how we were for ten years."
I nodded. "Me, too. I keep waking up thinking we're going to be heading to the soup kitchen. I kinda miss the woman that always served us. She was really nice." My mom nodded. "But then, after I get dressed and go downstairs, I feel... pity for those that are still there." I glared at the floor. "I hate it."
"What?" she asked.
"Feeling the pity," I answered. "I know it's a good feeling I guess, but I hated it when people would look at me like I was a pitiful puppy."
"The best thing you can do," my mom said, "is remember where we came from and know that, somehow, they will be out of there soon, too. What are you thinking?"
I was biting my lower lip and twirling my hair, something I did when I was entertaining an idea.
"Do you think Evelyn would let me donate some money to the kitchen?" I asked.
My mom beamed and kissed my forehead. She hugged me tightly and I tried to suppress a yawn.
"I'll talk to you when I get home," she said, tucking me in.
"Okay. Good night, Mom."
I didn't wake up until around noon. As I dressed, I looked at my right hand and sighed. Great. My knuckles were purple and I'm sure my knee was, too. It had hurt but at least I left a message.
When I got downstairs, Artemis and his mom were at the table with papers spread out in front of them. I walked quietly to the freezer so I wouldn't bother them.
"Okay, hold on," Artemis said, sounding weary. "So, video games are... we don't cover them as much as films because there aren't as many?"
"Right," she said. "There are times where movies we produce have video games based off of them. When that happens, we'll obviously produce the game as well."
He rubbed his eyes. "Okay. But we don't do a lot of books, either?"
"I wish we did," she answered. "That's something I'm really trying to get our marketing department to work on. Oh! Good afternoon, Deidre!"
I was trying to sneak back up the stairs with two bags of frozen peas.
"Sorry," I said. "I didn't want to bother you guys."
Evelyn laughed and gestured for me to sit at the table.
"Interesting lunch choice," she said and I laughed.
"No, there are for my knuckles and knee," I said and stretched my right leg out and onto the chair. I rolled the leg of my jeans up and winced. "Damn. I must have broken that guy's nose!"
Artemis laughed but I felt guilty. I rested my right hand on the table top and put the other bag on it. I watched as they continued to go over business information. It was interesting, seeing the serious, formal side of Artemis.
He wasn't smirking like he normally did. His mouth was in a thin line unless he was speaking. His eyebrows were knitted together in concentration. Occasionally, he would laugh and they would shoot up. When he was confused, he would rub his right eyebrow with his right pointer finger and middle finger.
When my hand and knee were adequately froze, I excused myself into the living room. I turned on the TV and flipped through the channels until I got to one that was showing a woman cooking. I didn't know what she was cooking but, after making spaghetti the other night, I was a little more interested in cooking.
The program switched to something called 'Chopped' and Artemis plopped himself down on the couch next to me. He put his feet up on the coffee table with me and passed me a Dr. Pepper. We watched in silence for a while. Apparently, 'Chopped' was a competition show. At one point, Artemis snorted.
"What?" I asked.
"You didn't hear him?" I shook my head. "He saw one of the mystery ingredients, looked at the judges, and then said 'I don't know what to do with it'."
He laughed some more.
"So, they're given these ingredients...."
"And they have to make something out of them," he finished.
"Hey you two," Evelyn said and we looked over. "You're going out to dinner."
I sighed as she walked away. "Is there going to be a day where we get to decide what we're doing?" I grumbled and he shook his head.
"Probably not. But I think we should get to choose the restaurant."
"I really liked that steak," I said as we got into his car. "Is steak expensive?"
"Does it matter?"
I shrugged, blushing.
"Want to go to the fountain?" he asked with a wink and I scoffed.
"How about no?"
We had just finished dinner and it turned out that steak can get expensive. Artemis ended up forcing me to get what I wanted even though the meal was almost $11.
"Let's just go on a walk," I said.
He pulled up to a relatively empty park. It was still cold out and I rubbed my hands together. Artemis was whistling and skipping a little.
"You're in a good mood," I observed.
"Why shouldn't I be? I just had a wonderful dinner with a beautiful young woman and now I get to walk through a park with her." I blushed and hid my face with my hair. "I'm glad it's not that creepy statue park."
I snorted. "Yeah, I didn't realize how creepy it was until I was telling you about them."
"Are your hands cold?" he asked.
I rolled my eyes. "No, Artemis. I'm rubbing them together and breathing on them because I want to cool them down."
"Oh, shut up and give them to me," he said.
He took me over to a group of picnic tables under a streetlight. A few homeless people were sleeping there and I turned away, not wanting to give them the same look I would get. Artemis didn't seem to notice; he just rubbed my hands, blowing on them at the same time.
They were starting to warm up and I bit my lower lip. I wanted to tell him they were warm but I really liked the fell of him holding my hands. I looked up at him when he stopped. His eyes were focused on mine. In this light, they looked almost gold from the yellow lamp. I gulped, knowing exactly what was about to happen.
Then his phone rang.
He cringed but shook his head. "Not this time," he whispered and closed the space between our lips.
I froze, my eyes wide. His were closed as he touched my cheek. His lips were a little chapped from the cold air but I realized it actually felt a little nice. Slowly, I closed my eyes and kissed him back. He put his other hand on my lower back and pulled me closer. His phone kept ringing but he didn't break away from the kiss.
When we had to break for air, I didn't know what to say. He ran his thumb across my lips, staring at them with a look in his eyes I couldn't read.
"What are you thinking?" I whispered.
"I'm thinking I want to kiss you again," he whispered back. "But I don't think you want me to."
I looked down. "This is all new to me, Artemis," I said softly. "The last time I was kissed, he was a chaser."
"I know." He took my chin gently. I looked up at him. "But I'm not a chaser." He moved closer. His phone rang again. "Oh my God!" he shouted. "I'm going to chuck this out my car window!"
I giggled as he pulled it out of his pocket.
"What?" he snapped. He shook his head, closing his eyes wearily. "Do me a favor and stop calling me."
He sighed and hung up. The moment was shattered and we stood up, walking back to the car.
"Who was that? If you don't mind me asking," I added quickly.
"One of my ex-girlfriends," he mumbled. We were walking slower and he put his arm around my waist. When I didn't pull away, he stepped closer. "Facebook exploded with pictures of the two of us at the party."
"Well, I guess the world knows we're dating," I said lightly and he laughed.
"Yeah, I suppose they do, don't they?"