Home > Cole(13)

Author: Tijan

“That’s the shut-in?”

I nodded. “Let me do the introductions.”

It was pointless. Sia headed right for her. Dawn looked around her—down to the floor, back to the elevator, and then to the windows. Then Sia was in front of her, her hand stretched out. I watched my friend in action. Dawn was a cornered wild animal, but as Sia kept talking, her shoulders relaxed. The weapon lowered. She sagged back into the wall instead of bouncing off it, and she began to nod. Suddenly, her eyes lit up, and a smile appeared. Sia had her. Just like that. Whatever lie she was weaving, it worked. Sia took the bottle and placed it on a nearby table. Her phone came out, and the two bent over it as they continued to talk.

“Holy shit.” Jake breathed into my ear, stepping around to my side. “I wouldn’t believe that if I hadn’t seen it for myself.”

“That’s what she does.”

“You’re proud of her.”

I paused, and decided he was right. “I wish I had skills like that. She has the ability to make everyone in this room feel like her best friend. I’m most definitely not that way.”

“You and me both. I’m friendly, but I can’t compare. Took months for Dawn to warm up to me. She’s eating out of your friend’s hand within ten minutes.”

His voice dipped down, and I readied myself. I knew where this was going.

“I have to ask…” He leaned even closer. “Is your friend single?”

“And ready to mingle.”

“Do you mind if I…?” He gestured with his head.

I could see it now. Sia would be at the pool. She’d be in the exercise room. She’d pop in every now and then. That’d be great, until the other shoe dropped. Then she’d pop in to vent, not to chat. She’d want to know if I’d seen Jake that day, if I’d heard laughter from his floor, if I thought another girl was with him. Sia’s love affairs were hot until they got chilly. And if she was here, if she was my friend, and they broke up—that’d be awkward. She wouldn’t want to come over. She’d be tense, wondering whether she was going to run into him or not.

A sense of impending doom slowly slithered all the way down to my feet, but I waved him toward her. “Have at it.”

“Thanks, Addison.”

Jake was smitten.

He couldn’t stop staring at her, and then introductions happened. The couple was Doris and William, sixty-year-old socialites having the time of their life. They loved living so close to the museums, nicest restaurants, and concert halls. They recited all that with a slight nasally sound in their voice, and then Jake came around with more champagne. Their inner hippies came out shortly after that. Their son disapproved of their lifestyle, Doris informed me. They were supposed to volunteer for the nursing home he ran. Their daughter more than shared their love of the scene. She was a third resident on their floor, often staying longer than they wanted when she was in between boyfriends, and her little Shih Tzu too. I didn’t know there was a dog policy, but based on how they suddenly grew hushed, I didn’t ask.

Then Doris whispered loudly, “That’s all on the downlow, though. Be a dear, sweetheart. Mum’s the word. Hmmm?”

I felt like I’d just agreed to be their drug dealer. The next introduction was Derek, who wasn’t just an IT guy, he was a computer genius. He created programs, and the “heads,” he explained with finger quotations, liked to meet at their offices downtown. He was a geek in all the best ways: wrinkled T-shirt, baggy jeans cropped too short at the ankles, and champagne in his favorite coffee mug, which said, Don’t Worry, I Won’t Byte.

All the while, Sia kept Dawn occupied in the corner. Jake veered over at one point, and a dark look, filled with promise, passed between him and Sia. He ended up going back to open my wine. Somehow, a third bottle brought everything up another notch. Conversation flowed more easily. Laughter grew louder, and more frequent. Dawn was nearly bouncing up and down with excitement next to Derek, holding his arm, and Jake and Sia disappeared for a few moments. When they re-emerged, both flushed in the face, hair messed and lips swollen, Sia veered toward Doris and William. Jake joined Derek and Dawn, and I watched the three single residents in action. Jake seemed almost like a mentoring big brother to Derek, or maybe the cool brother Derek wanted to be. Dawn nearly beamed. As Sia predicted, she’d found her knitting soulmate, at long last.

“The Age of Aquarius” blasted from the speakers, and instead of a full meal, Jake arranged the food as a snacking buffet.

“Doris took over the music.” Sia collapsed on the couch next to me. “It’s going to be a Beatles and John Lennon night tonight. Betting you twenty bucks the old couple brings out a joint within the hour. I got a good whiff from William. He just smoked up.”


She waved down the hallway. “In the bathroom. He was coming out at the same time—” And she realized what she’d been about to say.

I gave her a knowing grin. “I saw your entrance. Don’t even try to lie to me.”

She groaned, but couldn’t hide her smile. “I must look silly.” She rolled her eyes. “Addison, I had no idea. I finally found my booty-call soulmate.”

“Booty call?”

“Yeah.” She stilled. One side of her mouth flattened. “What?”

She was in love. At long last, her future husband. She was going to move in with him. Those were her normal responses, what I was used to hearing from her as every steamy affair got started. I shook my head. Calling a new guy a booty call wasn’t her usual approach.

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