Night Owl
Author:M. Pierce

Night Owl by M. Pierce









I LIED TO Hannah about the picture.


I lied to her about a lot of things.


No relationship should be built on lies, but I was in no relationship—at least not with Hannah. She was a girl I met on the internet. Bethany was my girlfriend, who shared my apartment, my bed, and my life.


Hannah got the scraps.


"No pictures," I told Hannah on Skype. "No specifics, no last name, no phone number. Nothing. I don't want to know you, and I don't want you to know me. We write together online, that's it. I'm not looking for a new friend. I'm looking for a writing partner."


"Got it," she replied.


I remember staring at the text on my laptop and wondering if she was hurt. It was impossible to tell, the words hanging there with no tone.


Hannah broke two of my rules within a month when she sent me an email from her personal address, Beside the email was her account picture. A picture of her.


I glared at the tiny square image, then at her last name, then back at the picture. I should have gotten on Skype and chewed her out then and there, but I didn't. I clicked on the picture, which took me to her Google+ page and a larger version of the image.


She was wearing a strapless cream-colored top with a fringe of black lace along the neckline. Deep cleavage disappeared into the lace. Her skin was incredibly pale, flawless, and her hair fell in thick black-brown curls around her face. She wore dark-rimmed rectangular glasses with little gems on each side. She was blowing an air kiss at the camera. At me.


I should have closed the window immediately.


Instead, I stared at Hannah's picture—and stared at it—until I felt my cock getting hard in my slacks. I tried to ignore it, but the longer I looked at Hannah's picture the harder I got. She was beautiful. And I was furious with her, for foisting her picture and last name on me.


I slid my hand between my legs and closed my eyes.


That was the second time I got off thinking about Hannah.


The first time was a week before. Bethany had just left on a tour of Brazil. I could have joined her, but I had no desire to sightsee in South America with Bethany's parents in tow.


I found myself chatting with Hannah every day.


It was late—about 2:00 a.m. Hannah's boyfriend had gone to bed. That meant Hannah was alone in their basement office. As for me, I was on my laptop in the guest bedroom of my Denver apartment.


"I sent you a few paragraphs," I typed, "but don't worry about replying tonight. Aren't you tired?"


Little.Bird: Not yet. I haven't been sleeping well.


Little.Bird was Hannah's Skype name. Mine was Night.Owl.


Night.Owl: You could take something. I don't know, melatonin?


Little.Bird: Never works for me.


Night.Owl: Well damn.


We were in unknown territory with this conversation. As a rule, we dialogued about our collaborative story and nothing else.


Our story was an ongoing fantasy. We emailed pieces back and forth. That was how we met, and why: on a fiction writers' forum, seeking writing partners.


Hannah's character was a human with supernatural powers and mine was a demon.


She was Lana. I was Cal.


Little.Bird: Sometimes I smoke a little bit of Mick's weed to help me sleep.


Night.Owl: Is that right.


Little.Bird: Yeah. Shrugs Mick smokes 24/7 and drinks every day too. I'm not like that. Anyway it's legal here.


My stomach clenched. Colorado had recently legalized marijuana for recreational use. So had Washington. God, did Hannah live in my state? Why did that possibility have my stomach flip-flopping?


Night.Owl: Yeah, it's legal here too. I'm in Colorado.


Little.Bird: Okay Mr. Secret Agent No Specifics.


I smirked. Oh, so Hannah wasn't going to volunteer her whereabouts. I deserved that.


Night.Owl: I'm allowed to break my own rules.


Little.Bird: Just ask.


Night.Owl: What? Ask what?


Little.Bird: Oh please Matt. You're waiting for me to tell you where I live.


Night.Owl: Then tell me.


Little.Bird: Seattle.


I felt a funny twist in my gut. Washington, not Colorado.


Night.Owl: Ah. I've never been out that way.


Little.Bird: You should visit some time. Great food, great atmosphere.


Night.Owl: Your boyfriend sounds like a real charmer.


Little.Bird: Lol. Sure. Doesn't matter, I won't be with him much longer. Brb.


Hannah was gone for ten minutes. Fuck, had I upset her?


Little.Bird: Back.


Night.Owl: Wb. Are you okay?


Little.Bird: Yeah, I'm fine. I wanted to change into something more comfy.


I stared at the screen for a full minute before forcing my fingers to type what my brain was screaming. After I typed it, I stared at the words for another minute before hitting enter.


I must have been losing my mind. Or turning into a creep. Or both.


Night.Owl: So what are you wearing?


Little.Bird: Lol! All the walls are coming down tonight...