Night Owl
Author:M. Pierce

Quoting from my own book: so what? No way would Hannah make the logical leap to me being M. Pierce. In the light of day, my minor freak out seemed ridiculous.

 

Giving Hannah my phone number (plus phone sex): I was taking my psychiatrist's professional medical advice, "opening myself to new experiences," "letting myself need people," and "eschewing the confines of social norms." Good enough.

 

My phone chimed. There was a short message from Bethany. She was in Gramado.

 

Don't forget to water the lemon tree. Are you eating? I won't bother describing this place since you've been. Still wish you'd come. You better not be a skeleton when I get back. Remember, the stuff in the freezer is dated. Kisses, Bethany.

 

That was my girlfriend, excessive maternal instincts and all.

 

I'd reply later.

 

For now, I wanted to stay right where I was, lost in thoughts of Hannah.

 

I stripped off my t-shirt and flopped onto the living room couch with a sketchbook and a pencil. Laurence was up, rustling in his hutch. His long ears swiveled toward me. He stretched and hopped over to his litter pan.

 

"Hey buddy," I said to the rabbit, tapping my pencil on a blank page.

 

I began to sketch what I remembered of Hannah's picture. I started with her eyes, which were large and dark, then her slender nose, moving down to her expressive, full lips. I tried to capture the sweetness in her face, the oval shape of it framed by heavy brunette coils. I shaded in her glasses. Lightly, I drew the neckline of her top and hinted at her cleavage with a smudge.

 

I frowned at the portrait.

 

Not bad, but not quite right. I closed my eyes. I struggled to remember the picture. I remembered her voice on the phone. Not too high, not too low, velvety and feminine. What's so fucking funny? God, she was adorable in her anger. And she was sexy beyond belief...

 

Do it with me. Matt, please.

 

I drifted awake at noon. I was sprawled on the couch, my sketchbook open across my thighs and my dick hard. Of course.

 

I stared at the lemon tree until my wood relaxed.

 

Then I called Hannah.

 

She picked up after two rings.

 

"Hello?" she said. Her voice sounded a little huskier.

 

"Hey little bird."

 

"Bird?" She giggled. "Sorry babe, this is Hannah's sister. Hannah's driving."

 

I glowered at my sketch and considered hanging up.

 

"Maybe you should take a turn driving," I muttered, "or not answer your sister's phone."

 

"She gave it to me Mr. Frostypants."

 

I heard Hannah's voice in the background. She sounded annoyed, but I couldn't make out what she was saying.

 

"What did she say?" I demanded.

 

"She said I should stop trolling you. She also said hi. Hey, are you Hannah's new guy?"

 

"Excuse me?"

 

I sat up. My sketchbook flopped onto the floor. New guy? Hannah had a new guy? Anger—and rash jealousy—tightened around my chest.

 

"Yeah. New guy. Are you the new guy?"

 

"No, I..." My mouth worked speechlessly. Hannah told me she was leaving her boyfriend. She neglected to mention she was leaving him for another guy. I guess that made us both faithless assholes. Perfect.

 

So why did this hurt? Why did I feel used? It wasn't like I could have Hannah. I couldn't even meet her—couldn't risk my little obsession morphing into full-blown infidelity. I wasn't that kind of guy. Was I? I felt sick to my stomach.

 

"Earth to Mr. Frostypants!" Hannah's sister shouted.

 

"Fuck off," I said, ending the call.

 

CHAPTER 4

Hannah

 

_____

 

"FUCK OFF?" I stuck my hand on my hip and glared at Chrissy. "Just wait a minute. He said 'fuck off' and hung up?"

 

"Uh-huh. Yup. Unless it was an epically well-timed call drop. But um, Hannah, not sure about that guy. He was a liiittle bit of an asshole." My sister squinted as she emphasized the word little. I couldn't help but laugh. "A little bit of an asshole" was putting Matt lightly. Still, I had to figure out why he got so mad.

 

My sister and I were stopped at a motel in Billings, Montana. It was 2:00 a.m. I had another hour of driving in me, but I wanted to search for something in the U-Haul, and I wanted to talk to Matt.

 

I blamed being on the road for thinking about Matt constantly. The endless highway, the repetitive scenery, tuning out my sister's bad music—oh, and our explosive phone sex last night.

 

God, ridiculous! I was infatuated with a guy I knew nothing about.

 

"One more time," I said, yanking open the back of the trailer. It rolled up with a clatter. "You called him... Mr. Frostypants." My mouth twitched. "And he immediately said 'fuck you' and hung up?"

 

"Ohhh my god, yes! That is what happened Hannah. What is your deal with this asshat?"

 

"He's a good friend," I lied, "and I think he's actually pissed. I texted him from Perkins and called and got nothing."

 

"Maybe he was out. I don't know. What are you looking for in there?"

 

"Oh, um... I wanted some clothes." I rubbed my neck. My sister stared at me. I got the sense that she had seen through both of my lies and possibly even heard me in the bathroom last night. "So. Yeah. I don't need any help. Gotta rummage, that's all. You can check us in."

 

"Mhmmm." Chrissy spun and headed into the motel.