My cell phone rings at an ungodly hour in the morning. I roll over on my air mattress and grab the phone off the floor, yanking it from the charger. It’s a phone number I don’t recognize. Oh, and it’s six in the evening. Not such an ungodly hour after all.
“Hello?” I ask, not knowing what to expect.
“Hey there.” It’s way better than anything I could have expected. It’s Tyler.
“Hey. My rent check’s not late, is it?” I say it in jest, but in reality I’m not even sure what day it is. Every day blurs into the next one when you’re jobless. Although I’m pretty sure we’ve only been here a week.
“I didn’t call for business.” His voice has a playful tone to it that sends a shiver down my spine. I roll over in bed and close my eyes.
“Then why did you call?”
“You want to get a drink tonight? Pop-a-Top?”
“What is Pop-a-Top?” I ask. I try to sound like I don’t care what it is or what he’s asking, but I can hardly breathe without hyperventilating. Is he asking me out? There’s no way he’s asking me out.
“It’s the only bar in town that’s decent enough to take a woman. I know I could use a drink and since you don’t know anyone in town, I thought maybe you could come along.”
“Ah, okay,” I say with my eyes still closed. I’m trying to picture Tyler’s chiseled tan face but all I see is the back of my eyelids. It’s definitely not a date offer, though. Just a feeling-sorry-for-the-new-girl kind of thing. I sit up in bed and rub my eyes in an effort to wake up. I’m not a charity case. “No, thanks. I’m good.”
The other end of the phone is silent for a few seconds. My mouth opens, but I feel kind of stupid asking if he’s still there, so I don’t say anything. With the terrible reception in this town, maybe he isn’t there anymore.
He clears this throat. “Well…okay then.”
I swallow and try not to think about how his voice sounded a like a mixture between bitter and disappointed. It doesn’t matter what he thinks. It’s not like I’m trying to impress him. I smile so it shows in my voice when I say, “Thanks anyway. I’m not much of a drinker.”
“You don’t have to drink. You could come just for the scenic view.”
“There’s scenic views in Salt Gap?” I ask. It sounds sarcastic but I’m being serious.
He laughs. “Okay maybe that was a lie. Does seeing Big Large’s butt crack when he bends over to play pool count?”
I know he’s just being friendly and it would probably help me to get out of the house, but I’m not dressed and I don’t know anyone besides Tyler. As much as the hairs on the back of my neck are tingling with the idea of going out with him tonight, I grip the phone tightly to my ear and say, “Thanks for the offer, seriously, but I can’t tonight.”
“I’d like to know what’s so important that you can’t skip re-watching episodes of The Big Bang Theory to come have some fun on the town.”
I roll my eyes and glance around my messy bedroom. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”
Tyler’s voice turns coy. “I’m about to find out.”
A bright beam of light appears in my bedroom window, scanning like a set of spotlights across my entire room as a car turns onto my street. No—I realize with a cold shock of terror—not onto my street, but into my driveway. I shoot out of bed and grab the first shirt I find, an old Texas A&M T-shirt that’s entirely too big, and throw it on over my sports bra.
I take one look at my hair in the mirror above my dresser and realize there’s no reason to bother trying to rake my fingers through it—I’ve got one bad case of bed hair.