Delany froze as she heard the front door open. Her thoughts about the French Revolution were shattered. Her fingers were lifted centimeters above her keyboard. There was someone in the apartment.
Carefully grabbing the baseball bat she always kept next to her desk just for emergencies like this, she stealthily snuck out of her room, wielding the bat more like an ax than any other weapon. Suddenly, she heard a voice.
"Becky? You home?"
Delany put down the bat and relaxed. Gary. Of course, I should have remembered. She left the would-be weapon propped against the wall as she walked into the living room and forced a smile. She fought back the urge to yell at him and ask what kind of person just walked into someone's home without knocking. But, she had promised Becky. She was going to be nice.
Gary had his hands shoved in the pockets of his blue jeans. "Oh, hey Delany. Can you get Becky for me?"
Delany shook her head, doing her best to look casual. This was pretty much the first time she had talked to his guy... ever. "She wanted me to tell you that she was going to be late."
Delany watched as the color rose in his face a little. "Late? Why?"
She shrugged. She was really hoping she wouldn't have to explain everything to him. "She was going to stay late and talk to her professor for a bit, since she was late getting to class this morning."
Delany wanted to laugh at his broken record-like statement but from the look on his face, it wasn't the most appropriate action. Delany shifted uncomfortably. "I don't know, she kind of woke up late and then she got a phone call and knew she wasn't going to make it on time so...anyway, the point is that she wanted you to know that she was going to be a little late! You can hang out here until she's back; I'm just working on some homework in my bedroom. Just turn on the TV or -"
"A phone call? From who?"
"Um..." Delany raised an eyebrow. She was pretty sure that they were done having that conversation. "From an old friend, ok? I'm sure she'll tell you all about it when she gets back."
"Was it Jim?"
Delany had started to turn around. Was this guy for real? "Sort of? But you know, you can talk to her about it."
"What's that supposed to mean? Did Becky tell you not to tell me?"
Delany couldn't help but notice the way that his hands were clenched. "No, not at all. In fact, like I already said, she purposely wanted me to stay here so that you would know what was going on. So if you'll excuse me..."
"So then why won't you tell me who it was?"
Delany was through with being polite. "I'm sorry - I didn't realize you needed to know every little thing that was going on in her life. I'm just here to tell you that she's going to be late. So back off, holy hell!"
Gary glared. "Fine." With that he left the apartment, slamming the door behind him. Delany looked at the closed door with her mouth dropped open in shock. Had he seriously just done that? That was the most immature, rude, and downright weird thing... Delany turned to go work on her paper. Let him pout about it. He wasn't going to get to see Becky then.
Becky rushed into the apartment, ready for Gary's angry eyes. She was even later than she thought she was going to be. Professor Finklestein just kept talking and talking... she supposed it was a good thing though since she needed to know about the lecture, but she was so rushed to get out of there she barely even comprehended what he was saying.
She put her keys in the basket and gazed around the apartment, startled he wasn't there to greet her. "Hello?"
"Well, there you are. I was starting to get a little worried. I thought maybe your crazy boyfriend had abducted you." Delany came out from her back bedroom, pulling her dirty-blonde hair up into a ponytail.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
Delany tightened the ponytail to her head. "I'm not insulting him; I'm just saying what happened! He freaked out on me when I said you were going to be late. He practically held me hostage to get the name of who called you, which I am proud to say, I did not reveal."
Becky groaned and sank down into the couch. "Why not? I told you that you could."
"Well I might have if he hadn't been so rude about it. He just expected me to tell him everything. So, I couldn't. I'm sorry if it messes you up a little but jeez, someone had to remind him that he was back-burner for the time being."
Becky nodded. "Well, did he tell you where he was going?"
"Naw, he just stormed out like a big baby." She caught the defensive look from Becky. "Ok, ok I'll stop being mean. But, honestly!"
Becky smirked. "I'm sure he's at his apartment waiting for me. I better go clear it all up. Ugh, the last thing I want to do is try and explain Jacob Jones to him."
Delany tilted her head. "And what are you going to say Becky, dearest?"
Becky knew what her cousin was driving at. "I'm going to say that Jacob is an old boyfriend who needed a question answered. Because that's all he is." Becky gave her cousin a smile and walked out of the apartment, her khaki skirt flouncing behind her.
Becky shivered as she buzzed Gary's apartment. It had just started raining as she had approached the building. She looked at the recently carved pumpkin greeting her on the banister. It was too bad that the kids would have to trick-or-treat in the rain tonight. Dimly, she thought about reminding Delany to answer the door and give out treats. Her cousin had the knack of "forgetting" and then eating all the candy herself the next day.
The door whirred and unlocked. Becky shook the raindrops from her apple red sweater as she pulled open the large door and stepped into the foyer. She really probably should have been wearing a coat, but she liked to boycott those for as long as possible. Looking down at her brown sandaled feet she smirked. She hated letting go of summer.
Becky focused on the task at hand. She was really hoping Delany was just overreacting, like she always did. She couldn't imagine Gary getting that mad over her just being a little late. She lifted her hand to knock on the door but it swung open for her.
"Hey you -" Becky stopped mid-smile. Ok, maybe Delany hadn't been overreacting after all. The look in Gary's eyes was anything but pleasant. He glared at her for a moment before walking away into his kitchen. Becky took the action to mean that she should follow, so she quickly closed the door behind her and trotted behind.
"Listen, I didn't mean to keep you waiting. I was hoping that -"
Becky snapped her mouth shut. Or, I could just wait for him to talk. The room was silent. Gary stood on one side of the kitchen table, holding the edge tightly. Becky shifted her weight from side to side.
"So, did your little cousin tell you what she told me?"
Becky nodded, trying to stay upbeat. "Yeah, she said that you asked a few questions. I told her to let you know I wasn't going to be long -"
Becky cast her eyes to the floor, muttering to a stop. Ok, so he wanted answers, not explanations. That was fine. She'd just answer him yes and no and then he would be happy...
"I liked how she refused to tell me who called you this morning. Now why would she do that, Becky?"
Becky looked up to find that he had walked toward her a little. His head was tilted to look at her. She shrugged. "She said she didn't think it was important. She was just trying to let you know I would be late."
"Uh-hu. Late because you were talking on the phone all morning instead of getting ready for class?"
Becky laughed, "Well, I was actually trying to do both at the same time." She immediately dropped her smile as she caught eyes with Gary. "But not, it wasn't all morning at all. I was on the phone for maybe 5 minutes."
"Five minutes made it so you were late for class?"
"Well, I was running late in the first place. Someone kept me up late on the phone..."
He ignored her comment. "Who were you talking to, Becky? A boy?"
Becky shifted uncomfortably. She really didn't like the way Gary said that. "Well, yeah, I was talking to a boy. Why does it matter?"
"I think it matters a lot."
"Ok... well... I guess I don't know what to say."
"Why don't you tell me who you were fucking talking to!" Gary was suddenly shouting. His face had turned red, while his knuckles were white as he gripped the table. Becky looked him with her eyes wide.
"Wow, ok, his name was Jacob. I don't see how that makes any difference -"
"Your old boyfriend, Jacob?"
Becky felt herself starting to get angry. What was Gary driving at here? "Yes, my old boyfriend, Jacob...if you could even call him a boyfriend."
"What do you mean by that? What, were you just his one-night stand? Or was he yours?"
Becky bit her tongue, deciding to not even comment about what he was alluding to. "He had a question to ask me, so I answered it. I'm sorry; do I need to ask you who I am allowed to take calls from?"
"Do not talk to me like that." Gary's voice had dropped to just above a whisper. Becky felt herself shiver. She wasn't sure how to respond. Why were they fighting? Becky looked across the short table at him, unable to remove the confused and hurt look from her face. The lights were off in the room and even though it was mid-day the rain cloud outside caused the entire apartment to be shadowed. The light that was coming in from the window was distorted and caused Gary's face to look even angrier than Becky was certain it actually was.
Gary moved closer to her as he spoke. "You need to tell me why you were hiding the fact that you were talking to your old boyfriend." By the end of his statement, Gary was close enough for Becky to look him right in the eyes.
"Oh come on, Gary, I wasn't hiding anything. For crying out loud why are you acting like you have some reason to suspect something? Just get a grip!" Becky shook her head and did her best to laugh but she was cut down.
"I said, do not talk to me like that!"
"Gary! What is -"
Gary's fist sailed through the air, and Becky was on the floor before she even realized she had been hit.