The Complex, Interlude One: Max by K. Michael by K. Michael - Read Online

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The Complex, Interlude One - K. Michael

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SciFi

I.

MAX

I wanted to stay there talking with him, listening, comparing interests. But I had to go home. He had to go to work, and I had to go home. I hadn’t seen Cleo in four days, aside from the few pop-ins I’d made to feed and water him, and I knew the fat grey cat was probably freaking out, thinking I’d abandoned him or was moving out again—like last time, only maybe this time I wasn’t planning on taking him along with me. Cats worry like that.

It was two days before I got to hang out with Joe again.

Nearly three hours after he’d agreed to come over, I was sitting on the couch, checking my phone over and over again, even though I hadn’t received any notifications. I loaded the last bowl of pot I’d been saving, hoping to distract myself from my growing anticipation, and soon found myself feeling slightly paranoid. I hoped he hadn’t changed his mind; that he hadn’t decided in the last two-and-a-half hours that he actually didn’t want anything to do with me—that he didn’t like me as much as he’d first thought he did. In response, my ferocious optimism chimed in, reassuring me that he was just as infatuated with me as I was him; that I should trust my gut:

-Why haven’t you learned to trust your instincts? You’ve proven yourself intuitive more than a few times. Why haven’t you been fine-tuning this gift?

I looked at my phone again and gazed at the photo of the guy whose personality met every pre-date demand my broken heart had chiseled into my brain: He liked all the foods I refused to live without, and not only was he an artist or musician, he was both. He read books and kept a journal, and liked poetry, and he’d also had his heart broken and understood the risk—the pain—that love can cause a person. He wanted to take things slow because of this, and that was good, because I felt the same. Best of all, he liked my poetry and asked me to read it to him.

Please text, Joe. I promise I’m not just looking for sex. I really genuinely want to hang out with you…to be around you…to be…

A soft rap on the door interrupted my plea and I jumped, not expecting anyone else that evening. I sat my pipe on the coffee table and walked to the door, wondering who I would see through the peephole.

It was Joe.

Handsome, expressive, broken Joe, who was only a year younger than I, having just turned twenty-one—an amazing boy who, apparently, really did like me.

I opened the door and braced myself for the impact of his beauty; those chocolate brown eyes that turned honey in the sun behind his short blonde bangs. He smiled and his flawless teeth gleamed as if they’d just been polished—white, even against his perfect and pale complexion.

In the back of my mind, that little optimistic bastard spoke again:

-Believe me now?

* * *

I’m so glad you agreed to come camping with me, Joe said as he emerged from the tent. Most people would complain about the snow and the cold, but you’ve gotta come up at least once during the cold months to see the difference. Also, it makes for more fun cuddling. He winked.

I grinned so widely I split my lip. I can’t stand to