Uninvolved, p.1

Uninvolved, page 1

 

Uninvolved
 


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Uninvolved


  UNINVOLVED

  A NOVEL

  Carey Heywood

  Uninvolved is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2013 by Carey Heywood

  ISBN 978-0-9887713-2-1

  Published by Carey Heywood

  Smashwords edition

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and the punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smash-words.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  Dad, you always encouraged me. I miss you.

  Uninvolved

  Chapter 1

  "No more shots!" Becka mumbled as her friend Crystal nodded in agreement.

  Becka glared at Lucy, the ringleader of the multiple lemon drops. It was Saturday night, and they were at a bar in downtown Phoenix that Lucy lived near. Which was great for Lucy. She could pass out in her own bed, but it meant Crystal and Becka would have to figure out who got the sofa. The loser would have to sleep with Lucy and get kicked all night. Becka had planned to be the designated driver but, since this place was within walking distance from Lucy's house, she was talked into partying with them.

  Becka had twisted her long brown hair up into a bun ages ago but still felt too hot. The vinyl seat covering of their booth was sticking to the underside of her legs. Now, also feeling parched, she got up to get a glass of water from the bar. Becka slid quietly past the guy she had been flirting with most of the night. She had already forgotten his name twice and was not going to ask him for it a third time. He was cute and seemed nice enough. He had even bought the last couple of rounds.

  He seemed into her, which was flattering, but Becka just wasn’t feeling it. He hadn’t even tried to kiss her. Becka liked it when a guy came on strong but not too strong. This guy was kinda coming on lukewarm. Making her way through the crowd took some effort. Every guy she happened to touch saw it as an invitation to hit on her, but if the guy happened to be with a girl then Becka got the stink eye from his date.

  Geez, Becka thought to herself. She wasn’t even trying to touch anyone. Ugh. And it was so loud. All Becka really wanted to do was go home. It took her a moment to flag down the bartender. Last call was approaching so the bar was crowded. Becka leaned against the bar once she found a spot that wasn’t sticky and sipped her water, hoping she had not taken one shot too many and would be regretting it overnight.

  Becka looked over at the table where her friends sat. Crystal seemed bored and sleepy, which meant she had a good shot at getting the sofa, and Lucy was arguing with some guy about politics. Lucy, a spitfire most days, leaned to outright belligerent after a few drinks. Becka wasn’t going to touch that conversation. Becka was out for one reason: to get hit on.

  The guy that she had met that night seemed nice enough, and he was giving all of the right signals. Usually Becka would have been all over him, but something felt different. If anything, she felt déjà vu, and she was bored. He caught her eye, and she smiled back at him more out of reflex than anything else. He came over to meet her at the bar to, as he put it, check on her. Becka went through the motions, laughing at his jokes and pretending like she didn’t see him check out her boobs.

  Becka's shirt was pretty low cut. She would almost be offended if he hadn’t been looking. He offered to buy her another drink, and she admitted honestly, given how she felt, that that probably wasn’t a good idea. He seemed to take it in stride, which was a relief. She was leery of the guys that seemed intent on getting her falling down drunk. So that at least was a plus for this guy. Becka just wished she could remember his name since it was well past the appropriate point in the conversation for her to ask what it was. Again. He moved closer to her to make space for some other people ordering.

  At that point, Lucy came over to inform Becka that Crystal had passed out in the booth. No longer needing an excuse to ditch whatever that guy's name was, she followed Lucy to retrieve Crystal. Not to be deterred, mystery man followed them with offers to help. At first, Becka was annoyed that she hadn’t been able to lose him, but before long, she was grateful for his help with Crystal.

  He ended up having to fireman-carry her to Lucy's place. Crystal's penchant for short dresses left little to the imagination in that position. Becka had to snap a pic before whatever the hell that guy's name was set her down. Lucy got her set up in her bed, tummy down, trash can ready. While Lucy was doing that, she was in Lucy's living room with him, thanking him over and over. He leaned in for a kiss, and Becka figured it was the least she could do. They broke their kiss when Lucy came back in. Doing her best to speak to Lucy with her eyes, Becka was able to get her to stay in the room. Seeing as though they would not be able to go further with an audience, the guy got up to go.

  He got her number and, under the guise of not knowing how to spell his name, Becka handed him her phone for him to enter his own info. He may have been on to her when he questioned her not knowing how to spell Ben. Becka waved him off, saying she was too tipsy to spell, period. After he left, Lucy and Becka collapsed in giggles. Lucy told her if she needed to know his name she could have just asked her. Lucy was crazy good with names, no matter how many drinks she had.

  "It's my superpower."

  "Remembering names is not a superpower."

  "Um, you only say that because you don’t have it."

  "So what is my superpower?"

  "Your hair always looks good. Seriously, do you ever get spilt ends?"

  "Shut up. That’s such a sucky superpower, and you don’t get split ends if you get your hair trimmed a lot. Give me a better superpower."

  "Let me think." Lucy stood, and Becka watched as she paced left and right over and over as she thought. "Your superpower could be breaking up."

  "What?"

  "That is so it. I have never met anyone so good at ending things with someone. It's a gift."

  "Really?"

  "For non-superpower-holding people, breaking up with people is really hard. You have it down to an art form."

  "I am kind of amazing at it."

  It was safer that way. Becka had made the mistake of trusting someone with her heart before. That wasn’t something she was interested in ever doing again. Lucy got them a snack, and they gossiped about people they worked with until Becka couldn’t keep her eyes open and Lucy went to bed.

  The next morning, Becka woke up cursing Lucy's sofa for the crick she now had in her neck. This sofa falsely gave every appearance of being comfortable, and it was. For sitting. Something happened when anyone would try to sleep on it, almost as though it would randomly shrink a foot causing whoever was on it to have to contort themselves into a neck-crick-inducing position to ensure their limbs fit. Happened to her every time, though still better than the kicking she was sure Crystal had dealt with. Lucy came out not long after Becka woke up, bitching about how her room smelt like puke. Becka grimaced, hoping Crystal hadn’t had too bad of a night.

  "Where's Crystal?"

  "Still wrapped around the toilet. Seriously. Go take her picture so we can blackmail
her with it at some point." Lucy grumbled.

  Becka giggled and went to peek in the half-bath that was connected to Lucy's bedroom. Poor Crystal, she thought, snapping a picture anyway. They never shared any of the pictures, and there were many. Crystal had been pretty good in general recently, so she was due for a few sloppy drunk pictures. Since Crystal did not look like she was going to be moving anytime soon, Lucy agreed to drive her home so Becka didn’t have to wait around for her. This was music to Becka's ears because all she wanted to do was roll through a Mickey D's drive-thru for some grub and go home and shower.

  Becka ate most of her breakfast in the car, saving her hash brown for last. It was her favorite. When Becka got home, she parked on the street. Their house only had a one-car garage, and Dave had claimed it for his one true love: his Chevy. Becka drove an old Corolla and wasn’t that worried about it now that summer was over. Once inside, she gulped down a bottle of water and took a shower. Dave worked nights and was already asleep when she got home, so after her shower, Becka hung out in her room. After taking a nap, Becka took a moment to thank her bed for not being a piece-of-shit, uncomfortable sofa before forcing herself to get up and be productive so that she wouldn’t screw up being able to sleep that night.

  Not having anything to do, Becka headed over to the mall. Arrowhead Mall, which Lucy referred to as AirHead Mall, was just blocks from Becka's house. This was both a good and bad thing. As Becka ambled from store to store, she thought about the superpower Lucy said she had. Was it really a superpower to not let anyone get too close?

  Awesome new outfit and poor until payday was how Becka spent most weeks. This trip was no different, Becka found a had-to-have dress on sale. Driving home, she was already deciding what shoes to pair it with for work the next day.

  #

  Monday morning again, Becka groaned to herself as she drove into work. She liked her job, and her daily commute from Peoria into the city of Phoenix was not bad. It was nothing the commutes her parents complained about back East. It was just that Becka would have rather slept in that morning. Becka had relocated to Phoenix a few years back to go to the same college as Dave. At first, the desert was so exotic and different from everything she had ever known. Now, it just seemed dull and very, very brown.

  Becka still got homesick for the East Coast from time to time. She missed the changing seasons and the lush greenness of Virginia. One thing Phoenix had going for it though was the sky. It just felt so much bigger than the sky back home, having less hills and tall trees to block the view out.

  Becka pulled her car into her usual spot in the back of the crowded parking lot, turning down the volume of the radio before cutting off the engine. Becka was never at work early enough to capture one of the coveted shaded parking spots. Becka groaned again. She really did not feel like being at work. She worked in the operations center of a Fortune 500 company. The three-story office building she worked in boasted many different departments and opportunities to advance. Becka was really only interested in a paycheck, though. Spying her friend Lucy walking towards the building, Becka quickly grabbed her purse and got out of her car.

  "Luce," she called out to get her attention.

  Seeing her, Lucy turned and waited for Becka to weave her way through the parked cars to catch up.

  "You look nicer than normal. Have a job interview?" Lucy asked.

  That was a standard line of questioning in their department every time someone dressed up. Their dress code was very lax in comparison to other departments in the building. Their department was also the low man on the totem pole versus the pay and career opportunities in other departments. People were interviewing to get out all the time. Becka, on the other hand, was content. Her paycheck paid her bills, and she had money left over each month to shop and play. Besides, her job was super easy.

  "Nope. Just a new dress, and I felt like wearing it," Becka said, grinning.

  Whenever Becka felt crappy, she would purposefully dress up to make herself feel better. There was nothing better than knowing she looked awesome to improve her mood. Today, she wore her new fitted navy shirtdress with nude wedges. The navy of the dress made her blue eyes pop, and she had taken the time to not only blow dry her light brown hair that morning but to also curl it. She was trying to emulate Kate Middleton today. Most mornings, she barely managed to dry her hair at all, letting it air dry in the car on her drive in.

  "So what time did you end up taking Crystal home?"

  "Don’t even get me started on her. Ugh, she was such a pain in my ass yesterday. We are never letting her drink that much again. She was almost comatose in my bathroom until like three."

  "Oh my God, that sucks!"

  Once inside the building and nearing her desk, Becka froze. "Whoa...Who is that?" she said looking in the direction of her normally not-dreamy-guy-inhabited row of cubicles.

  Lucy spun around to look.

  Seeing the object of Becka's gaze, she shrugged. He was not her type. "Don't know. Maybe he's on a tag."

  "I'm going to ask him to go to lunch with us," Becka said, still staring.

  Lucy's mouth dropped. "You don't even know him."

  Becka could understand her concern. She could not explain it, but she had never been more attracted to anyone in her entire life. He wasn't even her usual type, Becka normally went for tall, lanky guys while this guy was more compact and muscular. She could almost see the definition of his chest through his gray polo shirt.

  "I can't explain it, Luce, but, if he says yes, will you drive?" Becka pleaded.

  Lucy agreed. She knew Becka was a nervous driver and would freak out having to make conversation with this guy and concentrate on the road at the same time. With that, Becka grinned and marched straight over to her mystery man to introduce herself. His name was Nate, and he was on a temporary assignment, or tag, in Becka's department, where they sorted and distributed all incoming mail.

  Nate normally worked in the call center of their employer. Since Becka was one of the senior members of her department, Nate was assigned to sit with her to learn what their group did. Becka's cubicle was a tight squeeze to begin with. Adding an extra chair and body was normally not a good thing, but, in this case, Becka welcomed it. They started with Nate watching Becka as she worked and with her explaining each task as she performed it. They called it ghosting.

  When they got settled at her desk, Becka checked him out as discretely as possible from her vantage point. She could do her job on autopilot and keep peeking at him out of the corner of her eye. Nate was just so different from what she would normally consider attractive. He was good looking, but in a more clean cut, frat boy way. He probably didn’t even have any tattoos. He had short, sandy blonde hair and his body, God, what was it? Normally she was turned off by muscular guys, but she found herself daydreaming of running her hands over his broad chest and down his thick biceps.

  "Becka?"

  Oh crap. She wasn’t even playing attention to what he was doing and completely missed whatever he had just said to her.

  "Am I boring you?" Nate joked.

  If he only knew…

  "Um, sorry. Just zoned off there for a sec. I missed what you said," Becka admitted, flushing.

  The look Nate gave her in response made her wonder if he was onto her.

  It was mid-morning by the time Becka worked up the courage to ask him to lunch. Nate blinked his hazel eyes at her, maybe in surprise, but accepted. Becka made a point to call Lucy from her desk to casually mention that Nate would be joining them for lunch. Becka could almost hear Lucy rolling her eyes through the phone. Lucy met them by the exit and, after introductions were complete, they headed to Lucy's car.

  They went to a local burrito place and ate on the patio. It was December, but in Phoenix winter seemed to be the only pleasant time to be outside during the day. Lucy did her best to keep the conversation going as Becka seemed dumbstruck silent that Nate was actually with her outside of work. All the while, Becka kicked herself for not b
eing more vocal, almost jealous that Lucy was being more interesting. Becka was at a loss. Normally, she had no problem talking to a guy. What was going on here?

  Becka Sherwood, she told herself, you buck up and talk to this guy.

  Her personal pep talk didn’t work. Instead, Becka spent lunch nervously taking the smallest bites possible of her burrito, inwardly kicking herself for suggesting this place for lunch. Why she hadn't chosen a meal she could have eaten with a fork and knife, Becka wondered to herself as she dabbed her chin with her napkin. Nate seemed to be getting along great with Lucy, and Lucy tried to pull Becka into the conversation more than once. It didn’t work though. Becka mainly just nodded and smiled like an idiot.

  Once back at the office, it was Nate's turn to work at the computer while Becka watched. Becka would find herself mesmerized by his hand on her mouse and his fingers on her keyboard, imagining them on her instead. It was taking every ounce of free will to force the thoughts of them from her mind. Since Becka was at work, she felt pretty guilty for the mental sexual harassment going on in her head. Becka started to focus instead on the random threadbare spot of the carpet worn down from the wheels of the cart used to distribute their daily allotment of paperwork to file.

  Not that it helped. Becka was not immune to his nearness. What made it worse was Becka could just barely smell his cologne from where she sat. What was wrong with her? She was physically forcing herself not to sniff him. Just before quitting time, her desk phone rang. Caller id showed it as an incoming call from Lucy's desk. Becka excused her reach as she leaned over Nate to answer it, feeling his breath on her cheek.

  "Lucy?"

  "That guy still with you?"

  "Yep," Becka cringed, hoping Nate did not hear what Lucy had said.

  "Oh, just checking. I'll call you later."

  Becka waited until she heard the dial tone before handing the handset to Nate and asking him to hang it up for her. Their fingers brushed during the exchange. Becka held back a sigh and the urge to grab his face and kiss him. When their work was complete, Nate thanked her for all of her help and got up to go check in with her manager before being released for the day.

 
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