Some real dialogue gets going! If you've stuck through the more dull non-talking parts of the story up until now, God bless you.
Ask No Questions, Tell No Lies
He waited, looking at her. Apparently he expects me to just do as he says, she thought. We’ll see how that works out. She looked up and met his eyes. It was a stretch; she had to tilt her head almost as far back as it would go. His height in combination with her lack thereof and her Indian-style sitting position put 4 feet easily, if not more, between them. She glared. He looked coolly back. Egan was trying her best to hold out, but she had a hard time doing something for very long in general. Her interest was flighty, borderline controllable at best. She was already beginning to grow curious what they had to talk about. Besides, he hadn’t been unkind, merely…assertive. And he was polite in the way he phrased his--let’s be honest--demand. She sighed in frustration at how easily she lost her resolve, then flicked her hand out toward his. Before he even felt the cold grip of her hand in his, she had pulled herself up, released his hand and was standing before him. She still had to tilt her head back.
“Alright” Egan said. Gerard nodded and motioned towards the stairs, silently inviting her to go first. Egan had some experience with Southern gentlemen, but most of the Northern population she encountered had been more abrupt, not wasting time with old fashioned pleasantries. She accepted his unspoken invitation and began climbing the stairs, Gerard two steps behind her, keeping a modest distance between them. He matched his pace with hers, never hurrying her along. Hmm. How very well manne—she stumbled forward a little, over-corrected and began to fall backwards. Gerard’s hand was suddenly on the small of her back, he had stopped moving and so had she. Her feet were still on the steps, but her body was tilted at an awkward angle and he was balancing her, supporting all of her weight. He was balancing her in the palm of his hand. Should he let go, she would tumble backwards. This was vaguely humiliating. Face slightly pink, Egan grabbed the railing of the staircase and heaved her tiny body into a gravitationally allowable position. She continued to trudge upward, hand remaining on the rail and face down. She reached the first floor landing and stopped, waiting for him to direct her somewhere. If he wanted to talk, she’d go along with it, but she would make it hard as possible. On second thought, why not make it on her terms? She had around 5 seconds to think of somewhere and make a quick exit. And then an idea came to her.
She sat down in the middle of the shiny black comforter. She had known where his bedroom was because he’d mentioned it during the tour. Very briefly, she could tell he had been debating whether or not this information was appropriate to share, especially when he said “Not that you’ll ever need to know or anything.” She had given him a look, and he had stammered a bit back over his words. “I just meant that, um, why would you need to know where my room is? Because you’ll…you’ll have your own room. You wouldn’t care…um. You wouldn’t care where I sleep.” He had been bright red by the time he finished. But it was a good thing he had said something. Otherwise, Gerard would have held all the cards in this discussion, and that was something she just couldn’t abide by. Here, in his room, on his bed no less…well, that would certainly throw him off guard. He would be flustered and she would be calm in the knowledge that she had the upper hand, meaning she would be much less likely to slip and say something she didn’t want to say, something incriminating. If he had noticed that the drapes in one of the downstairs bedrooms had mysteriously gone missing…
Well, what was she supposed to do? She didn’t want to watch TV, movies would take a day to get there, and she didn’t really know what to make of the internet most days. The allure of things like MySpace evaded her; besides, you needed friends for those things to mean anything. All her friends thought she had died years ago. And she had listened to her iPod until her ears were sore from the vibration of the earbuds. So, desperate for something to do, she had logged on to Google and typed in “Things to do when bored”. One link that looked promising turned out to be a children’s crafts site, and she had almost gone back to her original search page to look some more. But a picture of a plush Brontosaurus toy had caught her eye and, quickly scanning the materials list, she had summed up what she could easily get and what would take a little effort. She had the cotton balls for stuffing (They had been in the bathroom) and the needle and thread (There was a small sewing kit in one of the linen closets. It even had spare buttons for eyes.) as well as scissors (Kitchen) and she could print the pattern off the site. But she didn’t have any fabric. And then it had occurred to her. The heavy green drapes in the second downstairs bedroom. They were perfect.
So if he was gonna bitch about the drapes, then she was at least going to make it a little more complicated for him. And if he wasn’t, she wanted to find out why she was here, and then get the hell out. She wasn’t interested in making friends with her sponsor. Pammy had already preached that sermon several times. She was here because it was keeping her out of prison. She had been in rehab for the same reason. But she saw no reason to spill her life story and make sure to send Christmas cards when she left. No one was judging her on that. She traced her finger along the smooth surface of the cover, humming absently. She had bolted up the stairs after coming up with her idea for the meeting place, and since Gerard had no idea where she’d gone, he was being forced to search for her. The thought made her smile.
Twenty minutes later, and she was no longer smiling. The house was large, but it wouldn’t take this long to quickly open the door of each room, scan the room, and move on. Not unless he thought she had hidden, and now he was searching for her. Great. So what should she do now? Go look for him? Let him know she wasn’t holed up in some dark closet, waiting for him to find her and say “You’re it!” like some five year old? She sighed heavily, slid off the bed, and walked downstairs. And there the fucker was, sitting in the main living room, just as cool and calm as you please. He wasn’t looking for her. He was waiting for her! Waiting for her to come find him! Oh, this was infuriating. She felt her lips mash together and purse up and her fingers became loose fists involuntarily. She got the feeling in her eyes where it felt as if she had some sort of black death ray shooting out of them. She just stood there for a moment, silently vibrating with frustration and anger. Then she decided it wouldn’t do for him to see her angry—that seemed to be what he was wanting—so she composed herself some and walked into the room. He looked up from a book he had been paging through, smiled slightly to himself and set the book down, uncrossing his legs as he did so. He stretched his arms out and then leaned backward in the armchair he was occupying, the picture of ease. She remained standing, with her hip cocked and arms crossed and gave him her best Can-I-Help-You? look.
“I see you found your way back.” He was the first to speak. “I was worried. I thought maybe you had gotten lost and I’d have to look for you.” What he was saying had a vague smart-ass kind of tone, but he said it with such perfect innocent concern that she wasn’t sure which emotion was true.
“Yeah, just took a little detour. This house is just so darn big!” She purposely made her voice higher, accentuating her Southern accent, and feigned girlish cluelessness a la Jessica Simpson. There was no question what tone she was going for.
“How very fortunate. Please, sit down.” He absently wondered if she would allow this to be quick and easy.
“I’d like to know what I’m sitting down to.” Nope, definitely not easy.
“I’d just like to get to know you better. You’ve been here for a few weeks now, and I still don’t really have much of a clue about you.”
“I think I like it that way.”
“Egan, please.” Something about the way he said it, like he was honestly pleading, made her sit. But she crossed her legs and recrossed her arms, and huffed as her butt made contact with the seat. She needed to get the point across, after all.
“Thank you.” They sat in silence for as long as Egan could take, but her curiosity got the better of her again. “So…what do you wanna know?” she asked cautiously.
“I’m really not sure. General information’s fine. Uh…what’s your name?”
“You don’t say.” he remarked, smirking slightly at her. “Do you have a full name, or are you like Cher and Bono, you prefer the one word moniker?” Egan sighed again. Gerard seemed to have an amazing ability to inspire sighs in her. Not the fun kind, either.
“I don’t like it. It’s…My parents were Italian.” Her mouth puckered after she said this. Gerard took a moment to raise a dark eyebrow, and then said “So was my mother. I fail to see what that has to do with anything.” This wasn’t true of course, he knew his mother and he knew his mother’s family and friends, and he knew that Italians could do it up right. Even if that meant erring on the side of extravagance once or twice. Long and unusual names were a bit of a trademark with the Italiano. He had been spared because of his father, bless his Scottish heritage. “Tell me. I won’t laugh, I promise.” Egan had absolutely no reason to believe him, he smiled even as he promised to keep a straight face, but decided to tell him anyway. She furrowed her brow and closed her eyes and spoke through pursed lips. “Egan Alegra Caprice Ghirlandaio.” She expected to hear peals of laughter, but when she opened one eye to check and see if Gerard was incapacitated in silent paroxysms of mirth, she only saw a stone faced pale guy staring back at her. Hm. Curiouser and curiouser.
“What does it mean?” he said when he she opened both eyes fully.
“What does your name mean?”
“Ummm…Egan? I don’t know. But Alegra and Caprice are Italian, I know that. I think…” she clicked her tongue a few times “I think Alegra means ‘happy’, and Caprice means something ridiculous like ‘whimsical’ or something.” She paused and looked him dead in the eye. “You see the irony” she said. She was surprised when he said “It also means ‘unpredictable’. Maybe not so ironic after all?” She looked at him dubiously. “I know Italian. My nonna taught it to me.” he stated simply. She continued to study him for a moment. She seemed to make up her mind about something, and she gave him a smile that wasn’t altogether pleasant.
“So, what should I ask you?” Gerard looked at her silently, apparently lost. She continued “What, you don’t think I should get a chance too? Tell you what, we’ll do it like this: You ask a question and I answer. Then I ask a question and you answer. I promise not to lie if you do.”
He regarded her for a moment more, then stuck out a hand and they shook. “Alright,” he said. “Ask away.”
Author's Note: This is the first chapter where they do any real talking, so I hope you liked it. More to come. As always, I would love to hear likes, dislikes, and suggestions for the future. Reviews, darling, are what makes the world go 'round.