Title: Things We Do for Love (5/5)
Spoilers: Specifically 1x25, 2x12. Little details through 2x17.
Word Count: ~ 5400
Disclaimer: You know how this works. Don’t sue me.
Notes: Thanks to lady0fthesith for the beta. Ficcy Friday prompt from tilie12. Sequel to Things We Do For Money. (It’s not necessary to have read it for the first chapter, but its events are relevant to later chapters.)
Summary: Greendale holds a bachelorette auction.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
“Thank you!” Annie exhales loudly and reclines into the headrest of the passenger seat of Jeff’s Lexus. “I thought I was the only one who noticed,” she continues. “I didn’t want to seem completely anal retentive, but if it’s only wearing a skirt, that means it’s walking around topless!”
Her hands move in emphasis of each syllable as she asks, “How did it not think of that?”
After an instant of silence, Annie’s mouth drops open and a slight gasp escapes. Jeff glances over to see an amused, yet scandalized expression on her face. She leans toward him and lowers her voice as if someone might overhear. No one will. This late at night, normal people are either getting plastered or asleep.
“Do you think it did it on purpose?”
Jeff chuckles. Only Annie could turn the Human Being’s poor wardrobe choice into a conspiracy to commit scandal. Well, plenty of people could. They just didn’t stand a chance at being so adorable about it.
“I doubt--” Jeff starts to say before she cuts him off.
“Oh! Left here! Here!” Annie exclaims as she points frantically.
Jeff brakes and jerks the wheel to the left with as much finesse as he can manage in the short distance to the intersection.
“Sorry,” Annie mutters, bracing herself with her hand on the dash as the car screeches to a halt at the red light. “I didn’t realize we’d gone this far.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Jeff switches to full sarcasm mode as he turns his head to look at her. “I can always get new tires.”
Annie grins and fakes a wide-eyed look of sympathy. “Good. I’d hate to cause any trouble.”
Jeff shoots her a glare with a poorly concealed smile. His eyes linger on hers, and he wonders why he’d ever hesitated to give her a ride home. They had only had a few minutes of awkward silence at the beginning. Once Jeff had started prodding her for details of what he’d missed of the auction, Annie stopped wringing her hands over whatever was worrying her. She became her perky, animated self.
Jeff was happy to listen while throwing out an occasional question or one liner. Minus the few times he had to remind himself to keep his eyes on the road -- and the one time Annie had -- the drive was a perfect example of two friends sharing an enjoyable, incident-free time together. Jeff is perfectly content to spend the rest of the night this way.
“After this, it’s about a mile up on the right,” Annie says, interrupting his thoughts.
“Oh,” Jeff responds and hopes there wasn’t a trace of disappointment reflected in his voice.
He clears his throat and checks if the light has changed. He’s pleased to see it’s still red. He puts on a smile and nods toward her as he returns to their previous topic.
“So they really auctioned it?”
She nods. “Yep.”
“Wow.” He shakes his head before adding, “I know I shouldn’t be surprised. I mean, clearly it was going to happen, but for some reason, I held out hope Greendale was better than that.”
Annie laughs. “To be fair, I’ve heard rumors that it’s really a woman in the costume.”
Jeff shakes his head. “I wouldn’t take my chances.”
“Yeah.” Annie agrees. “It’s probably not even costume.”
Jeff nods as he recalls his solitary moments of sulking at the end of the auction. At least he’s solved the mystery of the poor bachelorette who couldn’t get any bids.
“It went last, right?”
Annie’s eyebrows knit and she shakes her head. “No, that was Paige, the non-lesbian lesbian.”
His forehead wrinkles as he glances toward Annie. “But the bid was only ten bucks.”
“Yeah. She was doing some kind of protest, but the dean was taking bids anyway. I don’t think he understood what was going on. It was really awkward. Starburns finally bid just to get him to stop,” Annie replies with a shrug. “And it’s called wampum,” she corrects.
Jeff shoots her a glare. Annie returns an innocent smile.
“Sorry,” she offers. “Abed told me about your irrational hatred for the term.”
Jeff manages to hold onto his glare long enough to pull his eyes away and glance up at the red light.
“It’s not irrational.”
Jeff feels Annie’s eyes focus intently on him. He glances right to find her studying him with a curious look on her face.
“How did you know about the bid? You said you didn’t see the rest of the auction.”
He returns to staring out the front window. He sees green light reflecting off the hood of his car. He glances up to confirm the signal has changed. Jeff remains nonchalant as he moves his foot from the brake to the accelerator.
“I heard a bit,” he replies as he turns the wheel.
Jeff knows this line of conversation will quickly turn into uncomfortable territory. If he lets it continue, he could very well end up telling her how sad and pathetic he’d gotten after losing his bid. He puts on a smile and opts for the redirect.
“So which one of our illustrious classmates bought the Human Being?”
Annie tucks one leg under herself as she turns toward him. “I’ll give you three guesses.”
“Hmm....” Jeff draws out the sound to make a show of considering his first answer. “Garrett.”
“Nope! He bought Vicki.” Annie leans over and grabs his arm as she coos, “They make an adorable couple.” She releases Jeff. “Guess again.”
“Ok... Well... Pierce didn’t have any money, so that only leaves...” He squints one eye to feign deep thought. “Chang.”
“Wow. Impressive. Second try, and you nailed it!”
“That was too easy,” Jeff responds, unable to prevent the smile from spreading across his face. After a moment, he has a horrifying thought. His eyes go wide, and his face fills with terror and disgust. “I hope he doesn’t bring it to my apartment.”
“Ugh,” Annie groans as she visibly shutters. “That’s just... Ew! What if you walked in on--”
“Don’t!” Jeff shouts then finishes, “Don’t continue that thought.”
Annie laughs. “I wasn’t going into detail. But if you get traumatized and need refuge, my place is Chang and creepy mascot-free.” She shrugs and adds, “If you’re not put off by the occasional gunshot and constant stream of perverts outside...”
“Thanks,” Jeff replies. “I might take you up on the offer. You’ve really sold me on it.” He glances at Annie. “Besides, somebody should keep an eye on you and protect you from everything that goes on down here.”
Annie laughs. “Protect me? You’re not exactly the protecting type.”
A hurt look comes over his face. “What does that mean?”
Annie looks at him apologetically. “Jeff, even if were the damsel in distress-rescuing type, you know you’re not intimidating.”
“What? I’m manly.”
She raises her eyebrows as she shoots him a look. “You can pick up women, but that’s not the same. Even normal men aren’t afraid of you.” Annie leans back in her seat and crosses her arms over her chest. “Your hair products and abs won't scare perverts and junkies,” she says with all the confidence of a street savvy former addict.
Before Jeff can respond, Annie points to her right.
“Just pull up along the curb over there,” she instructs.
Jeff follows her gesture. “Woah!” Jeff gasps. “Holy neon lights! Is it still the 80’s at this end of town? How did I not remember this? I must have been pretty out of it the night we dropped you off.”
“Yeah.” She nods and raises her eyebrows. “Neon boobs that big are hard to forget.”
“Annie, you’re such a pervert,” Jeff teases. “Those are obviously just the letter O’s in ‘Dildopolis’.” He brings the car to a stop and tilts his head to examine the sign. “They could be olives.”
Annie laughs. “Sorry. I do have a reputation for only thinking about sex, don’t I?”
Jeff half nods and half shrugs as he puts his Lexus into reverse to pull between two parked cars.
“They’re still open. Late night two for one special,” he says, reading the blinking sign in the window. “Since I’m already here... They have anything good?”
“Yuck!” Annie swats lightly at his arm. “Jeff, I do not go in there.”
He places the car in park alongside the curb, and narrows his eyes at her. There was a time he would have unquestionably believed that answer, and that time was before a very detailed sexual dialog during a game of Dungeons and Dragons. She may be too young and too proper for places like bars and strip clubs, but she’s old enough to buy from a sex shop, and Jeff finds it hard to believe she’s never even gotten curious and wondered in. How could anybody, even Annie, live that close to this place for so long and never have wondered inside?
She crosses her arms. “Fine. I went in once.”
“Just once?” he asks, teasing her with a raised eyebrow.
She glares at him. He grins.
“Yes, once,” she insists.
“What did you get?”
Annie gasps. “As if I would tell you.”
“Come on,” he pleads.
She continues glaring at him.
He tilts his head as he states matter-of-factly, “You know I won’t tell anybody.”
She bites her lip and studies his face, before declaring, “Underwear.”
“Underwear?” Jeff asks, a bit of confusion working its way into his features. “Just underwear!”
“Not just underwear. Underwear that...” She raises her eyebrows and nods downward as she finishes, “does... things.”
His focus moves in the direction Annie gestures with her eyes.
“Oh,” Jeff says as images of the underwear doing... things to Annie rush through his head.
He swallows and realizes his mistake. Encouraging Annie to talk about this subject is incredibly counter productive to his decision not to think about the very... things she’s talking about.
He needs to get away from her before he says or does anything else he shouldn’t. Too bad. It had been going so well before he’d gone and screwed up by letting his smutty mind voice his curiosity.
“Well--” he starts to say before he’s interrupted.
Jeff whips his head around at the sound of a shout, a series of honks, and a thud against his Lexus. A tall, unshaven man in a long black coat scrambles off the car’s hood, clutching a bag of newly purchased items to his chest. Before he makes a second attempt to cross the street, he flashes Jeff and Annie a creepy smile that was probably meant to be apologetic.
“Moron,” Jeff mutters.
“Ugh,” Annie groans. “I don’t even want to know what was in that bag. Some of these guys are so gross. I hate when they leer at me. It’s the worst part of living here. It’s even worse than the men at the strip club.”
Jeff’s mind freezes on the last portion of her statement, triggering for the second time that night the alcohol-hazed memory of a brunette strip club waitress. Until this moment, Jeff would have staked his life on the fact that Annie would never go into a strip club. Yet the words out of her very own mouth ran quite contradictory to that assumption. Jeff had to wonder how many things about Annie he had wrongly assumed.
“When have you been at a strip club?” Jeff asks.
Her shoulders stiffen. “What? I haven’t!” Annie shouts.
Jeff studies her expression, trying to determine whether her over-emphasized denial is an indication that she’s lying or that she’s strongly offended by the idea. He suspects the former.
He narrows his eyes as he scrutinizes here. “Sounded like you were talking from experience.”
She huffs. “That’s crazy, Jeff.”
Jeff nods slowly but remains unconvinced. He unfastens his seat belt to turn and face his hostile witness. He puts his arms over the back of her seat as he confronts her. “So, you’ve never been to a strip club? Not ever?”
He watches her blush as she looks out the front window, not meeting his eyes. “Why would I? They’re gross. They’re degrading to women and... and all that other stuff Britta would say.”
His eyes narrow. “Really?” Jeff challenges.
Annie’s head whips around at his tone. Her eyes electrify as she returns his challenge. “Really!”
He remains motionless with his eyes locked on hers. The temperature in the car seems to rise a few degrees as she silently dares him. He teeters between wanting to call her out and wanting to take her right here in his car. His body tells him to just grab her and crush her lips to his own, but he remains still.
“Really?” Jeff repeats, slowly drawing the word out.
What if he’s wrong? What if Annie isn’t the waitress he slept with? What if he’s right? How could he possibly say “I think you’re lying. I think I had sex with you... but I was too drunk to be one hundred percent sure”? There’s no way to say that without sounding like a terrible person.
“Really,” she says and leans closer, eyes still defiantly locked on Jeff’s.
He clenches his jaw at the nearness of her. He can smell her perfume, all fruity and flowery. He should just say “okay” and leave, avoid an embarrassing situation for them both. Not that he doesn’t really, desperately want to know. As wrong as it is, that shameless part of him would love to discover his lascivious encounter was with Annie. That memory was already hot, but he can already feel his pants becoming uncomfortably small at the thought that it was with Ms. Perfect Attendance herself.
“Really?” He narrows his eyes at her and leans in until her face is only inches from his own. “Because I’m pretty sure I saw a waitress a couple months ago who looked a lot like you.”
She jumps away from him, and her eyes go wide as if she’s been struck. Instantly, Jeff knows he’s right. He also knows he made a mistake.
She gasps, “You knew!”
“No. I just...”
Before Jeff can say anything further, she mutters something about having to go while jumping out of the car.
“Annie!” Jeff shouts as she slams the door. He watches her rush up the steps adjacent to the marital aid store, and he leans his head against the back of his seat. “Damn it.”
Jeff jumps at a honk blaring in his ears. He looks over his shoulder to see a faux wood station wagon with a rotund, bald man hanging out the driver’s side window. Above the head lights, Jeff sees the man make a rolling gesture with his hand.
Jeff’s lip curls upward in aggravation and his forehead wrinkles. “What the hell?”
“Are you leaving?” The man peers at Jeff from behind a pair of glasses that haven’t been in style since the 70’s as he shouts, “Can I have your space?”
Ignoring the man, Jeff jumps out of his car and slams the door shut. He jogs toward the steps he’d just seen Annie run up and takes the stairs two at a time to the top floor. Once he reaches the landing, he pulls open the door and steps into the hall. His nose wrinkles. The building smells like beer and old spaghetti.
There are four apartments. Jeff frowns as realizes he’s never been here, and he doesn’t know which one is Annie’s.
“Annie?” he calls in a stage whisper.
“Annie,” he says a little louder.
He reaches into his pocket for his phone, but he comes up empty. Then he remembers Annie calling the taxi. She never returned his phone after the all, so it’s either in his car or in her jacket pocket. He sighs as he looks back at the stairwell door, considering whether to walk back down to search for his phone... or maybe just leave.
What’s he supposed to do if he stays, knock on every door until he find her? For God sake, who does she think he is, Hugh Grant? She couldn’t possibly hold it against him if he were to give up and talk to her on Monday instead? Could she?
Jeff groans, takes a deep breath and turns left before rapping on the first door. A few moments later, it opens. An Asian woman in flannel pajamas stands before Jeff.
“Hey, sorry. Wrong apartment.” Jeff tries to offer a friendly smile. “I know it’s late, but I could use some help. Do you know where Annie lives?”
The woman stares blankly at him.
“Blue eyes, long brown hair. About this,” he holds his hand near his shoulders, “tall. Wears cardigans and tights.”
The woman points across the hall.
Jeff looks at the door she pointed to then back at the stranger. “Really?” The doors slams, and Jeff calls out, “Thanks.”
Jeff turns, crosses the hall and raises his hand. He hesitates. Maybe he really should leave. Sure, Annie would be mad at him for awhile, but she’d eventually get over it. Maybe this is what needed to happen for them both to finally put this... this... whatever it was between them to rest. He should take his hand away from this door, stuff it in his pocket and leave. Maybe it’s what he needs to finally get Annie out of his head. Then again, maybe his hand has a mind of its own.
“Go away, Jeff,” he hears from the other side of the door before his fist can make contact.
His shoulders tense. His hand drops, and he takes a step back from the door.
“Are you watching me?”
“Like I couldn’t hear all the shouting and knocking. These walls are like paper, Jeff.” He hears a light thud against the door. “Now can you go away and stop bothering my neighbors?”
Jeff looks around and suddenly feels very self-conscious knowing that the entire building could be listening to their conversation. He leans close to the door and demands, “Just let me come in.”
He’s met with silence.
“I can’t believe you!” Her voice is much too loud for his liking. “You knew this whole time and were pretending nothing even happened. Then you bring it up like it’s just some joke?”
“Excuse me?” Jeff exclaims, forgetting to remain quiet. “I just figured it out. You’re the one who pretended nothing happened. Why am I the one getting yelled at?” He raises his voice louder. “I’m the one who should be mad!”
He hears a series of clicks before the nob turns. The door cracks open to reveal half of Annie’s face, and the scent of apples drifts into the hallway.
“Really? You didn’t know?”
Jeff remembers to keep his voice low and steps in close. “Annie, I was blitzed. You were dressed all... sexy. I never thought you’d be in a place like that. I’m still finding it hard to believe.” His head tilts as he offers a reassuring smile. “And how was I supposed to know you could keep this kind of a secret so well?”
She bites her lip and seems to study him.
“Annie, can I please come in?”
She slowly opens the door and allows him to walk past before closing it and engaging all the locks.
“So now what?” Annie asks as she turns and leans against the door.
He shakes his head. “I’m not sure.”
She folds her arms across her chest. “Well, if you want to have another ‘it was a mistake’ conversation, you can save it. I wasn’t expecting anything to come of... having sex with you.” She shrugs and casts her eyes to the floor. “And I remember the first talk well enough.”
Jeff opens his mouth, but Annie interrupts. “And if you say ‘relationships are complicated’, you can go right back out the door.”
His lips form a sarcastic half smile. “Yeah. Well... they are.”
“I mean it,” she threatens as she reaches toward the door knob.
“Okay. Sorry. This is a lot to process.”
He turns and looks at the barred window above her bed, and he momentarily regrets not having left when he had the chance. Why did he have to start talking about sex shops and strip clubs? He wouldn’t be in this position if he’d just pulled the damn car over and immediately said good night like he’d planned from the beginning. Right now, Annie would be in bed, and he’d be on his way back to his own apartment to fall asleep to the sound of a mentally unstable Asian man’s snoring. Everything would be normal.
Jeff sinks onto the edge of Annie’s bed. He glances at her. Damn it. She still looks beautiful with her dark curls and flowing green dress, but her eyes are full of nervousness and confusion. Any minute now, Jeff might make those eyes fill instead with hurt and anger. He drops his head into his hands.
He just couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Although... maybe it’s better that this is now in the open. No, his little-used noble side argues, it would have been better if he hadn’t let it happen in the first place.
“I’m thinking,” he mutters from his hands.
Her voice is soft as she asks, “Will that take long?”
He looks up at her. She’s sitting on the arm of her sofa with her bare feet dangling.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I never should have let that happen.”
“What?” Her eyes go wide, and she leans forward, letting her feet hit the floor. “Why are you sorry? You were right! You should should be mad at me. I’m the one who’s sorry. It was my fault. I took advantage of you when you were--”
“Annie,” he cuts her off. “I’ve had sex with plenty of women while I was drunk, and none of them, especially you, took advantage of me.”
“But you didn’t even know it was me,” she protests. “You never would have done that if you did. It was really wrong of me. I didn’t say anything, because I was afraid of what you would think or what you might say, but not telling you is probably even worse.” Her eyes look as if they’re about to spill over with tears. “I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.”
Resting his elbows on his knees, Jeff takes a breath and exhales slowly. He wishes she would stop apologizing for something that was his fault. He can’t let her continue to blame herself.
“No, I knew it was you,” he says toward the floor.
“But you said--”
He shakes his head. “I didn’t know exactly, but I imagined it.”
Jeff can picture her nose scrunched in confusion, but he continues looking at the floor as he lets out a heavy sigh.
“I’ll probably regret telling you this, but when I was with her, I imagined she was you.” Without lifting his head, Jeff peers past his eyebrows at Annie. “I wanted to be with you.” He lets out a staccato laugh as the stupidity of that statement lands on his own ears. “Except she was you. You were you!” He meets her gaze with a sarcastic grin, “No imagination needed.” He shakes his head. “I’m such an idiot.”
“But..” She bites her lip as she watches him from across the room. “You could have been with me if you wanted to.”
“It’s not that simple.”
She narrows a glare at him. “Why not?”
He leans back onto her bed and stares at the ceiling. How could he possibly tell her all the reasons? For starters, she’s too young... No, that’s not it, not really. That’s just a trite, convenient excuse that’s easy to throw around. He’s met plenty of women her age he’d have no problem sleeping with. But Annie isn’t like them. She’s not a throw away. She’s thoughtful and sweet. She’s too sweet, too good for him. She’s also emotional and sensitive. It scares the hell out of him that he could easily break her heart, or worse, she could break his. She’s everything he’s not and everything he can only ever hope to be.
From his horizontal position, Jeff tilts his head to look up at Annie.
“I doubt I can explain without sounding like a boy band lyric, and I can’t bring myself to do that out loud just yet.”
“Great.” She huffs and falls out of sight onto her sofa. “So we’re back to ‘relationships are complicated’?”
He sits up. “No--”
“Jeff, you’re not mad at me, and you don’t want to be with me.” Annie’s head comes up, and she folds her arms across the back of the couch. She rests her head on her arms as she glares at him. “It’s one a.m. Couldn’t this wait until tomorrow? Why are we having this conversation now?”
Why? The shortest answer is that Jeff doesn’t want her to be mad at him, but he knows that doesn’t really answer the question. She’s right. He could have left and sorted things out in a day or two. Why had he followed her up here? Why hadn’t he let himself leave when he had the chance -- correction -- chances?
The real explanation is the same reason he made a fool of himself when other men wanted to bid on her at the auction earlier tonight. It’s the reason he keeps finding himself in compromising situations with her. Why he can’t seem to ever stick with the conviction that being with her is wrong. Why he waited for her tonight. It’s why after every time he’s been publicly humiliated, he’s found his way to her.
He needs her. That’s why he couldn’t leave. If he left her alone the entire night to form her own conclusions about his motives -- per his usual attempts to let things blow over -- she would naturally assume the worst. Jeff certainly hadn’t given her any reason not to. He very likely would not be able to undo the damage the next day. Even if she forgave him, this was major enough that she would never have the same affection for him. He couldn’t let that happen.
Jeff lets out a long sigh. His shoulders slump, and he hangs his head in defeat.
“I love you.”
Her voice is loud and squeaky. “What!?”
“I love you,” he repeats.
“That’s not funny, Jeff,” she says in a flat, warning tone.
“It’s not supposed to be.” He shrugs and lifts his head to meet her eyes. “I don’t know what to do about it, but I know I love you.”
Annie looks around the room as though she’s expecting a camera crew to emerge from the walls and inform her she’s been Punk’d.
Jeff silently chuckles. He can’t blame her. He can barely believe he said it himself. He wasn’t exactly planning to say it. Now that he has, he really has no plan for what to do next. He’s finally put himself in a position where there’s no room for bailing out. Well, he could bail. He could take it back and pretend it was a bad joke. She’d never give him another chance if he did. That is if she didn’t kill him instead.
Aside from the danger to his own life, he doesn’t want to take it back. Even if she told him to go to hell and leave her apartment, Jeff is still glad he came clean. He can finally breathe again. Until now, he’s felt like someone has had their hands around his lungs just waiting to squeeze.
Jeff watches her blinking and shaking her head. She opens and closes her mouth. Single syllables occasionally escape as though she’s searching for the correct words.
“You’re being really weird,” she finally says.
He smiles and nods. “I know.”
Annie stares at him, squinting and studying. She still looks beautiful. Maybe, Jeff thinks, figuring out what to do next isn’t complicated. Maybe none of it has to be.
Annie’s eyes go wide with surprise as Jeff stands. He crosses toward the rear of the sofa. Annie gazes up at him with a puzzled and uncertain expression. She raises on her knees, closer to eye level as he approaches.
Her eyes are still full of suspicion when he reaches one hand out to brush her hair back. With his eyes locked on hers, he lets his hand drift to her chin as he leans in. Her hands move up his chest as her lips connect with his. He wraps his arms around her waist, and her hands snake up around his neck. When he starts to lift her from the sofa, she pulls back.
“Jeff...” Annie says in an unsteady whisper.
He holds onto her waist, not letting her slip too far. With his forehead resting against hers, he assures her, “I wasn’t kidding. Tomorrow, I’m not going to pretend I never said it.” He absent-mindedly smooths her ruffled hair with his hands. “I’m sure it’s already getting old to hear me say it, but I really do love you.”
“That’s really sweet.” She grins and kisses his nose. “But I was just going to say I love you, too.”
“Oh. Even better,” he says as he pulls her close.
* * *
Jeff pulls the tin of coffee off the shelf and places it onto the counter next to the little, white coffee pot and a single mug. He kneels down and opens a cabinet in search of a second mug. He finds pots and pans. Padding a few steps to his left in his bare feet, he opens the next cabinet. Glasses, but no mugs.
“I can’t find the mugs,” Jeff calls.
“What?” he hears Annie say as the water turns off in the bathroom sink.
“Where are your mugs?” he asks as he looks in the last cabinet. “I only found this green one.”
Annie emerges with a hair brush in hand.
“That’s the only one I have.”
He raises an eyebrow at her. She shrugs.
“I’ve never needed more than one before. Vaughn didn’t dr--”
Jeff cuts her off. “I don’t need to hear about that.”
Annie offers him an awkward, apologetic smile. She moves toward the sofa as she runs the brush through her hair.
“You can use it.” She plops on the cushions and tucks her legs under her. “I shouldn’t drink coffee after I just brushed my teeth.”
Of course Annie would brush her teeth and hair before she’s even taken a shower.
“Nah. We can hit a Starbucks before we get your car,” he says as he places the mug on the counter.
Jeff leans against the counter and smiles. He watches Annie meticulously brush through her long locks. He notices the hint of hot pink underwear poking out where her tank top has ridden up her bare leg. When his focus returns to her face, Jeff notices her smile has drifted into a crestfallen frown.
“What’s wrong?” Jeff asks as he crosses to take a seat next to her on the sofa.
She stops brushing. “I have a confession.”
She bites her lip as she gazes at him with doe eyes.
“There’s nothing wrong with my car.” She nervously picks at the bristles of her hair brush as she continues, “And my phone is in my jacket pocket. I had it the whole time last night when I told you I didn’t have it. I made everything up so you wouldn’t think I was totally lame for waiting around so long for you.” Her bottom lip forms a pout. “I never even ordered a taxi. I only pretended. When I told you I was calling for one, I was actually just talking with the information operator. I was going to drive myself home after you left.”
“Wow,” Jeff deadpans as he rubs his hands on his legs. “That’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard.”
Annie’s jaw drops as she gasps and swats at Jeff’s bare chest.
“You are so mean!”
A smile plays at the corner of Jeff’s mouth.
“Except...” Jeff adds, “There is one one thing I can think of that’s slightly more pathetic.”
“Yeah?” Annie leans in close. “What?”
Jeff raises his eyebrows and closes the remaining distance between them.
“I’m not a compulsive bidder.”
Annie laughs as she pushes Jeff against the arm of the sofa. She crawls up to peer down at him.
“Jeff, I already figured that out.”