Vradin, Chapter Eight

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Tank had a pretty swank two story in Federal Way done up in a lot of natural woods and stone. There was a lot of space for a bachelor, but a lot of guys, some from Carl’s crew, cycled by so the place never felt empty. They were all at least polite to me, and most of the guys seemed genuinely interested in my recovery.

Jody filled me in on the fall out from taking Carl along on my errand. I felt punched in the gut all over again as the first echos of those memories started to come back to me. At least I didn’t need to inform Joe that I wouldn’t be at work for a while.

After a week, though, I came to the realization that I had suffered irreparable brain damage. I was suffering from having a serious lust-on for Tank.

Watching him move around his house, I found myself enjoying his grace and economy of movement. He seemed to have a thing for carting me around, and there was something as primally satisfying about that as it was inherently infuriating. I mean, being treated like I weighed nothing was kind of, well, nice, but at the same time it was also like being treated like I was nothing, not even capable of walking a few feet on my own, which so was not nice. The fact that I started to feel all tingly in my girly places at just the scent of him did not help with my mood, or the complexity of my emotions around him.

The first guy I like-liked just happened to be someone I couldn’t read, couldn’t predict, and wasn’t sure I should trust. I mean, come on, some maybe not so random stranger opens his house to me, and why was I even letting him? If he was just feeling all apologetic about being pissy to us at the Market, this was way overboard for compensation.

Yet, somehow every time I tried to bring around the subject of my taking off back home, the subject changed and I would just let it. That didn’t feel like me. Hence, all this attraction to Tank and my passivity about staying in his home, it must be brain damage.

For his part, Tank was polite. He asked more questions than he answered, he managed to run a construction business from his home, and employed Carl and his crew for a lot of that business. Despite living under his roof, I felt like I knew less about him the more that I learned, and the thought of him discovering that my nascent sexual awakening was keyed to him, it was unbearable. After all, I was just a drink server in a strip club trying to get through college. I could get by on my own, but it was a struggle and I was challenging the things my family believed about right and wrong to do it.

On the other hand, Tank managed the livelihood of dozens of men and presumably their families while making it look effortless. He was so full of confidence that I found myself unable to contradict him. It felt great to be near him, but in the few moments of solitude I got, the feeling that I was losing myself around him freaked me out.

I strong armed Jody into taking us back to our apartment during one of his infrequent outings. We left a note.

He called Jody and talked with her for a good fifteen, twenty minutes. I deliberately escaped into the shower so I wouldn’t have to hear her side and wonder at his. Or wonder why he had called Jody and not me. That last one didn’t work out so well.

Jody just looked at me like I had grown an extra head when I came out of the bathroom. “Did something happen between you and Tank while my back was turned?” she finally asked.

I shrugged and slipped into my room. She followed. “No, really. Do I need to go all mama bear on his ass?”

I sighed and tossed the towel aside. Living with Jody had stripped me of my modesty where other women were concerned. Rooting through my drawers, I pulled out my scruffiest, most comfortable at-homes, an oh-holey pull over sweater hoodie and a pair of cut off jeans that were more string than fabric (even if they did cover more than my uniform shorts). I put my grammie panties (as Jody called them) between my girly parts and the cut offs and slipped the sweater over my bare uppers.

After I was dressed, I turned to Jody and said, “I just–. No, nothing happened with him. Something weird is going on with him, and I don’t think he’s going to turn into some violent psycho stalker dude, but he’s not interested in me like that.”

She leaned up against the door jamb. “Is that why you just had to leave like that? A note on the counter, not even a thank you to his face for the care? Because nothing was happening?”

I sighed and flopped onto my desk chair. “Because I’m losing my brain around him, Jody! He still scares me a bit, not physically anymore, but he’s got so much …. He’s so sure of himself, you know? And I don’t feel like me when I’m around him. I feel like something ripped my spine out and replaced it with rubber. I don’t get why he opened his home to us because he hasn’t exactly been a flirt or anything, and we don’t know him well enough for any other reason I can think of! But every time I tried to bring up leaving, the conversation turned and I couldn’t come back to it. It was like … I wasn’t me.”

“You want him, right?” Jody asked, not looking the least sympathetic.

I closed my eyes and nodded. “Like he’s the last morsel of chocolate covered caramel in the candy store.”

“Oh, my!” Jody laughed. She knew how much I loved chocolate caramels. She had laughed once that if ever I wanted to fake an orgasm I should just pretend I was eating one of those and whoever I was with would feel like the greatest stallion on the planet. “And nothing happened, huh?”

“I got really turned on, my motor revved, but he never even glanced at the gear shift.”

At that, she winced in sympathy. “Ouch, baby girl. Okay, well, you still have a week of recoup time before you have to be to work again, and about as long till your follow up. What are you going to do with the time?”

I grimaced. “Contemplate an existential dilemma. I hate that I had to withdraw.”

She shrugged and straightened up. “Well, my soap’s about to come on. Come veg out in front of the TV and worry about it tomorrow.”

I started to turn her down, but really, what would moping in my room do for me? Nada. So let’s hear it for daytime television!