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Two weeks passed – two fucking weeks since Cali saw Joe having sex on her couch and her filthy mind was so wrapped up in it that she kept waking up from dirty dreams about him. In every single one of them, he was like some sort of sex god – dominating her with every move he made. It was really distressing to her. Her unconscious mind needed to get a new fantasy.

Because of her new night terrors – as she referred to them – she was avoiding Joe as much as she could. Which really wasn’t all that hard to do. She was super busy with work. She had a few spreads she was doing and two consecutive runway shows. Plus, she scheduled a shoot for new headshots for her portfolio. It was a lot of work to get done in a short amount of time.

She came home that Thursday night completely exhausted. All she wanted to do was take a long hot bath and have a few glasses of wine. She quickly grabbed her mail, looking through it as she ascended the stairs to her apartment. Bills, bills, bills... She stopped in her tracks when she noticed Joe’s name on some of the mail. Then she realized she must have all of Joe’s mail mixed in with her. Seriously, could the mailman not tell the difference between apartment ‘C’ and apartment ‘D’?

Cali went to go knock on his door to give it to him, but hesitated. She heard music coming from his apartment and she was pretty sure it wasn’t pre-recorded. She was almost certain someone was presently playing it with an acoustic guitar. It took a few seconds, but she recognized the song too. It was House of Cards by Radiohead. And then she heard Joe start singing and she felt completely intrusive. She was eavesdropping and she shouldn’t be. She turned on her heels to unlock her apartment and she could still hear Joe singing. But not just singing, he was belting it out. She was impressed – seriously impressed. She had no idea he had the chops. 

She went into her apartment and put the mail on her kitchen counter. She would bring it to him later. She figured she’d give him a little while to make his music and whatnot, then she could stop by.

When she went back into the kitchen to get something to eat a little while later, she noticed the mail still sitting there. It felt really weird to have anything of Joe’s in her apartment – even though there was no doubt probably some sort of sexual secretion from him on her brand new couch. Yuck. It was probably haunting her and causing the fucked up dreams she was having.

She made herself a quick salad and bagan to eat it, sitting alone at her center island counter. She kept eyeing the mail. It seriously just felt odd having his mail sitting on her counter. Half way through her salad, she abruptly stood up and grabbed the mail. She had to get it out of her face.

She walked out of her apartment, still hearing music. This time she knew the song right away. Joe was singing Mixtape by Brand New – one of her very favorite bands. She stood there, listening to it for a little bit before she knocked. The music stopped immediately.

“Come in!” She heard him shout. Cali took a deep breath before she pushed the door open.

“Cali? What are you doing here? Here for some sugar?” He asked, making a joke. Cali rolled her eyes, but smiled at him anyway.

“Uh, the mailman put some of – well, I think all of your mail in my box,” she said, wiggling it in her hand as she made her way over to him. He was sitting on the chair in his living room with his acoustic guitar in his lap and a pick in his hand.

“Thanks,” he said with a genuine smile.

“Brand New, huh?” She asked casually.

“You know of them?” Joe asked, looking surprised.

“They’re like my favorite,” she said with a smile.

She used to listen to Brand New a lot in high school. There were a lot of bands she listened to that got her through her tough times. But, Brand New was her absolute favorite and her sister actually took her to one of their shows years back. It was one of the best nights of her life.

“I didn’t think anyone remembered Brand New nowadays. I don’t even know if they’re still together,” Joe said with a smile.

“Last I heard they were making music again,” Cali told him awkwardly. She knew… every detail… because Brand New was her favorite, but Joe didn’t need to know she was some band stalker.

“Hmm,” Joe hummed, nodding his head.

“I heard you playing Radiohead earlier too,” she told him.

“Okay, come on. Really? You listen to Radiohead too?” He asked in disbelief.

“I’m sure there are a lot of bands I listen to that you wouldn’t believe,” she said, rolling her eyes. 

“I’ll have to look through your music collection sometime,” he said, looking at her skeptically.

“I didn’t know you could sing,” she blurted out as she sat down on his couch. What compelled her to do so, she had no idea. It was weird. She could tell Joe was thinking the same thing, because his eyebrow arched a little when she did.

“Uh, yeah. My friend’s and I kind of have a band,” he said awkwardly.

“What? No way.”

“Mm-hmm. Me and Nick and a few other guys,” he said, nodding his head.

“What kind of music?” She asked, feeling intrigued. She really did love music.

“Nothing as good as Radiohead and Brand New, obviously,” he said and Cali could see a slight blush creep up his face.

“Do you guys like, do live shows and stuff?” Cali asked. She had no idea what came over her and why she was freely having a conversation with him.

“Here and there,” he said with a shrug.

“Are you any good?” She asked, quirking an eyebrow. He shrugged again.

“Why are you being so bashful? It’s weird,” she blurted out. He looked up at her and chuckled.

“This whole conversation is weirding me out. I don’t even know why I’m over here,” Cali said, standing up from the couch.

“Where are you going?” Joe asked, sounding as if he didn’t want her to leave.

“Home,” she said, pointing back toward his door.

“Why? We’re having our first civil conversation in… like, ever and you’re just going to leave?” Joe asked, looking at her incredulously.

“Joe, we’re not friends,” she reminded him.

“I consider you my friend,” he countered, which threw her for a loop. Huh?

“You’ve really got a warped sense of what a friend is then,” Cali said, letting out a small laugh.

“We’ve got a show coming up,” he told her, bringing up his band again.

“You and Nick?” She asked curiously.

“Yeah. On Saturday. It’s just at a small club – but it’s a show,” Joe told her.

“That’s cool,” she said, nodding her head.

“You should come,” he invited her, causing her to give him an odd look.

“I could give you a ride,” he told her. 

Her mind was seriously blown. Was she having another one of her night terrors? Was he about to walk over and take her right there on his couch? 

“Uh… I’ll have to think about it,” she stammered, feeling extremely weird. He nodded, bowing his head to look down at his guitar as he plucked a few notes.

“Um, I’m going to… go,” Cali said, taking a step back, knocking into the arm of the couch.

“I haven’t seen you around much lately,” he said, continuing the conversation.

“Yeah, I’ve had a lot of work,” she told him. Plus, she was avoiding him like the plague, which is why it didn’t make sense that she was standing in his apartment, having a real conversation with him.

“Had any good photo shoots that I missed out on?” He asked, smirking deviously at her.

“A few,” she said, cocking her head, giving him a playful smile.

“Damn,” he scoffed and she let out a light laugh.

“I’ll see you around, Joe,” Cali said, walking toward the door.

“Saturday,” he reminded her and she chuckled.

“I’ll think about it,” she told him again with a smile.

“I’ll buy you a drink,” he offered, sweetening the pot.

“Maybe,” she said, smiling as she opened the door.

“See ya around,” he said, finally ending the conversation.

“Bye,” she said and walked through his doorway, shutting it behind her.

Her smile was still on her face as she walked back into her place and she had no idea why.



Chapter End Notes:

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