“Sam, how are thing with Jason?” Seth asked. It had been almost two weeks since her first date with him and Samantha was still on cloud nine.
“He’s great,” she replied. She had just come back to her desk from lunch. “We shared a sandwich, today in the park. And you? Have you seen Cole again yet?”
“Nah, I’ve been too busy with work.” It wasn’t a total lie.
“Since when has work ever kept you from the party?”
“This is different. Real world. Real job.” That was part of it. Seth knew it was time to grow up and be a little more responsible, but there was something else.
“But you liked Cole. He was different.”
Seth closed his eyes and for the millionth time wondered why he had confessed to her of his night with Cole. “Says who?”
Sam frowned. She knew better, she could hear it in his voice. “Whatever. So, what have you been up to then? Gone to any new clubs?”
“Yeah, I hit a few last weekend,” Seth lied. He has stayed home all weekend wondering why Cole had gotten to him like he had. “So, Sam, have you heard from Toby lately?” Seth got to the point of the call.
“Hmmm,” she pondered, “not since we were all on the phone together. How long ago was that?”
“Almost three weeks.”
“I take it you haven’t heard from him either?”
“He’s not answering his cell or his email. I’ve left messages but he hasn’t returned them.”
“Well, he did say his job was crazy. Maybe he’s just been busy.”
“Yeah, I suppose. But it doesn’t take much time to hit the reply button on an email.”
“I’m sure he’s fine. If anything were wrong he would have called you.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right.”
Seth rang off leaving Samantha to contemplate. She and Toby were friends via Seth. If it hadn’t been for each of their relationships with him, she didn’t think she and Toby would ever have hung out together. Seth was what they had in common. Still, she cared about Toby and if he was blowing off Seth intentionally then she had a bone to pick with him.
She mulled it over for awhile then picked up her phone and dialed Toby’s cell.
She wasn’t surprised when after the third ring she got his voice mail. “Toby, it’s Sam. What’s going on, sweetie? You have Seth worried sick. Call him. And if you can’t call him then call me, okay? Bye.”
That evening when her phone rang she was sure it was Toby, but looking at the display she saw Jason’s name. “Hello?”
“Hey, babe, how was your afternoon?”
“Uneventful. Are you just now leaving work?”
“Yeah, it was a bitch of a day. I’m glad this week is almost over.”
“Yeah? Me too,” Samantha agreed.
“I was wondering what you wanted to do this weekend.”
“I don’t know. Did you have something in mind?”
“Well, I’ve been offered a house in the Hamptons for the weekend.”
Samantha’s heart skipped a beat. “The Hamptons? How did you manage that?”
“Let’s just say, I have connections. So is that a yes?” he said with a little laugh.
“Yes. That’s a yes. Wow, the Hamptons. Sounds wonderful.”
“Is that your phone again?” Chase asked Toby. They had just shared a line of crystal and were trying to decide whether to go out or not.
“Yeah,” Toby said picking up his phone and looking at the display before putting it in his pocket unanswered.
“So who keeps calling? You got another guy on the side?” Chase asked, half joking.
Toby grinned. “And what if I do?”
“I’d have to kick his ass.”
Toby laughed. “No, it’s just a friend. A guy I went to college with.”
Chase grew serious. “An ex?”
“No, just a friend.”
Chase eyed him.
“Really, I’m serious,” Toby went on. “We’ve never had sex. I swear. Just a really good friend.”
Chase relaxed. “So why aren’t you taking his calls?”
Toby shrugged. “I don’t know. Just don’t feel like talking to him I guess.”
“So what do you feel like doing?” Chase asked suggestively.
“Jumping your bones,” Toby said leaning over and pushing Chase back in the sofa and covering his body with his own.
The next day Toby was at his desk working on plans for the latest project he had been handed when the phone on his desk rang.
“This is Toby,” he said into the receiver.
“So you are still alive,” Seth said.
“Seth, what are you doing calling me here? How did you get this number?”
“What else was I to do? You won’t return my calls, you won’t answer my emails. Shit Tobe, what’s up? Did I piss you off?”
“No, I’ve just been busy, Seth.”
“Too busy to hit reply on an email? Come on Toby, what’s going on?”
“Nothing. I’ve just been buried at work, really. I need to go. You’re gonna get my ass in trouble calling me here.”
“Okay, but promise me you’ll call me tonight.”
“I’ll try. Now I gotta go,” Toby said hanging up the phone.
Toby looked up to see his boss standing in his doorway. “Mr. Johnson, what can I do for you?”
“I just wanted to say well done on the specs you turned in on the Hadley project yesterday.”
“Oh, thank you, sir.”
“You know, Anderson, I have to admit when you first got here I didn’t have much faith you’d make it. But the last couple of weeks you really have stepped up your game. Keep up the good work.”
“Thank you, sir. I will.”
That evening Samantha felt exhausted as she climbed the stairs to her apartment on the fourth floor. A weekend in the Hamptons sounded divine after the day she had had. Jason had promised to leave work Friday night no later than six so they could drive out in time for a late dinner.
She finally got to the landing on her floor, cursing again being too poor to live in a building with an elevator. As she walked down the hall her eyes fell on a tall blond walking toward her. As he got closer she noticed his piercing blue eyes.
“Hi,” he said with a shy smile.
“Hi,” she answered.
“You just move in?” he asked stopping when the distance between them had closed.
“A little over a month ago.”
“Yeah, I didn’t think I’d seen you before. I’m Allen.” He extended his hand.
“Well, Samantha, welcome to the building.” He smiled and then made his way on down the hall, leaving her standing there with a silly grin on her face.
Seth has not been back to The Forum since his night with Cole. If he would let himself ponder the reasons he would have to admit he was avoiding Cole because the emotions he felt scared him. But Seth was never one of self-reflection.
Thursday night Seth decided to go out. Maybe subconsciously he thought Cole wouldn’t be out on a Thursday night, or maybe he really hoped he would. But Seth refused to let his thought process go that far, instead he reasoned that he had worked hard the last few days and needed a little time to cut loose.
He walked into the club and scanned the crowd. He felt a twinge of disappointment when he didn’t see the familiar blond. Then he felt anger at himself for wanting Cole to be there. What was wrong with him anyway? He was acting like a teenage girl with a crush. It must be because he was in a new city and away from his friends. That was the only explanation.
He sighed to himself and walked over to the bar, taking a seat on one of the stools and ordering a drink.
Seth purposely sat with his back to the dance floor. He knew if he turned around he would start looking for Cole, then he reminded himself that he didn’t care is Cole was there. He should just go pick up some nameless trick and take him home. But the truth was he didn’t want a nameless trick, he wanted Cole.
“Hey, Seth, I haven’t seen you for awhile. Where’ve you been?”
Speak of the devil. “Hello, Cole,” Seth said turning to face the blond. “I’ve been around, just busy with work. How have you been?”
“Great. Hey, I meant to get your phone number the other night. I thought we might get together again sometime.”
“Oh, um, yeah,” Seth stammered as he pulled out his wallet to retrieve one of his new business cards. “Here, this has my cell phone on it.”
“Okay, thanks.” Cole said with a genuine smile. “So I’ll call you sometime, then.”
Seth watched him walk off. Call me for what? A date? A booty call? What was that all about?
“Can I buy you a drink?” a voice from behind him said. Seth spun around to see a dark skinned beauty sitting on the stool next to him.
“Sure,” Seth said. He supposed this guy would have to do.
Friday evening Seth was sitting at home flipping through the channels on his television when his cell rang. He looked at the display before answering. “Hey, Toby. How are you?”
“Sorry I didn’t call you last night,” Toby started. “I was beat and went to bed early.”
“S’alright. So what have you been up to?”
“Working and hanging out with Chase.”
“Chase? Is he that law clerk?”
“Yeah. How about you? Are you meeting plenty of hot guys in Austin?”
“A few. Seriously, Toby, what’s up out there? Are you avoiding me? I feel like there’s something you’re not saying.”
“No,” Toby said quickly. “Well, Chase and I have been doing some partying, but nothing really.”
Seth started to press him as to what kind of partying, but before he could get the words out of his mouth there was aloud commotion from Toby’s end of the phone. “What’s going on now?”
“Oh, um, Chase just got here. Looks like he brought some friends with him. I gotta go Seth. I’ll do better keeping in touch, I promise.”
Before Seth could say anything else Toby was gone, leaving Seth to wonder just what type of people Toby had gotten himself hooked up with.