Chapter 2: Games
"Who are you texting with such a grin on your face?"
"Hm?" Mac looked up and saw Nate looking at her with a smirk. "Oh. No one," she said as she threw her phone into her bag. She was just going to leave it at that but she knew he would ask more questions. "My mom. She doesn't know how to text."
"Ah. Of course," Nate said as he sat down across from her. Nate had joined her in the café of the law school. It was one of her favorite places to study when it was empty. The smell of the coffee and close atmosphere made it her ideal place. "What are you looking at?" Nate pulled her book over to him.
"Evidence," she said.
"Ugh, gross." Nate scooted the book back in front of her. "So, you wanna come over tonight? My mom sent me some old Woody Allen movies that only you appreciate."
"I don't know, Nate, I've got a lot of work to do. I'm so behind on this reading," she said, gesturing toward the big book in front of her.
"Come on, it's Thursday night. We can watch a movie then go to bar review."
"I'm not going to bar review."
"Okay, fine. But come over for a movie. Please?"
Not since she'd known him had Mac ever been able to say no to him. She nodded, and Nate jumped up excitedly. He kissed her on the forehead before he picked up his stuff to leave.
"Okay awesome. I'll order some pizzas and see you around 7?"
"Chinese and it's a date."
Nate laughed. "I should have known. See you later, Annie."
Later that evening as Mac was doing some stuff around her apartment before she was supposed to go to Nate's she had the enormous urge to text Dante again. He was so charming. She couldn't stand it. Okay, that was a lie. She didn't hate it. She actually liked it quite a bit. When she had been talking to him earlier she'd tried to play it cool like she didn't care about anything they were talking about, but if he had been sitting in front of her, the small smile playing on her lips and the way she nearly leapt out of her skin each time her phone vibrated would have completely betrayed her emotions. Mac wasn't really used to this kind of thing. She had never talked to or dated a guy that wasn't her friend first. Meeting some stranger and starting up something was a completely new experience for Mac. And although it made her nervous, it was also incredibly exciting.
The problem was that she didn't know how to play the game. Mac hated playing games. That was why she liked dating guys she already knew. She could still text them without it being weird because they were already friends. Now she didn't know. The conversation from earlier had ended on an up note. At least she thought so. Maybe she had been a little too mean to him. Should she apologize? Or clarify? It was frustrating! Could she just text him and ask him what he was up to without it leading into too much? Maybe she could just ask him something about himself. Or she could just say hey. Or…
No. No, she couldn't text him. Of course not. She would just have to wait until tomorrow.
Dante looked at his phone for the fifth time in the last ten minutes. Nothing. Ever since the last text they had exchanged earlier, Dante had been hoping she would say something else. Anything else. No, she wouldn't text him. She wasn't as interested as he was. He would have to make her interested. He was determined to. The woman was beautiful. She was funny and sexy and he loved that attitude she gave him. Maybe it was her showing that she wasn't interested, but Dante couldn't help but adore it. She was so snarky and sassy. He had to stop thinking about it. He had gone to the gym and worked out incredibly hard to get his mind off of it earlier. He was completely hung up on this girl he barely even knew. Maybe she was toying with him—making it seem like she wasn't really interested when she actually was. Maybe she was sitting on her couch right now just like he was, desperately waiting for him to text her.
Yeah, right, Dante thought to himself. She definitely isn't there yet. She wasn't ready. But he would make her ready. Mac. Was that her real name? It couldn't be. Mac. Her black, curly hair, and her beautiful red lips. Okay, he barely knew her, yeah, but he wanted to know her. Desperately. He wanted to talk to her and make her laugh and smile. He wanted to… Okay, Dante stopped himself from taking his thoughts any further.
He should just text her. What harm could it do? The worst that could happen is that she wouldn't respond. But is that the worst that could happen?
Dante looked at his phone again.
"Ugh, okay. Enough." He stood up. He would take a shower. He was smelly and sweaty and he needed to stop thinking about Mac. A shower would take his mind off of it. And it would get him away from his phone. Perfect.
Oh my god WHY had she decided to send him a text. Mac wanted to kick herself. He was probably busy doing something. Not anxiously awaiting your text, Mac annoyedly and sarcastically thought to herself. That was the dumbest thing she'd ever done. Now he had all the power. Now he had the control. The next move was his. Mac didn't like it. She didn't like it at all.
Mac looked at the clock.
Okay, she would be early to Nate's, but he wouldn't care. Mac hurried around her apartment, gathering her things into her bag so she could just go over to Nate's early and get her mind off Dante. She took one last look at her phone before throwing it in as well. Then she wrapped her scarf loosely around her neck, said goodbye to B.J.—who was slumbering peacefully after having been fed, walked, and washed—and walked out the door.
A puff of steam followed Dante as he opened his bathroom door and stepped into his hallway with a towel wrapped around his waist. He took his other smaller towel and toweled off his hair as he walked into his living room. He glanced over at his phone, and though he was sorely tempted to go check it for what felt like the millionth time, he held back. So, he gave it one last look before he went to grab his jeans that were hanging off the back of the rocking chair in the corner of his room.
Wait! As soon as Dante looked away, he thought he got a flash of a green light. He whipped his head back to the phone and stared at it for a moment… waiting. Waiting for that little green light that would tell him whether or not he could rejoice. And then—
Dante leapt over the coffee table that separated him from his phone that was laying on his couch. He crashed into his couch and sat up quickly as yanked his phone up. His body was shaking with adrenaline as he fumbled with the thin, black, rectangular menace. On the preview screen he could see that it was from her.
Mac (5:53 PM) I just realized how im …
Dante's eyes went up to the clock in the top corner of his screen.
He should have never taken such a long shower. Son of a bitch. She probably thought he was playing games. He hated playing games.
It took him three tries before he was able to properly put in the code to unlock his phone. When he finally saw her message, he smiled widely.
I just realized how impolite I was earlier. I should have asked what you were up to today. Class?
Dante thought for a second before responding. He wanted to be clever and charming while also explaining why he didn't respond the second he got her text.
Oh u know just being a Harvard snob. Then I went to the gym and just got done getting cleaned up. Plans tonight?
He had revised it a few times before he settled on this message. Now he would just wait.
"Hey, you're early."
"Do you always answer the door in a towel?"
Mac pushed Nate out of her way as she walked past him, trying to avert her eyes without making it noticeable that she was trying to do so. She sat down on his couch and flipped on his television as she propped her feet up on his coffee table so her knees were slightly bent in front of her.
"Sometimes. Do you always come by unannounced?" Nate called behind him as he walked into his bedroom. He didn't close the door behind him but he was still shielded from her view. She tried not to think about the fact that he was naked about 30 feet from her.
"Oh shut up, you knew I was coming over."
"Yeah at 7. Not at 6… 25."
"Did you order the food yet?" Mac asked, ignoring him.
"Yes, princess. It should be here in like ten minutes."
"Perfect. I'm starving."
Nate walked back into his living room with flannel pajama pants on with a grey v-neck top. He was toweling off his hair as he sat down next to her.
"Yeah, yeah, quit your whining. What are we watching?" Nate took the remote control from her and she rolled her eyes.
"Well I thought we were going to be watching Woody Allen."
"Whoa, sassypants," Nate put his hands up in mock surrender and got up to put a movie in. "For your viewing pleasure, Madame," Nate swept down into a dramatic bow after he'd finished getting everything set up. Mac rolled her eyes again as she pulled the quilt off the back of his couch and draped it over the both of them once Nate sat down next to her again. Nate settled in close to her so that their thighs were touching. Of course, Nate thought nothing of it, but Mac's heart skipped a few beats.
A few minutes into the movie, Nate's buzzer rang, and when he got up to get the food he'd ordered, Mac leaned back against the couch with her head back. She couldn't keep doing this. She was going to have to get over her stupid crush on Nate. She couldn't keep coming to his apartment and being his best friend and doing best friend things like sitting so close if she was going to have these feelings bubbling beneath the surface. It just couldn't work. She would have to—
Mac's thoughts were cut off by the sound of her phone vibrating in her bag. Mac sat up quickly and yanked her bag up to her so she could rummage through the contents and find her phone. When she pulled out her phone, her stomach fluttered with butterflies when she saw it was from him. He would never get over that Harvard snob comment she'd made. She'd definitely put her foot in her mouth over that one.
Mac sighed with relief. He'd just been in the shower. That's why he hadn't responded. He wasn't playing games. Thank god.
Sounds compelling. Nothing big for tonight. Watching a Woody Allen movie with a friend.
Just as she finished what she thought was a decently witty response, Nate came back up the stairs with food in his arms.
"I come bearing gifts," he said loudly, causing Mac to jump a bit. Mac shoved her phone into her pocket as she got up to help Nate.
A short while later, Nate and Mac were enjoying their dinner and the movie when Mac felt her phone vibrate. Mac set down her mixed vegetables so she could look at it.
It really is, asshole. New Woody or old Woody?
Mac tried not to laugh at his response, which was mocking her response from earlier. She smiled to herself, and allowed herself to chuckle when Nate laughed loudly at something that had happened in the movie.
After a while, Mac and Dante had exchanged several more text messages when Nate spoke up.
"Who could you be texting that is more important than enjoying this movie?"
"Sorry!" Mac said jokingly. "Sorry, okay. I'm paying attention."
Whats ur real name?
I would have thought that would be your first question. It was obvious you didn't believe me the other night.
Haha well was I wrong not to believe u?
Yes! Antoinette MacPherson. You can see why I go by Mac.
I certainly can.
I'm kidding! I think its a lovely name.
You're lying. So what's your full name?
Dante Rosario Mosconi. I have a womans middle name. So we're even.
"Hearsay is probably the most popularized Rule of Evidence, but let me tell you it's not all sexy and dramatic like the way ADA Cabot makes it seem." The class chuckled and the professor smiled at his reference and went on. "We'll start with that next time and spend a little time on it. For next class read pages 232-267 in the casebook."
As soon as the class ended, the first thing Mac did was reach in her bag and pull out her phone to see if she'd gotten anything from Dante. She smiled when she realized she had, and she responded quickly.
"Earth to Mac."
"I said do you want to get lunch?" Her friend Sera was looking at her expectantly from beside her. "Nate can come too, I guess."
"Stop hating him, Sera."
"I can't. As long as you're hung up on him and he remains completely clueless, I will hate him."
Mac sighed. "It isn't his fault."
"Is it not?"
Mac laughed. "How can it be?"
"It's so obvious that you both love each other so you—"
"Do you want to hear more about cab guy or what?"
Sera squeaked with excitement. "Well, tell me quickly before Nate gets here." Nate always met them after his class down the hall was over. It let out ten minutes after theirs.
Mac was well into the story and already telling Sera about the text messages when Nate entered the room. Mac immediately stopped talking and Sera looked up at him with a look of annoyance on her face.
"Jesus. If looks could kill. What were you guys talking about?"
"Nothing," they both said quickly.
"Which means you were talking about something, obviously." He looked at both of them expectantly and then finally shrugged. "Fine," he said. "I'll just get it out of Mac later."
"Fat chance," Sera muttered.
Whats ur favorite movie?
Amelie. But it's a close race. You?
The Godfather 2.
Haha hey! Whats that supposed to mean?
Nothing. You're just actually the most Italian guy I've ever met.
That may be true. You dig it tho right?
Oh baby you KNOW I do.
Oh ha. ha. I can sense your sarcasm.
I wouldn't dream of it!