It was just his luck that the moment he started thinking that there was a slight chance he could possibly have some sort of non-platonic feeling for Holly, she wasn't around. Of course, it was highly unlikely that she caught wind of his sudden epiphany and decided to flee, but he wasn't even sure yet whether or not his mind was just playing tricks on him. And for all intents and purposes, if it wasn't for Madeline inadvertently planting thoughts into his head, he probably wouldn't have been feeling confused at all. To Luke, it was definitely more probable that instead of having actual feelings for her, she was just the only girl around to project the insane human need for physical, maybe even sexual, interaction onto and his cousin was just kind enough to point it out for him. Either way, it would have been nice is she was around for him to actually figure out what he was thinking.
Other than his ongoing confusion, Holly's absence played a huge role in Luke's exponentially increasing boredom. All he had done since he moved to New York was sleep, unpack, and hang out with Holly and Hatchet when they weren't at school or work. Now that Holly was somewhere, Hatchet was also somewhere, all of his belongings were unpacked, and he was completely tired of sleeping, all there was left for him to do was nothing. In Seattle, he could walk over to the storage facility a block down the street from his house and work on restoring his beloved car, but he didn't have that now. He didn't really have anything now, except for his two friends, and both seemed to have disappeared off the face of the Earth for the time being.
He was, in fact, so bored, that he even called his dear cousin, despite of the fact that he was still quite annoyed with her. Unfortunately, work was evidently being very demanding and all he got was her secretary asking if she could take a message.
Just as he was going to drag himself to his room to take a very unneeded nap, there was a knock at the door. He was confused as to who it could be, but felt excited at the prospect at seeing an actual person for the first time in four or five days.
When he opened the door, however, he wasn't sure he was seeing correctly. Surely Holly wasn't standing in front of him. Maybe it was part of that whole 'speak of the devil and he doth appear' thing, but if it was, she was surely a lot prettier than any devil he'd ever seen.
She smiled sheepishly. "Hi."
"Good afternoon, Holly. Oh, do you need any help carrying anything? It looks look quite heavy." How she was carrying a large dance bag and four various sized textbooks, he didn't know.
"Nah, I got it,"she said, subtly cradling her books closer to her when he made a move to take them out of her hands. "Thanks for the offer though." Luke stepped back to give her room to come in.
"What are they for, anyway?"
"College. Who knew you had to read so much for dance, huh?"
Luke shrugged. He was a business major up until last month, and that was basically all reading, so he had no idea what it was like on the other end of the spectrum. But, seeing her slightly hunched over as she dragged herself and her books to his table made him think that it wasn't that much different, other than the fact that she probably enjoyed what she did. She dropped her bag next to her and sunk onto one of the chairs, propping her elbow up on her books, leaning her chin onto her palm, and blowing on a strand of her dirty blond hair that fell out of her bun and onto her face.
"I'm so exhausted."
He walked over and sat in the chair across from her. "What did you do?"
"Today was literally the worst day ever," she told him. "I forgot everything at home: my keys, my wallet, my bus pass and metro cards… everything. I walked home all the way from Barnard once my modern dance and dance theory classes were over, which is like an two and a half hour walk after having been on my feet for the past two hours on top of that, and I had all these fucking books, too. And now I'm locked out of my apartment, so I have to go all the way to fucking Long Island to get my spare, but I don't know how I'm going to do that. Oh! And I have a four hour shift soon, too."
Holly let her head fall off her palm and drop onto the hard textbook under her arm. "Ow." Luke frowned. That was some really bad luck, and she sounded quite stressed out about it. He wished he could do something to help her, but he doubted he could have done anything useful.
"If you are really that exhausted, could you not just ask someone to cover for you?" he asked.
Without even looking up at him, she laughed bitterly. "I wish! I need the money."
He opened his mouth to respond, but Holly's phone started to ring. After blindly groping the front pockets in her sweatpants, she pulled her phone out and answered it. She didn't look at the caller ID, since her forehead was still glued to the top of her book, and by the way her shoulders tensed as she heard whomever was on the other line, he had a feeling she didn't like who it was.
"I'm not here right now," she told the person. "I'm in Long Island. Well something came up. I'll give it to you when I get back, all right? I don't know, probably Saturday. Okay— all right, I promise, bye." She hung up the phone and sighed. "It would be best if you didn't tell anyone I was here."
"Why? Who was that?"
"Ed. I owe him some rent money, and I don't get paid until Friday. I wasn't completely lying though, I'll probably be in Long Island and coming back here to work and go to school, so my apartment will be empty anyway."
"How much do you need?" he asked her. "I could give it to you."
Her head shot up and she regarded him with a shocked expression. "What? No! I couldn't ask you to do that. I'll be fine, really."
"It would be no problem. I want to help."
The corners of Holly's mouth curled up, going from a stressful frown to a grateful smile. "I'll be fine, Luke, honestly."
"Well why do you not just stay here?" he offered, not really processing the words until they were out of his mouth. Instead of wanting to recant them, he went on to say, "Like you said, if you go to Long Island, you would have to come back for work and for school every day, and that is a very long commute."
He surveyed her intently as she considered his offer. At first, she looked ready to just outright deny. She even opened her mouth to say the words, but closed it the next second, deciding to ponder for a few seconds. He couldn't fathom why this was such a difficult choice. They were friends, no? So why not just let him do something nice for her? Maybe deep down he was glad that he would be able to spend more time with her if she said yes, but he did genuinely want to help her. Going from the Lower East Side all the way over to Long Island would take more than an hour, and a lot of different busses since she didn't have a car.
After what felt like years rather than minutes, Holly questioned slowly, "Are you sure? I don't wanna impose or anything."
"No, no, of course you would not be imposing. You can stay as long as you please."
And he meant it, too. Especially if it meant he would see her smile at him like she was again— at first, looking down slightly and avoiding his gaze with just a ghost of a smile, but then slowly broadening until she was fully beaming at him.
"Thank you so, so much!" Holly leaped out of her seat and threw her arms around him, kissing his cheek. "You're the best, Luke!"
Scratch that, he was totally fine with her staying as long as she pleased, especially if she would soon kiss him on places other than his cheek, though that was a good start. He hugged her back before she drew herself away from him.
"I have no idea how I'm going to repay you, but I'll find a way, promise."
He waved her off. "There is no need; friends help friends out."
"Friends also thank friends for helping friends out— usually in some sort of overly extravagant manner."
"Really, Holly, it is not necessary."
"Really, Luke, I'm going to do something nice for you whether you want me to or not, so you should just get over it now."
Seeing as he was probably not going to get anywhere with the conversation, he just chuckles and responded, "Whatever you say, Holly."
"Good. Now I've got to go get ready for work if you don't mind." She got up from the table, hiking her large dance bag onto her shoulder before walking to his bathroom. Luke leaned back in his chair and couldn't stop the grin from forming on his face. Not only was he not going to be completely bored and alone, but it was Holly that would be keeping him company. In his mind, that was paying him back enough.
When Holly came out of the bathroom, Luke was still sitting in his chair, staring idly around his apartment.
"How are you still just sitting here?"
Luke glanced over at her. "I have been sitting here since last Wednesday."
"Riveting," she replied. "Well, I'm off! I'll try to bring some food from the restaurant for dinner. Thanks again, Luke."
Then she was gone, just about as quick as she came, but it didn't matter. She said she got paid on Friday, and it was only Tuesday, so Luke was already certain that this week would shape up to be really, really great.
A/N: Hi there! As you probably can tell, FictionPress has not disabled the ability for people to use copy/paste, which makes it that much easier for people to plagiarize. Many writers have had their writings stolen, and as a result they sometimes take their stories down. To try and prevent this from happening again, there's a petition in which all you need to do is write you penname. The link is on my profile, and I hope you'll take a few seconds to sign it.