Valerie’s eyes peeled open. Dim light poured in through the small hole between a pillow and a heavy comforter. She dragged her thick tongue over slime covered lips. “Ugh. What did I drink last night?” Her arm pushed the thick blanket off sending sunlight splashing across her face. She closed her eyes and shifted to the edge of the bed. A heavy hand slid across her stomach. “Oh my God!” Her brain screamed behind her wide eyes. “Who’s in my bed?” She blinked rapidly and worked to a sitting position.
“Wait,” she said with a dry throat and raked her long red hair behind an ear. “Who’s bed am I in?” Squinting at the surroundings it all looked different. Dark green walls and the low, wide dresser didn’t fit her style. Her bare feet scrunched into the plush carpet. Moving her eyes over the floor, she found a t-shirt, then a pair of jeans that looked familiar. “My stuff,” she muttered and reached for them.
Tottering to her feet, she dressed in the rumpled clothes and looked at the man laying on the bed. A dark leg stuck out from under the covers and a handsome smooth face lay on the pillow. It was the soft smile of sleep that kept her focus. “At least he’s cute,” she said and smiled to herself. “Now, what was his name?”
Looking around she saw a wallet on the dresser. Flipping it open she saw the driver’s license. “Reginald Thompson. Thirty-five.” She flexed her wrist and closed the wallet. Her eyes rolled over the rest of the room. “Nice digs, so far. Tasteful and clean. Except for the dirty clothes.” She frowned at the pile of discarded items over the in the corner. “What’s in the closet?”
Using the carpet to muffle her steps, she slid the door to the side. Inside were several suits and jackets draped over wooden hangers. “He wears suits. That’s good.” She nodded and reached inside to the back wall. “What do you have here?”
Her hand closed over smooth, cool fabric. Lifting the hanger from the hook, she pulled the item through hanging clothes and into the light. A dark cape and battleship-gray shirt dangled from the hanger. Her eyes focused on the circle in the middle of the chest. “What?” Turning the hanger around she saw the dark cowl dangling over the cape. “No way!”
The dark-skinned man groaned as he rolled over and Valerie jerked her head toward him. He didn’t wake, but his muscular chest poked out of the top of the comforter. Heavy arms extended over his head and lay haphazardly over on his pillow.
Shifting the hanging clothes between her and the man, she held out the cowl mask. It looked like it fit him. “Shit,” she spat in a whisper. “I’m in Corsair’s house.”
Her head immediately scanned the room with a focus on the floor. “Purse. Where’s my purse?” A dark blue strap extended from under the bed. Wrapping her fingers around it, she pulled. “Got it.” Sticking a hand into the zipper compartment, she pulled out her cell phone. “Pics or it didn’t happen.”
Laying the costume on the lumps on the bed, she activated her camera and snapped several pictures. Dropping her phone back into her purse, she shifted her feet and moved to the bedroom door. She turned the knob and pulled. A long soft squeak sounded from the hinges.
“Uh…wha?” Reginald blinked his eyes open.
“Oh, shit,” Valerie said as she eyed the costume. In a fluid motion, she swept her hand out and knocked the outfit to the floor and shuffle kicked it under the bed.
“Where’re you going?” Reginald propped himself up on an elbow, rubbing the sleep from his eyes with the other hand.
“Oh,” Valerie said with a shrug and a final kick to the cape. “You know. It’s the morning, and this isn’t my house.”
“Yeah,” Reginald said. “But you can stay for breakfast, right?”
Valerie looked at her naked wrist and said, “I need to be going.” She stepped through the open door.
“I want to see you again,” Reginald said as he slid from under the covers and reached for pants. “I’m serious.” He stepped into the pants and fastened the button and zipper. “I enjoyed the dancing, the food, and even the crazy graffiti you drew with the spray paint.”
“Spray paint?” Valerie rolled her eyes from side to side.
“Yeah,” he said and stepped toward her. “You wrote Val and Reg on the fifth street wall. Where the overpass is. You said you pass it every day.”
“I do,” she said, her eyes going wide. “I do drive right by it every day, so I’ll see it.”
“Exactly,” Reginald said as he reached for her. “I know we just met last night, but I really had a great time. I’ll call you.” He waggled a phone as she stepped into the dark hallway.
“Yeah,” she said and scanned for a turn-off or exit. “You call me.” Putting a hand on the wall, she stumbled and caught herself as she spun around. I’ve got to get to a computer.
“Have a good day,” Reginald said, his smile beaming.
Valerie activated her direction app on her phone once she backed out of the driveway. Her eyes were wide as she noticed the neighborhood. The houses were nice and well kept. Kids walked on the sidewalk and adults had dogs on leashes. No trash cans lined the sides, and she didn’t see any junk lying about. “Wow,” she said to herself. “This place is nice. I would love to live here.”
Her phone chirped, and she looked at the screen. A message floated over the map. Touching it, she saw Reginald’s smiling face, possibly from last night. How about Monday lunch?
“Oh my God.” Valerie swerved to avoid a mailbox. “He’s….he’s…he’s perfect.” She closed down the text app and followed the directions on the map. “The pictures.”
Valerie stuck to the map with only a small stop for coffee and a sports drink at a convenience store. Before driving off, she touched respond on the text message Reginald had sent.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t….” She deleted it. “It’s not you, it’s me. I know…” She deleted that one, too. With a heavy sigh, she sent, “That sounds like a plan.” His response came seconds later.
Where do you work?
“Is he camped on the phone?” She drove into her apartment parking lot and walked toward her door. “I work at Johnson Tech,” she tapped out the address and a time to meet him.
Closing the door behind her, she shouted, “What the hell am I doing?” She flicked through her phone and found the four pictures she took. The costume laying on the bed with him in the background. His driver’s license. Then his driver’s license on the costume next to the chest emblem. The costume with the license, and his sleeping face. “This’ll double, no triple my yearly income.”
I hope you like cheese steak sandwiches.
She read the text. “They’re my favorite.” Sitting at her laptop with her phone attached, she hovered her hands over the keyboard. Her email app opened, and the fields filled out. In the body of the email, she typed that she had proof of who Corsair’s real name. “What the hell am I doing?”