A soft hand ran over his cheek, an intimate caress that he had been without for far too long. He felt his heart jump in hope. Jeremy opened his eyes slowly to see everything around him cast in a flickering, ethereal glow. He was still in his bedroom, laying in bed, but he was unable to make out the details to anything other than the light-skinned figure lying next to him, facing him. His eyes met hers, and she smiled warmly – her hand still on his cheek. Her long, bright red hair was swept back from her face and down over her shoulder. It had been so long since he had seen her in anything other than photographs, but she looked just as beautiful as the day they first met. It was a dream, and he knew it. It had to be.
His fiance, Nicolette was in bed next to him, and despite the smile, Jeremy could tell that she had been crying for a long time. Her pale body was wrapped in a firelike radiance and tears were streaming from the corners of her green eyes down her freckled cheeks. The smile faded and was replaced with an almost haunting expression of concern and loss. He could feel her skin against his own, the warmth of her touch building like being too close to a flame.
He tried to reach for her, to settle his cheek into her hand but found himself unable to move. All he could do was lay motionless in bed and watch as her lips began to move. She was speaking to him, and as she did, he could see the trembling of her lips. Tears began to run from her eyes as her lips continued to move silently. There was no sound. Not only could Jeremy not hear Nicolette’s words, he realized he did not hear anything. There was a void of emptiness where he should be hearing her soft and beautiful voice.
Jeremy could not move, and after several moments of trying, he realized his attempts at speaking were futile as well. He felt powerless and could only observe as the woman he wanted so much to be with uttered words that he could not hear. The glimmering light pulsed brightly as Jeremy felt the intensity of her touch getting hotter and hotter against his skin. What should have burned him, instead, only made him feel loved and protected. The heat flowed from her and enveloped him – wrapping around him like a comforting blanket.
Nicolette’s lips continued to move as her expression furrowed. It seemed as if she was begging, pleading with him about something he could not comprehend. He felt the heaviness of frustration building up in him as he struggled to move or speak – if only to say her name once more or tell her he loved her. One word… three words… was all he needed, but whatever was behind this tormenting dream – it gave him no respite from his muted paralysis. Still, her quivering lips and tearful eyes pleaded with him.
Abruptly, she stopped talking, her lips still trembling. Jeremy felt the heat radiating from her begin to fade away from him. Her slender hand pulled slowly away, and with it, the sense of tender sanctuary disappeared. She was leaving him, and he knew there was nothing he could do to keep her here with him.
Her soft lips moved once more as the wavering brilliance of energy and warmth that emanated from her began to falter. Her lips slowly formed the three silent words that Jeremy himself had been unable to speak – “I love you.”
Jeremy blinked, and the warm, red-orange glow vanished and was replaced by the cold, sterile lights of the city outside. He could hear the city as well – wide awake with traffic as the sun prepared to rise. He blinked again and shot up in his bed. He was awake now, but for a few moments – he doubted himself. The side of the bed next to him was empty but unmade, and Jeremy swore he could see the outline of someone having laid down.
He reached a hand over to the spot on the bed where Nicolette had been. It felt warm as if someone had been on that side of the bed, but the sensation faded and soon left him questioning if it was real or if he was still asleep. He glanced around the room, squinting from the light sneaking in between his curtains. Jeremy was in his bedroom, alone, and he felt awful.
The sun had broken over the horizon, and its light had started to spread over the city, pushing back the night’s shadows into the corners they had flowed from. There was no doubt Jeremy was awake now. He felt weak, and while rinsing his face off in the bathroom, he noted he looked paler than usual. Shuffling around his apartment, he was convinced that he was alone. Something was off, he just couldn’t figure out what. This wasn’t a hangover, he thought to himself. It couldn’t be. He couldn’t remember anything.
A blur of confusion washed over him as he tried to remember what happened the night prior. Only glimpses of memories blinked into his mind. Two full glasses of water and a handful of painkillers later, and he found himself back in the bathroom, staring at himself in the mirror. He didn’t know why and he was uncertain if it would help. Absently, he began moving things around on his sink counter. He didn’t have much that wasn’t packed away in boxes, but something was missing. It took him a minute to realize his bottle of cologne wasn’t on the countertop.
Shuffling back into the kitchen, his foot kicked something – a balled up piece of paper. As he went to reach down and pick it up, the first full memory from last night flashed back into his head – interrupting him and causing him to leave it on the floor. He had met with Dillon the previous night. They had met up at Eddie’s for drinks, and he was almost sure they had been playing pool. He leaned down against the kitchen counter, burying his head in his folded arms as he struggled to remember.
A woman had been there. Shyanne. He remembered her smiling at him smugly. He also remembered seeing Nicolette’s face in his dream. He was on the verge of tears, and it took him a couple minutes to calm down. He had never had a dream like that, and he had no idea what it was supposed to mean or what his mind was trying to tell him. His focus changed to the blank spots that made up the majority of his memory of last night.
Another blur came flooding into his mind, and he remembered stumbling back to his apartment. Someone had been helping him along. Shyanne’s face popped back into his mind, and he knew she had been here. Shy had been in his apartment. He groaned as he stood back up and got another glass of water.
He sat on the couch and tried to remember more, but after a certain point, his mind was a blank slate. He knew he had met with Dillon, that Shy had shown up, and that she had been in his apartment. He fought through the confusion and headache that felt like it was about to steamroll him. What happened last night?
A faint chiming sound from the coffee table brought his attention back to the room he was in. His cell phone was on the coffee table, along with his wallet and keys – far from the nightstand next to his bed he typically set everything on. Even after drinking, he seemed to have gotten himself into the habit of putting everything in one place, and the coffee table was not it.
He grabbed his phone and unlocked it to see he had several different text messages. There was one from Dillon, checking up on him and another one from Sarah asking him if he wanted to have coffee in the morning. There were two from Shy. He pulled the messages up on his screen and stared at them for several minutes.
The first message read “I don’t know what got into me and it looked like you had way too much to drink. I just wanted to let you know, I let myself out after you passed out.”
The second message said only, “I’m sorry for making an ass of myself.”
It wasn’t enough. Jeremy was exhausted and hungry, but too weak to motivate himself to get up again. He needed to get more rest, maybe that would help him feel better.
He needed answers. He tapped the screen of his phone to call Shy, but the call immediately went to voicemail. He ended the call without leaving a message and instead sent a text message to Dillon letting him know he wasn’t feeling well and was going to lay back down and catch up on sleep.
Sitting in his living room on the couch, he knew there was more to last night, and he wanted answers that would have to wait. He couldn’t stay awake any longer. He slumped back into the cool leather of the couch and kicked his legs up onto the cushions next to him. He tapped one message to Shy into his cell phone, pressed send and then tossed his phone back onto the coffee table.
His text message to Shy was short but direct. “What the hell happened last night?”