Chapter 34: That Siren’s Call

He stared around at the boxes. Six. Really? It was really only six? He’d thought it would be more than that. But he wasn’t taking everything. Having lived in the same house since he was two (basically his entire life), he’d accumulated a lot of junk, way more than he ever would have thought. A cabinet in the living room was stacked from floor to ceiling with board games. Neither Adam or either of his brothers had touched any of them in years. They got a lot of use when Adam and Chuck were kids, especially Battleship and Sorry. They’d been gathering dust for years now. There were also all the clothes, shoes, and various piles of junk still in the closet he used to share with Chuck. Even down here in the basement, there were tons of things Adam wouldn’t be taking with him. He’d be leaving most of the Funko Pop figures, a good chunk of his anime dvds, the pile of Beanie Babies he’d had since he was a kid. If he wasn’t so lazy, he’d take this opportunity to get rid of those. And lots of other odds and ends that wouldn’t fit into such a small apartment.

 Mom had begrudgingly agreed to let Adam and Chuck leave most of their stuff at the house, adding a reticent, “But if I end up deciding to rent out the basement, you’d best be prepared to come back and move all those toys to the attic.” 

Adam couldn’t even begin to think how much old junk he must have up in the attic. For now though, he didn’t have to. They were moving out tomorrow. They’d pack the boxes between Adam’s car and Mark’s van. Mark had been giving Chuck rides to work ever since Adam had been laid off. Now that they were all going to be living together, Adam would start driving Chuck again (as much as his new third-shift schedule would allow it). 

Looking around, Adam sighed, a sudden feeling of sadness overwhelming him. He didn’t know why he felt so heavy. He wanted to leave. He wanted something new in life. Something to call his own. Something to hope. So the hollow pulsating throb in his gut shouldn’t be there.         

With a sharp meow, Goku jumped up onto the box in front of him. He stood up on his hind legs and held out a paw. 

“What?” Adam laughed. He pat the animal on the head and Goku leaned into his palm, purring. “You sure dropped the tough act, didn’t you?” 

Goku answered with a purr. 

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Crouching down next to the box, Adam angled his forehead at Goku and Goku answered with an affectionate head-butt. 

“Hope you like the new place,” Adam sighed. “At least there you’ll be able to move around a little more. Won’t have to stay down in the basement.”

Goku brushed his cheek against Adam’s, now purring as loud as a motor. 

“Then again, this new place might actually be smaller than the basement.”

Meowing, Goku hopped down from the box and sauntered over to the litter box. 

Rising to his feet, Adam wondered if he ought to pack more of his anime dvds. He didn’t care much if his mom tossed out the board games or the old winter jackets stuffed into the back of Chuck’s closet, but he had a pretty decent collection of anime built up. He’d be livid if she threw those away. Same with his funko pops…

He decided to cram as much as he could into the backpack he’d recently bought for college. There weren’t any books in it yet. He still had to buy those. His plan was to go buy them with the financial aid voucher the day before classes started. That was in just over a week. His throat clenched. Was everything moving too fast? He’d been so hellbent on getting his shit together. After so long of standing still, now it felt like his life was changing at a breakneck speed. A dangerous speed. 

Trying not to think about, Adam started stuffing dvds into his backpack. Ouran High Host Club, Full Metal Alchemist, Black Lagoon, and Helsing. He was trying to decide if he should take Future Diary or try to fit in some Funko Pops, when his phone buzzed. 

He hopped to his feet and sidled over to the desk, now empty, what with his computer being all packed up and everything.  He expected a text from Chuck. Maybe one from his dad or Robbie. But instead, he was greeted with a number he didn’t recognize. His eyes flashed over the words on the screen and he froze. His lips parted. Goku wound between his legs and he didn’t move. 

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Hiya Adam!! This is Mia (the cute but obnoxious girl from Robby’s party?) My brother gave me your number. Don’t beat him up. I forced it out of him. I wanted to let you know I tutor at NCC. Robby says you start classes there soon. I’ll be around the first day of Spring classes. If you get lost or want to see a friendly face or anything, shoot me a text! I’ll be around 😉

He read the message three times. What was her game? What did she want from him?

For only a moment, he allowed himself to daydream, to believe that she actually liked him. But…no. His resolve hardened. She flirts with everyone. Her own friend had said that. She was using him. She was looking for another orbiter. She wanted a beta male to validate her. 

No. He wasn’t going to be some pathetic emotional tampon for her. 

Robby’s sister or not. He was gonna ignore her. 

He blocked her number and then tossed his phone aside. 

He ripped his backpack from the ground and shoved his dvds down further. Shoved them down, down. When he couldn’t make any more space, a surge of anger jolted through him. He chucked the backpack into the other room. 

Goku gave a startled meow and scurried under the bed. 

Adam shut his eyes. He pushed his fingers through his air. 

He didn’t need to let her get to him. He had to stop letting women get to him. 

But he was thinking of Becca now. The weight of her small body on his, her hands and lips furious, hot, the heat and wetness of her skin moving over his. 

And in the moment it had felt so real. 

So real. 

It wasn’t. With women, it was never real. It was always for something. 

He retrieved the backpack from the other room and stuffed in three of his favorite Funko Pops. Then he called Goku, who eventually came hesitantly out from under the bed, and they went to sleep. 

Holding the tabby cat’s furry body against his, Adam told himself there was no reason to be mad. He’d avoided her trap. Whatever it was, he’d avoided it. 

He should feel good about this. He should feel powerful. Women made him so stupid, but this time he’d ignored that siren’s call. 

Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Pexels.com

But somehow….he still felt like he was drowning.

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