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[Ash]

I whip around the corner on Camille's street and slow as I approach her driveway. Surely the guise of  my being a responsible driver is comforting to the HOA Karen eyeing new from her Range Rover.

With a beep I lock the car and find myself standing, arms full, on the porch. I stick my elbow out and desperately prod at the ring doorbell.

For all her wildness, Camille's life really is just missing the picket fence. I wait for Mrs. Collins or her husband to answer the door.

Instead I receive Camille's loud "Come in!".

With careful maneuvering I do manage to twist the knob. A spike of worry goes through me when it opens.

I slide my shoes off and go to say hello to her parents.

"I hope I'm not blocking either of you in." I offer, stepping into the kitchen. It's empty.

Huh.

A crash comes from the living room followed by sniffles.

"Achoo! Fuck— achoo!" Camille sighs.

Immediately my heart picks up the pace and I go to her side. She's spilled popcorn all over the coffee table.

"Oh, Camille." I grin.

"Ash! I thought you were a murderer or something." She jokes.

"So you said 'come in'?" I twitch.

"Naturally."

"Camille, please, please lock the door when you're home alone." I beg.

"Okay."

"I brought—"

"My homework?" She asks.

"Soup. And gifts."

Her eyes meet mine and I'm determined to not look away. The beautiful green draws me in, reminding me of a time I felt nervous staring into those expansive forests.

"Sit up," I unscrew the thermos. "You shouldn't eat popcorn when your tummy hurts."

"Asher Klein this better not be tomato soup." She hesitates. "I have months of blackmail."

"Trust me."

I hand her the broth and she sips. A wide smile follows.

"Potato soup?"

"Your favorite."

***

After the first few minutes we slip into our comfortable banter. More often than not I catch myself beaming at her claims to have been poisoned by the New York Times Magazine so they could steal her SD cards. 

She's unapologetically disheveled and for the first time in my life, I feel overdressed. As she speaks I subtly shed my jacket and roll up my sleeves.

Her bun bounces back and forth hypnotically with her gestations and her care bear pajamas look like Givenchy on her.

"Okay." She claps her hands. "Real Housewives, or the Bachelor."

"They're both terrible."

"Duh. Do you think Karen secretly want to bring Real Housewives to Somerset? She's got the gleam in her eye."

Hours into Real Housewives she gets quiet. I turn to her and see thoughts spinning in her head.

"Penny for your thoughts?"

"I feel like shit." She moans. "Worse then Amy Bitchface Worthington."

"Lay down." I advise. I forgot she wasn't feeling well while we laughed together at the drama.

Her head falls into my lap and my eyes go wide. Not exactly what I meant. I gulp and place a hand on her head.

"You're burning up."

"Ash, are you calling me hot?" She coughs.

"Yeah, smoking hot." I chuckle. "Just try to close your eyes and sleep, you'll feel better after a nap."

Her eyes flick to mine once again and this time neither of us looks away. Camille grins sideways and puts a pillow on my legs.

"Hey."

"Yeah?"

"You totally brought my homework too didn't you?" She teases.

"Yeah, I did." I watch her yawn.

My hand finds her hair habitually, and I play with it until she falls asleep. I press a kiss to her damp forehead and drift off myself.

A quiet moment, a certain one. A puzzle piece, blissfully removed from the big picture for a breath of time.

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