A Match Made in Ireland
It was him. The man from the plane sat on the bed, staring at a drawing pad on his lap. The spiky red hair, the smattering of freckles, and the creased eyes triggered a series of flashbacks that ran through my mind: the lack of spatial awareness, the soda down my leg, and the stolen dinner roll.
I pulled the covers over my head, my heart racing and the pit in my stomach digging into my pelvis like a concrete boulder. I dragged the duvet below my eyes and squinted, trying not to be obvious. Am I dreaming? Ha! Maybe I’m having a nightmare. The same red hair, now tousled from sleep, rested against the wall. I pushed the blanket down to my shoulders and said, “Hello, again.”
He looked up from his drawing pad and tilted his head to the left, tapping his pencil against his scruffy chin. “I remember you. From the plane.”
I tried to smile, but my lips refused to rise. I pushed my body against the back wall and pulled the sheet closer to my armpits. “What are you doing here, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I could ask you the same thing. I live here.”
My eyes bulged and I scrambled to a seated position. “You can’t live here. You’re a guy. This is an apartment with women. Foreign exchange students. A bunch of Americans.” I spoke slowly, as if that would make him understand.
Jaime chuckled and looked down again. “Yes, I am aware, but this is my apartment now. I forgot to renew my housing paperwork last semester, and they gave my room away. This was all that was left. They told me I was living with Rory, Zoey, and Marissa. I take it you’re Rory?”
“I thought you were an Irish lad.”
I swallowed loudly, the saliva crawling down the back of my throat. Reaching across my bed to my nightstand, I downed a bottle of water. Cloudiness from the alcohol still in my system slowed down my brain’s processing ability, and I struggled to understand his words. “You can’t live here,” I said again.
“I wish I didn’t. Living with a bunch of Americans during my last year of college is the last thing I want to do, but it’s that or be homeless so I’ll suck it up.” He returned to his drawing and spoke to his paper. “Nice to meet you, Rory.” His amber eyes looked over, scanning my top half. “Fun time last night?”
My brain beat against my forehead, and I massaged my temples. “Yeah. Sorry if I woke you.”
“No worries. I spent the night with my old flatmates. They live downstairs, and I came up here to crash. I didn’t even hear you come in.”
I grabbed the hooded sweatshirt sitting at the end of my bed, and pulled it over my body. “Are you sure they said there was nowhere else? I mean, I don’t know, Jaime. You’re a guy, a stranger, really, and I have a boyfriend. I don’t think he will be too excited when I tell him my roommate’s an Irish guy.”
His liquid gold eyes looked me up and down. “I asked to be moved and they put me on a waiting list if some other American no-shows, but I want my old flat and my old flatmates. Unless they can squeeze me back in there, I’m staying here. So, there it is. An Irish bloke and an American lass living together. That’ll make a good story for the grandkids. Promise, you won’t even know I’m here.”