She was on her couch when the realization hit. "C'mon, Reagan," Eddie said as she turned her back towards him and threw her hair over her right shoulder. The blonde tresses were kinked and wavy from being pinned during the day. "Pony up," she continued as she took a draw from her second beer.
"Whaddaya mean, 'pony up'?" he responded as he nursed his first beer. "I bought these, didn't I?"
"You gonna renege on our bet?" she questioned as she threw a look over her shoulder. "I mean, the beer was nice and all, but it wasn't the terms of our agreement."
Jamie paused for a moment to follow her train of thought. "Technically, I never agreed to the terms. I made the correct call that you shimmying through that old lady's tiny crawlspace to retrieve her cat and kittens was unnecessary and against protocol. We should've had the paramedics tag in the squad while they took care of the lady's head lac." He immediately regretted using the word shimmy, as it flashed him back to her doing just that in the tiny crawlspace under the house. Thankfully, she didn't seem to notice.
"And let the hosers get all the credit? No way! And as I remember it, you said," her voice dropped an octave in imitation, "Eddie, there's no way you're gonna climb all the way back there and get them. They'll scatter in all directions." Her voice returned to normal. "But I did, and I told you that you owed me a backrub for my heroic efforts."
"Your heroic efforts amounted to putting some cats in a cardboard box and pulling them out of a crawlspace. I'm not sure you can go to the medal of valor committee with that. Plus, it's been, what, six weeks? Isn't there a statute of limitations on a bet that never actually existed in the first place?"
"Seven," she corrected as she turned her attention to the other side of her. "Otherwise I wouldn't have little Garfield here," she said as she evoked purrs from the sleeping orange tabby. After a moment she continued. "But whatever, Jamie. If you want to welch, I see what kind of guy you are."
He knew she was baiting him, but he couldn't resist. He killed his beer and set the bottle on the coffee table. "Sit up," he told her as he moved toward her on the couch. Though he couldn't see her face, he could imagine her satisfied grin. Some waves of her hair fell from her shoulder during their conversation and he gently moved them back, exposing the left side of her neck. Suddenly, the world around him seemed to collapse and all he could see was her pale skin from her hairline to where it dipped under her sweater. This was supposed to be a movie night- his choice, as he recalled. He had two documentaries in mind, but she hadn't even asked. They'd just finished eating when she made her demand. Was this staged, he wondered.
"You know my spots," she said, which snapped him out of the fantasy of his lips on her exposed skin. He shook his head to clear it. He tried to think about starting at her shoulder blade. He refused to let himself think about how he'd often have to follow the tension up into her beautiful arching neck.
"Yeah," he responded, then cleared his throat. "I still think Garfield is a terrible name for a cat," he said, in hopes of distracting himself. He started in on her left shoulder blade.
"He's an orange cat!" she replied. "And plus, it's presidential," she argued as her upper body swayed in response to his touch.
"Presidential? The guy was in office, like six months before he was assassinated," Jamie exclaimed as he pressed into a spot just beside her scapula. He needed more leverage to give her the relief she needed, and without thinking, he moved closer to her and wrapped one arm around the front of her shoulders while the other pushed into the knot he'd expertly found. He was now close enough to smell her shampoo and feel her body heat on his chest.
Eddie's moan told him he'd hit the right spot, and she moved her head to her right shoulder to increase the stretch. He didn't know if she realized it exposed even more of her neck to him, making his mind run wild. "I did not know that," she started through her moan. "Perhaps I'll, ah, have to reconsider."
"I still vote for Aaron Purr or Vincent van Grump." He was now close enough that he only had to whisper it.
This time she groaned as she took the last sip of her beer and let the bottle drop a few inches from her outstretched arm to the floor. "For the last time, we are not naming the cat after some dad joke."
They both stilled at the recognition of the pronoun, both suddenly very aware of the bottle rolling as it settled by her foot.
"He's my cat, after all, and everyone'll know I didn't come up with such a lame name," she finished weakly.
Jamie pulled back and retreated to his side of the couch. He grabbed his beer and tipped it back, knowing full well that he had nothing left. She noticed too.
"Do you want-"
"I'll just-" they both started at once.
"Sorry," she rushed as she grabbed her empty bottles. She stretched her arm out for his bottle. "Can I get you another one before the movie?"
"No, I'm good. I think I'll just get going. Raincheck on the movie?" He moved to the kitchen and put the bottle near the other empties on the counter.
"You don't have to go," she said as she brought her empties. They passed awkwardly in the small space.
"I'll, uh, see you tomorrow," he said. He refused to entertain her invitation.
"Yeah," she said quietly. "See you tomorrow."