"Hey girls," says a familiar voice as Naomi finishes a circuit of the machines in the gym.
"Hi Mark," Nicola responds and blushes as he smiles at her.
Naomi turns to him, gives a nod and wipes the sweat off her forehead with a towel. His face lights up as he looks at her and she groans inwardly. Not another one.
Her normally bubbly personality and intelligence, coupled with her bright eyes and devastatingly attractive smile means Naomi is used to attention from guys but her life being such a colossal mess, she wishes some of them would take the hint. She sighs, I just don't want to be yet another notch on their bed posts, they think it's love but all I see in their eyes is lust.
Shaking her head she looks him straight in the eye and sees that same look that Jack gives her; the one she pretends not to notice. Mark's pupils dilate more and more as he continues to watch her.
"Nikki, didn't you have something to ask Mark?"
Her friend's face flushes and she stammers out a reply. "N-n-n-no idea what you mean."
A light laugh tinkles out of Naomi as she relishes in the discomfort on Nicola's face. Makes a nice change from her dropping me in the shit for fun.
"Oh, come on Nikki, you were talking about how cute he is all the way here in the car. Don't be shy. Tell him," Naomi faces Mark again. "She is really into you, I think you should ask her out."
He looks from one to the other, unsure of how to react, he is attracted to them both but prefers Naomi. Looking back at Naomi whose expression is fixed; no arguing with her on this. As clear a message as the thirty-odd times she has turned him down flat or just plain ignored his advances.
His eyes pass back to Nicola, she refuses to meet his eyes and the tinge of red to her face is sweet.
He nods, giving up on his feelings for Naomi for the moment. "Nicola," he says softly, she looks at him, the colour draining from her face as her throat constricts with nerves. "Would you, would you like to go out sometime?"
"I...it's ok, you don't have to. I get that I'm not, I'm not as hot or as intelligent as Naomi."
Mark's expression hardens slightly. "Don't talk shit, you are both hot, and as for intelligence, I don't know you, either of you, well enough to judge but if we are going to go out, I don't want it to be a pity party."
Nicola nods and some colour returns to her face as she realises that his interest is genuine, if a little late and comes at the instigation of her friend.
Naomi smiles, mission accomplished. She grabs her friend's hand and places it in Mark's then points them towards the gym's juice bar, a stern look on her face. Neither of them argues, they just turn and head over towards the stools as Naomi turns back for another round of the gym's machinery.
An hour later Naomi walks out the gym with Nicola buzzing around her excitedly, reminding Naomi of Loopy.
"Oh my... Jesus... He's so funny and did you know he's a cop? A detective in Chicago? He carries a gun.
Naomi rolls her eyes and laughs. "Of course; a gun-nut like you would find the only guy in the gym who routinely carries a firearm. It must be fate."
Nicola stops dead. "You think so?" she asks seriously.
"Come on, I've got a dog to walk, remember?"
"So what's up with you lately?"
Eyeing the sky, Naomi curses silently. "Nothing, just work and boredom."
Her friend raises her eyebrows. "Bull... shit! I know you better than you think."
"If you know me better than I think, then you'd know to drop it."
"I'll get it out of you, eventually, even if I have to tickle it out of you," Nicola replies darkly.
"You tickle me; you die," Naomi answers in a soft but much darker tone.
They reach the car and get in. Nicola starts the engine and leaves the parking lot. Naomi pointedly stares out the window, giving one word answers to Nicola until her friend lapses into silence for the rest of the drive.
Waving her friend off, Naomi turns and notices her front door ajar. Her eyes widen and she dashes in.
"Oh God, not Loopy."
She checks the livingroom and then runs for the kitchen, searching for the biggest sharpest knife she has. Gripping it tightly, she checks the rest of the house, leaving her bedroom for last.
"Loopy," she whispers as she wanders into the room.
A creak of a floorboard behind her sends a shiver down her spine.
Spinning on her heel Naomi slams herself against the intruder. Her weight carries him backwards against the wall and she brings the knife to his throat.
He swallows causing the blade to nick his skin, he freezes. "Naomi," he croaks.
Her facial expression is a mixture of terror and aggression; her fears being released through her reactions as she presses the knife harder against his throat. Blood trickles along the blade.
"Naomi? It's me," he forces out.
"Yes, please, take the knife away. Your door was open when I arrived.
She shrinks away from him and drops the knife to the floor. Sitting down on the bed she plunges her head into her hands.
"I'm sorry, I'm really sorry," she whispers.