THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday November 8, 1994
By remembering to keep low to the ground and follow the familiar landmarks he found his way to Monique Lermenos’s house easily. Back in the good old days his sister and her boyfriend had taken them out on double dates; mostly to movies and school functions but once they had made a day trip to Riverside amusement park.
Tristam smiled, those had been good times, some of the best.
The Leromenos family wasn’t anywhere near as rich as the Kasparys but the house they lived in was about twice the size of the homes on either side of it. Monique’s father celebrated his promotions by adding sections onto his house and he seemed to get promoted an awful lot. If he got promoted again the zoning board was most likely going to get involved.
Drifting over the threshold Tristam coasted through the foyer. He paused at the main stairway that led to the bedrooms of Monique and her four brothers.
That was the other thing about Mr. Leromenos. If he wasn’t making additions to his house he was making additions to his family, five kids and a sixth on the way. Thankfully the zoning board didn’t give a damn about that. Tristam always wondered what it was like to come from a home where the Dad had stayed, to come from a home where the father and the mother could still stand to be in the same county. If anything Monique and her brothers had seemed no more or less screwed up than any of the other kids at Blessed Heart.
There was a kind of comfort in that.
The first floor was dark save for the flickering of the wide screen TV that just barely fit in the parlor. One of her brothers, fifteen year old Alex, was watching a movie. His arm was around the shoulder of a bored looking freshman girl, Tristam took a moment to marvel at them
A date on a Tuesday night? Monique was right, her Dad does let the boys get away with Hell.
Mr. Leromenos had kept his daughter on such a tight leash that Tristam had been surprised he let her out of the house at all. Tristam remembered the way the man had stared him down whenever he came by to see her, silently critiquing him. Mr. Leromenos had never approved of Tristam Bloom dating his daughter. Maybe that was why Monique had pursued him with such ferocity, maybe he was her rebellion.
On the other hand, Tristam thought as he slid up through the first floor, maybe she loved me. Maybe she still does.
He found her in her room but she wasn’t asleep yet. Monique was lounging on the bed, wearing only a T-shirt and panties, reading one of those romance novels she couldn’t get enough of. Tristam watched her. His gaze traced the curves of her body, her slim muscular legs, her rich, full lips and her graceful features. The beauty of her pale skin offset by the dark red blotch that marked the place where her shoulder ended and her neck began.
Is that a hickey?
He drew closer, close enough to see every pore, every hair on the nape of her neck.
Jesus Christ it is a hickey! Jesus Christ!
His hand drew back involuntarily. If he could have struck her at that moment he would have but all he could do was howl voicelessly and launch himself through the roof of the Leromenos house and back into the night.