My brother had been acting so freaking weird lately. The last I saw him, his girlfriend, Charlie, had him straddled over her back as she marched out of here. I didn’t know where they went but the next day, Charlie barged into our house like she owned the place.
“Zack…” she said with Liam cowering behind her. “Um…we’ll be in my…er…Liam’s room for a bit. Please don’t disturb us.”
Okay, so that was the last straw. This female dominatrix stuff was fine for the bedroom but they didn’t need to flaunt it in front of me. My God. What was happening to my brother? He looked like a whipped little boy, cringing at her every move. “Hey, Liam. Could I talk to you for a minute?”
“Who me?” he squeaked.
Charlie whipped a finger up and said, “Look, Zack, whatever you want to say to Liam, you can say in front of me. We’re…c-close now. So, ask away.”
What was this? Some sort of power play? Did Charlie have something on my brother and she was making him do things he didn’t want to? God. It was worse than I thought. But I wasn’t falling for it. Liam was going to have to talk to me about what was going on. Alone.
Jaw clenched, I said, “I want to speak to my brother without you, Charlie. Sorry. Family business.”
“Ha ha…family business. That’s a good one, Zack. What’s wrong? Dad dating another starlet? Mom is coming to visit? Seriously, you can say it to both of us.”
I put my hands on my hips. “Charlie, I don’t want to be rude but I need to speak to my brother by myself. Please.”
Sighing, she turned to Liam and said, “Hey…I’ll just be in the bedroom.” Then she whispered, “You’ll be fine.”
What the hell?
Looking at me with hooded eyes, my brother asked, “D-Did you want something?”
Who was this person? It was like he’d gotten hijacked by a weird cringy demon. “Are you okay? You look terrible. Is there something you want to tell me?”
His face looked so guilty like he was hiding something. “No! Honest! I don’t have anything to say. I just have to talk to Charlie. In my bedroom. A-Alone is all.”
“Liam, for God’s sake, I’m your brother. You can tell me. I know you haven’t gotten any in a while but is it worth it? I mean, come on! She’s totally ruling over you. I thought relationships were supposed to be equal. Dude, you’ve got to show her that you deserve respect.”
He shook his head and said, “No…honest. It’s not like that. Me and Charlie…like we’re not a thing. It’s just…we’re…um…working on a project. I’m…helping her and all. Like yeah, that’s it. Nothing else.”
Since when did he start using “like” all the time? Liam didn’t even talk like that when he was a teenager. “Dude. I know when something’s wrong with you. Spill already.”
“I’m totally and completely okay. Like yeah. Don’t have anything to tell you, so, I’ll be running along. Okay? Bro? Dude?”
Then he scuttled away from me and disappeared into the bedroom. Charlie must have had chains and whips in there. My poor brother. He was nothing but a nervous shell of himself. I hated seeing him like that.
But he was a grown man. If he liked BDSM, what could I do? I just hoped they were careful. That kind of shit could go wrong.
“God, that was so embarrassing. Your brother thinks we’re screwing each other.”
Dr. Day was clacking away on his keyboard. “Let him. He’s too nosy into my love life anyway.”
“But he’ll tell Myla. I don’t want her to think we’re dating. This just sucks.”
Not looking up from his computer, he said, “This is only for a little while. I’m putting together a schedule for you so we don’t have to hang out like this. Then people will settle down. I can’t have anyone thinking we’re dating either. It’s against university policy for professors to date students.”
Bored, I looked around his totally pristine bedroom. It was like nothing would dare be out of place. No dust. No cockroaches. No holes in the walls like my tiny hovel.
Gazing at a picture of Ginny and him, I wondered what their relationship was like. He was such a cold person. Maybe he was different back then though. Ginny was so beautiful. So obviously put together and confident. The complete opposite of me. I bet she could do gymnastics and whip up a gourmet meal at the drop of the hat. I was lucky not to burn my daily ration of ramen noodles.
“How old were you in this picture?” I asked.
“Twenty. Seems like eons ago though.”
“I’m sorry about Ginny. You looked like the perfect couple.”
Focused on what he was doing, Dr. Day didn’t respond to my comment. Probably was too painful for him to talk about. “What are you typing up?” I asked. “It looks like a novel.”
He tapped a button and said, “It’s finished. I’ve texted you all my instructions, including my daily routine.”
My phone buzzed in my pocket. Glancing through the barrage of information and schedule, I blinked. “Oh my God, Dr. Day. Come on. Is that a 5:30 am wake up? What are you, a rooster?”
I shook my head. “I don’t think so. My feet don’t even get up before 8. And this line that says I’m supposed to work out at the gym? That’s not happening either.”
Dr. Day sighed. “Charlene, it’s not a big deal. You’ll get used to it. Just go to bed early. I’ll not have my body turn into a blob of goo because you’re inconvenienced.”
I scrolled through the impossible itinerary. “And how am I supposed to teach your class at 8:30 am when you have me working out, doing yoga, showering, itemizing artifacts, AND grabbing a breakfast smoothie beforehand? This is nuts!”
“You’re not teaching my class, Charlene. Notice I’m going to post the instructions on a power point. All you’ll do is go over what it says. I realize this will be a challenge for you, but I’m sure it’ll only be temporary. Just until we switch back.”
I flung myself on his bed. “Well, at least I get an upgrade in digs. This bed is heavenly.” I snuggled into the luscious pillowy mattress.
I almost giggled thinking about what was waiting for him at my apartment. “Oh and Dr. Day? Feel free to kick my body’s ass in the gym since, like, you’re into that stuff and all. I won’t mind a bit.”
He crossed his arms. “You’re going to join me in the gym at 6 am sharp, if you want to pass my class.”
“What?” I gasped, throwing my legs over the edge of the bed. “That’s blackmail. You know that’s against professor-student policy. I am soooo not an exercise person. Just kill me first.”
“Don’t tempt me,” he spat.
That insane genie knew what he was doing with this curse. Charlene was the exact opposite of me in almost every way. Trying to get her to follow my rigid program I’d set up for myself was going to be impossible. Thankfully, I could hold her grade over her head.
“I’ve set up a weekly allowance for you since you blew through all your money. I don’t understand how you could spend it all. Didn’t the university give you a meal plan and some cash with your full scholarship?”
Charlene knitted her eyebrows. “Yeah…about that…s-sorry, Dr. Day, um…like I didn’t know this was going to happen or I would have saved some of it. But yeah. I didn’t get the meal plan. I opted for cash and bought a beater with the money. I figured I’d get a job, but with studying and all, I just didn’t have the time. But don’t worry. I’ve stockpiled my cupboards. You know, with the five food groups? Mac n Cheese, ramen, donuts, brownies, and popcorn, so you won’t starve.”
I dropped down next to her not believing someone could live like that. “Just to let you know, THAT body is vegan, so you will not be poisoning it with any of THOSE disgusting foods you just mentioned.”
“Ewww…” she groaned. “Seriously? As in you eat a bunch of lawn clippings and pond scum and call it good-for-you? No thank you. I’m a meat and cheese kind of girl, Dr. Day. I’ll throw up if you make me eat some harvested algae or crap like that.”
All at once, it was like a weight pounded inside my head. I wanted to find that genie and beat the shit out of him. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen.