I pick up the phone.
“Can I come over? Are you busy right now?” It’s Jude. I feel his urgency and can’t say no.
“Of course. Are you alright?” I ask.
“Yeah, I just need some Courtney time.”
Twenty minutes later, I am wrapped in a plush blanket on the sofa in my living room. He walks in the door, removes his coat, and looks at me.
“I’m not interrupting anything, right?”
“No, I’m just reading. Come here, sit down.” I bookmark my chapter and flip on the T.V. The news is on, so we watch for a while.
“I’m going to get a glass of water,” he says, “do you want anything while I'm up?”
“Coke, please. It’s in the fridge below the—”
“Deli drawer. I know.” He comes back over, sets down a glass of ice and the can.
“How’d you know I’d want ice?”
“Because for two years, I’ve studied your intricacies, and ice, even with a refrigerated can of coke, is one of them.” His face is emotionless and pale.
“What’s wrong, are you okay?” He sets his glass down on the coffee table, reaches for my knee, and lays his head in my lap. I freeze.
“Do you know why I came here?” My hands are to my sides, to myself.
“Because I needed consoling and I needed it from you.”
“Okay,” I say. “Is this about your mom?”
“I don’t want to talk about that,” he says, “I just want to be here because I tried to think of the last time I felt safe and it was with you.” Hands still to my side, I let him keep talking. “I wanted to feel safe and less alone and it brought me here.” I don’t reach for him or tell him that I feel less lonely with him, too. Instead, I let him lie in my lap, hand on my knee, until quarter to midnight comes, when I know he’ll leave.