Four-letter Word: Stop – April 22, 2009

1stop \stäp\ vb stopped; stop-ping 1 : to close (an opening) by filling or covering closely 2 : BLOCK, HALT 3 : to cease to go on 4 : to bring activity or operation to an end 5 : STAY, TARRY syn quit, discontinue, desist, cease

2stop n 1 : END, CESSATION 2 : a set of organ pipes of one tone quality; also : a control knob for such a set 3 : OBSTRUCTION 4 : PLUG, STOPPER 5 : an act of stopping : CHECK 6 : a delay in journey : STAY 7 : a place for stopping 8 : chiefly Brit : any of several punctuation marks

Merriam-Webster and Garfield Dictionary (1999)

“What are you doing out here, Cal?”

Richard entered the veranda, saw Callie star-gazing and he smiled despite himself. His best girl friend is star-gazing. At a bar. During a party. At Gypsy.

Only Callie can do that.

But then again, he’s the one who had ordered milkshake in a bar. At a party. At Gypsy.

What kind of bar has milkshakes on their menu?

Gypsy.

Sure, he started dancing sleazy with a couple of girls who looked like he is about to be sued with statutory rape if he gets in bed with either, but he was watching Callie at the corner of his eye. He was worried for his best girl bud—she looked weak while they were in the car, even dozing during the ride to Gypsy. He had cursed himself over and over for bringing up the party to Callie, especially since he knows that Callie rarely says no to him.

He saw the weary look on her face when he helped her down his car, but since she was good with her emotions, she put on a happy, cheerful face even before they got to the entrance. That was one of the reasons why he loves his best girl friend. She would do things—even crazy things like bungee jumping in Macau—just for him.

Richard did see Alec hitting on Callie, smirking when he saw the guy approach her. He and Alec did share an ex—Tricia. He wasn’t ready to share his best girl bud, that he was sure of. When he saw Callie turning away from Alec, he knew Callie was doing what she does best: pushing people away.

He followed them to the veranda, keeping a low profile. He saw her throw her drink away, and he knew it was one of those off-nights—parties and alcohol usually come together for him and for Callie, and if she turns away from either, something is wrong. When Alec popped out of nowhere and they started to talk, there was this fear inside him—fear that he’d lose his best friend, that he’d lose Callie, who was… someone to him.

And the kiss.

Richard saw how she pulled away and the spark in her eyes that was quickly diffused. He knows Callie even better than he does himself—she’s like an extended part of his entirety—and he knew something clicked inside her, something changed inside her. A cog fit, a puzzle piece was put into place.

He wanted to step in at that moment, but he knows better. Callie never steps in when he makes a move on someone, never says anything when he brings a date around, never interferes. Always there but never in the way.

Can’t he do her that favor too?

Part of him felt victorious—he still knows her well—when he watched Alec walk away from Callie.

Things are back the way they’re supposed to be.

Callie turned from the stars to Richard, her lips turning into an upturn smile when she saw the milkshake. She patted the space next to her and Richard slid next to her, handing her the drink. She took a sip from the glass before replying to Richard.

“I… can’t handle the party. I’m just tired, Richard,” she said, obviously fatigued, and Richard draped one arm over her shoulder. Callie leaned her head against his broad shoulders, and Richard took one of her hands, sliding his fingers between hers. Her eyes dropped down to their intertwined hands, and she held his hand tightly, giving it a squeeze.

“It was a bad idea to force you to go to this party,” Richard relented, and Callie just grunted in response. She told him she wasn’t in the mood but he didn’t listen. She focused her attention on finishing the milkshake, despite her tummy calling for some real food. Dinner wasn’t part of the things Richard asked her to do with him tonight, and milkshake, despite being one of her absolute favorites, isn’t doing its usual job as a pick-me-up.

He lifted her chin with a finger so that he could look into her eyes, eyes so empty and soulless.

“Do pizza, mojos, cuddles, and some DVDs sound good to you, Cal?” he asked in a soft whisper, and it was almost instantaneously that her eyes lit up.

“Best. Suggestion. Ever,” she replied, beaming at him, and he leaned in to kiss her. She tasted sweet—must be the milkshake—and Callie tugged at his collar, deepening the kiss. He pulled away before it turned into something much, much deeper, licking the sweetness of Callie’s lips off his lips.

“Cal…” he breathed, his heart racing, and Callie gave him a bittersweet smile. She wiped the lipstick transfer on Richard’s face.

“Richard.”

They nodded at the same time, and stood up, heading for the exit, leaving the party just some full thirty minutes after they got there.

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