“Get out of this bed right now, Mr.!” Nicole said, throwing a cold glass of water on me. “No more mopping around.”
“What the hell was that for?” I said, crawling to a sitting position. “I was just getting up.”
“Was too.” I stumbled to my feet. My head felt like crushed rocks, waiting for blood to pool my mouth from a broken tooth. I’d gotten into a street fight the other night, defending Nicole’s honor or some stupid shit.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Nicole said.
“Like this was all my fault.”
“If the shoe fits…”
“You’re the one who decided it’d be a great idea to punch a bigger guy in the face all because he gawked at me. Sure, it felt creepy, but even I knew you couldn’t take him,” Nicole said.
I slammed my fists on my hips. “Never going to let me live this down, are you?”
Nicole took a sip of her coffee. “Not on your life, buddy.”
“You gotta at least give me props for sticking up for you. Right?”
“Oh, you would turn this around on me.”
I placed my hands in front of my body. “No, I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Could have used your words last night. Instead, you got the piss beat out of you.”
“Well, next time, I won’t say anything.”
“Shouldn’t have to!” Nicole said. “I can take care of myself.”
I blew out my lips. “You know what — you’re right.”
“Of course, I’m right,” Nicole said. “My brothers used to kick the shit out of me, so I’m used to taking on unruly guys.”
I looked down and away.
Nicole moved closer and cupped my cheeks. “Look, I thank you for sticking up for me. But leave the disrespectful guys to me. I know how to shame them.”
“You can get pretty loud,” I said.
“See, already catching on. I like that.”
“If I could only have known this last night.”
“Don’t blame yourself.”
“But it’s a guy’s job to stick up for his…” I paused. “Right. You don’t need my help.”