Jason opened his eyes, and found himself staring at the red numbers on his bedside clock, and realized the alarm had not gone off. It was 9:24 a.m., an hour and twenty-four minutes after he should have been at work. The alarm had not gone off, he found, because he had not set it the evening before. He tried to think back to the point at which he entered the bed for clues as to what had caused him to not set the clock. He concluded that he must have forgotten and reasoned that the giant margaritas he recalled having at the restaurant the night before must have had something to do with why he couldn’t remember.

What he found more confusing was the woman lying beside him. He was certain she was a new addition but could not, for the life of him, recall where she had come from, or who she was. He stared at her face, hoping for some clue that would tell him all he needed to know, but, just like his failure to set the alarm clock, no details about her emerged.

Jason sat up in bed, to find himself still wearing the clothes he’d worn out of the house the previous evening. He had, apparently, remembered to take off his shoes, but every other scrap of clothing he’d been wearing when he left the house was still on. He patted his pockets and found his car keys and wallet in the correct places.

Assured he had not lost anything, Jason reached for his phone, and dialed his office.

“Hey Dave,” Jason said in a weak voice. “Yeah, I know, but I’ve been puking my guts out the past hour and a half. This is the first chance I’ve been well enough to call. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s contagious. Okay. No problem. I’ll log in from home shortly.”

He put down the phone.

He again turned his attention to the woman, trying desperately to recall how she’d come to rest there beside him. As he watched, she started to stir, turned slightly toward him, and opened her eyes, staring back at Jason for several long seconds.

“Who are you and why are you in my bed?” she asked.

“It’s not your bed,” he replied.

“Are you sure?”

He looked around at the furnishings, the drapes, the worn rug at the foot of the bed, and the unplugged television set in the corner turned toward the wall. He clearly remembered all this.

“Yeah, it’s definitely mine,” he told her.

She pushed herself up into a sitting position and leaned forward. She, too, appeared to be fully clothed.

“Then what am I doing in your bed?” she asked.

“Just trying to figure that out myself,” he told her.

She thought for a minute and an uncomfortable look crossed her face.

“Do you think we — you know.”

He shook his head. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Concentrate on one thing at a time here.”

She nodded.

“Besides, we’re both fully dressed,” Jason said. “Unless we’ve discovered some special way to do it, I think we’re okay. What’s your name?”

“I’m not sure I want to tell you my name,” she said. “I don’t know you.”

“We woke up in bed together. I think that trumps most of the formalities. I’m Jason.”

“Naomi,” she said. “How did I even get here?”

Jason considered the question.

“Do you remember going to Mexacali at some point?” he asked.

“Yes!” she said. “I went there after work with some friends.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” he said. “Because I do remember being there.”

“Why were you there?”

He shrugged. “I like their burritos. While I was there, someone was having a loud party a few tables over.”

“That was probably us,” she replied. “One of my friends just got engaged.”

Jason nodded.

“Is she the one who pulled me over to your table? Blond with dark roots. I seem to recall she was wearing a tiara.”

“That’s Carlene.”

Naomi repositioned herself so she was sitting on the edge of the bed. She looked around the bed and located her purse, then took out her cell phone and dialed a number.

“Daisy, it’s Naomi. What do you remember about last night? Really. That much. Do you remember a guy?”

Naomi turned and gave Jason a long look.

“Yeah, that sounds like him. He did? Oh, okay. No, I’m not at home. Oh, right. Well, I guess I’m going to be late. I don’t know when. Just make something up. Text me, so I’ll know what you said. Okay, bye.”

“What did she say?” Jason asked.

“She says you bought at least one round of drinks. So, I guess that means you’re okay.”

“I’m glad I passed your test.”

Naomi rose and walked around the room, glancing at objects. “It’s just weird that I’d go home with you. I don’t usually run off with guys I just met.”

“Yeah, I don’t usually have people over,” Jason said.

“I can tell,” Naomi replied, as she kicked a pair of socks away from her. “What do you do?”

“I’m a network engineer for Bickering Plummet,” he said.

Naomi stopped and stared at him. “Really? Which office?”

“The satellite office in Brookhaven,” he said. “It’s right down the street. I usually walk.”

“That’s why I haven’t seen you before,” she said.

“You work for Bickering Plummet? Doing what?”

She nodded. “Payroll. Main campus.”

“Then you must know Franklin.”

Naomi laughed. “We wouldn’t be able to function without him.”

Jason got out of bed and headed toward the door. “Usually on mornings when strange women show up in my bed, I make coffee. Want some?”

“Sure,” Naomi said with a laugh. “What do you do on other mornings?”

“I make coffee. I’m pretty much a creature of habit.”

“Think Bickering can get along without us?” she said as she followed him out of the bedroom.”

“I hope not,” he replied. “I don’t know about you, but I need the work.”

“You know, if my husband finds out about this, he’s going to kick your ass,” she told Jason as they exited the room.

“Husband? You’re married?”

“Kind of.”

“How can you kind of be married?”

“He’s sort of in the process of dumping me, for this twenty-something fitness instructor.”

“Then I guess I don’t have to worry about him.”

“He’s still pretty jealous.”

“That doesn’t make the first bit of sense.”

“What can I say? He’s a complicated man.”

“Yeah, he sounds like it,” Jason said with a note of sarcasm in his voice. “Okay, no more surprises until after coffee.”


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