"So, yeh must be Jackie. I'm Cass." The man that my brother Robbie had sent to help me finish packing and drive with me from New York to St. Louis gargled as he thrust out one grubby paw in my direction and grinned at me from behind several days growth of neon red beard and a pair of cheap sunglasses. Jammed down over his eyebrows was one of those sat-upon looking flat Irish caps. He must have walked up from the subway three blocks over because water dripped slowly onto the lobby floor of my building from his long black overcoat, a reminder of the miserable winter rain that had been coming down all day.
His hand smelled like a damp ashtray. Come to think of it, so did the rest of him.
Good God! The old neighborhood must have somehow found out that I was coming home and had sent me a peace offering. Why on Earth couldn't it have been a toaster oven? I could have used one of those!
Reluctantly I shook his hand. "Jackie, Jackie Connell." He had a grip like a vise. "Sorry to keep you waiting so long down here in the lobby," I said as I pulled my hand free and discreetly wiped it on the side of my slacks. I led him over to the front desk. "When Selma the evening receptionist called up to let me know you'd arrived, I was in the middle of something and couldn't come down right away to sign you in as my guest."
"Don't worry, wee bitch what guards th' door was kind enough t' let me stay in out of th' rain until yeh came down t' claim me." Cass said loudly as he leaned against the front desk. Selma gave him a dirty look while handing me the guest forms. He returned her scowl with an easygoing grin while slowly rolling an unlit cigarette from one side of his mouth to the other. He edged closer, putting one hand on my shoulder. "Seh, lass, how much shite yeh got t' move then? Little or lot, aye?" God, my ears weren't decieving me; this man really was everything that I've spent most of my adult life fleeing.
Robbie was dead when I got back to St. Louis.
Unable to say anything civil beyond, "Not much, I just need someone to help me with the driving." as I pulled away from him, I began filling out the guest form. After completing my own personal information, I looked up to ask Cass what his last name was just in time to see him digging a cheap plastic lighter out of one pocket, "This is a non..."
"Is it. aye?" Was all Cass said to me from the corner of his mouth as he lit up while facing the large "No Smoking" sign prominantly displayed on the counter in a brushed steel frame.
"Sir!" Before I could finish telling him to put it out, Selma leaned over the barrier and held out an ashtray towards him at arm's length with a look of disgust on her heavily made-up face, "Sir, this is a smoke free building —put that out immediately!"
"Aye?" Cass looked at me, one eyebrow cocked. I frowned back, he shrugged and pinched the cigarette out between the finger and the thumb of his free hand without even removing it from his mouth, "Suit yehself, miss." The elevator door slid open discharging one of the other tenants. I grabbed Cass firmly by the elbow and steered us both into its relative safety; leaving Selma glaring at us over the ashtray, the forms incomplete.
We rode up to the top floor in silence, Cass with his hands jammed deep into his overcoat pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels while I tried to pretend that this "gift" my brother had sent me had nothing to do with me as my soon to be former neighbors stepped in and out, staring at us both without actually looking. I'd lived here a little over three years and I still didn't know who any of them were.
Funny thing was, at this point, I didn't really care whether I did or not.
I unlocked the door to my condo. Cass sauntered in after me like the big orange tomcat I'd had as a little girl back in St. Louis, heavy motorcycle boots leaving dirty wet tracks all over what had once been my white front hall carpet despite the fact that he'd wiped his feet on the mat without me even asking. Though it was now well past seven on a rainy evening, he still hadn't removed his sunglasses.
Great, someone with a fixation on U2's Bono.
When I'd called my big brother Robbie this morning to let him know that I was coming home on such short notice because I'd taken a new job in St. Louis that started in two weeks, all he'd said was, "Aw Jacks, you can't drive all that way alone. Think of all the crazies on the highways these days! None of us can come out and help you right now on such short notice, but hey! I've got a friend out there, name's Cass! Cass is thinking of moving to St. Louis. I bet Cass'd be happy to help you load your stuff up and keep you from falling asleep behind the wheel and killing yourself. I'll send Cass right over. Cass'll take care of everything."
Now "Cass" was in my condo, clashing with everything as he looked the place over, doubtlessly wondering how much he could get for my stereo from his fence. Though I hate the stuff with a passion, I really could have used a beer right about then.
Beer was at the root of it all, really.
Even when I was small, all I ever really wanted was a life that didn't smell like the Budweiser plant that loomed over and perfumed our little working-class Irish American neighborhood.
I did not want to work for Budweiser when I grew up.
Nor did I want to marry a Budweiser employee and give birth to five or more future Budweiser employees.
I was tired of red hair, red noses, and St. Pat's celebrations that always got out of hand.
I was embarrassed by my cousins and their brawling at family gatherings.
I was tired of being teased at school for having undeniably red hair that smelled of beer no matter how many times I washed it.
So, I shut everybody out, studied hard, discovered computer programming, and made it into M.I.T. on full scholarship where I specialized in Oracle databases.
It paid off : I was snapped up by a consulting firm even before I graduated and immedieatly began pulling down a huge annual income. Suddenly I could afford the right car, the right clothes, the right hair...the right friends. Best of all, none of it smelled like beer or sounded like a fourth generation Irish-American punk who'd had one too many.
Six months ago it all blew up in my face when the large brokerage firm I had a five year contract with became the victim of a hostile takeover, leaving me and a whole lot of other people out on the street with cancelled contracts and miniscule severance packages. Now I was fleeing back to St. Louis with my tail between my legs to take a job that I really didn't want because far as I could tell, I had no choice because the shitty economy had put a lot of people like me out on the street and the competition was fierce.
"So lass, yeh got anythin' to drink?" Cass said as he stepped out into the middle of my sitting area, neck craned as he looked up at the high ceiling of my reclaimed industrial space condo with it's overhead constellation of steel framed skylights and began peeling off his coat and scarf after dropping his holdall onto the floor with a thump beside the white raw silk upholstered couch. "Fuck me sideways, but I nearly froze me arse off out there in all that rain! Be a good girl and give us somethin' to warm us up then, will yeh?" Underneath his coat was a grubby blue Batman t-shirt and a jean jacket with the sleeves ripped off exposing a set of what resembled tightly knotted ropes more than they did human arms. Cass then removed his hat and tossed it on top of his coat, exposing a flaming mass of unruly red spikes that could perhaps be called hair. He ran his fingers through it, increasing the chaos. "How 'bout it, aye?"
"What? Sorry, I wasn't paying attention." I set aside my angry self-pity and sidled past him into the kitchen area, getting a strong whiff of alcohol, tobacco, and...raw meat? as I did so. "My God, what a stink," I muttered underneath my breath, "When's the last time this guy took a bath?"
Cass swiveled his head around and looked at me, his look of scruffy good nature gone.
Uh oh, did he hear me say that? I blushed. As much as I didn't appreciate Cass being the way he was, he had voluntered to help me move on short notice.
"I said, have yeh got anythin' to drink 'round here?"
Whew! I guess he hadn't. "There's mineral water and Diet Coke in the 'fridge if you want it," Then I added, "And espresso if you know how to work the machine." Still smarting over my earlier indiscretion, I pointed towards the refrigerator as I attempted to flee back into my bedroom to finish packing.
Cass snagged me by the sleeve with one big knuckled hand as I shot past him, "I mean, have yeh's got anythin' to drink?" He looked sour under his coating of stubble.
"My ex took all that with him when he moved out two weeks ago."
"Jaysis!" was all Cass said as he released me and ambled around to the front of the couch, "Wha' bollicky thing to do to anybody!" He landed on it in a practiced slouch and put his feet up on the coffee table; the one that Paolo had bought the day I lost my job. He then relit the remains of the extinguished cigarette that still dangled negligently from his lower lip and looked up at me in an exhalation of smoke with his hands shoved in his pockets. "Yeh want I should beat th' wee bastard up for yeh? Give us his address an' Cass'll do it for yeh f' free, aye?" He looked hopeful behind his sunglasses and stubble.
"Welllll," Tempting, but not a good idea. I sat down on the edge of the long kitchen counter that divided the main room into two separate spaces and drummed my heels thoughtfully against the blonde mahogany doors, something that Paolo had always hated me doing. I put a little more vigor into my drumming knowing that it would annoy my former fiance to no end if he knew what I was doing and he wasn't there to stop me. Cass's smoking was just icing on the cake. Paolo hated smokers almost as much as he hated fat people. "...believe me, it's just not worth it." I said.
"Suit yehself pet, but me offer stands should yeh ever change yeh mind." Cass shrugged again as he aimed a long stream of bluish smoke up at the high ceiling after grinding the old cigarette out on the heel of one of his boots. He paused in the middle of dropping the extinguished butt onto the floor and looked up at me apologetically. "Eh, I'm forgettin' me manners, d'ye mind?" For an answer, I tipped fifty dollars worth of high-end potpourri onto the floor from the Waterford crystal dish that Paolo had forgotten to take with him when he'd dumped me for Philippe the prissy balding internet day trader, and tossed it to Cass to use for an ashtray from where I sat. He caught it one handedly, "Thanks lass, dried up hag downstairs an' her fuckin' signs can't see what I'm doin' seh fuck her!"
I slid off the counter and resumed packing in my bedroom, leaving Cass cooling his heels and watching old movies on AMC. I almost envied him, as far as I could tell, all he had facing him was a long drive across the Midwest, not a job in a city I had vowed never to return to.
Oh right, the job. In St. Louis? With Budweiser? Maintaining their computerized inventory system? Which was supposed to save my relationship with Paolo?
Yeah, right. When Bruce called to give me the news that he'd finally got me a job worth having, I was not terribly nice about it when I found out where it was and who it was with. I kicked. I screamed. Bruce ignored me: he was used to me by now. Maybe that's why it took me so long to get back in the saddle: I'd burned too many bridges over the years at Paolo's behest in order to "get ahead".
I screamed some more at Bruce and then hung up.
I finally agreed to take the job half an hour later when the men from the bank reposessed my BMW. That was two weeks ago. It was also the same day that I recieved a call from Paolo bitching at me because the men from the bank had also repossesed his BMW out of the Bally's parking lot where he worked - I had given it to him for his birthday last year and was still paying for it with money I no longer had. And oh, by the way, we needed to talk.
Did I mention earlier that my long time live-in decided to come out to me with his new boyfriend, Philippe, in attendance two weeks ago —the same day I accepted the job with Budweiser in St. Louis?
When I told Paolo that things were going to be all right again, that I had a job, that we could go ahead and get married on schedule, all he said was, "Too bad sweetie, I don't care if you're working for Bill Gates himself as his own personal cock-sucker. This time I'm in really love and it isn't with you!" Paolo then went on to tell me that even if he hadn't fallen in love with Philippe, it would be a cold day in hell should he ever move from the Big Apple to the middle of Nowhere, especially with someone as stupid as me.
At this point I recovered from my shock long enough to throw our silver framed engagement photo at Paolo's head. In keeping with the rest of my luck for the last six months, Paolo ducked and it hit Philippe squarely in the face, breaking his nose.
Philippe's lawyer contacted me the next day and we decided that Paolo and Philippe would accept my condo, as well as most of the furnishings in lieu of a lawsuit that I couldn't even begin to afford to contest, much the less pay. This sounds really stupid of me now, but at the time relinquishing everything I'd acumulated during the last three years. aside from my clothes and computer equipment, seemed more cost effective even if I was still paying most of it off in installments.
Two six packs of Diet Coke later it was nearly dawn and I was still stuffing garbage bags with a lot of designer clothing that Paolo had insisted I buy even though I personally didn't care for most it. He said that they would help me get ahead.
Speaking of things I didn't care for, I found my wedding gown shoved into the back of my walk-in closet. Paolo picked that out for me too. I threw the dress out onto the middle of the sitting area floor, all $10,000 worth of it. Pettiness aside, walking on all that handmade lace while coming and going was extremely satisfying.
Cass watched me from where he was infesting my former couch, boots still up on the glass coffee table, bottle in his hand, surrounded by a dense haze of cigarette smoke. Somehow he'd found the only wine that Paolo had missed taking when he'd left. Watching that unshaven thug pouring five hundred dollar's worth of imported French wine down his throat like beer in between puffs contributed to my mood of perverse satisfaction. Plus he was leaving smudges on the couch for Paolo's boyfriend Philippe to fume over.
I sat down beside Cass as he sent the last of the wine down his throat in one heroic pull.
Finally he came up loudly gasping for air, wiping his mouth on the back of his arm, "Fuckin' brilliant! Got any more, aye?" Cass then flashed me a smile that was almost all teeth. They were very white and perfectly straight —unusual in such a blatant product of socialized medicine. I found such order in the midst of so much disorder unsettling.
"I told you: my ex got it all." I stood up again as I turned off the television with the remote. I peeked out the window through the curtains. Sometime during the night the rain had turned to snow.
"Wha' fuckin' bastard." Cass dropped the bottle to the floor where it rolled under the couch as he finished off yet another cigarette.
I yawned, scrubbing at my eyes. "Ready to go? I need help getting the rest of my stuff into the U-Haul and then that's it." I tossed the remote over my shoulder. Where it landed, I didn't care. Let the two darling lovebirds search for the damned thing after they took over the place and turned it into their new lovenest.
"Now see here, lass," Cass stood up and looked at me through his sunglasses, "Yeh've been at it since I got here. I'm tired, yeh tired. We don't want any accidents, now do we?" He pulled a squashed pack of unfiltered Camels out of his jacket pocket and offered me one. I waved him off, noticing that he'd filled up the Waterford dish nearly to overflowing with butts. He lit up, adding further to his personal weather system. "Now, as I were sayin', 's been a long night for both of us. I say we dosses down for a little while and make a fresh start of it tomorrow evenin' to miss traffic, aye?"
"No." I folded my arms. "If you're tired, you can always sleep while I drive."
He blew out a fresh cloud of foul blue smoke and looked up at the brightening skylights overhead, fidgeting again like he had last night in the elevator, "That's bollicks, lass! I'm tired, yeh tired. we should rest up a bit under a roof while we can...now who the fuck's that outside yeh front door rattlin' keys this early in the mornin'? Th' bloody landlord wantin' his rent?"
"Excuse me?" I didn't hear anything. And I certainly hadn't been notified on the intercom of any visitors.
There was only one other set of keys to this place that could get past Selma, or Billie, the daytime receptionist. Paolo's. My stomach began to knot up. Cass looked at me questioningly, eyebrows knotting over the rims of his shades. "Yeh want me t' deal with 'em?"
"No. It's just my ex." Oh God, why now? I'd told him I'd be out by midnight last night and I was still here. Paolo and my replacement stepped into the front hall. I walked over to meet them at the door, steeling myself for..for..for whatever they had in store for me this time.
"Selma's right, she's still here." Philippe honked from his heavily bandaged broken nose while he fastidiously wiped his Italian-made shoes on the mat before pushing past me, "Vincent, you said she'd be gone before we had the decorators in." He pulled a tape measure from the pocket of his bomber jacket and began measuring the wall where the engagement photo in its heavy silver frame had once hung before he caught it with his face. "Did you know that I just bought every available share of Enron stock yesterday, so to celibrate, I went ahead and paid for a complete remodeling job by Sven!"
Did I mention earlier that in addition to being a lousy ducker, Philippe was a very successful internet day trader? He easily made three times what I made even before I lost my job. And that was just on the bad days!
"Jacqueline, I'm shocked. Is this your new boyfriend? I didn't know you liked rough stuff." Paolo sounded bored as he hung his coat on the Art Noveau hat rack I'd given him for Christmas last year. "Selma didn't do him justice! Oh, never mind, what's more important than what's dirtying up my condo is that you promised us you'd be out by last midnight. Why are you still here? Philippe and I want to have this place livable by spring so we can move in!" Paolo paused, distracted by the sight of the overflowing Waterford on the coffee table, "My God Jackie! Has he been smoking in here? You're dumber than I thought; this is a non-smoking building, you could get us voted out by the Committee should someone smell it!"
"Is this the wanker yeh was gonna marry?" Cass gestured in disbelief at my ex with his cigarette before I could respond to Paolo, "Wha' fuckin' ponce!" There was a dangerous roll to his hips as he sauntered over to stand beside me, thumbs loosely hooked into his front belt loops.
Philippe flapped his hands at Cass from where he had begun measuring the kitchen counter tops. "Paolo, tell her she has to leave; tell her to leave right now and take it with her!"
"Ms. Connell, all I have to do is make one call to our lawyer and ...what the hell?" Though I hadn't really seen him move, Cass was now right up in Paolo's face with Paolo's shirt bunched up in one fist. Even though Paolo was nearly a foot taller and heavier than Cass, he was on the tips of his toes as Cass casually lifted him by the collar. "Put me down or I'll have Philippe call the police." he sputtered.
"I have my cell phone right here, don't make me use it!" Philippe squealed. He was already dialing as he rushed around the counter to Paolo's aid. Cass turned his head and glanced at the pudgy little day trader dismissivly before taking his cigarette out of his mouth, tucking it behind his ear and giving Paolo the finger with his free hand. The move was so fast, so practiced that I didn't see the transition from hand to mouth to ear to bird. "Eat this, faggot!"
Philippe's mouth dropped open. "Paolo, you can't let him call you that!"
"If you don't leave immedieatly," Paolo's affected boredome was long gone: "We'll have you both arrested for trespassing." I moved toward them, in a stupid attempt to head off what felt like the beginnings of a genuine physical confrontation.
"Go ahead boyo, I'd like to see yeh buggers try!" Cass' tone was light and pleasant, almost sing-song. Was he actually enjoying this dance? "Bumboy? Yeh up to it? Aye ponce?" He released Paolo's collar and took a step towards Philippe who cringed
"You can't speak to him like that!" Paolo, now free, took a swing, which Cass, while producing another grin that showed every tooth down to his molars, easily sidestepped . We all sort of dance-shoved-sidled around the sitting area. Paolo's blustering, Philippe's honking whine, and some of the filthiest street sewage I'd ever heard outside of my own family pouring from Cass's mouth and echoing down from the high ceiling.
"Paolo, beat him up for calling me a...bumboy?" Philippe was hanging on Paolo's arm, half hiding behind my ex as Cass took a go at them both. Paolo tripped over the hassock. Cass was flushed and obviously enjoying himself as we all went down into a struggling, swearing heap on top of my wedding dress. The restored Victorian fainting couch went over with a rolling thud followed by a rattle and a bang when the small rack of miniature Japanese teapots that had pride of place on the coffee table fell over, showering us all with limited edition raku fired crockery.
Finally I managed to disengage myself from the fracas, picked up the potpourri dish turned ashtray, raised it over my head, screamed "Enough!" and threw it against the reclaimed oak floor where the vintage Persian carpet didn't cover it..
The heavy crystal shattered on impact, sounding like a small bomb going off. Ash and butts blew up in a grey cloud, settling on everyone and everything.
The strugggling mass froze; they all looked up and stared at me. Philippe's toupée was hanging from his scalp by a few hairs. Paolo's nose was dribbling blood all over what was left of his shirt.
Cass's sunglasses were still on; he wasn't even breathing heavily.
In fact, he was now sitting on Paolo's chest, elbow raised high, fist cocked and ready to smash down into Paolo's face for the fifth time.
"Who owns this place for five more days?" I screamed.
Paolo looked at Philippe who was now trying to straighten his hairpiece. He looked back at me, nose dribbling redly over his lip, "Ahhhhhh...you do, Jackie?"
"Right." I picked up Cass's lighter and the packet of Camels that had somehow managed to stay on the coffee table throughout the entire brawl. I pulled a crumpled butt out, straightened it with shaking hands and lit up. "And who owns all the furniture for five more days?"
"You do?" Philippe honked. His eyes were rapidly developing two bruised rings from where Cass had socked him a double. Funny, without his rug and with those black eyes, he now looked that jackass George Castanza from Seinfeld. Why hadn't I noticed that earlier?
"Right." I took a drag on the butt and nearly choked. I blew out a mouthful of smoke. "And who wants you off her property right now?""
"You do?" Philippe spoke up nervously. "But Paolo said that..."
"I don't give a damn what Paolo says, I want both of you out of my sight, now! And if you don't..."
Paolo interrupted me, "There's no need to shout, Jackie. Come along Philippe, we have better things to do than argue with this whore and her piece of Belfast street tra...aaaaaaaa-thunk-aaaaaaaaaa-thunk-aaaaaaaaa!" Paolo screamed as Cass bunched up my ex's collar and began methodically banging his head on the floor.
"It's DUBLIN, yeh stupid fuckin' hoor, DUBLIN, not BELFAST and I'll thump th' shite outta yeh's until yeh's knows th' difference yeh stupid wee bollicks!"
"Stop it, stop it!" I grabbed Cass by the back of his jacket. "You'll kill him!"
"Yer call lass!" Cass grunted as I stumbled over the bunched up carpet and nearly landed on top of Philippe who was too busy wheezing while rubbing cigarette ashes out of his eyes to do more than squeal indignantly, Cass landed another one on Paolo before adding, "Yeh want me to do it fast r' slow?"
"This isn't the way to settle...this sort of thing. I'm in enough trouble as it is without you adding your spoon to the batter, stop it!" I struggled to get a firmer grip on Cass so I could pull him off of Paolo, who slithered out from under Cass. The next thing I knew I had taken Paolo's place. Let me tell you, Cass was heavier than he appeared at first glance!
In the end, Philippe took Paolo by the arm and yanked him to his feet and out of Cass's reach, giving me a venomous look as he did so. "You'll be hearing from our lawyer!"
"Yeh just try that, yeh daft wee ejit!" Cass squashed me in his efforts to struggle to his feet, I wrapped my legs around his waist and held on for dear life as he lashed out with both booted feet, catching Philippe squarely in the guts.
The little broker staggered backwards onto the glass coffee table, which dissolved with a crash of safety glass.
"That's it," Philippe snarled once he'd caught his breath, "You'll really will be hearing from our lawyer, bitch!"
Cass yelled, "You can't call the lady that! Lemme up, lemme up! I'll teach tha' wee bastard some manners!"
The cigarette was still sticking to my lower lip and I got an elbow in the side as Cass lurched to his feet, me clinging to his back, both of us in the middle of a pile of shattered glass atop the remains of my wedding dress.
I wanted to let go. I couldn't let go. I didn't dare let go!
"Come on, Paolo darling, we're leaving!"
They left without even bothering to take their coats.
"Don't let the door hit yeh on the arse on the way out!" Cass screamed after them.
The door slammed shut with a bang.
Cass stood there with me still clinging to his back, watching the door, head cocked to one side. He was up on the balls of his feet, moving with nervous little twitches and jerks, radiating barely leashed excitement. The muscles of his shoulders and back almost seemed to crackle with static electricity.
I think he was enjoying himself.
"Silly fuckin' bags-o'-shite comin' inta a lady's home like that-an' causin' trouble I showed them what's-what!" Cass snarled as he fished the cigarette, uncrushed and miraculously still lit out from behind his ear and took a contemplative drag, "Hang on! Lass, what'cha doing back there?" The cigarette paused in mid arc as he looked over his shoulder at me.
I winced, his breath could have peeled paint, "I, I." my voice came out as a squeak, "I can't let go."
"Here, 's'much as I enjoy yeh holdin' on to me like that," His voice softened a little, "Yeh can't stay back there forever." He pried my fingers from his jacket and eased me to the ground one handedly.
Cass then took the cigarette out of my mouth, looked at it briefly before putting it into his, absently grinding the old one out on the carpet with one booted heel, "Yeh don't really smoke these things d'yeh lass? They'll fuckin' kill yeh. I should know!"
"How'd you guess?" I slithered sideways on the loose glass and he steadied me, easing me down onto the remains of the couch.
"When yeh was actin' tough, I couldn't help but notice yeh turnin' green on yeh first puff; but I don't think that the fancy bollicks's an' his bumboy did. Yeh secret's safe with me!" He kicked at the remains of the coffee table before flopping down next to me, one arm draped companionably over my shoulder, "Helluva fight lass, helluvafight!" On the end of that arm was the hand that was holding his cigarette, Cass angled around to take another puff, so that his face rubbed against mine and I was mashed against his body.
Ugh. I disentangled myself by removing his arm from my shoulder like it was a dead animal. "I don't care what your plans are for the next few hours, I don't even care if they send the cops after us for assault. Regardless of what anyone says or does, I'm going to clean up and take a nap. We'll hit the road after lunch." I stood up wiping at my cheek; it felt like I had just had an up close and personal encounter with a "Welcome" mat.
"Yer call, lass." Cass slid a booted toe under the hem of my ruined wedding dress and lifted it a bit, "Sorry about yeh pretty dress, but it couldn'a be helped when I went after the wee bastard to teach him his place. But why was yeh walkin' on it to begin with...?" He looked up nervously at the overhead skylights as he rose to join me.
"Forget it, I never liked the stupid thing anyway." I felt the broken glass from the coffee table begin to shift under my feet. Cass planted a hand in the small of my back to steady me as I made my way through the wreckage towards my room.
I only realized that Cass'd followed me when I turned to close my bedroom door and he was blocking it just by standing behind me."You can tear up my condo and beat up my ex any time, but that's as far as it goes. If you want a bed, you can always sleep on the couch or in Paolo's room; I'm sure he wouldn't mind one more strange man in there!"